Arsenal’s Tomorrow Man

November 20, 2013

Today, my dear chums, is me at my most generous.

I can’t quite believe I am doing this, but I am giving some of you the opportunity of joining us few in the elite “I told you so” camp. Your chance to grab some of the end of season Bragging Rights.

The last two days have seen great posts by Rocky and Raddy discussing how some of our players have improved. They also gave one or two of you a satisfying “I told you so” moment in the sun.

Okedoke, now for some crystal ball gazing and predictions. Today you set down in print who you feel will be the most improved player between now and the end of the season.

In some ways, this is the inverse of yesterdays. Aaron cannot possibly win this one, and indeed any player that was close yesterday, ie Mert, Kierran or Mozart, are unlikely to top this one either.

These are some of the lines of thinking I shall be following when making my guess:

Who’s likely to be called into action, and given the chance to stake his claim?

The likely candidates here will most likely get their chance where the first team have their weak spots, or injury critical areas. For me, central defence, defensive midfield and striker.

Here may lie my ace card. Verm. Surely he’ll be getting his chance. He may just be the man.

Can Jack learn to move the ball faster, thus avoiding collisions, and ensuring team thrust, as well as grabbing a First XI “must start” berth?

If we sign a striker, will that enable certain players to push on to the next level, like Mesut?

If Ollie gets clobbered, and we sign no-one in January, then might Podolski shine?

Same above, but how about Theo blossoming through the middle?

The Ox. Might get a game and simply become irreplaceable.

If Kos or Mert have a longtermer, will AW push Bac central, giving Jenks the chance to grab the “most improved” trophy?

On the back of Sz’s superb form, we now have the terrible prospect of OPIG receiving a knock. Could Fabianski prove to be the “man of the moment”?

Where do I stand? Well, I’m not going to stick my neck out yet. I’ll read some thoughts in the comments, and then commit. My gut feeling is that it will be between Verm, Jack, Theo or Podolski. However, I might vote Mesut.

Written by MickyDidIt89


Arsenal’s Best Player So far – It’s Not Who You Think

November 18, 2013

So here we are, top of the league, top of our Champions League group and looking pretty damn fine, thank you ma’am

Our success has been, above all, down to a fine collective effort but, nevertheless, some individuals stand out.

One thinks first of The Welsh Messi, Aaron Ramsey.

What a player!

From snapped leg to snapping ‘em in at every opportunity the boy has achieved above and beyond our expectations.

When he was struggling to rediscover his form last year some Arsenal fans (I won’t say supporters) deemed he didn’t have what it took to be a Gooner. I am glad to say I supported him then and I support him now. But he’s still not our best player of the season so far.

Oh no.

It’s not Aaron, so perhaps it’s our fandabbydoozical new signing Mesut Ozil. The German of Turkish extraction is a joy to watch – when he’s on the ball time slows down and magical things happen.

But Mezut is in his first season in the EPL and much more is still to come. He is not our best player this season – not by a long chalk.

If not him, then what about our dashing French cavalier, Olivier Giroud. He is like the Three Mustketeers (plus D’Artagnon) rolled into one. He spends every game marked by at least two opponents, selflessly receiving the ball, holding it up, being stupidly penalized by stupid referees, laying it off, linking up… in short he is an absolute top quality centre forward. But still not our best player in this campaign.

To find the chosen one we must move further back.

In doing so we find Matthieu Flamini – a player scorned by many when his return was announced (though not by this observer) and now someone who is deemed crucial to our chances of success this season.

Flamini is a tireless worker and a good player. But it’s not him.

So we look to the defence. Koscielny and Mertesacker have been outstanding this season – probably the best CB pairing in the EPL.

I love the commitment and intensity of Kozzer, but having given away two penalties already he can’t be considered for our player of the season so far

As for Mertesacker – well, right now, he is my favourite player in an Arsenal shirt. Calm, confident, always in control, always finding the right pass out of defence – he is unquestionably the best defender we have had since Tony Adams. The press and pundits still go on about his (lack of) speed, but anyone who watches Arsenal week in week out knows that the BFG is a class act.

Nonetheless, he’s still not our best player this year.

To find that individual we have to move back even further

And there, between the sticks, we find the man himself: Wojciech Szczesny.

If you can be bothered to trawl back through the Arsenal Arsenal archive you will find several Headline Posts where I have questioned the ability of the Pole in Goal.

He seemed to me to be someone gifted with natural ability but perhaps lacking in the mentality to achieve the highest level. His performance for Poland in the 2012 Euros was a case in point.

But he has knuckled down at Arsenal, endured the indignity of being dropped and returned with a new focus and intensity.

If we are top of the table at this point of the season it is for many reasons, including the scoring form of Ramsey, the creativity of our midfield and the obduracy of our team as a whole. But it is also due to the saves of Szczesny.

I have lost count of the games where his outstanding saves have kept us in the game and allowed us to go on and claim all three points

His decision making seems to have improved 100% and it’s clear that his defenders understand him and have great confidence in having him behind them.

Furthermore, his shot-stopping has been of the highest order.

