Arsenal to Lose Europe’s Hottest Striker

May 21, 2014

Have a look at the table below:-(well, if I knew how to make a table there would be one!!)

 

Player                                  Goals             Minutes per Goal

Lionel Messi                           28                    96

Christiano Ronaldo                 28                    84

Luis Suarez                            31                    92

Sergio Aguero                        17                    81

Nicklas Bendtner                     2                     78

 

Conclusive proof that our Nik is one of Europe’s finest and most deadly strikers 😀

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OK, that was a little joke but there is a sadness at the waste of talent as young Bendtner runs down his contract. So much talent, so little application.

When NB was coming through the Arsenal ranks there was so much hope for him; he was being taught by the best in the business in Henry, Bergkamp and later Van Persie. His first PL goal for Arsenal was a wonderful header which won the game against Spurs. He was lauded here in Denmark as the new Michael Laudrup. Denmark’s Best Sportsman at just 19, Danish Footballer of the Year at 21 – the best Danish football talent for over a decade but then it all slipped away.

Why?

Partly because of the above – he was being hailed as a major talent before he had achieved anything on the pitch and it went to his head. If you were earning 50+k a week as a teenager who wasn’t even a first team regular who knows how it would affect you?

Unknown

Too Much, Too Young

His Arsenal career is ending having fizzled but never catching fire.

This season has been a massive disappointment. Pre-Season was fine, he was recovering from long-term injury and being kicked out of Juventus without even a leaving pressie. He was fit and ready. We hadn’t signed a back-up striker to OG, probably in the belief that Bendtner could finally come good – instead he royally blew his chances to the point where he hasn’t been back to Arsenal in a couple of months.

What was he doing? What demons are in his head to make him self-destruct in such a stupid and public manner? Is it booze – he certainly likes a beer? Is it fame? Surely if you grow up in the spotlight you get used to it and NB was Danish U-17 player of the year and already signed for AFC at just 16 – it is not as though he is shy in front of the camera!

Nik’s life has bee conducted under the glare of constant media scrutiny and it seems that he lives up to their very low expectations. Here he is known as the Klovn (clown) and with good cause.

But what a shame. He has so much talent – great in the air, deft touch for a big man, good first time control and a modicum of pitch intelligence. He should have been Plan B, instead he is taking a quiet walk to the exit door.

Could Arsenal have handled him better? Could someone within the club have taken him aside and told him how he was destroying his career? No-one did or perhaps he is incapable of listening.

With 24 goals from 56 International and 24 from 106 AFC appearances (mostly as sub) there will be no shortage of clubs vying for his free transfer though no-one will give him half of his current wage. Leicester or Swansea (should Bony or Michu leave) are possibles.

But Nik’s departure leaves a dissatisfaction – he should have been an Arsenal man – he has been with us for 10 years – and yet he is just a fool and when he clears out the Number 52 locker  it will be with the Tears of a Clown.

written by Big Raddy


Lee Probert: Worst Cup Final Referee Ever?

May 20, 2014

I would not be writing this Post if we had lost.

Why?

Because in the crapstorm that would have inevitably followed, any complaints about the referee would have been written off as sour grapes.

But, basking in the still-warm afterglow of that most tortuous, thrilling and ultimately satisfying of Cup Final victories, I feel that Probert’s performance should not pass without detailed comment.

Frankly he was appalling.

The vast majority of his misjudgments went against The Arsenal, but Hull were also on the wrong end of a couple of decisions (not least the fact that the corner that led to our equaliser should actually have been a goal kick).

In the first half he allowed Hull’s clearly deliberate tactic of rotational fouling to go unpunished for far too long.

You didn’t have to be Einstein to work out that part of Steve Bruce’s pre-game instructions to his players would have been to “get in our faces” and disrupt the fluidity of our midfield work.

Rotational fouling (where players take it in turns to commit the fouls to reduce the likelihood of yellow cards) is a tactic straight out of the Alex Ferguson playbook and one with which Bruce is undoubtedly familiar.

These days referees are meant to be alert to the tactic and will normally issue a yellow after, say, the third deliberate little foul even if it is only the first offence for that particular player.

Probert allowed foul after foul to go by without producing a card. Although Arsenal started the game hesitantly, the referee’s refusal to deal with this illegal Hull tactic undoubtedly contributed to our slow start.

This is from the BBC’s Live Blog of the game:

9:06

Foul by Stephen Quinn (Hull City).

11:02

Foul by Liam Rosenior (Hull City).

14:29

Foul by Ahmed Elmohamady (Hull City).

14:41

Foul by David Meyler (Hull City).

15:30

Foul by Alex Bruce (Hull City).

17:57

Foul by Alex Bruce (Hull City).

23:19

Foul by Liam Rosenior (Hull City).

27:02

Foul by Jake Livermore (Hull City).

29:47

Foul by Tom Huddlestone (Hull City).

42:33

Foul by Matty Fryatt (Hull City).

Ten fouls in a little over half an hour, by seven different players: a textbook example of Rotational Fouling in action.

The fact that Probert did not produce a yellow card for a Hull player until well into the second half (Tom Hundredstone was booked on the hour mark) is simply terrible officiating.

I have already mentioned that we should not have been awarded the corner that led to our second goal (the ball went straight out off Sanogo’s heel) and it’s no surprise that that’s the one aspect of Probert’s performance the media have focused on. But it’s also worth noting that Hull’s second goal came from a free kick that was not a free kick (it should have been a throw-in to Hull).

Then we come to the penalties. Or, rather, the non-penalties, since they were not given.

Here’s what I remember from watching live:

A Hull defender saving a possible goal inside his own six yard box with his hands: the ball deflected onto his hands from quite close by – but it should have been a penalty because his hands were not in a “natural” position – they were raised above his head in the manner of a goalkeeper.

Giroud being dragged to the ground by Hundredstone, whose trailing arm was around the Frenchman’s throat.

Santi Cazorla skinning Davies in the Hull area then getting tripped.

Santi being bundled over in the area with an elbow in the back moments before the ball had reached him (I make this latter point because there could have been an argument – still flimsy – that, had he been in possession of the ball, it was a legitimate attempt at a tackle. But without the ball – a clear and blatant foul).

I may even have missed one, but the four penalty shouts above were all, to me, clear penalties.

You never expect to get all your legitimate penalty shouts (especially if you’re an Arsenal fan) but to get zero out of four? Very, very odd.

Which brings us back to Probert.

Is it possible that he had it in for Arsenal? Well, if this were an episode of CSI, you wouldn’t have to look far for a motive. In 2009 he was the fourth official at Old Trafford when Arsene Wenger was sent to sit among the United supporters for the heinous crime of kicking a water bottle.

When the League Managers Association subsequently apologised to Le Boss, its chief executive Richard Bevan said

Probert totally failed to manage the situation and created a needless pressure point taking the focus away from the pitch in a big event with only a minute to go.

No-one likes to be publicly criticized – and for those who are it is often easier not to focus on their own failings and, instead, to project the blame onto the true victim (in this case, Arsene).

Could Probert have a grudge against Arsene Wenger? Possibly.

But perhaps a more realistic explanation was given by Shard in the comments here on AA:

I didn’t think he was necessarily out to screw us. But this is where the media coverage makes a difference. He knows he’ll get a much easier ride in the media (and hence with his bosses) if it’s Arsenal he screws over rather than Hull. Hence his reluctance to give a penalty even when they were quite obvious.

“Because just in case it shouldn’t have been a penalty, he would be slaughtered. As it is the media are focusing on a wrongly awarded corner to Arsenal from which we scored and the penalties are forgotten. Can you imagine the uproar if any similar penalty incidents went against Hull? It doesn’t excuse his abysmal performance, but perhaps it explains it.

Perhaps it does indeed.

I have written before about how Arsenal regularly gets poor treatment from referees partly because of the media-inspired campaign against Wenger and aginst the whole culture of our club.

Add to that the layer of the “romance of the Cup” with “plucky underdogs” taking on big, bad Arsenal and you can get a sense of why Probert may have made the decisions he did.

It’s reminiscent of the way Phil Dowd, in the game at Newcastle where we were 4-0 up at half time and ended up drawing 4-4, got totally wrapped up in the “’Toon comeback” to the extent that he stopped being an impartial officiator and became part of the process of making the fairytale come true.

Probert may have crossed the same line without even consciously being aware of it.

It doesn’t excuse his performance (I hope he re-watches it several times and pauses to consider just how awful it was) but it might just explain it.

I’m sorry if this comes off as a negative Post – I’m not feeling in the tiniest bit negative: I am truly very happy.

But I have no doubt that we triumphed in the Cup Final despite Probert – and that’s quite a damning indictment of a supposedly professional referee in the English game’s biggest occasion of the year.

RockyLives

 

 


North London is Red ……… The Parade

May 19, 2014

Waking up on Sunday was accompanied with a warm fuzzy feeling that something momentous had happened the day before. Well that’s what my head, stomach and less mentionable parts were telling me anyway. Winning at the new Wembley was done, the monkey was off the back, as Lukas would say and all that was left of an up and down but ultimately successful Arsenal FC season was to watch North London turn into a sea of red.

Getting the tube at Oakwood was similar to a matchday except for the large numbers of children and women present in the travellers. Smiles and “‘superb, we’ve finally done it” comments were the order of the day. With the sun beaming down on the righteous and nobody wearing a coat, all you could see were Arsenal tops of every description and age. A less-than-happy hammer in claret and blue looked decidedly out of place in our tube car.

The plan was to head to the South bridge at the stadium and see the start of the parade, then walk down to Islington Town Hall. The Drayton Park was flying a flag which looked as though it may have been one of the originals flown at Highbury and the chap in the ‘Anfield’ top started some rather rumbustious singing from his privileged vantage point.

parade 1

 

The sight of a green dinosaur leading the convoy across the South bridge is one that will stick with me forever. The huge number of children in the crowd must have loved it. Sticking through the sunroof like some sort of Jurassic pope, the chap inside must have finished the boiling hot day about a stone lighter.

parade 22

 

The brand new trophy was glinting in the glorious May sunshine and the players’ faces still showed both the happiness and the relief of the day before.

parade 3

So with the bus heading towards Aubert Park, we set off for Upper Street. Even walking along back roads, every single street had red, white and yellow shirts on display. Time for a quick road beer and we kept a bag around our cans though this was probably unnecessary as the no street-drinking ban was not being enforced. At Highbury corner we hit the start of the huge crowd and progress became slow. Cutting away from the main drag towards Liverpool Road and heading south seemed a good plan, but even this was unfruitful. I imagine a limit had been reached for the Town Hall square, side roads were blocked by the police and no access was to be had.

