Raving at The Craven.

April 20, 2013

A Spring day in London town, an away trip to that pleasant part of the metropolis, our team on a run of unbeaten games and against decent opposition, should be a good day out.

3 points would make it a great day out.

Fulham’s loss to Chelsea last week shouldn’t mask the quality of their recent play, they were the better team in the first half yet went in for their quartered orange slices two goals down – it was a travesty. I am sure Martin Jol will assure his team that today will be different.

Early in the season we were having a pub discussion about who would be the last man standing in a pub brawl amongst football managers, I am sure you have done the same…… Needless to say our beloved Mr Wenger wouldn’t last long, probably even less time than Fatboy Benitez. The unanimous winner was Martin Jol, a man who has a face like a dog chewing a wasp, but a good manager and a man players are unlikely to argue with!

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Want Some?

What I like about Jol is that his team play for each other; Fulham have some fine talent in Berbatov and Ruiz, but essentially their strength comes from unity. How else can you explain Big Phil Senderos getting 20 games this season. I have always like Big Phil and thought he could be a future Arsenal Captain, sadly injury, lack of composure and a slower turning circle than even our BFG, has hindered his career.

Let us be under no illusions, today will be a tough game, Fulham beat Spurs at White Hart Lane  only a couple of weeks ago and in Berbatov have a player who likes to score against The Arsenal, but as always this will be about how we play. The loss of two points to Everton was a result of a lack of quality finishing; we won the game in every department but failed to be clinical.

My Team:

arse v fulham

Of course, the above could turn out to be complete tosh, and AW will go with a 3 man midfield of JW, Santi and Mikel, but should he field my team I think we will win the game.

AW has been in the press saying nice things about The Ox – that he is maturing and will have more games next season. Is this a carrot to an unhappy player or will Alex find his place in a team which seems settled with Alex on the bench? The latter hope because he is an essential element in the Triple winning team of 2016.

Today’s English Explorer:  Many of our explorers have been rich men who travelled to find fame, but of course most of England’s great explorers had one thing in mind when they left behind the Cliffs of Dover – Money. Great Britain became Great on the back of trade and opening up of new markets or finding new items for sale was hugely important. Think how the import of silk, sugar, tobacco, teak, cotton etc affected the country we know and love. Charles William Barkley (1759 – 1832) was one of those traders. Going to sea aged 11 working for the East India Company, he was mainly sailing between the Far East and the West Indies. In the 1790’s he went to British Columbia, Canada – there is a sound named after him (the Barkley Sound near Vancouver). The Pacific was his domain and he started trading fur between China and Canada.

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There are no images of Barkley but I found this old pic of the Young Raddy

Barkley traded all over the Pacific bringing huge wealth to both The East India Company and his English backers. During this time he opened up unknown areas of the Canadian Pacific coast. He died in Mauritius aged 73.

Can we win today? Well, we have been very good on the road, the team is consistent and the sun is shining. What do you think?

p.s. It isn’t really the Young Raddy – he was better looking.

COYRRG

Big Raddy


Mozart…or Jack of All Trades??

April 19, 2013

One thing that has baffled me since the Norwich match is M. Wenger’s actions and statements with regard to our talented midfield duo of Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere.jack

Firstly, after praising Rosicky to the hilt after the WBA game, then expressing his anguish in not having him available for Norwich, our man, quite understandably (from a team selection point of view) slots Jack into the vacant spot in midfield against Norwich. Sadly Jack looked a bit short (to say the least) on Saturday and dear old Arsene admitted as much by saying ‘I thought I brought him back too quickly’ Damn right you did! …..so what did you do??…….picked him again on Tuesday against Everton!!…. when they proceeded to kick lumps out of him in front of a blind referee!!

rosicky

For Christ sake Wenger, why refer to Rosicky as a superbly technical player who always brings something to the team, have him fit………..and then leave him out!! For me, Rosicky was the one player who could have turned the game for us on Tuesday – but he didn’t even get on. As for Jack?… they are lucky, considering the battering he got from Everton’s bruisers, that he isn’t out for another long spell. Up until the WBA game ‘Mozart’ Rosicky was doing enough to earn an extended run in the team, but not to figure AT ALL on Tuesday for me was Arsene’s big tactical mistake. Rosicky would have unlocked them.

Now, on that point, could Jack unlock them in the same way? No!!……and I’ll tell you why. Tommy drives down the middle when attacking, and looks for a forward or through ball. Jack, on the other hand plays the width of the field and this does nothing to unlock defences. Defenders like nothing more than players who move left to right in front of them with no penetration.

