The end is nigh. Nine Premier League games remaining. What are we after?

March 19, 2014

I cast my mind back to the final stretch last season, and we were in a battle for Top Four. For the sake of this discussion, I’d like to put aside the hunt for Trophies, and delve deeper into what there is to look forward to.

Following the loss to Spurs a year ago, momentous events followed. Principally, was the cementing of the partnership between Mertesacker and Koscielny. This was in tandem with a new found restraint from our Full Backs who proceeded to show more discipline.

What was laid in those final nine games, were the foundations of a new defensive stability that continued to serve us so well into this seasons’ campaign.

Apart from the sunny Spring time fixtures, the meeting up with chums and the inevitable excitement that any game of football brings, I wonder what little gems lie in wait.

Injuries present opportunities, and the largest recipient this season has been The Ox. He has benefited from injuries to both Aaron as well as Theo. Might the remaining fixtures see him finding a definitive starting position for next season? Talking of definitive positions, we have the Jack issue.

Looking across the midfield, I still wonder who is the No 10 of choice. I understand there is a fluidity in this area, but with all the injuries to key players, I certainly don’t know how my First XI would line up. I have a feeling we will begin to see the real Mesut emerge as the midfield pivot around which all that is good orbits.

I can also see Gnabry getting more playing time, and have a gut feeling he is one of those players that will rise to the top very quickly. Remember the Aaron of last season, and we see how certain players can suddenly blossom.

Like the pairing of Kos and Mert, it can be an unforeseen partnership that emerges, and this can happen in small couplings anywhere on the pitch, which is why I see a possibility of this between Mesut and Serge.

Now, how about some dark horses. Kellstrom and Diaby, who peaches informs us is at altitude not skiing. With Aaron returning, how will the midfield set up?

With some mouthwatering encounters around the corner, there remains much fun to be had. Who knows where we end up, but I reckon, as with last season, there are surprises in store outside of the results themselves.

Prior to the Spurs game and the wonderful blast of a goal from Mr T. Rosicky, I would have liked to see a couple of long rangers, but another one or two wouldn’t hurt. Oh, and is there any chance a genuinely quality free kick specialist might emerge in the mould of Noddy Talbot? That would be long overdue and a real bonus.

The one thing I’d like to see more than anything over the remaining fixtures would be a new found venom from the true fans towards the early leavers. A mass mocking, naming and shaming, a Faceoff Campaign, anything. Some suggestions on how to deal with this, my biggest beef, and a real solution would leave my season ending on an even higher note.

Written by MickyDidIt


Surgery, Victory, Injury, Jittery

January 17, 2014
 

 Last Friday:

  Walcott turns down a quick fix

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

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

Arsene Wenger said;

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

Diaby suffers new set-back

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Saturday:

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

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

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

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

Sunday:

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

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

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

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

Monday:

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

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

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

Tuesday:

Wilshere drives Arsenal back to the summit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday:

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday:

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

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

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

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

on Bendtner (ankle)…

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

Thanks to

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

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

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

That’s it for another week.

Norfolk Gooner.


One week for Arsenal …….. Six months for Walcott

January 10, 2014

Last Friday:

Le Professeur had little good cheer to offer on the injury situation at his Friday news conference. Giroud 90% out, Ozil, Bendtner, Ramsey and Gibbs definitely out. The one bright spot was that Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to resume normal training next week.

Gilberto Silva was training with the first team, the last ex-Arsenal alumnus to do so was a certain French mid-fielder who then signed a contract and has been an important part of a successful first half of the season, could the “Invisible Wall” be back?

One important bit of news, whilst not exclusively Arsenal related was worthy of note, Mr. Blatter opened his mouth, and for once didn’t immediately put his foot in it, when he launched an attack on cheats.

In his FIFA Weekly column he urged a global crackdown on the “cheating” players who dive in football and even suggested “time penalties” to stop those feigning injury from immediately rejoining the game.

Blatter also reminded referees to continue with play “unless there is a serious injury”. “The ball is in the referees’ court” he said “The instructions are now clear on this matter: if a player is lying on the floor, the opposing team are not required to put the ball in to touch.

I don’t know about other AAers, but I for one would love to see a crackdown on the diving cheats and on the spurious injuries that waste so much playing time. I’m sure one of our stats fans could tell us how much of the ninety minutes playing time is taken up by such antics. I feel sure it doesn’t all get added on to the “injury time”.

Saturday:

Not even a hint of speculation about who we might buy, and Arsene ruled out any approach for Berbatov.

The dreaded sickness bug struck again, this time Giroud is suffering, is it time to buy the player’s lunches from a different kebab shop?

The pre-match entertainment on AA was supplied by Ant and Duck, on their alcohol fuelled  peregrination to the Emirates.