So we decided to cut our losses and head back to the Armoury in the hope of bagging a decent view. We timed it superbly and managed to get in the shade over by the Little Wonder cafe at Bear Island. Men, women and children stood for hours in searing heat in the hope of seeing their heroes. They showed some highlights on the big screen and each goal was greeted with rapturous scenes and the player’s names sung.

parade 4

Luckily the parade seemed ahead of schedule and the expectant throng were soon rewarded with the joyous return of the bus and players. They were introduced in number order with Szcz leading the way. Both him and the BFG are so exuberant in their celebrations it’s obvious they love being Arsenal fans as well as players.

Tommy, Arsene and the cup were greeted with the biggest cheer of the day. Arsene holding the trophy above his head had the air of a man who was so thankful that integrity and sticking to one’s beliefs could finally be rewarded. Other specialists in spending vast fortunes for short term profit please take note.

parade 5

 

The players took it in turns to grab the microphone and lead the singing. “It’s Happened Again” and Jack’s “What do you think of Tottenham?” reminded our N17 neighbours that that shadow is mighty long.

It was a truly glorious day and North London is most definitely as red as red could be.

 “Written” by chas.


How long? About 15 hours and counting ……..

May 18, 2014

2

It’s done.  Thank the sweet Lord Jesus, we don’t have to listen to that trophy drought nonsense any more.  But just how difficult did our boys have to make it?

We all knew that the main battle wouldn’t be on the pitch, it would be in our players’ heads.  As Raddy pointed out yesterday, if we’d been looking at a league game against Hull, we’d be perfectly confident.  But with all the weight of being favourites in a final, multiplied ten-fold by the nine-years-without-a-pot schtick, laced with sore memories of the failure against Birmingham, this was more than a match against Hull.

The scene was set: by my guess, two-thirds of the fans in the stadium were ours.  We finished the league season strongly.  The balmy May evening air was full of positivity.  Surely ……

We had a strong line-up: Fabianski was given the nod to finish his Arsenal career ahead of his compatriot; no Ox, Wilshere on the bench, and of course no Theo.  But otherwise, pretty much what we’d want.  Hull couldn’t field their two January signings, the cup-tied Long and Jelavic, but they had a few useful players, like Curtis Davies, Ahmed Elmohamady and Tom Huddlestone.  However, there was nothing that should have scared us.  We’d arrived having knocked out Spurs, Coventry, Liverpool, Everton and Wigan, whereas Hull had had an easier ride, having met Middlesborough, Southend, Brighton, Sunderland and Sheffield United.

And then the game kicked off.  The game hadn’t settled down to a pattern when Hull earned a corner in the third minute.  Stephen Quinn sent a hard, flat-ish cross to Huddlestone, who’d stationed himself just outside the box, enjoying space vacated by the runners into the box.  The ex-Spur fluffed his shot, sending it very wide.  But James Chester found the ball suddenly coming towards him, and he speculatively tried redirecting it towards goal.  There wasn’t much pace on the shot but it crept beyond Fabianski’s reach and into the corner of the net.  Disaster.  You have to wonder if Cazorla was slow in seeing the space that Huddlestone created for himself, Santi should really have been tighter.  And had we had both posts guarded at the corner, Chester’s shot would have been cleared without fuss.

Still, the one good thing about conceding early is that you have plenty of time to come back.  And the goal was pretty lucky in nature.  I don’t know about others but I was no more than annoyed by the Chester goal.  However, five minutes later, things went seriously wrong.  Hull got a free-kick on our left flank.  It was cleared but in the second phase was picked up by Quinn, whose cross was met by Alex Bruce’s header into the turf.  Fabianski flung himself at the ball, which might have been creeping into the corner.  In fact, it hit the outside of the post, but Davies followed up excellently, and sent a crisp, angled shot across the now prone Fabianski and into the net.  Oh my God, how could be going this wrong, this quickly?  The three Hull centre-backs were killing us, they were dominating play at both ends of the pitch, and we were paying a huge price for it.

We desperately needed to find a toehold, to get into the game.  None of our players had impressed, and we lacked energy and ideas.  Hull even had another header cleared off the line by Gibbs.  However, Santi earned a freekick in a dangerous position in the 15th minute.  We don’t score too many freekick goals but the beauty that Cazorla put in was a classic – the ball’s trajectory arced into the top corner on the keeper’s left-hand side.  The kidology as to whether Cazorla or Podolski would take the freekick paid off, prompting the keeper to take a small move to his right just as the shot was taken, and that was enough to deny the keeper the chance to reach Cazorla’s sublime shot.  We were back in the game, we had something to build on.

Without a doubt, Arsenal were better after the first goal but it was tough going, to break down a very well organised Hull defence.  At the end of the game, Aaron Ramsey was announced as the official man of the match – that was a travesty, I thought Curtis Davies (a player Wenger was apparently interested in a few years back) would have been the right recipient.  The scoreline settled down at 2-1 to Hull, with both sets of players working hard but lacking quality.  Ozil didn’t really turn up (and missed a reasonable chance that flashed across him).  Ramsey was poor for much of the game.  Poldi had a couple of shots, but didn’t ever impose himself.  Until Sanogo came on, Giroud was played out of the game by Davies and really struggled to do much. We were very laboured in our play.  Hull’s defensive unit were sharper, though they were also finding plenty of excuses to waste little parcels of time.  It was all so transparent.

In the 56th minute, there was a demonstration of fan solidarity, with a minute of applause to honour the 56 spectators killed in the Valley Parade disaster in Bradford in 1985.  Shortly after that, we should have been awarded a penalty, when Huddlestone clearly pulled Giroud back by his neck.  The referee, Lee Probert, looked well placed but failed give the penalty.

