Who Dares Wins

My footballing titillator for today is all about Risk.

I thought short and hard how best to make my point, and here it is:

GOOD: “Arsenal come streaming forward now in surely what will be their last attack. A good ball by Dixon, finding Smith, for Thomas, charging through the midfield. Thomas, it’s up for grabs now. Thomaaaaas! An unbelievable climax to the league season.”

BAD: “Arsenal come streaming forward now in surely what will be their last attack. A good ball by Dixon, finding Smith, for Thomas, charging through the midfield. Thomas, it’s up for grabs now. Thomas turns, plays the ball back to Richardson, who finds Adams…”

Now, imagine you were Mickey Thomas at that very moment you received the ball from Smudger. You could have looked up and thought: “Crikey, defenders homing in on all sides. A goalkeeper advancing. I don’t like the look of my chances. Nah, stop, pass back, safety first”.

But no, our Hero thought: “Sod it, I’ll have a go”.

In other words, he did a quick risk assessment, and thought “Mmmm”. He did not think about what’s the worst that could happen, he thought about what’s the best thing that could happen here, and went for it.

My view is that games are often won on the back of split second decisions. The term “who dares wins” springs to mind. Yesterday, Rocky instigated a superb debate about the defence and the balance between attack and defence. Solidity, composure and zero risk should be the hallmarks of a good defence. Whereas moments in attack should be coloured with spontaneity, elasticity and high risk.

The three positions where this should be most evident are in the two wide positions and the most advanced midfielder. During phases of most games, and in some entire games, we do not employ our “taker on’ers” to do their “taking on”. Chief amongst these are Santi, Theo, Gerv, Ox and AA. Players who can take one defender out of the equation and commit another. This inevitably creates space.

I have urged “thrust” on here before, but that forward surge must not grind to a halt around the penalty area.

Of course this comes with its share of risk, and the failure to succeed will hand possession to the opposition, but look at the wide play from Chelsea, Utd and City. They believe that there are areas of the pitch where risk of failure is acceptable, and I would agree, because the rewards outweigh the downside.

Increasingly this season I have noticed Theo doing this with more success, and even Gerv’s poor final ball does not alter the fact that against Pool, when he was out left, he was creating space in the middle. Our Russian has the same effect, and it is not to be underestimated, ask Centre Forwards the value of space and the opportunities presented by having the luxury of taking on one defender rather than two (Persie thrived on it).

I would like Arsene to preach a high risk strategy in these areas of the pitch, as with our set up of a front three, it is the AM and Wide Boys who will do the damage. Free them. Sod it!

Written by MickyDidIt89


138 Responses to Who Dares Wins

  1. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Now Lads, take it easy. This was cracked out between 5:00 and 5:20 this morning, and I’ve just read it through again.
    To add a little meat, I do think Persie often found himself with one CB breathing down his neck, as a result of Gerv (for example) having beaten his FB, and consequently drawing the other CB wide, freeing space in the middle.
    Giroud has so often found himself surrounded by both CB’s.

  2. Good post Mickey, even if it was a 5am’er
    I’m all for high risk in the right areas, when our defence tries high risk, that makes me go a little mental.
    Thats one thing i like about Arshavin, he tries stuff and fails but keeps trying and eventually something happens (look at his assists.)
    We seem to be lacking for space of late, which is probably why we did so well against 10 man spuds.
    Teams are pressing harder against us, giving us less space, our quick passing game is critical to the creation of space. If this aint working then we are relying on an individuals skill to make the space.
    When a FW tries to beat a man and fails, moves break down and we are open to the counter, we need to be more aware of the counter, that is all. Defenders going gung-ho doesn’t help.

  3. chas says:

    Very interesting, Micky.

    I agree about the split second decisions often decide games.

    Perhaps part of Micky Thomas’s risk assessment was that there were only a couple a seconds left so he had no choice, but the point remains.

    You could argue that all of the five wonderful goals against the spuds were down to players willing to take a spud defender on.

    1) Theo for the BFG’s
    2) Arteta driving into the area attempting the 1-2 with Jack for Pod’s
    3) Santi beating two while staying on his feet for OG’s
    4) The Pod running at the full back giving Theo an easy target for Santi’s
    5) The Ox bursting past two spuds for Theo’s.

    Making the right decision about when to take the risk is crucial too. How many times have we begged the player out wide to hold on to the ball in the last few minutes of a game when we are attempting to hold on to a lead, but instead they’ve gone for the high risk strategy and lost possession resulting in an oppo goal?

  4. Micky – I’m with you on this wholeheartedly. It’s interesting how often we DON’T attack all the way to the final third as a team.

    In other words why are the rest of the team holding back and not able to provide an attacking outlet?