When I was doubting him, regular AA contributor GiE was pointing out his strengths. As a goalkeeper who has played at a high level himself, it should have been obvious that GiE knew what he was talking about. I am happy to accept now that that is indeed the case.

To me there is no question about it: our player of the season so far is Mr Wojciech Szczensy.

RockyLives


Arsenal Lost – But Confidence Is Key

November 17, 2013

Ok, we lost at Old Trafford again, but so what? In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t mean much. I’ve had worse times fitting into my trousers. We are closing the gap on all the top teams and soon will be beating the lot of them. Bet you any money, and I can’t coz I’me skint, that we will win the league this year.

No, I take my cue from Arsene. The man exudes confidence and I have every faith he is building a great side. This confidence is vital if you are to achieve your goals. Alright, I know we all can’t be like Arsene. I dont go into my local bank and say to the cashier “I am like Arsene, so you will put £100,000 into this carrier bag and ask no questions”. I have tried, it don’t work.

Look, I know about these things. After the Mrs threw me out I was at a low ebb. I would wander into my late night Tesco’s in the hope somebody would talk to me, but no one ever did. Well, apart from the security guard, who threw me out a couple of times for “Staring at people”. Now, if that was Aaron Ramsey, do you think he would be thrown out of Tesco’s? Of course not, because he has confidence that’s why.

Our confidence is growing, but we need more. We would never have lost to Utd if we had more faith. Our ability exceeds theirs.

Confidence is king. About six months ago I saw a picture of Oliver Giroud in the paper with his girlfriend, she was a right stunner. I thought, why can’t I have a women like that? Ok, he looks like Giroud because he is Giroud, and I look like Ralph Coates, but the reason he is successful with women is confidence.

Anyway, I went to one of these over 40’s discos to try my luck. You know sometimes you switch on the Box and see some Boffin talking about the possibility of Invisibility, well they’re talking bollix, I have already invented it. Not one women spoke to me all night. Imagine having invented an Invisibility Cloak and the thing only works on you. Would Giroud have been invisible to those women? Course not, confidence that’s why.

The confidence of the players is strongly linked to Arsene Wenger. The man is a genius for instilling belief in his teams. That’s why we will bounce back from the Utd defeat.

I wish my Boss was like Arsene, but he aint, he’s an horrible Git, Totnumb fan too. He’s the kind of bloke that talks to people without looking at them, usually because he’s counting cash.

Yeah, I can really see Arsene greeting Alex Chamberlin in his office with “you might play. £240, £260, £280, you might not”.

As I said, the main reason we didn’t do Utd was our confidence is still not 100%. We played with a bit of fear, bought on from previous disappointing encounters. We just have to beat them once up there, then we will be beating them all the time.

We can’t let our confidence wane now, it would be a tragedy, turning us into nasty people and costing us the league. A few months back I was invited to a family party. I hated it. Full of couples having a good time and kids running around being a nuisance. One particular kid was really winding me up. He was about nine or ten and was going round kicking and swinging at people “Ahhh, little Joe has been affected by the cola, bless”. F*ck that, the little Runt was getting on my nerves. He picked on me for special treatment, probably realising I was the sad loser in the corner.

Now if I was full of confidence like Per Mertsacker, I would probably have laughed it off, but because I was on a bit of a low I cornered him in the kitchen “Have you ever had a seriously aggressive snow ball fight with a middle aged man and suffered moderate injury requiring hospitalisation”? He got the message. “Ahhh, little Joe is tired from running around” they all said, as he lay face down on the couch sobbing.

We have tremendous potential running through the Club and team. The idea is to keep the squad together, let it mature and improve and then add when necessary. I can see us beating the top boys at home this year, but only if we believe, and we should believe. The quality is there to beat anybody. Look at the young players at our disposal. Fantastic talents who will only get better.

If you believe, anything is possible. Just like Arsenal, I too am rising again.

In the Loft that I share with a couple of pigeons I have installed a microwave machine and eat a whole variety of delicious readymade meals. I have also replaced my 1970’s heater with a flash 1980’s version which means I now no longer need to rub up to the pigeons for warmth.

In addition, I have joined an internet dating site. Wasn’t very successful at first, but since I removed my own photo and replaced it with a fake of some male model from the Argos catalogue, I am getting plenty of attention. Though one women almost caught me out when she asked whether I had ever been used in a promotion for an electronic Drill.

Yes, just like the mighty Gunners, things are looking up.

I will leave you with this. Arsenal is on the verge of a great team with a fantastic future. The only thing we have to do is get behind the team and instil as much confidence in them as we can. When you have not won anything for eight years, you need belief and we can help push the team over the line, that’s our part.

The Ghosts of the Thirties are Stirring

God Bless

Written by TMHT


Mesut Özil …… Sprezzatura.

November 16, 2013

Now, I don’t know many long words, and even fewer in Italian. However, a few years ago I stumbled upon this word Sprezzatura. No other language has a word encapsulating the same qualities. It means “Effortless Grace”.

If you want to be able to sound clever, then read the bracketed bit below, otherwise, skip it.

