Goodbye to Prima Donna attitudes

March 21, 2013

Like most pundits and fans I was surprised to see Szczesny dropped for the return leg in Munich, Arsene told us he was mentally tired, less surprising and more welcome was the dropping of Vermaelen who despite being our Captain has been our weak link on too many occasions this season.

Vermaelen has in truth been troubling me with his displays since mid March last season, shirking defensive stability in order to roam forward in to the opposition box (it worked for Newcastle at home but after that he seemed to think it was his new role in the team…QPR away!). This season he has been asked to defend first and in truth he has been found wanting. But is there perhaps a deeper reason?

During this season I have questioned the body language of some of our team, for me there has been a bit too much finger pointing and blame put on other players. This has been done by the experienced and some would say star players in the team, Sagna, Vermaelen, Podolski, Walcott etc. There appeared to be a couple of cliques appearing, some players like BFG, Cazorla and Arteta seemed to straddle the divide.

What we have seen in the last two games is a far greater work ethic from the players, they haven’t appeared to criticise each other but instead worked together to achieve something. Or is it a coincidence that only Walcott from the (maybe my wholly imagined) star player clique was on the pitch. Around him 10 players who were prepared to take responsibility for the whole team.

By all accounts BFG and Arteta when they arrived were surprised at the divided nature of the group at meal times etc, they suggested to the skipper that they do something to change it, judging by the team body language at times this season I would guess we have gone back to how it was before they arrived.

There is something to say for smiling on the pitch (and not just when a goal is scored) it’s one of the things that I used to love about the early Wenger teams, it’s why Cazorla is so likeable, you rarely see him complain about a misplaced pass he just gets on with it.

Whilst Vermaelen, Sagna and co continue to point the finger of blame at others they will surely see the exit door at some time in the future. If so and if they are indeed as up their own backsides as it sometimes appears then its surely a good thing.

Gooner in Exile


How to get the Best out of Jack Wilshire?

March 20, 2013

2 away games. 2 wins. 2 clean sheets. No Jack Wilshere.

One short sentence  packed with inference.

The return of Jack was heralded from high. Every red-top, every media outlet hailed the return of Arsenal’s midfield Napoleon, but what wasn’t considered was how he would affect the balance and organisation of the team.

jack wilshere

To be clear from the outset of this post, I am a huge admirer of Wilshere, he is the best English player I have seen since Mad Gazza and Perry Groves, but in my opinion Arsenal have yet to find out where and how he should play. Wilshere can single-handedly change a game; he can lift the tempo, slow the game, move the ball at pace, pass accurately and ingeniously , beat a player with the drop of a shoulder and slalom upfield. He can tackle as well as a DM, he has remarkable balance and we know from his youth (!!) he can score from distance.but …..

How many clean sheets have we had since JW returned? Just 5 from 26 games. And before? 4 from 12. (BR is awful with stats so if this is wrong…. sorry )

Now, it would be very simplistic to point to JW as the reason for our defensive frailties, he is just one cog in the machine, but the fact is we look more secure without him.

It appears that Arteta works better as a screening defensive midfielder when playing with Ramsey or Diaby than with Wilshere.

Could AW’s return to 4-4-2 be a nod to the problems raised by Jack’s inclusion?

Against Swansea Cazorla played in, what for me, is his best position, in the hole behind Giroud. We don’t need to see Santi defending around our penalty area – he needs to influence the game in attacking areas. With Ox playing deeper on the left and Diaby on the right there was better balance to the team. Was it because JW was absent?

Can and should Mr Wenger and his successor build The Arsenal around Jack, and if so, how? Because it seems to me that if we are to build a team around one player then it has to be Cazorla. He is the nearest to Cesc in the PL.

Jack’s youth and inexperience has to be factored in – time will show where he works best, when fit he just has to play. How else does he get experience?

Before you cyber-beat me up, this post is designed to question how we integrate England’s best prospect. At the moment I do not believe AW is getting the best from him.

This “injury” over the Interlull has come at a good time in Wilshere’s Arsenal career – it allows him to reflect upon his season’s work and how he can function best within the team. Furthermore, it will make Mr Wenger assess why the defence appears to be better without JW on the pitch.

images-2

I said “your man” …. you numpty

“2 clean sheets doth not a defence make” (Shakespeare. Taming of the Shrew). There is an improvement but it could equally be improved communication, the inclusion of Jenks or even (and most likely) the bounce of the ball. I realise that to blame Wilshere is simplistic but maybe ……

So, where do you think JW fits into the team, and who plays alongside him?

Written by Big Raddy


Top Four? …….. DidIt Competition

March 19, 2013

Today, I am incredibly proud to announce AA’s first ever DitIt Competition, wot has a prize ‘an all.

