Ox to step up?

September 20, 2014

Well, the fans have giving the team a good kicking this week, we can only hope they pass it on to Aston Villa this afternoon.


We are always unlucky about meeting a team as they are in good from and today is no exception. Given last season’s miserable performances it was more likely that Lambert would be sacked rather than make his young team into the formidable opponents they will be post kick-off. Fair play to the man.

Or could it be his assistant who has engendered this startling change of form? Keane doesn’t like Arsenal, never has. He does however respect The Arsenal and has been involved in may victories over us. Has he learned from Surralex? I am convinced he has and expect to see Villa play the same way MU did when they could beat us … that is, with violence. Not just violence but cunning violence. Expect the game to start with a flurry of  nasty tackles on our creative players (rotational of course). How the game develops from here will depend upon two things

1. How our delicate flowers respond to a bit of aggressive pruning (just for you Peaches 🙂 )

2. The strength of the referee. Today we are blessed with Mike Jones.

Before discussing Jones may I remind you of how the referee affected the game in our opening fixture last season. Anthony Taylor was so poor he was demoted – deservedly so. Do you recall how he waved play on after a TPIG foul in the area and then when Agbonglahor missed gave a penalty (which they scored)

Where was I? Ah yes, Mike Jones. Last season in 32 games he gave out 108 yellows and 3 reds. Yes, you read that right! This season after 3 games 10 yellows and one red. This chap is card happy. Will this be a good thing this afternoon? The stats do not show whether he is affected by the home crowd as so many refs are. We must hope not and that he continues to brandish yellow each time one of AV’s thugs ploughs through the back of our heroes.

We welcome the return of Big Phil. A player I have always liked – not Arsenal quality but a top bloke and one of Peaches faves. Alongside Vlaar he makes a fine CB partnership and with two quality FB’s Villa have become very difficult to break down. Especially as they have a busy midfield with Delph showing just why he was so highly rated as a teenager at Leeds.

Upfront, they rely upon pace which is not good news for BFG. Breakaway goals are an AV speciality and we can only hope the lessons of Tuesday night have been learned. We cannot afford to be too gung-ho.

Arsenal:  Please, please play Oxlade-Chamberlain today. I don’t care who gets dropped, we need his energy and drive.

The difficulty as I see it is how does a player recover from a bad bout of form without playing? Ramsey is one of our best players but of late has been completely anonymous (apart from scoring two vital goals 😃 ). Can Mr Wenger drop him? Can he drop Ozil?  Of course he can but will he?

Can Sanchez play twice a week given the amount of energy he expends during a game? Or Welbeck, who has covered more ground in 3 games than Giroud does in 6.

This is a tough team to guess but let’s try

 Villa 2014

I am excited to see Chambers get a run in the position he was bought for. Once again we have a powerful bench though lacking in defensive possibilities

Being in the Midlands the food I associate with Villa is always a curry – so I will choose one of my favourite dishes, a Daal Makhani. I read that one of the best can be purchased at the Sanskrit in Stratford Rd.. Add in a Paneer Marsala and a few breads and you are assured a veritable eating extravaganza.


All it needs is a chilled Lager

Birmingham is home to a host of famous drink and food brands. Typhoo tea, Birds Custard, Bournville cocoa, Cadbury’s chocolate and HP sauce all originate in Brum.

Can we win today? Of course. Our team will be desperate to absolve themselves after the Dortmund Debacle. If it goes tit’s up it will not be because of lack of effort. We have attacking talent in spades, our defence will be augmented by the excellent Gibbs, and we have a fine record at Villa Park


written by Big Raddy

Name Five Annoying things about Football

September 19, 2014

From an idea of GoonerB’s…

We all know how good we feel when Arsenal win a game or even just score a goal, but these good moments are counter-balanced by many, many annoyances which crop up due to the circus  that surrounds football.

I believe the idea was to name a top 5 most annoying things but I think it might be better to name a random 5 as many of us will find similar grievances at the tops of our lists.

Here goes me for starters…….

