Make this a Night to Remember

October 29, 2013

Assuming the storms abate we are in for an interesting evening with our young heroes against the expensive Chav flops. Let’s take a closer look …..

Chelsea: The Arrogant One is already moaning about his side having to play Sun/Tues, poor, fragile little sweethearts. Imagine, all those cossetted millionaires having the possibility of playing 180 minutes in 3 days, oh, the ignominy and stress. Moaninho may have to play his reserve team – you know the one – the blokes who cost tens of millions of wasted money.

Who are these unknown beginners? Well, Some no-hoper defenders called David Luiz, Ryan Bertrand,and Azpil something , a useless MF named Essien, another called Obi- Won Kanobi, a few forwards who would struggle to get into the Barnet side – Eto’o, Demba Ba, and Willian. Oh and some bloke called Juan Mata who Jose has had to pull in from the Stevenage reserve squad. Desperate times down at Stamford Bridge.

What this highlights is how poor Chelsea have been at developing their youth policy. It would be great if every player on show tonight was under, say, 23. That allows for some experience players as well as giving a great night out for lads on the edge of the first team. But Chelsea can’t do that can they? (though to be fair they have bought in some exceptional youth who are on loan – Kakuta, Courtois, Romeu, Lukaku, Moses etc).

It is all well and good preaching about how important it is to develop youth players but apart from Southampton and Arsenal, which top 6 side does? (letters to Arsenalnuts)

You may gather from the above my disdain for all that Chelsea stand for – and you would be right. In my opinion the arrival of Abramovich has been hugely detrimental to English football. This is not sour grapes because they have won more trophies than us in the past decade, it is because they have no honour or class. The purchase of Willian is a case in point.

There was a time when I thought Jose was great fun but his self-promotion, as witnessed so perfectly after Torres goal on Sunday, is sickening, and so is his brand of football.  He is the Lord High Prophet of the Me Generation.

Arsenal: Full house, local rivals, a young team, another exciting night in prospect at The Emirates.

We are clearly going to need some experienced players to support the younger chaps but which one’s can be spared ahead of the Liverpool game? Your guess is probably better than mine.

Given the absence of both Flamini and Arteta we are struggling for a defensive screen in front of the back 4. Frimps is unfit, so is Eisfeld and Zelamamanememan. Hayden played well for an 18 y.o. in the last round, so perhaps he will start. And who will partner Vermaelen ? Both BFG and Kos have been piling up the games both a t club and international level. Should Gnabry start? He was very good in his cameo at the weekend but should we risk such a young man who picked up a slight ankle knack?

OK. Here is my punt …..

arse v chacs c1c

The bench will have a couple of familiar faces but mostly kids.

It is a shame we are facing such a strong side in a competition we should prioritise. The Chelsea squad is so deep that they really do have two first 11′s, and we , thanks to extensive injuries, don’t. Had we a fully fit squad I would be more certain of victory, as it is the odds have to be against us.

But ….. We are the Arsenal, we are at home, we have The Great Dane, and put in simple terms, we are a better club from top to bottom.

Our tea lady has more class than theirs (whom I have it on good authority used to be a lady of the night working in the outer reaches of Brentford). We have Sir Chips, they have a lawyer called Buck. Says it all ….

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


The kids did us proud – Match report

September 26, 2013

What can I tell you about our League Cup game against West Brom? Not a lot, just a few comments based on the seven microseconds of coverage the BBC made available, the Radio 5 commentary and a few bits and bobs from the tinternet.

But I can tell you that:

1. We won;

2. The first half was crap;

3. With a squad shredded by injuries, the kids from the Academy Squad featured heavily; and

4. The Arsenal fans were in great voice.

Taken from the away end by chas

Taken from the away end by chas

OK, there are a few other things to say. The most important bit was how the game was won with the kids holding their nerve to prevail in a penalty shoot-out, against more experienced opponents and on their ground. The performance may not have been a slick classic, but winning in those circumstances could be the making of some of those youngsters.

Nicklas Bendtner made his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt in over two years. His reputation amongst fans has gone from bad to worse in that time, so it was sensible for a bit of humble pie to be eaten in the run-up to the game. And from what I saw, while he was certainly no world-beater last night, he was committed to the cause. His reaction when the winning penalty went in confirmed that. And he also made the goal we scored, when he received the ball from Gnabry, turned, paused while Eisfeld’s run opened up a chance and then played in the other young German with a perfect through ball. Well done to Eisfeld for slotting it home, but the goal was the creation of the big Dane.

