A Game of Two Halves….. Again

January 21, 2013

The same line-up as for the Swansea replay, saw Francis Coquelin keep his place also meaning Jack would be able to play a little further forward and Santi able to drop back into midfield to supplement the three.

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  • Subs  Mannone, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Santos, Frimpong, Ramsey, Arshavin

 

The first half began with Arsenal creating the first decent chance with Giroud set up by Walcott. Unfortunately the big Frenchman dragged his effort wide of the post. This was to be the highlight of the Gunners’ first forty five.

Mata scored on 6 minutes after Martin Atkinson decided to ignore Ramires’ challenge which came crunching down on the top of Coquelin’s foot. Sagna was asleep and allowed Mata the freedom of Stamford Bridge. The midfield was sluggish to say the least and Arsenal seemed to be playing zonal marking in every area of the pitch. There was little closing down except for Francis Coquelin who must have run at least three times as far as Abou Diaby. Diaby did not have the required level of match fitness for three games in a week and, in hindsight perhaps it should have been Ramsey who started.

A succession of Chelsea chances eventually led to their second goal with Ramires again given acres of space in the penalty area by Sagna. Szczesny’s challenge resulted in a penalty and booking. The goalkeeper wasn’t sent off because Ramires was going sideways to the goal with Arsenal cover arriving. Lampard sent the big Pole the wrong way and Arsenal had a mountain to climb.

Chelsea continued to press forward but couldn’t quite find the third goal which would have put them out of sight. The few Arsenal chances were ruined by Theo running behind the line and being flagged offside.

The Arsenal team was out early for the second 45, hopefully with a blast from Wenger and Bould still ringing in their ears. I expected to see Jenkinson on for Sagna who appeared to wish he could still be indoors with the lovely Ludivine.

The change in attitude was immediately obvious. The tempo was treble that of the first, closing down all over the pitch, teammates making themselves available and pressing Chelsea back into their own half. Mertesacker had a limp effort with his left foot straight at Cech after the ball had dropped to him on the penalty spot. Walcott hit a low drive straight at the keeper from a narrower angle and Giroud had a chance from a header from a cross by the excellent Gibbs.

The Arsenal goal came on 58 minutes and was well deserved. A fine interception from Vermaelen was carried forward by Cazorla who delivered a great through ball to Theo, standing in an onside position for a change. Theo took his chance well, opening his body up and giving Cech no chance.

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Coquelin was replaced by Ramsey in the aftermath of the goal. The Frenchman had been well worth his starting berth. Arsenal continued to press for the equaliser and started to leave gaps at the back. Ba rounded a walkabout Szczesny on 83 minutes but Vermaelen managed to block his goalbound shot. The final 5 minutes of injury time saw a succession of Arsenal corners, but the finishing touch could not quite be found.

As predicted by BR, it was a game of two very different Arsenal performances, as good in the second half as we were poor in the first. How is it possible for the same eleven players to produce such different performances with only 15 minutes separating them? It has to be a lesson learnt that we have to come out guns blazing not just after the half time cuppa.    

Ratings

Szczesny– Couldn’t do much about either goal. His Almunia-esque rush of blood in the second half was worrying……7

Mertesacker – Made a few good interceptions in the first half. It was the mobility of the Chelsea attack from the flanks that he could do nothing about ……7

Vermaelen – Much better in the second half, pressing the ball and showing some signs of setting a captain’s example ……7

Sagna – Really poor in the first half and his attacking delivery was awful all game. Give Jenkinson a chance….5

Gibbs – Struggled a little against Oscar and Hazard first half. His second half display going forward was excellent. Gibbs is an excellent footballer  …..8

Wilshere – Jack couldn’t influence the game in the first half and seemed content to allow Coquelin to do his spadework. Again, his second 45 was much improved as he took the fight to Chelsea …..7

Coquelin – My MOTM. Never stopped running for his team. A lone plus from the first half and was perhaps starting to tire in the second perhaps causing his injury …….8

Diaby – Lazy and slack in the first half. Better in the second when those around him could make up for his lack of match fitness …..6

Giroud – Didn’t really get much change out of Ivanonvic and Cahill the whole game. A real shame that first effort didn’t go in, it would have given the whole team a lift…..6

Walcott – No idea how to break the offside trap in the first 45. Much better when more direct in the second. Took his goal well…..7

Cazorla – Santi’s passing was off in the first half but he started to buzz in the second as him and Jack took control of the midfield…..7

B.R. – A super pre-match…..10

Subs

Ramsey – Looked lively and added some drive when he came on. Still tends to dwell on the ball when he needs to shift it quickly……7

Arshavin – Andrey didn’t really add much at all unfortunately…..6

Written by chas


The Mole. Can Benitez finish the Job?

