Pre-Season almost over.

July 27, 2015

The meaningless pre-season tour to Singapore is over, the Emirates Cup done and dusted. Just one more pre-season game to go before the real business starts.

I know that “Selling Arsenal” is the reason for playing two friendly games in hot and humid Singapore and luckily we got away without any injuries, but was the long trip worth it? I have my doubts.

The Emirates Cup provided an opportunity to look at most of the first team squad and one or two others and at least it was played in the weather conditions likely to prevail once the Premiership gets started. Although the opposition wasn’t too hot, a more than comfortable 6 – 0 win against Lyon and a much tougher game against Wolfsburg which was won by the only goal in the match scored by Theo Walcott.

One Arsenal youngster was particularly impressive. Jeff Reine-Adelaide looks to have the build, pace and technical skill to make it big in the Premiership. It was from his pinpoint pass that Theo scored. He is only seventeen and a lot can happen in a couple of years but hopefully he can become a star in the not too distant future.

Now it’s on to what I hope will prove to be a more competitive game altogether. The Community Shield against the Chavs. Could this prove to be the match where Le Professeur finally puts one over the charming Senhor Mourinho? How sweet that would be.

Looking at the all-round performance, there is definitely a feeling of confidence in the squad, goals came from a variety of sources, the various combinations in defence all looked sound, Petr Cech had no hesitation in ordering his defenders about at corners.

The transfer window is still open, money is available and Wenger has admitted that he could still make a signing or two, if the right player/ players became available.

All in all the future is looking rosy, I think we could do very well in the coming season, I might just have a bob or two on Arsenal winning the Premiership.

Written by Norfolk Gooner.

 


Does Theo Walcott have a future with Arsenal?

July 21, 2015

Much has been written about Arsenal’s longest serving player, most of it half truths and outright lies no doubt.

Reading between the lines reveals some pertinent facts.

1) Theo genuinely wants to play as a central striker.

2) Theo genuinely believes he can succeed as a central striker.

3) Arsene Wenger appears not to be so sure.

4) Arsene Wenger has given Theo a few chances in his favoured position and Theo has taken the chances well, he’s scored goals and important goals at that. But the jury is still out.

Earlier in the transfer window there were all sorts of stories linking Theo with various Premiership clubs, Liverpool, Man United and Chelsea to name just three. It was “reported” that Theo was seeking talks with Wenger about his future playing position and the matter of his present contract was brought up.

Since then, there have been no bids and, apparently, no interest from any club whatsoever. So it’s hardly surprising to read in Monday’s Telegraph that Theo has put the matter of a new contract firmly on the table. “My agent has talked to the club, I enjoy playing for this club so I am just letting them crack on with things and I’ll continue playing football,” Walcott said. “We’ll just play the waiting game and see what happens but I’m sure it won’t be long. This squad, for me, is one of the best I’ve been involved in. I want to be part of that”. “There is something special in this group. We have got to keep this group together as well. I think successful teams stay together for a long time. I think this team can be very successful”.

Now I may be an old cynic but when there are no offers coming in angling for a contract extension, and no doubt a pay rise, seems the obvious thing to do.

Arsene Wenger is, as ever, playing his cards very close to his chest. Words such as “we would like Theo to stay at the club”, do not quite sound entirely enthusiastic. There is no mention of “we will not sell him at any price”.

We have just the one recognised central striker at the club, Olivier Giroud, a player who has yet to convince the Arsenal faithful that he is the answer to all our striker needs. Theo could well be an option but the rumours persist that Arsenal are ready to pay big money for a proven goal scorer. Would the arrival of a new first choice striker put Theo’s nose out of joint? How would Ollie react to moving down the pecking order?

At least Theo isn’t doing a Sterling and trying to engineer a move and Ollie has so far shown no signs of discontent.

Top notch strikers are hard to come by, they cost a lot and demand high wages, some fail to live up to their price and billing. Maybe we should give Theo a new contract, give him a few more chances in his favoured position and hope that it all turns out for the best.

Should he stay? Or should he go?

Written by Norfolk Gooner.

 


Benzema is the only striker Arsenal ‘might’ buy

July 14, 2015

The rumours surrounding Arsene’s admiration for Benzema have been around for several years now. He ticks all the boxes for a striker – big, strong, quick, good finisher and at 27 just reaching his peak, although the sell-on price in 4 years would represent a loss.

Any player who can score 87 goals in 188 games for Real Madrid playing alongside greedyguts me me me Ronaldo must have some quality. Benzema also provides plenty of assists and works hard for the team. He’s no Prima Donna, he doesn’t dive or spend ages lying on the floor pleading to the ref when he’s tackled. He’s a good honest footballer.

