The Last Good Friday ….. Good Luck to Norfolk Gooner

February 28, 2014

Last Friday:

Gradually the furore over Olligate is dying down, only for criticism of Ozil over the penalty miss to be given more impetus. Surprisingly, at least to me, Wenger admitted that Ozil was not “over” the penalty miss, which seemed an odd way to restore the players confidence. The consensus among the pundits is that Le Boss will drop our record signing for the Sunderland game.

Saturday:

So for once the pundits were right, Mesut Ozil was left out of the squad with a thigh injury. Yes, Arsene, of course we all accept your explanation for his absence.

The chosen line-up showed a number of changes with Szczesny coming in for Fabianski, Monreal for the injured Gibbs, Arteta for Flamini, Podolski for Ozil, Giroud for Sanogo and, surprisingly, Rosicky for Oxlade-Chamberlain.

giroud scores againnst sunderland

Olly didn’t quite get the hat-trick that I had asked for but to score on two occasions was certainly acceptable, redemption? I think so! What a master stroke by Le Boss, Rosicky’s goal must be the best of the season so far, even outstripping Jack’s early season wonder strike. Koscielny wrapped up the scoring with a free header from a corner, before joining Monreal in the treatment room.

The missus wants him to stay

The missus wants him to stay

Sagna was my Man of the Match for the outstanding effort he put in, playing right-back, before swapping to left, when Monreal failed to come out for the second half, and then centre-back when Koscielny went off.

All this after running himself into the ground in the Bayern game.

Please Monsieur Wenger give him a new contract, give him three years and a pay rise if that’s what it takes to keep him at Arsenal.

We can’t afford to lose players of Bacary’s calibre.

Sunday:

The press just can’t let go can they? The Telegraph’s headline…. Giroud puts poor visitors to bed! Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s surely time to put that one to bed.

Monreal and Koscielny are expected to be fit for Stoke next Saturday, Wilshere may have a hamstring problem and Ozil should be back…shouldn’t he?

Monday:

No change at the top of the table, all four of the top four won at the weekend, The Chavs managed a home win over Everton with the only goal coming in injury time, City scraped a one nil home win against Stoke, Liverpool scrambled to a four three home win over struggling Swansea, while Arsenal took all three points with a handsome four one win over Sunderland.

The race for Europa League qualification hotted up as Manure won and the Spuds lost to brave little Norwich City.

Rosicky to stay for another year!

Le Boss confirmed that Tomas is ready to sign a one year extension to his current contract; “Tomas Rosicky will stay” said Wenger. “We have an agreement with him and it will come out soon. I am absolutely adamant that he has to stay at the club.” Well done Arsene, now get to work on Sagna and Vermaelen.

Tuesday:

Mesut Ozil was given special permission to return to Germany for an extended break after the Bayern game. He is due to return to training today and expects to be fit to face Stoke on Saturday.

Aaron Ramsey is hoping to be fit in time for the game against Spurs on 16th March.

Apparently, and this is tabloid news, 31 year old Bacary Sagna wants a three year contract and £100,000 per week. Go on Arsene, split the difference, £100k and two years. You know it makes sense!

Wednesday:

Johan Djourou, has hinted that he does not wish to return to Arsenal but would like to make his loan at Hamburg permanent in the summer.

Arsenal target Julian Draxler has refused to rule out a summer move to Bayern Munich.

‘I am ready to play for Arsenal’ – Olympiakos hero Joel Campbell desperate for chance at Gunners.

Fresh from scoring a brilliant goal for Olympiakos against Man U on Tuesday, our young Costa Rican striker said “I believe I am ready to play for Arsenal next season,” “I have the capacity to play there and I am only waiting for the opportunity. With hard work I can get there.” Only a couple of weeks ago his agent said…‘Going back to Arsenal? He would not be happy sitting on the bench – even in a top league.’

As a transfer fee of around £7 million had been mooted, the agent would be in danger of missing out on a sizeable chunk of that if Campbell returned to The Gunners. So some mixed messages there. The decision will be made in the summer, and it will be Wenger’s to make.

Thursday:

In spite of a trawl through all my usual sources I’ve been unable to come up with much that could be called news. One headline caught my eye, but the actual article was ambiguous to say the least.

Arsenal get transfer boost as Julian Draxler admits he’s ready to quit Schalke “Julian Draxler has cleared the way for a move to Arsenal at the end of the season after telling Schalke he is ready for a new challenge.

Draxler, who was subject of a failed bid from the Gunners in January, remains a top target for Arsene Wenger ahead of the summer transfer window.

