Who is more likely to succeed: Oxlaide-Chamberlain or Joel Campbell?

November 2, 2015

A political hierarchy exists at Arsenal as it does at most clubs. Players with a greater potential long term value will get priority over those who may be as good but are not seen as being as big an asset in the future.

This has driven me to distraction on occasions. Many times I have thought that Walcott got picked over someone better suited, most infuriatingly during 2007/2008 season, the one in which Eduardo broke his leg. Theo was being selected for no other reason, as far as I am concerned, than the price we paid for him and his perceived future value to the club. Remember when everyone used to call out Theeeeoooo, Theeeeoooo, honestly, more often than not he was so ineffectual it was like playing with ten men. I remain convinced that Walcott’s continuous selection was the core reason we failed to win the league that season.

Being selected when better options are available also applies to Wilshere. At the beginning of last season Wilshere was being picked ahead of the outstanding Cazorla which made no sense to me. Looking ahead though, now that Santi has moved further back it is easier to see where Jack’s future lies, subject to injury, there will eventually be a straight swap. Wilshere will play deep midfield — not attacking midfield.

I digress, back to the point.

To a similar degree the same is true of Oxlaide-Chamberlain’s selection over Joel Campbell. The Ox is not obviously better but he has a far higher sell on value than Campbell does and so, in the past, has been chosen ahead of him; to be clear, I am not suggesting that the club have plans to sell OC but they wouldn’t want him to get too unhappy or he might start thinking about moving himself, this applies to an even greater extent with Ramsey who himself has been shoe horned into the right wing. Now, with Oxlaide-Chamberlain injured Wenger no longer has to inadvertently take future importance into consideration.

If you think about it, the last time we saw Campbell surrounded by decent players for a length of time was in the World Cup and he was impressive. Campbell’s goal against Swansea will do him the world of good; he should now be able to relax and give us a bit more of what we saw of him on that global platform.

As for who is most likely to succeed out of the two, I think the Ox may edge it, but Campbell could keep him out for most of this season if he continues scoring.


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 ….


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.


The Kids Are Alright….. mostly

September 21, 2015

Sky Sports had Hector Bellerin as their guest pundit for the Barca/Levante game (ex-Barca). He was very good. Highly intelligent with perfect English, smartly dressed, good looking, GSOH, plus a fine understanding of tactics and how to defend; remarkable for a young man of just 20 who came to England just 4 years ago (have I done a good selling job?)

Plus he has said that his future is at AFC, which is great news.

We have a fine core of young players who seem to be committed to the club with Bellerin being the latest to become a first team regular. Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gabriel, Ramsey, Chambers, Szczesny, Coquelin, Wilshere, Campbell, Welbeck are all under 24 y.o and Walcott, Gibbs, Sanchez and Ozil are all just 26.

Why is this important? Because if (and it is a Big If) Mr Wenger can keep all these players happy and at Arsenal then the future is very rosy. They will grow together as a team, develop understandings both on and off the pitch and hopefully become a major force over the coming few years.

But what of the others?  Koscielny, Debuchy, Monreal, Cazorla and BFG are all 29 or 30, and Giroud is 28 (still time for improvement!). They all have a couple of years left as squad players but I expect at least a couple of them to be sold next summer.

Mr Wenger is meticulous about having a squad with a blend of ages allowing youthful exuberance to be allied to hard-earned experience.

It was unusual when AW signed a relatively aged 29 y.o. Debuchy – perhaps he knew how good Bellerin would be and bought Debuchy to ease Hector into the first team without too much pressure, though Sagna had just left and we needed a replacement.

Keeping Rosicky (34) was an odd decision unless Mr Wenger expects him to join the coaching staff and wants Tomasz to learn the ropes. Flamini (31)? Must be a contract thing. Arteta (33) still has a short-term role to play as speed has never been a part of his game and Cech at just 33 has at least 5 years as a top GK (think Seaman/Schmeichel/Buffon/Lehmann etc).

Next summer will see a few youngsters added to the first team squad, Akpom, Jeff and a couple of 25 y.o.(+-) purchases, to replace the older chaps thus keeping our squad young and fresh.

The young core of the squad is exciting and bodes well; allied to a couple of megastar purchases we will be cushtie

written by Big Raddy

Theo or Giroud? Yet again!

September 16, 2015

Zagreb. Champions League. Away game in delightful Croatia. Winnable? Why not?

This is why we celebrate finishing in the Top 4 and yet there seems to be a bit of “so what” about this game. You know what I mean – I bet you are thinking “well, it is great to have an Arsenal game on the tele tonight, but win, lose or draw we are going out in the next round so does it really matter?” Come on …. you know you think that way!! Another viewpoint might be  – and we have already seen comments confirming this – that the game at the weekend is more important as such we should play a weakened team full of (quality) squad members.

