The Vagaries of Supporting Arsenal

April 9, 2015

There is a lightness of spirit among Arsenal fans, particularly bloggers, at the moment, and the cause of this happy state of affairs is clearly linked to the welcome turn of events in the past few weeks which finds us perched high on the tree in the lofty position of second. Yay!

Cast your minds back, for a moment, to a bleak Thursday, on the 1st January this year to be exact, when we were convincingly larruped 2 : 0 by Southampton as a result of some extremely dodgy goalkeeping, so folklore has it, for which our then No.1 Keeper was roundly abused, and is still paying the price having been deposed as the main man.

Wasn’t it also just a short while ago when Chezzer was being hailed as one of the best keepers in the Premier League? Even Enn Gee said it was a ‘no-brainer’.

But fans are fickle, and such an accolade soon became an orphan with no one prepared to own to it — after all, no one likes lame brain ideas – or confused goalkeepers – do they?

It’s one of life’s little oddities, don’t you find, that when things are going poorly for a football team there is an almost universal chorus of complaints from committed fans, or should that read disgruntled larrikins, as encapsulated in the rather unpleasant game of ‘find the scape goat’, and to enthusiastically hurl abuse at the selected victim, and feeling better by dumping their frustrations and vitriol on the goat curry. [Goat curry – where did that come from – Enn Gee will know as it is probably another no-brainer – mine hurts sometimes – so I must have one, somewhere.]

Anyway, back to matters current – It seems that we just cannot function without finding a target, no matter how innocent – someone upon whom to vent our more base feelings, especially as it can safely be done far from any possible retaliation.

Hours of internet blogging are devoted to dissecting the team, the tactics and the supposed attitude of the club towards spending lots of lovely lolly on acquiring, or not acquiring, the latest fad for a sooper-dooper player

That largesse with splashing the cash is made much easier, of course, when the money in question is not your own.

I would not be surprised if you had heard something along the lines of; “I would not pay him more than £120k per week” says the man earning the average wage of £400 per week, or – “He is worth every penny of that £50m transfer fee” quoth the man who would need to work 2,500 lifetimes to earn the money he has so cavalierly advised the club to lash the cash on just one player, and all at the stroke of a pen. Someone else’s pen – someone else’s cash — as for other players he/they deem be essential, he will have plenty of advice on their salaries and how much they are worth in the transfer market too, no problem.

Then, naturally, when the club buy the player he has been so desperate for them to spend their money on – say – a £42m transfer fee – with the commensurate £40m salary spread over 4 years, on -say – Özil – just for example, you understand – and the acquired player is subsequently deemed not to be as good as expected, or is not trying hard enough, or is showing little interest, or is too lazy, or is just too ……… (fill in the blanks) – despite evidence to the contrary – then the same people will declare that the club has wasted good money on him, which has allegedly come out of their season ticket!! Yee Gods!!

Enough. We are happy – aren’t we? Second, and yet to meet the Chavs – everything is possible isn’t it, so what is to stop us from dreaming of the top spot?

Wait! Hold the ‘phone! What is this I am hearing on the blog vine?

We-have-not-improved-year-on-year.

It-is-only-the-weakness-of-other-teams-which-has-allowed-us-to-go-second.

Sheesh – what I mistook for a lightness of spirit due to our lofty position near the top of the table, is in fact a delight, in some quarters, at being able to trot out some half-assed derogatory assessment of the ‘real worth’ of our recent winning streak.

Apparently. it is not that we are playing well, and Özil and co are showing their true worth – no – it is because the other teams are crap. Seriously?

Apparently this assessment does not apply to the Chavs who are deemed worthy leaders of the league, it seems – presumably because they play different teams to the ones we meet every week?

Well, mock outrage aside, I do not really care about the inexplicable attitudes of others towards my team.

No. For me, I am simply enjoying the return to the joyous style of football that we seemed to have forsaken for a while back there, and the fact that there is a more resolute attitude displayed by our defence in recent times is welcome too, and does not in any way detract from our attacking virtuosity, but adds its own subtle nuances to our overall gameplay.

Fortunately, AA is an oasis of calm and there is a genuinely upbeat attitude towards the club, the team and the manager.

Long may it stay so! [It’s a ‘no-brainer’, innit?]

