Ramsey Was Right To Choose Arsenal Over Man Utd

October 21, 2013

I’m sorry to do this after such a splendid weekend of Arsenal wonderfulness, but I would like you to cast your mind back to late August 2011.

We had entered the new season in rocky shape.

Cesc Fabregas had failed his DNA test and returned to Catalunia. Samir Nasri had got fed up of hauling his arse round the pitch at The Emirates and went in search of a bench to rest it on.

We started our campaign with an unimpressive 0-0 draw away at Newcastle and followed it up with a 0-2 defeat at home to Liverpool (of all people).

We were also blighted with injuries to key players.

Then, as August prepared to hang up its boots and hand over the baton to September, we went away to Manchester United.

You all know what happened.

A weakened, disrupted side was trounced 8-2, a result not helped by some bizarre substitutions from our embattled manager.

The anti-Arsenal media (which means pretty much all of the beggars) fell over themselves to write our obituary and Arsene’s too.

And quite a few journalists also focused on a very specific piece of transfer business that had happened a couple of summers earlier.

In 2008 Aaron Ramsey signed for Arsenal despite already having been announced on the Manchester United website. The young Cardiff starlet had talked to Alex Ferguson on the phone and, from Fungus’s perspective, it was clearly “deal done.”

But Old Purple Proboscis had reckoned without the charms and wiles of a certain Monsieur Arsene Wenger, who flew young Aaron and his parents out to Switzerland, where he was doing a bit of footy commentary.

Who knows what blandishments Le Boss used on the impressionable young Welshman (a year’s supply of leeks? a box set of Max Boyce videos? a subscription to Hot Sheep Monthly?) but it was enough to make Aaron turn his back on the soulless wastelands of Mancunia and head, instead, for the bright lights of London.

Between then and that awful 8-2 thrashing he had a bit of a rollercoaster ride. His early performances for Arsenal showed tons of promise. Then he had his leg snapped in half by a humungous twunt from Stoke. Then there was a loan spell at Notts Forest, followed by a return to The Home of Football.

When the 2011/12 season started we had high – but qualified – hopes for him. Qualified because we knew he was young and was still recovering from that awful maiming by Ryan Shawcross.

You can only imagine how his head must have been in those early season games. Cesc and Nasri gone. No new arrivals of substance. Turmoil and dissent in and around the club. And him battling his own demons as he strived to recover from that shattering injury.

Then he finds himself on the wrong end of a record-breaking drubbing from the very club he snubbed a couple of years earlier.

As one journalist said at the time: “Surely if Aaron Ramsey had a time machine he would go back now and sign for United instead of Arsenal.”

It would be easy to mock that thought now, but at the time it didn’t seem so unreasonable. Many Arsenal supporters felt that the gulf between us and the Mancs was becoming almost unbridgeable.

But I am delighted to say that now, two years on, the idea that Ramsey would be better positioned at United than at Arsenal is laughable beyond belief.

Aaron is a gifted technical midfield player. As such there would be no place for him in the current Manchester United set-up. And that’s not just because of David Moyes. It is generally accepted among the footballing community that despite winning the Premier League comfortably last year, Alex Ferguson’s United team were as a poor a set of champions as we have seen in a very long time.

Indeed it speaks to the genius of Ferguson that he got them to grind out unimpressive win after unimpressive win all season long (all helped, of course, by the goals we sold them from the boots of Brave Sir Robin).

But, despite being champions, United looked like a team out of time – playing 1990s football at a time when the rest of Europe was embracing new approaches and styles.

It explains why the Mancs performed so dismally in the Champions League, where their dinosaur version of the game – which worked for stomping over low and mid table teams in England – quickly came unstuck when faced with more sophisticated opponents.

Now United seem destined for a period of relative decline (I happen to doubt they’ll make top four this year, but even if they do I can’t see them competing for the Title).

Arsenal on the other hand… well, we all know about the new Arsenal in which Aaron Ramsey is playing the best football of his life, surrounded by like-minded, technical players who want to produce beautiful moves and create goals of sexual intensity (at some point yesterday Rasp asked who provided the assists for our goals against Norwich: I was tempted to answer “heaven”).

If Ramsey was in the United team now his flicks and one-twos would be wasted, his runs would be in vain, his box-to-box effort futile.

