Arsenal 2 Burnley 1 — A Supporter’s View.

January 31, 2016

Thank you Burnley Football Club and all your supporters; we at Arsenal have not been having such a good time recently, results have not gone the way they could and should have for a club with aspirations of winning the league for the first time in thirteen years and so a win yesterday was vital to get us back on track. Thank you again for making that happen; you may just have been the stimulus that wins us at least one trophy.

If the team that Wenger chose to go out and play were a car I think it would be fair to say that Arsene put just enough petrol in the tank to get us to the fifth round; that’s to say that there was just enough quality in the selection to win the tie without wasting the precious energy of Özil, and importantly Ramsey who was looking very tired against Chelsea so this little break should see him back, fresh and raring to go on Tuesday. Not only that, Wenger got to play and we got to see our shiny new toy: Elneny, and what a perfectly respectable debut it was. The man is clearly happy on the ball. I would guess that in the first half the Egyptian had the ball more than any other player; well, except Sanchez, of course, he always has the ball more than any other player on the pitch.

It didn’t stop there, more presents were still under the tree and needed to be opened; we got the chance to welcome back Tomas Rosicky and what a fine reception he received when he came on with twenty minutes to go. But I have saved the biggest present until last: Alex Iwobi, if there was any doubt as to what he can do it was cleared up today, this young man went from strength to strength as the game went on. Buoyed by a fine first half he was obviously encouraged by Wenger during his half time team talk because the Nigerian came out and bossed the midfield in the second half until that is his young legs started to tire and was given a standing ovation as he walked off to make way for Arteta.

The game started as expected with Arsenal having the lion’s share of the ball, putting Burnley under constant pressure. The passing was slick and the commitment was tangible, a goal was on the cards although the scorer was not: Calum Chambers on duty for the rested Bellerin curled the ball with the outside of his boot past the Burnley keeper and into the top corner, a fine finish to what had been at least a twenty pass build up, Sanchez was instrumental throughout and it was his assist: rolling the ball deftly between the legs of a Burnley defender that enabled Chambers to get onto the score sheet.

Chambers goal

One nil to the Arsenal and the world was a wonderful place; we should have simply gone on and crushed Burnley but they had other ideas and equalised from a header while our central defenders had momentarily gone awol. This goal upped the tension and in fact turned a gentle stroll into a cup tie — a cup tie that we needed to win.

In every round of the FA cup there is a giant killing and we very nearly went from being way down the viewing list on Match of the Day to the opening game which you may have noticed happens with every giant killing: Burnley came mighty close to going ahead shortly after the start of the second half but this fright didn’t last long and help was on hand, in the form of Sanchez, our very own Whirling Dervish who put us ahead with a well placed shot, wide of the keeper from an excellent cut back by Oxlaide-Chamberlain. The Ox was better than he has been recently but all it showed me was that this is his level – Championship; he just isn’t improving anymore and others are waiting in the wings ready to take his place in the pecking order.

Interestingly Wenger chose not to shore up the defence and see the game out by bringing on Monreal as he does nine times out of ten in these situations but instead he went for an attacking option and the pace of Walcott who had a golden chance to put the game completely out of reach but Theo fluffed his lines and Burnley almost equalised on the counter attack. The final whistle was blown, we are in the hat for the next round draw and all in all it was an entertaining game of football.

Quick player ratings:

Ospina: back to his best, made some excellent saves, if he is looking for a move he would have done his chances no harm at all with that solid performance. 7

Chambers: he is obviously never going to take Bellerin’s place in the starting line up, well certainly not at right back anyway but he exuded more confidence than I usually notice and a goal certainly helped that. 7

Easter: you can see that the legs are better than Mertescaker but the brain is still not quite there, nothing really wrong but still room for improvement. 6

Koscielny: commanding, possibly even more so that he was captain and had full responsibility for the back line. Not sure where he or PE were when Burnley equalised. 7

Gibbs: a very good performance by his standards, did all the simple things well, just when you can’t see him ever being the first choice LB he surprises. We are lucky to have such quality back up in the still young Englishman. 8

Coquelin: great to have him back, all started well but then he got a knock which looked bad enough that he was going to be forced off; he stayed on but his concentration had gone and he got sloppy. 5

Elneny: I really expected him to throw himself around alla Coquelin but no he was on his feet throughout the game. I was hoping to see if he could defend but I am left with less idea than before the match started. Good start though. 7

Iwobi: this is my Man of the Match, like Elneny I still have no idea which position he is best suited to but if he has aspirations of being a number 10 then he is going to have to be world class to make that position his own at THOF because the competition for that spot is fierce. Good luck young man. 8

