It’s a RIGHT old conundrum

April 16, 2015

There was one part of LB’s excellent post match report from the weekend that struck a chord with me when he made the following observation :

Ramsey on the right, really? This smacks of trying to maintain a political harmony rather than being ruthless in the team selection. Yes, he scored the winning goal and that should not be scoffed at but on the wing when we have Welbeck and Walcott on the bench and we were crying out for pace down that flank.

I felt that was a very interesting observation from LB and echoed thoughts that I have had for some time, and have also expressed on A.A before. I have previously taken a view that we potentially get a problem when trying to accommodate Ramsey, Santi and Ozil all in the same set up as one of them has to be a more designated wide player. Despite each of their varying great technical attributes they are all predominantly central midfielders and lack a crucial ingredient for a wide player, that being pace. I noticed that some of the comments on LB’s post indicated that many felt Ramsey on the right was the right call, and potentially also the right formation choice moving forwards.

Now it could of course be that for reasons unknown to us that Arsene identified some tactical area specific to a Burnley away game that was more suited to Ramsey playing this position, a type of horses for courses if you like. If not, however, then I am also slightly confused as to where this leaves both Welbeck and Walcott, if it is that Ramsey is considered a superior option to them in this role. I further seem to recall that on more than one occasion, earlier in the season, an available Ox was also overlooked for the Ramsey, Santi, Ozil trio with one of them taking up the wide right position rather than the more naturally pacy AOC.

Now I am not saying that this formation and combination can never work. There are many games in a season and it will likely be suited to some of them. The problem for me is that many of my recollections of games we were poor in had this trio in the starting line up, combined with Giroud up top, and with limited pace options from the wide areas.

Giroud actually becomes an important part of the consideration on this subject. I have always rated Ollie and have stated so, but have also stated that I felt we needed something even more world class if we were to compete in the final stages of the EPL and ECL. I still harbour some feelings in this direction but I will actually hold my hands up and state that my stance on this may have softened somewhat, such has been his recent performances, and I am potentially willing to change my mind on this with one particular proviso.

There is one point regarding Giroud that I still adhere to which is, that due to his lack of pace, he needs to have that natural pace either side of him that can run beyond him. Preferably these will be players that also have a decent eye for goal. This both enhances Giroud’s hold up and lay off skills and minimises exposing his one key weakness of a lack of pace.

We are all in a bit of Ollie heaven right now but I still cast my mind back to some earlier season performances where he was nullified and ineffective in certain games, and I strongly feel it was when we played slower but technical players behind and to the side of him rather than opting for wide pacy goal-scorers. My feeling is that we can get away with it when the opposition is not of the highest calibre but a better team uses that imbalance to take control of the game and nullify us.

In my view we have already seen this happen, even if not so recently so the question is, will it happen again to our cost, or have we now developed further as a team and it is no longer a relevant tactical consideration? Your great collective thoughts on this would be much appreciated.

Written by GoonerB


Arsenal win – Coq the enforcer

April 12, 2015

If this match report was written on a need to know basis then all you need to know is that Arsenal won which takes our win tally to eight in a row. Right that’s that, shall we get onto the more interesting part and talk more about Coquelin?

gun__1428785478_coq

Yay, don’t you find now when you watch him you can savour his timely interceptions more and more; he just gets better and better the more you watch and the more I watch, and I certainly was yesterday, the more I realise how much more he is starting to add to his game. Obviously not content with the accolade of becoming the best ball winner in Europe he is now beginning to improve his passing game both short and long range. In brief he is starting to spray the ball around with confidence and accuracy and that bodes well for his future because the lack of that skill was the only reason for Wenger to consider an upgrade in the summer.

OK, if I must, I will talk about the game, Arsenal beat Burnley away, is that big news? Nope, the only way this report was going to get read by more than three people and Chas’ cat was if we lost and we didn’t so here we are.

gun__1428771744_Ramseygoal

It was a comfortable victory in the kind of way that for  most of the game I wished we had scored a second goal. At one nil there was always that nagging doubt running through my mind that all this lot need is a bit of luck and we would be in the brown stuff. But fortunately, as we know, that didn’t happen and we got more proof that the gods are all Arsenal supporters, as if we really needed that confirming.