And amid speculation that Arsenal are working on a new bid for the midfielder, Draxler has left the door open to a switch to the Emirates by revealing that he wants a new challenge.

‘I can make my own decision about my future and I want a new challenge,’ he told the German press.

‘It’s no secret that I have a buyout clause in my contract and so from year-to-year I think about what is best for my development.

‘It leaves room for a lot of speculation, but I am calm and it’s also good for all sides.’

The 20-year-old’s release clause is set at £37.5million but it’s thought that Schalke would consider doing business for less at the end of the season.

Arsenal’s offer in the January window was about £20million, but that is expected to be increased when the club make a new push for the player.

Now I may be a bit of a cynic, but where does it say that Draxler is interested in a move to Arsenal?

Ahead of Saturday’s clash Stoke-on-Trent newspaper The Sentinel carried an interview with City’s chairman headlined…

Ryan Shawcross treatment after Aaron Ramsey incident still rankles Potters, admits Peter Coates

The chairman admitted: “Yes, we have got this thing with Arsenal.

We were very disappointed with how the Shawcross incident was treated because we thought there was never any intent whatsoever on Ryan’s part.

angle devil

We thought he was very badly treated over that incident in various quarters and it was wholly unfair on him. “Players get bad injuries all the time in professional football and in the vast majority of cases there is no blame to be attached, but Ryan seemed to be unfairly singled out over this one, in my opinion.” Watch out Arsenal, The Orcs are stirring, and so is Mr. Coates.

Much of the “news” that I have summarised over recent months has inevitably been speculative in nature, written by journalists striving to keep their jobs in a very competitive market place. They come in for an awful lot of criticism and abuse, some of it deserved, some not so. Occasionally they do get something right as this headline about Olympiakos vs. Man U demonstrates.

Clueless, Aimless and Hopeless

I regret to say that this is my final round-up, at least for a while. I have cataracts developing in both eyes and as a consequence I must cut down on the time spent peering at a computer screen. I’ve both enjoyed writing the posts and reading your comments, which have been almost entirely complimentary. I’m sure I shall look in on Arsenal Arsenal from time to time.

Keep the Faith

Norfolk Gooner

A note from ed:

Many thanks to Norfolk Gooner for his wonderful Friday Newsrounds. They have transformed a traditionally dull day in football terms into a joy that we all looked forward to. We hope his problems improve and that we can enjoy his company in the comments section whenever he is able.


Europa Cup. What’s the point?

February 27, 2014

“Come on you Spurs” was a comment I made a few minutes ago. Why? Because I’d love them to have a fixture on the Thursday before we play them in the league on Sunday March 16.

Crikey, it then dawned on me that the only point I see in The Europa is to create fixture congestion for domestic rivals. Hardly a good reason to justify a Tournament.

Were Arsenal to fail to make Top Four and qualify for The Champions League, would I want us to play in The Thursday Cup? No, I would not, as it would merely serve as an unwanted distraction.

Only a few days ago, I heard yet another discussion on the radio about plans for a European Super League, with a reduction in the number of Premiership Clubs, and the merging of the two European Tournaments. I am not in favour of this either. So what is it I would like to see?

To be frank, I’m not sure. Perhaps you lot can unearth a solution for me.

Back in the days of The Cup Winners Cup, and one team per Nation in The European Cup, things made sense, and there were considerably fewer fixtures.

I understand that money/TV talks, with this being the sole motivation behind UEFA thinking. Sadly however, I’m pretty sure there is no way to halt the momentum of this hideous juggernaut.

From a selfish point of view, the downside to doing away with The Europa, is that it would create a massive disadvantage, domestically speaking, for those Teams participating in a solitary European League/Cup.

MickyDitIt89


RIGHT BACK to the issue

February 26, 2014

As most of us are aware our long serving right back is out of contract this summer. Many rumours are circulating about how the situation currently stands between Sagna and the club and as with most football situations played out in the media some reports will be close to the mark and some will be pure fiction.

Sagna has been an excellent servant at this club and has been considered, during certain periods of his time with us, as the best right back in the premier league. His recent performance against Sunderland was amongst one of his best and as a result I noticed that there was a strong feeling of “get him signed up again” as a result of this performance. Memories in football can short though both on the good points and the not so good, and it was not so long ago that he was having a poor spell leading many to comment (hands up, myself included) that his legs had gone, that he had sustained one injury too many.

bs 1

Behind Sagna we have the rawer less experienced corporal Jenks and the even rawer and less experienced Hector Bellerin. Jenkinson we have all seen more of and have a better idea with. My view is that when he plays his inexperience shows through at times and mistakes can be made. Conversely I have seen some fine performances from him, not least in the away leg against Bayern last year where he managed to shackle Bayern’s dangerous wide players, which few are able to do. Does he just need to play more regularly? Bellerin I must confess to not having seen. I actually don’t believe I have seen any action or footage on him so the feed-back of any of you who have would be much appreciated.