I think we all know that Cavani is out of our reach (even if we want him in the first place), Higuain apparently has a ridiculously high buy-out clause, so I reckon if we do sign a big name striker then there is only one candidate out there.

The question of course is whether he is any better than Giroud. My answer would be that he is as much an improvement on Giroud as Petr Cech is on Szczesny, and if we want to go to the next level we will be dealing in smaller incremental improvements. Szczesny is 8 years younger than Cech and may be prepared to bide his time whereas Giroud is a year older than Benzema.

Benzema is more mobile than Giroud, he is quicker and more effective in tight spaces and a better finisher. He tracks back for Real more than Giroud does for Arsenal but maybe wouldn’t be required to do so if playing up top in a 4:5:1 for us.

Is he too much like Giroud? – maybe. What would we do with Giroud if we signed Benzema considering we have Sanchez to score the goals? – good question, I have no answer for that.

Personally I’d like to see Benzema at Arsenal, but I can only see that making sense if we sell Giroud and I think that is unlikely.

 Rasp


The Rime of the Ancient Gooner (With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

July 13, 2015

I saw the old fellow sitting hunched against the wind on a bench in Finsbury Park. He wore a long brown raincoat with a red and white knitted scarf knotted snugly against his scrawny neck, a well worn and faded Arsenal base ball cap, pulled down to protect his balding skull, left only a few stray grey hairs protruding from around the edges.

His faded blue eyes gazed vacantly in the direction of the magnificent Emirates Arena, the weathered and wrinkled skin of his face bore testament to the years spent on the old open terraces of the long gone Highbury Stadium watching, sometimes with joy sometimes with despair but always with hope, his beloved Arsenal.

His fists suddenly clenched convulsively he half rose from his seat, his right arm raising before slumping back on the bench, a single tear appeared in his eye as he relived a missed scoring chance in some long gone long forgotten First Division game. He shivered as the February wind gusted around him and he stuffed his hands deep in his pockets.

I sat down beside him and said “it’s cold today” he jerked and stared around him as if waking from a dream, he looked blankly at me for a moment and then mentally shook himself and returned to the present, “Oh”, he said “I’ve known it colder and at least it’s dry”. I offered him the cup of coffee I’d just bought, he took it gratefully and sipped some of the hot liquid, a hint of colour crept into his pale face.

I asked what he was doing here on such a lousy day, “what else is there to do, I can’t sit about all day at home and there’s no football today”. “No mates” I asked. He gave a mournful sigh and replied “most of them have gone and those not dead are in some bloody care home or another”. “I got chucked out of one last week, me and an old Barney were having a right good laugh when the old dragon who runs the place told us to keep the noise down because we were disturbing the other clients”. “Disturbing this lot” I said, It would need a doodlebug dropping to wake some of them up”. “Well” she said “this facility is only open to my clients and you’re a disruptive influence so I must ask you to leave”.

He lapsed into silence and sipped his coffee. “How long have you been going to Arsenal matches?” I asked. “ About as long as I can remember” he said as a far away look came into his eyes. “My dad used to hide me under his mac and smuggle me in, must have been when I was about five I suppose” he said. “if there was a real crowd in I’d get passed overhead right down to the front. You were only a few feet away from the players boots. It was smashing”. His face lit up briefly at the memory but the smile quickly faded as he went on “Course the war put a stop to that, it put a stop to my dad too, he never came home from Dunkirk”.

In an effort to break the spell I asked “do you still go to matches?” “Well” he said “I still go to the ground and I wander around and watch the crowds enjoying themselves but I can’t afford a ticket and I’m too big to hide under anyone’s coat now” he shrugged resignedly. “so I go and sit in the pub and watch it on tele but it’s not the same somehow”.

It was starting to rain, the wind was getting stronger the old boy shivered. “Look” I said “meet me here at one o’clock next Saturday, I’ll have a spare ticket that you can have and we can watch the game together, how will that be?” His face lit up, a broad smile seemed to sweep away the wrinkles and the years with them. “Do you mean it? Really? He said. “Yes” I replied “I do mean it, we’ll go and watch Arsenal together” The rain was getting heavier, “alright I’ll meet you one o’clock next Saturday on this bench” he said as he got up and walked away in the rain, he looked back smiled brightly and waved, I gave him a thumbs up and turned away.

I got to the bench at a quarter to one, I waited till fifteen minutes to kick off, I watched the game with an empty seat beside me.

Written by Norfolk Gooner


The history of Arsenal’s grounds through the ages

July 9, 2015

Arsenal’s Ground’s

(From 1887 to present))

I thought it would interesting to go back to our roots and take a look at the various grounds that we have played on from our inception in 1887 to the present day.

