Arsenal’s best keeper for next season is ……….

April 13, 2015

Apparently David Ospina has the highest win ratio (92%) in Premier league history after 11 wins from 12 games played. Obviously this is a meaningless statistic since when he came into the side other factors will have influenced our current run of 8 games unbeaten in the EPL – not least the emergence of Le Coq as the midfield enforcer we always wanted.

But I have to say that I am mightily impressed with Ooooospinnnaaaaa (that makes me laugh every time I hear the crowd sing it :D ). For a guy who is 5-6 inches shorter than the likes of Courtois and De Gea, he certainly makes the most of his attributes. As our resident GK expert GiE has observed, it is Ospina’s calmness and the timing of when to come out for the ball that make him a better keeper than Szczesny at this particular time.

I have heard us being seriously linked to Petr Cech recently as he has been consigned to the bench by the emergence of Courtois. Now Cech is a good keeper and a very decent man – but is he a better keeper than Ospina? Moreover, we are second in the table to Chelsea, why would we want to enlist their second choice keeper if we aspire to be better than them? It makes no sense.

What also makes no sense to me is why we didn’t go for Lloris a couple of years ago. I can only assume Arsene had hoped that Szczesny would iron out some of the rough edges to his game.

So the question I ask is, who would you like to see between the posts for Arsenal next season?

Rasp


Goodbye Wojciech Szczesny

January 29, 2015

Many regular readers of this blog will know that I have never been a great fan of my compatriot Wojciech Szczesny. There were many reasons for my disapproval of him, but most were based on the knowledge of his father’s career – average keeper, arrogant and mouthy. From the start Wojciech reminded me of his Dad. But I am a fair person and decided to give him a chance and it seemed he rewarded me for that. Since replacing Fabianski in goal, he has grown from strength to strength and most fellow Gunners were delighted with his performances.

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Exactly 4 years ago he became our new No 1. Since then we have witnessed a true rollercoaster of a career, culminating in his disastrous performance against Southampton earlier this month. Rumours followed that Wenger had dropped him there and then as our first choice keeper and that was confirmed by Ospina’s appearance in the next few fixtures while Szczesny returned in the FA Cup. As we know Wenger always plays number 2 keeper in FA games. Do we have a permanent new No 1 or will Szczesny return to reclaim his place? And most importantly – do we want him to return?

The media and the fans have  varied views on Szczesny’s career. It has almost become a norm that after a few good games he fails completely – stupid mistakes, lack of concentration, wrong decision or  even a red card. Other players cannot possibly feel safe in front of a goalie with such a poor level of consistency.

Some claim that he is suffering from the same virus that made van Persie and Cesc move to clubs where they have better chances to achieve full potential and win trophies (more money). Others argue that Wojtek is an average keeper and will never be world class. He still makes the same errors as he did 4 years ago and his personality will always get in the way of true progress.

Psychological profiling is nowadays a part of the modern selection process for all top professionals, including footballers and I am sure that Szczesny must have been assessed too. I therefore wonder if his temperament has been ignored or deemed as no issue. Or did Szczesny became nervous after joining the Arsenal? By the same token we can discuss our previous number one, Lukasz Fabianski nicknamed ‘Flappy Hands Fabianski’. Lukasz seldom appeared cool, calm and collected while at the Emirates. Yet he seems to be doing well at Swansea.

Szczesny’s last EPL appearance was a complete disaster. His performance was below par and he cost us valuable 3 points. His body language after the game and failure to even look at the defenders were a sure sign that he knew he let us down. To calm the nerves he had a fag in the changing rooms, right under the nose of Wenger, known to be obsessed with a healthy life style of his employees.  Was it a provocation on WS’s part? Does he want to leave?

The Pole signed a new 5 year long contract in November 2013 making him one of the best paid goalkeepers in the world. Wenger was happy, we were happy and I am sure Szczesny was delighted. But that was more than a year ago, a long time in the short career of a footballer. This time last year Szczesny’s stats were better than De Gea’s, but this certainly is not the case this season. Even Fabianski and Vito Mannone seem to be outperforming Wojciech.