(Castiglione wrote The Book of the Courtier as a portrayal of an idealized courtier. This ideal courtier was supposed to be skilled in arms and in athletic events but be equally skilled in music and dancing. However, the courtier who had sprezzatura managed to make difficult tasks look easy. Concerning sprezzatura, Castiglione said that: “to practice in all things a certain sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”. In short, Sprezzatura means Effortless Grace.)

When I first discovered this word, my first thoughts were one Dennis Bergkamp. I decided the word was simply too good to waste, so I thought I’d bide my time and wait.

Enter Mesut Özil.

I believe he may become Arsenal’s Greatest Ever Signing. The Man oozes Sprezzatura.

I have heard that “He’ll take time to settle into the PL”. I say: “Bollocks he will. I have never seen someone so clearly settled”.

Look at his assists so far. On the whole they are fairly simple balls. Pinpoint accurate, yes, but fairly obvious balls. I remember Chas posting some of The Arsenal Gentleman’s genius cards, and Mesut’s “Special Move was: The Mesmertron, a hypnotic through ball”.

How many of these hypnotic balls have we seen? Very few, and the reason is that Mesut knows the players are not quite ready for him to unleash his full dazzling array of ball skills.

So, what’s going on? Quite simply, every player around Mesut is out of their depth, and he knows it, which is why he’s still playing it simple. I reckon that soon, through a combination of pitch time, as well as work on the training ground, the movement from those around him will improve.

Think back to Thierry Henry, and the impact DB10 had on his game. This is the reason I understand why some people are asking for a different type of striker. Someone who speaks the same football language as Mesut. I suspect we may see the Mesmetron deployed if either Theo or Podolski take up the central striker role.

I think we are going to witness Arsenal’s Greatest Ever Signing. He will elevate and educate those around him into superior players. Watch, savour, and enjoy. Exceptional things are about to happen in the Red and White of Arsenal.

Written by MickyDidIt89


Arsenal Arsenal’s Friday News Round Up

November 15, 2013

Saturday:

Ahead of Sunday’s game the news about Arsenal was mostly a rehash of The Manager’s Press Conference. The important point was that both Matheiu Flamini and Jack Wilshere trained normally, Wenger was confident that the former would be available while the latter would be assessed before the game. Jack Wilshere later declared himself fit.

Risking Wilshere in a game at Old Toilet seems a bit unwise to me as he would undoubtedly be a target for some brutal treatment of the type previously handed out by the notorious Neville brothers to Jose Antonio Reyes. Thinking about it, it is sometime since we came up a against a team intent upon kicking our players off the park, perhaps they’re just too nippy to be caught.

Sunday:

Prior to the late afternoon kick-off all the news was about the bug that struck down the BFG and Tomas Rosicky. It was rumoured that a mysterious character, speaking with a distinct Glaswegian accent, and sporting a big red nose had been seen lurking about the kitchens of the hotel the Arsenal squad were staying in. Now I’m not making any accusations but…..

Monday:

OK, we lost at Old Toilet. It was probably the closest game between us and them for quite some time, one moment of slackness at a corner was enough.

Reactions were many and varied:- Patrick Barclay in the London Evening Standard “Moyes’s men strained every sinew to beat Arsene Wenger’s, who had more of the ball and worked every bit as hard only to lose because key men — Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and even Mesut Ozil — could not go the extra yard”. I did not see too much of the “I told you so” type of comment, in fact most people seemed to acknowledge that we had closed the gap somewhat on Manure.

Tuesday:

Thomas Vermaelen rubbished reports that he was looking for the Emirates exit, “I’m still confident I can play for this club and every chance I get I will do a job”. That’s what I like to hear, a player willing to stay and fight unlike one of his soon (I hope) to be erstwhile team mates, a striker who seems only intent on getting out as soon as possible.

Many commentators were saying that Wenger needs to sign a striker in the January transfer window, and LB wrote a thoughtful article on the subject for AAers to comment on.

I’ll leave the last word on Sunday’s result to Paul Hayward of The Telegraph. “Wenger will look at the transition difficulties at United, Chelsea and Manchester City and feel he can absorb the odd unsurprising setback”.

“A favourable wind is still blowing the old dark clouds away”.

Wednesday:

It was announced that an agreement was in place for Jack Wilshere to take part in only one of England’s two friendlies as he was undergoing treatment for “a knock”. If he is unfit Hodgson shouldn’t even contemplate using the lad at all.

A question was asked, in the London Evening Standard, is Mesut Ozil being overworked? After a brilliant start to his Arsenal career, four assists and two goals from eight Premier League games, he has been arguably less influential in the last three games against Liverpool, Dortmund and Man U. He is not used to playing so many high intensity games in such a short space of time. In the 12 matches he has started for Arsenal, the 25-year-old has played 90 minutes in nine of them. Contrast this with how he was used at Madrid, where he was no less a pivotal figure before his departure; of the 40 games he began for Real last season, Ozil completed only 19 of them. The season before the midfielder finished just 14 of 44 starts.

Is he being overplayed? Does he need a rest?

