Summer Signings. Balotelli, Lukaku or Costa?

March 27, 2015

Let’s take an early review of our summer business in 2014. How are Mr Wenger’s new boys faring?   They are rated like this: Balotelli – a poor signing, Lukaku – an OK signing but could do better, and Costa- a great addition to the team

1. Ospina: I am undecided. His goals against and shots saved stats are impressive and he is top of the PL for average goals conceded in games played but there is something missing. He just doesn’t inspire confidence. I like a keeper who dominates his box, controls his defence and is vocal – Ospina seems too “nice”. Szczesny is a loony – and as we all know the best keepers are nuts (Schmeichel/Seaman/Shilton/Kahn.)

BR’s Rating: Lukaku

2. Debuchy. We can only go on his contribution to this season’s campaign and thanks to injury it is minimal. On his rare appearances he seems all we we would wish for – pacy, a good crosser, good in the air and a fine tackler but 10 appearances is not good value.

BR Rating: Balotelli 

3. Chambers: The lad has had a strange season insomuch as he has been seen as a brilliant signing in his first few games and done less well of late. He is clearly a fine prospect as told by his considerable signing-on fee . I think he will become an Arsenal stalwart but right now he needs to find a settled position. As I wrote yesterday, Bellerin’s progress has not helped his season.

BR Rating: Lukaku

4. Alexis Sanchez. What a start to his AFC career the little fellow has had. Goals, excitement, energy, skill, entertainment, desire, determination, strength, speed, joy – he brings it all. It has to be said that he looks tired of late but nonetheless he is a marvellous addition to the team and at €32m was cheap

BR Rating: Costa.

5. Welbeck. Danny has yet to establish himself in the team. With a fully fit squad he is unlikely to start but we never have a fully fit squad so his input is important. To start with, he is fine value at €16m. Welbz brings enthusiasm, pace and hard work, what he doesn’t bring is a proper goal threat. To be a top striker goals are an essential and his finishing needs much work – 4 PL goals is not enough. That said, his overall contribution is considerable.

BR Rating: Lukaku

written by Big Raddy (inspiration from RC78)


Bellerin hurts Mertesacker.

March 26, 2015

How? Why? When?

Well, it went like this …..

During the summer Arsene recognised the need for a Vermaelen replacement and bought Chambers.  Our future centre half should have had a few games in the middle and a couple at right back as he was inculcated into the Arsenal Way. But things didn’t go to plan.

images-1

€15m, 0 appearances. Nice work AW.

Arsene also bought a fine right- back and Sagna replacement in Debuchy. An experienced, aggressive full back in the Lauren mould, but sadly, the man who is an important cog in the team got long-term knacked, came back and got knacked again. This gave the opportunity for Gooners to see why Chambers is so highly rated as he made his Arsenal debut at right-back and he seized his chance. The man/boy  was terrific but his lack of pace was a cause for concern. In comes the young man we poached from Barcelona to make his first team debut at Dortmund away in the CL. Hector Bellerin struggled but who wouldn’t, however he showed potential and has grown with each game. He looks the real deal and a future Arsenal stalwart.

We have 4 quality right backs – Debuchy, Chambers, Bellerin and Jenkinson. Sadly for Gunner Jenkinson, Bellerin’s improvement has cost him his place in the squad – I cannot see him returning. Chambers has shown he is better placed in the centre of defence where his lack of recovery pace is not so costly. I think Debuchy remains our first choice RB with Hector as his back-up.

And why does this affect Mertesacker? Because the signing of Gabriel heralds the end of BFG’s career at Arsenal. If Chambers is our RB back-up there is space in the squad for 3 top quality CB’s but is there room for 4? Bellerin’s rise pushes Chambers into the middle and means that we have a glut of CB’s

We are very well served in defence as Mr Wenger has bought players who can play in more than one position. Chambers, Gabriel and Monreal can all play CB and FB.

Debuchy is 30 this summer – his time is limited. BFG is 9 months older but clearly in decline (as much as I love the big galloop). Montreal turned 29 in Feb. Koscielny is exactly the same age as Debuchy yet remains our best defender, TA and Keown played well into their 30’s, barring injury and his fragile achilles, Koscielny can do the same.

I see our back 4 in 2016 as Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny and Gibbs (or a new, shiny LB). Chambers and Monreal as the multi-purpose CB/FB back-up’s until 2017. As such BFG becomes expendable and we can sell him for good money back to the Bundesliga in summer.

