Wembley Domination

April 13, 2014

Having just woken up at 8am having arrived home at 1:30 am this is going to be a quickie. Getting the train home last night with intoxicated Norwich fans singing “we’re shit and we’re going down” certainly adds some perspective to a day out at Wembley where yes we didn’t play well but also resulted in a return trip and another day out for those lucky enough to be there.

I have seen some criticism of the fans “celebrating like we won the cup” it’s hard to be in Wembley and not feel like that, and with the allocation of tickets for the final likely to be a third of what we had yesterday it is unlikely those who were there yesterday will have a chance of being back for the final itself.

We filled the Green Man pub at 1pm and we filled the ground more than two thirds. Waning support? Not in evidence here. The atmosphere at kick off was full of passion and hope.

Unfortunately as we failed to make the most of early possession the songs turned to frustration and worse very quickly, I’d say the split was 50:50 in terms of those preferring to man than support.

At half time we went in 0-0 with little of note being created for either side.

The second half continued in a similar vein until Monreal got pushed off the ball, Vermaelen didn’t want to commit to a last gasp tackle and BFG stuck out a long leg to bring down the Wigan forward. This actually stirred the crowd into action and we sang in defiance up until the penalty went in and Gibbs replaced Monreal.

That was actually the turning point to our performance Gibbs was prepared to get past Podolski where Monreal hadn’t bothered either because he knew he didn’t have the legs to get back to recover ground that Podolski wouldn’t.

A while later after Rosler went to three centre backs Arsene changed it again, unleashing Giroud and removing the disappointing Podolski and switching to 4-4-2.

That was probably the decisive change we played the percentages more and after a few more close shaves we finally breached the Wigan defence, Oxhitting the ball into the ground and finding BFG at the far post who headed home. I was waiting for the flag to go up thankfully it didn’t.

BFG celebrates

We couldn’t breach it again in the remaining minutes or in extra time and we went to penalties.

Fabianski the hero

Fabianski channelling the spirit of Arsenal keepers of the past stopped the first two Wigan penalties. Whilst Arteta and Kallstrom dispatched with ease. The next two Wigan penalties, were scored which meant after Giroud had scored with the nanananaaaaas ringing in his ears it was left to Santi to send Arsenal back to Wembley and the fans into ecstasy.

Written by Gooner in Exile


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


Just two minutes of Magic and Mozart Composes another beauty.

March 17, 2014

North London Derbies are always that little bit special and with the tightest race for years as to who will eventually become Champions, together with the implosion of United and the resurgence of Liverpool and of course not forgetting the two big mega bucks clubs, this was a game we just had to win.

Within under two minutes the ever enthusiastic Oxlade Chamberlain set up Rosicky to what can only be described as a wonder goal, if not our best long range shot of the season.

We were ecstatic and yet not for the first time, instead of taking advantage of the early lead, we handed possession to Spurs and apart from Oxlade Chamberlain missing a sitter or passing to Podolski we retreated further and further back and left Giroud as a lone attacker. For the rest of the match he was largely nullified except on the few occasions he was brought into play.

Alex v spuds

This is a dramatic change of tactics by Wenger as we have been always an attacking team with neat fluid passes which more often or not produced pleasing football to the eye and invariably some spectacular goals. A better team may well have punished us. Spurs huffed and puffed had 60% of the possession but in all honestly only mustered one or two half chances

It’s a dangerous tactic to employ especially with practically the whole game to play after the early lead. Having said that Mertesacker and Koscielny were outstanding, is there a finer defensive partnership in the League ?

kos per and olly

We have several players still out and perhaps the after effects of the Bayern game took the edge from our overall performance but the need for support for Giroud with a world class striker really became apparent in this game.

Three points in the bag though. I wouldn’t say we won ugly and we certainly weren’t at our best but a massive improvement is needed next weekend against what I consider our hardest game in the run in, or so my crystal balls tell me :)

I have to give Rosicky Man of the match purely for the reason that his goal won us the game. Koscielny a close second and The Ox for his never ending drive and directness always looking for goal.

