Mr. Walcott. A Fond Farewell.

January 18, 2018

So long, Theo.

Let’s be honest, you played 400 games and yet never really established yourself, did you? Never showed consistently that you could achieve all you promised. We know some of the reasons why but perhaps part of the problem lay with you.

 

I was very excited when Theo signed from S’ton. Everyone was after him and he chose Arsenal. 16 y.o., already scoring in the PL, huge pace, confidence and trickery, he had it all. I expected Theo to become the new TH14. It was not to be.

Let us not forget that he scored over 100 goals, some amusing goals (Chavs),  some stunning indivual, goals and to a lesser extent team goals, and that he had the rare ability to score by shooting across the GK into the opposite corner. Let us also not forget that much of his time he spent running into blind alleys and being caught offside.

Walcott’s workrate improved immensely over the past 2 seasons as Bellerin developed and needed support. He scored 19 goals last season (who will match that number in 2018?), yet found himself unwanted.

Injuries damaged him. The shoulder injury came at an important time in his development.

IMO opinion the real problem was that Theo was at the wrong club with the wrong manager. Had he signed for MU under Ferguson he may well have sunk or swam, instead at Arsenal, for much of the time, he floated.

I will miss Theo. Having championed him for so many seasons I will be sad to see him go but it is right for him.; he needs first team footballl.

A lovely family man, who throughout his Arsenal career has spoken well of  both the club and the manager when others may have complained.

We wish you well .

    It’s up the M6, mate

written by Big Raddy

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If Maitland-Niles is the answer….what the hell is the question?

January 16, 2018

Ok that headline is pure click bait, and I predict we will see a number of comments from people who haven’t read the post telling me that I should leave our homegrown talent alone and that he is a wonder kid in the making. Let me be clear I won’t disagree with any of that and that is why I am writing this.

I’m sure I cannot be alone in being a tad discontented with Arsenal performances of late (understatement of the decade), what have I had to get excited about? Well in all honesty three things give me faint hope that we could still turn this slump round and become a force to be reckoned with again….step forward Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Jack Wilshere. Homegrown, super talented, unphased by the game at this level and the hysteria that sometimes surrounds our club.

These three have been at Arsenal for much of their life, combined they have 40 years big club experience, and 15 years international experience at their respective levels. They have seen the good times and bad at the club, they have experience of what it’s like to play for a club that the minnows want to beat (even if that’s in youth leagues and cups). I’m sure there are plenty of others through our ranks with similar attitude. The biggest compliment I can pay Maitland-Niles is that his teammates never worry about giving him the ball, compare that to when they look at some of their other teammates and turn away to find a safer option.

Whats my point? Look at some of our recent signings for what is frankly silly money these days (insert your own choices here) can you honestly say you wouldn’t rather be watching homegrown talent in those positions……yet still the only solution offered by many fans and pundits to our current malaise is sign more players, where exactly has that got us in recent seasons? As far as I can see more discontent on the terraces and more disjointed performances on the pitch.

I have often speculated that not all of our recent signings have been purely football related, I think there is such a clamour to sign players that the club has got itself into a belief that any signing is better than none, keep the fans and media off their back, “there you go we are spending some f***ing money”.

We need a change of mindset, we need to get back to what made us different but also led to enjoyable attacking football that the supporters enjoyed watching with a team that played with freedom and without fear.

As depressing as the League Cup Final defeat to Birmingham was that side was better to watch than this current team, and if we could have kept it together had more chance of winning titles. Perhaps most importantly it had one player who was a star when we signed him, and he was already on the wane for us. Over the four years leading up to that final we had a transfer net income of £31m.

The team that started against Birmingham….Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy, Nasri, Song, Wilshere, Rosicky, Arshavin, BSR. (Cesc and Theo both injured).