Thursday:

Abou Diaby gave an interview to L’Equipe stating he was looking forward to working on getting back to fitness.

“I have come off the crutches. Now I have to start walking again!

“I will start running again in a few weeks.

“I want to take my time with everything to ensure that it all goes smoothly.”

Written by Norfolk Gooner


Happy Arsenal are the Unfancied, Stealth Team

November 14, 2013

Sometimes you can’t see the woods for looking at the trees. Over the past few weeks we have all seen MoTD on the BBC or NBC with a veritable smorgasbord of pundits all praising Arsenal’s style of play, yet claiming that there is an inherent fault in our team’s setup which will prevent us from going on to win the league. They have come up with various reasons such as:

  1. Arsenal haven’t played any of the big clubs
  2. Arsenal have lost against the only title contender they have played
  3. Arsenal haven’t played in inclement weather, their foreign players aren’t acclimatised to UK weather and dark nights.
  4. Arsenal haven’t got the depth of team.
  5. Arsenal only have Giroud up front.
  6. Arsenal spent 42M GBP on a midfielder when they needed a defender, a keeper and a striker.
  7. Arsenal have don’t have as much talent as Chelsea.

1. It is not the big clubs that make or break a title race. As Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd have already found out in their first eleven games, the Premier League is littered with landmine games. One false step and BOOM! In recent years Arsenal have lost against Blackburn, Fulham, Swansea, West Brom and Sunderland with a concomitant drop in morale. This season Aston Villa, West Brom, Sunderland and Newcastle have all handed out lessons in humility. So it is not just the title rivals that can cause title contenders a problem. At the same time, Arsenal have done the business at home against two “bigger” teams which is the first order of business when seeking to win the title.

2. Yes we lost. But it was a close run thing, it wasn’t a slaughter. We have 27 games left to put things right (win them all?)

3. Most of our players have a lot of experience of Northern European conditions. Either they have played in Germany where even before the winter break it still gets “F” Cold (that’s f for freezing;^) or they have played in the Premier League for at least a year – Arteta, Cazorla. The YBC (Young British Core) of course also helps. So I don’t feel we are going to as adversely affected by the changes as we have been in previous years.

4-7. We do have a shallow team, the squad is probably 18-20 players at most, but the addition of Ozil has changed the dynamics of the team so that teams have more options they have to cover. His addition to the team also means goalscoring is not the preserve of one player. Look at where the 22 league goals have come from – 10 different players.

When teams focus on any one or two of our players then someone else wriggles free to find time and space that generates a scoring opportunity. The addition of Ozil has also freed up the requirement for Ramsey to get forward every time. This combined with the addition of Flamini means that we now have three players if they are playing in the team, who can fit into the holding midfield…yet another of my beloved triangles.

I could wax lyrical but it is only 11 games and I am not someone who would have the temerity to sing about being the top of the league at this time. The only time it counts is when the trophy is passed over in Red and White ribbons.

All of this pondering leads me to wonder “Are we the team in plain sight”?. The team who no-one outside of Arsenal really believes has more than an outside chance? If it comes true it will be just like Arsenal winning in 88/89 and 97/98. where we were an Arsenal who were a stealth team, unfancied, unloved and not factored into the equation, the rogue element if you will.

Written by N5Artillery


The Dortmund Tickle. A view from Block 70

November 13, 2013

This is a description of a fantastic two days, written primarily for my benefit so in later years I can remember details. Please ignore it if bored and get to the comments where we can discuss other things……

Late afternoon flight from a sunny and, as ever, lovely Copenhagen. Many years have passed since I followed my Arsenal into  foreign lands against such a quality side – and I must admit I travelled with trepidation hidden behind a calm exterior.

Would Didit arrive on time? Would he have the tickets? Could he drive on the “wrong-side” of the road? Would we find our way to the ground? Could we survive on bratwurst, schnitzels and sauerkraut? But above all, would the Gunners get hammered at the Signal Idana?

At this point I should describe my traveling companion but given the nature of blogs and my innate compulsion to exaggerate perhaps I should limit myself to this – Micky is a top bloke and rose to every challenge (apart from occasional lapses of driving concentration when his co-pilot would scream “your on the wrong side of the effing road”).

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So ….. we arrived in Dusseldorf Airport at exactly the same time and picked up our hire car. Didit had booked a sewing machine with wheels but thankfully listened when I insisted upon an upgrade and a sat-nav, without which we would still be circling the airport ring road desperate for a drink and a bathroom. It must be stated that German road signs leave a lot to be desired, No, make that they are completely crap.

We stayed in the Ibis Dusseldorf Airport Hotel ….. You know those Ryanair flights that go to an airport that looks as though it is close to the city of your destination but turns out to be a €50 taxi from town? Well, our hotel was the same  – 18kms from the airport with nothing except trees, fields and a bewildering number of roads around it! The reception closed at 10 p.m. and early the next morning we met a chap who was forced to sleep under a tree because he arrived too late!