And yet, as I said before, this is what we strive for – a mid-week night game against a League winning team (unbeaten in 42 games), so let’s celebrate and remember we could be playing on Spursday :-)

I know nothing about Dynamo Zagreb. A little research shows the club have won the Croatian League 10 years running, that they have a 35k capacity ground, that they have produced some fine players including Corluka, Modric, Dejan Lovren, Mario Mandvukic and the much loved ex-AFC player and Crozillian, Eduardo. They managed just one point in the CL group stages last season with a minus 13 goal difference.

The players focus may be diverted by the fact that DZ’s manager and CEO are out on bail having been accused of embezzling €11m from the club and tax-man!

Eduardo is still in the squad and could play tonight.

On paper we should win this tie, DZ’s highest paid player earns less in a year than Ozil does in 3 weeks (true!) but it doesn’t work like that does it? Hard work, a partisan and passionate crowd and an opportunity to impress managers in the Big Leagues will drive the Zagreb players – we need to be careful.


What of our team? Who should play? Well, I have absolutely no idea. I cannot even say with any certainty that Cech will start ahead of Ospina (who is a fine deputy). Ramsey, BFG and Bellerin are out, I expect Kos and Gabriel to be our CB’s. Ozil and Sanchez could get 70 minutes but beyond them …… ???

Monreal or Gibbs? Gibbs has done nothing wrong and deserves a start, should it be here or at Stamford Bridge? Same goes for Debuchy, Arteta, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, even Flamini.

Perhaps AW will give Joel Campbell a run though  it would preclude him being sold to any club remaining in the CL in January. Given Theo’s start last Saturday and the expectation that he will play centrally at Stamford Bridge I believe Giroud will start tonight.

Here is my punt:


Debuchy    Gabriel    Koscielny    Gibbs

Ox   Coquelin   Cazorla


Giroud     Sanchez

Wouldn’t put LB’s sofa on it though.

We should win this game, we are better all over the pitch and we are good away from home.

I am 71% confident.


Ozil to win it for Arsenal?

August 29, 2015

Newcastle. What do you think of when hearing that name?

I have a mental image of SuperMac, Keegan arriving by helicopter, Dirty Shearer with one arm raised, Dire Straits, Bryan Ferry, that TV series with Jimmy Nail and the bloke who became Inspector Morse’s assistant, unintelligible accents, dreadful beer, Gazza, Sir Bobby Robson, Ugly Beardsley, Fat Football fans and much more (add a few if you have the inclination!)


And in recent years a total road wreck of a football club. Managers sacked, dreadful players bought and sold, fan unrest, an owner who is hated by the fans and a top quality, traditional institution  which could attract the very best becoming a selling club.

Newcastle have spent 5 times as much money as AFC in this window (so far)!  IMO this is a dreadful state of affairs and questions must be asked. I do not accept that players are not available – if they chose other clubs one must question the negotiating skills of our buying team. It is claimed that Thauvin chose Newcastle having been approached by AFC, if this is true our boys really do a crap job.

McClaren is a good manager and will bring discipline into a difficult club who were lucky to escape relegation, he has bought young, pacy players who he hopes can change the atmosphere in both the changing room and the stands. Their start is worse than ours which brings some degree of hope.


Her Maj in Her Home Kit

But we need points and we need them NOW.

How do we get them?

The usual …… hard work, team play, concentration, fast attacks, clinical finishing. A little bit of intricate passing and a sprinkling of magic.

Could Chambers play worse than his first half on Monday? It would be difficult. There is a fair chance he will start alongside Paul Easter and if he does then AW has to instruct his midfield to give better protection.

Theo to start? Would be good but who gets dropped? Giroud is the obvious choice though he is our only goal scorer this season (how rubbish is that?)

Dare AW drop Cazorla and play the Ox thereby adding some pace and width down the right? Or Ramsey? Or both and play Theo and Ox.

I don’t know and I am not paid millions to make such a decision. What I do know is that at present things are not as they should be. There is imbalance in the team both vertically and laterally. We need more cohesion in front of goal, better understanding between the defence and the midfield, and less reliance upon left-sided attack. It has to be said (and it was by LB!) that if you have Ozil and Sanchez on the left then we are likely to use them. I really fancy Ozil to score today and will bet a fish that he will.

The season start has shown that we have no idea how the team will perform today – who knows today could be the launch pad for a run of wins or it could signify the start of a difficult season.

I will be watching from behind the sofa.

I am 54% confident


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.


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


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.


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?



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