The Dynamic Duo: Giroud & Walcott to Start.

December 9, 2015

In the words of one of Highgate’s finest” Tonights, the Night, It’s gonna be Alright” or will it be “I don’t wanna talk about it, How you broke my Heart”?

Either way  “You’re in my Heart you’re in my Soul, You’ll be my breath should I get Old”

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In the Home Kit

We are sure to be in for an exciting couple of hours tonight and there will be little room behind LB’s sofa, get there early :-)

The doubts and fears about tonight are known to all – the history of our visits to Olympiakos,, the injuries, the stupidity of the home leg, the amazing home form of the Greeks, our inability to keep a clean sheet  etc etc but instead of writing about all those negative vibes I prefer concentrate upon why we will win. Why so? Because negativity attracts negativity and it follows that a positive post will augur a positive result.

Firstly, I think Arsene will start with both the FP and Theo with Campbell sitting on the bench. We need to score and they are our best bet. Giroud may be a marmite player but he can and does score goals; Theo owes us and is a Big Game player.

Olympiakos will play the counter-attack so we need to have pace and common-sense from a defensive point of view – so we start with the regular back 5 and tell Flamini only to venture forward when he is certain an FB is covering him. Kos and BFG only go forward for set plays.

We come into the game having shown we can score goals aplenty.

We have the best attacking midfielder in world football.

Ramsey has broken his duck and historically he scores in runs of games.

We have The Ox. None other than Mr Roy Hodgson spoke recently about how he thought Young Alex was a major find and has a golden future. I believe him. Ox needs a run of games to get back to the levels we know he is capable of. Expect a towering performance tonight.

Arsenal have been in this situation before – many times we have failed heroically but this being an Auspicious day Arsenal can and will overcome. This is why it is auspicious:

25 years ago today Lech Walesa was elected President of Poland

Dec 9 1949. Arsenal played their first ever Cup Game against Spurs. We won 3-0

There is other stuff but you would get bored!!

However there is one reason which stands out above all others …….

We will win because We are The Arsenal

COYRRG

 


Arsenal could win if they lose – or lose if they win?

December 7, 2015

Saturday’s win over a committed Sunderland must have provided a bit of a boost to the teams morale.

Morale, or the lack of it, has become a bit of a problem recently, what with the string of injuries and some less than encouraging results.

Having said that, we are second in the Premiership, only two points behind the surprise leaders Leicester City and one point above Man City.

Our regular competitors for the top four positions are all suffering to some extent.  Man City are strangely erratic.  Man U, while not conceding many are failing to score goals on a regular basis.  Chelsea are struggling just above the relegation zone and even “The Special One” has publicly given up on a top four finish.

Despite the queues in our treatment room, it’s beginning to look like 2015/16 is our best chance, for too many years, to win the title.

The elephant in the room is the Champions League.

Wednesday’s match in Athens will decide whether or not we proceed to the knockout stage or slip into the Europa League. It has to be said that our record in the knockout stage is not that good and with our current injury list, allied to a thinnish squad, it doesn’t bode well when it comes to mixing it with Europe’s elite.

Now I would like nothing better than to beat Olympiakos by the requisite two goal margin thus avoiding the ignominy of Thursday night football and it’s treks to the far flung corners of the European Continent. For that reason alone I sincerely hope we field our strongest possible side against the Greeks.

So, should we go for one last all out effort on Wednesday evening with the hope of wrapping up qualification for the Champions League before it shuts down for the winter break?  Or do we field an even more weakened side in the hope of resting a few tired legs ahead of the busy Christmas fixture pile up?

I suppose what I’m really asking is, do you think we would stand a better chance of winning the Premiership by getting into the Champions League knockout stages where we have little chance of progressing, or would we be better off playing more games, with a realistic chance of winning the Europa League, to the detriment of our chances of walking off with the Premiership title?

Written by Norfolk Gooner.


Zagreb Victory Discussion

November 25, 2015

Things to discuss:-

The brilliance af the Alexis/Ozil combination. Best since DB10/TH14?

Why has Monreal improved so much?

Flamini is good enough for teams like Zagreb.

Is Campbell any good?

Why were there 12,000 empty seats?

Which was the best goal?

Can Chambers develop into a DM?

How do flies stand on glass?

Giroud’s record is good, make that very good. Why do fans not believe in him?

Unknown

Was winning last night the best result for the club?

Should Alexis or any of last night’s team be rested on Sunday?

Is Mrs Frith a force of good or evil?

Does Bellerin’s pace allow Campbell the freedom to play with confidence?

Why did DZ allow Cazorla so much space?

Hastily written by BR


Wish You Were Here (JW/AR/AOC/FC etc)

November 24, 2015

A MWG or a MLG or even a MDG? If Olympiakos get a point in Munich it doesn’t matter anyway.

My opinion is that we should give it the full beans, attack from the first, if we are two up by half-time bring on the kids and look forward to a trip to Greece. If we start slowly, go in even at half-time then fight out a tough 1-0 whilst picking up an injury or two would it be considered a successful evening.

I am sure Mr Wenger will go all out to win this game and expect to get a result in Athens, he is focussed upon the CL and rightly so. The CL is the source of our European reputation (such as it is) and AW has a wonderful record of getting our club into the last 16.

Why is it important? Money and seeding.

There have been times this season when I thought it would be better if we gave up on the CL , finished 4th and concentrated upon the PL, but that is not how AFC work – the club philosophy is to try and win every game; tonight will be no exception.

Who plays?

Same as Saturday. Flamini replaces Le Coq. We do not risk Ramsey who has only had one day of full training. We have a 5 day break before the Norwich game.

Unknown

 

Tonight I will don the full kit, turn the TV out towards the terrace, settle into the padded teak Steamer and enjoy a Pretendies. Thanks to the freezing conditions I will be armed with a full bottle of warming fluids (single malt), an Arsene Wenger down coat, a Steve Bould woolly hat, Eduardo gloves and a Chamakh snood. If there is no sign of BR in the morrow then send out the St. Bernards.

We are a much better team than Zagreb and should win tonight.

COYRRG


Arsenal bruised battered and beaten, but showed fantastic heart‏

November 5, 2015

Morning Gooners,

I am writing this straight after the match, you would think that I would be down with a 5-1 score line, but I have to say I was proud of the players. If you listened to the commentators or the studio pundits and you looked at the score you could be persuaded that we had a hiding and speaking the truth we probably did. We knew who we were playing, Bayern are probably classed as the best club side in the world right now and that is probably right, but what we did show was heart with a capital H.

We knew going into this game that it was important, we also knew that a loss or a draw still wouldn’t guarantee us going through. We had a depleted team, having Bellerin, Walcott and Chamberlain to add to the rest of the injured prior to the match and then losing Koscielny with an injured hip that was not completely healed in time. Wenger put him on the bench in case of a catastrophe but apart from the score a catastrophe never came about. He should have another few days to shrug the injury off before the NLD

We started the game on the attack, so it seemed the Manager had decided to play Bayern at their own game, and although we had an early shot from Giroud he acted slightly fast and shot wide of the target. Bayern when in possession were the side we knew them to be, a team with great players with oodles of talent.

Bayern got their MoJo working. They had most of the possession but it has to be said that although our defence were doing well, with those missing, holes would open up and of course that is what happened. I wont bore you with the goals but the first was scored by Lewendowski, making his forward defence splitting run just about perfect to get on the end of a perfectly flighted chipped forward pass that he just nodded into a corner leaving Petr Cech for dead.

Minutes later we broke away. The play was just fantastic fast and direct and the ball passed into the box aimed at Ozil who really had a blinder, he shoved his shoulder to ricochet the ball passed the stranded Neuyer. The crowd and the commentators, assumed a goal it went 1-1 on the TV screen but the Bayern players rushed to the officials claiming a handball, and almost straight away the decision was changed Ozil had a little groan and the ref responded with a yellow card.

Bayern took control of the game; it seemed that we couldn’t even get a free kick as our players were hounded, but as soon as we got back possession the ref decided we had fowled and possession given back to the home team. Speaking the truth I don’t think we had one decision in favour in the first half. The first half ended 4-0 and Bayern were worth the score line although I feel Ozil’s disallowed goal was a little harsh but Petr Cech saved many and 4-0 was about right.

The second half was much the same as the first but Arsenal did make several fast breaks, the first saw Santi Cazorla clean through with only the keeper to beat and the keeper made a magical save, minutes later Arsenal were still attacking and Cazorla found Giroud in space in the box he brought it down on his chest and guided it down to his left foot and blasted it past Neuyer which lifted all our players and sent Neuyer into a strop. There were one or two chances after that for us but just the one goal at the end. Bayern did add another goal and it has to be said it was another beauty,

This was a lesson in football at the highest level, and although we were on the end of what seems a hiding, I feel its only fair to say that Arsenal never gave up the fight, every Arsenal player gave their all right up to the final whistle. Wenger in his interview after the game had got his composure back and admitted that our defending was not good enough, not enough challenges had been made and we had not marked well enough.

Wenger I believe, with the side he had to pick from, would have been quite happy with our performance, of course in front of the camera he had to show we could have been better, but they worked and worked, and the best thing was they never gave up. Beaten Bruised and battered they gave their all, and I for one praise them.

Bayern with all their talent, and I must say it is vast, they still had weaknesses and we in all honesty, could and should have made that final score a lot closer. With a full team I believe they are beatable, who knows we may get to play them again with our strongest side, that I look forward to.

Steve Palmer

 

 

 


Where Gunners Dare

November 4, 2015

Permutations. It’s all about permutations and priorities.

BFG or Gabriel, Gibbs and/or Monreal, Flamini or Campbell, defend or attack, 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 or 4-3-3, expect to lose and play at 90% therefore keeping something back for Sunday, prioritise the PL over the CL?

Oh, how I wish we had taken some points from our first two games, if we had then this could be a game where our boys could attack and play our normal game, testing our wonderful flowing inventive football against the best in the world. As it is, I expect Arsenal to use the same tactics as in the home leg – defend and hope to hit on the break.

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Munich’s Finest

This being the case I would start Flamini alongside Coquelin and pack the midfield especially as the brilliant Bellerin is injured and Robben is fit. I doubt Muller will play so poorly again nor that Neuer repeats his Flapianski mistake, Bayern will be even better.

However, Mr Wenger has stated in his pre-match conference that Arsenal will attack from the start – could I be wrong or is this one of AW’s smokescreens? We shall see.

A forward line of Giroud, Sanchez and Campbell is potent especially with Ozil supplying the ammunition – we can score on the road as we have shown by scoring twice as many goals away from home in the PL as at the Emirates (7 home, 14 away – bet you didn’t know that!!)

I loved the result in the first leg but in all honesty I would have preferred us to try and match BM punch for punch. Playing the Chav way and parking the bus is effective and shows that our team has a Plan B and a Plan C but great teams play attacking football, which is why the Mourinho’s CL victories are so tainted.

BM are a brilliant side, already way ahead in the Bundesliga and are 2/5 on to win tonight; they have won all 7 home games this season. At the Emirates BM controlled possession and the tempo of the game but lost. My fear is that if Arsenal try to do the same tonight we will lose as well. A loss at BM and a draw in the Olympiacos/Zagreb would be OK.

In recent times it is rare that I go into a game thinking that a point would be a wonderful result but a draw in Munich would be fantastic, it may do nothing to help us get out of the group but fantastic nonetheless.

COYRRG


Rope-a-Dope versus Tika Taka

October 21, 2015

In 1974 Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman for the Heavyweight Championship of the World.  Throughout the bout Ali hung on the ropes, covering up, defending and soaking up the punishment being dealt out by the favourite.  When Foreman inevitably tired, Ali took advantage and won the title.  Ali called it his Rope-a-Dope method.

Last night Arsenal emulated the great Ali.

Bayern came to play Tika Taka, a style of football developed at Barcelona under Bayern’s manager Pep Guardiola.  They dominated possession, they dominated passing, they dominated territory.  Arsenal defended, as the first half went on Arsenal defended deeper and deeper, Cech pulled off some terrific saves.  It was not all one way however, Arsenal attacked on the counter and it was Neuer who pulled off a great save to scoop Theo Walcott’s close range header off the line.  Still Bayern created the intricate passing patterns but the didn’t score.

The second half was a repeat of the first, Bayern keeping the ball for long periods, racking up the pass count but being unable to break down Arsenal’s resolute team defending.  Eventually the Bayern players began to tire and the inevitable happened.  Santi Cazorla swung in a free kick from the right, Koscielny went for the ball Neuer flapped at it and missed, Oliver Giroud stumbled into the gap left by Koscielny and somehow got enough contact on the ball to force it over the line.

01

On nil to the Arsenal.

The tiring Bayern players swarmed forward in a desperate search for an equaliser, leaving ever widening gaps at the back.  Hector Bellerin won the ball near the half way line, sprinted forward and beyond his full-back to square the ball to the onrushing Mesut Ozil whose shot crossed the line fractionally before Neuer knocked it out but it was just too late, the fifth official stood with his arm upraised signalling the goal and a remarkable Arsenal win.

02

A two nil victory that seemed as unlikely as Ali’s over Foreman all those years ago in the Rumble in the Jungle.

Written by Norfolk Gooner.

We have been blessed with 2 match reports today – only fitting after such an epic performance :)

…. and now the inimitable Steve Palmer’s unique view of the game …..

Morning all,

And what a beautiful morning it is, One sentence sums up the game just right. Hook, Line and Sinker. They came with a long run of wins, and feeling we would just roll over. They had taken the hook. We gave them line lots of it, and we let them take as much as they wanted, but we defended Magnificently, in  the final minute we sunk them good and proper, the first sinker came after Giroud replaced  Walcott. In the first minute of him coming on, a flighted ball into the box Had their goalkeeper scampering to the penalty spot, but Koshielney’s jump  made him lose sight of the ball, a diving Giroud had the ball hit him, straight in the face which ricochet onto his hand, and then in the goal. Our final sinker was steered in by Ozil, after a fantastic interception from Belerin who robbed the defender by sheer pace , he was being wrestled, but shrugged that off, to slide a perfect pass to our German Midfielder, Hook Line and Sinker in one.
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I watched this game live on TV Lineker gave us little chance, after all Bayern had won Nine Bundesliga games on the trot, plus their last two Champions League games, Ferdinand sporting a beard that did little to hide his wonky mouth, he felt like all defenders, that our defence needed to be aware and Per Merts would have trouble with Lewandowski, after all the man is a goal scoring machine.
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Asked if Arsenal could win this game , Ian Wright said of course, to sniggers from the panel, Michael Ballack Rio Ferdinand all looked at Wrighty, and he said, Well they have to. The talk was all about Lewandowski, Hardly a word about Arsenal but what else would you expect. Even the news reported the game, but no mention of the fantastic win, only about the Bayern Munich fans arriving late to their seats, in way of protesting the price of tickets.
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The fact that Arsenal had beaten probably the best team in the world at the moment, by two goals to nil. was secondary to the price of tickets. Last nights result showed Arsenal to be the best team in the world on the night. When a team claiming to be, the New Invincibles, at the Home of the original Invincible’s, are asking to get beat, and beaten they were.
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Chances for both teams through out the game,  the better chances for us in my opinion, but we squandered them, I felt we could have been leading comfortably at half time, but instead we were level. Bayern had the majority of the possession, and were playing majestically, but they were playing against a very robust Arsenal defence. They tried and tried to force a way  through, but Arsenal were resolute, Arsenals breakaways were fast and swift, often penetrating Bayern’s defences, but poor finishing let them off, time and time again.
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We did have a tendency to rush passes, and we gave the ball away on many occasions, but the way we recovered and massed in force kept Bayern at bay. Every Arsenal player worked their socks off, they worked from the first minute till the last, every one a hero, Sadly Aaron Ramsey suffered a hamstring, and will miss three or four weeks, but every body else walked off Jubilant, and no others looked to have any visible signs of distress, tired of course, but all should be ready for our next game.  Petr Cech made some very good saves, and was adjudged MOTM I felt his half a dozen great saves was secondary to our magnificent  team, i would have awarded it to the whole team.
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There were things that could have been better, but that’s for another day, today is to sit back and reflect, Arsenal’s talents are surprising me more and more.
Steve Palmer.
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………. and just to celebrate the victory from every aspect, here are the thoughts of one of AA’s most insightful analysts Gooner In Exile

It was interesting to hear Ferdinand’s thoughts on Ollie coming on and the difference it made, basically he said that if you are not switched on as a defender it is tough to switch from the way you have attempted to contain the small pacy forward and suddenly you have to switch to a physical game against someone who wants the ball in to his body.

And I guess that the defenders have been worried about the ball in behind so much they are giving themselves one or two yards head start on the foot race, suddenly the ball is going into Ollies body and he is bringing midfielders into the game with a platform. Also the fact that at the set piece with they had to put Muller on Kozzer so the centre backs could deal with BFG and Ollie, and that adds further confusion to their game plan.

Whilst possession might not have been level according to stats zone we had an equal number of shots in the box however we got far more of ours on target, and Munich were adjudged to have 2 clear cut chances whilst we had 4.

And that at the end of the day was the biggest difference.

Here’s a stat for you, we completed 207 of 278 passes against the possibly the best team in Europe, Chavs managed only 278 out of 378 in Kiev with an equal number of passes on the other side.

Biggest difference between us and those Chavs playing Munich in the CL final is the way we break with the ball, it’s not a hit and hope to someone to chase and then attempt to polish a turd, it’s worked through the midfield with pace and precision, we did the same vs City last season.

But best of all is probably the way we have changed our game in the last three matches.

United….high tempo….high pressing….
Watford…..patient…..passing possession…
Munich…..defensive shape…..quick counters…

But obviously we never change our game plan for the opponents :)

The thing is it’s always been the same 11 and the same formation, and that is why players should be able to drop in and out without issues. The subtlety in tactics is what we do with and without the ball.

The thing is we often play sides like Watford so that style gets seen as our norm, we rarely face three contrasting opponents in quick succession so the tactical changes are never as evident.

United have a front three that can hurt you, but if they can’t get the ball to them they can’t hurt you, so you press their poor passing through midfield and from the back, Watford like so many others will sit back and kill you on counter, that tactic will work against us once in awhile but generally we find a way through to a win, and Munich like us to teams like Watford can kill you with fullbacks, midfielders and forwards, so you keep them in front of you and use the ball when you have it well.

There was a very interesting discussion about Klopp and his style on one of the podcasts, basically the theory being that he won’t yet have realised that the game is played at 100mph every week in the PL and that teams do not accept their fate even 1 or 2 nil down. His ability to cope with that will make or break him and his “heavy metal” football at Liverpool.

Gooner in Exile

 


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