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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 


A stage managed draw

February 20, 2015

Morning all,

Now her in doors and myself watch lots of television, were getting to that age now, and where I have mellowed over the years, she does get her own way a lot on what we watch. Although we are both Gooner’s and I do believe she has an interest in Arsenal, but not like I do. Of course we watch Arsenal when we play, whether on TV or I have a stream box when its not on normal TV. She realises that everything else makes way for Arsenal games, and with recorders now available, she doesn’t miss anything she would rather watch.

We do watch a lot of reality TV programmes, she likes them all, I am not so keen and either blog or read while these programs are on.  Having said that I do end up watching quite a bit. What I have noticed is how fixed these programs seem to be. A show that’s on for a series or a few weeks, takes a few days or so, and then expects people to phone in and vote at a nominal fee.

Now the point of this post is to ask other people, if they feel the same as me, that the outcome of the phone calls, are they the actual peoples votes, or are these programs stage managed? Many supporters will ask why a post like this is on a football blog and the reason for this is, that I wonder if football matches are stage managed as well.

It seems to me that football attracts lots of money businesses, Sky, BT and many others. The staggering amounts of billions to screen live football has hit new highs, and when can you watch a game without a betting firm trying to get you to place a wager? Now I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable supporter, I don’t only watch Arsenal, so I feel I have a general understanding of most of the teams in the Premiership. I know what kind of talent most teams have and having played the game myself, feel I have a decent understanding of the modern rules.

Now I watch my own team the most, so feel I know quite a bit about the quality of the team, Arsene Wenger as we all keep saying has worked wonders over the years, with a bit of a tight budget, and we have done fairly well when you consider there are 20 teams in the league. I look at some of our games, and knowing the talent wonder why we are not thrashing some sides. But we never ever seem to do that. Many will say that all premier sides are all very close talent wise, but that is not the case as budgets are different across the board

What I am wondering is whether this league is being stage managed, where all club owners who are all earning good profits, managers and players are earning thousands more than everyday working people, would it not be prudent to ask could this all be a ploy to get the supporters money.

Rules are in place to make the game fair, or that is what it was before new rules came in. The offside rule can be interpreted two ways which is not clear cut to the supporter. It is quite possible to remove a player from the field any time a referee wanted to so could easily change the direction a game has been going in.

Now of course when looking at the league, you often find that the club who have spent the most are normally up the top half of the league, and normally finish in the European qualifying places. What I seem to notice specially in cup games is how the bigger club seem to get the rub of decisions, free kicks and the like. Now of course I realise that bigger clubs have spent more and usually have the better players so will be head and shoulders better, but I still think that decisions still go in favour of the big clubs.

I have to ask myself why this seems to be the case and I would only answer who I would rather watch if I had the choice. The FA cup is an old old old English competition history that goes back forever, look at the list of winners and you will see a few names on there that you would never had thought, but there all the same. The FA cup is known for its giant killing and fans who support lower division teams have watched their team win games that on paper they shouldn’t. Of course usually the better teams come out winners and the smaller clubs have had their five minutes of fame, but you do still see results that surprise.

Before the draw for the next round of the FA Cup, we all wondered who we would get, did any of you expect to meet either Liverpool or Manchester United, of course you did, and why did you, because you know that the television people want it that way. What grabs the most attention, a game against real competition with an undercurrent of history or a game against a team in the lower division. before United’s game and the draw , as soon as I saw a possible draw of United and Arsenal I knew who would be our opponents and I bet you did too.

The money generated by a game of this magnitude I knew it wouldn’t be screened on BT Sport, maybe Sky, but no it’s the BBC that gets the rights. Stage managed, of course it was. Will we receive the kind of decisions United got against Preston NE, I doubt it, this will be a stage managed fight of the titans, and of course whoever goes through will no doubt find another stage managed draw.

Written by Steve Palmer

 

 

 

 

 

 


Out of tune Gunners

February 18, 2015

One of the best things about English football is the fantastic atmosphere during games created by the attending fans. Every team and every stadium has tunes that are readily recognisable as theirs. But what about the Arsenal?

There are times that I am not proud of being one of the Arsenal supporters. This is because we cannot sing to save our lives. We are one of the worst song writers and our chants are one of the poorest out there.

Ok, no chant is worse than Tottenham’s ‘Oh When the Spurs’ in slow motion. How the hell is this to motivate the team? Funeral marches have better tempo. And then on the other side of the spectrum there is Liverpool’s ‘You Never Walk Alone’ which I find hard to listen to without goose pimples. The Scousers can sing it, you have to give it to them. I will never understand how ‘I am forever blowing bubbles’ became a football song?  But it has and everybody that hears it will think of West Ham United. Or one of the best love songs ever – ‘Blue Moon’ becomes Man City’s iconic tune.

The AFC tried to force ‘The Wonder of You’ on us,  but we resisted singing alone to it and thank Dennis this is gone now. It has been replaced by Clash’s ‘London Calling’, but even this great song failed to make the fans sing. Can you hear any joining in?

I was surprised though that Roger Daltrey’s ‘Highbury Highs’ wasn’t adopted by the fans. It was a great song and relatively easy to sing alone to.

Perhaps it didn’t sound the same at the Emirates as it did in intimate, magical Highbury. On the bright side guys we should be grateful that Chas and Dave are not Arsenal supporters, that could have been painful.

What can be done about it? The singing section has failed miserably and we still are without an anthem, except for this

Written by Eddie


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