Back to Sagna and one report that I believe to be true is that Arsene wants him to stay and that the club are trying to get him to re-sign. Reading between the lines I feel Arsene may perceive the two younger back up players as not being quite ready to assume that role permanently and wants Sagna for a bit longer while they mature more. Assuming the likelihood that the club have already made him an offer I would conclude that it does not meet his expectations at this stage, or else we would be hearing about how he has signed on with us again or is about to imminently. There have been a couple of media headlines insisting that Sagna’s camp would like Arsenal to “start getting real” with the type of contract they are offering. Can it be confirmed that anything like that has actually been said? I don’t know.

When an important player is in this situation the game is very often played out in a smoke and mirrors type way. You rarely hear the player say anything in a direct interview that is there for all to see. What tends to happen is that the agent drops little double edged remarks out into the public domain or we get this often reported but vague reference to “someone close to the player”. Everything is obviously designed to gain the player the upper hand and as a result the best deal they can get, and to alert other suitors who can then come in with their offers which often put the current club over a barrel. It is a game of poker and I believe we are currently in the middle of a high stake hand with our long serving right back’s representative’s.

There have been further reports in the last 48 hours where they state the mythical “someone close to the player” has revealed his new contract demands”. It is very difficult to know whether these reports are close to the mark but they seemed to range from him expecting a signing on fee in the region of £6m and a 3-4 year contract of between £100-£115kpw. If he is looking at anything close to this I would personally feel those demands are somewhat excessive for a player of his age. Do we really know if the Sunderland performance is something that will be repeated on a regular basis in the next 3 years, or will time take its toll and there are more lengthy lay-offs around the corner and more periods of poorer form?

There is a very real prospect that we may part ways with our erstwhile right back at the end of the season, whether we want it or not, so I would like to throw the subject out there for debate to get your feelings on it. As a pointer you could maybe base your views around some key questions :

1 Do you ideally want Sagna to stay?

2 Should we re-sign him at all costs or is there a line we should not cross?

3 If he does leave do we have the required replacement in either Jenkinson or Bellerin or do we need to bring someone in?

4 If we are bringing someone who is your preferred choice and why?

Written by GoonerB


Wot Not To Buy, Arsène.

February 25, 2014

Really hate to bring him up again, but remember my Uncle Earnest, well last week dark clouds descended when the revolting reptile materialized on the other end of the phone. Anyway, thing was, despite clearly having been on the sauce and tight as an owl, still managed to inform me that I was taking him out to eat on Friday night as he was staying with one of his “business chums” not too far away.

According to him, his lifetime ban of ever setting foot South of the Border has “expired”. Anyway, funny thing about Uncle Earnest is watching him at work with a Menu. In his 79 debauched years, no-one has ever known him order anything other than Soup, Steak and Apple Pie. That’s ok. The strange thing is, you’ll never meet anyone, anywhere, who spends more time pouring over a Menu. He takes forever, and yet the result is always the same. Then the whole bloody performance starts again when asked if he’d like a pudding. “Do you have Apple Pie?”. “I’m afraid not, Sir”. “Then may I see the Menu?”. Oh God, here we go again. Twenty minutes later, he hands the wretched thing back. “Nothing for me, thank you”.

This all ties in nicely with the idea of “what not to buy”, and as usual, my mind races to matters Arsenal. A few days ago The Morning Crew on here were discussing that both Persie and Balotelli may be on the radar, and I’m guessing one or two of the Natives may have certain reservations, which made me think about who we “don’t” want to sign. Now we hear that Arsene has been dining with Brave’s Agent, so the whole sordid business surfaces again.

I love few things more than a bit of transfer speculation, but am aware it’s not everyone’s bag, so I’ve come up with an inverted form. Who, or what sort, would you least like Arsene to buy?

For example, who was the last Scouser who managed to cope with the bright lights in the Metropolis. Can’t think of one, so they’re out.

Is there such a thing as a Footballing Intelligence Test, or is it the same as an IQ? Don’t know but I’d have thought players like Frimpong would have failed with low flying colours.

Any other traits we don’t like? Biting ears off other people seems to upset some. Not me, as it goes.

Is it ok to occasionally break the “Team Spirit Code” and sign a single minded, solitary, moody individual? The creative genius. The young McEnroe sort. I think it is. Enter Balotelli perhaps.