Arsenal forever. Come on you Gooners!! 🙂

written by Red Arse


Surprise of the season so far

April 8, 2015

We have heard a lot over recent seasons of transitional year not just for us but several clubs around the top 4, Liverpool, ManUre and even Chelsea have gone through changes that the managers and existing players have to cope with, it seems we have been in transition for eternity, but in reality we were in a status quo, Arsene getting the most out of a competent if not great squad. Finally it feels like we are in real transition from PL consistency to challengers, hopefully with a good start to next season we have a real chance of adding the big prize to the trophy cabinet.

The thing that makes me confident in this are the players that have come to the fore and surprised us and upset the apple cart that was my perceived wisdom.

“Theo must have a place”

“Arteta allows us to play our way he is first name on the team sheet”

“Szczesny will be fine”

In Welbeck, Coquelin and Ospina three players (not star names) have come along and made us all reconsider. I’ll even add Bellerin in that group with Nacho. For seasons we have been told it is lack of spending that has held us back, but this season two players created by us, a bargain squad player from an overstocked competitor and two other minor signings have all become first team regulars. They have all taken their opportunities and the real success is that they made us forget the players they have replaced.

Even Santi in his deeper position could be seen as a surprise, who’d have thought he could join in the tackling back?

Last season when Arteta was out injured we missed him and badly, whilst he was out this season and Flamini replaced him we continued to miss him, but now Coquelin has brought a new dimension to the role (namely pace and aggression) it’s hard to see where Arteta fits in.

At right back a lot of fans were worried that we were taking a step backwards by allowing Bacary to leave and only bringing in Debuchy, if Debuchy’s early performances didn’t calm those worries, Bellerin’s outstanding performances have consigned memories of Sagna to the dustbin, we are better now in this position.

But neither of these are my biggest surprise that title goes to Welbeck, let’s be honest none of us rated him that highly in a United shirt, but he has come in and staked a claim for a regular place, early on he was asked to play up top with Ollie missing, and I guess most of us saw him as a stop gap in that position and out wide until Ollie and then Theo returned. But he is keeping Theo out of the side, when they are both on the bench it is Theo who remains getting splinters whilst Danny is called upon. I think mainly because he gets himself involved, he presses, he is strong and leaves it all on the park. He has better feet than I gave him credit for and is much stronger than I thought. The only criticism at the moment is he seems too eager to score himself when others are in a better position. He has made me think it’s time for Theo to move on, and the best thing about that if it happened we would be the ones deciding it was time for him to move on, £16m for Welly was a steal, anything over £20m for Theo will be good business.

So who has been your biggest surprise?

Gooner in Exile


Easter Time – which top 5 team will pull a rabbit out of its hat?

April 6, 2015
A little teaser on this Bank Holiday Monday.

While Arsenal was a bit precocious in its rabbit pulling by having Coquelin blossom into quite a decent HM from nowhere, which team will benefit from the decisive contribution of a usual substitute or under performing player?

Your mission: look at the Top 5 teams and pick 1 sub or underperforming player that will be his team’s rabbit in the hat and which will secure points for the team’s title or top 4 spot?

Here is my pick:

Chelsea – Rémy
Man City – Dzeko
Arsenal – Walcott
Man Utd – Herrera
Liverpool – ? (Can we say Sturridge since he has been injured?)

Anyways – pick your Rabbit in the hat 🙂

Happy Easter and enjoy your Bank Holiday.

Written by RC78


Arsenal put Liverpool in their place.

April 5, 2015

Scintillating, absolutely scintillating football: it finally happened, the kind of Wengerball we expected when Sanchez and Welbeck were added to the world class Özil and the gifted Cazorla at the beginning of the season.

It’s been a long time coming; we have had glimpses of it; we have been teased with short periods of it but yesterday Arsenal played what was probably the best football since Henry, Pires and Bergkamp donned the glorious red and white. 3-0 up after forty five minutes and the Emirates was rocking. Yes, there were a few scares early on but lets not forget Liverpool are a good side; they were just made to look ordinary by our very dominate display.

