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

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.



The Boys are Back in Town

November 29, 2014

Is a very enjoyable victory over an un-inspired, un-motivated and injury ravaged team languishing just 2 points off the bottom of the Bundesliga the fillip our team need to start a good run in the PL? We shall see today.

Let’s be clear, Weds night’s win was a joyous event; we played well in all departments and saw some fine individual performances plus the return to form of some of our most important players but it was not a performance the Dortmund players will be happy about. Where was the pressing? Where was the pace and defensive cohesion? Let’s hope WBA play as badly today.


West Bromwich are an odd club. One of the original founding clubs of the Football League, they won the title in 1920 and last won the FA Cup in ’68 with a goal from the mighty Jeff Astle (whom I will never forgive for missing a sitter for England in the ’70 World Cup vs Brazil). Yet they have never reached the heights of their Midland neighbours. That said, WBA have a strong fan base with an average gate of  25+k which means they sell out the Hawthorns almost every match.

If we are to judge the result of a game on finances we should steamroller them. Their biggest signing is Sessegnon at £6m  less than some of our reserves. The player who is attracting all the headlines is Berahino – a product of the WBA youth system and the type of player to cause BFG nightmares, a small, pacy, cool finisher and a player I could easily see at Arsenal.

Both teams have porous defences but ours could be improved by the return of Koscielny – we have really missed him though Monreal is growing into the CB role.

Once again the fates have been less than kind to Mr Wenger’s plans, another game another long term injury, this time to the crucial Arteta. I had not realised how influential the steel coiffured Spaniard is – without him we are not as good and the idea of playing the journeyman Flamini for any length of time is worrying. Perhaps with the return of Koscielny and Debuchy we will see whether Chambers can be our much hoped for DM. Who knows?

Could be another big day for young Damian Martinez though there is a chance TPIG will be fit. He did well last week so his confidence must be high – let’s hope it remains so tomorrow.

The return of OG is well-timed as it allows Welbeck a little more time to recover from injury. Scoring on his return to the PL he will want to assert himself as Arsenal’s Number One striker. I see a future in which Welbz plays left, OG central and Theo on the right with Alexis in the DB10 role, though just where Ozil plays is open to discussion.

Enough of football. West Bromwich foodstuffs: They like a beer up in the Midlands, there are 116 breweries within 50 miles of West Bromwich!! Even Ant & Duck will struggle to try them all. Probably the most famous beer is Ansell’s but a pint of Banks Bitter is a thing of beauty. As to foods, curries and pies are the order of the day,

It is a few years since I highlighted famous musicians born close to football grounds but I cannot leave the Hawthorns without mentioning two of my heroes – Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin and  Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy were born in West Bromwich (he left for Ireland at the age of 4). Metal rules in the Midlands!

Lunch time kick off despite our playing on Weds evening seems a bit harsh but the FA don’t do AFC favours, do they? Add in the huge and worrying injury list and there must be cause for concern today; yet we start as favourites. We have two players in exceptional form in Ox and Alexis, some others are returning to their expected consistency and WBA have their own problems.

Should be an exciting game


written by Big Raddy

Reasons to be Cheerful

October 6, 2013

If we win today it will be our 9th away PL victory in a row – an Arsenal record. Given WBA’s last victory this is no given, they are clearly a decent side.

There is a cautious optimism around the club (= euphoria) the like of which we have not seen since the Highbury days. Could 7 PL and 4 CL games really have engendered this remarkable turn around? Well, if you choose to believe the red-top’s narrative. In fact we have been on a roll for most of the year; since the beginning of February our PL record is P22  W18 D2  L2. Read that again!!  56 points out of a possible 66 – we lost to THFC & AV, drew with Everton and MU.

56 out of 66! Astonishing, and almost certainly the reason why Big Raddy has been in such a good mood this year.

Can we keep it up today?

WBA have some decent players – none that would get in the AFC first 11, but in Sessegnon and Amlfitano they have players in form. However, WBA , like us, have serious injury problems in attack with Long, Anichebe, Sinclair and Anelka out (could change pre-game).

The CC game is no indicator to today’s match though some of the personnel will remain. Nor is Albion’s home form of two losses and just the one win. What is relevant is their win at Old Trafford last weekend – it shows this is a decent side who will cause us problems. They have scored just 6 goals so far which may be due to the injury problems.

Positives: There are many.  We have not lost in 6 visits to The Hawthorns. We are the only team to have scored in all our PL games. We have won our last 8 away games etc etc etc

and We are walking in an Ozil Wonderland

We seem to be pressing higher up the pitch aided by the tireless Giroud who is adding much more than a goal-scoring threat. It is helped by the arrival of the energetic rampaging style of The Flamster, we looked very solid when he teamed up with Arteta. This could be the answer in away fixtures where we will play more on the break. However, This means that Wilshere is once again on the bench – a luxury but surely one which needs to be sorted, he is too good to ride the pine. And what happens when Santi and Theo come back?

My Team:


Of course we could play Jack in place of Tomas but AW (and I) love what Rosicky brings to the team – energy, pace of thought and action and huge determination. Expect to see Wilshere on the 70 minute mark. We have little attacking threat on the bench should Arsenal fall behind, the sooner Podolski and Walcott return the better.

The results were predictable yesterday – let it be so today (apart from a humiliating defeat for the Lillywhites) because, let’s be honest, given the spirit at Arsenal it would be surprising if we lost.

Come on Arsenal, make Big Raddy a happy man (and in turn he will make Mrs. Raddy equally joyful)

Written by Big Raddy

Young Guns Primed …. The Return of the Striking Viking?

September 25, 2013

The games coming like London busses. The Interlull followed by two games a week – but tonight we have the very enjoyable opportunity to see how deep our squad is.

Whether we win or not depends upon how WBA and Steve Clarke approach the game. If as I suspect they put out a first 11 then we are in for a tough evening, if like AFC they go with a weakened team, then we should see an exciting game.

The Capital/Milk/Rumbelow’s/League/Littlewood’s Cup is one we should have won in the past couple of years. The painful loss to the soon-to-be relegated Birmingham is a memory which needs to be replaced by silverware, but my guess is that Mr Wenger will insist his priorities lie elsewhere. Inevitable given our growing injury list.

The one area we could not “stomach” another injury was the attack. With Ox and Pod both out for the foreseeable future it is a blow to hear of Theo’s injury. Young Didit told me over the summer that Mr Walcott was our most valuable player and much would rest upon his fitness – I have to agree. Theo gives something to the team no-one else can and that is searing pace; he may not be the most lethal striker but he scares the bejeesus out of defenders.

It will be a big night for one of our players in particular – you know the one – that Danish nutter. It is good he will make his return away from the “cauldron” that is the Emirates, a cynical crowd could badly affect him. If Nik hits the ground running he could be a major player for us, sadly the evidence of the past few seasons suggests it may be a forlorn hope.

Unbelievably Fabianski was injured on Friday!  I really feel for the man – he has done nothing wrong and yet every time he gets an opportunity he suffers an injury.

Gnabry’s promotion to the first team causes problems. He will be needed at the weekend and this opens up a place for either another MF – Eisfeld most probably or another forward. . Little has been mentioned about our missing man, Mr Park. He is back in training with the first team, so why not let him try and earn his corn?


Come on Arsene, Make the Marketing Dept. happy

We have some experience in the squad and the game is well timed for the return of our Club Captain and the man with Lego hair.

My team:


We can have one of our midfield geniuses on the bench in case of problems, but my inclusion of Park (no, it’s not a joke :-D ) shows just how bare the cupboard is. Of course, Mr Wenger could choose to start Akpom but I think his time will come – he doesn’t appear strong enough as yet.

As to West Brom. Quite frankly I know next to nothing about them (apart from them employing traitor Anelka.) I am sure they are hard-working and will sweat blood to beat the Mighty Gunners. However, much like the first team, your pre-match writer is taking a day off from researching the opposition!

Much depends upon how Mr Wenger views the CC.  I think he views it purely as a chance to give his youth players experience and if they do well then review at a later stage, as such the draw of a PL side away from home was unfortunate. However, a trophy is there to be won, so let’s go out and win one.


Just because it makes me happy


written by Big Raddy

Wishing and Hoping. WBA away.

April 6, 2013

Have you noticed a spring in the Gooners step since winning in Munich? Suddenly this new Arsenal is not the shoddy bunch of lazy artisans just trotting around and picking up money for nothing (and chicks for free), No, this is a team focussed and able to get a Top 4 spot – possibly even top 3.


The 4th Place Trophy. Currently residing  in N.17 :-D

But let’s hold hard a second. Nothing has changed  – or has it? Has our defence tightened up with the dropping of TV and the addition of Monreal? Has our midfield improved with the loss of Wilshere and the injury to Diaby? Are we better without Theo?

Time will tell.

So, today we take on the mighty WBA ably led by Braniac Steve Clarke. Roy Hodgson took WBA to 10th, Clarke has taken them up to 8th, which for a small club is a job well done. IF WBA win today it will be their most victories in a season in the PL. WBA’s home record is just one point worse than ours, only 4 teams have won at the Hawthorns and as such I have concerns about this game. That said, they have won just 3 of their last 12 games. A draw seems likely.

We all know about the new “Drogba”, Lukaku, who is going to be a major star over the coming years; can BFG and Kos handle him? I hope so.

But as always, it is not how WBA play, it is how Arsenal do. The optimism created over the last couple of months has been grounded in improved teamwork and application. In Raddy’s opinion, the 4-4-2 is allowing Santi  the space he requires to influence any game he plays in – he has become an essential player in this team, which is remarkable considering this is his first season. A brilliant buy by Mr.Wenger.

This is the type of game which Ramsey will enjoy –  a midfield battle. I cannot see WBA parking the bus, nor can I see them being gung ho, what I expect is a tough game with us controlling the ball. Gervinho’s unpredictability, both in his possession and his positioning, was important against Reading, he will cause anyone problems should he repeat his performance – but will he? Who knows? Not Gervinho, not his team-mates, not the fans, nor his manager.

My Team:

brom v arse

I am assuming Wilshere, Monreal and Walcott are not quite ready to start but even if they were I would go with the above team (perhaps JW for TR7). I would love to see Podolski get more starts but Rosicky is the better midfielder and in an away fixture he has to be the safer bet.

Today’s English Explorer: Frederick Lugard, later Baron Lugard (1858 – 1945) soldier, mercenary, African explorer and administrator. Fred was a different type of explorer to those we have read about this this season, basically he was a soldier who went through Africa freeing slaves and kicking two colours out of anyone in his path, setting up Britain as the pre-eminent colonial power in Africa. It should be recalled that Britain’s great wealth wasn’t just created by brave fellows going out alone with a knapsack and a compass, it was also built through the gun and violence – Freddie was an expert.


Iron fist in a Velvet glove – Harder than PV4

Following a stellar military career he became the first Governor of Hong Kong where he founded the University of Hong Kong, then Governor of Nigeria where he attempted to put an end to the slave trade between the African nations (it being abolished in Europe). Highly decorated as a soldier Lugard was first knighted and then became a Baron. He died childless at the age of 87.

This is another huge game, not just because of the 3 points but also because of the rising level of hope and expectation surrounding the team.

And as we all know ….. it is the Hope that hurts .


written by Big Raddy

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.


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.


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.


Written by Big Raddy


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