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


Crystal Palace: Another Must Win

February 2, 2014

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

Right that’s done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Team:

a v cp

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

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

Unknown

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

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

It burned down in 1936.

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

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


The Podolski Puzzle.

January 22, 2014

Let’s start with a basic premise – we all love our Lukas. Top bloke, committed to the club, and a fine player.

I cannot recall a similar player in the Arsenal shirt; immensely strong, a lethal finisher who possesses phenomenal shooting power and in the prime of his career at 28 y.o.. Yet despite having over 100 caps for the German National team he cannot find a set place in the Arsenal side. Why?

More to the point, why  is everyone calling for another striker when we have statistically one of the best strikers in world football in our Polish/German (born in Poland, left as a two year old)?

It is perplexing.

images-2

A few Pod stats: 111 caps, 3rd highest appearances for Germany. 46 international goals, 5th highest for Germany. In 2013 he scored after just 9 seconds vs Ecuador, the second fastest goal of all time (first is a San Marino gaol against England!!.). Winner of the German League and Cup Double.  Since 2010 he has played 115 games and scored 51 times.

Mr Wenger says he is the most lethal finisher at the club. Yet ….

Write down your Arsenal first XI (when all are fit!), is Poldi in it? Why not?

For Germany Prinz Poldi plays on the left with licence to drift towards the centre, just the same as he does for Arsenal but with one major difference, his fullback is Philip Lahm and his defensive MF Schweinsteiger! He doesn’t have the defensive responsibility which a left sided attacker has at Arsenal.

It seems that Poldi plays deeper on the left than he does for his country, he is regularly seen on the edge of our box tracking back. Unlike Theo, he doesn’t have the pace to join Giroud upfront on the breakaways and therefore if he is to be involved the play has to be slower from the back. I would like to see him played much further forward in the Pires role – I don’t recall Bobby crunching into tackles too often – and I think this is what Mr Wenger bought him for. Poldi may not have the artistry and guile of Pires but he is certainly as dangerous.

Then there is the question of his combination play with Giroud. Can they function as an attacking duo? We have yet to see evidence of an understanding between the two (apart from one thunderous volley from a cheeky OG pass) though this will hopefully develop as the season progresses. The lightning fast interplay between JW, Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey and Giroud is wonderful to behold, can Poldolski combine in the same vein? Perhaps – he can certainly finish off the moves.

When we signed Poldi much was made of his failure at Bayern Munich, critics said it was easy to be Jack the Peanut at FC Koln but quite different at The Arsenal or Bayern. At FC Koln he was loved like no other and remains so, at Arsenal he is admired rather than loved and I think this is because he has yet to cement a place for himself.

Unknown

The early season injury came at the wrong time because he was looking as though he had finally found his position in the team. I recall seeing him pull up as his oak-like thigh twitched and twanged, it was poor timing.

I stated recently that I believe Lukas will leave in summer. Why? For two reasons: Firstly, he is too  good a player to sit on the bench, especially at a time when goal scorers are in such shortage therefore he will be much in demand all over Europe. Secondly, the rumours of Draxler; a left sided MF who is likely to be groomed as a TH14 type player. Mr Wenger will not pay €40m+ to see him sit on the bench, so who loses his place?

That said, it could be Giroud who gets dropped. If Drexler can play in the middle an attack of Podolski, Drexler, Ozil and Walcott is frighteningly good, or drop Theo for Gnabry and have an all-German frontline!

But Drexler may just be paper talk and Podolski may well become an essential member of the team. I certainly hope so but it is clear Mr Wenger is looking for another striker.

Another cloud on his horizon is the return of Oxlade-Chamberlain who is certain to be a fixture in the team (though given the unfortunate timing of his injury,  next season is more likely), plus  the rise of Gnabry and Mr Wenger’s penchant for developing young players by putting them out on the wings.

If one looks at the current squad and the marvellous form of Cazorla and Rosicky plus the return of Ramsey, I just cannot see how Podolski will get a run in the team

It is interesting that Mr Wenger picked 18 y.o. Gnabry to start the last three games when Podolski was fit and on the bench. What must Lukas think about that, especially in a World Cup year? (yes, I know SG plays on the right).

Having Podolski on the bench is a major asset, he is a game changer when he comes on for the final 20 minutes but do you think that is satisfactory to an established German International?

