A New Wage Distribution System at Arsenal

December 21, 2012

Anyone with children or someone of “uncomplicated taste” in their house will probably have heard of The X-Factor. This season’s contest was staggering for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there was a chap called James Arthur, and he was good. Secondly, and even more incredibly, the children and the “uncomplicated” got it right and Arthur won.

This got me thinking about the power of the Digital Vote. This thinking period also coincided with concerns I have over the way Arsenal FC allocate their pay.

As a club, we are stuck in no-man’s land. The Club wisely like to achieve CL Qualification, and let’s face it, until last season it has been a bit of a stroll in the park given the poor competition. As an end to realistic league ambition, this must severely dent the incentive of the footballers themselves.

So, and here’s the point of this post, perhaps it is time to reconsider the incentive scheme at The Club. It really does boil down to cash, unless of course, one of you bright sparks can unearth a better system, in which case I’d love to hear it.

What is in the kitty? I am not sure anyone really knows exact figures, so I’ll go ball park.

£135m paid out in total. Let’s say the total players’ pot stands at around £100m. Here’s the plan. Everyone in the first team squad is on £25k a week. Nice. They are all reasonably comfortable, have a little surplus for their jewellery, and enough orange for their wags. Tidy. This £25k is deducted from the pot. The remainder is divided equally over the total amount of games possible in a season (as we get eliminated from Cup competitions, the remaining allocation from that tournament rolls over).

The rest of the cash is performance related, and on a match by match basis. Here’s The X-factor connection. My system shall include Audience Participation. Fans simply text in their player ratings, and from these results, the pot will be divided up in accordance with the ratio of points scored.

I have done my sums here, and reckon a consistently top performer would end up on around £150k a week, while players only making the odd appearance from the bench would be hovering around the £30k a week mark.

I’m not entirely sure I can see a problem, can you, and if so how would you improve the current system?

Written by MickyDidIt89


Was Bradford the Worst defeat ever?

December 20, 2012

I was a young man; enjoying school and starting upon a proper social life. you know – the one that happens outside school when you meet like minded folk from other schools. And there were girls. Yes, it was more than just telling your close mates that Gail X was very attractive, it was having the nerve to go and ask Gail X for a date.

But the problem with girls was that they got in the way of football and football took up all my waking time (and most of my dreams). By this time I had realised the need for priorities in life; I knew that going to Highbury was more important than a Saturday job. I knew that listening to Radio London was more important than doing my Geography homework and I knew that Clapton was the heart, Hendrix was the soul and Tamla Motown was the feet.

What has this to do with Arsenal? Well, such a combination was sure to have it’s problems. My attachment to Arsenal was the over-riding feature of my life but girls were coming up fast on the rails. Then this happened …..

Swindon. Wembley. Saturday 15th March 1969.

Unknown

I had been going out with Gail for a few weeks. Not got much further than a bit of canoodling but I knew she really liked me and there was potential (if you get my drift 🙂  ). I had my Wembley tickets  and arranged to meet her at Golders Green station after the game.

The journey to Wembley was a victory march. Gooners were celebrating pre-match,; how could we possibly lose to a 3rd Div side? We knew the pitch was difficult but we had Ure and we had Raddy and we had Geordie Armstrong, Bob Wilson and Captain Mclintock. Hard men, experienced Internationals, men who had grown up playing on ploughed fields. You know what happened …. it went tits up.

Post game was a disconsolate walk back to Golders Green (a long way) thinking about the dreadful week to come at school. All my mates were Chelsea, West Ham or Spurs. I knew what was in store for me. I wanted to hide away – even better move to a secret Caribbean island with no contact to the outer world, just a few coconut trees and a Girl Friday. But I had Gail to look forward to.

She was waiting for me by the number 13 bus stop, the one under the railway arch – you know the place. She looked great; miniskirt, platform shoes, tight cashmere jumper and was smiling when she saw me. I was gutted, just gutted by the result. She kissed me, I didn’t respond, she kissed me again, I didn’t respond. Then she said the words that echo around my head all these years later …….  “It’s Only a Game”.

I knew immediately. There was a lightning flash of awareness, an understanding of the path my future life would follow.

“A Game?” I replied. “This is the single most catastrophic event since Adam ate the apple”

I turned and left, walking the couple of miles home. Gail phoned me many times over the next week but I was and remained cold to her charms.

How could anyone not understand the pain a defeat like that can cause to a bleed red and white Gooner? How insensitive was this woman? From this day forward I would protect myself from such callousness (well, at least for a couple of weeks!)

But what was the under-text? It was this: Whatever has happened in my life – and there have been many catastrophies and triumphs – Arsenal have always been there. The camaraderie, the  bond, the facing tribulation with common purpose.

So, when we lost to Bradford it wasn’t the worst defeat in my Arsenal history, it wasn’t even in the Top 20. Sure it hurt but the win at Reading was more important.

I have spent tens of thousands of pounds, lost girlfriends and mates, been scared witless, been hugely depressed and suffered taunts and abuse as a result of my support for Arsenal. But the joy …… the joy …..

Would I change it? To be honest there are some days when my obsession has weighed heavy and I think to myself. – “it is time to let it go” – but I know I won’t.