  5. chas says:

  6. chas says:

    Because Steve Bould has told them they’re not allowed to cross the halfway line. 🙂

  7. chas says:

  8. chas says:


    Isn’t Michael Thomas shortened to Micky?
    I’ve always thought Mickey Thomas was that little Welsh hobbit who played for Wrexham.

  9. chas – oh that’s why, Arsene will talking about handbrakes soon 😆

  10. chas says:

    One more. Hit Ctrl key and the + key at the same time to make it bigger.


  11. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I believe MT is a Mickey.
    The reason I am a Micky, is that on the Saturday of May 27, 1989, MT was out and about Islington with a baseball cap someone had run up for him with the words “Micky Did It” on the front. Reckon they were short of space for the extra “e”.

  12. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Someone yesterday posted a comment from AW on wanting the attack to feel less pressured.
    I like this supposed conflict between AW and SB (not that I believe it), in that one wants a risk free defence and the other, a more cavallier approach to forward play.

  13. Red Arse says:

    Morning Peeps, 🙂

    Very nice Post, Michael, Mickey, Micky — but I must take you to task over your eulogising high risk behaviour!

    You said, “our Hero thought: “Sod it, I’ll have a go”. In other words, he did a quick risk assessment, and thought “Mmmm”.

    Now we all know that under the prevailing Health and Safety directives he should have carried with him a pen and notebook to carry out a proper written risk assessment, and with defenders all around him and a nasty goal keeper in front of him, he should have stepped to the side and said “I surrender. Please take the ball, I don’t want it anyway!” That, rather than a cavalier chip over the keeper would have been the correct action to take!! Naughty boy!!

    Your penance is to go looking for a starving emaciated cat, stuck up a tree and unable to climb down, and walk smartly away having carried out a risk assessment — you will get awarded 5 points and be on the way to redemption. If you find a human being in the same parlous circumstances you will be given another 10 points and H&S will wash the slate clean. Good hunting!

  14. Rasp says:

    Great post Micky, I remember you raised the issue of our forward players taking on defenders at the Fulham game.

    I agree the area where we need to take risks and can do so without compromising our defence is in the final third. Clichy unfortunately used to do it at LB – somehow city have managed to train that habit out of him.

    I’m sure many will say the split second choice (positive v negative) is governed by confidence – I’m happier with that definition than the training ground ‘don’t shoot when you can pass’ whistle (if it exists)

    The Ox did the right thing to pass to theo for the 5th on Saturday but probably Defoe would have shot if in the same position. Strikers need to be arrogant and goal hungry, sadly BSR seemed to have got the balance just right last season 😦

  15. Red Arse says:


    Re your parting comment on yesterday’s Post from Rocky, “Wrenger is Wong”, I did not know that you had made the comment about shirt pulling as by the time I read the comments in one go, I somrtimes forget exactly who said what. [I did admit that]. 🙂

    We appear to agree, in any event. Shirt pulling goes on in evry league, as well as pushing, nudging and all the rest.

    It is also true that some players from other nations are rather more skillful at cheating than their British counterparts.
    They were also more blatant at diving, pre Bale and Young, with Ronaldo and now also Suarez and Torres in the vanguard of the unmanly, dishonourable cheats. [And yes I know I typed ‘Wong’] 😀

  16. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I am staggered that high vis jackets are not mandatory for evening games. You never know, light bulbs could go. Safety should always come first.
    Well apart ffrom the wide boys, who would be even more deadly skipping out of the shadows 🙂

  17. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Well remembered Rasp about our chat post Fulham.
    Pod left and AR right will certainly add to our defensive capabilities, but that’s hardly their primary purpose (when stuck out of position).
    We have a full diary ahead starting against Montpellier tomorrow, and I’d like to see some use of our squad.
    In line with my post, AA left with Ox right makes sense to me on a few levels.

  18. Rasp says:

    Heading the ball is very dangerous too – I think strikers and defenders should wear those smurf-type cycling helmets for protection.

  19. Rasp says:

    Hi Micky, AA and the OX wide makes sense and allows us to rest some key players. I expect Ramsey to start as well.

    Unfortunately I doubt we can win the group, but a win for us and Schalke tomorrow guarantees us 2nd and means we don’t have to get anything away at Olympiacos – so perhaps we should play our strongest team?

    AW said at the AGM that the prem was top priority followed by the CL, so presumably he’ll play his strongest side against Villa?

  20. Rasp says:

    Incidentally, on the subject of risk, did anyone hear that plum Collymoron on TS last night protesting that Ade should not have been sent off as it wasn’t a leg-breaking challenge because Santi’s leg wasn’t broken ….durrrrrr … so sorry Stan, next time we’ll make sure our player has a green stick fracture to justify the refs decision 👿

  21. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Strongest side against Villa 100%.
    I guess the rest is down to AW to look at their fitness, but if he sees fatigue, then AA and Ox for example, would therefore represent him fielding his fittest X1.
    Back to work. Later hopefully.

