Clean Sweep for Arsenal at the London Football Awards
The London Football Awards has always been focused on celebrating the very best of London football, and the eligibility for the awards are around specific London football clubs – AFC Wimbledon, Arsenal, Brentford, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leyton Orient, London Bees, London City Lionesses, Millwall, Queens Park Rangers, Sutton United, Tottenham Hotspurs, Watford and West Ham United.
Without the bias of being an Arsenal supporter, its fair to say that Arsenal has been the most in-form and consistent team in the league, with the club’s players being some of the most consistent all season long, so it was only fair for many Arsenal players to be nominated in the several categories, and winning deservedly.
Firstly, the Outstanding Contribution to London football went to West Ham’s stalwart, Mark Noble. A player that dedicated 18 years of service to one club, garnering 550 appearances, is surely deserving of the award, and it’s also good to know that Noble is now a Sporting Director at West Ham, with the club recognizing his service and rewarding him appropriately.
Next up, was the Football League Player of the year, with five lower league players, Joao Pedro (Watford), Zian Flemming (Millwall), Paul Smyth (Leyton Orient), Miles Leaburn (Charlton Athletic) and Omar Beckles (Leyton Orient). The winner was League Two’s Paul Smyth, that has been in very fine form for the O’s, scoring nine goals in 25 appearances thus far this season. Leyton Orient are currently on top of League Two with 72 points, and will be odds on to get promotion to League One next season, and Smyth has been very essential to that.
Another interesting London Football awards category was the Goal of the Year award, with the five nominees being, Heung-Min Son’s amazing curler in Tottenham’s demolition of Leicester, Michael Olise’s last-gasp free kick for Crystal Palace against Manchester United, Ismaila Sarr’s finish for Watford against West Brom, Paul Smyth’s strike for Leyton Orient against Doncaster and Arsenal Ladies, Laura Wienroither’s astute technical finish for the Gunners against Manchester United. While Son’s goal was the undoubted winner, I was somewhat disappointed not to see any of Thomas Partey’s wonderstrikes against Spurs and Nottingham on the nominee list.
Arsenal came really close in the Women’s Player of the Year awards, with Kim Little and Beth Mead nominated alongside West Ham’s Viking, Dagny Brynjasdottir, and Chelsea’s Millie Bright and Sam Kerr. Kerr, the goal machine, is widely regarded as one of the best female attackers of all time, and since joining Chelsea Ladies in 2020 after a successful spell with Chicago Red Stars, Kerr has scored 81 goals in 99 appearances, with 20 goals scored in 21 games this season. You can’t compete against that.
Arsenal had its first triumph in the Goalkeeper of the Year award, with Aaron Ramsdale getting the nod over David Raya (Brentford), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea), Laurence Vigouroux (Leyton Orient) and his former teammate, Bernd Leno (Fulham). I know I certainly haven’t watched Vigouroux in League Two, but the other four goalies on this list play alongisde Ramsdale in the Premier League, and he has notched up more clean sheets than them and has been a big influence on his team. Raya and Leno have been good shot stoppers for their respective clubs, but they concede a lot of goals. Kepa is one player that has had a renaissance, winning his place from Edouard Mendy after the World Cup and has put up some Grade A performances for Chelsea.
The next Arsenal award category swoop came in the Young Player of the Year award, with the starboy himself, Bukayo Saka, eclipsing Micheal Olise (Crystal Palace), Billy Mitchell (Millwall) and two of his teammates, William Saliba and Gabriel Martinelli to win the award. This was Saka’s second Young Player of the Year award, having won it in 2021. While I have no arguments about Saka being the winner, I must commend Saliba and Martinelli for their contributions to the team this season. After several loan spells out, Mikel Arteta decided that Saliba has finally come of age, and he showed great confidence in the youngster, moving Ben White to the right back slot just to accommodate Saliba, and the Frenchman has forged an impressive partnership with Gabriel in the heart of Arsenal’s defense. Martinelli, on the other hand, was always bound for the stars with his huge potential on display, but this season, he has added some much needed output, making him the highest goal scorer for the team with 12 goals with his header in the comfortable win over Fulham.
Arsenal’s third award win was for the Player of the Year award, with club captain and talisman, Martin Odegaard, surpassing the likes of Harry Kane (Spurs), Ivan Toney (Brentford), Aleksandr Mitrovic (Fulham) and his lad, Saka, to win this prize. I’m very happy Odegaard was recognized for this award, but he faced off with very stiff competition to win it, because Kane, Mitrovic, Toney and Saka have been lighting up the goals with their respective clubs. This sort of award should spur Odegaard to do more and Arsenal will be the beneficiaries.
Arsenal’s fourth and final swoop on the night was the Manager of the Year award, with the big boss himself, Mikel Arteta, beating the likes of Emma Hayes (Chelsea Ladies), Marco Silva (Fulham), Thomas Frank (Brentford) and Richie Wellens (Leyton Orient). Right now, there is no manager in England deserving of such an award than Arteta for the amazing transformational work he has done at Arsenal. Taking over from the ruins left by Unai Emery and instilling his footprint on the side, Arsenal has become the talk of the town and they have backed it up with the points in the Premier League, sitting pretty at the top with 66 points, five clear of the defending champions, Manchester City.
It was a clean sweep for Arsenal and these awards should motivate these players to go over the line to deliver the big one, the Premier League – Arsenal’s first title in 19 years.
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