We MUST buy a lethal striker?

April 23, 2014

Heard that before? I think we all agree there is a need but this post will investigate a little deeper.

Let’s look at the problem. We have been over-reliant on Giroud, little argument there but why have we been so reliant upon the Frenchman? Because our other strikers have been not performed this season?

Podolski: This is a chap who was a regular scorer in the Bundesliga and for his country; at Kõln his scoring rate was almost a goal ever other game (86 in 181 games), and for his country is the same (48 in 112). What is his rate at Arsenal? 28 goals in 65 appearances . Pretty consistent. What does this tell us about Lucas? In my opinion it says that he is under-rated as a goalscorer – not by Mr Wenger but by the fans. Plus Podolski has been constantly injured starting only 17 PL games this season.

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Walcott: Our top scorer last season and developing into a lethal striker. 21 goals from 43 games  in 2012/13 tells it’s own story, as does 5 in 13 this. In my opinion Walcott could become one of the best forwards in Europe. He has the intelligence and the pace but most importantly he has developed grace under pressure; his finishes are no longer a foot-through- the-ball thrash, they are curlers into the far corner, awesome volleys or dinks over an onrushing keeper – he is the read deal. BUT the man is blighted by injury and not just a single re-occurring problem, shoulder, thigh, knee, foot – he has had them all. Is he unlucky or fragile? Can Arsenal rely upon his fitness when looking at the goal scoring situation?

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Giroud: Not everyone’s favourite but our top cannon. His record in France was 39 goals in 85. First season for AFC, 17 in 47, this season 20 in 45. Pretty consistent and improving.At the moment he is the 7th highest scorer in the PL ahead of Dzeko, RvP, Eto’o, Lukaku, Bony and just one behind Aguero. Crap season? A cart-horse (Clydesdale of course)? Add in 10th in the PL assists and I think OG can be pleased with his work.

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Sanogo: Before coming to Arsenal he had scored at almost 1 every two games  (26 from 55). He was France’s centre forward  and top scorer in their U-20 WC winning team. He has yet to score from 10 appearances for AFC. It is too early to judge but he could be the type of player who once he starts to score cannot stop. The strength, pace, energy and determination are all evident. He just needs to calm down a bit. The jury is out

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Bendtner: What can one say? Best leave it :-D

 

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Attackers out on Loan: Joel Campbell has already shown he can score at the highest level, 21 y.o 8 goals in 21 for Olympiakos and 9 in 31 for Costa Rica is impressive. 20 y.o. Chuks Aneke has a done well at Crewe scoring 16 in 40 – could they step up?

So, given what we have at the club, what do we need? A lethal finisher. But here-in lie problems. Who, how much, where does he play but most problematic of all is that most other teams are looking for the same player.

Chelsea will surely buy a frontman or two or three, Man Utd have serious problems as Welbeck is not consistent enough and RvP is 31, injury prone and unhappy. Man City will sell Dzeko, have wasted millions on Jovetic and are reliant upon Aguero – they will be in the market. So will many of the Oiler clubs around Europe as they look to attract new fans to their “brand”.

Where and how will these teams look to sign their striker? – easy -they look at the top scorers in leagues around Europe – just like we did when we bought Giroud and Podolski (and Sanogo).

As it is certain we will be outbid, both in transfer fee and wages, for the best strikers we have to look elsewhere. Young players with potential to become the next Suarez or Ronaldo, but these players are also in huge demand. Just look at the Draxler situation: The lad is just 20 and yet it seems half of Europe are trying to sígn him. It may well be that Arsenal are in the box seat but if you were him (or his agent) wouldn’t you look at the money? What about the football I hear you say – do Bayern or PSG or City play worse football than us?

What about a British striker? Who? Wellbeck? Sturridge? Lambert? There isn’t one. We just have to look at how toothless the England team is to know the cupboard is bare.

So what is the solution? In my opinion we spend the whole summer looking for the elusive striker – perhaps one will magically appear and at the same time, buy a proper young defensive midfielder who can allow our attacking MF’s to get forward and score. Had Ramsey stayed fit he would have scored as many as Toure.

In my opinion we have the goalscorers already at the club. Our problem has been keeping the guys who supply the ammunition fit. With no Ozil, Wilshere, Walcott and Ramsey, OG was left to fight a lone battle. With no proper DM, Podolski is forced to play deep in his own half – we have seen in recent games how lethal he can be when playing further forward.

If possible add one more, give Sanogo some time and perhaps we will be fine.

Perhaps.

written by Big Raddy

 


3 goals, 3 points and we are back on track.

April 21, 2014

Arsenal fans always seem to find a whipping boy just now it’s Arteta and of course Giroud, but I will come back to that in a moment.

There is no such thing as an easy game in the PL (ask Chelsea)  and confidence seemed to be coming back after the midweek win against West Ham so expectations were high for our visit to Hull, especially with the return of Koscienly, Ozil and Ramsey. However, for the best part of half an hour we again seemed off the pace and Hull created one or two chances notably when Livermore hit the post from distance.

This seemed to be a wake up call. I had asked beforehand if Cazorla and Ozil could play together, but more importantly open up a very physical and determined Hull defence? The answer was an emphatic yes, but it was the inclusion of Ramsey, who is going to be a world class player, that gave us the extra impetus and it was he who opened the scoring, ably assisted by Ozil and Cazorla.

ozil and rambo

Ozil seemed to have a free role and after a reasonably long lay off showed all the doubters that he oozes class. Further excellent goals by Podolski, sealed the match and at times we were seeing the Arsenal of old with pace, fluidity and a renewed confidence.

ramsey v hull

Giroud comes in for a lot of stick from many sections of the fan base but he laid off the ball for the second and takes a bruising every single game. Despite his twenty goals this season, he is not a natural clinical striker but he has a part to play in the squad and we will see come the end of the season if he stays or goes or even possibly gets demoted to an alternative forward if we venture into the market .

poldi scores v hull

Arteta is slowing up and still had a reasonable game but we need someone with a more physical presence for next season. My only beef about him is that often he slows the game down especially when we are counter attacking.

All in all it was a pleasing performance and still kept us on track for CL qualification yet the main talking point was how much we had missed the Welsh Wizard who considering his long lay off really made a huge difference to our attacking options.

Confidence, returning players,and goals are back in abundance, so all in all a positive position to be in for the final run in.

kelsey


Wham Bang, thank you Arsenal.

April 16, 2014

What I want to know is this: exactly what happened in the dressing room at half time? Any ideas? Was it even legal?

The first half was one of those end of season games between two mid-table sides with nothing to play for. Only it shouldn’t have been. Sure, the odd bit of skill here and there, but generally looking more like twenty two footballers who had never met before.

So, the first half rumbled on until, and oh thank you West Ham, a goal, and then all change. Arsenal reacted, and no surprise it was Podolski who pulled us level. The Man can shoot accurately and hard.

Into the dressing room at 1-1. Now, I’ve never had Arsène down as a natural motivator, which is fine so long as you have natural leaders and fighters on the pitch and I’ve had my doubts that we do. I was beginning to believe the gutter press, particularly with regards to Santi, but he in particular, but also the entire side in general, were clearly introduced to each other at half time, and a new side emerged for the second forty five.

Energy, drive, understanding and desire was evident from the Arsenal XI.

In the fiftieth minute, Ollie climbed into DB10’s football boots, controlled the ball with the most exquisite of touches and buried the ball with a superb finish. Sheer quality. Twenty odd minutes later, and Podolski slammed home his second and Arsenal’s third. Job done.

At this stage of the season, and given the closeness of the battle for forth with Everton, it was always the points that most mattered, but the nature of the second half performance gave room for massive optimism.

Verm played a disciplined and excellent game, and the importance of quality in depth was further highlighted by the introduction of Aaron late in the game. With the likely return of Mesut for part of the run in, and of course my favourite Ox in the wings, I’d image we could be savouring some great performances as well as the necessary points.

Written by MickyDidIt

 

We have two posts today, here are kelsey’s thoughts on the game……….

 

Arsenal burst West Ham’s Bubble.

Many questions were asked before the game. Would the draining one hundred and twenty minutes on the Wembley turf would take its toll on our depleted squad with only three  days respite between the two games? Who would have recovered in time yet keeping a balance in the side?

Wenger decided to make five changes and in the end they were more than justified. Every game in the run in is a massive match and the jostling for fourth place might not see an outcome until the final day.

For the first half an hour apart from a glaring miss by Giroud, our play was nervous and generally lacked pace and a real threat, then invariably in one of West Ham’s rare attacks Jarvis scored a header which in all fairness was a messy goal and thoughts returned again to “oh no”.

Of course the ideal situation is to fight back immediately and just before half time Podolski let fly with his lethal left foot.

“Goals change games” , a phrase often used and the Arsenal team that came out in the second half had a spring in it’s step and was more like the side we had been watching a couple of months ago .

Giroud, the enigma he is, scored a fantastic goal and the when the tired Rosicky game off the introduction of Ramsey showed how much we had missed him and within minutes his dinked header into the path of our left footed German nearly broke the net, and the game was won.

It was a much changed team and it was nice to see Cazorla back to his best after a slow start. He seems to save his best performances for Home games and I just can’t work Giroud out. He generally misses the easy chances yet converts the more difficult ones. Maybe with him and even Podolski to an extent it’s just regaining confidence.

Another who surprised me was Arteta, though not foot perfect, he and mainly the whole team seemed to have been revitalised after the Cup win, and that bodes well for the run in.

I keep repeating it, but Sagna should be retained if possible. He even found himself in the centre forward position on one occasion and his energy levels are amazing. He maybe getting on,but a player who can naturally play in at least three different positions is invaluable.

All in all a very satisfactory performance and a vital three points. Others are still to come back and by the weekend including most probablty Ozil and Oxdale-Chamberlain, we may well then  have a selection problem. It’s a “Funny old game”, that’s why we love it and emotions swing up and down several times in just ninety minutes.

Well played lads, today we are smiling :)

Written by kelsey


Crystal Palace: Another Must Win

February 2, 2014

Let’s get this out the way at the beginning because it is so distasteful to write ….. Pulis is doing a fine job at Palace. Who would have thought it?

Right that’s done.

And now for another unpleasant chore, a retrospective of Arsenal’s  January Transfer window. I will be brief, in my opinion it was ……..  how can I put this? Dire.

I know there are extenuating circumstances but the Draxler Affair was a comedy which ended with the player himself stating (I say “stating” but who knows if he did) that he wanted to come but Schalke refused to sell. AW saying it was all a media sham and Shalke winning all round. But who knows what is true? The club have never been open in their dealings and as we all know tradition is paramount at THOF. Any long-term fan knows that until a transfer is announced by the club everything you read and hear is supposition and gossip.

Crystal Palace on the other hand have been very active, bringing in 5 players. At least one will start today, Jason Puncheon, who is in excellent form following his joke penalty at Shite Hart Lane. And of course today heralds “The Return of the Chamakh” ( whatever happened to that Mark Morrison?). I always liked Chamakh but he is at his level now; an inability to reach the standard required by Arsenal was not down to lack of effort but lack of talent and he cannot be blamed for that. Bet he scores now!!

I have already sullied my keyboard with my first sentence so will not  linger on their manager. Suffice to say, he is an odious fellow who will hopefully return to South London pointless and humiliated.

Arsenal:  Usual stuff – who starts given our mounting injury list (which thanks to our bizarre TW signing now has a Swede in the treatment room).

Please Mr Wenger can we see more than 60 seconds of Podolski? Whilst I understand the need to balance the team by playing Gnabry on the right and Santi on the left I would much prefer to see  (for the final 30 mins) Ozil go right, Santi central and Poldi on the left.

Can we go into a game which is likely to be a midfield battleground with only Arteta to put his “foot in”? Micky suggests playing Vermaelen a in midfield and this makes much sense to me – won’t happen though.

I expect Rosicky to start. He has been a major plus this season. I recall a conversation with kelsey a few seasons ago when we both wrote off Tomas’s career and questioned why AFC didn’t pay him off ! I am excited to see whether Rosicky plays in a Mask. Would he be the first Masked Gooner?

The recurrence of Ramsey’s thigh knack is hugely annoying but it gives The Ox a chance to show us why he will be so integral to the team in future years. Important games ahead and his work will be under scrutiny.

My Team:

a v cp

This should be enough to win today. We have quality on the bench which has been further strengthened by the absence of Park.

The origins of The Crystal Palace are obvious(see pic)  but prior to the building of this wonderful example of English Victorian ingenuity and engineering it was just a part of Penge Common. And what is Penge apart from where Tony Hancock came from (look him up)

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Penge was another of the towns established by those hardy travellers the Anglo-Saxons. It was original called Penceat which means edge of the wood thanks to it being on the periphery of a dense forest.

Crystal Palace was built for the 1851 Great Exhibition which was hugely popular. In just 6 months over 6m people visited which was a third of the population of England! It was the first building with public flushing toilets and it cost one penny to visit them – almost a million did which is remarkable because you could buy a decent central midfielder for a penny in those days – anyway – this is where the expression “To spend a penny” comes from!! (for our foreign readers this is slang for going to the toilet)

It burned down in 1936.

On paper this should be a win for the good guys, but who knows? We haven’t been playing our fluent brand of Wengerball in recent weeks – perhaps not since the Ramsey injury. This is the last “easy” game before the “Death Cluster” (™ RL) we must take three points and return to our rightful place at the Top of the League.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


The Podolski Puzzle.

January 22, 2014

Let’s start with a basic premise – we all love our Lukas. Top bloke, committed to the club, and a fine player.

I cannot recall a similar player in the Arsenal shirt; immensely strong, a lethal finisher who possesses phenomenal shooting power and in the prime of his career at 28 y.o.. Yet despite having over 100 caps for the German National team he cannot find a set place in the Arsenal side. Why?

More to the point, why  is everyone calling for another striker when we have statistically one of the best strikers in world football in our Polish/German (born in Poland, left as a two year old)?

It is perplexing.

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A few Pod stats: 111 caps, 3rd highest appearances for Germany. 46 international goals, 5th highest for Germany. In 2013 he scored after just 9 seconds vs Ecuador, the second fastest goal of all time (first is a San Marino gaol against England!!.). Winner of the German League and Cup Double.  Since 2010 he has played 115 games and scored 51 times.

Mr Wenger says he is the most lethal finisher at the club. Yet ….

Write down your Arsenal first XI (when all are fit!), is Poldi in it? Why not?

For Germany Prinz Poldi plays on the left with licence to drift towards the centre, just the same as he does for Arsenal but with one major difference, his fullback is Philip Lahm and his defensive MF Schweinsteiger! He doesn’t have the defensive responsibility which a left sided attacker has at Arsenal.

It seems that Poldi plays deeper on the left than he does for his country, he is regularly seen on the edge of our box tracking back. Unlike Theo, he doesn’t have the pace to join Giroud upfront on the breakaways and therefore if he is to be involved the play has to be slower from the back. I would like to see him played much further forward in the Pires role – I don’t recall Bobby crunching into tackles too often – and I think this is what Mr Wenger bought him for. Poldi may not have the artistry and guile of Pires but he is certainly as dangerous.

Then there is the question of his combination play with Giroud. Can they function as an attacking duo? We have yet to see evidence of an understanding between the two (apart from one thunderous volley from a cheeky OG pass) though this will hopefully develop as the season progresses. The lightning fast interplay between JW, Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey and Giroud is wonderful to behold, can Poldolski combine in the same vein? Perhaps – he can certainly finish off the moves.

When we signed Poldi much was made of his failure at Bayern Munich, critics said it was easy to be Jack the Peanut at FC Koln but quite different at The Arsenal or Bayern. At FC Koln he was loved like no other and remains so, at Arsenal he is admired rather than loved and I think this is because he has yet to cement a place for himself.

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The early season injury came at the wrong time because he was looking as though he had finally found his position in the team. I recall seeing him pull up as his oak-like thigh twitched and twanged, it was poor timing.

I stated recently that I believe Lukas will leave in summer. Why? For two reasons: Firstly, he is too  good a player to sit on the bench, especially at a time when goal scorers are in such shortage therefore he will be much in demand all over Europe. Secondly, the rumours of Draxler; a left sided MF who is likely to be groomed as a TH14 type player. Mr Wenger will not pay €40m+ to see him sit on the bench, so who loses his place?

That said, it could be Giroud who gets dropped. If Drexler can play in the middle an attack of Podolski, Drexler, Ozil and Walcott is frighteningly good, or drop Theo for Gnabry and have an all-German frontline!

But Drexler may just be paper talk and Podolski may well become an essential member of the team. I certainly hope so but it is clear Mr Wenger is looking for another striker.

Another cloud on his horizon is the return of Oxlade-Chamberlain who is certain to be a fixture in the team (though given the unfortunate timing of his injury,  next season is more likely), plus  the rise of Gnabry and Mr Wenger’s penchant for developing young players by putting them out on the wings.

If one looks at the current squad and the marvellous form of Cazorla and Rosicky plus the return of Ramsey, I just cannot see how Podolski will get a run in the team

It is interesting that Mr Wenger picked 18 y.o. Gnabry to start the last three games when Podolski was fit and on the bench. What must Lukas think about that, especially in a World Cup year? (yes, I know SG plays on the right).

Having Podolski on the bench is a major asset, he is a game changer when he comes on for the final 20 minutes but do you think that is satisfactory to an established German International?

Judging from his activity on social media Podolski seems to be really enjoying his time in London. It is time for us to find out whether he has a future as an Arsenal player. Poldi’s time is now – or is it?.

BigRaddy


The Magic of the Cup? And Spurs/Arsenal Combined Team

January 4, 2014

I am at a loss. We are about to play our local rivals in an FA Cup game at our home ground and yet ….. look at this face …… Is it bothered? Be honest …. are you as tense as you would expect?

So what is this lack of enthusiasm?  Is it the belittling of the FA Cup? I loved it as a child when everything was focussed on the “most important Cup in world team football”, but the Champions League has dulled my passion. Even more worrying is that we are playing Spurs and  …. I had better stop – I am boring myself.

Any visit from the miscreants who leak their way through the primordial slime of Tottenham into the magnificent arena that is the Emirates is a chance to retain bragging rights. Today is no exception. And perhaps here is the rub ….. I don’t consider Spurs as rivals, and haven’t for a number of years. Yes, they have done well in the recent past and almost achieved something significant, but the fact is that they haven’t. They are Forever in our Shadow.

Not surprisingly Spurs fans see things differently; when they beat us last season my mail inbox was full, I had phone calls from all around the world, I had over 20 text messages within 15 minutes of the final whistle – every man jack Spurs fan whom I had ever met felt the need to crow, “The worm had turned, Arsenal were doomed, Spurs were on the march to London domination. AVB is a genius ( :-D  ), Wenger has lost it, etc etc”.

Do Gooners respond to an Arsenal win in the same manner? Of course not and for many reasons, primarily because we know that we support a bigger club: Not just in terms of trophies, fans, stadium, history but also in every single aspect of a football club.

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Spurs are very confident going into the game – so they should be after beating MU – it was a fine victory. Ade is playing his 6 decent games a season and we all know he scores at the Emirates, Eriksen looks like the creative player they have been missing, the central defence has improved with the signing of  Chiriches and as ever they have strong attacking FB’s.

And …. we have an injury list as long as a whale’s todger.

We are none of us particularly interested in the ever-so-dull Spurs, so lets move onto the men who matter ……

Arsenal: Who knows whether Mr Wenger will prioritise the FAC?  This is  another opportunity to get the trophy monkey off his back but given the injury list and his focus on the CL and PL, Mr Wenger may choose to play a weakened team. I don’t believe he will as he knows how important beating Spurs is to the fans and winning is a habit. As such, and given there is a week until our next game, I expect to see us line up with a strong team.

Ramsey, NB, Gibbs,  probably Giroud, maybe Ozil and the usual suspects are out.

If OG is out we have little choice but to continue with Theo and Podolski in a 4-4-2, it didn’t work vs Cardiff but to be fair the Welshman defended very well and there was no space for our attackers. Today should be different , especially if Özil is fit; he knows Podolski’s game and is starting to find Walcott’s runs.

I don’t like the Arteta/Flamini combo, and would much rather see Rosicky start alongside Arteta but AW will play safe.

My Team

nld

Our problems may arise should we be losing with 20 mins to go and need some attacking thrust off the bench – there is none. We can hope for something special from Gnabry or Ryo but this puts quite  some weight on very young shoulders .

Expect Spurs to play the entire game on the counter-attack. Both their goals at Old Trafford came from breakaways and it will come as no surprise to see Sherwood park the bus, pack midfield and look for the pace of Soldado and Lemon to set up Ade.

Combined Team: Not as easy as I first thought.

GK: Two excellent young keepers, both prone to silly mistakes, both first choice for their countries, both highly thought of by their team’s fans. Having done some research as to which GK made the least mistakes leading to goals in 2013 I was surprised to find it was our TPIG!

Defence: Our defence works as a unit, individually there may be some question as to whether Sagna is better than Walker or if Rose is the equal of Gibbs but our CB’s are the best in the PL as is our goals against record.

Midfield. OK. Sandro is a decent player, so is Dembele. Eriksen has potential. Capoue is a player I hoped we would sign but instead we got Flamini. Let’s be honest all our MFs are better, even our B team midfield would get a gig at WHL.

Attack. Giroud or Soldado?  Lemon or Walcott?  Ozil or Townsend/Ade or whoever else Spurs have who can play as an attacker?

so ….. here it is the combined Arsenal/Spurs team:

combined 11

I know what you Spurs fans are thinking ….. where are Wilshere, Rosicky, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Monreal, and Vermaelen (all internationals)?  And you are right. sadly there are only 11 places up for grabs.

The bookies have us as favourites and they are seldom wrong. Given a fair performance from referee Mark Clattenberg, the 4th round awaits.

Written by Big Raddy


Mesut Özil …… Sprezzatura.

November 16, 2013

Now, I don’t know many long words, and even fewer in Italian. However, a few years ago I stumbled upon this word Sprezzatura. No other language has a word encapsulating the same qualities. It means “Effortless Grace”.

If you want to be able to sound clever, then read the bracketed bit below, otherwise, skip it.

(Castiglione wrote The Book of the Courtier as a portrayal of an idealized courtier. This ideal courtier was supposed to be skilled in arms and in athletic events but be equally skilled in music and dancing. However, the courtier who had sprezzatura managed to make difficult tasks look easy. Concerning sprezzatura, Castiglione said that: “to practice in all things a certain sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”. In short, Sprezzatura means Effortless Grace.)

When I first discovered this word, my first thoughts were one Dennis Bergkamp. I decided the word was simply too good to waste, so I thought I’d bide my time and wait.

Enter Mesut Özil.

I believe he may become Arsenal’s Greatest Ever Signing. The Man oozes Sprezzatura.

I have heard that “He’ll take time to settle into the PL”. I say: “Bollocks he will. I have never seen someone so clearly settled”.

Look at his assists so far. On the whole they are fairly simple balls. Pinpoint accurate, yes, but fairly obvious balls. I remember Chas posting some of The Arsenal Gentleman’s genius cards, and Mesut’s “Special Move was: The Mesmertron, a hypnotic through ball”.

How many of these hypnotic balls have we seen? Very few, and the reason is that Mesut knows the players are not quite ready for him to unleash his full dazzling array of ball skills.

So, what’s going on? Quite simply, every player around Mesut is out of their depth, and he knows it, which is why he’s still playing it simple. I reckon that soon, through a combination of pitch time, as well as work on the training ground, the movement from those around him will improve.

Think back to Thierry Henry, and the impact DB10 had on his game. This is the reason I understand why some people are asking for a different type of striker. Someone who speaks the same football language as Mesut. I suspect we may see the Mesmetron deployed if either Theo or Podolski take up the central striker role.

I think we are going to witness Arsenal’s Greatest Ever Signing. He will elevate and educate those around him into superior players. Watch, savour, and enjoy. Exceptional things are about to happen in the Red and White of Arsenal.

Written by MickyDidIt89


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