Ramsey on the right, really? This smacks of trying to maintain a political harmony rather than being ruthless in the team selection. Yes, he scored the winning goal and that should not be scoffed at but on the wing when we have Welbeck and Walcott on the bench and we were crying out for pace down that flank.

Back to Coquelin, OK, enough already. The good guys did us proud again and I am very happy with the points and the performance. Is it just me or are there others who are starting to spend slightly longer and longer looking at the league table, I mean how many times did you look before Christmas? Once, twice – per month, tops, now I sneak a peak twice a day.

QPR won last week could they just do it again, come on you “R”s

Written by LB


WWLWWWWWWW + W?

April 11, 2015

A year ago our good friend and fellow AA contributor DanDan passed away. His calm analysis of all things Arsenal is much missed. Dandan was a lifelong Gooner but more importantly a family man and a real gentleman. May he rest in peace.

Our chaps head up to North to a place no-one has ever visited. I have been to most grounds in England but Burnley’s time in the Div 1 was before I travelled away.

Burnley were a huge club in the 1950’s and 60’s but by the time we won our fist double they had started their decline. It is a testament to the ambitions of their management and BoD that they are in the PL – I really hope they can stay up (not at the cost of a win for AFC today, of course).

Can there be a more likeable manager than Sean Dyche? Despite looking like one of the Bash Street Kids he has been breath of fresh air. One doesn’t expect honesty and respect from a PL manager (apart from our own).

images-1

Dyche’s team have decent home form, 18 of their 26 points came at Turf Moor (thanks for the info AW). They have beaten MC and drawn with Spurs in their last two home games .

Our last visit to Turf Moor was in 2009, of the starting 11 that day only one AFC player has a chance of starting today, can you guess who that is? Ramsey and Wilshire were on the bench.

Could this be the only pre-match which doesn’t mention Danny Ings? Oops …..

The first 70 minutes of our home game against Burnley were frustating as we couldn’t find the net; thankfully Alexis scored and we won 3-0. Burnley showed themselves to be hard-working, well-organised and capable in defence. Much like Leicester they do not deserve to be in the relegation zone. Burnley’s run-in includes many of their relegation rivals but mostly away from home. I fear for them and would much prefer to see the Manc Steve Bruce’s Hull alongside Tim But Dim’s Villa go down. Sadly, both teams have much PL experience and it is likely the three promoted teams will drop.

What to say about Arsenal without jinxing them? If we play as we did last Saturday we will win., in fact if we play like we have in almost all the games since November we will win. But who plays this evening?

Koscielny is a doubt, so Chambers, Gabriel or Monreal will deputise. I expect to see Gabriel who has made a very impressive start to his Arsenal career. Other than him I expect the same team which thrashed – yes, thrashed -Liverpool. Perhaps Debuchy will replace young Bellerin.

My Team:

Ospina

Bellerin     BFG     Gabriel     Monreal

Cazorla    Coquelin

Ramsey     Alexis

Ozil

Giroud

Looks like a Christmas tree. Is that really how we play?

Given the paucity of Burnley’s attack I may be tempted to replace Ramsey with Welbeck.

Mike Dean is the ref, he has been better this season though capable of making a total arse of himself at any time. Expect some bookings.

I have just read a surprising fact …. No team has scored more goals from set-pieces than Arsenal (20) this season! Are we the new Stoke?

Arsenal are the form team in the PL and Europe – if we win today it will be the longest winning streak in all the European leagues. We have a week’s break before our next game as a result of not playing a winnable CL tie vs Juventus (shame,shame, shame). We should win this game but such is the magic of the PL that all results are in doubt. MC lost at Turf Moor, so can we.

On paper it is an away win, Let it be So

I am 61% confident


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


Aaron Ramsey: Take a chance on me

March 4, 2015

Given the very late win by Aston Villa last night this is becoming a critical game for QPR. 3 points adrift of safety with some tough games ahead, they are struggling.

The number of teams who come up from the Championship only to return the following season are legion, Leicester are doomed and I fear QPR will have the same fate. Leicester came up as champions with 102 points yet are rooted to the bottom of the PL, QPR arrived through the play-offs, retained most of their squad, added Caulker, Mutch, Fer and Sandro for a combined cost of €30m and still struggle – proof once again of the gap in quality between the two divisions.

