Do Arsenal players Care?

February 27, 2015

Picture this. It’s the first day of the Autumn (or Rugger) Term at DidIt’s “Little School”. Life begins with the Headmasters Speech in which he announces who is to be the Head Boy. Then comes Captain of 1st XV Rugger. Yip, no surprise here. Old Big Head Allen. Then for some reason there is something called Vice Captain and Scrum Leader…..”and for this year, DidIt. M”

“What the ‘ucking hell do you mean?” I thought to myself. “I friggin’ hate rugger”.

Thing was, I had given the wrong impression ie that I was quite good. Fact of the matter was that I hated getting hurt and had quickly learnt, in a cowardly kind of way, to hit people the moment the game began, and from then on, they pretty much left you alone. Problem was, occasionally someone gave me the wretched ball, and I could pretty much run about willy nilly, giving the terrible illusion I was quite good. I got to the top by being a coward.

Here’s another true story. I know a bloke with about seventy full England Rugger Caps, and a few Lions Tours thrown in. You know what, he doesn’t even particularly like the game. He’s bloody enormous, and naturally very good at sport. He grew up in the West Country where everyone plays rugger, and he was just always the best. One thing lead to another, and before he knew it, he was a professional, and now a few years after quitting, still makes a very good living through a sport he doesn’t especially love.

To get to play for The Arsenal you have done many things right. You are in the top 1% of all people playing professional football around the world, but I would suggest that you can get there through a combination of “right time, right place”, much skill of course, you keep fit, are a natural athlete and so on.

Here’s a problem. We are fans, and we really do care. Week in, week out. Year in, year out.

Do players really need to care is the question. This can only ever be answered by how a man reacts when the chips are down. It can be a fairly smooth passage to the top for many, and remember also, these days the rewards are colossal, and the cocooned pampering all around.

BuHdPA5IcAASpgY

This is the attitude we want

Ultimately, we are looking for players who care about winning, as much as we care about OUR club.

Is this ridiculous?

written by MickyDidit

 


Monaco: Match report and Player Ratings

February 26, 2015

When the draw was made someone  (no names mentioned but it was MickyDidit), told me that he would not go to Monaco because the away leg would be a dead rubber – he was right :-(

Essentially we were rubbish all over the pitch. It is all well and good Mr Wenger being furious at the lack of professionalism evidenced by having 10 players in the opposition half in the 93rd minute just after scoring what could have been a tie-saving goal, but who trains these blokes?  If blame is to be apportioned then an equal measure sits on his shoulders.

We started well enough, pinging the ball around with our normal Emirates pace and efficiency; the game was open and enjoyable with both teams attacking. OG missed a couple of sitters, Santi was magical, the full backs were competing with the pace of the excellent Monaco wingers, then suddenly out of nowhere a man in blue takes a shot from 30 yards which deflects off BFG and deceives Ospina. Just what Mr Wenger warned about in his pre-match conference.

Then we lost the plot.

All out attack; BFG setting a very high line which totally played into the speedy Monaco forwards. Our forwards all decide to play through the middle encouraging our full backs to take the space on the wings and thus leaving acres of space at the back. The midfielders had no space to weave their magic. It all went to hell in a handcart.

Halftime I expected to see changes. We became even more gung-ho. Berbatov scored on a breakaway! A man who is already in his dotage and spends his days in a dressing gown, smoking a pipe and watching Emmerdale outpaced our defence!

There followed a baffling section of play. OG taken off having missed three more chances , Welbeck smashed an easy opportunity against a fallen Theo. Alexis got mad and was unlucky with a couple of efforts. The Ox scored and immediately allowed Monaco to turn the knife in the wound.

It was painful viewing. Thankfully, it was just one game in a season and to be honest losing to a poor MU at the Emirates was worse.

Perhaps the worst thing about last night was I fully expected us to thrash them, so did almost all the Arsenal fans, and unfortunately so did the Arsenal team. Monaco taught us a lesson and fair play to them  – Monaco were excellent.

