Well guys today on February 3rd 2012 I wrote my first for myself on my brand new site called 1 Nil Down Two One Up. A name inspired by my first Wembley trip with Arsenal on April 5th 1987. It has been quite a 12 months in which I have tried to write regularly, tried to keep it fresh and enjoyed giving opportunities to others who share my passion and wished for a platform. Thanks for continuing to read in growing numbers, thanks for the comments and feedback and for making this site what it has become.
True to myself I hope the choice of subject for the anniversary blog is very me and judging by the feedback on my Afobe piece last week it seems appropriate. I was a writer for Gunnersphere before I began writing for myself I wrote 2 articles on our star youths at the end of 2011. One was on Afobe and yes you guessed it, the other was on his partner in crime Chuks Aneke. It was called Chuks Aneke – The new Patrick Vieira. So given his brief return from his Crewe Alexandra loan, I thought it would be good to discover why Steve Davis the Crewe boss was so keen to have him straight back. But as with the investigative nature of the Afobe blog I wanted to get behind the impressive numbers and dig a bit deeper.
No harm in starting with the number though as they make good reading:
22 Appearances, including 17 starts – 6 Goals and 4 assists for Crewe Alexandra pushing for the play offs this term in League 1 and the cup competitions
I have been in touch with some local Crewe bloggers and reporters but first I thought you might be interested in a poll taken by a Crewe fan site http://www.blogcrewealex.com/ in December just before Chuks returned to Arsenal. This is for the November player of the Month as voted for by his blog subscribers and twitter followers. I sadly have not got a response from this chap but when you see the results it doesn’t really matter how many voted.
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Quite honestly I am not sure I have ever seen a player get 100% of the vote in any poll I have seen have you?
This sort of strike from that very month of course might help to explain it – Wonder goal v Wycombe
So what do I know? Well he is built like Vieira, has the touch of Kanu and a shot like Podolski, but is he any good in reality and will he make the grade. If he does it will not be easy as the role he has played through the youth ranks and into the reserves has been the central attacking midfield role. We all know the current competition among the 1st team squad for that coveted position. Anyway enough of me it is time to ask those who truly know and that is those who have been watching him week in week on this season for Crewe.
I am delighted to welcome three guest contributors:
Adrian Dobson from the Crewe Alex Supporters Initiative (@CreweAsi) http://www.creweasi.co.uk/
Ian Athers from unofficial Crewe blog (@CreweMad) http://www.crewealexandra-mad.co.uk/
Peter Morse, the Chief Sports Writer and Crewe Alex Correspondent for the Cheshire News (@PeterMorse)
So lets’ get straight on with the questions I posed……
GD66: Chuks Aneke has been very highly thought of at Arsenal but so have many youngsters over past decade. It is great to have him spend time at a club renown for playing football the right way. How has he fitted in at Crewe this season?
Adrian: I think Chuks had to quickly alter his style of play on arriving at Crewe. Not a great start getting sent off away at Stevenage in one of his first appearances for a two footed tackle but did become an integral part of our rise up League One. However I still feel that nobody is too sure of his best position.
Peter: Very well, he instantly won the respect of the players and coaches with some excellent displays in training which he was soon able to replicate in matches. He seems a quiet lad who has suffered from homesickness at times but everyone at the club is glad he has returned until the end of the season.
Ian: He has fitted in nicely and players have taken to him and the manager Steve Davis praises him highly and was really desperate to secure another loan spell at the club. He has done what he has been asked to but his position in midfield he has done well.
GD66: He has been described as Vieira like due to his build but has played CM or just behind the striker in the youth team and reserves, What formation have Crewe been playing and where has Aneke played in the system?
Adrian: Perhaps not the right thing to say to an Arsenal fan, but I always likened him to Teddy Sheringham. At times looking like he was coasting through a game, and then creates that little bit of magic which could be the difference between winning and losing. We did play him in several positions, but i felt his best one was playing behind the strike force where he could create most damage to the opposition. He played out wide in midfield on occasions and he appeared to struggle in that role.
Peter: Crewe are known for being willing and able to change their formation and this probably has not been to Chuks’ advantage. He isn’t an easy player to ‘pigeon-hole’ in a position anyway, so he has played CM, in behind the front one, behind a front two, wide in a midfield-four and wide in an attack three. The more advanced and central positions suit him best, but when Crewe switched to 3-5-2 for a short while he dropped out of the team. They are back with 4-4-2 at the minute so that will be easier for him.
Ian: Aneke has been playing on the wing in some of the early games and looked a bit lost but he seems to flourish in midfield when we played a diamond formation. (Oh my word do teams still play 442 diamonds, shock, horror! Yes it bloody works.)
GD66: For my readers who have not seen much of him yet what would you describe as his biggest strengths and attributes? Or indeed his weaknesses?
