How Does The Ox Get Back In This Side?

October 24, 2013

That is the question that one fine gentleman asked me last Saturday before the Norwich game. Said gentleman is known to many of you, and I will not divulge anything more other than to say his name rhymes with gasp. My response to the question was that maybe a post should be done about it. Listening in on said conversation was a mighty fine lady, also known to many of you, and again I will respect confidentiality and say only that her name rhymes with breaches. Well I am glad I have bamboozled you all and not given too much away, but I digress.

The point is that no sooner had I mentioned the words post, done and should in the same sentence than there I was with my thumb pricked and signing a declaration in my own blood that said slip of the tongue would in fact become a reality, upon pain of an extremely eye-watering forfeit. Having considered the remote possibility that I may require some use of the last 4.5% of my remaining fertility, here I am.

So how does the Ox get back into this side? I have mentioned in the past that I don’t necessarily see it as being an issue because I don’t see our players all being fit at the same time. I would also consider that some of the younger players, such as Gnabry, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wilshere, may change the position they play over the next 3-4 seasons as their games further develop and as certain older players start to play less or move on. For the benefit of this analysis I will consider it as if we have all players available, and I have mainly focussed on those players who I feel are mostly in consideration for 1st team places currently. I have not taken into account any additions in January, as that is too speculative.

Forgotten man?

Forgotten man?

For me the main aspect to consider is the other players we have in the squad and what their best positions are currently. What are the main strengths of a particular player in what they can bring to the team and how it affects our system of play. We do have many players who are adaptable to two or maybe even three positions, but I will focus on where I feel they can offer the most to the squad currently.

There are only 5 positions to be filled between the back 4 and lone striker and my list of possibilities reads as follows :

Flamini, Arteta, Wilshere, Rosicky, Cazorla, Ozil, Ramsey, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gnabry, Podolski.

That is some list and comprises 11 players for 5 positions, and is particularly heavily loaded in the attacking midfield department, so how do we get them all playing regularly? Are we actually overloaded with too many similar style players that leaves us unbalanced? One big question is would any of you be happy to see any of the players on that list leave the club? I feel that if we get the players positioning right with our current system then it doesn’t necessarily have to become a problem.

I feel we currently like to play with 2 deeper midfielders behind 3 attacking midfielders behind the lone striker. With regard to the deeper defensive two I feel we play with one as more a pure holding midfielder, and the other one who has more licence to go forward or be a bit more box to box, as long as they don’t lose sight of their defensive responsibilities. I feel this latter defensive role is very similar to the role played by Schweinsteiger at Bayern, and is a role I would like to see Wilshere play currently. I actually feel Jack is a very good attacking central midfielder also and may move more into this role later on. I do however feel that Jack is the best midfielder we have to bring the ball out from deeper midfield and has the best blend of defensive and attacking attributes to make him the most suited to the box to box role. With the attacking midfield area so heavily loaded I would prefer to see Jack, at least for now with us (England being another matter), play in the deeper 2 in a rotating combination with Arteta and Flamini.

That brings us to the tricky area of the attacking midfielders. Three positions and 8 players left from the list. Many may not agree with this but I would immediately remove one from that list and state that, when fit again, Podolski should battle it out for the strikers role and prove he can play this position at the highest level. His natural finishing ability means he has the potential to be world class in this role, so it is down to him now to step up and stop Arsene reaching for the cheque book again. If that were to happen I would fear for his future with us, and I do feel the clock is ticking on this becoming a reality.

This leaves us with the following for the 3 attacking positions behind the lone striker :

Rosicky, Cazorla, Ozil, Ramsey, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gnabry.

Although many of these players are adaptable to where they play in the attacking roles I feel that the first 4 would be more classed as attacking central players while the latter 3 have attributes that would class them as attacking wider players. I think Theo is nailed on to continue as an attacking wide right player and he will be heavily utilised when fit. Some would prefer to see Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gnabry in central roles but with the list of players we have for this role is it really feasible currently. Both of them are also far more natural at giving true width and directly taking on full-backs which is an area that our squad is slightly limited in. When played wide I have a personal preference for AOC to play from the left, where he can either take on the full-back outside or cut in on his dangerous right foot.

AOC, and also Gnabry, are young and have time on their side and can easily switch to a different role even some 5 years down the line. Rosicky is 33 and Cazorla 28 (29 in December), while AOC and Gnabry are 18 and 20 respectively. There is plenty of time for them to switch to a central role later, if that looks the best option, as older players start to vacate these positions.

Against Dortmund we seemed to play with predominantly 3 attacking central midfielders behind the lone striker. Without the natural width we didn’t really stretch them and made it easier for them to compress the space centrally. We were reliant on the full-backs providing the attacking width which didn’t happen to great effect this time. With it not quite working, and Gnabry probably still being considered slightly on the young side for a game of this magnitude against that level of opposition, I feel we really missed the option of AOC, and also Walcott, to change the lines of attack and give us that different option. Once you assess the squad in this way I do feel that AOC, once fit, should still have an important and regular role to play in our first team.

Written by GoonerB


Edged Out : Arsenal 1 – Dortmund 2

October 23, 2013

The game billed as Arsenal’s first real test ended in defeat for our boys. So does that mean we failed the test? Well we certainly didn’t pass it with flying colours, but I don’t think we failed it either.

