………. and Leicester

August 31, 2014

For those who are new to the Emirates or do not go to games the “and Leicester” refers to a terrace chant sung to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory

“We all follow the Arsenal,

Over land and sea ….. and Leicester

We all follow the Arsenal

onnnn tooooo vic-to-ry.”

Why Leicester? Well, in the old days Filbert Street was an awful experience on a wet Wednesday evening; muddy pitch, poor facilities at the ground and very physical opposition. The club moved to the Walkers stadium in 2002 which has been re-named the King Power stadium and this is Arsenal’s first visit to the King Power (as far as I can find out!)

Until a few years ago I liked Leicester. Decent club, well run, loyal and vocal fans  – then they signed Robbie Savage.

I have a mental top ten of the first people to be executed when the world finally sees sense and makes me World President. Savage has always been up there – not at the top, but always there or thereabouts.

Perhaps my affection for Leicester stems from my admiration for one of their stalwarts who became an Arsenal legend …. Mr Frank Mclintock who captained  LCFC to two losing FA Cup Finals before coming to Highbury and captaining our ’70/71 Double team.

Leicester had a fantastic season in 2013/14. Winners of the Championship with 102 points! The season could hardly have gone better but now they have to find out if they can survive with the Big Boys. What do you think? They haven’t spent big just adding experience to the squad and relying upon the abilities of the team which brought them promotion.

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I like the Schmeichel son. He may be a smaller version of his brilliant father but he is nonetheless an excellent keeper whose career path is interesting. I wish him well but hope he has a stinker today. We also have a chance to see another old boy in Matthew Upson (injury permitting). There were high hopes for him when he signed for AFC in 1997 (£2m at a time when a million was big money), he struggled and was sent out on loan until finally settling at B’ham and then West Ham. Given Upson is now 35 y.o. we must hope he plays 😃

The Arsenal:  A result today would see us go into the 2 week International break (FFS!) unbeaten. which for a team that has hardly got going is excellent.  It would be churlish to say we are not playing well as qualification for the CL, a home PL victory and a draw away at Everton is a very positive return, but let’s be honest, we have not exactly performed to the heights we know this team can achieve.

I see the problem like many others. How does Mr Wenger want this team to play? I love to see technical players passing intricately all over the pitch but sometimes I would like to see a player put his foot through the ball. Only Flamini seems capable of doing so and for that reason I am hoping to see Podolski’s name on the team sheet. To be fair, the Ox is also a man who can get “physical” with the ball.

Why? Because when going to the Midlands it is important to have “thrust” and we have been lacking in this department so far this season. Giroud sometimes gives us a bit of power and his loss could prove costly, we must hope Mr Wenger has a contingency plan (could be a forlorn hope).  Artistry is all well and good but it must lead to goals.

We have conceded three in 4 games – the defence looks solid., still a little suspect at set pieces but otherwise OK. The return of our CB pairing brings more security as Chambers, good as he is, is not at the level of Koscielny.

My Team:

31st august 14

Now this may be heresy but  when Ramsey is playing I would rather see Ox or Podolski than Cazorla. Santi may well be a wonderful player but especially away from home I would like to see us play a stronger left sided player who is less likely to venture inside. Let Santi come on as sub and provide the type of pass he gave Ramsey last saturday. Podolski adds some strength to a small side and he scores, something we need to do more of.

Big Raddy is going to try and find foods from the region of our away games, so let us start with the humble Pork Pie. Leicester is the birthplace of the pork pie and Melton Mowbray is the zenith of art of pork pie manufacture. Apparently there are 15 Indian food manufacturers in Leicester and  I could easily have chosen Red Leicester or Stilton cheese but there is something about the pork pie and the artisans of Leicester City F.C. It just fits.

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If I am honest I will be disappointed should we not get at least a point today but yesterday’s results show that nothing can be taken for granted. This much I know – Leicester would be cock-a-hoop should they beat us.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


To Sanogo or Not to Sanogo?

August 27, 2014

Much is made of today’s game being a Cup Final. It is. A one off game which will determine who goes into the CL group stages.