Now Jack, you have to make a choice on what role you are playing in the team. being a ‘Jack of all Trades’ – being here, there and everywhere, affects the shape of the team when you don’t hold your position, Are you a defensive midfielder, attacking midfielder or just a play anywhere in midfield midfielder? You have to make a choice which role suits you best. Right now I’m not sure you know yourself. One thing is for sure, as good as you are, your goals tally has to improve (Rosicky has scored more!!) as does your assists. Nobody is a bigger fan of Jack’s talent than me, but right now I think he needs to decide what role he wants to play in midfield and concentrate on it and let those around you do the rest

And as for you M. Wenger, don’t just talk up Rosicky….pick him and let him play up!!

Written by MacGooner 


Arsenal stars in the Making

April 18, 2013

The NextGen series was concluded some time back but I really liked the concept of NextGen. It gives a platform to all young players to showcase their quality to the whole world and show what they are capable of. Arsenal was unlucky to go out in the semi-final. Unlucky because they were leading the game but they lost the nerves when it matters a lot. Nevertheless they reached the semi final.

Playing at the Emirates in front of a big crowd in the quarterfinal will have given huge confidence to all the youngsters. The crowd supported them well,  most of seats were occupied and that shows how much we care for all young gunners. In this, the first NextGen series some of the performances by the  young guns have really impressed me. I have come up with small list of reserves players who are capable of becoming stars in coming years. . .

Serge Gnabry (Midfielder / Winger)

Serge-Gnabry

Gnabry signed for Arsenal in 2010 but due to his age he joined officially in 2011 when he became 16 years old. He signed his first professional contract at age 17. Gnabry played most of the games on the left wing for the reserves. He is known for his lethal pace, passing ability, creative play has been really very impressive. In a game against Marseilles he sprinted a loose ball and assisted Apkom to make 2-0. Wenger watched that match live, He played 20 minutes against Koln in friendly however he was not that impressive but you cannot judge player in 20 minutes. He played 60 minutes against Reading  and was not that impressive in that game either and was replaced by Thomas Eisfield. Against Liverpool –U21 he scored an absolute beauty. We should loan him out next season to gain first team experience, He is not the finished article yet and it will be too early to promote him.

Thomas Eisfeld (Attacking Midfielder)

eisfeld

Eisfeld signed for Arsenal on 31st January 2012 from BVB. Wenger describe him as next Mario Gotze. Eisfeld played in the  friendlies against Malaysia XI & Kitchee and scored in both the matches. He was one of the very impressive players in Arsenal’s Asia tour. His play-making abilities , on-field presence of mind , technical understanding makes him one of hottest prospects in Europe. His substitute cameo against Reading where we came from behind and won the match was very impressive. He can play on wings or in midfield but his natural position is playing as SS or No 10. He is quite deadly from that position given his passing ability and eye for goal he has. He has played in 20 U-21 Matches and has scored 8 goals and 4 assists quite impressive. I hope Wenger will promote him next season, if not we should loan him out because he will leave Emirates if he doesn’t get enough first team action and we don’t want to loose such a great talent.

Hector Bellerin (Defender / Winger)

Hector Bellerin

Frankly speaking I had not heard his name before NextGen but he was one of the star performer for Arsenal in NextGen Series. Bellerin was signed by Arsenal from Barca Youth academy at age of 16. He started playing as Right back for Arsenal reserves and within some days he made right back position his own. He played in almost all the matches for the reserves. He is known for his pace, crossing ability, attacking mindset and high work rate. He is very good while attacking and quite impressive while defending. Surely he can be backup for Jenks once Sagna leaves . Due to his impressive run in reserve league Arsenal offered him a new contract. I don’t see him getting promoted to first team for at least two seasons due to the other options we have at right back  in the current Arsenal squad. A loan out will be a ideal solution.

Ignasi Miquel (Defender)

Arsenal's Ignasi Miquel celebrates after scoring against Coventry City during their English League Cup soccer match in London

Miquel has been on the verge of breaking through at Arsenal for several seasons without ever quite making it. He is our reserve captain, he is well known figure in first team as he is been playing in league cup since 2010-11. He played every minute in League cup for Arsenal in 2011-12 season. His natural position is Centre back but he has played as Left back in several occasions. He is one who is on the verge of breaking into the first team for the past 3 years. He is known for his aerial ability, game reading and strength. No doubt he is very good player and needs more first team experience, A loan out will be ideal given the option we have in current squad in Centre back and may be more addition in the summer will cancel out his chance to play regular first team next season. But surely I want to keep hold of him

So this was a small list of players who are capable of playing in first team in the near future. I am sure you will all have some young players in mind to discuss, if so please share with all 😉

Written by Manthan


Arsenal Get The Point

April 17, 2013

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoyed the game last night. I know, I know, it’s bad for us given that picking up only one point drags us back within range of Spurs, as well as Chelsea. But the game was a keenly contested match between two proper, competitive teams. Everything was played on the edge, and that makes for an enjoyable spectacle. I’m sure I’m not alone in having enjoyed this 0-0 more than our 3-1 win on Saturday.

