First leg verdict : Two slightly differing opinions.

August 20, 2014

Shard’s appraisal

The game yesterday. Frustrating, but not too bad I thought. It was an entertaining enough game. They had at least two glorious chances to win it, but I thought we could have won it as well, despite playing like numpties on ice.

Giroud will undoubtedly get a lot of stick today (when does he not?) and he was pants. Utterly terrible. BUT.. That is not his real level. He’s better than that. I would have liked to see Campbell but I think Wenger wanted Giroud to play through his bad form rather than take him off and have him dwell on it. Height may have been another concern, and once Ramsey went, I don’t think he was going to come off. I also think Wenger isn’t entirely sold on Campbell. The way he talks about him. He says all the right words, but I think he’s a little undecided.

Ramsey’s sending off, I saw it exactly like GIE did. Wilshere looked like he was getting better. Not great yet. Not at his best even. But getting better. Wilshere’s hard tackle when Ramsey was kicked in the abdomen was exactly what was needed. Not reckless, but a response to Besiktas’ increased physicality in the second half.

Besiktas were pressing well, but for the most part we played through their press with calmness (as long as Arteta was there) and I couldn’t help but thinking that a fitter, more settled Arsenal side would have torn them apart. But as we know, we are not at our free flowing best. 0-0 is a bit of a dangerous result, but I still expect us to beat them at home. Even without Ramsey.

Hopefully the returning Germans and some increased rotation will help us against Everton, because that will not be an easy game.

Kelsey’s appraisal.

On the whole I am disappointed with the overall performance yet we live to fight another day.

One can’t make excuses about the pitch as it was the same for both sides,and one can only give an opinion on the players who actually played.

0-0 is okish but at the back of my mind next week there is always the possibility of conceding just the one goal.

The Turks showed their intent from the first few seconds with the cheeky shot that nearly caught Sczsceny by surprise
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They were really up for it, were as physical as any team such as Stoke and we never really let us get into a rhythm.

To me we looked lethargic and a lot of our play was similar to the Palace game.

Ramsey should have known better but these things happen and as Raddy just said Arteta’s injury could keep him out for a few weeks.

If we had lost 3-1 we couldn’t have really complained so luck was on our side and it was a magnificent save from Chamberlain’s shot.
Giroud showed yet again that he is a work horse but not a game changer.
Chambers again thrown into the deep end only made one real mistake and looked very composed.

Debuchy as well looked the part but generally our small lightweight team never feel comfortable in these sort of games
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If the three Germans are back next week that may well make a difference but our defence still looks very vulnerable and now we have the daunting task of Everton Away before we even think of the return leg.

Two games in and and the injuries are already mounting up.

kelsey/Shard


So, Why Was Sanogo Even Playing?

August 18, 2014

I over heard this question no less than three times as I weaved my way through the throng of people drinking beer and chatting during the half time interval in an attempt to stretch my legs.

It was fairly easy to tell that had it not been for Koscielny’s equalising goal only some five minutes earlier these same people would have been asking the same question but with far greater ferocity.

Sanogo

They may have had a point: Arsenal played in the same frustrating way as they did last season against opposition who, as predictably as Sunday follows Saturday, were always going to park the bus and waste time whenever they possibly could. This is exactly what they did and I should add that part of Crystal Palace’s predictable plan would have been to try and nick a goal from a set piece and that again is also what they did.

The answer as to why Sanogo was playing was fairly obvious to me: our new system is simply not ready yet; the system I refer to is dependant on our new 40 million pound player named Alexis Sanchez.

Last season Wenger would have fielded pretty much the same team only with Sagna and Giroud. Sagna would have whipped in high crosses which Palace would have dealt with as easily as they did on Saturday when Debuchy sent in high crosses for Sanogo. The result being that Palace regained possession and we had to work harder than we needed in getting the ball back.

The other frustrating similarity to last season is that although we still have the players whose intricate passing is capable of producing the wonder goal that Jack Wilshere finished off against Norwich. This doesn’t happen enough and by that I mean that Barcelona do this on a weekly basis and so should we. We certainly didn’t look capable of producing such a goal against Palace and that, like last season, was down to Sanogo’s lack of close control which is equally as lacking as Giroud’s.

This brings me back to the new system I expect to see adopted in the coming weeks. In an attempt to explain I ask this: do you think that Ozil is going to be left out of that team? No, you do not. Now imagine Sanchez playing up front instead of Sanogo against Palace with Ozil on the right.

It this scenario it would have been totally pointless of Debuchy to send in high crosses; he would be forced to do something different. I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he can adapt quickly even through the brain washing he received at Newcastle to send in high crosses time after time must be deeply ingrained.

On a side note, did you ever ask yourself after noticing that Barcelona had just beaten some low league team 46 –nil or something equally ridiculous, why the opponents don’t park the bus and waste time in the same way as Palace did on Saturday? The answer is that their opponents do try — but they fail. The reason that Barcelona are able to find a way through is that everyone of their attack has exceptional close control. Well now for the first time since Henry, Bergkamp, and Pires played together — so do we.

The combination of Ramsey, Cazorla, Ozil and Sanchez is as good as any other in Europe when it comes to close control and super quick passing. They would have found a way past that tall lumbering Palace defence in no time. In fact this is the new system that I refer to and expect to be deployed with great effect against every team whose predictable game plan is to simply park the bus.

The unavailability of Ozil goes some way to explaining why Sanogo was playing but to me there is more: just look at the fixture list in March; we could have Capital One Cup games, FA Cup games, Champions League Games and EPL games. We will need Sanogo to feel part of the squad, up to speed, ready to go and the only way that that can happen is if he plays now, while he can, before the new system comes into force.

Many would have preferred Giroud on Saturday but just look how he tired towards the end of last season only having Bendtner as back up and therefore having to play so many games.

Wenger made a judgement call on Saturday that Sanogo would offer enough offensively to get a result while enabling him to take one step closer to justifiably being picked as a first team starter and he was right.

I hope this makes sense, if not I refer you to a comment made on this site after the game which sums this all up far more succinctly than I could:

“I don’t give a monkey’s “rectum” how we played, we got the three points.”

Written by LB


Ramsey rescues Ring Rusty Gunners

August 17, 2014

Some may query my headline but that is exactly what Aaron did.

I have already read countless opinions dissecting every detail of the game from time wasting by Palace, and parking not one but two buses in two banks of four, poor refereeing, first win by us in five years, only home win of the day, but most importantly we gained the three points.

Overall it was obvious how Palace were going to play as this was Pulis’s team and to give credit to them they are a vastly improved outfit and finished a creditable eleventh last season.

It was obvious from the start that some of our players were fitter than others and generally the the three debutantes had a reasonable game.

Chambers could turn out to be one of the best young buys of the season. Debuchy played his part and his whipped cross into the box will produce goals. Sanchez though by no means perfect oozes class and is also not scared to get stuck in, so all in all no complaints there.

What worried me was the predictable pattern in the game that we have seen so often.

We dominate possession for the best part of half an hour without really threatening only for the opposition to score after an initial rash moment by Szczesny,which lead to a corner and Hangeland basically had a free header to score. Yet the same could be said for the Palace defence when an excellent free kick by Sanchez left Koscielny completely unmarked, but to give him credit he guided the ball well past Speroni.

Even with substitutions at half time because of yet another in jury to Gibbs our game didn’t improve much, though as one who has questioned Monreal quite often, he contributed quite well.

With twenty minutes left we finally seemed to find our rhythm better and the introduction of Giroud proved to be a far better option than Sanogo who IMO is at least two seasons away of possibly becoming a real striker.The OX for Wilshere was the right decision.

I don’t feel it is appropriate to criticize every seasoned player on the pitch on the opening game, but one would have thought after the resounding victory over City last week, regardless of who played, that confidence would have been at a premium.

We need a top class striker but we won’t get one and more to the point are there any available, but more importantly we need a player who can cover for Gibbs or Monreal on the left side of the defence.

The three Germans returning don’t resolve these problems so hopefully a quality versatile defender who can play left side will be purchased before the end of this month.

If Koscienly suffered an injury our defence would really suffer so although Wenger has a real headache as to chose the numerous options of attacking midfielders our defence still needs bolstering

kelsey.


Arsenal’s Top Gunner 2014-15

August 15, 2014

Only three ways to go upon arrival at my Uncle Earnests’ house.

Upstairs. Perfectly clear what his intentions are here. Might hurt, but pretty straight forward stuff. Downstairs into the basement, or what he refers to as his “private dressing room”. Yeah right. Good luck down there. Finally, sideways, down a long corridor and into his Incident Room.

The Incident Room overlooks a large expanse of Scottish sea loch, where Earnest keeps the odd lobster pot. Poachers frequent these wild and isolated open spaces. Earnest does not believe they have any “rights” whatsoever, and are themselves fair game. He had a plan, and it involved me.

My brother and I were lead to the Incident Room. We entered. Holy Crap. The enormous room had its vast French doors flung open. The aperture was filled with a large cannon retrieved from a Spanish Galleon. Ropes securing it some shrubs outside to prevent damaging recoil. Next to the beast was a brass monkey and a pyramid of 2” iron cannonballs.

Into my hands went a box of matches, and into my brothers a hideously dangerous looking mop with its head dripping in paraffin. Earnest stood safely outside with his telescope. “Ready. Light. Fire”.

I’ve been almost deaf in my left ear ever since. Anyhow, the thought of cannons makes me think of The Arsenal and Gunners.

Last season, the surprise package and Top Gunner was Aaron Ramsey. Who could emerge from the shadows during this campaign? Given injury free runs, I think the contenders are Jack, Abou, The Ox, Mesut, Ollie, Yaya, Joel and of course Sanchez.

The reason I’ve selected these boys is that I believe they could all progress to new heights. You will also notice how I have not included any defensive players. This is because they are boring, and are simply there to do a job, not entertain.

Earnest is an entertainer, but has peaked. Who at Arsenal is an entertainer that could fire us to new heights? My money is on The Ox.

Written by MickyDidIt89


Where will Arsenal’s goals come from?

August 14, 2014

During this pre-season period a lot of attention has been paid to our defence and a lot of analysis has been undertaken on the subject.  We were badly exposed defensively in 4 games during the 2013/14 season losing all 4 away games in an embarrassing fashion 3-6 to Manchester City, 1-5 to Liverpool, 0-6 to Chelsea and 0-3 to Everton.

For those 4 games we had an average of 5 goals against per game and that accounted for 48.8% of our total PL goals against during 2013/14. For the remainder of the season we had 21 goals scored against us in 34 games for an average of .62 per game; which was the second lowest goals against average in our PL history; .45 was the best in 1998/99. So were we poor defensively for the whole season or did we simply have 4 shocking games?

This season defensively we have lost Sagna and Vermaelen but have brought in Debuchy as cover for RB and Chambers as cover for RB/CB, plus AW is on record as saying that if Vermaelen left he would look for a replacement – three questions linger.

Is Chambers the CB replacement?

Will he buy another CB?

Are we weaker if we do not get a replacement CB?

Enough about our defence for now I would like to concentrate on our offence and our scoring ability, let’s start off with a few statistical facts.

In 2013/14 we scored 34 goals less than the Champions.

Our goals against difference were 43 less than the Champions.

Our goals against were only 4 more than the Champions.

To my way of thinking everything points towards the offence as being our issue and not our defence, which raises another question.

Where will our goals come from?

We only scored 68 goals in 2013/14, which was 5th worst since Arsene has been our manager. Let’s take a look at who scored our PL goals in 2013/14.

Giroud – 16

Ramsey – 10

Podolski – 8

Walcott – 5

Chamberlain – 4

Cazorola – 4

Wilshere – 3

Ozil – 3

All others – 15

Sanchez scored 12 in 2010/11, 15 in 2011/12, 11 in 2012/13 and 21 in 2013/14, is he our ace in the hole, or do we still need more offensive power?

GunnerN5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Arsenal’s four new faces, how will they fit in?

August 12, 2014

The Premiership doesn’t get under way until next weekend but the Community Shield curtain-raiser gave us a chance to size up our reinforced squad.

Although our trio of World Cup winners was be missing, due to Wenger’s generosity in allowing them a couple of weeks extra holiday, it was instructive to see how Alexis, Campbell, Chambers and Debuchy got on against the reigning Premiership Champions.

The Emirates Cup produced a truly Jekyll and Hyde performance, an excellent and inspiring win over Benfica followed by a lack-lustre, low key kick about against a more committed Monaco team.

Joel 1

Campbell, who spent last season on loan at Olympiacos, looked comfortable against Benfica and took his scoring opportunity with aplomb. His World Cup and Champions League experience will stand him in good stead, as will the memory of scoring against Man. U. at Old Toilet. Not much can be said about his all too brief contribution against City, but he didn’t seem to be fazed by the occasion.

Calum 1

There has been much talk about Chambers and the possibility of his moving to central midfield but for the present, and in the absence of Mertesacker and the sale of Vermaelen, it appears logical to retain him at centre back where he did very well in his two previous outings. In another assured performance, against City, he showed good positional sense and the calmness of a much more experienced defender. Certainly one for the not too distant future.

Debuchy 1

Debuchy should slot in well at right back, an experienced international and, more importantly, an experienced Premiership player he has all the attributes to succeed as the long term successor to Bacary Sagna. He also had a good game, not only defensively but also showed his willingness to get forward and into the opposition’s box.

Alexis 1

And finally…Alexis. Of all the players signed during Arsene Wenger’s reign this one can stand alongside those other ready-made stars Vieira, Pires and Ozil. Of course Dennis Bergkamp should be included but, strictly speaking, he was signed on Bruce Rioch’s watch. A truly exciting signing, a player who can score goals, can light up a game with his pace, movement and trickery on the ball. His 45 minute cameo was enough to show that he can slot seamlessly into Arsenal’s attack. Finally I believe he will show just how good he is now that he’s out of Messi’s shadow.

Personally, I’m really excited by the signing of Alexis, more so even than that of Mesut Ozil last season. I think he is the player that Arsene has been looking for over the long lean years of Emirates Stadium debt. The player who will make a real difference. One that can inspire the team and make a big contribution to the future success of Arsenal FC.

Norfolk Gooner.

 

 


Never mind the media bias – We laid down a Marker

August 11, 2014

If you support Arsenal then we emphatically beat the current Premier league holders, if not it was just a training session or to some yet another pre season friendly.

All I kept hearing was that City had so many players missing including Lampard, of all people, and Sagna. If Debuchy could play then so could Sagna. Of course the small matter of our three World Cup winners not even back in training was hardly mentioned.

I think Arsène Wenger summed it up pretty well.

“To win the Community Shield gives us a positive platform to prepare, but now the Premier League starts and we have to start well,” he said.

“We know that last season we were very consistent against the teams outside the top six and not consistent against the top six teams. The year before it was reversed, so let’s hope that this year it will be right on both sides.”

Three excellent goals from Cazorla,Ramsey and Giroud and promising displays by so many it would be hard to pick a man of the match. Chambers yet again showed his maturity for one so young, Debuchy had a solid game, Santi seemed to have recovered his form, Sanogo though not perfect caused havoc in City’s defence and with a little more composure will become a good asset for the squad. Alexis will ooze class and I for one can’t wait to see him, Ozil and Ramsey play together.

I could mention every player who all contributed to playing as a team and for the best part of an hour we bossed the game and even after several substitutes by both teams the result was never in doubt.

Wenger now has the pleasant headache as to who leave out and for the majority of players to think they are an automatic choice to start, they might just have to think again. Competition is healthy.

Confidence and an eagerness to perform well was the key to this result and this should bode us well.

With Vermaelen gone I expect another signing and if we can drop down the injury league table we have a fine chance of winning the League.

All in all a more than satisfactory performance and for all the statisticians out there, when did we last win a Final at Wembley by three clear goals.

kelsey


Back to Wembley

August 10, 2014

Who on earth that lives in Islington would choose a second home in the suburbs of London?

Looks like The Arsenal have. Here we go again, and I feel it may become a familiar journey.

I cannot tell you how well prepared our opponents, Manchester City, are and how they stand in terms of injuries, fitness, or pre-season form, so I’ll briefly focus on The Arsenal.

Another week in the fitness boot camp should see the side a little sharper than during last Sunday’s game. I don’t know whether our Germans will be ready, but I doubt it, which will leave an insecure defence. I say insecure, not because of the quality of the players on the field today, but rather, because more than anywhere else, it’s an understanding between them that matters, and that takes time.

Up front, the question is where does Alexis play. Personally, I think we looked much sharper with The Chilean in the middle. So I’d love to see him flanked by pace, which means Joel and The Ox.

With Arteta likely to team up with Ramsey, that would leave Santi best suited to fill the void left by the recovering Mesut.

I do, however, see a strong case for playing Mozart, and that would mean leaving out Joel.

Anyway, it would be lovely to get a win and a trophy ahead of the real battle next weekend, but equally important, for Arsène to reveal more about his thinking.

A great season lies ahead, and how exciting to have genuine options for a pre-match chat down the boozer.

Written by MickyDidIt89


Wembley memories – FA Cup 2014

August 9, 2014

A Vines’ Day out at Wembley

Saturday 17th May 2014

We set off at 8am from Nottingham to make sure of getting to Moons in plenty of time to become completely incoherent by 5pm.  Arriving at our Beaconsfield ‘budget’ hotel at just after 10am gave us plenty of time to  get a car park sticker (too early to check in),  walk to the bus stop for a short trip to Beaconsfield railway station and catch the 10.26 bus. The sun was already beating down and sun cream had been applied to all exposed parts.  Getting to the bus stop, we found out the boggers had changed the bus times a week earlier without letting us know! (Ant was gutted that the chance for a swift one at the ‘Spoons alongside the hotel had been forsaken)

A

 

A month earlier we had got the same bus and the bus driver had been a chav who said that the price for Gooners was 5 pounds, so when the bus finally came, Ant thought it was the same driver and asked what the fare was for Arsenal supporters. The foreign bus driver wondered why two fools dressed in red were talking to him as if they knew him. He tried to charge us more than last time but we negotiated the same price as before. Ant posted the following photo to Facepalm with the caption “Bus wankers” after a sketch from The Inbetweeners.

A2

We received an update from the Croydon branch of the Vines Gooners and discovered we were all wearing different Arsenal tops. Unforgiveable in Micky’s eyes for grown men to wear replica shirts but, come on, we had to wear red to Wembley even those of us that weren’t attending the stadium!

A3

 

By the time we got to Moons the Bus wankers photo had 12 likes. Jon and Matt arrived at the pub soon after us and Jon revealed his creation for the match. She Wore was sung with gusto and a few lucky Gooners had the opportunity to have their photo taken with the banner.

The atmosphere at Moons was lacking some vibrancy so we decamped for The Green Man.  The banner was tied up alongside the same burger van as we’d been in front of with the puffing giant from Norfolk at the semi and provided lots more photo opportunities for munching Gooners. Dennis knows what this chap had found in his burger!

A4

 

Ant managed to catch about 15 seconds of the AwayBoyz (sorry lads).  More photos galore and the odd pint followed.  Ant asked this chap what the hair piece was all about and he replied that it was a Niklas Bendtner tribute.

A5

The fence alongside us was being used as an extra toilet and Ant proceeded to take a few snaps of a few fans in the act.

A6

We had a bet on the nationality of the girl in the shorts below, some swearing blind that she wouldn’t be from North London, others wondering why not.  Turns out she was Croatian!

A7

 

Matt had produced an American themed packed lunch. Jon was distinctly unimpressed with the peanut butter and jelly roll! I remember eating Mesut’s Buffalo Chicken Wingers and Karbassiyoon’s Chicago Style Pizza, but can’t for the life of me remember Stan’s Thanksgiving buffet.

a8

 

One last photo in front of the banner and it was off to the ground.

A9

 

I do remember receiving a phone call from Micky just as we were leaving the pub but the man was talking such absolute gibberish, I had to cut him off. J The journey up from Devon with the plastic sheet must have taken it out of him.

When we arrived, the ground looked very red apart from a small gold and black section. This just had to be our day and it turned out that it was, as Rambo’s goal saved us from having to endure a win on spawny penalties.

A9a

 

We went back to The Green Man for a few liveners. Much needed at this juncture and then went back to the curry house we’d been to a month previously at the semi-final.

A9b

 

The train journey back was not particularly pleasant with one lad (not a football supporter) slumped over a waste paper bin being sick (luckily there was a plastic bin liner present).  His mate was dancing by himself to some shite music on his phone. When he started grabbing at Ant’s bag, “you’re not messing with my flags” quickly put him in his place.

We phoned for a luxury Merc taxi back to hotel to get back for the highlights. The poor chap on the check-in desk got some abuse when he couldn’t get the card machine to accept payment straightaway. Well we may have been missing the start of the programme!  We loved watching all the goals go in for the first time on a small screen and Ant swears I was snoring before the analysis section.

Football always has that capacity for the most extreme memorable highs. Thankfully this was one of them.

FA Cup Winners 2014 and what a belting day, bliss.

A lovely contribution by chas and his family

 

 


Champions League draw today

August 8, 2014

I do like it best when we avoid having to play our way into the Champions League. To me, it’s unimaginable that Arsenal would not have a place in Europe’s premier competition and so I’m always worried that there’s a banana skin waiting at this stage.

Last season we breezed past Fenerbahce in the play-offs with Aaron Ramsey scoring two goals in the home leg to finish 5-0 on aggregate.

These are the teams we could face in today’s draw.

Spanish side Athletic Bilbao are in the draw. They finished fourth in La Liga. They were also seeded until Russian side Zenit St Peterburg – who have a higher co-efficient – beat Cypriot side Limassol in the third qualifying round. On paper they are probably the team to avoid.

Arsenal are seeded and so the other unseeded teams that we can be drawn against are FC Copenhagen (Denmark), Lille (France), Besiktas (Turkey) and Standard Liege (Belgium).

The two-legged ties will be played on 19-20 and 26-27 August.

The draw takes place today at 11.00 BST.

MickyDitIt, I believe, is hoping for a trip to Copenhagen although Bilbao would be his second choice.

Whoever it is we meet, I can’t wait to hear the Champions League anthem ringing out around the Emirates Stadium.

peachesgooner

 

 

 


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