Arsenal Arsenal’s Friday News Roundup

January 31, 2014

Due to the Coventry cup tie I was riding the pine last week so here’s the headlines.

Friday 17th:

Wenger on new deals for Mertesascker and Sagna…

“We are making good progress and hopefully we can announce something soon”. Morata deal back on!

Saturday:

Fulham at home, two goals by Santi Cazorla, clean sheet, three points, top of the table.

Sunday:

New name on the striker target list; Mirko Vucinic,

Monday:

Silent Stan in London, rumoured to have £24 million, four year contract in his pocket for Wenger. No Morata deal, he’s decided to stay at Real.

Tuesday:

Wenger on Vucinic

… “I’m not particularly interested”

Wednesday:

Nothing to report.

Thursday:

Wenger seen in departure lounge at Heathrow. Draxler deal in the offing?

Last Friday:

Wenger called the Mata to Man U deal “unfair” as he would be able to play against all the main rivals, but not Chelsea. Hmm! has Arsene forgotten the sale of Lassana Diarra to Portsmouth back in 2008? They still had to play all the main rivals for the league title too, with the exception of just one, Arsenal. What goes around, comes around Arsene!

Arsene put out a strong side for the FA Cup tie against Coventry City, or the Exiles as they are coming to be known, since they play their “home” games thirty-five miles away in Northampton. The 4 – 0 scoreline was a bit flattering maybe as Coventry were the better team for the first thirty minutes of the second half, already two down to two goals by Lukas Podolski, they released the handbrake and went for it creating some good chances and rattling both Arsenal and the woodwork. Ultimately, one more each for Giroud and Cazorla saw us safely through to Sunday’s draw.

Saturday:

Draxler close to £36 million move to Arsenal

a source in Germany claimed the fee has been agreed with Schalke and negotiations with the player, who is reported to be “desperate” to join Arsenal, are under way. Phew! That’s a deal that will knock “Mata to Man U” off the back pages….if it goes through!

Sunday:

Arsene Wenger has described reports that Arsenal are closing in on a £37million move for Schalke attacking midfielder Julian Draxler as an “illusion”. “That is an illusion. There is nothing happening, honestly no,” Wenger said.

Rumours abound that the Chavs have a deal in place to sign Arsenal striker target Diego Costa in the summer or even this week.

Monday:

Sunday evening’s FA Cup draw saw Arsenal given a home tie with Liverpool, a tasty morsel, the game to be played Sunday Feb. 16th at 4pm.

Wenger speaking ahead of the Southampton game said Ramsey, Arteta and Vermaelen are all fit and available but Wilshire is doubtful.

It is expected that Arsenal will shortly announce a new kit manufacturer deal with German company Puma, The deal will run for five years and is worth £150 million over that period.

Tuesday:

Speaking at the launch of the Puma kit deal, Ivan Gazidis said “

Arsène will be extending with us and, at the right time, we will make that announcement, we have always supported Arsène, the board and Stan Kroenke have always been completely behind him. Arsène has always been committed to the club. He’s the right person to see us forward.” See my news item from Monday last week. I don’t wish to say “I told you so”, but I told you so. 😀

Henry Winter on

Wenger the architect of glory….Arsenal employ one of the best creative footballers in the world in Mesut Özil, one of the most inspiring centre-halves in Per Mertesacker, some of the leading young English talent in Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, a strong centre-forward in Olivier Giroud and one of the most improved goalkeepers in Europe in Wojciech Szczesny.

They nurture some of the best kids around, from Serge Gnabry and Gedion Zelalem to Dan Crowley.

They boast a great stadium, a well-equipped training ground and a colossal new kit deal.

After eight trophy-less years, things are increasingly in place for a realistic push for silverware, this season or next. The man who has guided Arsenal into this good place, Arsene Wenger will not need too much reflection ahead of that new contract.

Wednesday:

Ten man Arsenal derailed by Southampton

Well I guess that says it all, there has been more than enough dissection of the performance, so no more needed.

Other bad news, Ramsey suffered a “set back” not likely to be available in the near future.

Draxler deal back on? Maybe!

Thursday:

Manchester City duly thrashed the Spuds 1 – 5 to move above Arsenal to the top of the table, it’s going to take a superhuman effort to dislodge them now…can we do it? Yes we can!

