What should Arsenal’s minimum expectation be for next season?

June 13, 2015

Most would agree that the 2014/15 season was a success. A second FA Cup in a row and 3rd in the EPL represents an improvement on the previous season.

As always, we are left  feeling that it could have been even better had it not been for some key moments. If only we hadn’t conceded that 3rd goal at home against Monaco etc etc.

In the end, I was left feeling happy that we had progressed, that we had most of our players fit and more importantly we were looking like a team that is growing and improving every game.

One thing that pleases me at the moment is the cohesion and camaraderie in the squad and the obvious enjoyment that the players get from playing with one another. There are no selfish egos in the dressing room – well maybe Giroud spends too much time in front of the mirror but I get the impression that it is an ongoing joke within the squad.

Our fear that our top players are going to be plucked from the squad in the transfer window has been replaced by the expectation of a surprise big name signing ….. things are definitely looking to be on the up at The Arsenal.

An improvement next season would have to take the form of 2nd or higher in the EPL or the quarter finals or further in the Champion’s League – or would it?

Arsene Wenger has created a ‘brand’ of football that characterizes the club in this modern era. We are generally respected by supporters of clubs who are lower in the league but derided by those who think they are better (with the exception of city perhaps) because they think we are weak to put style ahead of results.

So the challenge is to prove that we can win the top honours playing the Arsenal way, but if we don’t, we know we will enjoy the ride and there will always be hope for next season.

What would represent an improvement on last season for you? ………



The parting in the middle – Arsenal Solution at Ian’s

June 10, 2015

Forty minutes ago I had my six quid at the ready and was waiting patiently for a trim at Ian’s Hair.

I grabbed The Daily Mirror, and worked my way in from the back looking for important news. Page 60, and bingo. “Sanchez wants to raise the Bar” the headline bellowed. I pressed on, and could hear nothing but sweet music. “Alexis Sanchez believes Arsenal underachieved…” it began. I was in my element and lapping up every word. Again, I pushed on. “It was an ok season” our Ace proclaimed, following which the piece rambled on a bit before reaching an almighty and deeply satisfying climax, “If I am put in to play centre-forward for Arsenal, I will do it in the best possible way”. Oh Dear Lord, was that as good for you as it was for me?

Early last season, we’d line up with Mesut on the left, Alexis on the right, sandwiching Danny in the middle. At that point Arsene announced that as soon as Theo was back up to speed, Alexis would move central. “Halleluja” I chimed. The Boss did have a clear vision when he lodged the 40M+1 pound bid for Suarez, and it was a fast, fluid and incisive front three.

Then things went wrong. Well, wrong’ish.

When I say “wong’ish”, what I mean is that Sanchez shifting right across to the left flank turned out well’ish because a). like all very good footballers they will be good footballers anywhere, and b). Mesut slithered into the No10 role, where has looked so much happier, while also being far more effective (and will hopefully cost me a fish).

So. Job half done

With the evidence presented at Ian’s Hair, I am convinced the final piece to The Master Plan is a very expensive Left Winger.

Any thoughts on who that could be? I asked Ian, but Ian doesn’t like football.



Goodbye Poldi, Mattie, and who else?

June 9, 2015

Deadwood. We always have them but our current deadwood is quality.

We don’t have a Bendtner or a Denilson (sorry boys I liked you both), instead we have a German International with 123 caps and almost 48 international goals (more than Rooney), a French DM who wowed us on his return from AC Milan but is now well down the pecking order thanks to the excellence of the players in front of him. We have Campbell who had a fantastic WC and is still only 22 but has over 40 International caps. Times have changed.

And who else? No-one in the defence, they are all good enough and young enough. Perhaps Szczesny could go but I for one hope he stays.

Midfield? Apart from Flamster who could go?

Jack? Don’t be silly.

Cazorla? No way.

Ramsey? Are you nuts?

Coquelin? Given his remarkable improvement who is to say that he cannot continue to improve next season?

Arteta? Club captain and the recipient of a contract extension to 2016. Same as Rosicky.

In the forward line there are more possibilities for change. As discussed over that past few days, a new CF would be good  and Sanogo could be sold but why when he has potential and has just turned 22.

Theo? We have done this 🙂

Ozil and Sanchez? To sell them would be completely mad – unless we can get €30m more than we paid for them and even then I hope AW would say Non.

OG? Neigh.neigh and thrice Neigh. Another who is improving every season.

What do you think, who gets the Spanish Archer? (El Bow)

written by Big Raddy

Walcott and Giroud Can Leave Arsenal

June 7, 2015

I will get my excuses in early for writing about something that has been covered extensively recently but in my defence it was written with the innocent aim of trying to put something new up for people to read. I am clearly bouncing off of BR’s fine post which led with the heading “Do we really need another striker?” The general tenet seemed to me to be that we already have great forwards and plenty of them; in addition, we have a first class attacking midfield who score an awful lot of goals between them so if that is the case why do we actually need another striker?

