The Arsenal Rover’s Revenge On Cardiff

November 30, 2013

Cardiff. Hate the place.  I lived there in the late ’80’s and was visiting my daughter who was in Cardiff Royal Infirmary. I had parked my vintage  ´60’s Rover P5B in the underground carpark and it was stolen, only to be found burnt out not more than 800 yards from the hospital. An act of pure vandalism which has coloured my view of the city ever since.4374975717_b12ba8fb7d_z

Hope whomever torched my beauty suffers eternal damnation (mine was British Racing Green)

Anyway … enough of my personal angst. We play a hopeful Cardiff side today, fresh from a totally undeserved draw with United, they were cock-a-hop and understandably so. This is why I love football – it is so uncertain; we were by far the better side at OT and lost to an off-the-shoulder number from a traitorous cheese-eater. Next week the same team lose two points to a promoted side who cost less than MU’s bench.

No doubt the Cardiff fans will be expecting a similar or better result against our heroes. Could they repeat the defeat of the Northern Oilers? Possibly.

Cardiff have beaten Arsenal twice since 1927! Not a great record though as we haven’t played them in the PL it is difficult to be too triumphal.

Much is being made of Aaron Ramsey’s return to his home club. He hasn’t scored for two games and will be desperate to end his barren spell 🙂  Captain of Wales and the best player to come out of the province since John Charles (… of course he is better than  MonkeyBoyo, HairyBoyo Giggs, Madboyo Bellamy, ThickBoyo Rush or FatBoyo Southall), Ramsey is on fire. Not just his goal scoring but his all-round play. I am never impressed by yards run during a game- if it were an indicator of quality we should play Mo Farah – but it does show how involved he wants to be and it is this drive which makes him special. Same with Jack or Flamini or Sagna – they want the ball.

At this point let me show you the interior of the Rover P5B 3.5V8 ……….


Can you see why I was upset?? (mine had black leather interior)

On another point, can I say how happy I am that TPIG has signed a long-term contract and Merts is in discussions. We need to develop the side and not allow another Fab 4/BSR situation to re-occur. A settled squad is vital – just look at the mons down the road (Mons = Disaster. Derives from 1st WW).

Cardiff: Good but not great players. Among their big summer signings was Andreas Cornelius , a huge 20 y.o. Danish Unit of a centre-forward. Cornelius has been injured but is due to return today. He cost a club record fee of €10m from FC København where he was so popular that over 40% of the shirts sold had his name printed on them! The man is strong in the air and swill usurp our stupid Dane in the national team. (p.s. there is another superb Dane coming through,  Viktor Fischer a left winger at Ajax, for whom a huge future is predicted).

Well organised, very fit, strong in spirit and team-ethic Cardiff will push us but we really should beat them if we find some form.

I will make a prediction: If Malky Mackay stays Cardiff will stay up, if , as is predicted, he leaves for Fulham or Norwich then I am afraid we will return to having just one Welsh club in the PL.

Arsenal: All about team selection – who gets dropped? Arteta and Gibbs are both fit and in the squad, but both Monreal and Flamini were superb mid-week so how can AW drop them? After the debacle that was Santos last season it is such a turnaround to have two brilliant LB’s. How to keep them both satisfied when both have significant chances to go to Brazil IF they get first team games  – very difficult for AW because if Monreal is dropped then what does that do to team morale? Why should reservists bust a gut to get a chance and then when they get one and play an almost perfect game only to be dropped …… you get the point.

Away from home I expect both Arteta and Flamini to start but that means dropping one of our attacking MF’s – actually more than one with the return of Theo.

This is my guess:

cardiff v arse

But, the team could equally include Rosicky (who has been fantastic) Wilshere and Cazorla! The return of Theo to the team will give us more Thrust.

Do you think we can take three points from a team lying in 15th place, just 3 points off the drop zone? If we are to be contenders then the answer must be yes, and it is only that Cardiff have done well against the Big Boyo’s that theres any apprehension. On the other hand they have lost to both Spurs and Newcastle.

It is getting cold and thus time for our heroes to start wearing lycra undergarments and gloves. Not like the old days ….


Bobby Gould training at Highbury when men were men

written by Big Raddy


The Weekly Arsenal

November 29, 2013

First of all an apology, I’m sorry but force of circumstances prevented me finishing the week before last’s news round-up, Peaches was kind enough to do it for me, and for failing to produce last week’s at all. Various situations have now been resolved so here goes with the next edition.


A quick shufti at the morning papers revealed the most positive piece of news…“Walcott set to return from injury”. “He has not played even a reserve team game, but I will put him in the squad on Saturday,” said boss Arsene Wenger. “He’s completely fit again.”

Now that’s what I call good news! We’ve missed Theo’s pace and his ability to get behind defenders.

