Six Irritating Things About Arsenal

February 18, 2013

I normally try to be upbeat on a Monday, but after Saturday’s humiliating exit from the FA Cup I am lost for words.

The performance wasn’t even that bad (if you don’t believe we have been much, much worse this season then you should cast your mind back to the games where we were losing without even having an attempt on goal until after the 90th minute). We were unlucky; their ‘keeper made some great saves; they only had one attack yadda yadda yadda.

It was the grim predictability of it all that made it so depressing. Not predictable in the sense that many of us predicted we would lose; but in the sense that none of us are surprised that we did.

So in the spirit of general gloominess I would like to have a moan about some of our team’s habits. I am not out to slaughter them as players – I quite like most of them – but they have certain traits that are annoying on a regular basis and particularly so after a loss like Saturday’s.

  • Ollie Giroud:  Flicking Annoying: Clever flicks are part of OG’s game and they have led to him setting up some fine goals for his team mates this year. But someone needs to tell him that you don’t have to do the first-touch-flick EVERY time the ball comes to you with your back to goal. Against Rovers Ollie tried flicks with his first touch on every such occasion. None of them came off. Granted, it is difficult with two or three defenders up your jaxey, in which case he should have varied his repertoire by holding up the ball from time to time, taking extra touches and playing it back out to the support players if nothing more progressive was on. The coaches should sit him down with videos of Alan Smith in his prime (the Arsenal Alan Smith, that is, not the little toe-rag from Leeds).
  • Backed Into A Corner: I watch every Arsenal game. I have never seen any team from any division or any country (or gender, including trans-sexuals) take corner kicks as consistently badly as we do. And this is not new. It is a problem we have had for at least three or four years. What’s mystifying about it is that we pride ourselves on having technically gifted players. Well, where are all their technical gifts when it comes to kicking a dead ball about 37 yards into the opposition six yard box? Now, I know it’s a skill that may not be valued at Arsenal because even if they did put in perfect crosses there would traditionally be no-one there to meet them, but even so. I would love a journalist to ask Arsene Wenger or Steve Bould why our corner-taking is so abysmal.
  • Szczesny: The Gift That Keeps Giving: A week ago against Sunderland our young Pole in Goal pulled off a string of top saves to help secure the three points. On Saturday he parried a catchable shot (Seaman, Lehmann or Jennings would surely have held it) into the path of an opponent who duly scored (albeit with a ridiculously lucky shank). And that sums up Szcz. One week brilliant, the next making mistakes that cost points – or lead to us exiting a cup competition.  I love his confidence and personality; I admire his passion but I really, really want him to start cutting out the avoidable errors.
  • There’s No “I” In “Teamwork”: …but there is an “Ork,” not that has anything to do with anything. My point about teamwork is that some of our younger players seem to feel that when they get a chance in the team their best way of impressing the manager and supporters is to go for personal glory. This usually manifests itself by taking on near-impossible shots, attempting ridiculously ambitious dribbles and generally hogging the ball when better options are available. It has been a characteristic of Aaron Ramsey’s play at times – and it is noticeable how much better he has become since simplifying his game – and now Oxlade-Chamberlain is caught in the same trap. In a generally energetic performance against Blackburn he too often tried the more difficult “Hollywood moves” when simpler, better options were available – what you might call “Holyhead moves”. In the old days Tony Adams would have pinned him up against the wall after the game. Even if we don’t have to go that far, someone should have a word…
  • Diaby Or Not Diaby – That Is The Question: I thought Diaby was poor against Blackburn. He had plenty of the ball, but too often seemed to slow the moves down or lose possession too easily. I honestly don’t know what to make of him. Against Liverpool early in the season he was unplayable – as good a midfield performance as I’ve seen from an Arsenal player whose first name did not begin with Cesc or Patrick. But at the weekend he seemed to not quite be anything: not a defensive midfielder (played too far forward); not a creative playmaker (he was too slow of thought and foot); not a “water carrier” (he spilled it). Maybe he’s still playing himself back into form after the latest injury or maybe being up against a park-the-bus team didn’t suit him, but if he is the phenomenon that we have been led to believe then he needs to start taking control of games like Saturday’s.
  • Sub Standard: I can’t help feeling that if our manager had not made three midfield substitutions at once we would still be in the cup.  We completely changed our midfield and within seconds, when Blackburn attacked, there was no midfield cover. Kazim-Richards was unmarked and unchallenged when Szczesny palmed the ball out to him. I have no doubt this was due to the confusion caused by the triple substitution. Sorry Arsene – that was a piece of really bad management.

