Anthony Stokes

I’ve been keeping an eye on his progress for a year or two now, great to see him make some real progress. Should be in the next Irish squad or at the very least start the B International against Scotland. Good article on him here:

Anthony Stokes picked up a black eye along with the match ball on Saturday. It was the only time Dundee United managed to lay a glove on him. Falkirk’s 5-1 caning of the Tannadice side, which marked the end of the Craig Brewster reign, had just as much to do with Stokes’ excellence as the visitors’ ineptitude.
The 18-year-old, on loan from Arsenal, is the kind of player Falkirk have lacked for most of John Hughes’ stewardship, and certainly since the departure of Darryl Duffy to Hull City in January. With Stokes in their ranks, Falkirk now bristle with intent in the final third. He has added a much-needed cutting edge to their trademark passing game.

Liam Brady, Arsenal’s head of youth development, first clapped eyes on his protege as a raw 13-year-old in Ireland. A couple of years later the club plucked him from Shelbourne and introduced him to the bright lights of Highbury.

Naturally, the former Celtic manager is delighted to see Stokes starting to fulfil his potential north of the border. “He only turned 18 in July and to go up there and play in a league which, I know from personal experience, is very tough physically, is a great credit to him,” said Brady.
“I keep in regular contact with John Hughes and he’s always telling me how well Anthony is doing. He struggled to score in the first few games, but now his confidence is high and he is off and running.”

A textbook hat trick it included one with his right, another with his left and a third from the penalty spot was the perfect showcase of his talents at the weekend. So, too, were the two assists for the other couple of goals in a virtuoso performance. “He’s a very creative, inventive player,” added Brady.
“He can score goals but he’s also the kind of player who doesn’t necessarily depend on other players to help him score them. He’s got a great shot on him and, although he’s naturally right-sided, he’s worked extremely hard on his left side. He’s got a very good attitude to working on any so-called weaknesses.”

Stokes could have joined the phalanx of Arsenal youths Nicklas Bendtner, Sebastian Larsson and Fabrice Muamba are all at Birmingham City on loan south of the border. However, the presence of Patrick Cregg and Stephen O’Donnell, close friends and
Arsenal contemporaries, at Falkirk encouraged him to try his luck in Scotland.

“At the moment I am really happy here and things are going very well for me,” said Stokes. "It’s as well as I could have expected when I moved here on loan from Arsenal. The penalty was my seventh goal in eight games for Falkirk and I’m feeling really confident in front of goal these days.
“When I scored my first in the CIS Insurance Cup against Inverness I had a break of a few matches, but, since the St Mirren game, I haven’t stopped scoring. All I want to do is concentrate on my game and score as many goals as I can for the club.”

Cregg and O’Donnell, another couple of young Irishmen who were brought to Arsenal through Brady’s contacts in Ireland, ultimately failed to make the grade at Arsenal and joined Hughes’ side in permanent moves in January. However, Brady fully expects Stokes to return to the Emirates Stadium at some point and challenge for a place alongside the likes Thierry Henry and Robin Van Persie.
“For sure,” said Brady when asked if Stokes is a potential first team player at Arsenal. “He’s only 18. Very few players play in the Premiership at that age. Anthony has now had two years of reserve-team football and it was time for him to experience some men’s football. He’s got his feet on the ground. Some kids think they’ve arrived as soon as they start doing well, but not Anthony.”

Falkirk’s cherry-picking of young Arsenal talent has been of mutual benefit to both clubs. As well as Cregg, O’Donnell and Stokes, goalkeeper Mark Howard also enjoyed a loan spell at the Falkirk Stadium last season, though contractual problems prevented the move being made permanent. As Brady explains, there is no mystery behind the link-up between the clubs. It is simply down to the initiative of Hughes.

“He just picked up the phone to me,” explained Brady. “He was looking for players that Arsenal were maybe thinking of letting go, so I invited him down to one of our reserve matches. That is how he picked up Cregg, O’Donnell and Howard. It’s a good place for young players to go because Falkirk play the right kind of football. We have built up a trust now.”

Great crop of Irish talent coming through the ranks in East Anglia, they’re attracting Premiership interest already. Better off staying where they are for another while thought I think, as would Stokes who’s already been more of a success in the SPL that the overhyped Alliadiere.

Clarke not moved by Prem interest

Young Ipswich striker Billy Clarke has allayed supporters’ fears he will be Premiership-bound when the transfer window reopens in January.