The reigning champs are playing a version of the long ball game (with extra use of wingers) in which David Moyes clearly feels there is no place for a creative midfielder (hence Kagawa’s season ticket on the bench).

So, back in 2011, perhaps the journalist should have said: “if Aaron Ramsey had a time machine, he should go two years into the future to check on the relative fortunes of Arsenal and Man Utd.”

In which case – no contest. Aaron knows he made the right choice. He is in a team with a cadre of gifted young Brits (Gibbs, Theo, Jack, Oxo, Jenks, Pingpong etc) and a smattering of top world talent.

Not a single player from United’s midfield would get into our midfield, but any one of Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta, Flamini, Ozil and Rosicky would walk into the Man Utd team.

Like us supporters, Aaron Ramsey has been through the grinder for a couple of years.

It’s understandable why so many fans despaired. But the more positive among us always felt there was an end in sight: a corner to be turned; a Rubicon to be crossed.

I would like to think that Aaron also retained his positivity, even when some of those who should have been backing him turned against him.

His performances in the last third of last season were crucial to us getting fourth spot in the table. If we had not achieved that, there would have been no Ozil.

Now Aaron has started the new season full of confidence and skill. He really is better than any other player in the EPL right now, including our own lovely Mesut.

Could you imagine the current Man Utd team scoring a goal like our first against Norwich at the weekend?

No, neither could I. That’s why Aaron is in exactly the right place. His decision in June 2008 is looking better with every passing day.

Rocky Lives


We are top of the league…….

October 20, 2013

So I got collared by our A.A matriarch for the match report, so unlucky for you lot, I hope you all have a few hours to spare on Sunday. Any complaints should be directed to Mrs Peaches of the Arsenal Tavern, Blackstock Road, London, N4.

Throughout the match I kept changing my mind as to how the general tone of this report would be presented. The end scoreline somewhat belies that it was a bit nervy at times and that Norwich were firmly in this match for large periods. I had visions of having to talk about being too casual and allowing them back into a game we should have comfortably won much earlier, but fortunately I now don’t need to because, 4 goals to 1 later, and a quick glimpse at the EPL table should bring a smile to any of the faithful this Sunday morning. To be fair Ruddy did have a bit of a blinder so was largely responsible for allowing them to have a foothold in the game for longer than I would have liked.

There were times when things, in an attacking sense, weren’t quite coming off for us in this game, but when they did come off boy was it a thing of beauty. The opening goal was straight out of the Wengerball archives of total football, and I can just picture Arsene at home on the sofa hitting rewind and play continuously with a big smile on his face.

On 18 minutes Jack received the ball deep and skipped past a challenge before laying it off and heading up-field. The ball was worked down the left eventually finding its way to Santi who angled infield and played a lovely 1-2 with Jack before sliding it into Giroud who played an even better 1-2 with Jack, complete with brilliant flicks off the outside of the boot from both players. Ollies last flick split the defence and found Jack who had continued his run bursting in behind their defence to basically just pass it into the net. Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, GOOAAL. I may have even short-changed us by one ping there, but for lovers of the beautiful game it was somewhat utopian. I don’t know why we don’t just try and pass it into the net more often….All this shooting business that some people go on about is rather distasteful.

Jack and Olly v norwich

Shortly after this our Franco-Italian midfield warrior suffered a nasty head clash, and despite trying to soldier on was soon after replaced by the Welsh Wizard. I am sure that Matty will be fine and will stop seeing double after a good days rest and some of Mama Flamini’s homemade Spag Bol. Ruddy then pulled off the first of a few fine saves denying Giroud, before we somewhat started to sit back a bit too much for my liking, and Norwich showed they still had a bit about them by finishing the first half in the ascendency. Szczesny had to make one fine save in particular low down to his right.

This should have been the warning and catalyst for a renewed siege on their goal at the start of the second half, but it started a bit like the first finished, and I was left with a craving for a second goal to settle my slight feelings of nervousness. On 58 minutes I was duly obliged and an interception from deep led to a swift counter-attack with Santi carrying the ball down the centre, before finding Giroud out to the right, who lifted the ball into the box where £42.4m of Vorsprung Durch Technique had continued a surging run to nod Giroud’s cross home. I thought it was the other way around initially, and had to be corrected by my match buddies for the day. All this total football and interchanging positions between the players is making writing up match reports a nightmare…. sort it out Arsene.

