Major Tom to Ground Control

January 17, 2016

What a strange season it has been. Who would have thought that the ultra-defensive, park the bus mindset of so many PL managers would change so quickly into the exciting football we have seen in 2015/16. 3-3 draws have become the new 1-0’s. Long may it continue.

Or is it poor defending? :-D

Take today’s opponents, Stoke. Managed by one the the meanest, most defence obsessed, get in their faces, kick their best players out the game, route one obsessed men in the Premiership they have turned into a club who play proper football. What has happened to Sparky?

What changed?  What made the miscreant Hughes buy Shaqiri, Krkic and Affelay?

Whatever the reasons, I am delighted. However, Stoke still have their share of thugs with both Debuchy and Ramsey having bad memories of strong-arm Stoke-isms.

There are exciting developments at Arsenal.The arrival of El Nino and the possible return of Duracell Boy; I don’t expect either to start but both could get some pitch time. Our results suggest that we have not missed Sanchez but there can be little doubt we are better with him on the pitch. If Theo doesn’t put in a decent performance this afternoon the bench awaits. Flamini has done a sterling job but needs a rest –  would you blood El Nino against Stoke or Chelsea? I wouldn’t. A couple of sub appearances are most likely.

I expect the same 11 to start as at Liverpool.

We have lost 5 of the last 8 games at the Britannia. Not good and hard to fathom. We have always finished the season above them and despite the aggressive grunts emanating from the cavemen who grimace bare-chested in the stands, we should do better.

My dream scenario would be an easy Arsenal victory with Aaron Ramsey scoring a hatrick, Flamini giving Shawcross a sly kicking and Kos flattening the cowardly, cheating basket named Arnautovic. But I would take a scrappy , plucky, lucky 3 points.

As always at the Britannia we will need a strong referee who is not influenced by Stoke’s baying boneheads. The incumbent is Craig Pawson; don’t know much about this chap but we must hope for the best.

I am still hurting from the stupid equaliser at Anfield, a win today would set us up nicely for the Chelsea game and to some extent negate that pain. A draw and we go back to TotL.

My youth was spent living for football and music. The first time I saw one of my Heroes was at the Finsbury Park Rainbow. I queued for hours and got tickets to see Bowie. He came on stage an hour late and proceeded to do a 45 minute mime act with Lindsay Kemp and then left the stage. To say I was disappointed is a massive understatement. But … I didn’t give up and was fortunate to see him on many occasions including some of the most exciting and spine tingling musical moments of my life. Words cannot express my thanks to Mr David Bowie.

We can be Heroes …. Just for one day.

COYRRG


Ramsey’s Day?

December 21, 2015

The build up to this game has been lengthy  – it is 9 days since our last victory. Sky Sports have been building tonight up in their usual manner telling us that it is almost a title decider which is quite frankly nonsense.

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What is true in a season when no team has been able to put together a run of wins (apart from Leicester) is that the title is open and beating City will be important. Must Win Game? No. Important game? Definitely. More important than beating Southampton away on Boxing Day? You decide!

The team picks itself apart from a question mark over Sanchez. Should he be played if 90% fit? Will he or Campbell start and be subbed on the hour? I would risk him, he is too valuable and we have been doing well with Campbell in the team.

LB wrote  an interesting post pointing out our different playing style with Sanchez in the team, which can only be a positive as the more variety we can offer the more difficult it is to combat.

The Northern Oilers are proof that an open wallet does not guarantee trophies. They spent €70m on defenders in summer and yet look fragile when the ageing and increasingly injury-prone Kompany is absent. Neither Mangala nor Otamendi have impressed so far.

Unfortunately most of their injured players are returning tonight – Silva, Aguero, Toure are likely to start and when one looks at MC’s team it is quite frankly, frightening, especially as an attacking force; De Bruyne, Aguero, Sterling, Navas, Toure, and Silva are all wonderful players .

But we have wonderful players as well. We have a team which on its day can beat Bayern Munich (and will beat Barcelona). Pellegrini will be worried, especially as MC have lost their last 4 away games.

Given the MC full backs are the ageing Sagna and Kolarov, Theo and Campbell could be in for a fruitful afternoon and it is certainly an area which Mr Wenger will focus upon.

In midfield Ramsey’s energy will be a constant problem for City. Toure is a great player but he can no longer compete with the non-stop running of Ramsey and will be looking to Fernandinho for cover. It is our pace and energy which will concern Pellegrini.