Oooh, forgot to mention. Uncle Earnest always travels with his vicious little Highland Terrier, Duncan. Complete bastard is Duncan, and hates my guts. Just stares at me, top lip curled back, muttering away under his breath in Gaelic. Makes me think of the kind of bloke we need in midfield really. Or not.

So who, or what sort, would you never want to see on The Arsenal Menu?

Written by MickyDidIt89


Arsenal’s Death Cluster 1 – The Verdict

February 24, 2014

The dust has settled on Death Cluster 1.

We have played Liverpool away in the league and at home in the Cup. We have entertained the reigning champions of England and of Europe.

A busy week or two, all in all.

When I wrote about our two Death Clusters in late January I said this: “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… 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.”

As is my wont I was overoptimistic about our prospects.

Far from “winning or even drawing” up at Anfield in the league, we didn’t even manage a defeat (by which I mean a regulation, acceptable defeat by one or two goals). Instead we had our posterior handed to us on a platter

Next up was Manchester Untied at THOF. In most circumstances we would have beaten this current ManUre team who have fallen faster than Felix Baumgartner*, but after the Liverpool debacle the emphasis was on not losing (as I advocated in a Post before the game).  The 0-0 was frustrating for us supporters but made sense in context.

Then came ‘Pool in the FA Cup – a game in which we managed to dish out sweet revenge.

Against Bayern – well, we went toe to toe with them until the Szczesny sending off under a rule which is so monumentally stupid that even Michel Platini feels it’s wrong. After that we did well to keep it to 0-2.

If I just look at the results from DC1, it’s a pretty uninspiring picture (like most art since Claude Lorrain hung up his brushes a little before 1700).  Played 4, won 1, drawn 1, lost 2. And yet…

In sport, as in life, context is all. The problem with DC1 is that we started so badly that subsequent results can only fairly be judged in light of the drubbing at Anfield. Were it not for Anfield, I’m sure we would have beaten the red Mancs. But after the Scouse hiding it became more important to NOT LOSE than to WIN when we entertained the Band of Moist.

In any case, we regrouped enough to beat the Scousers in the Cup and to start against Bayern as if we were the Champions of Europe, not them.

Strangely enough, I feel that we have exited DC1 in very good shape. Our thrashing of Sunderland on Saturday reinforces that belief.

The league game at Liverpool was a huge kick up the Arsenal and I believe our team has learnt from it.  They will also have taken heart from the performance against Bayern, despite the result.

Next we have Stoke away (no pushover, but I completely expect us to come away with three points) then we start on Death Cluster 2:

Saturday March 8th: Everton (H) – FA Cup 6th Round.

Tuesday March 11th: Bayern Munich (A) – ECL

Sunday March 16th: Spuds (A) – EPL

Saturday March 22nd: Chelsea (A) – EPL

Saturday March 29th: Man City (H) – EPL

I’m no mystic, but I’m 100% confident about how these games will play out. The results will be as follows:

Everton – we win.

Bayern – we get knocked out (probably with a draw).

Spuds – we win.

Chavs – we win.

Man City – we draw.

And if I’m right, the title becomes ours to lose.

The one result I’m most sure of is the game at the home of the jumped-up, money-bags outfit in West London. In the run-up to that game we will hear a lot about how no Wenger team has ever beaten a Mourinho team; and about Chelsea’s amazing home record. Well my friends, jus lap it up and bite your tongue. This is one game we will not lose and will almost certainly win.  You may doubt me now, but bookmark this page and revisit it after the Triumph at the Bridge.

So to summarise – Death Cluster 1 turned out not to be the tough, grinding test of our footballing abilities that seemed likely. Instead it became a test of our character. In the first game we played a Liverpool team for whom everything that could go right did go right (including opening the scoring with an offside goal).  I watched the Scousers against Swansea yesterday and they were lucky to get a 4-3 win. Unlike in the game against us, most of their efforts on goal were inaccurate or gave the ‘keeper a decent chance. Against us, they just had one of those days where everything went right.

But the way we rebuilt our character after the Liverpool defeat was impressive and it leaves us in good stead for the remainder of the season.

There is something strange about this EPL season. No-one fancies us, but it appears that we fancy ourselves. And when it comes down to it, that’s the only thing that really matters.

I never though I’d catch myself saying this, but maybe Terry Mancini Hair Transplant is being a bit conservative about our prospects…

The Ghosts of the Thirties are Up and Jumping…

* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7f-K-XnHi9I

RockyLives


Arsenal’s confidence restored as the Black Cats get blown away.

