3 goals, 3 points and we are back on track.

April 21, 2014

Arsenal fans always seem to find a whipping boy just now it’s Arteta and of course Giroud, but I will come back to that in a moment.

There is no such thing as an easy game in the PL (ask Chelsea)  and confidence seemed to be coming back after the midweek win against West Ham so expectations were high for our visit to Hull, especially with the return of Koscienly, Ozil and Ramsey. However, for the best part of half an hour we again seemed off the pace and Hull created one or two chances notably when Livermore hit the post from distance.

This seemed to be a wake up call. I had asked beforehand if Cazorla and Ozil could play together, but more importantly open up a very physical and determined Hull defence? The answer was an emphatic yes, but it was the inclusion of Ramsey, who is going to be a world class player, that gave us the extra impetus and it was he who opened the scoring, ably assisted by Ozil and Cazorla.

ozil and rambo

Ozil seemed to have a free role and after a reasonably long lay off showed all the doubters that he oozes class. Further excellent goals by Podolski, sealed the match and at times we were seeing the Arsenal of old with pace, fluidity and a renewed confidence.

ramsey v hull

Giroud comes in for a lot of stick from many sections of the fan base but he laid off the ball for the second and takes a bruising every single game. Despite his twenty goals this season, he is not a natural clinical striker but he has a part to play in the squad and we will see come the end of the season if he stays or goes or even possibly gets demoted to an alternative forward if we venture into the market .

poldi scores v hull

Arteta is slowing up and still had a reasonable game but we need someone with a more physical presence for next season. My only beef about him is that often he slows the game down especially when we are counter attacking.

All in all it was a pleasing performance and still kept us on track for CL qualification yet the main talking point was how much we had missed the Welsh Wizard who considering his long lay off really made a huge difference to our attacking options.

Confidence, returning players,and goals are back in abundance, so all in all a positive position to be in for the final run in.

kelsey


Wham Bang, thank you Arsenal.

April 16, 2014

What I want to know is this: exactly what happened in the dressing room at half time? Any ideas? Was it even legal?

The first half was one of those end of season games between two mid-table sides with nothing to play for. Only it shouldn’t have been. Sure, the odd bit of skill here and there, but generally looking more like twenty two footballers who had never met before.

So, the first half rumbled on until, and oh thank you West Ham, a goal, and then all change. Arsenal reacted, and no surprise it was Podolski who pulled us level. The Man can shoot accurately and hard.

Into the dressing room at 1-1. Now, I’ve never had Arsène down as a natural motivator, which is fine so long as you have natural leaders and fighters on the pitch and I’ve had my doubts that we do. I was beginning to believe the gutter press, particularly with regards to Santi, but he in particular, but also the entire side in general, were clearly introduced to each other at half time, and a new side emerged for the second forty five.

Energy, drive, understanding and desire was evident from the Arsenal XI.

In the fiftieth minute, Ollie climbed into DB10’s football boots, controlled the ball with the most exquisite of touches and buried the ball with a superb finish. Sheer quality. Twenty odd minutes later, and Podolski slammed home his second and Arsenal’s third. Job done.

At this stage of the season, and given the closeness of the battle for forth with Everton, it was always the points that most mattered, but the nature of the second half performance gave room for massive optimism.

Verm played a disciplined and excellent game, and the importance of quality in depth was further highlighted by the introduction of Aaron late in the game. With the likely return of Mesut for part of the run in, and of course my favourite Ox in the wings, I’d image we could be savouring some great performances as well as the necessary points.

Written by MickyDidIt

 

We have two posts today, here are kelsey’s thoughts on the game……….

 

Arsenal burst West Ham’s Bubble.

Many questions were asked before the game. Would the draining one hundred and twenty minutes on the Wembley turf would take its toll on our depleted squad with only three  days respite between the two games? Who would have recovered in time yet keeping a balance in the side?

Wenger decided to make five changes and in the end they were more than justified. Every game in the run in is a massive match and the jostling for fourth place might not see an outcome until the final day.

For the first half an hour apart from a glaring miss by Giroud, our play was nervous and generally lacked pace and a real threat, then invariably in one of West Ham’s rare attacks Jarvis scored a header which in all fairness was a messy goal and thoughts returned again to “oh no”.

