It was 20 years ago today ……..

May 4, 2014

Firstly let’s honour the boss and the team for avoiding Spursday for yet another season and allowing Didit and I an opportunity to continue our gastronomic tour of Europe.

I know all the arguments about 4th not being a trophy etc etc, we have done them to death in the blogs. I just ask this – would Everton, Spurs, MU etc like to swap with us? Would Moyes have been sacked had MU finished 4th?

Which brings us onto today and our final home game of the season against a West Brom side who need the points much more than we do. If WBA survive will Pepe Mel keep his job? I hope so. Yesterday’s results must have boosted WBA’s chances.

Who would you like to see relegated?

I am afraid I have never taken to WBA, don’t like their kit, don’t like their ground or their nickname – the Baggies – reminds me of Australians (cricket lovers will understand). In fact since their halcyon days of Big Ron and the 3 Degrees (look it up!) they have become just another Midlands club – sorry WBA fans but that is how it is. That said, I love that the Three Degrees are to honoured with a statue outside the Hawthorns

Then there is Jeff Astle. Let me explain. The year was 1970 and I was football obsessed. England were World Champions having won the Cup in ’66. We had a formidable team but had to travel to Mexico to defend our cup. England were drawn in a group with the favourites and eventual winners Brazil. This is the famous Brazil ’70 side which included Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino and Carlos Alberto and is known as probably the finest football team ever assembled. Anyway ….. had we won that tie we would have avoided West Germany in the next round and probably gone on to win the thing again. Instead despite Gordon Banks worldie to save from Pele’s header and Bobby Moore’s unforgettable tackle on the great man, we were losing to a Jairzinho goal. As the game entered it’s final phase Astle came on as sub for Franny Lee. We were pushing for an equaliser and then Astle got his chance to become a hero; Terry Cooper knocked in a cross, the ball fell to Astle 5 yards out from an empty net and he scuffed it. The nation wept. We went on to lose to West Germany.

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Jeff remains a hero at West Brom; there are the Astle gates into the Hawthorns and the fans still sing his name, but to millions of England football fans his miss heralded the end of England as an International force.

Arsenal: Do we finish the season on a high by sending out a first choice team and playing some risky full out attacking football or give some reserves a run out? Given 17 years of watching Mr Wenger, I will hazard a guess – the former :-D

Confidence must be high, Ozil and Ramsey are fit and firing, we are as injury free as an AFC squad can be, and it should be sunny. WBA have reason for concern.

Bacary must start in what could be his final game at The Emirates. It would be very sad to see him leave as I have a long standing man-love for our braided Frenchman, hopefully he will see the light and signdating. To those lucky enough to attend please sing him name loud and proud – he deserves it after a fine season.

The team almost picks itself. Podolski is playing his best football since his arrival – could it be he is playing for a move or showing AW he doesn’t need to sign another left-sided attacker?

My Team:

a v wb

It would be a surprise to see anyone replacing the above but perhaps Rosicky will be included – he is such a wonderful player and too good to ride the pine.

Sad that Ox and JW are not fit enough to stake a claim for the WC squad but being Arsenal-centric I am delighted. A long beach holiday followed by an uninterrupted pre-seasonshould set them up nicely for our tilt at the title.

20 years ago today a much younger Big Raddy began his day with a pint of lager in an airport pub. It was the start of one the most memorable days of my life. A pre-match drink up in bars all over central Copenhagen, followed by an unforgettable noisy walk to the Parken which is just 400m from where I sit to write these posts. An astonishing defensive display which could have been the pinnacle of the Famous 5′s achievements, and a rare as hen’s teeth Alan Smith goal from outside the area in front of 25,000 very nervous fans led to the lifting of a Euro Cup. It was a magical evening – my first magical Copenhagen evening of many.

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Here’s to the Winners of 1994 ….. could the current Arsenal team emulate their predecessors and win a Cup 20 years later?

Written by Big Raddy

 

 


Boing Boing : Rosicky Wins It

April 7, 2013

Away at the Hawthorns was never looking like a comfortable ride, Arsenal were liking to make it three wins aim a row in the Premier Legue and put ourselves 4th and breathing down the necks of Spurs.

Wenger named an unnamed side, which given the performance at home to Reading seemed a fair thing to do.

The thing I like most about this midfield is its fluidity, Gervinho, Cazorla and Rosicky take themselves across the pitch, which means that even an organised defence like WBA’s has trouble tracking runs.

ros 3

The first goal being a case in point, Arteta floated a perfectly weighted pass into the penalty area, Gervinho had run from inside right to the left side if the penalty area to collect unchallenged despite 4/5 defenders being close by and only Giroud for company, not one for rushing Gervinho waited for support finally cutting back and aiming a cross come shot to the fat post, Rosicky had joined the attack and arrived unmarked to head home from the 6 yard box.

