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


Time to Man Up

April 15, 2014

If there is a team we do not want to play after a 120+ minute bruising game at Wembley it is any side managed by Allardyce. If there is one player we do not want to see it is Andy Carroll. Sometimes the  football Gods kick us in the goolies.

Can our battered and injury strewn team gain a vital victory in their quest towards another season of the Champions League? We shall find out tonight.

Unknown

Allardyce has stated that WHU are not safe yet which is true but I would be hugely surprised if they are relegated – there are some awful teams in the drop-zone and WHU  are not one of them. West Ham, as any Fat Sam team is, are well organised, battle for 90+ minutes and play dull, dull, football which sadly gets enough results to avoid Sam getting gardening leave. This season we have seen managers with attacking instincts being replaced by those with a more pragmatic view, perhaps clubs look at the survival expertise of Allardyce and think “sod pretty football, keep us in the PL” – an understandable viewpoint.

What do you think Sam will be telling his players to do tonight?  Do you think he will be saying, “let’s retain possession and pass it through their midfield”? Nope – IMO he will be saying “8 men behind the ball, look for the wingers and then lump it into the middle for the Big Man,” “if one of their Fancy Dans gets past you kick him hard”, and “look to get set pieces as often as possible”. Arsenal have to fight and stand up to the physical battle.

Would you like to see Andy Carroll at Arsenal? No, really – joking aside when fit he is a major handful, a proper old fashioned centre forward. If (huge IF) we had a player able to feed off knock downs he could do a job for us. Surely a better sub than Sanogo but a far more expensive one. Mr Wenger has identified stopping crosses into Carroll as being vital “Yes [we must take special care with him] because once the ball is up there, you do not find many people who can compete with him and win the challenge” – which means BFG is in for a tough night.

As to our team, I would like to see our Scandi Supersub get a start. He looks as though he can handle himself and deserves a reward for his excellent weekend penalty. Given that Flamina is still suspended and Arteta is knacked Kallstrom appears to be an inspired signing !

Unknown-1

SuperSub

Or could we see Vermaelen given the DM berth many have proposed for him? To play a back line of Sagna, BFG,  Kos, TV and Gibbs would allow Gibbs to act sit a little further forward. TV could help nullify the threat of Carroll and it gives us a chance to play 3 at the back. What do you think?

Upfront, we have to start with Giroud. We remain a blunt instrument but he is our sharpest blade. Sanogo or Podolski? Given the need to stop the supply of crosses, Podolski. But and this is a huge BUT, there is a chance that Ozil will return which would be brilliant for both us and OG.

Playing Fat Sam teams is never easy especially given the negative physical effect of an injury blighted season and the draining weekend but 3 points are very, very important.

written by Big Raddy

This is arnie’s suggested line up

001wh

 


Depressed of N5…

April 14, 2014

I remember the day we beat Wolverhampton Wanderers to earn our place in the 1979 FA Cup Final.

As an impoverished student at the time (well, alright, I’d spent my grant on alcohol) I couldn’t afford to go to the semi final at Villa Park and had to rely on radio coverage. Goals from Alan Sunderland and Frank Stapleton were enough to get us to Wembley.

When the radio commentator said the final whistle had gone I was a walking bundle of clichés: over the moon, cock-a-hoop, on cloud nine, walking on air, happy as Larry when Larry has just won the lottery and landed a date with Joanna Lumley (it was the 1970s, remember)…

But my reaction wasn’t unusual. Every single Arsenal supporter – and I really mean EVERY Arsenal supporter – was absolutely thrilled that we had made it to the Cup Final.

In those days before email and mobile phones we called each other up, met in pubs to celebrate and generally annoyed the hell out of anyone who wasn’t fortunate enough to be a Gunner.

The fact that we had beaten lowly, relegation-battling Wolves to get to the final didn’t come into it. Nor that our league form that season was average at best (we ended up finishing seventh).

The point was, we had landed a big day out at Wembley and the chance to claim silverware and glory.

The only emotion throughout N5 and the Arsenal supporting world was one of joy.

You can probably see where I am going with this.

After the drama of our penalty shoot-out victory over Wigan on Saturday most of the Arsenal community shared a similar feeling of joy.

But a significant minority of people who call themselves Arsenal fans were not delighted. In fact they were as undelighted as a man who inadvertently steps in doggie doodoo… only to realise he forgot to put on his shoes and socks that morning.

