Dear Arsène: “My Arsenal as well you know”.

September 20, 2013

Dear Arsène,

DidIt here again. Couple of things.

Now I realize that you and I are not natural Bedfellows, what with my rather gung-ho and somewhat cavalier attitude to life, but nevertheless, I still feel that you may enjoy more of my footballing analysis and insight.

Thing is this, and my first topic for today, your positional awareness with regards to the left side attacking slot leaves quite a lot to be desired. It is, Arsène, this habit of yours in sticking the wrong players out there. Having discussed this issue with you before, I was going to let things lie. That was, Arsène , until you dropped your most recent bomb.

You crack open the kitty, and splash out 40 Million pounds on Mesut Ozil. Great so far. Then the bomb. You stick the poor fellow out wide. Not 4 million, Arsene, 40 million, and you play him out of position! 40 Mill may be sloshing about your petty cash tin, but to us normal folk, that’s a lot of milk. Let’s get some perspective on that, shall we? It’s the equivalent of about 1,000 pints of milk for every day of an eighty year life! “Respect Value”, I say, or have you completely lost the plot, Arsène ?

You see, it’s not the first time you’ve done this, is it, Arsène? No, it isn’t. Bendy, Chamakh, Podolski, Ramsey, and now Ozil. Are you mad? What’s going on?

You know what, I’ve had a thought and there’s sod all you can do about it. Very soon, both Santi and Mesut are going to be up for selection at the same time, and you know damn well that they both start.

Here’s the really funny bit, Arsène, you can’t stick both out wide. Ha ha ha. So what’s the plan then?

Even that Lunatic LB had a brilliant idea yesterday, and that was sticking Mesut centre top. Lateral thinking. Lateral thinking. This idea of his ties in nicely with the second point I wanted us to discuss with you, Arsène.

Nicholas Bendtner. Name ring a bell?

We really do need to consider our options in terms of protecting Big ‘Ol, and I cannot help thinking that our Nic is the most similar kind of player that would bring as little disruption to our style as possible. Never really gave him much time through the middle, did we? Just as I kept saying last term regarding Big ‘Ol: “Along the ground. Ball to feet”. He may be better than we think.

Thing is ,Arsène , what are we going to do about his fitness and more importantly, his attitude?

Bribery springs to mind. He’s one of those poofy sorts of blokes that like jewellery, so there’s an option right there. Perhaps a more ruthless approach, like the use of electricity, I don’t know, but I’d certainly like to hear your thoughts.

My biggest single problem with you, Arsène , is that while I feel perfectly qualified to share advice on tactics and whatnot with you, I do have to take into account your recent bloody results:

WWWWWDWDWWWLWWWWW and bloody W again!

Let’s be clear about one thing, the sooner you start listening to Bedfellows like me and actually take on board our advice, the better, and then together we can eliminate these draws and losses forever.

Sagely words I’m sure you’d agree. Perhaps send that Gazidis bloke down to Smiths and buy a new folder. You could then put a sticky label on it and ink words like “DidIt Do’s and DidIt Do Not’s” or something.

So, in the meantime, I say, “Sod it, over to you, Arsène ”.

I remain, you obedient servant.

DidIt, M.


Marseille 1 Arsenal 2 : Breaking records again

September 19, 2013

M. Wenger must have breathed a sigh of relief that last night we were at least adding to the team that started against Sunderland rather than having another injury/sickness to deal with. For many of us watching it was a great relief to see Mertesacker return to the starting line up, and Sagna moving back to his more familiar full back role, this is nothing against the young man Jenkinson replaced but more to do with the calmness and organisation Mertesacker gives the team. The midfield and attack presently picks itself with so many regulars injured.

The Marseille home following were certainly keen to create an oppressive atmosphere and in the first half their team responded for them, it was uncomfortable viewing for most of it, passes going astray for us, and pressed at every opportunity when we looked to have few options, when we look back at the stats though it becomes clear that this is more about our expectations than the team performing too badly, we were pretty equal with Marseille in terms of possession and passing.

We were allowing them to play rather than stamping our authority on the game and we were giving them encouragement to continue their game plan with some wasteful use of the ball in and around the half way line. Thankfully for us they were not making the most of their pressure in the final third a free header sent wide with Szczesny stranded and later a useful clearance from BFG with the striker behind him, we were equally toothless and apart from Theo’s early effort (when he was probably being fouled) struggled to find a way through the Marseille defensive line.

The second half was a more open affair, Marseille struggled to press us as effectively as they tired and we started to play the channels more and have more of the game, Marseille also kept probing and Szczesny was called upon several times to show good handling and deal with shots from distance.

With fifteen minutes of the second half gone it could have easily been a different story, a hopeful cross from our right had BFG swinging a right leg as Szczesny came to claim, the ball looped over the latter but thankfully Gibbs reacted to head the ball off the line and back into Szczesny’s hands.

Five minutes later saw us take the lead, another overlapping run by Gibbs saw him deliver a good cross into a threatening area, Marseille’s left back made a hash of the clearance and the ball looped up towards Theo, who waited for what seemed an eternity before smashing a volley into the net. This was such a good finish, anyone who has played football will know what it is like waiting for the ball to drop, how many times do you see players snatch at it thinking they have less time and failing to make good contact, Theo set himself kept his eyes on the ball and cracked it home.

Theo like Thierry

Half chances came and went at either end, Szczesny dealing with everything coming his way and us nearly finding a way through for the second.

The second goal came from our man of the moment Aaron Ramsey, receiving the ball from Gibbs and with white shirts in attendance he spun and drove into the box before finishing into the bottom corner (with the aid of a little deflection). Watch this goal again if you don’t believe me but Giroud was key to this goal, his run took two defenders away and Ramsey had the room to burst into.

Gibbs and Rambo v Marseille

Unfortunately we blotted our copybook at the very end by giving away a sloppy penalty, tired legs from Ramsey (its about time he looked a little leggy given the yards he puts in) saw him take a heavy touch and was adjudged to have fouled the forward as he tried to recover. Szczesny could do nothing about the penalty but thankfully there was not long left so we didn’t have to sweat on the result for long.

10 away games won on the trot a new club record and much deserved for this group of players that are really starting to repay the belief the manager has placed in them.

Win the three home games and we will see the knockout round.

Ratings:

Szczesny – 8 A solid display from the young Pole, great handling and comfortable shot stopping all night. Didn’t actually have to make any worldies and you would be disappointed if he had conceded any of the shots on target.

Sagna – 7 Not his most prolific display but did the important stuff well

Mertesacker – 7 Minor blip with the Gibbs goalline clearance, but otherwise the usual reliability we have come to expect.

Koscielny – 8 A solid commanding performance, constantly pressures the forwards high up the pitch gives them little space and competes for everything.

Gibbs – 9 MOTM Two assists, goalline clearance, he has come a long way from the player I used to get frustrated with turning inside whenever he received possession, has grown in stature immeasurably over last two seasons.

Flamini – 7 Bit of a struggle in the first half as the others in midfield left him a little exposed, looked more comfortable when we had better shape in the second half.

Ramsey – 8 Very nearly another man of the match performance. Cracking goal, fantastic tackling back he really is an all action midfielder the kind we haven’t had for a while.

Wilshere – 7 Another game under the belt, he is getting better and is moving more confidently with the ball, unlucky with a half volley at the far post.

Özil – 7 Quiet first half as we struggled to get the ball to him, came into the game in the second half and was unlucky not to have a couple of assists to his name by the end of the night.

Walcott – 8 Exceptional volley to give us the lead, could have had another couple but did well all night to provide a threat.

Giroud – 8 His silent assist for Ramsey’s goal sums up this lad, constantly willing to work for his team mates, could do with a rest soon!

Subs:

Monreal, Miyaichi – No real time to judge.n

Written by

Gööner in Exile


Forward The Arsenal

September 18, 2013

Cannon to the Right of them,

Cannon to the left

Onwards in to the Group of Death

Rode the Mighty Arsenal

So we start yet another CL season, our umpteenth campaign. Consider this …… Only MU and Real Madrid in the whole of Europe have taken part in more consecutive CL seasons. This is quite some record for a team for whom 4th is a Trophy 😀

Of course, we haven’t won Big Ears yet and I doubt we will do so this term but you have to be in it to win it (Are you watching Tottenham?).

What of Olympique de Marseille? We played them in 2011 and won at the Stade Velodrome 1-0 thanks to a Ramsey goal. However, OM go into the game having only lost twice at home in a year and with 6 new signings who appear to have quickly settled. We know about Valbuena, Gignac and Ayew who gave us a test last time, but they just signed Florian Thauvin who is being touted as the new Hazard. Last year he was signed by Lille from Bastia but loaned back for a season, he had such an impact that Marseille paid €13m for him, giving Lille a €10m profit on a player who had never played for them!! Thauvin is a playmaker in the Hazard/Ozil mould (but not as good).

Then there is Payet, a CF who has scored three times in OM’s first 5 games.

images

Not sure what Ché has to do with Marseille!

Arsenal:  Injuries. Many have fallen before we hear the sound of musket fire. Those that are left will be roused by trumpets and sent against the heathen ranks. But will our glorious survivors have enough to overcome the infidel? Your guess is as good as mine, and mine is that the answer is in the positive.

The return of Merts is important because it allows Sagna to take his place at RB where he will face the flying Ayew. This will be one of the key battles. If Bac can stop the balls into Gignac and Payet we are almost home. If not, we must hope that BFG and Kos are on form.

Koscielny. What to say? 6 games played. 2 stupid penalties given away. Red and yellow cards. Shape up man, you are a brilliant player and you don’t want to lose your place to our club captain.

The midfield is superb even without the influence of Arteta. That said, we haven’t really been tested by any team other than AV who had 14 players on the pitch. Even with the loss of Cazorla, Arteta, Ox and Mozart (which is a formidable midfield) we look strong.. The addition of Mesut is just the cherry on top.

Upfront. Theo has to get amongst the goals before it starts to affect his confidence. He grows when he knows he is dangerous. OG is going to take a kicking both from the Marseilles defenders and his fellow countrymen in the stands who are less than impressed with his recent performances for the national team. Let’s hope he sticks up a metaphorical two fingers and scores a brace.

My Team:

18th sept

The bench still looks weak and we have few attacking options. The inclusion of Akpom shows how constrained we are. Can anyone explain why Bendtner isn’t fit and raring to go?

The pundits think this will be a draw. If we are to progress from the group then tonight is a must-win. 3 points away from home  will propel the team forward into the next round of matches. The tough games are yet to come……

Forward you Gunners

“Charge for the Guns”, AW said,

Into the Group of Death

Rode the Mighty Arsenal

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Why do we have so many injuries?

September 17, 2013

Follow this link and see how one Gooner has analysed our injury problems in comparison to other PL teams. It is a good read:

http://www.washedup.org/2013/09/09/crystal-ankles-paper-tendons/

It prompted a discussion as to why this should occur. Here is a comment from Shard posted earlier today.

“There are too many factors and variables for it to be an easily identifiable problem.

The last two seasons though, our injury record was generally better than years previous. This season, maybe it’s just that we’re getting them all early in the season as a coincidence?

The factors to consider. Our training, diagnostic and treatment regimes. Dietary (and medicinal) regimes. The pitch. Players’ genetics. Playing style, referee protection or lack of, squad size, international matches and playing minutes, nature of injuries, correlation of injuries (and minutes and type of injuries, and training etc) with age of players.

I’m sure there are more, but a lot of these are difficult to process and arrive at a clearly defined problem, which can then be solved.

Personally, I feel a lot of it was to do with the age of the squad, and the way our matches have been refereed. The number of leg breaks we’ve had in a short time has been unprecedented. And this not only puts other players at more risk of injury. but perhaps even makes them get injured in other ways. In my own experience, any time you start thinking about avoiding injury while playing, you end up more likely to get injured. The assault on Arsenal physically, and psychologically, is what I feel was the main factor.

The age matters because one, the body hasn’t fully developed yet, and secondly, young players tend to pay less attention to their physical training while older players have to work harder just to stay fit.”

Knowing how addicted to info Mr Wenger is, he will be well aware of the problem. Strange he has not addressed it. What do you think?

Unknown

posted by Big Raddy


Theo Had A Blinder Against Sunderland. Seriously.

September 16, 2013

No I mean it, I really do.

I know some smart Alec will be saying: “Shouldn’t the headline be ‘Theo had a blindfold against Sunderland…’?”

And it’s true he wasn’t perfect – far from it. The little matter of missing four great opportunities to kill off the game before half time definitely goes in the “debit” column.

But he nevertheless did something that could turn out to be very significant for our season: he showed a certain talented German of Turkish descent that (a) he knows where to run and (b) he has the pace to get there ahead of defenders on a regular basis.

walcott ozil

I should think that Mesut Ozil will have looked at Theo’s performance and thought “I can give this guy a LOT of goals. And he’s not a preening, diving narcissist like another fast winger I’ve had to play with in recent times.”

By now some readers will have fingers poised over the 12 or 13 letters of the keyboard that they know how to use, itching to tell me that I’m an idiot and that Theo is clueless.

So first let’s deal with our Number 14’s misses at the weekend. He had four decent chances. A couple were well saved by the Black Cats’ ‘keeper, and one headed opportunity went well wide (but was harder than it looked because Theo was stretching to reach it).

It wasn’t Theo’s best day in front of goal. In fact he was about as clinical as a bowl of bacteria. But he has shown us repeatedly that he can finish well in one-on-ones and there is no reason to think he has lost that ability overnight.

Last season he was our top scorer and without his decisive ability to put the bladder in the onion bag we would not be getting all excited about playing Marseilles this week.

Every attacking player has days when things don’t come off. Yes, even the great St Thierry d’Henry had games where he couldn’t convert when homing in on goal with only the ‘keeper to beat. For Theo, Saturday was one of those days.

If I have one quibble (the doctor says I should have two) it would be that Theo always seems to try to finish a one-on-one by shooting low into the corners of the goal. This is generally good practice, but once in a while, when there is space, I would like to see him try an Ian Wright style “dink” over the ‘keeper. His first chance on Saturday was a case in point.

But we must not overlook the fact that he made some great runs and got himself into positions where, on another day, he would have bamboozled the custodian and walked away with the match ball. I can guarantee that Ozil has not overlooked that fact.

Ozil’s through ball for Theo’s second (I think) one-on-one was a thing of peculiar beauty. There was barely a yard of space between two Mackem defenders but the Wizard of Oz (thankyou Evonne) slotted the ball through the gap with the perfect line and weight for Theo to take it in his stride. A fraction out on the line and the defenders would have cut it out. A fraction overhit or underhit and the chance would not have been on. It was simply perfect.

The fact is, Ozil will make Theo a better player this season by giving him more and better opportunities to score. And score he will.

Theo is one of those players who can never do enough to please some fans. I watch every single Arsenal game and I see a player who has added intelligence, finishing and team play to his natural speed. If you want to slag him off for the missed chances at Sunderland, perhaps you should cast your mind back to the game against Totteringham, where his fine run and low cross set up Giroud for the only goal of the game. In that derby match, no Theo, no three points.

I believe he is the best right winger playing in the Premier League right now Who would you have ahead of him? Ashley Young? Don’t make me laugh. Nani? Waste of space. Aaron Lennon? There’s only one decent Aaron in North London and we’ve got him. Na$ri? Not really a right winger, and in any case he is nowhere near as consistent as Theo. Can you imagine him having a 21 goal season? No, neither can I. Juan Mata is a very good player but is not really a winger. Then you’re into the likes of Adam Johnson and James Milner (enough said).

I know Walcott took stick from some pundits after England’s lacklustre performance last week.

I probably have my Arsenal blinkers on but to me it looked like the media really enjoyed putting the boot into Theo and Jack Wilshere just because they’re from Arsenal, when in fact the whole England team failed to sparkle. (As it happens, I thought England did a dull but professional job and have put qualification for Brazil firmly in their own hands).

In any case, my instincts when the media nitwits are having a pop at one of our lads is to stick up for him, not to pull on my Doc Martins and join in the kicking.