February 23, 2014

Playing less than seventy hours after the extraordinary game against Bayern there were many questions to be answered.

Would Ozil be rested, could Giroud regain his place, would Podolski get a rare start and what physical and mental effect would it have had on those playing two games in such a short space of time?

Would Sunderland have one eye on The Capital Cup Final next week?

As a bonus we had the unveiling of the statue of the iceman, who was greeted with a standing ovation at half time.

Six of the team that started on Wednesday played, Giroud and Podolski were reinstated and we eagerly waited to see how the combination of Rosicky,Wilshere and Cazorla in midfield would perform.

Well, we didn’t have long to wait as the fluidity and pace had returned and it was nice to see Giroud being so clinical with both the opening goals. The pass and move that led to Rosicky’s delightful chip finish was much appreciated. The game was virtually over by half time yet Sunderland gifted us a forth,courtesy of Koscielny and the job was done despite a fine late goal by Giaccherini.

There were many positives but for me Sagna was the man of the match with his tireless running and interventions and having to play in three different positions during the match. If he leaves it would be a great loss.

Rosicky is like a man reborn and his energy levels are amazing and it was nice to see him rewarded with his first league goal of the season.Great goal but would a better team have let us walk the ball through their defence.

Wilshere was back to his best and to an extent took the baton from Ozil who had been rested.

Overall just the result we needed and though as with most matches we picked up a few niggles,hopefully all will be fit as we enter what will most probably be the toughest test of the season.

Ratings :

  • Szczesny 7.5
  • Sagna 8.5
  • Monreal 6.5 (Jenkinson – 45′ )6
  • Wilshere 8
  • Mertesacker8
  • Koscielny  8 (Flamini – 67′ )8
  • Cazorla7.5
  • Arteta7.5
  • Giroud 8
  • Rosicky 8 (Gnabry – 73′ ) 7
  • Podolski 7

Written by kelsey


A Mackem Mission

February 22, 2014

So here we are at the end of our first cluster of serious challenges. It didn’t go brilliantly, but didn’t go terribly for us either. We are still major contenders for the F.A cup, have a chance of progressing in the champions league, (against the odds admittedly, but bet against us at your peril!), and are still one of the 4 realistic teams that can win this years EPL.

We now face Sunderland F.C. In the Premier League, so what do we know about them?

Sunderland F.C were formed in 1879 which makes them one of the oldest institutions in football. They have a rich and ancient history, much like ourselves, so respect where it is due on either side, and that should lend itself to a vocal but respectful atmosphere at the game.

I have a couple of friends who emanate from Sunderland and they are good chaps, so if you run into any Mackem’s at the pre-match pub get together I hope you enjoy their company and here are some tips of things not to say :

1 Are you a Geordie?

2 I really like that stripey bar code look.

3 That Alan fellow from Match of the day, (not the smug Scottish one), seems a nice and well reasoned chap.

On to us and I would say that we should be moving ahead confidently. The Bayern defeat, and the way it transpired, really shouldn’t affect our overall confidence at all in any way and I fully expect us to dominate this game, BUT, it is a game against a team that could prove more difficult than we originally envision if we don’t get our act together from the start.

Sunderland are managed by Gus Poyet who, although may sound like Speedy Gonzales, I think is a good manager that plays the game in the right way, and has shown in recent games that Sunderland will not be an easy team to beat. We definitely need to be rid of any hangovers from Tuesday night and I am hoping for an early productive onslaught with a relaxing final twenty minutes rather than a tense finish.

We have Gibbs, Vermaelen, Walcott, Diaby, Kallstrom and Ramsey injured. These are some key players but we still have a lot of great available players in the squad which exemplifies our strength in depth. I also feel we may need to rotate a little, but not a lot, because we have a week off after this. As such my team would be :

arse v sund

I am not sure that this will be Arsene’s starting line up. If AOC is injured then I would put Gnabry straight in. I also think Arsene is likely to include Ozil, who I feel already is, and will increasingly be, a great player for us that will continue to become even better. I do however think he has maybe been somewhat overplayed in his first season in the EPL, and would take him out of this game, but I think Arsene will consider the Bayern game as the equivalent of falling off a bike and will push him back into the fray to re-establish himself. I can see the sense in that because the current British media would go into overdrive with their interpretations of Ozil dropping to the bench. If you are reading Mesut, don’t worry because the majority of us gunners have your back.

With no disrespect to Sunderland this really is a game we should expect to win at home. Whoever Arsene chooses to line up with, (even if it is against my most insightful and free of charge advice as listed above), then I feel we should have the necessary qualities to win the day.