Oxlaide-Chamberlain: Keep going Ox we all want you to succeed. I have spoken above about this player. 6

Giroud: I wonder if it is possible to start a game with a back heel, I mean from kick off, the Frenchman seems to like that way of passing so much that it crossed my mind that he could be the first player in history to start a game like that. Ollie was clearly not impressed with the opposition and as such seemed to be only working on 80% effort. 6

Sanchez: still holds the ball longer than he should but being one of only three world class players we have at the club I am just grateful that he is back. 8

Written by LB


Loving The Alien

January 30, 2016

There is a chance we may have an exciting team taking the field in red and white. The BBC are expecting Tommy Rosicky to get a kick!

I recall speaking to Kelsey about Tomas a few years ago and we both agreed his time as a PL player was over, yet here he is making a Lazarus-like resurrection (somewhat appropriate with Lent around the corner). I am delighted. Top bloke, top player and a man whom, if he lasts a few games, will add much to our run in.

There is another rumour … apparently someone purporting to be Danny Welbeck is in training and could be available for selection. Now this I cannot believe. I am easily led and extraordinarily gullible but this is a step too far.

And Coquelin!! The boss said 6 weeks and here is Le Coq back within AW’s 6 week time frame which as everyone knows is 3 months in human time. Do you think that AW lives in a different time dimension to us? He is a remarkable man and who knows, perhaps he is not of this earth? An alien. This may explain his eyesight problems, his lack of understanding the need for a 40 goal a season striker and his strange sense of time.

images-1

Mr. Wenger’s Father (and Mother)

Our opponents: I have written of Burnley in the past, of my affection for a proper old fashioned club, of Bob Lord, of claret and blue. Of Hovis adverts, coal mining and cotton. In my research about Burnley F.C  I discovered they had once been managed by a chap named Albert Pickles. Fair play to them.

Burnley are a decent team who will cause us problems but hopefully not too many. They sit a handy 3rd in the Championship and could easily face us in the PL next season. No mugs and in Sean Dyche have one of the best young managers around. We have won our last 5 FA Cup games against them with an aggregate score of 16-1.

Another exciting prospect for Gooners is the almost certain first appearance of Elneny, our first Egyptian player to play in the first team (Rami Shabaan had Egyptian parents and we had a chap called Fathy who played a couple of reserve games in 2004). I have a good feeling about this bloke.

I would like to see Theo given a start at CF today and OG on the bench. The big man needs a break and Theo is more likely to score and gain some confidence at home against C’ship opposition. The same can be said of The Ox who will surely be given Ramsey’s role again.

Another chap I would like to see rested is Koscielny. The man has become a masterful CB but like many could use a break, this would allow us to see our future CB pairing – GAbriel and Chambers. The more practice they have together the better the chances of them becoming a solid partnership.

Gibbs ahead of Monreal and Bellerin on the other flank thanks to our lack of a back-up LB. And Ospina in goal (if fit).

Sanchez, Walcott and Campbell up top with perhaps Ozil behind depending upon how his foot/leg has responded to treatment.

There is a chance we could win a hatrick of FA Cups. History making. Mr. Wenger deserves it. He could be the manager who went through a season unbetaen and one who won 3 on the trot.

Let it be so…

COYRRG

 


Are Arsenal in the Club?

January 29, 2016

As I understand it, based on what I have heard here and there, it would seem that preliminary talks have taken place with UEFA between representatives of some of the big money European clubs, including Manure and Juventus.

The clubs’ representatives have made it clear that they think there is a need to move on and capitalise on the promotion of top grade European football.

This really means they want to take the opportunity of better marketing of top European football worldwide, and incidentally making buckets of cash for their owners. There is, too, the lingering suspicion, although I understand it was not mentioned specifically, that the clubs want shot of Platini’s alleged election bribe to the smaller countries/ leagues, that they would be included in the group stages of the CL, if they voted for him to be UEFA president, because they are just seen by the clubs as pointless fodder who are bumped off by the bigger clubs in every tournament, and thus making those games very boring for TV audiences.

Let’s face it – the TV companies are probably behind this, or are in cahoots with the big clubs, as they want value for all the money they have poured into the CL – and when money talks – everyone jumps, especially UEFA and the clubs I suspect! :D

Something like this plan was always going to happen, at sometime in the near future, and if it is not this one, it will be something along these lines eventually.