Of course the ideal situation is to fight back immediately and just before half time Podolski let fly with his lethal left foot.

“Goals change games” , a phrase often used and the Arsenal team that came out in the second half had a spring in it’s step and was more like the side we had been watching a couple of months ago .

Giroud, the enigma he is, scored a fantastic goal and the when the tired Rosicky game off the introduction of Ramsey showed how much we had missed him and within minutes his dinked header into the path of our left footed German nearly broke the net, and the game was won.

It was a much changed team and it was nice to see Cazorla back to his best after a slow start. He seems to save his best performances for Home games and I just can’t work Giroud out. He generally misses the easy chances yet converts the more difficult ones. Maybe with him and even Podolski to an extent it’s just regaining confidence.

Another who surprised me was Arteta, though not foot perfect, he and mainly the whole team seemed to have been revitalised after the Cup win, and that bodes well for the run in.

I keep repeating it, but Sagna should be retained if possible. He even found himself in the centre forward position on one occasion and his energy levels are amazing. He maybe getting on,but a player who can naturally play in at least three different positions is invaluable.

All in all a very satisfactory performance and a vital three points. Others are still to come back and by the weekend including most probablty Ozil and Oxdale-Chamberlain, we may well then  have a selection problem. It’s a “Funny old game”, that’s why we love it and emotions swing up and down several times in just ninety minutes.

Well played lads, today we are smiling :)

Written by kelsey


We Are Family

April 12, 2014

I am not a fan of the term “must win game” which we have heard so often (including tomorrow’s “title decider” -as if!) but today really is a must win. No excuses, no silly mistakes, nothing but victory is acceptable.

We need silverware to bring the club back to the fans. The bitching from the Me Generation who have grown up with the ludicrous premise that “second is losing” demand a Cup and Arsenal have an excellent chance to keep them quiet for a while.

I know Wigan have done wonders recently and that they are New Wembley winners far more times than us (have we won there?), but they sit a division below us. There will be no excuses for a loss.

I have to say I am nervous, Arsenal, of late, have a habit of falling over in sight of the winning post, the Koscielny/Szczesny comedy routine remains fresh in the memory, so I do not take anything for granted.

images

Brilliant but Once is Enough

Wigan are nailed on to reach the play-offs. They are a good side playing attacking, pressing football so well that their victory at Maine Rd was well deserved – it was no fluke victory, they took on an over-confident City and beat them fair and square. They have been resting their players ahead of today’s match.

Managed by Uwe Rusler who appears to be a fine successor to Martinez, a good organiser and a man who may have a fine future as a manager. He has beaten lung cancer which shows he is a fighter. Rusler managed 3 teams in Norway before joining Brentford, before taking over from Owen Coyle at Wigan. Under Rusler’s management Wigan have only lost 5 of 29 games.

One fact to settle the nerves. In 20 matches between the clubs, Wigan have won 3.

Arsenal continue to struggle with both form and injuries.  Writing on Friday, we are missing Gibbs, Koscielny, Ox, Wilshere, Ozil, Walcott, Myachi, Gnabry, Flamini (banned) and most recently Rosicky. 10 players plus Diaby – it is amazing we have a team to put out!! However, we are still able to send out 10 Internationals (Arteta) and they should be good enough to beat Wigan – maybe not a rampant Everton but …..

My Team – (prior to final fitness tests and assuming none pass)

fa cup semi

Hopefully we will have some bodies back – if not Steve Bould will have to be on the bench!

The fans will be really up for it today, well over half the ground will be Arsenal, and it will be a sea of red. Anything which brings the fans together can only help the players perform. We are the 12th man.

I am so envious of this going today. There is nothing like walking down Olympic Way  in the sun surrounded by thousands of fellow Gooners all excited and half-cut with the awful smell of dodgy burgers in the air.  The memories of those afternoons will be with me always and when I am stuck in a dentist’s chair or sitting disconsolate having missed a plane I have them to fall back upon. That is the wonder of fandom – those weirdo’s who look askance at us when we say we love football don’t have that, do they?

Will we win? Who knows? It all depends upon which Arsenal turn up today. In my opinion, if we revert to sitting deep early doors and getting to half-time at 0-0, which is a tactic Mr Wenger has employed each game following a nasty defeat, then we will not be the Arsenal I know and love. I want us to go at Wigan from the first whistle, pin them back, pepper their goal with shots from all angles, bemuse their defenders with our sumptuous passing game and score at least 3 by half-time. Wouldn’t that be great?