Ozil header v norwich

So now we could relax and control the game and watch the flood-gates open…. Well not quite. On 70 minutes a bit of sloppy defending, more being too casual really by not clearing our lines or closing down, saw their lad Howson run from midfield and pick up a half cleared ball before slamming it past Szczesny low down to his left. Back to nervousness it was then. I still had a little bit of nail left to chew on the corner of my left little pinky. Fortunately just as I had finished that last bit, and was eyeing up the nails of the chap to my right, we finally got our act together properly.

Firstly on 79 minutes the Welsh Wizard forced Ruddy into a fine save with a powerful shot from distance. At 83 minutes Bendtner played in Wilshere, who had switched to the left, and his ball into the box resulted in a strong shout for handball. Denied it was, but not to worry because we retained possession high up the pitch and Wilshere received the ball on the left again and pulled back a short pass to the Welsh Wizard who was inside the left half of the Norwich penalty area, still some 10 metres out, and with plenty of defenders in his way. Never fear though because Lionel Ramsey, or Aaron Messi, or whatever his name is did the old snake hips thing and shimmied this way and that, bamboozling all those in yellow shirts, leaving many on their backsides, before calmly lifting the ball over and to the side of Ruddy. Ricky Villa eat your heart out. Maybe that lot down the road can stop going on about that one now because this was even better.

Rambo scores v norwich

It was all capped off on 88 minutes when Rosicky got the ball on the left and lifted it over to the back post, where Ramsey played a lovely first time pull back, that left Ozil with the simple task of, again, passing the ball into the net.

A couple of thoughts for the day. Firstly what would Ramsey be worth on the open market now? Surely the consistency in his form is pointing towards a permanent shift in his level and ability, rather than just putting it down to a good run of form. Dare we start whispering the phrase “world class”?

The second is about Jack. Many will still point towards him losing possession at times but I would point towards the fact that he always tries to get us on the front foot driving forwards which inevitably comes with some loss of possession at times. He never hides and takes the safe sideways or backwards pass option. In many ways he mirrors how the team seems to be evolving which seems to be more loss of possession at times, but with far more regular attacking penetration during the game. I would take that all day long over greater possession stats but just moving the ball sideways and backwards around the pitch.

One final thing, a big thank-you to 26May who kindly allowed me to be at the game. Without that I would not have been able to compile this match report. So actually, on reflection, 26May is as equally complicit as Peaches if you are looking to apportion blame for losing half your Sunday reading this report. On to the ratings :

Szczesny 8

Not much chance with the goal but was safe and sure throughout and pulled out a couple of good stops. I really don’t feel the need to bring in another keeper with his current form.

Sagna 6

I thought he was a bit under par today. He was reasonably assured from a defensive aspect but his crossing was poor and he passed up the opportunity of the over-lap at times.

Mertesacker 8

One poor clearance aside he personified concentration allied with calmness all game. One lovely moment after the game when he was heading towards the tunnel and the West stand started to sing we’ve got a big f—–g German which you could visibly see him chuckling away to. He seems to be happy at THOF.

Koscielny 8

No dramas or rash challenges today just the normal speedy cover in our defence cutting out danger before it develops.

Gibbs 7

Without being outstanding today he was sound defensively and offered himself up in attack as well.

Flamini 7

His game was cut short so difficult to fully assess his impact but he gets a 7 just for being prepared to put his body where it hurts.

Arteta 8

Mr dependable. He is almost becoming the unseen contributor but if you watch carefully you will see how important he is to our control of the game.

Cazorla 8

Great to see our little Spaniard back. He definitely was a key contributor today before, as expected, he ran out of steam. Much more to come from him this season I am sure.

Ozil 9

He has such great balance and vision and seems to glide around the pitch like he is not actually making direct contact with the ground. The new Dennis? Quite possibly because as well as the sublime vision and passing he is increasingly scoring, as 2 goals today will testify to.

Wilshere 9

Yes he lost possession a couple of times, but as I said above he always tries to get us on the front foot and I feel he is one of the key players that dictates our tempo and forward penetration when we have possession.

Giroud 8

No goals today for Ollie but a big hand in 2 of them attests to the fact that he is far more than just a big typical battering ram number 9.