 

Sunday:

No question who has the NLD bragging rights, firmly fixed in the Arsenal camp!

There was a feeling of inevitability about the game from the very start.

Watching at home, it soon became obvious that the poor old Spuds were considerably less than the sum of their very expensively assembled parts. I had spent the early evening watching an excellent performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Little Theatre in Sheringham, a traditional Christmas pantomime, and later watching Spur’s twin strikers floundering and failing I felt I was again watching two traditional Panto characters, the Ugly Sisters.

One rather sour note towards the end of the game, as Walcott was being stretchered off he, and the para-medics carrying him, were pelted with coins and bottles and subjected to dog’s abuse by the Spurs “fans”. The selfsame “fans” who, last season, had jeered at Bacary Sagna as he lay pitch-side with a broken leg. Walcott’s response, a two fingered reminder of the score, was more than justified in my opinion. The FA would need to be entirely witless if they decide to take action against him.

Two more injuries to contend with, both Walcott and Vermaelen could be out for a while, while the latter is a cut shin, the former could well be a longer term ligament injury.

Hey Ho! Coventry at home is a good draw for the 4th round and will present le Professeur with more chances for squad rotation.

Monday:

There was no definitive news on the Theo Walcott injury, If it’s a knock he could make the Villa game, if it’s ligament damage he could be out for a month. Olivier Giroud is expected to be fit to play next Monday, as will Jack Wilshere who took a knock on an ankle. The scan on Thomas Vermaelen’s knee will be assessed this week.

One piece of definite news, we will not be signing Lewandowski either in this month or in the summer, he’s going to Bayern at the end of the season.

The FA are to consult with Police and “look into” the behaviour of the Spurs fans who hurled not only abuse but also missiles at Theo and the medics as he was carried off on Saturday. Obviously Arsenal were correct in reducing the Swamp Dweller’s ticket allocation for the game. If that’s the way they are going to behave the allocation should be reduced to zero.

The FA announced that they would be taking no action against Theo following his gesture towards the obnoxious crowd of loons purporting to be Spurs supporters.

Tuesday:

On a cold, wet and windy morning what could be worse than to wake up to the headline:-

MY WORLD CUP DREAM IS OVER

world cup over

Theo Walcott sidelined for six months with serious knee injury

Yep! The news we had all been fearing turned out to be worse than we thought, a ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament means that Theo misses the rest of the season and almost certainly the chance to play for England in the World Cup Finals.

Dare we hope that Theo could emulate Roberto Baggio who, in 2002, returned from a similar injury in just 77 days? That entailed half day re-hab sessions eleven times a week.

At the moment the plan is for Theo to have surgery in the next week or so, depending on how quickly the swelling goes down, to be back running by June, complete a full pre-season programme and be ready to play when the new campaign kicks off.

Wednesday:

The FA Cup fourth round tie against Coventry City will take place on Friday 24th January, kick-off 7.45pm and will be live on BT Sport.

Coventry have already complained about the Friday evening spot, claiming it will make it difficult for their fans to attend, are so many of them subject to curfews?

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in full training, could he feature in Thursday’s U 21 game away to Fulham? Another run out in the following week’s U21 match away to Middlesbrough and all being well, he could be ready for the FA Cup tie against Coventry.

Arsenal U18s thrashed Peterborough 6 -1 in the FA Youth Cup on Monday evening.

Thursday:

Our midfield maestro

Mesut Ozil has been named Germany’s national player of the year following a fans’ poll conducted by the German Football Federation. Mesut has won the award for the third time in a row, beating Bayern Munich pair Phillip Lahm and Thomas Muller.

Theo Walcott has been voted December Playmate I’m sorry PLAYER of the month.

In transfer speculation it has emerged that although both Arsenal targets Diego Costa and Jackson Martinez have release clauses in their contracts (£31.4 million and £33 million respectively) they do not come into effect until the end of the season. The Daily Mail seems to think that we are in with a chance of getting Real’s Alvaro Morata if we pay a £1.7 million loan fee.

Niklas Bendtner may be back sooner than expected, he could resume training in the next few days.

One piece of truly World shattering news, (not Arsenal related) is reported by Sky Sports, Fulham have not made an enquiry for Man City’s Joleon Lescott and, in case any doubt remains,nicole
I can report that I am not dating Lewis Hamilton’s ex,

Nicole Scherzinger.

Bayern Munich received 18 thousand requests for tickets to the Champions League clash at the Emirates despite the price of £62 each, Bayern are to subsidise each ticket to the tune of €30 thus reducing the price from €75 to just €45. Perhaps other clubs could take a leaf out of the German club’s book and help out the away support. What about it Arsenal?