Sometimes football is about more than the result, last night was our first chance to see if we have actually improved, if the run since Munich home mauling last year is built on the quality of opposition we have faced or an actual improvement in our game.

For me it was a closely matched contest so in that regard I would say we have definitely improved, this wasn’t us holding on as we have seen when playing some of the top European sides in the last few seasons, we were trying to take the game to them. We were most definitely up for the fight, the work ethic we have cried out for when not in possession was there, even without Flamini’s influence.

If Cazorla’s effort had been 6 inches to the left we would be celebrating a glorious win, if we were not so inclined to chase the win as a team we would probably be sitting with a point and keeping the distance of 3 points between us an them. It was not to be, can we be critical of our lads for going for the win? Maybe but then that is why we play football matches to get the win.

The game started with Dortmund pressing high as expected and we struggled to find rhythmn through the midfield, men were being pressed everywhere, free men were hard to find, and that is how we conceded the opener.

Having dealt with the initial attack the ball made its way to Ramsey who should have just cleared up the pitch, instead he looked for options he didn’t want to waste possession, I understand that because it’s how we try and play, but I also think on occasion it is our downfall, especially when facing quality opposition, the ball was nicked from him and it was despatched into our net.

We equalised just before half time having enjoyed out best spell of the game, the ball was moving quicker as Dortmund sat deeper, and could not get to us as quickly as they had started to tire. The ball arrived at Sagna who delivered our best cross of the night, Giroud pressured and forced a mistake between centre back and keeper, he smashed the ball into the vacant net.

We didn’t really want the half to end, and on 45 minutes exactly the ref signalled half time. How rare in the modern game not one bit of injury time.

Dortmund started the second half refreshed and pressing us again, we coped better this time, moving the ball more quickly but neither team really created clear cut chances during the next twenty or so minutes.

The home crowd started to sense victory, you could hear it in the singing, we were most definitely on top, Özil’s first telling contribution saw him set up Cazorla who was a whisker away from finding the top corner.

Ten minutes later with Arsenal continuing to apply pressure Dortmund found the killer blow, swiftly counter attacking down the right wing a cross found Lewandoski who finished with aplomb.

The game played out with us unable to force an equaliser as Dortmund were happy to see out the small win.

Gooner in Exile

A Look at Lewandowski

October 22, 2013

“When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now”

M. Wenger is 64 years old today and as a gift UEFA have given him a mouth watering challenge at THOF; our Professor must be hopping with anticipation at the prospect of pitting his wits against a team and manager who represent the finest in football.

Our season has started (apart from a ref-affected first game) brilliantly. Reflected not only in the points tally but also the possibilities of the team’s future – we are already very good and we are going to be the “couilles de chien”.

Dortmund: Not much to tell you that you don’t know already. They are very good, they are in form, they have a superb defence, a better midfield and a lethal attack ! Klopp will be in the stands following an ill-advised impression of the Ferguson rant  – how was it SAF was never sent off for abusing a 4th official?

I am looking forward to watching Mkhitaryan, the man signed to replace the treacherous, Goetze. And of course the performance of Lewandowski will be under the spotlight, what with the media speculation of a transfer to The Emirates. Cannot see it myself but he is a top striker and we could squeeze him in somewhere!

Last time BD came to THOF we won 2-1 with goals from some fellow whose name I forget. BD beat us in 2002 with a goal from Rosicky, it would only be right for the Little Mozart to score for the righteous tonight (70th mins sub?)

I wrote recently of my admiration for both Subotic and Hummels and how they cope with the wingless Arsenal attack will be one of the keys to the game.

Then there is their fans. It must be wonderful to have such support – our away boys are brilliant but these loonies are on another level completely!

Arsenal: Once again the absence of Walcott’s pace could be costly. I love our tiki-taka but some unadulterated searing speed undoes defences, if nothing else it forces the defenders to sit further of the player.

However, the addition of Özil has brought an added dimension. His headed goal on Saturday came as a result of a lung-busting late run  –  a part of his game which has surprised me. Not only is Mesut brilliant with the ball at his feet and a master of space, he is also an extremely hard worker.

The recent run of success allied to the two CL wins must give the entire squad huge confidence. It is this rather than the personnel which will inspire the team tonight. The return of Cazorla and Arteta brings wizardry, calm and authority to an already fine side.

The development of the understanding between Santi and Mesut will be one of the highlights of the coming seasons. Both hugely intelligent, both two footed (as are we all – no disrespect to uni-peds) and both team players.

I have been wracking my brain to find fault in out attacking play and have decided that we do not score enough goals from outside the area. Can someone remind me of the last time?

The defence remains a concern. We have to start getting some clean sheets or the season may unravel. It is all well and good relying upon the attack to score more than we concede but eventually we will get caught out. Thankfully, it seems that the problem lies in lapses of concentration rather than a deeper lying malaise.

My Team:

a v bd

An attacking team. The bench is getting stronger and amazingly Bendtner is looking threatening. If we are winning on 75 mins expect to see Monreal

Tonight is one of the highlights of this (or any) season. Two teams who are committed to attacking football on a warm autumn evening in a packed, noisy stadium. Given a decent referee it will be a great game. I wish I could categorically state that we will take the points, what I can state without fear of contradiction is that every Arsenal fan watching on television would love to be there.

Win this and we are almost through to the next round.

Written by Big Raddy

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