OK, that’s my moan over. On the up side I still don’t feel we are a bad team, I still feel we can knock out Munich and I still expect a top four finish in the league.

Hopeless dreamer? Perhaps. Time will tell.

RockyLives

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Carved Up.

February 17, 2013

A brief summation and some early morning thoughts on a painful day to be a Gooner

The Game:

We started slowly and continued in that vein. Blackburn parked the bus and scored a lucky goal with their only shot. We created few chances and those we had were squandered.

Luck went against us as it has so often this season, but when effort isn’t enough inspiration is called for  – in this area we were sorely lacking.

Some Thoughts:

The motivation argument is, in my opinion, complete tosh. Name me one player who wasn’t giving 100%.

What was lacking was speed of thought and passing …… Thrust.

Rosicky and Diaby were unable to create and dallied on the ball. Ox was trying too hard and his crossing was abysmal.

Monreal was a worry in an attacking sense. His crossing and shooting was woeful. Early days yet but I already prefer Gibbs.

Coquelin was once again tidy. Whether he can step up to become a regular first team player is doubtful, as is whether he will stay at AFC and accept being a squad member,

Szczesny had one save to make and failed. To parry the ball towards the only B*burn player in the box was unlucky but also poor ‘keeping. In my opinion he could have caught the ball – Seaman would have.

When Gerv & Ox switched wings both went from bad to worse. Ox has a future at AFC – he is having second season syndrome but one can see the potential. Gervinho needs to be sold.

Arteta showed why he is no longer a creative midfielder. He hasn’t the pace required to blend defence and attack.

Giroud was ineffective. He is not a player who can make his own chances. Faced with a mass of blue he found no space to work and his flicks couldn’t find a red-shirt. To continually run hell for leather into the box only to see the cross sail over your head or 5 yards behind/ahead must be enormously frustrating.

Can one blame Wenger? Many will but surely he can expect a star-studded team to beat B’burn, and for his multi-million pound midfield to create just one chance for his centre forward?

AW realised the problem and made 3 changes on 65mins. Has he ever done so previously? Was it an act of desperation or consideration?

This team is so inconsistent, one must look to the manager.

Desperately poor result but we move on.

Written by Big Raddy


Roast Chicken?

February 16, 2013

Let’s cut to the chase from the start …. I actively dislike Blackburn. Never liked their kit, hated Simon Garner, Dalglish, Mark Hughes, Fat Sam, the SAS, Haj Diouf, Kean, the Chicken men, and their ground is as awful as the town.

Last time we played Blackburn at the Emirates we beat them 7-1 and they were lucky to get the 1. An insipid display from a doomed team.

ox v bburn

More of the same today …. please

Can we expect the same today? Who knows? Much depends on the mindset of The Arsenal because we have handed out some real hidings at THOF this season. I would love today to be another thrashing but somehow doubt it will happen.

And what of Blackburn? Sitting mid-table in the Championship, carrying huge debts  and reliant upon loan players (Bentley, DJ Campbell & Kazim Richards etc) they are a club in trouble. I was surprised when looking at B’burn’s squad to see the name of Nuno Gomes. 36 y.o and given a 2 year contract in summer . Gomes was once a  £20m player but that was before Ox was born! Why sign him and give him what must be a big pension fund? Who knows?

It’s not all mis-management at Blackburn, they have also had their share of bad luck. For example, they signed Leon Best from Newcastle for £3m in summer  – a good player who had recently recovered from a cruciate ligament tear, one month into this season and he got another one!

One very good signing has been Jordan Rhodes. Our CB’s can expect a good physical battle this afternoon.

David Bentley. Will he start today? I doubt it, but Bentley is sure to get pitch time, and I expect him to get the reception he so fully deserves for his celebration following the fluke at THOF a few years back. To us this is a chap who has thrown away his career, a man who was born with immense talent but allowed his ego to derail him – to Mr Bentley and his family, he is a multi-millionaire who lives a lifestyle few can imagine. Such is modern football.

With the Bayern game looming AW is sure to rest much of the team. This is my guess ……

Runners & Riders

arse v bburn

The above team has all the necessary firepower to win this afternoon, though I accept it is light in midfield with Ramsey being asked to play the DM role. It also highlights the lack of a centre forward to replace OG.

Today’s English Explorer: As we are playing a Championship side today we have a second division explorer. – top man nonetheless. Cecil Rowling (1870 – 1915). Young Cecil was one of England’s most accomplished mountaineers and was among the first to explore and survey Tibet, in the process identifying Everest as the highest mountain. He went on to discover the source of the Brahmaputra river, and later to survey the jungles of Papua New Guinea.

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Don’t mess with me, Laddy ….

The First World War intervened and Rawling became a highly regarded soldier. Fighting at Ypres and the Somme he rose to Brigadier General, winning the DSO and the CMG. Leading his troops at Passchendaele, Rawling was killed by a German shell.

Blackburn will pack the midfield and likely parrk ‘t buss. As this is our last realistic chance of silverware we should get this tie settled early but somehow I feel Arsenal are in for a battle this afternoon.

To those fortunate to attend stay positive.

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


Does what happens off the pitch matter any more?

February 15, 2013

Currently the news is ridden with shocking stories featuring famous sportsmen, and of course other celebrities. The doping downfall of Lance Armstrong, the murder inquiry of Oscar Pistorius, Chad Evans jailed for rape – these are the most recent scandals that have rocked the sporting world.

Are we still the classy club we used to be? Are we still above other clubs ridden with scandal, gossip, dubious dealings? We have our fair share of past and present infamous headlines of drink driving, night club striptease, cigar smoking, infidelity and allegations of rape. The latest gossip that hit the headlines was our own Arshavin, recently dumping his wife and 3 gorgeous kids for a model he met in London.

The era of Vieira, Henry and Bergkamp has restored Arsenal’s place amongst proud sporting institutions, a shining example of professionalism, high personal values and integrity. There were few gossips or scandals surrounding our finest, and even Thierry’s divorce hardly hit the headlines. Thierry and Vieira were teetotal, and Viera and Bergkamp devoted family men.

Does it matter to us how the players behave off the pitch? I have recently shared a little story with you about Diaby loitering with intent at the petrol station at 4 in the morning. I was delighted to hear that he was petrified that Le Boss would find out about him being out in the middle of the night. I believe that being a sportsman is a life style, not merely a job. Do you agree?

Written by evonne


Wilshere or Bale?

February 14, 2013

Simple question: who is more important to their team – Gareth Bale or Jack Wilshere?

The idea was discussed in the comments on Arsenal Arsenal a couple of days ago in response to Gn5’s Post about this season’s run-in.

wilshere v bale

Some people suggested that the loss of Bale through injury would be a blow from which Tottenham’s Champions League hopes could not possibly recover.

The implication was that Tottenham have become something of a “One Man Team” – the same charge that was leveled against us last year, when Robin van Whatsisname was scoring most of our goals.

Some polite and courteous Totts fans (yes, seriously) joined the discussion to suggest that we would be in the same boat should our own Jack Wilshere come a cropper.

It was an interesting debate and I can summarise the Arsenal supporters’ response fairly simply (it’s not what you’re thinking – this was a courteous discussion, remember?). It was: “If we lost Jack for a period of time it would be a blow but not a devastating one because we have other strong midfield options, including Santi Cazorla, Arteta, Diaby, Rosicky, Coquelin and Ramsey.”

On the other hand, if you look at Tottenham, Bale has been scoring at better than a goal every other game for them this season. He has 15 in all competitions in 29 appearances. The Spuds’ only other serious goal threat is Defoe, who has 14 from 32 games. Remove Bale from the equation and the Totts would suddenly look very toothless up front.

There is no question that both Wilshere and Bale are gifted players. We Arsenal types may make fun of the Spurs man and the fact that his best friends are Tarzan and Dian Fossey, but we would probably all be very pleased with him indeed if he wore a cannon on his shirt and not a chicken perched on a basketball.

Wilshere, meanwhile, is already being talked of as a future Arsenal and England captain. Whatever Spuds fans might say about him now, you know they would love him in their team.

However, one area of difference between Bale’s importance to Spurs and Wilshere’s to Arsenal is that if you asked Tottenham fans to say who was their most important player I bet virtually everyone would opt for Bale.

If you asked Arsenal fans the same question, Wilshere might well be the top answer but he would certainly not be an overwhelming winner. Santi Cazorla, Walcott and Arteta would all (I suspect) get a lot of votes.

No doubt there will be many surprises between now and the end of the season. Injuries, fixture congestion, form and confidence will all play their part.

If Bale and Wilshere both stay fit they will surely have an impact on their teams’ respective prospects of a top four finish.

But if either gets injured… what do you think?

For me, a Bale injury would make it very, very tough for Spurs. A Wilshere injury would be more manageable for Arsenal.

Note to Spurs Fans: Arsenal Arsenal welcomes your comments on this subject if they are non-abusive. We have had friendly debates with Spurs fans in the past and are happy to do so again, but abusive comments will be deleted.

RockyLives


Santos – Arsène’s worst value signing?

February 13, 2013

Is Santos Mr Wenger’s worst ever signing? Some would say so; at £6.8 m he certainly appears to be  an enormous waste of resources. The Brazilian has started just 13 games.

But is he worse than the £4m spent on Squillaci, (take away the “m” and the Italian would still have been expensive!)

Looking back at the signing and selling costs, AW has done a superb job but occasionally gets it wrong. For example, I would say that Hleb was a poor signing but we paid £11.2m and sold him two seasons later for £11.8m, so despite a unrewarding time on the pitch, Alex did well for the club.

What of Richard Wright? Cost £6m and arrived as the long-term replacement for Seaman. Sold on for half that having played just 22 games. He did win a PL Winners medal at AFC.

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One of Richard’s good days

And Gio Van Bronckhorst, Signing for £8.5m and started a meagre  42 appearances. A poor return for such a fine player who was well worth the £3m Barca paid for him – his 2 seasons cost Arsenal £5.5m.  He played 105 games for Barca and won the Champions League.

Franny Jeffers. Our fox in the box signed with huge expectations for a huge£ 8m. Big Ears was just  20 years old when he signed and still a lad of  22 when he was sold to Charlton for £2.6 after just 13 starts. However, he won 2 Cup Medals during his time at Highbury  A loss of £5.4m – well over half his purchase fee.

Reyes. A marmite player – to some the superb talent who was kicked out of the Premiership, to others he was a man who refused to adapt to the English game. Antonio came at a cost of £13m, and was sold for £8m which was a decent return in my opinion. Nonetheless, Arsenal lost another £5m on the deal

Edu. Lovely player. Bought for £6m and given a free transfer just 3 years later. Why a free? Another £6m thrown away. And before we dismiss £6m, remember this is a huge amount of money. It will buy you 40 Mini-Coopers or 3 Michu’s or a house in Hampstead.

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Corinthians of Brazil’s Director of Football

Wiltord. A World Cup winner, a member of the Invincibles, scorer of the winning goal at OT in the Double season of 2001/2 and voted Arsenal’s 33rd Best Player of All Time in 2008 (there really are some deluded fans out there!); it may be churlish to say Wiltord was an expensive flop but we paid £13m for him and he left on a free when his contract expired. Was he worth the money? I leave you to decide. £13m will buy a wing of a hospital.

But, in my opinion, the worst bit of business done by Mr Wenger is still at the club and he is a diminutive Russian. Arshavin cost us a whopping £15m, a club record, and how much can we sell him for?  Zip. Thankfully, he has run down his contract and will be leaving in summer, but the cost to Arsenal has been immense. Not just the loss of the transfer fee but also a colossal wage to a man who has continually flattered to deceive. The loss on Arshavin’s transfer fee  equates to almost £250 for every person attending a home game and you can double that with his wages.

Would you rather have a Monkey (£500) or a Meerkat?

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Какая пустая трата денег

What do you think?

Note: The above figures have come from different internet sources. They are not confirmed by AFC.

Written by Big Raddy


Twelve EPL games left – Where will it all end?

February 12, 2013

With only 12 games remaining in the Premier League season my assumption is that the current top six teams are the only teams left with a possibility of making the top four positions namely – Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham.

Manchester United appear to have 1st place locked up so they will not be included in the analysis, but their games against the other five teams are included. Therefore the focus will be on Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City and Tottenham – the five teams fighting for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th places.

In looking at the games remaining for each of the five teams it becomes apparent that the games they play against each other will have a major bearing on the final outcome.

Here are some of the facts about their games against each other —

Arsenal will play – Tottenham away and Everton and Manchester United at home.

Chelsea will play – Manchester City away, Tottenham at home Manchester United away and Everton at home.

Everton will playArsenal away, Manchester City at home and Tottenham and Chelsea away.

Tottenham will playArsenal at home, Everton at home Chelsea away and Manchester City at home.

Manchester City will play – Chelsea at home, Everton away Manchester United away and Tottenham away.

Arsenal have a slight advantage in the games left to play against each other as they only play 3 games whereas the other four teams all have 4 games to play. This means that Arsenal’s opposition will have a slightly higher risk of dropping points against each other.

Tottenham have the advantage in home versus away games as they play 3 at home and 1 away, Arsenal play 2 home games and 1 away, Chelsea play 2 at home and 2 away while Everton and Manchester City both play 1 home game and 3 away.

In terms of points won in their earlier games against each other Tottenham have the worst record getting 0 out of 12, Chelsea gained 7 out of 12 while Everton and Manchester City gained 5 out of 12 with Arsenal getting 4 points out of 9.

My prediction is that in their remaining games against each other, Chelsea will get 5 points out of 12; Arsenal will get 4 out of 9, while Everton, Manchester City and Tottenham will each get 3 out of 12. This is very significant because if my predictions are correct it would mean that Arsenal will drop only 5 points while Everton and Tottenham would both drop 9 points – that positive difference of 4 points could mean a 4th place finish for Arsenal.

Below are my predictions for all of their remaining games – I don’t claim to be a great forecaster so why don’t you make your own predictions.

GN5 spreadsheet

Written by GunnerN5


Bac To The Future

February 11, 2013

Poor old Bacary Sagna.

Imagine how he must have felt 15 minutes before kick-off on Saturday.

He has been on a urine-poor run of form; he revealed in an interview earlier this week that he knows he has been below par; he’s hoping to slowly re-establish his reputation as one of the most reliable right backs in the business and then, at about 2.45pm on match day, he finds that he’s going to be dropped into the unfamiliar role of centre back because Laurent Koscielny isn’t feeling well.

I can envisage him muttering to the stricken Kozzer: “What exactement is up wiz you, you Stan Laurel lookey-likey? Get out onto zat pitch and start playing. Zat’s anuzzer fine mess you’ve gotten me into.”

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But, trooper that he is, Bacary took to the field of battle as a makeshift centre half.

I’ll admit to being a trifle worried. In some of his recent outings Sagna has been wasteful and error-prone.

If football was sex, Bacary has been the hole in the condom. We have not been practising safe footy of late and, as a result, we have been impregnated with goals far too frequently.

I’m not taking that analogy any further, because the idea of the progeny that might ensue from a carnal union between the purity of Arsenal and the venal degeneracy of, say, Chelsea, does not bear thinking about. It would be as if a unicorn was shagged by a hyena and gave birth to a strangely beautiful but irredeemably evil hynicorn. Actually, that might explain the existence of John Terry…

Anyway, I digress.

So there was Bacary, untimely thrust into the fray at the Stadium of Fight in an unfamiliar position, with only a German telegraph pole to lean on for comfort.

It could have gone horribly wrong. It didn’t. Sagna was, quite simply, wonderful at the heart of our defence.

In a game that we should have won easily (if our attackers and midfielders had bothered to put their boots on the correct feet) we ended up under siege for the last 20 minutes after Carl Jenkinson was unluckily sent off. I say unluckily because – although he should not have made the challenge that led to the red – his first booking was ridiculous. It was his first foul of the game and was slightly mistimed. It only got a yellow card because the generally poor referee felt he should even things up after booking Cattermole in the first minute.

During that final siege, all the team played well. Giroud won some great headers; Szczesny pulled off a string of remarkable saves; Ramsey filled in brilliantly at right back; Nacho showed his mettle when the chips were down; the BFG organised everything and, best of all, Sagna became the ultimate warrior. It was as if someone had stenciled  “they shall not pass” on his forehead.

He completed 11 of 15 attempted clearances, won six out of 10 aerial duels and successfully made nine headed clearances from 11 attempts. Not bad for a man who stands only 5’9” tall.

It was a real return to form for a player who, until this season, was routinely referred to as our Mr Reliable.

I have been quite hard on him in recent comments and match reports. I’m not apologising for that – he’s had some real shockers. But even before Saturday’s game I was heartened to read the interview with him in which he showed great self awareness and was very honest about his struggles this year.

They say the first step to solving a problem is to recognise that there is a problem in the first place. Well, Bacary Sagna has certainly moved past Step One.

Hopefully when he moves back into his more usual role (which should be on Tuesday week against Bayern Munich) he can take forward the form and confidence he displayed against Blood-and-Thunderland.

I like Jenkinson and I hope people are not too hard on him over his red card, but for now we need Sagna as our first choice right back.

His dip in form may have been down to the long lay off after two leg breaks; it may just have been “one of those things”; who knows – it may even have been that hot wife of his keeping him up too late at night.

But the signs are good that he is over the worst and ready to get back to his finest form for the season run-in.

It is rumoured that the club is offering him only a one-year extension on his current contract. I understand the reasoning, but I wonder whether we should sugar the offer a little more (two years, for example).

Bacary showed on Saturday that he can be a great utility defender and every squad needs at least one of those.

RockyLives


One nil to the Arsenal ……

February 10, 2013

So another great game for the neutral but another nerve jangler for all of us. I had a thoroughly enjoyable day watching the live screening of the game at the home of football, but I have also decided that being an Arsenal fan likely takes some years off your life .

So what did we get from Arsenal in this game? Firstly the players seemed to be up for it from the start, and we didn’t have to suffer with waiting till the second half before we started playing. We started to create a number of clear cut chances, but as each one went begging you started to feel it was going to be one of those days. To be fair Mignolet was in superb form, and how often do we watch an opposition keeper put in an almost man of the match performance against us? What is it about us that seems to bring out the best in these keepers? Is it the way we attack? I am sure it doesn’t happen so often with the likes of Utd and the Chavs. That is a question maybe some of you out there can shed some light on.

We continued to press and were treated to some awfully inconsistent refereeing. There was a very strong shout for a straight red on Cattermole and I counted 2 maybe 3 Sunderland fouls in the passage of play that led up to Jenkinsons first yellow card. How we didn’t get a free kick before this I do not know. Anyway the faithful at the Ems were in no doubt how they felt about it. I think this was definitely a case of the ref being a homer.

Jack picked up where he left off for England and continued to pull the strings while Walcott continued to work the keeper without finding the break-through. Finally, on 36 minutes, the goal arrived that we had deserved. A now trademark surge of pace from Jack taking 3-4 Sunderland players out of the game resulted in a lay off to Walcott who declined the chance to shoot and cushioned it off for Santi whose powerfull low shot finally broke the deadlock. It is as well that he scored otherwise I would imagine there would have been many agitated fans questioning why Walcott didn’t shoot himself.

cazorla sunderland

Refreshingly after the goal we continued to try and attack and kept a high tempo to our game, which I prefer as I don’t think we do killing a game off well. We continued in this way into the second half, but we weren’t having it all our own way and Sunderland threatened at times. Fortunately Szczesny started to replicate the form of Mignolet from the first half. Jack picked up an injury on 50 minutes and went off to be replaced by Diaby. It didn’t look too serious and we can only all hope that is the case.

Then came the pivotal moment when the tricky Sessegnon took on Jenks whose sliding tackle was a fraction from getting the ball and only suceeded in taking Sessegnon down. You knew what was coming immediately with the way the ref had been, and he showed the second yellow without even taking a moment to consider. In the cold light of day if you look at Jenkinson’s 2 yellows then independently they are both justifiable yellows. The problem again comes with the consistency and had we had a deserved free kick earlier in the game it maybe wouldn’t have led to the passage of play that saw Jenkinson get his first yellow.

Rasp and I had discussed a point after the first yellow earlier in the game, and had both agreed that there was a strong possibility that he would collect a second yellow and get sent off. I think MON exploited this and likely told Sessegnon at half time to get at Jenkinson. Should AW have forseen this and replaced him earlier? His options were limited as I believe Kos, who was on the subs bench, had a problem before the game when warming up. It would have left the only realistic option of Moving Sagna out to FB and bringing on Miquel at CB. Should AW have used this option?

We still had about half an hour to go and you knew it would be back to the walls stuff. Fortunately, for once, we did this well and ground out the result with the help of some world class saves from the big Pole. Even at this point we still showed some attacking intent and had some great opportunities on the counter-attack to get the respite of the second goal that my nerves and chewed to pieces nails deserved. Rasp had his head in his hands at times while Peaches was a picture of stoicism. I still think she was partially mesmerised from seeing Bobby Pires but at least by this time she had stopped being all giggly. It was great to see Goonermichael as well and he looked a picture of being cool calm and collected.

Rasp and I continued to fret like nervous wrecks and there was end to end chances in a frantic finale. Walcott hit the post after a great through ball from Cazorla while both Giroud and Cazorla had chances they put just over the bar.

We saw it out and as they say 3 points is 3 points and I was able to relax and reflect at an enjoyable day in the club class section of the Ems with some of the AA gang.

On to the ratings.

Szczesny 8.5 joint MOTM

Showed us the world class keeper we would all like him to consistently be. Solid throughout with some excellent reflex saves.

Jenkinson 5.5

I don’t want to be too harsh as I like Jenks and he always gives his all but some inexperience showed through today. He hasn’t had much game time and you wonder if this is affecting him because when he was playing regularly earlier in the season you didn’t feel he would make the mistakes we saw today. He will still become a good player for us.

Sagna 8

Deputised well at CB and the old Mr reliable was more on show today.

Mertesacker 7.5

Didn’t do too much wrong all game and it was a solid performance.

Nacho 7.5

Solid and unfussy game from our newest signing today

Arteta 7.5

Nothing spectacular but kept us ticking and I can’t remember any mistakes from him.

Ramsey 7

Was having a solid game and could have had a couple of goals, but he seems to have an error in him, and we were lucky not to be punished when he needlessly surrendered possession in a dangerous area.

Wilshere 8

Those trademark runs driving at the opposition defence are a joy to see and get me on the edge of my seat. It was from one of these that the break-through came. Fingers crossed the injury is not so bad but Jack probably needs a game off anyway. I almost had him as joint MOTM again and some may feel that to be the case.

Cazorla 8.5 and joint MOTM

There wasn’t much to choose between him and Jack but the goal and that he continued to be the creative force once Wilshere was off just saw him pip it for me.

Giroud 7

Could have had a couple. He wasn’t too bad but it didn’t really come off for him today.

Walcott 7.5

Also could have had a couple and was unlucky when hitting the post. He always made the keeper work and his instinctive link up play with his team-mates is getting better and better.

Diaby (for Wilshere 50 mins) 6.5

Nothing great but nothing bad either.

Miquel (for Walcott 87 mins)

Not enough time to really form an opinion.

Written by GoonerB


Gunners to Ruin Graham’s Home Debut?

February 9, 2013

Time to move away from the Young Jack eulogising and onto some proper English PL football, and there are few grounds more suited to a return to earth than the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland is a fine town with a fine history. It has one of the lowest incomes per head in the UK and yet almost 40,000 people go to watch their home games (5k more than Spurs!) They love their team and their football.

Martin O’Neill has had problems getting the Black Cats to gel. Rarely have I seen a more frustrated figure on the sidelines because whatever one thinks of MoN, he is a passionate man and gives his all to his clubs. Many moons ago Gooners were calling for him to replace Mr Wenger – insanity runs deep amongst our fans.

Sadly, Sunderland fans are not getting to see much artistry on the pitch (apart from the opposition). They are struggling for goals and rely more on sweat than inspiration. The huge fee paid for Fletcher  and the signing of Danny Graham is an indication of their need for some fire power and gumption ,though I have long admired both Sessegnon and Larsson. It is always good to see an ex-Gunner who has been Wengered succeed and Larsson has had a fine career – shame he likes to score against us!

After a short injury-free period we have players queuing for the treatment table. Late fitness tests on much of the defence means Raddy’s line-up could be drastically affected. There is also a fear that Theo was limping after the Brazil game.

Runners & Riders:

sunderland v arse

Given the amount of time our Internationals were on the pitch midweek, we may well see some changes.

Diaby could start as his stature is important defensively, but who gets dropped? Dare we play without Pod and have a 4 man midfield with Santi taking the left side attacking berth?

It will be interesting to see how Monreal copes with Adam Johnson who is finally showing some form.

Todays explorer: Sir James Clark Ross (1800 – 1862). You may think it is cold outside, particularly if you are going to the game but today is almost tropical compared to the norm for Sir Ross; an Arctic and Antarctic explorer in the days of wooden ships. As a young man Ross went North with his Uncle, Sir William Parry to search for the fabled North-West Passage and here he fell in love with polar exploration. Upon promotion to Captain he took his ship, the Erebus, to the Antarctic which he surveyed extensively becoming, at that time, the furthest South man had travelled.

Unknown

I name this picture The Ross Icon

Sir James discovered Ross Bay,  James Ross Island, the Ross Sea, the Ross Ice Shelf, Victoria Island, Mount Erebus & Mt. Terror. He returned to England a hero, dying in Blackheath at the age of 61.

On paper we should win this game. Should the defence stay focussed and disciplined we will be fine, but they will not get the easy game they had vs Stoke. With Danny Graham playing his first game at the SoL, Sunderland will be looking for 3 points. But so will we….