N17 Spending Highlights Arsenal’s Strength

August 31, 2013

There I said it….we all know the swamp dwellers that live just down the road (thankfully just far enough to be out of nose-shot) have always been prone to spending money on failures. This summer they have cut loose like never before with Levy going wherever he is sent by AVB and Baldini and throwing around the yet to be secured cash of ape boy’s transfer fee.

They have captured the signing of many a (never known to us before July) name. Arsenal fans have been left distraught at the amount of players entering the doors of the Lane with only Flamini and Sanogo appearing at London Colney in reply.

Should we be worried? In short no. This is their last chance to secure Champions League Football before spending on their shiny new stadium commences in anger, they know in reality without Champions League Football a brand new stadium will be as useful to them as the Duck House that sits on their swamp, an expensive ornament that glistens but is empty of anything useful. Sainsbury’s will see more punters during a quiet Sunday than their new stadium will see during another glorious Europa League night against another team with more consonants than vowels from deepest Transylvania.

If we are as poor in quality as everyone says and given the lack of significant activity from most of the other clubs around us you would have to question why Levy and his management team decided to spend quite so much money. Surely they would breeze CL qualification with only a couple of additions.

So why spend so much? Because they can see our strength when no one else can they have gone all out, spending all of their gains in one summer to try and finally make this the year. But have they really improved?

Our resident rotund red headed blogger (FGG) posted a comparison the other day (even included some unconfirmed Spuds), it was hard to see what all the fuss was about:

Goalkeepers
Lloris – Szscesny
Friedel – Fabianski

2-0 Spuds

Right Backs
Walker – Sagna
Naughton – Jenks

2-0 Arsenal

Centre Backs
Dawson – Mertersacker
Vertonghen – Koscielny
Kaboul – Vermaelen

2-1 Arsenal

Left Backs
Rose – Gibbs
Assou-Ekotto – Monreal

2-0 Arsenal

Midfield
Paulinho – Arteta
Dembele – Ramsey
Eriksen – Wilshere
Capoue – Diaby
Townsend – Oxlade-Chamberlain
Sandro – Flamini

5-1 Arsenal

Forward/Attacking Midfield
Lamela – Cazorla
Lennon – Walcott
Soldado – Giroud
Sigurdsson – Rosicky
Chadli – Podolski
Defoe – Sanogo

4-2 Arsenal

(For clarity my scoring is of the pairs listed above who is better, so Cazorla better than Lamela 1-0 Arsenal, Walcott better Lennon (otherwise known as a shit Theo Walcott) 2-0 and so on)

Admittedly it would be nice to have a few of the good guys fit for tomorrow but so be it we are where we are.

But come on now Gooners long term as the season plays out do we really have to worry that much? Add a couple of good players to the squad and we will be laughing for quite a while at how much this summer cost Levy, and how they pissed their deposit for the new home up the wall on a long shot, that they could actually for once do the unthinkable and finish above us. Forever in our shadow, and now Sainsbury’s too, bless keep dreaming Spudders and don’t forget to mind the gap….you never know how quickly it’ll disappear.

Gooner in Exile


Arsenal Players Demand Signings …. Fact

August 30, 2013

When it comes to publishing posts, this site can be as underhand as Darren Dein. Respected blogger chas, placed a comment during yesterday’s debate that we felt illustrated perfectly the way in which we are going to be tortured by the media in the next few days.

He wrote ……….

I’ve had a quick look and can’t see any of the current players “demanding” signings.

This from Giroud

“In my opinion, it’s necessary for the club to recruit another striker. Obviously, I think about it a little bit. It may change the play one day, especially if it’s a high profile signing. It’s useless lamenting this though. I know what I have to do and what I’m capable of. I’m focusing on me and my work. The coach is counting on me, so I don’t think too much.”

Obviously talking about his position as no 1 striker gets turned into this…..

“Arsenal striker Giroud broke cover to voice his concerns and Mirror Sport understands other players have been left bemused, unhappy and questioning whether Wenger really wants to make big signings.” by John Cross of the Mirror.