January 20, 2013

Doesn’t seem that long ago since Terry hit the dirt and watched as Brave Sir Robin danced away from him. Happy Days.

And what chance of a repeat today? Well, we did it against the Cave Dwellers so why not against Chelsea? I know, I know – lightning doesn’t strike twice but in a world of infinite probabilities, it does!

Both teams are going through an inconsistent patch. Chelsea’s home loss to QPR was inexplicable but so was ours at Bradford. We have both lost at home to Swansea. The main difference being that Chelsea have a squad which cost at least double Arsenal’s and a bottomless pit of money to overcome any problems; they also sack managers with alarming regularity.

Benitez. Why? What kind of incompetent signed this man? How can Chelsea employ a manager who a few years previously publicly stated his dislike of the manner in which they do business? Bizarre. But one must be impressed by they way Rafa is doing his best to destroy the club, a loss or draw to us and Swansea will see the Chavs out of the CC and with no chance of winning the PL. Perhaps he is on a huge earner from the Northern Oilers. Fairplay to the man!

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Do you think it is to Arsenal’s advantage to have Arteta injured for a while? Could the midfield of Diaby, JW and Santi function more cohesively? Admittedly, we only have a reduced Swansea to compare and today will be a far sterner test, but I believe this will become our first choice midfield (though how long Diaby can stay fit is impossible to predict). None of them are  defensive players but both JW and Diaby are strong in the tackle. Concentration will be the key and a full awareness of who ventures forward . For this reason I would play and  extra MF – either Coquelin or Ramsey, both of whom played well on Wednesday.

For this reason having Koscielny out is also positive, BFG’s lack of pace requires hime to sit deeper! I must say, I am worried about Ba, he is in fine form and loves scoring against us. Furthermore, the excellent wingers at Chelsea will cause major problems to both Sagna and Gibbs.

Runners & Riders:

chavs v arse

Of course, playing a 4-4-2 is not Wengerball, but I doubt AW will start the game with Giroud upfront and he is unlikely to trust Ox in a game where we will be under the cosh.

Stamford Bridge is a strange place, an uglier ground it would be hard to find, but then it has to house some of the ugliest fans in world football. If one were to make a League of teams with the ugliest fans Chelsea would get a Champions League slot every season, Stoke would win the Prem most years 🙂

Today’s English Explorer is from the Days of Yore, and one of England’s Finest. Sir Walter Raleigh (1552 – 1618). An aristocrat and favourite of QE1, he is best known for his colonisation of North America and the introduction of tobacco to England and the world (how costly has that been?). His first colony was in Virginia where tobacco was harvested  – it got the Royal Seal from Her Maj and thus became the famous Royal Virginia tobacco.

He discovered Guyana and explored East Venezuala. His ship was the first Ark Royal which was a gift from QE1.

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Top Bloke. Full Set. Knighthood. Beheaded.

Raleigh wasn’t just an explorer he was also one of England’s great warriors.We all know the story of his defeat of the Spanish Armada, but what is less known is that after Elisabeth died and King James came to the throne, Raleigh was imprisoned in The Tower for 13 years for “plotting against the Crown”. Following an unsuccessful expedition to South America in search of El Dorado, he was re-arrested and beheaded. His head was embalmed and sent to his wife who kept it in a velvet bag until her death when it was re-united with his body.

Two defensive errors cost us the game at the Emirates; we weren’t outplayed and had the better of the game. Raddy would be satisfied with a point.

COYRRG

Big Raddy


If Arsène goes …… who should replace him?

January 19, 2013

Let’s cut straight to the chase, and leaving aside all the arguments, regarding whether or not Arsène Wenger should be replaced or not, and beg the question, “if he leaves Arsenal, for whatever reason, who should replace him?”

There is a lot of talk about Mourhino being given the heave ho at Real Madrid this summer, and he is looking for a berth in the Premier League, so we are told.

Now I cannot stand the guy on a personal basis, with his cheap shots, stupid and unpleasant mind games and his general sneeringly dismissive manner. BUT – he is a good manager, possessing a very creditable curriculum vitae!

The subordinate question I would have to ask is “can he work his magic without a huge treasure chest to work with in order to buy marquee players, which has always been his signature method?”

I guess only time will tell, but I would be inclined to give him a shot, simply because it would be a win/win for me. If he succeeds, we would all be thrilled potatoes, and clacking our maracas, if he fails it would be only a short-term thing because he does not tend to stick around.

Then there is Sir Alex Ferguson. We all know how desperate he was to join us 20 odd years ago, and was near suicidal when old Dennis Hilly-Wood told him to sod off and stop wasting our time.
No – I am only pulling your string theory!

What about Pulis? OK, OK, but for those keen to get rid of Arsene, perhaps an Orc team might appeal. No?

I won’t let you choose Benitez, so you can forget him. Fact!!