Adrian: Certainly has an eye for goal, and you could always expect at least one defence splitting pass during a game. I do feel his one weakness is his pace (or lack of it). At times in the hurly burly of League One perhaps he wanted too much time on the ball and was caught in possession.
Peter: He scores and makes goals. He has the ability to make something out of nothing and see things others don’t. he has scored from range, from inside the box and with his head, and he is versatile. Negatives – he doesn’t defend well and is work rate is lower than you would expect.
Ian: His biggest strength is an eye for goals and he has scored at least two good goals also he can play a killer pass which has proved effective with us netting some goals. His weakness is that he can be lazy and some time disinterested in games where he disappears but I feel this is because of his age.
GD66: I see he has appeared 22 times for you and mostly from the start and scored 4 goals. Any particular performances or goals truly stand out for you?
Adrian: You got the same from Chuks most weeks. Frustrating, with him needlessly losing the ball, closely followed by elation as he split the defence to set up a goal. His last appearance in a Crewe shirt was coming on as sub for the last 20 minutes in Johnstones Paint Trophy semi final. With the game delicately poised at 2-1 for Crewe, in his short time on the pitch Chuks set one up and then blasted home another to take us through to the final and one tie from Wembley.
Peter: He was actually playing very well at Stevenage, creating two good goals, before he was sent off for a miss-timed lunge! He has learned from that. And his first goal for Crewe, in a 2-1 win over Hartlepool, was a magnificent strike from an angle which left the keeper no chance.
Ian: His displays in the games I have seen him have been varied but the Stevenage game he had a very good game and scored a good goal even though we lost 2-1 and the 3-2 win over Colchester United he played really well.
GD66: Do you think he will have return to Arsenal a better player/individual for his regular game time in a tough League 1 and do you see him being able to step up the Premier League in the near future?
Adrian: Chuks is not always easy on the eye, but nobody could doubt his talent and he has shown he can score and create goals. Hopefully his time at Crewe has improved him as a player, only time will tell. Unfortunately, with a lot of clubs, youth is not given a chance but Chuks is certainly one worth considering for the future.
Peter: There is no doubt he will have benefited from the experience. He will have learned some of the harsh ‘realities’ of football, ie how you have to play well to keep your place, how you have to be responsible in defending even if you are an attacking player, and just understood the pressure of playing competitive games. He will also return confident from proving he can cut it in the professional game. I personally think Chuks is some way off playing for Arsenal, he needs to define a role he can play in, up his work rate take fewer touches on the ball and become responsible defensively. However, there is no doubt he has the quality and ability to make it at the top level in the loner term.
GD66: If no do you think he will after perhaps a loan at a Championship side?
Adrian: Forget the Championship, I’d gladly take him back in our push for the play offs. He seemed to enjoy his time here so hopefully the Alexandra Stadium has not seen the last of him in a Crewe shirt. (obviously Adrian got his wish and Chuks has returned since this interview.)
Peter: I think that would be beneficial for him, just another step up on his learning curve.
Ian: Yeah I think he could quite easily play for a Championship side in the future.
Thanks guys. Superb again to get support from the football family to produce a meaningful blog on Aneke, based on the here and now and with the inside track from true Crewe observers. I think Adrian has a particular soft spot for Chuks and here might be why:
So unlike with Afobe, it would appear the locals where Chuks has been on loan have been impressed. So let me summarise what I have learned and conclude. We have a hugely talented individual who wants to ply his trade centrally. He is not happy out wide and presently appears reluctant to work hard defensively. This of course can be worked on. He is undoubtedly a game influence at the fore of a midfield diamond, as Vieira was to be honest but would also be comfortable in the CAM role is our existing set up or perhaps as a No.10 just off a main striker in a 442. All my guests highlight is ability to spot a defence splitting pass, (something we lack on occasion) and that he has the eye for a spectactular goal. His launguid style, can make him appear lazy but his long legs do carry him faster than perhaps it appears. He reminds me a little bit of Kanu in some ways, which is no bad thing, and despite being a North London boy, at Arsenal since he was 9, he has opted to play for Nigeria.
All in all it sounds as if Chucks may well be a feature in the first team squad in 2013/14, although a loan in the Championship may beckon. This week watch out for the result of Coventry v Crewe in the Northern Regional Final for the Johnstones Paint Trophy Final. Sadly this is not live on TV,but the final at Wembley on the 7th April will be on Sky Sports. (Check the odds at bookmakers.co.uk) Fingers crossed Chuks Aneke can be there before his team mates in North London follow him there in May.
Well that brings me the end of my 1st anniversary blog and I will lave you with a glimpse of the touch and tekkers for Chuks Aneke coutesy of the ever talented @CulannDavies taken from our pre-season match v Malaysia.
Until next time thanks for reading and there will be more anniversary week specials this week.
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