According to The Metro Arsenal teenager Serge Gnabry is a summer target for Borussia Dortmund as they seek to rebuild following Robert Lewandowski’s agreement to join to Bayern Munich. Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has been impressed by the attacking midfielder and is ready to splash out on his services as he transforms his side following the departure of the jewel in their crown. Well Herr Klopp Serge is one of the young jewels in Arsenal’s crown so keep your sticky fingers off!!!

That’s it for another week, enjoy the relaxing weekend.

Norfolk Gooner.


Theo replacement?

January 7, 2014

Late yesterday afternoon, the news broke that Theo Walcott would be out for the remainder of the season. t w 2 0 From my point of view there is a terrible irony.

I was about to write a post in which I looked at the current top six sides contesting the League, and decide which team was most vulnerable to an injury to a single player. I was thinking of Toure at City, Brave at Utd and so on.

Guess who I had penned in at The Arsenal?

At some point of last season, I described Theo as our most valuable player. This never meant I considered him our best player, simply most irreplaceable, given what he offered the team in terms of goals, assists, and pace in attack. Against Tottenham, we saw what Theo may offer through the middle. Now, I don’t believe he would be the right choice in that role in every situation, but his performance certainly made me think we could get through this season without recruiting a striker.

Now what? Gnabry has the pace, but I doubt he will have as many goals in him as Theo this season. Ox? Again, pace but, he will not have Theo’s goals yet, I doubt. I have read through yesterday’s comments on here following the news. As would be expected, there are sensible thoughts from both camps ie the need to replace Theo in this window, as well as the “we’ll be ok” camp. My view? No more squad players, therefore serious quality or not at all. The player must offer an alternative attacking and threat to the Ollie/Nick option. In other words pace, power, and goals.

This season we have reached the half way point and are serious contenders for a Trophy. We face a massive opportunity, and the Theo news cannot be viewed as anything but a very serious blow. There is one other point worth remembering. Arsene made a bid for Suarez. This tells you that he is after a world class goalscorer, and I am convinced he would move for one again this summer. Given the position we are in, why would Arsene not move heaven and earth to bring that move forwards to January.

There are three weeks left. I will make one assumption. Arsene knows who his summer targets are, therefore paying over the odds for one of those may prove money well spent.

Written by MickyDidIt89


The Rosicky, Gnabry, Walcott Show – Match report

January 5, 2014

I’m really getting into this business of constantly getting tough draws. We’ve had six so far this season: in Europe, we’ve drawn Fenerbahce, the Champions’ League Group of Death and Bayern Munich; in the League Cup, West Brom and Chelsea; and in the FA Cup, Spurs for the Third Round. And most of those ties have proved to be very enjoyable.

Spurs arrived at the Home of Football on a mini-high, having, in their last four games, won three and drawn one. They’d summarily ditched the manager who’d given them one of their best starts to a Premier League season, and given the job to Tim Sherwood, highly thought of within THFC circles but completely lacking managerial experience. And apparently he’s also a Gooner….

Sherwood appears to come from the Harry Redknapp school of thought: all swashbuckling flourishes, and bugger the planning. The answer to the failure of Soldado under AVB was to sacrifice a midfielder by pairing Soldado up with the ever-lovely Emmanuel Adebayor, in a 442 formation. That’s all very well when playing a team with a substandard midfield, like Man United, but, whatever our other faults, that isn’t going to fly when facing this Arsenal side. It’s always going to be tough to avoid ceding complete control of the midfield to us when it’s five quality midfielders against four, especially when one of the four is Aaron Lennon and another, Nabil Bentaleb, was making his full debut.

And so it was. Arsenal bossed the midfield, and that assured us the victory. Arteta was utterly assured throughout. Rosicky was effervescent, his constant movement making it a very uncomfortable evening for anyone in a white shirt (well, a white shirt with a splash of red on it). Wilshere didn’t have quite the performance he had against Cardiff, making some of his old overambitious errors of judgment, but he still had a good match. Cazorla was back to his very best. And Serge Gnabry was tremendous, linking up again and again with his partner in speed, Theo Walcott. Gnabry plays without fear, enabling him to get the best out of his obviously significant talents. He certainly looks to be the real deal.

In defence, Mertesacker was rested, at least initially, with Thomas Vermaelen getting a much-needed run-out. Monreal continued at left-back, with first picks Koscielny and Sagna also chosen. Fabianski got a chance to get his shirt dirty.

The big question for Wenger was what to do up front, with Giroud unwell, Bendtner injured and Podolski having been unconvincing against Cardiff. Walcott got the nod. How would we cope with a short guy up top, when a key component of our success this year has been the solidity afforded to us by tall Giroud’s tireless efforts? It turns out we coped well, very well indeed. Our play was faster than usual, with Walcott (5’9”), Cazorla (5’6”), Rosicky (5’10”), Gnabry (5’8”) and Wilshere (5’7”) buzzing around, quickly exchanging passes and looking for any chance to run at the Spurs defence. It worked a treat.

