Old wine, or new bottle, or old wine in new bottle?

December 31, 2013

End of the year, and part of the ritual is to take stock, and look forward towards the future with glorious plans and renewed expectations. And what a fantastic year this has been for Arsenal fans! At the midway stage in the Premier League last year, Arsenal was lying 7th, well off the pace for Champions League qualification, and even off Spursday football places. Qualifying second in their group, Arsenal faced a tough round of 16 encounter against Bayern Munich, one of the best teams in Europe at that stage. With significant changes to the Board, a new owner in tow, there were uncertain times for the club management. The fans were up in arms, with substantial ammunition provided by a negative press, dubious pundits and even the Arsenal Supporters Trust. Difficult times indeed!

But Arsenal managed to make a fantastic turnaround. Attaining qualification for CL was nothing short of a miracle! Yes, Arsenal lost out in a two leg epic battle against eventual winners Bayern, but before that showed their mettle in an amazing 2-0 away victory. Despite all the negativity, good progress was made in the summer transfer window. The progress continued in the current season, and Arsenal is sitting at the Top of the Premier League at the halfway stage. Qualification to the Champions League was gained from the aptly termed “Group of Death”. Grudging acknowledgement of Arsenal’s strength and mettle is gently arising from beneath the rubble of disdain and the green fumes of envy. Indeed, if the league was played over the calendar year, Arsenal would have been Champions of 2013. Oh, what a year this has been!!!


per and kosser

All in all, a good year in prospect. There are plenty of challenges yet to be met. Plenty of time still before we even begin to celebrate the achievements of this team. But, also plenty of positive vibes and expectation in tow. So AA ers, looking towards the future, what did we learn new about Arsenal this year, and what were we reminded of afresh, that we did not know with so much certainty one year back? Let us discuss. Here are a few of my tentative suggestions. It was not all rosy, though. Injuries continued through the year. The squad seems a bit thin. Progression to the round of 16 in the Champions League was gained, but only in second place. Like last year, we have drawn Bayern Munich. Lovely games in prospect, but significant challenges as well. And if the vitriol from the fans is a bit subdued due to the sustained run of fine results and resilience in the field of play, the negativity from the press and pundits continues unabated. Perhaps most importantly, whether by luck or design, Arsenal continues to be at the receiving end of poor refereeing decisions. Alas, some things never seem to change!

First, same time last year we did not know what a fantastic central defensive partnership, together with a very competent goalkeeper, we were developing. Indeed a large part of our success this year owes itself to the fantastic defensive pairing of Per and Kos. What a duo!!! And what a great leader in our beloved BFG! When Verms got injured, who would have thought we would have such a strong defence where even a fit squad captain cannot find a place?

Per and kossser 2

Second, one of the best revelations of the year was the discovery that Ramsey had developed into such a fantastic player. He was the subject of much of the blame and vitriol during our indifferent showing in 2012. Perhaps somewhat undeservedly. But our beloved Rambo rubbed all these adversities off his shirt, returned in style from his long standing injury, and has grown to the stature of one of the best midfielders in the League, perhaps in Europe as well.


He has shown a very mature head as well, leading for his country at a very young age. In tow, Jack Wilshere is developing into a fine player, if somewhat idiosyncratic on occasions. Together with Theo, the Ox, Gibbs and Jenks, they also form a British core to the team which had been somewhat deficient for a while. Who would have thought a year back that Rambo would develop into such a fantastic and dependable player, and Jack’s game will be coming along so nicely as well?

The English players

Third, one of the most encouraging developments of the year, at least for me, was the maturity with which the owner Kroenke, Gazidis and the Board conducted themselves. Perhaps the best development was that the Board did not interfere in footballing matters, leaving team and signing decisions to the people who know best, led by one Arsene Wenger. If you think that this is not a surprise, look around at other clubs. Several clubs have met with significant disasters as a result of owner power, such as the Spuds, Cardiff and even the Chavs, and in some others the environment is not very nice even if the performance has not been equally devastating.

The principles of the club, that a fantastic team can be developed without wasting money on the wasteful purchase of overpriced bench idols, was not compromised by a new owner and a new look Board. Surely, this was not a given at the start of the year, after the club had gone through a rather aggressive ownership contest and change of hands.

Fourth, amid the mantra of financial fairplay and traditional hesitancy to spend big money, and the recovery from an expensive move to the Emirates, who would have thought that Arsenal would spend their money where it mattered most?


In the procurement of one Mesut Ozil, who despite his tentative adjustment to English football and the Arsenal way of playing the game, has given the team something really special, Arsenal showed purpose and ambition, and real ability to deliver trophies. This came together with the free transfer of one Mathieu Flamini – ah, what a fantastic transfer move!


Fifth, against the backdrop of significant unrest and disquiet among good-weather fans, ably supported by the press and pundits, who would have thought that the positive outlook of a sane fan-base would shine through? The struggle against the doubters and doomday-usherers still continues in earnest, in ArsenalArsenal and elsewhere, but The Home of Football still reverberates with the positive chants and outlook towards the new dawn awaiting in the New Year!!!!

AA ers, what do you think? My final thoughts are:

COYG! Onwards and Upwards!! A fantastic year 2014 awaits!!!!

Written by arnie

Arsenal Record 2013 Calendar Year

P W D L F A GD Pts
38 25 7 6 70 34 36 82

Where would 82 points put us in seasons past?