Finally a word on Szczesny. Allowing for the fact he had missed the last two games and made a fairly straightforward save, twice in a minute he dropped a cross, once he was fouled but on the other occasion he got lucky and if you look carefully was flapping and nearly brought Adebayor down, which could have resulted in a penalty. He is by no means the finished article and I still maintain he needs competition for his place.

Players after spud victory

Written by kelsey


What do you think of Tottenham?

March 16, 2014

Easy answer to that question :-D

Thing is, as my nephew keeps telling me – Spurs are having a very good season (by their standards) – and that should they win today they will be just 3 points behind with us facing a death cluster. My reply  ….  Always in our Shadow.

Kaboul gets sent off for a dubious red giving away a penalty – his card is rescinded. Koscielny does the same – banned for a game. FA bias? As if!

Injuries could have some effect upon the result. Spurs are without Dawson which is a huge blow to the Arsenal. The man is hapless and a secret agent paid by Mr Gazidis. So far he has done well, let us wish him a speedy recovery.

Spurs have looked Up North for inspiration as they attempt (yet again) to break into the Top 4. They could have based their plans upon Man City or Liverpool and develop an attacking , fluent style of football. They didn’t. They chose to “ape” the playing style of Stoke! With £100m to spend they bought Orcs.

The skilful Lamela, who is Spurs record signing, hasn’t had a sniff of the first team, instead they have 7 players over 6 ft. all of whom are trained in the Dark Arts.  The long-suffering Spurs fans put all their faith in a 21 y.o Dane because he is the only one who can use the ball on the ground. Take out Eriksen’s free-kicks and there isn’t much else in terms of ball skills.

Unknown

Adebayor. When he plays against other teams he really amuses me in his haplessness, unfortunately he seems to excel against us and we must hope he will have a quiet game today.

Having been thrashed by a fine Benfica team they will be refreshed today. I can only assume they played with today’s match in mind because Spurs were pants.

Tim Sherwood: Can you imagine such a knob as our manager? The man has passion – I will give him that, and a huge desire for Spurs to do well. My wife has the same and also has the same level of team management experience. How could Levi give this fellow the job? Was it a money-saving exercise? That said, Sherwood’s record is no better or worse than previous Spurs managers because you could employ Noddy or one of the Teletubbies as Spurs manager and they would do just as well.

Arsenal: I am saddened that Ozil will not have another chance to silence his critics today, instead we have another opportunity to show just how deep the squad is (or isn’t). A midfield of Ox, Santi, Flamini, Rosicky and Arteta is still strong and the decision to load the squad with mid-fielders has proven to be sensible. In the past when we lost, for example, Cesc, we were at a loss, now we have options.

At this point can we all laugh at Chelsea!! :-D

Monreal will be a key player today as Spurs will probably look to hit on the break through the pace of Lemon and Ade. The midfield battle will be just that, Spurs have monsters and they like to “put it about”, if Sandro plays the match-up with Flamini will be exciting.

This is a day for The Ox. He plays well, we win. For this reason I expect Sherwood to tell his team to target our young maestro, expect to see rotational fouling – which has become the norm – and we must hope for a strong and fair referee. In recent times we have suffered from homer after homer; watch the BM game and see dreadfully biased refereeing. Watch the Stoke game – see JW get horribly kicked throughout the first 30 minutes and then see a highly dubious penalty given by yet another homer ref. It must be so frustrating for Mr. Wenger.

My Team:

sp v a

I hope we shall see the wing play of Gnabry at some point or the power of Podolski

Tottenham: Regular readers will be used to my rambling on the origins of the city in which we play. To find the origins of Tottenham we have to go back to the 11thC. This was the time of the Battle of Hastings and King Canute and Harald. A Royal edict was written which proclaimed  that London (Londinium) was becoming unhealthy thanks to the cramped living conditions in the city. Under this Decree  the Nightmen had to take their wares to an area of flatland by the River Lea. A Nightmen’s job was to clean the streets of the night’s “refuse” which was thrown out the windows into the streets. This unpleasant mess was taken by barge down the river and over time the excrement and rotting vegetation developed into a slimy ooze. The area was avoided by sane people and yet there were some drooling, bewildered unfortunates who made this stinking morass their home. Originally known as Shittingham it was re-named Tottenham during the late 19th century.