Spurs had a couple of moments in the first half, including when Eriksen capitalised on an error from Koscielny to go one on one with Fabianski. But Fab stood strong and pushed the near-post shot round the post. Setting such moments aside, Arsenal were the dominant force in the first half. Our diminutive attacking force worked its magic.

Having tested Lloris on a few occasions already, the breakthrough came when Sagna attacked down the right wing, passed inside to Gnabry, who (while Walcott made a decoy run to stretch the defence) fed it to Cazorla, who was in buckets of space. The little Spaniard arrowed a first time shot into the far corner. It was an excellent finish, but it was made easier by Lloris misreading matters, and diving to his near-post.

cazorla v spurs

So we went into halftime with a deserved 1-0 lead over the old enemy. The fly in the ointment was the premature departure at halftime of Vermaelen. I thought it was a preventative step, to avoid the Belgian getting a second yellow card, since he seemed to have been targeted by Spurs after picking up a booking. But after the game I learned that he had in fact suffered a cut knee or shin. In any event, it was a pity for his day to be terminated early, with the BFG being brought on.

If we were the better side in the first half, we were doubly so in the second. Frankly, I was expecting more from our friends from the other end of Seven Sisters Road, but they were pretty lame and tame. Adebayor reverted to type and was anonymous throughout, save when he fluffed his one decent opening (cue lots of laughter). Soldado was poor, and Lennon not much better. Eriksen wasn’t too bad, and was the source of most of their interesting moves, but even he didn’t look a patch on any of his opponents.

Gnabry wasn’t quite as much a force in the second half as he had been in the first, but Rosicky, Cazorla and Walcott remained as energetic as ever, and they were a source of problems for Spurs’ suspect defence and undermanned midfield. The quality of our play and superiority deserved a second goal, and that arrived just past the hour, when Rosicky, breaking after we’d defended a corner, caught Danny Rose in possession on the halfway line. Having stolen the ball from Rose, Rosicky broke forward – Walker tried to make up the gap, but Rosicky held him off and, as Lloris came out, dinked the ball over the Frenchman and into the net.

rosicky v spurs 2014

With Özil and Flamini having been brought on for Arteta (who got a knock) and Wilshere, our remaining substitutes had been used up by the time Walcott picked up a knee injury. We have to hope it will prove not to be serious, Walcott certainly looked fairly chipper as he was carried around the pitch, like a mini Caesar in front of the entire bank of Spurs fans, who took the chance to bait the England man. Some might say it was silly for Walcott to respond, and there is something in that, but I can’t help but smile at the pics of Theo with his “2-0” figure salute. In response, coins rained down on Theo and the stretcher-bearers. And we had to play the remaining ten minutes of the match with ten men, which brought Spurs onto us. But they couldn’t do anything with the advantage, the closest thing to a goal in those minutes being Özil’s effort, which was well saved by Lloris.

And through we went to the 4th Round.

It’s always great to win a North London Derby, even if our superiority deserved at least one more goal, and the FA Cup does retain something of its old appeal, even in these less sentimental times, but perhaps the significance of the match is the success of playing without a hold-up striker. It probably wouldn’t work against sides stacking their defences (Cardiff, Sunderland, West Ham, Chelsea etc), but against the more ambitious teams, who will give us space, it is something we could make more use of. Walcott certainly showed how well he can function in that set-up, so long as he has plenty of support and options from the attacking midfielders behind him. But I am sure Podolski could do very well there too, even if he was off his game in his last match. It will be interesting to see if Wenger deploys it in other matches.

Fabianski: Spurs didn’t give TPIG2 much to do, but he did his job well. Good save from Eriksen. 7/10

Sagna: Excellent game from Bacary. I think he won every aerial battle he had, and didn’t put a foot wrong throughout. Linked up with Gnabry well. 8/10

Koscielny: Dominated Adebayor, generally excellent, but fluffed his lines once when under pressure from Eriksen. 7/10

Vermaelen: Did well, snuffed out Soldado’s one break. Shame that his game was ended early. 7/10

Monreal: Completely blocked off Lennon, and the Malaga link-up with Cazorla was a fertile source of opportunities. 8/10

Arteta: Ran the midfield, made Dembele look ordinary and generally allowed the side to keep its shape. 8/10

Wilshere: Not as good a game as against Cardiff – not that he played badly, but his attempts at creating attacking moves resulted in lost possession on more than one occasion. 6/10

Gnabry: Superb performance from the youngster, especially in the first half. Had a fantastic effort that was only fractionally too high, and linked up brilliantly with others, Walcott in particular. Showed maturity, creativity and bravery throughout. 8/10

Rosicky: What a fantastic performance from our Czech genius. He was everywhere, he seems to become more energetic with time. Great goal, both in its creation and execution. Sign him up, quickly. 9/10 MOTM

Cazorla: Back to his best, he really tormented the Spurs defence. Took his goal clinically. 8/10

Walcott: Fantastic performance from TW14. He and Gnabry were able to threaten Spurs with their combined pace, and lots of good link-up play. As for his injury, all Gooner fingers should be crossed. 8/10

Mertesacker: As ever, the BFG was solid, did everything right. 7/10

Flamini: Did his job well without anything standing out. 6/10

Özil: Nearly scored and played a number of good through balls. He did mess up once when on defensive duties though, and gave away a freekick in a dangerous position. 6/10

Written by 26May1989


How many Man City players would get into the Arsenal team? + Match preview.

December 14, 2013

Should be a superb game this afternoon. The best away side in the PL against the best home team.  If the world was a just and fair place we would leave with the 3 points but sadly, it isn’t.

And why do I say that? Because the recent history of the Northern Oilers has besmirched their past. I guess for their supporters all they care about is that City have been re-born, but to those teams who have chosen to take another route it is galling to say the least. But enough of that, this is the status quo and we must live with it. Actually, No, before leaving this subject I need to say one thing – Arsenal are a team with tradition who have found a way to compete without selling it’s soul. Hurray for us!!

In summer when asked who would win the title this season I replied City. To me they have the best squad, the most complete first team and the greatest resources. They disappointed last season, primarily because of a manger who had little empathy with his players.

Let’s look at their squad. Hart remains a terrific player and without question the best English keeper yet he is on the bench. Is it a similar situation to Szczesny’s benching last season ? Only City fans know whether they have more faith in Big Pants.

Across defence their only “weak” spot seems to be who partners Kompany. Any team which can bench Lescott, Richards, etc etc is strong. Same in midfield …. when one has limitless purchasing power a team can take a punt with big money – Rodwell? Here is a lad who looked as though he would be an England regular by now but instead he hardly gets to ride the pine! We know the other chaps, Yaya, Samir, Fernandinho (over €30m!!), Garcia – all fine players and yet in this area we can match them.

Where we are nowhere near as good is in attack. Aguero is the best forward in the PL. Suarez is good but this fellow is tops. No silly stuff just does his job with startling efficiency. We should have bid €50m (plus one) for him. Then there is Dzeko, a player who would be an automatic starter at THOF and yet struggles to get a start thanks to the fine start from Negredo. Negredo cost €20m (ish), Soldado cost €27m (:-D :-D), both Spanish , one has flourished the other looks like a complete waste of money . Another City signing who impresses is Jesus Nava – a Spanish Theo.

Then there is Jovetic, and here I have to apologise because I have to go back to the subject I said I wouldn’t in the second para ….. money. The media stated categorically that we were trying to sign this lad to play alongside Giroud (who knows if it was true) but City signed him specifically to stop him improving our side – no other reason. (they did the same when they cherry-picked Samir, Ade, Gael and Kolo). How many times has Jovetic played?  Three.  22 million of her majesty’s for what?  Perhaps we can buy him in January at a discount. I know Chelsea did the same with Willian but I do not expect a quality club like Man City to stoop to Chav-dom. Do you?

You may be a little concerned having read the above BUT …. we are TOTL and despite a bit a silliness in Naples are in good form. We drew at the Etihad last season in a dour 0-0, and we have much more attacking threat this time round. We are just the sort of team to trouble City due to the pace and intelligence of our attacking midfield.  Much has been made of the absence of Walcott and we must hope he has been rested to be fully fit this afternoon. There is little doubt MC will have the bulk of possession and a counter-attack seems the most likely weapon.

My Team:

city v arse

I have benched Wilshire but the fact he was rested in Italy points to him starting, perhaps with Flamster being rested. Ozil looks tired but has to play, or does he? Santi is so much better playing in the hole. We are starting to have a seriously strong bench and can actually improve the side with substitutions – it has been some time since we could say that.

Just for fun I thought I would see what a combined MC/AFC team might look like. What do you think?

arsecity

So…. in my team there are 7 Gooners and just 4 Blues. Surprising but then I might be biased :-D

Is Negredo better than Giroud? I don’t think so and a frontline of OG and Aguero would be very potent. I do not know enough about the City full-backs to make a fair comparison so I went with my heart and a bit of logic – Gibbs is better than Clichy, and Sagna is top quality. The CB pairing would be the best in the PL  and though Koscielny is not far off Kompany, the Belgian is the best CB and Captain in the league. Goalkeeper is also an area of doubt, all three in contention are fine keepers but TPIG takes it thanks to his form this season. Ozil or Silva/Nasri? Come on …..   DM’s – Yaya is a monster and it was a sad day when he decided to sign for MC instead of us, he is almost as good as PV4. Fernandinho has youth, agility and being Brazilian on his side, as much as I admire Arteta and Flamini they are simply not as good. No place in the team for Jack or Santi or Theo but none are automatic first choice for AFC let alone this team.

So, for the first time this season we go into a game as under-dogs. Can we win? Of course we can, we won in Dortmund. The betting is very much in favour of a home win which given MC’s 100% home record is understandable. Pre-game I would be delighted to take a point.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Arsenal v Everton …. The Battle Of The Midfields

December 8, 2013

This is my virgin post written on an iphone, any mistakes should be blamed on my text typing and Steve Jobs …..

Everton. The start of our tough run of pre-Xmas games. Fresh from their record breaking defeat of some mid-table Northern cloggers, they come to The Emirates full of confidence.

Is the difference Martinez, Lukaku, Barry and Barkley or the loss of Moyes? My guess is the latter. Allowing good players to express themselves in a system designed to attack rather than hinder opponents is proving to be effective.

Let there be no doubt Everton are a fine team in good form, but so are we.  Once again this game will be decided in midfield, it is where Everton are strongest.

Arsenal. No Flamini, no Sagna – can we cope? I fear for Jenkinson who is super going forward but prone to mistakes defensively; understandable given his youth and inexperience but Flamini’ s awareness will be missed on the right.

Theo has to start today, we are playing wonderfully without him, however TW frightens defenders and with Baines out he could be important.

My team

arse v everton

If we follow trends and stats we should win. Given the shock results of yesterday we know not to take 3 points for granted but if Everton leave with a point they will be delighted, which says it all.

Big Raddy


An Arsenal Performance Worthy of Winning the League

December 1, 2013

How good was that? It is getting more and more difficult to find sufficient superlatives to describe the Arsenal performances these days. As the first half rolled on and the Good Guys were spraying the ball around with consummate ease the term “thoroughly professional performance” came to mind. But we have used this a few times recently and somehow it didn’t seem enough to describe what I was watching, intensifying the search was the first goal and the brilliance in its simplicity: a tidy pass to Özil who sent over an inch perfect cross for Ramsey to head home and put us in the lead. As he walked away avoiding celebration out of respect for his fellow country men I thought to myself I am going to need something far more complimentary to describe this.

Racking my brains, playing cards came to mind and the hierarchy that exists: a pair is beaten by three of a kind which is beaten by a straight, which I believe is beaten by flush and then it came to me: the next up from a “thoroughly professional performance” has got to be “A performance worthy of winning the league” and that is what is was, a full house of a performance, not to be confused with a “Winning the league at White Heart Lane performance” that is obviously a royal flush and although rare it does seem to happen with more regularity than many might imagine.

Wenger foxed us all again with his team selection, it made sense to all who considered it to play Flamini alongside Arteta but no, Le Boss had plans for the Frenchman and opted to start with Wilshere and within one and a half minutes we all understood why: an arrow of a shot released from the edge of the box had all the makings of goal number five for our non attacking midfielder lol but alas at the last moment it swerved away and hit the bar.

As it turned out, as far as Arsenal taking the game to Cardiff was concerned, this was only the start, the Good Guys were brimming with confidence, chances weren’t coming as often as London buses do when you don’t need them but they were coming; the next fell to Giroud who, clean through one on one with the goal keeper, decided to “walk” before the umpire had given him out, it might be the honourable thing to do as Özil clearly touched the ball but in this day and age — really?

We had to suffer five uncomfortable minutes when Mertasacker hit the deck with the force of a felled giant redwood having clashed heads with Sagna; I defy anyone who didn’t worry about the possible down side of this potential calamity but all was well with our Big Friendly Giant.

Still goalless, but in today’s script only one person was going to be first on the score sheet and our humble Welshman rose to the occasion and headed us into the lead that took us into the break.

Ramsey v cardiff

Cardiff started the second half well and created a couple of chances that were a bit closer than I for one would have liked, notably a header from Campbell that brought a brilliant save from Szczesny. TPIG was looking as commanding as ever, we could have and should have made more of the breaks that were frequently arising but our interplay was not quite as good as it should have been, it seemed like Theo time but Jack was tiring and they were coming onto us with a tad more purpose than was good for the blood pressure so Wenger opted to shore things up and bring on Monreal and then Flamini.

As the Frenchman took off his track suit all eyes were on the sleeves – tradition won out and rightly so; someone had clearly whispered into his ear that he had, perhaps without realising, upset a few fundamentalists and today was not the right time to go desecrating sacred objects – best solution: roll your sleeves up and go and score a thumping second goal — and that is exactly what he did, yet another sublime assist from Özil who rolled the ball into the Frenchman’s path to powerfully hit home and put us all at ease.

