Are all Swans owned by Her Majesty?

November 9, 2014

Tough game today. Let’s be honest – the way we are playing they are all tough!

Should Swansea win today they will go above us and possibly into 4th place. Not bad for a team whom many predicted would be relegated come season’s end. But they won’t beat us, will they?

Have you ever been to Swansea? Not the prettiest town. Lovely areas (the Gower) around it but the town especially when viewed from the motorway is pig ugly however in recent years Swansea has become an attractive place to live apart from Saturday nights!! Even Macdonalds has a doorman. Scary.

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Welcome to Swansea MacDonalds

Since gaining promotion under Brendan Rodgers, Swansea have punched way above their weight (you need to if you come from the valleys 🙂 ). Both Rodgers and Laudrup promoted entertaining football and the new chap, Garry Monk seems to wish to continue in this vein. It is rare that Arsenal have less than 50% possession but this is the norm at the Liberty.

Much will depend upon how we cope with Swansea’s attack – they have a mixture of strength and pace. Bony will cause BFG and Monreal problems as will the pace of the wingers. Swansea’s main man this season is Guffi Sigurdsson, an Icelandic midfielder signed from Spurs; having escaped the hell of playing for the Miscreants he has blossomed and recently scored twice in Iceland’s victory over Holland.

Like Arsenal, Swansea have problems at the back and concede regularly – I think we will score but how many is the question.

Arsenal: Can we find a way to become more secure in defence? If not, the season will be a struggle. In Arteta’s absence who gets his place? Wilshire is fit and is the obvious candidate.  With Walcott fit and raring to go should he start ahead of Ox?

My Team (this is the team I would select not the one I expect AW to pick)

Szczesny

Chambers    BFG     Monreal    Gibbs

Ox   Ramsey    Wilshere   Flamini

Alexis    Welbeck

If we were at home Walcott should start but Ox gives us more security in defence (or does he??) in an away fixture. We have an excellent attacking bench and Bellerin. You may have noticed an absence of Cazorla – I think he needs a rest.

On any visit to Wales it is best and safest to take along a native; we have a great one in Aaron Ramsey. The lad from Caerphilly has yet to find form but my impression was that he was improving midweek even if he was trying too hard to score. Ramsey is so important to our success that he has to be allowed to regain form. It is hard to believe that despite all his injuries Aaron is approaching 150 games for AFC and is just 23. He is a tough young man coming back from such an injury  – further evidence is that he was offered terms by St Helens Rugby League club as a youth! I expect him to score today.

That’s enough of the football, let’s have a look at the food situation. Leeks, Welsh cakes (very tasty), lamb (no Welsh/Sheep jokes please Cockle), Cawl (which is a stew made from leeks and lamb) and Laverbread is the standard Welsh fare and jolly good it is too. But the stand out delicacy has to be the Welsh Rarebit….. toast, cheddar cheese, worcester sauce or paprika …. simple but delicious.

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Swansea’s nickname is the Swans. Did you know that Her Majesty The Queen owns all mute, unmarked swans in British open waters? Until recently she was the only person allowed to eat swans but they are now protected even from Her Majesty. (bet Micky has sneaked one). Another interesting fact about swans is that like pork and shellfish swans are un-kosher as stated in the book of Leviticus.

5th vs 7th today and the bookies have the home side as slight favourites, If either side wins they go 4th. Should be a good game.

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


Should we buy Hummels?

November 8, 2014

The media has been harping on about us signing the Dortmund centre back at a cost of €30+m. Do you believe it? Do you think he is the right signing?

Firstly, it should be said that BD’s chairman has stated Hummels will not leave in January, this could be genuine or an attempt to raise the transfer fee.

Here is my thinking on the matter ….

1. Signing a CB for that kind of money would indicate Mr Wenger is unhappy with either BFG or Kos, which I find unlikely and Hummels will not be a player to ride the pine.

2. It is clear we need another defender but is CB where we need one? Had Debuchy not been injured Chambers would be playing in his preferred position (?) in the middle of defence in place of Monreal. In my opinion we need someone with multi-functional talents. Another Chambers perhaps.

3.Hummels is injury prone and been out for much of this season.

4. He is one of the best defenders in the world and was included in the best 10 players at the WC. Hummels is a big man which we need (6´3″) and at 25 y.o. has at least 7 good years ahead of him

5. His girlfriend was voted German WAG of the Year

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Selling TV without signing adequate cover was a major flaw in our otherwise excellent summer business. Could Hummels be The Man or would we be better off signing a Khedira or Matuidi style player?

 


Where’s our joker in the pack?

November 7, 2014

This isn’t a post with any weight or merit or even structure as i’m typing it as i’m about to rush out the door, but Norfolk’s post yesterday got me reminiscing, shouldn’t we just enjoy football for what it is?

In my Arsenal supporting years there have always been star players but to complete a squad there has to be a few other types of men, the dependable Mr Consistents like Nigel Winterburn, Kevin Richardson, Gilberto. But there is also the need for other types of characters that whilst not the most accomplished footballers or at least not as accomplished as we would like, they brought something to the party.

I’m thinking in no particular order of players like Perry Groves (2 Championship Winners medals and a League Cup Winner somehow!), Eboue, John Jensen, these weren’t the most gifted of footballers but somehow the fans seemed to make a connection with them, the cheers when Jensen finally got that goal which led to the club selling “I was there” T-shirts.

Andy Linnighan and Steve Morrow were neither Mr Dependable or Cult hero but they did manage to score two of the most important goals in the clubs history. How long would either have survived at the club in today’s world of non stop critique?

When did football only become about the most skilful/influential players, wasn’t it more fun laughing at Gus Caesar mis controlling a pass for the ball to go out for a corner than it is to lambast a player for failing to thread an eye of a needle pass.

I can only imagine the reaction today when Lee Dixon looked up and lobbed it back to Safe Hands only for it to sail over his head and in to the goal, I was there, we laughed with a shake of the head, half in disbelief half in a one of those things it’s football sort of ways. He hadn’t become the worst player ever overnight, although he may still have been suffering the effects of a hefty Tuesday Club session, we will never know.

Sometimes you have to just accept that the players are human, and with that accept results like Tuesday with the “sh*t happens” shake of the head grin and hope it doesn’t happen to often.

But its hard to have fun when the players are so serious all the time, Podolski and BFG seem to be our jokers in the pack, but only Podolski shows that side of his character on the pitch, everyone else is a little too serious, but maybe thats something else that is missing from the game today, the characters that make the game fun, but then maybe the pressure around the game means we are drumming any personality out of players? If a player smiles on the pitch he is considered to not care…”look at him laughing, he shouldn’t be laughing, it should hurt him like it hurts us”…..it didn’t always hurt this much though did it?

Gooner in Exile


Supporting was easy when….

November 6, 2014

Once upon a time, if you wanted to watch a football match you put on your raincoat, put a pork pie in your pocket, queued up at a turnstile, put down your cash and elbowed your way onto your favourite bit of terracing.

You watched the game as you swayed with the crowd, stamped your feet if it was cold and joined in the cheering and jeering. If you blinked when a goal was scored, tough luck, no replays on the big screen and no pundit to tell you what you had missed.

By the time you got home, if you lived in London that is, the classified editions of The Star, The Evening News and The Standard were on sale so you could check the score and scorers and read a brief description of the game, which had probably been written by some drunken hack who had passed out at half-time.

Nowadays every move, every foul, every goal, every incident is shown and repeated as nauseum. There are a host of ex-players, in sharp suits and drawing huge salaries, just bursting to tell you what you had already seen for yourself.

Referee’s decisions are examined in forensic detail, frequently by pundits who themselves are less than au fait with the laws of the game. Players are castigated for making what these “experts” perceive to be the wrong decision even though that decision is made in a split second often under immense pressure from the game situation as well as from opposing players and in the full knowledge that it has been recorded for posterity by half a dozen or more cameras.

Everyone is an expert, everyone can demonstrate their “expertise” on the many and varied blogs that abound on the internet.

Journalists actually use information and opinions garnered from those blogs in their own columns and for their own ends.

A whole new industry has sprung up around football, there seems to be a compulsion for fans to know every little detail about their club, it’s ownership, it’s finances, the manager and players. When Harry Redknap made a throwaway remark about the weight of one of his players it was instantly “news” and plastered all over the back pages of the tabloids for the delectation of “The Fans”.

In the past a player could go out after the game on a Saturday, have a few beers and a game of cards in the smoke filled back room of his local and nobody would be the wiser or worried. Nowadays a player photographed falling out of a nightclub with his trousers at half mast is given the full back page treatment, his morals are questioned as is his commitment to his club, “insiders” will be ready with rumours about the punishment inflicted by his manager and his agent will be salivating at the thought of a possible transfer and his own share of the inflated fee that will eventually be forthcoming.

Are we as football fans better served by the Information Age? Are we better informed by the opinions of the uninformed? Or would we all actually enjoy the game a little more without the existing level of insight?

Somebody once said “Football is a simple game”. Couldn’t we simply enjoy it for what it is? Shouldn’t we simply enjoy it for what it is?

Written by Norfolk Gooner


From euphoria to despair

November 5, 2014

One of the joys of following Arsenal is that it is often a roller coaster ride but what happened last night left many of us shell shocked.

For the first sixty minutes we played with intent and several players stood out and a well executed penalty by Arteta followed by an instinctive volley when the ball came back to the wonderful Sanchez and then an exquisite goal by The Ox seemed to put the game to bed,but Arteta got injured and Anderlecht scored what was a clearly offside goal.

At that stage no one seemed too worried yet even in the first half there were one or two signs that our defence was vulnerable.

Anderlecht, a team who have one of the worst records in modern day CL football gained momentum and frankly bossed the game for the remaining thirty minutes.They practically had a youth team out and yet showed so much more commitment than us, and that was alarming.

What went wrong ? We were still 3-1 up yet the team as a unit seemed unrecognisable from the first hour. Is leadership missing in defence even though it wasn’t by far our strongest defensive line up?

This has been an issue most of the season and what was more alarming was to see the players faces at the end of the game and Wenger storming out through the tunnel.

Every man and his dog has seen that our defence  needs bolstering and last night was a very good example of this.

Booing doesn’t help the cause but no team of our standard who were in cruise control should surrender a three goal lead. The fans were singing their hearts out at 2-0 and 3-0 and I am absolutely sure they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It isn’t the end of the world but I suggest a post mortem 🙂

Quite frankly it was an embarrassment and I think I will just leave it there as I don’t want to ruffle anymore feathers.

kelsey.


I was there & so was Kelsey

November 4, 2014

I have often questioned why I am so attached to football; I love art, I love music, I love romance but nothing has me so emotionally wrapped up as The Arsenal. Having studied and worked as a psychotherapist I have shone a light upon the influences of my youth to explain the driving forces which led to Big Raddy becoming the man he is and one of those influences is The Arsenal. Let me explain further ….

Without revealing too much, I was a lost soul as a child, I needed connection and non-judgemental acceptance, searching for it without success but one day, one magical day I was taken to Highbury. It was a time when the Gunners were quite frankly, crap, having won doodly-squat for a couple of decades but that inadequacy tied into the Raddy psyche especially as Spurs (who were equidistant from home) were Champions and regular trophy winners. We – and this is the crux – We – lost at Wembley, we lost again at Wembley – I hated it but again this fitted into my personal narrative. Then something miraculous happened, we won something and I was there to witness it.

28 April 1970. 2nd Leg Fairs Cup Final. Highbury.  I am not sure but I recall bunking off school to queue for tickets a couple of weeks prior to the game. I got to the ground early and stood for a couple of hours in the queue before the turnstiles opened on a cold night despite it being the end of April. I was in the North Bank to the right of the goal and about half way up under the roof. There was a mist in the air but Highbury was rocking, I mean really rocking. The singing started an hour before kick-off and rose in volume all evening – I have never seen the place  as it was at full-time. It was mental. There was a pitch invasion and I managed to get onto it and danced with strangers for what seemed like ages but probably wasn’t.

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Raddy equalises in front of the North Bank

There is much I can’t remember. Where did Frank get given the cup? Was it on the pitch or did they go up to the Stands? Given the pitch invasion, probably not but the photos of the night show Frank being held up on shoulders carrying the Cup so it must have been presented somewhere. I do remember Radford scoring the equaliser with a wonderful soaring header followed immediately by Jon Sammels scoring the winner. The rest was delirium.

I had school the next day and went into assembly as though I had personally won the Cup, I was so proud. And that is the point of my opening paragraphs – I had become a member of a tribe, the Gooner tribe. I was accepted, I was connected, I was more than just me. Those early days of walking from Finsbury Park station to St. Thomas’s Rd into Plimsoll Rd and onto the mighty Avenall Rd; of being amongst thousands of people joined in a single passion were some of the happiest moments of my life.

We won 3-0 44 years ago, can we repeat it tonight?

We all saw how lucky the win in Belgium was – I was almost embarrassed to win like that. Anderlecht were the better team, made more chances, competed strongly in midfield and were dangerous in attack, they just ran out of steam, I have to admit to writing them off pre-game, I will not do the same tonight – Anderlecht, though the weakest team in our group are a good side.

Much is being made of the 17 y.o. Tieleman, who is exactly the type of player AW lusts after – strong, athletic, can play  DM.  Could he be a summer signing? Andi Najar scored in the first leg, a 21 y-o born in Honduras but raised in the U.S. he has a bright future.

As to our chaps, the squad is getting fatter as players return from injury, Theo is the latest to return but I do not expect him to start tonight. Is Podolski to be our super sub or can he get a start? Tonight would be an opportunity to give Santi a rest

My team:

4th nov

Once again, it would be lovely to see Rosicky get onto the pitch, and Theo is sure to get at least half an hour.

The win at the weekend will give the lads some confidence. Finally they managed to play with the hand break off and with brio – it bodes well. Should we win tonight it would be 4 wins on the bounce which is exciting going into a tough game at Swansea, but let us not take things for granted, Anderlecht have already shown that they have quality, nonetheless this is a game we should win.

As it is a home game there is no culinary account, instead let us glory in the madness of this young chap.

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A Loony

44 years is a long time. Big Raddy has grown from a boy to almost a pensioner, he has moved from living walking distance from Highbury to living 1300 kms from The Emirates but one thing is constant. You can take the man out of The Arsenal but not The Arsenal out of the man!!

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


Street fighters, South American strikers, and African midfield generals?

November 3, 2014

Alexis Sanchez has finally, and remarkably quickly as well, started to raise his head above the shoulders of his taller opponents. Alexis Sanchez, in my mind the greatest Chilean artist since Alejandro Jodorowsky, has started creating and scoring goals just for fun. Exciting times to be a Gooner.

At the same time, Arsene Wenger has made a somewhat surprising statement, saying that the fighting instincts shared by Alexis Sanchez and Luis Suarez were honed on the streets of South America. Before going on a spree of dissection and discussion, perhaps best to read Arsene’s comments in their context.

I picked up the following quotes from Beebs, Daily Mail and The Guardian:

‘Look across Europe and where are the strikers from? Many of them, at least 80 per cent, are from South America.

‘Maybe it’s because in Europe street football has gone. In street football when you’re 10-years-old, you want to play with 15-year-olds.

‘Then you have to prove you’re good, you have to fight and win impossible balls.

‘When it’s all a bit more formalised, it’s less about developing your individual skill and fighting attitude. We’ve lost that a bit.

‘Not every South American has that, but if you go back 30 or 40 years in England, life was tougher.

‘Society has changed. We’re much more protective than we were 20 or 30 years ago. We have all become a bit softer.’

On the rapid transition of Alexis to the English Premier League.

‘I’m a bit surprised. It’s because he has a particular mental strength.

‘He reminds me of the first generation of English players that I had – Lee Dixon, Steve Bould, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Martin Keown. This kind who is just ready for the fight.

‘It’s natural to Alexis. Every day he wants the ball. He doesn’t walk out, he runs out.

‘He has a natural level of energy that is unbelievable. You would love everyone to have that, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.

‘When you see where he has come from, where he was born, and then he plays for Barcelona and Arsenal, he needs to have something special.’

Asked if Sanchez and Suarez were alike, Wenger replied:

‘Exactly. When Suarez gives the ball to an opponent, he wins it back straight away.

‘Sanchez is the same, there is no time between the offence and defence. The transition is very quick. And they are very quick as well.’

Obviously Wenger feels this energy and never-say-die attitude of the Chilean is fantastic for the team. And I think we agree, by and large. He was very careful not to claim all Latin Americans had this trait, and also that no Western Europeans had it. I think, if I read this well it is about percentages, and it is about a mix of different styles and characters, and lots of skill.

Which then, allows us perhaps to think ahead. Even dream! What about the “missing” midfield general, then? Long time ago, Before Christ, there was one Patrick Vieira. Leader and fighter extraordinaire, the never say die attitude, strong in body and mind, a great former Gooner, and a proud Frenchman of Senegalese origin.

His contemporary in the French team was one Zinedine Zidane, attacking midfielder, but with many of the same characters, of Algerian origin.

Perhaps Arsene was impressed. In came Yaya Touré on trial. Ivorian in origin, Yaya started for Arsenal in a pre-season friendly against Barnet in 2003. Manager Arsène Wenger recognised his talent but could not decide on his best position and described his performance against Barnet as “completely average.” Wenger was still keen to sign the then-20-year old but Touré had difficulties in getting a work permit. Ultimately, Touré grew impatient and opted to sign for Ukrainian side Metalurh Donetsk instead, where he spent one-and-a-half years. Perhaps an opportunity lost?

Then came Cameroonian Alex Song in 2006. Mixed reflections on him, so I will not say more. However, an approximate pattern emerges. Perhaps. African origin midfield generals.

My question is, where is our next one? Is it William Carvalho from Angola? Perhaps, but perhaps not.

Anyway, I think the jury is still out, but valuable thoughts from Wenger. Friends I leave you with these preliminary reflections, and would love to hear from you.

Written by arnie


Are Arsenal a one man team ?

November 2, 2014

Of course not.

Alexis Sanchez is a work horse with amazing speed and you know from his time in Barcelona that this guy will run up and down the pitch non stop. Luckily for Arsenal  he hasn’t failed to bring that kind of work rate to us who, I feel, desperately needed a player that can work his arse off.

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He carries some of the most important traits needed in football. His work rate, combined with his speed and ability to always score goals is what every club needs. Many times you’ll see players start to slow down midway through the second half as if the game has finished, but we all know that until we hear the whistle the game isn’t over and anything can still happen. When Sanchez plays you can guarantee he will push until the referee says its over.

More over, Sanchez has always been that player in the right place ready to score and I think he has pushed Arsenal despite the absence of Ozil who was meant to be Arsenal’s main star.

We’ve finally got ourselves a genuine talisman. Someone of genuine heart, fight and undoubted quality that can single handily win us games or that can raise the level of the whole team simply through the influence of his performances.

I thought he was brilliant, and I saw something I haven’t seen for almost a decade with one of our player’s – the opposition, defenders and midfielders, looking tentative and unsure whenever he was around. He’s such an all-rounder that you know he can hassle you into errors, win the ball, run at you, beat you with the dribble or for pace, pick a pass and can finish. How do you deal with players like that? They are a nuisance for a defender! Easily, Wenger’s best buy for a decade IMO.

The performance was okay today – not great, but okay.We moved up a gear from last week’s win at Sunderland and that in itself is a positive. I just wonder why it took that first goal before we looked like a completely different and dangerous team. Mental hurdles to clear most probably. I think Wenger got it wrong with Flamini and Arteta in the middle. It was too tentative for a home game, and it was obvious the thrust Ramsey brought into our play when he came on.

Anyway, the last 20 odd minutes is about as much as I’ve enjoyed watching us play this year. Good football played at a high tempo with purpose and incision. I would love to see more of that. Special mentions for Chambers (goal and assist) and Monreal who I thought had a fantastic game at the back, and how nice to have Theo back! Santi needs a rest as he is woefully out of form, but he will be back.

But I think the day belonged to Sanchez, and we should all feel very lucky to have that lad playing for us .

kelsey


Burnley. Pre-match entertainment.

November 1, 2014

I don’t usually do stats but in light of the negativity around AA this week let’s start with just one ….. Arsenal are unbeaten in 22 home games. Stick that in your pipe.

Today we welcome the Pride of Lancashire, forget the billionaires down the M65 in Manchester, Burnley are a proper Lancashire club;  Hovis bread, Satanic mills and Lowry landscapes. The last time I visited Turf Moor Bob Lord was still Chairman of Burnley and as he died in 1981, I guess my impressions may be a tad outdated!

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LB in his youth delivering Hovis

These are tough times for Burnley. Like many clubs who scrape into the PL for a season in the limelight they and their supporters say “it is just being there which we will enjoy. Going to Old Trafford, The Emirates etc etc will be brilliant”

Sadly, the reality is different and the clubs who do not replace the managers who got them into the PL by dint of hard work are few and far between. Sean Dyche is the unlucky incumbent, seems a likeable chap who is working with a team who are obvious relegation fodder: will Burnley stand by him in what has already been a terrible start? Who knows … I hope so.

Chalobah, a Chelsea loanee has potential to be a fine player. Having Captained England at all levels he has 19 U-21 caps at the young age of just 19. Danny Ings is another fine youngster who has started to score in the PL, only 22 he was last season’s Championship Player of the Year.

No wins, just 4 points, 12 goals conceded in their last 4 games, Burnley are a banana skin for our heroes. Anything less than a resounding victory will heighten the frustration around the Emirates.

Arsenal: Once again the talk is about injuries and the defence. We have discussed this way too often and it is dull, dull, dull. Quite frankly, if Welbeck played alongside BFG and The Ox played at LB we should beat Burnley (MU is another matter). We have enough players to put out an effective defence and as the ball will be almost always in the Burnley half they will be under-employed. This is not to say that Burnley have no chance of scoring – this is an Arsenal side who have conceded first in each PL home game this season!

Given the ever expanding injury list picking a side, at least in defence is relatively easy.

Should Mr Wenger continue with the Flamini/Arteta axis at home to the bottom club in the league or be a little more adventurous? I would love to see Rosicky start – won’t happen but a nice thought. Same with Podolski and Campbell.  Theo is likely to get a few minutes

Or we could go the Didit route ……

Szczesny

Bellerin      BFG     Chambers    Monreal

Ox   Ramsey    Arteta

Campbell     Welbeck    Alexis.

Unlikely but you never know. We are more likely to kick off with Cazorla in the side despite his poor form in front of goal. Benchwise we have some quality attackers so once again we are subject to Didit’s Law…… Score one more than Burnley and everything is Hunky Dory.

Instead of the food report let me give you a little more history. Today we will look back a century to World War 1.

Many of the men from Burnley volunteered to join Kitchener’s Army – 15% of the entire male population were killed  n WW1 amongst whom were the Accrington Pals. Men from all around Burnley signed up  to the East Lancashire Regiment to be shipped out to France.  On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916, the Accrington Pals were sent “over the top.” Of the 720 men who ran towards enemy lines 584 were brought down in the first half hour of the battle. It was a tragedy which even today resonates to such an extent that there are songs, plays and documentaries written about the Accrington Pals. ( for further reading  http://www.pals.org.uk/pals_e.htm)

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 Some of the Pals

Last weekend we struggled against an ultra-defensive Sunderland, Burnley are likely to be the same. Compresss the play, try to score from set pieces or a breakaway, above all don’t get thrashed. Arsenal should be used to such tactics, particularly at The Emirates – we should win.

Let it be So.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy