A Fan’s perspective of a Wembley win:

April 19, 2015

To start at the end, so to speak, Reading pushed Arsenal all the way to the end of a classic FA Cup Semi-Final, in a game that featured two goal-keeping horrors.

The first half was notable for a slow paced, listless performance by Arsenal against an energetic hepped-up Reading who made up for their lack of technique with hard work and an energetic bending of the now acceptable ‘in their faces’ style.

In the 39th minute of what was becoming a frustrating game for Arsenal, and an exciting ‘anything is possible’ effort by Reading, the supreme artist Özil spotted the wonderfully athletic Sanchez loitering in a packed penalty area, and placed a pin point pass, which required a chest down, a spin to flummox the CBs, and finished with a deft shot by our Chilean into the bottom of the Reading goal.

Despite a lax and sometimes lazy half, both Mesut and Sanchez showed their class within a rather indifferent team performance.

Right from the start of the second half Reading showed they were not going to leave Wembley without giving the game their all, and Pogrebnyak and Mackie gave all Gooners cause for concern, before making us realise there was a genuine reason to worry, when the Ruskie crossed and the ball 2which, not for the first time drifted over the head of the misfiring Gibbs to the loitering McLeary who mishit the ball off Gibbs and into the net via a startled Chezzer who got his paws to the ball but was undone by its pace, and watched in horror as it crossed the line. Bugger.

Reading moved up a gear and Arsenal withdrew into a monotonous game of tennis-football, with the ball moved slowly between the axis of Mert, Kozzer and the Keeper before being kicked back to Reading to have another go. Dreadful stuff!

The love of many for Cup football was exemplified by the end to end play that ensued, albeit with little real effect.

Into Extra-Time and Rambo should have finished the game but managed to hit the post, and the referee ignored the pulling and over-robust defending of the Reading defense which could have resulted in a penalty.

Then our Chilean whizz-kid popped up to score via a deflected shot that squirmed off Federici’s inside thigh and slowly trickled across the line.

Tough on Reading and particularly their keeper — and gasps of relief from the Arsenal faithful.

Wembley here we come — AGAIN. 🙂

Written by RedArse


Wilshere and Welbeck to start at Wembley?

April 18, 2015

Well, With Whom Would you Wish Wenger to Walk onto the Werdant Wilds of Wemberlee? Wilshere, Welbeck, Wojciech or Wamsey?

Enough of that nonsense.

Let’s be honest we should win today but in the world of Arsenal there is many a slip twixt cup and lip. In a lifetime of supporting Arsenal I have witnessed many an embarrassing hiccup so I take nothing for granted but we should beat Reading – shouldn’t we?

We have won our last two games at Wembley, our form is excellent, we have had a week of rest and Diaby is fit. Reading are a decent team but in very average from – last 6 league games, D3 L3.

Can anyone explain this to me? The bookies are offering 14/1 for a Reading win and yet 1 to 4 on for an AFC win. Seems strange but I am no mathematician.

Unknown

The Current FA Cup Holders

How many of the players should be rested today without taking away the fluency of the team? I would bring in Debuchy and Gibbs, rest Alexis and perhaps Ozil giving Theo and Welbz a Wembley run, and TPIG for Ospina. But would such wholesale changes be too damaging?

Mr Wenger is a conservative manager, as such he would not make the wholesale changes BR suggests.

Wilshire was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch in his recent U-21 appearance and must be in the manager’s thoughts.  So ….. in essence I have no idea who will start this afternoon but this is my stab at the starting 11 …

My Team:

Szczesny

Debuchy      BFG      Koscielny     Gibbs

Wilshere      Le Coq     Cazorla

Walcott      Giroud       Welbeck

This is the team I expect AW to pick – same back 5, then

Ramsey   Le Coq

  Cazorla    Ozil

OG   Welbz

I could play with this all morning as it is many a year since we had so many possible formations and players to pick from. The squad is as good as I can ever remember.

I haven’t mentioned Reading much, have I? There is a reason  for this …. I know SFA about them. They have a couple of lardy big lumps up front who will try to muscle their way past our CB’s. A Chav loanee in midfield, an Arsenal schoolboy, Kanu on the wings – Reading are no doubt a battling, enthusiastic team. They will try to make it a physical battle because Reading are doomed if they try to play an expansive game. If we score early the game is over. If they score early TPIG will be the only player in the Arsenal half for the remainder of the game.

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Shape UP Man

Any game at Wembley is special. Being a traditionalist leftie hippy I prefer the old AV/MU grounds for the semi’s but who can deny Wigan/Reading/L’pool a Wembley day out. It is the highlight of their decade.