This isn’t easy, because I do not really know anyone whom I can easily recommend, because like most of you, I do not take much notice of other managers, and have no real knowledge of their ability.

OK then, so what about Capello? Ancelotti, Klopp, Hiddink, Rijkaard or Lowe?

My problem is that I know these managers by reputation only, and I am sure many or even all of them are first class managers, in their own right, but haven’t they all made their names, in part, by having big money available to buy top, top quality players? Now where have I heard that phrase previously?

Now I know there are rumours that Arsenal have between £50 million and £70 million available for transfers, but there is a huge caveat here. First, if we do not clinch a 4th place in the Premiership, and therefore we fail to qualify for the Champions League in the new managers initial ‘break in’ season, we will add another possible £35 million shortfall onto the likely £35 million shortfall this season if, as seems likely, we do not qualify this season.

Well as a self funding, break even football club, the transfer treasure chest would be needed to plug the hole in the profit line.

This is becoming a tad tricky for your correspondent.

There is only one thing for it, and that is to throw this open to the glitterati of the AA blogsite, and ask you to help me with your greater knowledge. Who would you want to manage Arsenal, or do you think Arsène Wenger should soldier on, and just heap scorn and ridicule on a decent man and a great manager?

Don’t be shy. Let’s have your views and your reasons to support your selection.

Written by Red Arse


Arsène Wenger – The grooming of England’s future Super Stars.

January 18, 2013

Much has been written about Arsène Wenger’s penchant for foreign players – French players in particular. Over the years he has been ridiculed for playing teams full of foreigners and for his seeming adversity to English youth. This culminated in a league match against Crystal Palace on 14 February 2005 when Arsenal named a 16-man squad that featured no British players for the first time in the club’s history.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor felt that this was the beginning of a worrying time for English football”. In March 2006, Alan Pardew chimed in with – “Arsenal’s Champions League success was not necessarily a triumph for British football” Arsène disagreed and said that he saw the issue of nationality as irrelevant and stated, “When you represent a club, it’s about values and qualities, not about passports”

Other pundits including Trevor Brooking director of football development at The Football Association defended Arsene, he felt that a lack of English players in “one of England’s most successful clubs” was more of a reflection on England’s limited talent pool rather than on Arsene.

Arsène preferred players that were nimble, adept at passing and those that displayed a high level of technical ability. Using his uncanny knowledge of worldwide players he brought in players like Petit, Vieira, Henry, Pires, Van Bronckhorst, Overmars, Toure, Gilberto, Wiltord, Anelka, Ljungberg, Silvinho, Lauren, and Edu, these players formed winning teams the likes of which had not been seen at Highbury since Herbert Chapman’s teams of the 30’s.

His explanation for not buying British players has always been that few “local” players displayed the attributes that he was looking for and those that did were overpriced in comparison to European players. More recently, with the riches of Chelsea and the Manchester teams Arsene was not able to compete on a level playing field for the British players he admired or for the better foreign players so he was forced to turn his attention to youth players, both foreign and British.

Today, in his youth and under 21sides he has a squad of 30 English and 19 foreign players many of whom already have international experience at various levels.

In Theo Walcott, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlaide Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere he has five full England internationals, these players might well form the core of the English team for years to come. With another 25 English youth players in his care who can say just how many more will make the international team?

Who would have thought that Arsène Wenger might be the man to turn around England’s fortune by developing the nucleus of the English team?

He is a multi faceted man that should not be counted out.

GunnerN5


The Old Arsenal Returns

January 17, 2013

When I said to Peaches that I could do the report for this game I thought it would probably be a simple mission. How wrong could I be. As I started watching the game I originally thought that the best way to report it would be to recount the key incidences as they occurred. I soon realised that there were far too many key incidences to recount in chronological order without going into a prolonged report, so I decided to switch to a different mode of report that would look at the game as more of a general synopsis with some specifics when required..

Firstly can I say, that for me, that was a thoroughly entertaining and humdinger of a game that the narrow scoreline and lack of overall goals doesn’t really reflect. Swansea, as we have found out this season, can play great pass and move technical football. How dare they aspire to this, that is our domain! Once again they did, at certain times, exhibit their ability to pass and move through very tight spaces at a very good technical level in what we like to think is our style of play. This time, however, we elevated our performance levels so that we looked, once again, to be the masters of this style of football.

Early on in the game I thought we took hold of midfield with a combination of the power, pace, and possession that Diaby and Wilshere offer us. We had a few chances but didn’t convert. Always a worrying thing for us Gooners, as we have seen that very situation so many times. If I was to be critical of us in the first half it would be to say that while we got into dangerous positions with possession in the last third, that we didn’t look like we had that final cutting edge. It always seemed like the final critical pass missed the key player by ½ yard. Many would put that down to players not being of the required quality. Personally, at this point, I would still put a lot of it down to players still getting to understand each other and instinctively recognise the movements of their team-mates.

Swansea had a couple of dangerous moments in the first half, the most obvious being when our former player Kyle Bartley headed against the cross bar. We got away with it but always in those situations I ask, was it an attacking move that we could have done nothing about, or could it have been avoided? I am not sure, but I will leave that subject open to debate.

In the second half, for me, we moved onto another level. The level that, for me, we need to be adhering to if we are to achieve what we all want. The passing and movement seemed to step up a level and became faster, more aggressive, and with more players moving around for their team-mates. Santi Cazorla started to step up a gear and influence the game and was superb in the second half, and he is a class player that we are lucky to have. Even more than this though was the performance of a young Englishman that stood out a mile.

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I actually don’t really know what to say about Jack Wilshere. On the one side I don’t want to hype him up too much and create unnecessary pressure, but on the other I feel that we potentially have the next best world class midfielder on our hands. For me he was immense tonight and showed his abilities in both the deeper midfield and offensive midfield roles. He seems to have the ability to play both roles equally effectively. I obviously have my own overall opinions on Jack, but where you see his long term role in midfield I would leave up to you AA’ers to debate.

On to the ratings :

Sczcesny 7

Did what he needed to do effectively

Mertesacker 7

A solid game. On occasions you worry about his lack of pace but he reads the game very well.

Vermaelen 7

His on-field commitment, for me, cannot be criticised. He had a good game today and covered when required. He is excellent at the last ditch tackle.

Sagna 7

After a few “dodgy” performances Mr. Reliable seems to be returning to form.

Gibbs 7

I am a fan of Gibbs and feel he is an excellent full-back. Injury permitting I feel we have a quality FB at our disposal here.

Coquelin 7

I like him. He had some good sections in the game but then seemed to disappear at times, but that is maybe to be expected with a younger player. I still feel that we maybe have another very good AW identified and nurtured player on our hands. I would wait longer before I make a full judgement on his ability as an Arsenal 1st team player.

Diaby 6

He is still not fully up to scratch after an injury lay-off but even so there are times when you can see he brings a different quality to the team. Injury aside I am a big fan of his. He had bright spells in this game but seemed to, understandably, fade in his dynamism as the game went on.

Wilshere 9 and MOTM

As said above, I feel we have the real deal on our hands. His performance tonight was immense both in attack and defence.

Cazorla 8

Slightly quiet first half but in the second stepped up a gear and was, alongside Wilshere, one of the main reasons we started to control the attacking intent in the game.

Giroud 6

I like Giroud but it didn’t quite come of for him today. Having said that I wouldn’t let him go and recognise on another day he could have easily had 2 goals. His link up ability, for me, overcomes the times when he is not scoring goals.

Walcott 6

This is the controversial one. If I said I still feel there is a potential quality striker in him then many of you would pan me. You are maybe right, but I want to see Theo have more time in the advanced role before I make my final judgement. I remember that it took Thierry a while to become regularly lethal for us, and he needed an adjustment period to the strikers role before he started to catch fire, at about the same age as Walcott is now. Theo missed chances tonight but I would also argue that he got himself into good goal-scoring positions that most other players wouldn’t have been able to do.

Substitutions:

Ramsey 6 

When he plays in central areas, like today, he still seems a very decent player to me and was quietly effective when he came on. I still feel he has a potential long term future with us but we need more

Written by GoonerB


Can Wenger teach tactics? Swansea preview.

January 16, 2013

What a strange season it has been and who can predict how it will end? Could we win the FA Cup? Why not, we have done it before and what is more, the last time was in Wales following a drawn game which must be a good portent.

We haven’t done very well against Swansea this season, have we? If ever there was proof of Rasp’s opinion that The Arsenal are not as good as the individual components of the team, those two games are it …. how many of the Swansea first team would get into AW’s starting eleven? Probably none, yet they outplay us because they have a better team ethic. Why should this be? Answers on a postcard to Emirates Stadium…..

That said, tonight is an opportunity to dampen the rising negativity with a handsome win. There are injuries (of course) but nothing too serious and we have our secret weapon back, you know the chap, that lanky fellow who looks like PV4, has some of his silky skills and vision but is as fragile as a €30 champagne glass (I didn’t mean to break it darling, it slipped out of my hand) and who tackles like blancmange. Diaby will start and will have a stormer.

The defence know about Michu, they know not to give him space. The midfield know they have to battle and work non-stop to compete with Swansea’s work ethic and the attack know movement and pace are the best way to unpick a quality Swansea defence.

We have all the weapons needed to win tonight but the over-riding and currently missing quality is teamwork. Victory Through Harmony, please.

Runners and Riders:

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Perhaps Ramsey will start ahead of the mighty Vassiriki Abou as he gave a very good cameo performance on Sunday, but AW loves the big man and will be desperate to give him pitch time. The only other question is whether AW will rest players ahead of the Chelsea game. Given that Dean is to referee at the Bridge, and that the FA Cup is our only realistic chance of silverware, I hope he plays his first choice 11.

The Laudrup as AW successor narrative will continue; here in Copenhagen the talk is of Laudrup returning to Real Madrid when Mourinho leaves at season’s end. I doubt this because he has yet to actually win anything as a manager. Laudrup has potential but you need more to take on the RM job. However, I can see him at Arsenal who require a  young manager committed to playing attacking football with a proper team ethic – much like Swansea.

A freezing day lends itself to warm weather explorers: William John Wills (1834-1861). Wills alongside Robert O’Hara Burke (1821-1861) became the first people to walk across Australia (South to North). The expedition took almost two years and was fraught with difficulties, they got lost, ran out of supplies  became ill, and on the return journey were saved by aborigines. Unfortunately (!), one of the expedition shot and injured an aborigine who then abandoned them. From that time their fate was sealed and both men died of  exhaustion and thiamin poisoning. Wills was just 27.

Such was the fame of the Burke & Wills expedition that both stamps and coins have been issued commemorating their adventure.

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The Full Set sported by Brave Men

We can and should win tonight. I will be looking for some tactical awareness from Mr Wenger’s team. This is an important match. A trip to the South Coast awaits.

Midweek night games in deep mid-winter are the best and I envy those lucky enough to attend. Shout us to Victory.

COYRRG

Big Raddy


Hansen Should Hang His Head

January 15, 2013

Late on in Arsenal’s dispiriting defeat by Manchester City on Sunday, referee Mike Dean sent off Vincent Kompany for a dangerous tackle.

It was a straight red and evened up the on-pitch personnel to10 a side, although far too late in proceedings to offer any real hope to the men in red and white.

Kompany had dived in with both feet off the ground and his studs showing as he went for a fifty-fifty ball. Coming rapidly – but fairly – in the opposite direction was the ever-committed Jack Wilshere.

It was an easy decision for Dean to make – a strait red card any day of the week.

And bear in mind this was Dean, under whom Arsenal have an appalling record and who couldn’t stop himself from doing a little jump for joy when the Spuds scored against us last season.

You suspect that if Dean had felt there was even a sliver of opportunity to avoid sending off the City man he would have grabbed it with both hands. But it was so blatant an offence that he had no option.

(Incidentally, I have no quibble with Dean’s earlier red carding of the hapless “Stan” Laurel Koscielny for clinging onto Edin Dzeko’s waist like a drunk tart in a pub trying to hang on to a want-away lover).

Kompany is a defender for whom I have the greatest respect. He is a world class player and, for a centre back, generally conducts himself fairly.

But on this occasion he lunged in in a dangerous manner. The replays clearly showed both feet off the ground and studs showing. We can consider ourselves fortunate that Wilshere was not badly hurt.

I’m not saying Kompany jumped into the tackle intending to injure. But it was reckless and, as we Arsenal fans know only too well, recklessness in the tackle can leave young men’s shins bent mightily out of shape.

You might wish to protest that the City man got the ball, but that’s not the point, either morally or as far as the laws of the game are concerned. The inherent dangers posed by the two-footed dagger jump have rightly led to its being considered a sending-off offence.

So it was disappointing, if not exactly surprising, to hear talk of an appeal against the red card emanating from Middle Eastlands.

But far more shameful, to my mind, were the comments from Alan Hansen. He said that if Kompany’s red card was upheld, the decision would be tantamount to banning tackles from football.

This is such a specious argument I hardly know where to begin. Quite aside from the clear evidence of the replays and the fact that referees are instructed to send off players for diving in with their studs up, Kompany’s actions were not a “tackle” within the laws of the game. They were an example of serious foul play.

I doubt Hansen will be aware of the connection, but when Arsene Wenger spoke with passion after the Eduardo and Ramsey leg breaks about ridding the game of such dangerous challenges, the response of the ignorant was to say “he wants to ban all tackling.”

Wenger very specifically made clear that he believed tackling was a vital part of football. Jumping into players shins and shattering their bones was not.

Hansen should know better than most that a fair, hard tackle can be made without showing the studs or making a two-footed jump.

As an ex centre half you might expect him to look for ways to defend Kompany – but he could have done so by suggesting the lunge was a split second error of judgement and not an act of malice. He did not need to try to whitewash the whole thing. If the tackle had been against Manchester United – against Wayne Rooney perhaps – I doubt we would have heard these comments from Hansen.

Maybe the Scot is feeling his age in the BBC Sports department and is worried about being nudged out by younger pundits who have played the game more recently. A few column inches and a bit of extra coverage probably wouldn’t go amiss for him right now.

But it’s comments like Hansen’s that continue to foster the myth that reckless play is just committed play; comments that more or less ensure that some other professional will end up lying on the pitch with a shattered limb before too long.

To quote Hansen himself: (insert Scottish accent here) “Shocking Alan. That’s simply shocking.”

RockyLives


A day spoilt ………….

January 14, 2013

Last week we were accused of not being even-handed and not allowing all views to be expressed without attack. The following was a comment that Spectrum posted this morning that I have reproduced for discussion. 

This is a worrying time for many supporters and as such we have witnessed some in fighting, please blog with each other with respect and remember that we are all Gunners.

peachesgooner

As my catchphrase cuts too close to the bone for many on here and upsets them so, I’ll make a concession and dispense with it. But only for this site.

I see my posts caused a bit of angst and controversy. I regret upsetting the equilibrium that you like to admirably maintain, but do understand this – I have firm opinions on our club because I feel passionately about it. And of course you know by now that I am a fierce critic of Wenger, whilst nevertheless still acknowledging and appreciating what he HAS done for us in the PAST.

Some of you say I have only negative things to say, but that is because looking at our long time and continuing decline,( which only gets worse ), leads me to no other conclusion. In that tomstoned and I are of similar mindset. We don’t believe in sugar coating those negatives, being in denial about them, or blaming the press, bad referees, or other influences whenever the fault lies with us.

Tomstoned made some sensible comments, but I see the same type of abuse and put downs were thrown at him as well, simply for being candid in his assessments and observations. Or for having an opinion which deviates from the norm * – *( you have to admit that this is mostly a Wenger sympathetic blog, after all ).

As he also said, being truthful, however much it hurts for some to hear, doesn’t mean you love the club any less. I’d go further than that. It shows you love the club even MORE. Because anyone who really cares, would feel a sense of duty to highlight where and how we’re going so wrong. This is my perspective. And so many of you confuse criticism with disloyalty.

You want me to be positive ? Okay. Jack Wilshere is by far our most consistent and hardworking player. He has the right attitude and will one day make a terrific captain. We have Arteta who is Mr. Reliable. And Cazorla, though a proven cheat* ( *being honest again ) has been one of our better signings. We have a new stadium, manageable debt, first class training facilities,and on the surface APPEAR to be well managed financially.

So why then, are we consistently failing on and off the pitch YEAR AFTER YEAR ?

Why is Gazidis rewarded with a bonus for overseeing an operating loss ? I thought only bankers were rewarded for incompetence !

Why do we not invest in the team ? Why do we sell our best player to our ( former ) rivals, who then goes on to help them establish a now 21 point lead over us and is AGAIN the league’s top scorer ?

Why is the board tolerating a man who is on the highest footballing salary in Europe ( or the world ), just to achieve the bare minimum – which is to qualify for the champions league ? Who is responsible for our lopsided wages policy ?

How come we sign dozens of kids, most of which don’t fulfill their potentia,l and many of which we end up sending out on loan whilst we STILL pay their ridiculously inflated salaries ?

Explain why our defence has progressively shipped more goals each season for the last five years, yet Wenger refused to bring in a specialist defensive coach. There are many more examples, but time doesn’t permit me to list them all.

We see the same pattern of failure and underachievement each season, yet many of you still act as his apologist. Blaming everything from bad luck to poor pitches to lack of funds or the colour of the match day programme. It’s time we reclaimed our Arsenal from the control of a greedy unambitious board, and a manager who if he had any self respect left, would have admitted he can do no more for the club despite “doing his best “. Because there are occasions when your best just isn’t enough.

Written by Spectrum


27 and Counting: Man City preview

January 13, 2013

My initial thoughts about today’s game revolve about whether previous season’s games have any relevance to results. It is 27 games since Man City beat us at home – , can this really influence the match? Of course not, though it does give cause for optimism in a weird way for a supporter looking for comfort.

We like City fans (hopefully a couple will join us today) they combine humour with passion, and they really get behind their club. How would we respond if unlimited funds were poured into our club? Would  we despair and wish for “the old Arsenal back?” I think not  – to be able to have a choice of strike force of Balotelli, Tevez, Dzeko, Aguerro and Tevez must give enormous pleasure, and that is without the genius of Silva and Toure. Plus they happen to be the Champions which is fine by me – if it isn’t us let it be MC; better than the Chavs or the Surrey Reds.

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Don’t leave it so late this time, Mikel

But before I’m overcome by the wonder of City I should recall that we almost beat them in the away leg and did beat them at the Emirates last season. And we are on a long unbeaten run.

I expect a tight game today but City have some absentees (if only we had such a squad!). The Pine Rider is suspended following his pathetic assault  the other week, Toure is at the ACN, Richards, Maicon and Rodwell are injured but MC will still put out a €200m+ team.