Player Ratings:

Ospina: Could have done better with the 3rd. IMO doesn’t inspire confidence    6

Bellerin: Seemed to play too far forward. Was he told to? As the junior player he needed guidance  and support but didn’t get it    5

BFG: Very poor night. Directly responsible for two goals (the first not his fault).  As Captain he should have controlled the defensive line and pace of the team – he didn’t     2

Koscielny:  Not his best nor worst performance . One excellent header in the 1st half . Passes too slow to the MF’s      5

Gibbs: Too attacking, again probably told to be. Worked hard      4

Coquelin. Lost his defensive discipline. Booked as usual. Showed why we need a world class DM.    4

Cazorla: Glimpses of his magic but Monaco didn’t give him any space. Ineffective closer to goal.     5

Ozil:  A passenger for over 90 minutes. His worst performance on an important night. Given his talent tit was simply not good enough     2

Alexis:  As always worked very hard. Well marshalled by Monaco defence who always had 3 around him. Skewed a good chance wide.    6

Welbeck: Lots of effort, little result.      5

Giroud:    Not his night but at least he was in a position to miss his chances.       4

Subs:    Walcott :  We looked more dangerous when he came on though Monaco were tiring      6

Rosicky:   Had little opportunity to impress     5

Ox:     Added verve when he came on. Scored a superb goal. Let himself down immediately after.    7

A hugely disappointing night to be a Gooner.  That said, Monaco played a marvellous game, probably their best in recent years and deserve all the credit for their performance.

Onwards and Upwards

written by Big Raddy

 


Walcott off the Naughty Step?

February 25, 2015

Tonight Monaco will enter with trepidation into the steaming cauldron that is the Emirates on Champions League nights (a little sarcasm to start with is always good!).  Should they be worried? Of course they should – We are The Arsenal.

However, we are playing Monaco side in fine form; they have only lost once since November and are rapidly climbing Ligue 1 as well as topping their CL group. These blokes are no mugs. A team based around a solid defence – they have only conceded two goals twice this whole season, Monaco have become a dour, dull team to watch evidenced by very poor attendances.

Unknown-1

Expect to see this parked on the pitch

Monaco as we all know is a tax-haven and are unsurprisingly backed by Russian money. The buying policy which in 2013 brought in James, Falcao, Carvalho and others (£140m+) has changed. The big money players have left, one to Real Madrid, another to the bench at Old Trafford as the club tries to bring through youth players alongside experienced but inexpensive talent. Could this be the result of FFP? A ground with an 18k capacity which averages 7k hardly generates enough money to afford Falcao let alone the rest of the squad. The new pragmatic approach both on and off the pitch seems to be working.

It will be lovely to welcome Berbatov back to London. Berbs should never have sullied himself by playing for Spurs. I wonder who has more pace, Mertesacker or Berbatov? It would be a close run thing!

So, a strong defence and workman-like midfield but little threat upfront. They have scored  just 26 goals in 25 Ligue 1 games and only 4 goals in 6 CL games. This tells me that if we score twice tonight we will be Kushti.

And it is for this reason that Walcott should start tonight. Welbz is a fine player, he brings energy and awareness but he is not as dangerous as Theo and we need goals. Quite why Walcott was benched after scoring against Villa and Leicester is baffling; has he done something similar to Szczesny and has joined him on the naughty step? Perhaps it is something to do with his contract negotiations (AW showing Walcott is no longer essential to the squad). Whatever it is we need Theo tonight – he scores goals.

Unknown-2

In my opinion, if Theo doesn’t start tonight he will be sold in summer; we have the brilliant Ox to find a place in the team and Walcott is the obvious man to leave.

Wilshere is out but I doubt he would have started because we need to be on the front foot from the start, I would play as many attacking players as possible. Bellerin ahead of Chambers and Gibbs on the left.

