30th September – Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud definitely splits opinion but there is no doubting that when he comes back from injury he will be a big player for Arsenal and could make the difference before the end of the season.

When he does come back he will have to make sure that he hits the back of the net on a regular basis and before he broke his left tibia, he had already scored two goals this season. For all of his critics his goal ratio is not actually that bad and he is very good at bringing the best out of players around him and Aaron Ramsey in particular looks a better player with Giroud in the side.

The 28 year old started his career in France with Grenoble and after eight years in the youth team he signed his first professional contract at the age of 21. His performances for the reserve team were remarkable as he scored 15 goals in 15 games and in March 2006 he was called up to the first team and made his debut on the 27th March against Gueugnon. Despite being around the first team he had to wait until the 26th February 2007 to score his first goal and it turned out to be vital as it was an injury time winner against Le Havre.

In the following season to ensure he got more game time he joined Istres on loan for the entire 2007-08 campaign. He performed very well for the club and scored 14 goals during the season but on his return to Grenoble he was deemed not good enough by recently appointed manager Mehmed Bazdarevic and on the 28th May 2008 he joined Tours.
Giroud Tours
Despite a few injuries in his first season at the club he scored another 14 goals in 27 games but unfortunately Tours failed to gain promotion to Ligue 1. In the 2009-10 season he was made the main striker at the club and this obviously gave the striker a lot of confidence and in the first half of the season he scored 16 goals which convinced Montpellier to sign him on the 26th January 2010. But as part of the agreement he was loaned back to Tours for the rest of the season and he ended his time with the club with 36 goals in 67 games and was named as the Ligue 2 Player of the Year at the end of his final season.

Giroud’s first season was up and down with Montpellier, with some goal scoring droughts that lasted nearly two months but he did end the campaign as their top scorer and helped them reach the final of the Coupe de la Ligue final, which was their first major final since 1994. But both the club and the striker would go onto better things in the following season with Montpellier winning the title and Giroud finishing as the league’s top scorer with 21 goals and also provided nine assists.
Foot  :   L1 - Montpellier - Reprise de l entrainement
His form led to him being linked with moves away and after 39 goals in 85 games he joined Arsenal on the 26th June 2012. He took a short while to settle in England and had to wait until the 6th October to score his first league goal for the club in a 3-1 win over West Ham. In total he played 47 times during the 2012-13 season, scoring 17 goals and assisting a further 11 which was a promising start for a striker coming into a new league.
Giroud Arsenal
Arsenal and Giroud started last season brightly but they could not keep their form going in the league, however they did still manage to win the FA Cup. It was always going to be tough for Giroud to last the whole season as he was Arsenal’s only striker for the majority of the season and he had to play a lot of games but his 22 goals in 51 games was still a very good return.

The final word can go to Arsene Wenger. “He has a very good physical presence and is exceptional in the air, with a great work effort. He has proved that he is capable of performing at the top level with club and country.”

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29th September – Per Mertesacker

Per Mertesacker may have won the World Cup in the summer but he now faces a big task in helping Arsenal compete for the Premier League and Champions League.

Although they are unbeaten in the league they have not been convincing and Dortmund destroyed them in the first Champions League game. But as Mertesacker has proven in the past he usually gets better as the season goes on and his partnership with Laurent Koscielny has been one of the best Arsenal have had for a while. The 30 year old has never been blessed with pace so there is no reason why his performances should drop in the later years of his career.

The 6 foot 6 defender started his career at Hannover and after playing under his father in the youth teams he made his league debut in November 2003 against FC Koln. Early in his career there were suggestions that he would not become a footballer and pursue another career, especially after a shaky start which saw him score an own goal and also broke his nose.
Mertesacker Hannover
But he recovered from this and became known as one of the most promising defenders in Germany and was also known as a defender that timed his tackles perfectly, only picking up two yellow cards in his 76 league appearances for Hannover. After three years he played his last game for the club on the 13th May 2006 against Bayer Leverkusen and opened the scoring in a 2-2 draw.

After an impressive 2006 World Cup, Mertesacker joined Werder Bremen. He did not get off to a quick start at the club as he was out injured for the first month of the season but when he did return he became a rock in the centre of the defence. In November he scored his first Champions League goal against Chelsea in a 1-0 win.