Both Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere were back in full training after interlull injury scares.

Wenger revealed that Tomas Rosicky had been ill and would be assessed later but could be in the squad. Remarkable news about Abou Diaby, he could be ready to play as soon as March. Whether or not that’s March 2014 was not made clear.


First vs Third at ThoF, a big raspberry to both Sky and BT Sport for not showing the game live. “I think I have proved a lot of people wrong”.

Aaron Ramsey speaking to Julian Wilson in the Telegraph revealed his quiet satisfaction at confounding his critics, chief among them being Piers Morgan who described Ramsey as an “utter liability”. “People are quick to jump on players who are not doing particularly well, I think I proved a lot of people wrong, hopefully made them look a bit silly because they knew what I was capable of before my leg break and then were quick to criticise”.

Arsene Wenger “I’m not against buying in January. I don’t say I never made a mistake – I certainly made some”.

Thierry Henry is training with Arsenal, our record goal scorer is maintaining his fitness levels during the MLS close season. Could he get into our present first team squad? If so could Arsene sign him on a short term loan deal in January? He’s done it before.


“Giroud double sends Arsenal four clear” The BBC’s headline says it all for me. Artur Boruc’s laughable attempt to dribble the ball around Giroud presented our striker with his first of the afternoon and a tug on Mert’s shirt was enough to bring a penalty which Olly put clinically past Saint’s Pole in goal.

There’s not much doubt that the doubters are being put firmly in their place and being served up large portions of Humble Pie. I’m lovin it!!!


A quiet day on the Arsenal News front, no dramas, no contentious decisions to discuss, no pundits writing off our chances of trophies, no calls for the Owner, board of directors and manager to quit.

Speaking on Arsene Wenger said of Saturday’s victory “This win shows we are ready for a fight when it didn’t go as fluently as we wanted,” said Wenger. “That is the most pleasing thing. We were tested by being challenged for every single ball and we responded quite well.

“We always had the focus and I could never feel that we eased off. They made it very difficult for us.

“We could see a good togetherness to help each other out,” Wenger added. “We knew that we were sometimes in trouble and you felt that they were ready to fight for each other.

“That is the solidarity level that was needed. It’s very important.”

You just can’t argue with that.

Santi Cazorla issued a timely warning against complacency before Tuesday’s game with Marseille, speaking to the London Evening Standard he said:- “The main problem I see is everyone thinks it’s going to be an easy game for us to win, There is nothing at stake for Marseille because they have zero points but they are going to make things difficult for us. It may be tough and if we’re not careful we might slip up and then we might not be able to get through to the next round.

“We need to understand it’s a vital match, If we obtained a bad result then it would make things very complicated for us to go to Napoli and win there.”

One other tit-bit of news, not strictly Arsenal related, but I couldn’t resist it. Skinny chicken plucked, stuffed, trussed up and roasted after Hugo Lloris has an Artur Boruc moment.


Team news ahead of the Marseille game was pretty positive, Arsene Wenger announced that :- “Everybody from Saturday is available and of course Flamini is available as well because he’s back from suspension”.

Naturally there was some speculation concerning how Marseille would approach the game, their record in the group, standing at played 4 lost 4, suggested they only had their pride to play for. As far as Arsenal were concerned it was vital that they should go all out for a win in order to avoid any Napoli Nerves in the final group match.

Ladbrokes were offering odds of 4 to 1 on for the home win, 5 to 1 against a draw and 9 to 1 against an away win. Meanwhile Borrussia Dortmund were 7 to 4 on to beat Napoli.


The day dawned grey and damp but that was only the weather, Arsenal fans were rejoicing after another satisfying win in The Champions League, 2 – 0 against Marseille, a brace of goals by “Cracker” Jack Wilshere, the first after only thirty seconds, meant that even Ozil’s poor attempt from the penalty spot could be safely overlooked. Mersut later made up for his transgression by laying on the sweetest of passes for Jack to score his second.

It emerged that the Dozy Dane had been at it again, Bendtner was arrested in the early hours of Sunday, he was later charged with criminal damage after the door to the swimming pool, in the apartment block where he lives, was damaged. Bendtner was issued with a Police caution and released. Arsenal have “reminded” the 25 year old of his responsibilities.


Our former player and Assistant Manager Pat Rice has been admitted to hospital suffering from cancer. I’m sure all members of the Arsenal family will join me in wishing Pat a full and speedy recovery.

It was reported that the BFG was in talks with Arsenal over a contract extension. 27 year old Per Mertesacker who was close to an agreement on a contract that will keep him at the club until 2017 said. “I’m very delighted here with the club, especially after the first year was tough for me, a very tough challenge”. Sign da ting Merts.