  22. Red Arse says:


    Strongest possible team for me! Let’s get the job done, and then worry about resting players.

    With regard to Collymore’s comment, it is staggering that so few footballers, past or present, have any idea about the rules of the game they play for money.

    Instead they spew their ignorant assertions, which in turn feeds the flames of aggrieved (Spuds) fans who think they (Colleymore & Co) are speaking with authority, and not out of culpable ignorance!

  23. Red Arse says:


    There must be a lot of bad guys who hope Colleymore is on the Jury if they get done for trying to shoot someone.

    “OK, I tried to kill him, but it don’t count Judge, coz I missed him by 2 millimetres”. Sheesh!

  24. Red Arse says:


    I have just got my brain working — if that Post was written at 5 a.m. it is one hell of a testimony for the early bird author!

    I do my best work while I am day dreaming. Plenty of funny quips, neat similes, clever juxtaposition of alliterative words – then I reach for my laptop and forget everything — who wants a crap essay on hedge fund accounting? 😀

  25. chas says:

    Walcott and Santos out for tomorrow.
    Gibbs and Gervinho in.

  26. LB says:

    Very clever way of looking at things Micky. Thanks for the read.

  27. GoonerB says:

    Great post Micky and ties in nicely with yesterdays. We do seem to have more moments when we seem more cautious and defensive recently and need to find a way to get back to our attacking best while not overly compromising the defence.

    I will put in my tuppenceworth with a particular point. I don’t want to sound repetitive for those that have seen me make this point in the last 2 days, but I feel the key is Santi or whoever is playing in the attacking midfield position. When we look less an attacking threat it is often when we are strung out with a 5 man midfield in a defensive 4-5-1 rather than attacking 4-3-3. These 2 systems should switch from one to the other when we go from defence to attack but often doesn’t, so that when we regain possession we have 5 midfielders more or less in the same alignment across the pitch. It means we are not creating any of our triangular patterns between the players and this tends to mean that the only passing options are often sideways or backwards.

    We look far better when Santi is say 20m higher up the pitch than Arteta and Wilshere so that we have a quick forward passing option when possession is won back. The wide players will have to put in some work in defence but as long as Santi can receive the ball between their midfield and defence they can then make runs for him and give him options out wide, even if they are starting from a slightly deeper position. This may shape up more like a 4-4-2 at times when the wide players are back helping out but I believe we need to be brave enough to give santi a free role and tell him not to drop too deep even when we are defending.

  28. richie says:

    Well done Mickey I like writers being concise (can’t stand too much chatter @ 5 in the Moro) this post follows on seamlessly from RA’s yesterday. My immediate take on that was “Arsene’s right Boldie is wrong” Or as you put it “what if”? How many more years than the 18 would we have waited for the league if MT hadn’t taken the risk? You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, just as you can’t score goals without attacking, this idea of defence first come from where exactly? Italy? Many seem to forget it was ok in years past for us to nick a goal in the first ten minutes and then defend for the next 80 (100mins if at the old toilet). Why? Well we couldn’t afford the extravagant players, we couldn’t even afford a midfield, united weren’t our big rivals back then Liverpool were. Arsenal couldn’t afford to do what the pool did back then like keep breaking British transfer records half a £Mil paid to Celtic for Dalglish or £2Mil on Beardsley, a £1Mil on Barnes, or the unthinkable breaking of a record to buy an unproven teenager in 1980 Ian Rush.

    What we did back in those days is all we could do; no one paid big money for defenders back then, defending wasn’t glamorous, so we amassed defenders. Players that weren’t thrilling or exciting to watch but they were effective, and that’s how we built our team. It wasn’t attractive to watch but we couldn’t afford to be attractive, we couldn’t afford the exhilarating players so we developed a style that favoured the one type of player we had, defenders. And so we became known for our sensational defending, the purists hated us it was called negative or anti football, football. We pioneered the long ball up to a forward (Smudger) bypassing the midfield. I’m convinced the offside active/passive rule change came about indirectly because of our type of play, especially the hand raising back 4 goose step. But Goners like myself revelled in our play back then, because although we didn’t have the glamorous exciting players and, we played anything but attractive football, we’d found our own way to stay competitive.

