Arsenal show their class

October 5, 2015

First and foremost – excellent win :-)

Second – what a scintillating first half – not only because of the goals and the chances and the fluid play but because for the first time in years (2004), I have seen a team of hungry players ready to fight from beginning to the end to get a result.

Third – Although it is hard to admit, Ramsey is proving to be our best player on the right flank despite the fact that he is even better in the centre of the pitch.

Fourth – Sanchez is back and Walcott is having a good time playing up front.

Fifth – When Coquelin and Cazorla step up their game defensively, our team just oozes confidence and flair.

Sixth – Ozil can be a real class act for us if he plays like yesterday day in day out.

Seventh – LVG got it all wrong tactially. I mean – why would he leave Schnederlin (his best DM) on the bench?

Eighth – Cech has again done us favours thanks to his saves :)

Ox and Giroud are good to come from the bench when we lead because they add steel and also Ox, when given space, is just outstanding.

Now – let us not get over excited and let us not talk about EPL title because we are far from being a consitantly good team…However, given the fact that City, Chelsea, Utd, Liverpool are struggling to keep form as well, this may be a good year to step up our game…


Written by RC78

Time for Ozil to Step Up

October 4, 2015

Kelsey says one more injury and we are bollixed and Crystals is usually right.

Today we have Koscielny, Flamini, Wilshere, Arteta, Welbeck and Rosicky all crocked. Would any of these players be automatic starters apart from Kos? Probably not but it would be great to have them available especially Welbeck and Wilshire.

Why do I start the post with the above? Because I really do not know where to start today’s pre-match! The opponents are/were TOTL and in great form. We, however, are handily placed in 6th and could go up to 3rd with a win – but will we get the 3 points?

A poor MU took 4 points off us last season and as far as I can see we haven’t beaten them in the PL since 2010/11 – it is about time we did. However, and here is the rub, this Arsenal team is hugely inconsistent; a fine win over Stoke was followed by a dreadful loss to a poor Zagreb side,  a week which included super victories over Spurs and Leicester also saw us fall apart in the CL to Olympiakos.

We know our current squad is good enough to challenge for the PL (well, i know might be more realistic). Trouble is they need to do it on a game by game basis rather than the odd occurrence. If we can overcome the Mancs today it would be a huge fillip to both the players and the fans, and perhaps, kick-start our season.


And what of the Mancs? The insanely expensive purchases appear to be successful for the moment. They are playing well and as usual getting the rub of the green. Referees adore them and continue to give favourable decisions to the Red Devils, the fans are on-side with LVG, injury-wise they are in good shape – it augurs well for them.

I hope Chary does not read this paragraph (wherever he is) but I believe English football needs a strong and successful United. They are the flag-bearers of the PL however much we may dislike them. Who would you rather see doing well in Europe – the financially doped Johnny-come-Lately’s or a club which has a proud and successful history?

In yesterday’s Telegraph, Gary Neville wrote a fine article about Arsenal’s preparation for games (thanks NG) highlighting the difference between what he sees as the classic MU/AFC winning teams and the current AFC. He believes we do not analyse our opponents in enough depth. Is he right? Is Steve Bould so inept that he doesn’t spend the days pre-game instructing his players how to close down dangers? Neville assumes Mr Wenger tells the players to play their own games without heed to the opposition in the knowledge that our better football and high possession will win the game. I cannot believe we are so naive.

Our Team:


Bellerin   Gabriel    BFG    Monreal

Ramsey  Coquelin    Cazorla

Ozil   Sanchez


Expect to see OG make an appearance later in the game and possibly Chambers coming on to secure the defence should we be winning on 75 mins.

Ozil needs to convince the fans who continue to dismiss his superb skills that he really is worth his enormous transfer fee and wages. This afternoon would be a fine time to open his goal-scoring account.

I wish I could pick the Ox in our first choice eleven but despite non-stop effort and input he has disappointed. Could he benefit from a long run of games? Can Mr Wenger drop one of the above side to give him that chance? If so, who gets dropped?

Today’s referee is Anthony Taylor. He will be busy and I can guarantee that he will anger the Arsenal fans. The man is not so much biased against AFC, more that he is incompetent. Coquelin will be booked in the first half as will Gabriel. We must hope that our full-backs remain card free so they are allowed to tackle MU’s wingers upon whom they rely so much.

If Arsenal can remain disciplined in defence then we will win – we are better than them, but sadly that is a huge IF. Our players are good enough but the organisation and concentration has been poor this season – we have conceded 13 goals in 11 games which is not good enough. We must improve or find ways to score far more goals, especially from midfield (apart from Flamini  the others have scored a sum total of none).

I would love it if we beat them


The Arsene Wenger Conundrum

October 2, 2015
  1. The Arsene Wenger Conundrum:

    Sometimes the unpalatable needs to be acknowledged and faced, to the despair of some and the delight of others – but faced it must be.

    All fans live in the here and now, that’s life as we know it, and we tend to think we are the only ones in history to experience tremendous football highs and also the corresponding dispiriting lows – but that is not the case is it?

    Our parents and their parents and so on, back into the dim and distant past no doubt also ran the gamut of life’s ups and downs, and saw unpleasantness between the feuding doubters and the believers back in their era. So we are not too different.

    Why am I pointing out the bleeding obvious?
    Well it is because it seems to be readily forgotten that modern day professional football managers are not immune to this irrefutable law of life, and are subject to its intense stresses and strains, however well remunerated they might be, and so it has been from the mid-nineteenth century when football first became organised.

    In other words, there comes a time in all our lives, and specifically in the career of every football manager’s life, however humble or exalted he/she maybe, when his problem becomes the team’s problem and, by the nature of these things, also the fans problem, as a consequence.

    In essence, at some point in his career, the manager can become the problem and not the solution.

    There is a clear cycle to the careers of all managers.

    Initially the appointment of a new manager leads to the dead cat bounce of instant improvements in the results of the club, and the appointment soon proves popular with the fans, and things look up for the club— the manager is acclaimed for the personnel changes he makes; things go well; results are satisfactory; the club starts to look a good contender for the higher echelons of the league; attendances rise in proportion to the success; there is a feel good factor for the fans; and progress is tangible.
    Who knows, maybe there are honours that will be won; a title will become a possibility; a nice Cup win or two, maybe, and everyone will be deliriously happy! What could go wrong, baby?

    But there will come a time when, insidiously, things start to wobble, hiccups occur and dissatisfaction begins to creep in when the expected, nay demanded, progress stalls.

    The causes can be manifold – maybe an important player, or two, leaves to pursue wealth and trophies elsewhere. Maybe there are too many injuries for the team to cope with. Maybe the club still cannot compete financially, despite raising their commercial game.
    Possibly behind the scenes there are secret disagreements between the manager and the board. Maybe the players begin to ‘cock a deaf un’ to coaching instructions they once heard loud and clear. Maybe they become too casual, lack discipline, or become too arrogant? Who knows? – maybe all of these, or just some – but once started the rot is there and hard to eradicate.

    Eventually, the recognition by the board, and the fans, is that the stardust, the magic, has gone and that things have become the same old, same old, and the slippery slope leads in an overwhelmingly irresistible downwards spiral to the inevitable conclusion.
    Bye! See ya!

    This process is compounded, inevitably, by some managers being limited in that they find it hard to maintain success, and their shelf life, or sell by date, whatever, is only possible for two or three years, at most, and then they are gone – to spend more time with their families, or to milk another club, who have more money than sense, and who think they can revive their fortunes with a new man at the helm.

    And then? …. Then there is Arsene!
    This paragon – This dedicated, wonderful Arsenal manager who clearly loves the role more than his own marriage, it seems. What of him?

    The glorious early years of ‘Arsene Who?’ as he was first known, majestically set the template for the Arse and all the other clubs in the Premiership with his critically successful years covering the end of the old century and the beginning of the new, with a Double here and a Double there, and the occasional Cup trophy thrown in for good measure, and all that made possible by an intense and special relationship with his players based on mutual loyalty and continued ‘Invincible’ achievements. [OK, I admit it – a little poetic licence there!]

    This relationship somehow survived the deep lying strains placed upon it by the emotional and stressful move from the much loved Highbury to the, as yet, so-so Emirates Stadium, and the outside pressures of ‘no-where’ clubs suddenly coming back to life with the injection of astounding monetary investments hurled them to unexpected trophy success. Bastards!

    This incredible relationship between manager, club, team and fans, has been nurtured by the sometimes reluctant recognition that Wenger has laboured under self imposed, severe financial restrictions for many years compared with the other top clubs, and yet … and yet …

    It has been universally recognised that, despite those restrictions, and despite the vast financial advantages of Arsenal’s rivals, Wenger brilliantly and adroitly has kept the Gunners in the mix, fighting the seemingly impossible fight for annual CL qualification and enabling the team to punch well above their weight for the Premiership title and CL qualification throughout those seemingly sterile years.

    Without him things could have turned out very differently, and Arsenal could, for example, have had the woeful plodding undistinguished, dis-spiriting history that has befallen our neighbours, Tottering Hotspurs, over the past two decades and shown the Cockerel lovers for what they are — that they do indeed behave like vainglorious cocks of the walk.

    Instead it is Arsenal who have remained the real footballing powerhouse in North London, famous worldwide for the wonderful, free-flowing football that all fans of the beautiful game love.

    But —- and this pains me to say — have many fans now decided that the time has come, at last, for the Arsenal family as a whole to face head on what they see as the truth that Arsene is in the process, after all these years, of slowly, slowly declining and becoming himself the problem and not the solver of problems as far as the lack of advancement of the Arsenal project is concerned?

    For how many seasons have many of the more vocal fans lamented Arsenal’s failure to mount a prolonged and successful challenge for the EPL title, or ever more disappointingly failed to get past the group stages of the CL, by losing to supposedly weaker teams?

    Over the past two years the unrest has subsided to a degree with the protests becoming less vitriolic, as we have seen the increase in the money available to the club for transfers enabling all fans to live in hope that a ‘great’ player will be purchased to take us on to greater glory.

    Sadly the (2 : 3) loss to Olympiacos recently, coupled with the lack of spending in the transfer window last summer, with seemingly adverse effects in key areas, deemed to be weak, are symptomatic of the fans newly awakened frustration and anger with the manager.

    On the other side of the coin, many of us do not want to consider the possibility that we are in the end game of Arsene’s incredible Arsenal career, because we know how much we owe this fantastic manager.

    We also know that all the other clubs in the Premier League owe him thanks for revolutionising the training regimes and the diet regimes and the life style regimes of the modern player, that are now de rigueur.

    Let’s face it, the man built the modern Arsenal. He is, without doubt, one of the greatest figures ever seen in the game in this country.

    And yet, — and yet — there is a malaise gripping Arsenal and its fans — there are some world class players in the first team squad, and we are brimming with superb young talent coming through the enhanced youth system, and yet – and yet —-many fans look at the poor CL games which seem to be re-runs of the poor CL games seen last season, and the season before that, and wonder.
    As regards the Premier League, very few fans are now surprised when we are beaten by ‘lesser’ teams, and look, somehow, just as hopeless in certain areas of the team as we have ever done.

    It is claimed by many pundits, including ex-Arsenal players, that we need a new super-duper centre-forward in order to progress, and so too by the fans, as well as by Arsene himself who has admitted as much, before adding the addendum, ‘there is no one available to sign’ which is sometimes taken as code for ‘he is too expensive’. Or is that just becoming folklore?

    Over the years we have come within an inch of attaining trophies, while just needing one or two more top, top players to clinch them, only to see that another top, top player we already had has been sold instead, and that became yet another problem to fix before we could achieve the craved for success.

    One step forward, and two back, on a regular basis – it seems to some.

    That feeling of magic, that symbolised the early Wenger years, of constant progress onward and upward, has now, in the eyes of some, sadly flickered and almost gone out.

    The magic seems to have been replaced, instead, by a reluctant acceptance, possibly even by those of us who love and respect Arsene, and who admire his great achievements, and for what he once brought to the club, and also into our lives as devoted Gooners, but not necessarily for what he may yet still achieve, as hope begins to flutter and fade.

    It seems that a majority of red blooded Arsenal fans, perhaps with an element of personal guilt involved, think that this dying of the Arsene magic is the reality, and many long for a managerial change, despite not wanting to openly say so, because everyone wishes it could be otherwise.

    All of us have our time in the sun, but, deep down, all of us also know that we eventually have to accept that our day is done because of our declining physical and mental strength and need to face up to life’s changes, and say a fond farewell to our friends, our colleagues and our jobs, and sashay quietly into the sunset.

    I hope Arsene, a man I revere for what he has done for us — manages to climb the last summit and wins the Premier League and also wins the Champions League before his personal day is done.

    That is the Arsene conundrum — will he stay to prove his doubters wrong, or will they get their way and see off a great man.

    Be careful what you wish for — a truly great manager like Arsene comes around but once in a lifetime!

    Written by RA

I feel a change is in the air

October 1, 2015

Morning all,

I see many supporters are a little uneasy at the moment, bad results seem to do that. We have all seen bad results in the past and I am pretty dammed sure many in the future as well.

Usually after bad performances the old stick comes out to beat our Manager. You know what, at times, I would like to wield that stick as he gets right up my nose.

Wenger has supposedly, more power at Arsenal than many others have in their clubs, whether that is correct I can only assume. Over the years and especially these last 5 years more and more talk has been about a new broom.

Now I am not against change and if Wenger went today Arsenal would still survive. Would Arsenal improve or would they struggle?  Who knows, we are not clever enough to know.

Arsene Wenger has been a good Manager in my eyes, when I say good I mean consistent and isn’t that what we want for a football team. He has been managing for ever so he knows his way around a training ground, but is he finished? That is the big question we have to ask.

Many will undoubtedly say he has to go at some time and of course they are right, nothing lasts forever and would we want it to. Nobody is irreplaceable, as death has shown us if a guvner or an owner dies, some body will step up.

I feel it is at this time where I have to ask, what do we want from Arsene’s replacement? A fair question I feel. Is it a more modern man, who has fresh idea’s, a man who can handle young men and get the best out of them, a man that can turn the team we have into league Champions and a man who doesn’t need a tanker truck filled with readies following him around?

Many establish that Arsenal are a wealthy club. On the books we are probably in the top ten most wealthiest, so where is the problem? As many have said Wenger is a pensioner and in all rights should be put out to grass.

Supposing we were to replace him with a man as said above, and our form actually went down , perhaps missing Europe for a few years, say we went down a division would that worry you at all, or would you concede that the new man needs time, much the same as Wenger had.

I can see that that is probably the line many would take, he needs time, and I myself would probably say the same. And lets face it a young modern type manager has a lot of time left so no problem.

Now lets say the new man comes in and makes a massive impact, Arsenal soar to the top of the league. He buys a few players and all our problems are solved. Our wins in the league and in Europe and all the cups herald us as the very best. How pleased would we all be? Blimey I am gagging at the bit here.

Yes of course that could happen. Why shouldn’t it? Look how many other clubs have done it, it happens all the time doesn’t it? Of course it doesn’t we all know that, but a nice thought though.

We, of course, will need a change of manager no doubt about that, but what we must realise is that things will change which is what most supporters want, but lets not kid ourselves, it could be a lot better , but is also could be a lot worse,

Our change is just around the corner, get ready for it, as it could be a really long and bumpy ride.

Written by Steve Palmer

 A View From The Stands

September 30, 2015

Firstly let me say that I have not seen any highlights or read too much this morning so I am not in a position to comment on refereeing decisions or any controversial incidences. As you know they do not show anything controversial as a re-run so I will need others to fill me in on this. Certainly from the stands I was suspicious of off-side for their 3rd and with UEFA not using goal line technology I would welcome some feedback on their 2nd.

This was a strangely disjointed performance that left me slightly puzzled, and I know what you are thinking, a puzzled GoonerB with few tactical solutions is verging on a national crisis :)

Reading through some comments there does seem to be many feeling that this performance (or others like it) is down down to non recruitment of certain personnel or too much rotation and inexplicably not playing our strongest team.

The first may have some merit that we do lack certain qualities in the squad. It is probably, though, also about missing certain qualities through injuries. Notably I felt the way Olympiacos defended was made for Giroud’s presence in the box, but he wasn’t available. Theo wasn’t bad, but I do have a couple of gripes regarding him that I will comment on later, but I would have preferred Giroud to have been brought on up top (once we had seen how the game and their defensive line was developing) with Theo moved wide right (due to the Ox having an off game IMO).

I think the game also craved Jack’s intricate ability to operate in the tightest of spaces with those subtle 1-2’s, so he was also badly missed as an option. Add potential missing options in Welbeck and Rosicky and our options to change the game tactically were limited.

On the rotation side of things, I am sorry but it is necessary. When and how is a different matter, but I question why many feel we went in with a weakened team last night. With what we have, and had available, many would say that Walcott, Alexis and Ox is our strongest front 3….I do…. Many would say that Ozil is the best 1st choice starting option in that number 10 role….I do…. Many would say that Le Coq and Santi is the best CM pairing….I do…. Bellerin and Kos are generally considered 1st choice. Gabriel will now be considered by many as being ahead of Merts. Monreal was a massively improved player last year but for me there is not much difference between him and Gibbs, certainly not game altering differences.

That leaves the keeper. I get it that Cech is better and is truly world class but big teams win big prizes even with injuries to 1st choice keepers by having excellent ready made back-ups, even if slightly inferior to the first choice. Are we really saying that we have lost this game because our2nd choice keeper, the number 1 Columbian international keeper, is not good enough to help us beat Olympiacos at home??? I really struggle with that one, and if it is the case then he has no place being in the Arsenal squad at all. On paper it looked a strong, fine, and balanced line up to me so I am looking for answers to last night elsewhere.

So we once again we gifted some poor goals, I think everyone will agree there, and I just don’t think you can do that as often as we do in Europe, even against some lesser teams. Is this a personnel or training issue? We again left ourselves a mountain to climb and to be fair to Olympiacos they were very organised, compact, and solid in defence. We couldn’t easily find a way through tight central spaces and the fact we did twice should have been enough, if we did our job properly elsewhere.

The route through them seemed to be from the wide areas. We are good at this by and large, and mostly use the overlapping full-backs to good effect so all we then need are dangerous balls into the box (some aerial some low and powerful). I do however have an issue with theOx and our right flank last night, but will say more later. If we get into dangerous wide areas and get the balls in, we then just need players in the box to finish these good chances off…..errmm….seems to fall down at that point!

I have a big problem with this, especially with the aerial balls. The default seems to be that we miss a big CF in these instances so we can immediately jump on the Giroud bandwagon. Personally though I think many of the most prolific goal-scorers in the air are just technically good at it, and are good at finding and attacking space gaining a half yard on the defender. The height obviously does help at times but even as a biggie Giroud for me is an average threat in the air. Sanchez (all 5′ 6 1/2” of him according to Wiki) is good in the air and a good technical header of the ball. He has learnt this away from Arsenal. I then look at many of our attacking players that have been with us for some time, so their skill set is more shaped by Arsenal’s training of them, and I ask who else do we have that has good technique in with heading, regardless of size? It leaves me questioning our coaching and training unfortunately.

Was last night “just a bad day at the office”, or are we getting too many bad day’s at the office to keep saying this. What do you guys think?

Written by GoonerB

Walcott to continue his scoring Streak

September 29, 2015

Back on the bike after a nasty fall in Zagreb; we need to win to have a chance of reaching the knockout stages. Even Mr Wenger says so.

Olympiakos shouldn’t be in the competition and it is only due to UEFA’s incompetence (read corruption) that we play them tonight. They were under investigation and the very day after UEFA accepted them into this years CL their MD was arrested for 5 counts of match fixing. Such is the manner in which the football governing bodies work. It is a disgrace. Imagine that happening in in the PL – Platini would have permanently banned an English team from the CL.

But, they are here and we play them in a very important game in our season; lose and the Fat Lady is doing her vocal exercises.

Our record against the Bubbles is strange – we always beat them at home and always lose away. Perhaps it is the food – Moussaka-Gate??

Our team should be strong and I think AW will not make the 6 changes that ruined our chances in Zagreb – though both he and I maintain it was a poor performance as opposed to poor selection

My Guess:


Bellerin    Gabriel    Kos     Gibbs

Ramsey     Santi  Coq (if fit)    Sanchez



If Le Coq is unavailable I would like to see Ramsey play further back and OC on the right. It may be a bit too attacking but I expect Olympiakos to παρκάρετε το λεωφορείο.

We have 4 days to recover before our big weekend game so no concerns about exhaustion

I have written about Olympiakos visits to the Emirates three times over the years always predicting a win and so far have always been right. Tonight should be no exception.

I am 79% confident


Should Arsene Tinker?

September 28, 2015

Many, if not all supporters are buzzing at this weekend’s result. Theo and Olly grabbing a goal each and Alexis Sanchez finally getting his first hat trick. The way goals have been for us lately, feels like when you are waiting ages for a bus, and then 3 come along together, only this time 5 come along in our away win against Leicester. 5-2 final score and Leicester’s record of no losses finally comes to an end.

Leicester played a very open game, much the same as we do, which I felt made for the best game to be played this season. Ranieri was very kind about Arsenal and particularly Alexis, in his after match interview. For a Manager who has his first season defeat at home as well, he said we were the better side.

Tuesday we play Olympiacos in our second game of The Champions League, this one at The Emirates, Arsene Wenger has hinted that Coquelin may be fit for this game, Giroud will not feature, as he sits a one match ban, for his sending off against Dynamo Zegreb in our first game, which will almost certainly place Theo as our front man.

Gabriel is available for this game, so if Arsene wants to rest a player, as he seems to do, he can. Of course we have a league game with Manchester United this weekend. United at present sit top of the table, so considering what he did against Zegreb when we had Chelsea as the follow game, and he may feel the same rule applies.

I for one, hope he picks his strongest side, as anything other than a win almost sees us out of this prestigious competition, and in all honesty we should be looking at full points for both games. Probably depends on where Arsene feels we stand most chance, and with us now finding a bit of form, only he knows the answer.

I have in the past been labeled an old school supporter. When I said that I am against fielding a weakened side for one game, to save players for another, I feel the same for Tuesdays game as well. I don’t believe it works, as it didn’t last time as we came off losers in both games. We need to ride our luck and rotate players for lesser games, if we must at all.

Winning our game against Tottenham at the Lane in our first round of the Capital one competition with ten changes, showed me that Arsene must have his priorities, I feel that this type of managing is risky, we got away with it on the night but it is a gamble. Yes, of course a squad of players are there for these type matches, but I do believe we lose the fluency we have with more than two changes.

Arsene of course has vast experience in all competitions and I sometimes wonder if he feels referees may favour certain clubs, as just recently, some very strange decisions have been made, some overturned, but still bans and points lost, I wonder if Arsene ever lets that cross his mind at all, as it certainly crosses mine.

Revelations from FIFA and stories also of EUFA have been brought up just recently. Nobody has been found guilty yet, but should revelations come out later, it would certainly start to explain some decisions on the field of play, I leave you to discuss.

Arsenal are now up to fourth in the league, 3 points behind the leaders, we can now field our best eleven that we have available. We have played six games in the league and we have seen the lead change hands, with City losing and Chavs drawing, we are clawing back points gradually. Many clubs are suffering injuries ourselves included, but many clubs will not be relishing meeting us in our present form, do we go for it or do we tinker. I believe we should pressurise all and sundry – what’s your view?

Steve Palmer


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