SEASON Winners P W D L F A GD Pts AFC on 82 points
2008-09 Utd 38 28 6 4 68 24 44 90 4th
2009-10 Chavs 38 27 5 6 103 32 71 86 3rd
2010-11 Utd 38 23 11 4 78 37 41 80 1st
2011-12 Oilers 38 28 5 5 94 29 65 89 3rd
2012-13 Utd 38 28 5 5 86 43 43 89 2nd

Chart by MickyDidIt

2013 Calendar Year League Table

P W D L F A GD Points vs Top 7 Total Home Total Away
Arsenal 38 25 7 6 70 33 37 82 10 19 19
Shitty 38 25 5 8 86 39 47 80 10 19 19
Chavs 38 23 8 7 71 40 31 77 10 20 18
ManUre 38 23 8 7 70 37 33 77 11 19 19
Spuds 38 21 10 7 55 46 9 73 10 19 19
Dippers 38 21 9 8 87 39 48 72 9 18 20
Everton 38 18 13 7 54 35 19 67 11 20 18
Toon 38 16 6 16 51 62 -11 54 13 19 19
Southampton 38 12 15 11 49 43 6 51 13 19 19
Villa 38 11 10 17 50 58 -8 43 11 20 18
Swansea 38 10 12 16 44 54 -10 42 12 18 20
Norwich 38 9 11 18 37 62 -25 38 12 20 18
Fulham 38 11 5 22 39 67 -28 38 12 19 19
West Ham 38 9 11 18 41 57 -16 38 12 19 19
Stokies 38 8 11 19 34 60 -26 35 11 19 19
WBA 38 7 13 18 45 61 -16 34 12 18 20
Sunderland 38 7 10 21 36 62 -26 31 12 19 19

Stat Overkill by GiE


Slog On The Tyne: Arsenal Report and Player Ratings.

December 30, 2013

So we enter 2014 as the star on top of the Premier League Christmas tree.

Will we still be there at the end of May? Who knows, but if we are it will be thanks – in large part – to grinding out difficult wins like yesterday’s at Newcastle.

Toon have been one of the EPL’s form teams in recent weeks so going up there three days after playing another away fixture and coming home with all three points should not be underestimated. Coming away with the win was hard slog indeed and made a fitting end to a year in which we have been the best team in the country, bar none.

If the league title was played from January to December, we would be Champions.

There were a number of reasons to be concerned before the kick-off yesterday: injuries or illness to Ramsey, Ozil, Monreal and Vermaelen had severely reduced the manager’s options; Olivier Giroud was on a long non-scoring run and the referee – Lee Probert – has previously shown himself blind to fouls committed on Arsenal players.

Nevertheless we started brightly, moving the ball well and finding our players at close range for little give-and-gos.

Unfortunately whenever our moves reached the point where we could hurt the opposition we chose precisely that moment to misplace a pass, miscontrol the ball or chose the wrong option entirely.

Even superb technicians like Santi Cazorla were found wanting.

To a degree we seem, as a team and a squad, to be slightly off our game at the moment (perhaps the result of mental and physical fatigue from a recent unhelpful schedule that might have been devised specifically to harm our prospects).

Newcastle, to their credit, worked hard to deny us space and to ‘get in our faces’. They are a big, physical team with some talented players and it was easy to see how they have been getting good results. I noticed before the game that several of the “experts” were tipping this game as a good bet for a home win.

Newcastle were set up pretty defensively against us so it was no surprise that Theo Walcott, in particular, had little space to exploit.

Referee Probert, true to form, was letting quite a few clear fouls on Arsenal players go unpunished but, in fairness, he also overlooked several fouls by our players. However, for the second game running there was an off-the-ground jumping tackle on one of our players (Williamson on Giroud) that went completely unpunished when, at the very least, a yellow card was merited. It seems like it will take another leg break before we start getting protection from this sort of recklessness.

In the first half we managed to get off a few shots from medium distance, but the ball was magnetically drawn to Tim Krul’s midriff on each occasion.

Newcastle came on strong in the last couple of minutes before the break, forcing a fine save from Szcesny from a long distance effort and hitting the crossbar with a speculative lob.

Half time 0-0.

The second half continued much like the first with Arsenal having the majority of possession and looking like the better team, without fashioning clear goal scoring opportunities.

Newcastle were most dangerous down our left flank where Gibbs was often up against two players because Cazorla had been pulled infield.

But the real battle was in central midfield – a place where Newcastle have been particularly strong and combative this year

Tomas Rosicky and Matthieu Flamini were our stand-out performers, constantly breaking up Toon moves, winning tackles and keeping the ball moving when we were in possession. Rosicky also looked the most likely to provide a breakthrough going forward.

Jack Wilshere also had a very combative game. He has a tendency to turn into trouble and over-elaborate on occasion but I thought this was a much better performance from him than in recent outings. His overall pass success rate was 83% – but it was 100% in our defensive third of the field, 90% in the middle third and 67% in the attacking third, where he was trying lower percentage options. Defensively, he won two third of his tackles. He has also been reading Arsenal Arsenal I reckon, because his body language was much better and he (mostly) got straight back up after being fouled/falling over.

The breakthrough, when it finally came, was from our handsome, non-scoring French centre forward.

Not much had been working for Olivier Giroud (a lot of his lay-offs went to black-and-white shirts) but, as ever, he laboured tirelessly for the team, taking his usual quota of knocks into the bargain.

But when Theo Walcott floated a beautifully weighted free kick into the box, Ollie got a slight contact with his head – just enough to guide the ball past Krul’s left hand.


What a pleasure it was to hear “one nil to the Arsenal” ringing around St James’s Park. It goes without saying that our away fans were fantastic (and were just a fraction louder than usual, thanks to the presence of Chas and Ant).