Barring injury, Theo will score somewhere between 15 and 25 goals for Arsenal this year. When Bobby Pires was adorning our left win you could generally rely on him to pitch in with about 17 a season. If Theo matches that for a second consecutive year we need to start giving him the love we gave Bobby.

If he’s had a slow start, so what? Others have made up for it – not least Ollie G and the increasingly wonderful Aaron Ramsey.

Indeed if Aaron’s case has taught us anything, it’s that we should support our boys when things are not going well for them, because when their form comes back we will be very grateful.

The Theo knockers need to back off and get behind him.

RockyLives


Rambo To The Rescue.

September 15, 2013

I cannot tell you how excited I was about this game; it really was six year old boy stuff, jumping up and down at Christmas; having just been woken by my parents and told that I could go down stairs and open my presents; we all know that no matter how many presents you get there is always one very special one and this special one was made in Germany.

Ozil 1

I am sure there have been far more games worthy of far greater excitement but it seems a long time now that I got this excited about a game due to the signing of a new player, certainly not over the last seven years, how far would we have to go back to find the equivalent?

Anyway, not only did the shiny new toy look great — it worked; in fact, it took very little time for it to show the silky skills we all hoped for by playing a beautifully weighted pass for Giroud to clinically drive home past the helpless keeper.

Thank you Ozil

One-nil to the Arsenal and everything was going to plan, the good guys started stoking the ball around and the gulf in class started to show; Sunderland had a few long range shots but nothing to really trouble Szczesny.

I was mentally mocking Di Canio for his cartoonish Italian gesticulation as we went into the break but I don’t know how he did it but somehow he managed to lift his players because they came out like a completely different team – determined and direct.

I was going to use a bull fight imagery of the beast that comes charging out into the ring, driving towards the matador only for the smarter of the two to step aside at the last minute — but Koscielny was not smart enough and got the team gored with a school boy tackle that led to a penalty and their equaliser.

Game on. Sunderland’s tails were up and they started coming through our midfield a little too easily for my liking. I am sure I wasn’t the only one who started asking at this point, who is supposed to be stopping this happen?

It’s all very well for Flamini to take up the defiant stance of hand on knees, lifting a clenched fist every now and then and shouting: come on boys but it counts for nothing if the opposition are charging through the middle as easily as a hot knife through butter.

We needed a hero and just when you thought you couldn’t praise Aaron Ramsey anymore for his start to this season up he pops to volley home what probably is the best goal of the new campaign, maybe you can think of a better goal, let me know?

Ramsey scores v sunderland

So, I now take you back to the Christmas analogy; yes, there is always a big present but there is usually also something that you initially overlook, something hidden in one of the cards, something that you only give a cursory glance at — in this case it was a card that said – Get out of jail free. Because that is exactly what we did when the referee decided to give a free kick outside the area after one or another of their players scored a goal that would have had sites like this going into melt down had that happened to us.

The only thing for it was to score a third, up stepped Johnny on the Spot, or Taffy in the box to stroke home our third and put this game to bed.

Özil came off to great applause for an excellent debut; if I had to sum it up in a sentence I would say that I thought it was a very special Christmas day.

Player ratings.

Szczesny: I am a big fan; he is the right man for the job, he gets better all the time and I for one hope he stays at THOF many years to come. Commanding, stopped the shots that needed to be stopped, couldn’t do much about the penalty, good game. 8

Jenkinson: Özil’s arrival seemed to prompt the majority of the team to take a step up in their ability on the ball; the problem is I don’t think Jenks got the memo: too many crosses that flashed across the box when no one was there. 6

Sagna: I think it was against Sunderland last season that Bacary’s reputation to be able to play central defence first started, it wouldn’t have been the same if today’s performance was his first as a CB. I think we saw today just how good the BFG makes both Sagna and Koscielny look. 6

Koscielny: no excuses, school boy error for the penalty. 5

Gibbs: he just gets better and better doesn’t he, it wasn’t so long ago that there were debates on this site about how we needed an experienced LB – well those days are gone as our Kieran has got the job. We are also fortunate that Baines and Cashley are still around or Gibbs would be another one getting kicked to buggery in an England shirt. 7