Cork-born Clarke, 18, has been linked with a 2million move to Everton, while fellow teenagers Shane Supple and Owen Garvan are also thought to be targets for a number of top-flight clubs.

But Clarke insisted: "I can tell the supporters I’m not going anywhere, nor are the other young lads that are here. It is flattering to have clubs like that interested but I have heard nothing and all I can do is keep playing my football and doing well for Ipswich.

"We have got a brilliant bunch of players that have come through the academy. We have gelled as we have come through and it is understandable the club would want to keep their best young players.

"It is brilliant that the likes of Shane, Owen and I have caught the eye but the club have made it clear we are not going anywhere.

“I’m happy with that. I signed a three-year contract at the end of the season and I intend sticking to it. I’m happy with that and all I want is to keep playing and scoring goals.”

Work precludes me from posting too much now but Ive only seen Stokes play once against Celtic about a month ago. He has definite promise, he led the line well and had good movement too. Had a few strikes at goal as well. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

I have a video of a few of his goals for Arsenal reserves, from what I’ve seen he likes to get the ball and run at the defenders. I’ll see can I post it anywhere. Any of the Celtic fans on the forum know anything of Celtic’s interest in Patrick Cregg also?

Don’t know anything about interest in Patrick Cregg - where did you hear of it?

I saw extended highlights of the Dundee United game and Stokes was excellent. Not only did he score his 3 goals but he was brought down for the penalty he converted and had assists for the other 2 goals. His assists were pretty much putting the ball on a plate for the other lads so he nearly got all 5. That was on the back of an impressive performance against Celtic a couple of weeks back when he looked very dangerous.

As Brady says above I think he’ll benefit hugely from playing with Falkirk. They play good football and he’ll get the chance to score goals against the likes of Dundee United but he’ll be tested physically against Hearts and Celtic so he’ll come out a much better player.

Celtic aren’t interested in Cregg as far as I know. What’s your source on that bt? Not meaining to offend the lad but having been released by Arsenal it looks like he’s found his level at Falkirk. Looked like a busy midfielder from what I recall. I think he was the one that nearly halved Lee Naylor with a vicious tackle.

Another hat-trick for Stokes at the weekend. Consecutive hat-tricks is great going. I presume he’ll be in one of the Irish squads announced this week - I think he should be in contention for a starting place or on the bench for the San Marino game. He’s the type of guy we should be giving experience - not Wayne Henderson or Jay Tabb etc.

A mate told me he’s currently 100/1 to be the all time leading Irish goal scorer! Think that was before the hat-tricks though. The way Robbie Keane has been playing for us lately though it’s worth a few quid.

On Cregg I heard it from a friend who’s generally fairly knowledgeable, didn’t read it anywhere.

If anybody wants to check out Stokes then he’ll be playing for Falkirk at Celtic Park tonight in the League Cup quarter final. It’s live on Setanta Sports Ireland at 7.30pm.

It will also provide some clues as to whether Jiri Jarosik is Celtic class or not. Balde should get a run and Big Jan will continue his comeback. Might also be nice for Riordan to get a game.

Hat-trick from the weekend

This is a discussion on a Falkirk forum about him.
http://www.onefinfalkirk.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=11709&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=40

First things first fair play to Falkirk who were absolutely smashing from start to finish. The 2 best performances by Scottish teams against Celtic I have seen this season have been by them in the league a month ago and then tonight surpassed that. Stokes was hugely impressive again, he seems to have an all round game. Good movement, decent pace, has ability in the air and a good strike on him.

As for Celtic; I was really disappointed at the end tonight. I had my heart set on a treble this season to be honest. The League Cup may not take much precedence in other countries (do Spain, Italy, Germany even have one?) but the fact that only 4 games wins it in Scotland means that it’s not too much of a disruption to set out and win it.

There wasn’t actually anything wrong with Celtic’s attitude tonight. Falkirk simply played excellently and matched them. I don’t mean to pick someone out but tonight confirmed that Stephen Pearson is not Celtic class. His presence in midfield again stunted Celtic’s ability to get their passing game going. McGeady was really disappointing and then the likes of Balde, Gravesen and Jan were returning and looking for fitness. Another worrying performance from Maloney too - bright in the first half and anonymous after that.

A smashing game but that’s no consolation at all. Balls.

