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:

hpm1

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?

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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:

001cc1

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.

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Just because it makes me happy

COYRRG

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.

images-1

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.

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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 .

COYRRG

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.

Unknown

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


Arsenal In Disgrace

October 4, 2010

This Arsenal team matched the champions in every department except finishing, yet as far as I’m concerned they are still in disgrace.

Why?

Because if they had shown just 50% of yesterday’s commitment, concentration and skill against West Bromwich Albion eight days earlier we would now be only four points behind Chelsea and level with the Middle Eastlanders. Not to mention three points ahead of the knuckle-scrapers from down the road.

Losing away at Stamford Bridge is no shame, particularly with a battling performance like yesterday’s, but what will kill us this year is inconsistency. That and our worrying ability to collapse in games we should win comfortably – a phenomenon that started in the last quarter of last season.

I know some will say that West Brom is history and we should move on, but the single biggest lesson our squad needs to learn is that they have to be up for every single game as if it’s Chelsea away.

So onto yesterday’s match. The first thing to say is that it was an excellent game of football: two good teams going at it, chances at both ends and two outstanding goals (sadly both from the Forces of Darkness).

We were fast out of the traps and had two chances early on – a difficult diving header from Chamakh that led to a corner, then a lame headed effort from Koscielny inside the six yard box with the goal beckoning. He seemed to get his body into the wrong position and ended up connecting with the back of his head, sending the ball over the bar. Frustrating in the extreme. Arsene Wenger even singled it out for mention in his post-match comments, which is a real rarity as the boss hardly ever criticises individual players.

What was pleasing in the early stages was that we were defending from the front and closing down Chelsea whenever they were in possession. Nasri was busy, Song was committed and less profligate in his forward forays than against Partizan, Diaby had remembered to turn on the ‘on’ switch in his brain, Wilshere looked classy, both fullbacks were having good games.

Then there was Arshavin who was, well, Arshavin. Winston Churchill once described Russia as a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma and we might well use that description for our own little Russki. He looks semi-involved and semi-interested most of the time and then springs to life to create goal chances. In the first half he managed to produce two powerful shots that brought two good saves from Helmet in the Chavs’ goal.

Chelsea always looked a threat on the break and although our centre backs just about coped with Drogba’s pace and strength, they never looked assured against him and it was no surprise when he opened the scoring: an audacious near post finish, leaving Fabianski no chance.

Half time 1-0 down, but we came out for the second half with the air of a team that really felt they could get back in the game. Our pass-and-move football was a joy to watch, with Nasri, Wilshere, Diaby and Song at the heart of everything. We were pulling Chelsea all over the place and looked the better team.

I really believed we were going to get the equaliser our pressure deserved but whatever chances we carved out were squandered. Chamakh rose well for a header that went three feet wide when it should have been on target and was probably our clearest scoring opportunity, but there were many occasions when we got into the box in threatening positions only to be foiled by wrong options, mis-control or good defending. Sometimes it was plain bad luck, with ball running kindly for Chelsea on several occasions.

Clichy and Song both tried long distance shots with predictable results. (With Clichy’s goal record he should be under strict orders NEVER to shoot from distance – it just wastes an attacking move).

At the other end we held a high line and played Russian Roulette with our offside trap. Fortunately whenever we pulled the trigger the chamber was as blank as Ashley Cole’s moral conscience.

Song did a good job breaking up Chelsea’s moves and tried his best to out-muscle Drogba, although the Ivorian’s strength meant that sometimes the only option was to foul him. I’m not going to complain about that – we have all been crying out for our midfield and defence to take the pragmatic option more often and that’s what Song was doing.  At least he didn’t pick up another yellow card.

When Alex made it 2-0 with a thunderbolt free kick in the 85th minute you knew there was no way back. Again, Fabianski had no chance and although you could criticise our wall you have to acknowledge the quality of the strike.

We ended up losers, but with a much better performance than we managed against Chelsea either home or away last season. With our missing players back  you would really fancy us to do them at the Grove.

We’re now seven points behind, but at this stage of the season that’s easily capable of being made up. And make no mistake, Chelsea are not as good as their results indicate. They will drop more points as the season goes on and if we can avoid any more performances like the one against West Brom we can keep ourselves right in the race.

Player  Ratings

Fabianksi: one dodgy moment early on, but did very well after that. Could the Pole be beginning to slay his demons? 8

Sagna: good defensively and really contributed to the persistent threat we posed down their left flank. 7

Clichy: got caught out upfield a couple of times, but overall had an excellent game. We were terrorised down our left side against Chelsea last season but this time he kept them quiet. I wish he wouldn’t shoot from outside the box though. 7

Squillaci: named captain presumably because of his age and experience, I thought he did well against a very powerful and potent attack.  Yes, he didn’t always win the tussles but at least he was tussling and he held his position well. 6.5

Koscielny: should have scored very early on, but defensively did OK. The jury is still out but I think he’ll be a top player when he fully settles in to the PL. 6

Wilshere: spread play beautifully, kept his discipline and always moved the ball quickly and well. I would rather see him swap position with Song because he offers more threat in the final third. 7.5

Diaby: by no means my favourite player but he was very good in this game, showing skill and commitment. He also cleared three or four of their corners from the front of our six yard box. How can he be the same man as the one who ambled round the pitch against WBA? 7.5

Song: very good all round performance, breaking up Chelsea’s moves, giving the likes of Drogba and Essien a real physical battle and passing much better than he did against Partizan. 7.5

Arshavin: a lot of things didn’t come off for him (his touch is very on/off at the moment) but he is always a threat and was unlucky not to score with one long range shot. 6

Nasri: becoming Arsenal’s best player this season by a stretch. Involved in everything and always looking to get at the Chelsea defence. His effort and attitude are top notch. 8 – MotM

Chamakh: could have done better with that second half header, but always offered, worked hard to close them down from the front and got into dangerous positions, even if they didn’t come off for him. A couple of penalty shouts, but they would have been generous in the extreme if the ref had given them. 7

Subs:

Rosicky: involved in some good moments. 7

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Carlos Vela weren’t on long enough to merit a rating.