Flamini: I think the title of The Flamster is perfect for him, he is a utility player, to be consigned to the bench when Arteta returns but will come on when we are ahead after seventy minutes and Wenger feels the need to shore things up. 6

Wilshere: I have always refused to fawn over the most talented midfield player to come through Arsenal’s ranks in a long time and as such will become Arsenal and England captain but today is different, I have talked about Özil’s arrival prompting others to raise their game, well our Jack raised his game more than anyone else in my opinion; his passing was superb, it was everything good today as it was bad in the week and because of that he is my MOTM. 9

Ramsey: how can the man who saved our bacon not get the MOTM, well, his first half wasn’t brilliant which might sound a bit odd but he has raised the bar so high now that if he isn’t scoring every ten minutes something is wrong. In fairness the first half was congested which doesn’t suit his play as much as a slightly more open game in which he can charge through the middle, although, when the game did open up for the few short periods he certainly was brilliant. 8

Özil: oh my goodness, where do I start, picture a kid at Christmas having just opened his big present and is now jumping up and down shouting, thank you, thank you, thank you that’s just what I wanted. 8

Giroud: you can try and knock him and I have but his goal scoring record will turn round and slap you in the face; he went off at the end but if you look closely you will see the physio mouthing to Wenger that he just got a knock on the knee, the implication was clear that it was not too serious, now I have said that, what do you reckon? Out for six weeks? 7

Walcott: “everyone knows he is shit but he is dangerous shit” How am I supposed to compete with that? Forgot to bring his scoring boots, should have got a hat trick. 6

Enjoy your Sunday.

Written by LB


Sunderland …… the start of a new era for Arsenal?

September 14, 2013

Yet another tedious International break which thankfully ends today. Once again we suffered injuries., just how costly remains to be seen However, today’s excitement has nothing to do with national teams and all to do with our shiny new toy.

Father Wenger and his reindeer have been all the way to Spain and brought us back an early Xmas gift. It has been delivered, unwrapped and now we get to play with him (easy…). And not just any toy. No, we must have been very, very good to be given a toy like this because this toy comes from the luxury section of the most expensive toyshop in the world.

But, a word of caution. Should we start playing with him without reading all the instructions and making sure he fits with our other toys? Perhaps, we should wait until after lunch.

images

Just kidding! How can we possibly wait to see the most costly item we have ever had. Sadly, my guess is that Father W will bench our new fellow and only give him a cameo appearance – unless our other chaps are too crocked to play.

Sunderland. Be honest, without looking, how many of their players can you name? We all know the manager who totally overshadows his players. If the team mimicks their manager then we are in for a trying afternoon because he is an irritating little sod.

Sunderland  have struggled to score and rely heavily on Fletcher and Johnson. Adam Johnson is a decent player who was out of his depth at City but remains a threat.

We know what to expect from a team who struggle; extraordinary hard work, in your face, counter-attacking, dull dull dull dull.

Arsenal: We have only scored more than one goal once  in our last 7 visits to Sunderland, we must hope for more today.  Will Walcott start after being on the receiving end of a most vicious tackle perpetrated by a son of Beelzebub ? Will JW be ready for a third game in a 8 days? Same for many of our players.

But whatever I write we all know that today is all about Özil. I could have left out the other 700 odd words and written just the one. How will he fit into the team? How long will it take for him to adapt to the PL? Where will Mr Wenger ask him to play? Is he a Bergkamp or a Pires? How will he respond to the kicking he is sure to get?  Ooooh, it is so exciting!!

My team:

sund v arse

I would start the Flamster. He is perfect for the midfield battle which we are sure to have today – I believe his signing will have a major effect upon our season and am delighted he has returned.

Jack needs a rest, though it would be true to say he also needs a run of games to get back to fitness, but with the news that Ozil is ill but has traveled with the squad, I expect Jack to start and be replaced by the new boy at some point. Mozart is crocked.

I am excited to see how we perform with such a team, especially given how Ramsey is playing. Have you seen the vid from his Wales games? The man is on fire and playing with a confidence it is hard to credit. If there were to be a PL player of the last month Ramsey would win easily.