Who would you prefer, Ozil or Silva? Both great players. Ask any City fan who is their favourite player and the answer is invariably David Silva, yet to supporters of other clubs he seems just a very good player and not at the same level as Ozil. Mesut is The Man this season and against a team like City who will use skill as opposed to muscle to combat him, Ozil may well flourish.

Cech is likely to have a busy evening and so (I hope) will Joe Hart because these are two teams committed to attack. It should be a terrific match.

COYRRG


Arsenal Stroll in Villa Park

December 14, 2015

Arsenal cruised to the top of the league after a controlled but determined two nil win over Aston Villa which topped off what was pretty much a perfect week.

It wasn’t that much of a surprise that the EPL league leaders elect should have beaten the team at its foot and soon to be Championship fodder but before the start of these kind of games there is always a nagging doubt at the back of the mind that whispers: maybe today is the day when Villa get lucky and pull off the totally unexpected and we all know that a WBA or Norwich result was just about the last thing we had wanted.

The Good Guys took to the field clearly brimming with confidence after our heroic midweek win and proceeded to take control. Nothing could have suited us better than an early goal and that is exactly what we got. After nine minutes, Özil sent a long pass down the wing for Theo to sprint after, shoulder to shoulder with Alan Hutton the Arsenal away supporters pantomime villain for the day, Theo got free but was pulled back in the box by Dick Dastardly.

TW

The Arsenal players pleaded for a penalty which looked as though was going to go missing until all of a sudden the referee did a quick calculation and realising that we needed all three points to go top duly pointed to the spot. Giroud grabbed the ball with purpose, as though any one else was going to get close, and placed it on the spot, made sure everyone was looking, signalled the drum roll and then coolly slotted it home.

Aston Villa v Arsenal - Premier League

Arsenal immediately went into keep ball mode but as poor as Villa were, Arsenal were always going to need a second and, yet again, that is exactly what happened. Villa were pouring forward in the vain attempt to get an equaliser when Ramsey made an excellent tackle at the edge of our box to recover possession. With Villa having committed so many men forward the break was on; Wales’ finest sent the ball ahead of Walcott who sprinted onto it, he immediately sent it cross field to Ozil who, although, having an excellent chance to score himself squared the ball to no other than Ramsey who had made a lung busting run into their box where he was able to guide it home.

AV

Two nil and the game was over bar the shouting. Villa did put a bit of effort into it at the beginning of the second half but Wenger made two earlier than normal substitutions in Gibbs and Oxlade-Chamberlain for the tiring Campbell and Walcott and English pair’s freshness ended Villa’s flutter and normal service was resumed with Arsenal looking like the side who were more likely to score again.

The little piece of controversy I would throw into the mix is that I don’t know if you have noticed but in my opinion we are playing a lot more simply since Sanchez got injured. Our football is less complicated, the ball is being passed, controlled and then quickly passed on again, no trying to beat three players first, just receive it and move it.

Normally, 9 times out of ten, when Özil gets the ball looks for Sanchez but with Chile’s finest out, Özil has to look elsewhere. Mr Assist has no other choice but to try and find Giroud or such. In normal circumstances the Frenchman would be ignored, frozen out, the pass of last resort. Giroud is not part of Sanchez, Özil and Cazorla’s club, whole games have gone by with the three musketeers playing amongst themselves with Ollie hardly getting a touch which must be a drain on his confidence but with Sanchez injured Özil has had no choice but to try and find Giroud, as do the others; the result being, that Giroud’s confidence has soared and his scoring has hit a purple patch.

I know what you are thinking, there is no way that Campbell or Walcott are going to keep Sanchez out and yes I agree but Arsenal have won all three matches since Sanchez was sidelined so maybe they should keep mining this rich vein of form for a while longer?

Written by LB


The Dynamic Duo: Giroud & Walcott to Start.

December 9, 2015

In the words of one of Highgate’s finest” Tonights, the Night, It’s gonna be Alright” or will it be “I don’t wanna talk about it, How you broke my Heart”?

Either way  “You’re in my Heart you’re in my Soul, You’ll be my breath should I get Old”

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In the Home Kit

We are sure to be in for an exciting couple of hours tonight and there will be little room behind LB’s sofa, get there early :-)

The doubts and fears about tonight are known to all – the history of our visits to Olympiakos,, the injuries, the stupidity of the home leg, the amazing home form of the Greeks, our inability to keep a clean sheet  etc etc but instead of writing about all those negative vibes I prefer concentrate upon why we will win. Why so? Because negativity attracts negativity and it follows that a positive post will augur a positive result.

Firstly, I think Arsene will start with both the FP and Theo with Campbell sitting on the bench. We need to score and they are our best bet. Giroud may be a marmite player but he can and does score goals; Theo owes us and is a Big Game player.

Olympiakos will play the counter-attack so we need to have pace and common-sense from a defensive point of view – so we start with the regular back 5 and tell Flamini only to venture forward when he is certain an FB is covering him. Kos and BFG only go forward for set plays.

We come into the game having shown we can score goals aplenty.

We have the best attacking midfielder in world football.

Ramsey has broken his duck and historically he scores in runs of games.

We have The Ox. None other than Mr Roy Hodgson spoke recently about how he thought Young Alex was a major find and has a golden future. I believe him. Ox needs a run of games to get back to the levels we know he is capable of. Expect a towering performance tonight.

Arsenal have been in this situation before – many times we have failed heroically but this being an Auspicious day Arsenal can and will overcome. This is why it is auspicious:

25 years ago today Lech Walesa was elected President of Poland

Dec 9 1949. Arsenal played their first ever Cup Game against Spurs. We won 3-0

There is other stuff but you would get bored!!

However there is one reason which stands out above all others …….

We will win because We are The Arsenal

COYRRG

 


The Month of The Ox

October 24, 2015

I was born in the Year of the Monkey or was it the Squirrel or the Lemon? Anyway, I was born. Ramsey’s injury gives The Ox a month to cement his place in the side. It is the Month of the Ox.

Much of Mr Wenger’s Friday press call was devoted to questions about Ramsey and whether AW was guilty of over-playing him, Easy in hindsight. In my opinion a better focus would be upon Oxlade-Chamberlain. Here is a young man who is an established England International and yet has no place in his club’s first team.

I am a huge fan of young Alex. He has it all – strength, speed, fine ball-control, a powerful shot, an eye for a pass and he can tackle. The negatives of his game are the desire to keep the ball in defence rather than find Row Z, a lack of appreciation of where his position should be when Bellerin is attacking and a tendency to hold onto the ball too long. All of which can be rectified by a run of games, and now he has his opportunity to develop and shine.

The big question is  – Will he? Ramsey provides energy that few can compete with, which is one of the reasons we are so strong late in the game. We need the same from Ox.

Enough of that ….

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Everton: I have always liked them – proper club with history and tradition. In most games I want them to win but I hope they get a hiding this afternoon. They lost against a rampant MU who were smarting from having their arses tanned at The Emirates, logically we should beat Everton, unfortunately there is little logical in football.

Any team with the quality of Lukaku, Barkley, Kone, Mirallas, Coleman, Jagielka and the excellent John Stones will cause problems. My hope is that Everton continue to play the expansive game which Martinez favours rather than the Pulis kick and run stuff. I was at The Em’s when Everton dominated the game in a 1-1 draw in 2013 with both sides committed to attack. Barkley was excellent that day and if Everton can repeat that performance we will struggle.

What is there not to like about Everton? Well, let’s start with that little shitehawk Naismith. This bloke is plain nasty – he reminds me of a second rate Billy Bremner, happily he is unlikely to play today. I don’t like their kit – blue home kits are the sign of the devil.

As to us.: Will AW rotate given this is our 3rd game in 6 days? I would and expect Debuchy to get a run, though Bellerin is becoming a vital cog in the team and his partnership with Chamberlain needs to develop.

Everton are too good to take to many chances with, as such there will not be too much tinkering. Possibly Gabriel for Koscielny. Other than that I can’t see much change being possible.

The huge input necessary to beat possibly the world’s best team on Tuesday could have it’s repercussions today, let’s hope not.

We are playing terrific football, beating very good sides using a multiplicity of tactics – it is a time to enjoy being an Arsenal fan, a time to wear the scarf with pride  (though of course, not the full-kit) .

A win tonight takes us to A Number One, Top of the List, King of the  Hill. Let its be so.

COYRRG


Coquelin’s Night.

October 20, 2015

MWG. I could stop here, couldn’t I? Having spent three days of almost constant vodka drinking it may be for the best but such a peach of a game deserves more.

Tonight’s match is everything we long for as football fans. An evening kick-off at home against probably the best team in the world. Our team is in good form, we have few injuries, the weather looks clement, the pitch is perfect, we have the chance to see Lewandowski and his pals try to repeat recent victories at The Emirates. It should be a great game.

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One major difference between our 0-2 loss last time out is our goalkeeper. TPIG/Fabianski or Cech for an important CL game – who would you pick? Though to be fair TPIG was sent off thanks to a Robben dive.