Big game today – always is. Take 3 points today and we close the gap at the top.

Let it be so….

COYRRG

Written by BigRaddy


Entertaining and Vital Arsenal Cup Win

February 17, 2014

I would not have been alone in having at least one eyebrow out of line after seeing the Team Sheet.

Liverpool were always going to field a strong side as they have no mid week European Games, and we all knew Arsene would have to make one or two changes. Talk about “who would be a Manager?”. Without doubt the biggest shock was the inclusion of Yaya Sanogo. I had thought Ollie would be rested, and this would have led to the inclusion of Nic, or the slim possibility of Lucas through the middle. When the Team was announced, all I could say about Yaya’s inclusion was that the Manager sees the Lads in training.

Poldi goal v Liverpool

This was a very big match indeed. We had to restore some belief and confidence, try and progress in this Tournament as well as leaving eleven men standing, fit and ready to meet the challenge coming from Bavaria in a few short days’ time.

I won’t dwell on the details of the game as you all saw it for yourselves. Certainly though, the returning Flamini helped to stabilize the defensive side of our midfield. The defence itself had a superb day with Fabianski producing a MOTM performance. The other two stand-in’s at the back, Jenks and Monreal, showed discipline and spirit.

Further up the field, Mesut was back to his best and orchestrated events in a way only he can with sublime timing and awareness.

For me, like many I suspect, Podolski is a total enigma. However, he is a goalscorer, and since the tragic loss of Theo and Aaron, these qualities are in short supply. He delivered.

Sanogo. Ok, I missed twenty minutes of the first half, and about ten of the second, but I really liked what I saw. Very impressive indeed, His performance highlighted the interchangeability of our squad, and this reflects on what is done on the training ground. It was very hard to believe that he had not played alongside Pod, Mesut and Ox on a regular basis.

Finally, The Ox. Always said he would be an Arsenal Great, and he will. Love everything about him, and his post match interview revealed his modest, mature and intelligent nature. A true professional with all the talent required to make it to the very top.

The Ox v Liverpool

A few short words on Liverpool. I really like the way they play the game. It was an enthralling and highly entertaining game, and it requires two teams to achieve this. Their “Three S’s Attack” is superbly mobile and fluid, and a joy to watch. I realize Suarez divides opinion, but as a footballer, he is terrific. I think we all know the Ox challenge was a clear penalty, but I think we also understand that had the victim been any other player, it would have been given. Never a clearer case of “What goes around”.

Overall, a memorable Cup game, a vital win for The Gunners, and we come away in great shape for Bayern. Back on track.

My MOTM: By a country mile, Arsene. That was some selection and tactical performance. Well played Sir.

Written by MickyDidIt89


The Ox fires Arsenal to The Top of The League.‏

February 3, 2014

Arsenal produced a first half performance that we have seen so often this season. Predictably, we had a huge amount of possession against a dour Palace defence which has improved dramatically in recent weeks, so it was never going to be an easy game. A couple of chances fell to Monreal and Koscielny that were well saved by Speroni, and Pulis Palace offered next to nothing in attack. Ozil impressed me, he definitely was the orchestrator – always looking to probe what often amounted to a nine or ten men defence.

Even so the balance seemed wrong with Podolski particularly playing too deep. We did not have enough width to stretch their defence, and why oh why didn’t someone try the occasional shot? Instead we made countless triangular passes (which is Arsene’s way), but this doesn’t work against teams that park the bus. Palace’s sole intention was not to get beaten.

oxlade chamberlain v palace

Within two minutes of the start of the second half, a beautifully dinked ball over the Palace defence by Santi set The Ox up to calmly and expertly chip the ball over the hapless Palace the keeper. However as so often is the case, we took our foot off the peddle and Jerome would have equalised but for an excellent save by the ever improving Szczesny. Subs were needed and the introduction of Rosicky paid dividends within minutes with an exquisite reverse pass touched on by Giroud for The Ox to drive a low shot past Speroni. Giroud had looked tired throughout the game and I would have preferred Bendtner to come on a little earlier, although he wasn’t involved that much, he showed a few good touches.

