Benteke: Why Arsenal or Spurs would be ideal for Villa’s want-away star


Guest writer Chris Francis weighs up the options for Christian Benteke, and sees North London as an ideal home for Villa’s want-away hitman…

It hardly came as a surprise when Christian Benteke handed in a transfer request earlier this week. In his debut season, he was comfortably the best player in an Aston Villa team that narrowly, although confidently, avoided relegation, putting to bed any questions as to why Paul Lamber had made the Belgian his focal point rather than Darren Bent.

Benteke scored 19 goals in the Premier League last season – 23 in all competitions – bullying defences at both ends of the league, and showing himself to be a dauntless force of goals and attacking composure, taking on the load of heaving Villa to safety across his young yet broad shoulders. Though he is still only 22 Benteke lead from the front like a hardened veteran with years of experience, driving on Villa’s other youngsters to follow his example.

Having shown the league what he can do with limited support, he now wants to play in bigger competitions in a side able to challenge for trophies in the immediate future. Unfortunately for Lambert and those on the Holte End, their’s is a project that will still take time despite the considerable improvement made by Villa’s potential packed squad as last season’s campaign matured.

This week’s transfer request indicates an understanding of the realities of his ambitions and needs, but there are of course a number of asterisk over his name that any potential suitor would need to consider before seeking to snatch him from Villa Park. Continue reading

African Cup of Nations 2013 Preview: Group D


The False Nine’s David Dodds previews Group D in the African Cup of Nations…

Ivory Coast

This is the so-called Golden Generation of Ivorian football, and it’s little surprise that this is the case given how stacked their squad is with players who have European pedigree. Continue reading

The Strange Case of Mathieu Flamini

False Nine editor Hugo Greenhalgh considers the career of one of his favourite players, Mathieu Flamini, and what the long-term implications of his departure meant for Arsenal…

How does one measure such an abject fall from grace?

In 2008, Mathieu Flamini was arguably one of the best central midfielders in the Premiership and a key member of an Arsenal side that should have won the title that season. Two years previously, he had demonstrated his versatility by filling in at left-back in a Champions League campaign that took Arsenal to the final. Yet just this summer, Flamini became a free agent and was forced to take a significant wage cut to re-join AC Milan. His is a cautionary tale that the grass isn’t always greener. Continue reading