That means if the current Premier League-leaders, Leicester, somehow managed to win through in May, they would qualify for Europe, next season, but if they won the following year instead they would not qualify for Europe. Got it so far? :-)

Milan, for example, another one of the clubs pushing for this change to qualifying, but who have sometimes been rubbish in the Italian league, and possibly may not qualify for the CL next season, and also Manure who are also currently rubbish in the Premier League, and seem unlikely to make next season’s Champions’ League would both become permanent members of the new European set up in 2018, if they get their way.

In addition, both the Chavs and ‘Pool may well be in the elite clubs’ group for 2018, too, even tho they are also unlikely to qualify for next season’s tournament, though this not a given.

Step forward the European Clubs Association, representing the big fish European clubs, including all of those other teams who would like to be guaranteed reserved Champions League places from 2018.

The ECA’s executive board, comprising plenty of bigwigs of the biggest clubs, including the Manure chief executive Woodward and [no, I cannot believe it] our very own Arsenal boss Ivan Gazidis, (I am sort of beginning to like this cunning plan a lot more) have made it clear to UEFA that they are deadly serious about making this change happen, and want it applied to the next Champions League TV deal which happens to start in 2018. Funny that!

In effect, cutting to the chase, the so-called ‘elite’ want their clubs to have reserved invitations to every CL club tournament in the future, Not that surprising I suppose. Hogs at feed?

Who are these elite teams? Well it has not yet been announced but it will rely a lot on the clubs that the TV wallahs think are the prettiest – well, perhaps they are more attractive to viewers might be a more concise way of putting it, whether they are qualified through their local league positions, or not.

It will make qualification for next season’s CL particularly stressful I suspect as that could make a big influence on whether a club is included if they are not a really ‘big’ club.

There will be huge money coming in next season for all the Premiership clubs with the new Sky and BT TV deals starting in 2017, and if some elite clubs get into the new CL set up in 2018, if it is agreed by all concerned, that money could easily be doubled.

It seems that in any event there has been an agreement in principle among the usual suspects that these elite clubs will be included on a permanent basis – however, it remains to be seen who makes the cut as ‘attractive’ to the TV viewers, and also that to ease opposition to the plan, certain other league qualifiers will be added to this group of definite starters.

Perhaps the way to smooth this deal through is to expand the size of the competition, perhaps by formalising a pre-league of other clubs who would fight it out, for qualification, as they do now, during the preseason, but the TV movers and shakers probably won’t want this.

Clubs like Everton, Spurs, and Leicester who may not make the cut as guaranteed ‘elite’ members, will be understandably peed off, and perhaps this is a move away from the corinthian spirit of football.

Corinthian my ass! – high standards and doing the right thing have already been consigned to the dustbin of football’s past, I am afraid.

The alleged backroom chat between some of the top clubs does give this supposedly secret plan some credence, and as I have often said before, when money comes calling, all the money hungry club owners bat their eyelashes, put on their best dresses, apply their lipstick and will kiss the asses of whoever offers them the most!

C’est la vie.

Written by RA


Grow up! … Arsenal Don’t Need To Sign Any More Players …

January 28, 2016

With the end of the transfer window looming and many supporters calling for Arsene to reinforce the squad with new additions, I thought I’d look at the age range of Arsenal’s current EPL squad including some on loan. Obviously age isn’t the prime criterion when assessing a player, but it is the significant indicator in terms of longevity and therefore team development.

When Arsene was asked recently about the signing of Elneny, he praised his attributes and added in characteristic fashion that he was 23 and that 23 to 30 was an ‘interesting’ age for a footballer. We all know what he meant by this.  For all but one position, 23-30 would be considered the peak years of a player’s career. The exception is the keeper, where experience is crucial and the toll on the body is less, meaning that they can remain at the top of their game into their late thirties … and guess what ….. we’ve got one of those!

In the past, it was the case that centre backs could still be at their peak into their early thirties, but I would argue that the pace and physical demands of the modern game mean this is seldom the case nowadays. Hopefully Koscielny will prove to be the exception to that rule, sadly it is becoming apparent that Mertesacker is not.

I don’t expect us to sign another ‘first team ready’ player before the deadline on Monday, and maybe the stats below will convince you that we don’t need to.

The area marked in yellow in the chart below represents the age group of those who are considered to be in their peak years (Bellerin is the exception to that rule) . The names in red are unlikely to be with us next season, and those in green are currently out on loan but a good prospect for the future.

I have divided the midfielders into 3 categories just so the pedants among you can tell me I’m wrong :)

X7

In an ideal world, the first choice players in every position would be in their peak years – in fact it would be perfect if the second choice option was also in the 23-30 zone.

