The Curse of the Left

September 11, 2013

Mrs. Raddy was very impressed the other day when I stared at her with what she believed was loving tenderness , though what I was actually doing was thinking about our left side. *

My reasoning was this …… Gibbs, Monreal, Podolski, Ox, all crocked whilst playing out there. Would I be wrong in thinking that both Santi and Mozart also suffered injuries whilst playing on our port side?

images“Please don’t make me play out there, Boss”

Not only that but players who have been shipped out to larboard have suffered dramatic falls from grace. I refer to Arshavin, Gervinho, Santos, Chamakh  and Bendtner (yes, I know the last two are CF’s but they were forced to play out there).

And looking back to recent history, what of Reyes, Hleb, Nasri and Clichy?  All moved on to lesser clubs – OK, Real Madrid, Barcelona and MC may not be exactly lesser but they didn’t succeed at The Home of Football, did they?

What is going on? We haven’t had a happy leftside since  Bobby and Terry. Many talk about Mr Wenger’s blindness to our defence but i it is remarkable that our attacks from the left have come from FB’s or MF’s for a number of seasons.

Will our shiny new German improve matters? From what I read, he is a traditional inside forward with a licence to roam, much like our other three AM’s (Ramsey, Santi, TR). So, is Mr Wenger’s plan to play Cazorla on the left and restrict his movement? I sincerely hope not because Santi, as we all know, is a genius and should be allowed to do whatever he wants (apart from canoodling with Mrs. Raddy).

Podolski is not a left-winger –  pace is not one of his talents . Nor is The Ox, who is yet another attacking MF. We have one coming through in Myaichi, but he is well down the pecking order. Given that Mr Wenger likes to play 4-3-3, why can’t we have an attacking threat like Theo on the left?

*Looking doe-eyed at one’s partner can have a very positive effect upon one’s relationship (unless you start to dribble)

written by Big Raddy


Virgin Sacrifice: I presume

November 2, 2012

There are games one anticipates with hope rather than confidence. You know the ones, the top 3 away and of late the trip to the Cave Dwellers. I have never enjoyed our games at the Old Toilet, we rarely do well and when we do it comes as a surprise – yes, we have had some wonderful wins and some sterling performances but on the whole we struggle. We have won once at OT in 10 years (PL) and just 3 times in 20 years.

Then there was last season’s freak humiliation. And before you Kent United fans get uppity, the 8 goals came from 14 shots on target. we had 9, you had 3 corners, AFC 5. A freak result which owed much to good fortune and a dreadful defensive performance from a patched up Arsenal – Traore and Jenks were our FB’s (CJ’s first PL game).

All football fans know that SAF signed a pact with the devil – the percentage of dodgy refereeing decisions and decades of outrageous good fortune are testament to his trip down to the Crossroads but last season the Oil money bought his luck. The Chavs shameful CL victory and MC’s last-second PL win must have shaken The Gorbals  Guzzler down to the tip of his steel toed boots. Having already sold his soul Ferguson is surely looking at other avenues to ensure his team’s dominance over the fickle fates….. see below

Sir Alex prepares for the game

Let’s get the unpleasant stuff out of the way early. Brave Sir Robin. An inspired purchase by SAF, a purchase which could win them the title. For us, a shambles of Titanic proportions. To BSR we are the lover scorned and he will pay the price whatever Mr Wenger says.

What can we expect of today? None of the MU players who conceded 5 (as we did!) midweek will start, as such, Scholes, Cleverly and Carrick will be doing their best to cripple Santi and Jack.  Their defence is said to be shaky but whose wouldn’t given their injuries at CB ? We can but hope that SAF has a meltdown and includes Wooton.

It goes without saying that MU sport some of the most odious men playing today. Evra, Rooney, Nani, Rafael, Ferdinand , Anderson, Fletcher, Young – all  beetle headed baculum (look it up!). I hesitate to put Ashley Young amongst these miscreants but despite being a Gooner, if the cap fits…..

I expect Mr Wenger to take a conservative view; he will not want his team humiliated again – if last season was tough for us, imagine how it was for him.

My Team:

I fully expect to see both Arshavin and Walcott at some point, especially Theo after his fine performance at Reading. But today we will need solidity, should we reach the hour point on level terms I hope AW will bolster the attack.

Much focus will be upon the performance of Jack Wilshire. So much riding upon his stocky frame and the strength of his ankles. If he returns to the form of two seasons ago this Arsenal team will be very, very strong. It is one thing to close down Cazorla with 2 players but having another creative genius allows Arsenal to continue to threaten. We must pray that the referee (Mike Dean – the world is watching) will protect him because you know SAF will be telling his miscreants to kick two colours out of young Jack

It is a great shame Diaby is not fit as this would be his type of game, we will miss Gibbs as well because it is inevitable SAF will target Santos.