To focus solely on the silky interplay in the final third would obviously be wrong as that would miss the stand out performance of my MOTM: Francis Coquelin; the French enforcer was immense. I know nothing about statistics, give me first hand anecdotal evidence any time but I am sure they would show that his rate of successful interceptions were off the scale.

coq v liverpool

An early chance fell to Ramsey who looked slightly fatigued compared to the rest of his team mates who were running around and closing down with all the athleticism of butchers’ dogs. No matter, chances continued coming and it was the other new found first team regular who cut inside, weaved his way through the Liverpool defense before curling the ball into the corner. I think it hit the hapless Toure on the way. Oh how the mighty have fallen? Playing Kolo in central defence should be reported to the RSPCA nobody should be put through that kind of cruelty; he was so out of his depth it was embarrassing.

bellerin scores

Back to Bellerin, I expect this young man to have a long a fruitful career at Arsenal; he has earned his status as first team starter; but, that said, I want Debuchy in there, standing strong against Manu and Chelsea.

ozil

Hector got the party started but it was Özil and Sanchez who sent everyone on the dance floor into a state of ecstasy. Oooooohh that free kick, oooooohh that thunderous strike, you just know that Chas is going to have these two goals playing on a loop that’s if he hasn’t already done so already. Class, pure class the both of them. There was no way that Giroud was going to miss this bash and true to form he scored a powerful left footed pile driver to make it four.

I know that it is wrong to have let a negative thought stray into my mind but I confess I did, I couldn’t help thinking: if only, if only, if only we hadn’t played so badly in that first game against Monaco; when you consider how well we are playing now I am sure we would have gone so much further in that competition; still, I suppose, we shall just have to settle for beating Blackburn in the FA cup final, onwards and upwards.

Written by LB


Sunny Afternoon?

April 4, 2015

Saturday afternoon. Sunny day. Liverpool at home. An important game = Excited.

It seems an age since we played a meaningful game at home to a real rival and for the first time in a decade, Liverpool can be said to be quality opponents. Last season, L’pool surprised many with a startling run of form centred around the genius of the Biter, this season shows that Rodgers team management can propel them to the Top 4 but not the title.

And why not the title? Because they are bottlers and have been since we did them in May 1989.

Yes, they have won a few Cups thanks to the type of good luck which can only come from having sold one’s soul to the devil. Their Treble showed similar good fortune to those chaps who have won the Lotto twice (though I would swap the ’91 title for a European Cup!).

Unlike Mr Wenger, Rodgers has no scruples about forcing his players to remove themselves from the international scene. Amazingly the severely injured Sturridge and Sterling  are fit to play today. If I were Hodgson I would not pick these blokes for the next few games.

Stevie Me and Scramble are banned but other than them L’pool have their first choice 11. I am saddened that Gerrard will not play, he has completely lost his mojo and is a shadow of the player he could be in his pomp. His playing would have made our winning almost a certainty, instead the points are in the balance.

We are without Ox, Debuchy and probably Welbeck from our best 11. I think Ramsey has recovered from his hamstring knack.

The rest you know ….. we have won 14 out of 16, 9 of the last 10. Of our last 11 home games against top 5 opposition we have lost 7, drawn 3 and won just one (how crap is that 😢) We are scoring regularly. Le Giroud is on fire scoring both for club and country.

My Team:

Ospina

Bellerin    BFG      Koscielny       Monreal

Ramsey   Coquelin

Cazorla   Ozil      Sanchez

Giroud

As always midfield will be vitally important, I was going to write match winning but given our propensity to miss chance after chance I would say that clinical finishing is more important. Coquelin vs Lucas will be an interesting battle. As will be Bellerin and Monreal’s ability to control the mercurial Sterling. If the boy is available for €50m I would buy him – after all, it isn’t my money!

We are 6 points ahead of the Scouse. A win today would be a huge plus towards our quest for second place. For Liverpool a loss would herald a season of Spursday nights.

I am 53% confident.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Decisions, decisions, decisions

April 3, 2015

Morning all

Two weeks without Premier League football, and for the ones who don’t follow the Internationals, I expect you are raring to go for this weekend’s clash at home with Liverpool. Just to mention some of the Arsenal players who haven’t had much of a rest, we have Danny Welbeck who has picked up a leg injury, he is a doubt for the weekend Aaron Ramsey played for Wales and has also a slight hamstring problem he too may be a doubt Alexis Sanches played for Chile, as far as I know, he came through without injury. Theo Walcott started for England but was subbed in the second half so he should be available.

