Can Sterling play as a number 9 for Arsenal?

May 31, 2015

I mean, has he ever played in that position at all? I find this an interesting debate. Why do we seem to always compare Sterling with Walcott, surely Sterling plays in a position more akin to Sanchez and if this is the case then I certainly do agree with the suggested ratio that Sanchez is worth at least 2 Sterlings but if Sterling can play CF then things change for me. Walcott worth at least two Sterlings; hmmm, not so sure about that………………..

The main problem that stops us from winning the league as I see it is our inability to get past the parked buses and I don’t mean those leaky old things that teams such as Tim’s nice but dim’s Villa rock up in; I mean, proper dour northern buses such as Sunderland. In these situations Theo is not blessed with enough quality in the close control department to offer a solution and neither does Giroud, so the popular suggestion that each should be picked to start depending on the opposition doesn’t work for me.

So my point is, I don’t believe we have enough up top to win the league with both Walcott and Giroud and if that really is the aim of the club next season then this problem needs to be addressed.

We are being propped up by Sanchez, Cazorla and Ozil but they should be playing with someone up top blessed with the same level of close control that each one of those three have. Not sure who it should be mind you, any suggestions?

Written by LB


A fine day to be a Gooner

May 31, 2015

The game

There were a few surprises from the manager, in Walcott out Giroud, in Monreal out Gibbs, in Szczesny out Ospina . Reasons for those changes, was it tactical, or was it just to stop the moaning?

Theo who scored a hat trick in the last game, was really a no brainer. He showed form, he scored goals and he also made Aston Villa’s defence back away from a high line.

Theo, was of course, the reason that Villa couldn’t get going, He was caught offside a few times playing off their last man. But with them knowing his pace, he held them back and they dare not give him a yard. Giroud would have allowed them forward. Shrewd move by Arsene.

As for Gibbs and Monreal, Gibbs injured his shoulder in the last game so a natural change there.

The strange one was the goal keepers, everybody picked Ospina to be Wengers choice, He has done very well, but he is short in height. And you know what Wenger feels about a player who is short 🙂 I believe Wenger wanted to combat the threat of Benteki’s dominance in the air, he of course had Mertsacker’s height but Per is usually a bit slow, and for high crosses Szczesny looked the obvious choice.

Where the Manager usually makes changes around the sixty minute mark, he left it later, I felt he wanted a bigger lead so if he made a tactical mistake a cushion would be in place so we would still win,

Arsenal to a man. played exceptionally well, Theo and Alexis were electric, Bellerin and Monreal played their role as wingbacks superbly for the whole game Merts and Kos were solid, often doubling up to stiffle the threat of Benteke, he didn’t get a chance. Szczesny, after a public row with his Father, complemented the defence but did rush out a few times.

Santi Cazorla, who was voted MOTM, played superbly and ran the show. Mesut Ozil has often been accused of not doing enough but not today he was outstanding Coquelin again showed the strength we have needed in front of the back four, his workrate and determination again has shown why he has a great future. Aaron Ramsey worked very hard he pressed when he could and also worked back as well he is improving with every game.

Alexis Sanchez boought from Barcelona for £35 million, what were they thinking, has proved in his goalscoring and his workrate that he was worth every penny, utterly brilliant, in fact they all were.

Goal scorers were Theo Walcott a fine opportunist left foot volley that opened the scoring. Alexis Sanchez scored number two with an exquisite outside the box swerving shot, which will go down as one of the finest goals ever to be scored in an Arsenal cup final. Per Mertesacker’s  shoulder scored the third and to round up the evenings play substitute Oliver Giroud scored with a magnificent side foot flick past a flailing keeper.

Arsene Wenger got the tactics right, he also got the players right, but most importantly he sent the supporters into ecstasy, and sent them home happy.

Arsenal turned up to day, from the start they were superb, by the end of ninety they had been magnificent, The engraver etched the name of Arsenal for the twelfth time on the sought after FA cup, no other team have ever been on more, but now it sits at The Emirates for the second year running.

A fine day to be a Gooner

Written by Steve Palmer


Alexis to score. Ozil MotM.

May 30, 2015

If I said I was totally confident I would be fibbing.