Not that the match started that well for us. For the first 20 minutes, we failed to show any quality on the ball, and it all looked pretty disjointed. And we could easily have gone a goal down, when Steven Pienaar received a through-ball from Phil Jagielka that managed to elude both Koscielny and Mertesacker. Fortunately, Szczesny was quick to attack the ball and did enough to put off Pienaar, whose shot sailed over the bar. Bit of a let-off though.

It took a while for us to find our rhythm but eventually things started to click for us, especially in terms of more effective use of the ball. Our best first half chance came near the 40-minute mark, when some sublime play from Cazorla led to Ramsey putting in an excellent first-time cross, which was delivered perfectly into the danger-zone, where Giroud was waiting. Unfortunately, Big Ollie’s shot wasn’t what it should have been and it went wide.

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Everton took a robust approach to the game – I don’t think they were especially dirty, but it was clear that they would get in our players’ faces pretty quickly. The referee, the unfamiliar Neil Swarbrick, wasn’t really up to the intensity of the match, and didn’t deal well with some pretty obvious gamesmanship from Everton, not least from Marouane Fellaini, who often made up for being outpaced with arms going across the player he was competing with. The most obvious failure of the referee came when he failed to give the most obvious of second yellow cards to Darron Gibson, when he cynically body-checked Walcott to prevent a useful break. There was simply no room for debate, it was as obvious a yellow card offence as you could wish to see, but the referee bottled it. But for the most part, both sides approached the game fairly, even if some of the tackles were strong.

It was great to see Arsenal rediscover the joys of playing on the break. And it was from one of those that Chamberlain received the ball when advancing into the penalty area. He had a choice: shoot or pass. He opted to slide a pass into Giroud, but Coleman did just enough to scramble the ball away before Giroud could get it home. Perhaps the Ox should have gone for his shot after all. This was probably the closest we came to scoring, we opened up Everton completely.

A few minutes later, with Everton tiring, Arteta received a lovely pass from Cazorla and advanced into the box – for a moment, it seemed to open up and a shot against his old club appeared likely, but Jagielka recovered his position to snuff the attack out. A little later, Chamberlain played in Giroud, who was forced a little wide, so the angle was narrow, making the shot a tough one – his effort had to be hit with power if it was to get past Howard but it lacked control and soared over the bar.

Overall, a draw seemed right – a lot of effort was spent by both sides, but neither side got many clear sights on goal. It’s a shame only to draw but that point could well end up being very valuable for us. There were some good performances from the Blues, I particularly liked Ross Barkley, who very nearly scored in the first half, and their defence played very well throughout. But they tired in the last 10-15 minutes, which was when some of our best chances arrived.

Szczesny: 7 Having had a rest after a period of declining confidence and performances, the other Pole in goal did a really good job, with some sharp interventions and safe hands. I was also really pleased to see him deliver a Schmeichel-like long throw, to Gibbs on the halfway line, to launch an attack. I always think when I see a keeper do that that it shows he’s confident in his abilities.

Gibbs: 8 Very good performance from Gibbs, both defending and going forward. He even managed to get in our first shot.

Koscielny: 7 Kos did well, working so effectively in tandem with the BFG. He won most of his aerial duels and generally remained highly concentrated.

Mertesacker: 7 Solid performance from our beanpole, he had Anichebe in his pocket for pretty much the whole game.

Sagna: 7.5 The man with the beads had one of his best games of the season. It’s a shame he can’t cross very well, because he combines very well with the more attack-minded players on his flank.

Arteta: 8 A typically excellent performance from Mr Legohead – he did what he does best, lots of short passes that allowed the side to keep its shape and the ball to be kept moving.

Ramsey: 8.5 MOTM Picked up where he left off at the weekend, with a confident, energetic display. The ground this guy can cover is impressive, and it was great to see him sharp into the challenge. It didn’t work every time but Ramsey turned over possession on various occasions by reason of getting his challenges in early.

Cazorla: 7 Santi had some sublime moments with the ball, there are times when you see his control and think he must have velcro on his boots. And his passing game is often beautiful – he delivers the ball with care and thought, so that it usually arrives at the recipient at the perfect pace and direction. That said, there were also some unusually sloppy moments from the litll’un.