I have to admit, I was surprised when Wenger chose to swap Poldi for Yaya Sanogo.  There’s always that possibility with Podolski, even not playing brilliantly, that his wonderful shooting will suddenly provide a goal.  But with 45 minutes having passed since Cazorla’s goal, something needed to be changed, and Wenger decided to switch formations by bringing on the young, non-scoring Frenchman.  We now had two up front, a rare thing for us.  And this I think was a crucial moment in the game.  That change of shape mattered.  We were more incisive after Sanogo came on, and more was happening in the attacking penalty box.  In fact, there were two further good penalty shouts soon after Sanogo came on, one when Huddlestone made contact with Yaya’s leg, one when Livermore handled.  Both should have been given, but were hard to spot.

The same cannot be said for the obvious foul of Davies on Cazorla a little later, when Ramsey had fed the ball into the mini-Spaniard.  Davies over-committed and chopped down Santi after he checked back.  It was plainly a penalty, no replays were needed (though they did confirm that it was a foul). How Probert missed it is beyond me.  But the pressure was building nicely, we were pegging Hull back and starting to open them up finally.

It finally paid off in the 70th minute, when a corner was headed by Sagna and, via a deflection, the ball fell to Koscielny, who turned and scuffed a little shot through the legs of the oncoming Hull keeper and into the net.  Kos was taken out by the keeper, so had to celebrate the goal while in pain and on the deck.  But finally, finally, we were back on level terms, and the energy and momentum by that stage were with us.  From that point on, we were in control of the match.

Gibbs had a great chance to win the game in the 90 when played in by Sanogo – from no more than eight yards out and having given himself time, Gibbs skied his shot.  It really had to go on target, even from a defender.  Probert missed yet another clear penalty, when Myler knocked over Cazorla.  What is wrong with this bloke, he’s not even a northerner who might have a grudge about Arsenal’s cosmopolitan character?  The pressure on Hull continued, with Giroud catching a clearance from a corner very nicely though his shot from the edge of the box was well saved.  The last decent chance before extra time fell to Sanogo, whose shot went a fraction wide of the post.

And so to extra time.

The first period passed with more Arsenal pressure but the only moment of penetration was when Giroud hit the bar with a header from a Ramsey cross. We really needed something to change, the greatest threat we now faced being the lottery that is a penalty-shootout.  Wenger played his last two cards, bringing on Wilshere and Rosicky for Ozil and Cazorla.  The effect was evident: against the tired legs of Hull, Little Mozart and Little Jack added some real zip to our passing.

In the 18th minute of the second period of extra time, our moment of salvation.  A series of rapid passes saw Sanogo and Giroud link up in the penalty box, with Olly then backheeling the ball back towards the oncoming Ramsey, who stabbed an early shot into the bottom corner of the net.  The key was the rapidity of the passing, leaving McGregor too little time to react.

4

Sanogo had a chance to do an Anelka in 1998.  But his shot across goal was well saved by the keeper.  And there was a heart in mouth moment at the end, when Mertesacker stumbled, allowing Aluko to launch an unexpected attack.  Fabianski chose to rush out to the flank to try to intercept the ball but lost the race with Aluko but fortunately for us he couldn’t quite find the empty net from distance.  A little later, Sanogo span on the ball with a sharp shot well saved by the keeper, and then Aluko had a decent long range shot saved by Fabianski.

And finally the whistle went, and we were done!  Our oppo may not have been the most glamorous, and the technical level may not have been the highest yesterday, but coming back from 2-0 down represents a significant achievement.  We were deserved winners in the end, but Hull were heroes, much respect to them.

It was fantastic to see our boys get to go up the steps and lift the cup, and I loved the players’ focus on Wenger in the celebrations – they knew he’d done a lot for them.  That is the last time we’ll see Fabianski play for us, and possibly the last for Sagna, which adds a note of disappointment.

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Watching Vermaelen lifting the trophy was also a bit strange, we’ll have to see what the future has in store for him.  But that’s tomorrow’s problem.  I never agreed with those who said we’d spent the last nine years failing but it was tremendous to be able to indulge in the simple pleasure of seeing our own players lift a trophy.  From an Arsenal Arsenal perspective, I’m sure we’d all like to dedicate this trophy win to our recently departed Dandan – he’d have loved this moment every bit as any one of us.

A trip to Upper Street anyone????

Ratings:

Fabianski: 7

Sagna: 7

Mertesacker: 5

Koscielny: 7

Gibbs: 6

Arteta: 6

Ramsey: 6

Cazorla: 7

Ozil: 5

Podolski: 5

Giroud: 6

Sanogo: 7

Wilshere: 7

Rosicky: 7

Written by 26may

 


She Wore.

May 17, 2014

There are signs up in Islington warning about traffic disruption for the Arsenal Victory parade on Sunday – I don’t like it. We fans know that there is many a slip twix’t the Cup and the Lip 😀

But today is a day to rejoice; a day when we can enjoy the pre-match excitement until the kick-off and a day to hail the efforts of our great team to bring us to Wembley. After kick-off is another matter entirely. For BR it will be an afternoon of prayer and working out which of my family can be sacrificed to ensure victory. Needs must.

