Our Rorke’s Drift

April 23, 2017

I was hesitant about writing a FAC SF post with the prospect of Spurs awaiting us in the Final. Amusingly, that is no longer the case as the Hotspurs take yet another sad drag home along the North Circular 🙂

So, it is with a lighter heart that I write this post.

Unknown-1.jpeg

Let’s kick off with my belief that we can beat City. Yes, they have great players and a fine manager. Yes, they have a squad which cost the equivalent of a mid-sized nation’s Gross National Product but they still play the likeable, but ageing, Sagna, and sometimes even Gael Clichy!

Here’s how we beat them. … solidity at the back, full backs being less adventurous, midfield staying on their feet and harrying rather than tackling, Ozil continuing his return to form, wingmen tracking back and always finding a red shirt with their passes, the front men being efficient and potent. Oh, and Cech/Ospina has to be alert at crosses.

Bosh.

We win.

Now how hard is that?

Will Mr. Wenger continue with his Back 3 experiment? I doubt it but it would be exciting. Sterling and Sane are much better widemen that Stewart Downing, who caused problems at ‘Boro. Can he trust the inexperienced Holding to stop such a quality attack?

On paper we are even in most areas of the pitch. Silva is not as good as an on-form Ozil. Aguero and Sanchez are both similar and wonderful players. Sterling and Theo are also similar, in fact all over the pitch there are likenesses between the squads.

The huge difference is De Bruyne, a marvellous talent and when on form, head and shoulders the best in his position, thankfully in recent weeks he has been struggling. We must hope for him to have an awful game this afternoon.

Guardiola will be looking for the FAC to save an ordinary season. I still think he was perfect for Arsenal but that ship has sailed.

As to Arsenal,  I just cannot see how we go into the game without Bellerin, it would be madness. Does he fit into a back 3? No, so we will revert to norm

My Team:

Cech (unless Ospina is fit)

Bellerin    Gabriel    Koscielny     Monreal

Ox   Ramsey    Xhaka

Walcott  Sanchez    Ozil

It is highly unlikely AW will play the above as it has no defensive “enforcer” but who gets dropped for Coquelin/Elneney? And who is left out if AW decides to play Giroud as a target man? Welbeck is not 100% fit, so Walcott starts.

This game is a huge opportunity to show that the current Arsenal are not as poor as some believe. Form is temporary. Class is permanent.

My main concern is the weather. We do not play as well when the temperature drops into single figures and the forecast is for chilly. If it gets over 15C, we win.

Let’s hope for a game as good as yesterday and an Arsenal win.

Let it be So.

COYRRG

p.s. Thank you to Chas for the headline’s inspiration

 


The Magic of the FA Cup returns on Sunday

April 21, 2017

On July 20th, 1871 at a Football Association meeting a discussion was held about “breathing life” into its Challenge Cup. After the formal business was concluded,

  1. W. Alcock proposed: “That it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association, for which all clubs belonging to the Association be, invited to compete.” The idea was received at once with general favour, and at a subsequent meeting held on October 16th 1871 the rules were drafted, the entries were received and history took a deep breath and prepared for the plunge.

That was the day that the FA Cup was born and 146 years later the magic remains.

The first FA Cup semi finals were held in 1872:

The two fixtures were:

Crystal Palace v Royal Engineers & Queens Park v Wanderers with both games ending in 0-0 draws. Royal Engineers won their replay 3-0, but it was a different story for Queens Park; public donations had been used for their long trip down from Glasgow for the first semi final at Kennington Oval but unfortunately they were unable to arrange the funding for the journey back for the replay and were forced to withdraw from the competition. However the lack of funds had a silver lining as it allowed the Scottish pioneers to hold their heads high and retain their dignity as they returned to Scotland unbeaten.

Shirt numbers were not even imagined back then and knickerbockered players were distinguished by the colour of either their caps or stockings. The crossbar was a length of tape or rope. Inside the touchlines the field was unmarked, chuck ins were taken with one hand and the teams changed ends after every goal was scored. There was little or no heading of the ball and defence was rarely considered. The game was based on dribbling with most of the team backing up the man in possession, somewhat like a standing scrum.

A few Semi Final facts-

Most used stadium: Villa Park 55 occasions.