It’s sad but true that some tabloids exist just to make trouble, when there is nothing detrimental to say about Arsenal they will pick on the slightest thing. According to that paragon of journalistic rectitude, The Mirror, Arsenal fans are outraged at Mathieu Flamini for cutting of the long sleeves of his shirt prior to the Marseille game. Shock! Horror! On the day when match fixing in the English (lower) Leagues rears it’s ugly head, this sorry excuse for a newspaper can only find a story about shirt sleeves to report.

That’s it for another week AAers thank you for your patience.

Norfolk Gooner

Like it or lump it – Tradition rules

November 28, 2013

Tradition matters to British people, we’re serial sentimentalists when it comes to keeping things going. We wear our poppies in November, a week after we burn rag effigies of a radical Catholic who lived and died four hundred years ago; we set fire to our Christmas puddings; and our ludicrously complicated flag can be upside down without most people realising it. We have the Boat Race, Ascot Ladies’ Day, The Ashes (less said, the better at the moment….), Cowes Week, the Chelsea Flower Show, Pancake Day, Trooping the Colour, the Queen’s Birthday (which isn’t her birthday) and the Last Night at the Proms. We have black taxis and red buses. We like tea with milk, chips dosed with malt vinegar, bubble-and-squeak, toad-in-the-hole and warmish, unfizzy beer. Tradition? We’re built for it.

And amongst British football fans, tradition matters to no-one more than the Arsenal fan. “The Arsenal” is the club of history. We revel in something called “the Arsenal Way”, we speak of class and the correct manner of doing things. When we played that title-deciding fixture at Anfield in May 1989, it was important that we acknowledged Liverpool’s tragic bereavement from the weeks before, so our players each laid a wreath in front of the Liverpool fans. And when we knocked Sheffield United out of the FA Cup with a legitimate but unethical goal, the club immediately gave the Blades an unprecedented and unilateral replay.

To us the past, from which our traditions come, matters. We wear history like a badge of honour. The fact that the directors’ boardroom (which none of us is ever likely to see) is oak-panelled matters; the old art deco masterpiece that is our spiritual home on Avenell Road matters; our Clock matters.

And, however illogical it may be, the requirement that our outfield players all turn out in the same length of shirt sleeve matters. The captain chooses the length of sleeve for each match, and that should be the end of it.

And yet a returning hero, Mathieu Flamini, has snubbed that tradition, not once but twice, by raggedly cutting off the long sleeves on his shirt in the recent games against Manchester United and Marseille. His boss has reacted robustly, openly criticising an otherwise golden boy. But Flamini has defended his decision, saying he’s been playing at the top level for ten years and he chooses to wear short sleeves, regardless of the captain’s choice.

Should we be bothered by that?

In the big scheme of things, even in the self-regarding world of professional football, Flamini’s amateur tailoring seems the most trifling affair. He’s a grown man and a professional, surely he should be able to make the choice, whatever “tradition” dictates?

Well, no, he shouldn’t. However silly this tradition may be, it is part of our identity. It’s like the baggy green cap that Australian cricketers wear, or the haka that the All Blacks perform before their matches, or the jacket presented to the winner of the US Masters in Augusta. Like all of those artefacts, the tradition is an innovation, a creation, but it is nonetheless an acknowledged and accepted facet of the club itself.

These little myths and habits are important, they are glue linking the fans to the club and the players. It’s not just about one player in the team right now, it’s about the hundreds of players over decades who have worn the red and white on our behalf, all subject to the same rules. This silly tradition reaches back into yesterday, it places Mathieu Flamini and his contemporaries alongside all their predecessors, from great, ordinary and bad Arsenal sides. The tradition emphasises the club over any particular player.

That’s why Flamini should literally and metaphorically just roll up his sleeves, accept the rule and get on with doing what he does best.

Written by 26May

A Wilshere brace ……. match report

November 27, 2013

“Overall we were always in control and our only regret is that we could have scored more goals.”

The Prof’s words summed it up pretty well. But then one glance at the Marseille bench showed us all how they approached the game: most of their star players, Thauvin, Valbuena, Cheyrou and Mendy, were all subs. But then they are facing a run of nine games in 30 days and had already been knocked out of the Champions’ League, so it was easy to see why they wouldn’t be going all out in this game.

Arsenal dominated the game, simple as that. We had some phases with a degree of intensity in our play, but with a goal in the bag after a minute, and facing unambitious opponents, we coasted for much of the game. Wenger was right, we controlled the match throughout and really should have won by more than two goals. The Özil penalty miss and Ramsey’s shot at the keeper when he was played in by Wilshere were the most obvious examples of goals that should have been, but even in a game played very much in second gear, there were numerous other efforts that presented great chances for us to score.