That said, Mertesacker appears to be very popular with the team and a man who has The Arsenal Spirit. Perhaps we should keep him as we have kept Arteta.

written by Big Raddy


All the players in the world and all we need is Messi‏

March 25, 2015

Morning all

Rocky’s fine post yesterday started to make me think. How many players would you say we were missing to win the Champions League, FA cup, League cup and the Premier League. Now I read most of the comments, I listen to so called Pundits, ex-Arsenal players, Piers Morgan and who ever else has a theory and I am a little confused as to what most ‘Arsenal Predictors’ would actually want.

How do we change Arsenal’s Jekyll and Hyde character. What makes one week different to another. For instance, let us take one Arsenal Player at random and see what many of our supporters have said. When I had a little dig at Theo a short while ago, many were quick to jump to Theo’s defence.

Now here we have a player who had not been available for a whole season. A season is a really long time in a young man’s  career, but before that injury he was out for a while with something else and before that a shoulder that needed surgery and before that another shoulder injury.

How Theo has scored so many goals for the amount of injuries is absolutely amazing. But he has and his record for goals to  the actual games played is not too bad at all. We have Diaby who is a bit of an enigma, a  player who showed so much promise only to end up a walking wounded. Diaby’s games played for I believe 9 years at Arsenal amount to just over a hundred and twenty, a poor return when we have around sixty games a season. Diaby will be leaving us at the end of this season as his body just cannot take any more punishment.

Where do we look next? Jack Wilshere. Where do I start? Jack has had ankle, leg, knee, you name it Jack has had it and he is still unavailable. The Arsenal ‘crocks’ list is as long as your arm and if you held any of these players arms up with the weight of the list you could add a broken arm as well.

Now before you all start shouting and supporting said players, think about why you have left comments that we need certain players. We have all been guilty of asking the manager for top class players and why do we look at top 4 as a trophy. Just looking at Arsenal’s injury list over the last few seasons, tells us why Arsenal have only one FA cup in 9 years.  Many have called for a change of Manager, even our No 2 has had his critics but answer me this, how can you plan a season when you have no idea who will be available? Top 4 armed with what Wenger has had to deal with is somewhat amazing, that is definitely not where we need change.

We have heard how Giroud is not top quality. He’s too slow and clumsy. Misses more chances than he scores, but when you look at his goals he is up there with the best in the league. Rocky asked us could we see Gareth Bale in an Arsenal shirt if it were possible, surprisingly a mix of yes and no in the comments.  Would Bale’s huge price bring us the trophies we crave or is it just that if he were available why not buy him. Would he fit into our squad and who makes way for him, would he just slide into a position left, or would we have to change our system to accommodate him?

Wenger is the man who has our future mapped out, he will know who is available and what we need to improve on what we have at the moment> He knows where our weaknesses are and who he will try and get when the transfer window opens. If Lionel Messi  became available  he is the one player who could pick any club in the world.  If he wanted to play at another club he could play there, forget about the money, if Messi wanted to move it would happen. Gareth Bale is far from a Messi.

There are 8 premier league games left to sort out who will be Champions. In that time we could lose half of our team to injuries and if our records are anything to go by maybe more. But we could have a little bit of that magic word ‘luck’ and take some of the silverware on offer. In my mind Messi is the only player we need to win things, and he is the only player I would sell anyone of our players to get.

As far as players are concerned I feel its best to leave it up to Arsene and then hope for the best.

Steve Palmer


Bale To Arsenal?

March 24, 2015

There was an amusing incident after Real Madrid’s loss to Barcelona in Sunday’s “El Classico.”

As he was driving away from the stadium after the match, Gareth Bale was shocked to find his car set upon by some angry Madrid supporters.

Now, I have been to Whipsnade Safari Park, I have been to Longleat, I have been to Woburn Abbey, but at none of these venues have I ever seen a situation where the monkey is inside the car and the people are on the outside ripping off the windscreen wipers.

This was just the latest in a string of unfortunate moments for Bale, whose Spanish adventure is turning sourer by the day.

The world’s most expensive player had an OK first season in Madrid but in his second he hasn’t really progressed and seems to be going backwards.

ogbIn Gareth’s defence, it can’t be easy playing alongside the walking ego that is Cristiano Ronaldo. Particularly when the preening ladyboy of international soccer is happy to parade his dislike of Bale very publicly (last week he celebrated a Bale goal by looking like Wayne Rooney had just crapped in his best pair of Nikes).

So now, inevitably, there is much talk of a return to the Premier League for the Welsh wizard, presumably with a price tag considerably lower than the one when he left.

Manchester United are said to be in pole position to repatriate him, but other clubs are also no doubt paying attention. Which brings me to this question: would you like Arsenal to sign Bale?

I know, I know. He used to hang out at that cesspit of subnormality that is known as White Hart Lane (where he was awarded the honorary title of Primate of All Tottenham). But surely even the most churlish of Arsenal supporters would have to admit that – by his final season there – he had turned into a devastatingly effective footballer.

And just think of the anguish it would cause in N17 if their former hero returned to wear the red and white of a real club. It would be Sol Campbell all over again (and would probably lead to another riot season in the swamplands).

So, what do you think? Yes or no? And if we signed him, who would make way: Welbeck? Alexis? Walcott?

Over to you.

Rocky Lives


Steve’s Monday morning ketchup!

March 23, 2015

Morning all,

I did a work party for my fishing club Sunday morning, so missed our chats on this weekends football, we cut down tree’s and tidied the banks up and I ache like a schoolgirl who played her first Hockey game, shows you i am getting old. Well what about our game with Newcastle then. I would say we started off cautiously but got into our game and I felt we took the first half to them.

Our first goal came a little unexpected I thought, a cross and a bit of a knee jerk by Oli who directed the ball past the Newcastle goalkeeper.  That goal came when we needed it, I felt the lads had been passing the ball around nicely and deserved the goal. Newcastle of course were gutted but also had a couple of chances, but we just kept plugging away until our next next goal came about. Another cross and Oli boy got his nut on it, and steered it into the far corner, I have to say we were looking good.

The Arsenal team had endured a tough week. Their trip to Monaco had started to take its toll. Although a good win out there 2-0 still wasn’t enough to go through and so it had felt like a loss.  Our game with Newcastle probably came at the right time, not too long to wait and an away fixture as well. Newcastle have not been playing that well and had a few missing, and we had managed to get a two goal lead by half time.

The second half started in lively fashion –  I can only assume that the Newcastle Manager had thrown a tantrum at his players in the dressing room, where our Arsene would only have simply said keep it going lads. The Newcastle players came out like a different side. Our players were being closed down as Newcastle stepped up the pace. As we have seen before, we do have a tendency to give the ball away when pressed.

Newcastle’s new momentum paid off when a nice move was rewarded by a  goal early in the second half.  The Arsenal players looked surprised, but I have to say they also looked a little jaded as well. Newcastle kept the pressure on encouraged by the home supporters as they searched for an equaliser, but our team kept it tight and kept them out.

By the end that we looked a little shell shocked, but we weathered the storm and came away with all three points – who can ask for more. I have to say that the hard week did reflect our play in the second half, and I worry that fast shutting down does seem to unhinge us; strange as when we had the majority possession in the past, we still managed to keep control, we now when pressed look all at sea. But a win and a crucial 3 points were achieved and that carries us past the potentially tricky hurdle of Newcastle, safe with another victory and still in the chase for the top two.

The other results  that affected was City against West Brom. City also had a tough week, getting hammered by Barcelona, and also being put out of Champions league. With W. Brom down to 10 men early on, as their task was considerably easier as they managed a 3 nill win, so nothing gained there.

Hull 2 Chelsea 3: Chelsea took a quick 2 goal lead, it may have looked like it was going to be an easy match for them, but Hull reacted strongly and fired two goals to level the score, now it was Chelsea who looked stunned . Maureen looked like a man who had just found out his Mrs had left him, but although Hull pressed them Chelsea got the decider to take the points no change there.

Liverpool 1 Man Utd 2.  This was the game that could make a difference to those chasing us. Mata popped up with a  splendid goal that rocked Liverpool, at Half time changes was made and it looked as if Brenda had told Gerrard to put it up them a bit. this was to be Liverpool’s undoing. Gerrard took it a step too far as he put in a fierce challenge on Herrera and took exception to the manu player’s follow through and lost his composure only to stamp on the player right in front of the referee. Gerard rightly received his marching orders and it was only a matter of time until United scored their second. Liverpool did fight back but that just resulted in what I thought was a tight penalty decision close to the end. Rooney stepped up but the Liverpool keeper saved. The game finished 1:2 and Liverpool drop back in their bid for top 4 whilst united’s push for top 3 / 4 is aided by the 3 points.