Wilshere: 7 A much, much better performance from LJ than his blowing-away-the-cobwebs contribution on Saturday. Wilshere took a bit of a battering at times last night but he soaked that up and provided a solid performance, even if his passing wasn’t always able to slice through the Toffees’ defence.

Walcott: 6 Theo didn’t find his space often enough, and didn’t have sufficient impact on the game, That said, his passing was very efficient.

Giroud: 6.5 Worked as hard as ever, and had three good chances. He didn’t manage to get any of them on target, which ultimately cost us two points. But he didn’t do much wrong.

Podolski: 7 Did well when he was on the pitch, but he didn’t get any clear opportunities to do what he does best with the ball.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: 7 Added energy at just the right time, when he came on to replace a slightly ineffectual Walcott. The Ox created some good openings, and arguably should have scored.

Monreal: 7 Came on late in the game, didn’t do much wrong, but did manage to pick up a quick yellow card, when he took one for the team.

Written by 26May1989


Nervous??

April 16, 2013

I am already nervous and thinking about when to start my alcohol intake, lunch-time seems appropriate ! Tonight BR will be decked out in everything lucky , having eaten his lucky dinner, be drinking the lucky wine and watching the lucky stream. I will do everything possible to help the team because tonight is a huge game.

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Score early tonight Theo ….. pretty please

Of course, if we consider 4th place just to be an invitation to go out of the CL at the group stage like MC and the Chavs then I guess it isn’t so vital – but that rarely happens to us. Then there is the matter of finishing above the N17 Miscreants, not because I think it proves they are better than us but because they will think they are, and a Cocky Spurs fan is a cock indeed.

An Arsenal win tonight knocks Everton out of the race, a loss severely damages our hopes.

Trouble is Everton are really on a roll and arrive full of energy and confidence. For a club with the financial restraints they have to consistently finish above their “noisy neighbours” is a fantastic achievement, and a testament to the Joys of Moyes.

What should we expect tonight? I would be happy if Everton came to attack but I doubt they will – they know we have the pace to hammer them on the counter. No, I expect Everton to be combative in midfield, close down our creative players and attempt to staunch our ticky-tacky approach play around their box. They have a sound defence and in Mirallas and Anichebe fast attackers in a rich run of form. They come into the game unbeaten in six.

Before I get too negative about our chances, our run is even better than theirs, and we are at home where we have not lost to Everton since 1996 – I was there that day and Southall saved them, the Fatboy made save after stunning save as the Toffees stole the points. Let’s hope that Tim Howard has a poor night, though he usually does well against us.

As you know, I rarely delve too deep into games and tactics because so many other blogs do it much better than I can, but I see two areas where the game will be won or lost. Firstly, if Santi gets space and plays well, Arsenal will win, end of. By his own very high standards Cazorla was poor on Saturday but knowing him this season he will be looking to compensate tonight. The other area is Walcott up against Coleman. If Theo plays as he did in his cameo vs Norwich then Coleman will have to defend deep which cancels out his attacking threat. I believe Theo will score tonight.

Of course, there are other battles – Monreal/Baines, Fellaini/BFG etc – it will be an interesting game.

My team

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The loss of Rosicky on Saturday upset the rhythm this team has developed, if fit he has to start, which will also allow Wilshere a little more time to regain his mojo.

But what of Podolski? My 2nd favourite living German is desperate to start and made a huge impact on Saturday. He is by far our best finisher but is he ready to spearhead the attack? In some games, yes, but tonight I would stick with the height of Giroud and bring Lu-Lu-Lukas on for the final half hour.

Tonight’s English Explorer: St John Philby (1885-1960). All our explorers have been brave men, some extraordinarily courageous but the we have the Loonies, the blokes who in any other area of life would be confined to a small padded room. If however, you are educated at Westminster and Cambridge you get the chance to travel and act out your fantasies. This chap managed to do so and do it with some aplomb.

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Clearly had a Public School Education.

A fanatical bird watcher he was educated in both ornithology and Oriental languages, St John started his adventures in the Punjab, India. He then travelled to Baghdad where he organised an Arab Revolt against the Turks. Travelling extensively through the Ottoman Empire Philby seemed to bring chaos wherever he went, which typically won him great plaudits back in Blighty and election to The Royal Geographical Society! A series of political appointments in Arab lands followed. He then started working for the British Secret Service before being sacked for “going native” – one of his plans was to sell Saudi oil to the Spanish who would then sell it to the Germans who were gearing up for WW2. After the war , having chosen the wrong side, Philby and worked all over the Arab lands.

St.John married and had a son who also became a famous traitor – Kim Philby. In fact it was Kim’s father who recommended him to MI6 ! St. John died in Beirut in 1960, 3 years before his son was disgraced as a double agent.

