One to Watch - Sebastian Larsson
Name: Sebastian Larsson
Date of Birth: 6/6/1985
Former Clubs: Arsenal, Birmingham
League Appearances (Goals): 202 (24)
International Appearances (Goals): 38 (3)
Stat of the Day: Eight of Sebastian Larsson`s last 14 Premier League goals have been from direct free kicks
Educated at Arsenal, central to Sweden`s qualification for Euro 2012, and possessing the knack of scoring spectacular free kicks, Sebastian Larsson is finally achieving the recognition his talent deserves. Larsson attributes his success to coming up against Ashley Cole in his early days at Arsenal and the 26-year-old Swede is in arguably the best form of his career. Inconsistency seemed to be Larsson`s main downfall at Birmingham, but with already five goals to his name this season, the right winger has settled at The Stadium of Light extraordinarily quickly, and if Martin O`Neill wants to turn Sunderland around he surely understands Larsson will be crucial to his triumphs.
If QPR concede a free kick around the edge of the area, we`re screwed. And let`s face it, we will. It may be easy to harp on about Larsson`s free-kick abilities, but when have QPR ever made it hard for someone to break or prolong a record!? In five seasons with Birmingham, Larsson experienced two promotions, two relegations and won the League Cup and if such a footballing journey won`t stand you in good stead for years to come I don`t know what will.
Larsson was born in Eskilstuna, Sweden and initially played football for his home-town team, IFK Eskilstuna. He joined Arsenal at the age of 16 after a scout saw him turn out for his country. He quickly made his first-team debut against Manchester City in the League Cup on 27 October 2004, where he played out of position at left back.
Larsson joined Birmingham City on a season-long loan from Arsenal in August 2006, with an option to make the move permanent. He made an immediate impact, scoring late winners in his first few games. He proved to be a runaway success at Birmingham and at the end of January 2007, Larsson signed permanently for Birmingham City on a four-year deal for £1 million. The midfielder spent a fruitful five years at St Andrews, amassing over 200 appearances in all competitions and scoring 25 goals. Wonder goals were aplenty, free kicks were soon frequent occurrences and he was part of the team that won the League Cup in 2011.
Larsson left Birmingham to join Sunderland in the summer under the Bosman ruling, linking up with former manager Steve Bruce. He is Sunderland`s top goalscorer with five goals this season and has been one of the stand out performers in a team that has largely struggled this season.