He should have had one himself in extra time, when Gnabry played him through for what should have been a one-on-one but Bendtner took an age to compose himself for his shot, perhaps thinking the defenders were further back than they were. Unfortunately West Brom’s Dawson was able to catch Bendtner and dispossess him before he could get his shot away. The absence of preseason matches was there on display.

There will be plenty who will take a pop at Bendtner, and God knows he deserves it plenty of the time, but I thought he showed a real determination to contribute. It’s no minor thing that he took the first penalty in the shoot-out, that is taking responsibility.

Another serial under-achiever, Fabianski, had a pretty busy night and did well, making a number of good saves. He couldn’t stop Berahino equalizing ten minutes after we’d taken the lead, but that had more to do with our defenders leaving Berahino too much space when a recycled clearance from a corner was lobbed back into the box.

It was disappointing to hear relatively little being created by Arsenal in open play, though it did sound like things picked up significantly in the latter stages, in particular with the appearance of Olsson, Bellerin and Akpom from the substitutes’ bench. The 17-year old Akpom got especially positive reactions from the Radio 5 commentary team – I’ll definitely look out for that performance once I can see some proper coverage of the game.

A penalty shoot-out felt inevitable from a long way out, not that that alleviated the sense of dread about how the kids would do. That pessimism seemed well-founded, when Serge Gnabry missed our second penalty and the more experienced West Brom players (Reid, Rosenberg and Morrison) confidently despatched their first three spot-kicks. An early exit seemed very much on the cards, with West Brom on the verge of victory. Then Kris Olsson stepped up and scored (just about, the keeper was close), to make it 3-2. West Brom’s fourth penalty taker, Craig Dawson, bottled it, and put his kick well wide. The scores were level and the momentum was suddenly with us.

Next up: Chuba Akpom. The talented lad from Newham, who wasn’t even a year old when Arsène Wenger became Arsenal manager, held his nerve and put his kick away, the scores were level and we were in sudden death mode; the next miss would likely be terminal for that team’s continuation in the competition. And so it was: West Brom cracked again, when Morgan Amalfitano also blazed his kick wide, and now it was us about to kick for the win. We’ve seen plenty of failures in penalty shoot-outs down the years, but it was something of a relief to see an older head for the final kick: Nacho Monreal put his one away without undue fuss, and was rapidly bundled by some very enthusiastic young Arsenal players who’d sprinted form the centre circle.

Celebrations at wba

So there you go, our winning away record was extended to 11 competitive games in all competitions and our winning sequence is now eight games. We are into the next round, and once again we have a tough draw: we will play Chelsea at Ashburton Grove on 29 or 30 October, days before we begin a rapid sequence of games against Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United in the space of eight days. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing to get tough draws in cup competitions, but we’re on a roll, with draws against Fenerbahce, Napoli, Dortmund, Marseille, West Brom and now Chelsea. Still, it’s better than facing Bradford and Blackburn…..

The Arsenal away contingent at the Hawthorns were fantastic last night, they were the loudest bunch in the house throughout. The Radio 5 bods were impressed at their old school refusal to sit down and the fact they had turned out in such numbers for a midweek League Cup game in another part of the country. Well done to Chas & Co, they remained in fine voice in what was, other than the shoot-out, largely a forgettable game and one in which our opponents were often on top.

There may be questions about what the presence in the squad of so many callow members of the Academy squad, and a couple of players most of us expected to have left by now. There may also be questions about first teamers like Mertesacker and Arteta being asked to play up to 120 minutes when we have an important and demanding run of two league games and a Champions’ League game coming up. This fear was made worse when Arteta was substituted, possibly as the result of an injury. Hopefully, that won’t turn out to be true. And fair play to the kids, they did us proud.

I’m afraid I can’t give ratings, I haven’t seen enough of the game yet to make those judgments. But it seems that Fabianski, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bendtner, Hayden, Jenkinson, Bellerin and Akpom all did well, and that Gnabry and Miyaichi had off-nights.

Written by 26may89


We Can All Learn Something From the Capital One Cup Final

February 25, 2013

Yesterday was a real treat, a cup final at Wembley contested by two proper football clubs and two proper football teams. There’s little needed to say more about Swansea and their wonderful style of play, but Bradford, still stuck in the bottom tier of English professional football, have been a revelation this season. That’s brought pain to us, of course, when we failed to muster enough of what mattered to overcome their well-drilled, energetic game. But what they’ve shown is that there is no need to be condescending, they have disposed of us as well as Wigan, Villa and Watford, and a couple of others – they are no mugs. It hurt, but if we’re honest, Bradford deserved to beat us, even if it was a victory borne of an appalling penalty shoot-out performance.