Last year’s FAC SF was one of the most gut-wrenching experiences of my life as a Gooner. We are prone to start slowly at Wembley – goodness knows why – and cannot this afternoon. Attack from the first, be aggressive, solid in defence with Le Coq holding the midfield. No stupid mistakes from the off-the-naughty-step Szczesny, some lethal finishing from our front men and another final awaits.

I am 74% confident.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Would Jurgen Klopp be the perfect fit for Arsenal?

April 17, 2015

I know! I know! Arsene can walk on water….at the moment. One fine run of Premiership wins, allied to a new defensive awareness and an almost fully fit squad has propelled the club to the heady heights of second place in the League and an FA Cup semi-final against Reading.

What’s more Le Professeur has two years left on his current deal and has never reneged on a contract. Meanwhile, the board are no more likely to sack him than voluntarily enter into a ground-share scheme with Totnumb.

Could the current purple patch prove to be Arsene’s Indian summer?

With an outstanding candidate about to become available would it not make sense to at least consider the option provided by the resignation from Borussia Dortmund of Jurgen Klopp?

Described in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph as “one of the World’s most wanted managers” the somewhat eccentric Herr Klopp is open to offers and has previously expressed his desire to manage in the English Premiership.

No doubt various other clubs both inside the EPL and abroad will be salivating at the thought of signing up a manager of his class, chief among them must be Manchester City and perhaps Real Madrid. Would Arsenal be an attractive destination for him? I think yes!

Klopp once set of an alarm clock in the dressing room immediately before a game, the message being “it’s time to wake up” Perhaps it’s time to set of an alarm clock in the Arsenal boardroom.

Written by Norfolk Gooner


It’s a RIGHT old conundrum

April 16, 2015

There was one part of LB’s excellent post match report from the weekend that struck a chord with me when he made the following observation :

Ramsey on the right, really? This smacks of trying to maintain a political harmony rather than being ruthless in the team selection. Yes, he scored the winning goal and that should not be scoffed at but on the wing when we have Welbeck and Walcott on the bench and we were crying out for pace down that flank.

I felt that was a very interesting observation from LB and echoed thoughts that I have had for some time, and have also expressed on A.A before. I have previously taken a view that we potentially get a problem when trying to accommodate Ramsey, Santi and Ozil all in the same set up as one of them has to be a more designated wide player. Despite each of their varying great technical attributes they are all predominantly central midfielders and lack a crucial ingredient for a wide player, that being pace. I noticed that some of the comments on LB’s post indicated that many felt Ramsey on the right was the right call, and potentially also the right formation choice moving forwards.

Now it could of course be that for reasons unknown to us that Arsene identified some tactical area specific to a Burnley away game that was more suited to Ramsey playing this position, a type of horses for courses if you like. If not, however, then I am also slightly confused as to where this leaves both Welbeck and Walcott, if it is that Ramsey is considered a superior option to them in this role. I further seem to recall that on more than one occasion, earlier in the season, an available Ox was also overlooked for the Ramsey, Santi, Ozil trio with one of them taking up the wide right position rather than the more naturally pacy AOC.

Now I am not saying that this formation and combination can never work. There are many games in a season and it will likely be suited to some of them. The problem for me is that many of my recollections of games we were poor in had this trio in the starting line up, combined with Giroud up top, and with limited pace options from the wide areas.

Giroud actually becomes an important part of the consideration on this subject. I have always rated Ollie and have stated so, but have also stated that I felt we needed something even more world class if we were to compete in the final stages of the EPL and ECL. I still harbour some feelings in this direction but I will actually hold my hands up and state that my stance on this may have softened somewhat, such has been his recent performances, and I am potentially willing to change my mind on this with one particular proviso.

There is one point regarding Giroud that I still adhere to which is, that due to his lack of pace, he needs to have that natural pace either side of him that can run beyond him. Preferably these will be players that also have a decent eye for goal. This both enhances Giroud’s hold up and lay off skills and minimises exposing his one key weakness of a lack of pace.

We are all in a bit of Ollie heaven right now but I still cast my mind back to some earlier season performances where he was nullified and ineffective in certain games, and I strongly feel it was when we played slower but technical players behind and to the side of him rather than opting for wide pacy goal-scorers. My feeling is that we can get away with it when the opposition is not of the highest calibre but a better team uses that imbalance to take control of the game and nullify us.

In my view we have already seen this happen, even if not so recently so the question is, will it happen again to our cost, or have we now developed further as a team and it is no longer a relevant tactical consideration? Your great collective thoughts on this would be much appreciated.

Written by GoonerB


Milner to Arsenal?

April 15, 2015

My first thought was “really?” I am sure yours was along the lines of “The Sun journalists are doing their usual” that is working to the agenda of a rapacious player agent, but could there be anything in this rumour?

James Milner is 29, an England International and a man coming to the end of his lucrative contract at City. It is reported that his intention is to move to London with Arsenal being his chosen destination. He has 53 caps, scoring only one goal. Milner has been at City for 5 years winning the PL title twice, and both the domestic cups. City paid €32m for him in 2010, the year he won the PL Young Player of the Season award.

