Rooney doesn’t dive, Gerard doesn’t dive ….. and Eduardo is a cheat

February 17, 2015

Rooney doesn’t dive … he’s an English bulldog

Gerard doesn’t dive …..  he’s a legend

Eduardo is a diving foreign cheat …..

Discuss …. and tell me again why on the spot video replays will ruin the game???

Rasp


Boro Buried By Buoyant Arsenal

February 16, 2015

Here are a few AAers’ comments after the game …………………. 

LB said

I think I would describe that as the perfectly executed plan.

Who would have thought that Wenger would have started with a 4.2.4 line up? The idea was clearly to go at them, all guns blazing, get ahead and by doing so would force them onto us, before bringing Walcott on in the latter stages to run riot with his pace. And that is exactly what happened.

If Boro were hoping for a lift from Wenger opting to field a weaker team they were disappointed. 

Welbeck, Giroud, Ozil and Sanchez up front, wow that is some front line.

Gabriel didn’t have that much to do but there were some very encouraging signs. His professional foul was a South American master class.

https://twitter.com/BBCSport/status/567228008227160064

stevepalmer1 said

I felt we gave a good account of ourselves, pretty on the eye, plenty of possession with some nice quick passing. I would like to see us making challenges earlier on forward running attackers as i feel we open up and give them chances but apart from that not bad at all. 

My MOTM would have been Gibbs the lad ran up and down all game and made his self a nuisance but also did his defensive work well. Very happy with that effort but have to say expected more goals but 2 goals is still blinding. Don’t want to leave Chambers out another fine days work son.

Boro2

Gooner In Exile said

Gibbs had a very positive game obviously showing he wants his shirt back.

But I think I loved watching the front three of Ozil, Santi and Alexis, they were walking into little spaces and making gorgeous passing. Past their way out of the press with ease.

Also has anyone noticed the skill Welly uses quite a lot, where he kind of allows the player to commit a sliding tackle before he touches the ball and he kind of picks it up with his trailing leg, it’s very effective and useful because he seems to break away more often than not using it.

Let’s not forget this was Boro and we are going to face better less gappy buses than this in the remainder of the league campaign.

Ratings

Szczesny 8 – Not much to do – Great having him as second choice keeper! 

Chambers 8 – Hungry and competent without being tested too much

Koscielny 9 – Needed a rest and got one by cruising through the game

Gabriel 8 – Fitted in straightaway. Took one for the team in the right area of the field

Gibbs 9 –  Excellent throughout  

Flamini 8 – Very effective against limited opposition

Cazorla 9 – His performance was as tall as his hair

Ozil 9 – A world class player able to show it against a disappointing ‘Boro

Welbeck 8 – Just finding his form again. Could have a great end of season

Sanchez 9 – Love the man almost as much as he loves playing

Giroud 9 – Two crackers. The first a team goal, the second opportunist 

Cobbled together by chas

 

 


Gabriel’s Initiation: ‘Boro Preview

February 15, 2015

There are some chaps who think today will be an easy victory for The Arsenal, I beg to differ. Anyone who watched ‘Boro thrash Man City at the Etihad knows they are a very good side. Top of the Championship playing with attacking intent and creativity, they will be difficult opponents.

Mr Wenger has stated that his respect for the FA Cup has affected our CL performances and the coming week sees that competition return. It will be interesting how much “respect” he pays Middlesborough today. Will he pick his best team or rely upon our second string?

It is more who stays in the side after two hard games last week than who is promoted. Alexis cannot be risked, Ospina will give way, Theo has played twice as has Coquelin etc etc

Hopefully Paul Easter will get his first outing alongside Chambers at the centre of defence or will Mr Wenger play safe and use one of our regular CB’s alongside our shiny new Brazilian? I agree – AW will not take such a risk.

Here is my guess:-

Szczesny

Chambers   Gabriel    Koscielny     Gibbs

Rosicky  Flamini   Cazorla

Ozil

Welbeck    Giroud

Tasty, don’t you think?

We are the holders, we are at home, we are the favourites, we are The Arsenal. No more injuries, an open attacking game and a win would be good,

That’s yer lot on a difficult day in Denmark


FA Cup Trivia Quiz No. 3

February 14, 2015
  1. What year was the 1st FA Cup played?
  2. Who won the 1st FA Cup?
  3. Where was the 1st Cup played?
  4. In how many different venues has the final been played?
  5. What venue has hosted the final the most times?
  6. How many times was the final played at the answer to question 5?
  7. How many FA Cup Finals have been played (not including replays)
  8. How many goals have been scored in all of the FA Cup finals?
  9. What final produced the most goals?
  10. How many teams have won the cup?
  11. How many teams have appeared in the final?
  12. How many teams have appeared in the final without winning the cup?
  13. Name the team who has appeared the most times in the final without winning?
  14. Which team has won the most FA Cups?
  15. Which team has the most appearances in the final?
  16.  Which academic institute won the cup?
  17. Name the current PL teams who have never won the cup?

GunnerN5

 


Is Coquelin the answer? Poll

February 12, 2015

Firstly, there has to be a question and that is probably – Is Coquelin the natural replacement for Arteta and/or Flamini?

I have said from when Mr Wenger re-signed Flamini that he wasn’t good enough to take The Arsenal to the title or the CL Final and these must be our targets. Nor is Arteta. Both fine players and experienced pro’s who have served the club with honour and pride but quite frankly they are both limited. We need better.

Coquelin has been a revelation – most interceptions, most tackles etc etc in his short run of games and importantly he appears to be tactically disciplined. Plus he seems to be a pitch leader, unafraid to guide the players around him through the game. His tackling is strong and he seems to have eradicated his tendency to jump into tackles. – less yellows per game than Flamini or Chambers.

However …. is he good enough? I mean can he be world-class? Can he be Ozil, Alexis, Koscielny class?

Any really great side has a world class spine – think Lehmann, Campbell, Vieira, Henry  or Seaman, Adams, Vieira, Wright. What do they have in common? Yes, even you can see it is PV4, and it is Patrick who must be the benchmark for the future Arsenal lynchpin. Can Coq be that good? You tell me, but I have serious doubts.

Doubts are not certainties and Coquelin has the perfect opportunity to cement his place in the Arsenal team. It would be marvellous if a lad who just 3 months ago looked Burnley quality can improve the team, it would be proof that hard work allied to ambition can overcome prejudice.

I wish him well but would like Mr Wenger to be saving his money for another transfer raid on Southampton or even better to spend huge and sign Pogba. We need a central player to build the team around and we haven’t had one since Gilberto.


Gunners overcome the Foxes in the night!

February 11, 2015

A tense Premier League encounter between Arsenal and the basement team ended with Arsenal taking a valuable 3 points and propel them into the dizzy heights of 4th place.

Much of the pre-match talk revolved around how the Gunners would respond following a damaging defeat to bitter North London Rivals Spurs.

Staying at the in laws in Wembley for a few days meant I could make a comfortable journey to N5 and absorb some of that pre-match atmosphere with the Arsenal faithful still smarting following the derby day debacle 3 days earlier. After demolishing a delightful kebab in one of the many fabulous Turkish restaurants on Holloway Road, the walk to Ashburton Grove gave an opportunity to hear what the fans had to say as the crowds gathered. Fans were buoyed by the news that talisman Alexis Sanchez was in the starting line up along with Theo Walcott who was only a substitute on Saturday.

Sat 4 rows from the front the fans took to their seats as the teams came out looking to secure a vital result for different reasons. The game got underway and early on, an adventurous Hector Bellerin was making marauding runs down the right flank which was promising but later would leave gaps behind for Leicester to try and exploit. Then the first chance of note in the 13th minute.

As Bellerin was thrusting forward, the Foxes found space and Riyad Mahrez shot just wide much to the relief of the Arsenal supporters. Although the warning signs were evident some fans were more involved in a conversation about the new Sky deal to continue showing live coverage of Premier League matches than keeping their eyes on the action in front of them.

The Gunners then responded with a chance of their own on 16 minutes which should have rippled the Leicester net. A rejuvenated Mesut Ozil found Theo Walcott but he only found the palm of Mark Schwarzer’s hand when one on one with the time wasting Australian. Such was the goalkeepers time wasting the Arsenal supporters were howling at referee Mike Jones to brandish a yellow card some using very colourful language amusing some of the younger fans in the crowd.

Arsenal’s record signing then combined with another fan favourite, Thomas Rosicky, playing a delightful one-two and then the German forced yet another save from the Foxes keeper. It felt it was only a matter of time before the Arsenal would make an opportunity count and supporters in the stands could sense their team were beginning to turn the screw. Ozil had another attempt and then from the corner came the breakthrough.