Dick Laws is reported to be in Germany tying up the loose ends of the Draxler deal, the medical will be carried out by Doctor Muller-Wohlfahrt the same doctor who did Ozil’s. Fabianski could move the other way as part of the deal.

Juventus striker Mirko Vucinic of whom Arsene said, on 21st January, “I’m not particularly interested” is to have a medical today prior to a loan deal until the end of the season.

An unhappy Lukas Podolski is to “seek talks” about his Arsenal future.

And finally, Barcelona’s 22 year old flying winger Christian Tello could be signed, as a Theo replacement, on loan until the season’s end.

Much of the transfer “news” is of course speculative but I have tried to pick out only the items that are more likely to be true.

Victoria Concordia Crescit

That’s it for another week

Norfolk Gooner


Nowt so queer as this season

January 30, 2014

At last Arsenal have fully recovered from the disastrous defeat on the opening day of the season at the hands of the twelve men of Aston Villa + Taylor. It has taken 22 games for Arsenal to have achieved the same number of points from exactly the same fixtures as last season (for the sake of symmetry I am setting off this years promoted teams against the results for last years relegated teams).

“How can this be?” I hear you cry – we are 17 (yes seventeen) points better than our total for 22 games last season and our Beloved Leader has said few if any teams have had more than 51 points at this stage of the season. This achievement is further underlined by the MotD pundits citing that in the Invincible season Arsenal had only one point more at this stage.

The truth is that the fixtures we have, and in which we have done so well that we lead the league, are all fixtures in which we did comparably well last season.

This means that for our same remaining 16 games we only got 23 points out of the 48 available in the same fixtures last season. We must therefore have realistic hopes of getting significantly more than our 73 point tally last year.

Let’s first look at the media pundits clamour that we have to beat the top teams to establish our credentials for a real title challenge. In fact this is a difficult area because the games against Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton and Spurs are all away and only the Manchester double of City and United have to come to The Home of Football.

2012/13 results against top six teams: Won 6 Draw 5 Lost 5

The good news is that for these outstanding six games, last season produced only one win and two draws for Arsenal. It is not at all unreasonable to suggest that we can get two extra wins and a draw from say Spurs (A), Man U (H), and Everton (A) which would give us six more points.

What of the remaining ten teams we have still to play none of whom are likely to be challenging even for fourth place? Indeed most look likely to be in the relegation dog fight. Last season our results here were five won three draws and two defeats and this amounted to only 18 points from the 30 available. It is not over optimistic to see the new efficient Arsenal with an excellent mean defence turning this into an outturn of 8 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat which would give an extra 7 points. Certainly against these teams so far this season we have suffered only one notorious defeat and one draw so I am only asking we stay consistent.

The mathematically astute among you will notice that I am suggesting we garner 13 points more than our poorer results last season and this would take us from the 73 points that delivered fourth place to the 86 points which are talked of as a probable title winning total this curious season.

Whilst I have the mathematicians attention we have amassed points to date at the rate of 2.318 per game and the further 35 points I am positing would only be at 2.187 per game.

One final ray of hope in comparing this season to the last one. We finish strongly. Last season we only dropped 9 points from the 48 available in the last 16 games which included only one defeat. Even if, as may be the case, we have a slightly harder run-in this season I am still allowing 13 points to slip away from us in reaching a potentially title winning tally.

So ignore media & pundits, Keep the faith and COYG.

Chris H

This post was submitted before the Southampton game and therefore it’s acknowledged that we aren’t TOTL at the moment.


The Team Bus Was Late And So Were We

January 29, 2014

The line-up was greeted on twitter with a general meh and a ‘where’s the attacking fluency going to come from’? Flamini and Arteta were both picked along with Ozil and Cazorla. Where is the balance in that selection?

From the off, Southampton dominated possession and chances. Arsenal players were falling over. Fair enough the team coach was late but surely there was enough time to sort the correct studs. Early on, Nacho was caught with the ball in our own penalty area and Szczesny came to the rescue. After 20 minutes a superb tackle by the BFG was penalised by Lee Mason and Southampton scored after a Shaw cross (not sure I like the conjunction of those two words) was headed in by Fonte who looked to have shoved Monreal in the back. Szczesny could have done better on his near post. Dreadful all round.

More Southampton possession eventually resulted in a real gift for the home side but the chance was spurned with Szczesny closing the Saints player down. The TV company put up some stats, 7-0 to Southampton. We hadn’t turned up yet. A few minutes before half time Koscielny saved us yet again with a last ditch block when 2-0 looked a certainty.