Weds Morning: Up with the lark (well, Micky was) and out on the road to Dusseldorf in search of a fine breakfast. One of my friends lived there for two years and when I asked “Is there anything you can recommend us to do or see?”, she replied “No, nothing whatsoever!” She was right. Typical grey city centre with lots of the same-same shops and chain restaurants – think Gloucester with a bit of Weimar architecture. We found an old style breakfast place and then left for Dortmund (I had scrambled eggs and MDI something with eggs and vegetables)

An hours drive through industrial flatland took us to the city and we headed straight for the stadium car park arriving around lunch-time. Didit was on a mission, he wanted Bratwurst and so we took a local train from the carpark into Dortmund.

Now think on this …… In Germany a match day ticket will give you free public transport on the day of the game. The ticket cost just £37 and we could have taken a return train trip from anywhere in Germany for nothing! TFL are you reading this?

Dortmund city centre was dull and grey and all you would expect from a city which had been pulverized not so long ago by the Valiant Few. We found the town’s best Bratwurst stall and had lunch. No doubt at all  – a Lincolnshire or Cumberland sausage is vastly superior, but at least we tried it.

P1010232

By now it was raining and we looked for the traveling fans. They were easy to find – the noise was our guide. All the red and white were in a square which unsurprisingly was edged by bars and pubs. The atmosphere was rowdy but fun with much imbibing of the local brew. There was a Gooner in a kilt, a middle aged German woman went up to him and asked if what she had heard was true – he turned his back, lifted his kilt and mooned her. She and all the locals loved it!

Didit and I looked for an authentic German bar and found one nearby. Not too many of our boys but a welcoming atmosphere. After a few minutes a couple of “older” gentlemen sat by us and Micky realised he knew one of them from his train trips up from the West Country. We spent an alcoholic few hours with Nigel and John discussing the team and Mr Wenger. I was on a beer called DAB, a fine brew. Didit, being the driver, stayed on the non-alcoholic beers and I have to say they looked as insipid as they probably tasted. Oh, and we ate a dreadful schnitzel cooked in very stale oil.

P1010243

Onto the ground. We took an absolutely packed train back to the ground where the atmoshere was building nicely. No aggro, just thousand upon thousand of people looking forward to an epic encounter. The BD fans were very pleasant in a condescending way, fully expecting us Gooners to be sadly trudging home a couple of hours later.

Entering the ground was crap. Only word for it. Crap. Everyone was body-searched prior to going through the turnstiles – if there had been a crowd surge (as there would be in England) it would have been a dangerous place to be.

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Into the ground. We were in Block 70, left of the goal. The main BD stand – the one in all the vids – was already full of singing fans but the rest of the ground remained half-empty 10 mins before kick-off which cannot be said of the AFC end. There were 3,300 of us and we made one hell of a racket. All the usual songs were being belted out with gusto as the team warmed up in front of us.

There was a DJ and the sound system was so loud it was difficult to hear the BD fans singing their anthems. They did the usual stuff of naming players by their first names allowing the fans to shout out the surname. Just small screens at each corner of the ground, none of which showed replays but perhaps this is a CL directive.

From the first no Gooner sat down – somewhat exhausting for a man of my advancing years..

Just in front of us was a lad with a blow-up model of a Spitfire which he held over his head for most of the match!

Kick Off.  I will not write about the game because you have all seen it but I can assure you that apart from the singing in the ground it was a deadly 45 mins. A couple of times BFG saved us and his song rang out. At half-time I was convinced we were doomed, Didit was more confident.

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15 minutes of tension, all around us imploring the team to get just one attack or shot. Then it happened. We went absolutely mental. I cannot recall such madness since TA scored against the Spuds at Wembley in the FAC semi-finals. It was bedlam. If we were loud before now we turned it up to 11. The Aaron Ramsey song was sung for 10 minutes non-stop.

Being of a nervous disposition I was desperate for the final whistle and the last 20+ minutes seemed a lifetime, had it not been for the singing I might have had a coronary. But at the same time the team seemed totally at ease and Micky was adamant we had it won – he was right.

Leaving the  ground was as brilliant as you would imagine. We were “released” at the same time as the BD fans which surprised me but there was no animosity whatsoever. The BD fans were superb in defeat – if only ours could be. The chaps I spoke to were looking forward to beating Bayern next week and felt they were unlucky but wished us luck.

It had stopped raining. We talked to French Gooners, Gooners from Kiev, Gooners who had traveled from Singapore, 20 Gooners who had come over from Kuala Lumpur for the Liverpool and BD games and were going home on Thursday morning – what a  memorable trip they had!

A long but very enjoyable drive back to the Hotel Fleapit during which we reminisced about the game. We spent time assessing our players and giving them ratings which were exactly the same as Arnie’s apart from Mertesacker – we gave him a 10 because we both thought he played a perfect game.

Thursday morning we had planned to do some sight-seeing but quite frankly the weather was awful, the local area was at best dull, and we were exhausted. My vocal chords were shredded (which is bad news for the people who have hired me to sing at their party tonight 😦  ) So we went to the airport and spent a few delightful hours chewing the fat.

In the departure lounge I met a group of Swedish Gooners with whom I travelled back to Copenhagen –  a tired but very, very happy Gooner.