They grudgingly acknowledged that it was a good thing to be in the FA Cup final, but what they really wanted to talk about was the fact that (a) our performance in the semi final had been awful or (b) it was “only Wigan” and we should have rolled over them without a problem or (c) that the FA Cup isn’t really a “top rank” trophy like the league title or the European Champions League or (d) “it’s a disaster because now it means Wenger will probably stay”.

Without getting into the merits of points A, B, C and D, surely what is important is that we have a Cup Final to look forward to and a real chance to win our first trophy for nine years?

How anyone who self-identifies as an Arsenal supporter cannot find joy in that fact is completely and utterly beyond me.

But it may not be beyond the explanation of psychology.

Joylessness is a recognised indicator and symptom of depression. It literally means the inability to experience joy in situations where you would normally expect to do so.

For example, someone who normally loves beautiful scenery would, when in a joyless state, be left completely unmoved by a particularly stunning vista. Their mind may even tell them that it is a stunning vista and that they should be feeling overjoyed to look on it, but their soul is not touched by that joy.

Even people suffering from mild depression will often experience the phenomenon.

The sad conclusion of this train of thought is that a section of the Arsenal fan base is clinically depressed. They have become so accustomed to negative thought patterns that when something unequivocally positive happens they just can’t feel it.

The rest of us should not be angry with them: we should feel sorry for them.

Fortunately, there are some very well proven treatments for mild depression. They include exercise, eating whole grain food and meditating. So if you know a fellow fan who has been sullen and unresponsive since we defeated Wigan, why don’t you suggest they do the following: put on a pair of trainers; jog to Greggs; buy a whole grain sandwich; silently contemplate it for twenty minutes; then scoff it.

I guarantee if they do all of the above, before the last bite has slipped down their gullet they’ll leap into the air and break into a rendition of: “Wemberley, Wemberley, we’re the famous Arsenal and we’re going to Wemberley…”

And if that doesn’t work, just give them a hug.

RockyLives

* Despite missing out on the 1979 semi-final, I managed to get to Wembley for the final against Manchester United thanks to a United supporting friend from Dublin. It was the Liam Brady final and it produced memories I treasure to this day. Now we have another chance for more great Cup Final memories. How can anyone not be excited by that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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


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.

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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


An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 9 …… George Graham – his Arsenal Years

April 11, 2014

George was the youngest of seven children, his father died of tuberculosis when he was less than a month old. He displayed considerable promise as a young footballer, and was signed by Aston Villa on his 17th birthday, in 1961, but only made eight appearances for them in three seasons. He was transferred to Chelsea in July 1964 where he scored 35 goals in 72 league games and also and won a League Cup medal in 1965, however his time at the club became uncertain after he clashed with his volatile manager Tommy Docherty.

At the time Arsenal were looking for a replacement for Joe Baker, and paid £75,000 plus Tommy Baldwin in 1966 to bring gg1Graham to Highbury and he immediately became a first team regular and was Arsenal’s top scorer in both 1966–67 and 1967–68. After being a runner-up in both the 1968 and 1969 League Cup finals, he finally won a medal with Arsenal’s victory in the1969–70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. He followed it up by being a key member of Arsenal’s Double-winning side of 1970–71. Midway through the 1971-72 season Alan Ball became an Arsenal Player which led George to being transferred to Manchester United in December 1972. He had played in 308 matches for Arsenal, scoring 77 goals.

After retiring as a player he turned to coaching and managed at Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers and then Millwall. He guided Millwall from bottom of the old Third Division to the old Second Division and after he left the club in 1986, they went on to win the Second Division gaining promotion to the First Division in 1987–88.

In the mean time Arsenal were going through a torrid period in their history and had only won 4 trophies in the 33 year period from 1953-54 to 1985/86. The European Fairs Cup in 1969/70 and the double in 1970/71, under Bertie Mee then there was an eight year wait until we won The FA Cup under Terry Neill in 1978/79. The club dismissed manager Don Howe in March 1986 following yet 3 more trophy less seasons and finishing an average of seventh in the league.

Arsenal expressed interest in appointing Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson as their new manager with Graham as his assistant but Ferguson decided to wait until after the World Cup that summer before deciding on his future, and so the Arsenal directors gg man3appointed Graham as the new manager on 14 May 1986. Graham cleared out much of the old guard and replaced them with new signings and players promoted from the youth team, while imposing much stricter discipline than his predecessors, both in the dressing room and on the pitch. Arsenal’s form immediately improved, so much so that the club were top of the League at Christmas 1986, the club’s centenary, for the first time in a decade but they eventually finished in fourth position. The following season they went on to win the 1987 League Cup and reached the final again in 1988 where they suffered a shock 3–2 defeat to Luton Town.