The 2007-08 season was a mixed bag for the defender as he received the first red card of his career in a 6-3 defeat to Stuttgart but played in every game he was available and helped the club finish as runners up in the league, finishing with just two less wins that eventual champions Bayern Munich. For the rest of his time at the club he proved he was more than just a defender that won headers as he had improved a lot when he had the ball at his feet. This was part of the reason why Arsene Wenger signed him.
Mertesacker WB
He played 210 times for Bremen before joining Arsenal on the 31st August 2011. They had just been beaten 8-2 by Manchester United at Old Trafford and desperately needed reinforcements at the back. Mertesacker started well and was consistent throughout his first season before it was cut short by injury in February 2012. He returned for the start of the 2012-13 season and helped keep two clean sheets in the opening two games against Sunderland and Stoke City. His performances continued to improve and he was awarded the man of the match after a 1-1 draw away to Manchester City.
Mertesacker Arsenal
Arsenal fans then loved the centre back even more after he scored his first goal for the club in a 5-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur and this was when the German and Koscielny were in great form together and were arguably the best centre back partnership in the league. But it was last season that he showed his top form as he was voted into the Premier League Team of the Year for his fantastic performances and on the 4th March 2014 he was rewarded with a new contract by the club.

The final word can go to Arsene Wenger. “I think he is a good player. He is a good organiser as well, he understands the game, he is an intelligent player. Now we look less nervous at the back, and I think he contributes to that.”

28th September – Willy Caballero

Manchester City definitely needed real competition for Joe Hart and in the summer they signed birthday boy Willy Caballero as they believe they can really push the England number one.

The new goalkeeper is 33 today and this would suggest that he is in the best years of his career and won’t want to just sit on the bench behind Joe Hart. This could be a stroke of genius from Manuel Pellegrini as it will either make Hart play better or if he does have another dip in form like he has done at times during the last two seasons there is an able deputy.
Willy MCFC
Cabellero is also an Olympic gold winner as helped Argentina win the football tournament in 2004 and he started his career in his country of birth with Boca Juniors, making his debut in 2001. He stayed at the Argentinean giants for three years and helped them win the Argentine Primera Division, the Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup all in 2003.

But in 2004 he decided it was time for him to try and make his mark in Europe and joined Spanish side Elche. After a difficult start he returned to Argentina in 2006 when he joined Arsenal de Sarandi and appeared in 13 league games for them. When he went back to Spain he got his confidence back and became Elche’s undisputed number one goalkeeper and produced a lot of fantastic performances in his 186 league games for the club which convinced Malaga to sign him on the 10th February 2011.
Willy Elche
He made his debut against Villarreal in a 1-1 draw on the 20th February and went on to play in every game until the end of the season. The goalkeeper quickly became a fan favourite as his saves and consistent performances helped the club eventually pull away from the relegation zone after a very difficult season.

The following season started better for the club and the goalkeeper kept his place in the starting lineup and on the 1st October he became a record holder for Malaga. He did not concede a goal for 480 minutes beating Pedro Contreras’ previous record of 429. Unfortunately just a few days later he was sent off against Levante for handling outside the box and his team went on to lose the game 3-0.

He quickly returned to the side and on the 18th January 2012 his contract was extended by the club, tying him down until 2016. However, a fracture in his left hand caused in a game against Espanyol on the 25th March meant he had to sit out the rest of the season. Caballero returned to full fitness and only missed two league games all season during the 2012-13 campaign and helped his team finish in 6th place in La Liga and was seen as one of the best keepers in the division.
Willy Malaga
On the 8th July 2014 he was reunited with former Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City after they paid a fee believed to be around £6 million for his services. He made his debut in the Community Shield as City lost 3-0 to Arsenal but he had to wait until the 27th September to make his Premier League debut in a 4-2 win over Hull City.

The final word can go to Manuel Pellegrini. “Caballero can be in any team, he is a very good goalkeeper. If you want to be a top goalkeeper you must have all the attributes, good distribution, to know when to go for the ball, to be good one on one and to not concede early goals. Replacing Hart with Caballero doesn’t make a difference.”

27th September – Lloyd Sam

A lot of high profile players have gone over to America in recent years but there are others that have went over from England and made a big impression, like Lloyd Sam.

The 30 year old plays alongside world superstars such as Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill as well as others that have played in England such as Bobby Convey, Richard Eckersley and Bradley Wright-Phillips. So Sam will certainly feel at home at the New York Red Bulls and is known as someone that can use his pace and direct running to create chances for his teammates and it is no surprise to see him setting up a lot of goals.

Sam started his career at Charlton Athletic and became a professional in 2003 at the age of 18. He began to impress in the youth team and was called up to the first team squad for a game against Arsenal but unfortunately did not get on the pitch. He then went out on loan to get some more first team experience and joined Leyton Orient in 2004 and played 10 times for the club before returning to Charlton and making his debut for them on the final day of the 2004-05 season against Crystal Palace.
Sam CA
His opportunities were still limited and after playing just twice in the following season, he went out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday and Southend United during the 2006-07 season. Sam did also play seven times in the Premier League that season but unfortunately Charlton were relegated but this meant that the winger was now going to get a chance in the first team on a regular basis.