COYRRG’S

Written by GoonerB


A week of highs and lows ….. pants up and pants down

February 21, 2014

Last Friday:

Snippets from Le Boss at his press conference; On the title race…“It is very open, only Chelsea can lose it because they are in front and all the other teams can win it.” on why every other manager says they are not contenders…“It’s fear to fail”. On Sagna’s future… “No, he is not close [to signing]. It’s an ongoing process.”

Although there were no injuries due to Wednesday’s game, Cazorla is a doubt as he is in bed with Flo. Oops! Sorry flu! 😀 Flamini is back from suspension and raring to go. Just don’t get carried away again Mathieu!

Thanks to http://www.arsenal.com/

Robin van Persie

could be set for a dramatic return to Arsenal at the end of the season after his agent reportedly met with Arsene Wenger to discuss a move. Van Persie, who forced a move to Manchester United last year, enjoyed a superb opening season at Old Trafford – firing the club to the Premier League title. But the Dutchman has reportedly become frustrated with life under new manager David Moyes, and is now angling for a switch back to Arsenal.

According to Sky Italia

Wenger met Van Persie’s representative in London late last month where it was made clear that Van Persie wants to leave United – and go back to the Gunners.

Saturday:

The Chav’s despicable motor-mouth manager made a totally unwarranted attack on Le Boss, I’ll not dignify his words by repeating them here. Suffice it to say he got his comeuppance when City duly dumped his team out of the FA Cup.

Plenty of speculation about priorities prior to our 5th round tie with Liverpool. There’s bound to be a few surprises in the team selection.

Sunday:

Speaking ahead of the game Wenger said….“We have a very strong defensive record yet when we crack, we crack, but overall I must say defensively we have been very consistent and the real value of the team is the number of games that we have played [to get] that defensive record. On that front we have had a good stability.”

Arsene named the following starting eleven…

Fabianski, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Flamini, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Podolski, Sanogo.

A closely fought match ended with a 2-1 win for the good guys, goals from the excellent Oxlade-Chamberlain, and a sweet strike from Podolski saw us through to a home quarter final tie against the other Scouse team Everton.

Liverpool manager Rodgers, along with most of the Liverpool pensioners masquerading as TV commentators, pundits and sports columnists bewailed the decision by top referee Howard Webb to deny Suarez a second penalty, for a challenge by The Ox. Perhaps if the Uruguayan striker had merely “gone to ground” instead of doing so only after a triple somersault with half pike Webb may have been tempted to award the penalty. Two Liverpool players were lucky to stay on the pitch, the carthorse formerly know as Gerrard, and Sterling. The former escaped with just one booking for two bookable offences and a series of debatable tackles, the latter who actually put his hand on Webb’s chest while complaining bitterly about a perceived wrong. The lenient Webb called over Captain Carthorse and told him to “talk” to the young winner.

One other match went decidedly in Arsenal’s favour when Le Boss politely but firmly put The Despicable One in his place following Saturday’s ridiculous outburst, “I do not want to go into those silly disrespectful remarks” said Wenger “I am embarrassed for him. Honestly. I am more disappointed for Chelsea than for me.”

Monday:

The Cup win is now in the past, the quarter final is to far in the future, looming is the small matter of current European Champions Bayern Munich.

Olivier Giroud showed a degreeCelia Kay 4
of naivety when he was caught in a tabloid sting, a “glamour” model Celia Kay “allegedly” entered his hotel room and the striker was photographed exiting the bathroom in his underwear. Giroud has publicly apologised to his wife, family and friends as well as to the manager, team-mates and Arsenal fans. Score a hat-trick on Wednesday Olly, and all will be forgiven….. at least by the manager, team-mates and Arsenal fans. Oh! In case you are wondering, this is what all the fuss is about.

Tuesday: Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich

The build up begins.

Wenger to make seven changes!

one headline screams. Well yes but, only to restore those players rested for the FA Cup tie and to replace the suspended Arteta.

Guardiola has problems as Ribery’s stand-in is ruled out!

yells another.

Pep Guardiola will be forced to reshuffle his attack against Arsenal after learning his Bayern Munich side would be without both Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri for the Champions League tie. Shaqiri tore a muscle in his right thigh on Saturday and is expected to be out for at least three weeks. That could mean he is also absent for the second leg of the last-16 game, which takes place in Munich on March 11.

The Balotelli rumours persist, another report say’s Talks are “ongoing” between the player’s agent and Arsenal. Meanwhile, the asking price has been dropped to just €40 million and with Puma willing to stump up £15 million towards the fee Super Mario is beginning to look like a bargain.