Ok not home grown but assembled for very little money, Jack was the first to emerge from a youth setup that had been given a root and branch overhaul on the type of players it valued and the style of play. Arsene had bought cleverly in the post stadium move/Abramovich/Sheikh era when the big hitters left for big money he assembled a side for relatively little money still able to compete. No they didn’t win titles, but neither is the current side, that over the three years preceding and including this season has cost £165m to assemble (without managing to get £30m plus for Ox that could have been nearly £195m). Has it been well spent? Is spending more now going to bring us any more chance of success or bring better football? Won’t we be throwing good money after bad chasing the elusive final piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately our jigsaw seems to have been spread far and wide with many bits lost down the sofa. You may also need to consider what our competition has spent in that time….City £479m, United £438m, Liverpool £75.5m (helped by recouping £108m for Coutinho), Chavs £36.2m (their youth acquisition policy very helpful) and Spuds £9m. Probably explains why we are lagging behind City and Untied, not so much why we are lagging behind Chavs, and obviously Spuds benefited hugely from discovering a £50m striker in their youth setup.

I hate to look across at Spuds and say I wish we could be like that, but they have a side more akin to our 2010/11 team than ours is now, they play uninhibited football and work bloody hard and even their best player hasn’t yet got too big for his boots that he is demanding the club buy players to match his ambitions, they have been able to build that side because their fans have been beaten into submission by years of abject failure that expectation or entitlement to be challenging for titles is not present in the fan base, they are enjoying the ride and why shouldn’t they.

What have we as a club really achieved in recent years that leads to such high expectations? High expectations that when you look at the spending of United and City is more often than not going to be kicked in the b******ks.

I think it’s time for the club to reset, and get back to basics, whether under new management or current, give the kids some game time and forget about superstars for a while until we find our identity again. I’ll have much more fun watching Maitland-Niles and friends bring some joy back to watching Arsenal than sitting there eternally disappointed that the last £40m midfielder we signed can’t actually track a runner from midfield and has worse attack and defence stats than a £12m midfielder bought 4 years earlier, or a £47m striker has as good a goal to shot ratio as the much maligned £12m striker from a few seasons previous who in my opinion actually brought more to the overall play of the team.

If our support was influenced only by titles there would be many bloggers that frequent this site that would have given up in the 60’s and again in the 80’s. They didn’t because football isn’t all about the trophies, first and foremost it should be enjoyable to go to or watch, to achieve that you need to reset your expectations.

Gooner in Exile


Arsenal Top Seasons – 1934/35 our 8th Best

January 16, 2018

The previous season had seen the Gunners win the league for the second successive time despite the untimely death of the great Herbert Chapman in January 1934. The Club appointed the club’s press officer, George Allison, as Chapman’s successor. In some ways, Allison moved from publicity expert to Club figurehead rather than manager itself and he wisely chose to use the existing coaching and playing resources to their fullest potential.

Although not officially in charge until the start of the 1934/35 season, George Allison had already procured Ted Drake from Southampton in March 1934 for £6,500. (Chapman had tried to lure Drake from The Saints two seasons earlier).

The signing of Drake was key to Arsenal’s success in the 34/5 season, with the tough, skilful centre forward scoring 42 goals in 41 games including 3 hat-tricks and four 4-goal hauls.

Arsenal began the season rampant at home but struggling a little on our travels. It wasn’t until late November (at Chelsea) that the team secured our first away victory, though managed to end the campaign with the league’s best travelling record.

Sunderland and Manchester City made the early season running with the Wearsiders inflicting Arsenal’s second defeat of the season in October, proving to be The Gunners main Championship rivals.  By Christmas, the North-East side were top of the table with Arsenal in third position, albeit only a point behind.

The Club made some personnel changes in mid-season to bolster and reinvigorate our title bid. In January 1935, Taffy Rogers arrived from Wrexham, a few weeks later, Bobby Davidson joined from St. Johnstone, and in March, Alf Kirchen was signed from Norwich City. All would make a contribution in the run-in.

When Arsenal and Sunderland met at Highbury on March 9 1935, a crowd of 73,295 (the record Highbury attendance) saw a tight 0-0 stalemate. Arsenal remained on top by two points, but with both Sunderland and Manchester City snapping at their heels.