  • Alan Shearer – hugely annoying as a footballer and even more annoying as a pundit. He simply describes events on the pitch and believes he is providing analysis. I really don’t believe he has ever made one insightful comment. Gary Neville micturates all over him.
  • Short-termism in our supporters – one week we are right up there as title contenders because we beat the Oily Shakers in the Community Shield, the following week the squad is threadbare and full of sub-standard players not fit to wear a red and white jersey. Have a word with yourselves.
  • Multi-coloured boots  – everyone used to make fun of Lord Bendtner with his pink boots, but now it’s very hard to find a player who doesn’t wear dayglo monstrosities. Boots should be black with a liberal coating of dubbing. J
  • Arsenal Fan TV – nobodies becoming famous by emotionally spouting garbage after Arsenal games is massively grating. Queuing to have your picture taken with Bully, I ask you, how low can someone’s self-esteem be?
  • Players leaving clubs for “footballing reasons” – come off it, just admit you’re being offered more money and being a multi-millionaire already isn’t enough for you.

Once you start doing something like this, you start to wonder why you follow The Arsenal and football in general, at all. 🙂

However, every day I wake up and thank the lord Dennis I was born in a red and white crib.

Over to you………


Are we kidding ourselves?

September 18, 2014

Finally, the money is there, Puma are on board so we can afford to shop in Harrods rather than at Lidl and Aldi. Last season we won the FA Cup, our first trophy since Noah was a boy, one less albatross round our collective neck.

Before the season started we had signed Alexis, Chambers, Debuchy and Ospina as well as finally welcoming Campbell into the squad, in the final minutes of the transfer window we snatched Welbeck from Manure. Great business we all thought.

Ramsey is back to his best, Wilshire is over his ankle problems, Walcott will be back in a matter of weeks and even Diaby has completed ninety minutes for first time in six years.

Add them to the cocktail and include Ozil as the cherry on top and we have a squad fit to win the Premiership. Well we have, haven’t we?

Well, have we?

The pre-season ended with our second trophy. A 3 – 0 win over the Champions and the Community Shield is nestling in the Emirates trophy cabinet.

Saturday 16th August. First game of the season and Crystal Palace are put to the sword, well actually we have to come from behind and win with an injury time goal from Ramsey, but no matter, we’re up and running.

Tuesday 19th August. Champions League qualifier 0 – 0 away to Besiktas. The general consensus? A good result. We can easily finish the job at The Ems.

Saturday 23rd August. Away to Everton, 2 – 0 down at half-time and outplayed. Goals on 83 and 90 minutes rescue a point. “This result shows our resilience and mental strength” say’s the manager.

Wednesday 27th August. Home to Besitkas for the qualifier second leg, Alexis scored his first goal for Arsenal on the stroke of half-time and from the moment Debuchy was dismissed for a second yellow card we clung on in ever greater desperation until the final whistle. Still, job done, qualification achieved as well as one of the main targets for the season.

Sunday 31st August. Away to newly promoted Leicester City, on twenty minutes Alexis scores a beauty, three minutes later Ulloa shreds our defence and equalises. We huff and puff for the next 67 minutes but that’s it, two points dropped.

Saturday 13th September. Home to the Champions, we start like champions, for twenty minutes we tear City apart…but can’t score. On twenty-eight minutes we fall for a sucker punch and Aguero gives City the lead. Arsenal heads dropped and the Champions started to play, but all was not lost, goals by Wilshire (64) and Alexis (74) put us back in the driving seat and then at a corner we blow it once again and allow one of their centre-backs a free header and flush another two points down the toilet.

Tuesday 16th September. Borussia Dortmund away, first game in the Champions League group stage. The first half was a nightmare of relentless pressure by Dortmund and a total lack of anything approaching a coherent tactical plan to deal with it. Our attempts at passing the ball to each other were lamentable, on the whole, the one chance we created was squandered. Once again a sucker punch saw our mid-field and defence go AWOL with only seconds of the half remaining, allowing the far from immobile Ciro Immobile to run from deep and place the ball beyond the stranded Szczesny.

Just three minutes into the second half Immobile was allowed the freedom to set up Aubameyang to score the second. Dortmund had a string of further chances but a combination of bad poor shooting and Szczesny’s skill kept the score to 2 – 0.

I know the previous paragraphs make pretty dire reading but they only reflect what has been a pretty dire start to the season.

I think we have all seen that there is a lack of cohesion in the side, there seems to be confusion among the players about their individual roles. OK, injuries to Debuchy and Giroud haven’t helped but it seems nobody is able to step up to fill the gaps. It seems obvious to me that Wenger doesn’t know his best formation, nor does he seem to know where he should play individuals.

Looking back over the last eight games, it seems as though it will be difficult to win the Premiership. We should still be able to get through to the Champions League knock-out stage, and you never know how the cup competitions will go.