At the start of the season he was a bright spot for Charlton and scored his first professional goal against Stockport County in the League Cup. After this the club began to struggle and after missing out on promotion they started to fall down the table and were relegated once more at the end of the 2008-09 season. They narrowly missed out on a return to the Championship with Sam playing 43 league games as they lost in the playoff semi finals against Swindon Town.

After not being offered a new contract he joined Leeds United on a free transfer on the 9th July 2010 but he did not make a great start as he gave away a penalty on his debut against Derby County in a 2-1 defeat. However, in the next league game he scored against Nottingham Forest and also received the man of the match for his performance. He then went on to score against Millwall on 21st August but this positive start did not last as Sam suffered several niggling injuries which kept him out of action for long periods.
LEEDS UNITED V LINCOLN CITY CARLING CUP  10/8/2010
He only featured in 18 league games for Leeds in his first season and did extra work in preseason to get himself fit for the new season and in the friendly matches he provided a lot of assists and topped it off by scoring in a 3-1 win over Newcastle United. This was still not good enough to get him a regular place in the side and on the 14th March 2012 joined Notts County on loan for the rest of the season and scored five goals in 10 games, including a hatrick against Yeovil Town in a 3-1 win.

When his contract came to an end at Leeds he signed for New York Red Bulls on the 16th August 2012 and impressed in his first five games before and injury ruled him out for the rest of the season. He has now recovered from this and helped the club win its first ever Supporters’ Shield in 2013, scoring the third goal in a 5-2 win over Chicago Fire.
Lloyd Sam
The final word can go to the Notts County manager that brought him in on loan Keith Curle. “I like Lloyd. It took him a bit of time to settle at first, but in the end he was enjoying it and was playing free flowing, entertaining, attacking football. Lloyd just keeps getting better and better.”

26th September – Paul Dummett

Newcastle United have had a terrible start to the season and will be hoping that Paul Dummett’s winning goal in the League Cup can kick start their campaign and they can compete at the right end of the table.

Dummett is 23 today and will more than most players at the club want to do well for the fans because he is a local lad but it has been difficult for those in the stands to get behind the manager Alan Pardew. The left back will be hoping that his goal against Crystal Palace can secure his place in the starting lineup against Stoke City and can help the club get their first win of the Premier League season.

He has come up through the youth system and in recent years with Newcastle’s transfer policy this has been a rare occurrence and he should have quickly became a fan favourite but unfortunately for him his rise up the ranks has coincided with Newcastle decrease in quality.
Dummett NUFC
The left back had to go out on loan to get some first team action and joined Conference side Gateshead on loan in March 2012 for an initial month, but after several impressive performances this was extended until the end of the season. During his time at the club he played 10 games and helped them keep six clean sheets. Once again in the following season he had to go out on loan and joined Scottish Premier League side St Mirren.
Dummett Gateshead
On the 15th September 2012 he made his debut in a 2-0 win over Hearts and then went on to score his first senior goal in a 1-1 draw with St Johnstone. With his loan spell coming to an end, the Scottish side wanted to extend his loan but he returned to Newcastle and made his debut for them in a disappointing FA Cup defeat to Brighton on the 5th January 2013. After failing to break into the team regularly he rejoined St Mirren on the 31st January until the end of the season. While at the club he helped them win their first trophy in 26 years as he played the full 90 minutes in the Scottish League Cup final victory over Hearts.
Dummett STM
After playing 30 times in the SPL he was rewarded with a new one year contract by Newcastle. With his extra experience he was now ready for the first team and he started to feature more as the 2013-14 season progressed. He then went on to score his first ever goal for the club in a 2-2 draw against Liverpool in October 2013. Soon afterwards he was given a new contract which meant his deal was extended until 2019. He played 21 times and started the new season as the first choice left back with Davide Santon injured and Massadio Haidara being left on the bench.

The final word can go to Alan Pardew. “We love him to bits. Paul’s a local lad. He’s having to prove to the Newcastle public that he’s good enough. It’s hard for players to come through the academy these days. He does what it says on the tin. He’s a tough tackler, he’s good going forward.”

25th September – Glenn Murray

Glenn Murray has to be one of the unluckiest players ever after working so hard to get to the Premier League and then miss pretty much the whole campaign must have been hard to take.

At the age of 31 he is at the stage of his career where it is unlikely that a Premier League team will take a chance on him and he will have to be at a club that gets promoted. He is still contracted to Crystal Palace but is currently on loan at Reading.