Not that the penalty should have been given, Ramsey, following his cute turn past the Marseille defenders, was tripped just outside the box, not inside. But in seeming recognition of the lack of justice in the penalty decision, Özil’s effort was as poor a penalty as one could wish to see: not enough power, not in the corner and at the perfect height for the keeper. Still, the miss seemed to kick-start Özil’s game, he was much better after it, including in winning a dangerous free-kick moments after the penalty miss.

The training ground bragging rights for the game went to young dad, Jack Wilshere. Some disagreed, but I thought Wilshere had an excellent game at the weekend against Southampton, and that form continued tonight. He notched his first brace, starting with a lovely shot into the far corner after half a minute and then finishing crisply in the second half when played in by Özil. Wilshere was also unlucky not to get two or three assists, with Ramsey and Özil not finishing chances he created.

On the few occasions that Marseille mustered an attack, the defence and Szczesny had things covered. TPIG made a couple of smart saves (is there a better keeper these days for diving at a player’s feet?), and when Thauvin thought Szczesny’s save would not keep out his shot, the quietly brilliant Monreal was there to boot it off the line.

Rosicky and Flamini’s inclusion in the starting XI saw the two veterans turn out some good performances too. When Flamini holds his position as he did tonight, and sits as a shield for the defence, he really is excellent, and he clearly has a good understanding with the centre-backs. As for Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Giroud, like the team, they played within themselves, but what they did, they did well. Walcott, Cazorla and Arteta got run-outs too – there wasn’t much to report there, other than to say that Santi looked a bit rusty in his passing and shooting.

We should have won by more than two, that’s obvious, but I didn’t feel that annoyed at a lack of ruthlessness. From the first minute, it was obvious to everyone and his chien that we were going to win; goal difference didn’t matter either; and we have an away trip on the weekend to a team that has beaten Man City and drawn with Man United, so energy conservation was justified. We did what we needed to do to win, and not a lot more.

So, going into the last match, the group is balanced as we had all thought, with the astonishing possibility of three teams finishing on 12 points now closer than ever. We should go to Naples with the confidence that we are better than them: the bare minimum for qualification is that we should avoid losing by three goals, and to say the least, that should be achievable; I would say we should aim at getting one or three points in the final game, which would mean we would secure top spot in the group. Qualifying from this group, as we should, will represent a real achievement.

One quick word about our friends from SW5: you lost to Basel, twice? Pl*nkers!

Written by 26May

Our Frenchies are better than Theirs.

November 26, 2013

Let’s start with the good news. Marseilles have 8 games in 24 days and as such are likely to play a reserve team tonight. Of course, they will have some first teamers but their ambitions lie elsewhere.

They won 3-1 away in Ajaccio (beautiful place) on Friday so are in form but let’s be honest, Arsenal not taking 3 points from this game would be a surprise. However, let’s not take anything for granted, any team coming to THOF is inspired and we will have to be alert.

We mashed them in France and could have scored more than the paltry two – OK, a massive exaggeration – in fact we could have been at least two down at half-time and scored with our first shot on target, a superb Theo volley. Aaron wrapped up the points with a sweet finish.


What of The Arsenal? Not quite at the top of our game even if we are TOTL. We all know there is more to come from this side. Theo has yet to get a run of injury free games. The Ox is out, as is Podolski. Ozil is going through a quiet spell, though he is still making runs and passes which allow other players to perform. Santi has yet to find the form of last season and Jack is not yet playing at the level we know he can.

That said, the defence has been superb of late, an improvement which has taken place under the media radar. We look solid with every player on top of his game and working as a unit. The emergence of BFG as the defensive lynchpin has altered the way we defend. Take him out and we suffer (see OT). Our defence of set plays has improved with OG, Sagna, Merts, TPIG and Gibbs strength in the air meaning we are less liable to concede (unless it comes off the shoulder of a traitorous kaaskop – look it up!). Our marvellous midfield maestro, Mr Arteta is fit and named in the squad.

Some stats: Marseilles have lost their last 7 CL games. They have conceded at least two goals in each of those losses. Arsenal have won 6 of their last 7 CL games. and kept a clean sheet in 5 of them. Mmmmmmmm What do you think?

My Team:

a v m

As players recover from injury we are arriving at the point where hard choices must be made. Arteta is back to full fitness but could be rested thus giving Rosicky a place on the left. Perhaps Monreal can get a game giving Gibbs a rest. Or should we revert to playing Cazorla out left leaving Flamini as our sole holding MF? Or should Ramsey be rested ahead of his return to Wales at the weekend thus giving Wilshere the opportunity to play?

We have to win tonight so perhaps a more attacking lineup could be considered with Wilshere starting in place of Flamini? So many combinations and mutations.

Once Podolski returns (could be for Cardiff) we have to find games to rest OG. A forward line of Ozil, Theo and Lukas is very potent.