Ramsey (for Flamini 38mins) 9

One great solo goal and a great assist for the 4th. You now always feel that something will happen when he gets on the ball.

Rosicky (for Cazorla 59mins) 7

A bit like Arteta he is a very dependable player. I think he will be a key contributor to any success we may have this year.

Bendtner (for Giroud 78mins)

He actually looked much sharper and pretty decent. Am I allowed to say that? His touch and hold up play looked decent, he played a couple of good passes and tested their keeper with a good stinging shot. He looked like a good squad alternative today rather than the liability many may think he is. The system we seem to currently employ actually seems to play to his strengths.

My MOTM, I can’t choose. It would be one from Jack, Ozil or Ramsey. I will let you decide. Maybe I will give it to Arsene Wenger today for assembling and developing this fine group of players that entertains us all on Saturday afternoons.

Written by GoonerB


Football at last …….. pre-match chat

October 19, 2013

At long last a return to proper football and a game at The Home of Football against a team in yellow. Who could ask for more?

Can we maintain our table topping brilliance against the Canaries? Of course, Norwich are in the bottom three with just 7 points and logic suggests that we will win. Big Raddy always hesitates to predict an easy 3 points but ……

Last season we got beaten 1-0 at Carrow Road and people (BR included) made much of the strength of the Norwich team who deserved their victory. They faded away but for a few weeks looked good, beating Man Utd, and drawing at Everton. They finished a creditable 11th and will be delighted should they repeat that feat.

I have been in Norfolk and visited Norwich this week, as such I know that it is 20 years ago this week since Norwich’s best ever result beating a superb Bayern Munich team 0-2 away and becoming the first foreign club to beat BM in the Munich Olympic stadium! Heady days indeed. FYI, we are the only foreign team to have beaten Munich at The Allianz (the Chavs drew).

Onto this afternoon….

Norwich: Their best player is the Cameroonian defender, Sebastien Bassong. He will be up against young Oliver Giroud and we must hope Bassong plays like he did for the Spuds. Ruddy is a fine keeper and will expect to have a busy afternoon. Norwich have failed to score in 7 of their last 11 away games but have scored in all of their previous 7 games against Arsenal which means our defence is sure to be breached!

With only 5 goals scored so far this season it is clear where Norwich’s problems lie. That and having a mutant as a manager. Please let this chump take over from AVB when he deserts the sinking ship that rots away down the Seven Sisters Rd.

Hughton might be a good manager but he remains a Spud and as we all know, once a Cock always a Cock.

Arsenal: All the interest will be on team selection. Should Ozil and Cazorla both be fit who will Mr Wenger pick in midfield? My guess is that one of Arteta or Flamini will be dropped and Santi will play on the left, we should not need two defensive MF’s at home to Norwich. But will Wilshere play?

I would like to see Vermaelen start a game or two and give one of our CB’s a rest. Koscielny played midweek, so perhaps he can sit on the bench.

My Team:

arse v nor

I expect Norwich to play fairly defensively – their confidence must be low and they do not really have a player to inspire them, but we have seen how a team who are well organised and compact can cause us problems at home. If we score early and play sensibly we really ought to win.

p.s. BR is hoping to watch the game in Budapest. Anyone have any idea if there is a Hungarian Gooners Bar??

Written by BigRaddy


Post International Hysteria

October 18, 2013

Hello fellow sufferers,

This has been a difficult start to the season. Not only that we lost the opening game at home, but that we are subjected to one interruption of the season, after another. Phew, you’d say, thank Dennis those blasted internationals are over, only to realise (or be told in Micky’s case) that there are no games between 10th and 23rd November!! Whole 2 weeks with no footy. It might be good if we beat Man United away, but it could be tricky waiting for the team to recover. But let’s not even go that route, bad luck.

So, we have 4 games in the next 10days, across 3 different competitions, but more importantly we have Chavs, Pool, Borussia and United between end of October an 10th November. Whatever you do, don’t book your holidays then, or you may miss the time of your Gunner’s life.

I am optimistic,

Well fairly, but that’s just before the Norwich game. After that I will probably go to DHS looking for a large sofa to hide behind.

Anyway, let’s have a go at predicting the results of the next 10 fixtures, which will take us nicely to the end of November.