Let’s start with our very first games which were played on Plumstead Common –

Plumbstead Common

From January 8th, 1887 to June 30th, 1887

(No League games were played)

The Royal Artillery exercised their horses on the common which left the playing surface badly rutted and almost unplayable. The changing rooms were located in several local Pubs and the teams goal posts were stored in a neighbouring back garden and had to be erected for every game. They only played 5 games on the common before looking for another location.

Sportman’s Ground

From September 30th, 1887 to February 12th, 1888

(No League games were played)

The Sportman’s ground was located close to Manor Field and was previously a pig farm. The ground was also located on the edges of Plumstead Marshes and was constantly water logged. Arsenal was beginning to attract hundred if not thousands of fans and that created a problem due to the soggy grounds and inadequate facilities.

Manor Field

From August 1st, 1888 to June 30th, 1889

(No League games were played)

This was another ground that did not fit the team’s needs, they used the Railway Tavern as a dressing room and they borrowed wagons, to create elevation, for the fans to stand on. It became obvious that they had to move when an estimated 10,000 fans turned up for the London Charity Cup final.

Invicta Ground

From September 1st, 1890 to May 31st, 1893

(No League games were played)

This ground was perhaps the best in Southern England as it had a grandstand and a half decent pitch. Although they were shunned by other Southern clubs they went ahead and applied for membership in the league and their application proved to be successful.

In 1891 Arsenal became the first Southern club to turn professional. When the landlord of the Invicta Ground decided to increase the rent Arsenal took the opportunity to move on and they made the decision to purchase Manor Field. Their final game at Invicta was a 0-1 loss to Stoke City on April 29th, 1893.

Manor Field

From August 1st, 1893 to April 27th, 1913

(343 League games were played)

10, 000 fans were in attendance at the first game played here; it was against Newcastle United on September 2nd, 1893 and ended in a 2-2 draw. Their highest attendance was 32,850 against Aston Villa on October 8th, 1904. Their biggest win at Manor Field (which was also their highest all time league victory) was 12-0 against Loughborough on March 12th, 1900; it was also proved to be their lowest crowd when only 600 fans showed up.

In 1893 the club now known as Woolwich Arsenal FC was elected into the Football League Division 2. Due to a crowd disturbance against Burton Wanderers the ground at Manor Field was closed for 5 games; during this period Arsenal played 1 game at Priestfield Stadium and 1 game at Lyttleton Ground.

Sir Henry Norris purchased a plot of land 10 miles away in Islington and Arsenal started to build Highbury Stadium.

Highbury

From September 6th, 1913 to May 7th, 2006

(1,691 League games were played)

The first match at Highbury was 2-1 victory against Leicester Fosse and was watched by a crowd of 20,000. The final match against Wigan Athletic resulted in a 4-2 win and 38,359 people were in attendance.

The highest attendance at Highbury was when 73,295 watched a 0-0 draw against Sunderland on March 9th, 1935. The lowest attendance was when only 4,554 watched Arsenal lose 0-3 to Leeds United on May 5th, 1966.

The biggest home win was a 9-1 victory against Grimsby Town before 15,751 people on January 28th, 1931. The biggest defeat was a 2-6 loss watched by 30,000 against Sheffield United on March 26th, 1921.

Emirates Stadium

From August 19th, 2006 to post GunnerN5

( League games played TBD )

The move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium enabled the club to increase the capacity from 38,419 attendees at Highbury to 60,432 at the Emirates. The increased revenue was needed to allow Arsenal to become more competitive in the transfer market.

The first league goal at the Emirates Stadium was scored by Olof Mellburg of Aston Villa the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

The Emirates story is in progress and will not be completed for many more seasons.

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

Compliments of Arsenal.com here are some famous home and away Firsts…

First competitive match (as Woolwich Arsenal):
v Newcastle Utd (h) – Manor Ground Plumstead 2 Sept 1893 – League (Second Divison) Drew 2-2 (W Shaw, A Elliott)

First competitive match at Highbury (as Woolwich Arsenal):
v Leicester Fosse 6 Sept 1913 – League (Second Division) Won 2-1 (Jobey, Devine pen)

First competitive match as Arsenal:
v Bristol City (h) 4 April 1914 – League drew 1-1 (Winship)

First league match at ‘home’:
v Newcastle Utd (h) – Manor Ground Plumstead 2 Sept 1893 – League (Second Divison) Drew 2-2 (W Shaw, A Elliott)

First league match away:
v Notts County (a) 9 Sept 1893 Lost 2-3 (A Elliott, W Shaw)

First Premier League match:
v Norwich City (h)15 Aug 1992 Lost 2-4 (Bould, Campbell)

First FA Cup match (Played at Manor Ground, Plumstead):
v Ashford United (h) 14 Oct 1893 – FA Cup (1)) Won 12-0 (Elliott 3, Henderson 3, Booth 2, Heath 2, Crawford, Powell)

First League Cup match:
v Gillingham (h) 13 Sept 1966 (Round 2) drew 1-1 (Baldwin)

First home match in European competition:
v Staevnet (Denmark) 22 Oct 1963 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Lost 2-3 (Skirton, Barnwell)

First away match in European competition:
v Staevnet (Denmark) 25 Sept 1963 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Won 7-1 (Strong 3, Baker 3, MacLeod)

First match in UEFA Champions League:
v RC Lens (a) 16 Sept 1998 Drew 1-1 (Overmars)

First match in Charity/Community Shield:
v Sheff Wed at Stamford Bridge. Oct 8 1931, Won 2-1 (Joe Hulme, David Jack)

First match at Emirates Stadium:
v Ajax (Dennis Bergkamp Testimonial) 22 July 2006. Arsenal 2 (Henry 55, Kanu 80) Ajax 1 (Huntelaar 37)

First competitive match at Emirates Stadium:
v Aston Villa 19 August 2006. Arsenal 1 (Gilberto 83) Aston Villa (Mellberg 54)

First player to be sent off at Emirates Stadium:
Ivan Campo (Bolton) (2 yellows) 14 April 2007 (Lge) (won 2-1)

First Arsenal player to be sent off at Emirates Stadium:
Philippe Senderos (v Portsmouth (Lge) 2 Sept 2007 won 3-1)

(Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source 8 Jul 2008)

GunnerN5


Miscellaneous Monday morning musings

July 6, 2015

Good morning AAers, it’s the dog days of summer, the 2014/15 season is just a distant memory, our second FA Cup is safely locked away in the Emirates trophy cabinet.

Chile have won the Copa Americas, the England Ladies secured an historic first ever win over Germany to take the bronze medal in the Women’s World Cup and there is just the final between The USA and Japan to look forward to. Although, by the time you read this the result will be in one way or another.

The back pages have been taken over by Le Tour, Henley and Wimbledon, no not the Crazy Gang, but the genteel game of Lawn Tennis.

Ah Tennis! The game where the players clothing must be predominately white. Audible obscenities, nothing so crude as swearing, are penalised by a one point deduction and smashing your racket over the head of a dilatory ball boy brings a gentle rebuke from the umpire. While out on court young ladies with immaculate make-up and the longest legs known to mankind scream with orgasmic ecstasy when delivering the ball and gentlemen capable of holding two balls in one hand while furiously swinging a racket grunt their way to yet another boring final set.

In football we are left only with the ludicrous transfer speculation of the media and the few tit bits of actual news. Such as Lukas Podolski’s transfer to Galatasary and Sepp Blatter’s refusal to attend his own disgraced organisation’s Women’s World Cup Final in Canada.

One oddity to come out of the Women’s England Germany game, was that Alexandra Popp, one of the German substitutes, came onto the pitch wearing a helmet. Now we all know that our own ‘keeper, Petr Cech, wears a head guard but heading the ball is a very rare event for a goalie but Popp is an outfield player and heading is an integral part of an outfield player’s game. Isn’t the wearing of a helmet gaining an unfair advantage?

Now I know that this hasn’t been a very Arsenaly, or even footbally, sort of post but there really isn’t too much of that sort of thing going on at the moment, so feel free to chat about anything you like.

You usually do any way.

Written by Norfolk Gooner

 


Will Petr Cech make a significant difference?

July 1, 2015

I think we can all agree that Arsenal have been lacking a truly top class ’keeper since “Mad” Jens left. Some would say that the lack goes back further to David “Safe Hands” Seaman’s departure.

We’ve seen a few come and go, Almunia, Fabianski and Mannone, while a few more have stayed, Szczesny, Ospina and Martinez. All have been given a chance to make the Number One shirt their own. None of them have been entirely successful.

The signing of David Ospina during last summer’s transfer window came as a bit of a surprise to most Gooners, he had had a good World Cup, was one of two first team ‘keepers at French Ligue 1 side Nice but was not happy to share the gloves with the young Joris Delle and so signed for Arsenal for around £3 million. He had a good but not spectacular first season and now seems likely to leave for pastures new.

So we come to our latest recruit Petr Cech, one of the rocks that Abramovich’s Chelsea were built on and a mainstay of the side since he joined in 2004, his 333 appearances say a lot about his consistency as well as his talent. There can be no doubt that he played an enormous part in the many successes that Chelsea have enjoyed since Abramovich injected his roubles into the then ailing West London club.

I don’t think there can be any doubt that Arsene Wenger has signed one of the best goalies in the world. I believe that Cech will bring an air of calmness into our defence and will give some confidence to our defenders. My personal belief is that he will certainly make a significant difference to our team and it’s prospects in the coming seasons.

What do other Gooners think?

Written by Norfolk Gooner.


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