1936 and Arsenal win their 2nd FA Cup

April 18, 2014

It’s April 25th 1936 and Arsenal return to Wembley to face Sheffield United in their fourth FA Cup Final in nine years. Previously they lost 1- 0 to Cardiff City in 1927, won their 1st FA Cup in 1930, by beating Huddersfield Town 2-0, and then lost to Newcastle United 2-1 in 1932. Having won their first League Championship in 1930 and then again in three consecutive seasons from 1933 to 1935 they were now looking to add a second FA Cup to their 1930’s trophy collection. Herbert Chapman had died, suddenly, two years before and David Jack had hung up his boots. George Allison who was BBC Radio’s first football commentator, was now the new Arsenal manager. The attack was led by the formidable Ted Drake, who earlier in the season had scored seven goals against Aston Villa.

1936 FA Cup Final

1936finalkickoff

Harry Hooper of Sheffield United and Alex James of Arsenal shake hands at the start of the match.

The 1936 FA Cup Final was the sixty fourth and the fourteenth at the national stadium. Each team received a bye to the third round of the tournament, and then progressed through five rounds before reaching the final.

blast 10 1
Both Arsenal and Sheffield United were seeded into the third round of the FA Cup. In the third round itself, Arsenal was drawn away against Third Division South, Bristol Rovers Arsenal missed a penalty, and the third Division team went a goal up in the first half; Arsenal were playing so poorly that it seemed they would struggle even for a draw. The turnaround in the match occurred when manager George Allison moved Cliff Bastin to the inside left position. Arsenal equalized in the 65th minute, and scored a further four times over the course of the following fourteen minutes to win the game by five goals to one, with a single goal from Bowden and two each from Ted Drake and Cliff Bastin.

They followed this in the fourth round with a 2–0 victory over Liverpool Anfield. The match was played seven days after the death of King George V, with both teams wearing black armbands. The crowd of 60,000 stood to sing Abide by Me and God Save the King before the kickoff. In the fifth round they were drawn against Newcastle United, in a rematch of the 1932 final Newcastle had already knocked out the current cup holders, Sheffield Wednesday, in an earlier round. On the day, the gates to St James Park needed to be closed before the match started to keep additional spectators out, some 64,484 fans already being inside the ground. The match resulted in a 3-3 draw, Arsenal having gone a goal ahead each time, but Newcastle coming back and equalizing, in the replay at home, Arsenal won the game 3–0. They had gone a goal up in the first half from a penalty scored by Clifff Bastin after the Newcastle centre half handled the ball in the box. The second goal came during an advance by Arsenal, where the Newcastle goalkeeper, Norman Tapken, cleared the ball directly to Arsenal midfielder Pat Beasley, who promptly shot the ball into the back of an empty net. The final goal was another penalty, caused when Cliff Bastin was brought down in the box, who then took and scored the goal himself.

In their quarter final, they defeated Second Division Barnsley 4–1, having outplayed them right from the start, the first goal coming in the fourth minute from Pat Beasley in an attacking move. Bowden scored the second goal, and the third came from a penalty scored by Bastin. The fourth and final Arsenal goal was Beasley’s second, with Barnsley’s consolation goal coming a couple of minutes from the end of the match. In the semi final, played at Huddersfield Town’s ground, they defeated Grimsby Town 1–0 in a match that was described by reporters as completely one sided, with the goal coming from Bastin five minutes before half time.

Arsenal played in red and white shirts in an FA Cup final for the first time, on previous occasions in 1930 and 32 they wore fully red shirts. Additionally, before the 1967/68 season, Arsenal only wore team badges on their shirts on special occasions, such as FA Cup Finals. The 1936 cup final was the fourth occasion such a badge was worn.

150px-Arsenal_Crest_1936.svg The following is a match report that was taken from the Daily Telegraph
DRAKES GOAL WINS CUP FOR ARSENAL
SHEFFIELD UNITED NEARLY WIN MATCH
Drama of Dodds Header That Hit Post *
A Champagne Shampoo
By Frank Coles

Arsenal are Cup holders again for the second time in six years As expected, they beat Sheffield United in Wembley’s fourteenth Final Tie, but not as comfortably as 2-to-1-on favourites are supposed to win .
The honours of a match which rarely produced a high standard of play should go to Sheffield United, whose defence held out for an hour and a quarter and who twice narrowly missed taking the lead before Drake scored.

In winning the Cup for Arsenal at the 29th minute of the second half, Drake accepted the only scoring chance that came his way The opening was made by Bastin, who tricked Hooper very cleverly before pushing the ball squarely across to his unmarked centre-forward.

It was the kind of opportunity Drake had been waiting for all the afternoon and, quick as thought, he swung his left leg at the ball Before Smith, the goalkeeper, could move an inch a crashing drive had found the roof of the net.

Sheffield United could argue with justification that Bastin, might not have put Drake through if Hooper had not been handicapped by a leg injury They could also point to the fact that Jackson, playing immediately in front of Hooper, was also limping.

Drake’s goal gave new life to a game which for the greater part of the second half, had lapsed into a dull, humdrum affair, so lacking in quality and thrills that the 93,000 crowd was almost silent.

BAD LUCK FOR UNITED
However, a touch of genuine drama was to follow No sooner had United set the ball rolling again than Barton streaked past Hapgood and swung over a beautifully accurate centre Dodds, pounding down the middle, got his head to the ball and a thrilled crowd yelled “Goal!

But no, the ball hit the crossbar with a bang instead of going into the net, terribly bad luck for United. They had struck back gallantly, and for practically the first time Arsenal’s magnificent defence was shaken The movement, swift and sudden skilfully executed was a reminder of what had happened in the opening quarter of an hour, and it set me wondering why United did not exploit their five-men-up attack more often. As I had prophesied, United were an extremely dangerous team in the first 15 minutes because they were willing to gamble on attack They threw the last ounce into a grand assault on Arsenal’s goal and, as early as the third minute, nearly succeeded

BRILLIANT DEFENDERS
For 20 minutes United had Arsenal’s defence at full stretch All this time Smith, in the United goal, was a spectator When, at length, he was called into action he ought to have been beaten; from Bastin’s pass Bowden had an easy scoring chance To the undisguised dismay of Drake, who was by his side, Bowden shot weakly outside the post.

This, Arsenal’s first rejoinder to United’s beginning gesture, marked the transfer of the initiative. Whereas Arsenal’s goalkeeper was untroubled for the remainder of the opening half, Smith became the busiest man on the field incidentally, he proved himself a first-class workman.

The half hour after the interval did not provide the onlookers with much excitement.

Fortunately, Drake’s goal and United’s bid to save the match made the last quarter of an hour worth while, but I am bound to say that as a spectacle this latest Final Tie disappointed me. The Sheffield forwards were unlucky. On their first Wembley appearance they met the most astute defence in the country And if they had shown a sign of wavering, United’s attack assuredly would have won the match.

Barclay and Pickering, the inside forwards, were a long way ahead of Bowden and James They tried mightily hard to draw a cast-iron defence by holding the ball, and their understanding with the wing men was excellent.

At outside right Barton was as effective as Hulme, without attempting to be as spectacular – he was always a worry to Hapgood – and, until he was slowed down by injury, Williams was dangerous, despite the fact that he was up against Male, the best back on the field.

The experience of Dodds was in one respect similar to that of Drake Both met master stoppers But Dodds was given a far better service than Drake received If his luck had been good he would have converted a flashing cross from Williams midway through the second half The pace of the ball just beat him

I have described Male as the outstanding back Second to him I rate Hooper, United’s captain, who had the difficult job of subduing Bastin. Johnson, the centre-half, also played a great game.

Arsenal – Wilson, Male, Hapgood, Crayston, Roberts, Copping, Hulme, Bowden, Drake, James (Captain), Bastin

Sheffield United – Smith, J, Hooper (Captain), Wilkinson, Jackson Johnson, McPherson, Barton, Barclay, Dodds, Pickering, Williams

Referee H Nattrass (Durham) Linesmen: J M Wiltshire (Dorset) and Dr A W Barton (Amateur FA.)
Attendance 93.384

ted drakes winning goal
Ted Drake’s winning goal.

It was Arsenal’s sixth success in League and Cup in seven seasons but their triumph did not get the deserved news coverage. A dispute over terms between Wembley and the news reel companies led to the ban on film cameramen inside the stadium. The companies still took to the air and shortly before kick off a whirl of auto-giros rose above Wembley. The only film taken inside the ground was an official one.

alex james

Alex James holding the 1936 FA Cup.

GunnerN5


What constitutes a good supporter?

April 17, 2014

Morning Gooner’s,

As the title says, what tells us who is a good supporter? Many will say that a supporter who turns up for all of their teams home games is a real supporter, or the away supporter who travels. As the word states he pays for his ticket, whereby he supports. Would you say that that person is a better supporter than perhaps an oversea’s supporter, who can only get to games when and if he visits the country, but he still see’s his or her team on the paid for television.

Many supporters, or should I say fans, cannot afford to go to matches let alone travel huge distances, so how do we tell who is the most loyal of fans? Just recently because of some of our results many supporters are questioning the Owner, Manager, or the players, nothing unusual about that when results are not going our way, But some supporters are saying that they are not getting what they pay for, and they want change in the club.

Whether that change is for new players or a new manager or even to the extreme of a new owner has often baffled me. Just recently I read a supporter say that if we lose to Everton he will sell his Wembley tickets, I like to think that was a light hearted statement but why say it in the first place.

Many season ticket holders are fond of telling us, that they have held their tickets for many years, and in some cases even their Fathers or Grandfathers before them, Now that is what I call following in tradition, but if you are not happy with what you see, then why keep punishing yourself.

A football club boasts about how many supporters they have stretched all over the world, our tours have shown us that they are trying to enter the Asian Market and even the American Market, why do they do that, when they know they cannot get to games, because of sales of shirts and satellite television, computers all helps to boost income.

Looking over some of the blog world, I see a lot of supporters unhappy, many go as far as to write derogatory comments about the owner Manager or the players. Many are demanding change. Many’s the time I have read that supporters will not renew their season tickets, if change does not come about, while others will tell you how much they pay and for how long, as if that is how to judge a supporter in their eyes.

Supporting a football club should come from within, its just a feeling that the club you have supported all your life, runs through your veins, good or bad you just cannot get that out of your system, but if you go and complain every time you go, perhaps you should not go.

I have seen supporters with their black scarves on wielding placards depicting what changes they would like to see, Many will tell you that the owner or Manager doesn’t know what they are doing. Many will say how long they have held tickets for, and how much they are paying, and how they expect so much more.

I would say to some of these supporters, that no matter how many tickets they pay for, or however long they have held them, that those tickets are only rented, they are actually owned by the owner, and that he lets you rent them.

The man they are complaining to, is the man that owns the lot, and if they believe that the amount they pay makes them a better supporter than one that goes occasionally, means very little. It makes you no better or worse than an oversea’s supporter or somebody not allowed to go by finance or illness.

I would urge unhappy supporters to relinquish their rented tickets, pack your black scarves in the drawer, and allow the waiting list supporter to go and support in the right way, after all,  no one will miss you after a while, and others can support the team, club, Manager, or Owner in peace. At the end of the day if you have a really bad meal in a restaurant, you moan but you don’t go back.

xpectation is very high for an Arsenal supporter, many believe that Arsenal’s Position should be higher than it is, many believe that our empty cabinet should be over flowing, but how many other teams in this league feel the same, look at the scramble for a top 4 places.

Its my belief that 17 years in Champions league, and presently 4th in the league with 6 games to go is no reason for change at Arsenal, but many supporters ideals are very different to mine, what’s yours?

Written by Steve Palmer


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


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


End of the Difficult Games

April 6, 2014

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

Phew, that was a long sentence!!

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

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

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

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

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

UnknownFuture Team-mates?

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

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

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

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

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

My team:

dc2

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

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

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

Big Raddy


Should we have held on to the Deadwood?

April 5, 2014

It is a widely held belief that lack of squad depth has attributed to our slide away from the top of the table to a position where some fans are concerned about our ability to hang on to fourth place.

This is a perfectly reasonable stance, but I have a question….did it have to be this way?

During most of the 12/13 season and the one before that and probably the one before the most popular references to out of favour players was deadwood, a fairly unkind term used to describe players who in the blogger’s opinion had become surplus to requirements if Arsenal wanted to achieve things.

At the end of the 12/13 season several of these players left the club:

Gervinho
Mannone
Arshavin
Chamakh
Squillacci
Santos

Also on their way were a whole raft of youth teamers who didn’t make the grade, plus some who just couldn’t quite make it in to the first team squad.

One name on that list leaps out at me…..so here’s the question would our squad look better with Gervinho still in it?

Would we be looking at the left side of midfield thinking “if only we had a pacy winger”.

I know Gervinho was not a world beater, but he gave us options, the level of criticism fired at him meant Arsène felt compelled to sell him for his own benefit.

And this is where as Arsenal fans we probably need to alter our thinking, we seem to judge every player as if they should be a World Class talent or at least as good as the man he could replace in the team. And when we have judged them with that yardstick and decided they don’t measure up we hammer them until we ask “Why doesn’t Gervinho look up for it today?”.

We appear to be heading in a similar direction with Giroud and Podolski, some fans have decided they are not good enough so send them back from whence they come….wouldn’t it be better to find better players but also keep the players we have in the squad too?

Gooner in Exile


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