But that’s not how it works, the top players are in the zone and the back up is either younger hoping to break into the team, or older and with lower expectation. This theory is backed up by the fact that both Ospina and Debuchy are in their peak years, neither are first choice and both want to leave – and who can blame them?

By my estimation, 8 out of 10 of our first choice outfield players are at their peak in terms of age. That’s pretty good and I suspect compares favourably with the other top EPL sides.

So which areas should we be looking to reinforce in the summer?

Martinez is currently gaining experience on loan at Wolves and may be the man to take over from Cech in a few years. We  have a wealth of talented young attacking midfielders waiting for their chance to make an impact on the first eleven. Unluckily for them, most of the current incumbents are at the perfect age.

Arguably centre back and striker are the two areas where we could be vulnerable. With Mertesacker coming to the end of his career, and only Chambers as back-up I can see procuring another CB as a priority. As far as strikers are concerned, we will only be able to assess that situation once we have seen Welbeck stay injury free and get a run of games. If he can replicate the form he showed before he was injured then Arsene may well believe we don’t need another striker. Personally, I’d be happy to blow £50-60m if the right striker became available in the summer.

Your challenge for today ……. convince me we need to buy another player this January!

Rasp

 

 


WHAT will win Arsenal the league?

January 27, 2016

I’m afraid today’s serving isn’t something you can really get your teeth into. Certainly not The Full English, more an Amuse-Bouche. Pickings are slim, but here goes.

WHAT single thing will win Arsenal the league? I am making the assumption we will win the league, so merely trying to isolate what you think will be most significant factor.

A SIGNING: I’ll tell you where pickings are at their very slimmest, and that’s on the transfer goss. front. The best I can find this morning is this little morsel “ARSENAL have approached Juventus to sign Alvaro Morata, according to reports”. Yeah right, although a reassuring figure of £61M was mentioned.

INJURIES: A completely injury free run in, or close to.

DEFAULT: Will we effectively be handed the thing by the pure incompetence of the other contenders?

THE MANAGER: Will Arsene out manoeuvre the Managers of our rivals. Cunningly deployed tactics, clever substitutions, pragmatism, attacking flair? Arsene will prove that he is the best manager in the league.

LUCK: Nothing else, we’ll fluke the wretched thing

SANCHEZ: Purely and simply, the little fella will win us the league. You could use this option to denote the impact of any one single player. Including Sanogo.

Written by MickyDidIt89


Who Will Be Arsène’s Successor?

January 26, 2016

There is clearly a need and indeed an obligation for a top football club, such as Arsenal, to have begun the intricate process of longer term planning for the managerial succession once Le Roi, Monsieur Wenger, finally calls it a day as he seems to have obliquely indicated from time to time.

The conundrum the Board have is that it may not be as straightforward as it might seem on the face of it.

All public limited companies, including Arsenal Football Club, are subject to the requirements of the Companies Act to avoid foreseeable risks and therefore they need to plan for the inevitable succession and also carry out due diligence which would seem to rule out any appointment from left field which would create its own problems, as they would not want an unstable regime such as the Moyes appointment after Ferguson retired.

For myself, I have absolutely no doubts that conversations between the Board and Arsène have already taken place, and he will surely have an input as to who his likely successor might be.

The need to carry on the momentum of the club and also its need to remain at the top of the footballing tree, would seem to rule out any appointment from left field which would seem to rule out the appointment of an inexperienced wannabe manager including someone who is currently taking his coaching badges, such as Thierry Henry and the like.

What is needed, you might think, is an established, successful, well grounded, experienced manager conversant with the needs of a top, top football club, and that would bring its own problems in terms of the timing of Arsene’s retirement, and the then availability of the required quality of managers, with an eye on the advancing age of those currently managing other top clubs, as that is part of the price that is paid for experience.

I do not have any real idea who would be the fans’ favourite to take over, other than the obvious one of Guardiola, but no doubt you guys will have your own ideas on who should be recruited when King Arsène steps down and who should be crowned the new king of Arsenal.

There is an alternative to the above, which despite my pooh-pahing of a left field appointment could actually happen if all the pieces fall in order.

Arsene’s contract has been extended for another three seasons, of which another season or two remains, or so I have heard, finishing in the summer 2018.
Meanwhile, the appointment of Remi Garde as the Aston Villa manager for a similar period has also been announced, and this may not be entirely a coincidence. Training for the ‘Big One’? Maybe not.

