Monday Morning Blues

November 23, 2015

I think we were all looking forward to taking three points from the game and putting pressure on City at the top of the Premiership. Sadly that was not to be.

There were sufficient omens before the game to dampen our expectations. We had half a team in the treatment room, we were playing a Pulis side which is morphing into his old Stoke City just as they are throwing off their Orc reputation and starting to play football.  Our players had barely time to catch their breath after the Internationals and we have a Champions League game to follow.

Having said that, we started with our first choice ’keeper and back four, our mid-field pairing of Cazorla and Coquelin were in place only Gibbs, playing on the left with Alexis wide right, has not been a regular starter while Giroud has taken over as central striker since Walcott’s unfortunate injury.

It was when things started to go wrong, with Le Coq forced off by injury, that the threadbare nature of our squad became horribly evident. A rusty Arteta was making heavy weather of his role alongside Cazorla and despite Giroud’s headed goal two errors by Arteta meant we went in at half-time 2 – 1 down.

The second half quickly saw Arteta off with a calf injury with Flamini replacing him and then Gibbs giving way to the uninspiring Joel Campbell, further evidence of the weakness of  the bench.

So just what was it that induced the Monday morning blues?

Well, for me it is the realisation that over  the many games played against Pulis’ teams we still haven’t learnt how to deal with that particular style of play.

On top of that we are most certainly being bitten in the bum by the failure to recruit a decent back-up for Le Coq, as well as a distinct lack of an alternative striker.

Finally, with City losing at home to Liverpuddle we wasted a wonderful opportunity to move to the top of the table.

Oh, those Monday morning blues!

Written by Norfolk Gooner

Arsenal succumb to defeat as injury crises deepens!

November 22, 2015

Hussein 1

A dismal day at the Hawthornes for the Gunners was compounded by a key injury to Francis Coquelin and leaving Arsenal even further in the injury mire.

The day started with much optimism as the teams came out. There was a moment to pay respects to victims of the horrific Paris attacks last week as the French national anthem was played.

The match began and the tackles were flying in and with one resulting in Coquelin going off and being replaced by Arteta. The fans were very worried and the hardcore travelling fans were left ruing further injury misery. It was evident that Coquelin was one player Arsenal could ill afford to lose due to the tenacity he brings to the midfield. To add insult to injury (no pun intended) the fans were left bemoaning the decision to bring Arteta on rather than Flamini.

Arsenal got in their stride and without looking too convincing took the lead with another Giroud goal from a Mesut Ozil free kick, the German delivering yet another assist.

Then the mayhem occurred. A disputed free kick was awarded to West Brom which was cut back for Morrison who was left unmarked to flick the ball past Cech. The Arsenal supporters were left raging at the lack of marking fuelling their anger at Per Mertesacker. Then just before half time another sucker punch. West Brom worked the ball down the Arsenal right and the low cross was diverted by Arteta into his own net. The fans were left seething about Arteta and considered this a double whammy with him playing then scoring an own goal. One fan was so furious and shouting vitriol towards the team due to the manner of the West Brom goals that he made his way to the concourse for an early drink.

The second half began with Arsenal bombarding the West Brom goal. Mesut Ozil came a whisker away from restoring parity as he hit the post and Kieran Gibbs was then denied at the back post. West Brom thought they scored a third and put Arsenal out of reach but the ball did not cross the line.

Then there was hope.. Campbell went down in the box and Santi Cazorla took the responsibility to put Arsenal level. The West Brom players were then playing mind games with Santi putting him off and there were even suggestions in the crowd that the West Brom players were kicking the spot… Their dirty tactics paid off as Santi fluffed his lines and his penalty went over the bar.

West Brom secured the 3 points and the West Brom fans were ironically chanting Santi Cazorla’s name much to their delight trying to wind the Arsenal fans up. To the Arsenal fans credit they took it with a pinch of salt with most putting today’s defeat to injuries and misfortune. A miserable day for the Gunners but we move on now.


Written by Sir A Hussein

Remember your Shinpads

November 21, 2015

Much to look forward to today – a possible Merinho breakdown, Klopp’s second defeat in a row, the Classico, MU downed by the rampant Hornets. What I am not looking forward to is the physicality of a game at the Hawthorns.

I have nothing against WBA, I admired them during the Big Ron era for their support of black footballers, also that they would routinely gift us 3 points at home and away, but things are different today; today they are managed by Tony Pulis.


Imagine how you would feel if it was announced that Mr Wenger was to be replaced by Pulis? First out of the door would be Ozil – Pulis would never have an artist in his team. Theo Walcott? No chance – the man is a wimp. Cazorla? A holding midfielder who can’t kick indiscriminately  and physically oppress the opposition. Going through our team how many would get picked by Pulis? I would hazard a guess at Alexis, Coquelin, BFG and Gabriel.

Having said that, it is one of the pleasures of football that there are many ways to win 3 points and perhaps it would be boring if only fluent, attacking, exciting, skilful, intelligent football was the only style on offer. (a little BR joke for those who are too literal)

In 12 PL games WBA have scored 10 times, have collected 26 yellow and one red card (we have the lowest in the PL with 12/2). They have 4 points from 6 home games and are without question the dullest team to watch in Europe, if not the world, universe, galaxy, etc.

I wonder what Pulis makes of Mr. Wenger. What must he think when reading of AW wanting to bring out the beauty in his footballers? Of his eloquence following a match and his humour at press conferences?

This is not to say that Pulis is thick – he clearly isn’t but I hate his football philosophy. I hated his violent Stoke team. I hated his defence of Shawcross. I hate his idea that if you cannot win by playing with the ball then play the man. It is offensive.

We celebrate the return of Bellerin. I understand Debuchy’s frustration regarding his relegation to the bench which may affect his Euro place but Bellerin is fantastic – perhaps the best AFC debut season since that bloke who is on the bench at Stamford Bridge.

Unfortunately Ramsey is not available until mid-week and IMO he is the lynchpin of the side. We have struggled in his absence especially in the Spurs game.

Santi is fit again and played well for Spain, scoring a fantastic goal which may initiate his Arsenal goal scoring. It is a mystery that such a talented player cannot hit the target.

Alexis played two full competitive games for Chile and will surely be rested for much of the game. Who takes his place? I guess Campbell will continue out right and Arteta or Flamini alongside Coquelin allowing Cazorla to play further forward.

The bookies have us as 8/15 favourites. I am less confident.

But beating a Pulis team makes for a happy Big Raddy household and I am sure the Arsenal squad and backroom staff are all in favour of that.

Let it be so.



Beer and pies ruin football ………….

November 20, 2015

Much has been written about prices of tickets for football games and the proud club of ours is, as usual, top of the table of most expensive tickets. I am sick of hearing the clap trap that footy has become the sport for the wealthy. It’s not the tickets that screw up the bank balance, it is all the booze and pies you consume when at the Emirates. Bring your own pies and flask, and you stand to save yourself a few bob.

And it is you, yes you moany git who is the first to moan about the ticket prices, but at the same time insisting on Wenger buying Benzema, Cavani and Krychowiak in one big swoop.

I am sure some will come after me with open flick knives, but I am a keyboard hero and don’t care and will carry on – I was stunned after reading the following comments yesterday:

“Couldn’t get tickets (for WBA at the Hawthorns). It’s getting harder and harder.

Or for Aston Villa. Villa sold out to 20+ – we have 19! (away credits)

Liverpool away on a Wednesday flippin night in January for over £50 and a crap view. Probably won’t go down to our level of away credits anyway.
Might have to go to flippin Stoke away 4 days after. At least we’ll have 20 away points then and have a little more chance for other tickets.”

Two most disgraceful Arsenal fans, with season tickets and 100 years of support between them cannot get tickets for the above games. Not that they wanted to see those games, after all it is just WBA, Villa and Pool, but they live for those trips away – camaraderie, greasy pies, crisps and lots more of junk food, washed down with gallons of booze, sing alone, some funny snaps and their lives are complete.

They schlap week in and week out 300 miles round trip by car, by train and on foot, pay year after year for the season tickets and cannot attend games because all chits were sold out. Shocking! And there is only one way to resolve it – bump up the prices! That way there will be plenty of tickets for those who really want to see a game and are prepared to bring their own sandwiches to balance the books.

How much are you prepared to pay for a ticket? I think £50 is reasonable for most games. Double it for most popular games and half for lesser opponents.


Stay vigilant, Manager of the month‏

November 17, 2015

Morning all

We start a new week and boy what a week we have just had. Unsurprisingly, Arsène Wenger being voted Manager of the month has been overshadowed by world events. Of course the things that have happened have shocked us all, but that’s life as we know it now. The events that have led to these tragic stories, we can only hope, that it has shown what can and does happen in life, and hope we can learn from these tragedies.

Arsène of course is French, so he would have been knocked sideways by these happenings, but still Manager of the month, and in my mind well deserved, second in the league sharing the same points as leader’s Manchester City. Wenger has got the team together and pulled back the gap that had started to widen, he had stopped the rot you may say.

Yes through our fight, we have had casualties, at present we have almost a whole team of players injured, but by the time the Internationals are over we may just start getting a few back. I never like to predict who will come back from injury, as soon as you say they seem to have a relapse, and then we hear another couple of months.

Some who have had surgery will recover as per normal those with hamstrings should almost be back to normal those with groin trouble who can say, as the groin is a tender place as we all well know. The Internationals came at a time when a few of our players who normally join their countries squads, had been injured, so of course they couldn’t be included, for those who were ok, of course, they joined their squads. What we need to hear after this coming weeks games, is that we have no new injuries.

Our next league game is West Bromwich, hopefully we can assemble a team that can compete, and gain the 3 points on offer. There are some around us that want us leading the league clear by Christmas, and a good possibility of that happening if all goes well. Arsenal it has to be said have huge numbers of injuries every season, whether all clubs suffer the same numbers I am not that sure, but it certainly hurts us.

For those interested, I had my first Pike match yesterday, needless to say only thirteen turned up and only one pike was caught, sadly not by me, blinding bit of news I thought, a little more light hearted than the news we have been hearing, that’s for sure.

For those with season tickets or intentions of attending matches, keep vigilant and keep aware, big stadiums with many people need all eyes open to stay safe. Enjoy your football and respect your neighbour.

Steve Palmer


A Game of Mixed Feelings

November 9, 2015

So in the end no significant damage done. One of our tougher fixtures out of the way, played on the back of a number of injuries, and we are still joint top.

I must say that I really thought we were getting on top of these injuries but it seems to be rearing its ugly head again. It is entirely possible that we will fall just short in this title race because of injuries so it is really getting to the point where greater examination is required. Is it the types of players we buy? Is it that we don’t have a medical team as up to date with the latest sports science? Is the medical team actually fine but are not allowed to implement the regimes they want by the manager at the expense of a training regime he prefers?

Whichever, there comes a point when so much “bad luck” over such a long period of time has to be re-considered to a possible upgrade of incompetence, especially if it is the “n’th” season in a row and becomes the key factor that stops us winning a title we could have secured.

Now onto the game. We were poor in many parts of it but in terms of chances created and clear goal-scoring opportunities we were generally on an equal footing, so in the end I don’t think a draw overly flattered us. It was however one of those games where we again looked dis-jointed and by and large you felt we had been outplayed by the end of it. The injuries and lack of options from the bench didn’t help of course, but we did field a pretty decent side that still looked second best to Spurs in general play. Does this worry you?

Looking for the explanation to this dis-jointed performance, (and others before it), seems a tricky one but I feel a pattern is emerging. Identifying a pattern is the first stage to being able to put it right. Actually the game last year at WHL had a very similar feel to it. In that game we looked second best (and didn’t hold out for the draw in the end) but actually had a better team to choose from with better options from the bench then. I have a take on this regular return to disjointed performances………….but some of you will not like it…………and it is mainly concerned with the striker……….sorry!!

Looking at Pocchetino I feel he is one of the breed of new younger managers and is cut from the same cloth as the likes of Guardiola, Klopp, and Simeone. Obviously he doesn’t have the same players to work with that Guardiola does, but I feel he adheres to the high pressing game that Guardiola’s teams also play. This style of play seems to cause us problems, yet if we are coached to be the slick passing team that is the apparent hallmark of Arsene Wenger sides then why do we not overcome it?

The answer for me comes from looking at how the high pressing sides set up and what its potential weaknesses could be. The high pressing sides have to play a high defensive line once they have you defending. This compresses the space and makes it much harder to pass it out from the back. Also the high pressing teams like to face towards the opposition goal but the weakness of this is if you can turn them around and make them chase back. To do this you need to be able to by-pass the first couple of players pressing high and also have the ability to get behind the high defensive line.

The type of striker you are playing, for me, becomes very important in overcoming teams that want to play this way. It needs to be a striker who is moving into positions to offer himself as an option to the defence, but also one that can threaten the large space behind their high defensive line. As such I don’t think we have the right player in the squad at the moment for this, but unfortunately I still feel the quicker Theo is the better option.

Ollie just doesn’t have the pace and this allows the high pressing teams to lay their high defensive line without fear. I hope FGG doesn’t mind but I will use part of one of his comments if I may.

Even though Giroud missed some clear chances today, I think we would’ve really struggled had he not been playing. Spurs really pressed us and often forced us to play long. Imagine if all those long balls had been aimed at Walcott! Giroud’s finishing may be questionable but his ability to turn long balls into an attacking platform is second to none.

You see for me rather than that statement being a solution I see it as the problem. Firstly I don’t think Giroud secures the possession from balls coming his way as often as is made out when positively referring to him as being excellent at holding the ball up. Secondly long balls to him from defence are always going to be less accurate than a ground pass when played over a similar distance, and as such it is more likely the opposition defence will win it back and just recirculate the attack again. Thirdly, should we really be thinking along the lines of the best striker option for us is the one that is best at receiving long balls? Are we that team?

People can throw individual stats at it as much as they like, and feel free to do so, but I will make a point that I have made before. Regardless of whether he scores or not the whole team just seems to play better with the quicker Theo. Most of the performances we have been happy with have been with Theo starting as striker, while I feel most of the disjointed performances (not all) where we are scratching our heads are when Ollie starts. I just think the qualities of Sanchez, Ozil and Cazorla are more apparent when they play with the quicker Theo.

This is not a slight on Giroud. He is what he is for me, and I strongly feel he is an excellent impact sub at this level, nothing more or less. I feel Ollie is both under-rated and over-rated in equal measure. Interestingly I feel Theo is both Under-rated and over-rated as well, and he still doesn’t do enough for me in offering himself as a quick option when we are defending. He doesn’t move enough into the positions where he could receive an accurate ball (rather than a hit and hope one) and make sure the team has that “out ball” when we have broken down an attack against a high pressing team with a high defensive line. This is more sad for me because Ollie just naturally lacks pace to do this while Theo has it but lacks application for me.

I know Wenger’s hand’s were tied in his options for striker in this game, but part of methinks if Theo was fit he would still have started with Ollie. Impossible to know for sure but that would concern me. At the moment I still feel Theo is our best option to start games, but still think we need a new worldy as it stands, else we will continue to struggle against teams overseen by this new breed of manager with this high pressing high defensive line playing style.

Written by GoonerB

Some Good Advice for Jack Wilshere

November 3, 2015

Dear Jack,

Didit here. Big fan.

Thing is this Jack, you are not just a footballer to me. We share the same DNA. Gunners is what we are, and the blood is thick and the blood is strong.

So here’s the thing. While you’re away getting your legs better, I would really like you to review your attitude. Not a lot, but a little.


With a little less Jack The Lad, and a slightly cooler, calmer head, you have everything to be an Arsenal Captain. Sure, you’re injury prone, but we know how you can resolve that quite easily. Sure, you’re a bit one footed, but then so was Chippy. Sure you’re short, but so is Messi.

Look, I know we talk about break through seasons all the time, and I also know the old captain chestnut keeps rearing its head, but a real opportunity is looming.

Great opportunities come along very rarely in life, and you need to be ready to pounce. The side is desperate for one of our own to take charge, and you are top of the list. Similarly, opportunities to cement a First XI spot appear all the time.

So take your time, get your bits sorted out properly, and come back The Man.

Arsenal need you.

Lots of love



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 576 other followers