I will collect the answers and announce the winner and the loser at the beginning of December. The winner can simply gloat, but the loser will have to write 3 posts on a chosen Arsenal subject. Simples

The fixtures are as follows:

Norwich EPL H

Borussia Dortmund CL H

Crystal Palace EPL A

Chelsea Capital One H

Liverpool EPL H

Borussia Dortmund CL A

ManUnited EPL A

Southampton EPL H

Marseille CL H

Cardiff EPL A

Have fun!

Written by evonne


We Need a Bad Result

October 17, 2013

I know we have had an interlull but even before that comments on the blog have been dwindling, with the exception being the day of WBA game where we seemed to be very disappointed about a 1-1 draw in the Midlands, but even then the disappointment was muted probably by the exceptional performance against Napoli.

We authors are also struggling to find things to write about, during previous international breaks there was still plenty to talk about, new tactics, transfer worries, formation worries, board worries, and financial worries.

With everything seeming rosy in Arsenalworld the blogs are quieter the moaners have little to moan about….

Spend some f’ing money
Coach the defence
Get a defensive midfielder
Sell Aaron Ramsey he’s rubbish
Shop at Harrods not Lidl
Emirates has too many corporate types we need noise
Buy a backup striker
Most expensive season ticket prices (Thank the “brilliant” Levy for that one)

Ok one remains but ten posts on the best striker we haven’t signed or what to do if Giroud gets injured is unlikely to keep us entertained.

So for the sake of blogs and entertainment value we need to lose at home to Norwich on Saturday. At least we will have something to chat about!

Gooner in Exile


What value is discipline and fair play, if any?

October 16, 2013

I am not talking about financial fair play here, that is perhaps for another day. To my mind, discipline and fair play, on and off the ground, go hand in hand. And Arsenal reigns supreme, at least in the Premier League, in these qualities. And as supporters, we value these qualities quite a lot as well. Or do we?

Arsenal finished top of the Fair Play League in 2012/13, and was awarded £30,000 by the FA Charity Committee, for use towards community or youth projects. “As a club, Arsenal prides itself on values of fair competition and positive behaviour both on and off the pitch,” Arsène Wenger said at the time. And not for the first time as well. Arsenal has won the award several times over the past decade and a half.

What constitutes the fair play award? At an objective level, it is smallest number of red and yellow cards totted over the year, plus positive play, respect towards opponents, respect towards the referee and officials, behaviour of the team officials, and behaviour of the fans. Quite a full agenda, is it not? But, ah, what use is fair play if you cannot win trophies? Turning the question the other way round, can you win the fair play award and the league at the same time? It turns out you can. The last team to do it was, yes, Arsenal, and in the invincible season of 2003/04.

What about the intervening period? The ride has been rocky at times, to say the least. Even, the fantastic role model that he is, Arsene Wenger has had his occasional trysts with the evil side. He has had spats with Mark Hughes, Big Sam, Sir Alex, the Special One and Alan Pardew, and has occasionally refused to shake hands. Ex gunners van Judas and Gallas had been spotted by the paparazzi smoking in public, and Wilshere more recently. Arshavin and Bendy were caught in awkward situations as well, and Alex Song even came close to a conviction. And, of course, the journos had nothing better to do but to try and make stories out of these supposed trivialities.

But overall, Arsenal has been a great example for how the team and the manager have conducted themselves in the public domain. Indeed, Arsene Wenger has been hailed for revolutionising the way English footballers look after their bodies. The Arsenal manager’s influence has led to changes in diet and lifestyle which have set new standards for professionalism at Premier League clubs and beyond. Hence, discipline in public life and fair play on the field have gone hand in hand for Arsenal.

Imagine, then, the surprise (at least for some Arsenal fans, yours truly included) in the summer when Arsenal placed a bid for one Luis Suarez, who has not been the most disciplined performer on the field of play. One of the greats at the current time, no doubt, but not a great example of fair play – diving, sledging, and even cannibalism being important parts of his portfolio. In time, we fans sort of warmed up to him, if for no other reason, than the fact that we really seemed to need reinforcements upfront. But along came one Mesut Ozil, waving a magic wand that inspired the team and the fans to fantastic heights of performance. So far, it has been a good ride!! And it would seem from Rocky’s post and responses on Monday that we no longer crave for the alleged cannibal.

