Arsenal v Hull. Match Feelings.

May 5, 2015

Last nights’ Arsenal performance against Hull came two days after Chelsea’s title winning performance against Crystal Palace. Of course Trophies matter, but to win the League the supporter will have to pay to watch seventeen home league games. You see where I’m going with this.

Can you imagine the satisfaction if Arsene could go on to win the title next season playing this type of football. Fans of Football last night had smiles on their faces, but the players played with smiles as well. It was a celebration of why the beautiful game was invented in the first place.

Right. Match Talkies.

–        Mesut, Santi, Aaron and Alexis. Understanding, movement, flicks, defence splitters, vision, goals. You work it out J

–        Aaron on the right. I have been critical, but only because I think he’s an excellent box to boxer, and more effective central. I do, however, see the problem. Santi is undroppable.

–        Aaron goes off. Theo does not come on!

–        Jack. What do you reckon? Not the finesse of yer Aarons and Santis, but certainly energy and thrust in abundance. Charged the length of the pitch, brushed aside some Hullers, smashed into a defender and won a free kick on the edge of their box. Didn’t get injured. Gave away a ball in midfield setting up a Northern attack. Did lots of other great work. He has Arsenal DNA. He’s still only 23.

–        Theo. Didn’t start again. Didn’t come on for Aaron. Did play as striker when he did eventually appear. On a completely separate note, I’d like a fast, mobile striker. Does Arsene? He did once say that Sanchez would move central as soon as Theo was fit. Would love to know what The Boss is thinking on this one.

–        Always a mention for Francis Coquelin. He’s the catalyst that makes it all possible.

Well, I think that just about wraps up my feelings.

Ok, all together now: “It’s happened again, it’s happened again, Tott…………”

Written by MickyDidIt89


Ramsey or Walcott? A First World Problem

May 4, 2015

Some days I find no inspiration for the pre-match, today is one. I usually find something to hang the post on – our form, the oppositions form (or lack of it), their manager and his tactics, their town, sometimes a tale from my past AFC history but today ….. nothing.

I have already expressed my dislike of Steve Bruce and his tactics many times, I have written about how awful the town at the end of the Humber Bridge is, I have described our wonderful form and the players who have propelled us forward over the past few months – what is left?

Would you like to know what they eat in Hull? My guess is a healthy dose of fish and chips.

Tactics? A team fighting relegation will battle, Expect a physical confrontation and some long ball from Hull. Pacy clever stuff from our boys.

Form? You know ours; Hull have won their last two including beating Liverpool

Stats? We have yet to lose to a bottom half team and have drawn only twice.

Key player? N’Doye is a fine if “mature” centre forward. I watched him when he played up the road for FC København where he looked a fine player and was always top scorer. Fast, skilful and good at finding space. Good feet for a Big Man.

Our Team:

Same as the last few games

Why change a winning team?

Some, make that many, people are unhappy with Ramsey playing wide right – I disagree. If your concerns are his lack of pace I would counter by pointing out that Bellerin is our fastest player and Ramsey’s tendency to drift infield allows Bellerin to use the space created. Also Ramsey gives more defensive cover.

On the other hand, Theo offers something extra against a team who are unlikely to spend much time attacking. He will not be needed at the back, particularly since Coquelin has made us far more secure, and is a much better finisher than Ramsey. Mr Wenger rarely tweaks his teams and Theo is getting some wonderful experience of bench warming – will he think twice before signing a new contract knowing that he is no longer guaranteed a first team place?  Both players are International stars and whomever plays will give their all to prove themselves worthy of the shirt.

Injuries. Just the long-termers. Debuchy crocked again.

Last two games against Hull? 2-2 at home (controversial Hull goal and a last minute equaliser from Welbz) and the FAC Final win

Ref: Lee Mason. Not the best.

This will be a difficult fixture as Hull battle to remain in the PL, a battle I am sure they will win as other teams have worse run-ins. Beating Liverpool was huge for Hull and a similar result tonight is not beyond the realms of possibility  – but I think we must be favourites.

I am 56% confident.

COYRRG


Did Arsenal play for the draw?

April 27, 2015

I think we all know games against Chelsea are rarely thrillers, and yesterday was no exception.

My hopes were low. For an entertaining game. I was not disappointed.

Thing is, while the final whistle revealed how happy Chelsea were with one more point on their way to the title, The Arsenal Lads hardly looked crest fallen did they, and nor was I. It was one more point on our merry run, and we look good for an improvement on last seasons’ 4th Spot.

Both sides were clearly going to do their utmost to seize goalscoring opportunities as and when they appeared, but not losing was the priority, for both sides.

No way does Go-For-The-Win-Arsene start with Aaron on the right. More likely Santi and Aaron switch roles, or at least a Danny or Theo start. Rather like a Mourinho side, Arsenal were less gung-ho in their approach. Aaron on the right proves this. Did Arsenal approach the game in a more Chelsea’ish fashion, in other words adopting a less cavalier approach in place of something more “total defence” first? Chelsea know they have the Hazard/Costa (not yesterday I know) type of quality that in a second can punish any team, and are happy to play that type of game.

I have a nasty feeling Arsenal might be moving in this direction, and while I understand it during certain phases of certain games, I do hope it does not become a habit.

Aaron on the right really worries me.

Written by mickydidit89

 


Bellerin or Debuchy?

April 26, 2015

I used to like them. I used to like the fancy-dans of Kings Road. I liked John Hollins, Charlie Cooke and Ossie and even Terry Vegetables. I enjoyed watching Ruud Gullit and Vialli and Pat Nevin, They had swagger, class and style. They were Chelsea but post the Russian have become The Chavs. New money, new ethos – efficiency over character.

If I were a Chelsea fan would I be happy? Of course I would but I know I would hanker after the Glory Days because football is not just about winning – it is also about entertainment.

A team with Hazard, Costa, Fabregas, Oscar, Willian etc should be able to get bums off seats, instead they are tailor-made for a mid-afternoon Sunday nap on the settee. You know what to expect – they do enough to win and no more. What happened to that wonderful team which hammered all-comers at the beginning of the season? Same players but totally different entertainment level.

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Chelsea fan mid-way through the first half

Why? The rot starts at the top, filters down to the horrible oik of a manager then to the dreadful team captain and onwards to the team.

I will not ruin your day by spending any time writing about the manager; suffice it to say that he is successful and charismatic – so was Stalin.

What of today’s encounter? First vs Second (well it was on Friday!). A win today takes us back to second with a game in hand on MC & MU (and 11 points ahead of the N17 neanderthals). Can we finally beat Mourinho?

To start with, Ramsey has to play. Whomever is to play right back will have to cope with Cesc, Oscar and Hazard. He will need the additional security of a tackling “winger” rather than Theo.

Bellerin or Debuchy? We discussed this briefly mid-week with the majority pointing out Bellerin’s fine run of form and his extreme pace; my inclination is to start Debuchy. Bellerin makes the odd mistake which is inevitable with such a young man, Debuchy may not be as pacy or as much of an attacking threat but he has the experience. That said, Debuchy did not excel at Wembley.

Then there is the battle of the Franks – Francesc vs Francis. Le Coq has excelled in recent weeks but Cesc is a level above all the MF’s he has faced. Whatever your feelings about Fabregas the man, he remains a wonderful footballer – the best in his position in the PL (IMO). Would he improve the current Arsenal team – possibly not, but who would you rather see in the Red & White, Cesc or Aaron or Santi?  All of them is my answer!

The teams seem evenly balanced and I expect the result to depend upon which side makes the least mistakes. If our defence can concentrate for 90+ minutes with the midfield backing up both FB’s we should win because we have better forwards. I know Hazard will be Player of the Season but in my opinion Alexis has been better. Ozil and Giroud are better players than Oscar and whichever lump plays upfront for Chelsea today.

BFG or The Archangel? If fit, Mertesacker has to start, though Gabriel seems to have pace and excellent abitliy in the air which could be vital against a team with such big CB’s. Cahill, Terry and Ivanovic have scored 15 goals between them!

My Team:

Ospina

Debuchy    BFG (if fit)   Koscielny   Monreal

Cazorla    Coquelin

Ozil

Ramsey     Sanchez

Giroud

Other changes could be Welbeck in for Ramsey as Mr Wenger may choose to be more attacking in a home fixture – somehow I doubt it. The bench is possibly the strongest in the PL. We have so many fine players in the squad. When The Ox returns will he find a place in the current first 11 or even the bench?

Matic worries me. The man is a beast and exactly the kind of player Mr Wenger should be buying in summer. Sadly this type of player is rare and as such hugely expensive. The physical battle between Matic and Le Coq will be interesting.

Courtois. This chap is fantastic, everything I wish TPIG could have been. Let’s hope he has a disastrous evening.

As to the Mourinho/Wenger hoodoo. It is just history – as irrelevant as our FAC Final win over the Chavs in the Ray Parlour final. That said it would be wonderful if we could win today to stop another tedious media narrative.

We have won 9 games in a row, are at home, have a fully fit team and bench. We can win.

I am 51% confident

written by Big Raddy

 

 


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


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