Soon afterwards we almost made it 2-0, when Theo managed to get a toe-end on a through ball which then rebounded back to him off Krul. Theo’s second stab at it – a little lob – was goal bound but was headed onto the crossbar and out by an alert Toon defender. The ball then came to Giroud on our right of the six yard box for a gilt-edged chance to at least threaten the net. Sadly Ollie showed why many people still have doubts about him as a finisher, shanking the ball away from goal. In comments yesterday Rasp put this down to his lack of a decent right foot.

Gibbs was removed with an injury and Flamini moved to left back, while Arteta slotted into midfield.

Then came perhaps the hottest debating point of the game. With about 15 minutes to go, Arsene Wenger opted to go completely on the defensive, taking off Walcott, putting Carl Jenkinson at right back and moving Sagna into the middle to give us three centre backs. In post game interviews he said this was because the team was looking tired and he thought it better to close out the game. He even referenced mistakes from previous seasons where we had let in goals late on through not being defensive enough.

According to some who commented yesterday it was tactically astute and enabled us to cope with the extra forward players that Alan Pardew (Arsene, Arsene knock him out, Asrene, knock him out) had thrown on to try and salvage a point.

To me it seemed crazy. It led to a final quarter of an hour that made The Alamo seem like a pyjama party as we basically said to Newcastle: “OK, you have the freedom of the park to bombard our goal.”

There were numerous Toon crosses into dangerous areas; countless heart-in-mouth moments as the ball bounced around our penalty area; last ditch clearances and headers; frantic hoof-outs from the back.

We failed to control the ball for more than 10 seconds at a time and were, in my opinion, slightly fortunate not to have conceded.

Meanwhile with Walcott off and a ponderous Giroud up front, there was never any chance of countering with speed.

The one real counter-attacking opportunity came when Tim Krul came up for a Newcastle corner. We cleared the ball and got a throw-in in their half. Krul was desperately legging it back up the field. All it needed was a quick throw-in from Jenkinson to the screaming Bendtner (who was on for Giroud) and Bendy would have had an open goal to aim at (albeit from about 40 yards out).

Unfortunately young Carl had been possessed by the Eboue fairies and as he diddled and dawdled the chance went begging.

The final whistle, when it came, was a huge relief.

In summary, we deserved the three points for being the better team for 75 minutes, but boy did we make it tough on ourselves at the end.

Player Ratings

Szczesny: one great save from a long range shot; some fine work as we were under siege at the end… but there were a couple of howlers from our young Pole in this game. Following his gift to Carlton Cole a few days earlier I hope the carelessness of last season is not creeping back into his game because he has been fantastic so far. 6

Sagna: very solid defensively and offered plenty going forward: 7

Mertesacker: thank Dennis for the BFG. We really needed his calm head and composure in this game and he was excellent during the final onslaught. 7.5

Koscielny: back in the side and back to his best – which he needed to be at times. 7.5

Gibbs: had real problems in the first half because Cazorla was caught inside and the Toon fullback kept making overlapping runs. Overall though he was as solid as we have come to expect and contributed to our attack when he could. 7

Flamini: a very good game from the Frenchman, tackling hard, covering brilliantly at times and doing well when forced to move to left back after Gibbs’s injury. His pass success was an outstanding 95%. 7

Wilshere: better than in recent outings. His defensive work was solid but he still has a tendency to run or pass into trouble at times. 6

Cazorla: some good moments from the wee Spaniard, but too often his touch was off where it really mattered – in and around the opposition penalty area. 6

Rosicky: all action from start to finish and our stand-out performer. Without Tomas it’s unlikely we would be coming home with three points. 8

Walcott: Newcastle’s approach to the game meant there was little or no chance to exploit his pace. But he made the goal with a beautiful free kick and was very unlucky not to have scored. 7

Giroud: was having one of those games until he scored. You can’t fault his effort, but he will still need to do more to convince some people that we don’t need an extra striker in the January window. He gets an extra point because of the goal. 7


Arteta: seemed a bit off the pace. 6

Jenkinson: aside from falling asleep when he could have given Bendtner a chance at an empty net, he did his defensive work well. 6

Bendtner: did all he could for the short while he was on. 6


Arsenal face a stern test to end a very good year

December 29, 2013

When listening to the TV pundits raving about the wonders of Man City, the genius of Suarez and Liverpoool, the calculating charm (?) of Chelsea and Mourinho and the magnificence of the current champions, one may be surprised to learn that the team who picked up the most points in 2013 was none other than our beloved Arsenal. Has anyone praised the magnificent job done by Mr. Wenger? Through the summer there were daily reports (also from so-called Arsenal fans) about Our Leader losing the plot. Has he hell – he remains the best manager in the PL and probably Europe. As Terry says “the ghosts of the thirties are stirring” 😀

Can we repeat the magical final day win of just 6 months ago? On that wonderful day we defended like lions and had the inspirational Laurent Koscielny to thank for the victory. It also gave me my funniest moment of the year when the feckless Spurs fans mistakenly celebrated what they thought was a Newcastle goal …. click here to relive the moment.

Newcastle have moved forward since then, primarily thanks to two of their glut of Frenchmen, Remy and Cabaye. Would Remy have been an ideal fit as striking partner for Giroud? Would we have signed Ozil had the bids for Cabaye been successful? Either one of them would look good in the red and white but whether either would be starters is open to question.

Looking at the Newcastle side there is every reason for the Geordies to be optimistic about their chances this afternoon. The return of Tiote (the battle with Flamini could be explosive!) will add steel to a decent midfield. Sissoko and the wingman Gouffran (who has scored in his last 5 appearances at home) make up the numbers – it should be an interesting battle for control of the middle of St. James’ Park.