This from Arteta

“I’m convinced there will be signings this summer. We already have a very strong team – and if we get new faces they will be welcome.”

….. becomes this from EatSleepSport

“Arteta calls for new signings”

This from Wilshere

“You look at the type of players, like Higuain, we’re trying to bring in, and you’ve got to be encouraged. I think we need a few more – not to step right into the team but to add to the squad.”

……….becomes this from some other dick at the Mirror.

“Arsenal’s Gonzalo Higuain swoop is great but we need more like him says Jack Wilshere

chas’ observations are nothing new but should serve as a reminder to us all to just stop and think for a second before we rabidly stab our fingers into our keyboards and post vitriolic comments based on journalism that is calculated to mislead. We should avoid reacting in the way the authors of our discontent have envisaged. Let’s not give them the pleasure.

Rasp


Four centre backs at Arsenal is a thing of the past.

August 29, 2013

For years the accepted wisdom at most clubs and certainly at Arsenal has been that you should start a new season with four centre backs all ready and able to be called upon whenever needed.

As recently as last season, we started with Mertasacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen and Squillaci. The problem with this system becomes clearer as you move along the list; the drop in quality is substantial.

The practicalities have been to have two centre backs playing, one on the bench and one doing very little apart from losing match sharpness in the reserves and picking up a large pay cheque.

Now as tough as it sounds to have to pick up a large pay cheque for seemingly doing very little, there is an expensive trade off; the fourth choice CB will almost certainly lose his chance to play first team football, ok he will play one or two games here and there but that is it.

So it becomes a balancing act, clubs want the best player they can get while knowing that if the player is any good he will not want to give up the opportunity to play.

It is the same at all clubs, a forth choice CB trades his chance to play football for a wage that is higher than he would be getting at a lesser club and so it follows that the higher the wage a club is prepared to pay the better the quality of forth choice back up will be.

Man city had Kolo Toure on a huge wage for doing very little apart from putting on weight but even he got bored enough to take a pay cut and move to Liverpool in the hope of playing regular football. (Ok, the pay cut part is a punt)

It is a thankless task being a forth choice CB and even more so at Arsenal where the player is not getting a man city pay cheque and to make things worse he is constantly moaned about by the fans for not being good enough.

This is why I have always had a great deal of sympathy for our forth choice CB’s and defended them when ever I could. Take Squillaci, it was not his fault that his job was to simply be an insurance policy against disaster; that’s to say if illness befell the three other CB’s in front of him.

The point of this post is that I think the club may have changed its policy; they still know that we need the depth, hence Mertasacker, Koscielny and Vermaelen; but, now instead of having another in the reserves I think that AW views Djourou as the fourth. It’s the reason why he was never sold and there have been plenty of opportunities to do so.

It makes a lot of sense, far better to have a fourth choice playing week in and week out, keeping his match fitness than languishing in the reserves. The loan deal probably has a clause that says we can have him back in case of disaster.

Makes sense to me, why would someone like Williams of Swansea want to give up the opportunity to play first team football again; in fact, why would anyone half decent want to?

Written by LB


Arsenal 2 Fenerbahce 0

August 28, 2013

Another convincing win by the mighty Arsenal, that’s three on the trot, although this one was all the sweeter from having the pleasure of watching it from my own seat at the home of football.

Three nil up from the first leg meant that it was very unlikely that the good guys were ever going to bother getting out of second gear and indeed they didn’t, it was, in fact, a bit a cruise from start to finish.

The mystique that Fenerbahce might of held prior to the first leg was gone; the unfamiliarity of the Turkish team and its unknown strength, the hostile atmosphere, the ferocious fans; all this had evaporated, they were poor and we knew it, all that was required was the patient dissection of our inferior opponents.

But Wenger was not taking any chances; he could have gone for Carling Cup team in order to rest as many players as possible for the coming, more important, game at the weekend; indeed many supporters on this blog championed that view when the debate was in full flow a few days ago but there was one esteemed blogger who pointed out that if they were to score in the first fifteen minutes it would be game on.

