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

The Best Ever Football Stadium Migration – You’re ‘Avin a Giraffe, Love

October 12, 2016


When the porn brothers announced their intention to move from one of London’s most feared stadiums to an athletics and concert venue, I like most regular fans felt a certain degree of unease.  Surely we didn’t need a 52,000 seat stadium especially one with a bloody great running track between the players and the old east side chicken run.

But then the spin began – 85% of supporters canvassed were in favour of the move, a new cantilever system would place seats where the running track would be, football would be once again affordable for the ordinary man (or woman) in the street, the transport links would be second to none, it will catapult us into the upper echelons of the premiership and challenging the traditional top four incumbents.  Oh and by the way, we’re gonna pay sweet fanny adams for the privilege – how could you possibly say no.

The final season at the Boleyn was so very West Ham.  For quite some time it looked like we could break into the top four and begin life at the Olympic Stadium with Real Madrid, Bayern, Barcelona and Juventus as regular visitors.  But of course, just like our dreams we faded and very nearly died only to deal Man United a third crushing blow (having denied them 2 Premier League Championships) and consign them to a season of Thursday night football.  Still 7th place was good enough to secure a place in the Europa League 3rd qualifying round and having re-configured the Man United team bus we said an emotional farewell to the old girl.


The summer approached and we got to see images of our new ‘home’ – oh and by the way, it’s now called the London Stadium. Yep that’s right and oh, did we forget to tell you, we’re going to have a bit of a re-brand and our new badge, which all three of you who we consulted just love, also encompasses the word London, coz that’s where we’re from see!

In the meantime, the club announced we’d miraculously found an extra 5,000 seats and sold the lot.  But not to worry if you’ve not got a ticket, coz we’ve also found another 9,000 on top of that so now we’ve got London’s largest stadium and with a season ticket waiting list in excess of 50,000 we’ll have no trouble selling out every game.  Sounds too good to be true?  You bet.

You see, in The Duchesses excitement to do the deal of the century, she forgot some of the basics.

Now you’d think they would have tried to move/migrate like-minded fans to the same part of the ground.  You know, the 9,000 or so supporters who stood behind both goals together with those who stood in certain corners of the ground.  You know, the ones who got the singing going, gave the opposition players and fans untold grief – made Upton Park a cauldron of noise, overcame the sterilisation of all seated stadium and all that.  But know, they mixed the whole bloody lot up.

Secondly, you’d think that the club would want control of the security and stewarding so the customer experience was under their auspices.  But no, The Duchess got the deal of the century you see.  So she insisted the stadium owners handled that.  Which they sort of did by outsourcing these areas to the stadium operators who guess what – outsourced it to a French organisation who run the Stade de France.

Now you’d think they would look to re-hire all the stewards from the old ground.  The ones who know how to control football and in particular West Ham supporters.  But no – some went with but the majority have now resigned in protest at the atrocious methods being used.  You see those wanting to stand and those wanting to sit aren’t able to co-exist.  So what happens is the stewards wander around with clip boards, writing down seat numbers and those standing ticket holders receive warning letters and are told their tickets will be rescinded.   The more vociferous of these ‘stewards’ go after small pockets of standers and actually remove them from the ground and take their season tickets away.  As you can imagine, it doesn’t make for a very happy home.


And then we have the home/away supporter segregation.  As has been reported, for the first few games, apart from a few seats, there was none.  The stewards had no experience of football fans, being mainly involved in keeping Elton John fans under control on a balmy summer evenings. At The London stadium it’s not just Saturday nights that are all right for fighting!  But surely the police sort these problems out I hear you say?  Nope, in her haste to seal the deal of the millennium, The Duchess decided to overlook the fact that the police stated they were unable to operate inside the stadium as it was currently configured.

And that’s just inside the stadium.  Outside and around the concourse there is absolutely no segregation and no plan for what to do at full time.  It is, as the saying goes, just one great big cock up.

But I’m afraid that’s not all.  To try and beef up the Elton John brigade, the outsourced, outsourced security have added a few night club bouncers – you can guess the rest!

On the other side of the away fans (think lower chicken run and upper east side at The Boleyn) we have the real hard core fans – that’s right 750 tickets sold via Thomas Cook to overseas ‘fans’ and anyone willing to also buy a night at a London Hotel.  Just doesn’t bear thinking about when certain teams come to visit.

But what about the views and the cantilever seating I hear you say.  A bloody joke I reply.  Billic spends half the match screaming 30 yards behind him at his coaching staff.  The pitch is ridiculously far from the pitch on all sides.  In short, this is not a football ground and never will be.  My heart truly aches for Upton Park and I feel the very soul of my club is being eroded.

And then, a couple of days ago, The Duchess appeared at ‘Leaders’ a football conference aimed at the good and the great of the game.  Much was made of her comments surrounded the lack of culture at the club when she arrived, however I’m prepared to overlook that as she was really referring to the ‘business culture’.  What didn’t get so widely reported, but was far more upsetting were her comments regarding the opportunity to ‘re-brand the club’ which is where the London nonsense comes from.  You see, The Duchess doesn’t want the traditional support turning up at ‘The London Stadium’.  She’s got a whole new plan in place, for pop corn munching, Coca Cola swilling ABC1’s to fill up all 66,000 seats and shout “Horrah, well done old chaps, jolly good play”.

So, Arsenal fans will have to wait until 3rd December to make their own minds up, unfortunately I won’t be there as I have decided to stay away until The Duchess decides to hang up her robe and get out of my club.  I still love West Ham United, but you can stick West Ham United London up yer a…….

written by West Ham Bob

A Mesutless Arsenal

October 11, 2016

Imagine the very worst. Mesut gets ruled out for an extended period. Now what?

How do we juggle the pack, as I’m not so sure it’s quite as simple as sticking the most likey type of player in Mesut’s spot, simply because, I think whoever you choose is better somewhere else, and that will effectively weaken the side, and upset the balance.

Candidates, in no particular order, are Aaron, Sanchez, Santi, Ox and Iwobi.

I have included Alexis despite his new role up top, simply because I think he would be the best, but of course that brings us hurtling back to my point about balance.

For me, the decision would be radically altered if we had a fit Danny available, so for the sake of this short piece, can we make the assumption he is fit.

Just to kick things off, my choice would be Iwobi.


Written by MickyDidIt89