Highlights of the trip? The Gooners and Micky. Both excellent company.

Can’t wait for the next time

Written by BigRaddy

And here is the account from the other half of the travelling duo ………..

The Champions League draw is made, and we are grouped with Marseille, Napoli und Dortmund. So, which game to go to?

Mmmm, great food in France and Italy. Beautiful Cities Marseille and Naples. Dortmund has neither, in abundance! Also, let’s not forget that probably the best chance of winning either would not be in Germany. So….where to go?

“I know, let’s go to Germany”.

Why? Because I like the feeling of taking a risk and coming out on top. It’s where the best memories are to be banked, and I knew that although an away win here came with the smallest probability, if, and if we pulled it off, we’d have the “we woz there feeling”.

20:10, November 5th, and within moments of each other two aeroplanes touched down at Dusseldorf International Airport. One, from Copenhagen with a Big Raddy aboard, and the other from London with a Didit and very handsome German Frauline aboard.

Raddy: “Didit, you old git, great to see you. Which company did you rent the car from?”

Didit: “Err, dunno. Forgot to print it out”.

An hour later, and our two heroes pull out of the airport.

Raddy: “Didit, you f***ing idiot, you’re on the wrong side of the road”

Didit: “Jeepers, Daddy, calm down. It’s no big deal”

Moments later…..

Didit: “Hey Daddy, just had a thought. We’re in Germany where there are no speed limits”

Didit applies the pressure from his right foot. Raddy, noticeably tensioning himself for impact, goes pale”.

Raddy: ““Didit, you f***ing idiot, can’t you see the 50 speed limit signs everywhere”

Didit: “No, I’m meant to wear glasses for driving. Please relax, there are people in this world with real problems, you know”.

Ok, this is just a taster, or mood setter. To be fair, things calmed down, and although we got very lost, we eventually settled into our digs. Next day, into Dusseldorf. Crap place, don’t bother, but a fine breakfast was had in a lovely pub. Back to the car and up to Dortmund and the ground. Parked. Tram into town. Got Bratwurst Hot Dog. Verdict: edible. Although this from a bloke who thinks raw limpets are edible, but they are nevertheless “disappointing”.

Passed the massed Gooners in the main square, and dived into a lovely old bar. Here we felt settled and happy. We were talking to a great Gunner here, who kept slithering drinks over to his seated, back turned, very rain sodden dishevelled chum. I get another round, and tap said heap on the shoulder. He spins round.

“Didit, you old git, how are you”. Here’s a lesson, and I’ve actually mentioned this guy on here before, but we sometimes chat Arsenal for a couple of hours as we share the train journey back West from The Emirates. He’s about 70, and still goes to all home and aways. Wow.

We spent many very happy hours with these two epic Gunners, and Raddy and I got in the mandatory Schnitzel.

Then, crammed into a train with expectant Dortmund fans, we went to the biggest stadium in Germany, home to one of the noisiest crowds in football, to play one of last year’s finalists, and won.

As for their legendary fans, ok, they do make one heck of a lot of noise, but to me it is somewhat orchestrated. A combination of deafening pa, some git on the pitch before the game coordinating the four stands in turn, and then during the game itself two “leaders” atop a platform in front of the “home” end, facing the fans. For me the effect was certainly atmospheric, but it seems somewhat artificial. There is no doubt in my mind they lack the wit and spontaneity of the English Fan. As I’m sure Chas will testify, the away fans have a camaraderie and togetherness you don’t get at home games. This, combined with being in the minority does appear to gel the boys into a unit who feel “we’re in this together, and we’re fighting against overwhelming odds”. By the way, even these legendary fans do appear to only “sing when they’re winning”.

It was truly a fantastic feeling, and shivers were in me timbers. The three thousand plus Gooners stood from beginning to end, and I don’t believe one did not become totally overwhelmed by the occasion. We sang, shouted, screamed, danced, and sang some more.

Then we scored, and suddenly it was us who owned the stadium. The final whistle came accompanied by sheer unadulterated and complete joy. I hugged the bare chested drugged up lunatic next to me. For that one moment, I really really liked him very much.

As we made our way down the concrete steps inside the stadium, arms aloft while “Aaaaron Raaamseying” at full pelt, I turned to Raddy “It’s not often grown men get to do this”. Then more, “Aaaaaron Raaaamsey, Aaaaron Raaaaamsey”.

Next morning, and having coffee in the hotel.

“Didit, you old git, how the hell are you?” Two more acquaintances from post home game pub drinking. We give them a lift to the airport.

There is no moral or anything to learn from this, but I have never had a better away night as a Gunner.

So, did we make the right choice of games? Big time. I’ve already forgotten about the game itself, but I’ll never forget the experience. Oh, and after two days together, Big Raddy is still talking to me. Double result.

As we parted company, my last words to the Great Man were: “Life is about banking memories. We just did a big one, Daddy”.

Thank you Raddy for being great company, and thank you Chas, for making it possible.

Written by MickyDiIt


Another striker in January?….Do we need to be careful?