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What does Milner offer? He can play on both sides of the pitch, has played full back, midfield and on the wings for MC, he has enormous energy, is a fine crosser, can tackle and is an intelligent, tactically aware player. Not the fastest but has adequate pace.

Why buy him? A multi-purpose player with a wealth of experience and above all English.

Probability? Mr Wenger is a long-term admirer. Milner reminds me of Ray Parlour –  a player whom Mr Wenger set much store by and one he has tried to replace many times. Arteta is creaking, Flamini likely to be sold, Diaby  – who knows? – so we could use another mature presence.

If (huge if) Wilshire leaves in summer we have a space in the squad, though  The Ox is a younger more dynamic version of Milner. Gnabry is coming through the ranks and is already an established German U-21 international; he will want first team action.

Theo may be sold which would reduce the number of English players in the squad.

However, we already have Ramsey, The Ox, Alexis, Gnabry, Rosicky, Arteta, Wilshire and the upcoming Crowley who can play in Milner’s chosen position.

BR’s Opinion.? More Sun bolleaux

written by Big Raddy

 


Your Arsenal Life. Depressing?

April 14, 2015

Seeing the Rich Kids from Monte Carlo lining up against The Young Boys from Turin this week really cheeses me off. Then I note that some blokes from a fortified wine growing region of Portugal are hosting The Bavarians, and suddenly the blood begins to boil.

However, what really makes me very most vexest of all, is seeing two teams lining up in Madrid. That was MY spring break right there. Either Team. Not bothered. Preferred Real, but whatever.

Just penning those two short paragraphs may give the impression I am an angry doomer. I am not. I am a happy person and all is well. I am, however, slightly concerned that a good many Gunners are more sensitive than I. Mood swingers, if you like. All is rosy then wallop, one Cup defeat, one League defeat and suddenly Arsenaldom is an unbearable hellhole.

How utterly depressed are you that Our Boys are not lining up tonight?

I am not depressed at all, just bloody furious, that’s all.

MickyDidIt89

Ed: I’ve added this poll – just for amusement value 🙂


Arsenal’s best keeper for next season is ……….

April 13, 2015

Apparently David Ospina has the highest win ratio (92%) in Premier league history after 11 wins from 12 games played. Obviously this is a meaningless statistic since when he came into the side other factors will have influenced our current run of 8 games unbeaten in the EPL – not least the emergence of Le Coq as the midfield enforcer we always wanted.

But I have to say that I am mightily impressed with Ooooospinnnaaaaa (that makes me laugh every time I hear the crowd sing it 😀 ). For a guy who is 5-6 inches shorter than the likes of Courtois and De Gea, he certainly makes the most of his attributes. As our resident GK expert GiE has observed, it is Ospina’s calmness and the timing of when to come out for the ball that make him a better keeper than Szczesny at this particular time.

I have heard us being seriously linked to Petr Cech recently as he has been consigned to the bench by the emergence of Courtois. Now Cech is a good keeper and a very decent man – but is he a better keeper than Ospina? Moreover, we are second in the table to Chelsea, why would we want to enlist their second choice keeper if we aspire to be better than them? It makes no sense.

What also makes no sense to me is why we didn’t go for Lloris a couple of years ago. I can only assume Arsene had hoped that Szczesny would iron out some of the rough edges to his game.

So the question I ask is, who would you like to see between the posts for Arsenal next season?

Rasp


Arsenal win – Coq the enforcer

April 12, 2015

If this match report was written on a need to know basis then all you need to know is that Arsenal won which takes our win tally to eight in a row. Right that’s that, shall we get onto the more interesting part and talk more about Coquelin?

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Yay, don’t you find now when you watch him you can savour his timely interceptions more and more; he just gets better and better the more you watch and the more I watch, and I certainly was yesterday, the more I realise how much more he is starting to add to his game. Obviously not content with the accolade of becoming the best ball winner in Europe he is now beginning to improve his passing game both short and long range. In brief he is starting to spray the ball around with confidence and accuracy and that bodes well for his future because the lack of that skill was the only reason for Wenger to consider an upgrade in the summer.

OK, if I must, I will talk about the game, Arsenal beat Burnley away, is that big news? Nope, the only way this report was going to get read by more than three people and Chas’ cat was if we lost and we didn’t so here we are.

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It was a comfortable victory in the kind of way that for  most of the game I wished we had scored a second goal. At one nil there was always that nagging doubt running through my mind that all this lot need is a bit of luck and we would be in the brown stuff. But fortunately, as we know, that didn’t happen and we got more proof that the gods are all Arsenal supporters, as if we really needed that confirming.

Ramsey on the right, really? This smacks of trying to maintain a political harmony rather than being ruthless in the team selection. Yes, he scored the winning goal and that should not be scoffed at but on the wing when we have Welbeck and Walcott on the bench and we were crying out for pace down that flank.

Back to Coquelin, OK, enough already. The good guys did us proud again and I am very happy with the points and the performance. Is it just me or are there others who are starting to spend slightly longer and longer looking at the league table, I mean how many times did you look before Christmas? Once, twice – per month, tops, now I sneak a peak twice a day.

QPR won last week could they just do it again, come on you “R”s

Written by LB


WWLWWWWWWW + W?

April 11, 2015

A year ago our good friend and fellow AA contributor DanDan passed away. His calm analysis of all things Arsenal is much missed. Dandan was a lifelong Gooner but more importantly a family man and a real gentleman. May he rest in peace.

Our chaps head up to North to a place no-one has ever visited. I have been to most grounds in England but Burnley’s time in the Div 1 was before I travelled away.

Burnley were a huge club in the 1950’s and 60’s but by the time we won our fist double they had started their decline. It is a testament to the ambitions of their management and BoD that they are in the PL – I really hope they can stay up (not at the cost of a win for AFC today, of course).

Can there be a more likeable manager than Sean Dyche? Despite looking like one of the Bash Street Kids he has been breath of fresh air. One doesn’t expect honesty and respect from a PL manager (apart from our own).

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Dyche’s team have decent home form, 18 of their 26 points came at Turf Moor (thanks for the info AW). They have beaten MC and drawn with Spurs in their last two home games .

Our last visit to Turf Moor was in 2009, of the starting 11 that day only one AFC player has a chance of starting today, can you guess who that is? Ramsey and Wilshire were on the bench.

Could this be the only pre-match which doesn’t mention Danny Ings? Oops …..

The first 70 minutes of our home game against Burnley were frustating as we couldn’t find the net; thankfully Alexis scored and we won 3-0. Burnley showed themselves to be hard-working, well-organised and capable in defence. Much like Leicester they do not deserve to be in the relegation zone. Burnley’s run-in includes many of their relegation rivals but mostly away from home. I fear for them and would much prefer to see the Manc Steve Bruce’s Hull alongside Tim But Dim’s Villa go down. Sadly, both teams have much PL experience and it is likely the three promoted teams will drop.

What to say about Arsenal without jinxing them? If we play as we did last Saturday we will win., in fact if we play like we have in almost all the games since November we will win. But who plays this evening?

Koscielny is a doubt, so Chambers, Gabriel or Monreal will deputise. I expect to see Gabriel who has made a very impressive start to his Arsenal career. Other than him I expect the same team which thrashed – yes, thrashed -Liverpool. Perhaps Debuchy will replace young Bellerin.

My Team:

Ospina

Bellerin     BFG     Gabriel     Monreal

Cazorla    Coquelin

Ramsey     Alexis

Ozil

Giroud

Looks like a Christmas tree. Is that really how we play?

Given the paucity of Burnley’s attack I may be tempted to replace Ramsey with Welbeck.

Mike Dean is the ref, he has been better this season though capable of making a total arse of himself at any time. Expect some bookings.

I have just read a surprising fact …. No team has scored more goals from set-pieces than Arsenal (20) this season! Are we the new Stoke?

Arsenal are the form team in the PL and Europe – if we win today it will be the longest winning streak in all the European leagues. We have a week’s break before our next game as a result of not playing a winnable CL tie vs Juventus (shame,shame, shame). We should win this game but such is the magic of the PL that all results are in doubt. MC lost at Turf Moor, so can we.

On paper it is an away win, Let it be So

I am 61% confident


Would Pires get into the 2015 team? Vote

April 10, 2015

Great player Bobby. Two wonderful feet, pacy, intelligent looked good in the shirt and part of one of the best front lines ever seen in the PL. But would he get into the current Arsenal side?

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This is not a stupid question because our current team works in an entirely different way to the Pires era AFC. There is a work ethic that was lacking back then and luxury players may not satisfy the demands made by Mr Wenger.

My assumption is based upon a 2015 AFC front line of OG, Alexis, and Ozil. Mesut playing the DB10 role. The OG/TH14 comparison is both unfair and more to the point irrelevant because there is only one TH and he played a very different game to OG.

Who would you pick – Bobby or Alexis.? Alexis scoreds more goals, creates as many chances and is more dynamic. He is also better defensively as the current AFC become more adept at “defending from the front”. An area of Pires game which despite hard work was poor.

No doubt he would be ahead of Theo, Welbz and Ox but the others?

In my opinion the great BP would be on the bench and be our super-sub. Hard to imagine that I could write such a bizarre statement as I love RP7 and always will.

Football is all about opinion. What is yours and why?

 

written by Big Raddy