Upfront are Remy and Ameobi, pace and power but nothing that our defence cannot contain if they remain as cohesive as usual. Mr Wenger has talked about his admiration of Remy and it would not be a total surprise to see us make a bid for a man not CL cup-tied in January (not that I expect another expensive signing).

Defensively they have improved but it must be recalled that we are very strong on the road.

Newcastle are on a fine run having won 7, drawn one and lost one of their last 9 games.

Arsenal: I must start by going against the flow – following the WHU game many said we are better without Ramsey because it allows Podolski into the team and Santi to play centrally. No, No, NO. OK, he isn’t scoring as freely as a couple of months ago but Aaron is a top, top player and currently the beating heart of the team. Sure he needs a break but one or two games not the long layoff his injury could cause.

Random thought. Where the hell is Oxlade-Chamberlain?

Vermaelen or Koscielny? Rumour has it that Kos is fit to play. I wouldn’t take the risk, we have many battles ahead and TV has played well in Kos’s absence.

Monreal or Gibbs? Given the pace and trickery of both Gouffran and Ben Arfa I feel we have to start with Gibbs.

Should Giroud start? In my opinion definitely. He looks a bit leggy but Podolski is not a central striker and quite frankly Bendtner, though a starter against Hull is not in the same class.

The next question is whether Podolski should start or whether he needs more recuperation ? I have a feeling Mr Wenger is looking to ease the German back and use him as an impact sub for the next few games.

So, my team:

toon v arse

It pains me to leave out Cazorla after his excellent game at the Boleyn and perhaps Ozil will be rested but I can’t see it. Given that we are away Wilshere or Rosicky give more defensive security.

Go on …… argue your case for including either Cazorla or Podolski.

Today’s referee will be important in a game where midfield dominance is key. Unfortunately the ref is Lee Probert, a man who has a dreadful record with Arsenal. (see Untold Arsenal for details http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/33337? ).

We have suffered at St. James from diabolical decisions in the past as the Geordies put pressure on the ref (4-4 Phil Dowd) and if ever there were a “homer” it is Probert. GN5, after the shabby work of Mike Dean vs Chelsea, said that if we score then we take the opportunity to derail us away from the referee, it is a point well made, but there must come a time when the refs are able to use technology to correct their mistakes because Dean’s (and others) failures could cost us dear.

This will be a tight game as once again we face a side who are at the top of their game – playing away in front of a packed and enthusiastic crowd, with a referee who is known to be poor, without Ramsey & Kos, with a tired Ozil and Giroud – would you take the draw? No, neither would I.

Another nail-biter in prospect.

written by Big Raddy

Arsenal Arsenal’s Weekly News Roundup

December 28, 2013

The festive fun is over, the turkey left-overs have been consigned to the dog, the empties left beside an overflowing bottle bank and Auntie’s hand knitted Aresnal scarf carefully hidden away at the back of the sock drawer. So on with the motley for another dose of the weekly News-Round.

Last Friday:

Arsene Wenger, the last man standing! With the retirement of Old Rednose it is left to our own Professeur to carry on the role of Club Manager. Arsenal are now the only club in the Premiership where the manager manages and the board do, well whatever it is boards do. Fiascos at Cardiff and Tottenham are the latest to demonstrate that football matters should be left to football people and egocentric owners and chairmen should keep their noses out.

Jack Wilshere’s punishment for his obscene gesture was announced, a two match ban ensured his absence from two London Derbies. No doubt that had Arsene spitting blood, just when he needed as many players as possible available so he could rotate the squad one of them gets to sit it out in the stands. At his news conference Wenger said Koscienly was 80/90% out of the game, but Podolski was available for selection.

Arsenal’s attempts to sign Liverpool striker Luis Suarez are finally dashed by the Uruguayan signing a new £200.000 a week contract. Well we didn’t really want him, did we? We only bid £40.000.001 to wind Rogers up.

A surprise guest at the Arsenal Christmas party was non other than Ashley Cole, the former Arsenal left back was promptly benched by Mourinho for the Monday night derby clash.

Last Saturday:

Predictable wins for Liverpool and City saw us temporarily knocked off the top of the table, which must be an added incentive for the team to take the three points on offer against Chelsea.

Despite fatigue being a factor in the slight dip in form of Mesut Ozil, Wenger has no intention of resting him for the Chelsea game but rested he will be in future.


At a manager’s meeting in Geneva, Arsene raised the matter of the away goals rule. He wants UEFA to scrap it altogether as he feels it is both “unfair and outdated”. He went on to say

“Last year we went out on away goals and after that I asked for Uefa to cancel the away goals,” Wenger said. “I think, for example, we lost 3-1 home and won 2-0 at Bayern. It is difficult to win 2-0 to Bayern without conceding a goal. The weight of the away goal is too heavy, too big and is not justifiable anymore.” “There is no big difference anymore. Sometimes I think there is a counter-effect, as teams play at home not to concede goals. At home, the first thing managers say is let’s not concede goals.” Maybe he has a point, do you agree with him?


Speaking to

http://www.arsenal.com Arsene said of tonight’s match; “I see this just as a home game after an away defeat, one in which we have a good chance to show our strength. Despite the fact that we conceded goals at Manchester City, I feel that the team has even more belief now. We have regrets yes, but also a belief that we have a big role to play in the Premier League so let’s respond straight away.” You can almost hear Edith Piaf in the background singing Non, je ne regretted ** rien.

“We have shown again at Manchester City that we can score at any moment, so we want to find the right balance again between being defensively sound and going forward with efficiency.”