So, do we have the personnel? Do we have the character? Do we have the will?

Are we kidding ourselves?

Written by Norfolk Gooner



Borussia Dortmund 2 a Bunch of Strangers in Blue 0

September 17, 2014

If you want to sugar coat that performance by telling yourself that it is a mini league and one loss doesn’t mean that we are out of the competition, then fill your boots.

But what I saw was a team that was completely outclassed in every department and in the end beaten comfortably by Borrusia’s B team — heaven help us when their key players return.

We can’t even use the excuse that we were missing key players; well, not missing in the sense that they were injured anyway. Let’s face it, the best thing to happen all game was the substitutions.

Özil and Ramsey were not clicking to put it politely and as much as I worried that Wenger would persevere until the bitter end, he changed them on the hour and the difference was instant. Hopefully Wenger will carry this into the weekend.

The case for Ozil being able to pull a rabbit out of the hat is all well and good but when our backs are against the wall we need every single player to pull in the same direction and his inability to add anything to the defensive cause is getting tired.

Ramsey slipped back into his dark days: Borrusia would make a simple pass for a team mate to run onto whereas the Aaron was trying to be too clever; the result being, that most things never came off and we almost always lost possession.

Arteta never comes back from an injury and hits the ground running; he always needs a few games to get himself back up to speed. The problem is that it is taking longer and longer after each time that he is sidelined.

I don’t blame Wenger for fielding the team he did; on paper, it is the best we have but it still isn’t working. Somewhere within that very talented squad there is a beast of a team desperate to get out I just hope Wenger can find it sooner rather than later.

Written very late by a very tired LB

And these thoughts from Shard ………………………..

It’s not often I feel let down by Arsenal. Every once in a while it happens though. This was one of those days. It wasn’t quite the stream of chilli and spicy food fueled, burning excrement that the Liverpool 5-1 defeat of last season was, but it was poo(r) all the same.

Of the players that took to the field, I thought only Szczesny, Gibbs, Kos, Wilshere and Ox could come away with some credit. That’s not to say that they all had good games. Just that they at least put something in the plus column, regardless of their negatives. Alexis tried but was ineffective. Bellerin was ok.

Regarding him playing, the commentators were making a big deal out of it, but I have no problem with that. At some point we have to accept that we are a club that is going to try and bring players through. That means trusting them to play, and on yesterday’s evidence, Bellerin doesn’t look out of his depth.

Raddy made a comment during the game saying ‘do we have a midfield?’ which I thought was accurate. Defensively they were bypassed with ease. Forget Aubemayang getting past Arteta and Mertesacker because of his pace to score his goal, in the first half, there were at least 3 incidents where the midfielders ignored runners and it was only the timely interception of Koscielny that ensured they weren’t through on goal. Arteta and Ramsey were both completely ineffective. Ramsey was invisible throughout the game, playing too high up the pitch. Arteta seemed poor not just physically, but mentally, seeming to not read the game well, and making a hash of simple passes, or just allowing the ball to run expecting Kos to do his dirty work for him.  Wilshere was just as bad defensively, though he managed to somehow get back in time to put Mkhitaryan off from scoring in the first half.

Which brings me to the midfield being absent in offense. For a virtual replica of that Mkhitaryan chance, see the cutback by Alexis, which went toward Welbeck but was blocked. The ball fell in virtually the same area as it did for Dortmund’s chance, but we had nobody making a run towards there and Dortmund cleared with ease.

So our midfield was doing absolutely nothing in defense, and barring a few decent dribbles by Wilshere, nothing in offense either. Mesut Ozil. Fantastic player, but absolutely cannot coast through the game and not put in any defensive effort, especially when he’s contributing nothing going forward. Playing on the wing is no excuse, being tired is no excuse, and I think it is not right that he is starting in front of Cazorla and the Ox, and even Rosicky.

We also saw that Welbeck isn’t going to be our saviour. He offers us something we lacked earlier, but the lack of a great first touch, and the missed chances suggest that we will need to be patient. It is something I can live with, because I think the reward will be there.

Seeing Wenger at the end, I could see how much it hurt him. I don’t know if the tactics were wrong, but when more than half your side don’t turn up, I don’t think any tactic is going to work very well. However, he needs to look at his squad, think about the system, and especially think about rotations. That is one aspect of his where I feel the criticisms are correct. He doesn’t use his entire squad enough.

I am not concerned about our overall direction. we are on the up. Comparisons with Dortmund are not really fair in my opinion. I see Dortmund as the Arsenal of the late 90s. Battling one major domestic opponent, losing key players to richer clubs, but still finding good players to maintain consistency, their style of play and continue building up. This current Arsenal team have been less settled and are still a little short of being the end product to then maintain. We are a little behind them on the team building curve.

What I do have concerns about is this season. On paper we are stronger than last season and looking to build on our wonderful FA Cup triumph. But I worry that this team has become so concerned with taking the next step that they might have forgotten what got them where they are. There was no team effort, no fight yesterday.

Individual players like Alexis and Wilshere kept trying in their own way, but there was none of that collective spirit that we saw last season and identified as the reason for our success. It seems like we’ll play well for a bit and then assume that the rest will just follow. A hard fought win against Crystal Palace. Tough games against Besiktas, Everton and then Besiktas again, and we seemed to think we just have to show up against Leicester. Slightly unlucky to draw against City after playing very well, and we go back to being useless the next game vs Dortmund. This makes me more concerned than any lack of signings, or playing youngsters. For the first time, I am worried about our entire season. It is up to our players to show us that this sort of performance is not part of a pattern. If it is, I fear that times will get worse before they get better.

Written by Shard

BVB. The Return.

September 16, 2014

The Signal Iduna Park. Scene of one of the best football nights of my life. Regular readers will be bored with yet another reminder of the why’s and wherefore’s of Didit and my victorious campaign to German soil. We came, we saw, we conquered. Enough said.

However, a repeat of the Arsenal victory may kick start our season and I can see no reason why we cannot beat them again.

To begin with BVB have lost important players – Lewandowski (who scored at the Emirates) has joined Bayern and Gundogan, Reus, Hummels,  Sahin , Ji and some bloke with an unpronounceable name from Truskolasy in Poland are all out injured.  However, Sven Bender and Kagawa are fit as is some Armenian CF who is a bit tasty and whose name I cannot spell.

BVB are finding their feet in the Bundesliga having won two and lost one so far. Kagawa returned to a heroes welcome at the weekend and scored in an easy win over Freiburg but Arsenal are (hopefully) a sterner test.

Arsenal have defensive problems …… Debuchy knacked,  Monreal banjaxed, Chambers 50/50 (throat knack). Thankfully Gibbs is fit and I suggest we may see Flamini take the right back shirt with Arteta returning to the conductor’s podium. Or we could blood Bellerin. Would you?

Now I have high hopes for Bellerin – I like that he comes from the Barca factory, that he has phenomenal pace and that he has a ridiculous haircut. Plus his parents were irresponsible enough to name the lad Hector. Can you imagine going into the 5th form classroom and introducing yourself as Hector? He must be well hard by now.

Mr Wenger has taken Bellerin with the squad to Germany so he must trust the boy.


Does this chap look the full shilling?

These defensive injuries are certain to arouse the smug  “I told you so’s” amongst some of the AFC fans but before you get all Jack the Peanut – the defensive frailties have been highlighted by every single football fan and you are not cleverer than Mr Wenger – so sit down and shut up. Mr Wenger was obviously after a specific target and didn’t get his man. Nor did he find a suitable player to improve the squad. Like everyone else I think this was poor, make that piss-poor from our Purchasing Dept.

Elsewhere we abound with outstanding talent, so much so that great players cannot even get on the bench and that is without Giroud, Walcott and Diaby. I would start Podolski tonight instead of  ….. mmmm I don’t know who 😀

And that is the problem. We have too many quality players.

My Team:

16th sept

Perhaps we could rest Welbeck, play Sanchez centrally with Rosicky or Podolski playing a more defensive left sided role. We have been exposed recently by our over-zealous attacking fullbacks. I don’t blame them – I would prefer to look at the tactical awareness of the midfielders who must see the huge gaps Monreal and Debuchy leave behind.

The local food in Dortmund is unsurprisingly beer and sausage. The local brew is Dortmunder Pilsner and I can tell you from personal experience it is possible to almost drown in the stuff without losing consciousness (5.5% alc).  A fine tasting brew. I am told it is best accompanied by the “Salzkuchen mit Mettente” which is a curried sausage in a caraway seeded, bagel type roll. I have only tried the bratwurst (hugely disappointing).



So will we come home with the points? It is undenianable that BVB are a fine team, one of Europe’s best and the sense of lassitude about tonight’s game is purely repetition rather than opposition. It must be the same for Messrs. Klopp and Wenger, whom we are told are good friends which may be very exciting when thinking about Arsene’s successor! Both teams are weakened by injury, both teams are struggling for form as their international players recuperate from the stresses of the World Cup. I would be delighted with a repeat of 1-0 to the Arsenal.

Lastly, I am disappointed but not surprised by ITV’s decision to show Liverpool against a team of East European hairdressers as opposed to what is the plum tie of the round. No doubt we will hear that the “atmosphere is incredible as Liverpool return to the Big Stage” etc etc  Anti-Arsenal bias? You bet.

written by Big Raddy



Özil: Too Good for Arsenal

September 14, 2014

One of the phrases I hate seeing more than any other is “X is not good enough for Arsenal”, especially when X is in our current squad of players.

In recent years the list of players tarred with this particular brush is long.

Koscielny – shopping in Lidl while everyone else is in Harrods
Walcott – Should have bought Bale
Ramsey – rubbish and no future sell him to the Championship, hope he dies
Etc etc etc etc

Annoying in some cases disgusting and all proven wrong as these are players that have gone on to shut up most of their critics.

And now we have Mesut Özil, cast your mind back 12 months, Madrid fans welcomed Bale by chanting the name of Özil, we were ecstatic at his arrival, even got an instant song “you sold Bale we signed Mesut Özil” and then he forged a place in my heart with that exquisite left foot strike against Napoli, displays linking with Theo and Rambo, until it all went a bit quiet, he earned the wrath of the BFG on two occasions on the pitch in front of fans for taking silly risks in high profile games and gifting the opposition a goal at the wrong time, and missed that penalty against Munich.

Perhaps the key to Mesut’s dip in form lays at the feet of Walcott and Ramsey or more correctly the cruciate of Theo and the thigh of Aaron. With those two out of the squad he was left with very little to work with. Yet he still managed to chalk up a reasonable amount of assists and goals for a first PL season.

How does he compare to some of the PL other star names? Well i know how everyone loves a table (or ten):

Charts 1 copy

The raw numbers look poor, four players better on goals scored, three were better on assists, but the key to these may be in the number of appearances, the final column is perhaps the most interesting, chances created, under performing Mesut was only bettered by two players, one being Santi, who in that season got to play with Theo for a whole lot longer than Mesut. And if we look at the numbers in the next table the point becomes clearer.

Charts 1

As highlighted by the yellow cells some players did better on a per game ratio for goals than Mesut, games per assist only one beats Mesut, and what about that middle column, only one player bettered Mesut for chances created per game. See where I am heading here, or at least where my headline was going and the only player with more passes per game (so assume involved as much or more than Mesut) well he is an Arsenal player.

Could this just be a freak of first season form and actually because we are judging Mesut against players in their current teams and their current performance levels maybe this is why he is not being appreciated by Gooners.

So I looked at all the players mentioned above, and chucked in a few more for the laughs and a few more who are on the wish we would have signed/kept list. This next chart is only looking at Goals, Assists on a per game basis, and chances created per game.

Chart 2

Can you see what is occurring again here?

Only three players equalled his number of passes in any of their seasons in the PL, and two play for Arsenal, only three have bettered his pass completion, only two have bettered his games per assist, and perhaps most importantly only two have bettered his chances created per game.

You will notice I have not commented too much on Games per goal where he appears to be beaten by quite a few other players, well perhaps this is where the problem is laid bare most dramatically, rather than look at goals per game, how about we look at goals per shot?

Charts 3

Five players have a better shot to goal ratio, but all 5 have had many more shots that Mesut, could this be because they are playing with better players or is it because Mesut is not busting a gut to get not the end of things?

Özil is without doubt a subtle player and perhaps because so much of what he does is uncomplicated he is not appreciated or is it purely down to his work rate going backward? Whatever the resason it certainly can’t be his attacking contribution on the pitch, as shown above he is more than involved enough, so the only reasoned answer is finally we have a player who is not only good enough he could well be too good, maybe we aimed too high at Fortnum and Masons when we should have just upgraded from Lidl to Waitrose.

Written by Gooner in Exile

Wilshere MOTM, Pellegrini moaning and another draw

September 14, 2014

A 2-2 draw with City, Pellegrini making excuses for his team, Arsenal conceding stupid goals but scoring some great ones. Football came back after a fortnight and it was as enjoyable a game as could be hoped for, even though the result wasn’t.

It was a tough match at the Emirates yesterday 🙂

But Arsenal showed that they are tough too, albeit prone to moments of weakness. We began with a flourish. None of the hanging back and letting the game come to you nonsense. We went out to grab the game by the…. neck.. and City had no response beyond kicking out and disrupting the rhythm of play.

Maybe this is what Pellegrini is trying to hide with his statements against the referee, who although did well to at least call the fouls (rare in the English game, especially when it comes to Arsenal) did not produce yellow cards as quickly as he should have. Check out Welbeck being taken out by Kompany before Debuchy had his shot, and I think Silva bundled Ramsey over during another move. Both were blatant, (ref played advantage) and Kompany had many more such fouls and I don’t think he got a yellow card all night.

I thought we did well to respond to that physicality with some of our own. We aren’t, and probably won’t be, very good at the dark arts, but we can handle ourselves on the field given a fair referee, which we did yesterday including with the supposed fouls that Pellegrini complained about.

We all saw the goals, have our own thoughts on our defending and fullbacks pushing up. I said in a comment that I think Ramsey and Flamini share the blame for the first goal we conceded. I also think we wouldn’t have conceded a second if Debuchy had not gotten injured, though of course we’ll never know.

As an aside, Debuchy has apparently not had a fracture, but has to undergo a medical exam tomorrow. He would have been suspended for Dortmund anyway. Let’s see how long we have to do without him.

Another injury doubt before yesterday’s game was Ramsey. He played, and ran his heart out as usual, but he was far less effective and involved in the game than his midfield partner Jack Wilshere, who ended the game with a goal and an assist. He also seems to be developing a good partnership with Alexis, who was brilliant as well yesterday.

Jack Wilshere has his detractors, and I suppose that is to be expected, partly as a consequence of his early hype. (I said partly LB. Don’t chew me out) His early promise is almost like a burden on him rather than cause to hope for better in the future for many. I don’t see it that way. He’s had his injury worries and missed a lot of football. Just over a season ago, Ramsey was in a worse place but has come back to become almost the heartbeat of this team (yesterday was the first time in a long time we played well when Ramsey didn’t) My hope is that Wilshere can do something similar. I am not alone in holding this hope of course, and a Ramseyesque emergence is not something that just happens, but yesterday adds to that hope.

I think the formation change  we’ve seen (blamed for Ozil’s woes) not only provides us some more stability in midfield, but also helps Wilshere. Last season it was tough to see where he’d fit in, but he now has the opportunity to make this midfield spot his own. He’ll still need to work on building an understanding with Ramsey. Still needs to be better at knowing when to release the ball. But his increased confidence and strength are now almost as visible as Nasri’s surprise and frustration as he bounced off him onto the ground where he’d have hit his chin if he had one.

I’ve never been one of the Jack the Lad guys. His being English means nothing to me. His being a Gooner though, does. I have been sceptical of that too in the past, but I think the way the team his shaping up, his recent comments, and hopefully, his continued improvement, makes him an important part of our success for years to come.


The Champions come to Town

September 13, 2014

Super fixture this afternoon. Last season’s Champions come to the home of this season’s.

Added to that we have the chance to assess how our new signings are bedding into the team, plus the possibility of a sighting of our shiny new Centre Forward. But first let’s look at the opposition.

Manchester City deservedly won the title last season- they had the most expensive team, the best dressed manager and outside of The Arsenal possibly the best kit. City are a club that (from the outside) appear to be well run within strict guidelines,; unlike the Southern Oilers they have class and this is why so many were happy to see the Chavs and Liverpool fall away as City relentlessly won the points at season’s end – at least that is my impression sitting here isolated in my tepee.

Having once again, bought one of our stalwarts, they should by rights be detested by all Gooners yet surprisingly they are not. Nasri, Toure, Adebayor ,Gael Clichy, and now Bacary, who will be next?  I don’t blame these traitors – they have won silverware and have at least doubled their weekly wage packet. Hopefully, Sagna will not get booed today, he gave many great years to AFC and we have now signed a better and younger player. My main sadness with his departure is the loss of chas’s pics of Mrs Sagna 😢

City come with injury problems – Fernando (do they sing “there was something in the air that night, the stars were bright… ?) and Jovetic but if any team can cope with injuries it is  City. Can you imagine allowing a goal machine like Negredo to leave on a loan? Poor old City, forced to play Dzeko and Aguero upfront and Fernandinho in the middle.


Both teams have yet to hit their straps, Yaya looks a shadow of the fearsome competitor we are used to seeing, the defence is vulnerable as Kompany struggles for form and the ageing Dimichelis continues  arouse suspicions that he has some saucy information about Pellegrini (why else is he picked?)

I could write extensively about City and their individual players but thankfully for you time and length of post restrict, so let’s get onto what really interests us

The Arsenal:  Big question first. Whether to Welbeck? I believe Danny will have such a stellar career that “to Welbeck” will become a verb much used in the coming years meaning to excel and to overcome any opposition with style and brio. But is he ready after less than a week on the training ground? Given the alternative of Sanogo I say a massive Yes but would not be surprised to see him enter the fray in the 70th minute.


As everyone returns to fitness the choices available to Mr Wenger becoming mind numbingly difficult. Flamini or Arteta? Santi, Mesut, Jack and Aaron or drop one or two? 4-4-3 , 4-1-4-1, 3-5-3 or another combo? Gibbs or Monreal? I do not even know how I would pick the bench let alone the team!

Here is my stab at it …..

Manc 2014

which means leaving out Cazorla and the Ox. I have written before about how I cannot see how we work with both Cazorla and Ozil vying for the central space and think if we are to get the best from Mesut then he has to play there. I know he plays out wide for Germany but we do not have the quality of players of the World Champions.

And what of Podolski? When does the excellent fellow get a run in the first team? Is he to be relegated to the Carling Cup team? Why not sell him having secured Welbeck or was it purely a question of timing and he will go in January?

Chamberlain is much to good to be used purely as an impact sub but I cannot see how he fits into this team. If anyone does can you write a post about it because it is a subject which requires more than a couple of sentences?

We are unbeaten at The Emirates since Ozil arrived (can that be correct?). We have signed real quality in the summer. We have tremendous strength on the bench. We have determination, unbelievable belief, strength of character and a developing team ethic.

What can go wrong?

written by Big Raddy

Under 21s: Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 2

September 12, 2014

I am going to talk about something that I don’t know much about, some may say: what’s new?

The under 21s are a bit of a mystery, snippets of who is good and who isn’t make their way onto the blog from time to time, the odd YouTube clip appears which, as we know, makes every player look like the next Maradonna but for the majority I think last night’s game on Sky was the first chance to focus and formulate an opinion on many of the up and coming stars.

As much as I tried to judge the game as an entity I struggled as I couldn’t stop myself from thinking how each player would fit into the first team or how far of they are away from it.


Bellerin, O’Conner Hayden, Ormonde-Ottwill

———-Coquelin, Diaby, Zalalem

——–Miatland-Niles, Akpom, Crowley

Martinez: good to go, no problem should he be needed in the first team.

Bellerin: fine if needed in the first team for a game or two but as a long term replacement, should Debuchy get seriously injured, I would worry.

O’Conner: sorry I didn’t notice enough to give a view.

Hayden: well this is why the club sold Miquel, Hayden is as good if not better and certainly is an able forth choice CB.

Diaby: we should see him play his first game for the first team against Southampton in the Capital One Cup.

Zalalem: further away from the first team than I expected. BR mentioned that he was strong through out, and having thought about it I agree.

Maitland-Niles: a couple of good efforts, still a long way to go.

Akpom: I am bouncing off peoples comments here: Steve was critical of him for not being a team player; he is a number 9, surely selfishness is an asset, think Ian Wright. That said I think he is miles away from the first team, maybe a cameo in the COC.

Crowley: this was the one that disappointed me the most; I think the reason is that I expected too much. He is years away from the first team but as he is only 17 that shouldn’t be such a surprise. He is either a number 10 or attacking midfield who last night was shunted out to the left wing, (sounds familiar). There was a lot to get excited about as he inevitably drifted into the middle.

There has been much debate recently about our midfield during which the term box to box player frequently came up. As obvious as the term first appears I started wondering if everyone shared the same definition, so in an attempt to clarify I ask………….

What is a Box to Box player?

I don’t see Ramsey as one, well not yet anyway and I certainly don’t see Wilshere as one, so maybe before I carry on I should explain my own view of the role and having given it some thought I think it can be best explained by the way of an example.

Patrick Vieira was the last Box to Box player we had. Why, because he operated from one penalty box to the other. In Paddy’s case his skill set was skewed towards defending rather than attacking; he didn’t score enough goals to be considered simply as an attacking midfielder.

Which brings me to the reason for bringing this up: Diaby is our only box to box player, and he must be the reason why the club didn’t buy a holding midfielder in the window. Wenger is clearly going to give him one last chance. This makes sense on many levels; he was pretty damn good last night and in my opinion really does have everything needed to play a pivotal role in our midfield.

I hope the Frenchman grabs the opportunity that is about to come his way because what with Flamini coming to the end of his contract and Arteta coming to the end of his physical ability, Wenger will have no choice but to make one big name signing to replace the lot.

Unless, that is, Woy’s plan to make Wilshere a holding midfielder comes off, but perhaps that debate is for another day.

Written by LB

Is it time for round pegs in round holes?

September 11, 2014

I started to write this post after Alexis started up top against Everton, before we decided to bring Welbeck into the fold, and before we knew the extent of Giroud’s injury.

This is probably Arsene’s biggest weakness as a coach, I am not sure if it is due to pressure from above, the players or maybe even the fans but I feel that he is guilty on occasion of playing players because of their status rather than because they are best suited to the position, I’m not sure this was the case at Everton definitely more to do with a well holidayed Olivier Giroud, but far too often we see square pegs in round holes to get the best 11 names available on to the pitch rather than the best team on the pitch.

Before the Everton game I was convinced that Alexis wasn’t the answer to the centre forward conundrum but also that playing him there for any length of time would result in the team suffering overall.

Let me clarify I think Alexis can play up top he proved as much in his performance against Besiktas, but in our current style of play and because of his other attributes I do not see that position as being the best utilisation of his skillset. He is fast, he is hungry to win back possession and can score goals from wide, these three ingredients make him ideal to play on the wing. When he loses possession the defenders are not given time to clear their lines, he often wins the ball back and his presence on the pitch stops opposing fullbacks pushing on as much as they normally would. (Have you ever seen Kolarov so deep before?)

With Giroud now out until the new year there is a vacancy up top, I hope this is filled by Welbeck rather than anyone else, mainly because he is a centre forward and unlike Sanchez does not offer much more to the team than an end point for fast attacking moves. And if Welbeck isn’t fit? Then I’d rather play Sanogo or Podolski.

In my view our best attacking front three all fit would be Theo, Giroud, Alexis. The centre backs never push on, but the pace of Theo and Sanchez wide would be a constant question in the full backs mind and prevent them helping their wingers regularly. However Welbeck has a chance to stake a claim for the shirt with Olivier out but he needs to show the ability to assist link up play and to be better than Oli use his pace to get on the end of the return pass.

Theo is probably not the best at winning the ball back but if it becomes a new ethos in the team I can see Campbell giving him a run for his money before long if he does not add this to his game.

Santi and Ozil are not wingers, again they should be utilised where their attributes are used to greatest effect, unfortunately for them that means they compete for the same spot in the side, and if Welbeck is out I don’t want to see Theo or Alexis moved central to use one of Santi or Ozil out wide, if Theo or Alexis get injured I want to see real like for like replacements so Campbell or Ox.

Then we have the box to box midfielder that’s Aaron or Jack, and holding midfield well that’s Arteta or Flamini.

At the back we have three centre backs, although another body in there would have completed a capable defence, should an injury befall Debuchy I think i’d rather Bellerin be used than Chambers keeping him fresh for when he is needed in the more key central position.

So please Arsene let’s stick to players in their positions rather than finding a spot for them in the team.

This is how I see first and second choices from the current squad.







That leaves Martinez, Hayden, Coquelin, Rosicky, Podolski, Sanogo to make up the squad numbers when absolutely necessary.

It is not an easy task keeping players happy, but squads need rotation in the modern game, so Santi will not be sitting on the bench for weeks on end, to play him ahead of a more natural and pacy winger is appeasement of the player rather than for the benefit of the team and the system. And I’m sure at this point many will be saying “but x is too good to be a squad player”, well Petr Cech is too good to be a no 2 keeper, Sagna too good to be a no 2 right back, or BSR too good to be no 2 striker, they all probably are, but what City have shown in the last few seasons is that ready replacements playing in their natural position in the attacking half of the pitch is much more important than like for like defensive cover.

What say you?

Gooner in Exile