Highest attendance: 88,141 Everton v Manchester United in 2009

Biggest win: 6-0 Newcastle over Fulham in 1908

Biggest post war victory: 5-0 Stoke over Bolton in 2011

Most games needed for a result: 4 – Arsenal vs. Liverpool in 1980

Highest scoring game: 5-3 Hull over Sheffield United in 2014

Most semi final appearances: Arsenal 29

The semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989 at Hillsborough ended in tragedy when 96 spectators were killed in a crowd surge due to overcrowding. The cause of this tragedy was studied and the conclusions reached have helped in the design of new stadiums.

Our first semi final was in 1906 when we lost 2-0 to Newcastle United.

Arsenal are now appearing in their all time record 29th semi final, 11 of them under the management of Arsène Wenger. Arsène has also won the cup on a record 6 occasions along with George Ramsay who was the club secretary of Aston Villa from 1874 to 1926.

This season the semi final draw pits four of the Premier League’s best teams against each other.

Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur on April 22nd.

Arsenal vs. Manchester City on April 23rd.

At this point I cannot think of a better ending to the season than Arsenal beating Tottenham in the final.

GunnerN5


Bellerin. Mid-Term Report

April 20, 2017

Hector Bellerin. Now there is a problem arising for whomever is to be our manager.

Has a last decent season and thinks he is Jack the Peanut. Believes he is already the finished article and all he needs to do is turn up then bide his time until Barca/Real come calling.

Unknown-1.jpeg

Big Raddy’s Pre- FAC SF Report:

Dating the fit and famous may do wonders for your rep in the dressing room but some fans just think you are a flash ponce. Well … let me tell you laddie … a pony tail does not make a man (I know, I have had one) nor does a few tattoos. Nor does belting upfield looking for the spectacular pass and forgetting that Mustafi is not the fastest on two legs.

No, my young man, defending is the essence of the work of the full back, just ask Dicko, Ralph or Nige, they will tell you. TA would have given you a forearm smash for some of the recent performances. Yes, an attacking fullback is very modern and you have been excellent at getting forward to support Weak Theo but what do we remember you for? We remember the brilliant last ditch tackles when your pace got you into positions no other FB could manage. Practice and repeat.

Being dropped at Boro was the start. You are not an automatic first team choice if you do not put in the yards, and it comes as no surprise that you were booed post-defeat by the away fans at Palace (though at least you went over to them).
Potential is what you have, make it a reality and become the great player you could be; it requires application, concentration and determination. You have all the God-given tools, use them.

5/10

written by Big Raddy

 


Riverside Revolution? – Player Ratings

April 18, 2017

Match Thoughts

So three at the back is less than four at the back but as we generally play with the full backs over the halfway line, three is more than two. That’s the tactical bolleaux over with.

I’ll leave more in-depth analysis to the specialists.

The first half was pretty unmemorable with both Boro and Arsenal struggling to create many meaningful chances. The referee seemed hell bent on giving the home team free kicks anywhere in Arsenal’s half for the softest of challenges as if he realised Boro needed as many opportunities as possible  to lump the ball in the box.

The one cast-iron free-kick correctly awarded was for a foul on Xhaka at the edge of the ‘D’. Thankfully, Alexis had brought his up and over boots to the game and produced a magnificent dipper which the keeper would have struggled to have got anywhere near, even if he had been able to see the ball.

The second half started in customary ‘what are you smoking at half-time?’ fashion.

Boro equalised and looked capable of going ahead. Gradually we eased our way back into it and Mesut scored with his swinger from a fine chest lay-off from Ramsey. The last 20 minutes were reasonably comfortable and hanging on to the three points was exactly what was required.

The team looked genuinely pleased to have won after a difficult run of results and the new formation had been given its baptism.

Ratings

Cech– Fairly solid, though a huge upgrade on Martinez, I’m not so sure ……7

Gabriel – Gabs likes defending and maybe the back three will suit him  ……7

Koscielny – So good to have him back though Negredo gave him the slip for the equaliser ……7

Holding – Hopefully will mature into an Arsenal great. Very accomplished….8

Oxlade-Chamberlain – The Ox looked more comfortable in a middle 4 than stuck out on the flank. Involved throughout  …..8

Xhaka – Looked composed against an admittedly poor Boro side. Always looks good when a destroying DM is not really required   …..7

Ramsey – A little ponderous in the first half but grew into the game as some match sharpness returned …….7

 Monreal – Maybe Nacho will enjoy playing a role further forward without having to worry about the huge gap he’s leaving behind him as in a 4-3-3…. 7

Ozil – Ran his heart out for team and scored a really crucial goal …..7

Sanchez – Peach of a free kick. Many wasted dinks and chips into the box but one helped to produce the winning goal, so keep it up Alexis…..7

Giroud – Fought manfully (mais oui), was unlucky not to win a pen for being manhandled but should have scored with an attempted curler from one of our few clear-cut chances. …..7

chas

Match Thoughts from FGG

Don’t Juve play 3 CB’s under Allegri? Bit of conspiracy theory for you. Maybe this was nothing to do with what Wenger wanted and with the season practically over our new manager is now influencing things! 😄

Back to reality, I feel we need a ball playing CB to really make this formation work. Mustafi is decent but another is needed aswell. I’d also like to see a new LB, hopefully the lad that’s been linked is the answer. If not then why not go for Rodriguez who were linked with in the summer? His new manager is the guy who just left us and took Ljungberg with him. Could be an easy deal to sort out. Another question is how do Ramsey and Wilshere fit into this formation? It’s been an ongoing issue for a while and I don’t think this change makes it any clearer! Fabregas has found it tough to get in the Chelsea side.

Does this formation help or hinder Giroud? It gives us more crossing opportunities based on what we saw yesterday with Ox and Monreal getting chances to put it in the box, but at the same time there will be occasions where Özil and Sanchez get into narrower positions and are looking for a run in behind. Do we still need a better CF or could Welbs or Giroud thrive.

Finally, where does this change leave Walcott? If we are to switch permanently, how can you fit him in the team?

 fatgingergooner


Arsenal v Boro. Thoughts

April 17, 2017

Boro are one of the rare teams that conjure no emotion whatsoever in me, it’s like they do not exist, and yet I’ve just looked them up only to discover that unbelievably they’ve been around since 1889.

I imagine many Arsenal fans will glance at this fixture and offer little more than a shrug.

While I no longer harbour any hopes for top four, and am disgusted by the thought of Thursday Night Football, come match day, the same tingle of excitement greets me. Can’t help myself.

Don’t know who their manager is. Don’t know who plays for them. Don’t even know where Middlesbrough is. Don’t know which Arsenal players are fit.

Personally I’d target the Cup game at the weekend and then focus solely on the Utd and Spurs fixtures in the league. With that in mind, I suppose some momentum would be a good thing ahead of Wembley, and in any case, we’d all rather see us win every game and score as many goals as possible.

I’d like to see Iwobi and The Ox start.

MickyDidIt89


Where the real power lies at Arsenal

April 13, 2017

I stated on here a few weeks ago that I felt Arsene’s future would be determined by the players.

Last season Chelsea finished outside the European places. The players ousted Maureen. They now lead the League with something to spare.

Last season’s Champions, Leicester, lost five on the trot, ousted Ranieiri, then promptly won the next five on the trot.

Like most, I watched the Arsenal Palace game, then very unusually for me, I sat with two Gunner chums who insisted on watching the post match analysis. There was a bloke with hair gel and a tight shiny suit and standing in front of a screen they kept touching were two foreign experts. Ranieiri and Carragher.

When I reviewed the full English translation of what they were saying, I understood that Carragher was implying that the Arsenal players were not trying. He was right.

In a proper leftie world of a Karl Marx, the real power rests with the workers. I’m not sure whether players on 50k+ a week qualify as the workers in a State such as The Arsenal, but they sure as heck hold the power.

Right or wrong?

MickyDidIt89


The Arsenal Dilemma …. summed up in 4 lines …..

April 11, 2017

Whatever is going on behind the scenes, it cannot be in the best interests of the club or the team to maintain this radio silence. Apart from those at the top in the know, everyone else needs clarification.

With 12 players entering the last 18 months of their contracts, and the likely loss of millions from dropping out of The Champion’s League, there is also a looming financial problem to address.

The calls for the manager to go have reached an all-time high, but still there is no decisive action from the club. Could it be that our management structure has disintegrated? No-one knows who’s in charge?

From the perspective of a mere supporter reliant on the media for information, this is how I would sum up the situation:

Arsene has too much power?
Gazidis has too little power?
The Board haven’t got a clue what to do?
The owner isn’t bothered?

This is not the time for supporters to turn on one another.

We need to know ‘what’ we are supporting … is it a team that has no heart? … a club that has lost its direction? …. a manager who cannot let go?

Your considered and respectful thoughts are welcome ….

Rasp