What is the point of the 4th Official?

January 31, 2015

In the recent Chavs/Dippers match, Diego Costa stamped on a Liverpool player. The referee “didn’t see it”, it happened right in front of Phil Dowd, the Fourth Official.

Now, it seems most unlikely that Dowd also missed it, so why didn’t he signal to the ref that a foul had been committed?

The Ref, after having watched the video stated that had he seen the offence he would have dismissed Costa, Chelsea would have been down to ten men. Liverpool would have been handed an advantage and justice would have not only been done, but seen to be done, instantly!

Instead, after a fast-track hearing and an appeal Costa has been banned for three matches.

Thus an advantage has been awarded to Man City, Aston Villa and Everton, the three teams that Costa would reasonably have been expected to play against. Liverpool are left with only a sense of grievance.

So, back to my original question. What’s the purpose of the Fourth Official?

If he is not there to assist the on-field officials, why does a top grade referee have the job of checking the subs for necklaces, dodgy studs etc, keeping the opposing managers apart and holding up the board to indicate which players are being subbed and how many minutes of added time are to be played.

It seems the fourth official has no “official” duty in regard to the actual on-field activity.

So, why not?

written by Norfolk Gooner


South Coast Shenanigans …… Ant ‘n Duck on the road to Brighton

January 30, 2015

We set off from Nottingham at 8am to make sure we’d get down to Brighton for midday, though early on a Sunday is usually a good time to travel anyway. A punk soundtrack and only three hours direct to the multi-storey car park meant that the journey flew by and we’d have plenty of time for a few sherbets.

Hotel check-in couldn’t take place before 3pm which meant that’d have to wait until after the game, so straight to Wetherspoons and first pint of the day. The pub proved to be a good choice as it seemed to be a meeting point for stacks of Gooners. Plenty of hugging back slapping and ‘how’s it going?’ followed which launched us into the away trip feel very nicely, thank you.


After a couple we moved on for a more traditional taste of Brighton, an Irish pub! The Fiddler’s Elbow had been recommended and happened to be less than 100 yards away. We just caught them opening at 12, so were their first customers and had a choice of any seat in the house. The next two and a half hours flew by and is now a little like a time lapse video in my memory, twelve o’clock pub empty, half past two rammed to the rafters. Shed loads of Gooners again, chatting to Brighton and Arsenal alike, just as it should be. The first sorties into the packed lunch helped to absorb some of the Guinness.


As usual we’d worked out the best way of getting to the ground, the 25 bus from just round the corner in Churchill Square. This was before the main central area where the train station sits, so we had more chance of getting on. The Amex is several miles outside Brighton and transport is problematic (more of this later). We went past Brighton Pavilion which meant we could get the required amount of sightseeing under our belts.


After a couple of stops the bus was full with the driver operating a one off one on policy, so we’d guessed right about where to get on. The 20 minute bus ride took about 45 but after a half dozen beers, proved to be a diverting experience. Arriving at the stadium with a half hour to go to kick off, allowed plenty of time to watch the warm up and for one of the mascots to have his photo taken with a muppet.


The game was very enjoyable after Walcott’s early strike settled nerves. Mine and Ant’s eyesight were severely tested with Arsenal’s second as we both thought that Giroud had scored. Big lad in the area scores with his left foot, what were we to assume? Perhaps this was evidence that Mesut has bulked up somewhat while out with injury, or maybe proof that you always see more of the game if you watch on TV (or that we both need new or replacement glasses). Ant had some knobheads to his right who were abusing Szczesny throughout the game in one form or another. Even after the fans sang ‘ He smokes when he wants’, they seemed to fail to grasp the fact that it was intended to support a player in an Arsenal shirt.

The second half was a little more scary after Brighton’s early reply but Tommy’s crisp volley proved decisive in the end. Sanchez coming on as sub provoked numerous renditions of his (fairly) new song, ‘Alexis Sanchez, baby, Alexis Sanchez, wohhhoooh’ to the tune of ‘Don’t You Want me Baby’. Not sure about that one but it seems popular.


Cue celebrations at the final whistle and Little Mozart throwing his shirt into the Arsenal section.


My previous attempts at coronation chicken have always involved Sunday’s leftovers, so I’m back on familiar ground with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe for cold cooked chicken. The dressing is simplicity itself: 2 tbsp “good spicy fruit chutney” (I use mango, in keeping with the Anglo-Indian theme), mixed with 1 tbsp “good Madras curry powder” and equal parts Greek yoghurt and mayonnaise and tossed through the meat, which is then left to marinate for a couple of hours and finally garnished with toasted almonds and chopped coriander. The sandy colour looks the part to our modern eyes, and the assertively fruity, spicy flavour wins fans too – everyone loves it, although my mum points out quite rightly that the raw curry powder adds a harsh note to the dressing. The yoghurt stops the mayonnaise from taking over the dish, without imparting the slightly buttery flavour of creme fraiche. A solid, crowd-pleasing recipe for anyone in a hurry – and I love the crunch of the nuts.

Getting away from the ground was tricky to say the least with the majority of Brighton’s record attendance heading back towards the town centre. There were a few incidents where frustrated supporters from both teams became a little fractious both with the transport arrangements and with each other. We stayed in the ground for a pint after the game but still had to queue for a fair time to get a train back to the city centre.

Having finally arrived back in Brighton, we checked into our salubrious accommodation at the Travelodge on Brighton Seafront and set off back to the ‘Spoons for a cheap meal and a couple more celebratory beers. Then, back to the room for 10.30 to see MOTD2 and hear some dubious words of wisdom from Phil Snivel.

All in all a great trip.


Up The Arse.

Written by chas


Goodbye Wojciech Szczesny

January 29, 2015

Many regular readers of this blog will know that I have never been a great fan of my compatriot Wojciech Szczesny. There were many reasons for my disapproval of him, but most were based on the knowledge of his father’s career – average keeper, arrogant and mouthy. From the start Wojciech reminded me of his Dad. But I am a fair person and decided to give him a chance and it seemed he rewarded me for that. Since replacing Fabianski in goal, he has grown from strength to strength and most fellow Gunners were delighted with his performances.


Exactly 4 years ago he became our new No 1. Since then we have witnessed a true rollercoaster of a career, culminating in his disastrous performance against Southampton earlier this month. Rumours followed that Wenger had dropped him there and then as our first choice keeper and that was confirmed by Ospina’s appearance in the next few fixtures while Szczesny returned in the FA Cup. As we know Wenger always plays number 2 keeper in FA games. Do we have a permanent new No 1 or will Szczesny return to reclaim his place? And most importantly – do we want him to return?

The media and the fans have  varied views on Szczesny’s career. It has almost become a norm that after a few good games he fails completely – stupid mistakes, lack of concentration, wrong decision or  even a red card. Other players cannot possibly feel safe in front of a goalie with such a poor level of consistency.

Some claim that he is suffering from the same virus that made van Persie and Cesc move to clubs where they have better chances to achieve full potential and win trophies (more money). Others argue that Wojtek is an average keeper and will never be world class. He still makes the same errors as he did 4 years ago and his personality will always get in the way of true progress.

Psychological profiling is nowadays a part of the modern selection process for all top professionals, including footballers and I am sure that Szczesny must have been assessed too. I therefore wonder if his temperament has been ignored or deemed as no issue. Or did Szczesny became nervous after joining the Arsenal? By the same token we can discuss our previous number one, Lukasz Fabianski nicknamed ‘Flappy Hands Fabianski’. Lukasz seldom appeared cool, calm and collected while at the Emirates. Yet he seems to be doing well at Swansea.

Szczesny’s last EPL appearance was a complete disaster. His performance was below par and he cost us valuable 3 points. His body language after the game and failure to even look at the defenders were a sure sign that he knew he let us down. To calm the nerves he had a fag in the changing rooms, right under the nose of Wenger, known to be obsessed with a healthy life style of his employees.  Was it a provocation on WS’s part? Does he want to leave?

The Pole signed a new 5 year long contract in November 2013 making him one of the best paid goalkeepers in the world. Wenger was happy, we were happy and I am sure Szczesny was delighted. But that was more than a year ago, a long time in the short career of a footballer. This time last year Szczesny’s stats were better than De Gea’s, but this certainly is not the case this season. Even Fabianski and Vito Mannone seem to be outperforming Wojciech.

I don’t think I need to say anymore on the subject. I think that Szczesny should leave, don’t you?

Written by Eddie

The Premier League race to qualify for the 2016 Champions League.

January 28, 2015

With 16 games remaining in the season the race for Champions League places is agonizingly close. Mathematically the top 4 positions are not locked up but Chelsea appears to have the top spot firmly in their grasp. As this table shows any one of the current top 8 teams still have a shot at being in the 2016 Champions League.

                     Current position in the league

Chelsea 22 16 4 2 51 22 29 52
Man C 22 14 5 3 45 22 23 47
Southampton 22 13 3 6 38 17 21 42
Man U 22 11 7 4 36 20 16 40
Arsenal 22 11 6 5 39 25 14 39
Tottenham 22 11 4 7 33 31 2 37
West Ham 22 10 6 6 35 25 10 36
Liverpool 22 10 5 7 32 27 5 35

The next table shows the 8 teams results against each other so far this season. Arsenal has dropped 15 points, losing to Chelsea, United and Southampton and tying with Spurs, Man City and Liverpool. To stress the importance of games against these teams – if (I recognize that it’s a big if) we had won all of these games then we would be on top with 57 points – 8 points clear of Chelsea who would only have 49 points.

Games against Top 8
Chelsea 8 4 3 1 15 9 6 15
Man C 8 4 2 2 15 9 6 14
Man U 8 4 2 2 10 6 4 14
Tottenham 8 4 1 3 12 15 -3 13
Arsenal 9 3 3 3 11 12 -1 12
Southampton 9 3 1 5 9 12 -3 10
Liverpool 7 2 1 4 10 14 -4 7
West Ham 7 2 0 5 8 12 -4 6

Our record in the last 10 games is surprisingly strong having gained  22 out of 30 points we are exceeded only by Manchester City who have gained 23 points having lost only once to Arsenal.

Last 10 Games
Man C 10 7 2 1 21 9 12 23
Arsenal 10 7 1 2 19 10 9 22
Man U 10 6 3 1 17 5 12 21
Chelsea 10 6 2 2 21 11 10 20
Tottenham 10 6 2 2 16 13 3 20
Liverpool 10 6 3 1 16 9 7 21
West Ham 10 5 3 2 15 9 6 18
Southampton 10 5 1 4 13 10 3 16

The final tables show the remaining games for the top 8 teams.

Chelsea Man City Saints Man U
Man City H Chelsea A Swansea H Leicester H
Aston Villa A Hull H QPR A West Ham A
Everton H Stoke A West Ham H Burnley H
Burnley H Newcastle H Liverpool H Swansea A
Leicester A Liverpool A WBA A Sunderland H
West Ham A Leicester H Crystal P H Newcastle A
Southampton H Burnley A Chelsea A Tottenham H
Hull A WBA H Burnley H Liverpool A
Stoke H Crystal P A Everton A Aston Villa H
QPR A Man United A Hull H Man City H
Man United H West Ham H Stoke A Chelsea A
Arsenal A Aston Villa H Tottenham H Everton A
Crystal P H Tottenham A Sunderland A WBA H
Liverpool H QPR H Leicester A Crystal P A
WBA A Swansea A Aston Villa H Arsenal H
Sunderland H Southampton H Man City A Hull A


Arsenal Tottenham West Ham Liverpool
Aston Villa H WBA A Liverpool A West Ham H
Tottenham A Arsenal H Man Utd H Everton A
Leicester H Liverpool A Southampton A Tottenham H
Crystal P A West Ham H Tottenham A Southampton A
Everton H QPR A Crystal P H Man City H
QPR A Swansea H Chelsea H Burnley H
West Ham H Man United A Arsenal A Swansea A
Newcastle A Leicester H Sunderland H Man United H
Liverpool H Burnley A Leicester A Arsenal A
Burnley A Aston Villa H Stoke H Newcastle H
Sunderland H Newcastle A Man City A Hull A
Chelsea H Southampton A QPR A WBA A
Hull A Man City H Burnley H QPR H
Swansea H Stoke A Aston Villa A Chelsea A
Man United A Hull H Everton H Crystal P H
WBA H Everton A Newcastle A Stoke A

To date it’s been one of our worst seasons under Arsene Wenger but we remain in strong contention to retain our place in the CL for the nineteenth consecutive season. The last two games against Stoke and City have arguably been our best of the season winning both while scoring 5 and keeping two clean sheets, not surprisingly this coincided with the return of many of our walking wounded.

There are 320 games remaining in 2014/2015 Premier League season but I feel that the top 4 places will be determined by as few as the following 13 games.

Chelsea vs Man City – Jan 31st.

Arsenal vs Tottenham  – Feb 2nd.

Liverpool vs Tottenham – Feb 10th.

Chelsea vs Southamton – Mar 15th.

Man U vs Tottenham – Mar 15th

Man U vs Man City – Apr 11th.

Chelsea vs Man U – Apr 18th.

Arsenal vs Chelsea – Apr 25th

Southampton vs Tottenham – Apr 25th.

Tottenham vs Man City – May 2nd.

Liverpool vs Man U – Mar 22nd.

Man U vs Arsenal – May 16th.

Man City vs Southampton – May 24th.





“That’s a good foul” ….. Savage by name ……..

January 27, 2015

In its infinite wisdom, BT has chosen to employ the services of one Robbie Savage as their expert analyst to educate us with his pearls of wisdom regarding the subtle nuances and tactical complexities of football.

Savage earned his reputation as an old fashioned hard man during his career by regularly stepping over the boundary between good play and foul play.


The aptly named Savage is an odious character who has been branded ‘the dirtiest player in Premier League history’


His trophy cabinet boasts an impressive 87 yellow cards – 5 more than the incumbent of second place, that other gift to humanity, Lee Bowyer.

All of this of course makes Savage the perfect recruit for BT. The once respected national telecoms institution has been sold to the highest bidders and with it, lost its integrity along the way.

This brings me to Savage’s commentary on the match between Brighton and Arsenal last Sunday. Savage had been spouting his usual dinosaur drivel throughout the game, but really stepped it up a notch when our rookie striker Chuba Akpom came on in the 70th minute.

Chuba is an exciting prospect from our academy. At 19, he’s a strong, quick and direct striker – the sort defenders hate. It was an excellent substitution because we were under some pressure from Brighton and needed an outlet that would keep their defenders on their heels. And so it proved as on several occasions the ball was passed out of defence to Chuba who subsequently went up through the gears and looked a real threat.

But each time Chuba got the better of the defenders he was cynically brought down. Most neutrals watching the game might expect the studio pundit to observe how well Chuba had done in drawing the foul and maybe god forbid, to criticise the defender for breaking the rules of the game. Not Savage. On two separate occasions his sage assessment was “that’s a good foul” …… I repeat …… “that’s a good foul”

Now forgive me, but aren’t the rules of the game designed to protect players and ensure that the game is played in the proper manner. If a foul is committed due to a lack of judgement, or just because your opponent is too good and has fooled you, then fair enough. A deliberate foul where there is no intention of getting the ball, only to stop the player in order to avoid a goal scoring opportunity is just plain cheating and risks injury to a fellow professional.

I accept some footballers practise this dark art, it often goes under the affectionate term of ‘taking one for the team’ when a card is brandished, but when it is a blunt instrument regularly employed to stop the side with superior skills playing football, it is detrimental to the game, and contrary to the spirit of the game.

Savage thinks this kind of behaviour is to be applauded. He’s on the telly telling millions of people that this is a good thing. Thousands of aspiring young players will have heard an ‘expert’ describe cheating as “a good foul” – a great example to set. How many times will those actions be replicated in parks up and down the country I wonder? And what if Chuba had suffered a career threatening injury in one of those ‘good fouls’? Hope you’re proud of yourself Robbie. It doesn’t matter to you, you’re busy carving out a celebrity career where the most base of behaviour only serves to enhance your reputation.

This is not an argument against tackling or strong physical play, they still have a place in the modern game. Players with intelligence will know where the line should be drawn. Tackling has been described as an art form by those appreciate the skill and timing involved. I have no problem with that. However, players who lack ability will always seek refuge in an overly physical approach that manifests itself in habitual fouling and should not be encouraged by the media.

It is up to the officials and rule makers to ensure that such practices are discouraged and penalised appropriately. If the rules currently in place do not deter ‘professional fouls’ then the penalties are clearly not harsh enough. We can only hope that their thinking is not influenced by the ‘Savages’ in our media.

He is a disgrace to his profession. BT are guilty of the lowest form of tabloid recruitment in giving him air time.

How are we ever going to progress in football in this country when we have characters like Savage promoting anti-football in our media? We should mount an internet campaign to get Savage off our screens to prevent his contamination of the beautiful game to which Arsene Wenger, Arsenal and all football purists aspire.

Here’s a reminder of the gulf in class between Savage and an Arsenal great ……



My son is running The London Marathon to raise money for Leukaemia Care. Any donation however small would be gratefully appreciated. There is a link in the side bar to the right of this page, or go to https://www.justgiving.com/jamiemonk/ to view his Just Giving site … thank you 🙂

The Mods defeat the Rockers …. Brighton 2-3 Arsenal

January 26, 2015

Firstly, the result. A 3-2 winning scoreline can only be bettered by a 4-3, a 5-4,  and so on.

Seven changes from a side that went away to beat the current League Champions, and with that, the current Cup Holders marched on into today’s draw.

When so many changes are made, we’re looking at squad depth, and players returning from injuries.

Recently, Mozart and Santi have been the heartbeat of the side, and yesterday Thomas continued his incredible run of form, coming out by some distance as Man of the Match.

Mixing up centre back pairings is always an excellent idea if you want a little excitement when taking on some lower league minnows, and yesterday the plan worked to perfection. From 2-0 up, the changes had the desired effect with Brighton twice scrambling back into the game to give us the exciting climax we all enjoyed so much.

Most Arsenal eyes will have been on the returning Mesut and Theo, and mine were no exception.

Really, there were no great surprises. Theo continued to blow away a few cobwebs, and began with a typically clinical finish. As far as I’m concerned, the thought of Alexis suffering a long termer without the goals of Theo is terrifying, so great to see Theo back on the score sheet.

Mesut: looks stronger for sure, but as with last season, I don’t believe we will ever see the best of him without a fast striker through the middle.

As for the rest of the side, well, ok performances, nothing outstanding but enough to provide an enthralling encounter. RC78 said more or less the same thing in his player ratings, but the most accurate for me was on Ollie: industrious but not dangerous. We played some wonderful moves during the ninety yesterday, and if I was going to be critical it would be the finishing.

This should have been a less exciting 5-2.


The Kids are Alright

January 25, 2015

Is there a better away day to be had in Britain? Those of us lucky enough to have spent time in Brighton have a special attachment to it but not all memories are rosy ……

From the time I was 7 y.o. my parents had a summer house in Trafalgar Street which is in Kemptown about 10 minutes walk from the sea. To my dismay this meant that whilst my friends travelled abroad for their summer holidays I was forced to spend 6 weeks away from my friends in swinging North London. If I was lucky my best friend Robert was allowed to spend his holiday with us.

We were always playing football on the beach or cricket in the gardens around the Royal Pavilion. One evening Robert kicked the ball into the sea. This was a time when a football was precious, it cost at least a months pocket money and we watched in dismay as it floated off on it’s way to France. Stupidly, we decided to swim after it. Thankfully neither of us got hurt but we had to walk home in wet clothes and incur the wrath of my parents.


Danger Awaits

My last visit to Brighton was to spend time with my mother in her final days.

I learned much about life in Brighton; not to talk to strange men, not to be on the beach when the Mods and Rockers turned up, not to eat candy floss until it makes you sick, not to waste all my pocket money in the penny arcades, and later that is a long cycle to Brighton from Islington***  … enough of this – there is a game today!!

Given yesterday’s spectacular results we cannot go into the game with anything but total focus. Right now we can laugh at City, Spurs, MU, L’pool, S’ton,and especially Chelsea – we don’t want to reduce their fans hurt by being another victim of a lower league team.

Mr Wenger may be tempted to play a very young team and approach the game as a Capitol One Cup match but although are youngsters are full of potential I hope he plays safe

With the return to the first team of both Mesut and Theo we should be safe. It will be interesting to see what defence Mr Wenger picks – I would give BFG a rest and play Chambers. However, as Cup Holders we have to play our strongest team. No slip ups against a team who have struggled but will be desperate for a win. Plus they are managed by an old Miscreant, Chris Hughton – apparently a likeable chap but clearly mentally scarred from his time in the cess-pond.

I haven’t been to the Falmer Amex stadium, but I have friends who are Brighton S/T holders who tell me it can generate a lot of noise and today the ground is a sell-out. The team will be confident after beating high-flying Ipswich last time out. Hutton teams are generally sent out to play entertaining, fast passing football – he is unlikely to zaparkawac’ autobus

We are on a very good run and the win at the Etihad must have given huge confidence to the squad plus it seems we have shiny new CB.

**** This being a family site most of the lessons I learnt in Brighton will remain private 😇


written by Big Raddy

Paulista on his way?

January 24, 2015

Dredging through Newsnow and the newspapers it seems that there is a strong likelihood that the Brazilian is coming.

Paulista is not in the Villarreal squad which is a good sign.

Apparently so is Kevin Grosskreutz from Borussia Dortmund. A 26 y.o. defender who can play any position across the back-line and is available for €5m which in today’s insane transfer fees is just a pile of M & M’s.

Let’s assume both these chaps arrive, what then? What about the development of Calum Chambers who hasn’t played for months and needs games to fulfil his undoubted potential?

What of BFG? Is he to be a bench-warmer? I know the man is creaking but who wouldn’t after having played virtually every minute of the season. Merts is not ready for his free bus-pass – the man is only just 30 and has at least 3 good years in him.

My guess is that one of the stories is nonsense – probably the Grosskreutz transfer. After all BD are still in the CL so why sell him now? Plus, as I said, Chambers is going to be the nuts

And why haven’t we seen any rumours about our inevitable capture of Cavani? The man has Arsenal in his blood and is desperate to sign for us. The non-appearance of this story is another of the masterful Wenger smoke-screens 😀

written by Big Raddy

Can we buy on Ebay?

January 23, 2015

I have bought over 300 items from Ebay  and have a 100% rating, granted throughout those 300 items I have been disappointed with one or two items. Buying things from photo’s and a short description, can leave you exposed to the odd dodgy item but read the description and many times you read in them what you want to read, only when you log back in and read it all over again you can often find something you missed.

I have always bought, but I have just entered an item for sale, a set of alloy wheels, and the amount of questions i have been asked has surprised me.I know we send scouts out to watch certain players, and yes a player may look good on the field. But what about his personality his sexual persuasion or even his record, sickness discipline or even a police record, surely for the amount of money paid out you would expect a 4 page dossier, but we have still signed injured players.

Now I read that we have added 8 year old kids to our academy, even Beckham’s boy has come and played a bit and i have to ask myself what’s the point. Young kids who don’t even know what its all about, being propositioned by scouts agents or even parents, lets face it they are kids who still have a lot of growing up to do before you start nurturing, a talent that may never come to anything.

Now when have we ever found a talent in the lower divisions, there are plenty who play, and when we play some of them in the cups we see guys who look as good as some of our multi million players, but no we spend millions on a 17 year old kid who plays in a foreign league who most of us have never heard of.

Now with all of the holding midfielders and central defenders in the lower leagues who are all used to English football surely some of them are good enough to play in the premier, but how often do we even look. If we search the world for 8 year old maybe’s, and hope they grow to six feet 2 or 3 and will be strong enough to play top flight football who are we trying to kid.

A few seasons back when we were struggling we could have bought Cahill or Samba and we never, we buy Squilachy instead  I don’t think the right questions were asked then, do you. I feel we have to buy players who have a bit of a track record, a player who is six feet 2 or 3 already players who have shown they are resistant to playing in rain sleet and snow, players who have a bit of fight in their bellies, and leave the Chamakhs and Eduardos Gervinhos  to other teams.

We have in our fold Wilshere Walcott Ramsey Diaby Gibbs who seem to spend most time injured, fairly good players who have shown when fit are decent talented footballers, but when these players are injured the team seems to struggle, so what do we do.

Maybe like Ebay we should ask more questions, ask them early in the window so when an answer comes back that casts a doubt we can scroll through the others on the list. Research, and lots of questions before we part with our Wonga.

written by Steve Palmer

Is Theo Worth his Wages?

January 22, 2015

9 years ago yesterday,  a 16 year old born in Stanmore, North London was signed by Mr. Wenger. His arrival aroused much excitement because this kid was meant to be the best attacking prospect in the land. His name? Theo Walcott.

He was so good as a young boy that he was sponsored by Nike at the age of 14 and much to his credit refused an opportunity to join Chelsea. Joining Southampton Theo was the youngest player in S’ton’s long history to make a debut in the first team – he was just 16 and 3 months. Scoring a goal in his first starting game and playing with such verve that he became  one of the BBC Young Sports Personalities of 2005 (winning it in his first AFC season ).


Walcott signed for us in Jan 2006 whilst still a 16. y.o for £9m. I was excited – I bet you were excited. He took the 14 shirt which shows just how confident a young man he is.

How do we assess his time at Arsenal? Do you think he is worth the hype and the huge wages?

Let us start with the number of games he has played – almost 200 in a 9 year spell = 22 a season. Not good. From the season out with the shoulder injuries to last years knee-knack Theo has spent much time in the massive AFC treatment mansion. Yet when fit he is a potent attacking weapon and a man whose defensive abilities are under-estimated.

Perhaps my impression of Walcott is through the rose coloured glasses of absence but he is one of my favourite players. I love how he skins the full back or scores by shooting across the keeper a’la TH14. I like his smile and his honesty, unlike most speedsters the man doesn’t dive  – he is a bloke I would love my daughter to marry (if I had one!),

But is my assessment skewed by my liking the fellow? Would we be better off selling him for a bucketload of money in summer rather than go through another tortuous contract negotiation?

A goal every 5 games is not a particularly good return for someone who creates and is given so many scoring opportunities, yet in my opinion his absence cost us the title last season – we had no-one who could scare the opposition; a situation AW recognised and remedied with the purchase of Alexis.

The fans love him as witnessed by the reaction when he warms up prior to coming on as sub. Which brings us to the nub of this post …. Is Theo still an automatic starter in our best first eleven?

Given the wealth of attacking talent we have and the development of The Ox where does Theo fit in? Do we drop the magical Santi or the mercurial Alexis? We have two target men which indicates that either Welbz or OG will always start centrally.

Rasp has been writing about a player having “their time” (re:Coq) and perhaps Walcott has missed his. I cannot see him as anything but a super-sub who will start perhaps one in three games. Is that enough for a man who is an automatic pick for England and has such a high media profile?

What to you think?

written by Big Raddy