Living in northwest London, Wembley isn’t far away from my house, and it warmed my heart to see the streets filling up, not with cocky Chavs, Spuds, Reds, Oilers, Scousers or Gooners, but with the fans of two teams that haven’t come to take cup final appearances for granted, fans who really know the value of cup competitions, rather than treat them as consolation for failing to win the title or sideshow baubles. These were fans from less fashionable parts of the country (sorry Sheep!), and fans who love their football. Good on them.

Beyond the satisfaction of seeing two good footballing sides and two good sets of fans go to Wembley, there is a lesson in watching the success of Bradford and Swansea. These two clubs have spent years at the bottom of the football heap, laid low by years of short-sighted and incompetent management by their boards. Bradford had gone nuts when they got into the Premier League, splurging tomorrow’s money on stupid contracts for the likes of Benito Carbone. That stupidity saw them go into administration and go tumbling down the footballing pyramid. The Premier League glory days were long gone, but under Phil Parkinson, with no money to spend, they have found sufficient shape and confidence on the pitch to suggest the club has happier days ahead.

And Swansea’s renaissance is just remarkable. Little more than ten years ago, when being managed by ex-Arsenal player John Hollins, they were midway through a descent to the bottom, the club was sold for £1, players were being sacked, fans were protesting and the Football League was talking about punishing them. In 2002, they only narrowly avoided relegation out of the Football League. And then in 2004, they made the first of a series of managerial appointments that sent them climbing up the divisions. First there was Kenny Jackett, then Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup (with a Paulo Sousa interlude). Without being able to know quite how they organise things, it is obvious that the board there have established a superb way of working: the club’s resources (not a sugar-daddy’s) are used incredibly well, they keep on recruiting high quality managers and undervalued players and they have enough confidence in the coaches and players to allow creativity to flourish. None of your Pulis, O’Neill or Allardyce rubbish for them, they’ve created an environment where skill and talent rule. And now they’ve won a major trophy, with European football attached, and look like they’ll see their side finish in the top half of the division. Anyone who loves football must love Swansea these days. Perhaps not if you’re from Cardiff (they must hate life right now), but everyone else.

I might be gutted that we won’t have a pot again this season, but seeing two clubs like Swansea and Bradford at Wembley just goes to show the value of a well-run club, that doesn’t think it’s all about throwing money about but instead achieves success through hard work, planning and skill. That, in my opinion, is something to respect and savour, and it’s something some in the Arsenal community would do well to bear in mind, there are lessons in there for all football clubs.

Written by 26may


A New Kind of Stupid – Bradford 1 – Arsenal 1 (3-2 pens)

December 12, 2012

All the critics of Arsenal internal and external use our 7 years without a trophy as a thorny stick to hit us with over and over again. Last night on a trip to the frozen North of England Arsene Wenger surprised us fans and I’m sure most pundits by picking a pretty strong team to face Bradford from League Two.

Two of the starting eleven could be considered “squad” players (Ramsey and Coquelin). The rest of the names on the team sheet were either experienced internationals, or players with many games of competitive club football under their belts. And I am afraid it is those players that once again let us down.

Plenty of us pre match yesterday were saying how important it was that the team took control of the game and silenced the crowd, of course they were going to be fired up for the first ten minutes but swot it away and start passing it around and their fans would soon go quiet, then you could concentrate on playing the nice stuff, do the right thing first.

But no, the team decided to let them get on top quickly and early, all they had to do was put the ball high in the air and deep in Arsenal’s half and they looked like they could score, so yet again meaningless passing around the Bradford half resulted in an attack for them when those in Purple and Black eventually passed into their keeper’s hands.

To compound matters the team decided on 16 minutes to make it even harder for themselves, specifically the skipper Thomas Vermaelen, allowing a long punt up field to be controlled by a Bradford player over by the corner flag, then allowing that player to nutmeg you, and then fouling him. Vermaelen’s ill judged attempts to tackle were to be a feature of the night and a growing rage towards him from me.

From that corner the experienced players in the team decided that it would be a good idea to allow Gibbs and Coquelin to defend the near post area, and for Mertesacker to defend the middle, for Vermaelen to stand behind him and to be covered by Sagna. All three of our most experienced defenders got sucked towards the ball, which was flicked on at the near post taking all three out of the game and despatched into the back of our net through the despairing hands of Szczesny.

One nil Bradford and yet again we were in for a long night and hoping for some kind of miracle to try and get the game back. These miracles are really only possible if everyone is working hard. And for the rest of the half not enough players were close to the required levels.

Coquelin provided the best effort on goal so far when he jinked past a defender and hit a bobbler with his left foot that came back off the post. Gervinho missed a sitter from two yards when it was easier to score following good work from Jack, Santi and Gibbs. How he managed not to put enough on that ball is beyond me, he wasn’t desperately lunging, he wasn’t being mucsled by a defender he was there, he could have put any body part on it, even his todger and it would have gone in, but he somehow managed to open his foot up so far that he just flicked it wide.

Other than those two chances the team created very little in the remainder of the half.

In the second half the team came out with a bit more tempo, but still failure to do the the basics right meant that Bradford were given the opportunities to put pressure on the Arsenal area from free kicks and possession in the final third.

Chamakh came on for Coquelin who I felt was unlucky to be subsititued but clearly Wenger needed to give some kind of focus to the attack. Soon after Rosicky and Oxlade-Chamberlain came on to replace Ramsey (seeing double after taking a boot in the face) and Podolski who will be seeing double if Bould kicks him into next week like he deserves, as he walked off I didn’t think i saw a bead of seat on his body, I know it was cold up there but the rest of the players were showing the effects of playing a game of football.

Excuse me while I send a personal rant to Mr Podolski:

The song we sing is “He Scores When He Wants”, not plays where he wants not tries when he wants, it’s scores when he wants. You have not earned the right to criticise other players around you yet, you have not earned the right to tell the manager where you want to play, we already have Theo trying that one, and you apparently want it too. Right now I’d rather we cancelled your contract and sent you back to Koln on a free, because you are not worth the wages the club are paying you.

At one point yesterday you enetered the box and waited for a cross from Gervinho, you stood with your arm in the air, ok the first cross didn’t come, but the ball was still live we still had it, still you didn’t move, you just stood on your heels in the same place with the same stupid arm up in the air, when the ball finally did come across the goal from Gervinho you were still standing there and watching it roll harmlessly wide at which point you complained because it would have meant you doing what a centre forward does….MOVE IN THE BLOODY BOX!

Now I’m not an international Centre Forward who has scored countless goals, but I have watched football a long time, and never have I seen a supposed centre forward move so little in the 18 yard box waiting for a cross, the likes of Lineker, Shearer, even bloody Stephen Fletcher would have moved four or five times in the time you stood on that one spot.

I can accept a player being shit but working hard, I used to think Perry Groves was a legend for example, but accepting a talent who fails to work hard I will not and will never accept.

Rant at Mr Podolski over.

Rosicky injected some much needed pace to our play, between him and Jack who seemed to cover every blade of grass from defence to attack in the second half the team finally started to dominate possession, and actually began to look threatening in and around the Bradford area.

The shot count was rising but so was the off target count, and when it was on target Matt Duke in the Bradford goal was using his large frame to good effect.

With time running out Santi Cazorla produced a lovely cross to the far post, luckily it was just after a corner and we had some good headers of the ball in and around the box, Thomas Vermaelen rose at the back post to provide probably his only positive contribution on a dismal night for him personally.

The team pushed for the winner in normal time, but could not find it.

Extra time came and went with little action until the dying minutes when Duke was again called upon to make good saves from Santi and Jack.

So onto penalties, I was already worried as Duke posed an impressive physical presence inside the Bradford goal, he is actually the same height as Szczesny but a few more years of living he is stronger muscularly, it also helps that he doesn’t have to wear a pink goalkeepers top.

I was further worried when considering the psychological pressure on each group of players, Bradford – be a hero, Arsenal – be a villain. It was that simple, a Bradford player misses and they get a pat on the back and a commiseration, the Arsenal player that misses is vilified for the rest of the week/season/life (depending on how long you like to hold a grudge).

Bradford went first and it was calmly dispatched. Santi stepped up and hit a weak penalty into the hands of Duke who guessed correctly. Bradford made it 2-0, Chamakh steps up and cooly places the ball onto the post. Chips are down, I’m ready to hit the off switch. Szczesny guessed right for the third time in a row and saved to keep Arsenal alive, up stepped Jack who had simply no trouble putting the ball home. Bradford made it 3-1, up stepped Ox who made it look just as easy as Jack and rifled home to make it 3-2. Szczesny then guessed right for the 5th penalty in a row and saved a very tame effort by Bradford.

Up steps the Arsenal captain to take it to sudden death, he followed Chamakh’s lead and rolled it against the other post, cue pandemonium at Valley Parade as Bradford claim a famous victory.

No Professional team should see the opposition miss two penalties and not even take it to sudden death……abysmal.

A miserable night was complete, miserable for the fans, miserable for the manager, miserable for the club…..miserable for the players? I’m not so sure, they just go home to their mansion, loose women and fast cars. Why would they be miserable?

I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, I can support young players who work hard and put it all on the pitch, I can’t support players who do not play for the team for each other, or the fans.

I want players to show they know what it means to us fans and in my opinion too many on the pitch for Arsenal at the moment look like their doing a job, and it doesn’t even look like its a job they love.

Ratings:

Szczesny 8 Two penalty saves, could do nothing about the goal, swept well all night trying to urge the team forward and get ball back up field quickly.

Sagna 5 Poor performance from “Mr Consistent”, I am not sure I care whether he signs a new deal, as i am not sure what he is Mr Consistent at.

BFG 5 Outjumped by an industrial centre forward for the entire game, normal assured self when on the ball.

Vermaelen 0 Sorry you are not worthy of that armband right now, silly free kicks all night, and a failure to take care of your own job first.

Gibbs  7 Our best defender on the evening, and probably of the season so far, quiet going forward first half but always offering himself.

Ramsey  5 Nothing went his way tonight, needs a rest needs to work out the issues and decision making. Worked as hard as ever though.

Coquelin  6 Did his best in a misfiring midfield first half, still a lot to learn in the first team.

Wilshere  8 (MotM) Tried everything he could to push the team forward ran for 120 minutes, tackling, shooting, the boy has got it all, we need to get players with his attitude and desire around him soon.

Cazorla  6 Very quiet first half, much better second especially when Rosicky came on.

Podolski  -5 Didn’t bother turning up

Gervinho  4 he tries hard bless him, and doesn’t stop running, end product absent all night.

Subs:

Rosicky  7.5 quick passing, forward runs, forward passes, what we have been missing of late

Oxlade-Chamberlain  6.5 A display that showed he is returning to form, used his pace and strength well, committed defenders. Horrible team to come on and play for right now.

Chamakh  4 I miss Giroud already

Written by a very pissed off

Gooner in Exile

Someone will probably quote these stats in defence of the team:

37% Possession 63%
(so f’ing what)
5 Shots 28
(and?)
3 On Target 12
(less than half?)
3 Corners 12
(remember when this used to mean we would score?)


Arsene Wenger’s Magic Hat?

December 11, 2012

Bradford. Seems an age since they were in the Premiership, and yet it was only 11 years ago. Today they sit 65 places below us. having had 17 (yes – 17!) managers since Mr Wenger came to Arsenal; Chairman Julian Rhodes has employed 9 managers since 2004! Current manager Phil Parkinson was an Arsenal scout and remains a fan.

Checking through some of the stats (kelsey kindly provided many yesterday) one fact stands out, tonight is Bradford’s 31st game of the season (we have played 24). That is a heavy workload and one must ask how is it economically viable? Plus, how can they do it with such a small squad?

images

The Romford Pele scored the last time we played Bradford(PL )

Having beaten Wigan in the last round Bradford will be looking to add an even bigger scalp tonight, can they do so? What do you think? Could a weakened Arsenal team really lose up in the frozen North? Even playing second strings AW will field a team full of current Internationals, however tonight will be about fight and spirit, not just talent and skill. Put these two teams on an indoor training pitch and AFC would win every time but tonight Bradford will be spurred on by 23,000 fans, their biggest crowd for 50 years, and they will not go down without a fight. The question is can we match their passion?

My Team:

bradford v arse

Whether the above team has enough attacking potency  is open to question and perhaps we will see Ox start in place of Eisfeld. We are likely to get a sub appearance from Gnabry – a young player who is very highly rated by Mr Wenger. This could be the final game for Arshavin and Chamakh with both available for sale in January.