I have a feeling that Mr Wenger will play it safe and include both Arteta and Flamini but if we can score early and be two up by half-time (a big IF) then he can relax and make substitutions. I would rather we went into the game with a full complement of attackers.

Win this match and we are almost out of the Group of Death from which few commentators gave us a chance – lose and we are looking at Spursday night football 😦

But we won’t will we? Another stirring night of European football awaits.


p.s. Do you know why condoms were called Frenchies?

written by Big Raddy

Olivier Giroud Is A Heavy Horse

November 25, 2013

In football it’s all about horses for courses.

At Arsenal we have been privileged to have some very fine-fettled four-legged friends over the years.

Elegant racing thoroughbreds (Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp); tough old warhorses (Tony Adams, Frank McLintock); exuberant, untameable broncos (Ian Wright, Charlie Nicholas); even sprightly little Shetland Ponies (Santi Cazorla springs to mind).

We’ve had our show ponies too, prancing around with bows in their hair and not doing much else (yes David Bentley and Samir Nasri, I’m thinking of you).

Even a carthorse or two (you can decide).

But watching Olivier Giroud’s performance against a good Southampton side on Saturday put me in mind of the Jethro Tull song “Heavy Horses”.

The song (off the album of the same name) is an ode to the mighty shire horses, those statuesque, powerful beasts with thick manes and hair-covered hooves that once pulled the ploughs that turned the soil to grow the crops that fed the nation.

Olivier Giroud Arsenal Artur Boruc Southampton

Despite their massive size and strength they are gentle, uncomplaining beasts, even if there’s not much serious work for them to do in these days of the combustion engine.

Even the names of their breeds are redolent of nostalgia and earthy warmth: Clydesdale, Suffolk, Percheron, Ardennes.

Ollie is a real shire horse (and as those last two breed names indicate, these great horses originated in France as well as England. They were the only horses strong enough to carry a fully armoured Medieval knight into battle). He puts in tireless shift after tireless shift; never complaining; always happy to take the knocks if it benefits the team. Always helping out in defence when our opponents have a set piece.

The way we play, his role is incredibly important. If he can’t compete for possession with the opposition centre backs, hold the ball up and play team mates in, it’s much harder to get attack-minded players like Ozil and Cazorla into the most dangerous positions.

Nor does Ollie get much protection from referees. He is often penalized for jumping fairly for the ball and seldom gets awarded the clear fouls against him.

But he fights and fights. His strength is phenomenal and he seems able to bully even the biggest and hardest defenders in the league, retaining possession against all the odds.

As the lone man up front, he also has to run more than most – either trying to find space when we’re in possession or closing down the opposition defenders when they have the ball, forcing them to make hurried clearances and, hopefully, lose the ball.

It was that determination which led to our first goal against Saints. If you re-watch it, you’ll see that Ollie was a long way – at least 20 yards – from Boruc when the Southampton goalie received a back pass in his penalty area.  The chances of anything coming of the situation were tiny, but Ollie still made the effort and we all know what (hilariously) happened next.

I know the jury was out on Giroud at the end of last season. He had endeared himself to the supporters by dint of his sheer work rate and attitude, but some fans undoubtedly felt we needed someone ‘better’ for the current season. However, this year Ollie has moved up a whole level.

Aside from doing all the centre forwardy stuff like beating up defenders and competing for high balls, his touch and link-up play have been first rate and his finishing is good too. With 7 goals in the EPL after 12 games, he is on course for more than 20 league goals for the season. And he also has 3 in the Champions League.

Maybe we do need an additional striker in January, but for me it’s not automatic that it should be a striker to replace Olivier Giroud. Certainly it would be preferable to have someone other than the perennially frustrated and frustrating Bendtner as back-up if our Shire Horse gets injured.

But I am not averse to us sticking with Ollie as the front man, sharing the goals with Theo, Aaron, Santi, Podolski and Ozil. I feel that in time he will come to be really appreciated as one of the very best strikers in the EPL.

He may be more of an Alan Smith than an Ian Wright (Smudger was less spectacular and less individualistic than Wrighty) but it’s worth remembering that we won the league twice with Smith leading the line and did not win it at all with Wright as our front man (although he played a part in Arsene’s first Double triumph in 1998).

What do you think?

To finish I’ll leave you with a few of the lines from the Heavy Horses song that put me in mind of Giroud:

Iron-clad feather-feet pounding the dust

An October’s day, towards evening

Sweat embossed veins standing proud to the plough

Salt on a deep chest seasoning

Last of the line at an honest day’s toil

Turning the deep sod under…

Standing like tanks on the brow of the hill

Up into the cold wind facing

In stiff battle harness, chained to the world

Against the low sun racing

Bring me a wheel of oaken wood

A rein of polished leather

A Heavy Horse and a tumbling sky

Brewing heavy weather.



November 24, 2013

How would we react following a two week International break?

Well, the fans certainly got right back into their stride and were clearly showing Grade A Withdrawal Symptoms. The Arsenal came out of the blocks fast enough, as did The Saints. A good game appeared to be on the cards.

Twice in the opening 17 minutes, The Arsenal hit the woodwork. From a delicate chip across the face of goal from Jack, and a wonderful Mesut pass directed back heel from Aaron.

On 22 minutes, we were treated to one of those memorable goalkeeping clangers. Here, our Pole proved why he is THE Pole in Goal, as his opposite number failed miserably to emulate the silky skills of our No 1. Pressure from Ollie, and he fumbled his lines. 1-0.

Then The BFG had his Flak Jacket tugged. Penalty. Ollie 2-0.

Look, you’ve all seen the game, so you know these things. So, my feelings about the overall performance?

Back Five: The Dog’s Swingers these boys, they really are. Every one of them. At least 10 points each.

Defensive Midfield: Not the best of days here, although very much job done. That Wagamama Bloke of Raddy’s sure was a big unit, and I bet I wasn’t alone when looking at him and thinking “Ooooo”.

Next Three: I have to say that I’m not convinced that the moving parts are as interchangeable as Arsene likes to think. Santi started slowly, and although his second half was fresher and crisper, I’m not sure we will ever see the best of him away from the No 10 role, while the movement between Jack, Santi and Mesut did sometimes appear to baffle and confuse themselves as much as the Saints defence.

Right, back to that No 10. Why move Aaron from there, Arsene? Have you gone mad? You’re a defensive midfielder short without Flamini, so you move your form player and top scorer. Quite baffling. I wrote very recently how Jack will only move to the next level when he learns to move the ball faster. Yesterday it appeared he was aiming for as many Saints bodies as possible. Apart from moves breaking down, the most likely outcome is him breaking down. He is still very close to being a seriously top player, and I love his energy and movement.

Up Top: Ollie. Worked exceptionally hard. Scored twice. Great work.

Overall, very pleased. However, it was clear that there was some ring rust. Individuals were performing well, but the usual fluidity lacked lubrication. It would also be unfair not to praise what has been achieved at Southampton.

I’m sure many of you recall some of the whingers’ classic lines “bloody tippy tappy football, no end product. Look at Utd who know how to win ugly”.

Now, some people look great until you remove the make-up. Well, if yesterday was us without the slap on, then gis’ us a snog!

Today, we are even Topper of The League than we were yesterday morning. Very hard not to like that.

Feelings by MickyDidIt

First vs Third

November 23, 2013

Firstly, I have to say how impressed I am with our feeder team’s current form, nothing less than wonderful. One of the problems with the advantages given to the CL clubs and those backed by billionaires is that the romance has gone out of the league table. Never again will Wolves or Portsmouth or Spurs win the title, those days disappeared with the advent of colour television.

So we are delighted when after a third (almost) of the season an unfancied club can be 3rd in the table playing attractive football. Given the furore following Adams sacking and the arrival of the unknown Pochettino, Southampton’s revival has been the stuff of fairy tales. Built upon a sold defence and a hard working midfield, they have embarrassed a few of the top clubs and will be looking to do the same this afternoon.

But is their style so advanced? Big strong centre backs, fast athletic full backs, hard workers in midfield with both destroyers (Schnitzel and Wagamamma) and craft (Lollipop), wingmen and a big centre forward who is excellent in the air. Seems to me a bit like our ’89 double team.


An *80’s Ricky Lambert?

As usual you will be better served on other sites if you are after tactics or stats.

Instead let’s look at a couple of players.. Wanyama: After a poor start he has acclimatised to the PL and is looking a fine signing. It must be said that I expected him to be lining up on our side this afternoon but I guess the signing of Flamini negated the need for a DM. He was superb for Celtic and I think will do well  throughout the season, always assuming he doesn’t go the route of other “hard men” like Frimpers and Tiote who allow their reputations to affect their play – it is no good crunching into a tackle, winning the ball and then passing the ball straight back to the opposition!

Then there is Lovren. Brilliant signing – no other words for it. Who knew? And only 24 y.o. Expect to see a big money transfer in the next couple of seasons, especially as he will be going to Brazil with Croatia. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the movement of our forwards but alongside  Hooiveld he has created a mean defence.

Arsenal: Much has been made of the return of Theo and his potential link up with Ozil,but I expect our flyer will  get 20 mins at most. Instead we much “make do” with the team which has taken us to the Top of The League! It would be great if Rosicky is fit but there are doubts, so maybe Mr Wenger will be brave and play Wilshere in a very attack based midfield?

My team:

arse v saintsOur bench is getting stronger. Will Nik B still keep his seat? Fabianski, Monreal, Gnabry, Theo, Rosicky, Vermaelen, Jenks. Sorry Nik – it is back to the stiffs for you young man.