I don’t think I need to say anymore on the subject. I think that Szczesny should leave, don’t you?

Written by Eddie


Redemption Song

January 11, 2015

6/12/14. The Potteries: The first half on the slime covered fields of Middle Earth was embarrassing. Three down to base level tactics, which must have been discussed endlessly during the week prior to the game, the players shamed their fans and their manager. Second half we were by far the better team and had we not been chopped by a homer referee we may well have won.

What infuriates more – their gigantic violent defence or their gigantic violent attack? Crouch should have been sent off for continual use of the elbow, Adams should have been imprisoned for GBH on Alexis. Anthony Taylor (the idiot ref) must be enjoying his new gold Rolex.

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Anthony Taylor’s Nice Little Earner

11/1/15. A chance for the team to make reparations to both the fans and the manager.

Let’s start with the man who could be at the centre of the game, the referee, Jonathan Moss. In 17 games this season he has given out (why is a card always brandished?)  58 yellow and 7 red cards including sending off the miscreat Puncheon at The Emirates in August.

Stoke: On an unbeaten run which includes both us and MU. They cannot be under-estimated. But …. they are Orcs and have an odious manager. If the world was a fair and reasonable place, they would both be languishing in the lower regions of the Northern Premier League but it isn’t and Stoke continue to assault all who play them, aided and abetted by The Chief Orc, Sparky Hughes.

I don’t want to write about their players, they are all shitehawks apart from the diamond in the rough, Bojan – what is this superb, gifted player doing in Orc central? From the Nou Camp to the Britannia – the mind boggles and one can only hope he finds redemption come seasons end.

It has been raw weather this weekend which may prevent Stoke from playing hoofball but I doubt it. A couple of weeks ago West Ham sent in almost 60 long balls into our penalty area. That is one every 90 seconds!! Expect much of the same today.

Arsenal: The 7th cavalry are on the horizon as Ozil, Ramsey, Flamini etc return from injury. Walcott has had a run about and Giroud is off the naughty step. We have our first choice back five playing together for the second time this season. It augurs well

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Proof Ozil exists

I wouldn’t start Ozil, Ramsey or even Theo; this is a game for fighters and men who are 100% fit. Why risk the returnees?

My team:

TPIG

Debuchy     BFG     Koscielny    Gibbs

Ox    Flamini    Rosicky    Cazorla

Alexis   Giroud

Not much height or heft but much pace and ingenuity. If Santi and Alexis can continue their wonderful form the Orcs will be bamboozled. With Theo to fly past Bardsley for the final 20 minutes and Ozil to get perhaps 15, we should be set up for the trip  to the Champions next weekend.

Given Szczesny’s excellent judgement of the high ball at WHU he must start today; the aberrations of his Southampton performance should be forgotten and forgiven and  having Ospina on the bench will energise him.

A first league win in 2015 would be a boost especially given the Hapless Hotspurs loss and the disturbing improvement of Liverpool.

The first half at Stoke was our worst performance for many a season, this afternoon the team have a chance for redemption. Let it be so.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Arsenal’s Goalkeeper – Stick, Twist or Bust?

January 7, 2015

Our beloved club has struggled to find a suitable replacement for David Seaman as a GK. Some may argue that Lehmann was that man, but I believe that except for one season, Lehmann was erratic and unreliable and did not offer enough guarantees. We had placed high hopes in Fabianski but they faded quickly. We then placed our faith in the Sczecesny, also know as the Pole in Goal (PiG) and despite some improvements, he still fails to reassure us and this season he has been quite horrific (check link: http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/15118/9634573/premier-league-arsenals-wojciech-szczesny-is-struggling-for-form-but-will-arsene-wenger-wield-the-axe ).