Today’s English explorer: Augustine Courtauld. (1904-1959) This young chap was another ice specialist. Trained as a stockbroker and son of the industrialist and art collector, Samuel Courtauld (the Courtauld Institute)   he was typical of the English loony explorers. Greenland was Courtauld’s area  and he once spent  5 months on his own during a Greenland winter observing weather conditions. The highest peak in the Arctic region is named after him, Mount Augustine.

images

Preparing the Valley Parade pitch for the visit of Arsenal

It would be a monkey off the back should we win this cup. OK it isn’t the silverware we would choose but nonetheless it is a trophy and one all the PL clubs compete in. Furthermore, it was George Graham’s first trophy and one which was the springboard to greater glory.

Embarrassing if we lose, a semi-final if we win. Well worth fighting for.

Written by Big Raddy


A serious win – Arsenal 6 Coventry 1

September 27, 2012

On Sunday, we faced a side called City that played in sky-blue. And last night, it happened again. Except the City from Coventry is very different to the one from Manchester in one key respect: Sheikh Mansour did not decide to take his country’s cash to the Midlands.

Coventry City were once a proud and persistent member of the top division, ranking only behind Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton for their unbroken run at the top. They managed a couple of sixth place finishes and an FA Cup that every Arsenal fan loved seeing them lift, when they beat Spurs 3-2 in 1987. All of that seems a long time ago now. While the coaching staff includes some familiar faces from Coventry’s happier days, like Richard Shaw and Steve Ogrizovic, Coventry provided pretty weak opposition yesterday.

That being the case, it was a little underwhelming to see our team of youngsters and older guys with something to prove fail to get to grips with Coventry in the first half. Santos aside, no-one played badly, but there was little evidence of dominance against an honest but ordinary lower division opponent, which has a league record of W0, D3, L5 this season and lies joint bottom of League One.

The only moment of satisfaction in the first half was seeing Olivier Giroud break his duck. It was clear from his expression that it was a relief for him too. Once again, he had been given precious little service in terms of viable opportunities to score, before Arshavin and Coquelin combined with first-time passes to send the ball through for Giroud to go one-on-one with the Coventry keeper. Giroud took his chance with a deft chip.

Yennaris (surprisingly playing in central midfield), Oxlade-Chamberlain and Coquelin began to assert themselves before the end of the first half. Arshavin (who was finally being played in his proper position, as a number 10) and Walcott were both pretty low-key in the first half, but stepped things up in the second half. Whereas crosses and through balls were generally over-hit or inaccurate in the first half, the ball was knocked around with more confidence and more effect in the second half, with openings being created against a pedestrian defence.

Giroud was given a chance to get a second, when the referee harshly punished Coventry by awarding us a penalty when Arshavin appeared to have run into a defender more than been bundled over. But before Giroud could take the penalty, there was an amusing interlude, when two streakers got onto the pitch. For one horrendous moment, it seemed the first one was going to go traditional and manage to get all his clothes off, but he had to make do with running around the pitch in boxers and socks. Our stewards tried to look nonchalant about it all, you could almost see them say “Really? You want me to run after him? Bloody hell….” But in the end, the intruders were nabbed and Giroud was allowed to take his penalty. Which he promptly missed.

A second goal came not long after, when Oxlade-Chamberlain cut in from the left, exchanged passes with Arshavin and then sent a powerful shot towards the top right-hand corner and it flew past the keeper’s flailing hand. In truth, the keeper should have saved it, but it was powerfully hit, and the ball’s path may have deviated slightly.

The Chelsea match substitutions were made on the 72nd minute, when Giroud, Coquelin and Oxlade-Chamberlain came off for Gnabry, Chamakh and Frimpong, a folk hero who was welcomed back with gusto.

Arshavin had become increasingly influential through the game, and managed to get his first goal for Arsenal in almost a year to make it 3-0. The little Russian quickly controlled a clever chipped cross from Giroud, who had received the ball from Yennaris, and despatched a little half-volley into the goal. Ten minutes later, after Djourou had failed to convert a good chance from a corner, the very tidy Nico Yennaris played a beautifully weighted ball for Walcott to run onto – it was perfect for Theo; the ball in front of him, the centre-backs behind him. The Wannabe Striker had been gagging for a goal, and had been hogging the ball at times when he should have passed the ball. This time, however, in his optimum position, he sent the ball past the keeper and into the far corner. 4-0.

Then Coventry had their moment. Their captain, Carl Baker, had been the only Sky Blue suggesting he had had something to offer creatively, and on 79th minute he sent across an absolutely beautiful cross from the right-hand side. Carl Jenkinson would have been proud of it. It took out the defenders and gave Damian Martinez no chance, with Callum Ball doing the easy bit by converting to give the Coventry fans something to celebrate. If Giroud had been given more service like that since he joined us, I feel sure he would have more than one goal to his name.

A minute later, Serge Gnabry was played in by Arshavin. The young German went for a shot, which hit a defender and went for a corner. Arshavin and Yennaris exchanged passes form the short corner before Arsahvin sent over a pin-point cross, which the always impressive and smooth Ignassi Miquel headed back inside the near post for his first goal for the club. 5-1.

And the best goal of the night was the last one. Theo picked the ball up around the centre circle with a lovely first touch, went past a defender on the outside (yes, he really did), cut back in and across the defender, and once he reached the penalty box, he sent a curling shot inside the far post for 6-1. In truth, he had more time than he would usually get, with the Coventry defenders visibly tiring, but it was a lovely one-man goal nonetheless.

All in all, it was a fun evening. There were good performances from Yennaris, Coquelin, and Miquel; good first team debuts for Martinez, Angha (a centre-back playing at right-back) and Gnabry; a return from injury for Frimpong; good run-outs for Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arshavin, Djourou and Walcott; a goal for Giroud; and no injuries before the weekend. Chamakh was anonymous for most of his 20 minutes. The only really bad performance was from Santos, who looked way off the pace, and whose use of the ball was distinctly un-Brazilian. But hopefully, he was blowing away some cobwebs, he can play a lot better.

And next up is an away trip to Brian McDermott’s Reading.

More significantly, there is Saturday’s game against the suddenly creative Chelsea. Last night’s game does not tell us much about how well placed we will be for that game, but it can’t hurt to have just won 6-1.

Here are my ratings for the evening’s performances:

Martinez: 7

Angha: 7

Djourou: 7

Miquel: 8

Santos: 4

Yennaris: 8

Coquelin: 7

Walcott: 7

Arshavin: 8 MOTM

Oxlade-Chamberlain: 8

Giroud: 7

Frimpong: 7

Chamakh: 6

Gnabry: 7

Written by 26may1989

And this match report from LB who was also at the game

Goal Fest at the Emirates

Arsenal cruised past Coventry on an entertaining night to secure our place in the forth round of the League Cup. Fifty eight thousand people turned up for this third round tie, incredible when you think of what a drab fixture this looks at first sight. Of that number, forty five thousand were Arsenal supporters; it was great to see so many fathers having a chance to take their young sons or daughters, more and more a rarity nowadays which is obviously a great shame.

When we whoop the opposition so convincingly I feel comfortable speaking well of the opposition fans and it has to be said that Coventry turned up in numbers, eighteen thousand to be exact. No doubt many a father took his son or daughter regaling stories as they made their way down of the day when they beat Arsenal 3-0 on the opening day of the season all that time ago. It was after all their cup final and they played a huge part in making the atmosphere as good as it was.

The team selection made sense; giving the captaincy to Djourou was inspired, I am sure it is not easy keeping someone as talented as he happy playing the role of forth choice CB. Wenger included three players who needed to prove something: Giroud, Arshavin and Thierry Walcott, these three drove the show forward. The Ox has nothing to prove so does not fit into that category; he just played for fun and was a joy to watch.

The back line was as expected apart from the inclusion of Anger who I am afraid was poor. Santos came to life in the second half leaving only Miguel who was my man of the match. I should explain how I make my choice of MOTM, on Sunday for example The BFG was described as “imperious” (Chas) I agree, but I expect that from him, what I didn’t expect was Ramsey to raise his game as much as he did and because of that I would have given the MOTM to him. Against Coventry Arshavin ran the show he shone above all else, but once again I expect that from him, it was only Coventry after all but Miquel played over and above what I expected, scoring a well placed header to boot.

If I had one little complaint I think Wenger was a bit too cautious playing Coquelin and Yannaris, both defensive minded players, in front of the back line. I would have preferred to see Eisfeld who is more attack minded rather than Yannaris who was average on the night, a description far less glowing than the reports he receives when he plays right back.

Arsenal were in charge from the outset, the only surprise was that it took so long to get off the mark, half chances fell here and there until Coquelin stabbed the ball past the Coventry back line for Giroud to run onto with his left foot; the conditions were so perfect that the rarest of rare orchids would have flowered and unsurprisingly Giroud chipped the goal keeper and a huge black monkey leapt off his back as he turned to celebrate his first goal for Arsenal not long before the break.