Kos then had our only effort on goal from a corner and Boruc was lucky it bounced off his massive frame when it could have gone anywhere. Lee Mason refused to book Fonte after a shocking WWF bodycheck on Nacho just before the first 45 was up..

Half time and what a shocking performance it had been. Disjointed, clumsy and lacking in virtually any team interplay.

The second half began with the team looking as though it had had a rocket up its collective derriere. Immediately we created a chance and in the blink of an eye and a Sagna cross, Giroud had managed to pirouette the ball into the Southampton net.

saints1

Suddenly Arsenal looked as if they might be the top of the table side that had come to St Mary’s for 3 points. Mesut pulled the ball back across the edge of the area and Cazorla sliced it, with the precision of Nigella using a credit card, beyond Boruc’s right hand. Two one up and the away supporters wondered what they had been worrying about at half time.

saints2

In our recent defensive performances, one of the changes from recent seasons had been that we hadn’t conceded just after scoring ourselves. Well, unfortunately, we slipped back into old habits and immediately let Southampton back into the game from a hopeful long punt up field. The ball was not dealt with by Sagna and he allowed a cross towards an unguarded penalty spot and we were back level.

Just 5 minutes without giving them a lifeline, that was all we needed and I’m convinced we’d have gone on to win.

Ozil went on a scintillating run 10 minutes later and his deflected shot bounced off the bar with Porky beaten. Much of our good attacking play ended up at the feet of poor old Nacho who had a real stinker. His wildly shanked effort when clean through in the 72nd minute a case in point.

saints3

Flamini was sent off with the sort of challenge that even I knew merited a red card. What part about two footed challenges not being allowed does Mathieu not understand. He landed with both feet on the ball but could have caused serious damage if it had been on an ankle.

Our football suffered no noticeable degradation when down to ten men, which was, perhaps an indictment of the initial team selection. Santi looked mightily relieved when Gibbs was brought on in his place. He had been battered all game with no protection from the referee at all. Last night would have made him wish he was still in Spain.

We hung on for a point with no real scares in the 6 minutes of injury time. It would be difficult to say we deserved the 3 points, especially after such a shocking first half display, so maybe it was a point won rather than 2 lost. The pouring rain and a front 6 that looked like 3 pairs of two rather than any sort of cohesive attacking unit must give us all food for thought.

Anyway, upwards and onwards and on to Palace on Sunday.

Ratings

Szczesny– A couple of good saves, a dodgy punch, poor positioning for the first goal and a boot in the crown jewels……7

Mertesacker – Firefighting for much of the game, some timely interceptions and up to his usual standard of commitment……7

Koscielny – Some excellent blocks, tackles and all round competence from Laurent……8

Sagna – Played well apart from their equaliser. Superb assist for Giroud’s goal….7

Monreal – Struggled throughout the game. Weak defensively, weak in attack. I wish Gibbs had been playing…..5

Flamini – Lacked his usual bite in midfield. If he plays with Arteta, I’m not sure if he knows whether to stick or bust. Did neither and the sending off could have cost us …..5

Arteta – Mikel looked rusty and a bit slow on his return from injury but gets some leeway because of that …….6

Ozil – Looked disinterested in the first half when it was lashing it down. Showed some class in the second half …..7

Giroud – Tried hard with no support for the first 45 but struggled to hold the ball up and bring others into the game. Improved in the second…..6

Cazorla – Santi must be bruised to pieces after that. I’m still not sure if Cazorla and Ozil works. …..7

Gnabry – Not Serge’s finest performance in an Arsenal shirt. Made several poor decisions about when to pass. Maybe should have been taken off at half time…..5

Subs

Chamberlain – Looked lively……..6

Podolski and Gibbs weren’t on long enough to rate.

Lee Mason – one of those refs who thinks Arsenal don’t deserve free kicks unless someone has been chopped in half……….2

Written by chas


Draxler? Not as Good as Cazorla

January 28, 2014

What has the title got to do with this evenings trip to St. Mary’s I hear you ask? Read on …..

Arsenal go into this fixture on a superb run of results which have brought joy and good humour into every Arsenal home. Southampton have won their last two games as they look to rediscover their early season form. Injuries and boardroom problems have affected them but the return of players should see them climb the table again – starting next weekend!