Wednesday:

A bright sunny day, at least it is here in Norfolk, a great game in prospect and endless speculation about the starting line-up. Will Giroud play? At home, not away! Will it be Wilshere or the Ox alongside Flamini?

As usual, the “experts” have written us off, as have the bookies, Ladbrokes quote 7/4 against a home win, 11/4 against a draw and 3 /4 on an away win.

In other news, Vermaelen’s agent has been quoted as saying our captain wants to leave the Emirates in the summer, That makes three defenders likely to depart, Sagna is no nearer to signing an extension and Fabianski has already signalled his exit. Injuries and loss of form have restricted TV to just a few appearances this season and last, so as long as Merts and Kos remain fit there seems little chance that Thomas will get much game time even when he regains fitness.

Sagna is out of contract in the summer and is free to “talk” to overseas clubs now. A report in Italy says Liverpool have made the player an offer in an attempt to poach Bacary from under the noses of Inter Milan. If this is the case then Liverpool stand accused of tapping up our right-back. Will UEFA do anything about it? Don’t hold your breath!!

Young right-back Hector Bellerin has been recalled from his loan spell at Watford and has been given the number 40 shirt and is currently listed as an Academy player. Sagna understudy?

Thursday:

Dream tie ends in nightmare for Wenger

Yes, as many of us secretly feared, our Champions League 1st leg tie with Bayern Munich turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. All seemed to be going well up to the point where Ozil’s weak attempt at beating Neuer, from the penalty spot, was comfortably saved by his former schoolmate.

That seemed to knock the stuffing out of Arsenal and give momentum to Bayern. Gibbs went off injured, Szczesny clattered Robben and was rightly red-carded. Even though Alaba hit the outside of the post with the resulting penalty Bayern had their tales up and the wind in their sails.

Down to ten men Arsenal, with the exception of Ozil, put up a defensive performance only bettered by the occupants of The Alamo, but like those heroes from the past, eventually they succumbed to superior forces.

2 – 0 down going into the 2nd leg at The Allianz Arena, a repeat of last seasons second leg would see us having to win on penalties. Would Ozil take one? Should Ozil take one?

Arsenal at home to Sunderland tomorrow offers the chance of redemption. A win and the resulting three points will help to put the Bayern game on the back-burner, at least for a while.

Everything is ready for the unveiling of the Dennis Bergkamp statue. It will take place outside The Armoury at 11.30 am on Saturday, Dennis will also make an on-pitch appearance at half-time. I’d prefer him to play the second half, but we can’t have everything.

TWTWTW

Norfolk Gooner


Thirty Five Minutes of excellence, then beaten, but far from disgraced

February 20, 2014

Where does one begin in a game where Arsenal were written off by many before a ball was kicked and then to the astonishment of many the fledgling Sanogo was announced as leading the line, yet who was to believe what was to unfold.

You will either have attended the game or by now read numerous reports. The many controversial decisions will be discussed for days to come, so I will just offer a few personal thoughts.

There is no doubt we were fired up from the whistle with a fantastic support from the Home crowd which lasted the whole game despite the dramatic events that were to follow.

Apart from the excellent Kroos testing Szczesny after a few minutes we took the game to Bayern. We had their back line at sixes and sevens and then what we thought was the breakthrough. Ozil got tripped in the box, decided to take the penalty himself and to say he fluffed it would be an under statement. To be honest he never recovered his composure and that naturally affected his game.  We continued to press and the gulf in class between the two sides was negligible, and Bayern were worried.

Then the inevitable happened when Gibbs, who was having an outstanding game, once again got injured. It looked like a hamstring pull and he was replaced by Monreal.

A quick word on Sanogo . This was a huge game for the kid who is built like a tank, he showed good vision and that was clearly seen with his dinked through ball from the half way line for The Ox nearly to score .His time will come.

Bayern were getting more of the ball and nearly every attack was concentrated on our left side. To me, Monreal is not the answer to replace Gibbs and it showed.

In the thirty-fifth minute Szczesny was alleged to have brought down Robben. He was shown a red card and not for the first time his youth got the better of him and he made some gesture as he left the field. A penalty was awarded and there was another miss but now it was 10 versus 11 for over 50 minutes and that was always going to take it’s toll.

The second half was basically played in our half and we didn’t have to wait long before we were behind with second scored as injury time approached. In all probability the tie is now over.

Ozil is tired, he should never ever take a penalty again and needs to be dropped for his own good. Apart from Ozil, neither Cazorla nor Podolski are best at tracking back.  However, as a team we have improved dramatically from last year and I would say judged by their own high levels,Bayern aren’t as good as they were.

