Moyes: I Said ‘No’ To Signing Bergkamp

November 9, 2013

What is going on?

First we read that David “Moisty” Moyes claims he could have signed Mesut Ozil this summer but didn’t need him.

Hahahahahaha.

I’m sorry, but that’s all I can say to that.

Hahahahahaha.

Moist felt he was so overrun with creative attacking options at ManUre that he did not need the world’s best assist maker. Not when he had Cleverley and Carrick.

Ahahahahaha. Oh my! Oh me!

Yes Moisty, we all believe you…

But the fun didn’t stop there

Next he told us that he “nearly” signed Aaron Ramsey when he was at Everton.

Young Ramsey (who in those days was merely The Welsh Parlour, not The Welsh Messi) was being heavily courted by Sir Apoplexy Ferguscum and our own fine manager at the time.

I’m sure in those circumstances – being chased by Europe’s biggest team and by an outfit from Manchester – that he did consider a possible move to Everton.

He would have considered it in this way:

Agent: “Aaron, Everton have come in for you.”

Aaron: “Hahahahaha! Oh me! Oh my!”

But what is hitherto unknown is that Moist’s talent spotting started way before these recent efforts.

In 1998, when he was managing Preston North End, he ran the measure over Dennis Bergkamp but decided he was “too blonde” and at the time he already had a lot of blonde players in his team.

Taking up the helm at Everton in 2002, he quickly thought about bringing in a young Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona, a whole year before Arsenal snapped him up.

“Aye, I looked at the lad,” said Moist “but he was too two-footed. I had half a team who played with their right foot and half who played with their left. What would I do with a lad who played with both? Where would he fit in? Bloody Spanish freak!”

Fast forward to 2011 and Moist was offered the services of one Santi Cazorla from Malaga.

“What do I want that bloody midget for?” he asked. “If I want a wee small fella I’ll get that fella from Game of Thrones. He’s a mean little fooker. Like David Batty only taller.

“In fact, better still, don’t bring me ANY midgets. Get me a giant beanpole with an afro. I don’t care whether he can play or not – we’ll save money on dusting the dressing room ceiling.”

I’m not sure whether Moist is trying to indulge in mind games before Sunday’s match between the league leaders and a mid table team at Old Toilet, but implying that Ozil and Ramsey could have signed for him is just pure fantasy.

I have seen a few pieces on the internet postulating what a First XI would be if it was made up of Arsenal and Manchester United players.

Most pundits have seven Arsenal players in their starting line-ups, with only De Gea, Shrek, Brave Sir Robin and football’s most odious man, Patrice Evra, making the cut for United.

When I look at the two teams I can say with hand on heart – and not as one of my habitual wind-up-the-enemy comments – that I would not take a single ManUre player into a combined First XI.

Of course Rooney is a good player and BSR is sublimely skilled, but neither complement a team in the way that our players complement our team.

De Gea is having a decent season but look how many he has let in compared with our outstanding Pole in Goal.

And as for Evra v Gibbs – well, Gibbs is as good as the Frenchman and the Frenchman loses automatically in a tie-break for being a humungous twunt.

What do you think? Would any ManUre players get in your combined XI?

RockyLives


Arsenal Arsenal’s Friday News Roundup

November 8, 2013

Last Friday:

Arsene Wenger revealed that the only player to return to Saturday’s squad was Mikel Arteta.

“Basically we have just Arteta back because he was suspended. Gnabry, who was not available for Tuesday, will not be available again, and all the other long-term injuries are not back – Walcott, Chamberlain, Podolski, Diaby”. On Flamini he said “He is a short-term injury, he could be available for Manchester United. He is out for Liverpool and Dortmund” Thanks to Arsenal.com for the quotes.

Speaking at his regular Friday Press conference Wenger, when asked about the Suarez signing attempt, “Arsenal had no moral qualms about attempting to sign Luis Suarez” but refused to be drawn on whether they will try again in January.

Morals aside, the question remains had we signed Suarez would we also have captured Ozil? The prospect of them both playing in the same Arsenal team is mouth-watering. According to ‘Pool manager Brendan Rogers “Luis Suarez signing for Arsenal was never going to happen”. “The club’s owners would never sanction his sale to a rival club”.

I personally would like to see Arsenal bid for the player in January, if only to test the resolve of Fenway Sports.

Saturday:

It was reported, in The Sun, that Arsenal had given keeper Wojciech Szczesny a new four-year deal worth £20.8m. That’s £100,000 a week. No confirmation on the Arsenal website as at 10am Saturday. Could it be a move to pre-empt an attempt to sign our Pole in goal by Barcelona?

In the early afternoon kick-off, Chelsea lost to the Magpies, Man city swamped Norwich 7 – 0 and Man Utd rolled Fulham over. All of those results were proved to be immaterial by The Glorious Gunners handing Liverpool a two goal thrashing at The Emirates.