My Team:

Ospina

Bellerin     BFG     Koscielny    Gibbs

Coquelin     Cazorla

Ozil

Walcott   Giroud    Alexis

Bench: Rosicky, TPIG, Welbz, Flamini, Monreal, Paul Easter +

I don’t do tactics but I know this-  scoring early is hugely beneficial, it forces Monaco to be less circumspect in their play which will hopefully create the spaces for Ozil to weave his magic. Alexis has gone 5 games without scoring and is hungry, Giroud is in fine scoring form. We have options.

Arsenal were delighted when the draw was made, Monaco seemed the best team we could have drawn. Tonight we will see whether our optimism was justified

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Is Cazorla better than Fabregas?

February 24, 2015

It is pointless to write long paragraphs about the two best Spanish midfielders Arsenal fans were lucky to claim as their own. This comparison has been made many times before and at times Arsenal fans were accused of trying to justify not resigning Cesc. 

Admittedly there is a grain of truth in that, Cesc has never been replaced and only too often the gaping hole in the middle of the field was only too obvious.

Cazorla has hit top form this season and we won all the games he orchestrated. 

Santi is a match winner and a great free kick taker – someone badly needed in our squad for a long time.

His presence has been immense, but the same can be said about Fabregas’s at Chelsea.

Fabregas relies on the team being build around him, whereas Cazorla blends in with the team.

The list of differences is long, but do the similarities end on the physical attributes of these 2 short Spanish midfielders?

Stats below are from whoscored.com. 

 

Santi Cazorla:

Tournament

Apps

Mins

Goals

Assists

Yel

Red

SpG

PS%

AerialsWon

MotM

Rating

Premier League

21(3)

1930

6

6

4

-

2.6

88

0.1

4

7.65

UEFA Champions League

4(1)

388

-

2

-

-

1.8

83.5

0.2

-

7.36

FA Cup

2

N/A

-

N/A

-

-

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

-

League Cup

0(1)

N/A

-

N/A

-

-

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

-

Total / Average

29

2318

6

8

4

0

2.4

87.2

0.1

4

7.60

 

Cesc Fabregas:

Tournament

Apps

Mins

Goals

Assists

Yel

Red

SpG

PS%

AerialsWon

MotM

Rating

Premier League

21(1)

1871

2

15

8

-

1.4

86.9

0.7

2

7.83

UEFA Champions League

7

574

2

3

2

-

0.7

86.6

0.6

-

7.80

FA Cup

0(1)

N/A

-

N/A

-

-

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

-

Total / Average

29

2445

4

18

10

0

1.2

86.8

0.7

2

7.82

SpG: Shots per game

PS%: Pass success percentage

MotM: Man of the match

 

Discuss!

 

PS  Although my gravatar is a photo of Santi, whom I adore I have to admit to still having Cesc’s photo on the wall, I find it hard to part with it

written by Eddie


The ‘should be’ Arsenal player that got away…..

February 23, 2015

Whenever I watch a football match I always look at the opposition players to see if there is one that could do a job for Arsenal. Obviously, players such as Suarez, Silva and even Harry Kane could well supply a steady stream of goals but what I really look for is someone who could have boosted our trophy count over a period of years.

Over time our (Arsenal’s) need has been most obvious in three positions, goalkeeper, centre-back and holding mid-fielder and it is in those positions that I have looked for my ideal players.

Since David Seaman left at the end of the 2002/3 season we have struggled with a succession of ‘keepers, some good, some not so good.

Mad Jens, a man who could pick a fight with his own shadow, always had us on the edge of euphoria, or despair, depending on the state of the tide, Almunia, Fabianski, Mannone, Szczesny and now Ospina have all been given a go with varying success, but the one ‘keeper, had we been able to sign him at the time of Seaman’s departure, who could have carried us forward in the long term is Petr Cech.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Chelsea stopper has been the best ‘keeper in the Premiership for years and what a difference he would have made.

At centre-back, again, we’ve struggled. Since Adams, Bould and Keown went it is only now that we have some pretty good cbs. Mertesacker and Koscielny have done well, while the recent signing of Gabriel looks promising but how about if we could have got our hands on John Terry when in 2002 he was sent out on loan to Nottingham Forest. Now Terry is not a person that I can admire but as a footballer he has been the rock that Chelsea’s success has been built on. Would our defence have been more solid for his presence? I think so.