In Charlie Austin they have a fine player who is the fulcrum of their attack. Barton is missing through suspension which will probably mean Sandro the violent ex-Spud will start. Hope our players are wearing titanium shin pads and ankle protection.

Unknown-1

Essential kit when playing against Sandro

I think it is indicative of QPR’s ambitions that they have installed Chris Ramsey as manager – though sacking Harry was a major positive!

On paper we should win this. The bookies are offering 6/1 for a home win! We have taken 18 points out of 21, OG is scoring regularly, Ozil has 5 assists from 12 games,  ….  you know all the positives and negatives of this Arsenal team.

But before we get too confident – we have won just one out of our last 7 visits to Loftus Rd. A preposterous return.

Arsenal:  Ramsey is back in the squad and I would give him an hour tonight ahead of the MU game at the weekend. I believe we are a better team with Ramsey than without and if that results in dropping (rotating) Santi, Alexis or Ozil then so be it. This has not been Aaron’s best season thanks to disruption with injury but he remains our best box-to-box MF. I would give Cazorla a rest and bring him on in the last 15 minutes to enjoy himself.

Coquelin? Other players have performed with a smashed bugle and the lad is no oil painting anyway. If he can breathe he should start.

My Team:

Ospina

Bellerin     BFG     Gabriel      Monreal

Ramsey    Coquelin

Ozil   Alexis

Walcott     Giroud

Once again we have a very strong bench.

The only reason which I foresee Arsenal losing this game is over-confidence.

This is another game where none of the opposition players would get into the Arsenal squad, let alone starting 11 (perhaps Austin). But we are Arsenal and things do not always go as we hope, too often the side over-complicate or make stupid defensive mistakes. If we continue to be less concerned with possession and more concerned with efficient use of the ball we will win, however ….. this Arsenal team is so damned unpredictable.

I am 55% confident

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


Paulista on his way?

January 24, 2015

Dredging through Newsnow and the newspapers it seems that there is a strong likelihood that the Brazilian is coming.

Paulista is not in the Villarreal squad which is a good sign.

Apparently so is Kevin Grosskreutz from Borussia Dortmund. A 26 y.o. defender who can play any position across the back-line and is available for €5m which in today’s insane transfer fees is just a pile of M & M’s.

Let’s assume both these chaps arrive, what then? What about the development of Calum Chambers who hasn’t played for months and needs games to fulfil his undoubted potential?

What of BFG? Is he to be a bench-warmer? I know the man is creaking but who wouldn’t after having played virtually every minute of the season. Merts is not ready for his free bus-pass – the man is only just 30 and has at least 3 good years in him.

My guess is that one of the stories is nonsense – probably the Grosskreutz transfer. After all BD are still in the CL so why sell him now? Plus, as I said, Chambers is going to be the nuts

And why haven’t we seen any rumours about our inevitable capture of Cavani? The man has Arsenal in his blood and is desperate to sign for us. The non-appearance of this story is another of the masterful Wenger smoke-screens :-D

written by Big Raddy


Job done!

December 10, 2014

Well! That was a match to savour! Not sure I’ve ever seen a team line-up with three right-backs playing across the back four before, but it made for an exciting game for the neutrals.

Podolski v galatasary

 

An excellent first half for the Good Guys, you really can’t ask for more than a three goal lead at half-time. Podolski and Ramsey, twice, providing a selection of goals to satisfy even the most jaded of football fan’s taste buds. Could easily have been five or even the six we needed to overtake Dortmund.

Ramsey's left foot

 

Wenger rang the changes at half time, quite rightly in the circumstances, but that left us more than a tad open to attack and Galatasaray certainly welcomed the invitation.

According to the BBC, they had thirty-two attempts on goal, though only seven were on target and they only got the ball in the net once. If they had a striker, worthy of the name, the final score would probably have looked a lot less flattering. A bit worrying in view of the teams we are likely to meet in the next stage, but let’s just enjoy the moment.

Written by Norfolk Gooner

 

 


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