RockyLives


One day chicken, next day feathers – written by London and peaches

September 26, 2010

London’s analysis

It seems as though the players’ midweek celebrations went on a bit longer than we might have thought. The only thing that surprises me is that one or two didn’t take to the field carrying half empty Champagne bottles and wearing sun glasses to shield their eyes from the painful effects of the sun after a late night.

The hang over was written all over their faces; men dressed in red and white lumbered around the pitch with tired limbs, totally lacking in any sort of urgency.

The fog from their lazy minds only started to clear well into the second half after which, I can only presume, someone had the bright idea to hand out sobering black coffee and paracetamol which, although was a step in the right direction, did take time to take affect and by the time it did we were three nil down.

That must have been some party because only a shadow of the team that ripped spuds apart in the week turned up yesterday.

We were pants, arrogant pants as one “Baggie” came on the blog yesterday and rightly told us.


Peachesgooner’s conclusions

I agree London but who’s to blame?

Almunia will no doubt bear the brunt of most people’s anger but as London says, there was definitely a hang over from the players ……… oh and how about the arrogance of our fine manager for  not playing the best team available from the start.  This is not the first time that we’ve had our playmakers sat on the bench being saved for a future fixture while the those on the pitch are unable to be effectively creative. Today Jack Wilshire – undoubtedly the star of Tuesday night’s heroics against spuds – and Tomas Rosicky must have watched in agony as the first half drudged on.

Neither Song, Diaby or Eboue were finding their man. They were all passing to the ‘invisible one’. We had no control of the mid-field and there was absolutely no sign of the play that tormented the scummers the other night. How embarrassing is that? To have had even 50% of the control would have meant we were stringing some passes together instead of giving the baggies every chance of getting into the game.

And so the 2nd half came to pass and it was still nil nil. From the way we had played in the first half, unless there were changes, I couldn’t see us gaining an advantage quickly. What I didn’t see coming was the baggies on the attack and an Arsenal mid-field that just stood still and allowed them to pass through with ease. One goal conceded was quickly followed by a second and a disturbing chill descended on the stadium.  Eboue and Diaby were sacrificed for Wilshere and Rosicky – probably half an hour too late and soon we were 3 down.

Three down at the Emirates against ……… newly promoted West Bromwich Albion!!!!!!!!! You couldn’t make it up really. Was it all Almunia’s fault? I don’t think so, the  goalkeeper must be protected by the back four and the back four must be protected by the mid-field and if the mid-field had been working effectively, then we should have been in the lead anyway.

If we can’t defend as a team we’re going to struggle this season, but if we don’t send out the best team available from the start, there are always going to be other excuses. M. Wenger this one is your fault.


West Bromwich Preview – Unbeaten & on the way to Invincible – written by BigRaddy

September 25, 2010

Always good to play a newly promoted team at home after a busy (and triumphant) week. West Brom according to Mr Wenger will be a tough test and one of the best sides we could play. Tosh, I say – he couldn’t have asked for a better fixture considering the progressive destruction of his squad.  If we don’t pick up 3 points today we may as well hold up the white flag regarding the title.

We go into the game on the back of a confidence boosting and easy victory over our local rivals. The dressing room must be awash with testosterone which AW will be looking to unleash upon a team who have started brightly having taking a spanking at Stamford Bridge, but drawing with Spurs and beating Man City last time out (CC). This must be tempered by an appalling away record – WBA have just 4 points from a possible 52 in their previous away games in the PL.

In Roberto di Matteo WBA have a fine young coach who will be assuring his side that they can escape a beating akin to the 6-0 at the Bridge.  Should ex Arsenal youth player Jerome Thomas start,  it could be an opportunity to apologise to Jack Wilshere for the push that got Thomas sent off with a 3 match ban. You may recall Jack refused to take Thomas’s hand after he was elbowed, JT reacted to the snub by pushing Jack and got red carded.

I cannot see Di Matteo playing anything but a cautious game hoping to counter attack. He must know that should Arsenal score early Scott Carson will be in for a very busy afternoon.

My team …..

Bench:  Chesney, Vela, EE, JD  Diaby/TR

This assumes Rosicky and Diaby will not recover from injury. If either is fit, I would replace Denilson. Vela didn’t do enough at WHL to start today, neither did Djourou. I would like to see Chesney get a start but expect Almunia to play. It would be good to give Chesney a bench seat thereby making him feel included in the first team set-up.

We have been playing fast, fluent football, have become more incisive upfront with less pitty-patty around the opposition box and we seem to have sorted out some of our defensive frailties. In short we have been superb up to now. Even at Sunderland where we had our backs to the wall there were many positives, not least of which was the knowledge  we should have won the 3 points despite a lacklustre first half. Wilshere has been superb and is growing rapidly into the team, though I expect him to be rested as soon as Diaby and Cesc are fit. We remain unbeaten and on the way to another Invincible season ;-)

This to me is an surprising fact about West Bromwich, two of my favourite singers were born there. Robert Plant  ex Led Zep and  Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. Now to me Lizzy are the quintessential Irish band and I always thought Lynott came from Ireland – but no, he was born in Sandwell General, West Bromwich.  Wherever he was born, he played in one of the finest bands ever to walk the planet, RIP.

Can we win? Of course. Will we win? Certainly.

COYRRG


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