Yeah Falkirk deserved it over the whole game I felt. They might not even have been the better side on the night but they played decent football and it was a lesson to other SPL teams on how to approach games at Celtic Park - if Hearts had kept at us they would probably have won at the weekend, instead of panicking and trying to shut up shop.

Some disappointing performances but it was good to have Tommy, Bobo and Big Jan starting and they’ll all benefit from the run. I have to agree on Pearson. The odd decent run into the box but a central midfielder absolutely needs to be able to pass the ball and he can’t. Hope they go onto win it now.

Stokes was excellent again. He has plenty of attributes: strength, skill and shooting which should make him a top striker.

Stokes got his first goal for Sunderland today - they’re leading 2-0 at Plymouth.

I had a Everton, Liverpool, Sundeland, Aberdeen accululator today.

I researched the fook out of it before doing it and the combinded odds were 12/1.

I was fooking raging when Pool got beaten because they battered Newcastle from start to finish and conceded 2 of ridiculous goals. If I learned one lesson today it’s that you shouldn’t rely on small clubs to win you money.

http://football.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2022101,00.html

Scouting report: Anthony Stokes, Sunderland

Steve Claridge
Tuesday February 27, 2007
The Guardian

Sometimes when you hear talk of a player - and there has been plenty about Anthony Stokes - it makes you wonder what all the hype is about, so it was with great interest that I took the opportunity to scrutinise the teenager at Birmingham recently. In his case, the rave reviews are more than justified.
Watching him made me all the more amazed that Arsenal were prepared to sell him, albeit for upwards of 1m. Naturally a striker, Stokes was asked to play on the left wing for Sunderland at St Andrew’s and, with that in mind, my analysis will be on him as a player rather than specifically as a left-sided midfielder. Yet the fact that he still impressed and was spot on with his attitude despite being asked to play in an unfamiliar role said a lot for the 18-year-old’s appetite for the game.

Admittedly, he was caught out defensively at times and occasionally found himself up-field when he should have been back and vice-versa. But I could sympathise, having had to play - thankfully only once - in that unaccustomed position myself. Regardless, he was positive in everything he did, picking up the ball and running at his markers, particularly the experienced Bruno N’Gotty. Stokes beat the former Bolton defender all ends up with one step-over, sending the centre-half sprawling to the ground before putting over a fantastic cross with his wrong foot.

Stokes has that uncanny knack of being as quick with the ball as when he is without it. Against Birmingham he was also just as swift to get his head up and pick people out with a pass, twice releasing team-mates - Carlos Edwards from deep, and then Dean Whitehead from the edge of the box - in moves that should have resulted in Sunderland eking out better opportunities than they did. The youngster always looked to pass and move and was constantly available for the one-two.

Stokes is tall, lean and physically well rounded for someone so young, which is no surprise given that he is a graduate of Arsenal’s prodigious youth set-up. Yet he was deemed not good enough to move to Sunderland after a brief trial at the beginning of this season. Instead, Arsenal loaned him to Falkirk where a record of 16 goals in 18 appearances in the first half of this campaign alerted Roy Keane to his abilities.

Stokes has great pace and a good first touch, born out by two moments of magic at Birmingham. First, he took the ball down from chest-height when it was fizzed at him, then he received a pass on the run and glided away from the defender in one movement, before forcing the goalkeeper into a great save. This is a player capable of doing things at pace that others only dream of.

He is also comfortable in tight areas and, on one occasion, sucked in two opponents before releasing a team-mate with a lovely back-heel. There was quality and ability in everything he did, which explains why Celtic were so disappointed to lose out on his signature last month. Gordon Strachan’s loss is sure to be Keane’s gain.

Age 18

Born Dublin

Position Forward

Height 5ft 11in

Weight 11st 6lb

From Arsenal

Awareness 8/10

Bravery 8/10

Shooting 8/10

Heading 8/10

Control 9/10

Responsibility 8/10

Value 2m

Is that Steve Claridge the ex player and woeful analyst?

If so I’ll take that with a pinch of salt…

That’s he alright.

Stokes turned up late for the team bus yesterday for Sunderland and Keane left him behind.

Stokes has joined Sheffield United on loan until January. Hope they play him up front and he can get back to scoring goals.

Stokes always struck me as one of these fellas who thought he was better than he was. Needs to get down to work and earn it again, I doubt he’s capable of it and might never see the Prem again if he goes on as he is going.