I will be wearing red today, I suggest you do the same – after all as the mighty Sister Sledge/Chic say “We are Family”

written by Big Raddy


Déjà vu …….. (and a tribute to dandan)

April 7, 2014

This has to be one of the most difficult reviews that I have ever written. Hearing of the sudden death of one of our stalwarts, dandan, left me and several others numb before the game.

We are a diverse but close community on Arsenal Arsenal. We endeavour to show respect to one another regardless of our differing views and despite another dismal performance by the team yesterday, one realises that there  is more to life than football.

As to the game I think all has already been said, but the fact is that we have now dropped twenty points out of a possible thirty three in our last eleven league matches .

Yes we have had multiple injuries and going to Everton was never going to be an easy game, but the team whoever plays was flat, lacked pace and power and seem nervous and disjointed, but above all a lack of confidence and with a Cup semi Final a week away and what seems on paper a reasonable run in it is not a given that we will sweep all aside. The Ox and Rambo are a plus and surely must start games but the inevitable happened with Flamini getting carded – he will miss the next two games. Oh how we miss Kos, but most of all we lack real leadership maybe on and off the field.

The very thing we have been famous for in the past was our ability to counter attack and score and that is the very thing that is now happening to us far too regularly

I feel it is not appropriate to single out any one player on this occasion but I will leave you with the post match interview from our manager.

Arsene Wenger had this to say:

“Was there a lack of fight? You could say that. It is a massive worry to lose a game like that.

“We have to analyse it well and come back with a different attitude, with more personality and stronger challenges. We have to go back to basics.”

Make of that what you will.

The last words must pay tribute to our friend Dandan …..

Dandan (Cliff) was a brick to me and sometimes a lifeline. We had different views about the direction the club was heading but had a mutual respect for one another.

We recalled GN5′s article only a few days ago about the week we won the double in 1971 but what he didn’t tell us on the site was that he missed the Cup Final as his father was tragically killed a day or so before the game.

Despite his own health problems and that of his dear wife Anne, he always tried to cheer me up and we spoke at length about a multitude of things, other than football. His brother is in remission and I know how much Cliff loved and cared for him. He was a decent man who will be missed by so many. I am not ashamed to say that I wear my heart on my sleeve and can be at times very emotional but this sudden death has knocked me sideways.

Anne will let me know when the funeral will take place and I know if any of you can attend, she would appreciate it.

R.I.P. Dandan, you made many friends across the world with your generous and positive attitude to life and the Arsenal.  Our thoughts go out to your wonderful family at this difficult time …….. you will be missed but not forgotten, COYRRG…………

kelsey


End of the Difficult Games

April 6, 2014

Another must win game? Of course not, we can afford to lose and still get a top 4 spot. Yes, I know that mathematically Everton would be favourites if they win today but they have some difficult games ahead and will certainly drop points – if they don’t and win what will be 12 games in a row then they deserve to be in the CL, plus if any team is to take our 4th place then I would like it to be Everton.

Phew, that was a long sentence!!

This is the 3rd game of the season vs Everton, we have won one, drawn one and perhaps will lose one. Will we? Who knows – the form book would certainly favour the Toffees  and they have been better than us for parts of both previous games.

That is enough negativity. Draw or win today and we are almost guaranteed CL football next season, and I see no reason why we cannot get a result.

Everton: Lovely old-fashioned ground which is a euphemism for a ground in desperate need of a rebuild, but Goodison Park is still one of the PL’s most atmospheric grounds.

As to the team, they are strong all over the pitch. Loan players have hugely added to their performance this season and if one took away their loanees Everton would have been 11th instead of 5th at the turn of the year. We have discussed this at length and no doubt will do again, but Mr Wenger agrees with me – players should only be loaned out of their club’s division. Lukaku remains their strongest attacking force, a lethal striker with a shot accuracy rating of  64%  (Giroud’s is 40% :-(  ). Barry is Everton’s most active player who has most passes, tackles and influential contributions. Both loan players.

My hope is that Mr Wenger spends much of his transfer budget upon Ross Barkley, this kid looks superb and has all the physical attributes. Imagine him alongside Rambo, Ox and Jack in years to come. All British as well. But we know he won’t – Barkley will end up in Manchester, probably at the end of next season.