Podolski got another valuable 72 minutes and who better to bring on than Rosicky.

We have a tough series of games coming up so conserving strength was the key,so why go all out and try add to our tally. IMO those were the right tactics today. Three points in the bag – who could ask for more.

No question that The Ox was the Man of the Match not only for the breakthrough goal but his directness to take any opportunity to shoot as well as his overall contribution to play. He is only twenty and has a big future in this squad.

Player ratings

  •   Szczesny 8.5
  •   Sagna 7
  •   Monreal 6
  •   Arteta 6
  •   Mertesacker 8
  •   Koscielny 8
  •   Cazorla 8
  •   Oxlade-Chamberlain 8.5
  •   Giroud 6
  •   Özil 8
  •   Podolski 6.5

Subs

Rosicky 7.5

Bendtner 7

Gibbs 7

Written by kelsey

 


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


Surgery, Victory, Injury, Jittery

January 17, 2014
 

 Last Friday:

  Walcott turns down a quick fix

The news came that Theo had opted for the most risk free treatment for his ACL injury. It is also the treatment that will keep him on the sidelines for the longest time.

Theo will undergo a patella tendon graft which is thought to offer the best long-term guarantees after a gruelling period of rehabilitation. Using a synthetic tendon could have got him back in time for the World Cup but there is a risk of the body rejecting it. Likewise with using a tendon from a dead body. He could have chosen to use a sliver of his own hamstring but as his game is based on speed his hamstrings are vital.

Arsene Wenger said;

“Theo is handling it as well as you can when you have had such a shock because he is mentally strong, he’s very balanced as a person and he can put it into perspective. We know that he will have the dedication and serious attitude to come back as strong as ever”.

Diaby suffers new set-back

Arsene Wenger says he is unsure if Abou Diaby will play for Arsenal this season after he suffered a new setback in his rehabilitation.

Diaby, who has been dogged by injury trouble during his time in north London, has not played for the club since last March after damaging his cruciate knee ligaments.

The Frenchman was expected to return in the next few weeks, after having extensive rehab in Dubai, but Wenger says he is nowhere near ready to come back; ‘His recovery is going very slowly,’ said Wenger.

‘Will he play again this season? I don’t know. He is still on a long-term recovery programme.’

Diaby has told supporters at a recent charity event that he hopes to be back on the pitch shortly, but Arsenal are no longer giving a predicted return date for the midfielder.

 

 

Saturday:

A predictable win for the Chavs over Hull City saw us toppled from the top, temporarily we hope as a win against Villa on Monday would see us bounce back regardless of City’s result against the Magpies on Sunday.

More Morata speculation, the loan deal could be on again as Real Madrid, after initially ruling out any departures during January, may be willing to let him go “later in the month”.

A bit of late news, and by late I mean two days late, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain played the first half of an U21 match against Fulham on Thursday evening, he came off at half-time in a pre-planned substitution, it was the lad’s first action since getting injured on the opening day of the season against Aston Villa. Now it seems that he could be on the bench against the same opposition on Monday.

Oh! And I forgot to mention, Eisfeld scored the only goal in the win over Fulham.

Sunday:

Arsene Wenger compared Oxlade Chamberlain to Steven Gerard, speaking on www.arsenal.com le professeur said

“At the moment he is still in formation. It is good for his education as he plays left, right and centrally when needed. After [the age of] 23 or 24 you settle in a definite position”.

“He will be deeper as he has a good long ball, penetration from deep and a good quality to distribute and penetrate individually. Certainly he has the same qualities to Steven Gerrard.

Now I may not have Wenger’s insight but to compare the gracefull, pacy, youngster to that lumbering carthorse “Stevie G” is just a bit unkind.