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


Meet The Underminers

April 15, 2013

What do you call someone who does the opposite of supporting their own team?

Well, yes, there is that, but this is a family blog so four-letter words are frowned upon. We need another name for them.

I was pondering this question on Saturday while watching us struggle to break down a 10 man Norwich defence (more of a parked combine harvester than a bus, really).

At this crucial time of the season, with a very real prize still to play for, you would think that the home crowd at the Emirates would really be doing its utmost to give the players extra belief and support.

And I’m sure that’s exactly what most of the fans do and did.

But watching live on the telly in North America it was depressing to hear the moans and groans start to reverberate around the ground after the first misplaced pass of the day.

Now I’m all for moans and groans in the right circumstances, but not at a home game for my beloved Arsenal.

I wasn’t the only person to pick up on this from the television coverage, as the Arsenal Arsenal comments on Saturday will attest to. However, not being there live, you always wonder whether the microphones are painting an inaccurate picture. Maybe the TV crew just happened to have plonked their sound recording kit next to the most miserable bunch of tossers in the whole ground.

But the impression of a vocal minority sowing discord was soon backed up by AA regulars who had actually been at the game. Some even described how they had felt obliged to tell the moaners to stop moaning.

But here’s the thing. I don’t believe that these fans (the moaners) are any less dedicated to the Arsenal than you or me.

Like you and me they are fans (which, let’s remind ourselves, is short for “fanatics”). I imagine they live, breathe, dream and sleep Arsenal just like we do. They almost certainly care just as much and want what the rest of us want: a successful team playing great football and winning trophies.

But where I part company with them is that I don’t accept that the term “supporters” applies to them because, in simple terms, they do not “support.”

Well, OK, they “support” in the financial meaning of the word – in that they pay for their tickets and any in-stadium purchases and merchandise and this contributes to the upkeep and running of the club. But they do not “support” the team when it’s on the field of play.

I believe that when people refer to “supporting” a football team (or any sports team) the more appropriate meaning of the verb “to support” is: “to hold up or serve as a foundation or prop for.”

When our players enter the battle, we want them to feel “supported” – that is, that they have firm foundations of good will and encouragement from the fans – foundations that are demonstrated – in the time-honoured way of football – by chants, cheers and songs.

So when some individuals in the crowd do the opposite of this, they are not “supporting” – they are, to continue the architectural/engineering analogy, “undermining” the team.

One of the  dictionary definitions of “undermine” is: “to weaken or cause to collapse by removing underlying support, as by digging away or eroding the foundation.”

So that’s it: the fans who prefer moaning and groaning to supporting and cheering are The Underminers.

Sometimes the “weakening” that they cause is painfully visible. Take Gervinho. He came into the Norwich game off a few good performances. He had been scoring and assisting others to score. Perhaps crucially, those good performances had been away from the Emirates (Arsenal’s away support is, thankfully, almost entirely devoid of Underminers).

Despite his recent good form, the Emirates Underminers were on his back pretty quickly on Saturday

For the first 30 minutes or so he was by far our most potent attacking threat and created several opportunities, not least from his willingness to attack the box and take on defenders.

Most of the opportunities he created fizzled out and as each one did, the Underminers got louder and louder.  Perhaps his best chance was when put through by a brilliant pass from Santi Cazorla. The Swerve took it round the Norwich ‘keeper but his touch was a bit heavy and the ball ended up going too wide for him to score. Instead he squared it along the goal line, perhaps expecting that Giroud might have bothered to anticipate such a thing.

But Giroud had not and the opportunity died amid a cacophony of Undermining. Yes, Gerv had taken a heavy touch. In the same game I saw Cazorla, Wilshere, Walcott and Podolski all also have heavy or bad touches in good positions. The latter group received some murmurs of Undermining, but nothing like the scorn heaped on poor Gervinho. No wonder the Ivorian went into his shell a little after that.

But that’s another characteristic of the Underminers: they like to have a target-du-jour on whom to heap their anger and vitriol.

I was in the ground when a clearly mentally disturbed Eboue was booed to the point of tears some years ago and substituted by Wenger as an act of human mercy. I did not boo him. I just felt sad.

Saturday’s Man of the Match – Aaron Ramsey – got his turn last season. How gratifying it see to see that he was tough enough to weather that storm and come back stronger than ever. Fabianski, Almunia, Denilson, Adebayor, Walcott and others were all targeted at different times.

What frustrates me about the Underminers is that, as I mentioned earlier, they undoubtedly want the same thing as we Supporters (namely, Arsenal success). But they can’t seem to see that their very actions help make that success less likely. I might “want” to have a hundred grand in the bank, but if I don’t get a job (or at least buy a lottery ticket) it ain’t likely to happen.