Team selection will be interesting; OG or Theo or both? BFG or Gabriel?

I would start with Theo and continue the successful policy of bringing on OG for the final 20 minutes (should we need goals). Walcott is in the best run of form of his AFC career and pace is more likely to cause BM problems than OG’s more ponderous play.

Gabriel may be more suited to playing against Muller and Lewandowski but BFG has the nous and we will need his experience (plus he can understand what the opposition players are saying to each other!)

Big night for Ozil. He was poor when we played BM last time. I wonder whether he would rather be playing for the opposition tonight? This is no throw away question, my guess is that any German player wants to play for BM just as any Spanish player would like to play for RM or Barca; this is not the case in the PL where we have no stand-out club.

If we are to win sound defence is essential. We are potent upfront and in good goal-scoring form. Total concentration and no mistakes from the back 5 please – none of that silly stuff we have seen in the previous two CL games.

Did you read that Mr Wenger is in the list of 10 managers who can win the the Ballon D’Or ? So too, is Guardiola. Guardiola’s BM contract runs out at the end of next season – as does someone elses. Co-incidence?

The Bayern team is full of big names, thankfully Robben, Goetze and Ribery are unfit but BM don’t seem to be affected by the loss of two wonderful players.

Coquelin will have fun tonight. Vidal, Xabi Alonso, Alcantara and Costa are somewhat different opponents to the chaps at Watford and Leicester! I am really looking forward to seeing how he copes with this challenge and judge just how far his game has progressed. Discipline will be important – his habit of picking up silly yellow cards could become costly. It is amazing that Coquelin has become such an important cog in the team, long may his development continue.

As regulars know I am a huge fan of Aaron Ramsey. His goal at the weekend could be the start of a return to his form in front of goal which has been so sadly lacking of late. Add a few more and he is amongst the best MF’s in the PL.

No point writing about the effect a draw/loss would have upon our CL future, we all know the situation.

On a personal note, should we lose tonight it will result in another season with no Raddy/Didit tour – for that reason alone I am desperate for a win.

I cannot say I am confident but I do give us a fighting chance. Arsenal are a bloody good side when we are on form and we are in the midst of a good spell. Play like we did against MU and we can win.

Football is all about Glory. A win tonight would be Glorious!


We won 3 nil, but it was not as good as we think ……

October 18, 2015

It’s a funny old game, football, ain’t it? as someone famous once said. And that is not the half of it.

During the first part of the game against the Hornets, Arsenal played like a light bulb that is undecided if its day is done, or not, and flickers indecisively between light and shade.

One minute the Gunners were brilliant, and the next they were as gormless as any Sunday League team down the Marshes before the traditional booze up, and, frankly, with a better forward Watford could have been one or two goals up in the first half, and as it was, the feller sitting in Row Z had stinging hands parrying the ball as he became the target for the ball rather than the net.

The second half saw a better attitude and after our indomitable Chilean had made the most of his opportunity and opened the scoring we suddenly found ourselves 0 : 3 up and coasting as Giro, on for an ineffective Theo, nonchalantly tried to put the ball over the bar and fluffed it by hitting it inside the roof of the net instead, and the industrious Rambo managing to dink the ball slowly into the net through a ruck of players.

What is it with this team? Capable of the most sublime football and the most awful dross all within the same minute.

That said, they collectively played pretty well and special mention is due to Bellerin, Cazorla and Ozil but the real star of the show was Sanchez. When we are hitting our noses on an invisible screen in front of the goal, he is always alert, energetic and capable of pulling the plum from the pudding.

Fo me the player who personifies the Arsenal at the moment is Rambo. He frustrates the hell out of me with his poor decision making, misplaced passes and wonky finishing. And yet his sheer guts, never say die spirit and his ability to cover every blade of grass on the pitch and yet somehow he still manages to be in position in the area to score a killer goal while Theo is busy posing or Giro is handsomely scratching his ass.

Football is a results driven business and all fans love a win, but some of us also love the beautiful game, like the one against Manyoo, and this bunch of players is capable of delivering both, but they are also capable of self inflicted, fart-assed, puke inducing, brainless stupidity which seems to occur for no discernible reason.

Fortunately the good outweighed the bad yesterday, and all teams have off periods during a season, while Arsenal are capable of off moments every week, but I think we are going to eliminate these moments with wins like this – and I am now prepared to call it — we will win the Premier League this season.

Red Arse

We’ve had some debate as to who should be awarded Man of the Match for the game with several candidates being put forward. Place your vote below and let’s see what the majority think …….

 

 

 


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