Would be lovely to see OG back amongst the goals but I fear that like all the other Southampton’s opponents we will struggle to score this afternoon. That said, if we can score early then the Saints will have to be more expansive.

Another disadvantage is that most of our chaps have been away on international duty – Santi and Monreal has been all over the Africa. Thankfully, Ramsey and Ozil, two players who are in the “red zone” have been rested, and Koscielny, due to another rush of blood, missed the Ukraine game, that victory will give added vava boom to our French contingent.

This should be an entertaining game with Arsenal having to find a solution to Southampton’s pressing game. If we really are to win the title this is an important game to win and I can see no reason why we cannot gain the three points. The loss to the Surrey Devils was painful but we left knowing the best team had lost, lose points today and there will be question marks.


It is the duty of all you lucky people who are going today to lift the team. Say it loud and say it proud – “We are the Arsenal and we are the Best …..”


written by Big Raddy

Vote for the Next Arsenal Manager

November 22, 2013

Having a few minutes free I start as I often do  to consider life after Mr Wenger. Who doesn’t?

The man has been a stalwart but even he will have to let go at some point. SAF was approaching his dotage when he retired and my hope is that Mr Wenger will retire in time to enjoy the evening of his life. He is approaching 65 and it would not surprise me if he refuses to sign a longterm contract. In which case, let’s play the “Manager Game” …….

I have certain requirements; they must be Arsenal men, they must be under 50, they must be winners,and they must be comfortable with the press. So that rules out most chaps. But who could possibly take over?

Many of our ex-players have taken coaching badges over the past decade and as such can be considered.

1. Tony Adams. Don’t laugh. This is Mr. Arsenal we are talking about. He has PL and foreign managership experience, he has interesting views on Arsenal and football in general which could improve the club. He knows how to organise a defence and above all else TA is a winner. So why not? Well …..

2. Remi Garde. This little fellow is definitely in the frame. Currently manager of Lyons in France and a self-confessed Spurs hater. He has the experience and has already (according to the Redtops) been approached to be Director of Football at THOF.  He speaks fluent German as well so will be able to chat to our new signings.

3. Dennis. The people’s choice. Currently working at Ajax and doing his badges. Could DB10 really become an Arsenal manager? The flying is the first problem, then there is the doubt that he could ever be a Number One. I can easily see him as an assistant manager or a coach but The Big Man? Somehow I doubt it but it would be nice and he does look good in a suit!

4. TH14. Why not? The man is hugely intelligent, absolutely loves the club, has massive experience and an excellent understudying of tactics. A man motivator, brilliant with the media and a true Arsenal icon. Manager material? Why not?

5. Steve Bould. He certainly must be considered. He has been working his way through the manager ranks at Arsenal and now gets to learn from The Great Man. Has he the “nuts” for the job? Well, he would certainly command respect! Woe betide any player who dared diss him. He has done very well with the youth team and is well thought of by the club. Has he the gravitas to take over from AW? You decide.

6. Patrick Vieira. I have said for a few years that PV4 will manage Arsenal, he has everything we need; intelligence, leadership, the badges, media savvy, a love for The Arsenal and above all, he is a winner. It would be excellent if he could be the first black manager of a big PL club. Some say that his time at MC makes him a traitor and his criticism of some of our recent (last season) form was ill-judged but he is a man who speaks his mind and for that we should congratulate him – after all he was only saying what we all were!

7. Someone else. Now this is the most likely bet given the youth and inexperience of the above group.  It is likely that if AW retires next summer or in 2016/7, we will have another Bruce Rioch figure before the Arsenal man gets the gig. There isn’t anyone who comes to mind – Deschamps, Low, Klopp are unlikely to come – yes, I know, Klopp would be brilliant. OK …. just for you I will put him in the vote

8. Mr Klopp. Top bloke, superb at managing BD but who knows how he would fare in the PL.

So vote away …. you have 3 votes so we can get a clearer picture

We Did the Double and Missed the Train

November 21, 2013

Inspired by DidIt and BR’s Dortmund travelogue, I thought I might have a crack at writing a post about a day out at Wembley in 1998. Ant wrote a summary at the time so it shouldn’t be too difficult. I hope you enjoy it.

The day begins early for my old man and his ex-work colleague, JC, as they leave Edmonton, North London for Wembley at 8.30am for the 3.00pm kick-off. Whereas my brother, Ant and I leave Nottingham (100 miles further away) at 8.00am, still there’s nothing like being prepared.


Nottingham station still being built

We arrive at The Century at 11am to find Dad, JC and our nephew Matt already installed. (The Century on Forty Avenue, up from Wembley Park had become a bit of a family tradition with trips to Wembley in the late 1970s and 1987 versus Liverpool. It’s now a Texaco garage I believe).