UnknownFuture Team-mates?

Much has been made of Arsenal’s injury list especially when compared with Everton’s who have only one player with a soft tissue injury. Some have pointed at the manager’s training regimes to account for this. Reasonable??

Martinez is much lauded and rightly so. If Mr Wenger signs his new contract , probably a two year term, will Martinez still be at Everton and available to come to THOF? He appears to be a natural fit for us – intelligent, multi-lingual, attack-minded but with a knowledge that a strong defence is essential and an organiser. The coming man.

Arsenal: We come to the end of Death Cluster 2 and will have some vital players back for the run-in. It is my opinion that Theo and Aaron would have added another 6-8 points to our tally and as such their injuries have cost us the title – not the first time this has happened. (I know I am biased!)

Sadly, none are available today and our poor exhausted troops must soldier on, though a weeks break must help. My main concern is the link up play between our Midfield and Giroud, too often he is isolated, especially against a team which closes us down in our own half – a team like Everton.

This is another twist or stick game, by that I mean do we keep the same side which drew so admirably against City or give the fit again Rosicky a start?

My team:

dc2

Podolski had a fine game last saturday but Rosicky brings more pace to the side- perhaps not through his running but with his speed of pass, and he always brings the ball forward. I do not understand why Gnabry has seen so little pitch time, he has a wonderful future and needs to be blooded in big games – hopefully he will get a subs appearance this afternoon.

As I wrote earlier, I do not believe this is a winner takes it all game (Mrs Raddy has been listening to Abba)  but a win would be just brilliant, in fact like last week I would be happy with a draw.

The two games against the Toffees this season have been great entertainment with the two teams bringing the best out of each other. Let us hope for the same today.

Big Raddy


The end is nigh. Nine Premier League games remaining. What are we after?

March 19, 2014

I cast my mind back to the final stretch last season, and we were in a battle for Top Four. For the sake of this discussion, I’d like to put aside the hunt for Trophies, and delve deeper into what there is to look forward to.

Following the loss to Spurs a year ago, momentous events followed. Principally, was the cementing of the partnership between Mertesacker and Koscielny. This was in tandem with a new found restraint from our Full Backs who proceeded to show more discipline.

What was laid in those final nine games, were the foundations of a new defensive stability that continued to serve us so well into this seasons’ campaign.

Apart from the sunny Spring time fixtures, the meeting up with chums and the inevitable excitement that any game of football brings, I wonder what little gems lie in wait.

Injuries present opportunities, and the largest recipient this season has been The Ox. He has benefited from injuries to both Aaron as well as Theo. Might the remaining fixtures see him finding a definitive starting position for next season? Talking of definitive positions, we have the Jack issue.

Looking across the midfield, I still wonder who is the No 10 of choice. I understand there is a fluidity in this area, but with all the injuries to key players, I certainly don’t know how my First XI would line up. I have a feeling we will begin to see the real Mesut emerge as the midfield pivot around which all that is good orbits.

I can also see Gnabry getting more playing time, and have a gut feeling he is one of those players that will rise to the top very quickly. Remember the Aaron of last season, and we see how certain players can suddenly blossom.

Like the pairing of Kos and Mert, it can be an unforeseen partnership that emerges, and this can happen in small couplings anywhere on the pitch, which is why I see a possibility of this between Mesut and Serge.

Now, how about some dark horses. Kellstrom and Diaby, who peaches informs us is at altitude not skiing. With Aaron returning, how will the midfield set up?

With some mouthwatering encounters around the corner, there remains much fun to be had. Who knows where we end up, but I reckon, as with last season, there are surprises in store outside of the results themselves.

Prior to the Spurs game and the wonderful blast of a goal from Mr T. Rosicky, I would have liked to see a couple of long rangers, but another one or two wouldn’t hurt. Oh, and is there any chance a genuinely quality free kick specialist might emerge in the mould of Noddy Talbot? That would be long overdue and a real bonus.

The one thing I’d like to see more than anything over the remaining fixtures would be a new found venom from the true fans towards the early leavers. A mass mocking, naming and shaming, a Faceoff Campaign, anything. Some suggestions on how to deal with this, my biggest beef, and a real solution would leave my season ending on an even higher note.