Flamini scores v cardiff

Was this going to be Flamini’s day, no it wasn’t, this was Aaron Ramsey’s day; a second goal for him and with it he rightly picks up pretty much everyone’s Man of the Match award.

Ramsey applauds

Somebody remind me, where are we in the League?

Enjoy your Sunday.

Written by LB


The Weekly Arsenal

November 29, 2013

First of all an apology, I’m sorry but force of circumstances prevented me finishing the week before last’s news round-up, Peaches was kind enough to do it for me, and for failing to produce last week’s at all. Various situations have now been resolved so here goes with the next edition.

Friday:

A quick shufti at the morning papers revealed the most positive piece of news…“Walcott set to return from injury”. “He has not played even a reserve team game, but I will put him in the squad on Saturday,” said boss Arsene Wenger. “He’s completely fit again.”

Now that’s what I call good news! We’ve missed Theo’s pace and his ability to get behind defenders.

Both Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere were back in full training after interlull injury scares.

Wenger revealed that Tomas Rosicky had been ill and would be assessed later but could be in the squad. Remarkable news about Abou Diaby, he could be ready to play as soon as March. Whether or not that’s March 2014 was not made clear.

Saturday:

First vs Third at ThoF, a big raspberry to both Sky and BT Sport for not showing the game live. “I think I have proved a lot of people wrong”.

Aaron Ramsey speaking to Julian Wilson in the Telegraph revealed his quiet satisfaction at confounding his critics, chief among them being Piers Morgan who described Ramsey as an “utter liability”. “People are quick to jump on players who are not doing particularly well, I think I proved a lot of people wrong, hopefully made them look a bit silly because they knew what I was capable of before my leg break and then were quick to criticise”.

Arsene Wenger “I’m not against buying in January. I don’t say I never made a mistake – I certainly made some”.

Thierry Henry is training with Arsenal, our record goal scorer is maintaining his fitness levels during the MLS close season. Could he get into our present first team squad? If so could Arsene sign him on a short term loan deal in January? He’s done it before.

Sunday:

“Giroud double sends Arsenal four clear” The BBC’s headline says it all for me. Artur Boruc’s laughable attempt to dribble the ball around Giroud presented our striker with his first of the afternoon and a tug on Mert’s shirt was enough to bring a penalty which Olly put clinically past Saint’s Pole in goal.

There’s not much doubt that the doubters are being put firmly in their place and being served up large portions of Humble Pie. I’m lovin it!!!

Monday:

A quiet day on the Arsenal News front, no dramas, no contentious decisions to discuss, no pundits writing off our chances of trophies, no calls for the Owner, board of directors and manager to quit.

Speaking on http://www.arsenal.com Arsene Wenger said of Saturday’s victory “This win shows we are ready for a fight when it didn’t go as fluently as we wanted,” said Wenger. “That is the most pleasing thing. We were tested by being challenged for every single ball and we responded quite well.

“We always had the focus and I could never feel that we eased off. They made it very difficult for us.

“We could see a good togetherness to help each other out,” Wenger added. “We knew that we were sometimes in trouble and you felt that they were ready to fight for each other.

“That is the solidarity level that was needed. It’s very important.”

You just can’t argue with that.

Santi Cazorla issued a timely warning against complacency before Tuesday’s game with Marseille, speaking to the London Evening Standard he said:- “The main problem I see is everyone thinks it’s going to be an easy game for us to win, There is nothing at stake for Marseille because they have zero points but they are going to make things difficult for us. It may be tough and if we’re not careful we might slip up and then we might not be able to get through to the next round.

“We need to understand it’s a vital match, If we obtained a bad result then it would make things very complicated for us to go to Napoli and win there.”

One other tit-bit of news, not strictly Arsenal related, but I couldn’t resist it. Skinny chicken plucked, stuffed, trussed up and roasted after Hugo Lloris has an Artur Boruc moment.

Tuesday:

Team news ahead of the Marseille game was pretty positive, Arsene Wenger announced that :- “Everybody from Saturday is available and of course Flamini is available as well because he’s back from suspension”.

Naturally there was some speculation concerning how Marseille would approach the game, their record in the group, standing at played 4 lost 4, suggested they only had their pride to play for. As far as Arsenal were concerned it was vital that they should go all out for a win in order to avoid any Napoli Nerves in the final group match.

Ladbrokes were offering odds of 4 to 1 on for the home win, 5 to 1 against a draw and 9 to 1 against an away win. Meanwhile Borrussia Dortmund were 7 to 4 on to beat Napoli.

Wednesday:

The day dawned grey and damp but that was only the weather, Arsenal fans were rejoicing after another satisfying win in The Champions League, 2 – 0 against Marseille, a brace of goals by “Cracker” Jack Wilshere, the first after only thirty seconds, meant that even Ozil’s poor attempt from the penalty spot could be safely overlooked. Mersut later made up for his transgression by laying on the sweetest of passes for Jack to score his second.

It emerged that the Dozy Dane had been at it again, Bendtner was arrested in the early hours of Sunday, he was later charged with criminal damage after the door to the swimming pool, in the apartment block where he lives, was damaged. Bendtner was issued with a Police caution and released. Arsenal have “reminded” the 25 year old of his responsibilities.

Thursday:

Our former player and Assistant Manager Pat Rice has been admitted to hospital suffering from cancer. I’m sure all members of the Arsenal family will join me in wishing Pat a full and speedy recovery.

It was reported that the BFG was in talks with Arsenal over a contract extension. 27 year old Per Mertesacker who was close to an agreement on a contract that will keep him at the club until 2017 said. “I’m very delighted here with the club, especially after the first year was tough for me, a very tough challenge”. Sign da ting Merts.

It’s sad but true that some tabloids exist just to make trouble, when there is nothing detrimental to say about Arsenal they will pick on the slightest thing. According to that paragon of journalistic rectitude, The Mirror, Arsenal fans are outraged at Mathieu Flamini for cutting of the long sleeves of his shirt prior to the Marseille game. Shock! Horror! On the day when match fixing in the English (lower) Leagues rears it’s ugly head, this sorry excuse for a newspaper can only find a story about shirt sleeves to report.

That’s it for another week AAers thank you for your patience.

Norfolk Gooner


First vs Third

November 23, 2013

Firstly, I have to say how impressed I am with our feeder team’s current form, nothing less than wonderful. One of the problems with the advantages given to the CL clubs and those backed by billionaires is that the romance has gone out of the league table. Never again will Wolves or Portsmouth or Spurs win the title, those days disappeared with the advent of colour television.

So we are delighted when after a third (almost) of the season an unfancied club can be 3rd in the table playing attractive football. Given the furore following Adams sacking and the arrival of the unknown Pochettino, Southampton’s revival has been the stuff of fairy tales. Built upon a sold defence and a hard working midfield, they have embarrassed a few of the top clubs and will be looking to do the same this afternoon.

But is their style so advanced? Big strong centre backs, fast athletic full backs, hard workers in midfield with both destroyers (Schnitzel and Wagamamma) and craft (Lollipop), wingmen and a big centre forward who is excellent in the air. Seems to me a bit like our ’89 double team.

Unknown-1

An *80′s Ricky Lambert?

As usual you will be better served on other sites if you are after tactics or stats.

Instead let’s look at a couple of players.. Wanyama: After a poor start he has acclimatised to the PL and is looking a fine signing. It must be said that I expected him to be lining up on our side this afternoon but I guess the signing of Flamini negated the need for a DM. He was superb for Celtic and I think will do well  throughout the season, always assuming he doesn’t go the route of other “hard men” like Frimpers and Tiote who allow their reputations to affect their play – it is no good crunching into a tackle, winning the ball and then passing the ball straight back to the opposition!

Then there is Lovren. Brilliant signing – no other words for it. Who knew? And only 24 y.o. Expect to see a big money transfer in the next couple of seasons, especially as he will be going to Brazil with Croatia. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the movement of our forwards but alongside  Hooiveld he has created a mean defence.

Arsenal: Much has been made of the return of Theo and his potential link up with Ozil,but I expect our flyer will  get 20 mins at most. Instead we much “make do” with the team which has taken us to the Top of The League! It would be great if Rosicky is fit but there are doubts, so maybe Mr Wenger will be brave and play Wilshere in a very attack based midfield?

My team:

arse v saintsOur bench is getting stronger. Will Nik B still keep his seat? Fabianski, Monreal, Gnabry, Theo, Rosicky, Vermaelen, Jenks. Sorry Nik – it is back to the stiffs for you young man.

Would be lovely to see OG back amongst the goals but I fear that like all the other Southampton’s opponents we will struggle to score this afternoon. That said, if we can score early then the Saints will have to be more expansive.

Another disadvantage is that most of our chaps have been away on international duty – Santi and Monreal has been all over the Africa. Thankfully, Ramsey and Ozil, two players who are in the “red zone” have been rested, and Koscielny, due to another rush of blood, missed the Ukraine game, that victory will give added vava boom to our French contingent.

This should be an entertaining game with Arsenal having to find a solution to Southampton’s pressing game. If we really are to win the title this is an important game to win and I can see no reason why we cannot gain the three points. The loss to the Surrey Devils was painful but we left knowing the best team had lost, lose points today and there will be question marks.

Unknown

It is the duty of all you lucky people who are going today to lift the team. Say it loud and say it proud – “We are the Arsenal and we are the Best …..”

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


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