Lovely Escort

The day is a bit of a scorcher and JC has decided early on to dispense with any sartorial elegance and protect his pate with a knotted handkerchief.


Nice hankie!

I’d made a whole loaf of mushroom and garlic pate sandwiches to soak up the early beers but there were a few noses turned up at the prospect of them at first. After the 3rd pint kicked in, they all disappeared in the blink of an eye.

Ant decides a few fan photos might be in order, including a group of Terry McDermotts in full kit.


Charming FKWs

Dad looks quite red by midday and confronts Ant in the toilets with, ‘At my age, you have to hunt around for a while to find it and it drops off!’ This comment was later explained, ‘Well you have to remember that I was in the Navy and all the nice girls love a sailor and I’ve been married twice as well’. Both the beer and the sun were having an effect! N.b. if you ever wonder why Ant and me occasionally indulge in strange behaviour; well the answer is, ‘It’s genetic’!

I’d made some red cardboard fez hats and once on, my old man doesn’t take his off the whole day along with a shirt, cardigan and coat in 80 degrees of heat. The old boys decide the sandwiches aren’t sufficient and depart for the local cafe. It later transpires that my Dad refused to have any of JC’s fresh hot chips despite being offered them on several occasions but then proceeded to finish off someone else’s stone cold chips from another table. Filthy hound.

Ant, Matt and me enjoy the pre-match build-up with more beer, some rousing singing and a cavalcade of stretch limos, jags and an Arsenal open topped bus.


Nice crest

We get in the ground early, as was the tradition in those days, Ant and me in separate seats from Dad, JC and Matt (poor Matt). Having blown up dozens of red and white balloons, we realise we have no idea of the team line-ups, who’s fit or anything. I suppose 1998 was almost pre-internet days, certainly pre-blogs and 24 hour sports news coverage. Things seemed so much simpler even 15 short years back. The chap behind us was very complimentary about Mr Durkin, the referee and the whole Newcastle team, ‘ginger midget…..homosexual fish-face’ etc etc. Homophobia, what’s that?

Meanwhile, Matt and the old codgers are having a terrific time in their seats. After the game my Dad said ‘People kept jumping up anticipating a goal and I didn’t see either of ours’. Matt said, ‘Grandad nearly had a fight with the bloke in front when he was singing, ‘Stand up if you hate Man U’.


The match passes in a blur. Overmars scores in the first half. The half time chat seems to centre around how far out Marc was when he scored. Wembley at that time had no big screen. Blink and you missed it. It’s so different now at the Emirates, where you immediately see a reply from three different angles. Super Nic Anelka gets the second, but was he offside?, we’ll have to find out when we watch the highlights later. ‘We’ve Got that Double feeling’ and ‘Arsene Wenger’s Magic Hat’ are sung over and over again, joy abounds.

We meet up with Matt and the scrotes after the game and my old man has now added a Champions T shirt to his other 6 layers of clothing.


Those twin towers- ahhhhhhhhhhh.

The plan was to go back to The Century but the queues for the tube make this impossible. We decide to walk to The Greyhound on Wembley High Road. My Dad doesn’t like the idea of walking, especially as he’s going to have to walk back to the tube later. Even Arsenal’s second double can’t cheer the old bugger up! Eventually we arrive and the beer flows. The Geordies are excellent in defeat, determined to enjoy their day out at Wembley regardless of the result. A fire Engine in Newcastle livery turns up outside the boozer and a photo opportunity ensues.


Spot the Cockney


Spot the Muppets

Matt and the old boys call it a day at 7.15pm. Ant and me have until 10pm before our train is due to leave St Pancras. Several more beers ensue. We manage to find the highlights in one of the pubs and finally get to see how far out Overmars was and whether Nic was offside. We finally set off for the tube station at 9pm but Ant finds needing the toilet a problem, so we dive into an Irish pub. It’s full of Geordies singing away so we decide to have a swift one. The Geordies invite the ‘Cockneys’ to sing a song, so we bellow out ‘Arsene Wenger’s magic, he wears a magic hat’. Leaving the pub, we feel peckish again and decide to dambust a large doner kebab.

Getting to the train on time suddenly becomes an issue and we look to be doing ok until I get stuck at an automatic ticket barrier and am in too much of a state to leap it with the grace of a gazelle. Safe to say, getting on the platform to see the last train to Nottingham pulling out of the station wasn’t one of my highlights of the day!

We phone my Dad’s house and speak to my sister to arrange an overnight stop in North London. Apparently my sister struggled to explain to my old man what had happened. He apparently said, ‘Well, that takes the edge off it’ and ‘…but how did they miss the train, we left them at a quarter past seven? I really didn’t expect the day to end like this’…………………..and neither did we!

Written by chas