The next game in the League was away at Everton on March 16th and aside from the 8,7 and 6 nil thumpings, proved to be a remarkable match indeed. Frank Moss, the Arsenal keeper was injured after half an hour and had to be replaced by Eddie Hapgood in goal. He left the field of play and received treatment in the dressing room from Tom Whittaker. Ted Drake scored with a long range pile-driver just six minutes after Moss had left the field and Arsenal went in one up at the break.

In front of an astonished Goodison crowd, Moss came out on to the pitch at the start of the second half wearing a red outfield player’s shirt and took his place on the left wing with an injured arm strapped to his side. At that time there were no substitutes allowed in English football, not even for severely injured players.

Who knows how much persuasion was required for him to allow the title-chasing Arsenal side to take the field with their full complement of 11 players?

Arsenal’s makeshift defence held firm with Hapgood making a number of decent saves. Then bizarrely, Frank Moss, showing a touch of the Jesse Owenses, latched onto a pass from Ted Drake and buried the ball into the Everton net in the 70th minute. Reportedly, even the Toffees’ fans applauded his goal as he was mobbed by his excited team mates. Shortly after the goal, he left the field in agony as the injury flared up again (perhaps Herbie Roberts threw him over his shoulder in the goal celebration!). He was taken to hospital after the game to reset what turned out to be a double dislocation of the shoulder. The match ball signed by both sets of players was possibly scant consolation for what, in the long run, was to be a career-threatening injury.

Frank Moss and family

With five games to go, Arsenal demolished Middlesbrough 8-0 (including another four by Ted Drake) to lead the First Division by three points. Four days later the Gunners played the same opposition away from home, this time winning by a single goal (Drake again the match-winner), opening up a five point gap with two games remaining and thus securing the title.

The Highbury faithful were treated to a magnificent 74 goals in the 21 home games of the 1934/5 season while conceding only 17 (even Micky would have been happy to attend!).  To put the cherry quite firmly on top of the cake, Tottenham Hotspur were relegated, bottom of the table.

 

 


Time for Change?

January 15, 2018

There has been mis-management at our club for the last few years and it is not all down to Wenger. However I feel he has hugely contributed to where we currently are in spite of who might be responsible for things right now.

Personally I think the real issue started in that summer TW when we got Cech and we famously were the only club in all the leagues not to bring in any outfield player. Arsene kept coming out with this “we only want super talented players” line and “there is nothing out there available that is better than what I already have”. I thought it was a load of crap then and feel that even more now. I think it started to prove then that his insight and vision had become flawed at the highest level.

None of us can know what happens behind the scene, but I feel fairly convinced that he was backed if he wanted someone and he was making the decision not to move for players.

I also have a gut feeling he has not moved on players we really needed if they slightly strayed over the price he deemed as being good value, and I feel his economic outlook when it comes to football transfers has also proven flawed.

I don’t believe that Sanchez and Ozil initially refrained from signing extensions purely to wind down their contracts. I think possibly in that summer they both thought WTF this doesn’t feel right and held back until they witnessed some positive signs of ambition and development of the side to one that could challenge for the big stuff. I think our current situation has not been manufactured in the here and now and can be traced back to the summer of 2015 and Arsene is hugely complicit in this.

Think on this. A few years ago Luis Suarez wanted to leave Liverpool and come to us because he looked at us as the club that was on the up and that was embarking on an exciting new period. The project has failed and quite frankly I think the perception of Liverpool and Arsenal then has been reversed in the eyes of the worlds top players.

At least with a new manager our club could once again be viewed as a top club that is embarking on something new and exciting.

written by Gooner B


Many questions, Few answers

January 14, 2018

Be honest, how excited are you about this game? Less than thrilled? Give a monkey’s? Stomach churning anticipation? Mildly interested?

How did you feel pre-game at season’s start?

What’s changed?

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Is it the surfeit of football since Xmas? Or that Buornemouth are likely to PTB? Or that Arsenal are not exciting viewing in recent times? Or all of these?

Whatever it is, I am struggling to find the enthusiasm to write this post which is a rarity. It is instructive that the Newsnow feeds, which are my usual source of game info, have nothing on the match and all on AFC’s potentially disastrous transfer window!

Onto the game. Bournemouth are a surprise insomuch as I hardly expected them to survive a season in the PL let alone become established mid-table. This season they sit just above the drop zone but in recent weeks have improved.

It is admirable that the much-in-demand Eddie Howe has stayed, and that the BoD and backroom staff at B’mouth have created an atmosphere which not only keeps Howe satisfied but also imbues the players with confidence. Much like our own club.

Could Howe manage AFC or do we need a higher profile more Internationall experienced manager? A discussion for later.

As usual we have a swathe of injuries – JW joining the chaps on the massage table. Ramsey may well return to continue his partnership with Xhaka.

My Team:

Cech

Chambers   Mustafi   Holding

Bellerin   Ramsey    Xhaka    M-N

Iwobi

Lacazette    Sanchez

It is time Iwobi came good. It is time Lacazette scored. Time Sanchez showed his undoubted class and repays some of the debt he owes Mr Wenger in keeping him at such cost this season.

If we want Top 4 winning games and going on a long unbeaten run is imperative.

Let it start this afternoon.

COYRRG


A Fond Farewell.

January 13, 2018

So, Mr Coquelin leaves the squad.

A player who resurrected a failing career in a manner which will inspire other players. He is proof that endeavour pays and his reward is a fat contract with a top Spanish club. Well done, Francis.

I cannot say that I have been a fan of Mr Coquelin, in fact to me he represents all that has been wrong at Arsenal over the past decade – a reliance upon players who simply are not good enough to propel my club forward. Neither good enough in defence nor attack, his skills lie in hard work, hard tackling and playing simple balls to more creative players. This may be harsh as we have had the occasional glimpse of a player who has great skill and can distribute accurately from midfield to attack, sadly, it was a rare glimpse.

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Squad players are necessary. We have many of them. It must be galling to be either on the bench or not even there week after week. To spend all that energy in training trying to impress the manager but rarely having a first team appearance. Knowing that only if a couple of players are injured you will have a chance.

Of course €30+k a week is a decent recompense for such trials.

Coquelin is only 26 y.o., played over 100 games for us, won 2 FA Cups, a Charity shield and became a multi-millionaire. Not bad for a man who was on loan at Lorient, Freiburg and Charlton in a career that seemed to have stalled.

Upon his return from Charlton Le Coq was a revelation in his DM role resulting in Mr Wenger calling him “the long-term solution”, it wasn’t to be .

Will he play first team football at Valencia? I guess so though Valencia currently sit 3rd in La Liga, 5 points ahead of Real Madrid, which must mean they have a settled team.

Valencia must be happy with AFC,having sold us Mustafi for €40m and used just €12m to buy a decent midfielder.

Thank you Francis Coquelin, Goonerdom wishes you well in your future.

written by Big Raddy


Where’s the transfer fizz and froth?

January 12, 2018

Sources say, linked to, Gazidis on flight to, sister-in-law confirms…… yip, transfer season, but hey it’s January 12 and I hear so little noise. What’s up?

Well, I like to think it’s crazy busy out there, and that my recent internetless period has merely kept me out of the loop, but peering around I’m not sure that is the case. A Greek defender has arrived, and Francis Coquelin has cleared off, and of course we’re left with the inevitable whispers about Mesut and Sanchez. The latter in particular due to the way the last minutes of the summer merrygoround ended.

To be honest, I have no idea what parameters we’re operating within regarding players being cup tied (Europa/CL?), movement domestically/abroad and so on.

Arsenally speaking, things have changed since the last window. We’ve witnessed the reappearance of Jack and the epic progress of Maitland Niles. We all know every single position could be improved upon, but equally, we all realise we’re not Real Madrid so what do we expect.

I think, once again, much will hinge on the Sanchez situation and one would assume Arsene sees the departure of Coquelin as leaving us thin in the defensive midfield position, or has he already pencilled someone in? Maitland Niles?

My personal thoughts on the window’s outcome? Nothing. Not sure why, but I have this gut feeling things won’t pan out for Sanchez the way he wants.

This is an incredibly dull window round up. I hope some of you can add some fizz and froth.