Steve’s Monday morning ketchup!

March 23, 2015

Morning all,

I did a work party for my fishing club Sunday morning, so missed our chats on this weekends football, we cut down tree’s and tidied the banks up and I ache like a schoolgirl who played her first Hockey game, shows you i am getting old. Well what about our game with Newcastle then. I would say we started off cautiously but got into our game and I felt we took the first half to them.

Our first goal came a little unexpected I thought, a cross and a bit of a knee jerk by Oli who directed the ball past the Newcastle goalkeeper.  That goal came when we needed it, I felt the lads had been passing the ball around nicely and deserved the goal. Newcastle of course were gutted but also had a couple of chances, but we just kept plugging away until our next next goal came about. Another cross and Oli boy got his nut on it, and steered it into the far corner, I have to say we were looking good.

The Arsenal team had endured a tough week. Their trip to Monaco had started to take its toll. Although a good win out there 2-0 still wasn’t enough to go through and so it had felt like a loss.  Our game with Newcastle probably came at the right time, not too long to wait and an away fixture as well. Newcastle have not been playing that well and had a few missing, and we had managed to get a two goal lead by half time.

The second half started in lively fashion –  I can only assume that the Newcastle Manager had thrown a tantrum at his players in the dressing room, where our Arsene would only have simply said keep it going lads. The Newcastle players came out like a different side. Our players were being closed down as Newcastle stepped up the pace. As we have seen before, we do have a tendency to give the ball away when pressed.

Newcastle’s new momentum paid off when a nice move was rewarded by a  goal early in the second half.  The Arsenal players looked surprised, but I have to say they also looked a little jaded as well. Newcastle kept the pressure on encouraged by the home supporters as they searched for an equaliser, but our team kept it tight and kept them out.

By the end that we looked a little shell shocked, but we weathered the storm and came away with all three points – who can ask for more. I have to say that the hard week did reflect our play in the second half, and I worry that fast shutting down does seem to unhinge us; strange as when we had the majority possession in the past, we still managed to keep control, we now when pressed look all at sea. But a win and a crucial 3 points were achieved and that carries us past the potentially tricky hurdle of Newcastle, safe with another victory and still in the chase for the top two.

The other results  that affected was City against West Brom. City also had a tough week, getting hammered by Barcelona, and also being put out of Champions league. With W. Brom down to 10 men early on, as their task was considerably easier as they managed a 3 nill win, so nothing gained there.

Hull 2 Chelsea 3: Chelsea took a quick 2 goal lead, it may have looked like it was going to be an easy match for them, but Hull reacted strongly and fired two goals to level the score, now it was Chelsea who looked stunned . Maureen looked like a man who had just found out his Mrs had left him, but although Hull pressed them Chelsea got the decider to take the points no change there.

Liverpool 1 Man Utd 2.  This was the game that could make a difference to those chasing us. Mata popped up with a  splendid goal that rocked Liverpool, at Half time changes was made and it looked as if Brenda had told Gerrard to put it up them a bit. this was to be Liverpool’s undoing. Gerrard took it a step too far as he put in a fierce challenge on Herrera and took exception to the manu player’s follow through and lost his composure only to stamp on the player right in front of the referee. Gerard rightly received his marching orders and it was only a matter of time until United scored their second. Liverpool did fight back but that just resulted in what I thought was a tight penalty decision close to the end. Rooney stepped up but the Liverpool keeper saved. The game finished 1:2 and Liverpool drop back in their bid for top 4 whilst united’s push for top 3 / 4 is aided by the 3 points.

Just a little change there.

Chelsea have the edge at this stage, City next with us just a point behind them, and United a point behind us – but still anything is possible. So now for a little rest which i feel has come at a right time for all, rest and recuperate, and come back a lot sharper and start all over again for the final push.

Steve Palmer
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Cazorla or Rosicky to start?

March 21, 2015

St. James Park. Not been the same since the days of Keegan and Shearer. Why?

From the outside it is Sports Direct and Mike Ashley. A Londoner buying the North-East’s premier club and running it without recognition of it’s past history. I have no idea whether Mr. Ashley has profited financially form his purchase but he must have regretted the effect his decision has had upon his family and reputation. Can there be a more disliked owner in the PL?

How can the Newcastle fans be happy when every season they sell their best players. In 2014 they sold Debuchy, Remy and Cabaye – the core of their French based burgeoning team? Is it any wonder that Pardew struggled to reach the level of success demanded by the owner and the fans?

Newcastle are struggling for personnel with Cisse and Coloccini banned and Taylor, Tiote, De Jong and Aarons missing through injury. These are difficult times for a rookie manager. I feel sorry for John Craver who is surely  a caretaker until summer. Having won only one of their last six PL games confidence must be low.

That said, they remain a good mid-division side. dangerous on the attack and resolute in defence. Furthermore they will be expecting to succeed at home against an Arsenal who will be feeling the physical effect s of the efforts midweek in Monaco.

We are on a fine run of form, our squad is strong and in the main healthy, Mr Wenger has choices he has not had for many seasons – if ever. Even without 3 important midfielders (plus Diaby) he can choose between Le Coq, Ramsey, Cazorla, Flamini, Rosicky, Ozil and Alexis. Rosicky or Cazorla? Santi has been excellent the past couple of months – his best spell in the shirt but perhaps this is a game for Rosicky to stat. He plays a similar game but is probably a little better defensively. Upon reflection, I would start the Spaniard and exchange them on 70 minutes.

Many have said they would rest Alexis today but my thoughts are why? Our next game is not until April 4 as we enter an International break. Alexis is certainly not as potent as he was early in the season but he remains enormously entertaining to watch and an important cog in the team. As this is an way fixture I expect Mr Wenger to play another midfielder – probably Ramsey.

My team:

Ospina

Bellerin    BFG     Koscielny      Monreal

Ramsey   Coquelin   Cazorla

Ozil

Giroud    Welbeck

There is a temptation to play Walcott and Chambers. Walcott’s pace is a potent weapon when playing away as Newcastle will look to attack and be more open to the counter-attack. Chambers was isolated against West Ham primarily because Walcott does not give him enough protection, he deserves another chance. Discuss.

As always, for tactics, stats etc look elsewhere.

In a tight competition for top 4 every point is vital and under normal circumstances I would be satisfied with a point, but second is possible and we need 3 points from this game.

I am 54% confident.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Will Arsenal make it 19 in a Row?

March 19, 2015

The race for the top four Premier League positions is on in full force. Twenty nine games played and just nine games left. Fourteen teams still have a mathematical chance of finishing in the top four but I will only concentrate on the battle involving the top seven.

Chelsea still appears to be Championship favourites although their form has dipped of late and as it’s dipped their tactics have become even cruder. So far this season their only slip ups against non top seven teams were draws with Burnley and Sunderland and a loss to Newcastle. They only have three remaining games against the top seven – United and Liverpool at home and Arsenal away. I fully expect them to play ultra defensive football, hoping for a breakaway goal but happily settling for a point in each of the three games, while winning all of their remaining games against the non top seven teams.

However they have only managed to gain 19 out of 30 points in their last 10 PL games so my prediction may be overly optimistic.

My predictions are –

Hull – away win, Stoke – home win, QPR – away win, Man U – home draw

Arsenal – away draw, Leicester – away win, Crystal P – home win

Liverpool – home draw, WBA – away win, Sunderland – home win

Last 10 games DLWWDWWDWD (Pts % 63.3)

Current points 64

Projected points 88

Manchester City is difficult to predict as their form is inconsistent at best and erratic at worst, which was highlighted by their loss to Burnley. Against the non top seven teams they have drawn with QPR, Burnley, Everton, and Hull and lost to Stoke, West Ham and Burnley. Against the top seven they have already dropped 12 points.

City has only managed to win just 50% of the points in their last 10 games so they will have to turn things around to hold on to second place.

My predictions are –

WBA – home win, Crystal P – away win, Man U – away win, West Ham – home win

Aston Villa – home win, Tottenham – away draw, QPR – home win

Swansea – away draw, Southampton – home win

Last 10 games WDLDDWWLWL (Pts % 50.0)

Current points 58

Projected points 81

Manchester United have really ridden their luck this season by winning games that they should have lost but they are now heading into a run of very difficult games. After their loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup ended their hopes of any trophy’s this season their consequent win against Tottenham will be a boost to their confidence.

My predictions are –

Liverpool – away draw, Aston Villa – home win, Man City – home loss

Chelsea – away draw, Everton – away win, WBA – home win

Crystal P – away win, Arsenal – home draw, Hull – away win

Last 10 games DLWWDWLWWW (Pts % 66.7)

Current points 56

Projected points 74

Liverpool is showing some impressive form and is undefeated in their last 13 PL games.

I only see Pool dropping points against Man U, Arsenal and Chelsea. In their last game against Swansea they rode their luck but in the end they won the game on a very fortunate deflection. I see them as legitimate contenders for a PL place.

My predictions are –

Man U – home draw, Arsenal – away draw, Newcastle – home win

Hull – away win, WBA – away win, QPR – home win

Chelsea – away draw, Crystal P – home win, Stoke – away win

Last 10 games WWWDWWWWW (Pts % 86.7)

Current points 54

Projected points 75

Tottenham have beaten both Arsenal and Chelsea in their last 10 games but have also lost to Man U and Liverpool so they are very unpredictable, in their  0-3 loss at Old Trafford they did not look like a team capable of finishing in the top four.

Our shadow over the North London midgets is getting bigger and darker by the year.

My predictions are –

Leicester – home win, Burnley – away win, Villa – home win

Newcastle – away win, Southampton – away draw

Man C – home draw, Stoke – away draw, Hull – home win

Everton – away draw

Last 10 games WLWWWLDWWL (Pts % 63.3)

Current points 50

Projected points 69

Southampton seems to have run out of steam and have dropped 13 points in their last 10 games. In their last game they gained a point at Stamford Bridge and looked good in the process. I only see them losing to Man C in their final 9 games but I cannot see them making the top four.

My predictions are –

Burnley – home win, Everton away draw, Hull – home win

Stoke – away draw, Tottenham – home draw, Sunderland – away win

Leicester – away win, Villa – home win, Man C – away loss

Last 10 games WWWLWDLLWD (Pts % 56.7)

Current points 50

Projected points 68

Arsenal has won eight of the last 10 PL games and our only losses were to Tottenham and Southampton. During this period only Liverpool gained more points winning 26 while we won 24. I cannot remember the last time our squad looked so strong with only 9 games left in the season.

Our key players are close to their top form with Cazorla, Ozil and Alexis just oozing class. Ramsey and Walcott still have a way to go but it’s great to see them both fit again – they will be needed. Ospina has been very steady in goal and shows a lot of confidence, which spreads to the team.  Coquelin has added some steel and tenacity to our midfield while Giroud proved his worth with his performances against West Ham and Monaco. My main concern is with our full back positions, we always seem to be exposed down the flanks – when they make their forays downfield our center backs are drawn out of position while they are covering for the absentee’s.

My predictions are –

Newcastle – away win, Liverpool – home draw, Burnley – away win

Sunderland – home win, Chelsea – home draw, Hull – away win

Swansea – home win, Man U – away draw, WBA – home win

Last 10 games LWWWLWWWWW (Pts % 80.0)

Current points 57

Projected points 78

The season will hinge on the following 10 games and will most likely be decided based on the outcome of the first seven of them.  To be honest they are the type of games that should decide the championship – the best against the best – I await them with nervous anticipation.

 Arsenal v Liverpool

Arsenal v Chelsea

Man U v Arsenal

Chelsea v Man U

Chelsea v Liverpool

Liverpool v Man U

Man U v Man C

Spurs v Man C

Man C v Saints

Spurs v Saints

I firmly believe that we are up for the task – how about you?

To arrive at my final conclusions I’ve predicted the outcome of 54 games so I’m bound to be wrong but how wrong do you think I am?

19th march

GunnerN5


A proud night in Monaco

March 18, 2015

Morning all,

Last night’s gallant efforts away to Monaco ended up a huge disappointment in as much as the result, but the effort put in by The Arsenal players was immense. The team plugged away all night to try and get the goals needed, even to the last seconds, tired legs were still pushing just to find that one goal that would have put us through.

Arsene Wenger surprised many of us at the start by leaving out Aaron Ramsey. I suppose that was because Aaron has not shown, since he returned from injury, the form that he showed last season but whatever the reasons I felt we missed him. Although the eleven he did pick worked their socks off. This was  not an easy game, with a resolute Monaco seemingly happy to defend most of the game, without really troubling the somewhat under worked  Ospina .

My friend had flown out to Monaco to join the thousands of travelling supporters. He posted, on Facebook, photos of himself in a floppy Irish Top Hat drinking a pint of the black stuff in a local bar close to the ground. He knew this was a tough task but went all the same and I imagine he sang his heart out along with other hero supporters and although heart broken he must have been proud of his club at the end.

Arsenal did all they could to turn this game around, a massive ask after the first leg but try they did right up to the last kick of the game. Olly battled and was rewarded just before the break with what can only be described as a battlers goal. The moment that goal went in it lifted all Arsenal support and we had a proper game on our hands.

We went in at half time with belief that we could still fight back and out they came for the second half with only one thing on their minds to dig in and fight. Bellerin excelled himself again as he ran and battled up and down that pitch until those tired legs would not let him run any more. Monreal also, on the other side of the park also ran his legs off and to a man, Arsenal players did their utmost to claw back the goals we needed. We had chances, but on the night Monaco stuck to their tactics and defended well.

Arsene decided he had left it as long as he could and started changing players. Le Coq had thrown himself around all game was to be replaced by Ramsey. Monreal who looked worn out was taken off for Gibbs and Welbeck replaced by Theo. Wenger was not giving up, Ramsey added a little spice he had been missed even with the trio who came off you couldn’t have asked for more from but Aaron you could feel was to add a little extra.

Another Arsenal attack saw a chance for Theo he stroked the ball towards the right hand post only to bounce off the post a Monaco defender in vain tried to clear but rolled it to the ever waiting Ramsey who controlled the ball and fired it across the Monaco keeper and into the net. The crowd went ballistic and I went ballistic and you all went ballistic 2-0 we were not finished yet.

I have to say I felt that our attack was too much through the middle. Monaco were almost impenetrable, Theo was a let down for me, here we have a player as fast as lightning and he sat on Girouds shoulder we were crying out for a wide man someone to stretch the Monaco defence but Theo stayed central while Gibbs was doing his best down the left our right side was a vacant space.

Could we had scored that third goal and make the come back of the century? Yes I believe we could but it wasn’t to be on the night. Disappointment for thousands  of Gooners but they certainly tried, and we can ask for no more. Pride restored and out for another season but not broken. FA cup and League still on  and this team will keep on showing heart. Supporters like us will be bitterly disappointed but proud of the side that gave their all.

Steve Palmer  


Monaco by the Numbers

March 17, 2015

1. In the 164 European Cup games in which a team lost 1-3 at home in the first leg only two have gone on to win the tie.

2. In the Champions League knock out stages no team has ever overcome this deficit playing away. It has only been achieved when the team was at home for the second leg.

3. Arsenal have won their last 4 away and 8 of our last 9 PL games (12 of 14)

4. Monaco had 5 first team players missing in the first leg. Carvalho and Toulalan should return tonight.

5. Monaco have conceded only 7 goals in 14 home games in Ligue 1 this season and just 2 in 7 CL games.

6. Arsenal have scored every game bar one since Oct 2014

7. Arsenal have had 21 different goal scorers this season. We are awash with finishers.

8. If we lose tonight it will be the 5th year running we have not reached the quarter finals

9. Monaco are 1/10 on to go through and AFC 5/1 (Paddy Power). Yet AFC are favourites to win the game (13/10)

10. Arsenal have won only once on our last 6 visits to France (though Monaco is not in France is it?)

Right, that’s enough of that nonsense.

Looking at the above one would think it is a waste of time trying and Mr Wenger should select the entire Ladies team. If we are to go down in Monaco …. I leave the rest to you imagination ……

26 years ago we went to Anfield and won against the odds, We also did it when overcoming a 3-1 defeat in the final of the Inter Cities –  that victory was in Black and White, but still a decade after Spurs last won the title 😀

The Stade Louis is hardly a hotbed of football fanaticism (the last time I was there was for an Eagles concert) and I expect there will be more Gooners than Monaco fans.

We have to score a few and quite frankly are as likely to score 4 or 5 as 3 so I look forward to a very attacking line -up. It is often said that in training Mr Wenger has the players switch positions so they understand the thinking required for a defensive or offensive position, as such Welbeck must be able to play CB if required. Santi is an ideal fullback; they are instructed not to tackle but to jockey and he has the perfect physique for such a job.

My Team:

Ospina

    Cazorla    Welbeck      Coquelin     Rosicky

Walcott     Ramsey     Ozil

Alexis     Giroud     Akpom

If we had more forwards available I would play them instead of Le Coq and Tomas.

I feel 56% confident of winning the game and 14% confident of winning the tie.

n.b. If any of the above stats are wrong, blame the internet and Margaret Thatcher.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Steve’s Monday Assessment

March 16, 2015

Results this weekend, in the main, pretty good week; dropped points for the Chav’s a loss for City, United starting to get it together, and for us, who are the most important, another 3 points.

Keep on winning is all we can do, We have had what can only be described as a bit of an up and down season so far. We have lost games we feel we should have won, and won games that looked like games we struggle with.

I honestly believe that new players take a while to settle, although most of ours seem to have blended in quite well, we have had a bit of turmoil with injuries. Players who were first team choices at the start of the season, who got injured and unsettled the balance. Theo of course was one who started the season injured, Wenger knew he was a long term injury so needed to add, In came Sanchez who hit the ground running.

Vermaelen leaving and leaving a big hole was a blow, Wenger replaced with a young man Chamber’s, Not many of us knew a great deal about him, but he seemed to come across as a bit of a utility player, i read that he was a right back but could be utilised across the back, It has to be said that this youngsters heroics was like a breath of fresh air. I dont believe Wenger ever expected to use him as much as he has,Injuries to BFG and Kos and then Debuchey meant he would be used for all positions.

Of course with a long term injury to new man Debuchy, a young man springs up from our reserves in Bellerin, a bit rough around the edges but with a great engine probably was the reason the Jenkinson was not recalled from a loan spell with Wham, who needed a season of premier league experience, hopefully he will return the better for it.

Bellerin has made mistakes but the effort he puts in bodes very well for the future. I would assume that once Debuchey gets fit Belerin will deputise but good experience for him for the future.

Paulista who was brought in at Christmas looked a good prospect sadly an injury has side lined him but he does look like he may replace the ageing Merts.

All in all the season has been as I said a bit up and down, Our new signings including Welbeck have started to shine, the squad seem to have been thrown together with new faces mixing fairly well.

Our need for a HM only became worse with Arteta and Flamoney both getting Injured, and one of our youngster having to be recalled from a loan spell which i felt was a stepping stone to being let go, but for Coquelin it gave him a final chance to show Wenger that he still has a future here. Coq has been immense since he returned, a couple of Motm awards has only shown this youngster has a future.

All in all this season has shown that the squad we have, once sorted is a mixture of what is needed to win things, I think its clear that players like BFG Arteta and Flamoney along with Rosicky could be nearing the end of their journey with us, but with clever recruitment and a few from our reserves shows that we are not lacking in players. I feel Wenger will still buy the odd player in his search for excellence, but that was to be expected.

Arsenal are sitting Third looking at second, and with a turn of fate could even win the league, But at present we are still in line for top 4 any thing can happen we know, can Wenger manage another top 4 it certainly looks that way, how many times is that? Magnificent is the word, unbelievable.

COYRRG’s

written by Steve Palmer1


Demolition Derby

March 15, 2015

A convincing 3-0 win against London rivals West Ham consolidated Arsenal’s position for securing Champions League football and round off a fantastic week.

The journey began with a drive to Wembley and meeting friends for, yes, you guessed it.

Pre match food

A kebab!

Walking to Ashburton Grove, the fans were still on a high after the team’s heroics at Old Trafford five days earlier. The excitement was evident with another trip to Wembley on the horizon.

View from North Bank

View from North Bank

The match began with Arsenal on the front foot and Alexis tested Adrian with header on 15 minutes. West Ham then created a chance of there own as Nolan volleyed straight at Ospina.

West ham on the attack

West ham on the attack

Arsenal were then in full flow and the fans rallied behind the team as they were carving the Hammers open. In the stands there seemed to be an air of confidence and fans felt this would be a routine victory.

Had it not been for West Ham keeper Adrian Arsenal would have gone into half time in cruise control. The stopper first denied Alexis palming his volley away. Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey were next to be thwarted and Theo Walcott shot straight at the keeper.

This left Arsenal fans pondering what the team had to do to score. Theo left some fans frustrated in Block 7 question his finishing and whether it would ever improve. There was also criticism from one individual regarding the so called singing section in the North Bank stating

“We are in the singing section then why don’t we f**king ever sing!”

The deadlock was finally broken causing big fat Sam Allardyce to tear up his half time team talk notes. Theo and Ramsey combined and there was Olivier Giroud to rifle the ball against the post and into the back of the next.

One nil to the Arsenal and on the stroke of half time.

The second half began with Arsenal having less possession but normal order was restored and Giroud and Ramsey showed their fruitful partnership as the latter slammed home following a pass from the Frenchman.

Rambo scores

Rambo scores

There was a huge applause for Danny Welbeck as he was warming up with fans singing his name given his winner against the dirty Mancs.

Datguy warms up

Datguy warms up

Alexis then made way for the England striker and Santi Cazorla, sporting a new haircut, was also introduced.

Welbeck worked tirelessly down the left flank and opened up the West Ham back four with timely runs. The Arsenal fans were really appreciating his work rate and his attitude and chanting his name.  Laurent Koscielney was also commanding and had Diafro Sakho in his pocket.

Another substitute, Mathieu Flamini then applied the finishing touch to a lovely move consisting of 6 passes to leave the North Bank purring. As fans watched the replays on big screen they were impressed with a lovely move which epitomised the philosophy of Arsene Wenger. The game was over and another win to cap a wonderful week.

As fans were clapping the team off some fans were pointing to the fact that a 3-0 scoreline on Tuesday against Monaco will be enough. Easier said than done, but if Arsenal start well then that optimism can be shared.

Watch out Monaco!

UTA!!

by @SirAHussain14