Sunday:

Just a selection of headlines;

“Arsenal ignite their title charge” Sunday Telegraph. “Aaron Ramsey strike sends Arsenal five points clear” Sunday Express, “Ramsey stunner seals Arsenal win” Mail on Sunday, “Arsene Wenger’s delight at consistent and convincing Arsenal” The Observer, “Thunderbolts give Gunners daylight at the top” The Independent, “Gunners keep Luis Suarez quiet and increase lead at the top” London Evening Standard.

On a more serious note, Gibbs and Wilshere both on the injury list and doubtful for Wednesday although Jack would probably not start anyway and Nacho Monreal will be a more than adequate replacement at left-back.

Monday:

Not much relevant news today, beyond the Sorry Spurs failing to get more than a single point at Everton in one of the most dull and boring matches for some time.

An article in the London Evening Standard by Patrick Barclay caught my eye, the gist of the piece was that Arsenal’s squad is not strong enough to allow us to compete for both the Premiership and the Champions League, by doing so we risk failing in both. It is not the actual strength of the squad but the physical strength that he feels will let us down. In his opinion, we were out-worked by Borussia Dortmund but beat Liverpool by out-working them. Tiredness will become a huge factor in the coming months particularly for Olivier Giroud, with all due respect to Bendtner a plausible back-up striker is urgently needed in January. So which competition should Arsene prioritise? The subject of a future post for someone?

Tuesday:

Jack Wilshere was ruled out of the Borussia game with an injury to his left ankle, it was his right ankle that caused so much trouble in the recent past. Gibbs was to have a test before the team flew to Germany. It seemed unlikely that Jack would have been in the starting eleven anyway but would have provided a welcome boost from the bench. Gibbs cover if required would be either Nacho Monreal or Thomas Vermaelen.

Our German stars, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker – each took a hand at landing an Emirates A 380 airliner, nothing to worry about though, it was the new simulator. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs had all undertaken the task earlier in the summer. The next challenge is a dogfight with the English lads in Spitfires and the Germans in Messerschmitt 109s.

Wednesday:

All attention was on the team for the Dortmund game, who was out? and who was in? Gibbs has travelled and “should” be available, according to Wenger, and Gnabry was in the squad. So we had the option of some pace on the right. No Jack, Theo or Mathieu, which of the trio would be missed most? Flamini in my opinion, although Mikel Arteta had done a super job against the Bin-dippers.

Thursday:

Now this is beginning to get boring, 😀

“Golden Goal”. “Rampant Ramsey seals historic triumph” Daily Telegraph.

There can be no denying, Arsenal are answering the questions set, the defence is getting meaner, the mid-field trickier and the goals are coming, particularly for our Welsh Wizard Aaron Ramsey. A goal or two for the ultra hard-working Oliver Giroud and we can be sweeping all before us.

OK, just one more;

“Rambo reborn turns Arsenal into contenders” London Evening Standard. I just couldn’t help myself.

Friday:

I don’t usually include Friday’s news in my round-up, you can all read what the papers are saying without me pointing you the right direction, but this morning is a bit different. The question being asked today is can Arsenal get a result at Old Toilet on Sunday?
Well confidence is high, teamwork and togetherness has never been better, the defence is performing in a manner reminiscent of George Graham’s finest and the mid-field/attack is producing goals when they are needed, so in my opinion the answer is a resounding YES!
What do you all think?
Written by Norfolk Gooner

Character, Desire and Strategy: Symphony drowns Heavy Metal!

November 7, 2013

Notwithstanding the fantastic results that Arsenal have been producing most weeks and in midweek games since the beginning of the year, and the consistency with which the team have been turning whinging disbelievers and useless pundits into muppets, if there was ever a moment when the good guys proudly donning their red and whites on the field had to prove a point, this was it.

Playing away from home at the home of the formidable Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.V. Dortmund, having succumbed to the ignominy of an embarrassing loss to the same club at The Home of Football, and knowing that their dreams of progressing from the Group of Death lay in their own hands (erm, feet and heads), this was the moment of destiny.

Would they remain a bunch of kids led by a handful of immature generals trying to play a game meant for men, or would they show the strength of character, desire and strategy that separates the sublime from the ordinary? On a rain-drenched evening in Dortmund, in front of formidable opposition and a vociferous crowd, they fought valiantly with heart and mind to achieve a memorable victory that dreams are made of.

The stage for the show was set up well. The set was immaculately chosen in advance, and the background music was perfect for the occasion – perhaps the tune of the Pomp and Circumstance Marches. At the disappointing loss at home to Dortmund a fortnight earlier, Arsène Wenger, a man known for his economy of words and measured temperament, rather uncharacteristically chose to criticise the team in public for their alleged ‘naivety’. Adding salt to injury, Jurgen Klopp, the respected Dortmund manager tried to take the art of mind games to the level of Symphony Fantastique.

“[Wenger] likes having the ball, playing football, passes” he said,”It’s like an orchestra, but it’s a silent song, yeah? And I like Heavy Metal more. I always want it loud! I want to have this: ‘BOOM!’ “.