When asked about the likely absence of Laurent Koscielny

“Mentally, it has been tough for Thomas Vermaelen but he prepares well and is focused in every training session,” said Wenger. “So he is ready to come on every time. He did well [at Manchester City] so it is good to know that he is ready to play.”

The odds home win 11/8, draw 23/10, away win 2/1.


The sub-heading in The Independent says it all,

Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0 match report: Dean’s mistakes deny top spot to Arsenal. There can be no doubt, even in Mourinho’s warped mind, that Mike Dean’s abysmal performance was the reason for us not regaining top spot. His failure to issue a red card to Mikel for his challenge on Arteta on 36 minutes, which met the excessive force criteria. Just seconds later there was a penalty appeal against Willian for a trip on Theo Walcott that looked plum, which was not given.

Let’s not kid ourselves too much, our performance was by no means our best, we created too few chances and got even fewer on target. A nine day break should have seen us playing a much higher tempo pressing game. A clean sheet and no injuries are the positives to be taken from a game spoiled by the referee.

Christmas Day:

Oh! Come on, you didn’t really expect anything today, did you?


Words of wisdom from Arsene prior to the trip to East London to play West Ham:

“In the Premier League, we have learned that this year it is difficult everywhere”. “Now we have to go to West Ham on Boxing Day and on top of everything it’s a derby. We have given a lot against Chelsea so we need to make sure that we are completely focused on this game.”

In view of the likely fatigue factor and players returning to fitness Wenger has the option to rotate the squad a little.

“Podolski has not played at all since the second game of the season and he lacks a bit competitiveness, of course I can only find it if I play him but he’s been in training for just two weeks now. I have to make that decision when I use him or not”.

Ultimately Wenger of course picked a very strong side, which overcame a one nil deficit to run out comfortable 1 – 3 winners. Two goals by Theo Walcott and another by the late substitute Lukas Poldolski saw us move back to the top of the table at least until the end of the City/Liverpool game which finished 2-1. So we are back on top.

That’s it for another week, enjoy the weekend

Norfolk Gooner

Match thoughts

December 27, 2013

Yesterday, in the 18th round of the Premier League Arsenal travelled to Upton Park. The team that is 2nd in the table met team that is firmly in the relegation zone. Only few of us predicted anything but a good result for the Arsenal. Yet everything was not rosy to start with.

The game was played in a fast tempo with the good guys dominating almost all the time, but the first half ended with no goals. One could see that the Gunners had a few more gears to go through, but didn’t. Fat Sam Allrdyce boys obeyed the orders, defended deep, fouled regularly and were fast on counter. Jarvis was given too much space and managed to create a few chances, which thanks to Dennis he didn’t utilize.

The second half could not start any worse for us. In the 46th minute Szczesny spilled the ball from Nolan’s long shot and Carlton Cole had no problems placing it in our net. The annoying bubbles song filled the stadium; Szczesny’s face said it all – he looked guilty as hell.

Wenger didn’t hear Rasp’s cries for substitution and only when Ramsey was injured, he called Podolski to action. That in my opinion was the turning point of the game and soon after that Walcott found the net; this time Adrian could have done better. Second goal came from Podolski’s wonder pass and Walcott’s header. 1:2, lovely!

The third goal, best in my opinion was from Giroud’s pass and thunder strike from Lulu. Now I could really relax, we bagged 3 points and climbed to the top of the tree again. We are top the League my friends.

It was a good game, we dominated, we won, what can you say. I was cheesed off with Giroud, who in not a world class finisher and probably will never be. I noted Ozil’s first and then Gibb’s faces drop, after their excellent passes were wasted by our handsome striker.

What did you think of the game? Did we miss Jack? Was Rambo’s injury a blessing in disguise? And how about Vermalean, will he stay on after Koscielny’s return to form?

Written by evonne

He is the Walrus, Is Arsene an Eggman? Plus Combined Arsenal/West Ham Team

December 26, 2013

Form is temporary, class is permanent. Think about it, it explains why AFC have been in the top league longer than any club. 94 years and counting …..

No real reason for starting with this fact except it is yet another to throw at a Spurs fan when they get uppity!

West Ham have done well under Fat Sam in terms of points and promotion but imagine having to watch SamBall every week, – difficult for us Gooners who are spoiled by Mr Wenger’s brand of free-flowing attacking football. Wenger’s tactics may not always work but he does understand that football is first and foremost entertainment.

Most people of my generation have a soft spot for the Hammers primarily because for many years they were known as the Academy. West Ham have a history of producing fine footballers and playing attractive football – no more thanks to Allardyce. People talk of MU’s golden generation of Becks, Scholes, Giggs etc but what of WHU’s – Carrick, Rio Ferdinand (and his brother), Jermaine Defoe, Frank Lampard, and Joe Cole (what a team they could have been!), since then who have West Ham brought through? …… I don’t know either 🙂

What does £52 million buy?  66 games in 3 years and a pile of trouble. Who does one feel sorry for the clubs who have wasted huge sums of money or the player whose career has been blighted by controversy and injury? I am of course writing about Andy Carroll. Not my favourite player but one whom I have a grudging admiration for, he is still young and has the physique and talent to be an outstanding CF but who really believes he will  reach his potential? I wish him a speedy recovery as he would be very useful in Brazil.

Carroll’s absence has led to WHU playing much of the season without a CF though Maiga has taken that role recently.

You know what to expect from WHU today, they are a team in Allardyce’s image. Big, fat and very ugly.


A midfield of Noble, Nolan, Diame and Taylor  and two CB’s like Collins and Tomkins. These are not men renowned for their skill and technicality, they are bruisers who look to bully opposition – thankfully it is not working very well and a loss today could see West Ham in the relegation zone.

Arsenal: A win today is important, in recent weeks we have played 3 of our top 4 rivals and lost just once but we all know that is not good enough – we should have taken at least 2 more points. A confidence boosting win at the Boleyn would set us up for a tough trip to Newcastle and a relatively easy ride through January.

Rotation. Who gets a rest? The team had a 9 day break ahead of the Chelsea game so fatigue should not be an issue but we have players who need pitch time in order to regain match sharpness, as such I would start Cazorla and rest Ozil today, the LFG (Little Fabulous German) is used to an Xmas break and Mr Wenger can give him one. Giroud, who has started all our PL games could ride the pine, but are Podolski or Bendtner strong enough to lead the line against a team of Orcs?

The only other area of contention is at full back. Monreal will be pushing for a January move unless he gets games pre-World Cup and I would play him today. Sagna or Jenks? Not so simple. What do you think?

My Team:

wham v arse

Podolski to get on the pitch midway through the second half. I would like to see more of Gnabry as well.

Combined Team. Looking at the Hammers it is difficult to find a single player who would get into a combined side – plus there are at least 6 AFC players who will not start who would walk into WHU’s first team. I looked at Jarvis who is a decent winger and can certainly cross better than Theo but, be honest, if we signed him would you be happy? Similarly with Nolan – a good player but not top,top or even top.

It is some time since we lost at the Boleyn but that means nothing at 15.00 GMT. We need to win to go top as L’pool will surely drop points today.

Over the years I have had some horrible experiences as a Gooner at The Boleyn (the only ground I have ever been to which had no washing facilities in the toilets!!), it would give me great satisfaction to see our boys give the Hammers fans a sad trudge home as they languish in the Bottom Three.

Let it be So …..

written by Big Raddy

A Merry Gooner Christmas

December 25, 2013

We don’t have a football post for today, but would like to take the opportunity to spread some good will and thank our gooner friends across the globe and wish you all a Very Merry Christmas


Arsenal 0 – Chelsea 0: Progress?

December 24, 2013

In the comments following this match I stated that I thought there was some progress made last night. Whilst the point may not look that great as we could not lift ourselves back to the top of the Premier League, the way we approached the game was different to past meetings with a Mourinho Chelsea.

That’s not to say it was a great performance, the part the conditions played cannot be underestimated, against a strong wind in the first half we struggled to control possession, Chelsea were content to follow the game plan that has worked against us so often in the past ten men behind the ball, let us take possession to the half way line and them press to try and get the ball back and counter at pace with red and white shirts stretched between the half way line an their 18 yard box.

Bearing in mind we were playing against the wind I couldn’t fathom why we were trying to hit so many high balls, surely we have all played in conditions like this at some point in our lives and so must the players and the way we have all been taught to play against the wind is keep it on the deck.

I can’t really discuss the first half without mentioning Mike Dean, he seemed to have decided pre match that due to conditions he would allow a few tackles to go by without punishment, and so it was that Azpuiceleta (I had a go at spelling it right 🙂 ) got away scot free for upending Ramsey about half a second after Ramsey had played the ball, that set the standard for the rest of the half. He also allowed Lampatd to slide through the back of Sagna and take man and ball and have a throw. The two key decisions followed a little later first he allowed Mikel to get away with what looked like a dangerous lunge on Arteta, and immediately after with Arteta still lying on the floor waved away appeals for an Arsenal penalty when Theo was clearly tripped by Willian in the Chelsea penalty area, a big decision and one he got wrong, although he clearly was in a mood not to give anything controversial.

Chelsea had the clearest chance of the half and probably the match when Arteta allowed Lampard to run past him while no one pressured Hazard on the ball, he found Lampard but thankfully the ball cannoned back of the bar to safety.

The second half we promised more pressing further up the pitch and having more of the game in Chelsea’s half. I spent most of the second half urging us forward but worrying about Chelsea countering every time we over committed men forward. This is what Mourinho’s Chelsea teams have done to is over the years, and in years gone by we would get carried away trying to break them down and give away an easy counter attacking goal, and although Chelsea did muster a few attacks in this way we were rarely playing 2 on 3/4 at the back which we have seen in the past, we were not playing for a draw but we were making sure we didn’t lose if we couldn’t win. Is that progress? Well from naivety shown only a few weeks ago when playing Dortmund at home I’d say yes.

We did manage to create two chances for Giroud, the first following a lovely chip pass and great movement from the big man, but he snatched at his shot and sliced it wide, the second chance came from good work from Gibbs on the left but Cech and Terry combined to present Giroud finding the net.

The game petered out to a 0-0 draw with Mourinho replacing attackers with less adventurous players and finally a centre forward with a centre back.

So a point at home, putting us back level on points with Liverpool who face a trip to City on Boxing Day, that game will help us one way or another.

The biggest annoyance to me was not Ramsey’s off day or Giroud’s failed attempts it was seeing the basic errors made by senior pros, gambling when they should play safe, trying passes when Row Z an reorganising is a better option, I want us to play attractive football (and win obviously) but there is a time and a place, and sometimes the boot through the ball is the best option. That is the biggest lesson we need to learn, it’s down to the players on the pitch to do it, no one is going to complain of they do that on occasion, it’s how you win League titles.

Gooner in Exile

One Team in London & How Many Chelsea players would get in our team?

December 23, 2013

Today is not just about the 3 points, it is also about regaining our position as top London club. As everyone in the world knows (yes, even those without access to TV/Radio/Internet) Chelsea bought our natural place as the Capital’s Premier club.

This is no jest made by a biased Arsenal fan – it is a fact.

Arsenal have been London’s finest since the Days of Yore. It is seldom stated but in the Magna Carta (1215), under the section Amendment to The Charter of Liberties, King John is instructed to commit the then Mayor of London  – a fellow called Serlo Le Mercer (I kid you not) – to enforce legislation that there should henceforth be but “One Team in London,” and that this club should be The Arsenal.

Much water has flowed under London Bridge since those days and the Charter has been consigned to the dusty confines of the British Museum but nonetheless it exists.

As in any legend the time of Yore is followed by a time of Chaos. It took an outsider to usurp King John’s edict and that man was a Russian by the name of Abramovich. His arrival with buckets full of gold and supported by the Forces of Evil in the shape of John Terry etc  led to a temporary change of who held the title of “The One Team”, this has to be resolved.

I ask you ….. is there any right-minded person who would prefer a financially doped team of  cloggers managed by a man whose main claim to fame is he won the CL with the worst team in recent memory (Inter)  to be London’s No.1 club? Of course not.

Chelsea. Can there be any doubt that Abramovich  went down to The Crossroads and sold his soul to the devil? How else can anyone explain the unbelievable run of good luck and dreadful refereeing decisions which led to their winning the CL and Europa Cups?

Mourinho: I have to admit to having a grudging respect for the man. The mere fact that Mr Wenger has yet to beat him is proof of his managerial abilities, but unfortunately it is the circus he brings with him which I object so strongly to. It is never the team who wins, it is The Chosen One – not surprisingly when they lose it is the team who lost!

What would any football fan rather watch – a Mourinho or a Wenger team?

Chelsea come into the game full of confidence and good form. In Hazard they have a young Belgian who will surely be one of the stars of the World Cup in Brazil – a fantastic ball-player. Add in Mata, FatLamps etc and we have a tough evening ahead. As with any Moaninho team they are set up to defend first and to counter-attack. I wonder if Ashley will start or if the chap with the unpronounceable name will try to stop Theo.

As usual for a tactical or statistical analysis …. look elsewhere.

Arsenal. This time round there can be no “tired legs” excuse, 9 days of rest should allow the team to play a hard running 90+ minutes. We lose Jack to the usual FA witch-hunt of Arsenal players. Koscielny is out which could prove costly, but we have a more than adequate replacement.

Should Rosicky or Cazorla start or neither? Would we be better playing both Flamini and Arteta and allowing Arteta to play further forward? Tough decisions and we still miss Podolski and The Ox!

My Team:


As always the attacking MF’s have lease to roam at will, Flamster must be disciplined in his role as cover to the defence as we are lacking Kos’s covering pace. Our bench remains strong and it would not surprise me to see  Rosicky on for Cazorla on 70 mins. If we are in front we will surely see Monreal.

Combined Team:

As you know, I write this page primarily for my own enjoyment and in the last post I wrote about a combined AFC/MC team. It was fun researching the opposition players and weighing them against our heroes. I have to admit that had I written the team post our defeat it would have been different!! But I will give it another go.

GK. Not easy. Cech is not as good as he once was, but he was exceptional. I expected him to fade to grey this season but he has been very good. TPIG let in 6 last week – none were really his fault but I have to give this to Cech, he has been the standout GK over the past decade.

FB’s.  Ivanovic is a beast. Sagna is good but this fellow is IMO Chelsea’s best defender. On the left there is Ashley or the other chap vs Gibbs. I have to take our boy who has improved hugely this year and if emotion were not in play would go to Brazil ahead of Cole.

CB’s. BFG /Kos/Vermaelen/Terry/ Luiz/Cahill. We don’t want Terry anywhere near this team and he is not as good as BFG, though he may have been in the past. A more interesting comparison is Cahill and Koscielny. I was hugely disappointed when we failed to sign Cahill – he is a Wenger player, but I was wrong to doubt the Great Man because Koscielny is becoming a world class CB – pacy, intuitive and strong, though still subject to lapses of concentration. Luiz should and could be a brilliant player, he is yet another example of a player ruining his career by being attracted to the money and not what is best for him.

Midfield DM. In an attacking team we should look at Ramires, Flamini, Arteta,and Mikel. Ramires just shades it, he is all-action, can score (unfortunately) and is younger.

Midfield Attack(ish). Ramsey is an automatic starter in any PL team, so is Mata. So out of Cazorla , Rosicky, Hazard, Wilshere, who gets the last MF place? Heart says Santi, head says Hazard – the Frenchie is a very good wideman.

Ozil or any of the Chelsea playmakers/attackers? Even Mourinho admires our German. I like their German (Schurrle) and predict he will have a fine PL career but Ozil is undroppable.

CF. Eto’o, Theo, Podolsi, Ba, Torres or Giroud? Torres loves a goal against us (as does Mata) but OG is the best frontman in a team needing a back to goal CF.

so ….


5 of theirs and 6 of ours which may show my AFC bias! This team would easily win the title – perhaps a little attack focussed but what the heck ….

Can we win today and regain our TOTL? Yes, says a quietly confident Raddy.


Because the Forces of Good and The Righteous always overcome the DarkSide.

written by Big Raddy who wishes each and every one of you a Merry Xmas

From defence to attack and the whole team in view

December 22, 2013

My first and last article was ‘The fundamentals of Football’ couple of years ago, the journey has been of mixed fortunes, and I must say the nature of my environment hasn’t encourage my consistent participation in blogging. Although, I often pop in and pop out quietly.


It will be surprising to many the fact that the edge of the knife on which the current Arsenal team is balanced is in fact the most overlooked player, not Giroud, not Ramsey, not Ozil, and no not Arteta, it is Per Mertersacker. The Arsenal team’s attack starts with the BFG and a solid proof of this were in the games he had missed this season, most notably the Old Trafford game and the less noticed Capital One cup defeat to Chelsea.

Arsenal’s game has improved so much due to the fact that on careful notice, it seems the team has a principle of setting the ball rolling which is for Szczesny to first, before any other player is considered, attempt a pass to the BFG, unless where impossible should he consider Koscielny and if that’s impossible hoof it to Giroud to hold up play (mostly against high pressing teams a la Dortmund) such that the order of priority of Szczesny’s pass is BFG, Koscielny, Giroud. Having a principle of play makes for harmony particularly where this principle is properly understood both by intelligence and competence

From the BFG, there are two likely outlets in the order of Arteta/Flamini, then Sagna. Supposing the two are marked out, then Koscielny is considered and if he is also marked and Ramsey is not dropping deep (which he mostly does) or he’s also marked, then a longer outlet is picked – this mostly is any of the no 10s further away from the deep lying players (There are at least, of recent, 4 no 10s on display per match, at times 5, rarely 3. The reason for this is discussed further down).

The objective of any of the above is to switch play from defense to attack smoothly. What particularly makes Per the balance of the team is that by technique,

1. He must be so positioned as to on almost all occasions be available for a pass from the Gk or recirculation from the rest of the team when breaking down the opposition seems difficult.

2. Makes certain that transition to attack from the defense is as seamless as much as possible by picking out a pass to Arteta, Flamini, Koscielny, Ramsey or further outfield with priority given to the order in which the names are listed

The successful switch of play from the defense to attack is the foundation of the free flowing game that the ‘Emirate Master Chef’ has been serving the salivating fan of the Arsenal world so far.

THE WHOLE TEAM IN VIEW (Attacking perspective)

It should be noticed from the above that there was mention of ‘from defense to attack’ and not ‘from defense to midfield to attack’ simply because the Arsenal team has more or less reduced the football pitch to two broad vertical segments of defense and attack with five defense minded players and five attacking players respectively on the logical sense (though obvious visually on the division of the football pitch) and three horizontal segments of left flank, middle and right flank also logically. What must be minded however is that to make this work perfectly, certain players of each department must be able to perform the functions of the other department effectively without restraint.

Arteta/Flamini – Ramsey/Wilshere/Ozil/Rosicky/Carzorla*

Technically Arteta is a no 10, but for the purpose of the game Arsenal plays, he is positioned in front of the back four as a member of the defense due to his extremely high positional sense and technicality, he shields the defense and initiates attack, however, he can in the same game find pockets of space in opponent’s defense (it is in this area that Flamini may be lacking). The same can be said of the attacking players who must apart from unlocking the opponent’s defense be able to do the Arteta job when he’s doing theirs.

Gibbs – Carzorla/Ozil/Wilshere/Rosicky/Ramsey/Walcott*

Operating on the left flank, Gibbs shields the defense from marauding wide men, however required to effectively finish the job is the ability to pick a pass to the next player in priority depending on location of dispossess. If in the defense, locate either Koscielny or Arteta or the nearest attacker, if in the half-way line, locate Arteta or the nearest attacker and if in possession of the ball in advance area, he must be able to either get past the opponent’s full back, pick a pass to the nearest or best positioned attacker or wipe in a pin-point cross. While engaged in the latter, the other attackers covering the flank must be able to function in his (Gibbs) position in the order in which he performs. This explanation applies to Sagna – Walcott/Wilshere/Ozil/Carzorla/Rosicky/Ramsey* on the right flank

Basically, the above shows most of the attacking players must be able to function across the horizontal segments without restraints, deputize for the wing backs and some must be able to also function in the space ranging from left to right in front of the defensive four

The revolving/rotational principle is based on the above, and it demands that players be highly intelligent and technical and it explains the fact that a youth player rising into the ranks continues to learn even when he seems obviously talented. In fact, established stars transferred to Arsenal are always want to express their readiness to learn under Arsene simply because there is much to learn to be able to function in this intricate system. It also justifies the World Scouting System developed by Arsene as there are few players that possess the basic requirement and therefore can rise to the pinnacle of this system. Certain players have mastered the system and are now playing on top of their game. Sagna, Gibbs, Monreal, Jenkinson (getting there), Ramsey, Arteta, Flamini (Across the heart of defense) Carzorla, Wilshere (last phase of learning right now at the right flank) are those of the current squared that are excelling in this multitasking scheme. Of the players listed only Ramsey seems to have had a complete education across all departments except the heart of defense, Striker and Goalkeeping, even that of striker can be argued based on current performances. Ozil must develop the remaining part – enduring the stress and maintaining high degree of accuracy which has been exposed by the intensity of the premier league as against that of the la liga.

The result of the above is a distributed goal tally, a proof of this is last season where four (4) Arsenal players scored into double digits each and the trend still continues. The advantage of this is less pressure on Giroud (the striker) to bear the scoring load.

Recently Arsene expressed his displeasure at the Ballon d’or wishing it cancelled simply because football is a team sport. It is principles of play like this that underscores his opinion where the working together of the parts is greater than the summation of the parts (Synergy)

Thank you.

Please note that this article is a partial view of the team when attacking as it does not consider the intricacies of the attack across the face of the opposition’s defense since this is based more on creativity than principle. It also does not consider the team when defending which not surprisingly this time around ironically tilts the knife-edge in favour of Giroud for balance – another article will be needed to cover this extensively.

Timmy (Adeosun Oluwatoba Timothy)


*Names are listed in the priority of consideration for the position