His sides displayed tight defensive discipline, embodied by Captain Tony Adams, who along with Lee Dixon, Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn, formed the basis of the club’s defence for over a decade. To compliment his stingy defence he also had capable midfielders like David Rocastle, Michael Thomas and Paul Merson, plus a prolific striker in Alan Smith.

At the end of his third season in charge (1988-89) Arsenal won their first League title since 1971, when Graham had been an Arsenal player, and they won in a highly dramatic fashion, in the final game of the season against Liverpool at Anfield; Arsenal needed to win by two goals to take the title; Alan Smith scored for Arsenal early in the second half to make it 1–0, but as time ticked down Arsenal struggled to get a second, and with 90 minutes gone on the clock, Arsenal still needed another goal. With only seconds to go, an Alan Smith flick-on found Michael Thomas surging through the Liverpool defence he calmly lifted the ball over Bruce Grobbelaar and into the net, and Arsenal were League Champions. After finishing fourth in 1990, he signed goalkeeper David Seaman and Swedish winger Anders Limpar in the close season; both players proved to be important as Arsenal went on to win Graham’s second title in 1990–91. In the autumn of 1991 season he signed Arsenal’s eventual second all-time top scorer Ian Wright and gained the club’s first entry in the European Cup for 20 years.

champions1991

After the 1991-92 season he changed the teams tactics; he became more defensive and turned out far less attack-minded sides, which depended mainly on goals from Wright rather than the whole team. Between 1986–87 and 1991–92 Arsenal averaged 66 League goals a season (scoring 81 in 1991–92), but between 1992–93 and 1994–95 only averaged 48; this included just 40 in 1992–93, when Arsenal finished 10th in the inaugural season of the FA Premier League, scoring fewer than any other team in the division and 1-0 to The Arsenal began to echo around the grounds.

cc cup

In the 1992–93 season Arsenal became the first side to win the FA Cup (in a replay) and League Cup double, beating Sheffield Wednesday on both occasions by a 2–1 score. The next season they continued in the same vein, winning the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, their second European trophy; in the final Arsenal beat favourites and holders Parma 1–0 with a typically tight defensive performance and Alan Smith’s 21st minute goal.

Unfortunately the 1994 Cup Winners’ Cup proved to be George Graham’s last trophy at the club; the following February he was dismissed by Arsenal after nearly nine years in charge. It was discovered he had accepted an illegal £425,000 payment from Norwegian agent Rune Hauge following Arsenal’s 1992 acquisition of John Jensen and Pål Lydersen, two of Hauge’s clients. After admitting he had received an “unsolicited gift” from Hauge the Football Association banned him for a year – due to his involvement in the scandal.

The Arsenal statement

“Arsenal FC has now been informed by the FA Premier League Inquiry of the results of their investigations into alleged irregularities concerning certain transfers and the Board have concluded that Mr Graham did not act in the best interests of the club. The Board have therefore terminated Mr Graham’s contract as manager. The chairman said that it was sad that Mr Graham’s distinguished career with Arsenal FC should have to end in this way and he paid tribute to Mr Graham for the success that he had brought to the club over the past eight and a half years. Stewart Houston will assume the responsibilities of manager.”

It was an unpleasant way to bring his career at Arsenal to an end.

GunnerN5


Will AW build our team around Ozil for the next 2-3 years?

April 10, 2014

Ozil has been our greatest “marquee” signing in years and according to me, AW would like to build the team around him. If so, how should we set-up our team?

It is quite obvious that Ozil is not only a great dribbler but that he is, above all, a fantastic passer that has the ability to pick his teammates out with ease. Despite the current set-up, Ozil has been able to deliver quite some assists but many of them have been coming from set-plays.

In order to maximize his contribution to our team, it seems logical to surround him with the right kind of players, namely players that are able to make runs on the wings and also behind defenders. We do have such players in our squad but in limited amount and there is a big gap at the crucial Striker position. This gap and the current set-up hence begs the question: which set-up for next year?

Most of the teams around the EPL and in Europe operate in the following 3 systems:

- 4-3-3 (our current set-up)
- 4-2-3-1 (Chelsea)
-3-5-2 (Juventus)

Given our current squad, I believe that we should operate in a 4-2-3-1 as of next year. This would, of course, require the recruitment of, at least, 2 new players for the starting XI: a defensive midfielder and a striker.

Szecesny – RECRUIT, BFG, Kos, Gibbs – Ramsey, RECRUIT – Walcott, Ozil, OX – RECRUIT

I believe that Walcott, OX and Ramsey make intelligent runs that do not only add width but also depth to our game and I think that Ozil can easily connect with them. However, we need to have a striker that can also benefit from Ozil’s passes and this means replacing OG and most likely, getting rid of Podolski and definitely Bendtner. It also means that we have to add depth to our squad on the wings and up front.

All and all, if we decide to set the team around Ozil, it would mean quite a lot of changes in the team, which I think would be beneficial to freshen things up in the locker room as well. Here is my list of players that should be sold:

- Sagna
- Miquel, Vermaelen
- Diaby, Arteta
- Miyaichi, Podolski, Bendtner

I love Sagna and Vermaelen but they also represent our lack of success and I would have added Rosicky to the list but he just got extended…

All and all, I believe that we need to revamp our team to add steel and pace so let us hope that we do that during the summer…

Written by RC78


When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

April 9, 2014

Unfortunately, Arsenal has left it to a last gasp scramble to get over the line for a Champions League qualification place and the first silverware in a long long time. Now, where have we heard that one before? It took a herculean effort, and plenty of nerves, to get over the line this time last year. And yes, the good guys have left it late this year as well.

So, can we do it? Can we make it again? And will we top it up with glory at Wembley? And finally, what does this bode for next year?

Only seven games to go in a season defining final push for Arsenal. First up is Roberto Martinez’s former team Wigan Athletic. The current holders of the FA Cup, Wigan has had recent and remarkable success at Wembley and have defeated Manchester City not once but twice in two consecutive years in the FA Cup. Can we do it? Oh yes, certainly. But will we? Why not? With our talisman Rambo back from injury, and the team hurting after a sensational collapse away to Roberto’s current team Everton, what better time to show your mettle than now? Surely, we back them to show fine spirit and passion and clinch a FA Cup final appearance!

With another appearance in Wembley secure in the bag, what arrives then is the significant matter of securing 4th spot in the League and Champions League qualification. Five games come up in succession:

v West Ham (H) – Tue April 15
v Hull (A) – Sat April 19
v Newcastle (H) – Mon April 28
v West Brom (H) – Sun April 4
v Norwich (A) – Sun 11 May

Winning all five games will not guarantee a CL spot. Unfortunately the outcome is out of our hands now. But there is plenty to play for. And if I were a betting man, I would say we will do it. Everton have a difficult run-in and are expected to drop points. Then, 5 wins will get us through.

Further, all these five games are extremely winnable. It took Liverpool two lucky penalties to defeat Big Sam’s West Ham, but they are at best a mildly competitive mid-table team playing away from home this time round. Koscielny is scheduled to be back for this game.

Hull is another mid-table team and equally uninspiring. But they are competitive and also play in the FA Cup semis. This game could be a dress rehearsal of the FA Cup final in case Hull manage to edge Sheffield United out in the semis. The Wizard of Ozil could be back from injury in this game. This is be another great boost in our final push.

Next up are home games against Newcastle and West Brom. Newcastle are in a run of poor form home and away, and West Brom are just about edging their way away from the drop-zone. That then leaves a final day scramble against Norwich away. A terrible team under a new manager, but a crucial game that could prove immensely important for us. Absolutely no reason why we should not edge it. In short, just the small but not ignorable matter of 5 games that we should win. And we will win, aided not least by the return of Ramsey and Ozil. Oh, how dearly we have missed the duo.

And finally, the FA Cup final against the survivor of the Hull vs Sheffield United tie. Once again, a match that we should win, and thereby clinch our first silverware in 9 long years. A lot of history associated with this game. Our previous silverware was the FA Cup as well, won against Manchester United in penalties. Ah, what a day it was!

And that is not the only Manchester United connection this time round. The Cup game this weekend will be Arsenal’s 27th FA Cup Semi-Final appearance, equalling Manchester United’s record. Our FA Cup win will also see us equal Manchester United’s record of 11 triumphs.

Is that all that the end of the season holds for us? Not quite. The junior Gunners have had a mixed season this year, but will also play the FA Youth Cup semifinals against Chelsea this week. On show are, among others, Chuba Akpom, Leander Siemann, Gedion Zelalem and Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, all potential names for the future.