It was time for the true mettle to shine through the din of Heavy Metal, and it did! The good guys of Arsenal fought their heart out, played with their minds sharp, and manufactured a fantastic away win!

It was a very tough test against the skill, aggression and hard work put in by a truly fantastic team, Borussia Dortmund, and in front of their home crowd as well. On the night, the entire team was fantastic. In the first half, both teams played a measured game, Arsenal sitting deep in defiant defence, and Dortmund piling on attacks without creating that many chances. Mkhitaryan squandered the best chance curling his shot wide of the post, but that apart, the central defence of Mertesacker and Koscielny nullified every chance that Dortmund created, with the able support of Sagna and Gibbs.

Arteta and Rosicky worked tirelessly to organise the midfield, and together with Ramsey, Santi and Özil maintained the threat of counter attacks. Giroud was left a bit isolated up front, but it was really that kind of a game. For me, our attacking threat in the first half was captured in the one occasion when Özil beautifully controlled a pass at the top of the Dortmund box, made the turn towards goal, but the moment the ball was pushed less than a foot forward, along came two defenders to snatch it away. Such was the tireless industry of the Dortmund defence, it was a treat to watch and admire! Anyway, the half ended a relatively event-less all-square.

There was all to play for in the second 45. But along came Dortmund with renewed vigour, and piled on attack upon attack. Most of these were repelled by the resolute Arsenal defence led by the fantastic Mert-Kos duo. For a nervous few minutes, the relentless pressure appeared to work. The nightmares of the Emirates appeared close. Once, Reus got through unmarked, and just a few minutes later Blaszczykowski had a low shot on goal. On both occasions, Szczęsny brought off fantastic saves. And that was it. No more serious attempts on the Arsenal goal followed.

Aaron Ramsey

Instead, it was a moment of magic at the other end. Rosicky, an ex-Dortmund player, latched on to a ball at the left flank and tried to move towards the centre, lost the ball, won it back and spread it wide to the right. Özil held on to it and sent a cross into the box, Giroud towered above his marker and used all his strength to nod the ball back towards the centre, and Ramsey lurked in with a great heart and headed the ball home almost right from the Subotic’s raised boot.

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The goal opened the floodgates somewhat, no not from Dortmund attacks, but Arsenal’s threats on goal. From a Giroud cross, Ramsey forced Weidenfeller into a smart save. From a Santi corner, Giroud saw a shot somehow cleared off the line. Per came along into attack with great vigour and came close to scoring twice, the second time sending a loopy header to the top of the net.

The mighty Dortmund, worthy finalists of last year’s Champions League, undefeated in the Bundesliga so far this season, did not know what hit them. Perhaps they were not used to losing. They were completely rattled and disheveled. Apart from a muffled attempt from Reus, they offered hardly any threat. The 11 brave men of Arsenal defended resolutely and saw the game through.

In the middle of all this, one man stood tall in midfield, led from the front, and for me captured like no other player the spirit that Arsenal stood for. It was Mikel Arteta. He manned the centre of the field like a fighter, defending and winning balls throughout the 90 minutes, earned a yellow card for his troubles, somewhat unfairly, for tugging Blaszczykowski’s shirt, and came disastrously close to a second as well. But he kept fighting. At the other end, Reus tugged back Rosicky but was not booked, and neither was there a penalty for bundling valiant Kos over. Injustices galore. But the brave and good guys stood tall amongst the ruins, and came out valiant winners. What a night of Champions League football! Lucky Micky and Raddy who represented AA in the ground!

How did we manage to win this game against all odds? Hard work, perhaps even more than skill, but what was most important was strategy. The strategy of sitting back and defending resolutely, the strategy of going all out in counter attack, but only when the opposition had got somewhat tired and demoralised, and most importantly the strategy of knowing how to get the best efforts out of the players. Going even to the extreme of publicly criticising the team for naivety. In a game characterised by character, desire and strategy, STRATEGY came out tops for me. In a game between symphony and Heavy Metal, the mettle displayed by the team was beautiful SYMPHONY. In a game of strategy between two great managers, Arsene Wenger came out on top! Arsène Wenger is my Man of the Match!
Arsene
Every player did his bit on the night. Here are some tentative scores.

Szczesny: 8 Had little to do on the night, except to make two fantastic saves. And they were crucial.

Sagna: 7 Measured performance in defence and attack. 

Mertesacker: Excelled at the heart of defence, went out in counter attack, almost scored as well. What a performance! 

Koscielny: Fantastic in defence, great combination with Mert, played with a big heart.

 Gibbs 7 Measured performance focusing on defence, cricial interventions when Mert and Kos had moved up and Dortmund attacked on the counter.

Arteta: 9 A true leader on the day, leading from the front. Valiently marshalled the midfield all evening. Outstanding.

Ramsey: 9 What can you say! The “Welsh Messi” Aaron Ramsey did what he does best – deliver the sucker punch.