Yip, indeedy, your chance to win this fabulous (unframed) picture of the Mighty Mickey Thomas the night where he DidIt. At 30x21cm this wonderful picture depicting the finest moment in Arsenal’s incredible history will enhance any home.

arsenal-michael-thomas--SpotColour-SPOT362

Here’s the deal. This is a simple competition, with simple rules.

Below are the remaining fixtures for The Arsenal, Spuds and Chavs with their current points tally. All you have to do is enter three lines with the final, end of season tallies. I know that Everton could surge, or City collapse, but it’s my quiz and my rules, so there.

In the event of a tie, the winner will be the first to have posted the correct result. Should no-one have the exact end totals, I will count one point for every plus or minus you are out for each of the three. The winner will have the lowest total. (panic not, I know what I mean J ).

All entries need to be posted here before tomorrow’s post goes up. Pic will be sent out in a protective tube anywhere in the world once the winner has sent their address and a silly name to Arsenalnuts. Email address above under “Contact”. Someone remind me, and I’ll be posting it the day the season has ended.

My competition should allow room for a little chit chat about the fixtures ahead, the pitfalls, and of course, where the inevitable Spud collapse is most likely to take place.

Brilliant idea eh, and may the best Gunner win!

CURRENT STANDINGS: Chelski 55 ptsSpuds 54, Arsenal 50

ARSENAL FIXTURES: Reading h, WBA a, Norwich h, Everton h, Fulham a, Utd h, QPR a, Wigan h Newcastle a

SPUD FIXTURES: Swansea a, Everton h, Chelsea a, Man City h, Wigan a, Southampton h, Stoke a, Sunderland h

CHELSKI FIXTURES: Southampton a, Sunderland h, Spuds h, Liverpool a, Swansea h, Utd a, Villa a, Everton h, Fulham h

So, work out a points tally from the remaining fixtures for the three teams and stick your thoughts into a comment.

Written by MickyDidIt89


Jenkinson Promoted?

March 18, 2013

I’m not sure who originated the “Corporal” thing with Carl Jenkinson, but it stuck very quickly.

If you want to be picky you could argue that he should probably have started as Private Jenkinson (and there was certainly something about his fresh-faced earnestness when he arrived at Arsenal that called to mind Private Pike from Dad’s Army) but, somehow, “Corporal Jenkinson” sounded right.

Jenks

He had had only a relatively brief spell of first team action at Charlton Athletic before crossing the Thames to join us.

And his arrival at the start of last season could not have come at a worse time, as we got off to our least successful start since dandan and Gn5 were nippers and dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Jenks’s baptism of fire included that awful 8-2 thrashing at the North Surrey Stadium.

Not much was expected of him when he was thrown into some of those early games due to one injury crisis or another but, nevertheless, The Corporal made a good impression.

He showed plenty of inexperience, but also clearly had desire and a good engine. He also displayed a natural crossing ability, wrapping that right foot round the ball in a way that reminded me of David Beckham.

Best of all, Carl was a proper Gooner: a lifelong Arsenal supporter who had suddenly been given the chance to live the dream.

Fast forward to today, and it’s time to take stock of how the young fullback is doing in this, his second season at The Home Of Football. The question is all the more pertinent given that rumours about Bacary Sagna’s future at Arsenal refuse to go away.

In general last season I was impressed with Jenks and I recall, fairly early on, predicting that he would become the regular right back for both Arsenal and England.

In the early part of this season, however, a few of his outings were less convincing, inevitably leading some Arsenal supporters to write him off as another example of Arsene Wenger’s lost touch in the transfer market. Of course these are the sort of supporters who like to accentuate the negative and eliminate the positive. (If you gave them a free twenty quid note they’d complain about it being crumpled).

But young players can – and must – be excused the occasional dip in form (just look at Oxlade-Chamberlain this year, who is at last emerging from his own mini slump).

And the one thing no-one could ever fault with The Corporal was his effort and honesty.

Now, back in the first team ahead of Sagna, he has just had two exceptionally good games.

I don’t want us to get ahead of ourselves, but his performances against Swansea at the weekend and, particularly, against Bayern Munich in midweek, were fantastically encouraging.

One particular moment stood out against the Munchens. Bayern were on a fast break; the odious little Arjen Robben was tearing at full pelt down what used to be called the inside left channel; another sausage-eater was overlapping on Robben’s outside (sorry, I can’t remember which one); and our defence was stretched because our centre halves were still making their way back from our broken attack.

It was exactly the sort of break that has resulted in us conceding a goal so many times this season. Worse, for all Robben’s narcissistic annoyingness, he is (a) very, very fast (b) a very good dribbler and (c) a dangerous finisher.

But this time we had Carl Jenkinson in his way. Carl kept pace with the Dutch flyer, matching him pace for pace, but also used his position and body shape to not only force Robben wide, but also to limit the threat of the overlapping Bayern player. It gave time for the rest of the defence to reorganize and the threat was snuffed out. It was a piece of really classy defending and Gary Neville (who, despite having been a filthy Manc, was one of the top right backs of the last 15 years) rightly singled out Jenkinson for praise  for it.

I have been (and continue to be) a big fan of Bacary Sagna, but I suspect it was the sort of breakaway that would have found him wanting. Sadly for him, two successive fractures in the same leg seem to have taken a yard off his pace and Robben would probably have exploited that weakness.

Aside from that moment, Jenkinson’s all round play was excellent in Munich –against what is generally agreed to be one of the best three or four teams in Europe.

He continued that form against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. I can recall one silly pass across his own box but, that apart, his play was of the highest order both defensively and offensively.

Two swallows don’t make a summer and two good performances at right back don’t make a Pat Rice. But Jenkinson is showing that Arsene Wenger can still find a diamond in the rough and that, if Sagna does leave this summer, we have a great option ready and waiting.

In fact, late in the season as it is, Wenger may finally have stumbled across his best defensive line-up, comprising Fabianski in goal, The Corporal and Monreal at fullback and Koscielny and Mertesacker in the middle.

All of which begs the question… is it time that The Corporal got that extra stripe? Is it time to say: “take a bow, Sergeant Jenkinson?”

What do you think?

RockyLives


A win and a clean sheet

March 17, 2013

How wonderful, a second away win in a week. A clean sheet too.

I was at the Emirates earlier in the season when the Swans scored two break away goals late on to take three points from us and although Monreal’s goal was scrappy it was marvelous to score a real ‘old-fashioned’ Arsenal goal yesterday to seal the win.

gerv v swansea

Ramsey and The Swerve really did make a difference when they came on and I love the idea of Gibbs playing in front of Monreal late on in a game. AW has used this tactic before with the left-backs, Cole/Clichy, Clichy/Gibbs even the much maligned Santos added something to the left wing when used in front of Gibbs or Vermaelen.

Rocky has written some excellent player ratings below so I won’t go into too much detail about individual performances.

Much credit must be given to this Swansea team who played some excellent football, they really do spray the ball around well and always seem to find each other. They are a team full of confidence and Michu could have put them ahead early in the first half but it wasn’t to be their day.

We are still in with a shout for a ‘top four’ trophy. Yes, we have to hope that the teams above us drop points and that we can find some consistency but lets face it now is the time. Arsène Wenger believes in this team and this week they have repaid his belief. His own decision to drop Vermaelen and Szczesny must have caused him sleepless nights but the result has been beneficial to the team.

Look at the passion in these guys eyes …….. they loved that win yesterday and so did I.

passion

Written by peachesgooner

Player ratings from RockyLives

Fabianski: I’m afraid the younger of the Poles in Goal won’t be getting his place back just yet. Fab didn’t have much to do but he did well when called upon – in particular one low save against Michu (the Swans striker was offside, but Fab didn’t know that). He had one “Flappy” moment from a cross and was not really tested in the second half – but a very steady game to follow on from his good outing in Munich. 7

Jenkinson: the boy is becoming a man; the Corporal may be ready for his third stripe. One ill-advised pass across his own penalty box aside, Jenks was assured in defence and a constant outlet going forward. He is also very, very fast. If it were down to me, I would keep him in the team, with Sagna as bac-up. 8

Mertesacker: why so many people still doubt the big German sausage is a mystery to me. He marshalled the defence, was composed on the ball and very vocal. 8

Koscielny: Stan Laurel is forming a fine partnership with the BFG. I like many of Vermaelen’s qualities, but I have felt all season that the Kozzer-BFG axis is our best central defence pairing. Two clean sheets in two difficult away games bear that out. 7.5

Monreal: looks a very tidy player. Still finding his feet as an Arsenal man, but defended well and got the all-important first goal (which definitely merits and extra point).  His understanding with his team mates is improving and he should turn out to be a good buy. 8

Arteta: it’s a tough job for any holding midfielder against Swansea, because their ball retention and movement is so good. For someone like Arteta, who is not really a holding MF by instinct, it’s an even bigger task. There were periods in the first half when we couldn’t get the ball and Mikel struggled. But once we got going he was absolutely vital to our play, orchestrating our moves from deep and tidying up well when we lost possession. Unspectacular, but undoubtedly essential. 8

Diaby: started poorly, giving the ball away unnecessarily a few times early on and failing to get to grips with the Swans’ midfield. But he improved as time went on and made some excellent turn-and-runs to threaten the home team’s area. Had opportunities to shoot but always seemed to need one touch too many. 7

Santi Cazorla: had a quieter first half, but his influence grew as the game went on until he was pulling all the strings in attack. Had some good shots, was always looking for the ball and his combination play with team mates was outstanding. 8.5 (MoTM)

Oxlade-Chamberlain: I’ll admit I was starting to get worried about Oxo, who seemed to have lost his mojo. But this was a real return to form and confidence. He sought out the ball, was always direct, hit the crossbar not once but twice and would have given Cazorla a run for MoTM if he had not been subbed off after about 70 minutes. 8

Walcott: not Theo’s best game. In the first half he seemed to want to cut inside all the time rather than use his pace round the outside. He was involved in some good second half moves but really needed to have been more involved. 7

Giroud: can’t fault his work rate and some of his hold-up play was very good in thankless circumstances. I do worry that, overall, Ollie is A- class rather than A or A+. 6.5

Subs

Gervinho: when he came on for Chamberlain I couldn’t understand why Arsene was taking off one of our best players on the day. But The Swerve was immediately effective and caused mayhem in the Swansea defence by taking on and beating defenders. He had one typical “Oh no Gervinho” moment when he brilliantly cut inside from the left, only to fluff the simple lay-off. When he put the game beyond Swansea’s reach I was delighted for him and so, it was obvious to see, were the Arsenal players. Arteta even made a point of sending him back to milk the applause of the (again excellent) travelling support. This guy will never be Henry of Pires, but if we give him a chance he might just be a valuable member of our squad. 8

Ramsey: after a fine game in Munich, Ramsey was – as we have come to expect – full of energy and endeavour. He made a couple of great bursts from midfield and set up Gervinho for our second. 7

Gibbs: looked very comfortable as a wide left player in front of Monreal. It’s definitely an option to use him in that role in the future. 7


Can England win Twice today in Wales?

March 16, 2013

Back to business. Enough of these holiday tours  – let’s get back to the norm and the good old Premier League. You know – that league which used to be the best in the world but has now , according to the meedja fallen behind France, Turkey, Germany and Spain.

Swansea have booked their place in Europe, our place remains in doubt. Will that mean that our Welsh friends will gift us the 3 points? I hope so. A couple of defensive mistakes caused by a boozy night out in Newport would be great (which assumes our heroes can capitalise on them!)

There has been talk of the confidence gained from the surprising win in Munich boosting our chances of 4th. What do you think? My fear is that the effort put into that win could be costly today; every Arsenal player ran himself into the ground on Wednesday and that must have an effect.

A major positive was the return of Fabianski. I have to be honest, I had written him of and expected him to leave quietly in summer. Instead we saw one of Fab’s best performances in an Arsenal shirt. He will surely keep his place today and perhaps, just perhaps, we have the competition for the Number One shirt within the club – who would have thought it?

images-2

A Star in the Making?

Jenkinson showed that Mr Wenger can still spot a a bargain – a million for him is a steal, we will see much of The Corporal in the future as he cements his place at Arsenal and also the England team.

Furthermore, Ramsey is becoming an important player. We didn’t miss JW as our Welsh Wizard plugged gaps all over the pitch. They are very different players and it will be interesting over the coming seasons to see how both can fit into the team.  Add in the refreshing cameo from Oxlade Chamberlain  – admittedly against a tiring defence – and we can see a young and highly talented New Arsenal developing.

As THMT would say “The Spirit of the Thirties is rising”

And what of Swansea? Who can not be delighted by their progress? No big names, no big signings, an untried (at PL) manager; they have had a wonderful trophy-winning season and could yet derail ours. At season’s start it would have been inconceivable that Swansea could take 6 points from us, and yet, they beat us at home and deserved to do so. No-one would be shocked by them winning today, such has been their improvement..

My Team:

swans v arse

I would not be surprised to see Gervinho start, nor Ox given the energy spent midweek.

BFG was our MoM in Munich and perhaps could use a break but something untoward is happening with Vermaelen. There is a story brewing …….

Our English Explorer: Rocky has suggested Richard Burton – so let’s take a look at the fellow. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) was born in Torquay. This is an extraordinary man, a truly extraordinary man. To begin with Burton could speak 29 languages! Yes, 29! He was an explorer, an author, a diplomat, a spy, a cartographer, a translator and an International fencer.

Let’s start here …… Burton disguised himself in order to go to Mecca  to translate the Arabian Nights story, the account of his trip made him famous. He also translated the Karma Sutra and published it for the first time in England – and to think this was during the Victorian age of strict attitudes to all things sexual. Burton’s published interest in sex and sexuality led to his being prosecuted by the Society for the Suppression of Vice (lovely ….they would be busy at Stamford Bridge!)

Unknown

Full Set ….. Knighthood

As an explorer Burton undertook a Royal Geographical funded mission to Somalia and later to find the source of the Nile with fellow explorer (and an old BR subject) John Speke. They reached and named Lake Victoria (now Tanganyika) but quarrelled badly about the route and split up. The rancour between them led  to a very public spat in a London where they were both feted. Speke later died in a shooting accident whilst Burton joined the Foreign Office. He became Consul in West Africa, Brazil, Damascus and Trieste.

Burton was Knighted and died in Trieste at the age of 69. To those interested I recommend further investigation of a fascinating man.

Today we will play a team with a similar style to our own. Laudrup has continued Rodgers principals of attractive free-flowing passing football. Much has been made of the Dane becoming a target as Wenger’s successor – his contract extension does nothing to dampen the rumours.

Just after our game ends the England Rugby team will be down the road in Cardiff trying to win the Grand Slam, good luck to them.

We need the points more than they do, so let’s get busy and take them.

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


Arsene Wenger Great Manager or an Enigma?

March 15, 2013

There are many Arsenal fans, even those who ‘hate’ Arsene Wenger, who will reluctantly agree, when pressed, that he was — note the past tense – once a great manager.

This admission will always be immediately qualified by the use of such terms as ‘He was good when he first arrived, up until 2005, but he is past his best and doesn’t know how to inspire his players or, how to coach them properly, and he is clueless about tactics’. Yada, yada, yada.

Comparisons are also frequently made between Wenger and famous managers of the past or, rather more gallingly, with contemporary managers like Ferguson and Moaniho.

So, fair enough, let’s look at a fantastic Arsenal manager of the early part of the last century, Herbert Chapman, and see if there are any parallels that may help us decide if Wenger’s reputation suffers by comparison.

It is simply invidious, and unfair, to try and directly compare athletes or footballers of bygone eras with those of modern times. Human beings, generally, have grown bigger and stronger because food and sustenance is in plentiful supply, and medicine has improved hugely with micro-surgery available to combat career threatening injuries of great sportsmen and women, and prescription drugs have been developed to help keep us all fit and healthy, compared to those living in the 1920’s and 1930’s, when hunger and deprivation were the lot of many unfortunate people.

That said, perhaps it is possible, none-the-less, to compare the circumstances under which Chapman operated, and see if there are any pointers that we can discern which would usefully highlight any similarities or discrepancies between the modus operandi of the two managers, despite the different eras in which they worked.

A useful starting place is the 1925-26 season when Arsenal finished a creditable second in the old First Division.

It is well known, that Henry Norris a notorious tight arse, had previously advertised for a manager with the infamous rider declaring that applicant wishing to spend money on purchasing players ‘need not apply’.

As a consequence, after his appointment, Chapman was unable to spend to strengthen the side he had inherited, and had to watch as Arsenal only managed to finish eleventh in the League.

Nevertheless, Chapman gained a wonderful reputation for tactical innovation, and introduced the world famous ‘WM’ formation for setting up his team, coupled with devastating counter attacking play.

This tactical innovation depended upon the abilities of ‘world class’ players such as Alex James, David Jack, Joe Hume, Cliff Bastin, and Jack Lambert, the Messi, Ronaldo Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamps of that long ago era.

Before long, this combination of lateral tactical thinking combined with some of the best players ever to grace the Arsenal, whatever the era, started to produce fantastic results, and trophies began to flow into the Highbury cabinet room.

Sadly, at the beginning of 1934, after a short illness that many ascribed to overworking, in difficult conditions, Chapman died still yoked to the prestigious job he loved, at the club he helped make famous throughout the world, and mourned by thousands.

So, can we see a co-relation between Chapman and Wenger?

Well, both men struggled with a lack of funding, but despite that, and by using players bought cheaply, or by bringing through youth or reserve team footballers, as well as revolutionising the coaching and tactical standards of the day, they each managed to produce trophy winning teams.

In addition, many of us have been concerned with the obvious stress Wenger has suffered recently and the effect on his health is of some concern.

An additional handicap for Arsene Wenger was the building of a fabulous stadium, and the traumatic move from the famous halls of Highbury.

It is enlightening to remember that Ajax, once seen as one of the best and most successful clubs in the world, noted for producing gifted and technically advanced young trophy winning teams, moved stadiums in 1996, and have never won any tournaments since.

So what of Monsieur Wenger when compared with the best managers of the modern era?

Arsene Wenger has a vision for the style and manner of the football all his teams must strive to play, which many have come to liken to a modern day ‘Barcelona’ type.

AW believes in his vision with his whole being, and cannot encompass any other style as being worthy of any team he is associated with.

His early Arsenal career, in some ways, mirrored the Chapman era, as he was forced to develop his idyll while short of funds, and having to revolutionise the playing set up, starting with building a state of the art training facility, changing the players’ dietary regime and training methods.

These remarkable changes soon produced astounding results with trophies pouring into the Arsenal, courtesy of a fantastic scouting system which enabled the purchase of cheaply acquired ‘star’ players such as Thierry Henry, Dennis Berkamp, Patrick Viera, Robert pires and many, many more.

In recent years, consequent with the building of the new stadium, finances to purchase new talent or to replace older players have become ever more difficult to come by, and indeed many believe top players have had to be sold, allegedly, to balance the books of account, to enable the club to meet its desired aim of self sustainability.