Let’s be honest, if this was a league game at The Emirates against a depleted Hull, we would be confident – make that very confident – it is just that the game is at New Wembley (where we have yet to win in 90 mins) and is hugely important to the fans and the team. And most importantly we have screwed up these games before. Lack of bottle? Poor tactics? An inherent weakness in recent Wenger teams? Who knows – all I know is I still feel the pain of our last Wembley disaster.

images

He wore, he wore …

Another chap who probably squirms at the word Wembley is young Szczesny, which brings us nicely onto the first of our selection considerations. TPIG 1 or TPIG 2? Does Mr Wenger reward Fabainski’s work over the years he has been at the club or does he give his first choice keeper the shirt knowing he will be here next season? Both will do the job, both are excellent keepers. To me this is a head or heart question. Head = Chesney, heart = Fab. Given how pragmatic Wenger is it would not surpass me to see Fabianski on the bench, but I really hope he gets picked because without his heroics in the semi-final penalty shoot out, we wouldn’t be there (though TPIG 1 is an excellent penalty stopper).

Given this is likely to be a midfield battle should Flamini play? Huddlestone is a big unit and probability Hull’s best player. Can our lightweight MF’s cope?

Sanogo? He has started games in the cup matches and even in the Champions League. I know – no chance!!

If we win and Vermaelen is not on the pitch, should he go up to pick up the Cup? Terry did. Or will it be Arteta?

In reality the team picks itself. Had JW made an early recovery from injury he may have had a shout as a starter but he didn’t.

My Team:

fa c 2

I would love there to be space for Rosicky, JW, Ox and TV but sadly they will be riding the pine. This team is our best eleven at the moment and has easily enough skill, power and above all imagination to beat Hull.

I suppose I should write a little about Hull. Trouble is I wrote about them just a couple of weeks ago and although I am sure you have forgotten all of my post it is just repetition.

What is for certain is that the Hull team will be bursting lungs, arteries, muscles and blood vessels to beat Arsenal today. Imagine saying to your children “this is my FA Cup Winners medal” – how fantastic must that be? Certainly better than “We got to play at Wembley but got beaten and this is my Loser’s medal”.

Squishy Nose Bruce will be saying the undeniable “It is just eleven vs eleven and if you want it enough you will win”. He is right except our heroes also are better players. Hull’s best chance is to battle and harry, to “get in our faces”.  They have the players to do so.

How do you think the game will develop? I am hoping to be three up at half-time, Didit will be looking for a last minute of extra time winner (he is a young man with a strong heart). Whatever happens I want us to win – I would love us to do so with brio and Wengerball but I would take a scrappy own goal and a poor display – as long as we win.

Prediction: Podolski or Cazorla will score a screamer from the edge of the area and if Ramsey plays well we will win – there I’ve said it and put a bok on the lads. They are likely to play terribly 😦

Like the vast majority I will be watching this at home, bereft and sad that I am not with my heroes. I wasn’t there in Paris for the CL Final, I wasn’t there for the Birmingham caper,  I wasn’t there for the FAC Final losses to West Ham or Ipswich. My point being that my non-appearance at a final can be costly, in other words …. does anyone have a spare?  I can fly over as long as I have a few hours notice!

That said I wasn’t there for the ’71 double win against Liverpool and I was in Paris for the “Nayim” loss – so they aren’t all bad portents for this afternoon.

To those lucky blighters who have tickets, Big Raddy and the entire Arsenal world wish you a fantastic day.

Today is 6 weeks since our good friend and great Gunner DanDan died.  Wouldn’t be a fitting end to his final season if Arsenal won the Cup? Let it be So ……

COYRR Gunners

written by Big Raddy


An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 14 Arsenal’s FA Cup Final History

May 16, 2014

Original FA Cup 001

Tomorrow Arsenal plays Hull City in their record eighteenth FA Cup Final appearance; they are tied with Manchester United. Hull City will be making their first appearance.

Here is a brief accounting of our Cup Final appearances.

 

1926-1927 – Arsenal vs Cardiff City

Arsenal’s first final, but sadly we lost 0-1 and it’s the only time the FA Cup left England.

This was also the first time that there was community signing at a FA Cup Final.

The tradition of signing “Abide with Me” which was written in 1847 by a vicar from Devon also had its debut performance.

FA Cup Song Sheet 1927 001

 

1929-1930 – Arsenal vs Huddersfield Town

Our first FA Cup victory, and first ever trophy, we won 2-0 on goals by Alex James and Jack Lambert. This was the start of one on our most successful decades, we were led by Herbert Chapman undoubtedly the greatest Manger of his time and arguably Arsenal’s best ever Manager. The Final was interrupted by a fly over of the German airship Graf Zeppelin.

 

1931-1932 – Arsenal vs Newcastle United

Our second loss we were beaten 1-2 with Bob John scoring our only goal.

In the thirty eighth minute with Arsenal winning 1-0 Newcastle attacked down the right wing, a long pass appeared to go over the line but it was hooked into the middle and they scored an easy equaliser. The linesman was ninety feet away and the referee sixty feet but the referee still gave Newcastle the goal. Newsreel confirmed that the ball had crossed the line.

 

1935-1936 – Arsenal vs Sheffield United

Our second victory we won 1-0 with Ted Drake scoring our goal.

Having won the League Championship three seasons in a row we now added our second FA Cup to our trophy collection. Herbert Chapman had died suddenly two years earlier and George Allison was now our manager. It was our sixth success in League and Cup in seven seasons.

 

1949-1950 – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Our third victory we won 2-0 with Reg Lewis scoring both goals.

This was the era of the Compton brothers, Denis and Leslie, both were famous footballers and cricketers. They played in both sports for England with Leslie not making his football debut for England until he was thirty eight years old.

 

1951-1952 – Arsenal vs Newcastle United

Our third loss we were beaten 0-1.