Cazorla: 7 Good, solid, if somewhat underwhelming performance on the night.

Ozil: 8 Good performance, great cross that led to the goal.

Rosicky: 8 Fantastic performance. Together with Arteta, maintained the midfield, fighting for every ball, moving forward on every occasion possible.

Giroud: 7Assist for the goal, tireless performance as the lone striker, holding up, running tirelessly after the ball. Almost scored as well.

Arsene Wenger: 10 Le Manager, what fantastic strategy, what a man, what a team. This performance was surely for him.

Monreal: 7 Came on 75 mins for Santi, reliable as ever.

Vermaelen: No time to make an impact.

Bendtner: No time to make an impact, but ran after the ball continuously for the 5 mins he was on.

Written by arnie

Our on the spot photographers have provided these pics of a view from the away end:

D1

D2

D3


Another great game of Football?

November 6, 2013

Big night ahead. Can we really beat last season’s finalists at their massive ground?

There will be 80+k fans in the Signal Iduna Park including two of our very own AA’ers and very excited they will be!

Given the manner of our home defeat there is cause for cautious optimism – I really believe we can get something from the game. Two silly defensive mistakes cost us the points and we can be sure the Welsh Messi will not try and dribble his way out of trouble in our area again.

So – we have seen why Dortmund are so highly rated but they have seen why we smashed Napoli and the Scouse. Both teams will have respect for each other after the excellent game at THOF.

Dortmund:  As I gave a breakdown in my last BD post it seems superfluous to repeat it, but I must make mention of Lewandowski. One chance at THOF and he scored, a 16 minute hat-trick on Friday, 12 goals from 14 games so far this season, the man is on fire – the chances of his coming to THOF in January are almost non-existent.

But is he as good as Ollie Giroud? Could he execute that flick to Wilshere in the goal of the month? I don’t think so.

Another major threat is Marco Reus. Now here is a bloke who should be playing at THOF. Left sided attacker, 20 goals in 43 games for BD and 7 in 17 for Germany, 24 y.o. – perfect. Apparently Man Utd are trying to buy him, but who would want to go to that flea-pit when he is already at a bigger and better club?images

Must be windy in Dortmund

Klopp has been very complimentary about both Mr Wenger and Arsenal. Stating that he should be Sir Wenger and that AFC have been the best English football team over the past 10 years, maybe he is shovelling it on in case of defeat, but who knows  perhaps Klopp is sincere.

Arsenal:  Once again we have to talk injuries; Jack and Gibbs are out though thankfully we have excellent replacements. The absence of Flamini and the long-term absentee Theo are less easy to accommodate. Away in the CL is just where these two flourish.

My concern tonight is lack of pace on the counter. On Saturday we saw Ramsey lead a counter-attack but the defender outran him and AR was forced to turn and pass back to an oncoming player. If Theo had been there then  ……..

A major plus is the return to fitness of Santi. I love this bloke,his imagination is boundless.

A repeat of Arteta’s fine game at the weekend and another lesson in hold up play from OG will be the keys to our success.

My Team:

Szczesny

Sagna    BFG    Kos    Monreal

Ramsey    Arteta    Rosicky

Ozil   OG    Cazorla

We are still struggling for attacking options from the bench, hopefully Gnabry is fit enough to travel.

The team showed on Saturday a determination and work-ethic which will hold us in good stead tonight. If we manage to press BD higher up the pitch we can do well tonight and given some luck and the run of the ball and a decent referee, then we can bring him the points. Why not?

Unknown

BR will be wearing a red jacket & Micky a red and white scarf – in case you are looking for us!

p.s. Mickydidit and I will be your foreign correspondents at the stadium as, thanks to Chas ,we have tickets for the game. No doubt we will be full of bratwurst, sauerkraut and Lowenbrau as we look down upon our heroes.

For most games Peaches has the armchair fans in her pocket as she cheers on the lads, tonight I can return the favour. Photos will be taken but probably not uploaded to the site until Friday.

Written by BigRaddy


Is Bendtner Unfairly Treated?

November 5, 2013

Did anyone else suffer anti Bendtner comments during the game on Saturday?

The new people this season sitting near me seemed to think that by slagging Bendtner they would some how curry favour with the people who had been there from day one.

Nik home

Well, I don’t see this at all, what exactly has he done wrong since returning? The only crime I can see was missing a chance against Chelsea, for goodness sake Giroud misses chances every game: take Saturday, holy moly, one on one with the keeper and he fluffs his lines badly. If Bendtner had done that there would have been a booing riot.

Bendtner got worse service against the chavs than you or I would receive in a greasy spoon café just off a motorway.

NIk away

The thing that has struck me in every game and cameo that the Great Dane has played in is just how good his movement has been; sadly there are still so many spoilt children at THOF who do not understand such things.

I got a very uncomfortable feeling when he was subbed against the chavs, for a moment I thought there was going to a return to the Dark Ages (Pre Ozil) with full scale booing, fortunately that did not happen but it happened enough to warrant comment.

