Theo or Raheem ….. who would you prefer at Arsenal?

March 31, 2015

Theo Walcott was looking to be developing into the player we always hoped he could be just before he was injured in the infamous game against Tottenham and lost another year out of his career. Since being eased back into the side recently, he has got into very good positions and made excellent runs but so far his shooting (which is usually pretty accurate) has been poor.

Theo seems to have lost none of his pace after the injury. We know he scores goals, so it is reasonable to expect him to start banging them in again soon.

Raheem Sterling is out of favour with many at Liverpool due to his reluctance to sign a new contract, allegedly because he wants more Sterling! We may be doing him a disservice, maybe he wants CL football and it’s not just about the money.

Sterling looked very good against Lithuania in the second half and has a level of control and ball skills above Theo. Is he such a good finisher – not at the moment.

Yesterday it was all over the media that Arsenal want Sterling. I’d put that down to hyping up Saturday’s game rather than anything remotely originating from Arsenal sources – but still with Theo’s contract also up for negotiation it does beg the question, could even some kind of swap deal be on the cards?

Compare the stats:

Theo is 26, 5ft 9ins and has scored 47 goals in 202 games for Arsenal = 1 every 4.3 games

Raheem is 20, 5ft 7ins and has scored 17 goals in 88 games for Liverpool = 1 every 5.17 games.

Theo is a thoroughly nice fella. He has married his childhood sweetheart and they have a baby son.

Raheem’s public image is not so squeaky clean. Despite internet stories of fathering multiple children he has only one daughter.

None of that is relevant to performance on the pitch ….. so which of the two would you prefer to see playing for Arsenal next season?

Rasp

 

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Was Friday night a full moon as the Wolf came out to play

March 30, 2015

Morning all

England played Lithuania on Friday night at Wembley with an 80,000 odd crowd turning up to watch England win a rather one sided game 4-0.

England Captain Wayne Rooney came close to opening the scoring just after the start when he ran onto a through ball and tried to beat the keeper to his left hand side. Rooney had beaten him by a mile but the ball hit the inside of the upright and rebounded away to safety. Not long after that Danny Welbeck picked up a through ball from Fabian Delph and after a great run he tried to shoot past the keeper but hit him instead, the rebound was in the air and Rooney put his head on it and found the back of the net. 1-0.

Danny worked hard and he was to be rewarded early in the second half when he went down low to steer a header towards goal where it rebounded off a defender’s leg but he couldn’t keep it out. The evenings pundits couldn’t give it to Danny as it hit a defender but England were in complete control over what I thought was a really bad Lithuania eleven, as has been said, you can only play who is in front of you.

Joe Hart could have had a shampoo and set as he was idle for most of this match as the Lithuania attack was non existent.  The England supporters were comfortable and enjoying the game as the goals were coming along so no need to worry. Roy Hodgson  was clenching his fist and punching the air, he won’t manage many easier games than this one.

Raheem Sterling although nursing an injured toe had agreed to play this game as it was a qualifier. After the game, Roy Hodgson said that Stirling would now be able to have an injection in the toe and had already agreed that he wouldn’t play against the Italians this week. Raheem did get on the score sheet as he broke through the Lithuanian defence as easy as a hot knife through butter, he got onto the ball and steered it past the hapless keeper and that was 3-0.

Near the end our Danny was subbed.  He looked to have picked up a leg injury as he was limping as he trudged off. Hodgson also spoke about him after the game and said that he too would miss the next game.

Harry (Wolfie) Kane came on. The papers and media had had a field day praising this 21 year old player from the swamp. Harry was on for 80 seconds when a quite brilliant bit of trickery from Stirling down the left hand side culminating in a magnificent deep cross was excitingly headed in by Wolfie. The fans, pundits and players went mental, Wolfie on his début with an 80 second first touch had put the icing on the cake. 4-0.

Hodgeson tried to defuse the speculation on Harry (Wolfie) Kane as a  future saviour by saying that Harry needs to be brought along slowly and he would appreciate it if there was not too much pressure on the young lad so early on in his career.`I expect Wolfie will have been eager to buy up all the newspapers.

The England Captain Wayne Rooney also spoke after the game. As he nears Bobby Charlton’s record for goals for England was quick to praise the players for a fine performance. Wayne had a good game and was a handful as usual, but was quick to praise the other young strikers. It doesn’t seem that long ago when he broke onto the England scene and now as he approaches record breaking feats another hopeful burst on to the scene. Rooney has come a long way, England have had a few knocks as has Rooney but for captain and rookies the future looks considerably good, 4-0 to England and I feel the English support went home very happy.

Steve Palmer

 


Arsenal fans lied to again?

March 28, 2015

For the early part of this season I have been trying to work out why there was such animosity towards the club.

Yes we were not playing at our best, but there were mitigating circumstances, mainly of the injury variety.

The discontent grew on the terraces and the blogs, and I still found it difficult to correlate the level of complaint with the level of performance.

Finally it struck me, us Arsenal fans had been fed a couple of myths during the barren years that made us expect more.

1) Trophy bounce:

We had heard on so many occasions that we needed to win a cup to get us going again, it would be a platform to build on, it’s what Maureen did with Chavs and what Mancini did with City, Arsenal needed to get winning again.

We closed 2013-14 season with the FA Cup and followed that up with a demolition of City in the Community Shield, expectations rose dramatically.

 Since beating Manure in 2005 the list of FA Cup winners has been as follows:

  • 2005 – Arsenal
  • 2006 – Liverpool
  • 2007 – Chelsea
  • 2008 – Portsmouth
  • 2009 – Chelsea
  • 2010 – Chelsea
  • 2011 – Manchester City
  • 2012 – Chelsea
  • 2013 – Wigan

So is it really true that the FA Cup could be used as a springboard, or was it just that Chelsea had spent the most money over this period and hence went on to win titles as well? When are their PL titles?

  • 2005 – Chelsea
  • 2006 – Chelsea
  • 2007 – Manchester United
  • 2008 – Manchester United
  • 2009 – Manchester United
  • 2010 – Chelsea
  • 2011 – Manchester United
  • 2012 – Manchester City
  • 2013 – Manchester United
  • 2014 – Manchester City

So is there really any real noticeable affect of using the FA Cup as a springboard to success in the League? Not really Chelsea’s first title win followed their FACup triumph in 2000, hardly a springboard, yes it happened for City but they are the exception to the norm.

A similar thing is said of the League Cup and many fans put our indifferent form in the last few years down to that moment against Birmingham, again the evidence is patchy at best.

  • 2004 – Middlesborough
  • 2005 – Chelsea
  • 2006 – Manchester United
  • 2007 – Chelsea
  • 2008 – Tottenham
  • 2009 – Manchester United
  • 2010 – Manchester United
  • 2011 – Birmingham
  • 2012 – Liverpool
  • 2013 – Swansea
  • 2014 – Manchester City

Again only one year can we see a bounce on for League Cup to League winners for a team that hadn’t won the League in a while (Chelsea).

So this is why we were lied to, constantly told that whilst Wenger prioritised the money making exercise of the 4th place trophy over winning cups we would never compete for the title again. Yet this ignored so many other factors, and with only two examples of Cup to League bounce in those lean years this really was a media invented stick to beat the club and manager with.

2) Must spend money to challenge again

This is probably the biggest lie, and maybe the one that upset the fan base the most, we were constantly told that the Scrooges in charge of the purse strings at Arsenal were screwing us over, we were spending no money and we were getting no success.

In the last few seasons this trend has been bucked, in that since the full control of the club was taken by Kroenke we have net spent over £100m.

So why no success, the wisdom was that we needed to start spending and spending big to win the league and champions league.

Ignoring all the teams like Liverpool, Tottenham and Stoke who had considerably higher net spends during the barren years lets just look at how long it took the injection of money to bear fruit at Chelsea and City.

Abramovich took over in 2003, in the next two years he spent £210m and they won the league, in today’s money that would be closer to £350m, City got oiled up in 2008 they spent close to £500m before they got those greasy hands on the League title.

By that you can see how much more it costs to buy the PL title in more recent seasons.

So maybe this is not as much of a lie to Arsenal fans as it is true that spending some money does help you in a quest for trophies, but whilst it’s easy to say some money it’s the amount required that is never mentioned. I don’t think even the most trophy hungry fans would demand the level of expenditure needed.

Both of these lies/myths have to some extent led to the level of criticism witnessed earlier in the season culminating in the ridiculous scenes at Stoke train station and the banners on the terraces demanding the managers removal, yet here we sit 8 games to go another chance at the FA Cup and 2 injuries away from a successful league campaign.

We will see the bright lights of league titles again, we may have to be a little more patient in the mean time.

Gooner in Exile


Summer Signings. Balotelli, Lukaku or Costa?

March 27, 2015

Let’s take an early review of our summer business in 2014. How are Mr Wenger’s new boys faring?   They are rated like this: Balotelli – a poor signing, Lukaku – an OK signing but could do better, and Costa- a great addition to the team

1. Ospina: I am undecided. His goals against and shots saved stats are impressive and he is top of the PL for average goals conceded in games played but there is something missing. He just doesn’t inspire confidence. I like a keeper who dominates his box, controls his defence and is vocal – Ospina seems too “nice”. Szczesny is a loony – and as we all know the best keepers are nuts (Schmeichel/Seaman/Shilton/Kahn.)