I made my choice when I walked away from Gail.

What was your worst Arsenal experience?

p.s. Gail later married (& divorced) a cousin of Peaches. He’s a West Ham fan ( served him right 👿  )

Written by Big Raddy


Walcott to Follow Van Persie

December 19, 2012

There is a worrying trend at Arsenal of players having their best ever season for us and then immediately departing to pastures new.

Samir Nasri was always something of an enigma for us until his final season. He was capable of great runs and great goals, but was also frequently a lardy-arsed passenger in important games.

Then came the first half of the 2010-11 campaign and Samir was like a man possessed. He was arguably the best player in the EPL up to Christmas.

As it turned it out, he had been possessed: by the spectre of a huge pile of filthy wonga dripping with crude oil.

Likewise Brave Sir Robin who, last year, finally fulfilled his potential to become one of the best strikers in Europe. We had nursed him through injury after ludicrous injury so that he could achieve his destiny. But once he did he shoved all those years of support back in our faces and upped and offed to the red half of Manchester.

Hleb and Flamini both also decamped immediately after their best seasons for us.

And now it looks like Theo Walcott is about to do the same.

In just nine starts this season (plus nine more appearances as a substitute) he has already clocked up the sort of stats that it has previously taken him a whole season to amass.

In his 18 games this year he has 11 goals and 7 assists – which is a quite phenomenal return. In the whole of last season (with 41 starts and 5 sub appearances) he scored 11 and made 10 assists. The year before that, in 25 starts and 13 outings as a sub, he scored 13 and had 9 assists.

In other words, this season he is performing at least twice as well as we have become used to.

The sad thing is, Theo’s displays have all the hallmarks of yet another player busting a gut to put himself in the shop window so he can make a big pay day when he leaves.

I would love to think Theo will stay, but every sign points to him departing. I don’t believe Arsene Wenger will let him leave in January (indeed Le Boss has categorically stated that that will not happen). But a summer exit is on the cards and, if rumours are to be believed, there is every chance an unofficial deal has already been done.

It’s a depressing thought: yet another hero whom we need to boo and harass when he turns out against us in alien colours. To be honest I’m getting pretty bored of booing our exes.

Some of us regulars on AA have better relations with our ex wives than we do with our ex players (although I believe Goonermichael still boos some of his erstwhile spouses).

Against Reading on Monday Theo got his wish to play as the central striker. You could argue that Wenger’s willingness to give him a chance there is an indication that Le Boss thinks he may still sign for us.

After all, we all know Theo has said it’s not about the money – it’s about wanting to play down the middle.

In truth, I just think it shows how all the cards are with the player: Wenger has been benching him and refusing to play him centrally precisely because he knows that he is going to leave.

But in the end, none of our other central attacking options (Gervinho anyone?) have really convinced so Le Boss has had no choice but to go with Theo, even knowing it can never be a long term solution for Arsenal.

So what do you think?

Is Theo having a stellar season simply because he is putting in more effort in order to get a huge new deal elsewhere?

Are footballers really that capable of turning on the brilliance switch for such venal, materialistic reasons? I find it hard to countenance, but the facts are starting to bear out the theory.

Or is it just that Theo’s years of learning his trade have finally started to come to fruition. He is now 23 and is about to enter his prime years. We fans have watched him thrill and frustrate us in equal measure but now he is turning into what we all hoped he could be: a deadly forward with devastating pace and a clinical finish.

Just in time to b*gger off elsewhere.

RockyLives


Santi gets his Claws into Reading

December 18, 2012

Nobody seemed prepared to predict the outcome of this one. Would The Arsenal rise from the ashes of the funeral pyre built and torched by the press since the Valley Parade debacle or would they produce another Xmas turkey of a performance?

The line-up seemed bright and attacking with a Pod, Theo, Ox combination up front. Mozart couldn’t find a space on the Conductor’s stand with Santi set to continue baton duties. The bench looked strong with Giroud and Koscielny returning after visiting Abou.

teamsheet

  • Subs  Mannone, Koscielny, Rosicky, Ramsey, Coquelin, Giroud, Gervinho

 

Arsenal began the first half in threatening mood. Chamberlain broke away in the 2nd minute, fed Santi then cheekily took the ball off the Spaniard’s toe before unleashing a fierce drive. The first five minutes were all Arsenal with only a key pass in the final third missing.

A superb cross from the Ox needed Podolski to attack the ball. This was one of the few occasions where Arsenal didn’t attack the ball coming into the box which later became a feature of tonight’s performance. Some poor defending was followed by a swift break resulting in a Podolski shot which was blocked.

Reading won a corner on 11 minutes and the deficiencies of zonal marking were clearly exposed as the Reading player attacked the ball and got in front of the static Arteta. Arsenal responded with some fine passing play. The ball went wide to Podolski who slipped the ball on to Gibbs. Podolski continued his run into the area and controlled the ball with his right on to his left, bang. Arsene and Bouldie still looked less than happy. Mind you, you can understand that after the slaughtering they’ve had this past week.

wenger and bould

Cazorla suddenly looked back to his early season form, spraying the ball around and taking pot shots given half a chance. A move involving a particularly delicious through ball to Gibbs breaking down the right, ended with another Podolski effort screwing wide of the goal.

The 21st minute gave Theo the chance to confirm and consolidate his claims to play up top, but he fluffed his lines allowing the Reading keeper to block. At the other end Sir Chez was catching the ‘impossible corners to defend ‘ from Shorey and as a result gave his defence some much-needed confidence.

Arsenal were now slipping into turbo with a great run from The Ox and a Wilshere shot after a bout of pinball in the Reading penalty box. A vague threat from the home team was snuffed out by Vermaelen and Gibbs got in a fine block. Theo found Cazorla at the far post and yet another block meant that Arsenal couldn’t capitalise on a period of virtual total dominance.

A second goal was required to cement Arsenal’s superiority and it duly came in the 32nd minute. Podolski took on his full back (what a lovely sight, that is) and sent in a great cross, Santi stooped to head into the net for a lovely goal. Late runs into the area and players getting on the end of crosses, whatever next.

santis header

A relatively uncommon sight then became the norm as Arsenal now oozed confidence. The third goal came down the right with Theo shifting the ball to give himself space to cross to Gibbs on the back post, arriving late again. Gibbs headed back into the danger zone and Cazorla swivelled to put the Gunners 3 up and cruising.

Jack’s Christmas celebrations may have to be put on hold for a few days as he received an early present of crushed nuts from McAnuff in the 39th minute. There was no malice in the challenge but studs into the groin in December are sure to make the eyes water.

jack gets it in the nuts

 The first half came to a close with an Ox run, some excellent interplay from Gibbs, Wilshere and Walcott and nearly finished with an Ox headed goal from a Sagna cross.

The second half began brightly but Arsenal’s spark seemed to dwindle as the intelligent movement off the ball started to diminish as that horrible casual ‘job done’ streak crept back into our play. We were still creating some chances though, with Theo slipped in by Jack and Santi unlucky not to latch on to the rebound.

A few minutes of Reading revival saw some good command of his area from Szczesny and the BFG was reminiscent of Beckenbauer at times with his calm interceptions and beautifully timed tackles. Even then, Walcott had another great shooting opportunity but the ball went wide.

What we needed was another goal and that’s exactly what we got after more sharp play, Jack to Podolski and a tap in for a well deserved hat trick for the man from the North Pole.

santis hattrick

Theo had a chance to make it 5 but shot straight at the keeper. Then came that moment we all dread as Arsenal fans, coasting at 4-0, Gibbs played a risky ball infield to Wishere, Jack slipped and Reading scored. Only a consolation said the commentators, but you never know.

Arsenal’s foot was well and truly off the pedal by now. If they keep the tempo up it takes the pressure off, relax and even a team whose form is as poor as Reading’s sense some uplift. The second Reading goal was utter garbage from the Gunners. The commentators delighted in reminding us of the day Dowd engineered a Geordie comeback. The options for the man on the ball had dried up and nobody was willing to kick a few backsides.

On 74’ the Ox was subbed for Ramsey. The Ox had been non-existent in the second half. Complacency? Tiredness? I’m not sure but after a fine first half it was disappointing. Bacary looked half-hearted at times going forward then with little effort to get back when the ball was lost. Passes were going backwards in our own half as if we didn’t know whether to stick or bust.

The 80th minute saw my personal prayers answered with a brilliant piece of play from Cazorla and a fine finish from Theo. Theo’s pistols were finally discharged into the Reading net and we could breathe a sigh of relief.

theo scores

A round of substitutions, a Podolski blast and a near thing for substitute Giroud saw the game out for the Gunners. The BFG had time for one last majestic interception and Vermaelen got back well when the Reading player took a fraction too long when clean through.

All in all, a fine way to go into the festive period.Reading weren’t very good opposition but you can only beat the team in front of you, so upwards and onwards to a lunchtime date with Wigan. I’m looking forward to going already. Please can we play like we did in the first half for the whole 90 minutes. Please.

Santi took the ball home after a fine hat trick and man of the match performance.

santi gets the match ball

Ratings

Szczesny– Looked commanding from any aerial threat and didn’t stand much chance with either of the goals……7

Mertesacker – Majestic. Calm and assured, admittedly against a limp attack……8

Vermaelen – Much better from Tommy after his Yorkshire nightmare……7

Sagna – Got forward well, looked a little slack 2nd half and seemed to be arguing with TV5 at the final whistle….7

Gibbs – Supported Podolski really well in the first half. His two assists were balanced out by a poor pass to gift Reading the glimpse of a lifeline. …..7

Wilshere – Jack was excellent in the first half, then seemed to stop showing for the ball once the team believed they’d already won  …..8

Arteta – Effective, reliable. Allows Jack and Santi to play …….8

Cazorla – Magnificent and back to his best with a deserved hat trick …..9

Podolski – Much much better from Lukas. Took his goal superbly and looked dangerous on the left flank with two assists…..8

Walcott – Theo’s pace and subsequent threat seemed to occupy Reading all night. Could have had several more goals. Sign da ting Theo…..7

 The Ox – Great first half. Perhaps he tired in the second. Lovely to see him build as the season progresses…..7

Subs

Giroud – Nearly scored as a late sub….7

Ramsey – Added some drive…..7

Coquelin – Brought on to give Santi a standing ovation …..7

Written by chas


Another Thriller?

December 17, 2012

What to expect tonight? Have we any idea? And therein lies the problem with our current team – inconsistency. No-one, and that includes Mr Wenger, knows whether we will enjoy a night of flowing football and a handsome win or another stumbling, incoherent performance.

Last time out at the Madejski we witnessed one of the most bizarre games in Arsenal’s history. Being thrashed by a very ordinary team in a horror first-half, Arsenal went  on to thrill their fans with late, late goals and loads of them. It was football, but not as we know it.

Do you think we will score 7 tonight? No, neither do I.

The damage done to the confidence of the team by the horror loss to Bradford will have one of two effects; either they will respond by digging in and grinding out a win or they will say, “b*ll*cks, we are better than this and we will show you all.” If it is the latter then the rest of the season could be exciting for us Gooners, however  ……

Reading go into the game rooted to the bottom of the table and on a run of 5 consecutive losses. We have won one of our last 6 (can’t believe I wrote that!)

A return for Theo is very welcome, he hurt Reading in the CC and I expect him to do so again. Giroud is also available and probably welcomed the rest. The remainder of the team is less clear but we can no longer point at injuries as the reason for our inconsistency.

The midfield selection must be a headache for AW; JW is back and starting to show his exceptional abilities yet it took the arrival of Rosicky to gee him up on Tues evening. What with AW’s penchant for Ramsey how will he set up the team? My guess is this:

100a

With Cazorla playing further forward as the support striker. This allows both Rosicky and Gibbs to exploit the left wings and hopefully provide some ammunition for Giroud.

Today’s English Explorer: Clement St. George Royd Littledale (1852-1931). With a name like that he was sure to be a top bloke (love the St. George). His area was Central Asia. A big game hunter, Littledale  collected for the Natural History museum and led expeditions all over USA, and later into the Caucusus and Russia. Always traveling with his wife Teresa, one expedition took them from East from Russia and all the way to Peking. Another was a 1400 mile walk aimed at reaching the forbidden city of Lhasa in Tibet. They got to within 40 miles before being stopped. Teresa became ill and had to be carried 1200 miles back to India to recover. Now, I have tried carrying my wife upstairs and struggled – imagine carrying her 1200 bloody miles!! Littledale was a great Englishman and worthy of further investigation.

images

The Peter Storey of Explorers

Will we win tonight? Your guess is as good as mine, but we certainly should beat the bottom team in the table if we have pretensions of a Top 4 finish

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


Tribute to Dennis Bergkamp (A story of a Legend)

December 16, 2012

Take note of especially from 38min – the end of video: Comments from Arsene Wenger, Thierry Henry, Lee Dixon, Ian Wright, Ray Parlour and other players that have played with Dennis Bergkamp. How much respect from his fellow professionals of D.B.’s class as a player and a person.

We need that type of player right now at the club. Someone who commands the respect of others around him and he need not hold the captain’s armband physically. Since we are bluntness in our attacking third and not scoring goals, I would take a look at the attacking midfielder, second striker and main striker categories (because the 60% of football plays and influences comes usually from the middle spine of a team – the GK, CBs, CMs, AMs, FWs; while the remaining 40% comes from the sides – FBs, WMs, LW/RWs).

Players who could provide the class and commands respect from fellow professionals in the footballing world currently.

Main forward:

(1) Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina), 25yrs old – valued at least £105million in transfer fees.

http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/lionel-messi/profil/spieler_28003.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_Messi

– The best player in the world right now. Only the World Cup title is missing from his personal accolades, which includes 3x

Ballons d’Or.

(2) Rado amel Falcao (A.Madrid/Columbia), 26yrs old – valued at least £44million in transfer fees.

http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/falcao/profil/spieler_39152.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radamel_Falcao

– The best striker in the world right now. 176 goals in 262 competitive club games (River Plate, Porto, A.Madrid), a goal ratio of 0.67/game (i.e. almost guarantee a goal in a game played). Europa League top scorer in consecutive years 2010/2011 and 2011/2012.

(3) David Villa (Barcelona/Spain), 31yrs old – valued at least £24.5million in transfer fees.

http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/david-villa/profil/spieler_7980.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_villa

Agent details: Vos Marketing (http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/vos-marketing/details/berater_2217.html). Which only has David Villa as their client.

– An accomplished striker in his own right. 242 goals and 78 assists in 465 competitive club games (Sporting Gijon, Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona), he has won everything he could at club (CL, La Liga, Copa del Rey, FIFA World Cup, UEFA Super Cup) and international levels (World Cup and EURO champ). UEFA EURO 2008 Golden Boot winner and 2010 World Cup Silver Shoe & Bronze Ball winner.

Attacking Midfielders:

(1) Andres Iniesta (Barcelona/Spain), 28yrs old – valued at least £61.5million in transfer fees.

http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/andres-iniesta/profil/spieler_7600.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andres_Iniesta

Agent details: Sostres, Ramón (http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/ramon-sostres/details/berater_419.html). Who only has Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol as his clients.

– The best attacking midfielder in the world right now. Won everything he could at club and international levels. UEFA EURO 2012 – Best player of tournament. La Liga’s best attacking midfielder (2009, 2011, 2012). Zidane praised him, Cazorla admires him.

(2) (Ricardo)Kaka (Real Madrid/Brazil), 30yrs old – valued at least £16million in transfer fees.

http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/kaka/profil/spieler_3366.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kak%C3%A1

Agent details: Kotscho, Diego (http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/diego-kotscho/details/berater_1492.html). Who only has Kaka as his client.

– A model professional footballer and a classy person off it as well. Won whatever he could at club (Serie A & CL with Milan, La Liga with Real Madrid) and international levels (World Cup with Brazil). Ballon d’Or winner in 2007. He still has a lot to offer at club and international football and could be ready for his last challenge in EPL.

Ricardo Kaka – Real Madrid Tribute (2009-2012)

Kaka – The Return 2012 HD

Of the above 5, the closest we could get should be Kaka (including transfer fees, wages, agent fees). He could play behind the main forward as a playmaker or second striker. He is not over-the-hill as yet and gives a positive attitude wherever and whenever he plays. I see him in a similar stature as Dennis Bergkamp.

Adding him together with the loan of Thierry Henry in the next transfer window would provide at least a glimmer of hope in our club’s reversal of fortunes ahead.

PS: Kaka is close friends with Falcao.

http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/82/south-america/2012/11/12/3523627/kaka-hails-falcao-ahead-of-brazil-colombia-friendly

The other player I wish we could secure is Henrikh Mkhitaryan (valued at least £15million) – 20 goals and 8 assists in 26 competitive club games (league, CL) currently this season. A star playmaker/second striker in the making for the future.

His league strike rate (18 goals in 17 games) is level with C.Ronaldo (13 goals in 15 games) & El Shaarawy(AC Milan)(13 goals in 16 games) and just behind Messi (23 goals in 15 games), Falcao (16 goals in 14 games) & Ibrahimovic (17 goals in 14 games).

http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/henrikh-mkhitaryan/profil/spieler_55735.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henrikh_Mkhitaryan

(Season 2011-2012)

(Season 2012-2013)

Written by JM


Why I still support Wenger.

December 15, 2012

This is the way I see things which I will try and explain by way of a quick summary.

We all remember being told that the reason we had to leave Highbury was because with a capacity of only 38,000 we would not be able to continue competing; we needed a 60,000 seater to stay at the top. Has that happened? No it hasn’t. Were we lied to? No we weren’t. At the time of that statement Roman Abramovich had not joined Chelsea. Do not get confused, that statement was made by the club long before we actually moved.

Most people have now grasped the financial clout that Abramovich and later Mansour at Man City have brought to the EPL has greatly reduced the calibre of player that is available to Arsenal.

I have tried to point out many times that if a world class player came on the market and we put in a bid of 30 million for him, there is little doubt in my mind that Chelsea would put in a bid of 31 and if not Chelsea then Man City or now PSG and all these would follow Barcelona and Real Madrid who, although, they cannot pay the same wages as the other Northern European clubs I have mentioned, they still get first dibs because, as we all know, players go there for the prestige.

So now, it should be clear that in the pecking order we come somewhere behind, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man City, PSG and Chelsea. Do you know what that means?

As things stand Wenger will never be able to buy world class players again.

And here is why I still support Wenger………..nor would any other manager who took on the role at Arsenal.

I am still quite amazed that people who should know better cry out for players more like Henry, Vieira, Ljungburg. Are people’s memories so poor that they cannot remember that those three players were failures or non entities before they arrived at Arsenal?

Wenger is following the same pattern, Chamakh was thought of very highly before he arrived and was very impressive for a time, Gervinho was one of the top marksmen in France, as was Giroud. The signing of all three of those players made sense, not just for their past success but for the fact that Arsenal was a step up for them and for that reason it follows that they would want to well for us. I still genuinely believe each one of them does in his own way.

I am not trying to suggest that these players will turn into Henry, Vieira and Ljungburg but I can see why they were signed and importantly to me I do not think another manger could do better.

Where would this new manger that a growing number of people are crying out for find better players? I don’t believe he would which is another reason I still support Wenger. Are people happy with Jenkinson, Gibbs, Szeczney? I am and let’s remember that these defensive players were signed by Wenger not Steve Bould.

I have described myself in the past as a fully paid up card carrying Wengerite, I still am but, and there is a but, I purposely question this on a regular basis to make sure it does not become a devotion — after all no one is bigger than the club.

I see it this way: if you saw smoke coming out of the Emirates at what point would you shout “Fire”? It seems to me that many are already shouting but I am not there yet, although, be in no doubt if it came to saving the club I would be shouting at the top of my voice.

There is smoke coming from the Emirates it cannot be denied and the smoke that is bothering me is the attack but I will come onto that another time.

Written by LB


Wenger to Chelsea?

December 14, 2012

Too many words have already been written on the subject of Arsene Wenger, nevertheless BR would like to give his tuppence worth.  I don’t usually write serious posts and this is a rarity (hence no pics or explorers)

Firstly, is Mr Wenger too old for his job? The crux here is that he is two generations older than some of the players and could easily be their grand-father-figure!  Does he understand “Dench”? Of course not.  The question is does he need to? Wenger has never been the arm around the shoulder buddy to the players – he has been and remains a much respected, somewhat distant manager. He has other people to be the emotional rock, though it should be pointed out that AW does create close relationships with his players – just look at TH14. But as an older man myself, I know that the mind is not as open and flexible as it once was, there are new ideas in football and it is the younger men who embrace them. Would a Lambert or a Laudrup be better? Can Wenger adjust to the digital age?

Is Mr Wenger, as has often been touted, tactically naive? Now BR is no tactitian and is not able to judge but a manager doesn’t suddenly go from being manager of the decade to dunce or does he? It certainly appears that AW does get  out-thought by the top European managers, SAF seems to have the hoodoo over him and has beaten us with teams which on paper should never have won. The strict adherence to 4-3-3 may be costing Arsenal – right now though it is the team rather than the system which is letting us down.

Is Mr. Wenger’s notorious reluctance to pay big money for star players the problem?  I recall AW stating that there are many highly expensive players who were simply not worth the money ( I believe he was referring to Kaka and Ronaldinho). His preference has always been to shop elsewhere and who can say whether signing Ibrahimovitch (for example)  instead of Giroud would have improved the team. In my opinion Ibra would have had a huge impact, not only because he is a brilliant player but he also takes a huge reputation (and ego) into the dressing room. A few years ago our young players could say they shared a dressing room with TH or PV or TA or DB …. now? ?  To be a big club we have to have big players and the biggest one we have at present is Theo, who isn’t even a first choice England player. We need to sign someone who can attract other quality players to the club.

Please Mr Wenger, I beg you – buy a World Class player – forget the wages, forget the fee because if we want to see kids wearing Arsenal shirts around the world then we need a name to hang the team on.

Is Mr Wenger responsible for the poor performances of late? Damn right he is. One may well say that it was the players who caused the embarrassment at Bradford but who bought/nurtured them? Who picks them? Who motivates them?

Mr Wenger is not above criticism nor should he be. Of late he has made costly and inexplicable mistakes in his transfer dealing; he continues to use players out of position causing uncertainty and frustration. Worse, this team seems devoid of inspiration and football intelligence. Who can one look to when a team which includes the imagination of Cazorla, Wilshere, Arteta, Rosicky and Diaby does not create goal scoring opportunities? Since when have Arsenal been a team who play with a target man, a tactic not used since the days of Wright? And if we are forced into this tactic because of a dreadful shortage of strikers – who is to blame?

I am not questioning AW’s continued reign as Arsenal manager – I remain convinced he is the right man for the job. He has the experience, the courage and the skill to take us back to the top but something has to change. The transition of Arsenal from being a football club to an American owned Corporation has been painful and for some fans unacceptable but in the words of Paul Weller “This is the Modern World”. Those asking for “our Arsenal back” are deluded – it has gone forever. If it has been hard for the fans imagine how difficult it has been for Mr. Wenger. My hope and expectation is that Arsene will see out his contract and leave on a cloud of love and appreciation to become a National manager .

My final point is this and it is a question to those with an “Arsene Out” agenda:-

Chelsea have been looking for a manager who will develop their youth system and get them playing attractive football – they have been looking for many years now. Do you imagine that Roman hasn’t had his men approach AW? It doesn’t take much vision to see how quickly AW would build a team with the brilliance of Hazard, Mata etc allied to an open cheque book. What would you think if the next manager of Chelsea was one who was pee’d off with the complaints from the minority of Arsenal fans and decided to take a  last, huge financial payday at Stamford Bridge?

Arsene Wenger – next Chelsea manager? It is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Would that make you happy?

Written by Big Raddy


Arsenal – will it get better?

December 13, 2012

Well here we are mulling over the worst defeat in our history, losing to 2nd division Bradford was not the sort of record we were looking to create.

It was the first game that I have not been able to watch in over 10 years so I listened to the audio commentary on Arsenal player. To be frank their commentary was far superior to what we are served up on television and it gave me a clear understanding of what was happening at field level.

You would think that after following Arsenal for the past 66 seasons that I would be really upset about us losing out on what was, in all likelihood, our most winnable trophy this season – but I’m not the least bit upset. Over the years, I’ve observed so many poor games that one more could not possibly create any more furrows in my brow, they just seem to get deeper and more pronounced when I think about Arsenal’s performances.

The simple realisation is that overall we are a poor team, our defensive play has been more than acceptable giving up only 6 goals in our past 7 games for .9 per game which is also our premier league average, but our offence has sputtered over the same period scoring only 7 goals for 1.0 per game vs. our PL average of 1.7 per game.

A defeat of this type, will of course, bring out the very worst in our “supporter’s” who will now be baying for Arsene’s head and the scalps of certain players.

The media will have a field day with this result and will have it “bronzed” for future use, bringing it out at every possible opportunity.

I feel that as a supporter group we need to stand resolute in our support for our manager and team, which does not exclude us from being critical, but the club must now realise that the day of reckoning is nigh and we need to make urgent changes to get us back to the high levels of performance that we have been spoilt with and have become accustomed to.

It is more than apparent that we are being let down by our performance’s but what is not clear are the reason/s behind our loss of form/ability/technique.

The questions are ongoing –

Is it the manager’s fault?

Is it because we won’t spend our transfer kitty?

Why do we lose our best players?

Why do we seem give away easy goals?

What has happened to our passing fluidity?

Why can’t we put away our chances?

Are we using the right formation?

Why are we putting players in the wrong position?

Why are players not fulfilling their potential?

We supporters are blessed with infallible hindsight and, after the fact, can solve all of AFC’s problems, I just hope that our club can find the foresight and vision that will resolve our problems and ease our pain.

We have a window of opportunity with the January transfer period and the club need to have completed their homework and be ready to pounce on some exciting new talent to put us on the road to recovery. One or two high quality players in the right positions would make a big difference.

You will have noticed that I didn’t write about the game or criticize the manager or our players, the reason for that is I believe that they are performing at the very best of their ability – but it’s simply not good enough – is it?

Changes are needed and the changes need to be well planned and executed.

I once read that –

You can have change without improvement – but –

You cannot have improvement without change.

My vote is for the latter as we have dwelled for far too long on the former.

Will it get better – well of course it will – we have just hit our all time low – so it can only get better – right?

Keep the faith.

A disheartened but not broken –

GunnerN5


A New Kind of Stupid – Bradford 1 – Arsenal 1 (3-2 pens)

December 12, 2012

All the critics of Arsenal internal and external use our 7 years without a trophy as a thorny stick to hit us with over and over again. Last night on a trip to the frozen North of England Arsene Wenger surprised us fans and I’m sure most pundits by picking a pretty strong team to face Bradford from League Two.

Two of the starting eleven could be considered “squad” players (Ramsey and Coquelin). The rest of the names on the team sheet were either experienced internationals, or players with many games of competitive club football under their belts. And I am afraid it is those players that once again let us down.

Plenty of us pre match yesterday were saying how important it was that the team took control of the game and silenced the crowd, of course they were going to be fired up for the first ten minutes but swot it away and start passing it around and their fans would soon go quiet, then you could concentrate on playing the nice stuff, do the right thing first.

But no, the team decided to let them get on top quickly and early, all they had to do was put the ball high in the air and deep in Arsenal’s half and they looked like they could score, so yet again meaningless passing around the Bradford half resulted in an attack for them when those in Purple and Black eventually passed into their keeper’s hands.

To compound matters the team decided on 16 minutes to make it even harder for themselves, specifically the skipper Thomas Vermaelen, allowing a long punt up field to be controlled by a Bradford player over by the corner flag, then allowing that player to nutmeg you, and then fouling him. Vermaelen’s ill judged attempts to tackle were to be a feature of the night and a growing rage towards him from me.

From that corner the experienced players in the team decided that it would be a good idea to allow Gibbs and Coquelin to defend the near post area, and for Mertesacker to defend the middle, for Vermaelen to stand behind him and to be covered by Sagna. All three of our most experienced defenders got sucked towards the ball, which was flicked on at the near post taking all three out of the game and despatched into the back of our net through the despairing hands of Szczesny.

One nil Bradford and yet again we were in for a long night and hoping for some kind of miracle to try and get the game back. These miracles are really only possible if everyone is working hard. And for the rest of the half not enough players were close to the required levels.

Coquelin provided the best effort on goal so far when he jinked past a defender and hit a bobbler with his left foot that came back off the post. Gervinho missed a sitter from two yards when it was easier to score following good work from Jack, Santi and Gibbs. How he managed not to put enough on that ball is beyond me, he wasn’t desperately lunging, he wasn’t being mucsled by a defender he was there, he could have put any body part on it, even his todger and it would have gone in, but he somehow managed to open his foot up so far that he just flicked it wide.

Other than those two chances the team created very little in the remainder of the half.

In the second half the team came out with a bit more tempo, but still failure to do the the basics right meant that Bradford were given the opportunities to put pressure on the Arsenal area from free kicks and possession in the final third.

Chamakh came on for Coquelin who I felt was unlucky to be subsititued but clearly Wenger needed to give some kind of focus to the attack. Soon after Rosicky and Oxlade-Chamberlain came on to replace Ramsey (seeing double after taking a boot in the face) and Podolski who will be seeing double if Bould kicks him into next week like he deserves, as he walked off I didn’t think i saw a bead of seat on his body, I know it was cold up there but the rest of the players were showing the effects of playing a game of football.

Excuse me while I send a personal rant to Mr Podolski:

The song we sing is “He Scores When He Wants”, not plays where he wants not tries when he wants, it’s scores when he wants. You have not earned the right to criticise other players around you yet, you have not earned the right to tell the manager where you want to play, we already have Theo trying that one, and you apparently want it too. Right now I’d rather we cancelled your contract and sent you back to Koln on a free, because you are not worth the wages the club are paying you.

At one point yesterday you enetered the box and waited for a cross from Gervinho, you stood with your arm in the air, ok the first cross didn’t come, but the ball was still live we still had it, still you didn’t move, you just stood on your heels in the same place with the same stupid arm up in the air, when the ball finally did come across the goal from Gervinho you were still standing there and watching it roll harmlessly wide at which point you complained because it would have meant you doing what a centre forward does….MOVE IN THE BLOODY BOX!

Now I’m not an international Centre Forward who has scored countless goals, but I have watched football a long time, and never have I seen a supposed centre forward move so little in the 18 yard box waiting for a cross, the likes of Lineker, Shearer, even bloody Stephen Fletcher would have moved four or five times in the time you stood on that one spot.

I can accept a player being shit but working hard, I used to think Perry Groves was a legend for example, but accepting a talent who fails to work hard I will not and will never accept.

Rant at Mr Podolski over.

Rosicky injected some much needed pace to our play, between him and Jack who seemed to cover every blade of grass from defence to attack in the second half the team finally started to dominate possession, and actually began to look threatening in and around the Bradford area.

The shot count was rising but so was the off target count, and when it was on target Matt Duke in the Bradford goal was using his large frame to good effect.

With time running out Santi Cazorla produced a lovely cross to the far post, luckily it was just after a corner and we had some good headers of the ball in and around the box, Thomas Vermaelen rose at the back post to provide probably his only positive contribution on a dismal night for him personally.

The team pushed for the winner in normal time, but could not find it.

Extra time came and went with little action until the dying minutes when Duke was again called upon to make good saves from Santi and Jack.

So onto penalties, I was already worried as Duke posed an impressive physical presence inside the Bradford goal, he is actually the same height as Szczesny but a few more years of living he is stronger muscularly, it also helps that he doesn’t have to wear a pink goalkeepers top.

I was further worried when considering the psychological pressure on each group of players, Bradford – be a hero, Arsenal – be a villain. It was that simple, a Bradford player misses and they get a pat on the back and a commiseration, the Arsenal player that misses is vilified for the rest of the week/season/life (depending on how long you like to hold a grudge).

Bradford went first and it was calmly dispatched. Santi stepped up and hit a weak penalty into the hands of Duke who guessed correctly. Bradford made it 2-0, Chamakh steps up and cooly places the ball onto the post. Chips are down, I’m ready to hit the off switch. Szczesny guessed right for the third time in a row and saved to keep Arsenal alive, up stepped Jack who had simply no trouble putting the ball home. Bradford made it 3-1, up stepped Ox who made it look just as easy as Jack and rifled home to make it 3-2. Szczesny then guessed right for the 5th penalty in a row and saved a very tame effort by Bradford.

Up steps the Arsenal captain to take it to sudden death, he followed Chamakh’s lead and rolled it against the other post, cue pandemonium at Valley Parade as Bradford claim a famous victory.

No Professional team should see the opposition miss two penalties and not even take it to sudden death……abysmal.

A miserable night was complete, miserable for the fans, miserable for the manager, miserable for the club…..miserable for the players? I’m not so sure, they just go home to their mansion, loose women and fast cars. Why would they be miserable?

I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, I can support young players who work hard and put it all on the pitch, I can’t support players who do not play for the team for each other, or the fans.

I want players to show they know what it means to us fans and in my opinion too many on the pitch for Arsenal at the moment look like their doing a job, and it doesn’t even look like its a job they love.

Ratings:

Szczesny 8 Two penalty saves, could do nothing about the goal, swept well all night trying to urge the team forward and get ball back up field quickly.

Sagna 5 Poor performance from “Mr Consistent”, I am not sure I care whether he signs a new deal, as i am not sure what he is Mr Consistent at.

BFG 5 Outjumped by an industrial centre forward for the entire game, normal assured self when on the ball.

Vermaelen 0 Sorry you are not worthy of that armband right now, silly free kicks all night, and a failure to take care of your own job first.

Gibbs  7 Our best defender on the evening, and probably of the season so far, quiet going forward first half but always offering himself.

Ramsey  5 Nothing went his way tonight, needs a rest needs to work out the issues and decision making. Worked as hard as ever though.

Coquelin  6 Did his best in a misfiring midfield first half, still a lot to learn in the first team.

Wilshere  8 (MotM) Tried everything he could to push the team forward ran for 120 minutes, tackling, shooting, the boy has got it all, we need to get players with his attitude and desire around him soon.

Cazorla  6 Very quiet first half, much better second especially when Rosicky came on.

Podolski  -5 Didn’t bother turning up

Gervinho  4 he tries hard bless him, and doesn’t stop running, end product absent all night.

Subs:

Rosicky  7.5 quick passing, forward runs, forward passes, what we have been missing of late

Oxlade-Chamberlain  6.5 A display that showed he is returning to form, used his pace and strength well, committed defenders. Horrible team to come on and play for right now.

Chamakh  4 I miss Giroud already

Written by a very pissed off

Gooner in Exile

Someone will probably quote these stats in defence of the team:

37% Possession 63%
(so f’ing what)
5 Shots 28
(and?)
3 On Target 12
(less than half?)
3 Corners 12
(remember when this used to mean we would score?)