Newcastle became the second club to win the Cup in successive years after Blackburn Rovers in 1890 and 1891. Arsenal was down to ten men in the thirty fifth minute after Wally Barnes was injured, Newcastle scored the only goal of the game six minutes from time. Winston Churchill made the Cup presentation to Newcastle; he is the only Prime Minster to have made the presentation at Wembley.

 

1970-1971 – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Our fourth victory we won 2-0 with goals by Eddie Kelly and Charlie George.

Bertie Mee Double 001

This was indeed Red Letter day for Arsenal, having won the League Championship at White Hart Lane the victory secured our first League and Cup double. We were drawn away in every round of the competition and needed a replay to beat Leeds United in the semi-final. Charlie George scored his unforgettable winning goal from twenty five yards out in the twenty first minute of extra time.

 

1971-1972 – Arsenal vs Leeds United

Our fourth loss we were beaten 0-1.

This was a disappointing day for Arsenal but it set up the first stage of the “Double” for Leeds. They went to Wolverhampton just forty eight hours later needing only a draw to clinch the League Championship but to their disappointment they lost 2-1.

 

1977-1978 – Arsenal vs Ipswich Town

Our fifth loss we were beaten 0-1.

This was the fiftieth Cup Final and Arsenal was the odds on favourites to win their fifth FA Cup but Ipswich, managed by Bobby Robson, had other thoughts. They reduced Arsenal to nothing more than a supporting role and won the game with a goal in the seventy sixth minute but they also hit the post or bar on three other occasions.

 

1978-1979 – Arsenal vs Manchester United

Our fifth victory we won 3-2 with goals by Brian Talbot, Frank Stapleton and Alan Sunderland.

The game was described as the “Five Minute Final” a routine heavy weight bout with a finish that matched the “Matthews Final” in raw excitement. Arsenal led 2-0 with less than five minutes remaining when Manchester United scored two goals in 115 seconds. Extra-time appeared inevitable until Liam Brady, who was the architect of Arsenal’s first two goals picked up the ball straight from the re-start. He passed to Graham Rix, on the left, who centered to Alan Sunderland and he slid the ball into the net for the winning goal.

 

1979-1980 – Arsenal vs West Ham United

Our sixth loss we were beaten 0-1.

One of the most disappointed Arsenal fans on this day was GunnerN5 – I drove, on my own, four hundred miles through the mountains from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho to Cranbook, British Columbia. I had booked a hotel room in Cranbrook as the game was not being shown in the USA. Even a bottle of Macallan could not mask my disappointment and the return journey, the next day, was one of the longest and loneliest drives of my life.

 

1992-1993 – Arsenal vs Sheffield Wednesday

Our sixth victory we won 2-1 with goals by Ian Wright, Wright, Wright and Andy Linighan.

Arsenal became the first club to win both the FA Cup and the League Cup in one season but Sheffield United would prefer not to talk about that as they were the team that lost to Arsenal in both Finals. Andy Lineghan headed home the winning goal from a Paul Merson corner kick in the last minute of extra time

 

1997-1998 – Arsenal vs Newcastle United

Our seventh victory we won 2-0 with goals by Marc Overmars and Nicolas Anelka.

arsene-wenger_double

Arsenal finally beat Newcastle in a FA Cup Final having lost to them in both 1932 and 1952. This was Arsene Wengers first full season as Arsenal manager and he ended the season with a fist full of silver after winning both the FA Cup and The League Championship to secure Arsenals second “Double” season.

 

2000-2001 – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Our seventh loss we were beaten 1-2 with Freddie Ljungberg scoring our only goal.

Arsenal dominated the game but Liverpool came from behind to win 2-1, thus winning the FA Cup for the sixth time. It was the second trophy of their treble-winning season of 2000–01: they had won the Football League Cup in late February and would win the UEFA Cup four days later. As well as being the first FA Cup Final to be staged outside of England, it was also the first in which the managers of both teams were from outside the British Isles – Liverpool’s Gérard Houllier and Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger both coming from France.

 

2001-2002 – Arsenal vs Chelsea

Our eighth victory we won 2-0 with goals by Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg.

Ljungberg, having also scored in the 2001 final, became the first man to score goals in successive FA Cup Finals since Tottenham Hotspur’s Bobby Smith, who scored in 1961 and 1962. The match took place with one week remaining in the Premier League calendar for the 2001–02 season. Arsenal were in first position, but still needed a point from their final two games to secure the championship, which they achieved in their next match with victory over second-placed Manchester United. It was Arsene Wengers second and Arsenals third League and Cup double.

 

2002-2003 – Arsenal vs Southampton

Our ninth victory we won 1-0 with Robert Pires scoring the only goal.

The Gunners won their second Cup in 2 years with a dominant performance over Southampton. The gulf in class between the 2 teams was not evident in the score line as Arsenal won by the single goal, a scrambled shot by Robert Pires. The last 7 minutes of the game saw Arsenal retain almost constant possession accompanied by a string of cheers from their supporters. Southampton had a mere 2 chances to score. the last of which came in the dying seconds as Ashley Cole saved the day with a goal line clearance.

 

2004-2005 – Arsenal vs Manchester United

Our tenth victory we won a penalty shootout 5-4 with Patrick Vieira scoring the decisive penalty.

The game was dominated by Manchester United who did everything but score a goal, Arsenals defence was stubborn to the end and forced the game into a penalty shootout.