BR’s Rating: Lukaku

2. Debuchy. We can only go on his contribution to this season’s campaign and thanks to injury it is minimal. On his rare appearances he seems all we we would wish for – pacy, a good crosser, good in the air and a fine tackler but 10 appearances is not good value.

BR Rating: Balotelli 

3. Chambers: The lad has had a strange season insomuch as he has been seen as a brilliant signing in his first few games and done less well of late. He is clearly a fine prospect as told by his considerable signing-on fee . I think he will become an Arsenal stalwart but right now he needs to find a settled position. As I wrote yesterday, Bellerin’s progress has not helped his season.

BR Rating: Lukaku

4. Alexis Sanchez. What a start to his AFC career the little fellow has had. Goals, excitement, energy, skill, entertainment, desire, determination, strength, speed, joy – he brings it all. It has to be said that he looks tired of late but nonetheless he is a marvellous addition to the team and at €32m was cheap

BR Rating: Costa.

5. Welbeck. Danny has yet to establish himself in the team. With a fully fit squad he is unlikely to start but we never have a fully fit squad so his input is important. To start with, he is fine value at €16m. Welbz brings enthusiasm, pace and hard work, what he doesn’t bring is a proper goal threat. To be a top striker goals are an essential and his finishing needs much work – 4 PL goals is not enough. That said, his overall contribution is considerable.

BR Rating: Lukaku

written by Big Raddy (inspiration from RC78)


Bellerin hurts Mertesacker.

March 26, 2015

How? Why? When?

Well, it went like this …..

During the summer Arsene recognised the need for a Vermaelen replacement and bought Chambers.  Our future centre half should have had a few games in the middle and a couple at right back as he was inculcated into the Arsenal Way. But things didn’t go to plan.

images-1

€15m, 0 appearances. Nice work AW.

Arsene also bought a fine right- back and Sagna replacement in Debuchy. An experienced, aggressive full back in the Lauren mould, but sadly, the man who is an important cog in the team got long-term knacked, came back and got knacked again. This gave the opportunity for Gooners to see why Chambers is so highly rated as he made his Arsenal debut at right-back and he seized his chance. The man/boy  was terrific but his lack of pace was a cause for concern. In comes the young man we poached from Barcelona to make his first team debut at Dortmund away in the CL. Hector Bellerin struggled but who wouldn’t, however he showed potential and has grown with each game. He looks the real deal and a future Arsenal stalwart.

We have 4 quality right backs – Debuchy, Chambers, Bellerin and Jenkinson. Sadly for Gunner Jenkinson, Bellerin’s improvement has cost him his place in the squad – I cannot see him returning. Chambers has shown he is better placed in the centre of defence where his lack of recovery pace is not so costly. I think Debuchy remains our first choice RB with Hector as his back-up.

And why does this affect Mertesacker? Because the signing of Gabriel heralds the end of BFG’s career at Arsenal. If Chambers is our RB back-up there is space in the squad for 3 top quality CB’s but is there room for 4? Bellerin’s rise pushes Chambers into the middle and means that we have a glut of CB’s

We are very well served in defence as Mr Wenger has bought players who can play in more than one position. Chambers, Gabriel and Monreal can all play CB and FB.

Debuchy is 30 this summer – his time is limited. BFG is 9 months older but clearly in decline (as much as I love the big galloop). Montreal turned 29 in Feb. Koscielny is exactly the same age as Debuchy yet remains our best defender, TA and Keown played well into their 30’s, barring injury and his fragile achilles, Koscielny can do the same.

I see our back 4 in 2016 as Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny and Gibbs (or a new, shiny LB). Chambers and Monreal as the multi-purpose CB/FB back-up’s until 2017. As such BFG becomes expendable and we can sell him for good money back to the Bundesliga in summer.

That said, Mertesacker appears to be very popular with the team and a man who has The Arsenal Spirit. Perhaps we should keep him as we have kept Arteta.

written by Big Raddy


All the players in the world and all we need is Messi‏

March 25, 2015

Morning all

Rocky’s fine post yesterday started to make me think. How many players would you say we were missing to win the Champions League, FA cup, League cup and the Premier League. Now I read most of the comments, I listen to so called Pundits, ex-Arsenal players, Piers Morgan and who ever else has a theory and I am a little confused as to what most ‘Arsenal Predictors’ would actually want.