Should we continue with PiG as our Nr. 1 GK for this season or shall we test Ospina who is a fine Colombian international over the next few games? Also, would you consider selling PiG this summer and if so, would you like our club to purchase if Ospina does not offer enough reliability as Nr. 1 GK?

Written by RC78


Phenomenal Wojciech Szczesny

October 12, 2014

Germany, current World Champions after 33 straight international qualifying away wins, stretching back to 1998, are finally beaten by Wojciech Szczesny. A phenomenal performance from the Arsenal keeper resulted in an astonishing result – 2 nil to the boys in red and white. Poland failed to beat Germany in 18 previous meetings between the two countries.

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Szczesny has been at the centre of some ferocious criticism and was branded as “one of many Polish goal keepers with huge ego and limited footballing skills”. I am guilty of doubting his ability to perform consistently. He has always been able to produce some spectacular saves, but at the next game he would deliver equally spectacular howlers.

Speaking of Szczesny last season Arsene Wenger stated  the 23-year-old is continuing to grow in stature.

“Certainly a part of his improvement is mental because he’s more mature. His decision-making is cleaner, sharper, quicker. He was always a very talented boy but because he’s intelligent he learns quickly from experience. I’m happy that I always gave him the confidence because he’s developing very well into a very strong goalkeeper and today certainly nobody would question that he’s one of the top five goalkeepers in the Premier League.”

One of the top five goalkeepers in the EPL? Are there really 4 goalkeeper better than Szczesny? What do you think?

Written by Eddie


Arsenal’s next Captain

July 15, 2014

The other day LB wrote an interesting post entitled “Is Thomas Vermaelen still needed? This led me to think about the player as a captain and conversely the captain as a player.

Before looking at individuals in those roles I got to thinking just what should we look for in a Club Captain, note the capital letters, in my opinion the Club Captain is equally as important as The Manager, The Chief Executive or The Owner.

So the candidate should be of sufficient stature, not just in a physical sense, but in the status he holds in the game as a whole. To attain the necessary status he must have been around a while, he must be a good enough player to command a starting place in the club’s first team and preferably in his National side as well. He should also have earned the respect of not only his own team but also opposing players and particularly the on pitch officials. Needless to say he must also be media savvy, articulate and able to offer rational answers to irrational questions at times of both elation and disappointment in post match interviews for example.

tony adams

Looking back, I can recall Frank McLintock, sleeves rolled up barking out orders to players, organising his defence at corners and free kicks and generally running things on the pitch. Similarly with Tony Adams and of course Patrick Vieira. Arguably the best Captain I ever saw was the incomparable Bobby Moore, calm authoritative and respected throughout football.

Latterly the armband has been a bit of a poisoned chalice, not only at Arsenal but also at international level with England. Fabregas and van Persie were appointed only to depart shortly after, Vermaelen suffered both a shocking loss of form and a series of injuries and could soon follow the other two out of the club and there are rumours that Arteta could also go if someone of the stature of Khedira or Bender are signed. In the England team the captaincy has, disgracefully, been swapped around more times than at a kid’s game of pass the parcel.

At the moment it appears to me that should Vermaelen leave, the only rational candidate would be Per Mertesacker, but for how much longer can he command that starting place in the team? Longer term we can all hope and expect the appointment of Jack Wilshire, but will it happen?

What are your views on both the Captain’s role as, should it be largely ceremonial, tossing the coin, handing over a little pennant and posing for a snap with the officials or, as the Manager’s voice on the pitch and the players representative off it. Surely there must come a time when a stop is put to the absurd situation of referees being mobbed by a group of angry players, then only the Captain should be allowed to approach the officials, and that will require a calm sensible approach, one more attribute needed for the job.

Who should our next Captain be?

Written by Norfolk Gooner

 


She Wore.