Finally I come to the most important position for me. Holding mid-fielder, looking back we had Vieira and Petit who could play the role pretty well, and then along came Gilberto, The Invisible Wall. Since then we have been crying out for somebody to take up the baton, Arteta does a job there, but it’s not his ideal position. Flamini has done alright but only as a fill-in and Coquelin is showing promise but is lacking the physique.

The one player who could have filled the role, with his height, physique, skill, controlled aggression and sheer presence is Ya Ya Toure. There have been a number of opportunities to sign him, when he left Beveren in 2003, when he left Donetsk in 2005, when he left Olympiacos in 2006, when he left Monaco in 2007 and finally when Barca let him go in 2010. Missed chances all of them.

Petr Cech and John Terry have been together for a long time and have developed the kind of understanding so vital in a defensive unit, but their individual success may be a partial result of that interdependence, so for that reason I will pick Ya Ya Toure as the “One That Got Away”

OK AAers, over to you. Which of the three would you choose, or who else would you pick?

Written by Norfolk Gooner


Arsenal Player Ratings and match report

February 22, 2015

It was tense wasn’t it? Even when we scored the second there was a nagging feeling that if Palace scored we would be under pressure and so it proved. How can it be that at two up the team doesn’t relax?

Let’s start with the pitch. It was awful and clearly designed to upset our ball-players and assist the long-ball game. It was uneven and the grass hadn’t been cut since Wright and Bright were banging them in at Selhurst. Perhaps Pardew recognised our difficulties playing on the ploughed field at Stoke and instructed his groundsmen. It is often said that it is the same for both teams but have you ever heard anyone complain about on the magnificent Emirates pitch? Is it unfair to long-ball teams and Man Utd that we have a billiard table to play on?

I was surprised how clean a game it was. I expected Pardew to send out his men to kick our chaps but that didn’t happen, what happened was that CP pressed us from the first, not allowing any player time on the ball. The pundits say this is the best way to play Arsenal and perhaps it is but this should result in Arsenal having more space in the final minutes as an exhausted opponent slows down – it didn’t happen yesterday, in fact the opposite happened – we hung on for the win. Why?

Tactics? Substitutions? CP wanting it more? Fear? You tell me

Pardew identified the wings as the place to attack us. Monreal grew into the game, Chambers didn’t. I like Chambers and am fully aware he is a very young man but is he really a Full Back? A modern FB needs speed, lots of it and this is not an asset Chambers has. In time he is sure to be a fine CB but against the very speedy Gayle and Bolasie he struggled.

So far I have looked at the negative but we won the game, picked up the points, and sit in 3rd place. This is a Happy Gooner.

In midfield Santi surprised me at how well he linked with Coquelin; Palace were unable to play through the middle. Ozil floated through the game finding space and played a wonderful pass to Alexis at the beginning of the second half to Alexis – who should have looked for Giroud for the tap-in.

Ultimately, the result is all that matters.

Player Ratings:

Ospina:  Made some decent saves, distribution good but could have cost us the game with a touch of the Flapianski’s in the last minute    7

Chambers:  A difficult afternoon and a yellow card. 5

BFG: CP poured crosses into the box and BFG did well until the final 5 minutes    7

Koscielny: Our best defender …. again   8

Monreal: Thank goodness Zaha has no final ball. Nacho struggled. 6

Coquelin: Good game for him to show his battling qualities. High energy and focus.    7

Cazorla: Worked so hard on a pitch which was designed to stifle his skills. Lovely pass to Welbz to set up OG. Scored the pen.  8

Ozil: Quietly sets up the team but this wasn’t his sort of game or pitch    6

Alexis:  Not his day. Some lovely runs but no end product    6

Welbeck:  I am yet to be convinced of his partnership with OG. Drew the penalty. Assisted for the OG goal   7

Giroud: Scored. Led the line.  Did his job    7

 

written by Big Raddy

 

 

 

 


Wilshere’s Return?