Judging from his activity on social media Podolski seems to be really enjoying his time in London. It is time for us to find out whether he has a future as an Arsenal player. Poldi’s time is now – or is it?.

BigRaddy


The Magic of the Cup? And Spurs/Arsenal Combined Team

January 4, 2014

I am at a loss. We are about to play our local rivals in an FA Cup game at our home ground and yet ….. look at this face …… Is it bothered? Be honest …. are you as tense as you would expect?

So what is this lack of enthusiasm?  Is it the belittling of the FA Cup? I loved it as a child when everything was focussed on the “most important Cup in world team football”, but the Champions League has dulled my passion. Even more worrying is that we are playing Spurs and  …. I had better stop – I am boring myself.

Any visit from the miscreants who leak their way through the primordial slime of Tottenham into the magnificent arena that is the Emirates is a chance to retain bragging rights. Today is no exception. And perhaps here is the rub ….. I don’t consider Spurs as rivals, and haven’t for a number of years. Yes, they have done well in the recent past and almost achieved something significant, but the fact is that they haven’t. They are Forever in our Shadow.

Not surprisingly Spurs fans see things differently; when they beat us last season my mail inbox was full, I had phone calls from all around the world, I had over 20 text messages within 15 minutes of the final whistle – every man jack Spurs fan whom I had ever met felt the need to crow, “The worm had turned, Arsenal were doomed, Spurs were on the march to London domination. AVB is a genius ( :-D  ), Wenger has lost it, etc etc”.

Do Gooners respond to an Arsenal win in the same manner? Of course not and for many reasons, primarily because we know that we support a bigger club: Not just in terms of trophies, fans, stadium, history but also in every single aspect of a football club.

images

Spurs are very confident going into the game – so they should be after beating MU – it was a fine victory. Ade is playing his 6 decent games a season and we all know he scores at the Emirates, Eriksen looks like the creative player they have been missing, the central defence has improved with the signing of  Chiriches and as ever they have strong attacking FB’s.

And …. we have an injury list as long as a whale’s todger.

We are none of us particularly interested in the ever-so-dull Spurs, so lets move onto the men who matter ……

Arsenal: Who knows whether Mr Wenger will prioritise the FAC?  This is  another opportunity to get the trophy monkey off his back but given the injury list and his focus on the CL and PL, Mr Wenger may choose to play a weakened team. I don’t believe he will as he knows how important beating Spurs is to the fans and winning is a habit. As such, and given there is a week until our next game, I expect to see us line up with a strong team.

Ramsey, NB, Gibbs,  probably Giroud, maybe Ozil and the usual suspects are out.

If OG is out we have little choice but to continue with Theo and Podolski in a 4-4-2, it didn’t work vs Cardiff but to be fair the Welshman defended very well and there was no space for our attackers. Today should be different , especially if Özil is fit; he knows Podolski’s game and is starting to find Walcott’s runs.

I don’t like the Arteta/Flamini combo, and would much rather see Rosicky start alongside Arteta but AW will play safe.

My Team

nld

Our problems may arise should we be losing with 20 mins to go and need some attacking thrust off the bench – there is none. We can hope for something special from Gnabry or Ryo but this puts quite  some weight on very young shoulders .

Expect Spurs to play the entire game on the counter-attack. Both their goals at Old Trafford came from breakaways and it will come as no surprise to see Sherwood park the bus, pack midfield and look for the pace of Soldado and Lemon to set up Ade.

Combined Team: Not as easy as I first thought.

GK: Two excellent young keepers, both prone to silly mistakes, both first choice for their countries, both highly thought of by their team’s fans. Having done some research as to which GK made the least mistakes leading to goals in 2013 I was surprised to find it was our TPIG!

Defence: Our defence works as a unit, individually there may be some question as to whether Sagna is better than Walker or if Rose is the equal of Gibbs but our CB’s are the best in the PL as is our goals against record.

Midfield. OK. Sandro is a decent player, so is Dembele. Eriksen has potential. Capoue is a player I hoped we would sign but instead we got Flamini. Let’s be honest all our MFs are better, even our B team midfield would get a gig at WHL.

Attack. Giroud or Soldado?  Lemon or Walcott?  Ozil or Townsend/Ade or whoever else Spurs have who can play as an attacker?

so ….. here it is the combined Arsenal/Spurs team:

combined 11

I know what you Spurs fans are thinking ….. where are Wilshere, Rosicky, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Monreal, and Vermaelen (all internationals)?  And you are right. sadly there are only 11 places up for grabs.

The bookies have us as favourites and they are seldom wrong. Given a fair performance from referee Mark Clattenberg, the 4th round awaits.

Written by Big Raddy


Mesut Özil …… Sprezzatura.

November 16, 2013

Now, I don’t know many long words, and even fewer in Italian. However, a few years ago I stumbled upon this word Sprezzatura. No other language has a word encapsulating the same qualities. It means “Effortless Grace”.

If you want to be able to sound clever, then read the bracketed bit below, otherwise, skip it.

(Castiglione wrote The Book of the Courtier as a portrayal of an idealized courtier. This ideal courtier was supposed to be skilled in arms and in athletic events but be equally skilled in music and dancing. However, the courtier who had sprezzatura managed to make difficult tasks look easy. Concerning sprezzatura, Castiglione said that: “to practice in all things a certain sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”. In short, Sprezzatura means Effortless Grace.)

When I first discovered this word, my first thoughts were one Dennis Bergkamp. I decided the word was simply too good to waste, so I thought I’d bide my time and wait.

Enter Mesut Özil.

I believe he may become Arsenal’s Greatest Ever Signing. The Man oozes Sprezzatura.

I have heard that “He’ll take time to settle into the PL”. I say: “Bollocks he will. I have never seen someone so clearly settled”.

Look at his assists so far. On the whole they are fairly simple balls. Pinpoint accurate, yes, but fairly obvious balls. I remember Chas posting some of The Arsenal Gentleman’s genius cards, and Mesut’s “Special Move was: The Mesmertron, a hypnotic through ball”.

How many of these hypnotic balls have we seen? Very few, and the reason is that Mesut knows the players are not quite ready for him to unleash his full dazzling array of ball skills.

So, what’s going on? Quite simply, every player around Mesut is out of their depth, and he knows it, which is why he’s still playing it simple. I reckon that soon, through a combination of pitch time, as well as work on the training ground, the movement from those around him will improve.

Think back to Thierry Henry, and the impact DB10 had on his game. This is the reason I understand why some people are asking for a different type of striker. Someone who speaks the same football language as Mesut. I suspect we may see the Mesmetron deployed if either Theo or Podolski take up the central striker role.

I think we are going to witness Arsenal’s Greatest Ever Signing. He will elevate and educate those around him into superior players. Watch, savour, and enjoy. Exceptional things are about to happen in the Red and White of Arsenal.

Written by MickyDidIt89


The Curse of the Left

September 11, 2013

Mrs. Raddy was very impressed the other day when I stared at her with what she believed was loving tenderness , though what I was actually doing was thinking about our left side. *

My reasoning was this …… Gibbs, Monreal, Podolski, Ox, all crocked whilst playing out there. Would I be wrong in thinking that both Santi and Mozart also suffered injuries whilst playing on our port side?

images“Please don’t make me play out there, Boss”

Not only that but players who have been shipped out to larboard have suffered dramatic falls from grace. I refer to Arshavin, Gervinho, Santos, Chamakh  and Bendtner (yes, I know the last two are CF’s but they were forced to play out there).

And looking back to recent history, what of Reyes, Hleb, Nasri and Clichy?  All moved on to lesser clubs – OK, Real Madrid, Barcelona and MC may not be exactly lesser but they didn’t succeed at The Home of Football, did they?

What is going on? We haven’t had a happy leftside since  Bobby and Terry. Many talk about Mr Wenger’s blindness to our defence but i it is remarkable that our attacks from the left have come from FB’s or MF’s for a number of seasons.

Will our shiny new German improve matters? From what I read, he is a traditional inside forward with a licence to roam, much like our other three AM’s (Ramsey, Santi, TR). So, is Mr Wenger’s plan to play Cazorla on the left and restrict his movement? I sincerely hope not because Santi, as we all know, is a genius and should be allowed to do whatever he wants (apart from canoodling with Mrs. Raddy).

Podolski is not a left-winger –  pace is not one of his talents . Nor is The Ox, who is yet another attacking MF. We have one coming through in Myaichi, but he is well down the pecking order. Given that Mr Wenger likes to play 4-3-3, why can’t we have an attacking threat like Theo on the left?

*Looking doe-eyed at one’s partner can have a very positive effect upon one’s relationship (unless you start to dribble)

written by Big Raddy


Fulham 1 Arsenal 3 “A thoroughly professional performance.”

August 25, 2013

You have got to love Martin Jol; he sets out his teams in the same attacking formation every time he plays against Arsenal and every time they lose, ok there was the one exception but that, as far as I am concerned, only proves the rule; he certainly was never able to beat an Arsene Wenger team while manager of Tottenham and he was no where near doing so yesterday.

Arsenal carried on from where they left off on Wednesday against Fenerbahce beating Fulham at Craven Cottage in what turned out to be a convincing style. 3-1 to the good guys was just what we needed to get the media off our backs, to stop rogue Arsenal supporters taking swipes at the club and to set us up nicely for the coming game against Tottenham.

poldi v fulham

Wenger rotated his squad (lol) leaving Wilshere on the bench, moving Rosicky further back and adding Podolski to the front. This was a very attacking move that had the much desired effect, in my view, of helping Giroud avoid being isolated which he appeared to for the best part of the game against the Turks.

The tactics seemed to be to play our way past Fulham’s onward rushing attack and pick our way round their defence. This required accurate, pin-ball passing which as the game went on Arsenal were doing with more and more fluency and speed.

The break through came after a long range shot from Ramsey was deftly, yes deftly, controlled by Giroud before poking it past the keeper for his now customary goal per game. I have noticed that since the Frenchman has been scoring so regularly that the priority signing to some is shifting from wanting a striker to wanting a centre back, well not for me; I still feel that Suarez would score twice as many of those kind of goals if he were to come to the home of football. That said, I don’t want to appear to be ungrateful to Ollie, the man works like a Trojan, always putting in a shift; he really is the perfect example of what a team player should be.

Being a goal up forced Fulham to come onto us and that in turn forced the focus onto our back line which I must say I thought put in their best performance to date, there was a real understanding between them: Mertasacker oozed confidence, Sagna got better and better as the game went on, Gibbs was simply very good once again and Jenkinson never seemed to be caught out of position, as he is sometimes prone to doing, with Sagna there watching his back.

During the game I was trying to work out, if I were to write the report, who I would award the MOTM to? For ages I couldn’t see anyone who stood out as every player seemed to be doing his job very well; Ramsey may have been given it by the BT sports and indeed he did play well but no better than Cazorla who seems to have finally digested that massive paella he consumed during the close season; the magic in those boots is back, the twists and turns that takes him past opponents are one of the vital skills that makes us a better than the likes of Fulham. I toyed for ages with the MOTM going to the team but then it became clear, there was one player who produced something over and above what I think we have come to expect – Lucas Podolski is my MOTM, scorer of two goals that gave us the points and put smiles on our faces this Sunday morning.

When we are one up space appears and Theo usually starts to shine, yesterday was no exception and it was one of his runs, combined with a Cazorla shot, parried by the Fulham keeper that fell for our Johnny on the spot, Lucas Pololski to side foot in from 18 yards, no easy task, the man did well and gave us a two goal cushion to go into half time with.

If Theo starts to shine at one-nil up he becomes lethal when we go two up, it was his charging run and the quick feet of Cazorla that brought about the third goal for Pololski who rifled home, low and true.

Wilshere came on and added a bit more steel to the defence, Nacho got a run out and Sanogo got a few minutes, I can see him going on loan when the real deal arrives.

Anyway, we took our foot off the gas a bit and this allowed Fulham to score but that only had the effect of focusing the team again, enough to see the game out and bring the points home.

Happy, happy.

Be afraid spuds; be very afraid, the mighty Arsenal are hitting their stride.

Written by LB


Gervinho: Gooner or Goner?

June 2, 2013

There are persistent rumours in the media that Gervinho is close to the exit door at The Emirates. Should he be sold?

Can you remember a more infuriating player than our spindly Ivorian? Here we have a player with truly consummate skills – he has great pace, can beat 3 players with a shrug, can create space for himself in seemingly impossible situations, can play on both wings and given chances, he scores. So why isn’t The Mekon a first choice player, and why hasn’t he flourished in a team where his talents appear to fit?

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Seems like a Nice Boy

I should start with this statement. I really like Gervinho, he has a wonderful smile, he makes me laugh and he appears proud to wear the shirt. There was excitement when he signed for us at what seemed a reasonable price of £11m; he had just gone through a fine season with Lille, scoring 18 goals in a season where Lille surprisingly won Ligue 1. Gervinho , who scored  28 goals in 68 appearances for Lille was much in demand with Athletico Madrid , PSG and others seeking his talents, but he chose Arsenal – probably thanks to the Mr Wenger attraction in France (and PL money!)

Sent off in his first game for trying to take  a swipe at the hideous Joey Barton (you should have decked him).  His first season was interrupted by a trip to the African CoN but a return of just 4 goals from 26 starts and 11 subs apps was sub-standard. It appeared that if you put Gervinho 3 yards from goal and asked him to shoot he would either miss the ball or miss the target -…… cow’s arse/banjo.

2012/13 was better. His confidence was raised by getting some lucky strikes but the ACoN once again deprived Arsenal of his services. At season’s end Gerv had made 18 starts (+8 subs) scoring 7 goals. An improvement but still unsatisfactory.

Onto the negatives. We are not as solid defensively when Gervinho plays. He does work hard to track back but tackles like a wet paper bag; his crossing is poor – actually worse than poor, his passing is fine at close quarters but not so dusty over distance and his finishing is as clinical as a blind dentist. Mr Wenger seems to have decided that his attacking left sided player is Podolski.

Mr Wenger has tried to play Gervinho on the right, on the left, given him the centre forward role, played him as shadow striker, tried to teach him to defend, tried to teach him to cross – nothing has really succeeded. Gervinho remains an anomaly – good at many trades, master of none.

However, Gervinho has improved; as a substitute remains a positive force giving defenders problems whenever he comes on but is that enough to keep him at Arsenal? In the likely event of Mr Wenger buying a striker what happens to Gerv? Would Arsenal be better off selling him and giving opportunities to O-C, Gnabry,  Myachi etc

For me a Goner and not a Gooner.

Big Raddy


Time For The Pod To Shine At Number 9?

May 1, 2013

This is a topic I have had on my mind for some time now and stems from Arsène Wengers apparent reluctance to try Podolski in the number 9 role. I believe he played this role once at the start of the season, (perhaps against Sunderland?), and since then, when he has played, he has been utilised from the attacking left, which often leaves him playing more like an orthodox winger. I personally feel that Podolski is “ok” from this position but I don’t feel he is what I would qualify as world class. He does, however, seem to have some excellent attributes that could see him progress into the world class bracket as a central striker.

The assertion by many that he is our most natural finisher is something that I would find hard to disagree with, and his statistics before coming to us at both club and international level seem to support this. I have questioned, like many, why Arsene has not played him in the number 9 role. One must assume that having tried him in that role earlier on this season, and then looking at him closer in training, that Arsene recognised certain deficiencies that would not allow him, at that point, to perform the number 9 role at the very highest level. I would certainly bow my head in this matter to the man that discovered Anelka, developed Robin Van Persie into a world class striker, and way and above everything else, gave us the great Thierry Henry. That is evidence enough that our esteemed manager knows a world class striker, or potential world class striker, when he sees one.

P2

When the ball lands at Podolski’s left foot in dangerous areas he looks as good a finisher as any other world class forward you could care to name at the moment, so what is stopping him from claiming this role as first choice for the club. Podolski’s shortcomings for this role we can maybe only hypothesise upon. Speculating, I would consider that maybe he is too one footed and needs to develop his finishing ability more with the right foot as we saw with a certain traitorous Dutchman over the last few years. Maybe Arsene doesn’t feel he yet has the instinct in the runs he makes and the positions he takes up in the box, so that rather than create the opportunity with a well timed run, he is still overly reliant on the ball arriving at his feet without having to move too much. It could be that in our system, that would see him lead the line without a recognised central number 10 partner, that Arsene doesn’t feel he yet has the ability to hold the ball up when required and therefore link his team-mates into the attacking play.

The recent reports, allegedly directly from Arsenes own mouth, that he is working hard with Podolski in training to convert him into that prolific number 9 seems to indicate that Arsene both sees and believes that Podolski can fulfil this role in the long run. The big problem in my mind is that I feel we are in a time sensitive situation with regard to our forward department. I don’t believe we can enter next season without a ready made world class forward line, and for me the number 9 position is a key area where we are behind our top club rivals at present.

I think that more than at any other time in our recent history this is the critical summer where we shouldn’t enter the campaign with such an important area of the team still being a work in progress. I personally like Giroud, who I think has had a decent first season and feel he will still improve further, but I don’t see him being able to become a world class number 9. In direct comparison to Cavani, Falcao, Lewandowski and the great TH14 can anyone actually hand on heart say that Giroud will achieve that level? I can’t, and I view Giroud’s long term future with us as a second choice number 9 or impact sub.

We are heavily linked with Jovetic. Now this is a player I like and hope we get. I feel he will bring an extra dimension to our attacking department, but once again I don’t see him as a number 9. He looks to me to be an attacking central or attacking wide player. If anything he is likely to take up the

attacking left sided role that Podolski currently plays, which would leave Lukas somewhat redundant with regard to this position. That leaves the question of whether we have the answer within our own squad for the world class number 9 role in Podolski, or is it an area where we need to dip into the transfer market for this summer.

Worryingly for me, and obviously also for Podolski, is that aside from Giroud AW seems to prefer Gervinho in the role. Despite scoring a couple of goals more recently I don’t see Gervinho as becoming a world class number 9. Podolski conversely, I feel, has the natural attributes that Gervinho doesn’t, that would allow him to be a 25 a season striker. I think Arsene’s deployment of Podolski over the last four games will tell us much. If he continues to use Giroud, and Gervinho in his absence, in that role rather than Podolski I feel the writing could be somewhat on the wall.

If we don’t see Podolski play the role before the end of the season I would surmise that it means Arsene doesn’t feel he is ready. If he is not ready now then I don’t see him being ready for the start of next season because I don’t personally feel that the pre-season period would see a seismic shift in his development. Securing players like Cavani, Falcao, and Lewandowski will neither be cheap nor easy. Many of the other top clubs seem to be circling for these 3. Maybe more realistic alternatives would be one of either Benzema or Higuain from Madrid. If Jovetic does arrive I can only really see it meaning one of two things for Lukas, and that is that he either becomes the clubs first choice number 9 or………

I can see one possible way that we could bring in Jovetic and still keep Podolski even if he is still a season away from being ready to be first choice number 9 on a permanent basis. That would be by bringing in an over 30 ready made world class forward that could still do the job at this level over the next couple of seasons. Only one name springs to mind for me and that is David Villa. If Arsene truly believes that Podolski has what it takes but just not quite yet, then this is an option that I would not turn my nose up at.

Written by GoonerB


A Fair Result or One We Got Away With?

April 14, 2013

I think the answer to that is a bit of both. Across 90 minutes on the balance of play, possession and opportunities carved out I don’t think that 3-1 over-flattered us. That we were still 1-0 down going into the 84th minute does leave a certain feeling of having got away with this one though. I will, however, look at the positives that we kept fighting and pressing and that this is a very important trait that I see increasingly in this squad, which should hold us in good stead for the future.

Pod v norwich

Early on we dominated possession and carved out a couple of decent openings. I thought some of our old failings of overplaying it and taking one too many passes rather than taking the shot at the right time was in evidence. The pitch was becoming slick from the rain and seemed to be begging players to hit hard low shots that could spin up off the pitch and cause their keeper problems. When we did shoot it seemed to be 2-3 passes too late and the shot became predictable.

Giroud headed onto the bar from a Sagna cross early on but our best chance of the first half was when Gervinho was put through one on one with their keeper courtesy of a slide rule pass from Santi. As their keeper came out Gervinho, rightly in my opinion, opted to go round the keeper but took far too heavy a touch which took him too wide and narrowed the angle. He still came close to finding the net but the ball went just wide of the far post. It would have been a tap in for any player following up and I thought Giroud was slightly guilty of ball watching. If you look at it again he jogs along watching Gervinho and suddenly realises too late he ought to be sprinting into the box. I think he could have got there had he instinctively set off at full pace the moment Gervinho was put through.

The second half seemed to continue where the first left off and we weren’t capitalising on our dominance in possession and territory and you just had a feeling what was coming next. Norwich had hardly troubled our goal but once again the old set piece goal against the run of play undid us on the 56th minute. I was seated behind the goal and remember looking at Turner and thinking I hope one of our bigger lads gets tight to him because he is a big chap and has a history of scoring from set pieces. The fact that arguably their most dangerous player at set pieces ended up getting a free unchallenged header reopens the debate about the merits of zonal marking.

I had to watch MOTD to get an extra feel for the game as it is easy to miss a lot when you sit directly behind the goal. I wanted to have a look at the lead up to the free kick and on initial evidence it looked like their player tripped over his own feet so I waited for the replay and the better camera angle to get a better idea but do you think MOTD were interested in looking at a potential injustice against Arsenal that resulted in a goal?

Gervinho and Jack hadn’t really been at the races in this game and Arsene waited another 4 minutes before subbing them for Walcott and Podolski. I felt it gave us a boost with Walcott causing immediate problems down the right and arguably our most natural finisher sniffing around their box. It didn’t take too long before a decent passing move saw Podolski clear and he smashed his shot against the bar. The equalising goal was still eluding us however and Arsene replaced Sagna with the Ox on the 80th minute for an all out assault on their goal. His introduction in addition to the other 2 subs did the trick and we all of a sudden looked far more direct and penetrative.

The equaliser came from a slightly controversial penalty decision. This time MOTD decided to make a real song and dance about it and funnily enough the pro Spurs Lineker, the just behind us in the league and soon to be playing us Everton manager, and the perennially Arsenal disliking Hanson all shouted injustice against Norwich. Keown showed in a close up that although they both grappled a bit the defender did indeed initiate the grabbing of Girouds shirt and clearly pulled him down. The ref should have seen it but didn’t and the linesman correctly spotted it from a greater distance. Well done to him I said as David Moyes, possibly with some ulterior psychological motive, intimated we had been thrown an incorrect decision. Anyway Arteta coolly slotted home and it was 1-1.

What came next was one of those ends that just makes you smile and, if anything, leave the game even happier than if you had the game sewn up on the hour mark. The players obviously realised the importance of the 3 points and kept pressing and cue 2 excellent goals in the last 2 minutes. Podolski’s goal for me illustrated why we should play him more often as no other Arsenal player has his finishing ability.

Happy gooners

A critical 3 points and on to the tougher fixture of Everton on Tuesday. I think we will have to be more clinical in attack and more solid on the set pieces if we want to get the 3 points in that game. Had it been Everton today I am not so sure we would have got away with it. On to the ratings :-

Fabianski 7 No chance for the goal and didn’t have much to do but made a couple of critical stops when needed.

Sagna 6 Considering we had them mostly pinned back he didn’t seem to offer too much to our offence in this game.

Vermaelen 7 Had a solid game. Not too much defending to be done. Their goal seemed to be a tactical fault of the whole team rather than being down to one individual.

Koscielny 7 Ditto for Kos as with TV.

Gibbs 7.5 First game for a bit and looked good both in attack and defence.

Arteta 7.5 Kept us ticking over and put in a good shift. A cool head when needed for the penalty.

Ramsey 8 My MOTM I thought Rambo had a good game today. He seems to have matured recently and today, despite no individual brilliance, I thought he gave an all action display in the Steven Gerrard mode.

Cazorla 7.5 At times drifted out of the game but whenever we are dangerous or create chances he always seems to have some hand in it.

Wilshere 6 Struggled a bit today after his enforced absence. I am not troubled by this. It is nice that others take up the mantle when it is not happening for him and I think a fit Jack will be important to us for these last games.

Giroud 6.5 Scored a goal and as usual worked tirelessly but seemed a little off the pace of the game today.

Gervinho 6 After a couple of good games he was back to one of his more frustrating performances. It remains to be seen if this is just how it is with him or whether he can turn out the good performances more regularly.

SUBS

Walcott 7 Caused immediate problems to them when he came on and all 3 subs seemed to turn the game back in our favour.

Podolski 7 Scored a good one and crashed another on to the bar. You feel we have a greater goal threat when he gets in and around the opposition box.

Oxlaide-Chamberlain 7 Good direct running and made the second goal with a bit of inspiration.

Written by GoonerB


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