A year ago we were a goal-line header away from being 3 down after 20 minutes to Hull, and Villa are a better team. Much better.

Under normal circumstances having beaten a team 3-0 away and 5-0 at home I would be planning my trip to the Victory Parade but Sherwood has transformed Villa, more importantly he has transformed Benteke. In my opinion, Villa’s chances rest on the big fellow’s shoulders. Yes, they have other weapons but nothing our heroes cannot cope with if they play as per normal.

How to rate Sherwood? Tim “Nice But Dim” – or is he? I like the cut of the man’s jib; he is a very different manager to Mr Wenger who eschews passion and fire (and gilets) for logic and intelligence. Mr Wenger’s management style fits his team- we are artists who play with the brain first and foremost, whereas a Sherwood team plays from the heart and stomach. I prefer our style, don’t you?

Statistics all point to an Arsenal win – Villa have beaten us just 3 times in out last 34 games, Alexis has scored more goals this season than the AV team added together etc etc but stats don’t win games, players and luck do.

We have the players, we will have to see about the luck but I was up early cycling down to the forest to sacrifice a virgin (I had to import her from the Faroe Islands as there are none in Copenhagen), I have feng shuie’d my living room so the TV is correctly positioned (which meant blocking the doorway with the sofa), I have donned the lucky socks and pants, wearing the lucky shirt, will drink the lucky wine and Mrs Raddy will buy the lucky cake from the lucky cake shop. If we lose it will not be my fault 🍀

As to tactics ….. mwaaah. I know very little and leave that up to the AA tactical wizards.

One thing I have yet to mention is just how excited I am that Arsenal are in their second FAC Final in two years and have the chance to win it two years running for the second time  – the only club to do so, and this is our 19 FA Cup Final – another record.

17.30 kick off. Anyone know why? What is wrong with 15.00? Is it to sell more beer to the fans?

Referee: Jon Moss. This is the lemon who did nothing when Debuchy was pushed over leading to his shoulder injury and to his season being ruined. He also allowed Crouch to repeatedly elbow our CB’s in the face. Let us hope for a better performance this evening.

We have many AA’ers going to the game and I hope we can have some wonderful pre-match commentary from A & D along with some pics from other attendees. For the rest of us it will another afternoon hiding behind LB’s sofa.

I am hoping for an early goal to settle the nerves. I expect Alexis to score. I expect our midfield to weave their intricate magic and set up chances for our forwards. I expect Ozil to be voted MotM.

And in the words of one of England’s greatest heroes “Arsenal expects that every man to do his duty”

Unknown

Rabid Gooner and Sammy’s Dad

I am 56% confident.

COYRRG


Ramsey, Wilshere, Santi or Le Coq. OG or Theo. Who to drop?

May 29, 2015

We have done the GK’s, now we need to look at the other areas of contention, the midfield and the attack.

Arsenal are blessed in the midfield department as we have the Fab 4 above and Rosicky, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Flamini and Diaby (?) as well. Fortunately for Mr Wenger, The Ox is not quite ready  – though he could well be available on the bench – Arteta, Diaby and Flamini (I think) are injured.

So, we need to perm 3 of 4 but who loses out?

Ramsey? The man is in my opinion undroppable. He is the beating heart of the team and our upswing in form has co-incided with return from injury. He has not been able to replicate the goal-scoring feats of last season but he is a big game player and it would be no surprise if he scored tomorrow. He scores every 4 games

Ramsey has been forced to play on the right wing yet he still manages to influence the game. There are those on AA who do not agree with me about his importance, but I will blaspheme and say I would rather start the game without Alexis than without Aaron. Mmmmm maybe not!

Wilshere? Looks a different player since his return. Faster distribution, faster in the tackle, faster feet, less likely to “draw a foul” and he is scoring. The man is playing his best football for a number of years. But is it purely because he has not played much and the opposition are Kerry Packered? Goal of the Season last week, his defensive abilities are possibly not as strong as Ramsey but he has also been shoved out to the right which is not where he plays best. Against WBA he was central and his influence was immense.

Coquelin? Who would have thought we would be mentioning him as a possible starter for the FAC Final? But he has been outstanding. I had my doubts, to a certain extent I still do as I do not believe Le Coq can cut it as a World Class DM and that is what we need if we are to compete for the top honours. However, as a very good PL player he is firmly established and will surely start on saturday as we try to get stuck into the combined fouling of Cleverley and Delph.