Monday:

All the results are in, the calculations have been done and the outcome has been tabulated, Arsenal drop to third in the table but with the chance to bounce back by beating Villa later in the day.

Kieran Gibbs announced on his instagram page, whatever that is, that Theo had a “successful” operation on his knee and is recovering in hospital.

Team news, Monreal came in for Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere, Cazorla, Ozil and Gnabry mixed it up in mid-field while Giroud mixed it with the Villa centre-backs.

Tuesday:

Wilshere drives Arsenal back to the summit

A goal by Wilshere followed by one for Giroud, from a Wilshere pass, just seventeen seconds after the restart, was enough to take us back to the top of the table despite a second half goal for Villa.

Injuries to Nacho Monreal, possibly a fractured metatarsal, and Tomas Rosicky, a broken nose, were not good news and both players could be out for a while.

Bacary Sagna, whose contract expires in the summer, is set to renew talks over an extension. Sagna’s preference is to stay at Arsenal and finish his career at the club but the best offer so far is two more years at about the same wage £70,000 per week. Sagna has never agitated for more money or for a move away but feels his loyalty and experience deserves some recognition. Come on Arsenal, give him three years and a raise, you know it makes sense!!

Two more players in negotiations are Tomas Rosicky and Per Mertesacker, can we afford to pay them more or can we afford to lose them?

From The Evening Standard:- Mertesacker made his 100th appearance for the club against Villa and has come to epitomise this galvanised Arsenal. He is the organiser-in-chief, the debt collector and, last night at least, every inch the captain of this team.

The Germany international provided composure amid the chaos. He knows the importance of maintaining Arsenal’s advantage at the top of the table and developing that ruthless efficiency required to win major honours.

Contract negotiations? Just get on with it Mr. Laws!!

Wednesday:

More recognition of the vital part Per Mertesacker is playing in Arsenal’s so far successful season came in an article in The Telegraph. Together with Laurent Koscielny the pair have brought a “perfect blend for solidity” Arsene Wenger has often in the past described Arsenal’s defending as naïve, yet no team have conceded fewer goals (19) or registered more clean sheets (nine) than Arsenal this season. The statistics behind the centre-back partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are even more compelling. Monday’s 2-1 win against

Aston Villa was their 28th completed game together and, in those, the club have registered 20 wins, eight draws and 16 clean sheets. Also very much to the point is the fact that we are unbeaten in those 28 games.

Mertesacker and Koscielny have formed a natural partnership. Koscielny’s speed and athleticism have often covered for Mertesacker’s lack of pace, although the German’s organisational skills have been perhaps the biggest single factor.

While they both remain fit and available our title challenge should stay very much on track.

Any chance of signing Schalke’s Julian Draxler were scuppered when it emerged that the 20 year old has damaged his ankle ligaments and will be out of action for up to three months.

Thursday:

Le Professeur revealed the latest fitness situation ahead of Saturday’s three o’clock kick-off against Fulham.

On Theo Walcott’s surgery…
It went very well. The damage was real in the knee so he will have to take the needed time, so let’s not be hopeful that he will go to the World Cup – that is not possible. But overall his long-term future is very positive. It’s about being fit for next season now.

on Monreal and Rosicky…
Monreal looks a doubt for Saturday, a big doubt, because he twisted his foot on the kick. It is not the bruise, he turned and twisted the ligament. Rosicky had surgery with a general anaesthetic for a broken nose in two places. With a mask he may be available, but we have to monitor it closely.

on Arteta (calf), Vermaelen (knee) and Ramsey (thigh)…
Ramsey and Arteta are both out for this game. Vermaelen too. I personally believe the three will miss the Coventry game as well and will be available after that.

on Bendtner (ankle)…

He has a little chance to make Coventry. But in all probability it will be after that.

Thanks to

www.arsenal.com for permission to reproduce the above.

Jack Wilshire is to appear alongside Lionel Messi in the 2014 advertising campaign for Pepsi.