May 17, 2014

There are signs up in Islington warning about traffic disruption for the Arsenal Victory parade on Sunday – I don’t like it. We fans know that there is many a slip twix’t the Cup and the Lip :-D

But today is a day to rejoice; a day when we can enjoy the pre-match excitement until the kick-off and a day to hail the efforts of our great team to bring us to Wembley. After kick-off is another matter entirely. For BR it will be an afternoon of prayer and working out which of my family can be sacrificed to ensure victory. Needs must.

Let’s be honest, if this was a league game at The Emirates against a depleted Hull, we would be confident – make that very confident – it is just that the game is at New Wembley (where we have yet to win in 90 mins) and is hugely important to the fans and the team. And most importantly we have screwed up these games before. Lack of bottle? Poor tactics? An inherent weakness in recent Wenger teams? Who knows – all I know is I still feel the pain of our last Wembley disaster.

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He wore, he wore …

Another chap who probably squirms at the word Wembley is young Szczesny, which brings us nicely onto the first of our selection considerations. TPIG 1 or TPIG 2? Does Mr Wenger reward Fabainski’s work over the years he has been at the club or does he give his first choice keeper the shirt knowing he will be here next season? Both will do the job, both are excellent keepers. To me this is a head or heart question. Head = Chesney, heart = Fab. Given how pragmatic Wenger is it would not surpass me to see Fabianski on the bench, but I really hope he gets picked because without his heroics in the semi-final penalty shoot out, we wouldn’t be there (though TPIG 1 is an excellent penalty stopper).

Given this is likely to be a midfield battle should Flamini play? Huddlestone is a big unit and probability Hull’s best player. Can our lightweight MF’s cope?

Sanogo? He has started games in the cup matches and even in the Champions League. I know – no chance!!

If we win and Vermaelen is not on the pitch, should he go up to pick up the Cup? Terry did. Or will it be Arteta?

In reality the team picks itself. Had JW made an early recovery from injury he may have had a shout as a starter but he didn’t.

My Team:

fa c 2

I would love there to be space for Rosicky, JW, Ox and TV but sadly they will be riding the pine. This team is our best eleven at the moment and has easily enough skill, power and above all imagination to beat Hull.

I suppose I should write a little about Hull. Trouble is I wrote about them just a couple of weeks ago and although I am sure you have forgotten all of my post it is just repetition.

What is for certain is that the Hull team will be bursting lungs, arteries, muscles and blood vessels to beat Arsenal today. Imagine saying to your children “this is my FA Cup Winners medal” – how fantastic must that be? Certainly better than “We got to play at Wembley but got beaten and this is my Loser’s medal”.

Squishy Nose Bruce will be saying the undeniable “It is just eleven vs eleven and if you want it enough you will win”. He is right except our heroes also are better players. Hull’s best chance is to battle and harry, to “get in our faces”.  They have the players to do so.

How do you think the game will develop? I am hoping to be three up at half-time, Didit will be looking for a last minute of extra time winner (he is a young man with a strong heart). Whatever happens I want us to win – I would love us to do so with brio and Wengerball but I would take a scrappy own goal and a poor display – as long as we win.

Prediction: Podolski or Cazorla will score a screamer from the edge of the area and if Ramsey plays well we will win – there I’ve said it and put a bok on the lads. They are likely to play terribly :-(

Like the vast majority I will be watching this at home, bereft and sad that I am not with my heroes. I wasn’t there in Paris for the CL Final, I wasn’t there for the Birmingham caper,  I wasn’t there for the FAC Final losses to West Ham or Ipswich. My point being that my non-appearance at a final can be costly, in other words …. does anyone have a spare?  I can fly over as long as I have a few hours notice!

That said I wasn’t there for the ’71 double win against Liverpool and I was in Paris for the “Nayim” loss – so they aren’t all bad portents for this afternoon.

To those lucky blighters who have tickets, Big Raddy and the entire Arsenal world wish you a fantastic day.

Today is 6 weeks since our good friend and great Gunner DanDan died.  Wouldn’t be a fitting end to his final season if Arsenal won the Cup? Let it be So ……

COYRR Gunners

written by Big Raddy


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