February 21, 2015

I am excited. No it’s not the inviting look Mrs Raddy just gave me, nor is it the new piece of tech I have bought to while away a dull day. No it is the return of Little Jack Wilshere to the first team squad.

I know some are less than impressed by JW and question his place in our increasingly strong squad but I like the fellow – he is the nearest thing we have had to the Spirit of Charlie George since Charlie Nick came south from Celtic. If we lived in a Beano-World Jack is a chap who wouldn’t be out of place in the Bash Street Kids, and we all know who would be Billy Whizz!

Sadly, (or not) JW is unlikely to start today but I am sure he will get pitch time as Mr Wenger will want to use him in the PL run-in.

images-1

The Spirit of CG

Onto Crystal Palace. They have been resurrected by the tactical ability of Alan Pardew (a little sarcasm there!) and will be tough opponents especially at a noisy and enthusiastic Selhurst Park. Pardew has organised the defence and given the team some balance which was missing under the previous incumbent which is strange because Warnock is nothing if not pragmatic; maybe the players respond better to a bloke in a well cut suit.

They have dangerous attackers, none more so than the rejuvenated Chamakh. I liked the big galloop when the first wore the red and white but the man couldn’t handle the intense pressure of leading the line for  The Arsenal. Good in the air, delicate touch for a Big Man, hopeless with his back to goal, dreadful haircut and as lethal for Arsenal as Chris Kiwomya, he has found his place – in midfield!. Just think ….. not so long ago we had Bendtner, Chamakh, Gervinho and Theo upfront, now we have OG, Ozil, Alexis, Welbz and Theo. Reasons to be cheerful??

If I were Pardew I would look to my pacy wingers to pressurise our FB’s. Bolasié and Gayle are both good players and will look to feed Frazier Campbell. But we have become used to teams playing this way against us; we are also used to the “midfield press” which is also touted to be a method of defeating our heroes. The return of CP captain Jedinak will give them a boost – he was linked with us last season but IMO is too old.

Speroni is a terrific goalkeeper whom I hope will be busy this afternoon (preferably picking the ball out of his net. Of Palace’s other players I like Scott Dann and thought he could be a good signing for us pre-Paul Easter and Zaha is starting to show why MU wasted €12m on him

Arsenal: Ox is almost fit and in the squad but like JW unlikely to start. There are question marks about Bellerin’s fitness. Should BFG retain his place or should Mr Wenger give Paul Easter his PL debut? Theo or Welbeck?

Much has been written about a strong squad allowing Mr Wenger to adjust his selections to the opposition. I am not so sure – I like the idea of a settled first 11; it worked for the Double teams and the Invincibles. The difficulty is that we have such fantastic alternatives it is difficult to keep everyone satisfied which is why Mr Wenger earns the Big Bucks. Rotation, Rotation, Rotation.

My Team:

pitch away to palace

Strong bench should we get into difficulties late in the game.

This has been an unpredictable season with Arsenal playing well interspersed with lack-lustre performances (MU, S’ton, Spurs etc). Mr Wenger has played with our tactics and in recent games has concentrated on a more pragmatic approach as opposed to our normal flowing attacking possession football. The win at Man City was excellent but led directly to playing the same system at Spurs and the subsequent painful loss. We are away today and perhaps Mr Wenger will continue with this tactic – I hope not because given the wonderful attacking options we have I want us to show why we are ” the greatest team, the world has ever seen”.

101 years ago today saw the start of the Battle of Verdun in which almost a million soldiers died – no account was made of the injured. The battle lasted until December and is the longest and costliest military battle in history. I have visited the battlefield and left with an understanding of how lucky I have been to be born at a time when I was not forced to go to war. We cannot imagine the horrors and fear experienced by the millions who fought there.

images

As I sit and worry about whether Arsenal win today I will try to keep a football match in context, win or lose it is meaningless sport – trouble is it is hard to do, isn’t it?

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy

 

 

 


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