All nice and fine and onwards with the discipline and fair play agenda then? Apparently not. In our attempt to be strong on the field and negate the impression of being pushovers, our youngsters have let some of the attitude spill over outside the field of play. Yes, we wanted the attitude, the passion, the strength on the field. But, we may be better without the adverse publicity, gained by alleged racist behaviour on the field, or unfortunate outbursts of juvenile opinion expressed to the press.

Does aggression on the field necessarily lead to the unfortunate shedding of the “role model” tag? Have we as fans somewhat given up on the high standards of discipline and fair-play that we expect of our team, on and off the ground? Our in principle acceptance of Suarez would seem to indicate such a change of heart?

Dear AAers, where now for discipline and fair play? What value are these qualities, in any case?

Written by Arnie


Arsenal…..Today: “You’re The Boss”.

October 15, 2013

Three Parter today, and it’s a case of “you show me yours, and I’ll show you mine”.

Picture this, we’re about to play Utd at home, it’s a must win game for both teams and everybody is fit as a fiddle and on top form, with one exception, Olivier Giroud is injured.

We are a few games into the season now, and have witnessed a few seismic changes. The form of Ramsey, the central Arteta/Flamini axis, and the inclusion of Mesut Ozil. How does your First XI line up now, and we can limit this to the midfield and attack, as I wouldn’t mind betting we’d all select the same back five.

This idea comes on the back of talk about False No 9’s, as well as chat about various striker back-up options. Also, to date, Arsene has not had the luxury/problem of selecting from a full squad. You do, well almost!

I am going to complicate things, and that is why this is a Three Parter. I am going to give you two further selection headaches. First, it’s 0-0 until the 70th minute, when The Arsenal score, and second, it’s 0-0 until the 70th when the unbelieveable happens, and Utd score. On 71 mins, you can make one substitution for each scenario.

So, I’m asking for:

Your starting front six, and how they line up.

Then, your Arsenal 1-0 up plus substitution.

Finally, your Arsenal 0-1 down plus substitution.

Remember, it is a Must Win game for both sides. I said “I’d show you mine”, but I’m going to have to think this through, so hopefully, see you in the comments with your suggestions.

Written by MickyDidIt


Suarez to Arsenal In January Is 100% Certain

October 14, 2013

“Calm down, calm down,” as Ga, Ba and Te from Harry Enfield’s ‘The Scousers’ would say.

When I use the phrase “100% Certain” what I mean is 100% certain NOT to happen.

There may have been stories in the press and on the internet over the last couple of days suggesting that the Uruguayan masticator might be heading our way for a cool fifty million, but PUR-LEEESE…

Brendan Rodgers could not be more of a Muppet if he had Jim Henson’s arm up his arse, but even he is not that stupid.

I imagine that Liverpool’s strong start to the season will soon fall apart like a kid’s toy on Boxing Day. It looks all shiny and exciting on Christmas Day, but then the working parts stop working, bits start to break off, the wheels (literally) come off and finally it’s abandoned in the corner, never to be played with again.

But even if ‘Pool are well placed in the Premier League pace by January, this transfer could never happen.

For one thing, the long-suffering and perennially optimistic Liverpool supporters would be up in arms. Those poor fans have had to put up with so much manure, false promises and even falser dawns over the last 20 years that selling Suarez to a “rival” (I know, don’t laugh) could be the final straw.

Never mind our Black Scarf movement, Anfield could be brought to its knees by a black ‘tache-and-perm protest of the like not seen this side of Saddam Hussain’s personal bodyguard.

The facts just don’t add up.

For a start, the Liverpool hierarchy were clearly deeply offended at our attempt to land El Munchio for what we thought was his release fee plus a quid. Apparently, according to some observers, this was “disrespectful” and we should have bid a million pounds more than we thought we needed to just to be nice.

I don’t know what sort of world these observers live in, but clearly it’s one with diamond encrusted armchairs and champagne glasses made out of the frozen tears of nightingale chicks if they think so little of a million smackers.

Personally I think it’s good that our club is not so profligate as to p*ss away such a large amount of money to make a bunch of pseudo-Scouse American millionaires feel a bit better about themselves.