Arsenal will red and white shirts with white shorts and socks, the ‘keeper will be in all green for Saturday’s match. The referee will be Lee Probert who drew this comment from Wenger after officiating in the same fixture in January 2012 when Johanne Djourou was sent of and Arsenal lost 2 – 1. “The referee influenced the game completely the wrong way in my opinion,”

That’s it for another week.

Norfolk Gooner.


Old wine, or new bottle, or old wine in new bottle?

December 31, 2013

End of the year, and part of the ritual is to take stock, and look forward towards the future with glorious plans and renewed expectations. And what a fantastic year this has been for Arsenal fans! At the midway stage in the Premier League last year, Arsenal was lying 7th, well off the pace for Champions League qualification, and even off Spursday football places. Qualifying second in their group, Arsenal faced a tough round of 16 encounter against Bayern Munich, one of the best teams in Europe at that stage. With significant changes to the Board, a new owner in tow, there were uncertain times for the club management. The fans were up in arms, with substantial ammunition provided by a negative press, dubious pundits and even the Arsenal Supporters Trust. Difficult times indeed!

But Arsenal managed to make a fantastic turnaround. Attaining qualification for CL was nothing short of a miracle! Yes, Arsenal lost out in a two leg epic battle against eventual winners Bayern, but before that showed their mettle in an amazing 2-0 away victory. Despite all the negativity, good progress was made in the summer transfer window. The progress continued in the current season, and Arsenal is sitting at the Top of the Premier League at the halfway stage. Qualification to the Champions League was gained from the aptly termed “Group of Death”. Grudging acknowledgement of Arsenal’s strength and mettle is gently arising from beneath the rubble of disdain and the green fumes of envy. Indeed, if the league was played over the calendar year, Arsenal would have been Champions of 2013. Oh, what a year this has been!!!

 

per and kosser

All in all, a good year in prospect. There are plenty of challenges yet to be met. Plenty of time still before we even begin to celebrate the achievements of this team. But, also plenty of positive vibes and expectation in tow. So AA ers, looking towards the future, what did we learn new about Arsenal this year, and what were we reminded of afresh, that we did not know with so much certainty one year back? Let us discuss. Here are a few of my tentative suggestions. It was not all rosy, though. Injuries continued through the year. The squad seems a bit thin. Progression to the round of 16 in the Champions League was gained, but only in second place. Like last year, we have drawn Bayern Munich. Lovely games in prospect, but significant challenges as well. And if the vitriol from the fans is a bit subdued due to the sustained run of fine results and resilience in the field of play, the negativity from the press and pundits continues unabated. Perhaps most importantly, whether by luck or design, Arsenal continues to be at the receiving end of poor refereeing decisions. Alas, some things never seem to change!

First, same time last year we did not know what a fantastic central defensive partnership, together with a very competent goalkeeper, we were developing. Indeed a large part of our success this year owes itself to the fantastic defensive pairing of Per and Kos. What a duo!!! And what a great leader in our beloved BFG! When Verms got injured, who would have thought we would have such a strong defence where even a fit squad captain cannot find a place?

Per and kossser 2

Second, one of the best revelations of the year was the discovery that Ramsey had developed into such a fantastic player. He was the subject of much of the blame and vitriol during our indifferent showing in 2012. Perhaps somewhat undeservedly. But our beloved Rambo rubbed all these adversities off his shirt, returned in style from his long standing injury, and has grown to the stature of one of the best midfielders in the League, perhaps in Europe as well.

Ramsey

He has shown a very mature head as well, leading for his country at a very young age. In tow, Jack Wilshere is developing into a fine player, if somewhat idiosyncratic on occasions. Together with Theo, the Ox, Gibbs and Jenks, they also form a British core to the team which had been somewhat deficient for a while. Who would have thought a year back that Rambo would develop into such a fantastic and dependable player, and Jack’s game will be coming along so nicely as well?