Cazorla? The man has magic feet and has been a revelation plying at the base of midfield. HIs energy, vision, passing ability, dribbling and shooting make him an automatic starter … normally. But this is a one off and we looked much better as an attacking force against WBA than we had in the previous 4 games and who wasn’t playing? Ramsey and Cazorla. Santi scores a goal every 6 games, not bad.

So who loses out?

Given the midfield strength and counter attacking ability of Villa, Coquelin has to play at the base of midfield. So the question is which of the other 3 gets dropped. My heart says Cazorla, my head says Wilshere, my stomach says Ramsey.

In other words it is a decision I cannot make. Especially as I would love to see Rosicky get some pitch time as he adds so much to the team. And then there is The Ox who is  just a fantastic midfield force.

This leaves the attack. Alexis and Ozil are certain starters, so it just leaves Theo or OG. I bet LB’s carbon fibre bicycle that OG starts. He is better defensively and Villa will see set plays as one of their most potent areas of attack.

So for me, Theo remains our supersub..

What do you think?

written by Big Raddy


Poll: Ospina or Szczesny to play in the Final.

May 28, 2015

Who would you pick?

The case for Ospina:

The current incumbent and clearly Mr. Wenger’s first choice keeper. His record is outstanding –  in 18 matches Ospina has conceded just 11 goals. He has made 48 saves and kept 8 clean sheets. Statistically Ospina is far ahead of the Pole.

A fine shot stopper who came to us following an excellent World Cup for Columbia with a reputation as a future champion, he replaced Hugo Lloris at Nice whose President considered him as good as the excellent keeper who is about to leave the N17 knuckle-draggers.

Ospina is the brother-in-law of James Rodriguez of Barcelona and is married with one child.

images-1

Mr & Mrs Ospina 

Ospina is just 26 and already has over 50 International caps, he chose Arsenal over Athletico Madrid when he signed in summer. Clearly a confident man who believed he would soon take the shirt from Wojciech – he was right..

The case for Szczesny:

Two seasons ago TPIG had the football world at his feet. He was the coming man, the man who would be the AFC keeper for the next 15 years – the next Seaman. Szczesny has the talent, the physique,  the technical and tactical nous to be a great goalkeeper. He has already played 130+ games for Arsenal. Last season he shared the Golden Glove with Petr Cech – Wojciech is no mug.

TPIG’s saves per game ratio is the same as Ospina’s and let us not forget he was the GK at the start of the season when the team was so lethargic.

Mr Wenger has shown his preference to play his second choice GK in the FA Cup and last season played Fabianski, which many believe indicates TPIG will start on Saturday.

But …. Szczesny is on the Naughty Step. After some difficult games in which his concentration wavered his mental state came into question following a “smoking” incident. Yet this is a chap with enormous confidence – some might say too much and perhaps it was his mistakes at Southampton in January which have sealed his Arsenal fate.

Szczensy2

Mr and (the soon to be) Mrs. Szczesny

Raddy’s Opinion:

I have no real reason for saying this but I don’t trust Ospina. His silly errors vs WBA worry me – he just doesn’t seem to have control over his area. His lack of height could be costly against the aerial power of Benteke etc and Ospina will need to be a damned sight better with his punching from corners and crosses, TPIG is better in the air than Ospina as he has shown many times. He seems to be a good shot-stopper and his distribution is certainly better than Szczesny.

The problem is that I don’t trust Szczesny either. He has the potential to be a world class GK but seems to be undone by a flaky head.  If AW was going to play him at Wembley then he would surely have started vs WBA ( Fabianski played the final game of last season pre-Wembley).

The scale just about tips towards the Pole – he is due to play a solid game, he is better in the air than Ospina, he missed out last season and this could be his final appearance in an Arsenal shirt if (please, please, pretty please) Cech comes in summer. And sentiment rules – so my vote goes to Szczesny.

This is not an easy decision. What do you think?