Perhaps this it’s just me, do you think he is badly treated or does a player deserve all he gets when he states publicly that he will never wear an Arsenal shirt again?

Nik vs spuds

Written by LB


Do Players Need To Like Each Other?

November 4, 2013

Bear with me… this is, indeed, a Post about the current Arsenal team (it will get there eventually).

Way back in the early 1990s an ex Arsenal lad who had moved to pastures new was tearing up the Premier League, scoring goals for fun.

I refer to one Andrew Cole, who had two great seasons at Newcastle from 1993 to 1995.

Such was his form and prowess at the Barcodes that he earned an England call-up under Terry Venables. He made his debut as a late substitute against Uruguay – replacing a certain Mr Edward Sheringham. As Sheringham left the pitch he offered nary a glance towards the debuant; not a handshake; nor even a quick word of encouragement, far less a pat on the back. He just acted as if Cole did not exist.

The perceived insult wounded the tender soul of young Andy and he vowed never to forget it.

Fast forward a year or so and Cole signed for Manchester United where, playing alongside Eric Cantona, he continued to thrive.

But in football, as in life, fate often has a way of putting chewing gum on your bus seat and, sure enough, in 1997 Eric Cantona left United and they replaced him with Mr Edward Sheringham.

As Cole put it some years later: “In the summer of 1997, after Eric Cantona left Manchester United, Sheringham arrived. We played together for years. We scored a lot of goals. I never spoke a single word to him.”

And during that period United were certainly successful.

So does it mean that relationships between players don’t matter? That team mates can hate each other with the sort of loathing that a Totteringham fan has for bathwater?

Well, there are certainly other examples beyond Cole and Sheringham (who, let’s not forget, went to Man United but was still a runt). The Bayern Munich and Germany midfielders Lothar Matthaus and Stefan Effenberg would each have happily seen the other fed slowly into a wood chipper; and in the days of the Wimbledon Crazy Gang (younger readers, be thankful you don’t know what I’m talking about) John “Fash the Bash” Fashanu shared mutual antipathy with Lawrie Sanchez.

In fact it got so bad that Fashanu and Sanchez decided to “sort it out” during a training session. As a black belt in karate, Fashanu was expecting to teach Sanchez a lesson – but I remember Tony Adams once described Sanchez as the hardest man in football (a bit like the Pope describing someone as the holiest person on earth).

Fash’s memoirs take up the story: “Sanch gave me a shot and, give him credit, it wasn’t a bad shot. But I thought, don’t hit Sanch, don’t mark his face, and my mind went back to when Muhammed Ali fought against the martial artist in New York, and the martial artist just kicked the back of his legs until it broke the tissues in his calves and he submitted. So I thought I’d teach Sanch a lesson and gave a sweep of the legs, but Sanch has calves like most people have thighs and he didn’t move. So I gave him another couple, but Sanch came back at me. So I thought, I’m gonna take this guy out, and I hit him with one of the best shots I’d been training with – BAM! Take that, Sanch! – right in the solar plexus, a shot that would supposedly knock a horse down. And still he stood there. Then Terry Burton came over to break us up.”

Happy days.

Anyway, this question of whether it’s better for players to like their team mates occurred to me while watching our game against Liverpool on Saturday.

You will remember the chance that Luis Suarez had towards the end of the match, as Liverpool were struggling to fight their way back from the firm slapping-down which we had been administering.

Suarez profited from a mistake by the BFG and bore down on goal from Liverpool’s left side. He tried a shot which went across the face of goal and wide, not troubling Szczesny. Daniel Sturridge had been racing into the right hand side of the box and felt that Suarez should have passed to him rather than shooting. Whether or not Suarez should have passed is neither here nor there. What happened next was fascinating: Sturridge threw his arms out and back, like a child trying to be a superhero; he jutted out his chin, his eyes bulged and he donned the time-honoured countenance of the mortally outraged (think Stephen Fry being told that – no thanks – no-one was interested in his latest anecdote).

All this was directed at his team mate, Suarez. It was not a brief, understandable moment of frustration of the kind any player can be prone to: Sturridge held this tortured pose for many long seconds. His suffering began to take on Jesus-like dimensions. Poor old Suarez glanced his way but chose not to engage.

At the time I thought: “these are two players who don’t like each other: two selfish goal-grabbers who are in this only for personal glory.”  If you feel your colleague should have passed, you talk about it later – you don’t try to humiliate him in front of millions

And despite the examples mentioned above – of bitter feuds festering in successful teams – it cannot, as a general rule, be good to have disharmony within a team.

Look at Arsenal in recent years.

There is no question that we’ve had some troublesome individuals in the dressing room: Samir Nasri, who could probably make the Dalai Lama swear; Emmanuel “all about me” Adebayor; William “Slightly Deranged” Gallas.

And one of the factors in our gradual improvement has been the clearing out of the disputatious types and the forging of strong bonds between the players who remain.