Wenger I feel is getting to the time where he has to make some important decisions. This week  a game took place that included some of our recovering players Debuchey, Gnabry, Wilshere, Arteta, Flamini and surprise surprise Diaby!! Having read about the game it seems they all came through unscathed. What will Wenger do now? Will he be tempted to try one or two, as we could be missing two or three first choice players, or will it be too early for them?

Liverpool is a big game. We are on a good run and being at home we really need to pull all the stops out for this one. I have to say that although we seem to have a larger squad now, is it worth upsetting the balance?  I also think M Wenger should be thinking about next season too. We have a few players on loan, will he sell or will he include them? Lots of decisions to be made and when I hear supporters saying we are only a couple of players short of being League winners,  I assume they want us to buy.

As we know, before we can buy we will have to offload some players, these are decisions not to be taken lightly. Diaby is a player Wenger has kept for a long long time, he has stayed loyal to him and now he has recovered, does he play him or offload him while he is still able to walk? Can we sell him? That would be a good question, anyway a question that only Arsene can answer.

There are question marks over Arteta, Flamini, BFG, Szczesny, Campbell, Silva, Jenkinson, Akpom, Walcott and maybe more besides, surely we cannot keep them all.  Supporters  seem to me to be relatively happy with what they have seen so far this season. We’re currently sitting in third place and still in the FA cup. We have many Arsenal players who are Internationals and yet still many supporters are saying we only need a couple of players to win the league.

Well I have to disagree with the many, as far as I can see there are still a lot of problems. We have players who I am afraid to say I feel are just not good enough and no matter how long we keep them will never be good enough. We have players out on loan who would not be missed if we let them go. We have players who could be good, some who have not got permits, others with permits who have been farmed out again. We have players who cannot stay fit, not just for spells of a season some miss whole seasons, some have been with us ten years and still never stay fit. Supporters say give them a chance to get fit and they will show you. Well I am fed up waiting,  in the time they have been with us they have delivered nothing, we took a chance with them and we were wrong, time to discard these time wasters, and purchase quality that play 90% of the season.

I am waiting with baited breath. Will Wenger be tempted to include some of these against Liverpool? We’re in third place with a good possibility of second, we have no chance of winning the League because we are short of at least two if not three players. We clearly don’t have these players available in our squad or we wouldn’t be looking to buy.

Steve Palmer

 

 


Arsenal Fail To Entertain Us

April 2, 2015

We’ve had many debates on this site regarding the role the Emirates crowd plays (or more accurately, fails to play) in creating a positive atmosphere that will lift the players. The negativity can be suffocating at times. But then I got to thinking – is there more the club could do to help in this respect? All of a sudden not only did the light bulb come on, it blinded me with its intensity.

The answer is YES, YES, YES, Arsenal could do so much more. We cannot complain about the entertainment value of the superb football that Arsenal is famous for, but what comes before and after is pretty woeful.

The matchday/evening experience should be just that, a time of fun, of bonding, of celebrating everything about Arsenal with fellow supporters, not just 90 minutes top class football sandwiched between lengthy periods of dirge.

Our older contributors who went to Highbury will remember the characters, the bands that used to play downstairs at the Northbank, the Peanut Sellers, the guy who used to shout out “Come on you rip roaring”, the friendly rivalry between The Clock End, The Northbank and The East stand (whatever went on in the West Stand?) and so many other things that made the whole matchday experience more enjoyable …. and more importantly bonded and united us as Arsenal supporters.

Pre-match at Highbury was a blast, the crescendo of energy leading up to kick off was intoxicating. Not so at The Emirates. Unless it’s your first time, no-one gets to the ground early to be entertained – the stadium is awesome, but there isn’t any entertainment to speak of in the build up to kick off.

There is a reason why TV companies use warm up acts to get the audience in the right mood to play a part in live recordings …. it works. Yet the build up to games at the Emirates is antiseptic and insipid.

We have an American owner who knows only too well from his US sports franchises that add on entertainment either side of his events is a real crowd pleaser and increases income – so why not in football? Would supporters of his US sports businesses be content to settle for 1 guy in a padded dinosaur outfit to entertain 60,00 people – of course not.

We play scintillating football, but let’s be honest, the build up to games in the stadium is just plain dreary. What’s wrong with injecting a bit of razzamatazz into proceedings? Let’s get the supporters fired up and in the mood to be positive.

I’m not advocating turning Arsenal into a cheap carnival, the football is why we go, but much more could be done  in the build up to the game to raise the supporter’s spirits and create an upbeat atmosphere for the game. The young supporters that go to the Emirates deserve a bit more effort from the club.

So what could we do? Its simple, just look at the things about the game we used to love 30 years ago and where possible reintroduce them, and take a leaf out of the American’s book and adopt some (not all of the cheesy stuff) of their practices.

For a start, the music at the Emirates is rank – not Uptown Top Ranking. There could be events/competitions on the pitch that encourage crowd participation ( – without interfering with the player’s warm up). Certain types of food and drink could be sold to you in your seat without the need to queue for the entirety of half time. There could be entertainers moving among the supporters in the lounges. Why not have a band playing in the bar area and maybe use them to promote some much needed songs for our players – what Londoner doesn’t enjoy a sing-song?

The stewards could be trained to be more helpful and more positive in their approach. I feel for chas, the steward who regularly stands in his area is one of the ring leaders of the moaners and groaners – he should not be in the job.

There could be competitions, free promotional hand-outs, the big screens could be used to interact with supporters before games as they do in the US. Perhaps we could have a guy with some wit and personality making the announcements? Everything should be Arsenal related, and everything could be so much more fun.

This is a win/win situation. The fans are happy; the atmosphere is positive; the team benefits; the club makes money, The Arsenal wins.

I’m expecting many of you to tell me I’m mad and football is a serious business that should not be turned into a carnival, but others may buy into the idea … I’d welcome suggestions of other things the club could do to enhance the matchday experience …. over to you ……..

Rasp

 


Arsenal’s Premier League Championship teams.

April 1, 2015

During Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal we have won the Premier League Championship on 3 occasions, 1997/8, 2001/2 & 2003/4. Since our last Championship victory we have finished an average of 14 points behind the Champions the closest was 4 points in 2007/8 and last season was 9 points. This season with 8 games remaining we are 7 points behind the leader Chelsea who also have a game in hand.

Today I want to take a look at the winning squads and our records for our 3 Championship winning seasons.

Here are squads for the winning seasons plus our current side showing only those that played in 10 or more games. (This assumes that Wilshere and Walcott will both play again this season)

PL winning teams 3 (1)

Continuity appears to have played a big part in our 3 Championship years, in 2 of our 3 winning seasons our goalkeepers were dominant – in 1997/8 David Seaman played in 31 games and in 2003/4 Jens Lehmann played all 38 games he was the only player to do so on any of the Championship winning teams.

Defensively Martin Keown played in all 3 of the winning teams while Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Gilles Grimandi, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole and Lauren each played in 2 of the sides.

Our mid-fields were dominant with Patrick Vieira and Ray Parlour playing in all 3 teams with Frederick Ljungberg, Robert Pires and Edu being present in 2 of the teams.

We were blessed with some remarkable forwards, the unbelievable Denis Bergkamp was a key part of all 3 of Arsene Wengers PL winning sides – he was a truly World Class Player and an absolute magician with the ball. Thierry Henry and Sylvain Wiltord each appeared on 2 teams.

PL Champs Games Played

 

In 1997/8 there were 7 players who appeared in 30 or more games including 5 from the mid-field in 2001/2 those playing in 30 or more shrank to 5 and in 2003/4 it increased to 9 players.

Here are the records of the winning teams plus our record to date in 2014/15

1997/8 – W23, D9, L6, GF68, GA33, Pts78

2001/2 – W26, D9, L3, GF79, GA36, Pts87

2003/4 – W26, D12, L0, GF73, GA26, Pts90

2014/15 – W18, D6, L6, GF58, GA31, Pts60

Our 2003/4 team achieved what was thought to be impossible, they went unbeaten in 49 Premier League games including the entire 2003/4 season. (It still sticks in my craw that we were denied the chance of continuing our unbeaten streak by a Rooney dive at Old Trafford to gain a penalty).

Which group of players do you think were the best in their disciplines?

Championship marrix

GunnerN5