Ozil swung the corner into the Leicester box and there was Laurent Koscielny to add the finishing touch and put the Gunners into the lead which their play merited. As the Gunners scored the opening goal, many Arsenal fans really believed the floodgates would now open and that there would be a goal glut.

They were mistaken and such predictions were wide of the mark much like Leicester’s shooting on the night. Left back Paul Koncheskey found acres of space in behind Bellerin and played a low and dangerous cross but Captain Per Mertesacker was on hand to stretch one of those long legs so the ball did not reach the Leicester player looking to capitalise. It was at this point where there was growing concern amongst fans about young Hector Bellerin’s performance as Leicester were finding a lot of joy on his side.

Some fans even used this opportunity to reflect on the Spaniard’s flaws in the North London derby earlier which was very harsh to say the least given the youngster’s fine displays this season. Leicester man Mahrez had another decent effort which missed Ospina’s goal by a fraction but then a rasping shot by Ozil was too hot to handle for veteran keeper Schwarzer and Theo Walcott was on hand to rifle the rebound. That was his third goal in 4 games.

During the opening minutes of the second half, the fans were fuming that Mike Jones did not award the home team a penalty after a pass from Alexis struck a Leicester defender on the hand and the countless fouls being committed. By now the fans were venting their fury at the officials which chants of “you don’t know what your doing”.

Leicester were then given a lifeline on 61 minutes as Arsenal failed to clear their lines from a corner and Kramaric drilled the ball into the net to send the Leicester fans into raptures. The homes fans were now sitting on the edge of their seats and voicing their frustrations at the team. Santi Cazorla tried to restore the 2 goal cushion with an angled shot which the keeper parried away. In the other end that man Mahrez curling effort went agonisingly wide much to the relief of the home support.

The fans then turned their anger and frustration on Olivier Giroud, some repeatedly swearing at him, demanding more movement from him after Mesut Ozil played a delightful low cross which was begging for a predator to be on the end of it. Again this seemed very harsh on the player by the fans but may have been as a result of Arsenal’s below par second half performance. The Frenchman’s night was compounded with an undeserved booking as he turned his back and Schwarzer kicked the ball against him which the incompetent Mike Jones deemed as obstruction. This tipped the Arsenal fans over the edge as some hurled constant abuse at the referee whose performance must be assessed given the glaring mistakes he made.

The game then became scrappy as yellow cards were issued and substitute Aaron Ramsey limping off, a cause for more concern, but Arsenal held on to secure a crucial win in the battle to finish in the top 4. The fans were also cheering a late Liverpool winner which condemned Spurs to defeat. So despite the derby day debacle, normal order has been restored with Spurs being in their rightful place. Below Arsenal and forever in our shadow.

UTA! Written by @SirAHussain14image (2) image-1 (2) image-3 image-5 image-4


A disappointing 3 points …. an orchestra with 3 conductors

February 11, 2015

Before ….

I had a drink with 6 of the finest, most wholehearted Arsenal supporters you could hope to meet before arriving at The Emirates. Several had travelled great distance to attend the game. The good natured banter and camaraderie of kindred spirits is one of the great joys of being an Arsenal Supporter.

The game …..

After a disappointing performance in the NLD, we had high hopes that the team would bounce back and show its class. I will admit to being surprised at the team selection with Giroud and Welbeck consigned to the bench and a midfield 3 of Cazorla, Ozil and Rosicky.

The first half was a cautious affair with little quality on show from either side except for the finishes for the 2 goals which comprised an excellent striker’s finish from Koscielny from a corner and a trademark, reflex, low into the corner goal from Theo (how often do you see him blaze it over the bar?)

So at 2 goals up and the game seemingly secure, most were wondering how many we could add in the second half. Immediately it became obvious that the team had lapsed into that weird alternative Arsenal characterised by low energy, lack of penetration, pass it sideways rather than forward jaundiced football.

Leicester played with fight, pace on the counter and width. They looked determined and dangerous and were rewarded with a deserved goal after some typically poor defending by Arsenal. We could all see it coming. Would the team respond and up the tempo? ….. No. We held on for the rest of the game. Ospina once again made a couple of key saves that saved us points but all in all this was a tepid performance. The overwhelming feeling at the final whistle was relief, not joy at gaining 3 points.

Why …..

Before the game, GoonerB had been banging on about how we could not play 3 of our 5 or 6 attacking midfielders together at any one time. He argued that we needed pace and width and runners. The longer the game went on, the more I could see he had hit the nail on the head. I lost count of how many times one of our midfield 3 came out of defence with the ball only to stop once in the opponents half and pass backwards or sideways. Result … moment lost, opportunity wasted, the oppositions defence assembled to keep us out of the danger area.

The best team seldom comprises the best 11 players. If we call the attacking midfielders playmakers (last night that was Rosicky, Ozil and Cazorla) it becomes more obvious why we lose attacking edge. No orchestra plays to 3 conductors – that just causes confusion and yet we field 3 players all trying to do the same job and operate in the same area. This compresses our play in the centre of the pitch and means we are short of bodies and options when it comes to an attacking pass. We must hold the record for the number of times the ball is passed 5 yards and then straight back again.

GoonerB said before the game that he’d rather see players like The Ox, Welbeck or even Akpom who are direct and have pace, but more importantly make runs for a playmaker to exploit.

It’s been said before, we have too many identikit players trying to play in the same area. I thought Coquelin was our best player. He reminded me of Sol when he came back, trying to rouse those around him seemingly unable to understand why there was so little fight in them. You could see his frustration growing in the second half to the point where it was he (our DM) who was actually driving play forward.

What’s to do? ….

Arsene Wenger obviously doesn’t see it this way. He repeatedly puts out teams that lack balance and his options are restricted due to the type of player he signs and the inevitable injuries. Ozil was poor last night. Despite declaring that he had come back stronger, he was knocked off the ball too easily because he was looking for a pass, but the lack of runners meant he ended up in blind alleys. I love his talent and ability but in our current set up he is just not cutting the mustard.

Nothing will change whilst Arsene is manager …. so there’s nothing we can do.

Hats off to Leicester. They’d never complain after getting 3 points. I can and do complain, the guys I met before the game deserve better than this.  We have consistently underperformed. Our team is less than the sum of its parts and that is the opposite of what we should expect.

Rasp


Arsenal to play “…and Leicester”

February 10, 2015

Apologies to regular readers of this site, but our usual PM’er is a Hippy and today is incapable of doing his duty because he’s semi conscious on a remote Island off Sweden.

It will be brief for a number of reasons, one being that for the first time in my life, I don’t know what I’m talking about. We are playing Leicester tonight, and I’ve never heard of them other from the words of The North Bank Special number “We all follow The Arsenal” that ends “…..and Leicester”

Also, as I’ve never heard of any of their players, it will be a walk over, so should be an enjoyable evening for Gunners everywhere.

Happily the three points will come in very handy, because it’s getting a bit tense at the top of the table, although if other results go our way, we could end up third this evening assuming we score enough.

That brings me nicely on to exactly that, scoring goals. I don’t care who starts in goal, or who plays in defence. I’ve no idea how our injured superstars Sanchez and The Ox are feeling today, but either would bring welcome skill, thrust and entertainment to the side.

I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful, but I’ve been dragged off the subs bench at the last minute to get something written, and I expect a torrent of abuse towards The Hippy when he bothers to return.

What I do know about Leicester is that somewhere around there is the home of Pork Pies. Those I like.

mickydidit89


Is Arsène Wenger able to find the right balance?

February 9, 2015

This comment, in response to yesterday’s post, was put on the blog late last night by GoonerB. As it was unlikely many would be around to discuss the points raised so I’ve lifted it to use as today’s post. ED

The ref on Saturday was awful but I really can’t go along with this being the main reason for losing the game.

The performance is actually hurting me more than the loss as I think it points to a far bigger issue. I can accept a 2-1 loss if we have been a bit unlucky but, I hate to say it, we were largely dominated and Spurs fully deserved the win. We literally did what we so often accuse other sides of doing and parked the bus. We looked a mid to lower table side against a top of the table team and that for me is hurting and is more embarrassing than the actual loss.

There have been so many mentions in the days running up to this game about how many Spurs players would get in the Arsenal side and I agreed with most that it was hardly any so we should have been the better side…. right? At the very least we should have been the better side that lost through bad luck and some dodgy refereeing calls….right? Wrong, we just looked utterly inferior, lost and bereft of ideas.