 

written by Big Raddy

 


A Great Dessert …… Arsenal v West Brom

May 27, 2015

If the season was divided into sections like a 4 course meal then this premier league climax was like a Michelin star restaurant dessert. Probably a Heston Blumenthal one who, if my sources are correct, is a dedicated fan of the good guys. Next week of course we are onto the Cognac and cigars. Let’s hope it is a vintage Remy Martin and the finest Cubans.

This was not just a fine win but a fine performance. We played how we expect and want the Arsenal to play. Great quick interchanges and incisive penetration. I think that penetration is a good description. This wasn’t one of those lots of possession but with lots of side and back passes and no real threat. We looked dangerous most times we went forwards and were always looking to get in behind them.

The question is why? What made us seem so much more threatening in attack? For me it was the W’s. Jack and Theo. I will not go through the whole side because I feel every one had a pretty good game, possibly Ospina aside, but keepers can have off days.

Looking at Jack firstly I make no bones about having always been a fan of his. I do, however, get some of the reservations some have had about him in the past. For me though he is a rare talent. He is maturing now and, if he can remain injury free, I feel he is the best English midfield talent since Gazza. I love the way he carries the ball, bursts past opposition players and has a real (Barcelona type) knack of operating in tight spaces in the box.

One of the things I have always liked about Jack is his desire to always try and get us on the front foot, always trying to make positive things happen for us. This is something you even see him doing when he and the team are having an off day. Perhaps at these times in the past he has tried too much and tried to force the play. Right now though I think most Arsenal fans would be very excited at the prospect of having Jack with us for what should be his best years.

Onto Theo. How to talk about Theo without sounding as if we are banging the same drum again? I will try and keep it simple. I have said many times I think Ollie, as much as I like him and recognise his worth to the squad, is not a first choice striker at this level, or at least the level we are aiming for. He has his place in the squad but we need a quicker and more lethal first choice striker. I don’t know if Theo is the striker we need, all I have ever said is that he may be, but we won’t know till we actually try it.

Theo has gone from youth striker to winger, with an intent to reconvert him back into striker at some point. Is now that point? If anything yesterday has thrown up more questions than answers because one swallow and all that IMO means we can’t be certain from one game. You would perhaps need at least 10 consistent games against different opposition to be sure. We may be staring at the lethal top level 30 goal a season striker we need. Then again limitations in his game may become more apparent over a longer trial period and he may not be that player. If anything I feel Arsene has left it too late to try and find out because can we really afford to not go into next season without a proven top class striker and go with a (largely) untested experiment?

Personally for me Theo should hold the strikers role for the next while and see what happens. I still feel that another striker is needed and then if Theo turns out to be brilliant he can battle it out with that player. If anyone is to suffer a drop down the pecking order then unfortunately for me it would  have to be Ollie under those circumstances. Some of you may not wish to revisit the Theo debate but after yesterday it could be considered that fresh evidence has come to light and we need to look at it again. Could Theo be the striker we need? What do you guys think?

Written by GoonerB 


It’s the 26th May Gooners, a day to celebrate

May 26, 2015

1989. I was at my peak. A season ticket holder on The North Bank, and I hadn’t missed a home game. Two more left at Highbury to Derby and Wimbledon, and we can wrap it up. We blew it, then watched in horror on the Tuesday as Liverpool put five past West Ham, leaving us having to win by two clear goals at Anfield.

“I remember I was at the Football Writers’ dinner when Liverpool played West Ham,” recalls Smith. “They kept scoring, two, three, four… and we kept saying, ‘How many have we got to beat them by now?’”

Michael Thomas was equally confused. “Then George came over, messing around, punching me in the arm, saying, ‘Two-nil? Not a problem!’”

Over the past five years we’ve had great posts celebrating this anniversary, we have two bloggers – MickyDidIt89 and 26may1989 – that remind us every day that when it was up for grabs, the Arsenal team of 1989 grabbed it.

This is Big Raddy’s story of arguably the Greatest Day in Arsenal’s history.

May 26 1989, a day never to be forgotten in Gooner history, but also a preface to the modern Arsenal. Here is my story of the evening and why I think it changed the face of our fabulous club.

The run up to the game is embedded in the history books, but no-one can effectively describe the disbelief and despair that echoed around Highbury following the 2-2 home draw to Wimbledon. We had a 12 point lead over Liverpool at Xmas and had seen it whittled away to being 3 points behind. We had thrown away 5 home points in two games against poor opposition. We had choked. Goodness knows the furore had there been blogs in those days – Samaritans would have been busy!