So friends, all to play for. A big effort required from all and sundry, the manager and the team, but most importantly the fans. Back the good guys, chums, and revel in their big efforts in the end of the season gambit.

If there was ever the need for passion, big heart and unconditional support for whoever puts the shirt on, now is it. Other things can wait! 7 games left, only, and 7 wins is the target. No more, no less! It is achievable, and let us put our hands together and make it happen.

COYRRG!!!

Written by arnie


Are We Witnessing The End Of An Era?

April 8, 2014

There is an old Chinese curse that goes: “May you live in interesting times.”

It is aimed at impatient people; people who are bored; people who want change for the sake of change.

The implication is that although you may hate the status quo, you would be wise to beware of what comes after.

When the third goal went in up at Everton I had a strong feeling that we may be witnessing the end of era.

And not just any era. When the end of the Arsene Wenger era comes it will be the footballing equivalent of the Fall of Rome.

Compared with M. Wenger’s tenure, the reigns of other football managers are mere hillocks in the landscape of history. Wenger’s reign is a mountain – an elegant, ice-capped peak whose stature is rivaled only by the craggy, fractured slopes of Mount Fergie – a once-thunderous volcano now sitting sullenly dormant.

Why did I wonder if we were watching the end of this era?

Because it seemed unfair to ask him to take much more of this punishment: to watch his team (and by extension himself) humiliated again; to know the vitriol and hatred that would inevitably follow; to turn up to work the next day and have to start all over again.

If we fail to beat Wigan this weekend I now feel he will call it quits at the end of the season.

If we get to the Cup Final and lose, ditto.

If we win the Cup and finish fifth… again, ditto.

If we win the Cup and finish fourth… well, that’s a tougher one but I still suspect he will call it a day. He will see out his contract as he famously always does. And then he will bid us all farewell.

Few of us would blame him. Few of us could take the incessant criticism and abuse without it seriously affecting our mental health and our sense of our own worth. The fact that he has stuck it out this long is a testimony to his fortitude and intelligence.

But when he is driven out of the club to which he has contributed so much, we will be entering “interesting times.”

There is a lazy assumption that we will snap up some hotshot young manager who will immediately achieve the success that has eluded M. Wenger. Not so long ago the people who advocated this approach were all for us bringing in Michael Laudrup or Paul Lambert. Or even Andre Villas Boas, heaven help us.

Well, if Arsene Wenger quits we should prepare for a rocky road.

Yes, we could do an Everton. We could find a younger manager who lifts us to another level, but there is a greater likelihood of us doing a Manchester United.

And it will not take too long before people start looking back on the Wenger Era with nostalgia and affection.

This is not a Post about whether or not he should go. For the record I think he should stay because I believe that with a proper transfer budget this summer building on the excellent squad we currently have he can again fashion a team of champions.

If we flattered to deceive at times this season with our table-topping run, the heavy away defeats to big teams are equally an unfair reflection of our capabilities.

However I can understand those who feel his time is up, that the failings have become chronic and beyond his ability to fix. I am happy to accept that he is far from perfect: that he should have bought another striker in January; that he should have got to the bottom of our injury issues by now and much more.

Many decent and respectful Gunners have now reluctantly come to the conclusion that he should go. They tend to be drowned out by the clamour of the ignorant and the abusive who express similar sentiments in unacceptable ways.

And we are fast approaching the time, I fear, when these people will get their way.

I am not looking forward to it.

However, for now I will make a particular point of appreciating our manager whatever the results, whatever we achieve or fail to achieve in the remainder of the season.

These may be his last days and I will give them the respect they and he are due. It’s more important than winning and losing.

After one of our recent heavy defeats a better man than me had this to say:

Football is only truly a business to those who A, rely on it for their salary or B, own shares in it. For the rest of us it is either a passion, a way of life or in many cases a family tradition.

“For me it has been a distraction and motivation through life that has taken my mind off business and filled the boring hours on uncountable motorways and airports and created opportunities to meet and make friends on many a terrace and in many places when I would have been lonely without it.

“Funny game football, which is why I find it amusing that so many of us who have no first hand experience of the business called AFC feel qualified to pass judgement on the course and direction of an entity for which we have no first hand knowledge. Even the mighty guardians entrenched in the fourth estate pontificate their perceived wisdom based on at best second hand information or at worst self published claptrap. As for living in the past – knowledge is gained through experience and what we see today is often relevant to the history of which we are all part.”

But then dandan always did have a way of finding the right words to encourage the better angels of our nature.

RockyLives

 

 

 

 


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


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