Do you think players are affected by BoD strife? Can you imagine Rickie Lambert being concerned about the loss of  a chairman? Manager perhaps, coaches certainly, but a Chairman?

images

“What’s a Chairman?”

Southampton welcome back Wanyama who has been a major loss but they are still without the “naughty” and suspended Osvaldo, Lovren and Ramirez. Lambert is a doubt. Pocchettino says he will send his team out to play “on the front foot”. Great, I hope he does because two attacking teams makes for an exciting game. Imagine having to suffer watching a Mourinho team through season.

We saw in the home tie that Southampton have some fine players and tonight will be a tough test.

Arsenal: Arteta, Ramsey, TV and Rosicky are back in the squad though I doubt they will start. Wilshere has another ankle-knock so my guess is that Oxlade-Chamberlain will start against his old club.

My team:

saints v arse

This may be too attacking in an away tie but what the heck. As long as we score more we take the points! Mr Wenger may disagree and play Arteta in place of Ox – we shall see. Ramsey is an automatic starter when fit but another few days R & R wouldn’t hurt.

Now – why is Santi better than Draxler? Because he is naturally two-footed, one of the best dribblers I have ever seen – his close control is exceptional – he has a wonderful spirit and he loves The Arsenal. This is not to say that Draxler will not develop into a marvellous player, he certainly has the physique which Cazorla lacks but ….. Let us assume Podolski comes good through to the end of the season and ends with 15+goals, why spend €35m to replace him? And if Drexler does come do you really think Santi will get to play centrally when the Wizard of Oz is in the team?

Nope. Get Theo fit and the squad is strong enough  in the opposition half. I would prefer we buy a top defensive shield. An Essien style player.

But what do I know – I am not paid squizillions to manage a football team, though I am available ……

Southampton: Founded in the stone age, the town really took off when the Anglo-Saxons (yet again)settled in the St. Mary’s area. Their town was called Hamwic, which gave rise to the name  Hampshire. By the end of the 9th C the settlement became known as South Hamtun. Those pesky Vikings raided throughout the next couple of centuries and South Hamtun floundered.  However, a fortified settlement  was established to keep out the scandinavian swine and by the time of Norman Conquest of 1066 the town had become important  as travellers moved between England and Normandy. By the 13th century fortifications were built including Southampton Castle (most of which still stands) and the town became a major port where French wine was exchanged for English cloth and wool.

Over the years the town became the major embarkation point for the British armies as they conquered the world, and later became the home port for cruise ships such as the Queen’s Mary and Elisabeth.

Back to the game: Another must win? Much has been said of the MU team which won the title but only won one game against a top 4 side, ( let us not presume we cannot win against strong opposition) and harvesting points against teams outside the top 5 is essential. We have done brilliantly so far and I see no reason why our run cannot continue.

Anyone think that Boruc will try to outsmart Giroud again?

Click here to relive the moment….

Hopefully the 3rd best Polish GK will gift us another tonight.

Big Raddy


Two Death Clusters To Make Or Break Arsenal’s Season

January 27, 2014

Look away now if you are easily frightened.

For example if you have to cover your eyes during the scary bits of Scooby Doo or you run screaming from the room when Alan Hansen appears on TV, the next bit may cause you to swoon:

Within the next 10 weeks we have two horrible groupings of fixtures – what you might call “Death Clusters.”

Here they are:

Death Cluster 1

Sat Feb 8thLiverpool A

Wed Feb 12thMan Utd H

Weekend of February 14 -17 – FA Cup 5th Liverpool H

Wed Feb 19thBayern Munich H

Death Cluster 2

Weekend of March 7-10 – FA Cup QF

Tues March 11 – Bayern Munich A

Sat March 15 – Spuds A

Sat March 22 – Chelsea A

Sat March 29 – Man City H

April 1 or 2 – ECL QF 1L

Sat April 5 – Everton A

April 8/9 – ECL QF 2L

In Death Cluster 1 we play four games in 11 days against opponents who include our title rivals, the Champions of Europe, a team aiming to get in the quarter finals of the FA Cup and Manchester United.

Death Cluster 2 is even worse: one month with (potentially) eight big, big matches including (again) the reigning European champions, our noisy neighbours and the two money-doped petrodollar juggernauts.

So what do we do about these daunting anomalies of the fixtures merry-go-round?

Well, we could all go into hibernation and come out with the daffodils and crocuses in mid April.

But, as my dear late Dad said when he threw me – a non-swimming six-year-old – in the deep end of Charlton Lido: “You have to confront your fears.”

Later, as the lifeguard resuscitated me, I pondered the wisdom of his words but was, perhaps, too young to fully take them in.

These days the sentiment is reflected in the saying: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

I’ve never been too sure about that one either: if you narrowly avoid death from a debilitating muscle-wasting disease or lose three of your limbs in a combine harvester accident you probably don’t end up stronger.

But that’s just nit-picking.

When it comes to Arsenal, what’s abundantly clear about these Death Clusters is that if they don’t kill us, they absolutely WILL make us stronger.

And that’s why I see them not as the terrifying storm-on-the-horizon that some supporters are worrying about. Instead I see them as a great big gift-wrapped golden opportunity.

Because much as these sorts of fixture runs can derail a team’s season, they can also turbo power it.

Let’s look at Death Cluster 1: if we win or even draw at Liverpool then beat ManUre at our place (getting that particular Bale off our back at the same time) the confidence and togetherness in the squad – which is already excellent – will get even better.

Then we have the 5th Round of the FA Cup. As I write this I am praying that Dennis bestows on us a comfortable home fixture against lower league opposition so we can rest and rotate. Written before the draw.

Then it’s Munich at home. If we avoid defeat in that game we will have come through Death Cluster 1 in great shape. Crucially, good performances and/or results against Liverpool, ManUre and Munich will put us in great shape to face Death Cluster 2.

By the time we start on that second run of tough games we will have that most important quality in football: momentum.

With a head of steam behind us we can roll through mid March to mid April scattering our foes before us like James Corden rolling downhill through a field of size zero models.

And yes, I know this is all speculation and what ifs. And I am aware that if we fail to get past Bayern the second Cluster eases up a bit. But I want to emphasise the point that if this Arsenal is to be the team we all want it to be, these huge games need to be seen as springboards not obstacles.

Squad fitness, new signings (?), refereeing competence – all will play their part. But really it’s down to our team and our club to make the most of these opportunities.

Let’s laugh in the face of Death Clusters.

RockyLives


Who gets the credit for our current form?

January 26, 2014

Lots has been written and said about the spectacular fall of Man United and the steady emergence of the new champions, yes the Arsenal. Reasons, factors, stats and graphs were produced to help analyse the reasons for the manure’s drop to mid table. Similar activities have been occupying both the fans and the enemies of the AFC and as a result our own AAers apportioned some of the credit to Ozil, some to Wenger’s visionary talents and recently my friend Rocky told us that it is Giroud who made the difference.

Right, that’s enough, my feathers have been sufficiently ruffled to force me to write the following:

Oi you, ungrateful ones! Can’t you see what made the biggest difference to our team in the past 5 or more years?? You all seem to love the stats, so could you please check goals conceded and clean sheets over the past few years? No, I am not talking about the amazing Koscielny and the great BFG, or even

Sagna. Keep thinking….. No, I am not talking about Szczesny either. STEVE BOULD my dears, he is the one guy that truly made the difference to the way we play.

bould at training

Bouldie played as a centre back for us for some 11 years. At the beginning of the last season he became Wenger’s assistant, replacing the seemingly irreplaceable Pat Rice. This is by no means dig at Pat’s tremendous work, we will be forever indebted to PR, but at just 51 Steve has brought with him hands on experience of the modern game and good knowledge of new training techniques. He is a very likable man and players, especially defenders adore him, they cannot do enough for him. I believe that it is Steve’s doing that Koz, Mert, Gibbs, Jenks and Szczesny are a true force to be reckoned with. Our excellent defending recent records are a testament to his hard work, attention to detail as well as total commitment to the cause.

I was petrified that there might be a grain of truth in the rumour that Steve may replace GiE’s Tony at Stoke City in the summer. It was a huge relief for me to realise that is was the usual summer bullshit story, to draw in the readers. Panic over, Bouldie is staying put. He has recently stated in the papers that he loves his position at the Club, enjoys working under pressure and has long term ambitions for us.

Lovely,  I think he is the best thing that happened to us in a very long time. I am truly impressed by Bould’s work, are you?

Written by evonne


An Easy But Expected Victory (BR)

January 25, 2014

The title sums it all up for me, a four-nil cruise into the fifth round which was only slightly less troublesome than the previous round against Tottenham.