Nevertheless, the episode clearly left a nasty, Ivanovicy taste in the mouth and did nothing to foster good relations between the two clubs.

I’m sure our Board of Directors are still mulling over the unsubtle barbs that were sent flying their way by John Henry and his cronies (apparently, in response to Henry’s comment that “I don’t know what they’re smoking at the Emirates,” Sir Chips Keswick was heard to say: “Well obviously we’re smoking hand-made Cuban Ramon Allones Estupendos. What are they smoking in Lancashire? Marlborough Lights?”).

So, that’s hardly a propitious starting-point for us trying again in January, is it? If ‘Pool were to sell Suarez it would  more likely be to Real Madrid than to us.

But in fact it does not make sense for Liverpool to sell their best player to anyone in the mid season transfer window.

With Manchester United in freefall under the iron flipper of Gollum Moyes, Manchester City unable to decide whether they are world beaters or panel beaters, Chelsea struggling to convert their free-flowing skilful attackers into Mourinho robots and Totteringham providing the laughs for everyone, this may be Liverpool’s best ever chance of getting back into the top four.

I think they’re unlikely to do it, but without Suarez there is absolutely no chance.

It might even be a resigning issue for Rodgers if his Board insist on selling the Uruguayan without his support

So, I’m sorry to say, the little fellow will not be coming our way in January or ever.

We may buy a striker in January but it won’t be him and I even have my doubts as to whether we’ll buy anyone.

The signing of Ozil shows we have moved our shopping habits from Lidl to Harrods and I’m not sure how many strikers will be available in the January sales at Harrods. I happen to think that, barring injury to Giroud, we will not add to the squad at all.

What do you think?

RockyLives


Where have the wingers gone?

October 13, 2013

Arsene Wenger was recently quoted saying that no one wants to play wide, ask any attacking midfielder where they want to play they all want to be Number 10’s.

For us this problem has come to a head with quite a few of our players over recent seasons. Nasri, Arshavin, Walcott, and even young Oxlade-Chamberlain all possess the attributes that can make good wingers but all would prefer to play centrally.

Rasp recently asked in the comments that Arsene find us a new winger as the team could do with one or two true widemen rather than another attacking central midfielder.

Like any good comment this got me thinking and also looking around the PL for other teams wingers to see where they were.

I am very Arsenalcentric I rarely watch 90 minutes of matches featuring other teams but I do watch all the highlights on MotD, and this lack of widemen is actually a pandemic across the league.

United have the most with Valencia, Nani and Young, Liverpool have Moses, City don’t really have true wingers but they have a couple who will play there in Silva and Nasri. Spurs have Townsend and Lennon, Chelsea have Hazard. Looking to the top European sides again the lack of true wingers is there to see.

So can Arsene surprise us with a new signing in this area or are we seeing a change to our style, even his greatest side didn’t really have true widemen, Pires was a No 10 prepared to play out left, and Ljungberg was a goal scoring midfielder prepared to start on the right.

Without Theo we have lacked natural width, but we have been devoid of it on the left for a number of seasons.

So I think there are two solutions to this problem, do as Rasp asks and sign a natural winger, although this would seem a tricky proposition given the scarcity of talent.

Or convince our players that starting on the wing is not as restrictive as it seems they think it is. Two names that spring to mind are Messi and Silva, both start wide right, Messi scores goals for fun from this position, Silva assists everyone from there without being a “get to the byeline and cross it” winger we are used to seeing in English football. True English wingers remain, Downing and Johnson spring to mind but both have failed to reach the heights when put in a top side.

The acquisition of Flamini could be a very useful tool in allowing a new shape to our play, one that allows the likes of Jack, Santi, Özil, Ramsey and Ox to start anywhere across the midfield, and go anywhere across the front when we are attacking, and not be as responsible when defending.

With Flamini and Arteta playing deep in midfield we have a more solid base than in recent seasons, the full backs should be allowed to go forward more freely safe in the knowledge that these two will track and cover any danger on the counter. Afterall only one should need to leave the centre of pitch because the ball can only go to one flank on the counter. That should give us our width, and if the midfielders are doing their jobs properly should not create the blockage that occurs when an overlapping fullback gets too close to the wideman in front of him.

So over to you…..are there wingers out there who can improve our team, do we need to find a new style, shouldn’t we be able to ask professional footballers to play anywhere and make the most of their talents?