How do we change Arsenal’s Jekyll and Hyde character. What makes one week different to another. For instance, let us take one Arsenal Player at random and see what many of our supporters have said. When I had a little dig at Theo a short while ago, many were quick to jump to Theo’s defence.

Now here we have a player who had not been available for a whole season. A season is a really long time in a young man’s  career, but before that injury he was out for a while with something else and before that a shoulder that needed surgery and before that another shoulder injury.

How Theo has scored so many goals for the amount of injuries is absolutely amazing. But he has and his record for goals to  the actual games played is not too bad at all. We have Diaby who is a bit of an enigma, a  player who showed so much promise only to end up a walking wounded. Diaby’s games played for I believe 9 years at Arsenal amount to just over a hundred and twenty, a poor return when we have around sixty games a season. Diaby will be leaving us at the end of this season as his body just cannot take any more punishment.

Where do we look next? Jack Wilshere. Where do I start? Jack has had ankle, leg, knee, you name it Jack has had it and he is still unavailable. The Arsenal ‘crocks’ list is as long as your arm and if you held any of these players arms up with the weight of the list you could add a broken arm as well.

Now before you all start shouting and supporting said players, think about why you have left comments that we need certain players. We have all been guilty of asking the manager for top class players and why do we look at top 4 as a trophy. Just looking at Arsenal’s injury list over the last few seasons, tells us why Arsenal have only one FA cup in 9 years.  Many have called for a change of Manager, even our No 2 has had his critics but answer me this, how can you plan a season when you have no idea who will be available? Top 4 armed with what Wenger has had to deal with is somewhat amazing, that is definitely not where we need change.

We have heard how Giroud is not top quality. He’s too slow and clumsy. Misses more chances than he scores, but when you look at his goals he is up there with the best in the league. Rocky asked us could we see Gareth Bale in an Arsenal shirt if it were possible, surprisingly a mix of yes and no in the comments.  Would Bale’s huge price bring us the trophies we crave or is it just that if he were available why not buy him. Would he fit into our squad and who makes way for him, would he just slide into a position left, or would we have to change our system to accommodate him?

Wenger is the man who has our future mapped out, he will know who is available and what we need to improve on what we have at the moment> He knows where our weaknesses are and who he will try and get when the transfer window opens. If Lionel Messi  became available  he is the one player who could pick any club in the world.  If he wanted to play at another club he could play there, forget about the money, if Messi wanted to move it would happen. Gareth Bale is far from a Messi.

There are 8 premier league games left to sort out who will be Champions. In that time we could lose half of our team to injuries and if our records are anything to go by maybe more. But we could have a little bit of that magic word ‘luck’ and take some of the silverware on offer. In my mind Messi is the only player we need to win things, and he is the only player I would sell anyone of our players to get.

As far as players are concerned I feel its best to leave it up to Arsene and then hope for the best.

Steve Palmer


Bale To Arsenal?

March 24, 2015

There was an amusing incident after Real Madrid’s loss to Barcelona in Sunday’s “El Classico.”

As he was driving away from the stadium after the match, Gareth Bale was shocked to find his car set upon by some angry Madrid supporters.

Now, I have been to Whipsnade Safari Park, I have been to Longleat, I have been to Woburn Abbey, but at none of these venues have I ever seen a situation where the monkey is inside the car and the people are on the outside ripping off the windscreen wipers.

This was just the latest in a string of unfortunate moments for Bale, whose Spanish adventure is turning sourer by the day.

The world’s most expensive player had an OK first season in Madrid but in his second he hasn’t really progressed and seems to be going backwards.

ogbIn Gareth’s defence, it can’t be easy playing alongside the walking ego that is Cristiano Ronaldo. Particularly when the preening ladyboy of international soccer is happy to parade his dislike of Bale very publicly (last week he celebrated a Bale goal by looking like Wayne Rooney had just crapped in his best pair of Nikes).

So now, inevitably, there is much talk of a return to the Premier League for the Welsh wizard, presumably with a price tag considerably lower than the one when he left.

Manchester United are said to be in pole position to repatriate him, but other clubs are also no doubt paying attention. Which brings me to this question: would you like Arsenal to sign Bale?

I know, I know. He used to hang out at that cesspit of subnormality that is known as White Hart Lane (where he was awarded the honorary title of Primate of All Tottenham). But surely even the most churlish of Arsenal supporters would have to admit that – by his final season there – he had turned into a devastatingly effective footballer.

And just think of the anguish it would cause in N17 if their former hero returned to wear the red and white of a real club. It would be Sol Campbell all over again (and would probably lead to another riot season in the swamplands).

So, what do you think? Yes or no? And if we signed him, who would make way: Welbeck? Alexis? Walcott?

Over to you.

Rocky Lives