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.

Scez1

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


Old wine, or new bottle, or old wine in new bottle?

December 31, 2013

End of the year, and part of the ritual is to take stock, and look forward towards the future with glorious plans and renewed expectations. And what a fantastic year this has been for Arsenal fans! At the midway stage in the Premier League last year, Arsenal was lying 7th, well off the pace for Champions League qualification, and even off Spursday football places. Qualifying second in their group, Arsenal faced a tough round of 16 encounter against Bayern Munich, one of the best teams in Europe at that stage. With significant changes to the Board, a new owner in tow, there were uncertain times for the club management. The fans were up in arms, with substantial ammunition provided by a negative press, dubious pundits and even the Arsenal Supporters Trust. Difficult times indeed!

But Arsenal managed to make a fantastic turnaround. Attaining qualification for CL was nothing short of a miracle! Yes, Arsenal lost out in a two leg epic battle against eventual winners Bayern, but before that showed their mettle in an amazing 2-0 away victory. Despite all the negativity, good progress was made in the summer transfer window. The progress continued in the current season, and Arsenal is sitting at the Top of the Premier League at the halfway stage. Qualification to the Champions League was gained from the aptly termed “Group of Death”. Grudging acknowledgement of Arsenal’s strength and mettle is gently arising from beneath the rubble of disdain and the green fumes of envy. Indeed, if the league was played over the calendar year, Arsenal would have been Champions of 2013. Oh, what a year this has been!!!

 

per and kosser

All in all, a good year in prospect. There are plenty of challenges yet to be met. Plenty of time still before we even begin to celebrate the achievements of this team. But, also plenty of positive vibes and expectation in tow. So AA ers, looking towards the future, what did we learn new about Arsenal this year, and what were we reminded of afresh, that we did not know with so much certainty one year back? Let us discuss. Here are a few of my tentative suggestions. It was not all rosy, though. Injuries continued through the year. The squad seems a bit thin. Progression to the round of 16 in the Champions League was gained, but only in second place. Like last year, we have drawn Bayern Munich. Lovely games in prospect, but significant challenges as well. And if the vitriol from the fans is a bit subdued due to the sustained run of fine results and resilience in the field of play, the negativity from the press and pundits continues unabated. Perhaps most importantly, whether by luck or design, Arsenal continues to be at the receiving end of poor refereeing decisions. Alas, some things never seem to change!

First, same time last year we did not know what a fantastic central defensive partnership, together with a very competent goalkeeper, we were developing. Indeed a large part of our success this year owes itself to the fantastic defensive pairing of Per and Kos. What a duo!!! And what a great leader in our beloved BFG! When Verms got injured, who would have thought we would have such a strong defence where even a fit squad captain cannot find a place?

Per and kossser 2

Second, one of the best revelations of the year was the discovery that Ramsey had developed into such a fantastic player. He was the subject of much of the blame and vitriol during our indifferent showing in 2012. Perhaps somewhat undeservedly. But our beloved Rambo rubbed all these adversities off his shirt, returned in style from his long standing injury, and has grown to the stature of one of the best midfielders in the League, perhaps in Europe as well.

Ramsey

He has shown a very mature head as well, leading for his country at a very young age. In tow, Jack Wilshere is developing into a fine player, if somewhat idiosyncratic on occasions. Together with Theo, the Ox, Gibbs and Jenks, they also form a British core to the team which had been somewhat deficient for a while. Who would have thought a year back that Rambo would develop into such a fantastic and dependable player, and Jack’s game will be coming along so nicely as well?

The English players

Third, one of the most encouraging developments of the year, at least for me, was the maturity with which the owner Kroenke, Gazidis and the Board conducted themselves. Perhaps the best development was that the Board did not interfere in footballing matters, leaving team and signing decisions to the people who know best, led by one Arsene Wenger. If you think that this is not a surprise, look around at other clubs. Several clubs have met with significant disasters as a result of owner power, such as the Spuds, Cardiff and even the Chavs, and in some others the environment is not very nice even if the performance has not been equally devastating.

The principles of the club, that a fantastic team can be developed without wasting money on the wasteful purchase of overpriced bench idols, was not compromised by a new owner and a new look Board. Surely, this was not a given at the start of the year, after the club had gone through a rather aggressive ownership contest and change of hands.

Fourth, amid the mantra of financial fairplay and traditional hesitancy to spend big money, and the recovery from an expensive move to the Emirates, who would have thought that Arsenal would spend their money where it mattered most?

Ozil

In the procurement of one Mesut Ozil, who despite his tentative adjustment to English football and the Arsenal way of playing the game, has given the team something really special, Arsenal showed purpose and ambition, and real ability to deliver trophies. This came together with the free transfer of one Mathieu Flamini – ah, what a fantastic transfer move!

flamini

Fifth, against the backdrop of significant unrest and disquiet among good-weather fans, ably supported by the press and pundits, who would have thought that the positive outlook of a sane fan-base would shine through? The struggle against the doubters and doomday-usherers still continues in earnest, in ArsenalArsenal and elsewhere, but The Home of Football still reverberates with the positive chants and outlook towards the new dawn awaiting in the New Year!!!!

AA ers, what do you think? My final thoughts are:

COYG! Onwards and Upwards!! A fantastic year 2014 awaits!!!!

Written by arnie

Arsenal Record 2013 Calendar Year

P W D L F A GD Pts
38 25 7 6 70 34 36 82

Where would 82 points put us in seasons past?

SEASON Winners P W D L F A GD Pts AFC on 82 points
2008-09 Utd 38 28 6 4 68 24 44 90 4th
2009-10 Chavs 38 27 5 6 103 32 71 86 3rd
2010-11 Utd 38 23 11 4 78 37 41 80 1st
2011-12 Oilers 38 28 5 5 94 29 65 89 3rd
2012-13 Utd 38 28 5 5 86 43 43 89 2nd

Chart by MickyDidIt

2013 Calendar Year League Table

P W D L F A GD Points vs Top 7 Total Home Total Away
Arsenal 38 25 7 6 70 33 37 82 10 19 19
Shitty 38 25 5 8 86 39 47 80 10 19 19
Chavs 38 23 8 7 71 40 31 77 10 20 18
ManUre 38 23 8 7 70 37 33 77 11 19 19
Spuds 38 21 10 7 55 46 9 73 10 19 19
Dippers 38 21 9 8 87 39 48 72 9 18 20
Everton 38 18 13 7 54 35 19 67 11 20 18
Toon 38 16 6 16 51 62 -11 54 13 19 19
Southampton 38 12 15 11 49 43 6 51 13 19 19
Villa 38 11 10 17 50 58 -8 43 11 20 18
Swansea 38 10 12 16 44 54 -10 42 12 18 20
Norwich 38 9 11 18 37 62 -25 38 12 20 18
Fulham 38 11 5 22 39 67 -28 38 12 19 19
West Ham 38 9 11 18 41 57 -16 38 12 19 19
Stokies 38 8 11 19 34 60 -26 35 11 19 19
WBA 38 7 13 18 45 61 -16 34 12 18 20
Sunderland 38 7 10 21 36 62 -26 31 12 19 19

Stat Overkill by GiE


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