November 12, 2013

The need for Arsenal to add an additional striker in January seems to be a hot topic in the media and generally across the net on the Arsenal related sites. This is a topic I have thought about putting up for greater discussion for some time now, and as there have been increasingly more official comments on the site recently about whether we need an addition to the striker department in January, I thought now would be a good time to bring up the topic as an official discussion point.

There seems to be a consistent feeling amongst the media, pundits, and public at large, that Arsenal are potentially genuine title contenders, but require an additional striker to make this a reality. Without said addition, despite how well things are currently going, we will still get caught short as the season progresses. One injury to Giroud and it is all curtains for our EPL challenge. Is this thought process a genuine concern?

I have to hold my hands up and say that I have changed my mind on a few occasions through the summer and the start of the season as to whether an additional front man is required, and if so who. Before the start of the season I was of the opinion that Ollie was a very good front man and totally worthy of a place in the Arsenal squad, but more as a second choice striker to someone slightly more world class (apologies for the cliché).

Well Ollie has very much changed my mind on this. He has stepped up a level and, even if he is still not the most prolific goal-scoring striker, his strengths seem to fit ideally with our current system, and the players he has around him. In other words he makes the whole team play better, and maybe that is more important than a few extra individual goals.

So if we do look to add to the strike force do we need to be careful as to how we do it and who we try to bring in, so as not to upset the great harmony that currently exists in our squad? I feel that if we are giving serious consideration to our striker department then we have three main options :

1 Buy no-one and go with what we have and hope that Stuart Robson is not able to say I told you so at the end of the season.

2 Buy a player who is identical or very similar to Giroud.

3 Buy a different type of striker to Giroud.

So, looking at option 1, what if we bought no-one? At present, due to injuries, I think we can all see that the options outside of Ollie are a little bit bare. What happens however when Theo and Podolski return. Both players who will give a good goal return over a season, and who both seem to be natural finishers. The question-mark with both of them is can they step into Giroud’s role or are they more suited to playing off of him? I have my own personal opinions on this but will refrain until later and allow you all to express yours.

With option 2 we can look at a player of a very similar type to Giroud, so that one can play when the other doesn’t, and we don’t then lose any fluency in the system we play. If so are we looking to bring in this player as a back up to Giroud, who will then become second choice to him, or are we looking to bring in a similar standard player, or perhaps someone considered of a similar style but even better than Ollie?

All potential considerations in option 2 have their problems. Most back up players will not directly replace his quality and may not in reality give us more than Nik B currently does, which for me would seem a futile exercise. With a similar standard player to Giroud, or one considered better, then we are likely asking Ollie to relinquish being permanent first choice and either playing in a 50-50 job sharing role, or becoming back up himself. That would seem very harsh on Ollie, and may even back-fire on us if it upsets the teams balance and current harmony.

It also needs to be considered, that with a player that some will perceive to be better than Ollie, it is not guaranteed that they would indeed step in and actually be better. They may have looked great before they came to us, but may not look as suited to our style, and the EPL in general, once they have stepped in. That could be an expensive mistake to find out, and I am in reality struggling to see many target men type strikers that have the all round game that Ollie has, that could be considered to be as good as, or a better option than him.

Option 3 is to buy a different type of striker to Ollie, and if possible one that has both the ability to lead the line in Giroud’s absence, or even play alongside or behind him. It is my belief that this is what Arsene was looking for with Suarez. His ability to play both roles means it wouldn’t always have to be him or Ollie, as it would be with the type of player from option 2, but could be him and Ollie at times. These types of players don’t seem to grow on trees though and tend to be the most expensive players out there, because they have the dual ability of a top goal-scoring striker, and the ability of a top class attacking midfielder so that they can also play the slightly deeper or support striker role.

So what is the best option for us as it currently stands? I would like to hear your opinions on this subject but would like to ask you to, as well as just putting names forward, think about what it means to the squad as a whole both in a positive way and a negative way, and to give a rationale to your answers.

For example if you don’t think we need anyone then which players will cover the role Ollie currently plays if he is injured? If you do think we need another addition then are you more leaning towards option 2 or 3 and who is it you want? Is your preferred choice firstly a realistic one, and secondly are they coming in as a back up striker, or as first choice striker? Will one of the previously more regular first team players be pushed down the pecking order to the point where they will likely consider leaving us and if so are you ok with this and who do you consider that player should be?

Over to you….

Written by GoonerB


All Good Things

November 11, 2013

This is not the first reverse we have suffered recently; losing at home to Dortmund hurt, questions immediately appeared asking if we were strong enough to handle such a defeat and yet, as everyone is aware, we did by beating last season’s Champions League finalists in their own back yard. Let’s be clear, the Germans are a better team than manu so if there is one point I want to get across today it is if we are capable of coming back from that we are capable of coming back from yesterday and the disappointment we are feeling today.

And to think, Sunday was going so well, I don’t know about you but I can’t watch three games of football back to back and I certainly wasn’t going to ruin Sunday lunch by watching Tottenham who I expected to win; so, I avoided that until it came time to digest my food and I thought I will just have a little look – excellent, one down with fifteen minutes to go, come on you Bar Codes; perfect, Newcastle saw the game out and spuds looked poor.