    There is no way back to playing how we did because the rules have changed; Those same rule changes have physically transformed the type of defender that’s the most effective for the prem. Slow and strong is gone (BFG apart) fast and agile is the new order of the day. It seems to me the role of the forward is changing too, maybe as a direct result of those same rule changes. We are no longer the Arsenal known for negative football, world wide we have become “The all out Attacking Arsenal” the genie is out of the lamp and he isn’t going back in the bottle no matter how hard we rub. I actually believe that our current defenders are easily good enough; all we need to do is develop a style or structure of play that will allow our defenders to defend to the best of their abilities. However this defensive system cannot be allowed to compromise our attacking abilities, we should all be as one on this issue, yes we need a balance but that balance has to come down firmly on the side of playing fast attractive one touch attacking football. “One nil to the Ars-en-al” will from now on be an antique road show rarity.
    As you rightly say “Who Dares Wins”.

  29. Thanks for the Del boy inspired post Mdi89, can you make sure your next post is called “This time next year, we’ll be millionaires” ? 🙂

    However we need players ot show confidence and go for the lower percentage attacking option if we are to prevail in games; it’s why I like the Meerkat so much. No matter how much the crowd boos his perceived laziness or when a tricky pass doesn’t come off he still tries them next time.

  30. Rasp says:

    Hi chary, I agree re Arsh. He’s similar to Berbatov in that he’s perceived to be lazy when I really believe their apparent indifference when not in possession is all part of their game plan as they can be very destructive in short incisive bursts and catch defences out.

    You never see Arsh wanting to slow the game down to give himself time to think, no he puts defenders on the back foot immediately.

  31. Big Raddy says:

    Love the 26/5 comparison.

    Of all managers over the PL era, AW has been the one to promote attacking bravery. It is one of the main reasons I admire him so much.

    GoonerB. Wasn’t it Charles Hughes who developed the long ball game and Wimbledon were the first and finest proponents.

    Richie. I agree that the rule changes require a different type of defender especially at CB. Unless you want to play like Stoke or WHU

  32. Exactly Raspers, use him properly and we could reap the benefits. I wonder if we’ll see him against the Monty’s tomorrow; good to see that Gibbo is back and with Theo being out perhaps we’ll see Geronimo-the-forehead back as well.

  33. richie says:

    @BR I know we didn’t pioneer the long ball game, I’m certainly of an age to remember the crazy gang, but I know you know what I meant we took it to another level winning so much with it.

  34. Rasp says:

    Yes chary, and I’d like to see Gerv on the left if he plays – which is also Arsh’s preferred side so maybe one of Gerv/Arsh on the left and the Ox on the right. Gerv on the right is a waste of time.

  35. Raspers. I keep hoping that one day we might get a chance to see AA play behind a striker to see if he really can do it or not – or maybe somewhere a bit more central, perhaps in the next Fizzy Pop match.

  36. Red Arse says:

    richie, I was immensely flattered to read your typo that Micky’s Post carried on seamlessly from mine yesterday!! 😀

    Unfortunately (for me) that great Post yesterday was penned by none other than the inestimable Mr Rocky!!

    Of course, it is obvious that I have taught him everything I know — which is sod all!! 😆

  37. Big Raddy says:

    I was in Copenhagen ’94. I am familiar with long ball tactics 🙂

    & I know you know that I know what you mean …..

  38. richie says:

    @BR What a great city Copenhagen was in 94 to be out on the pi** in, 🙂 😆 unlike our 2 miserable outings in the city of love. I love Paris but both times I hated being there and couldn’t get out fast enough.

  39. richie says:

    @RA Thank for the correction as you rightly say it was a typo it was meant to be RL.
    Apologies to RL for mistakenly attributing your work to RA when his input was so minimal 🙂

  40. Red Arse says:

    I specialize in minimal, richie, it’s a work of art you know!! 😀

  41. MickyDidIt89 says:

    “Well done Mickey I like writers being concise”, followed by an epic thesis 🙂
    Re Paris CL Final. I, too, couldn’t get out fast enough. Tragically, my train was not until 6:30 the following morning 😦

  42. jnyc says:

    You tell em Micky!

  43. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Sorry, I didnt make myself clear earlier. I was not suggesting we field a weaker team tomorrow, just that I feel some rotation is in order. A knackered 1st XI’er could be in danger of burn out, and I was merely suggesting fresh legs (however short Mr A) would be more effective.

  44. Red Arse says:


    You made yourself perfectly clear, mon ami, I was merely stating my gut feeling, which is in harmony with your point, that we should field the best possible team.

    That is compatible with your point about knicky knacky knockered players who are jaded being omitted as they would not be part of the best available. We are good!! 😀

  45. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Group Hug RA 🙂
    Off again 😦

  46. Red Arse says:

    For those on AA, who are of a certain age, and have been married to the same woman for a long time (sorry Big R) 😆 this is a story you might find interesting!

    25 years of marriage . . .

    A married couple in their early 50s was celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in a quiet, romantic little restaurant.