The defense has recovered from the AV blip. One goal conceded in four games is an excellent response. Unfortunately Mertesacker is unavailable due to a bug so we are likely to see Sagna at CB, a position in which he has looked rock solid and the energetic Corporal Jenkinson at RB …. no problem there.

I don’t know if any of you have been to Sunderland (look away now all Mackems) but if you haven’t – keep it that way. I went up to watch a Kanu game and left in awe of the local population – how could they remain positive in such an awful environment? FairPlay to the locals  – to have to live in a town like that is not for the weak-hearted. That they retain a sense of humour is a testament to the human spirit!

And I guess that is why they are so fervent about their team. The Stadium of Light (what a ridiculous name) can rock when the team is doing well. The Arsenal (inspired by €42+m of Özil) need to give the Mackems no reason to get excited.

Di Canio is no Wenger, he is not going to be concerned with artistry and  weaving patterns of beauty around the pitch, he will be instructing (?) his players to “make their presence felt”. So, we need a strong referee. Who have we got? Martin Atkinson, UEFA Elite referee, we could have got worse.

Apart from the opening day blip Arsenal have had a fine start to the season. Two away wins, two home wins. Can we make it three or is a draw a reasonable return? Of course not, let’s start Mesut’s Arsenal career with a win.

Written by Big Raddy


Keep Supporting Moyes

September 13, 2013

After a tough start to his time as Manchester United manager question marks are being raised about whether Moyes is the right man for the job.

I have seen fellow Gooners take great delight in his early predicament, mutterings to the press, and the speed in which he appears to be losing the dressing room. Following Fergie was always going to be difficult, and right now Moyes looks like a fish out of water.

But here’s the thing, we Arsenal fans need to support Moyes, as should the rest of the fans in the country who don’t support Manchester United.

We have seen in this transfer window what a difference the coach makes. Given a choice of teams to go to none of the best players wanted to go and play for Moyes. Rewind twelve months and imagine Fergie had announced his retirement a season earlier, does anyone seriously think Brave Sir Robin would have chosen to play for Moyes?

When they played Chelsea I laughed as Moyes who had been standing on the touch line for most of the game went up to his seat to talk to his coaches, he quite simply didn’t understand how to get the win, this is not what he is used to, a point against Chelsea or the big boys would be a good result for him in the past.

And this is why we should want Moyes to keep his job as long as possible, at least for two more transfer windows, so that all the old men have retired or asked to leave and he is left struggling to attract the best of the best.

There is another reason we need him to stay, and his name is Pep Guardiola, Pep was recently quoted as saying he wants to manage in England, he has a contract in Munich for three years. Assuming he stays in the job he will be available in summer of 2016. If Moyes gets sacked early United have the chance to get another coach on a three year deal and fight for Pep, if he stays for a season and a half the manager who replaces him will not take a one and a half year deal.

And what does this mean for us? Well as we all know Arsene’s deal ends in the summer, give the man two more years, and then we can have Pep, Arsene’s natural successor.

So here’s the message we need to repeat in public, “Moyes is good for United”, we can laugh about it quietly as they fall apart, but keeping his job is in all of our interest.

Gooner in Exile


Big boys play in the Big League, and little kids at home?

September 12, 2013

Much has been said this week about the infamous proclamation by one Alan Hansen in 1995: “You can’t win anything with kids”. The context was a 1-3 loss by Manchester United to Aston Villa. Mr Pompous Pundit Pool-dweller Hansen was subsequently proved wrong. ManUre went on to win a famous double that year. But, BBC says, “those “kids” were an exceptional bunch like David Beckham, Gary and Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs”.

However, Hansen continued to maintain his position, most persistently about an young Arsenal side, arguing why Arsene Wenger’s strategy was a recipe for disaster. Apparently the justification came from the failure to win silverware over a period of time. At the same time, Arsene continued to show his faith in his “kids”. In the process, Arsenal became a preferred destination for young players, who consistently received the opportunity to play with, and against, the big boys. And learn the game at the highest level under the tutelege of Arsene and his gang. Concurrently, the doomsday brigade continued to spread vitriol and negativity all round, spelling doom on Arsenal and satisfying their own petty egos.