Written by MickyDidIt


We’re Gonna Win the League: An alternative realism

March 5, 2014

Following on from yesterday’s “reality check” and Micky’s early morning questions, let us take another (very hasty) look at our situation:

What should Arsenal be achieving? Be honest, completely honest – did anyone really expect us to win the title? Not want us to win it but expect us to. Because if you did I admire your optimism. I hoped for a repeat of 4th and wished for better.

The huge spending from Spurs allied to the development of Liverpool worried me (then we signed Mesut). I didn’t expect MU to implode and that has been not just hugely enjoyable but also a fillip to our chances. I fervently want us to finish the season above the Oilers and the Chavs and we may still do so – but financial doping is effective as has been seen in every league in every country.

We are still in the FA Cup  and could easily win it. We have been very unlucky with our draws in both the FAC and the CL. A Group of Death, which we almost won, and 3 Top 6 teams in the FAC (thankfully all at home) is tough.

A Cup win, a few quality victories in the CL and a top 4 finish – I would be happy with such a season.

Given our wage bill where should we be? The figures say 5th – they don’t lie. We consistently punch above our weight.

Is Kroenke only in it for the money? Of course he is! He is not a football fan, he is American and he is a businessman – where is the doubt? But …. as a highly successful businessman man he knows that to make a profit he has to invest, as he has been doing (crap English but written in a hurry!!).

When buying a club one has to take time to see the core values and then add to them, SK has done that. Not for him the Shevchenko buys  - he doesn’t need to impress anyone. We appear, despite Hill-Wood’s early assessment, to have a sensible owner who will continue to buy players when his manager identifies the targets. I should also point out that last summer was the first summer in many years when we did not sell any of our best players – this is due to planning and not luck.

If there is cash, who is in charge of the risk factor and should it be invested? Here we have an area of contention. In my opinion Mr Wenger’s job should start and end by identifying the player he needs, sadly he is involved in every area of the purchase. Such is the way of a perfectionist and  - dare I say it – a megalomaniac! We have people to do the valuing and purchase so AW should keep his beak out of it.

Should we spend the money? Of course we should – this is a football club not a bank! Does a fan care about a balance sheet or silverware? Not for nothing is football called the Glory Game.

 If SK is not the best type of Chairman, who, or what model, is? You tell me. We are an old traditional club with traditional values, why not keep them or is the Glazer route preferable? I understand why Chelsea and MC fans are delighted that their clubs have been bank-rolled and am sure they don’t consider their silverware tarnished by financial doping – but We are The Arsenal. They will never have a The in front of their name!!

Ask Cardiff/Leeds etc fans what they think.

My opinion is that the club is on the verge of another brilliant decade. We have come through a tough financial time as the club commenced the stadium build just as the financial crisis enveloped the country. We are through this now and have the wherewithal to compete with the big boys – we are one of the big boys and the signing of Ozil proves it.

Arsenal are getting better on the pitch, we have all seen it. When Ramsey was knocking them  in for fun and Theo returned in such strong form we were on the verge of greatness – their injuries have blighted our season.

This season we have been TotL more than we haven’t, doesn’t that constitute an enjoyable campaign wherever we finish?

But it isn’t over, we can take the points from our rivals to win the title. Unlikely but possible and until the fat lady sings I prefer to believe that Arsenal will win the league at Carrow Road.

written by Big Raddy


The Stoke Resurrection?

March 1, 2014

Let’s start here – I hate Sparky and I hate Stoke. The two together are a match made in Hades but ….. and you may be surprised to read this I admire what they are trying to do this season. Hughes has taken the Orc mentality created by Pulis and attempted to teach these mutants to play football. As we saw at THOF to a certain extent he has succeeded.

Goals have been few and far between and as Stoke languish on 27 points and in 15 place the experiment could be said to be a work in progress but what about this?  …. Stoke are bottom of the Fair Play League with 58 yellows and 3 Reds and have conceded the most fouls in the PL. Their top scorer is the beanpole Crouch with just 6 (Ramsey has more and has missed most of the season). Most assists? Probably Begovic

Play football? Don’t be fooled Raddy, Stoke remain Orcs led by a man who is Beezlebub in a suit. Nasty players, nasty fans and nasty manager.

images

Orcs

So, how will we do against these barbarians? Stoke haven’t lost at the Britannia since September which is cause for concern. They have recently drawn with Southampton and ….. Oh, I can’t be bothered with this ….. Stoke are always difficult opposition for us because they, their fans and their manager hate us – just as we detest them.