In turn, this has led to the dimming of Wenger’s football vision of slick, passing, attacking football, for without the brilliance of the aforementioned Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp et al, the team’s results, each year since they left, have become increasingly inferior when compared with other clubs who have recruited the best players from around the world.

What then of his ‘competitor’ managers?

It cannot be denied, that, based on trophy winning, Manure also have a ‘great’ manager and his teams are said to be imbued with his fighting ‘mentality’ which is portrayed by their ability to win games with ‘late’ goals, when needed.

Umm … there is a slight flaw with that view, because they didn’t do that when they were 2:1 down against Real Madrid in the CL recently, did they? Or, let me think, what about in last year’s CL in Basle when all they needed was a draw? Noooo.

Manure has ‘earned’ that reputation mainly against ‘inferior’ opposition in the PL.

Am I being unfair? Well, I am sure he should have also been able to instil this same ‘fighting attitude’ into his players when he managed at East Stirling or St Mirren …… but hold on those clubs were not known for any such attitude, or ability for late revivals. Why?

The answer is simple, it is because he did not have the players with the wit or ability to conjure any such results, or win any trophies.

So, how do Manure, and Ferguson, get away with the unquestioning acceptance that the club and their manager have this ‘fighting ability’ which, by inference, Arsene does not have?

Again, the answer is straightforward …… Ferguson goes out every transfer window, and regularly buys outstanding, expensive, match defining and sorry did I mention ‘expensive’ players capable of producing undoubtedly stunning results, and it is this that has made his reputation.

Who were these players I am thinking of? Think Rio Ferdinand, Ruud van Nistleroy, Wayne Rooney, Christiano Ronaldo, Sheringham, RvP and a whole host of ‘cheaper’ players who are way outside Arsenal’s historical spending limits.

And Maureenio? Well suffice to say, he has only really managed and made his reputation by working for ‘money no object’ Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

Buy the best (and most expensive) players, regardless of the cost, and the trophies will come looking for you.

Ask Ferguson – ask Maureen!

No!!

Give me Arsene Wenger any day of the week.

Give me a high class club, who eschew oligarchs and oily sheikhs.

Give me the Arsenal!

Written by Red Arse


Arsenal Go Down Fighting

March 14, 2013

Arsenal faced an uphill task as they arrived at the Allianz to face one of the form sides in European football, only one English team had previously won away at Bayern Munich (Norwich*), on top of the above Bayern have been in blistering form in the Bundesliga and Champions League and have a defence that apparently Neuer is getting bored playing behind as he doesn’t have anything to do.

With the injured Wilshere and Podolski and the mentally frayed Szczesny left at home the team that took to the pitch had a pick and mix look to it, was Arsene writing the game off? Many of us feared as much, moreso when we saw Vermaelen had been dropped to the bench. Although Vermaelen has not been in good form he is the Captain and as such if he doesn’t start you can only imagine Wenger is saving him for Swansea on Saturday.

I must admit at 7:45pm I was fearful, Rasp’s words running round my mind, those words about establishing importance of game by team selection (Blackburn home FA Cup for example) and how that then effects the subsequent performance and attitude of the team.

Within three minutes those fears were allayed as some swift passing football saw Santi find Ramsey, who in turn found Rosicky, he picked a pass to the running Theo who drove hard and low across the face of goal, Giroud made the ground at the far post to grab an early lead for the Arsenal. We couldn’t could we?

olivier-giroud v bayern

What followed was a strong and disciplined rear guard action by the back four, unfortunately when we did regain possession we were wasteful, Rosicky showing signs of limited game time with a few wayward passes, Giroud being crowded out, and failure to win the second ball when the defence cleared their lines and Giroud had made a nuisance of himself.

Bayern pressed and probed but the defence stood firm, holding a high line and dropping off when they needed to, perish the thought they seemed organised and with a thou shalt not pass attitude that we probably haven’t seen for some time. Jenkinson was exceptional in defence, the youngster grows every game he plays, he is strong and athletic, a good passer, and most importantly we know every time he takes the pitch we can never question how much it hurts him, he is one of us, he used to sit with us, his Dad still does.

To his left, Mertesacker was marshalling the defence around him, it is games like this when we see how good he is, he may not have blistering pace, or pace at all, but he reads the game better than most and if he knows what the rest of the defence are doing around him he can put himself in the right place at the right time more often than not. Koscielny gave the kind of performance that makes me want to see him start ahead of Vermaelen, he stays on his feet, is quick, and uses both to nick passes off forwards feet before the danger has developed.

Going in at half time 1-0 up stage one of mission impossible was complete.

Could we complete stage two and three?

Unsurprisingly Bayern started the second half much brighter and more purposeful, but our defence stood firm once again and limited Bayern to shots from distance in the main. We also saw a professionalism in our display, taking one for the team in a less threatening area, Arteta, Cazorla and Rosicky all picked up bookings to prevent counter attacks adding to the one picked up by Gibbs in the first half. This isn’t the game Arsene promotes or we the fans want to see but sometimes it is necessary and last night was one of those occasions.

On the one occasion where they did breach the back line, Fabianski saved well whilst the ever energetic Jenkinson made good yardage to pressure the shot.

The difficulty was when would be a good time to score the second, early enough to force Bayern on the front foot and open them up at the back, but late enough that the nerves in the stadium would jangle and put greater pressure on the home team.

Arsene made some changes to force the goal, off came Theo (who had been ineffectual for most of the proceedings) and Ramsey who has in recent weeks begun to answer a number of his critics, and on came Ox and Gerv the Swerve.

Gervinho almost had an immediate impact exchanging a one two with Cazorla he twisted his way into the box but could only stab the ball past the far post, the tiring Giroud was on his heels, and Jenkinson held his head as he knew if he had continued his run he could have had a simple tap in, small margins indeed.

Oxlade-Chamberlain on the other wing also had an immediate impact, Jenkinson seemed to support him more, and the two of them took the fight to Bayern down their left flank. Interplay by the two led to a corner on 86 minutes. Koscielny rose to head home in to the bottom corner and a melee ensued as Arsenal tried to get the ball back to the centre spot quickly.

koscielny v bayern

But it was not to be, Arsenal could not find another goal, the referee saw fit to add only three minutes injury time which came as a huge relief to Bayern supporters and players alike. In the Premier League the set rule is 30 seconds for any game stopping event like substitutions and goals, there were 3 substitutions in the second half, one double by us, and two by them, plus one goal, this gets us to two minutes, then there was the normal play acting and time wasting on restarts that we have become so use to in European football and at any home game at the Emirates. I don’t want to make this about the referee preferring to focus on the positives of our display but he was poor as were his linesman, Nani saw red last week for his chest high kick, Martinez last night saw yellow and there is an argument to say he knew what he was doing and appeared to leave his boot high knowing he would make contact. But should we be surprised? No you’re right we shouldn’t, UEFA hate the fact that Premier League teams monopolised the competition a few years back and Platini will have enjoyed a glass of bordeaux last night safe in the knowledge that his plans have come to fruition.

Fabianksi – 7.5 Dealt with everything thrown at him

Jenkinson – 7.5 Continues to impress in Sagna’s absence, defended well against two of the best wide players in Europe and matched them for speed, stamina and strength

Mertesacker – 8.5 When he plays like this it is hard to see why he gets so much criticism, admittedly he is by no means quick, but he doesn’t need to be if those around him listen to his organisation, 90% of his defending is done in his head. He empowers those around him he doesn’t worry that Jenkinson is young, he gives him the ball and says play, not all of our players do this, they look up see a player they don’t trust and turn away.

Koscielny – 8.5 An unfussy performance that we have come to expect from Laurent, stayed on his feet until absolutely necessary to go to ground, made key interceptions and competed the high ball well.

Gibbs – 7.5 Did his defensive duties first and foremost tonight, could have supported Cazorla more going forward but for his first game back it was important he conserved energy to be used at the right end of the pitch.

Arteta – 7.5 Would have been 8 but for the couple of silly fouls towards the end when we needed to keep the ball in play, other than that he quietly went about his duties in midfield and recycled the ball well. Like Mertesacker makes those around him play better.

Ramsey – 8 I thought this was a very strong performance from Ramsey, whilst some of his passes went astray he did lots of good things, including winning back possession and being available for passes, he has a very good first touch and receives the ball under pressure well.

Cazorla – 7.5 Relatively quiet game from our Spanish maestro, but without the support of Gibbs he was often left 1 v 2 and even for his mercurial talents with the ball at feet it was a big ask.

Walcott – 6.5 Some will say this is harsh as he assisted the goal, but he did very little for the rest of the game, for me he starts his runs too late, in the Premier League he gets away with it due to slower and less intelligent defenders, at this level his runs are found wanting often too late to get on his bike, or running into congested areas.

Rosicky – 6.5 Worked tirelessly but his passing was off target for much of the first half, showing the signs of lack of game time, but at the same time showing that he could be very useful in the run in.

Giroud – 7.5 Worked hard, got on the end of Theo’s cross to put us one up, but tired towards the end and it showed in heavy touches and wayward passes when we needed to keep possession.

Substitutes

Gervinho – 7.5 Bright return to the team for the Swerve, unlucky not to put us 2 up or assist a second.

Oxlade-Chamberlain – 7.5 Showed the pace and purpose we saw at the tail end of last season that has been missing for most of this, maybe the summer Euro’s affected his fitness, or maybe he has found his confidence again. Again will be useful towards seasons end.

Joint Men of the Match – Mertesacker and Koscielny

When you look at the team above it is not full of stars, some would argue that our squad is not full of them anyway, but for much of this season we have said that the team is playing at less than the sum of its parts, last night not so, many would have predicted a hiding in the Allianz having seen the team, but the team showed some fight, courage, and most importantly plenty of discipline.

We may have to accept that we are not going to return to the Champions League next season, and if English teams keep performing badly we could find the Premier League’s coefficient drop so that only two teams from the league qualify automatically and one in the playoffs, this will make it much harder to get back in to it.

Written by Gooner in Exile

*No Chelsea did not win away at Bayern Munich:

1) They drew in normal time and extra time

2) It was a neutral venue


Come on Arsenal …. Come on Arsenal ….

March 13, 2013

I’m excited. The prospect of seeing MY team walk out into the magnificent Allianz Arena to face the best team currently playing is exciting. It makes me proud.

Yes, we got a football lesson in the first half at The Emirates but we held our own 2nd half and could easily have got a draw. Before you neigh-sayers jump in ….. had Giroud’s shot been 3 inches to the right we would have scored; instead Neuer made a lucky save, the ball bounced kindly for them and Bayern scored their third. It could so easily have been 2-2.

But it isn’t.

So, what should Mr Wenger do? Should he put out a scratch team or send out our very best available and go for the win?

One could say that the Swansea game sat the weekend is more important and players should be rested but in my opinion that is cobblers. The Arsenal are the last team standing from the Premier League and we will fight to the last. Admittedly, the odds are against us – Bayern are 20 points ahead of an excellent Borussia Dortmund which shows how good they are, they have yet to lose at home this season, and have lost just once this season. Tonight will be the second.

Jack is out, Monreal is out, Podolski is out. Rumours abound that Szczesny will be dropped, that Diaby will start. Who knows? All I now is that whoever goes out onto the pitch tonight represents all of us, that’s right, every Arsenal fan, and as such he will give his all  – even Gervinho.

My Team (not AW’s)

bayern v arse

Expect to see the Mekon (Gervinho) and the Ox come on at 60 mins. I don’t trust Fabianski, he has let us down in big games (I shudder to think about his performance at Porto) and despite Chesney’s failings he is the better keeper. AW has said that Chesney is “mentally tired”, which bodes ill both fot the rest of the season and his future. Let us wish the Bi Man well.

Today’s English explorer:  Lawrence Wager (1904-1965). Now you may not have heard of this fellow but he is another of the great Englishmen. Not only an explorer but also a mountaineer and a fine soldier.

wager3

“Climb every Mountain, Ford every Stream….”

Following a 1st class Honours degree in Geology from Cambridge Uni, Wager went to explore Greenland (a Danish Colony). He mapped 35,000kms of Greenland!. Wager then went to the Himalayas where in 1933 he attempted to climb Everest, reaching 28,200 ft which at that time was the highest any human had been on earth. WW2 interrupted his career and Wager became a pilot, being involved in the famous “find the Turpitz”campaign which later became the subject of a popular movie.

After the war, Wager  was elected Fellow of the Royal Society and later Professor of Geology at University College, Oxford. Wager died of a heart attack in 1965.

To win tonight or win the tie would be beyond my dreams, a draw would also be fantastic. What I ask of our lads is to go out and play with pride – to show the world that Arsenal and Wengerball still demand respect.

We are the last representatives of the Premier League in the competition. If we have to go down let’s go down fighting.

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


Seasons in the sun

March 12, 2013

Last evening whilst having my own late night concert featuring the music of my younger days, I came across this Terry Jacks number. I was immediately struck by the relevance of the choruses of this song, to Football fans everywhere and Arsenal fans in particular.

We had joy we had fun we had seasons in the sun. But the wine and the song like the seasons have all gone

One only has to read this blog, to see these sentiments reiterated regularly in so many ways.

This is the song of the we haven’t won anything  for years brigade, the time for a change, we can’t look back or live in the past supporters, desperate for more trophies.

We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun. But the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time.

Written for the “Wenger got lucky, he arrived at the right time and inherited a back line that won him trophies and he couldn’t recognise a centre back today if one fell on him”

We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun. But the stars we could reach were just starfish’s on the beach.

We never aimed high enough took the easy pickings then surrendered any further progress, by swapping our best players for a new ground and a yearly profit.

Amazing what you can find in a song especially if like me and many older supporters who come on here, you’ve had Joy, you’ve had fun and those seasons in the sun, rain and the snow, and a lifetime of memories you wouldn’t swap or change for anything.

Because it is that mixture of triumph and disaster that has made Arsenal the club we love above all others, secure in the knowledge that it has not yet been defiled or turned into a personal plaything by a Johnny come lately with questionable motives or finances.

Written by dandan