This wasn’t Rosicky’s first action of the half having earlier cleared off the line with a very good header. In truth the Arsenal goal had come against the run of play, Fabianski had already been called into action but generally the new found defensive strength was holding strong.

We did seem to apply the handbrake after the goal and attacks were infrequent, Gervinho forcing Foster to save well with his feet and after fantastic interplay round the box by Santi and Giroud, Ramsey missed when it seemed easier to score. His recent performances have deserved a goal.

Half time 1-0 up and half job done.

Soon after the restart Rosicky had doubled the advantage, collecting a ball by Ramsey to fire a shot that Foster saved well, Rosicky followed in his own shot and fired low and hard past Foster. The celebration said it all.

Seemingly coasting to the win this wouldn’t be Arsenal unless they put us through the mill a bit, and this they did when the BFG found himself out of position for the first time in the afternoon and lunged to prevent Long collecting and going through on goal unchallenged. Red card and penalty, it is easy to argue that Per should have let Long continue but that’s a big ask of even the most calm of defenders.

A fraught half hour or so followed as WBA with crowd full of support bombarded the box in search of an equaliser. We managed to hold firm and the backslapping at the final whistle showed how important this game was.

Ratings

Fabianski 6.5 – some good shot stops, but a bit weak on crosses and kicking was weak this afternoon.

Sagna 6.5 – crossing poor, slightly out of position when BFG forced to bring down Long

Koscielny – 8 solid performance

Mertesacker – 6.5 losing 1 point for not staying in his feet

Monreal 7 – starting to settle in PL

Arteta 7 – quiet and efficient performance

Ransey – 8 another solid showing and a goal sure to come soon

Rosicky – 8.5 MotM two goals, one goal line clearance.

Cazorla – 7.5 quieter day for the Spanish magician

Gervinho – 8 stretched WBA with his pace and movement

Giroud – 7 quiet day for the big man, worked hard as ever.

Subs

Gibbs – 7 steady

Vermaelen – 7.5 held firm for last thirty minutes

Coquelin – 6.5 quiet

Written by Gooner in Exile


West Brom Ahoy!

December 8, 2012

To put today’s game into context let us start with the “crisis” of form. Two big wins then AV away – where once again we played a team just about to improve upon a poor start (check both Norwich & AV post-AFC), Villa are not a bad team and getting a draw was OK, Everton were above us in the table and unbeaten at home, a draw acceptable, then the Swansea game…….

Swansea were excellent last Saturday; according to their fans it was the best performance they had ever seen from their side. Laudrup was ecstatic, as well he might be. We got beaten by a better side on the day – yes, on the day – Swansea are not better than Arsenal and never will be.  Instead of damning Arsenal’s performance which seems to be de rigeur for some, why not applaud what was a fantastic team performance from Swansea? There was not one area of the pitch that they were second best, so hats off to Swansea for giving any football fans an enjoyable afternoon.

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Saviour or just Irish’s Dream Man?

What is my point? Well, it is this . at the end of the game Arsenal left the field to the sound of boos echoing around a 30% full stadium. Thankfully, a few hardy souls stayed on to clap Swansea and applaud our boys for the effort they put in.

Do the remainder of fans only go to the Emirates to watch Arsenal win?

And yes, I do know this is our worst start since the Moses brought down the tablets.

But enough of this, let’s look at today’s game and see how the Mighty Arsenal are going to win and shut up the boo-boys. To start with they are going to have to win without Pod, Theo and Bacary, 3 important cogs in our attacking machine (?). The return of Tomas´and Jack mean we have a dynamic midfield particularly with Ox likely to start. Solidity in defence and a patient approach will, as ever, be important – basic individual defensive mistakes cost us last Saturday and they must be eradicated.

Tactics are beyond me, so I hope JM will make an appearance and make some suggestions, but if we are to play 4-3-3, where does Rosicky play? So, I am going for a highly improbable 4-4-2 based upon nothing more than the fact that Gervinho played the whole game in Athens

My team:

arse v brom

And what of WBA? Is their season going to fall away after such a wonderful start? Why should it? WBA will be good opponents this afternoon,they remain 5 points ahead of us in 5th (they would be 4th but some some miscreants with the same points and GD are alphabetically ahead of them). Steve Clarke has carried on the good work started by Hodgson and despite losing their last two games WBA are a tidy side.

Today’s English explorer: Matthew Flinders (1774 -1814) Learned his trade sailing with Captain Bligh (though not on The Bounty), Flinders was the first man to circumnavigate Australia and identify it as a continent. Flinders was also the man who suggested the name for the new land (Australis). After his ship ran aground on the Barrier Reef, he sailed 700 miles in a small cutter back to Sydney and then returned to pick up his crew, a superb feat of seamanship. He also spent much time in South Australia and founded Melbourne. There are over 100 places in Oz named after Flinders. He died at the young age of 40 in London.

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A freshly shaved Mr. Flinders

When we win this afternoon it will be Arsenal’s 250th home win in the PL. Let it be so.

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


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