Hmmmm, this day is going well. Same situation with City who once again I expected to win, so I saw no reason to ruin a good afternoon nap by watching that, until I woke up and again couldn’t resist a look: one down, fifteen minutes to go, this was up and pacing in front of the telly time. Incredible, Sunderland heroically saw the game out. That was two ducks in a line; surely the third would fly in and take up its place?

No it wouldn’t, we lost and no matter how much schadenfreude I try and glean from those other two losses it still hurts. How could this happen? Well it all started after I sat back down on my sofa ready for the proper game to start when the Sky presenter announced that there would be a short interview from each manger. Great I thought, a rallying cry from Arsene is just what the doctor ordered. Wrong, the doctor had announced that a bug had gone round the team forcing Mertesacker and Rosicky to have to return home. This was not what I wanted to hear.

The loss of the BFG was going to be obvious although in the end it is debatable how much we really missed him but it was the lack of punch, in the form of fast jabs that Rosicky brings to the table that was missing more than anything else especially after we went behind.

The game, the game, you all saw it and I am curious to read your thoughts in comments. As for me: it was never going to be easy at the best of times but the loss of these two players tipped the balance. The only way we were going to get back into that game was with a stroke of luck and that simply did not happen.

We now go into the international break after which we should have all our troops back for the Christmas push. We can still do this, keep the faith.

Written by LB


MU. Artisans vs Artists

November 10, 2013

The little boy inside me wants to write about one of the MU strikers but as The Godfather (Michael) said to his brother Freddie after he shafted the Family by dealing with  Hyman Roth in Cuba, “You broke my heart, You broke my heart” and now the traitor is “dead to me”.

Some folk in the media say we go into the game as favourites – are they nuts? No-one goes to the Toilet as favourites, at least not this century. Yes, we have a better chance than in recent years but we have only managed one win and a draw since that magnificent victory in 2004 and we have beaten them only once in the last 9 meetings!

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But United have never won the league on our ground, have they?  😀

So why the optimism? 5 points clear, top of our CL group, the away victory in Dortmund, beating the second placed team last Saturday, the developing genius of Santi and Mesut, the recently recognised (by the non-gooners)  CB partnership, the renewed form of TPIG, the work-rate and improvement of OG. Could it be for any of those reasons?

Or could it be because of the experience and solidity of Arteta , Sagna and Rosicky? If one were to believe the red-tops Aaron Ramsey could win this on his own!

Man Utd: Are they really a team in crisis? Surely not. No, what they are is a team of reprehensible, cheating mutants who if the world was a just place would be behind bars pleading with Mr Big.

Want to see a diver? Go to Old Trafford.

Want to see a bought ref and linesman? Go to Old Trafford

Want to see 60+ thousand prawn sandwich eating remedials? Go to Old Trafford

Want to see a manager completely out of his depth? Ditto

And I haven’t even started on the supreme awfulness of Rooney, Ferdinand and Evra . Have you ever seen such a triumvirate of shitehawks?

(Chary could have written this section :-D)

But seriously, it would be foolish to write off their chances of winning and not just today. They are the Champions and won the title with this very team by 11 points !  Yes, they have lost the red-conked miscreant but apart from him the personnel is the same.

They have few injuries with just Welbeck missing from their first choice 11.

Arsenal: 252 days since our last away defeat. It should mean something but at 16.10 today the test starts in earnest. We have the team, we have the tools and we have the tactics to continue the run.

It would be boring to review our form, we all know it and the reasons for the improvement.  So, I will highlight just one of the many recent positives …. Mr. Arsene Wenger.

At the end of the AV game I looked at him and thought “Arsene, I love you but this job will kill you. You are clearly not enjoying it and the stress is just too much.” How wrong could I be? The man is rejuvenated! He hasn’t looked or sounded this good for many a year.

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His pre-match interview was a return to the humourous, intelligent man we all know – a man who can play with the journalists and yet retain respect. Does he miss SAF? Highly unlikely. Will he under-estimate the task this afternoon just because they have The Ditherer at the helm? Of course not, but he is confident, you can see it in his demeanor.

My Team:

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I know, I know ….. hard on Rosicky who has been excellent, but he does need a rest. With the Interlull coming one could say he will get it then, but Tomas, like most of our squad, with be playing two meaningless friendlies.

The midfield battle will be interesting; MU rely upon their usual compliment of battlers and artisans; have they had anyone with flair since ….. ?? It seems to a non- MU fan that they only buy and develop flair attackers, stacking the midfield with horrible Orc types. Scholes, Keane, Butt, Robson, Ince, all grafters, and now Cleverley, Carrick and Fellaini.   Sadly, this appears to work, but which midfield would you rather watch – our artists or their artisans?

The title will not be decided by this game and we will be top at November’s end come what may, but it would be excellent to put another nail into MU’s challenge and pile more pressure upon Gollum (though as we have agreed. we give him our unconditional support 😉  )

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy