Petr Cech makes a point

October 23, 2016

Oh boy, what a difference a few days makes in Arsenal world. From heroes on Wednesday night to zeroes by Saturday afternoon.

Arsenal twitter was best avoided yesterday evening and it’s entirely possible that no-one will be bothered to want to comment about the game today. But there are things to say …….

Petr Cech kept us in the game and saved us the embarrassment of a possible home defeat. He looked like he meant business from the start following on from Ospina’s fine display the other night. Competition is good.

Boro didn’t actually come to play football but as luck would have it (their luck that is) we couldn’t resist giving them a couple of opportunities to try and score. Cech’s agility was amazing and many stood and applauded his fine saves. The very experienced Valdes also kept Boro in the game.

So what was wrong with our team? No Cazorla we know from last season upsets the balance in midfield. I felt that both Elneny and Coquelin were too static, they seemed to be protecting each other and so there was no fluidity through midfield which slowed down the attack.

The pacy thrusting runs of late just weren’t there. Alexis was hampered and maybe this was a game for Giroud as many high balls were played over the top.

Everyone seemed tired, although Theo was lively but couldn’t add any goals and Mesut just didn’t want to score yesterday😉

Parked buses always present us with a big problem and the longer we go in a game without scoring the more difficult it gets. If only we could put away a couple of early chances …………

But ……… hey ho, We Are Top Of The League …….. if only for a few hours ……. so we really mustn’t complain🙂

Written by peachesgooner 

Winning Run to Continue?

October 22, 2016

Middlesbrough come to us on an unbeaten run of one. Arsenal are on a 7 match winning streak. Should be easy, never is.


The current form of the Gunners is as good as we have seen for many a year and the prospects are positive. However, it has to be said  we have played ordinary teams and the real test of our potential is yet to come in November which has been crap for us for a couple of generations.

Will Mr Wenger celebrate his birthday with a gamble? Will he give Perez a run out? Will Gibbs excellent performances won him a start? Will he reward Ospina? I doubt it.

My Team:


Bellerin    Mustafi    Koscielny     Monreal

Cazorla       Coquelin    Iwobi

Walcott     Sanchez      Ozil

Our bench is awesome and  all riding the pine would be first on the team sheet at ‘Boro.

And what of Boro? Well, as I sit in an airport lounge awaiting a delayed SAS flight, I cannot really tell you. I have been to Middlesbrough and have to say it is an unimpressive town. I was staying at the home of one of the city councillors who very proudly showed me her city. For her sake I feigned interest but have to say I couldn’t wait to return to Islington. To those few Boro fans who can read, if you can move down South of Watford into the light.

We need to take the points this afternoon and many will think anything less than an easy victory will be failure. In the PL this is rarely the case, as we all know “there are no easy games at this level”, but I am hopeful.

Win today and we could go ToTL. Happy Days.




Arsenal 6 Ludogrets 0…………a few thoughts on the game.

October 20, 2016

Thracians thrashed and we have a better clock tower; well we do, the clock tower near the Highbury barn is much better than theirs by about six goals I would say.

Sanchez, Walcott’s twin brother, Oxlaide-Chamberlain all got on the score sheet but it was Mesut Ozil’s night with his first hat trick at THOF.

Arsenal cruised past the Bulgarian champions with the ease in which I think most anticipated; that’s to say, anticipated in the way that none of us knew what to expect from Ludogrets but most presumed, and rightly so as it turned out, that the champions of such a lowly league were hardly going to produce a team capable of beating us in the form we are in.

No, but, that is not to say that we didn’t have a few scares; it took two fine saves from the outstanding Ospina to keep us ahead: Sanchez having scored from what is fast becoming his trade mark “Scoop”. I am not sure what else to call it; it was as inch perfect as the “Scoop” he sent over for Ozil to score one of the best goals I have ever seen against Swansea on Saturday.


The Chilean’s goal settled the nerves and gave a moment to reflect on what a clever team selection Wenger had made. For twenty years I have been trying to guess the team he is going to select and although there have been a couple of times when I have been really annoyed usually following a sound thrashing; that said, I am not daft enough to realise that my criticism was made with the use of hindsight. Anyway once again I couldn’t guess and once again I was really impressed with the way Wenger deployed the troops: Monreal needed time to cool down from his weekend roasting which gave Gibbs a chance and the Ox for Iwobi was smart.

It is all very well going on as we do about how much depth we have to the squad but it is easy to forget that they are human beings with feelings and they need be kept on side and motivated and that was exactly what Wenger was able to do to two key players in the very important Gibbs and Oxlaide-Chamberlain. Oops I almost forgot, that is three key players with Ospina.

Theo’s twin brother continued to impress with a superb long range effort from way outside the box just before half time which allowed us to go into the break having doubled our lead and a whole lot more relaxed. I say Theo’s twin brother of course because there is no way anyone is going to persuade me that this is the same Theo that we have had at the club for what, ten years now? No way. Theo’s twin seems to have worked out his best position in no time and even more important he has been given provisional membership into the elite Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla club. Yes a very exclusive club that very few get invited into, Ramsey has a provisional membership, Giroud by contrast doesn’t.

What this membership gets you is — the ball, it means that Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla will pass to you; they wouldn’t have passed to Theo of last season, no point he would have just lost possession but his twin this season is able to control it and make some telling passes and score some very important goals. I am not sure that Giroud will ever be in the club, have you noticed how those three will try a really complicated pass to one another rather than make a simple short easy pass to the Frenchman.

In Arsenal world tonight was a resounding win but it will still go almost unnoticed. I am not sure whether to be pleased or annoyed. I suppose it is useful that all the media continue to kneel in front of Pep, lip gloss applied, while we go on winning almost unnoticed, it certainly keeps the pressure on Man City and off of us. It is a two horse race, no doubt in my mind about it.

But we were good tonight, we are very good, who would have expected Ozil to start scoring the way he is and before I go any further I want make sure Perez’s two assists do not go unnoticed. Do you remember when we bought him and we were all excited about how finally we might have someone who can play with Ozil and Sanchez up front, someone who has the same close control as those two titans of our team, well you saw it tonight. Perez was outstanding which of course leaves me with a bit of a problem choosing my superlative for Ozil but before I do a thought crossed my mind as he completed his hat trick.


What would Ozil have to do to be regarded as the best player we have ever had at Arsenal? I will leave that one to you to discuss.

Back to the game, no actually I am done, Ozil’s three goals were magnificent and boy what a pleasure it was to be there and witness them. One last very personal point that gave me goose bumps. It is always a sign that we are on top and cruising when the you hear We’re the North bank, we’re the North Bank followed by we’re the Clock end, we’re the clock end, nothing new here but the difference last night was that like phoenix from the ashes the sound of we’re the East Stand, we’re the East Stand, we’re the East Stand Highbury came ringing out for the first time ever at THOF, I have goose bumps just writing it. Oh how lucky I am to support this football club, thanks Dad.

Written by LB

Thrashing the Thracians?

October 19, 2016

To be quite honest I had absolutely no idea which country PFC Ludogorets Razgrad came from until I started writing this. Bulgaria is the answer and I sincerely hope my appalling ignorance and downright lack of awareness is not matched by the manager and team of Arsenal Football Club.

Looking at Ludogorets’ record in the Champions League, their biggest home win was 1-0 v Basel in 2014 and their biggest away defeats were both 4-0 to Basel (again) and Real Madrid (both in 2014). At present their biggest away win is …… non-existent. A continuation of that record for another few days would be great. (n.b. they’ve only been in the group stage once before) .


Razgrad itself is in north-east of the country and a couple of Bulgaria’s famous landmarks have parallels with landmarks in England.

First there is the Bulgarian Icarus statue.


According to legend, the man known as the “Bulgarian Icarus” was also a builder. Apparently a Turkish Sultan survived a terrible disaster, so he decided to build a mosque in Edirne in gratitude to God. At that time, Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire. So, the Sultan summoned the most famous builder and this was Bulgarian, Manol. He worked for seven years and constructed a miraculous temple. After it was completed, the Sultan asked him: “Can you build a more beautiful mosque than this one?” and Master Manol replied: “One always has more to learn. Maybe I made some mistakes here that I will avoid in the future and I will be able to build an even more majestic temple.” Hearing this, the ruler ordered that Manol be shut in one of the mosque minarets until his last breath. The inventive craftsman, however, managed to create another miracle – he designed himself wings made of wood. And one day, the people in Edirne saw a huge flying creature soaring in the sky and heading home to Thrace. In this way, Master Manol managed to save his life and turned into a favourite hero in Bulgarian folk tales and songs.

This tale reminded me of the Angel of the North statue when some Geordies launched an enormous Alan Shearer shirt over its shoulders.


Whilst the statues have similarities, Master Manol and Mr Shearer are almost polar opposites, one an educated and erudite craftsman builder and the other a football pundit.

The second parallel is between the beautiful Razgrad clock tower and our own clock tower at Highbury Barn.


Team News

It would appear Rambo and Ollie G. are continuing to train alone. I’d imagine Granit will start due to a soon-to-be enforced absence from the Prem and EFL Cup (cheers, J. Moss).

It appears we emerged unscathed from the Swansea game so perhaps the team isn’t likely to be changed to any significant degree. Perhaps Kieran Gibbs could get a game after Nacho’s run around on Saturday. Oh, and Oooooooooooo-spiiiiiiiii-naaaaa may get the goalkeeper jersey.

‘Complacency’ seems to be the watchword for everyone with regards to this game. Theo and Shkodran have both issued warnings to their teammates to be on their guard against assuming it will be an easy and straightforward 3 points. Each and every player has to be thinking the same, especially after escaping by the skin of our teeth against Swansea.

Note…. Big Raddy is currently on manoeuvres in Ireland and without pre-match writing facilities. Thankfully this hiatus from normality will only be fleeting.

P.S. we need a nickname or shortened version of Shkodran. Any suggestions?

Written by chas

Swansea hoodoo broken

October 16, 2016

Yesterday’s game had everything: excitement, drama and sex, yes sex, the third goal from Mesut was sex. One of the best games, excitement wise, I have seen at THOF in a while.

Here are some player ratings……….

Cech: will you stop hoofing the ball up field, almost always we lose possession, just roll it out, simples. 6

Bellerin: Hector can do no wrong. 8

Mustafi: Everyone’s favourite new player looks more and more like a bargain after every game he plays. 8

Koscielny: Captain Fantastic. 8

Monreal: OK, but got roasted a few too many times in the second half and was responsible for Swansea’s second goal. 5

Xhaka: did start off quietly commanding but he gave the ball away badly for Swansea’s first goal and it should be noted that that is the second time that he has done that. The red card should have been a yellow, just rugby tackle him if you want to make sure the player doesn’t go any further. 5

Cazorla: passing was a bit off today, not the best game but with his smile how can you not love him. 6

Ozil: this man is getting near to being the best player we have ever had, his winner was worthy of the great Dutchman himself; one of the great Arsenal goals of all time. 9

Iwobi: it is impressive that someone so young can hold his own in the ball control stakes with Ozil and Sanchez, in many ways he looks more comfortable playing with those two than Walcott does but the hyperbole has advanced quicker than the reality of where Alex is in his career. I am not suggesting that there isn’t an awful lot more to come from the player but right now Welbeck would and should walk straight back into that team. With maturity you get a confident selfishness as a striker, a determination and a self belief that you can always score. Welbeck has this Iwobi hasn’t — yet.

Sanchez: passing astray, trying too hard and then he crosses the ball for Ozil to score our third with such accuracy I wonder why I even bother thinking about a negative side at all. 7

Walcott: New Theo and Old Theo were on display today, New Theo scored two vital goals, Old Theo missed two sitters. 7

Good subs by the way, the Ox was impressive.

Written by LB

Hoodoo? Swansea? Surely not.

October 15, 2016

These interlulls seem interminable but at last we get some proper football back at THOF as we welcome our nemesis, Swansea City.

We have not beaten Swansea at The Emirates in our last 4 meetings (3L, 1D).  How can it be that we have such a poor record against one of the PL minnows? It is not as if they are a brutal team like Stoke or even a top quality side. No, it has to be one of three reasons:

  1. Arsenal have anticipated an easy victory and do not give 100% until it is too late.
  2.  Arsenal are in poor form and Swansea rise to the occasion of playing in a world class stadium.
  3. Welsh Luck.

Or  most probably a combination of the above. Whatever the reason it has to stop and it has to stop this afternoon.


Will Bob Bradley start his PL career with a positive result? Is it a fact or an urban myth that a new manager always starts with a win (Warnock did so last night for Cardiff)? Swansea certainly need a boost as they have lost 5 of their last 6 games and have “garnered”(outside of football when do we use this word?) just 4 points from 7 games.

Swansea’s main attacking threat will come from set pieces (no surprise there!) and this is an area which has traditionally been a weakness for AFC. Much has been written about the lack of height in our defence yet we go into the game on the back of 4 clean sheets.

Our season is going well apart from a mad 20 minutes vs Liverpool in a game which we not only dominated but should have been out of sight by 40 minutes . We were average against Burnley which can be excused after an exhausting week.

Is OG knacked or on the naughty step? Either way he is not playing today. Nor is Ramsey who may well be out for another week.

My Team:


Bellerin     Mustafi    Koscielny    Monreal

Cazorla   Xhaka    Iwobi

Walcott   Sanchez    Ozil

Why change a winning team? The only reason to do so would be exhaustion following the Internationals. Perhaps Sanchez will be rested for The Ox.

The bench gets stronger and stronger as players return from injury though we are lacking (as always) a striker – Akpom, OG, Perez and Welbeck are all missing. Where is Sanogo when we need him?

Win today, win midweek and we are kushtie, drop points today and a cold winter looms, but we won’t, will we?






October 14, 2016

Picture this, and it’s an awful thought for any day, let alone a gloriously sunny Friday.

Arsenal no longer exists. Gone. No more. Could have been a large explosion from the kitchens, could have been an alien attack. Whatever the reason, your lover, your obsession has gone. End of.

Many, many years ago I remember having this conversation with some chums before a home game, and I voted Charlton Athletic. Reason was, I lived in London, and I thought they were low key enough not to be offensive, while being the proud bearers of a good history.

Fast forward a few decades, and I live four hours from The Emirates. I wouldn’t make the same choice now. My options:

  • Become a fully signed up casual supporter of football without any specific allegiance
  • Follow a local side with all the comaraderie that would eventually follow
  • Now my ace. Go foreign. This needs further explanation.

Wherever you live, there will be an airport near you. From there will be a list of popular destinations. I say popular, because this is where you’ll find the bargains. Not uncommon to find last minute £50 returns to a huge variety of European Cities. I say, find the list, choose a Country, City, and Club that tickles your fancy.

Foodie: head to Parma

Drugster: Amsterdam

Culture vulture: Barca or Madrid

Sausage fan: Dortmund


Could any of you possibly choose an existing top six team, as I couldn’t, and hence my need to look elsewhere.

Written by Fat Elvis Viola-playing DidIt