What is your Twitter handle?
Who do you support?
Why do you support them?
There are two reasons. Firstly, I grew up in the era of Henry, Viera, Pires and Ljungberg. At the time I was learning about football, Arsenal were playing the most attractive football in England, and I was drawn to the style of play. I named my childhood dog after Freddie Ljungberg after my suggestions of Thierry and Arsene were rejected by my sister! The second reason is that my mum’s family had always supported Tottenham, and I was always a rebellious child so I enjoyed annoying them by wearing the kit to family events.
How often do you get to attend matches?
I attend as often as I can. Season tickets are notoriously expensive at the Emirates, but thankfully I know a very non-committed fan who’s ticket I get to use regularly.
Who is your favourite ever player?
Either Thierry Henry or Cesc Fabregas. The first hardly needs explaining, but I still get goosebumps every time I see the goal he scored on his return against Leeds in the FA cup; he is a true club and Premier League legend. Cesc Fabregas might be a more controversial choice. Making his debut at 16, he was so graceful on the ball, but had a real tenacity and cutting-edge that carried that Arsenal side through some very very dark times. I didn’t begrudge him his move back to Barca, even if he perhaps didn’t handle the situation very well.
What win in your lifetime means the most to you?
The FA Cup final win against Hull in 2014. That game had everything. We fell behind by two goals early on in the most ‘Arsenal’ fashion possible and would have conceded a third had Kieran Gibbs not cleared a shot off the line. Then the comeback, with a lovely Cazorla free-kick and a Koscielny goal-poke, capped off with a beautiful finish with the outside of his foot from Aaron Ramsey. Even more amazingly, Yaya Sanogo came on and actually had a positive impact. What more can I say!
Which goal meant the most?
Arshavin vs. Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League. I’m not ashamed to say it was the first time I ever cried at a football match. We had been really good all game, against arguably the best club side in history. It was a lovely counter-attacking move, and the way Arshavin curled it in, with Valdes just falling over onto his back in slow motion, was so satisfying. The commentary from Martin Tyler caps it all off, and the stadium absolutely erupted (by our standards). For once, nobody could criticise the atmosphere at the Emirates.
Which team would you most like to beat this season?
Any side managed by Jose Mourinho. I absolutely hate his arrogance and given how little we have beaten his sides in the past it would be nice to get one over on him.
Are you happy with your manager?
Relatively. I’ve only ever known an Arsenal side managed by Wenger, so it will feel very odd seeing someone else sat in the home dugout at the Emirates. Most importantly, Emery appears to have an analytical intensity that we have been really lacking over recent years. His record in the Europa League bodes well too, given that is the level we are currently competing at. I think Arsenal desperately needed a change, and I think Emery was probably the best, realistic candidate the club could appoint.
Are you happy with your Board/Chairman?
50/50. They took the bold step of dismissing Wenger which, even though I would have preferred it to happen a few years ago, showed a degree of courage given he had consistently generated profit for the club. Yet, the Kroenke’s are silent, and when things are going bad our Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis, shrunk into the background and let Wenger take all the blame. The appointments of a new Head Scout, Director of Football, and other behind-the-scenes positions do have me optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction.
Where do you realistically think your club will finish this season?
I think we have enough to scrape 4th, but that will be dependent on one of Man United or Chelsea underperforming. I can’t see us competing for the title at all but getting back into the Champions League would be a very successful season. I think Liverpool will be the closest challengers to City for the title, and Spurs will probably be the next best. Unfortunately, we’re quite far away from those three teams at the moment. I’m very happy with the signings we’re making, and we appear to be addressing our defensive issues which have been glaring for some time now.
What opposition player do you secretly admire?
I LOVE Mousa Dembele. He’s got everything you could want in a midfielder, with that little bit of nastiness we’ve lacked at Arsenal over the last few seasons. The way opposition players bounce off him reminds me of Yaya Toure in his prime, and he is really underrated on the ball. I’m also a huge fan of Willian. He is so hard-working, deadly from set pieces, and very skilful. I hope he is able to start consistently for Chelsea, because he is also a favourite of mine in terms of FPL!
Is there a youngster at the club who could become a regular in the side this season?
Ainsley Maitland-Niles recently signed a new, long-term contract and also got the number 15 shirt. He featured a few times last season, but this was mainly out of position at either left or right back. Naturally, he is best in central midfield, and we got to see a little bit of him in action against United towards the end of last season. Saying he ‘has it all’ would be going way too far, but he is a very physically impressive player and looks extremely composed on the ball. If we weren’t so heavy upfront, I would expect to see Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson be given a few chances in the League, but I expect they are more likely to feature in cup competitions.
Who do you think will be your club’s top FPL points scorer this season?
Aubameyang. He started off so well, even though he was playing League fixtures that meant very little to Arsenal. If Aaron Ramsey can stay fit, he will definitely be amongst the top scorers for Arsenal.
Can you tell us about your FPL history?
I’ve played for 6 seasons and other than my first season, I’ve been inside the top 200k. Last year was actually my best finish, at 31k, despite the fact I adopted a more relaxed approach, and took many more points hits than most FPL managers would consider.
What would be a successful FPL finish for you this season?
I always aim for top 100k at the start of the season, just as a benchmark. After a decent run towards the end of last season I’m going into next season feeling confident. I hope to break into the top 30k for the first time, but as cheesy as it sounds as long as I’m having fun, I don’t really mind where I finish.
What formation do you generally favour for FPL?
I generally opt for 3-5-2, because in recent seasons there has been so much value to be found in midfield. Over the past few years, especially last seasons, there were very few reliable forwards, but that could change if Salah is reclassified as a forward.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned playing FPL?
Not to take it all so seriously and trust my gut instinct more often. At times last year I fell too deep into the twitter-FPL-hivemind and got persuaded to choose players I didn’t think I should have.
When did you use your chips last season and was it successful?
GW5 – 1st Wildcard
GW26 – 2nd Wildcard
GW31 – Free Hit
GW34 – Triple Captain
GW37 – Bench Boost
Probably the biggest risk last season was playing my 2nd Wildcard so early. My team was in a bit of a mess, and I had a lot of players I didn’t feel happy with owning, so it felt good to get rid of them all. From then on, I improved my rank every single week, apart from a few minor blips, and it propelled me to my best finish ever. Using my triple captain on Vardy turned out ok, but I think a lot of people struggled using that chip. The Bench Boost in GW37 helped me overcome the -12 I took that week, and it was satisfying to still score over 100 points. I never really know when the best time to play the first wildcard is, so that is something I will look at more next season.
Anything else we should know about you?
I really enjoy FPL, but it’s not everything when I’m watching a game. I’d much rather my players not perform and watch a great match than the other way around. Unlike a lot of Arsenal fans online, I try not to get too up myself and think we’re god’s gift to football, and call for the manager’s head after every defeat; expect to see A LOT of that with Emery this season! I’ve done some work on a student radio station for the past three years covering football and have been lucky enough to commentate on some live games. It gave me a lot more respect for the guys who do it professionally… except for Robbie Savage, I can’t stand that guy!