This is a game which George Graham would have relished; put the Famous 5 in place of the current back 5 and we would stand a much better chance. Actually, scratch that ….. put Seaman into this team and it would be transformed. The stats show we have conceded just 6 PL goals which is astonishing given our goalkeeping frailty; it is a testament to a team ethic. But and this is a huge BUT, no team wins things without a top goalkeeper and we are lacking. Let us pray to Dennis that AW has a proper GK in his sights this January – watching Julio Cesar perform heroics for QPR last week made me wonder why he wasn’t in our goal.

Today’s Top Man:  I promised you David Livingstone (1813 – 1873) and here he is in all his pomp and glory:

No Beard – Not Knighted

A Scottish Protestant Missionary, he was the first white man to cross Africa. He also tried to find the source of the Zambezi, a 6 year expedition during which he “discovered”/named Victoria Falls and Lake Malawi. He then traveled into the East African jungle where he got “lost” for 4 years. Such was Livingstone’s fame that the New York Herald sent out Henry Stanley to find him. They met on the shores of Lake Tanganyika with Stanley humorously greeting him with the famous words “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.”  Livingstone died in Africa (malaria), his heart was buried in Zambia, and his body brought back to England where it was buried in Westminster Cathedral

BR doesn’t make predictions but he would be thrilled with a point and promises to buy Mrs Raddy something expensive should when we win.

Written by Big Raddy


Santos Charged With Dangerously Driving Forward

November 2, 2012

Are Arsenal supporters ever really happy without a scapegoat? By Arsenal standards it’s been a while since we have had one but I notice that a couple of candidates are coming into focus. I am mot sure why I am talking about supporters in the third person because when it comes to moaning I have been as guilty as the rest of you. My first memories of doing such come from copying my dad who I remember repeatedly criticising one particular player in days gone by.

We all know this happens and we all know the list of scapegoats is long, some may be able to name them in sequence over the last twenty years; others might even be able to go back further.

There has been a bit of a lull recently but I sense the collective have two particular players in their sites and are homing in. The two, who I am sure you have already worked out, are Gervinho for his frustratingly erratic style of play and rather more surprisingly to me Santos.

There were so many comments backing up this theory yesterday, fearing the presence of Santos at left back on Saturday, some clung to the hope that Gibbs might return only giving up when it was officially announced on Arsenal.com that he will definitely miss the game. After that people split up into smaller groups, some suggesting Sagna on the left with Jenkinson on the right, others suggesting Vermaelen at LB, others Koscielny and even a few putting forward the case for Jenkinson at LB.

What has brought on this fear of Santos that some would prefer to play right footed players in the left back position? Some accuse the Brazilian of being guilty of playing Holt onside enabling him to score and cause our embarrassing defeat against Norwich. Some accuse him of being culpable for the Schalke’s first and many around me at the Emirates screamed with anger as Macke for QPR with only five minutes to go came down the left at speed cut inside of Santos and created a one on one with Mannone who fortunately not only saved the shot but saved the three points.

Well, I don’t agree with any of those accusations, I don’t agree with the first because Santos was not guilty of spilling the ball from the twenty yard shot as much as he wasn’t guilty of losing possession which enabled that long range shot to happen in the first place. Schalke’s first goal came through the middle which had nothing to do with Santos and lastly if you look again how Mackie was able to cut inside you will notice that Santos had rightly stayed with the his man further out on our left.

I don’t quite understand how this player, who is obviously getting back to speed with the pace of the EPL, has even been nominated for scapegoat status. My closest guess is that English people are not used to his style; I’m English so I can say that, we all love Jenkinson for running everything down in that “oh so Brit way” but Santos is a bit cooler; a bit more Brazilian; he doesn’t run if he can walk, why should he?

Santos has not been guilty of any mistakes that have led to goals. I am amazed that people cannot remember how we all felt about him before he got injured in the CL — we were falling over ourselves to praise him. He was and he remains a very good player, that said I think it is fair now to say that he now has had enough time to get himself up to speed, this excuse will not be valid on Saturday, he should rightly be judged on that performance.

In the words of the great British sailor Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson: “Arsenal Expects” Come on Andre don’t let me down.

Written by London


Greatest St Totts Day Ever

May 14, 2012

Welcome, my fellow Gunners, to another year in which we faithful worshippers have been privileged to celebrate our favourite Saint’s Day.

And why is St Totteringham’s Day our favourite holy occasion?

Well, I believe it’s because it combines all the qualities of the other, lesser, Saints’ Days that we mark throughout the year.