26May posted an article this morning discussing the lack of true strikers and the lowering need for them, perhaps it’s actually the lack of wingers supplying the strikers that is causing the change in scoring stats?

Gooner in Exile


January Transfer Targets Pt. 2

October 12, 2013

So …… Pt 1 raised some interesting responses. Some thought that TV should be given time in the first 11, many disagreed with my contention that Koscielny, despite being a top bloke and player, is not good enough to propel us to winning the title, others thought that Jenks is a weak link, which I agree with, but unlike me do not think he has the gumption to become Bacary’s successor.  There was more but if you want to know – go back and read the comments.

My conclusion remains that until we tighten up a defence that has kept only one clean sheet this season our campaign is doomed.

But, moving forward,

Midfield:  Ramsey, Wilshire, Cazorla, Rosicky, Arteta, Flamini with back up from Eisfeld, Frimpong, Olsson etc etc  (In these days of fluid positions it is hard to say whether Ox and Mesut are MF’s, so for today they are attackers. )

This has to be the best midfield in England. So good that brilliant players will be forced to sit on the bench – players who would be automatic starters in 90% of the teams in the PL.

Creatively we are stuffed with riches but how about the much discussed DM position? Many, myself included, were surprised how well Arteta performed the role but questioned what would happen should he suffer a long term injury. If this was the question then Flamini was the answer. An inspired move both for himself and Arsenal. But is The Flamster a good enough solution? Would we be better off with a DM built  in the shape of a Northern Outhouse, someone like PV4 or Gilberto Silva?  Well, Alex Song was a big fellow and I would much rather be on the end of a tackle from him than Matthieu.

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“Oh, No Mr. Wenger. Not the Left Wing”

And what would be your ideal MF in a 4-3-3? My choice would be Ramsey, Cazorla and Arteta but I have a suspicion our diminutive Spanish genius is going to spending much time on the left wing.

Transfer Targets: No need whatsoever, but if the rumours of Khedira from RM are true …..

Attack:  Firstly, do we actually play with wingers anymore? Given that Theo spends as much time in an inside forward position or through the middle, and that Podolski has the pace of an overweight Panda, then the answer must be No. But I love a winger, I love a player who sets up a fullback and then leaves him bemused and wishing he were at home with a mug of Ovaltine and watching Midsummer Murders.

Walcott has proved to be a fine right sided attacker and certainly the best in his position (?) in the PL. Podolski is a great finisher and adds power in support of the centre forward.

Oxlade-Chamberlain picked up an injury at a vital point in his AFC development – a run in the team could see him become an AFC great, but will he get the chance, and if so, in which position?

We do have 3 pacy teenagers; Myaichi, who appears to be an old fashioned winger. We thought The Ox and Gnabry were as well but both suit deeper roles which brings us to the DB10 role – the crux of the attack.  We have so many players who can fill this role but €50m has bought someone who has lifted the entire team and in short time has made the role his own. Mesut Rules and the whole club should be built around him. The prospect of him and Cazorla is mouth-watering.

All pundits, fans, club employees etc etc know where we are lacking – We are over-dependent upon the fitness of Giroud. We need a fox-in-the-box. Suarez would have been perfect but he didn’t arrive and my guess is that resulted in Dick Laws’ fan being covered in the brown stuff. That Mr Wenger was prepared to spend €45m on a CF shows he recognizes where the squad is lacking.

We have alternatives; Theo and Pod can play centrally. Sanogo could be the next Anelka, but if it is to be our season then we need a body. Or we need for Giroud to become Bionic.

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” I, Giroud can play 50 games a season”

Transfer Targets:  The chance of getting a top quality striker in January is slim. There has been talk of LLorente but in my opinion he is similar to but not as good as OG. However, needs must and on a loan he would be a fine signing. Suarez in summer? Yes please. The problem is that every top club is desperate for strikers. Real are unhappy with Benzema, Barca do not have an out and out CF, MC are likely to lose Aguerro and are dissatisfied with Dzeko, Chavs – :-D, MU – BSR is coming 30 and a crock, Rooney doesn’t score enough. I could go on but you know the teams as well as I do.

What do you think? Can win the title without adding a striker?

written by an absent Big Raddy