The reaction of the fans and now their chairman to the Ramsey injury shows just how awful they are. Coates ludicrous attempt to defuse the situation was crass and insulting. Sadly, Aaron is unable to punish them today as he surely would.

Stoke: Walters, Crouch, Adams, Odemwinge etc dull, dull, dull dull. Only player with any grace is Begovic who has a habit of wasting time until we go ahead. Shawcross’s partner in crime, Robert Huth, that fine upstanding behemoth who flattened Gnabry within seconds of his first PL appearance, is out with some sort of hardware malfunction. No doubt Hughes has another mutant to replace him.

Arsenal: Ozil returns but in place of whom? Can we afford to drop Rosicky given his excellent form? Dare we go into the game with only one striker (Giroud) and drop Podolski?

In my opinion, this is a game for Ozil to miss. It’s a game for players who can take a battering and give something back. Not sure Mesut is that type of player. I would be tempted to play the same team which destroyed Sunderland, (apart from the inclusion of Vermaelen).

My Team:

Sczesny

Sagna   BFG    TV   Monreal

Flamini    JW    Arteta   Rosicky

Cazorla      Giroud   Podolski

Not in that formation obviously, but doing their usual mix and match stuff. Pace will be important and I expect to see our speedsters on during the second half. Maybe give Sanogo a run out.

Stoke Upon Trent. Originally named Stoc, the name comes from Old English and means “place  with a church”, apparently so many villages and meadows were called Stoc that  the words Upon Trent were added to distinguish it from the primordial swampland in the Midlands – you know the place where Shawcross emerged from. The village developed because it was on the Roman road between Derby and Chesterton .

By the 13th century coal mining was the main industry but in the 17thC pottery became the main source of income. Wedgwood, Spode, Minton and Royal Doulton moved into the area as Stoke became the most famous pottery and china producer in the world. In later times Michelin tyres were centred in Stoke employing over 9,000 Orcs.

Can we win?  This is going to be a difficult game. No Hughes team leaves the field without bruising the opposition and today will be no exception. Stoke’s home record is good and despite their lowly league position they have taken points off the best and beat Man Utd at the Potteries just a few weeks ago. A return to the defensive parsimony, a fast start and some crisp passing interplay will do the job.

March is our toughest test, a win today would set the team up nicely for the more difficult games ahead, but I take nothing for granted – sometimes Orcs win battles but never the war.

Written by BigRaddy


Crystal Palace: Another Must Win

February 2, 2014

Let’s get this out the way at the beginning because it is so distasteful to write ….. Pulis is doing a fine job at Palace. Who would have thought it?

Right that’s done.

And now for another unpleasant chore, a retrospective of Arsenal’s  January Transfer window. I will be brief, in my opinion it was ……..  how can I put this? Dire.

I know there are extenuating circumstances but the Draxler Affair was a comedy which ended with the player himself stating (I say “stating” but who knows if he did) that he wanted to come but Schalke refused to sell. AW saying it was all a media sham and Shalke winning all round. But who knows what is true? The club have never been open in their dealings and as we all know tradition is paramount at THOF. Any long-term fan knows that until a transfer is announced by the club everything you read and hear is supposition and gossip.

Crystal Palace on the other hand have been very active, bringing in 5 players. At least one will start today, Jason Puncheon, who is in excellent form following his joke penalty at Shite Hart Lane. And of course today heralds “The Return of the Chamakh” ( whatever happened to that Mark Morrison?). I always liked Chamakh but he is at his level now; an inability to reach the standard required by Arsenal was not down to lack of effort but lack of talent and he cannot be blamed for that. Bet he scores now!!

I have already sullied my keyboard with my first sentence so will not  linger on their manager. Suffice to say, he is an odious fellow who will hopefully return to South London pointless and humiliated.

Arsenal:  Usual stuff – who starts given our mounting injury list (which thanks to our bizarre TW signing now has a Swede in the treatment room).