It has the wonderful drunkenness associated with St Patrick’s Day; the love (for our team, our club and each other) that St Valentine is famous for and the unapologetic pride of St George’s Day.  Best of all, there’s a big dose of St Schadenfreude’s Day, the occasion on which it is acceptable (indeed, obligatory) to laugh at the afflicted.

St Totteringham’s Day bundles all those marvelous feelings into one – and you have to say, this has surely been the best St T’s Day ever.

Lasagna-gate in 2006 was fun, but that season the Spuds were behind us most of the way and only really closed the gap right at the end.

This year, of course, was different. This year they opened up a 12 point lead over us and that tribe of pox-eaten donkey pizzles who call themselves their supporters kept telling us to “Mind the Gap.”

Oh we minded it alright, you fool-born codpiece-sniffers. We minded it right up the Seven Sisters Road and shoved it up your collective jaxey.  How d’you like that gap?

In years to come, happy Gooners will sit around reminiscing about the 2011-2012 season.

Someone will say: “Do you remember when the Tiny Totts thought they were going to win the league?” and everyone else will just fall about laughing…. “ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, aaaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…”

Play the clip below whilst you read on…….


“Do you remember when they told us to ‘mind the gap’ and that the balance of power had shifted in North London?”  “Aaah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, aaaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…”

“Do you recall a certain Mr Henry Winter saying that Robin van Persie was the only Arsenal player with a chance of getting in the Spuds’ first team?”  “Aaah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, aaaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…”

This season has put us fans through the wringer, but it has not lacked for drama. And at the end of it all, the table does not lie. The team that finishes third deserves to be third.

Just pause for a second and consider that.

We finished third. After our worst start to a season for half a century.

We lost our talismanic captain late in the transfer window, followed quickly out the door by a fat greedy Frenchman. Our most creative player suffered a season-long injury. We started terribly and lost 8-2 at Old Toilet. Our new signings were all scooped up in a special edition of Supermarket Sweep (Yossi Benayoun came free with a packet of Daz).

We were as far up Smelly Creek (it flows into Tottenham Beck) as we had ever been in living memory and we didn’t have a paddle or even a boat. We were swimming up Smelly Creek. Without armbands.

And at that time do you know what smelled worse that the River of Runny Stuff? It was the attitude of the haters, those so-called Arsenal supporters who relished every mishap and calamity; who rejoiced in disaster because it meant they could say “told you so” about their campaign to oust the most successful manager in our club’s history.

How many times did they tell us that we would be lucky to finish in the top half of the table? Or that we would face a relegation fight?

Their attitude, just like the quality of their “support”, stank the place out and contributed to a mood of infighting and fractiousness that only made the problems worse.

But through it all Arsène Wenger kept working.

Recovering from that disastrous start and securing third place is undoubtedly one of his most impressive achievements. It proves as a lie the haters’ contention that he could never get his team playing well again, but I suppose the haters will move their goalposts to continue slaughtering him.

By the way, I have no problem with people criticising the manager or his decisions – I just have a problem with the ones who have become so obsessed with their opposition to him that they want Arsenal to fail. That’s like noticing that your brickwork needs repointing – and deciding it would be for the best if the house burnt down.

Anyway, enough, enough.

I am so proud of our team and our Club. I’m proud of every player and I’m proud of Arsene and I’m proud of Pat Rice and I’m proud of the fans (most of them, anyway).

Of course there’s work to be done to make us better next season. Quite a lot, in fact, but we have put ourselves in the best possible position to do it. What exactly should be done is something we can discuss in the days and weeks ahead.

Officially this should be a match report – and there is plenty to talk about from yesterday’s game. But right now I have no inclination to pick holes, talk about defensive frailties, questions Arsene’s team selections and substitutions.

We had a simple job to do – go to West Brom and win. We did it. We didn’t do it as comfortably as most of us would have liked but we did it all the same.

I will however, give some player ratings:

Szczesny: 10

Jenkinson: 10

Koscielny: 10

Vermaelen: 10

Santos: 10

Coquelin: 10

Song: 10

Rosicky: 10

Gervinho: 10

Van Persie: 10

Benayoun: 11 (joint MoTM)

Fulop: 11 (joint MoTM)

Subs

Walcott: 10

Ramsey: 10

Gibbs: 11 (joint MoTM)

Finally, a question: What do T*ttenham H*tspurs have in common with Hank Marvin?

Answer: Always in the Shadows.

And what grows in the shadows? You got it: fungus – stinky, weirdo fungus… the stuff God came up with as an experiment before he perfected plants and animals.

That’s you, Tiny Totts: the fetid, spongy mass that grows on decaying matter (in this case the decaying matter is your hopes and dreams. Enjoy).