The drudge home after the Dons game was very long. I gave little hope for our chances at Anfield and didn’t even try to get a ticket, but approaching the game I dug deep, sought some “mental strength,” found some fighting spirit.

It should be noted that the game was on a Friday night…. unheard of in those days and rare now.

My wife, thinking that football was a Saturday sport, had booked us to go to a dinner party at her new Boss´s (let’s call him Rupert) flat in the centre of Hampstead. She worked in the media business, and all the guests were from Saatchi & Saatchi.  I told her that I couldn’t attend unless I could watch the game through dinner, her response was to tell me to call Rupert. And here we come to the huge social change that came about that night, and in my opinion changed the face of football forever.

This was the season of Hillsborough, the reputation of English football fans was at an all-time low. If you liked football you were either violent or ignorant and uncultured. Football was for Yobs. Rupert, being cultured and polite, was delighted to hear from me and said that as a guest of course I could watch the game, but ….. I would have to sit at the table with the sound off and participate in the conversation.

We arrived and were shown into a beautiful dining room with a long table and I was sat at the end with a separate table for my 14″ TV. I felt humiliated and less-than, however my addiction came first and I was satisfied. The host had caterers to do the food and serve the wine allowing him to concentrate on his guests. Needless to say., I was at the opposite end of the table to him, due to his assumption that my passion must mean I was incapable of enriching any intelligent conversation.

Seriously, to those youngsters who read this, football fans were viewed as stupid. There were no University courses in Sports Management, no Soccer Academies etc et

So, the first half comes and goes and I am getting tense. At half time people were very “nice” to me, commiserating as though I had lost a pet. Champagne was flowing around the table, some guests went to the toilet to “powder their nose” and I sat there non-communicative, wishing I could find somewhere dark to be alone.

Second half kicked off. Smudger scores. I jump up shouting; they look at me as though I have escaped from a Psychiatric Unit, BUT and here is the start of the change – they got caught up in my passion. Rupert asked me to turn the TV so he could see it. Questions were asked “Who is the tall bloke who keeps raising his arm?”, Why don’t they shoot more? ( 😉 )”, “Why , when Arsenal play in red & white are they playing in yellow and blue?” Needless to say, I was incapable of speech.

The Mickey T moment. Never ever to be forgotten. It replays in my mind in slow motion (as I am sure it does for you). The whole table went mental. Jumping in the air, hugging, back-slapping and shouting. My main recollection was thinking “Where is my coat, I have to get to Highbury…”. but Rupert and his friends were high on the game. They had really enjoyed watching a half of football. They connected! If Big Raddy  – a less thuggish man you could never meet – was a football fanatic, it couldn’t be just razorblade toting thugs that went to Highbury.

I am ashamed to say that I “liberated” a couple of bottles of bubbly, grabbed the wife, and scedaddled as fast as I could to N5. I was dropped off outside the Gunners Pub carrying the champagne which lasted about 4 minutes.  The Fever Pitch film got it right, there was an enormous street party, a feeling of camaraderie never repeated. The noise was deafening and I stood on the Marble steps until around 3 a.m. Even at that time the Holloway Road was awash with jubilant Gooners , sharing laughter and booze. Fantastic.

I met Rupert and a number of the fellow guests over the following seasons. All had bought season tickets at Highbury and were as knowledgeable and connected to the Arsenal as any Gooner. Football had become the Cocaine of the Masses!

This is what the Guardian write of the game and the social effect….

“Many cite the match as a pivotal turning point in English football. Writing in The Guardian, Jason Cowley notes how instead of rioting, as had occurred at Heysel with fatal consequences, Liverpool fans stayed on after the game and applauded Arsenal “as if they understood that we were at the start of something new; that there would be no returning to the ways of old”. Cowley describes the match as “the night football was reborn” and that the event “repaired the reputation of football”.

The match is not only seen as the starting point of a renaissance in English football, but also the moment where people started to see the untapped commercial potential of live football on television.”

“Good Old Arsenal We are proud to say that name”

Big Raddy’s story.