The English players

Third, one of the most encouraging developments of the year, at least for me, was the maturity with which the owner Kroenke, Gazidis and the Board conducted themselves. Perhaps the best development was that the Board did not interfere in footballing matters, leaving team and signing decisions to the people who know best, led by one Arsene Wenger. If you think that this is not a surprise, look around at other clubs. Several clubs have met with significant disasters as a result of owner power, such as the Spuds, Cardiff and even the Chavs, and in some others the environment is not very nice even if the performance has not been equally devastating.

The principles of the club, that a fantastic team can be developed without wasting money on the wasteful purchase of overpriced bench idols, was not compromised by a new owner and a new look Board. Surely, this was not a given at the start of the year, after the club had gone through a rather aggressive ownership contest and change of hands.

Fourth, amid the mantra of financial fairplay and traditional hesitancy to spend big money, and the recovery from an expensive move to the Emirates, who would have thought that Arsenal would spend their money where it mattered most?

Ozil

In the procurement of one Mesut Ozil, who despite his tentative adjustment to English football and the Arsenal way of playing the game, has given the team something really special, Arsenal showed purpose and ambition, and real ability to deliver trophies. This came together with the free transfer of one Mathieu Flamini – ah, what a fantastic transfer move!

flamini

Fifth, against the backdrop of significant unrest and disquiet among good-weather fans, ably supported by the press and pundits, who would have thought that the positive outlook of a sane fan-base would shine through? The struggle against the doubters and doomday-usherers still continues in earnest, in ArsenalArsenal and elsewhere, but The Home of Football still reverberates with the positive chants and outlook towards the new dawn awaiting in the New Year!!!!

AA ers, what do you think? My final thoughts are:

COYG! Onwards and Upwards!! A fantastic year 2014 awaits!!!!

Written by arnie

Arsenal Record 2013 Calendar Year

P W D L F A GD Pts
38 25 7 6 70 34 36 82

Where would 82 points put us in seasons past?

SEASON Winners P W D L F A GD Pts AFC on 82 points
2008-09 Utd 38 28 6 4 68 24 44 90 4th
2009-10 Chavs 38 27 5 6 103 32 71 86 3rd
2010-11 Utd 38 23 11 4 78 37 41 80 1st
2011-12 Oilers 38 28 5 5 94 29 65 89 3rd
2012-13 Utd 38 28 5 5 86 43 43 89 2nd

Chart by MickyDidIt

2013 Calendar Year League Table

P W D L F A GD Points vs Top 7 Total Home Total Away
Arsenal 38 25 7 6 70 33 37 82 10 19 19
Shitty 38 25 5 8 86 39 47 80 10 19 19
Chavs 38 23 8 7 71 40 31 77 10 20 18
ManUre 38 23 8 7 70 37 33 77 11 19 19
Spuds 38 21 10 7 55 46 9 73 10 19 19
Dippers 38 21 9 8 87 39 48 72 9 18 20
Everton 38 18 13 7 54 35 19 67 11 20 18
Toon 38 16 6 16 51 62 -11 54 13 19 19
Southampton 38 12 15 11 49 43 6 51 13 19 19
Villa 38 11 10 17 50 58 -8 43 11 20 18
Swansea 38 10 12 16 44 54 -10 42 12 18 20
Norwich 38 9 11 18 37 62 -25 38 12 20 18
Fulham 38 11 5 22 39 67 -28 38 12 19 19
West Ham 38 9 11 18 41 57 -16 38 12 19 19
Stokies 38 8 11 19 34 60 -26 35 11 19 19
WBA 38 7 13 18 45 61 -16 34 12 18 20
Sunderland 38 7 10 21 36 62 -26 31 12 19 19

Stat Overkill by GiE


Another striker in January?….Do we need to be careful?

November 12, 2013

The need for Arsenal to add an additional striker in January seems to be a hot topic in the media and generally across the net on the Arsenal related sites. This is a topic I have thought about putting up for greater discussion for some time now, and as there have been increasingly more official comments on the site recently about whether we need an addition to the striker department in January, I thought now would be a good time to bring up the topic as an official discussion point.