I thought taking off The Ox was the wrong decision but apparently he is alleged to have got a niggle. Flamini acted like a captain urging his team mates on throughout the game and Koscielny played his heart out and yet was lucky not to give away a second penalty.

I wonder if a fit in form Ramsey would have made a difference,but let’s not dwell as all is not lost and we still have an excellent chance in two competitions.

The photos provided by chas were fantastic and showed what a wonderful sight it is to be at The Emirates.. .

Written by kelsey


Arsenal v Bayern: self-preservation …… the first law of nature

February 19, 2014

The long awaited moment has finally arrived. The Bavarian brigade have descended on London. Time for nervous anticipation and a bit of trepidation perhaps. Following their survival from the Group of Death, a fresh challenge awaits the good guys of Arsenal. What can be more daunting than to face Bayern Munich, the “best team in the world”, in the first leg of a dance unto death?

2 nil against bayern

Neither is this the first time. Last year as well, Arsene Wenger’s men played Bayern in a first leg at The Home of Football, and they lost 1-3. An outrageously superb return leg victory by 2-0 still saw Arsenal crash out of Champions League on away goals. Bayern Munich went on to win the Champions League in Europe followed by the World Clubs Cup.

However, daunting as the challenge no doubt is, there are some positive notes of encouragement this time round.

First, the away win against Bayern in Munich sparked a remarkable run for Arsenal, leading to an amazing record over the calendar year 2013; by and large, this run of performances and results still continues.

Second, Arsenal have had occasional indifferent performances, but the positive vibes from the FA Cup win against Liverpool are fresh in the minds and hearts. This is in sharp contrast to last year, when they went into the game against a disappointing loss to Blackburn. Quoting Arsene from yesterday: ““We have a strong team spirit, that is for sure, and a strong desire to do well and a united team. … We did not always have the belief, because belief is built by the results and on that front we are stronger.”

Third, Bayern were the champions last year, and are favourites this year. But they are not yet champions again, and the law of averages indicates they may falter at some step. And after the heroic display by our boys last year, it is quite possible that the massive fall from grace may happen here and now, against the mighty Arsenal.

Fourth, Bayern were a formidable unit last year, and they still are. But are they better than last year? Well, the core of the team is essentially the same, and the main difference is the new manager – the master craftsman Pep Guardiola. By contrast, Arsenal have a new magnificent wizard, Mesut Ozil, plus a lovely bunch of upcoming stars in The Ox, Wilshere and Gnabry. On balance, the relative changes in team strengths seem evenly matched.

On the injury front as well, it seems fairly balanced. Arsenal are missing two key players in Ramsey and Theo. Bayern have sustained injuries to Ribery, Shaqiri and Badstuber; Schweinsteiger is returning from injury and may not feature in the game.

Fifth, Bayern have been mighty impressive in the Bundesliga this year. But they get to play largely weaker teams in the German league. Whereas Arsenal has fought hard against the Oilers, and is therefore potentially better tempered by their fighting performances. The motivation and spirit within the team is very high. Yes, there was a minor incident involving the truancy of one Olivier Giroud, but that cancels off against the reportedly unsettled Kroos in the Germand side.

Overall, it looks even stevens. It remains to be seen who turns up on the night. Who has the greater desire to perform well. Arsenal’s defensive performance will be under particular spotlight. Not conceding an away goal will be particularly crucial.

On the line-up, the goalkeeper and defence select themselves. The primary objective to my mind will be to withstand an immensely potent Bayern attacking force, likely comprising midfielders Robben, Kroos and Muller and frontman Gotze. With this in mind, I would suggest Flamini and Wilshere as defensive midfielders, and an attacking midfield of Rosicky, Ozil and The Ox. Rosicky may moving back in defence and Wilshere likewise move up in attack.

And finally, here is the bombshell. Given disciplinary issues, including a disregard for team curfew the night before a game, I would not be averse to Wenger allowing Giroud some more bench warming time. Football is a team game, and no one is indispensable within the team. Podolski is the striker in my starting lineup. He has just scored a fantastic team goal against Liverpool, and so his confidence should be high. Santi scuffed shooting opportunities twice gainst Liverpool and does not appear to be fully fit. He will be on the bench as well, in preparation to launch a salvo when the need comes.

a  v bm

However, the Boss knows best. We will see what team emerges. The bottomline is to fight hard in the midfield and break down opposition attacks, and a tight and compact backline to thwart any advances that may trickle through. The priority is not to concede an away goal to Bayern. There will be chances at the other end, and we should be eager to take these chances.

All to play for. Onwards and upwards!

COYRRG!!!!

Written by arnie