Van Nistelrooy took the first penalty for Manchester United, in front of the United fans, and sent Lehmann the wrong way to give United the early advantage. Lauren then converted the next penalty for Arsenal, before Scholes stepped up to take United’s second, only to see it saved by Lehmann, diving low to his right. The next six penalties were all scored – Ljungberg, Van Persie and Cole for Arsenal, Ronaldo, Rooney and Keane for Manchester United – leaving Vieira with the opportunity to win the FA Cup for Arsenal in his last match for the club before moving to Juventus. Although Carroll guessed the correct way to dive, Vieira’s kick was just out of his reach, giving Arsenal their 10th FA Cup. Manchester felt aggrieved to have lost a game where they outplayed Arsenal – but frankly who gives a damn?

 

2013-2014 – Arsenal vs Hull City

The game is still to be played.

The Cup is still to be raised.

The story is still to be written.

FA Cup Trophy

 

GunnerN5


How bad was Giroud?

May 15, 2014

During the season, many people expressed… disappointment… over the performance of Olivier Giroud.  Now that the season is over, this seems like a good topic for a poll.

giroud frustrated

Everyone knows the Liverpool duo, Suarez and Sturridge, head the Premier League Top Scorers list. How poor was Arsenal’s main, and virtually sole central forward, as compared to the remaining big names in the league?  Close the newspaper.  Do not search online.  Time for a little quiz.

I wonder how the replies are distributed.  The answers are:  Aguero +1, Dzeko +0, Negredo -7, Rooney +1, RvP -4, Hazard -2.

Here’s how to rate yourself:

  • None correct:  You must hate Giroud because of his good looks.  Try to be more objective next season.
  • Up to three correct:  Sorry, work on your football attention span over the summer.  Use the World Cup, for example, to hone your skill.
  • At least four correct:  Congratulations!  You are a keen observer of the great game.  May you use your talent constructively.
  • All correct:  You have a terrible crush on Giroud.  Take a number, and wait in the lobby with the other drooling fans.

Giroud badge

One might object to the use of Aguero in the comparison, because he was out for long stretches of the season.  The same might be said about RvP, but in his case, his health history is part of the story.  Indeed, Giroud’s durability was a big plus.  At the start of the season, many people pointed out that Arsenal would be in trouble, were Giroud to be injured.  Fortunately, that theory was never fully tested because, despite the work load, injuries never kept Giroud out for long.

One might also note that Giroud’s shot conversion rate (*) was only 14%, which puts him near the bottom of this ranking (along with Negredo and Oscar).  However, the lauded Suarez, who converted at 17%, was not much more efficient.  If both took 100 shots, Suarez would score three more goals than Giroud.  Suarez goal total is so much higher because he shot about 60% more than Giroud did.  In other words, quantity and slightly better quality made that large difference.

That comparison aside, how frustrated we fans all have been to see Giroud waste clear cut chances?  Could he improve this aspect of his game?  He did not demonstrate anything better in his two seasons with Montpellier, prior to joining Arsenal.  Then, his shot conversion rate was also about 14%.  In fact, in the 2011-12 season, when he topped the Ligue 1 scoring table with 21 goals, his shot conversion rate was slightly lower at 13%.  He just shot a whole lot more that season.

Will Giroud get to shoot much more than the 112 shots he took this season?  That seems unlikely.  In an Arsenal team that shares the ball and has multiple attacking players, Giroud would not be asked to take most of the shots.

Here’s hoping he can improve his efficiency.  Giroud isn’t the best, but his bottom line number is not that bad.

TwentyTwelve

(*) I define shot conversion rate as: goals / (shots on target + off target + blocked).  The most efficient scorer was Yaya Toure at 31%; he got 20 goals from 64 shots!  The worst was Oscar at 11%; he got only 8 goals from 70 shots.


Is Arsène a closet Trophy Hunter?

May 14, 2014

The most successful man I know is called Adam. He is very far from the wealthiest man I know. He has what I call a Cottage Industry and this business provides him with exactly the income he wants. He is one of the world’s leading experts in his field. He happens to makes a particular type of classical music instrument. He designed and made himself the machines that do the boring repetitive stuff, which operate on compressed air, thus enabling himself and his three employees to listen to the music they love whilst at work.

He happens to be one of the most amusing and intelligent people I know, but, and it’s a big but, he thinks the world is run by reptilian aliens. This brings me on nicely to people who are bonkers.

Some think Arsène lacks ambition, and that finishing fourth is the sum total of his aspirations.

For a moment, and for the sake of this article, I am going to make one assumption. Arsène is staying for two more years, and that’s it (I don’t happen to believe any such thing is set in stone, but hey, what do I know).

So, call me a nutter, but I believe Arsène would love to go out on a high, and that he’d like nothing more than another Premier League Title, with a Champions League Crown to top things off.

Therefore, my question is this. According to my two year assumption, he effectively has just two more summer transfer windows remaining, so will this alter the way he views his transfer strategy?

The “Arsenal Way” is in essence to run a football club for the long term. To ensure that we don’t sacrifice the long term for short term gain. This is not Party Politics, this is ensuring The Arsenal will be at the top of the game for future generations of Gunners. It’s always been a case of Club before Ego, and that present Owners, Staff and Managers are merely temporary “keepers” of an institution and way of life.

Right, back to Arsène.  Might he be thinking along these lines?

“I have managed responsibility. I have put The Club and future generations first, while sacrificing personal glory, but I’ve got two years left. You know what, I’m going to Chav Up, and buy some bling. I deserve it, and I’m not sure my bosses will even realize it. I’m going to buy a couple of over age big wigs with no resale value whatsoever. I’m going to make a whopping great loss on these boys, but they will power me to glory. Whoa ha ha ha”.

“Go Arsène”, I say. We have solid foundations, and the future’s bright and stable. It’s your turn now. Enjoy.

Written by MickyDidIt


Everton’s Slump Shows The Value Of Wenger

May 13, 2014

Well that was unusual.

I actually enjoyed the last game of the season, rather than hiding behind the sofa anxiously hoping we would not get pipped at the post by the unwashed of N17.

As it was, we went into the final day knowing that we were going to finish fourth, regardless of the result against Norwich and regardless of whatever happened with the teams above and below us.

In a season that promised so much for so long it’s ultimately a bit disappointing, but let’s not undervalue the achievement of qualifying for the Champions League places yet again.

After we got spanked at Everton with only five league games to go it was understandable to think our proud record of top four finishes was hanging by a thread.

The Toffees suddenly had fourth place in their own hands: win their remaining games and they would be above us, even if we gained maximum points from our final fixtures.

They had the momentum of an amazing winning run (of the kind that powered us to Arsene Wenger’s first English league championship in 1998) and were relishing being part of the great Merseyside revival.

It all looked on: Liverpool would win the league and Everton would enter the big time by grabbing the last CL place.

But it’s not as easy as that, is it?

They started well – following up their win over us by taking all three points away at Sunderland but then…

Well, what did happen then?

Simply put, they caught a nosebleed.

It was a thrill being the chasing horse coming up on the rails, but suddenly they were out with the leading pack and things looked very different.

Next up was a home game against Crystal Palace – three points in the bag, surely? But no, Everton crashed to a 2-3 home defeat. A win over Manchester United briefly restored confidence and hope, but then an away loss at Southampton took the wind right out of their sails. By the time they faced Manchester City in the penultimate match of the season they knew the game was up.

None of this is meant to disparage Everton. They had a great season and Martinez showed what the club might have been capable of achieving in previous years if they had had a less negative manager than David Moyes.

But what happened to Everton also – for me – underlined the skill and importance of our own boss.

Year after year, despite the odds stacked against him, he has managed to get that top four finish.

(Incidentally, you have to be either Spudtastically stupid or willfully mischievous to buy into the canard that our manager thinks “fourth place is a trophy”. He correctly identified getting into the Champions League as one of the priorities of any season’s campaign, but clearly does not equate it with winning silverware. And if you doubt whether it should be considered such a priority, ask Totteringham, Everton or even Manchester United how much they would give to hold the “fourth place trophy” this year).

The truth is, when it came to the crunch, Wenger was better than Martinez at getting his players over the line.

Forget the relative abilities of the two squads: Everton were the form team in the Premiership with players coveted by the top clubs (Baines, Coleman, Barkley, Mirallas, the loanee Lukaku to name but a few).

But our manager got his injury-ravaged squad to do the business when Martinez was unable to do the same with his mostly fit squad.

Wenger’s experience, skill and ability to motivate his team came to the fore.

He has not had a flawless season – far from it. Those embarrassing away defeats at Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton are like snogging a Spudette – they leave a nasty taste in the mouth (or so I’m told). Serious improvement in our approach to the equivalent games next year is a must.

But we are in the CL spots for the 17th consecutive year. Just think about that – the SEVENTEENTH consecutive year. You don’t achieve that level of consistency without being exceptional, and Arsene Wenger is.

All of which goes to show that we are very lucky that he has decided to stay at Arsenal, regardless of what happens in the FA Cup Final.

While a noisy minority of our own fans would like him to leave, just about every other leading club in England would love to have him in charge.

RockyLives

 


Ramsey’s 15th and Jenkinson’s 1st – match review

May 12, 2014

Many called this game a dead rubber but most were thinking first and foremost who would start and more importantly how to avoid injuries while keeping up the momentum of four successive wins in preparation for the Cup Final.

We weren’t disappointed. We started the first half in quite a cautious fashion and Ruddy made a couple of excellent saves, although I thought Giroud should have scored around the 32nd minute. Having said that, I thought he had a very solid game. Giroud has been improving as the season drew to it’s conclusion and the deadlock was broken when he lofted a beautiful ball for Ramsey to volley home.

What a player we have in Aaron Ramsey and one wonders how much nearer we would have been  to the title if he had remained fit all season.

Jenkinson settled the match with his first goal for the club and his facial expression on scoring will live long in the memory.

All in all the whole team did just enough that was required though I thought Ozil had a very quiet game. Maybe he is saving himself for next week.

With Fabianski starting one could presume that he was given his last game today and our Number 1 will be in goal at Wembley.

One can never second guess Wenger even after nearly two decades and when he said afterwards

if you look at our overall season I think we need to focus first of all in keeping everyone together” and when asked about possible transfers in the Summer he said “World Cup transfer markets start after the World Cup, usually.”

We will see if those words run true.

Those who read my comments know I am a great Sagna fan and yet again he didn’t let us down playing with Koscielny in central defence, regardless that it was against Norwich, so keeping everyone together by the boss was an interesting comment.

To see Diaby back after a full fourteen months was greeted with loud applause from our fantastic away fans and he even applauded them as he came on.

Jack had a cameo and it was hard to tell if he is absolutely fit, though not spectecular,  it was good to see him come on and by all accounts we will have The Ox back midweek, so it will be really interesting as to who lines up for The FACup Final.

Finally Wenger said he would still be here next season. I just wish  he looked a little happier.His post match interview was very low key or even sombre and subdued, which frankly, surprised me.

kelsey