It’s counterproductive and they seem completely blind to the effect they have. I’ve seen Underminers with their kids in tow, the kids moaning and groaning and swearing at our own players just as much as their parents (Underminors?).

So what do we do about the Underminers? Have they always been there? Did they arise with the move to the new stadium? Are they a sub-section of fans who were spoilt during the good times and now feel entitled? Are they the modern-day “consumers” (rather than fans) that we keep hearing about?

Can we reason with them? Should we ban them? Thump them? Report them to the stewards for negativity below and beneath the call of duty?

I would welcome your thoughts. And it would be especially interesting to hear from some self-confessed “moaners and groaners.” Maybe you feel that what you’re doing is for the best in the long run. If so, please tell us your reasoning.

Finally I would like to include a comment that 26May made yesterday, because I think it holds a lot of truth and informs this discussion: “…the performance of our home crowd is part of the reason players of promise have sometimes laboured to do well and part of the reason why we have failed to achieve what we should have.

“I think we became a quiet crowd 20 years ago or more, other than at big matches, and quietness is something we need to accept. But the negativity, moaning and impatience has built in the last few years, and that p*sses me off more than I can express. I sometimes sit in the North Bank Lower rather than my usual East Lower, but always have to steel myself against the incessant whining of a number of the regulars there… All of that said, from where I was sitting, I didn’t think the crowd was at its worst yesterday.”

RockyLives


A Fair Result or One We Got Away With?

April 14, 2013

I think the answer to that is a bit of both. Across 90 minutes on the balance of play, possession and opportunities carved out I don’t think that 3-1 over-flattered us. That we were still 1-0 down going into the 84th minute does leave a certain feeling of having got away with this one though. I will, however, look at the positives that we kept fighting and pressing and that this is a very important trait that I see increasingly in this squad, which should hold us in good stead for the future.

Pod v norwich

Early on we dominated possession and carved out a couple of decent openings. I thought some of our old failings of overplaying it and taking one too many passes rather than taking the shot at the right time was in evidence. The pitch was becoming slick from the rain and seemed to be begging players to hit hard low shots that could spin up off the pitch and cause their keeper problems. When we did shoot it seemed to be 2-3 passes too late and the shot became predictable.

Giroud headed onto the bar from a Sagna cross early on but our best chance of the first half was when Gervinho was put through one on one with their keeper courtesy of a slide rule pass from Santi. As their keeper came out Gervinho, rightly in my opinion, opted to go round the keeper but took far too heavy a touch which took him too wide and narrowed the angle. He still came close to finding the net but the ball went just wide of the far post. It would have been a tap in for any player following up and I thought Giroud was slightly guilty of ball watching. If you look at it again he jogs along watching Gervinho and suddenly realises too late he ought to be sprinting into the box. I think he could have got there had he instinctively set off at full pace the moment Gervinho was put through.

The second half seemed to continue where the first left off and we weren’t capitalising on our dominance in possession and territory and you just had a feeling what was coming next. Norwich had hardly troubled our goal but once again the old set piece goal against the run of play undid us on the 56th minute. I was seated behind the goal and remember looking at Turner and thinking I hope one of our bigger lads gets tight to him because he is a big chap and has a history of scoring from set pieces. The fact that arguably their most dangerous player at set pieces ended up getting a free unchallenged header reopens the debate about the merits of zonal marking.

I had to watch MOTD to get an extra feel for the game as it is easy to miss a lot when you sit directly behind the goal. I wanted to have a look at the lead up to the free kick and on initial evidence it looked like their player tripped over his own feet so I waited for the replay and the better camera angle to get a better idea but do you think MOTD were interested in looking at a potential injustice against Arsenal that resulted in a goal?

Gervinho and Jack hadn’t really been at the races in this game and Arsene waited another 4 minutes before subbing them for Walcott and Podolski. I felt it gave us a boost with Walcott causing immediate problems down the right and arguably our most natural finisher sniffing around their box. It didn’t take too long before a decent passing move saw Podolski clear and he smashed his shot against the bar. The equalising goal was still eluding us however and Arsene replaced Sagna with the Ox on the 80th minute for an all out assault on their goal. His introduction in addition to the other 2 subs did the trick and we all of a sudden looked far more direct and penetrative.

The equaliser came from a slightly controversial penalty decision. This time MOTD decided to make a real song and dance about it and funnily enough the pro Spurs Lineker, the just behind us in the league and soon to be playing us Everton manager, and the perennially Arsenal disliking Hanson all shouted injustice against Norwich. Keown showed in a close up that although they both grappled a bit the defender did indeed initiate the grabbing of Girouds shirt and clearly pulled him down. The ref should have seen it but didn’t and the linesman correctly spotted it from a greater distance. Well done to him I said as David Moyes, possibly with some ulterior psychological motive, intimated we had been thrown an incorrect decision. Anyway Arteta coolly slotted home and it was 1-1.

What came next was one of those ends that just makes you smile and, if anything, leave the game even happier than if you had the game sewn up on the hour mark. The players obviously realised the importance of the 3 points and kept pressing and cue 2 excellent goals in the last 2 minutes. Podolski’s goal for me illustrated why we should play him more often as no other Arsenal player has his finishing ability.

Happy gooners

A critical 3 points and on to the tougher fixture of Everton on Tuesday. I think we will have to be more clinical in attack and more solid on the set pieces if we want to get the 3 points in that game. Had it been Everton today I am not so sure we would have got away with it. On to the ratings :-

Fabianski 7 No chance for the goal and didn’t have much to do but made a couple of critical stops when needed.

Sagna 6 Considering we had them mostly pinned back he didn’t seem to offer too much to our offence in this game.

Vermaelen 7 Had a solid game. Not too much defending to be done. Their goal seemed to be a tactical fault of the whole team rather than being down to one individual.

Koscielny 7 Ditto for Kos as with TV.

Gibbs 7.5 First game for a bit and looked good both in attack and defence.

Arteta 7.5 Kept us ticking over and put in a good shift. A cool head when needed for the penalty.

Ramsey 8 My MOTM I thought Rambo had a good game today. He seems to have matured recently and today, despite no individual brilliance, I thought he gave an all action display in the Steven Gerrard mode.

Cazorla 7.5 At times drifted out of the game but whenever we are dangerous or create chances he always seems to have some hand in it.

Wilshere 6 Struggled a bit today after his enforced absence. I am not troubled by this. It is nice that others take up the mantle when it is not happening for him and I think a fit Jack will be important to us for these last games.

Giroud 6.5 Scored a goal and as usual worked tirelessly but seemed a little off the pace of the game today.

Gervinho 6 After a couple of good games he was back to one of his more frustrating performances. It remains to be seen if this is just how it is with him or whether he can turn out the good performances more regularly.

SUBS

Walcott 7 Caused immediate problems to them when he came on and all 3 subs seemed to turn the game back in our favour.

Podolski 7 Scored a good one and crashed another on to the bar. You feel we have a greater goal threat when he gets in and around the opposition box.

Oxlaide-Chamberlain 7 Good direct running and made the second goal with a bit of inspiration.

Written by GoonerB


Run to Continue.

April 13, 2013

Let’s be honest. Dig deep inside and search for the the truth. You expect us to secure three points this afternoon.  Go on, Admit it.

If like me you never predict a win for fear of “boking” (Irish for curse) the team, then you will be doing all you can to pretend this is a difficult fixture against a team who have upset us in the recent past, but we all know we should beat Norwich today.

Unknown

Number of Points needed this Afternoon

Let’s look at the reasons for optimism:

Norwich haven’t beaten us in London since 1992

They have never beaten us home and away

We have won 6 of our last 7PL  games

Norwich have only won one of their last 15 games

Norwich have scored just 3 goals in their last 7 away games and have taken just 2 points, nor won away in 2013

We welcome back Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott

GIE’s Parents are attending today

I could continue but, should we lose, the pain of Norwich rubbishing all this evidence would be excruciating!

So, we should be positive, and we should move in third place in the PL (let’s all laugh at Tottenham 😀 ). In my opinion, if the work ethic is in place and the team play with the verve they have shown in recent weeks, ….. Damn, I can’t write it.

Negatives. Merts is out and ermmmm …… oh yes, Diaby is injured.

Norwich have tried to play attacking football but have sadly failed. They play 4-5-1  and in Chris Hughton have a young manager who looks simply ridiculous in a suit and tie. After all, this man still retains the slime and excrescence of N17. All those years of floating in a cesspool take their toll – just look at Glenda Hoddle, Terry Vegetables and Alan Sugar. Nonetheless I will be saddened if they go down – which is a real possibility given that if they lose today they could be just one point from the drop zone.

My Team:

arse v norwich

All right – Take it Easy – Keep your hair on (not in my case), I know Rosicky has been superb and that Ramsey is a ball of energy but this is my post and my team. I believe we should put out our best 11 players,and in my opinion this is the best Arsenal team. Of course, my favourite German (after Michael Schenker) is on the bench.

The fitness of both Wilshere and Walcott will determine the starting 11. If they are only fit enough for the bench I would play Ramsey and The Ox.

As to tactics, we will play as we usually do, and for lovers of decent football I hope Norwich don’t zaparkowac´autobus. An early Arsenal goal will open up the game and of late we have started well. More of the same, please.

Today’s English explorer: Normally I focus upon expedition leaders and their derring-do, men who have taken the plaudits and the titles (assisted greatly by extensive facial hair) but today we will take a look at one of the unsung heroes, because behind every expedition are a number of brave and almost unknown back-up men, Alfred Cheetham (1867-1918) is one of them.

Born in Liverpool into a poor family, he went to sea at an early age, joining the fishing fleets of Hull. He remained a Seaman all his life (highly appropriate for an Arsenal blog!).

Unknown

Hard as Nails

An early trip into the iceworld was as a member of Captain Scott’s South Pole attempt. Sadly, Scott didn’t return from the Pole and a search party was mustered but Cheetham wasn’t chosen as he was a family man, having married young and producing 13 children – these navy chaps are fertile. Cheetham’s next tour to Antarctica was with the Shackleton expedition, one of the most famous and arduous expeditions of all-time. Stuck on the ice through a Polar winter, sheltering under lifeboats as their ship had sunk, Cheetham and his crew-mates waited for the return of Shackleton.

What makes Cheetham notable is that he was on both of the most famous Polar expeditions and survived. What he didn’t survive was the First World War, his ship being torpedoed in 1918.

Win today and the pressure mounts upon our rivals. Draw and the task is harder, Lose and the bubble bursts ……… But we won’t.

written by Big Raddy

Disclaimer. If I have bokked the team and we do not win, BR takes no responsibility.

COYRRG


Three Words That Sum Up Arsenal’s Season So Far

April 12, 2013

The next few weeks will determine whether we make the Champions League spots (yet again)

If we do so, some supporters will consider it to be a real achievement; others will deem it a failure.

Before the end-of-season assessments are made, this feels like a good moment to canvas how we Arsenal fans are feeling about the current campaign.

The Poll below contains a range of words and phrases. Obviously they can’t cover every nuance of the current Arsenal experience but hopefully they reflect some of the prevailing tides of opinion.

All you have to do is select the THREE options that you feel best describe our progress (or lack of it) and fortunes (or misfortunes) to date.

You can select fewer than three if you can’t find enough that you agree with, but you can’t select more than three.

RockyLives


Arsenal goals of my years

April 11, 2013

I was going to write a post on my top 5 I was there goals, but realised I would miss too many goals from more recent times when I have attended nowhere near as much as I did in my youth. So instead I have picked the top 5 goals of my youth (that I was there for) goals that came at an important time of my Arsenal supporting life, aged 15-18 I had just graduated from standing in the Junior Gunners section to standing on the North Bank and there feeling the elation of every goal with so much more force.

The goals I have picked were moments that I have never forgotten from that era, pieces of outrageous skill, or importance…..moments that all football fans live for. Also serves as a reminder that not all Graham’s football was boring defensive and long, we had some exciting attackers to watch even when we were apparently awful to watch.

5. Steve Morrow v Sheffield Wednesday (1992)

The first unlikely hero of the season, Morrow broke into the box and scored the scrappy winner in the League Cup.

4: Anders Limpar v Liverpool (1992)

This game lives long in the memory, yes we had won the League at Anfield, yes Liverpool were not the side they once were, but they were still Liverpool, and beating them 4-0 didn’t happen that regularly.

But I can’t remember the other 3 goals, all I can remember is Anders Limpar’s outrageous lob of Mike Hooper from the centre circle, pre jumbotron, pre mass media, this goal still sticks in the memory, sheer brilliance.

3. Andy Linnighan v Sheffield Wednesday 1993

The first and only time I have been there to see Arsenal lift an FA Cup, the unfancied centre back who had had his nose rearranged by Mark Bright’s elbow rose to head home the winner deep in stoppage time.

2. Paul Merson v Sheffield Wednesday 1991

A beautiful chip, he’d been doing it quite a bit that season, I seem to remember one against Norwich too, this one came in a 7 goal drubbing of Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury.

1. Ian Wright v Everton 1993

The goal that summed Wrighty up, he will always be my favourite Arsenal striker, it’s the way he played the game, the enthusiasm in every touch, the joy with which he celebrated every goal, he just lived to score goals, and he scored some beauties in his time.

The goal itself a lovely assist from Seaman, Wrights first touch takes it over the defender, his second takes it back over the same man, his third lifts it over Big Nev. from memory the North Bank sang Ian Wright Wright Wright for a good five minutes after that goal.

Gooner in Exile