The worrying thing is that for me we have a worrying trend recently of, not just losing, but being outplayed by teams who on paper are inferior to us on a player by player comparison.

So if we had the far superior side and were still outplayed as easily as this what explains it? For me unfortunately the finger has to be pointed at the manager. He chooses the team, sets it up how he wants it and provides the tactical instructions. Almost from the moment we scored we started to lose the control of the game. The dynamics and balance were not right and it was there for all to see.

Why then was nothing changed between the goal at 11 minutes to the 67th minute? When the change came I am sorry to say that Cazorla for Rosicky seemed a like for like. It didn’t for me change the dynamics and balance in any way, and further didn’t suggest to me of any recognition of a need to do so.

I suppose this is why I have been cautious in becoming too optimistic on the back of our recent results. I had a bad feeling that another stinker was around the corner. I made a point on a couple of occasions last week that I was concerned that as we got more options coming back from injury that there was a possibility of not getting the right balance in the set-up. I believe this is what happened and I feel we also saw it earlier in the season.

I still think Arsene just wants to get what he considers all his most technical players out there regardless of anything else. I think I commented even as early as last season that AW always tries to get Ozil, Ramsey and Cazorla on the pitch at the same time but I feel it doesn’t work and it leaves us unbalanced and weakened particularly in the threat from wide and pace aspects.

This becomes more important when Giroud leads the line as, despite his attributes, he rarely gets the better of defenders in a straight foot race. Having another quick player close to him to work off and get past him would to me have been important. IMO it just invited them to play a high line and compress all the space in our end of the pitch so that they were more able to win it back in our half and we had no outlet to get the ball out and hold the possession while others joined in the transition from defence to attack.

They were also able to bring there FB,s into almost permanently supporting the attack and must have felt like Christmas had come early that we didn’t seem to be the slightest bit interested in utilising the space the FB’s were leaving behind them or the space behind the CD’s due to the high line.

Danny was our only pace player to start but is only just back from injury, so is likely still a bit short of his full pace and sharpness. Also, bar a couple of instances, he seemed to spend most of his time deeper and defending and did look rusty on the ball to me often losing possession.

We have seen this before when we sacrifice pace for too many midfield technical players who prefer to operate centrally. I may of course have this all wrong but it just seems such an obvious thing that we often don’t look good with this set-up and with a lack of width and pace. I just feel it looks an easy thing to correct and we have the players to do it but just overlook the obvious.

Maybe it is just me (and Micky I think) who sees it this way but unfortunately I do lay the blame fully at Arsene’s feet for this one. The players didn’t perform well for sure but we keep blaming individual players and talk about how the players let Arsene and the fans down.

Is it not possible that a huge amount of blame is due to an unbalanced set-up, that provides a poor platform for our (superior to the opposition) players to perform to their best from?

Discuss.

Written by GoonerB


Can Plan B work?

February 8, 2015

Morning all,

Yes still feeling pain, as I am sure many Gooners are but many’s the time we learn from heartaches such as these, and can only put it down to a lesson learnt.

The strategy used yesterday, only dawned on me this morning. At first I felt that the Tottenham pressure was the reason we were hemmed in all game, but the penny dropped when I realised that Ospina very seldomly rolled the ball out to start our attack instead deciding to hoof the ball down the field which nearly always resulted in Tottenham possession and another wave straight back at us.

I have to say that in the past the slow build up from the throw out has always niggled me a bit as we seem to take an age to get out of our own half, but yesterday showed me that it takes time to get your forward players in the positions that can offer you chances, and the slow build up also gives possession time which also frustrates opponents.

Ospina would not have done that off of his own back, so I would assume that this was a tactic that Arsene had worked out prior to the start. I imagine Wenger would have realised that Tottenham at home would do the pressing so start cautiously and see how the game was going before we venture too far up.

Tottenham came unstuck as they pushed, just how we have in the past and at that time had worked in our favour, but after the goal we retreated to our own half and the constant pressure made sure the only rest bite we had was when Ospina cleared long.

Of course with this kind of tactic you have to mix and match, sometimes a slow build up will instil a little bit of composure but how the game panned out, pressure was constant and defending took over more than being adventurous.

We held out well but with no fear factor from us Tottenham were able to press high up and the result was self explanatory. On the day perhaps we could have mixed and matched a bit more but a 2.1 loss was better than some of the high scores from last season..

Written by Steve Palmer