Happy St Totteringham’s Day everyone.

RockyLives


Fight for the Right: Norwich Prematch

May 5, 2012

Today an acquaintance asked after Arsenal’s weekend opponents. After I explained the significance of this afternoon’s match he said “why worry, it is only a football game.” Firstly, this shows a total misunderstanding of the Raddy psyche, but more to the point, it indicates a lack of understanding of the nature of importance. Let us not be fooled, sex is not important (though the lack of it is!), breathing is not important (though the lack of it is!), what is important is that Arsenal finish the season above the Miscreants crawling their way out of N17.  And beating Norwich is not just important  – it is vital.

If one had to choose an opponent to play in this situation it would be a mid-table team who had an attacking, open footballing philosophy. Norwich fit the bill perfectly. We couldn’t have asked for better opponents. But ….. in recent seasons, we have seen an Arsenal team crumble under the weight of expectation so regularly that we can no longer trust them to take 3 points in these circumstances. Hence the nerves.

And there are nerves aplenty. Fans will be taking lucky routes to the ground, wearing lucky socks, knickers, shirts, hats, eating lucky sweets, drinking in lucky pubs, sitting in lucky seats etc etc. And from what I read on the site Corks will be much in evidence :-D

What is needed today is strength of character. We are a better team in every area than Norwich and under normal circumstances 3 points would be de rigeur;  should our boys perform there will be little of concern. Any doubts within the team must be dispelled -as such the team Leaders have to get in the faces of the more reticent players and fire them up.

We need some of this ….

with a large spoon of this

It is the time for RvP to lead from the front, for TV to inspire his defence and for Song to grab the game by the scruff of it’s neck . Time for our wingers to be lethal in front of goal and for our shots to be on target. No quarter must be given and every ball fought for. Norwich will not just cede 3 points, they can be a dangerous opponent. Concentration from the whole team is essential, and should things go awry we must find the Sagna spirit shown in the Spurs game.

…. none of this.

The team almost picks itself. We have a solid and dependable Back 5, with either Gibbs or Santos at LB depending upon the opposition. I would play Santos today.

My Team:

One hopes that Mr Wenger decides to be more attacking at home and play O.C from the start but I cannot see him taking the risk.  In such an important game it would be foolish to experiment and as such I expect him to play safe.

The last home game and therefore this season’s final Gooner. I think it should be a man who never gave up, a proper Gooner and a working class hero. To those of a certain age the Henry Cooper / Cassius Clay fight at Wembley is a stand out point in sporting history. Our ‘Enry was the first man to knock Clay down and had it not been for some Angelo Dundee skulduggery Cooper would have won. Instead he got badly injured and forced to retire. It was a special night and made ‘Enry’s ‘Ammer a household name. In the rematch at his beloved Highbury Stadium Cooper lost and soon after retired.  Twice Sports Personality of the Year and made a Knight in 2000 (the only boxer ever to be knighted) Sir Henry Cooper remained a National Treasure until his death in 2011.

and most of all Our ‘Enry’s courage and determination

Once again faith will be the bedrock of our game – a belief that through teamwork Arsenal will win. And today even more than normal the fans have to be behind the team. No losing patience, no getting on the players backs – we need the type of atmosphere created against Spurs, Milan and City. To those lucky enough to be going – make it loud!

Today is the 900th game of Mr Wenger Arsenal career, it is also likely to be the final home game of Pat Rice’s working life at Arsenal. So, let’s win in style and give them something to remember .

Written by Big Raddy


Arsenal’s Biggest Surprise This Season?

March 19, 2012

Fellow arsophiles, I want to pose a simple question:

In a season of ups and downs, false dawns and unexpected revivals, which Arsenal player has turned out to be the biggest surprise package (in a positive way)?

I’m not talking about the likes of Vermaelen and van Persie, of whom we all expected great things. I want you to consider the players – whether already in the squad or newly signed – for whom you had NO high hopes, but who have gone on to confound your pessimism.

The grit that turned into pearls, as it were…

You can register your own choice in the Poll below, but let me offer my own shortlist for the contenders…

Tomas Rosicky

The Little Mozart – or Schnitzel, as I am assured is also his nickname – was high on the list of players most supporters wanted to see shipped out last summer. Unlike Fawlty Manuel and Sideways Den, footballing abilities were not the issue with the little Czech – it was just that he seemed as fragile as a Ming vase. And on the odd occasion when he was not too cracked to get a run out, he usually seemed a peripheral figure: the Ming on the wing. Fast forward to today, and we see a player showing just what he can do when he stays fit and gets a run of games in his preferred position. He’s now one of the first names on the team sheet, which makes a change from having his own engraved name plaque in the treatment room.

Kieran Gibbs

Like TR7, our young English left back has often given the impression of being made of glass and was on first name terms with all the medical staff, their wives and husbands, their cousins and neighbours, even their pets. But since he got back in the side our results have improved and he has begun to show why Arsene Wenger has persevered with him for so long. In recent games he has begun to really look the part.

Francis Coquelin

This cocky French cockerel was not on most fans’ radar at the start of the season and it was generally assumed that Frimpong was ahead of him in the midfield pecking order. But while Frimpong’s inexperience was exposed in some early season games, Coquelin took every opportunity that came his way, whether deputising at fullback or playing in his preferred midfield role. Undoubtedly the season of first team football at Lorient is what put him ahead of his young English rival, but he looks to have the quality to be a first team regular in the future. Sadly both he and Frimpong have been unlucky with injuries.

Theo Walcott

OK, I know this is a bit of a controversial one. But so many people were so down on him in the close season and at the start of this campaign that I feel it’s right to include him. Personally I have never understood the level of abuse he gets. Being a winger means you are always trying to do the pointy-ended bits of the game – beating defenders, putting in crosses, making goal assists, hitting the back of the net. Inevitably, things don’t always come off, but with eight goals and 11 assists his contribution should be recognised. If you doubt his importance, just look at how Robin van Persie values him.

Per Mertesacker

Quickly christened ‘The BFG’, our supersized German centre back was written off by some before he had even kicked a ball for us. He was too slow, not good enough in the air despite his height, he wouldn’t be up to the speed of the English game etc etc. Up until his injury, however, big Per showed us that he is, above all, a footballer of the highest quality. I know many supporters believe Koscielny and Vermaelen are our first choice CB pairing, but I really feel Mertesacker adds a level of composure to our transitional play from defence and is brilliant at reading the game and I would start him alongside either of the other two.

Carl Jenkinson

A young fullback, signed from Charlton Athletic with only a handful of first team games under his belt… what was Arsene thinking of? Well, our Carl is a Gooner through and through and when he has had opportunities to play he has shown great promise. His engine is fantastic and, for my money, he’s the best crosser at the club. He’ll be England’s right back in a few years time.

Andre Santos

A Brazilian we had never heard of, signed from the Turkish league. Surely this was another piece of craziness on our manager’s part. And when he turned up with what looked like 20lbs of hashish in his shorts the doubters were even more skeptical. But Santos quickly won people over with his adventurous style of play (it was his goal that got us back on track away at Chelsea) and his infectious enthusiasm.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Isn’t it funny that many of the same people who were furious when we signed Oxo (“we need proven quality, not another punt on some untried youngster for Chrissake”) were exactly the people booing when Alex was subbed off for Arshavin towards the end of the home game against Manchester United. We knew he was very highly regarded at Southampton, but many thought he would be “one for the future” or “Walcott mark two”. Instead he has already made himself a fan favourite and is another player who has everything it takes to be an Arsenal great.

OK, that’s it.

If you would like to suggest a different candidate please click on the “Other” option below and make your suggestion in the comments.

RockyLives


January – Deal or no deal?

December 8, 2011

Written by FatGingerGooner

With so much grief given out to our esteemed manager during pre season, and with another transfer window just around the corner, I thought it might be a good time to see how Wenger’s apparent ‘panic buys’ have compared to the big money signings of some of our closest league rivals.

There were many comments written on this blog, and loads of others, slating Arsene’s dealings during the last window. Fans were worried that he had lost his touch and  that the likes of Nasri, Fabregas and Clichy were not being sufficiently replaced. But with a good chunk of the season passed, what do we think of these signings now?

First up we have the defenders. Mertersacker, Santos and Jenkinson were drafted in by AW as replacement for the outgoing Clichy and the mistake ridden Squillaci, all for the price of £17m.

In contrast, Chelsea paid £24m for Luiz in January, Man Utd went for Jones for a princely sum of £17m, Liverpool snapped up Coates for £7m and Man City threw £9m the way of Savic.

If we look at the centre backs, none of the above have really set the premier league alight. Mertersacker has been a calming influence for Arsenal but prone to the odd mistake, whilst Jones, Coates and Savic have all been used sparingly by their managers. David Luiz has however become a bit of a joke figure at Chelsea due to his awful defensive displays and his ability to start a fight in an empty room.

On the other hand, Santos and Jenkinson have both proved real bargains for the Gunners. If you think that AW paid just £7m for the pair, compared to the £17m Man City forked out for the inconsistent Kolarov last year, you can see that Arsene’s touch in the market is very much in tact.

For defenders, Wenger has definitely done better than his rival managers.