Unusually the away side are slight favourites given the away goals rule but first they have to score. Can they? Well, we have conceded 3 in our last 2 games and were hardly secure in Turkey where Ba missed a couple of easy chances (or TPIG made a couple of excellent saves). And this Arsenal team have yet to show us that they have developed the fluency we have come to expect.

Then there are the injuries. We have played 3 games and lost a player a game; Arteta, Gibbs and Giroud and given that Koscielny, BFG, Ozil, Podolski and Wilshere look less than 100% we are struggling. I have no doubts we will come good later in the year but right now there is cause for concern.

Much is made of CL qualification as the carrot to ensnare new signing, I don’t completely agree. MU, Spurs, Everton and L’pool have shown this is not true. What attracts players is money (or in Balotelli’s case a team which will accept his “difficulties”). Did Di Maria move for CL games and the resultant profile? That said, qualification allows us to earn the bug bucks which attract the best players and as I have repeatedly written – I want Cavani, Carvalho (or at least an agreement that he will sign next summer when Arteta and Flamini leave) and a CB, all of whom will be expensive.

The loss of Giroud must be seen as an opportunity for the players who will take his place yet Sanogo looks way off the required quality  to win anything (though he has an FAC medal :-) ), and Campbell has yet to start a PL game. Sanchez is likely to get the chance tonight, he scored 39 in 88 games for Barca so knows his way to goal.

Just as interesting to me is how Wilshere will play without the need to look for Ramsey. We have discussed at length whether the two can play together and tonight we will see if JW can influence the game in the way we hope. He will need to – Ramsey has scored in 5 of his last 6 games and will be sorely missed tonight.

Mr. Wenger is “bigging up” Oxlade-Chamberlain, I wonder why. Does he think O-C needs a confidence boost? He appears to be a man brimful of self-belief. Or perhaps he wanted someone who is comfortable talking to the media so he could take a rest. Either way it gave us another insight into what a lovely man Ox is – Southampton must be the best place to develop well-balanced, intelligent young players.

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We know how good Besiktas are. We were fortunate to escape with a draw, thanks to fine work from TPIG and strikers who couldn’t find the target even when one on one with our keeper. They work hard in midfield, defend well and are pacy on the counter. I can only recall Ox’s shot which was well saved by their keeper as good chances created by the Arsenal. We could blame the dreadful pitch but it was the same for both teams.

As we are without the experience of Arteta and Ramsey I would like to see Chambers on the bench and a return to the security of BFG/Kos, though given the total lack of pace from Mertesacker in the Everton game perhaps Chambers and Koscielny will be our centre back partnership this season!

Flamini’s role will be vital in a clogged midfield. He is playing in his normal style so far – two games, two yellows. Hopefully Arteta will return before he picks up his first ban.

My Team:

Beskitas home

So … no Sanogo. I just do not think we can go into such an important game with Sanogo leading the line. Mr Wenger is likely to disagree but I would put my faith in experienced battle-hardened players who have performed at the highest level. All the above team have done so and experience counts.

In the highly unlikely event that we are in trouble he can come off the bench and perhaps have a similar effect to Giroud at Everton, though I hope he only comes on for the final 15 when we are coasting.

History shows that we do well in these games, A good defensive display and some luck in front of goal should see us through but please Arsenal score early, otherwise the tension will be unbearable.

Quiz Question: How many consecutive seasons have we qualified for the Champions League proper?

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Arsenal’s Top Gunner 2014-15

August 15, 2014

Only three ways to go upon arrival at my Uncle Earnests’ house.

Upstairs. Perfectly clear what his intentions are here. Might hurt, but pretty straight forward stuff. Downstairs into the basement, or what he refers to as his “private dressing room”. Yeah right. Good luck down there. Finally, sideways, down a long corridor and into his Incident Room.

The Incident Room overlooks a large expanse of Scottish sea loch, where Earnest keeps the odd lobster pot. Poachers frequent these wild and isolated open spaces. Earnest does not believe they have any “rights” whatsoever, and are themselves fair game. He had a plan, and it involved me.

My brother and I were lead to the Incident Room. We entered. Holy Crap. The enormous room had its vast French doors flung open. The aperture was filled with a large cannon retrieved from a Spanish Galleon. Ropes securing it some shrubs outside to prevent damaging recoil. Next to the beast was a brass monkey and a pyramid of 2” iron cannonballs.

Into my hands went a box of matches, and into my brothers a hideously dangerous looking mop with its head dripping in paraffin. Earnest stood safely outside with his telescope. “Ready. Light. Fire”.

I’ve been almost deaf in my left ear ever since. Anyhow, the thought of cannons makes me think of The Arsenal and Gunners.

Last season, the surprise package and Top Gunner was Aaron Ramsey. Who could emerge from the shadows during this campaign? Given injury free runs, I think the contenders are Jack, Abou, The Ox, Mesut, Ollie, Yaya, Joel and of course Sanchez.

The reason I’ve selected these boys is that I believe they could all progress to new heights. You will also notice how I have not included any defensive players. This is because they are boring, and are simply there to do a job, not entertain.

Earnest is an entertainer, but has peaked. Who at Arsenal is an entertainer that could fire us to new heights? My money is on The Ox.

Written by MickyDidIt89


Oi, Wenger, spend some money.

August 4, 2014

One day chicken, next day feathers; I trot this line out at times like this as it always seems to strike the right note.

On Saturday we were already dreaming of where in Islington we would be standing as the bus drove by with our players holding the EPL up high and just one day later we were wondering, more seriously than we had done for a while, just how likely the chances really are of signing Khedira.

Well, I was anyway, shallow moi? You just can’t have enough new toys; that’s what I say.

I actually think that that signing is far more likely than we are allowing ourselves to dream but anyway back to the game.

This is where I should say that is was only a friendly and we shouldn’t read too much into it but grrrrrr, I hate losing. I am sure Wenger learnt a lot from the two games and should be able to pick a formidable side to face City next week.

If Wenger wants to win that game rather than simply give players pitch time then Rosicky is surely a must start; he linked the defence with the attack and moved the play forward with a greater intensity than any other player was capable of yesterday. Rosicky also freed Ramsey up to burst forward with a far more effect against Benfica than he was able against Monaco.

I know it is wrong to start pointing fingers this early on; it was only a friendly as I made clear above – but we are Arsenal supporters and that is what we do. lol

Giroud – really?

I know things didn’t go exactly as planned against Monaco but we all know that amongst our squad we have a very good first team and the one thing we lacked last season: a fast, creative, goal scorer with great control has now been procured. Sanchez is going to give us everything we lacked up front last year and the EPL should be scared, very scared.

Ollie obviously still has a place, there will be teams that suit him more and he can be deployed when needed.

Wilshere?

I can’t, I shouldn’t; it really is too early for that one. All I would say is that I did notice a little boy in the middle of the park pointing at Jack while mouthing something about an emperor and not having any clothes on. OK I lied about it being too early.

Chambers seems more assured that Miguel which was a bit of a surprise to me, maybe, as GIE suggests, he should have gone out on loan earlier.

I was also surprised to read people disagreed with my comment that I expected Chambers to spend the same amount of time on the bench as Jenkinson did last season.

What? Is he going to play ahead of the BFG? No. Is he going to play ahead of Koscielny? No. Debuchy? No, so how is he going to play more than Jenkinson? Come on people, keep up.

Debuchy was almost anonymous yesterday which I liked; he did everything he was supposed to do and did it well, without fuss. And here’s the kicker, his crosses are so much better than Sagna’s, I know I am probably telling some the incredibly obviously equivalent of grass is green but it needs to be said.

So much for Wenger learning not to over use Ramsey, that man is going to work so hard that Welsh pit ponies will feel sorry for him.

And lastly, if you ever wondered why I don’t do match reports after we lose? Well now you know, I am a miserable git.

But this will all change next week after we beat City.

COYRRG

Written by LB

 


Give Us An A: An Arsenal Alterative Alphabet

May 22, 2014

Throughout the Dog Days of summer, between the euphoria of Cup Final day and the Big Kick-Off for 2014/15, Arsenal Arsenal will be taking its own idiosyncratic amble through the dictionary.

For each letter of the alphabet we will offer up some suggestions for entries that can ultimately go in the Arsenal Alternative Dictionary (available during the pre-Christmas weeks at all branches of Wasterstones or to download direct to Swindle).

Today we start with the letter ‘A’. The numerate among you will quickly have deduced that – with one letter per day – there will be 26 “alternative alphabet” Posts throughout the summer, which should help swallow up a chunk of the silly season. If only Arsenal Arsenal was published in Russian we would be able to fill up even more days, there being 33 letters in the Cyrillic alphabet.

This will be an occasional series, appearing on those days when there is nothing better to write anout.

Naturally you are encouraged to suggest your own entries in Comments.

So let’s get going…

A IS FOR…

Anfield ‘89

Like 1066 and 1945, the year 1989 will be remembered through the ages as one in which great things happened. Specifically it was on May 26th of that year that our lads, managed by Gorgeous George Graham, went to Anfield for the last game of the season needing to win by 2-0 to clinch the First Division title. No-one gave us a chance and even – at 0-1 in Arsenal’s favour, with the clock ticking down and Steve McMahon running round the pitch giving everyone the finger, few thought we would do it. But cometh the hour, cometh the Micky Thomas… bursting through the midfield… it was all up for grabs – and grab it we did. Probably the most remarkable, unbelievable, spectacular moment in my 44 years of supporting Arsenal.

Arsenal Stadium Mystery

How many other teams can say they’ve had a film based on them? Made in 1939, the film focused on a murder mystery at the stadium. Strangely, our neighbours down the Seven Sisters Road have not yet cottoned onto the idea of entering the movie business, even though they seem baffled every May about who murdered their season…

Arsenal

I love the word ‘arsenal’. A place where munitions are made seems such a brilliant word for a football club to share. In our case the Arsenal in question was the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, South-East London (and a mere hand grenade throw from where I was born). The Royal Arsenal provided the hardware for our troops to defend the nation from the late 17th Century up until its closure in 1994, reaching its peak size during the First World War. And, as you all know, our team started out as the works team for the establishment.

Al Qaeda

While the West lives in fear of more terrorist attacks carried out in the name of Al Qaeda, only the Arsenal stands secure as a place that will never be touched by the terrorists. Rumour has it that Osama Bin Laden was a regular on the terraces when he lived in London in the 1990s. He even bought an Ian Wright shirt for his son Abdullah. His time as a gooner led to him getting his own song: “Osama, woah-woah, Osama, woah-waoh, he’s hiding in Kabul, he loves the Arsenul“.

Armstrong

Players won’t normally get a look-in in this alternative Arsenal alphabet (they belong in the official alphabet), but little Geordie Armstrong, the flying winger of our 1971 Double side, gets a mention because his picture was the avatar for our dear, departed fellow blogger Dandan, who now supports from the great North Bank in the sky.

Avenell Road

I’ve been to Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington and to Fifth Avenue, New York. I’ve got drunk on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and I have walked down the Champs Elysees in Paris. But there is no finer street in all the world than Avenell Road, N5.

Right, that’s half a dozen to get the ball rolling.

Now, over to you…

RockyLives


Arsène and Arsenal’s biggest mistake.

May 8, 2014

Our season went up in smoke on January 4th when Theo Walcott was stretchered off during our 2-0 Cup win over That Lot.

Regular readers of the site will know that I am no fan of that continental Total Football nonsense. For me, it’s an outdated throw back to the dope smoking hippy days, and has its home in the Coffee Bars of Holland.

What I mean is this. I get interchangeability and flexibility, but I firmly believe in specialists.

As far as I’m concerned, the moment Theo went off, there was only one course of action. Oxlade becomes his immediate and permanent replacement for every game, with Serge as his back up.

However, what happened was that Arsène did use Ox out wide, but not always. On occasion, he was to be found playing a more central role.

Early yesterday morning, both Arnie and Goonerkam made the excellent point about how different roles for players is part of their development and education. I do agree, and have always said that I believe Ox will ultimately end up more centrally, however, needs must, and the Team should come first.

The loss of Theo left a massive tactical void, that ONLY The Ox could fill. This was not the time for Arsène to muck about. Ox’s development was actually hampered this term in my book, as he did not have the consistent runs in any one position to develop key understandings, as much of our beautiful football is played in small triangles, and telepathic understanding only comes with continuity. Thus, Ox was less effective than he should have been.

Ox played central, so it came as no surprise to me that when shunted back out right, he became unsure, or perhaps simply unused to, his role. He drifted central leaving us lacking the vital pressure release valve.

Thus, to my mind, the biggest loss to our season was not the loss of Aaron, or even Theo, but rather not playing The Ox there as first choice every available game following the tragedy of January 4th.

Written by MickyDidIt89


In praise of Arsène Wenger but give him the funds to challenge

May 3, 2014

Morning Gooner’s

While reading Arnie’s post the other day, about other clubs Managers, I left a comment Praising Arsene Wenger. Now although I don’t go back on what I said, I believe I should clarify a few things. When I wrote why I like Wenger and why I feel he should stay, it may have given the impression that I am a happy Gooner. Now I am content with him, but that does not mean that I don’t expect expect him to try and do better in the future.

Arsenal supporters expect the team to be up there with the best in the league, and granted Wenger has managed to do that. But all supporters want to see us go that step further, and by that I don’t mean third. This season we headed the league to Christmas, yes the lead went from one to another, but that was because of television fixtures, but realistically we were the leading team.

Many Arsenal fans enjoyed the feeling of that position, and many myself included, also felt we had a chance, sadly that came undone by injuries, but it also brought home to me, the deficiencies our squad had.

Theo Walcott’s injury, left us with absolutely no pace up front. That was a major blow. Aaron Ramsey one player who broke through defences also went out, which left us toothless. Oliver Giroud did his best, but he had to hold the ball up, and had to wait for reinforcements, although Oliver is a tough nut to crack, he certainly lacks the Theo pace.

Jack Wilshere compounded our misery even more, and Koscielny’s short injury added to a depleted team. Our chance went right there, why? Because we didn’t have the same talent as back up. Our record signing also joined the walking wounded, so what were we left with? Our penetrating midfield out, our best through ball passer out, our fastest winger forward out, and our best central defender out.

Holes every where, and the talent on the bench was not up to the replacement standard. Oxlade Chamberlain, Serge Gnabry and Ya Ya Sanogo are players for the future, they just weren’t ready for a season of first team football. Had everybody stayed fit, we could have used all of these players sparingly, but we had to push them forward because we had too.

Wenger in all fairness has had to work on what seems a shoestring budget, he couldn’t have foreseen so many main players going out injured, so had to rely on these youngsters. Inexperienced, they had to take on some of the best teams in the league, if not the world, and all picked up injuries for their thanks.

Not many teams could have handled the amount of injuries that we had, and still have, with some players missing the end of the season. We took a few bad hidings that supporters are not used to seeing. Bad feeling crept in, accusations that the manager had not spent in the winter window, and how if he had brought five or six players in both windows, would have won us the league.

Unhappy supporters who’s pride had been hurt, can be very hurtful, when their Spud and Manc mates take the pee. But when they see the season out, and see what we have achieved, even with all the problems we have had, must see that this season is slightly better than last.

I have a lot of time for Wenger, but I would urge him to go to the board and say to them, I am only human you know, I need help and I need funds, we cannot keep buying kids, we have to have more Ozil’s, and we need them now, before the talent we have at the moment get itchy feet.

Wenger knows as we do, that sponsorship money has come in, yes we still have big debts, but we also have fans by the thousands, that deserve top players. They have had the big defeats, and now they want us to inflict them. Its time for our board to find the funds, as Wenger is needing that help now. We may not win the league next season but at least give us the chance.

Wenger if he signs, has 2 years left, give him the dammed money.

Written by Steve Palmer


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