Arsenal To Athletico Bilbao (ize)

January 11, 2013

It is said in some quarters that Arsenal need three expensive footballers to add to the First Team Squad for us to be able to compete at the highest level. It is also said by some that our Youth Academy is a waste of time as it produces too few players who make it at the highest level. Finally, these Sayers also think that we employ too many people, both in terms of Admin as well as a bloated playing staff. Streamlining may well sharpen our cutting edge, as well as freeing up sufficient cash to afford these expensive additions. Problem is, during this cull we need to retain elements that matter.

What I say is that only a Youth Policy can produce an Adams, a Jack or a Mickey Thomas.

What these players have in common is Arsenal DNA, and in my view this really counts. These are players that go the extra mile because they are Arsenal. To produce these types of men is what the Youth System should be all about, in my opinion.

Enter Ahtletico Bilbao.

This is a relatively small club that regularly punches above its weight. They are one of only three Clubs in La Liga never to have been relegated.

They only employ Basque players, although in recent years they have widened the net to include players who can prove Basque ancestry.

So, gather round lads, here’s the plan. We slash the Admin/Player staff by, I don’t know, about 40. We retain a new sleeker Youth/Under 21 side/academy, and this part of the Club employs only those with proven Arsenal DNA.

We can, however, embellish the First Team Squad with the cream of International Stars, but our bedrock and foundations will be all Arsenal.

Can you imagine the fun in coming up with the “Prove your DNA” during the selection process, and “No”, having Arsenal posters all over the bedroom wall of your Amsterdam suburb does not qualify!

Written by MickyDidIt89


Is Defence Our Best Form Of Attack

January 10, 2013

We have been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team over the last number of weeks, sometimes looking like the most prolific attacking team on the planet and at other times looking like we don’t have the foggiest idea how to open up the opposition.

To make matters more confusing the vast contrast in performances often happen when very similar teams have been fielded in two separate games, and have often included combinations of Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud, and Walcott or the OX all in the same team. This is not an insignificant attacking line up especially when combined with our traditional overlapping full-backs. This combination of players should really give any top side in the world a headache in defence, but have at times even struggled to make mid to lower table teams look at all uncomfortable.

When you look at the above names on paper it is difficult to understand how they can, at times, offer very little attacking threat. To try and explain it to myself I have considered the contradictory possibility that maybe we are fielding too many attack minded players to make our attack effective. I would obviously like to open this up for debate, but before I do I will explain a bit more what I mean by this statement.

In recent discussions on AA regarding what types of players Arsenal need to bring in, one type of player frequently mentioned is a more powerful defensive midfielder. This is usually mentioned in reference to a need to solidify the defensive aspect of our team, and therefore make us harder to breach, and is a sentiment that I am in full agreement with. Could a more pure defensive midfielder, however, actually make us more effective in our attack as well?

Conventional thinking would state that the more defensive players you play the more defensive you will be, but I would suggest that there are times when too many natural attacking players in the one team can leave us imbalanced, and upsets our shape so that players that should be supporting the attack more are pulled into positions of defence too often. Conversely the right defensive midfield screen can provide a better platform and reduce the need for other players to have to drop back as often.

Our current first choice defensive midfielder seems to be Arteta who more often plays that role in the midfield three with Wilshere and Cazorla. I like Arteta and think he is an excellent and very important member of our squad and am not in any way suggesting he is replaced and pushed to one side. I think he is and should remain a regular and important first team player. He did however come from Everton not as a pure defensive midfielder, and he has obvious offensive qualities to his game also. In many games he plays the deeper defensive midfield role very well and certainly never lacks heart and effort, and is not afraid of getting stuck in.

I have questioned, however, whether in some games he gets slightly exposed because he is not really a specialist in this role. At these times he seems to require more help in protecting the back four and breaking up attacks, and my observation has been that this more often than not drags Wilshere deeper to help cover in these areas.

Some will disagree and see the deeper role as Wilshere’s role anyway, and I would agree that all players need to perform some defensive duties, but for me Wilshere has far too much ability on the ball to be kept too often in a deeper role. He is not the finished article yet but those bursts of pace and ability to surge past people should be utilised in attack as much as possible, and this is where I personally see his long term future.

I remember, as one example, in the Southampton game thinking that we needed to release Wilshere further forwards to support Cazorla and try and get some attacking intent back into our game. It was not Arteta’s fault, but I felt he was a bit under the cosh in that game and he was struggling to screen and protect the back four effectively on his own. If we had been playing a more specialist defensive midfielder out there, who could have more effectively covered the defensive midfield area on their own, would that have released Wilshere from having to help out so often in defence and, if he could have played higher up the pitch more often, would that have seen us start to take more attacking control of the game?

You could argue that it may not have worked out that way and how can anyone really know, and I would agree that no-one can say for certain. It is more an observation and opinion that potentially a more specialised midfield destroyer to break up the opposition attacks would have given the platform for our attacking players to get into more dangerous areas more often. Once we turn the momentum of a game in our favour sometimes it becomes difficult for a team such as Southampton to get a foothold back in it.

For me a top defensive midfielder should obviously be a good tackler with a good physical presence. He also needs to be able to distribute the ball well, but for me he doesn’t need to be a “Bergkampesue” defence splitting passer of the ball, but more a decent passer who can redistribute possession once we win the ball back. I have always felt, though, that maybe an even more important characteristic for a central defensive midfielder is pace. I feel it is possibly even more important than for the attacking central midfielder where good positioning, awareness, quick thinking and the ability to play a killer pass are potentially more important characteristics. The defensive midfielder obviously needs to break up play but also needs to try and intercept and cut out threats from the opposition. The ability to cover ground quickly with pace is for me an important feature to defending well in front of the back four, and it is the one thing that Arteta unfortunately is not blessed with.

Many players are mentioned as being suitable players to bring in and play the defensive midfield role but some of you will be aware that I have championed Vermaelen for the role. Some would argue that he is not a good enough passer of the ball, but again I would question how important that is. He is a more than adequate passer of the ball for me and would have no problem in effectively redistributing the ball when we have won back posession. The plus side of his extra physical presence, good biting tackles and pace over the ground would far outweigh anything else for me. He could be considered as a defensive midfielder or even as part of a back three where he plays as an advanced sweeper.

As a pure defensive screen Vermaelen could likely provide 1 ½ times the protection that Arteta can in games where it may be more necessary, and if it allows us to play the other two central midfielders to take up more advanced positions then we may actually end up with a more potent attack by playing a more defence minded player in that deeper role.

I am not actually suggesting that Arteta is permanently pushed aside in this role. Far from it, I believe there will always be games where we can play him with Wilshere and Cazorla, as we do in our current first choice midfield three. These three for me do seem to be somewhat overplayed currently anyway, and I feel need a bit more rotation. Arteta could even revert to his slightly more traditional, pre-Arsenal, more advanced midfield role at times if TV is played in the deeper role and Wilshere or Cazorla need a rest or are carrying a minor knock. It is all about having alternative options for me and all of these players would still get plenty of playing time but hopefully with the added bonus of avoiding burn out and possible injury.

So what do AA’ers think. Do we need a more specialist defensive midfielder at times and if so who would be your choice? Would the addition of this player only be to make us better defensively, or could it actually have the additional effect of making us better offensively as well by way of freeing up other players?

Written by GoonerB


The Rise, Decline, And Fall — or Rise of Arsene’s Empire?

January 9, 2013

The Roman Empire was perhaps the most famous in history, but as we all know, its rise decline and fall saw a city state expand to conquer what was then the whole of the known world, before its rulers allowed the barbarians to infiltrate the Empire, emulate its own tactics and finally destroy it.

Are we now seeing a similar fate befalling Arsene’s Footballing Empire?

Arsene Wenger became manager of Arsenal in 1996 with a revolutionary philosophy of building teams that were to become famous for their desire to entertain, not just Gooners, but every other football fan throughout the world with an over-riding emphasis on attack.

Wenger’s purist style of management saw him buy and develop only players with absolutely sublime technical ability, allied to speed of thought and an athletic speed and grace to match. His immediate acquisition of the relatively unknown Patrick Viera to join the already established genius, Denis Bergkamp, marked his intention to mould his first Arsenal team into one of the best and most stunningly graceful attacking teams of all times.

The advent of this brilliant managerial philosophy, together with equally gifted players, soon saw the explosive rise of Arsene’s Empire, as his attack minded vision saw him quickly acquire other players such as Titti Henry, Mark Overmars and Robert Pires, who all had the requisite specialist, technical skills which enabled Arsenal to strive for, and reach, the very zenith of footballing achievement in England.

League and FA Cup Doubles in 1997/98 and 2001/02, and other League and Cup trophies, heralded the success of his policy, and with his ‘Invincibles’ team also redefining defensive cohesiveness he seemed to have set the seal on many triumphant years of success stretching into the future, with Wenger being raised to the apotheosis of his profession.

This fabulous attacking style was in absolute contrast to the dour and pragmatic philosophy of other English clubs, with their reliance on clod hopping defenders and resolute ‘defend until the last man’ attitude, and this only served to underline the extent and influence of his coaching, dietary and man management skills, and Arsenal rapidly became the ‘second favourite team’ for fans of other clubs worldwide.

Then came what many have seen as the beginning of the decline of Arsene’s great footballing empire, caused initially by the pressing need to move from the old, much loved Highbury stadium to the newly built Emirates stadium, still oddly lacking in atmosphere and which has yet to carve its own chunk of history, while the attendant astronomical costs of that venture are still hanging heavily over the club’s ability to fully compete with the other top clubs in financial parity.

Substantial monies needed to continue Arsene’s philosophy of acquiring top quality players for his grand team rebuilding designs dried up, and this, together with the arrival of Abramovich, and the other no mark oligarchs who then proceeded to lavish obscene and apparently unlimited amounts of money on their own clubs’ transfer targets, and in upgrading

their training facilities and scouting systems, saw Arsenal lose ground against them, slowly at first, and then at an ever increasing rate, which saw our club incrementally drop from being a ‘top 2’ team, to a ‘top 3’ team, to a struggling ‘top 4’ team, and this year – who knows?

This astronomical rise and subsequent slow decline in the fortunes of Arsene’s empire was compounded by changes in the attitudes of some of our most gifted Arsenal players who began to question the vision and desire of the manager, and opted, instead, to leave and pursue their careers elsewhere by joining our closest competitors, driven by both a lust for money, unbounded by well meaning ‘socialistic’ limits, and also for the trophies that have persistently evaded Arsene for many years.

So, you might ask, was that all it took to bring about the reversal in the fortunes of our club?

No, that is not quite right!

A change in absolute, mutually agreeable, shared ownership, occasioned by a savage internecine bout of warfare, between previous friends David Dein and Danny Fizman, eventually saw the equally fractious acquisition of the majority shareholding in the club by ‘Silent Stan’ Kroenke, who swiftly lived up to his name by becoming an absentee landlord/owner, who immediately delegated the running of the club to his appointed managers, with Arsene Wenger quickly asserting himself as the real power behind the throne.

The ability of absolute power to ‘corrupt’ absolutely, is evident in Arsene’s apparent reluctance to delegate material control of first team coaching, or the acquiring or firing of youth team players to either Pat Rice, or Steve Bould when he was Youth team coach, as has been reported by a number of Arsenal ‘sources’ naturally reluctant to be named.

Be that as it may, Arsene has also proudly spoken of his own direct involvement in every aspect and stage of the new stadium’s design and building plans, not as an auxiliary adviser, but as a principal and administrator.

In addition, and of particular concern to many fans, frustrated by Arsenal’s transfer policy and salary structure, is the admission by Mr Wenger that he is personally responsible for Arsenal’s ‘socialist’ salary structure, as well as the enforcement of the transfer budget; the calculation of the transfer value of potential recruits; the salaries to be offered to them; and the final, often fatally protracted, decision as to whether or not to buy and when that should be, which has apparently caused failure in acquiring certain players.

In effect, if all these observations turn out to be true, Arsene has effectively, and primarily, subverted the authority of the Chief Executive who is powerless to retaliate, and Gazidis has probably calculated, correctly, that Kroenke, in any dispute between himself and Wenger, will take the view that it is easier to replace Gazidis than Wenger. Incidentally, this may explain some of the vague and conflicting quotes attributed to Gazidis.

Whatever the cause, your correspondent believes that a tipping point is rapidly nearing, where the future of our great manager will be decided, either by the rapid fall of his Empire, with the concomitant premature ending of a visionary manager’s career, accompanied by a

quickening descent of our club into mid-table mediocrity or a near miraculous change in policy will be needed to save the day.

Any student of management would surely agree that Arsene needs to relinquish his ancillary control of the club, however competently an economics graduate might feel he is doing, and allow others to oversee and manage club finances, and to delegate coaching and day to day footballing matters to those such as Steve Bould, and entrust the minutiae of transfer dealings to Gazidis and Laws, and single-mindedly focus, exclusively, on his footballing vision for the club he has done so much for, and almost singlehandedly transformed, over the years.

All the intellectual power, sheer brilliance and force of personality of Arsene Wenger will be needed to stabilise the current decline in our footballing fortunes. He will need to regroup and reassess the club’s footballing needs and the resources necessary for the building of yet another legendary, trophy winning team, and just leave finding the funding wherewithal for this latest project to others, and he will then undoubtedly succeed in leaving a fitting legacy for a truly exceptional man.

There is a clear choice to be made by both Arsene Wenger and the club management, as outlined above, and, depending on which option is taken, could decide the future footballing and financial success of our club, or result in a huge setback from which it might take a lifetime to recover from.

Emotions are already running high amongst many fans, and a growing number are beginning to mutter about the merits of the forced retirement of Arsene Wenger, but I am confident, that the right decision will be made for the benefit of the club, and this will soon herald the dawn of a new era in the club’s rich history.

The Rise, Decline and RISE of Arsene Wenger’s Empire, is within reach, he must grasp it!

Written by Red Arse


Are We Totnum In Disguise?

January 8, 2013

I have seen some worrying comments recently from Arsenal supporters suggesting that our team is starting to take on characteristics more commonly associated with the slum dwellers from down the road.

No, they are not suggesting that we have suddenly developed bad personal hygiene habits; or started dragging our knuckles along the ground; or begun recruiting players from the ape enclosure at London zoo.

Instead they point to our recent inconsistent form; our ability to look world beaters one day and carpet beaters the next; our capacity to lose in any given circumstance.

Do they have a point?

Are we becoming another Tottering Hospice?

No, no, never and no.

You know the old saying, form is temporary, but class is permanent? Well that applies to Arsenal.

There’s an alternative version of the same saying that applies to the Totts: “Form is temporary, but T*ttenham are sh*t.” Look it up – it’s in all good anthologies of phrase and fable.

Of course we lucky souls born to enjoy the red and white domination of North London can feel disheartened at times.  And let’s face it, this current team has put us through the mill and back already this season.

Stirring victories like the 7-3 over Newcastle followed days later by the ineptness of the Southampton game; trouncing Liverpool at Anfield, but succumbing to lowly Bradford at Valley Parade.

It’s enough to bring a quiver to the stiffest of upper lips.

But no matter how down you feel, no matter how bleak our prospects look, don’t ever – ever – make the mistake of thinking that we have anything in common with those sad degenerates who worship a scrawny chicken perched on a basketball.

Even if (Dennis forfend) we were to finish behind them in the league this season it would mean nothing in the grand scheme of things (and bear in mind that all previous precedent points to them doing their usual choke-the-chicken act this year when the going gets tough).

There is no Dennis-given right to have St Totteringham’s Day every year. A glance back through history shows that there have, in the past, been years when that great festival was not celebrated.

Just like years of plague, famine, pestilence and war, they happen once in a while but they are not the norm: they are a perverted departure from the norm.

So next time you hear (or read) someone suggesting that we are “becoming the new Totteringham” just remind them of some facts that every Arsenal supporter should have at their finger tips:

Arsenal League Championships: 13

The Other Lot: 2

Arsenal FA Cup wins: 10

Them: 8

Number of times league title clinched at the other’s ground:

Arsenal: 2

Unmentionables: Never

Seasons in Champions League:

Arsenal: 15

Toe rags: 1

And these are just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to dig deeper there are so many more ways in which it is empirically provable that Arsenal and our unfortunate neighbours do not inhabit the same universe when it comes to class, quality, achievement and history.

What’s more, there is nothing to suggest that that situation will ever change. The Spuds have managed to cobble together a half decent team for now, but their long term prospects are always going to be baulked by their tiny ground, their general scumminess and their tendency to in-breed.

If ever they try to move stadium, we’ll soon see how remarkable was Arsene Wenger’s achievement in keeping us in the top four for year after year without any net spending on transfers.

A Totteringham stadium move is likely to lead to another period in the lower leagues for them (which will be fun, as we will be able to celebrate St Totteringham’s Day on the first day of every season).

So by all means be frustrated with our inconsistency, be angry when our players seem not to show enough effort, but please: enough of the comparisons with an entity so far below us they even have to look upwards to see Lucifer’s arse.

RockyLives


When will we learn? ……

January 7, 2013

You have to feel for Kieran Gibbs don’t you? He puts in a MOTM performance, scores a brilliant goal to give us the lead with five minutes to go and then some of his team-mates conspire to show the very worst of our defending and give away a goal to level the score at 2-2.

Gibbs is currently one of our Marmite players. I love his energy and the effort he puts in to go forward and join the attack but many criticise him for his lack of defending prowess. Short memories, I’d say, as it should be remembered that it was his amazing tackle against West Brom that ensured we finished third last season.

Thank you Kieran, you put in a fine effort yesterday.

In fact Arsenal played some really good football yesterday and were unlucky to go behind to  a Michu goal in the 58th minute. The first half had been a bit of a bore fest but we started the second half brightly and looked like the team to take hold of this game. Laudrup could see we were taking control and brought on Michu who scored within 2 minutes of taking to the pitch.

What did we learn from his two goals at the Emirates last month? Nothing, we gave him time and space on the ball and he punished us as the hour mark approached. 1-0 Swansea.

Now we had a cup game. We were finding our passes, weaving our magic but Swansea were also going for more goals and the excitement was growing, pretty much end to end stuff. I’m not going to squeal on those that put their chances wide when a goal was needed but suffice to say Podolski found himself a bit of space, swiveled and fired home a chance. 1-1 on the 81st minute. Come on Arsenal!!!!

kg

Two minutes later Gibbs powers into the box and exchanges a neat one two with Giroud before rifling the ball into the roof of the net. Cue pandemonium as the Arsenal players jump into the crowd. 1-2 on 83 minutes.

As the game played out we still had good chances to score again but when required to clear the ball from our penalty area we were useless!!! Swansea scored to level at 2-2. Theo got the ball into the back of the net but the whistle had already gone for an earlier foul. Five minutes of extra time were played out with neither side able to seal the win.

Schoolboy defending undoes us again. We really are rubbish at holding onto a lead and seeing a game  out. We now have another game in January, squeezed into an already crowded programme against top teams. Hopefully we can finish Swansea off at the Emirates in 10 days time and look forward to a trip to Brighton in the next round.

There was a bit of a tiff on here after the game yesterday. It amazes me that some supporters can be so calm about a poor performance and seek to reprimand others for using the blog as an outlet for their frustration. I would ask you all to be kind to those that wear their heart on their sleeve even if you find their comments difficult to swallow. We all support the same team even if some wish that changes could be made to help us progress. What will be, will be…………

Written by peachesgooner

Our resident Welshy – Sheep Hagger was quick to send a report from behind the lines and here are his thoughts.

Quick post for us all, most of us saw the game yesterday and again we weren’t great.

But we are still in the cup and we should beat Swansea at home even though they have beaten us once there.

We must have a go at the FA cup as I feel it’s our only real chance of wining a trophy.

Coming up, we have a few tough games in the EPL.

Following a really difficult January we will meet Bayern Munich in the Champions lge.

So if we can take 5 points from 3 matches it may be enough to make up a few points, city chelski and Liverpool are good sides.

You know the way I feel about the management, and I have been that way since the summer but that’s my view only.

I don’t know about the board and the finances as I’m not in to it all, it’s above my head,

And again why is the Theo deal taking so long to tie up? This should have been sorted last year not now, same thing with Cesc and Rvp, they should have been offered new contracts 2 years before the deals run out.

I love my Arsenal my son is named after an Arsenal player, even though I’m a taffy that means nothing.

And I think u know me by now life’s to short to row that’s why I come on here and act a clown.

I like a laugh and a bit of banter,there no malice in the sheep.

To end the post I’ll show you all a pic of the wife she’s from New Zealand.

Sheeps wife

There she is my darling she the middle one, god knows who the woman is!

Chill out life’s too short.

See you all tomorrow when I get out of HMP Swansea.

Much love

Sheep Hagger™🐏


Opportunity for Swansea Redemption at the Liberty

January 6, 2013

The Arsenal travel west to kick off their FA Cup campaign against Swansea with Gooners, especially those who were at Ashburton Grove last month, fearfully recalling how we were outplayed by today’s opponents that day.

I was behind the goal where their two goals were scored and which triggered off the most hostile final whistle response from the home support I have ever seen in all the 50 odd matches I’ve attended.

My initial reaction to drawing Swansea in the FA Cup was not the best, mainly due to seeing other Premier League teams draw the likes of Crawley or Peterborough, and therefore given more latitude to rotate their squad.

To date Arsenal have won 6 of the 12 meetings with one draw and of course the aforementioned win for Swansea. The only major absentee from that defeat was Sagna, who is suffering from an indifferent spell of form and I would like to see Jenkinson take his place with the BFG coming in for our captain, who is also not playing to his potential either.

Due to the eternal absence of Diaby there is little room for rotation so the middle three will probably comprise Arteta, Jack and Santi with a top three of Theo, Posdolski and Giroud. The variations on this are Oxo in for Theo with our current contract rebel in as a late sub. Another possible change is to insert Ramsey in the middle three, perhaps instead of Santi to make for a more defensive set up. although he is bound to receive a “warm” reception being an ex Cardiff City player.

This is more or less the same team that Swansea faced in December and one would hope the manager will send the team out with the challenge that they make amends for the insipid performance that culminated in the late Michu brace and resulted in the home league defeat.

The opposition only have one absentee, long-term injury victim Neil Taylor who won’t be seen this season, and therefore they will be at full strength and with the previous meeting fresh in our minds our best hope is that complacency will be Swansea’s downfall.
Especially if they look at our listless performance last time out at St Mary’s.

Today’s explorer is Edgar Evans, from Roshili, a village near Swansea, who served on the ill-fated 1911-12 Scott expedition to Antarctica. He left his home town to serve as a Torpedo lieutenant on the HMS Majestic before he began the first of his three exploratory sojourns.

040822x

He was one of five men who failed to return to base camp after they reached the South Pole in January 1912 and met with an icy death, with Captain Oates uttering those famous words: ”I am just going outside and I may be some time.”

Should Arsenal fail to win today I suspect a good many gooners will be feeling similarly cold to their team, however with an energetic, and dare I say vengeful, performance theirs no reason we cannot progress to the fourth round.

The away support will do us proud, as they always do, but it will take a brave and committed performance from the good guys to keep us in the hunt for the FA Cup

UTA !

Charybdis1966 (on Twitter and Youtube)

 


A gunner in the Valleys – how come sheep?

January 5, 2013

A little bit about me and how I ended up a Arsenal fan as no one supported Swansea in the 70s as they were in the old 3rd division.

I was born and bred in Wales to English parents who were working in Swansea. So most friends of mine supported Chelsea or Leeds united as they were the main clubs in the early 70s. But this man made me a gunner, a certain Mr Charlie George and this iconic picture.

Charlie_George_Signed_Arsenal_Photo_1971_FA_Cup_big

I’m sure as you all know that was the winning goal against Liverpool in the 1971 cup final at Wembley. So, as I did not support a club at the time, it was Arsenal for me and I have been an Arsenal supporter ever since that day.

Arsenal will have to careful as Swansea play some good football and a neat passing game and they are expecting a full house down at the Liberty Stadium. The stadium doubles up as a rugby pitch for the Ospreys so the players will have to play on a not so perfect pitch.

The stadium is about 3 miles outside the city as the old Vetch field was in the middle of Swansea right behind the prison. You had better believe this, they are all thinking its game over before we turn up and the locals are ready to turn us over.  Lots of my mates are season ticket holders at Swansea and they have being give me a ribbing all week. And the ‘Jacks’ will sing to Arsenal fans in welsh.  The locals are called ‘Jacks’ after a pub call the Swansea Jack which is no longer in existence.

swansea jack

If we play like we did against Southampton this lot will turn us right over, but hopefully Mr Wenger will get it right for this one as I would love us to go on a cup run. A good cup run may motivate a few of the players. Will he play the younger generation in this match?  He may do as a few looked jaded and tired against The Saints.

I would give OG a run out as he needs a start here’s his chance and he has not had many starts. He can rest the Pod I think from this one and play Walcott up with OG. I would play this team against Swansea and I’d play 4-4-2. If we lose I may move to Cardiff. We are not going to win the EPL this is our only realistic chance of a trophy this year,so come on Arsenal, play the swans at their own game, pass and move .

We will see Big Raddy’s team selection tomorrow, this is my preference:

swans fa cup

Subs I’d use a few of the youngsters.

After the FA cup weekend we then have 3 hard EPL matches against City(h), Liverpool(h),Chelsea (a)
I would take 5 points from those games. Before that’s let’s knock these Jacks out of the cup so it can give us confidence.

I’ll round off by saying thank you all for accepting me onto this site and I feel very honoured to be asked to do one post. It is my first and I hope it’s ok.

Much love
Written by Sheep Hagger


What is the point of fourth?

January 4, 2013

Over the last few years the common complaint amongst Arsenal fans is that the club does not have an ambition to win trophies. The oft quoted ambition of the club is Champions League qualification, that that is the apparent limit of the Board and Managers ambition is a bugbear of many fans and a reason to oust the current board and manager.

However it seems it is important to many fans given the worry that is being demonstrated around our qualification chances this term.

The financial implication of failure to qualify is the primary concern, however funds are going to be increased in the coming years from the domestic TV deals, a renewed Sponsorship deal, and a new Kit manufacturer deal on the horizon. In total this will replace the income from CL football.

So what about the other concerns, inability to sign top players, well there is an argument that says we haven’t got them anyway, so what are we really going to miss?

Would a year or two out of the CL be a good thing for the team, would it give Wenger and maybe his future replacement a chance to rebuild properly rather than paper over cracks to achieve qualification again?

So my question is this, if Fourth is not a trophy why are we so worried about not finishing in the top four?

Written by Gooner in Exile


Wake up Arsenal and take a Risk

January 3, 2013

I don’t believe that anyone at the Club really believes that individual games in the league matter.

We operate a longer term strategy. Survival, at least until the world becomes a fairer place, and by survival I refer to the CL spot that retains the Club at the top table of World Football.

Look at the other Clubs in the PL, and there is not one who operates our philosophy. The difference between 1st and 3rd is the ability to fight and scrap for that extra point or two in every game. Every little bit really matters and counts. Ditto for anyone fighting to avoid the drop.

Then you have the runners and riders in the middle. Every season, one or two will emerge from the pack and punch above their weight. These are the highly motivated, well organized machines.

From top to bottom, we operate a Low Risk Strategy.

It is all about Averages. So long as our Average is better than the rest, all is well.

This is produces Average Mentality, and permeates its stench from fiscal strategy, to transfer philosophy, to team selection, tactics and wages.

A bad individual performance does not matter. Consistently exceptional performances shall not be rewarded. Mediocrity, on the other hand, will.

Can the Club change, and I mean now, in the very short term? Yes, I believe it can, but it will come from the top. Arsenal FC is a safe investment. Somewhere for the very wealthy overseas business man to find a safe haven for a part of his gigantic portfolio. The word I dislike most that I have just typed is “safe”.

Safe means low risk. Little games don’t matter.

Well they bloody well do to the fans. Every moment of every game matters.

My view is break your f’ing wage parity, at least go into games thinking draws are not good enough, don’t reward mediocrity, and however unfair the world may be, start living for the moment. Fight today, and stop living for tomorrow.

Give me five good men that will go the extra yard than fifty average, and they will deliver.

Right now? Buy a midfield warrior. A very good one, and sell anyone you need to to make it happen. Give Theo his sodding money, and if he fails to earn it, flog him in the summer.

Wake up Arsenal and take a Risk. Who knows, we may win a Cup along the way.

Written by MickyDidIt89


Airy Fairy, Couldn’t Carey at St Mary’s

January 2, 2013

Going into the game on the back of the wonderful 7-3 versus Newcastle, the Gooner faithful were optimistic about the team’s ability to score goals but a little uneasy of our propensity to concede goals. Would The Arsenal be able to shore up the rearguard while maintaining our free-scoring form?

The line-up was unchanged with the Pod, Theo, Ox combination up front again.

S1

Subs Martinez Mertesacker Rosicky Ramsey Coquelin Giroud Gervinho

Arsenal began the first half passing the ball well. Unfortunately it was to be the boys in purple’s best period of the game. After 5 minutes Santi had a fine effort deflected wide. Boruc in the Southampton goal started nervously treating the ball as a slippery bar of soap but Arsenal couldn’t capitalise. The game was entertaining on the eye, helter skelter but with few chances on goal.

Thomas Vermaelen made a fine saving challenge as Southampton gradually got into the game as their work rate continually outmatched the away side’s. When will Arsenal learn that they have to match the opposition work rate for any difference in class to show itself?

Arsenal had a few fine openings largely created by Jack’s industry in the middle of the park. A fine interception by the Ox forced a corner, but Arsenal’s dead ball situations were poor the whole evening. The midfield three were made to look disjointed as Southampton harried and closed down space.

A series of poor decisions from Podolski, Sagna and then Gibbs eventually resulted in a goal for the home side. Another poor piece of play from Sagna left Kos needing to make a great challenge to stop the Saints going two up.

Against the run of play, a Walcott free kick was put through his own goal by Do Prado with Koscielny lurking and Arsenal suddenly had a lifeline back into the game. An underserved goal and the away side immediately looked threatening.

southampton 1-1

A superb cross from the Ox found Podolski dithering on the edge of the area when he needed to be busting a gut to get into the six yard box. The half time whistle came at the wrong time with the Gunners pressing, Walcott correctly flagged for offside.

1-1 saints 2

The second half started with a poor header from Gibbs and an early scare for Arsenal. Jack was booed for getting kicked in the face and the game continued with Southampton continually getting to the second ball first. On 56’ Szczesny passed within inches of the Southampton forward. This was followed by a good opening for Theo but he chose to shoot from outside the area when better options were available at the far post.

jack saints

Arsenal needed to hold the ball up and Giroud was brought on for the disappointing Podolski. Unfortunately I’m not sure if Giroud won the ball in the air once for the rest of the game. Southampton continued to show more energy, passion and threat in all areas of the pitch.

The few opportunities Arsenal did have to break were halted by professional fouls both on Cazorla and later on Sagna. Arteta did something similar when megged by Ramirez, who impressed throughout. The same player had a goal disallowed after a sly push on Koscielny allowed him the space to turn and fire past Szczesny.

On 68’ a fine driving run from Gibbs ended in another dreadful cross from Sagna. Mr Consistency was consistently poor with his passing and crossing all game. The Arsenal away boys sang ‘Cmon Arsenal’ which we all know is code for ‘buck your feckin ideas up, you’re playing shite’. Another chance fell to Theo and he, again, failed to notice the better options available to him.

Ramsey and Gervinho came on for the Ox and Santi; the latter having struggled to find enough space to really influence the game today. Surely Rosicky would have been the better option for Santi in Arsenal’s attempts to find that little bit extra to break down the excellent Southampton defence?

Arteta produced a fine drive on 80’ and then Gervinho cut inside beautifully a few minutes later only to shoot well wide of the near post. Szczesny made a good block before Arsenal’s best chance to get the winner went begging when Gibbs failed to find a purple shirt when in acres of space inside the Southampton penalty area.

Theo’s final contribution was an appalling free kick which failed to get anywhere near the Saints’ box. Giroud must have wondered why he had been brought on.

All in all, a pretty dismal performance from the Gunners. Southampton had played on Boxing Day, so I was expecting Arsenal to seem the fresher of the two teams at some point in the last twenty but, disappointingly this never happened. Southampton fought and harried, with no little skill too, and were unlucky not to win the three points, it has to be said.

Ratings

Szczesny– Made a few good blocking saves in a game of few clear cut chances. His distribution was up to his usual standard……7

Koscielny – Fought hard in a rearguard action the whole team didn’t seem to expect……7

Vermaelen – Played reasonably well without ever showing signs that he’s a great captain……7

Sagna – Poor for most of the game. If he does want to leave, you’d think he would be trying to impress potential suitors ….5

Gibbs – Looked threatening at times but failed to find a dangerous final pass. …..6

Wilshere – The best of a poor bunch. …..7

Arteta – Reliable in his efforts as always but must be given support by the rest of the team when continually put under pressure …….7

Cazorla – Santi’s worst game in an Arsenal shirt. When he did find a few inches of space his passing was off. We cannot always rely on the Spanish maestro for inspiration. Rosicky should have been brought on in his place …..6

Podolski – Looked disinterested again. Dropping deep and passing the ball back to the centre backs doesn’t cut it, Lukas ……5

Walcott – Theo seemed wary of upsetting the locals with a display we are all too familiar with before this season began …..6

The Ox – Looked good in flashes but continues to lack an end product …..6

Subs

Giroud – Didn’t affect the game as we hoped he would. His touch seemed off ….6

Ramsey – Was Ramsey brought on to play in the Santi role. He huffed and puffed but produced little …..6

Gervinho – Aside from the one nice cut in and shot, he seemed clueless as to how to beat a full back or even stay upright! …..5