Anyway, if an ‘Arsenal man’ is the preferred option for both the Board and the fans, other than the inexperienced ones – and it may not be, then it is entirely possible that someone, like Garde, who has had experience of running an EPL club, by then, and has also managed a top French team could be the answer.

Whatever happens, or whoever is appointed, it will be a novel experience for many of us after all these years of the Professor, but everything and everyone has a beginning and end, and I for one will be sorry to see Arsene step down, it will also be an exciting move into an new era at the club.

Vive La France, Vive Arsene, Vive L’Arsenal. :D

Now let’s be ‘avin’ yer! Who do you want?

RA/Redders/Red Arse


We lost …. Reaction …. not Over Reaction

January 25, 2016

These are a selection of the comments posted yesterday in reaction to our home defeat to Chelsea

Big Raddy ……

5 minutes of naivety cost us the game.

Fairplay to Chelsea they defended very well and we did not create a single clear chance

We were really good in the second half and perhaps deserved a draw.

The return of Sanchez will be important and just because we lost today it does not mean we are out of the title race but today’s defeat hurt … a lot

Fatgingergooner …..

I thought we played well with 10 and you cant accuse the players of not trying. The sending off ruined our chances. poor decision by Merts. If we go 1-0 with 11 we still have a great chance to win the game.

It was tough to take but Sanchez looked good and Burnley next week to help get over it.

Gooner In Exile …..

The second Sanchez came on the pitch we had another dimension, Ozil came alive knowing there was at least one more he could work with at that level that very few can, both Alexis and Ozil draw defenders in and mainly keep it. The thing that Ozil does so well and that probably highlights the weaknesses of others is knowing when to release it and how to release it. He rarely plays a pass blind whereas so many others seem to judging by where the pass ends up, sometimes it’s better to keep the ball and try another angle than force a pass where one doesn’t exist.

So up side from the game is Alexis is back, upside from the weekend is we are still within 3 points of the leader and have both teams above us to play. So it’s in our hands.

We need to get out of this dip and go on a run of four or five wins.

Next 5 games, Southampton, Bournemouth, Leicester, United, Swansea. We will soon find out if we have the stomach for the title challenge.

Rockylives …..

We actually created quite a few half- and there-quarter chances even after going 0-1 down, but we didn’t have the composure to make the most of them.

Mesut picked a bad day to have a rare poor performance and Fabregas, who has been poor all year, looked much the better player.

Shard …..

Frustrated, but with some pride as well.

I don’t think we played very well. We played well enough to win, if we hadn’t been stupid for 5 minutes. Where was the midfield, why was Kos languishing rather than busting a gut to get level, and why did Per dive in? I would add that Costa went down without a touch, and that Clattenburg hence got it wrong, but that is besides the point.

Theo. Not a very good way to celebrate being captain. Once again a poor performance, and his lack of tecnhical ability is a real issue at times. Now that Alexis is back, I’d drop Theo, unless he’s playing through the middle. Poor Giroud. I wouldn’t have subbed him off, but the logic of going for speed over a target man is sound. I was furious that we conceded just a minute after that substitution. That piece of defending really annoys me. If we’d kept it at 0-0, I think we would have won even with 10 men.

Did anyone see a replay of the handball appeal we had just before the red card? I didn’t, and to me that signifies something fishy, because that is what used to happen earlier. Wrong decisions not shown on replay.

MickyDidIt89 …..

Completely agree with the importance of getting Coquelin and Sanchez back

If anyone had told me when those two first went injured, that two months later when they were returning we’d be level on points with City, and three points behind leaders Leicester, a. I’d have they were bonkers and b. I’d have taken it in a heart beat

Very disappointing today, but very much all to play for.

Also, I don’t think it will damage confidence one bit, as the team will understand the significance of those returning, and also the uphill mountain faced by any team going down to ten men so early in any match.

Peachesgooner …..

That was a very sad game of football although it’s fantastic to have Alexis back and amazing how Ozil and Alexis find each other.

Usual scummy tactics from Diego Costa. Per had already made me worried in the opening minutes where I’m sure his brain knew what he wanted his legs to do but somehow they couldn’t keep up with his train of thought :( Anyone think Gabriel would have started ahead of Per if there hadn’t been the history?

I’d love us to hold onto the ball better when moving forward, we just waste too many passes at the moment but hopefully Coquelin will steady the ship when he gets back.

Ozil ran and ran and ran, he must’ve be shattered.

On another day Flamini would have been a hero and scored one of his chances.

Still in the top four and three points off the top, all good really :)

LB …

I want to cry.

….. If you’ve got anything to add to those observations, join us in comments and have your say ……..


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 580 other followers