Just a little change there.

Chelsea have the edge at this stage, City next with us just a point behind them, and United a point behind us – but still anything is possible. So now for a little rest which i feel has come at a right time for all, rest and recuperate, and come back a lot sharper and start all over again for the final push.

Steve Palmer

Cazorla or Rosicky to start?

March 21, 2015

St. James Park. Not been the same since the days of Keegan and Shearer. Why?

From the outside it is Sports Direct and Mike Ashley. A Londoner buying the North-East’s premier club and running it without recognition of it’s past history. I have no idea whether Mr. Ashley has profited financially form his purchase but he must have regretted the effect his decision has had upon his family and reputation. Can there be a more disliked owner in the PL?

How can the Newcastle fans be happy when every season they sell their best players. In 2014 they sold Debuchy, Remy and Cabaye – the core of their French based burgeoning team? Is it any wonder that Pardew struggled to reach the level of success demanded by the owner and the fans?

Newcastle are struggling for personnel with Cisse and Coloccini banned and Taylor, Tiote, De Jong and Aarons missing through injury. These are difficult times for a rookie manager. I feel sorry for John Craver who is surely  a caretaker until summer. Having won only one of their last six PL games confidence must be low.

That said, they remain a good mid-division side. dangerous on the attack and resolute in defence. Furthermore they will be expecting to succeed at home against an Arsenal who will be feeling the physical effect s of the efforts midweek in Monaco.

We are on a fine run of form, our squad is strong and in the main healthy, Mr Wenger has choices he has not had for many seasons – if ever. Even without 3 important midfielders (plus Diaby) he can choose between Le Coq, Ramsey, Cazorla, Flamini, Rosicky, Ozil and Alexis. Rosicky or Cazorla? Santi has been excellent the past couple of months – his best spell in the shirt but perhaps this is a game for Rosicky to stat. He plays a similar game but is probably a little better defensively. Upon reflection, I would start the Spaniard and exchange them on 70 minutes.

Many have said they would rest Alexis today but my thoughts are why? Our next game is not until April 4 as we enter an International break. Alexis is certainly not as potent as he was early in the season but he remains enormously entertaining to watch and an important cog in the team. As this is an way fixture I expect Mr Wenger to play another midfielder – probably Ramsey.

My team:

Ospina

Bellerin    BFG     Koscielny      Monreal

Ramsey   Coquelin   Cazorla

Ozil

Giroud    Welbeck

There is a temptation to play Walcott and Chambers. Walcott’s pace is a potent weapon when playing away as Newcastle will look to attack and be more open to the counter-attack. Chambers was isolated against West Ham primarily because Walcott does not give him enough protection, he deserves another chance. Discuss.

As always, for tactics, stats etc look elsewhere.

In a tight competition for top 4 every point is vital and under normal circumstances I would be satisfied with a point, but second is possible and we need 3 points from this game.

I am 54% confident.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Will Arsenal make it 19 in a Row?

March 19, 2015

The race for the top four Premier League positions is on in full force. Twenty nine games played and just nine games left. Fourteen teams still have a mathematical chance of finishing in the top four but I will only concentrate on the battle involving the top seven.

Chelsea still appears to be Championship favourites although their form has dipped of late and as it’s dipped their tactics have become even cruder. So far this season their only slip ups against non top seven teams were draws with Burnley and Sunderland and a loss to Newcastle. They only have three remaining games against the top seven – United and Liverpool at home and Arsenal away. I fully expect them to play ultra defensive football, hoping for a breakaway goal but happily settling for a point in each of the three games, while winning all of their remaining games against the non top seven teams.

However they have only managed to gain 19 out of 30 points in their last 10 PL games so my prediction may be overly optimistic.

My predictions are -

Hull – away win, Stoke – home win, QPR – away win, Man U – home draw

Arsenal – away draw, Leicester – away win, Crystal P – home win

Liverpool – home draw, WBA – away win, Sunderland – home win

Last 10 games DLWWDWWDWD (Pts % 63.3)

Current points 64

Projected points 88

Manchester City is difficult to predict as their form is inconsistent at best and erratic at worst, which was highlighted by their loss to Burnley. Against the non top seven teams they have drawn with QPR, Burnley, Everton, and Hull and lost to Stoke, West Ham and Burnley. Against the top seven they have already dropped 12 points.