There seems to be a consistent feeling amongst the media, pundits, and public at large, that Arsenal are potentially genuine title contenders, but require an additional striker to make this a reality. Without said addition, despite how well things are currently going, we will still get caught short as the season progresses. One injury to Giroud and it is all curtains for our EPL challenge. Is this thought process a genuine concern?

I have to hold my hands up and say that I have changed my mind on a few occasions through the summer and the start of the season as to whether an additional front man is required, and if so who. Before the start of the season I was of the opinion that Ollie was a very good front man and totally worthy of a place in the Arsenal squad, but more as a second choice striker to someone slightly more world class (apologies for the cliché).

Well Ollie has very much changed my mind on this. He has stepped up a level and, even if he is still not the most prolific goal-scoring striker, his strengths seem to fit ideally with our current system, and the players he has around him. In other words he makes the whole team play better, and maybe that is more important than a few extra individual goals.

So if we do look to add to the strike force do we need to be careful as to how we do it and who we try to bring in, so as not to upset the great harmony that currently exists in our squad? I feel that if we are giving serious consideration to our striker department then we have three main options :

1 Buy no-one and go with what we have and hope that Stuart Robson is not able to say I told you so at the end of the season.

2 Buy a player who is identical or very similar to Giroud.

3 Buy a different type of striker to Giroud.

So, looking at option 1, what if we bought no-one? At present, due to injuries, I think we can all see that the options outside of Ollie are a little bit bare. What happens however when Theo and Podolski return. Both players who will give a good goal return over a season, and who both seem to be natural finishers. The question-mark with both of them is can they step into Giroud’s role or are they more suited to playing off of him? I have my own personal opinions on this but will refrain until later and allow you all to express yours.

With option 2 we can look at a player of a very similar type to Giroud, so that one can play when the other doesn’t, and we don’t then lose any fluency in the system we play. If so are we looking to bring in this player as a back up to Giroud, who will then become second choice to him, or are we looking to bring in a similar standard player, or perhaps someone considered of a similar style but even better than Ollie?

All potential considerations in option 2 have their problems. Most back up players will not directly replace his quality and may not in reality give us more than Nik B currently does, which for me would seem a futile exercise. With a similar standard player to Giroud, or one considered better, then we are likely asking Ollie to relinquish being permanent first choice and either playing in a 50-50 job sharing role, or becoming back up himself. That would seem very harsh on Ollie, and may even back-fire on us if it upsets the teams balance and current harmony.

It also needs to be considered, that with a player that some will perceive to be better than Ollie, it is not guaranteed that they would indeed step in and actually be better. They may have looked great before they came to us, but may not look as suited to our style, and the EPL in general, once they have stepped in. That could be an expensive mistake to find out, and I am in reality struggling to see many target men type strikers that have the all round game that Ollie has, that could be considered to be as good as, or a better option than him.

Option 3 is to buy a different type of striker to Ollie, and if possible one that has both the ability to lead the line in Giroud’s absence, or even play alongside or behind him. It is my belief that this is what Arsene was looking for with Suarez. His ability to play both roles means it wouldn’t always have to be him or Ollie, as it would be with the type of player from option 2, but could be him and Ollie at times. These types of players don’t seem to grow on trees though and tend to be the most expensive players out there, because they have the dual ability of a top goal-scoring striker, and the ability of a top class attacking midfielder so that they can also play the slightly deeper or support striker role.

So what is the best option for us as it currently stands? I would like to hear your opinions on this subject but would like to ask you to, as well as just putting names forward, think about what it means to the squad as a whole both in a positive way and a negative way, and to give a rationale to your answers.

For example if you don’t think we need anyone then which players will cover the role Ollie currently plays if he is injured? If you do think we need another addition then are you more leaning towards option 2 or 3 and who is it you want? Is your preferred choice firstly a realistic one, and secondly are they coming in as a back up striker, or as first choice striker? Will one of the previously more regular first team players be pushed down the pecking order to the point where they will likely consider leaving us and if so are you ok with this and who do you consider that player should be?

Over to you….

Written by GoonerB


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