As a result, Arsenal developed an impressive string of players, most of whom have stayed on at the club, and a few stars departed for greener pastures. The astute transfer architect that Arsene is, he managed to manufacture a win-win situation in (almost) every case – for Arsenal and for the matured “kid”. The player was happy to find a new challenge, and in most cases (except perhaps the case of a certain Dutchman) had outlived his utility for Arsenal, and in the process Arsenal made a healthy bit of profit in the transfer market. This, in turn, contributed towards maintaining a competititive position in the Premiership, qualifying for Champions League consistently, and progressing well in all competitions, against the backdrop of considerable financial challenges for the club. Extremely creditably it has to be said, even if we did not earn silverware, to the immense frustration of all fans. All of this came together with maintaining immense faith in the academy and developing a fine set of young players in the process.

The immense success in developing young talent has come dramatically home to us in a different way last week. The laments of new FA Chairman, Greg Dyke, as to the lack of English (and Welsh) talent in the EPL, raises once again the important question as to how national football can stay competitive against the backdrop of financial power and alleged excesses of the major clubs. How else would one do this, other than offering the opportunity for “kids” to play in the big league.

Perhaps most importantly, this promotes the fantastic brand of football that Arsenal produces on the field, including a unique mix of youth and experience, and lively football produced by an extremely talented pool of young and fast players. At 25 years of average age, Arsenal had one of the youngest teams in the first few games of the current season in EPL. Surely, with the arrival of one 24 year old Mesut Özil, a complete package of youth and experience, the average age is going to decrease even further. So, what now? Surely, for us fans, the stage is set for a fantastic experience where we are ready to win all, trophies, admirers and envy, while at the same time upholding the highest traditions of playing an attractive attacking game, and promoting young talent.

The question really is not when Arsenal is going to start flying again, but how beautiful the flight will be! A historical coincidence is that, the “can’t win anything with kids” comment came against ManUre’s 1-3 loss to Aston Villa in 1995. For Arsenal, having started the season with a 1-3 loss to Villa, surely now is the time! Surely, our young brigade is comparable, if not better, than the young kids of ManUre back in 1995. Equally young, and more experienced at this level. What a wonderful prospect! Thanks a lot, Arsene and Arsenal!

Go on The Arsenal!!!!

Written by Arnie


The Curse of the Left

September 11, 2013

Mrs. Raddy was very impressed the other day when I stared at her with what she believed was loving tenderness , though what I was actually doing was thinking about our left side. *

My reasoning was this …… Gibbs, Monreal, Podolski, Ox, all crocked whilst playing out there. Would I be wrong in thinking that both Santi and Mozart also suffered injuries whilst playing on our port side?

images“Please don’t make me play out there, Boss”

Not only that but players who have been shipped out to larboard have suffered dramatic falls from grace. I refer to Arshavin, Gervinho, Santos, Chamakh  and Bendtner (yes, I know the last two are CF’s but they were forced to play out there).

And looking back to recent history, what of Reyes, Hleb, Nasri and Clichy?  All moved on to lesser clubs – OK, Real Madrid, Barcelona and MC may not be exactly lesser but they didn’t succeed at The Home of Football, did they?

What is going on? We haven’t had a happy leftside since  Bobby and Terry. Many talk about Mr Wenger’s blindness to our defence but i it is remarkable that our attacks from the left have come from FB’s or MF’s for a number of seasons.

Will our shiny new German improve matters? From what I read, he is a traditional inside forward with a licence to roam, much like our other three AM’s (Ramsey, Santi, TR). So, is Mr Wenger’s plan to play Cazorla on the left and restrict his movement? I sincerely hope not because Santi, as we all know, is a genius and should be allowed to do whatever he wants (apart from canoodling with Mrs. Raddy).

Podolski is not a left-winger –  pace is not one of his talents . Nor is The Ox, who is yet another attacking MF. We have one coming through in Myaichi, but he is well down the pecking order. Given that Mr Wenger likes to play 4-3-3, why can’t we have an attacking threat like Theo on the left?

*Looking doe-eyed at one’s partner can have a very positive effect upon one’s relationship (unless you start to dribble)

written by Big Raddy