For those with a statistical bent this is very interesting …

http://www.london24.com/sport/arsenal/arsenal_v_manchester_city_in_numbers_1_1790584

I have checked a few MC websites and almost to a man they swallow the AW out narrative. Sad but inevitable, especially when some of our own do the same. They are very confident of a win citing our inconsistency and in particular, last week’s away draw.

And what of our form? Questionable is my estimate. We should have won every game in December, instead we dropped relatively easy points – though S’ton’s improved form shows it was not such a disaster.

We have to sort out the midfield – not the personnel but the tactics; asking Arteta to play the defensive screen is not working particularly well, and Podolski looks far better playing further forward . Lukas was poor at St Mary’s – we need more from him.

My Team:

arse v city

I wouldn’t be surprised to see The Ox in place of OG and TW playing centrally but this smacks of negativity. We are at home, OG causes defences problems, Theo is better out wide.

I am looking forward to the Dzeko/BfG match-up. Two fine players.

Onto today’s explorer: Enough of the ice-boys, let’s get horticultural. One of our greatest unsung collectors and explorers came from the sunny climes of Cornwall: William Lobb (1809 – 1864).

Lobb spent his life collecting in South and North America walking thousands of miles through jungle, desert and mountains. His collection of seeds changed the face of the British (and European) countryside we see today. Lobb brought back: The Monkey Puzzle tree, The Wellington Sequioa, Delphiniums, the Douglas Fir  (plus lots of other fir and pine trees), countless flowers, the myrtle tree, some cedars and the barberis shrub.. He died in San Francisco from syphilis (hey, it happens!!).

images

Mr Lobb. Ozzy Ardilles Dad??

Today’s game has been written up as vital. Perhaps, but given our inconsistency who is to say that after beating the Champions we will not drop points to QPR? My point being that all the games are “vital” – they all offer the same number of points and let’s be brutally honest, how many of you expect us to challenge Man City for the title?

My hope is for an attacking, entertaining game and one in which we “play with the hand break off,” Oh, and no injuries or red cards and a loony (goal-less) cameo from the wonderful Balotelli.

Written by Big Raddy


Arsenal managers – a walk down memory lane

January 12, 2013

A few days back GIE, our new AA Daddy, asked a question about the records of our previous managers, so I thought I would take him on a trip down memory lane.

Starting with –

Sam Hollis 1894-1897

From a background as a pub landlord he became our first “secretary manager” there is some doubt as to whether he was the “manager” or just a trainer. Prior to his appointment the team was managed by a committee of players and club members.

P118, W53, D18, L47, GF253, GA225, Pts%52.5

# Trophies zero

Thomas Brown Mitchell 1897-1898

Our first “professional manager” he was a Scotsman from the Dumfries area and he took the club from tenth place in the league to fifth before resigning in March 1898.

P30, W16, D5, L9, GF69, GA49, Pts%61.7

# Trophies zero

George Elcoat 1898-1899

From Stockton on Tees, he was our first “Exile”, and he showed a strong preference for Scottish players having eight in his first team.

P34, W18, D5, L11, GF72, GA41, Pts%60.3

# Trophies zero

Harry Bradshaw 1899-1904

Regarded as Arsenal’s first successful manager a clever tactician who guided us to a second place finish in 1903/4 gaining us promotion to the First Division.

P170, W90, D31, L49, GF307, GA156, Pts%62.1

# Trophies zero

Phil Kelso 1904-1908

A hard rugged Scot he managed the newly promoted Woolwich Arsenal to two consecutive FA Cup Semi Finals.

P148, W59, D32, L57, GF215, GA226, Pts%50.7

# Trophies zero

George Morrell 1908-1915

When Sir Henry Norris purchased Highbury it was George Morell who oversaw the club’s move from Plumstead. He holds the unenviable record of being the only Arsenal manager to have experienced relegation with the club.

P266, W95, D65, L106 GF334, GA377, Pts%47.9

# Trophies zero

Leslie Knighton 1919-1925

Under his management we never finished higher than tenth, coming twentieth in 1924/25, He was sacked at the end of the season and replaced by the legendary Herbert Chapman, apparently Sir Henry always regretted sacking Leslie and left him 100 pounds in his will.

P252, W87, D57, L108, GF309, GA360, Pts%45.8

# Trophies zero

Herbert Chapman 1925-1934

He established Arsenal as English footballs dominate force and his football concepts and ideas served as a template for teams and managers all over the globe. He won the first trophy for the club winning the FA Cup in 1930. His 1930/31 team scored an incredible 127 goals – still a club record. He championed innovations such as floodlighting, European competitions and numbered shirts. Tragically he passed away from pneumonia in 1934 aged 55 years. A bronze bust of Chapman stood inside Highbury as a tribute to this outstanding manager.

P336, W157, D84, L95, GF736, GA541, Pts%59.3

# Trophies 3

George Allison 1934-1947

He started off as a journalist and became Arsenal’s programme editor – later in 1927 he commentated on the first FA Cup Final to be broadcast. He won three League titles and the FA Cup before retiring in 1947. In 1937 he had a role, as himself, in the movie The Arsenal Stadium Mystery – one of the lines that he uttered at half time was “It’s one-nil to the Arsenal. That’s the way we like it”

P294, W137, D80, L77, GF552, GA345, Pts%60.2

# Trophies 4

Tom Whittaker 1947-1956

He was the club’s first team trainer under Herbert Chapman and took over the reigns from George Allison in 1947; he won the League in both 1947 and 1953 plus the FA Cup in 1950. During WW11 be became an RAF pilot reaching the level of Squadron Leader, he received the MBE for his distinguished service. Sadly he passed away from a heart attack in 1956, aged 58.

P378, W171, L101, GF688, GA509, Pts%58.6

# Trophies 3

Jack Crayston 1956-1958

A former player with 187 appearances for us his football career was cut short due to a serious knee injury incurred in WW11 while serving in the RAF. In his first season he took us from eleventh in the league to third place before ending up in fifth position.

P84, W37, D15, L32, GF158, GA154, Pts%52.9

# Trophies zero

George Swindon 1958-1962

He was a former Arsenal goalkeeper with 297 first team appearances he was replaced in goal by Welsh international Jack Kelsey in 1952/3. His best finish as a manager was third in his first season.

P168, W67, D39, L62, GF304, GA305, Pts%51.5

# Trophies zero

Billy Wright 1962-1966

The first player to win 100 caps for England and was captain more than 90 times. His Arsenal teams never finished any higher than seventh. He was an inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Football writer Brian Glanville discussing Billy Wright’s time at Arsenal, wrote: “he had neither the guile nor the authority to make things work and he reacted almost childishly to criticism”

P168, W64, D41, L63, GF307, GA309, Pts%50.3

#Trophies zero

Bertie Mee 1966-1976

Under his tutorship we won our first trophy of any kind in 17 seasons beating Anderlecht and winning the Inter-Cities Cup. The next season we won our first “Double” winning the league at White Heart Lane, on the last day of the season, and seeing Charlie George score the winning goal in the FA Cup final against Liverpool

P420, W181, D115, L124, GF554, GA444. Pts%56.8

# Trophies 3

Terry Neil 1976-1983

Prior to becoming Arsenal’s manager he managed Tottenham for two seasons – nearly getting them relegated in the process. He became the youngest manager in our history and took us to three successive FA Cup Finals – 1978 to 1980 winning only one when we beat Manchester United 3-2 in 1979. In 1979, he came close, but was unsuccessful in pulling off a major transfer coup when he attempted to sign Diego Maradona.

P294, W127, D87, L80, GF404, GA318, Pts%56.1

# Trophies 1

Don Howe 1983-1986

Billy Wright signed him in 1964 and made him club captain; in 1966 he broke his leg playing against Blackpool and never played first team football again. During his time as manager he brought through players the likes of Tony Adams, David Rocastle and Niall Quinn.

P126, W57, D27, L42, GF184, GA156, Pts%52.4

# Trophies zero

George Graham 1986-1995

He played 227 games for Arsenal and was the leading scorer in 1966/67 and 1967/68. As our manager he was renowned for building his teams around defence, perfecting the offside trap along the way. He purchased Ian Wright from Crystal Palace and Ian went on to become our leading goal scorer. George made Arsenal one of the dominant forces in English football but unfortunately in 1995 he was forced to resign after he admitted to receiving an “unsolicited gift”

P364, W167, D108, L89, GF543, GA327, Pts%55.6

# Trophies 6

Bruce Rioch 1995-1996

He replaced George Graham in 1995 and stayed for just one season, he guided Arsenal to a UEFA Cup place securing qualification on the last day of the season. His enduring legacy at Arsenal will be the signing of Denis Bergkamp.

P46, W22, D13, L11, GF66, GA38, Pts%57.3

# Trophies zero

Arsene Wenger 1996 – Present

In his first full season in charge he guided us to our second double. He also guided us to

the UEFA Cup Final in 2000 and the UEFA Champions League Final in 2006, we lost on both occasions. Arsene is the most successful manager in our history having won two doubles and four FA Cups. The club have also qualified for the Champions League in the past sixteen seasons. Under his stewardship the club have signed such players as Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Marc Overmars, Nicolas Anelka, Robert Pires, Frederick Ljunberg, Robin Van Persie, and Cesc Fabregas. He is the only manager to have an unbeaten season in the English Premier League going a total of 49 games unbeaten including the entire season of 2002/3.

P620, W356, D158, L106, GF 1174, GA586, Pts%66.0

#Trophies 7

GunnerN5

managers - trophies