City has only managed to win just 50% of the points in their last 10 games so they will have to turn things around to hold on to second place.

My predictions are –

WBA – home win, Crystal P – away win, Man U – away win, West Ham – home win

Aston Villa – home win, Tottenham – away draw, QPR – home win

Swansea – away draw, Southampton – home win

Last 10 games WDLDDWWLWL (Pts % 50.0)

Current points 58

Projected points 81

Manchester United have really ridden their luck this season by winning games that they should have lost but they are now heading into a run of very difficult games. After their loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup ended their hopes of any trophy’s this season their consequent win against Tottenham will be a boost to their confidence.

My predictions are –

Liverpool – away draw, Aston Villa – home win, Man City – home loss

Chelsea – away draw, Everton – away win, WBA – home win

Crystal P – away win, Arsenal – home draw, Hull – away win

Last 10 games DLWWDWLWWW (Pts % 66.7)

Current points 56

Projected points 74

Liverpool is showing some impressive form and is undefeated in their last 13 PL games.

I only see Pool dropping points against Man U, Arsenal and Chelsea. In their last game against Swansea they rode their luck but in the end they won the game on a very fortunate deflection. I see them as legitimate contenders for a PL place.

My predictions are –

Man U – home draw, Arsenal – away draw, Newcastle – home win

Hull – away win, WBA – away win, QPR – home win

Chelsea – away draw, Crystal P – home win, Stoke – away win

Last 10 games WWWDWWWWW (Pts % 86.7)

Current points 54

Projected points 75

Tottenham have beaten both Arsenal and Chelsea in their last 10 games but have also lost to Man U and Liverpool so they are very unpredictable, in their  0-3 loss at Old Trafford they did not look like a team capable of finishing in the top four.

Our shadow over the North London midgets is getting bigger and darker by the year.

My predictions are –

Leicester – home win, Burnley – away win, Villa – home win

Newcastle – away win, Southampton – away draw

Man C – home draw, Stoke – away draw, Hull – home win

Everton – away draw

Last 10 games WLWWWLDWWL (Pts % 63.3)

Current points 50

Projected points 69

Southampton seems to have run out of steam and have dropped 13 points in their last 10 games. In their last game they gained a point at Stamford Bridge and looked good in the process. I only see them losing to Man C in their final 9 games but I cannot see them making the top four.

My predictions are –

Burnley – home win, Everton away draw, Hull – home win

Stoke – away draw, Tottenham – home draw, Sunderland – away win

Leicester – away win, Villa – home win, Man C – away loss

Last 10 games WWWLWDLLWD (Pts % 56.7)

Current points 50

Projected points 68

Arsenal has won eight of the last 10 PL games and our only losses were to Tottenham and Southampton. During this period only Liverpool gained more points winning 26 while we won 24. I cannot remember the last time our squad looked so strong with only 9 games left in the season.

Our key players are close to their top form with Cazorla, Ozil and Alexis just oozing class. Ramsey and Walcott still have a way to go but it’s great to see them both fit again – they will be needed. Ospina has been very steady in goal and shows a lot of confidence, which spreads to the team.  Coquelin has added some steel and tenacity to our midfield while Giroud proved his worth with his performances against West Ham and Monaco. My main concern is with our full back positions, we always seem to be exposed down the flanks – when they make their forays downfield our center backs are drawn out of position while they are covering for the absentee’s.

My predictions are –

Newcastle – away win, Liverpool – home draw, Burnley – away win

Sunderland – home win, Chelsea – home draw, Hull – away win

Swansea – home win, Man U – away draw, WBA – home win

Last 10 games LWWWLWWWWW (Pts % 80.0)

Current points 57

Projected points 78

The season will hinge on the following 10 games and will most likely be decided based on the outcome of the first seven of them.  To be honest they are the type of games that should decide the championship – the best against the best – I await them with nervous anticipation.

 Arsenal v Liverpool

Arsenal v Chelsea

Man U v Arsenal

Chelsea v Man U

Chelsea v Liverpool

Liverpool v Man U

Man U v Man C

Spurs v Man C

Man C v Saints

Spurs v Saints

I firmly believe that we are up for the task – how about you?

To arrive at my final conclusions I’ve predicted the outcome of 54 games so I’m bound to be wrong but how wrong do you think I am?

19th march

GunnerN5


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