Moving on to midfield, Arsène had a massive job to fill the huge hole left by Fabregas and the even fatter, I mean bigger, hole left by Nasri. In the end he opted to draft in Arteta for £10m, Gervinho for £10m, Oxlaide-Chamberlain for £12.5m and Benayoun on loan. His rivals on the other hand splashed out on the likes of Nasri (Man City) £22m, Mata (Chelsea) £23.5m, Downing (Liverpool) £20m, Henderson (Liverpool) £16m, Mereiles (Chelsea) £12m and Young (Man U) £16m.

For Arsenal, Arteta and Gervinho started relatively slowly, but after finding their feet they have started to show the quality they possess. Arteta espescially has grown into a real force, oozing class and running games from start to finish. Ox has shown glimpses of the star that he is no doubt going to become, but Benayoun has so far struggled to get playing time.
The stand out players for our rivals have been Mata at Chelsea and Young at United, though neither has yet to live up to their hype. Nasri, Henderson and Mereiles on the other hand have all failed so far at their new homes, espescially the fat Frenchman, whos arse must have more splinters than a joiners finger!

I have no doubt that Mata and Young will prove successful purchases, but I reckon the £20m for Downing and £22m for Nasri just goes to show the value AW has found in his purchases.

For midfielders, I think AW loses points for missing out on Mata, but overall, his signings look like value for money. Espescially Ox, who looks like a future star.

Finally it’s the strikers. With Chamakh misfiring and RvP still prone to injuries, AW needed to strengthen. In the end he paid out £3m for Park and just £1m for Campbell. Other clubs were relatively quiet in the striking department so we have to look back at January for comparison. City paid £38m for Aguero, Liverpool spent £30m on Carroll and £23m on Suarez, whilst Chelsea blew £50m (yes, that’s right, £50m) on Torres.

Wenger opted to send Campbell straight out on loan to earn his stripes and his visa, whilst Park has only really been seen in the Carling Cup. It’s difficult to compare these to the others mentioned as they are not first choice, big money signings.

Looking at our rivals additions, Torres and Carroll have so far been very expensive flops, between them they have been firing £80m worth of blanks. On the other hand, Suarez and Aguero have both lived up to their huge fees. Suarez, though, has been the pick of the bunch. He may be a cheating prick, but the kid can play!

I think the real comparison may be made in January as Arsene needs to dive into the market to find a replacement for Chamakh. Watch this space.

I’m sure you will all have your own view on Arsène’s dealings this season, but for me, he has once again proved his doubters wrong. If you look at the price tags attached to some of the rival players mentioned, you can see that Arsene has lost none of his ability to spot a bargain. Let’s just hope that he doesn’t fall into his old habit of hanging onto sub standard players for too long. If Chamakh and Arshavin can be moved on in January and then adequately replaced, this new look Arsenal squad could be a real force heading into next year.


Our New Brazilian – Legend or Liability – A Close Shave

December 1, 2011

Written by chas

Andre Clarindo Dos Santos was born on the 8th March 1983 in São Paulo, Brazil. His early career at Figueirense was as a left winger. After loan spells at Flamengo and Athletico Mineiro, he joined Corinthians and was successfully converted into an attacking left back. Fenerbahce signed Andre in 2009 and he soon took over from his compatriot Roberto Carlos at left back. The Turkish club’s removal from the Champions League for 2011/12 due to a match–fixing scandal helped to convince the Brazilian that his career might be best furthered elsewhere. He joined Arsenal on 31st Aug 2011 and was given the highly appropriate number 11 shirt.

When he joined The Gunners, Andre was quick to make the kind of statement guaranteed to ensure he received a warm welcome from the supporters… “All the Brazilians who came to this club spoke wonders about it and I am delighted to be part of the Arsenal family.” Sylvinho, Edu, Gilberto, Baptista, Denilson and Eduardo formed an impressive line of Brazilian nationals to have played in the famous red and white with varying degrees of success. Would Andre Santos emerge as a flying Sylvinho with a valid passport or a lacklustre Beast with faulty dentures?

It has been reported that our new Brazilian was never without a football as a youngster and once he joined a professional club, his appetite for goals was honed with extra shooting practice before training started.

Our new number 11’s first outing came away at Blackburn and was greeted with mixed reviews (his performance largely hidden away by Arsenal’s abject second half display). Being only slightly taller than Kieran Gibbs but ‘several’ pounds heavier led to accusations of being a little bit of a ‘salad dodger’. It now seems amusing that this first impression has not been dispelled. The way he seems to be completely out of breath about ten minutes into each game but is still straining every sinew to give his all for the team after 94 minutes is a joy to behold. Perhaps fish and chips should be a rare treat rather than the cornerstone of a footballer’s diet! (I believe this was an item for Brazilian TV, by the way)

Santos Fish and Chips

After Arsenal’s 3-0 win over the Baggies, Santos again added to his growing ability to raise a smile from Gooners everywhere by tweeting, “Verry good win gays!!! #GoArsenal”, quickly followed by a profuse apology for his unfortunate misspelling. Goals against Olympiakos and in the magnificent humbling of Chelsea at the Bridge have meant that, in less than a dozen games, Andre has equalled Gael Clichy’s glorious 2 goals in 264 Arsenal games record.

Santos likes to wear his socks Thierry style, leading some to assume he wears white tights. The English climate doesn’t seem to have disturbed his Latin rhythms though, and the transition from Turkey to N5 has been a seamless one so far.

With each game our new Brazilian plays, there seem to be a growing number of converts to the Santos fan club. His ability on the ball is difficult to question; quick feet, superb ball control and a passion for rampaging forward all mean that when Santos gets the ball some entertainment will usually follow. His teammates know he’s confident to receive the ball, even under pressure, and his passing stats are reflecting this confidence. Perhaps, Andre’s positional sense isn’t completely suited to the rigours of Premiership football but his ability to win the ball in one-on-one situations is largely down to his superb skills of anticipation and timing. He always seems to have a smile on his face and genuinely wants to play as part of a team.

I intended this post as a discussion of our new Brazilian’s pros and cons but my growing love for his ability on the football pitch has made this a rather one-sided discussion. After all, his love of large round objects is clear for all to see!


Geordie would have shown them how.

November 10, 2011

George “Geordie” Armstrong died of a brain haemorrhage after collapsing on the training field 11 years ago on the first of this month. He was a year younger than me and joined the club as a 17-year-old, two years after I had first claimed my permanent place on the terraces as a 15-year-old. He was my first footballing idol and was to be associated with the club on and off for 39 years.

I mention this because a new young full back has been thrown in at the deep end for us in recent weeks just as Geordie was and by and large has risen to the challenge.  Carl Jenkinson is 19 years old and in his first year with the club having been transferred from Charlton Athletic in June.

AA boasts a number of good judges of a footballer and this young man has caught their attention. The strength of character he has shown after surviving that 8 goal pounding at the hands of the Mancs, his work rate, application and determination as he joined the fight to recover from our disastrous start, all bode well for the years ahead.

On the other side we have another new summer arrival, this one more senior and a Brazilian international to boot. Andre Santos arrived having, we are told, supplanted  Roberto Carlos, he of the 35 Metre free kick, as his Turkish clubs first choice full back, but wanting to play in England. He signed for us primarily, he said, as we played his kind of football.

Both Carl and Andre were elevated to the first team far quicker than anticipated as both Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna our first team fullbacks, were as is the Arsenal way, to suffer long-term injuries.

So the squad now has 4 speedy  fullbacks ready, when fit, to combine with our Flying Wingers, Theo and Gervinho, to form an attacking force capable of getting behind the oppositions defence and crossing the ball into the right areas.

But this is where the similarity ends, Geordie played in his early days in heavy leather boots on muddy, waterlogged, energy sapping bogs of pitches, yet would still run up and down that wing for ninety minutes, virtually non stop. At the same time, evading, receiving and accepting as part of the game, sliding tackles that would see the offender banned Sine Die, if he did such a thing on today’s croquet lawns. On top of which he was using a leather ball that grew heavier as the game went on and the water soaked through the dubbined Tee panel monster with its leather lace that was, pre ‘the valve’ the premier ball of its day.

Yet, and here’s the strange thing, what with all these disadvantages was Geordies main claim to fame? He could hit that ball on the run or from a corner and put it straight into the danger zone and on the head of the likes of Joe Baker, Raddy, Kennedy and even in later years the elegant stroller Graham. Count the amount of headed goals that came from Geordies crosses, watch us win the league at WHL as Ray thumps a header past Big Pat Jennings from a Geordie cross. Pure magic created with skill and constant practice, and regularly displayed by the little man with a heart of a lion.

So what’s your point you may ask, well I have a question for the modern footballer. If Geordie could do all that, under conditions that would probably make you guys refuse play, why can’t you on our manicured pitches, with lightweight footwear and a ball my gran would have kicked straight out of the garden. Why do you lot struggle, not just on the run, but from corners and free kicks as well, to even clear the first man, for Christ sake!!!!!?

Written by dandan


Arsène Wenger’s Got a Headache

November 8, 2011

The criticism of Arsène for trying to force square pegs into round holes has frequently been levelled over recent seasons. Bendtner, Eboue and Arshavin in particular have all been deployed in areas that would not be their first choice let alone the Championship Managers among us. The reason for this has generally been a lack of depth in the squad exacerbated by the perennial injury problems that have depleted us so cruelly at vital times.

Now it would appear that Arsène has a headache of a different kind. The summer purchases coupled with the progression of quality players through the youth system has created a problem, a good problem to have but a problem nonetheless. As far as Sagna and Wilshere are concerned the problem is months away but in light of the coming 2 weeks of nail biting over the potential for injuries playing in meaningless internationals, I thought it would be interesting to ponder the alternatives.

Who are our best players in every position?
Well I think the answer at the top and tail of the team is obvious – RvP and Szczesny give Arsenal about the best polar opposites in the league. But elsewhere it is not so simple.

Centreback Partnership
Some supporters had been crying out for a tall physical presence at the back and then along came Per Mertesacker the 6ft 5in answer to our vulnerability from set pieces. Don’t get me wrong, I think the BFG is an excellent addition to the squad and has helped us keep in touch through this early critical period, but I think most would agree that his height is not the main attribute he possesses. No, it’s his positional play, reading of the game, timing of the tackle cool head and experience – but I wouldn’t mind betting that Kozzer has won more headers in the box when playing alongside Mert. The return of Vermaelen has been a huge shot in the arm and has reminded us all that he is a world class defender and our captain of the defence. For me the best CB pairing is TV and Koz but have your say by placing your vote below.



Wingbacks
Now this is where it really does get difficult. Most Arsenal supporters would say that last season Sagna was the best right back in the league. He didn’t start this season so well and looked a yard or two off the pace, but a 90% Sagna is still better than most RBs and it seemed like an early hammer blow to our season when he was ruled out with a fractured leg.

But then there was the introduction of Carl Jenkinson to the first team. He was one of our early summer signings who at 19 was inexperienced to say the least having been on loan at a non league club previously. For me he has been a revelation. Like Jack, he’s an Arsenal supporter. He has amazing energy going forward and uncharacteristically for an Arsenal player, he can cross the ball. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not in the same class defensively as Sagna at this stage, but he is improving every game and has won the hearts of the supporters already. Sagna has to be my first choice RB for the big games, but Jenks is a real find and offers us more offensively so in a couple of years time who knows?


Gibbs or Santos? – now that is a much closer call. Gibbs has been threatening to become the new Cashley for a couple of seasons. His progress has been hampered by a worrying propensity to pick up injuries that hasn’t ever really let us see him have a decent run of games.

Santos is already dividing opinion. He’s all Brazillian, surging forward with gay abandon, super control spiced with clever tricks and finished with a sweet left foot and cool head in front of goal. He loves to go forward, its the gaping holes that he leaves behind that worry many. West Brom were poor on Saturday and Santos never really looked troubled but against stiffer opposition he may be undone. The hope is that he will adjust his game to put slightly more emphasis on the defensive side of his play, but I for one would not wish him to sacrifice his natural attacking game. Santos would be my first choice for LB.

The Midfield
Since The Boy Wonder’s place is not in question I shall consider the midfield to be the ‘5’ in a 4:5:1 formation – but you can call it 4:3:3 if it makes you happy. I have no hesitation on current form in saying that wide midfielders places are not in question, Theo and Gervinho have been excellent and are clearly Arsène’s first choice, but we still have very good options in Arshavin, the Ox and possibly Ryo in time.

The current best centre midfield 3 would appear to be Song, Ramsey and Arteta – but what happens when Jack is fit again?

It would appear that Song’s place in the side is safe so who would give way to accommodate our rising star? I actually think that Arteta has been more influential in the side recently than Song as he quietly gets on with his business and keeps the Wengerball machine running smoothly whereas Song is often noticed when he somehow magically manages to hold off multiple players and still emerge with the ball but I sometimes think he should not be in that position in the first place. Once again we are blessed with midfield options and squad rotation of the midfield 3 would help us stave off the customary end of season fatigue.

Which players would you prefer to see as our centre midfield three?

The Subs
I have made the presumption that everyone would agree that these are the only candidates for first choice in their positions but many would disagree. Is Arshavin more effective than Gervinho on the left? The Ox worth a try in place of Theo? Rosicky more reliable than Ramsey? Benny more attacking than Song? Diaby waiting in the wings to finally realise his potential? Coquelin worth a try for some games? – they may well all have to play their part in a typically long season. With the possible exception of strikers, we can now boast two quality players for every position on the pitch.

One thing is for sure, our new strength in depth makes us better equipped than for many years and the removal of large egos and homesick heroes from the dressing room should mean that rotation and competition for places makes us a stronger and more resilient squad this season.

You can see how opinion is divided in the polls by clicking on ‘View Results’ on the bottom left of each poll box.

Written by Rasp


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