    Suddenly, a tiny yet beautiful fairy appeared on their table. She said, ‘For being such an exemplary married couple and for being loving to each other for all this time, I will grant you each a special wish.’

    The wife answered without hesitation, ‘Oh, I would like to travel around the world with my darling husband!’
    The fairy waved her magic wand and – poof! – two tickets for the Queen Mary II appeared in the wife’s hands.

    The husband thought for a moment: ‘Well, this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this will never come again. I’m sorry my love, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than me.’

    The wife, and the fairy, were deeply disappointed to hear this, but a wish is a wish.

    So the fairy waved her magic wand and poof!…the husband became 82 years old.

    The moral of this story:
    Men who are ungrateful bastards should remember fairies are female… 😀

  47. RockyLives says:

    Excellent work Micky.
    “I thought short and hard how best to make my point” ROLF

    Games turn on the moments where an attack-minded player takes a risk – either by taking on an opponent or with an audacious pass.

    When we were looking good earlier in the season I drew attention to the increased number of what the 442 Stat Zone calls “take ons” and which, to us oldies, are called “attempted dribbles.”

    We were doing lots more than in equivalent games last year – with the Gervmeister as the main taker-onner.

    When we went through our ineffective spell of games our attempted take-ons dropped right off, we posed very little goal threat and we suffered accordingly.

    The problem is that when things are not going well, players become more risk averse precisely at the time when they should be more risk taking.

    So I’m all for risk and thrust combined! (Thrisk?)

  48. RockyLives says:

    I’m all for crediting yesterday’s Post to Redders.
    Let him take the blame 🙂

  49. mickydidit89 says:

    Ah Rocky
    T’was from Thou that I pinched “taker onners”
    Should have guessed. Love it, thank you smiley face

  50. RockyLives says:

    Note that in combining your two key words, I went for “Thrisk” rather than the obvious alternative… “Rust”.

  51. Red Arse says:

    Damn! I typed the most amusing ‘risky thrust’ comment, and it disappeared!!

    [I am now sweating on it not belatedly showing up and proving, what you already know, that I am a fibber] 😆

  52. RockyLives says:

    I suspect GLiC is working on some belters right now. Although I suspect his idea of “thrust” and Micky’s might be some way apart…

  53. Red Arse says:

    I am concerned with the absence of Evonne, and think it might relate to her continuing problems with her laptop preventing her to use the internet.

    If that is the case, I would like to suggest the following vorsprung durch technik homile!


    Alles turisten und nonteknischen lookenpeepers!
    Das komputermaschine ist nicht fur der gefingerpoken und mittengraben!

    Oderwise ist easy to schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparkasen.

    Ist nicht fur gewerken bei dummkopfen. Der rubbernecken sightseeren keepen das cottonpicken hander in das pockets muss!

    Zo, relaxen und watschen der blinkenlichten, OK?

    (Strict adherence to these instructions and Evonne will have no probs with her new computer!!) 😀

  54. MickyDidIt89 says:


  55. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Evonne did pop her golden locks around the door during the Spudlingers game.

  56. Red Arse says:


    I have taught the bloggers on Bergkamesque to speak German this afternoon, and they are now influenza!! 🙂

  57. Big Raddy says:

    Good news. Rosicky is back in training and could return in January!

    Given that he has been out for the last 4 seasons, he will be just 28 in body years instead of his 32 age years.

    By this reckoning Diaby is a lad of 19 and Gibbs still at kindergarten.

  58. jnyc says:

    ROCKY, thrisk ? Lol. I think we need to adapt our style more to the circumstances. There are situations where we need to be more conservative. In general, i dont want us to be boring. With our good keeper, and talented defenders, we should be able to get our fair share of clean sheets, especially with our ability to hold posession. If not, we are doing something wrong– meaning- we have not found the right balance yet. Whether that means a traditional dm, or just more defensive effort. Early in the season gerv, pod, and ox were helping alot on defense. And on a different note,
    can santi or mikel get a rest?. They play a full 90 with
    no matches off. We need to protect their health, and i
    think they may be getting tired.

  59. jnyc says:

    If we havent heard from Evonne, can someone give her a call? —
    And i re watched the match again, and jack was fantastic, so active, great passes, battling. He was involved in so many good plays that i hadnt realized on first viewing.

  60. glic says:

    Nice stuff Micky.
    Split second intuitiveness is what it`s all about. Some of the best goals I ever scored came with virtually no thinking, no training, just natural skill and reactions. I haven`t Redders ability with words to describe, I`d have to show you with a ball ! ( steady ) hahaha

    January 201? 🙂

  61. Red Arse says:

    Oh, go on then, Glic, you are dying to show us your intuitive balls – Evonne is not here, and Peaches is busy uprooting innocent trees in deepest Hertfordshire!! 🙂

  62. Red Arse says:

    Hi Johnny, 🙂

    You are right Jack was terrific and will only get better when his match fitness is 100%.

    Jack and Santi Claus will be immense with a few more games.
    Love it! 🙂

  63. Red Arse says:

    There was a report on TS today about Theo putting his home in Felden, just outside Hemel Hempsted up for sale, with the resultant innuendo about him leaving Arsenal.

    What they don’t say is that the house has been broken into more than once, and Theo might want something more secure — and bigger — with the dosh from his new contract!!! 😀

  64. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ih he’s that fed up with having his house broken into, maybe he should consider moving to Liverpool

  65. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I still reckon Suarez will be Chelsea bound come january.
    And no Raddy, I don’t want to bet on it 🙂

  66. glic says:

    True Micky
    I`ve heard, that the newest biggest built prison is going to be in Liverpool , they`re going to build a wall all the way around the City !.

  67. MickyDidIt89 says:

    That’ll stop the buggers being shipped down to Ilfracombe 🙂

  68. Gooner In Exile says:

    First time back since this morning haven’t had a chance to read what I’m sure is a typically humourous offering from DidIt. But I noticed question from LB I wanted to deal with first.

    Regards Eisfield being a cross of Wilshere and Ljungberg I guess I can see it, although last night his touch when moving with the ball from midfield was occasionally heavy and his passes occasionally off target. So if his runs and finishing are the best bits of his game (as they were last night) he definitely fits the Ljungberg description more than Wilshere.

    Gnabry is better moving with ball and picking the pass, it’s the first time I’ve seen him play against (and with) players of his age group, he is on a different level to the rest (except Eisfield and Miquel) he plays the pass you can see from the stands but his teammates don’t always see it and so it can look like a bad pass.

    As to which of them has the best chance, I’d guess Eisfield, but he has 2 years on Gnabry. I wouldn’t expect either to go out on loan (if they did it’ll be only for game time and not to find potential buyers, like Wilshere I think they can both fit in to the current squad without having to go and get more experience.

    What I found most interesting was that the 4 in midfield had free roles, no one seemed to have a set wide position, or central etc. they moved where they could be effective. The full backs were much more defensive in the first half, but the left back bombed on a lot more in the second.

    If we take that idea in to the first team….there doesn’t appear to be a place in the squad for specifically right or left wing positions.

  69. Red Arse says:

    Thanx, GIE, it’s always good to get an objective report from someone we can rely on to be truthful and to the point!! 😀

    You should get the Dutch maestro (aka Total) to accompany you to future games in that neck of the woods, as in the past, the pair of you come from different angles on the game sometimes, but you have always written reports that complement each others beautifully!! 😀

  70. Gooner In Exile says:

    Micky my question in reply to your post is this:

    If a player thinks he will get booed/groaned at for taking a risk and failing will he stop doing it?

  71. Gooner In Exile says:

    RA, Total would have been next choice but I had to build some bridges with my Brother so decided to make of a family affair 😀

  72. Have just noticed Di Matteo has chosen to field a side with no recognisable striker…..the old false 9.

    But in seriousness, look at their team and bench and tell me its a deep squad over at the Bridge:

    01 Cech
    02 Ivanovic
    03 Cole
    04 David Luiz
    24 Cahill
    28 Azpilicueta
    07 Ramires
    10 Mata
    11 Oscar
    12 Mikel
    17 Hazard

    22 Turnbull
    34 Bertrand
    06 Romeu
    13 Moses
    21 Marin
    09 Torres
    35 Piazon

  73. RockyLives says:

    Re your 7.39
    Depends on the player.
    If they are either supremely arrogant, supremely thick, or a combination of both (think Nikki B), they will keep trying.

    Everyone else (most players) will feel inhibited…

  74. RockyLives says:

    Chavs losing.
    Good game.

  75. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. It should be a deep squad considering the cost.

    Watching the game and Hazard is really top quality. A wonderful player.

    I think we would beat Juve.

  76. RockyLives says:

    I’ve got a feeling Juve are going to get a penalty.

  77. Fairplay Award for Shaktar.

    1-0 down they score an equaliser when the ball was being returned to Nordsjjjjjjjjjald (my spelling might be off) after a break in play, so Shaktar then allowed them to walk the ball into their net to put reinstate the 1 goal advantage.

    Now 4-2 to Shaktar.

    So if Chavs don’t equalise can we start singing…..

    “We know what you were, we know what you were”

  78. RockyLives says:

    Juve 2 up against Chavs now.

  79. Looks like they used all their good luck up last season

  80. Big Raddy says:

    Eboue beating MU.

  81. RockyLives says:

    Chavs in crisis?

  82. RockyLives says:

    Be very funny if they don’t get out of the group stages.

    Oh good – 3-0 now

  83. RockyLives says:

    In the Chavs group:

    Shakhtar have 10pts
    Juve 9pts
    Chavs 7pts

    Chavs have a guaranteed win in the final game (home against Njordssjjstorjjstroem).

    But if Shakhtar and Juve draw, both will go through at the Chavs expense. (Juve will have same points as Chavs, but will have done better head to head).

  84. chas says:

    If either Shaktar or Juve win, then the chavs’ll go through.
    They’re bound to spawn their way through somehow.

  85. And Shaktar are already through, so they don’t even have to try in the last game.

  86. The only way Chavs go through is a Shaktar win (according to ITV…..hmmmm)

  87. chas says:

    Are they GIE?

  88. RockyLives says:

    They’re reporting on the TV that Shakhtar are guaranteed to qualify.

    I think they had a win and a loss versus the Chavs – I’m not sure what would happen if they and the Chavs both end up with 10 its.

  89. chas says:

    If Shaktar and chavs both finish on 10 points, doesn’t their 3-2 win trump Shaktar’s 2-1 win?

  90. RockyLives says:

    I think that’s right GiE
    If Shakhtar and Chavs both win, Chavs go through in second place with one point more than Juve.

    Can Juve get at least a point in Shakhtar? You’ve got to fancy them to do it.

  91. glic says:

    I think Shagtars 2 away goals count double, but I might be wrong !

  92. RockyLives says:

    Depends on whether they count goals or just results.

  93. RockyLives says:

    That could be it GLiC

    I hope so, anyway.

    “We know what you are… dumped out of Europe, we know what you are.”

    It would be fitting reward for being the most mind numbingly tedious team ever to win the European Cup.

  94. chas says:

    This is from page 11 in here…..

    Click to access 1796869_DOWNLOAD.pdf

    7.06 If two or more teams are equal on points on completion of the group matches,
    the following criteria are applied to determine the rankings (in descending
    a) higher number of points obtained in the group matches played among the
    teams in question;
    b) superior goal difference from the group matches played among the teams
    in question;
    c) higher number of goals scored in the group matches played among the
    teams in question;
    d) higher number of goals scored away from home in the group matches
    played among the teams in question;
    e) if, after having applied criteria a) to d), two teams still have an equal
    ranking, criteria a) to d) are reapplied exclusively to the matches between
    the two teams in question to determine their final rankings. If this
    procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria f) to h) apply;
    f) superior goal difference from all group matches played;
    g) higher number of goals scored from all group matches played;
    h) higher number of coefficient points accumulated by the club in question,
    as well as its association, over the previous five seasons

  95. RockyLives says:

    From the BBC:

    “Chelsea could now become the first holders to go out in the group stage.

    “If Roberto Di Matteo arrived in Turin facing speculation over his own future after four Premier League games without a win, this defeat threw up far more questions than it did answers.

    “The permutations do not make pleasant viewing for Chelsea, who know taht even victory in their final group game FC Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge may not be enough. If Juventus take a point against Shakhtar Donetsk, who have already qualified for the knockout stages, Chelsea are out.”

  96. glic says:

    That will be ” d ” then, If juve win, so Shagtar would go through on away goals scored.
    I like the sound of a nice contrived draw though ! 🙂

  97. glic says:

    But are the Italians capable of such skullduggery ?

  98. chas says:

    So only a Shakhtar win can save the chavs.
    I wouldn’t bet against it.

  99. glic says:


    I think you left out the word lucky in your last sentence @10:01pm and also the word “win” should have been replaced with “buy” !. hahaha

  100. chas says:

    Some spud scum doing what they do best.

  101. Gooner In Exile says:

    Wouldn’t Goal Difference be much bloody simpler and ensure teams have to play to win til the last game I had to read that UEFA rule twice.

    GliC it seems that Juve don’t need to contrive anything they just have to hope Shaktar owners dont want more revenue and therefore won’t be forcing the manager to go for the win.

  102. richie says:

    Not sure if I’m up early or I’m gonna go to bed late 🙂
    What a wonderful scenario the two clubs that spent the most both fall at the first hurdle, marvellous! Especially embarrassing for the Chav’s!! 1st club to win the CL and exit at the group stage. What’s the betting? Who’s Roman gonna make rich next? If he appoints Guadiola I can’t see a happy ending there, he says grinning from ear to ear, Pep’s a product of La Mesia Barca’s academy his winning teams were 85% academy graduates. He knows how to get a team playing in the Barca way and although he’d have some great talents to work with Mata, Hazard, Oscar etc (dare I say Torres) Ha Ha Ha. It would take an age to get a group of players together who weren’t academy graduates to play in that style. (Abromovich doesn’t give managers time). I say that with some justification, because both Johan Cruijff and his shadow Louis Van Gaal had to import massively from Ajax before Barca’s academy began to produce. Normal players even extremely talented ones don’t easily adapt to a system they aren’t familiar with, why should they? They’ve been taught to play in a certain way and suddenly it’s all change. I’m thinking someone in the Shakhtar mob will take a drink, hell we all know the Italians will, 🙂 but I’m struggling to see where (even if both sides take a drink) the Chav’s desired result comes from. 😆

  103. Gooner In Exile says:

    Do you think Guardiola would take the job Richie?

    For me he is too sensible, surely he would look at AvB and DiMatteo and see that two managers given “time to rebuild” were given none.

    As you say Guardiola just continued work of the academy coaches at Barca, he did not design the model to produce them.

    And to rebuild Chelsea’s academy set up will take years. McChechran was talked about as being as good as Wilshire to be the heart of the next England midfield, yet he sat on the bench for two seasons and is now out on loan, stagnating.

  104. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Staggerringly, about to head off (in a very roundabout way) to the game.
    See any of you in The Tavern.

  105. Big Raddy says:

    Didit. You lucky blighter.

    richie. It would come as no surprise to see either teams “take a drink” but it will have to be a big drink. They both look capable of going far in the competition.

  106. Big Raddy says:

    SAF, Budgie, Mr Wenger and Mancini will all be moving on over the next two seasons. There are some plum jobs available and Guardiola can’t take them all.

    City would be my bet

  107. Big Raddy says:

    chas. Great video 10.28

  108. chas says:

    Pleased you got a ticket, Micky. 🙂

    50m was the chavs reward for their good fortune last season. Loose change for the Russian if he wants to buy a round of drinks.

    It was the economy, yet complete mastery of expression that I loved about that 10:28. 😆

  109. LB says:

    We know what we are.
    We know what we are.
    We’re the pride of North London.
    We know what we are.

    Morning all.

  110. richie says:

    @GIE I too think Pep is too sensible to take the job under normal circumstsnces, however if he gets say a 3 year contract worth £ enough why not? If he fail’s like the rest he goes home loaded and who’d blame him? He’d be in good company plenty of top managers have passed through Roman’s money door.

  111. Brigham says:

    There is a slight chance I may make the Tavern this evening and it all depends upon what time I can sneak away from work! Will see some of you there all being well.

  112. Rasp says:

    De Mateo’s just got the tin tack

  113. chas says:

    How about Redknapp?

  114. chas says:

    What does a budgie have to do to suck seed?

  115. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    I’m stunned Rasp…what joke of a club they are.

    How many is that now over the duration of Arsene’s reign…12-15, incl caretakers…??

  116. Rasp says:

    Do the chavs already have a replacement in mind? If ever we needed proof of why a single billionaire egomaniac owner is unlikely to be a good thing, we only need to look at Abramovich.

  117. Rasp says:

    I agree Sharkey, he delivered the FA cup and CL 8 months ago and now he’s history … pathetic

  118. chas says:

    It looks like it, Rasp.
    They’re due to make an announcement shortly.
    Perhaps Roman fancies it himself.
    John Terry maybe?

  119. Rasp says:

    Di Matteo’s been knocked off his perch

  120. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    JT as the new manager…lol

  121. chas says:

    Presumably budgie-face will be £10m richer.
    Can’t really feel sorry for him.

  122. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    According to Wiki its 12 since 1996 if you include Ray Wilkins one game in charge

  123. Brigham says:

    Chelsea in sack manager shocker, that is one job you will would always be looking over your shoulder. Just further proof that the club have no class at all.

  124. Adrian says:

    Well that was surprising to be honest considering what Di Matteo did for Chelsea lsast season. Whoever the new manager is will be under immense pressure to do well, but then again when results are expected its usually delivered. While Di Matteo’s sacking seems a bit unjust, a manager who is too comfortable with his job and knows he faces no risk in losing his job no matter what is not ideal too. As some people would say, complacency have kicked in. The new manager knows that results are a top priority and will do everything to drill results which brings about one of the good things of changes – improvement.

    I hope Guardiola doesn’t end up in Arsenal though, I know the chances are slim but I always had a fantasy of him managing Arsenal the next couple of years when Wenger leaves.

  125. Adrian says:

    Oops, I meant I hope he doesn’t end up in Chelsea.*

  126. chas says:

  127. LB says:

    Abromovich seems so determined to try and get his 50mil Torres decision to work I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried Benitez.

  128. Big Raddy says:

    Thank goodness we don’t have Abramovich.

  129. Morning all

    New Post ……………

  130. Big Raddy says:

    chas 9.12 Top punning

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