It had been reported that Coventry had been playing some decent football recently and that they were likely to come to the Emirates to give us a game. No doubt they would have been hoping for a helping hand from Wenger’s team selection but no such generosity was shown. It is easy to imagine the sigh of disappointment in the Coventry dressing room as the Arsenal team, with so many big hitters, was read out: Ozil, Mertasacker, Koscielny, Podolski. This smacked a bit to me of using a sledge hammer to crack a nut.

I was trying to work out why Ozil had been picked when an injury to the most talented player at the club would have had such a seriously detrimental affect on our season. The only answer I could come up with goes back to the much talked about conversation Wenger was supposed to have had with Ozil – in German — that persuaded him to move from Real Madrid.

Summed up I suspect by: If you come to THOF you will play.

What ever the reason the gulf in quality took very little time to show itself, Arsenal were passing the ball around as slickly as a hockey puck glides over the ice, leaving Coventry chasing shadows. Podolski was the star of the first half skilfully rounding the goalkeeper before slotting home for his first and then heading in at the far post for his second. There was a lot of rustiness in the likes of Bendtner, Jenkinson and Fabianski but this is not meant to be critical it is simply what happens to players when they do not play regularly.

It was unusual to be watching Arsenal on a Friday evening, I think it is the first time ever, I certainly can’t think of anther occasion, so it was a bit confusing when the lights went down towards the end of the first half, the question was asked: is this normal, is this mood lighting all part of the Friday evening experience, can we expect this in the future? The mobile phones being turned on to help light the pitch were fun.

Arsenal were bored and it showed in the beginning of the second half as they struggled to stay focussed. Coventry realising that the tie had gone started pushing forward and it has to be said that they created a couple of chances that they should have scored from.

Wenger was prompted to make changes, Cazorla came on for Bendtner and we got our first glimpse of Zelalem who I must say looked very slick. This gave Podolski a chance to play CF but he was tiring by then so we didn’t really learn too much.

Did you count how many German speakers were on the pitch at this time – 5. Who would have ever imagined that Arsenal’s lingua franca would become German?

Giroud came on and having just seen Bendtner and Podolski we all got reminded of just how much a superior option he is up front. It took him seemingly no time to fire home a quality pass from Gibbs. Coventry were a spent force, they couldn’t even muster the energy to protest, all that was left was for Cazorla to make it four and send us all home with smiles on our faces in the pouring rain.

Onwards and upwards.

Player ratings:

Fabianski: a clean sheet always says that a Keeper did well enough, but there was the odd moment when we were forced to remember how lucky we are having Szezceny. 6

Jenkinson: same applies really, hadn’t had too many first team minutes recently and it showed. Any player who grew up with an Arsenal duvet on his bed gets a lot of leeway with me. I hope he turns into the player good enough to eventually fill Sagna’s boots. 6

Mertasacker: immaculate. 9

Koscielny: this really is turning into a Batman and Robin act, a plyer may on occasions be able to out run Per but they are not going to outrun Kos. 8

Gibbs: I suppose last night was evidence that he has now slipped down the pecking order with Monreal although I regard him as being more advanced in claiming the LB spot than Jenkinson is in claiming the RB spot. Some excellent runs down the wing. 6

Wilshere: So we had Arteta out and Flamini rested, who did Wenger turn to for a bit of defensive cover? This young man has trigger issues, when a shooting chance is begging he will always opt for a pass. That said he did a perfectly decent job. 6

Oxlade-Chamberlain: Given the role of supporting Jack just in front of the back line, stayed there for two minutes, got bored and was last seen augmenting the attack. 6

Ozil: to question this players ability is to question Bergkamp’s ability when he was playing alongside John Hartson. I haven’t got time to go into this in detail but the knowledgeable should know what I mean. By far the most talented player on the park, I’m going to start gushing so I will stop. 9

Bendtner: still playing with the halo of saving our bacon against Cardiff with his last minute goal. The bar had been raised too high last night, I don’t want to start being rude save to say I hope he gets his big move in this transfer window. Good luck Nicky. 6

Gnabry: with Walcott’s injury this player is being fast tracked now, not as impressive as he should have been against such poor opposition but hopefully he will get there, if not the Ox will snuffle up his place quicker that you can say acorns. 6

Podolski: hungry, wanting, seemingly determined to get his place back – I like it, excellent player to have in the armoury. 8

Written by LB