If anyone ever wanted proof that Arsene reads this blog here you have it; he predictably swapped Wilshere for Rosicky, gave Gibbs a break, allowing Monreal a chance to get back up to speed and surprisingly kept Sagna at CB presumably to give Koscielny a bit more time to recover. This was a very strong team, belt and braces stuff, Arsene protecting his precious run in the Champions League, well it worked; we are through.

Rambo scores again

Ramsey’s confidence is soaring and important goals are coming at the right time, his first was a poke in after it fell kindly to him, his second was thing of beauty, opening his body and guiding the ball into the corner past the open mouthed, helpless Ferner keeper.

Szezceny stole the show in the first half pulling off wonder save after wonder save, the second half was only tainted by the loss of Podolski, a hamstring strain is always a minimum of three weeks; it possibly could have been avoided. He came out of the blocks at the beginning of the second half at break neck speed, tearing down the wing faster than he has done so in the last six months to add to an early attack, I am all for showing a bit of commitment Lucas but we were four goals up – relax.

Gibbs replaced Podolski and was interestingly moved into the middle, could he be our next DM? He can tackle, has a defensive mindset, although he can obviously play and add to the attack when needed; Arsene likes his players to be multi functional so who knows?

Sanogo then came on for what was I think his third appearance and got a big round of applause when he finally got his first touch. I now it is early days but I can’t see what he is good at: control, touch, movement, pace, speed, I don’t see any of those.

Theo went off to a massive applause from the fans who bothered turning up and had bothered to stay to this point; it really was heart felt stuff though. I am very pleased for him; the man is really learning how to make the most of his other abilities rather than just relying on his natural gift of speed.

Ryo came on and if some of us, like me, hoped that he might be able to fill in while Podolski recovers we quickly had to think again; there is still a lot of work to be done there.

By this time Fenerbahce were systematically kicking lumps out of Wilshere, I wish, as Slim said, that he wouldn’t roll around giving the impression that he is likely to be out for the season every time he goes down, we need to establish a secret signal, we need a sign Jack that you are alright, some of us with a nervous disposition can’t take it.

The final whistle came and all three of us who had stayed to the very end clapped the boys off.

Job done; now let the signings begin.

Written by LB


Fenerbahce: The Wilshere Conundrum

August 27, 2013

Some time ago LB  (who at that time was London) made a case whereby he stated that Arsenal play better without Jack. Now, I am simplifying his argument, but in essence, LB said that Jack slowed us down, was neither an attacking nor defensive MF and that despite his prodigious talent Wilshere made the Arsenal team worse.

Unknown-1

I and many others rushed to Wilshere’s defence. How could it be that England’s Arsenal’s best young talent was detrimental to the team? Well, now I understand. Ask yourself this  ….who gets dropped when Arteta is fit? Ramsey? Not in the form he is in. Rosicky? Our passing between the defence and the forward line is more dynamic when TR plays, he is an excellent player. Or Santi? You must be joking. And where will Ox play upon his return?

Last season we played Santi out left but this is clearly not his best position and we play better with Podolski giving us an attacking option on the left. So where does Jack fit in?

Thankfully this is not my problem and he is sure to start tonight.

Be honest with yourself, do you see anyway we can go out the CL tonight? OK, we may lose the game but I doubt it. No, the work has been done.

Fenerbahce:  It should be recalled how well Szczesny played last Weds, which indicates that perhaps the Turks have a chance. Had they scored it could be a worry but they didn’t and there is no way that defence can keep a clean sheet at the Emirates. If we score early Fenerbahce are doomed.

Arsenal weren’t wonderful in Istanbul, it was more that Fenerbahce froze. Some of their passing was awful, their tactics non-existent, Walcott terrified his FB, their midfield coudn’t cope with our movement and speed of passing. Why should tonight be any different?

images-1

Arsenal: It is more who gets rested. Theo has played 4 games in two weeks (inc. England), so I would allow a kid to start. Sagna can relax as can Rosicky and Gibbs – all need to be treated with care. That said, Mr Wenger has stated that he will play 95% of the team who won in Turkey, which I read to mean Monreal will start. I think he is wrong and resting the players would be the best option.

My team would be but AW’s is sure to be different:

Szczesny

Jenks    BFG    Kos    Monreal

Ramsey    JW     Santi

Gnabry    Giroud    Podolski

If fit I would start Myachi on the left and give Giroud a rest, but perhaps our little Japanese wonderkid is not quite ready.

Another big win would be great and in a way I understand why Mr Wenger chooses to play a powerful team, but what if an angry and frustrated Turk (or Frenchman – this is not  a racist site) kicks two colours out of Theo and he misses the NLD? Is it worth the risk?

Moving on …… Did you know that Martin O’Neill is a massive music fan and his favourite band is The Kinks. Suddenly, I like the bespectacled jumping loon 😀

As to this season’s theme, I haven’t decided but am erring towards the World Cup stories. It is football associated and will not require too much research, my sole doubt is whether I can find 40+ chaps to entertain both you and I.

What say you?

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


The Surprise Identity of Arsenal’s Next Superstar

August 26, 2013

Whatever you think about Robin van Persie, he is a genuinely world class player.

The same is true of Cesc Fabregas.

But, since the break up of the Invincibles, those are the only two players we have had at Arsenal who can indisputably be called world class.

Recent results (since the Totteringham away game last season) have shown that something good and potent is brewing at Arsenal. A group of players has come together and formed a powerful team spirit. The players are working for each other and they are increasingly understanding each others’ game. There is a good balance of youth and experience and there were no significant departures during the close season.

These players are a wonderful foundation for Arsenal’s next trophy-winning team.

But there is something missing.

The teams that win the biggest prizes have at least one “worldy” in their ranks and, at the moment, Arsenal do not.

That’s one of the reasons why this summer’s transfer window has seen the sort of hysteria more suited to a One Direction concert (not that any of 1D are half as gorgeous as Ollie Giroud and Tomas Rosicky… or so the ladies tell me).

Talk of players like Suarez, Higuain, Rooney and Benzema has been exciting because any one of them would add that missing “world class” dimension and, maybe, push us to another level.

Maybe an A-list name will be joining us in the next week. But even without a last minute transfer coup I believe the identity of our next “worldy” has already been discovered.

I refer to the diminutive Spanish maestro, Santiago Cazorla.

santi pic

Last season, in his first year in English football, Santi was an ever present in our league campaign, scoring 12 goals and providing the assists for 11 others. He also created more chances from open play (80) than any other EPL player except Luis Suarez (94).

And let’s remember that this was in a team that struggled for a considerable part of the season and with players whom Santi had to get to know as the campaign went on.

In its own right it was a stellar debut season.  And now we have every reason to believe that Santi can go on to do even better this time round.

He has had a delayed pre-season compared with most of the squad through having been away with Spain during the summer and then having to make a round trip to Ecuador the week before the EPL started (thanks Fifa).

But against Fulham he showed what he can do when he starts to get back to his best.

His stats from that game make for impressive reading: as well as getting an assist, he led both teams in passes in the attacking third (29) and in chances created (6); he was also just one behind Theo in take-ons (what we used to call attempted dribbles) with five. He had a pass completion rate overall of 94%, but if you look at his passing in the defensive and middle thirds of the field you’ll find he was 100% accurate: he was taking no chances at our end and saving the riskier passes for the attacking third.

But stats don’t tell the whole story with Santi Cazorla. Those of us lucky enough to have seen the full 90+ minutes on Saturday were able to bask in the warm glow that comes from watching the Spanish magician’s incredible footwork and vision.

When he receives the ball under pressure he has that rare skill (seen only in the best players) of being able to suddenly find himself with space and time when most other players – even really good ones – would be having to battle off an opponent or two. At times, when he pings the ball from one foot to the other and shimmies away from trouble you’d swear he’s taken lessons from Michael Flatley. Or that he had a previous career as a bull fighter (“El Munchkino”).

If this Arsenal team starts to achieve anything this year, then Santi may well begin to look like one of the top two or three players in the EPL.

He can bring us elements of Dennis Bergkamp, Cesc Fabregas and Robert Pires combined: time on the ball, vision, killer passes, quick possession play and an eye for goal.

If he looked good last season, he could look great this time round.

And who knows, perhaps a great season for Santi in an Arsenal team that competes well in the EPL and Champions League may even force the Spain coach, Vicente del Bosque, to promote him above one of the more familiar names in the famous Spanish midfield.

Not that I really care about Spain.

But in the miasma of negativity that has surrounded our club this summer, let’s not lose sight of the bright diamond we already have shining in the team that we love.

RockyLives


Fulham 1 Arsenal 3 “A thoroughly professional performance.”

August 25, 2013

You have got to love Martin Jol; he sets out his teams in the same attacking formation every time he plays against Arsenal and every time they lose, ok there was the one exception but that, as far as I am concerned, only proves the rule; he certainly was never able to beat an Arsene Wenger team while manager of Tottenham and he was no where near doing so yesterday.

Arsenal carried on from where they left off on Wednesday against Fenerbahce beating Fulham at Craven Cottage in what turned out to be a convincing style. 3-1 to the good guys was just what we needed to get the media off our backs, to stop rogue Arsenal supporters taking swipes at the club and to set us up nicely for the coming game against Tottenham.

poldi v fulham

Wenger rotated his squad (lol) leaving Wilshere on the bench, moving Rosicky further back and adding Podolski to the front. This was a very attacking move that had the much desired effect, in my view, of helping Giroud avoid being isolated which he appeared to for the best part of the game against the Turks.

The tactics seemed to be to play our way past Fulham’s onward rushing attack and pick our way round their defence. This required accurate, pin-ball passing which as the game went on Arsenal were doing with more and more fluency and speed.

The break through came after a long range shot from Ramsey was deftly, yes deftly, controlled by Giroud before poking it past the keeper for his now customary goal per game. I have noticed that since the Frenchman has been scoring so regularly that the priority signing to some is shifting from wanting a striker to wanting a centre back, well not for me; I still feel that Suarez would score twice as many of those kind of goals if he were to come to the home of football. That said, I don’t want to appear to be ungrateful to Ollie, the man works like a Trojan, always putting in a shift; he really is the perfect example of what a team player should be.

Being a goal up forced Fulham to come onto us and that in turn forced the focus onto our back line which I must say I thought put in their best performance to date, there was a real understanding between them: Mertasacker oozed confidence, Sagna got better and better as the game went on, Gibbs was simply very good once again and Jenkinson never seemed to be caught out of position, as he is sometimes prone to doing, with Sagna there watching his back.

During the game I was trying to work out, if I were to write the report, who I would award the MOTM to? For ages I couldn’t see anyone who stood out as every player seemed to be doing his job very well; Ramsey may have been given it by the BT sports and indeed he did play well but no better than Cazorla who seems to have finally digested that massive paella he consumed during the close season; the magic in those boots is back, the twists and turns that takes him past opponents are one of the vital skills that makes us a better than the likes of Fulham. I toyed for ages with the MOTM going to the team but then it became clear, there was one player who produced something over and above what I think we have come to expect – Lucas Podolski is my MOTM, scorer of two goals that gave us the points and put smiles on our faces this Sunday morning.

When we are one up space appears and Theo usually starts to shine, yesterday was no exception and it was one of his runs, combined with a Cazorla shot, parried by the Fulham keeper that fell for our Johnny on the spot, Lucas Pololski to side foot in from 18 yards, no easy task, the man did well and gave us a two goal cushion to go into half time with.

If Theo starts to shine at one-nil up he becomes lethal when we go two up, it was his charging run and the quick feet of Cazorla that brought about the third goal for Pololski who rifled home, low and true.

Wilshere came on and added a bit more steel to the defence, Nacho got a run out and Sanogo got a few minutes, I can see him going on loan when the real deal arrives.

Anyway, we took our foot off the gas a bit and this allowed Fulham to score but that only had the effect of focusing the team again, enough to see the game out and bring the points home.

Happy, happy.

Be afraid spuds; be very afraid, the mighty Arsenal are hitting their stride.

Written by LB