There seems to be a good, mutually supportive vibe among the YBCs (the Young British Core), but experienced, level-headed foreigners like Arteta, Giroud and Mertesacker have also clearly been instrumental in creating unity and fellow-purpose.

It may be easier to say during the sort of successful period we are currently enjoying, but I really feel our squad of players like each other and are playing for each other rather than for their next big money move elsewhere. No-one exemplifies this selflessness better than Olivier Giroud, who seems as happy when he assists as when he scores.

So, to sum up, Sturridge and Suarez will continue to score goals, but football success is often down to fine margins – and not being united on the field is one of those things that can have a slight, but significant, negative impact.

Over the course of the season I would back our Harmonious Heroes to do better than ‘Pool’s Fractious Forwards. We will see.

RockyLives


When is a test not a test? Arsenal 2 – Liverpool 0

November 3, 2013

I hate playing Liverpool, when it is a match that has a lot riding on it I hate it even more. The first two trophies I watched Arsenal win Liverpool were the side in our way, so with those in the memory bank I shouldn’t be as fearful. And even though our record against them has been good in the last few years there was the FA Cup Final and the Champions League Quarter Final, last minute penalties in the League and dodgy offside goals all weigh heavy on my mind when we come to play the red half of Scouseland.

After the last two midweek results some serious questions have been asked of the squad, the manager and our chances to challenge for titles.

The early kick off on Satutday saw Newcastle take three points off every pundits title favourites Chelsea. At that point I would have been more than happy to take a point from yesterday’s game to retain top spot.

How stupid was I? What did I have to worry about? The long and short of it is Liverpool have two good strikers, one is considered to be worth more than £40m+£1, the rest of their team is distinctly average. Rodgers thought his new tactic of 3-5-2 and hard pressing would nullify Arsenals strength and highlight our weaknesses…he was wrong.

The defence were disciplined, full backs tucking in to help the centre backs out and Arteta playing the anchor role to perfection picking up loose balls and being precise in possession.

Giroud occupied three centre backs by firstly trying to win every ball, and secondly holding up the ball to bring the midfield runners into the game.

And the midfield is where we won the game, the speed the football moved between Ramsey, Cazorla, Özil and Rosicky was electric, their runs off the ball even better. The only time Liverpool got close was when we gave them the ball, but we were ready to fight to win back possession as soon as we lost it.

This was probably as complete a performance as we have seen from Arsenal this season , and we got our reward for the way we played.

The first came from Santi Cazorla, I think we can safely say he is now over his injury, Arteta carried the ball through midfield to release Sagna who headed for the touch line and produced a cross into the area, it was behind Giroud but Santi arrived to head powerfully towards goal , the header cannoned back off the post to the little Spanish magician who volleyed into the empty net with ease.

Cazorla v liverpool

After that goal we were all out attack but unable to extend our lead through a mixture of missing the final pass or not connecting with the final shot.

Liverpool rearranged at half time bringing on Coutinho to attempt to adopt a more natural 4-4-2. In reality this just gave us more time in midfield and less bodies in the way through the middle when playing on the counter.

Giroud was unlucky not to add a second twice in quick succession, first nicking the ball ahead of Skrtel from a generous Toure backpass only to see his dinked effort slide wide of the post. Moments later a combination of Rosicky and Santi provided him with half a chance but he could not make a strong enough contact to get it past Mignolet.

Liverpool always had a chance, Suarez can, if given the room, score a goal from nowhere, we needed a second, and it eventually came from our player of the season so far, Özil found Ramsey arriving in space, he took a good touch and as the ball bounced in front of him and the defence backed off he decided he may as well add to his total for the season and dispatched a screamer past Mignolet into the roof of the net.

Rambo v Liverpool

During all his on the pitch troubles Ramsey never stopped working hard and showing for the ball, it’s why I always had time for him and asked others to get off his back, but I had no idea he had this kind of football in him. After the game the Sky pundits asked if he thought he could get 20 a season midfielder like Gerard or Lampard, if I was Aaron I would have said “only if I get given penalty taking duties”.

Wenger sent on reinforcements to close out the game, Monreal for Rosicky, Vermaelen for the injured Gibbs and later Jenkinson for Cazorla. Liverpool went close a couple of times in this period but the result wasn’t really in doubt.

To answer my own question in the title. It’s not a test when you play a team that are above their natural league position.

But guaranteed to be a win clear of the nearest competition come Sunday evening after ten games I am more than happy.

Ratings

Szczesny 8 – Apart from his little one two with Sturridge was assured and commanding, couple of good blocks too.

Sagna 8 – Solid performance lots of energy good passing helped the centre backs when necessary

Gibbs 8 – More defensive than Sagna as he was covering Sturridges wide runs, second half he continually nipped in front to take the ball off the intended receiver.

Mertesacker 8 -still for me Arsene’s best signing of the last three seasons, his leadership and distribution have made us so much better at the back.

Koscielny 9 – More apparently World Class centre forwards in his back pocket, he is everything you want in a defender.

Arteta 9 – Mopped up everything dropping in front of the back four, passed to a red and white shirt for 90 minutes.

Özil 7 – Slightly quiet game from the new arrival, but everything he does is wrapped in silk.

Ramsey 9 – Cracking goal capped a fine performance, goal scoring is his biggest improvement second is his ball retention and use, all this added to his work rate and energy levels equals a very special player. Shame on you who unjustly wrote him off.

Rosicky 7 – Worked hard without the ball and used it well when in possession.

Cazorla 8 – Some thought Özil’s arrival may have limited Santi’s pitch time, it’s pretty hard to see us start a game without him. The lad is class.

Giroud 8 – His hold up play makes the midfields job easier, unlucky not to get a goal that his work rate deserved. Bossed three centre backs around for 90 minutes.

Subs

Monreal 7 – I like using Nacho as a sub to give some protection in the latter stages, he is good enough with the ball that he doesn’t totally nullify our attacking threat.

Vermaelen 7 – did what was needed at left back.

Jenkinson 7 – not really enough time to give a rating but he was on the pitch so I don’t want to leave him out.

MotM? Maybe we should have a vote…

Gooner in Exile


Liverpool: Title Contenders?

November 2, 2013

What do Jimmy Tarbuck, Steven Gerrard, Ken Dodd, Cilla,  Jamie Carragher, Les Dennis,, Derek Nimmo, Freddie Starr, and Joey Barton, have in common apart from the fact they are all tools? I have no idea…..

Over the years I have enjoyed many a laugh both with and at my Liverpool mates and their undying support for their team. They remain convinced LFC are still  potent and relevant in these days of domination by the money clubs. How many years is it since they won the title?

Now I realise I am on thin ice here what with our lack of a Big Ears cup, but really, they are about as relevant as a beta-max video machine.

Except, and I hate to write this, this season they look like a team who have the potential to actually break into the big boys. Alongside those miscreants down the road, who are finally learning to stand upright, they threaten not just our Top 4 place but also, dare I say it, the Champions.

Oh stop it, Big Raddy – you know as well as Alan Hansen that Liverpool will self-destruct just as they have year after year – is it 20 now? No Raddy – it is almost 24. Makes our 10 years since a title seem paltry.

Liverpool:  OK I’ll admit it, I was wrong. I thought Brendan Rodgers was totally out of his depth and would have been sacked by summer, instead he seems to be doing an excellent job. It is early days but Rodgers’ barmy management style seems to work with the dullards he has in his team. How else can we understand how Sturridge has suddenly become a top striker or how a cart-horse like Henderson is showing good form?

And much worse, they are playing attractive football!

Suarez: Had he come along with Ozil we would be probably ToTL 😀 Sadly, his form is such that there is no way he will be sold in January however much is offered for him. He would look so much better in a proper shirt and playing in a decent stadium.

All over the pitch Liverpool look strong; the resurgence of Skrtelllll (a sub-orc) alongside Kolo and Sakha(s**t) at the centre of defence is solid as is their central midfield. Mignolet is an excellent signing given the waning powers of Reina. The loss of Lucas for almost the whole of last season was very damaging and his return has given Stevie M a new lease of life.

Is Stevie G a top, top player? Of course he is. At any time over the last XX years he would have walked into any team in the country – or would he? Would he get into the Invincibles?

But what is most concerning is that they are playing as a team and not just a bunch of over inflated egos like the usual Scousers.

Arsenal:  Will we ever have a full squad to pick from? Once again this is a game where Theo would have been a vital attacking force, primarily because if there is a weakness in the L’pool side, it is lack of pace in defence. However, once again we go into a series of hugely important games without key personnel.

Given the importance of today and Tuesday it was a huge surprise to see a first choice midfield take the field vs the Chavs; sometimes Mr Wenger makes decisions that I just cannot understand.

The back 5 continue to leak goals even to lowly opposition like Palace. – perhaps we should be buying the entire Southampton defence, they may not be as high-profile as our boys but they know how to keep a clean sheet (until they come to the Emirates). I liked Monreal at LB and think his midweek performance deserves a start. We have two fine LB’s and rotation is important.

It is so disappointing not to see The Flamster try to tame Suarez and he will be sorely missed but we still have the weapons to subdue him. Arteta and a disciplined performance from JW should do the job (I hope).

My Team:

arse v pool

This may be a bit attacking but we are at home. I would like to see Gnabry get at least 30 minutes and add some pace late in the game. Another who had a fine game midweek was our captain, Mr Vermælen; given the developing understanding between our first choice CB’s it is unlikely he will start, but if this continues I cannot see him staying at Arsenal – he is too good to sit on the bench.

So can we win? Of course we can. We are at home, top of the table and playing well. My fears are how our little wizards will cope with another dynamic physical midfield. If we can stop the balls to Suarez then he cannot create havoc.

Should be a great game.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Arsenal Arsenal’s Friday News Roundup

November 1, 2013

Not a huge amount of news this week but here it is anyway. . . . . . . . . . . .

Saturday:

The early afternoon kick off against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park brought us three points through a penalty by Mikel Arteta, after Serge Gnabry was brought down in the box, and a fine chipped pass by Ramsey to set up a header for Olivier Giroud. All this after an early injury forced Flamini off and Arsenal went down to ten men when Arteta was harshly red carded for a DOGSO. ( Denial Of Goal Scoring Opportunity).

Sunday:

A good day in the press for The Gunners, there’s nothing like a win to silence the pundits. Was it a red card offence? The consensus seems to be a clear no. Chamakh after moving the ball to his right then leant into Arteta on his left and fell over. Would he have gone on to score? C’mon it’s Chamakh we’re talking about here. When asked if Arsenal would appeal the red card Wenger said although there was a good argument for doing so, there’s no point as it’s only a one match suspension and that game is the Capital One Cup for which he wouldn’t have picked Arteta anyway.

Monday:

Per Mertesacker believes how Arsenal respond to the upcoming tough schedules will define their season. “Crystal Palace on Saturday was a good test for us and a good win ahead of the hard games to come in the next weeks,” said Arsenal defender Mertesacker. “There will be more tests to come and that will be crucial for the rest of the season”.

“That we have started well showed we have improved a lot over the last two years. We are in a better position. It feels much better now. We don’t have to get anything back on the other sides, so that gives us more safety and we feel much better.”

Our favourite pundit, Alan Hansen, was at it again writing in The Telegraph he once more failed to resist his in-built bias and wrote off Arsenal’s chances of winning the title this season.

Arsenal may be looking down on Chelsea and Manchester City from the top of the Premier League this morning, but they will not end the season as champions“.

“Despite their hugely impressive reaction since losing to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, which has enabled them to move clear at the top of the table, I still believe that Arsenal will end the campaign in fourth place“.

He went on “If you run out of gas in March, April or May, you will be mentally and physically shot and miss out on everything. United have mastered the art of pacing themselves, Liverpool did it for 20 years and Chelsea and City both know what it takes”. He just couldn’t resist mentioning his beloved Liverpool, while forgetting that they haven’t managed to pace themselves to a win in the last twenty years. What has this man got against Arsenal?

Serge Gnabry signed a new long term contract. Arsène Wenger said: “We signed Serge Gnabry because I believe that he will be a great player. He has technical ability, he has power, he has pace, he has finishing quality and he can give a final ball. He’s a powerful offensive player and I believe that he will be a great player for Arsenal Football Club.”

Tuesday:

Emmanuel Frimpong is set to be warned over his future conduct after appearing to claim that his omission from the Capital One Cup tie against Chelsea was because of his colour.

The 21-year-old Ghana international denied he had accused manager Arsene Wenger of racism despite responding on Twitter to a question why he was not in the squad by saying: “LOL I wanna laugh.” He then wrote: “Sometimes I wish I was white and English.”

Frimpong later deleted that tweet and added “not every tweet is football related. Goosh [sic]” and later, “Look what ever [sic] you read tomorrow has majorly been twisted. Is a joke what people will do to start controversy goodnight people.” A word of advice for Master Frimpong: Think before you twitter!

Jose Mourinho was moaning about his poor darlings having to play the Mighty Arsenal just two days after his team scrabbled to get a win against the Oilers. (A last minute cock-up by Joe Hart presented an open goal for £50 million man Torres).

“One team play 12.30pm on Saturday another play 4pm on Sunday”.

“Another team play against Crystal Palace, the other against Manchester City and now we have to play on Tuesday”.

If you can’t stand the heat Jose, get out of the kitchen!

Former Arsenal defender Nelson Vivas has resigned as manager of Argentinean club Quilmes after sensationally attacking one of their fans. Vivas – who signed for the Gunners in 1998 from Boca Juniors before moving on to Inter Milan – leapt into the stand to hit a spectator three times after his side’s game against Atletico Rafaela. The fan was said to have been insulting the former Argentina international during the club’s disappointing draw.

Wednesday:

It was difficult to find any relevant Arsenal news, other than the Capital One cup defeat at the hands of Chelsea. The consensus seemed to be that but for that back header it was a fairly close game, both sides had a decent enough number of goal attempts, not too many were on target, although Mata’s strike was all to obviously spot on.

On the injury front, no news is good news, all our players came through unscathed, on top of that Vermaelen escaped what should have been a straight red for a DOGSO. Having served his one match ban Arteta is available for Saturday.

Thursday:

It’s all about confidence, claims Olly.

Talking to Standard Sport Olivier Giroud said “It is [down to] confidence. I did well from the start of the season, I had good preparation with the team — instead of last season when I wasn’t here from the beginning —and I scored early in the pre-season games.

“I feel really confident, the boss made me feel good and that is why I feel good and try to improve every day. It is all about confidence I think”.

Written by Norfolk Gooner