Loopy Lovren to do a Kolo?

August 24, 2015

Liverpool at home is always an exciting prospect and the first home night game makes it even more so. Wish I was going :-(

Plus this is a big test against a team who have spent almost €200m in two seasons! Selling your best players doesn’t help but Rodgers has to prove his success of two seasons ago was not purely a result of having a brilliant striker in the form of his life.

AW has been there; selling your best players inevitably has an effect, fortunately the past two seasons has seen us keep our players and add to the quality of the squad – who knows who will be arriving at AFC over the next 7 days!

So …. Liverpool. Never liked them. Hate the awful dirge of YNWA. I think I would even go so far as to say it is worse than Yellow Submarine! Just think of the dorks who have worn their shirt…. Keegan, Owen, P.Thompson, Dalgleish, One Minute, Emlyn Hughes, Suarez – the list is endless … but they are a very good team when in full flow, always have been.

The question is, has Rodgers put together a winning team? The lack of a quality finisher (in the absence of Sturridge) hurt L’pool last season and the signing of the excellent Benteke gives them considerable attacking strength. Add in the wily Firmino and the excellent Coutinho and we can see why L’pool are confident of an improvement on last season’s disappointments.

We smacked them last season when Kolo repaid AW for bringing him to Highbury – I doubt dirty Skrtel or Loopy Lovren will do the same.

Arsenal-v-Liverpool-Premier-League

As to us, we have to improve. WHU – terrible, CP good for 45 mins, tonight – who knows? And that is what concerns me; we have the potential to be brilliant and very successful because this is the best squad for a very long time but as yet we continue to be unpredictable. Consistency is what wins titles and can you honestly say you are sure we will play well tonight?

Thankfully we have an almost fully-fit squad (apart from Abou Wilshire and Abou Rosicky). Mr Wenger “just” has to pick his best team. Not easy – my guess is that if we all put in our best 11 that there would be many different 11’s. Theo or Ox? Theo or OG? Ramsey on the flanks? Cazorla alongside Le Coq? Monreal or Gibbs? Czech or Ospina etc etc.

It is being suggested that pace will win this game for Arsenal thanks to L’pool’s static central defence – I agreee and would certainly start with Theo alongside OG in the middle. The problem with this is that it results in the Ox having to ride the pine. The Ox is one my favourite players and he needs to know he has the confidence of AW to be a central cog in this team – he is too good to be a bit-time player.

It should be a good game between two attack-minded teams with Arsenal edging it.

p.s. Hope Rodger’s master-signing Balotelli plays :-)

I am 52% confident

COYRRG


Sanchez Return to Fire the Gunners

August 16, 2015

Now I don’t like Me-rinho but I do have a grudging admiration for him and one cannot deny that he knows his football;. Last week he gave an interview about his expectations for the season stating it would be the hardest league to win ever – his reasons? The huge revenues from the upcoming TV rights which have improved the ability of mid-to-low table PL clubs to sign international quality foreigners, thus making talent differentials between the Top 4 and the rest less apparent. For example, Ayew given a 5m signing on fee by Swansea, Shaqiri choosing Stoke instead of a host of clubs throughout Europe and worst for us today – Cabaye moving from the riches and attractions of PSG to ply his trade at Palace.

Just think – Crystal Palace – a club with a ground capacity of just 26k attracting Cabaye plus a front line of Zaha, Bolassie, Bamford, Wickham and our good friend Chamakh! That alone is a massive wage bill.

When asked if he had tried to sign Cabaye Mr Wenger said “No, we have enough in that area”. I don’t believe him. Cabaye is quality and certainly better than the players we had in midfield a few years ago. He will cause us problems this afternoon.

Unknown

Pulls did wonders at Palace last season and will be looking to push forward this, a Top 10 finish must be his target.

And what about Arsenal? The less said about last Sunday the better and I would like to thank WH Bob for not getting in touch this week :-)  Can we expect better this afternoon?

We have to. This is a very, very good squad and the best we have had for many a year, we all know they could and should beat teams like CP, but ……. sadly, football is not about should’s, is it?

Debuchy looked rusty last week and Bellerin’s pace added to that of The Ox will be important given the pace of CP’s wingers.  Our pace upfront will test the ageing CP centre backs and as such I hope for Theo to start in place of OG, the pointless crossing into a packed box creates nothing against a team defending in depth which is what we can expect this afternoon.

A fit and raring to go Sanchez is a major boon, I expect him to score our first goal of the season.

We won 2-1 twice last season a similar result would be very welcome today

p.s. There are two ex-Arsenal players in CP’s Best Ever Team. Who are they?

COYRRG


Theo & Ox to Star

August 9, 2015

We have a treat as our season opening Pre-Match-, Young Bob has written another post. I hope you enjoy his analysis of today’s opposition ……

Big Raddy and I sat in a bar/restaurant in the Malmo sunshine last Wednesday eagerly anticipating Mission Impossible II (Malmo needing to win by three clear goals vs Red Bull Salzburg) and our thoughts turned to the season opener back in blighty where the mighty hammers are due to arrive at the Emirates as cannon fodder for the 2015/16 Gooners.

Following my article last year when I described 10 memorable Arsenal vs West Ham clashes, Raddy posed the question as to what I might like to write about this time.  “How about a look at players who have played for both clubs” I replied.  We then sat and named at least 10 players who had worn the finest silks of North and East London clubs (can you?).  And interestingly we couldn’t think of a single player who moved from East to North!  Anyway on my return home I decided to do a little more research and found some other smart arse had already written said article.  See link below.

http://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/2871/special/2010/03/19/1839103/premier-league-special-any-old-iron-the-arsenal-players-west-ham-

So, as an alternative, I thought it might be interesting to preview the game from the perspective of a die hard hammer.

The Hammers arrive at the Emirates with a new manager – ‘Honest Slaven Bilic’ (just ask Laurent Blanc) and the promise of a return to The West Ham way, something Big Fat Sam decided didn’t exist.  And the pre-season signs have been promising with build ups from the back and short passing through midfield.

At the back will be a debutant by the name of Angelo Agbonna, signed from Juventus for approx £6,000,000.  The jury is out as he’s looked a little ropey in pre-season, but an Italian defender can’t be all bad can they?  Joining Angelo at the back will be Arron Creswell (great going forward and average at the back) Joey O’Brien (just cack at everything he does) and one of James Collins, Winston Reid or James Tomkins with Reid being the pick of the three.

Our midfield is expected to feature two holding players in Mark Noble and Cheik Kayoute and three more forward thinking players in Mario Zarate, Matt Jarvis and Dimitri Payet.  Up front, ploughing a lonely furrow will be Diafra Sakho.

Noble will look like a decent player for 30 minutes or so, but for all his positive attributes, he’s incredibly one paced and chasing Arsenal’s quick moving passing game around the Emirates will end up with him looking like Hattie Jaques chasing Benny Hills Angels around a hospital car park.  Kayoute is an excellent player with leg’s longer than Jerry Hall’s.  I expect him to move on to better things within the year.

Moving on to the attacking prowess of the rip roaring hammers.

Jarvis used to be one of the best crossers of a football since Georgie Armstrong.  Now he just runs down blind alleys and the end product is non-existent.  Zarate could be anything, but most likely shit!  Signed by the porn brothers, discarded on-loan to QPR by BFS at the beginning of January, he was deemed unfit by Rangers, and nearly sent back to West Ham before the end of January.  Loves to pass, mostly to himself.  Payet however looks to be different gravy.  Top of the assists stats in France, he looks more like a Gooner than a Hammer, but if he sees enough of the ball, may just cause your lot a few problems.

And up front will be our outstanding success of last season.  Sakho could of course turn out to be a one season wonder, but I’ve got a feeling he’ll score another decent number of goals, ably assisted by Payet.

So, to my prediction.  Unfortunately I think Walcott and The Ox are likely to rip us a new one and I expect Arsenal to win by 3 clear goals.  However, in the spirit of last Wednesday when Malmo beat Red Bull 3-0 to progress to the next round of CL qualifying – you just never know!!

written by West Ham Bob

As to Big Raddy – well my initial focus this afternoon will be the team selection. Mr.Wenger has the “luxury”(?) of JW and Sanchez being unavailable, however when all are fit how will he arrange the team? Will we play with a front line of Walcott up top and Ozil, Sanchez and Ox zipping about behind him. Or will it be OG who is the fulcrum with Theo terrifying the opposition FB’s? Personally, I would pick The Ox as our right sided forward as I think he is about to develop into a true world-class player which will bring our complement up to 4 (Kos, Ozil, Sanchez or 7 if you include Santi, Cech and Aaron)

This is Cech first PL game as an Gooner, a fine signing and a top player. I wish him well.

Whomever lines up in the famous shirt will be expected to start the season in style and with 3 points. We need to win games like today and not give our rivals a head start as we did last season.

My hope and expectation that Bob is right ….. Theo and Ox will rip them a new one (but I expect OG to start)

BTW Can you think of any players who have moved from West Ham to Arsenal, we couldn’t!

COYRRG


Monaco: Match report and Player Ratings

February 26, 2015

When the draw was made someone  (no names mentioned but it was MickyDidit), told me that he would not go to Monaco because the away leg would be a dead rubber – he was right :-(

Essentially we were rubbish all over the pitch. It is all well and good Mr Wenger being furious at the lack of professionalism evidenced by having 10 players in the opposition half in the 93rd minute just after scoring what could have been a tie-saving goal, but who trains these blokes?  If blame is to be apportioned then an equal measure sits on his shoulders.

We started well enough, pinging the ball around with our normal Emirates pace and efficiency; the game was open and enjoyable with both teams attacking. OG missed a couple of sitters, Santi was magical, the full backs were competing with the pace of the excellent Monaco wingers, then suddenly out of nowhere a man in blue takes a shot from 30 yards which deflects off BFG and deceives Ospina. Just what Mr Wenger warned about in his pre-match conference.

Then we lost the plot.

All out attack; BFG setting a very high line which totally played into the speedy Monaco forwards. Our forwards all decide to play through the middle encouraging our full backs to take the space on the wings and thus leaving acres of space at the back. The midfielders had no space to weave their magic. It all went to hell in a handcart.

Halftime I expected to see changes. We became even more gung-ho. Berbatov scored on a breakaway! A man who is already in his dotage and spends his days in a dressing gown, smoking a pipe and watching Emmerdale outpaced our defence!

There followed a baffling section of play. OG taken off having missed three more chances , Welbeck smashed an easy opportunity against a fallen Theo. Alexis got mad and was unlucky with a couple of efforts. The Ox scored and immediately allowed Monaco to turn the knife in the wound.

It was painful viewing. Thankfully, it was just one game in a season and to be honest losing to a poor MU at the Emirates was worse.

Perhaps the worst thing about last night was I fully expected us to thrash them, so did almost all the Arsenal fans, and unfortunately so did the Arsenal team. Monaco taught us a lesson and fair play to them  – Monaco were excellent.

Player Ratings:

Ospina: Could have done better with the 3rd. IMO doesn’t inspire confidence    6

Bellerin: Seemed to play too far forward. Was he told to? As the junior player he needed guidance  and support but didn’t get it    5

BFG: Very poor night. Directly responsible for two goals (the first not his fault).  As Captain he should have controlled the defensive line and pace of the team – he didn’t     2

Koscielny:  Not his best nor worst performance . One excellent header in the 1st half . Passes too slow to the MF’s      5

Gibbs: Too attacking, again probably told to be. Worked hard      4

Coquelin. Lost his defensive discipline. Booked as usual. Showed why we need a world class DM.    4

Cazorla: Glimpses of his magic but Monaco didn’t give him any space. Ineffective closer to goal.     5

Ozil:  A passenger for over 90 minutes. His worst performance on an important night. Given his talent tit was simply not good enough     2

Alexis:  As always worked very hard. Well marshalled by Monaco defence who always had 3 around him. Skewed a good chance wide.    6

Welbeck: Lots of effort, little result.      5

Giroud:    Not his night but at least he was in a position to miss his chances.       4

Subs:    Walcott :  We looked more dangerous when he came on though Monaco were tiring      6

Rosicky:   Had little opportunity to impress     5

Ox:     Added verve when he came on. Scored a superb goal. Let himself down immediately after.    7

A hugely disappointing night to be a Gooner.  That said, Monaco played a marvellous game, probably their best in recent years and deserve all the credit for their performance.

Onwards and Upwards

written by Big Raddy

 


Is the Arsenal Youth Academy value for money?

January 8, 2015

The other day Arnie put up a picture of an Arsenal Youth Cup squad and Exile listed their current whereabouts. Only three of the players shown are still at Arsenal, Wilshere, Gibbs and Coquelin.

This led me to ponder on the value of our Academy, I’ve been unable to find out just how much is spent annually on it but mention was made some weeks ago about a plan to upgrade the facilities at a cost of several million pounds. I understand that it is already reckoned to be among the best in the country

Despite the money spent and the best efforts of the coaching staff the output, as far as future first team players for Arsenal is concerned, is pretty minimal

Indeed we are continuing to hunt the globe for promising youngsters at other clubs academies. It looks likely that Wenger is planning to sign a young full-back from Ipswich Town, while during our recent defender crisis it was not considered feasible to play any of our home-grown talent either at centre-back or left-back.

You have only to look at some of the incoming youngsters to see what can be done at other academies, a certain Spanish mid-fielder, Walcott (a terrific player but injury prone), Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Chambers.

I know that it is the socially correct thing to give local youngsters the opportunity to make a career in football, but is hoovering up the young talent from around the globe the right thing to do. Particularly when so many are discarded after a year or two.

Is the Arsenal Youth Academy a worthwhile project, or should it be scrapped and the money saved put into the kitty to buy established players?

Written by Norfolk Gooner


Arsenal sink Eastenders

December 28, 2014

A pulsating London Derby resulted in Arsenal taking the spoils in the East End.

Entrance to the Boleyn Ground

Entrance to the Boleyn Ground

An hour long journey for me from North West London to East London was very eventful to say the least. Throughout the train journey there were lots of Hammers fancying their chances in this game given Arsenal’s recent defensive frailties and the return of the ‘woman beating'(allegedly) Andy Carroll who can of course throw his weight around.

As the team sheets filtered through there were many raised eyebrows at the inclusion of young French midfielder Francis Coquelin having recently returned from a loan spell at Charlton Athletic. However, Coquelin would have the last laugh as many Arsenal fans were left pleasantly surprised come the final whistle at Upton Park.

View from the away end

View from the away end

As the Arsenal fans roared into the ground the game got underway and from the start, West Ham applied pressure and hearts were in the mouths as Alex Song’s strike was ruled out for offside much to the relief of the travelling Arsenal faithful. It was evident that being a London derby this was going to be a feisty affair and it lived up to that expectation as there were many tackles all across the pitch. West Ham by this time were trying to exert pressure but the Arsenal defence stood firm.

Then the turning point. The magician Santi Cazorla’s quick feet bamboozled the West Ham centre backs resulting in reported Arsenal target Winston Reid clipping him to the floor and conceding the penalty. The Spaniard dusted himself down to tuck away the penalty himself sending his compatriot Adrian the wrong way.

santi

The opening goal seemed to give Arsenal a morale boost and it was soon followed up by a burst from the Ox who supplied a low cross for Danny Welbeck to score a second and put the Gunners in a commanding position at half time.

Arsenal could hardly believe their luck but there were still concerns in the stands given the aerial threat which the West Ham posed. Per Mertesacker saved a certain goal and then that threat came to fruition as nine minutes into the second half Arsenal failed to clear their lines and Kouyate gave the Hammers a glimmer of hope. Arsenal lived dangerously throughout the second half despite having the chance to kill the game off with Adrian making two great saves from Cazorla and then Chamberlain’s diving header.

There were lots of disgruntled fans however as Arsene Wenger did not bring substitutions on until the closing stages, a time when Chamberlain was tiring. As the closing moments approached the Arsenal’s goal was under siege; the game became scrappy and another headed effort deep into injury time fortunately landed on the roof of the net.

The final whistle blew and a vital three points were going back to North London which Arsenal can build on heading into the New Year’s Day fixture.

Arsenal now climb above their London rivals and with the transfer window only round the corner, there is a fresh wave of optimism and this result can provide an injection of life into Arsenal’s season.

UTA!!

By @SirAHussain14


4-1 to The Arsenal. Talking Points.

December 14, 2014

–   CB’s. In a week when Arsene spoke about The Transfer Market, CB’s and Koscielny, up pops Debuchy in the middle to join another RB , Chambers, to stake a claim as a multi-functional defender. Didn’t see this one coming, but memories of very accomplished performances at the heart of the defence by Bac sprung to mind.

–   Bellerin. “Oh Hector, you are a very good player, and aren’t you the one who can go faster than Theo?”. Watching him yesterday and a song popped into my head, and for the more mature reader, you’ll remember the “you’ll never beat Des Walker”. Speed is such a great asset.

–    Ollie and Danny. It’s effective, but I remain firmly in the either/or camp. I believe Danny will go on to become a really exceptional CF, and it will be interesting to see how things pan out once Mesut returns.

–   One Arsene Wenger. Doesn’t matter whether you think we need a new Manager or not, how nice to see the fans getting behind The Boss after the shit he received last week.

–   The Midfield.  Flamini The Anchor behind the aggressively creative drive of Santi and The Ox. This I like very much. Yes I reckon The DM is the one position more than any other where a “Worldy”  would be improve the side the most dramatically, but this formation had really nice balance.

–   The Ox. Always save the best for last. And exactly what did you think I was going to say about him? Me, blinkered? No, just right on the money J

–   The Match. Five goals, and four of them for us. The early goal to lift the crowd, end to end stuff, and some really nice speedy quality football. It was a good day at the office any way you look at it. We’re set up nicely for a Christmas Push.

Written by MickyDidIt89


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