Wenger was obviously taking this game seriously by his team selection but I am sure he would have liked a cushion as quick as possible so that he could get key players off ready for Saturday. The opportunity to put some distance came when Arshavin was brought down in the box and the referee correctly awarded us a penalty. The Ox ran to pick up the ball and then protectively went to the spot in hope of taking it himself only to be met by Giroud who pulled rank or something like that and insisted on taking it.
Goal number two looked a certainty but the conditions were not right, orchids did not flower and Giroud missed, the monkey that had flown off was only circling and came flying down to resume his place on the Frenchman’s back. Giroud mopped for the rest of the game.

This minor irritation was quickly put behind us as the Ox showed everyone how to do it, launching an exocet of a shot that flew past the Coventry keeper to make it 2-0. Arshavin scored the third with a sublime take and tap in. This opened the flood gates and even Thierry Walcott scored a brace.

This all bodes well for the next round in which we play Reading on the last day of October

Written by LB


Theo Central And C1 Cup Special.

September 26, 2012

Priorities. Will winning the Capital One Cup remove the monkey of the 7 barren years tag? Well, will it?  You know the answer to that, after all who won it last year?

What this cup has become is a chance for us to see how the less well known Arsenal players are developing and give a run-out to the bench warmers, some of whom will be looking to impress prior to a January move. Who we see this evening is pure guesswork but surely JD will get deserved pitch time. Then there is poor Meerkat – how the mighty fall – just a couple of years ago Arshavin was Captain of Russia, and one of the most in-demand players in Europe, now he is not even part of the Russian squad nor a starter for Arsenal. The proposed sale to his home club of Zenith didn’t materialise and he is sadly in limbo, a lovely man, I hope he finds a club where he can reproduce his mercurial talents. A couple of goals tonight would be a good advert.

Goalkeeper is likely to be Shea, but who knows, it could be Don Vito. We should see the developing talents of Yennaris and hopefully Eisfeld, of whom much is expected.

Miquel is a sure starter and from what we have seen looks a very talented player, I hope we can keep him but with such quality ahead of him will he remain patient?

Now we come to a  big issue. In a BBC interview Theo stated that a condition of his signing a contract was the realisation of his desire to play centrally (at least that is my reading of his statement). My first thoughts were – you must be joking! Firstly, no-one can or will dictate to Mr Wenger, and secondly, when playing centrally Theo has hardly been threatening. It says much that despite a dearth of strikers consecutive England managers play Walcott on the wing, neither Capello nor Hodgson have given him the main striker role and yet, the man himself believes this is his future position. Based upon what? A belief that he is Thierry Henry re-incarnate?

That said, why not give him a try? Perhaps he can become the lethal finisher Theo obviously believes he is, but with Giroud and Chamakh (and now Gervinho) ahead of him it is unlikely he will be given the chance. The trouble is that 20 minute cameo’s will not be enough to persuade Walcott to sign a contract at a club he obviously loves. Time will tell if he has a place at Arsenal.

So who plays upfront tonight? If fit, it has to be Chamakh. The big man needs pitch time in order for Arsenal to persuade some mug club to buy the big schlump, because at the moment even Peaches’ Mum has more chance of a first team start. If he isn’t available Giroud will get more pitch time. Or could we see both Chamakh and Giroud start with Cham on the left and Theo right?

My Team:

Whatever team lines up I expect to see some substitutions. Eastmond has done well in his few cameo appearances, Gnabry has been singled out for praise by AW, Bellerin is making huge strides in the reserves and youth teams and at just 17 looks a future first teamer (if he can dislodge The Corporal).

Another Big Day for Nico Yennaris. A proper Gooner.

As to Coventry, it seems a lifetime ago since the Sky Blues came to Highbury on the opening day of the season and beat us 3-0 (just the 19 years, Raddy).   It has been a sad decline for this once fine club, languishing 23rd in League One and relegated last season. Mark Robins has much to do to improve their plight.

The Emirates is sold out tonight. What a testament to the policy of playing second string and the attendant fun. 60+ thousand. Compare that to the 28k the Northern Oilers got last night for PL opposition or the 32k at the Bridge.

Whether we win the Capital One Cup or not is hardly relevant, what is relevant is that Arsenal fans come out in vast numbers to support AW’s much criticised (by the media) approach to it.

A win for the Arsenal, an outing for the 2nd team and a full house. What is there not to like?

Written by Big Raddy


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