Please Mr Wenger can we see more than 60 seconds of Podolski? Whilst I understand the need to balance the team by playing Gnabry on the right and Santi on the left I would much prefer to see  (for the final 30 mins) Ozil go right, Santi central and Poldi on the left.

Can we go into a game which is likely to be a midfield battleground with only Arteta to put his “foot in”? Micky suggests playing Vermaelen a in midfield and this makes much sense to me – won’t happen though.

I expect Rosicky to start. He has been a major plus this season. I recall a conversation with kelsey a few seasons ago when we both wrote off Tomas’s career and questioned why AFC didn’t pay him off ! I am excited to see whether Rosicky plays in a Mask. Would he be the first Masked Gooner?

The recurrence of Ramsey’s thigh knack is hugely annoying but it gives The Ox a chance to show us why he will be so integral to the team in future years. Important games ahead and his work will be under scrutiny.

My Team:

a v cp

This should be enough to win today. We have quality on the bench which has been further strengthened by the absence of Park.

The origins of The Crystal Palace are obvious(see pic)  but prior to the building of this wonderful example of English Victorian ingenuity and engineering it was just a part of Penge Common. And what is Penge apart from where Tony Hancock came from (look him up)

Unknown

Penge was another of the towns established by those hardy travellers the Anglo-Saxons. It was original called Penceat which means edge of the wood thanks to it being on the periphery of a dense forest.

Crystal Palace was built for the 1851 Great Exhibition which was hugely popular. In just 6 months over 6m people visited which was a third of the population of England! It was the first building with public flushing toilets and it cost one penny to visit them – almost a million did which is remarkable because you could buy a decent central midfielder for a penny in those days – anyway – this is where the expression “To spend a penny” comes from!! (for our foreign readers this is slang for going to the toilet)

It burned down in 1936.

On paper this should be a win for the good guys, but who knows? We haven’t been playing our fluent brand of Wengerball in recent weeks – perhaps not since the Ramsey injury. This is the last “easy” game before the “Death Cluster” (™ RL) we must take three points and return to our rightful place at the Top of the League.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Can I have some more, please. Cardiff again.

January 1, 2014

A long night’s partying means that the opportunity of lying supine on the couch and enjoying an afternoon’s football is very attractive, an Arsenal victory would make it doubly so. Given the condition of the man writing this post it will be short and to the point …

What stands between us and 3 points? A host of injuries, a stubborn Cardiff side and  ….. well, nothing really, we should beat a managerless team who are in disarray. We beat Cardiff just a few weeks ago with another superb display from Ramsey but little can be predicted as Cardiff will be playing a very different Arsenal.

I watched the recent Cardiff vs Sunderland game and Cardiff for most of the game were strong and well-organised; expect the same today.

A domestic dialogue from earlier this morning …..

“BR: I am really interested in seeing our B team

Mrs BR: Oh, come on Big Raddy, you know that isn’t strictly true – a B team doesn’t have BFG etc in it.

BR: You don’t understand, Ozil, Ramsey, and a host of others are crocked.

Mrs. BR: Doesn’t that give the excellent squad members a chance to shine? You may even see that little fellow Gnabry whom you speak of so often. And  I will have a chance to see my mad countryman Big Nik start a game.

BR: Exactly, doesn’t fill me with confidence. Hopefully Podolski will score a brace and Santi will return to scoring ways.

Mrs BR. See, you are already feeling more confident as our “B Team” is still made up of 11 internationals who have easily enough talent and experience to beat a team likely to be relegated.

BR: You are right as always , my Dearest.”

My Team (assuming the injury rumours are true):

arse v cardiff

The bench should be interesting!!

2013 was an excellent year in the development of this team, in particular it was a good year for Mr Wenger who once again has shown himself to be a manager of the very highest order. Hard to believe that he has worked as AFC manager for longer than all the other PL managers have managed their teams added together. We have been blessed.

It was another trophy-less year (though in any just world there would be a trophy for the  team which wins the PL in the calendar year :-)  ) and many will say we have once again not achieved anything solid, but I beg to differ, we have seen some outstanding football, lots of goals, the founding of an excellent defence and the development of real world class talents; much is made of Ramsey’s improvement but what of Cazorla, Gibbs, Koscielny and BFG?

My personal year highlight has been sharing many hours with my friends on Arsenal Arsenal. Thank you all (except the troll)

Happy New Year

written by Big Raddy


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