The striker started his career at non league side Workington Reds before going to America to sign for Wilmington Hammerheads, where he spent one season, scoring three goals in 14 games before returning to England. He joined Barrow and impressed with seven goals in seven games and earned a move to Conference side Carlisle United.
Murray CU
He did not have the greatest goal scoring record at Carlisle but played a part in two successive promotions as they won the Conference Playoffs in 2005 and then won League Two a season later. But he would only go on to play one League One game for the club and had to join Stockport County to get regular football and in two months he played 11 games and scored three goals. After initially joining Rochdale on loan he signed for them permanently in January 2007. During his loan spell he scored four goals in 12 games. He finished the 2006-07 season with 16 goals in 31 league games and was seen as the player that could lead the club to promotion.

The 2007-08 season started well for the striker and after nine goals in 23 games, Murray joined League One side Brighton in January. He made his debut in a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Northampton Town but on his home debut he scored twice in a 3-0 win over Crewe. He ended the season with eight goals in 21 games.
Murray BH
Injuries in the following campaign restricted his playing time but he did still manage 12 goals and had a similar record in the 2009-10 season. His final year at Brighton proved to be his most successful as he scored 22 goals in 42 league games. After he rejected Brighton’s new contract offer he left after hitting the back of the net 53 times in the league for the club.

This was forgotten by the Brighton fans after he signed for their rivals Crystal Palace in May 2011. But his first season wasn’t as successful as he hoped as he only scored six times but the 2012-13 season must have been like a dream for the striker. On the 22nd September he scored a 20 minute hatrick against Cardiff City and followed this up with more goals and another hatrick in November against Ipswich Town.

At times he was unstoppable and before Christmas he had scored 22 goals which is a record. However, his dream soon turned into a nightmare as he picked up a serious knee injury but his 30 goals in 42 games were good enough to help Palace get promoted. Murray eventually returned on the 8th February 2014 as a substitute against West Brom.
Murray CP
Since he has only played 15 Premier League games and on the 1st September 2014 he was loaned out to Reading. On his debut he scored twice against Fulham in a 3-0 win but he did miss a penalty against Sheffield Wednesday in the following game.

The final word can go to Ian Holloway. “There are not many strikers who have got 30 in one season. What he’s done is phenomenal. It’s not just that. It’s his work rate, he leads the line and how he brings other people into the game is as good as I’ve seen.”

24th September – John Arne Riise

John Arne Riise might be a left back but it wasn’t his defending he was best known for as he had a phenomenal left foot and scored some sublime goals.

He is now currently playing in Cyprus with APOEL and at the age of 34 he is coming towards the end of his career but he does have some good memories, particularly at Liverpool where he helped them win the Champions league in 2005 in that incredible match against AC Milan. Riise also has the honour of being Norway’s most capped player and is definitely seen as a hero in his home country.

The defender started his career at Norwegian club Aalesund and after a fantastic spell he was being linked with moves away from the club. His five goals in 25 league games convinced French club Monaco to sign the full back. During the 1998-99 season he only played eight times but in the following campaign he became a regular in the side and he helped them win the Ligue 1 title. However, soon after he fell out with manager Claude Puel after saying he wanted to leave the club. Riise had been frustrated because bids had been rejected for him as Monaco wanted a higher transfer fee.

Eventually in 2001 he joined Liverpool for £4 million and made his debut against Bayern Munich in the Super Cup and scored as Liverpool won the game 3-2. He quickly became a fan favourite because of his attacking play from left back and ended his first season in England with seven Premier League goals. The next few seasons were difficult for Riise but after the appointment of Rafael Benitez he rediscovered his form and helped the club win the Champions League. In the final he had a mixed game as he set up the all important first goal for Steven Gerrard but then went on to miss his spot kick in the shootout.
Riise LFC
In his time at Liverpool he also helped them win the FA Cup which also went to penalties and Riise was brave enough to step up once more and this time he managed to score. But after this he started getting less game time and although he made it into Liverpool’s top 50 appearance makers it seemed like his time at the club was coming to an end.

On the 18th June 2008 he signed for Italian side Roma and once again quickly became a fan favourite because of his wholehearted displays and his important goals for the club. He seemed to always pop up in the games that mattered to the fans, he scored a goal against Inter in a pivotal game of the season and then followed this up against Milan with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 victory and then also scored a last minute header to give his team a 2-1 win over Juventus.
Riise Roma
After 99 league games and three seasons at the club he was on the move, this time joining Fulham on the 13th July 2011 and joined his brother Bjorn Helge at the club. He was a very consistent player during his three years there but he did not manage to score which was the most surprising thing about his second spell in England. His final year at the club was a disaster for everyone as they ended up getting relegated to the Championship and Riise left when his contract expired.
Riise FFC
Now at APOEL, he made his debut against Ayia Napa and set up two goals in a 3-1 away victory.

The final word can go to Martin Jol. “John Arne Riise is an experienced international left back who will bring a number of qualities to our squad and provide more options for me. He is an accomplished player defensively, who can also contribute to our attacking play.”