My point is that we could and should do better. With the right kind of striker, the kind we don’t have already, the kind that has super close control in tight areas, the kind of player who would be able to find his way past packed defences such as Sunderland, with this kind of striker, not only would he score more than our current group of strikers are capable of but our extremely talented midfield, and this bit is important, would score even more goals.

This is a win, win situation.

A striker with better close control, the kind we don’t have at the club already would not only score more goals himself, he would enable the attacking midfield to score even more themselves.

This doesn’t have to be a £50 million player, there are other ways.

By way of example I would suggest Antoine Griezmann, great close control; scores goals can play across the front etc, etc. There are people on here who have more of an encyclopaedic knowledge of possible signings of this ilk but I think you get the point. This kind of player can bring to the table something that none of the strikers at the club currently posses.

Do you fall into the category who believes we have enough attacking options at the club already or are you like me and think that in order to win the league we are going to have to strengthen up top?

I think this raises an interesting loyalty question: some supporters have an emotional attachment to certain players and I am no exception but doesn’t Arsenal winning the league transcend that? If it does and it certainly does for me then that goal should trump any special attachment anyone might have to Walcott and Giroud, I use those two names because I find it hard to imagine that anyone really cares about any of the other strikers currently on the books.

Maybe the ideal world is to keep those two, add one more and cut the rest loose?

What do you think?

Do Arsenal Really need another striker?

June 5, 2015

Well, do we?

There will be many posts through the summer which regurgitate what is trending regarding our FA Cup winners 😀  This is just the first ….

It is the same old argument about Arsenal’s front line but hopefully with a different slant because I do not think we should sign a striker – we have enough.

Let’s look at the menu …… Welbeck, Sanchez (or is it Alexis?), Giroud, Podolski, Sanogo, Walcott, Campbell, Akpom. That is 8 players vying for 2 or 3 places. We have the numbers but do we have the quality?

Podolski is a busted flush, the US League football beckons

Campbell is still young but has struggled at Villarreal – and if he struggles there then he has little chance of establishing himself as a force in the PL. If we can get a couple of mill for the lad, sell, sell, sell.

Akpom. An exciting prospect. Keep him at AFC until January and then loan him to whomever is at the top of the Championship.

Sanogo? I just don’t know. The chap has the physical attributes to be a target man but has he the skills; can he learn them? His loan at Palace was a qualified success, as in he got some pitch time and scored in the FA Cup but on the other hand he could not force himself in the first team. His scoring record for the France U-21’s indicates there is a decent striker in his lanky form. I would keep him and give Sanogo another loan at  – say, Norwich.

Which brings us to the 4 main strikers:

I don’t care what you say, OG is a fine striker and is in the world’s top 10 CF’s. Is he as good as Aguero – No. Suarez – No. But neither is Costa or Cavani or Falcao. It is an unfair comparison. Is he a 20+ goal a season man? Yes, he is. Does he create chances for others? Yes, his link-up play is comparable with anyone. If OG had been fit during that horrible start to the season we would have been closer to the Chavs, of that there can be little doubt.

Theo. We have to keep him. The prospect of a fluid and very pacy front 3 is exciting. Walcott’s injuries have stopped us seeing just how good his partnership with Ozil can be – IMO Ozil will make Theo into a 20 gaol a season man IF he can stay fit. I have always supported Theo and remain convinced he can become one of the PL’s very best players.

So that is already 40 goals

20 more from the Sensational Sanchez or the Amazing Alexis.

Welbeck is more puzzling. The man has so much and yet is lacking so much. He does it for England so can clearly find the back of the net but where and when does he play? As a stop gap whilst Sanchez rests? Can he actually play through the middle? Was Mr Wenger looking at the way Welbz cuts in from the left as a signifier he can become another TH? Perhaps he can. I love his workrate, his enthusiasm and his pace. But.

Let’s be realistic. We are not going to sign Higuain, Falcao, Yarmalenko, the German chap, or even at the French fellow. It is fun to speculate about them but we have some terrific strikers at the club and there are other areas where we can improve.

We have 3 strikers who, if fit, will score 60 goals+ between them. We have MF’s who will score at least 25 between them and defenders who can add another 10. That is close on 100 PL goals. We do not need to spend €50m on a striker (but it would be nice, wouldn’t it?)


Our Annual Trip to Wembley!

June 4, 2015

The build-up to Wembley started on the previous Thursday with Ant upsetting Pedro the Mackem on their five-a-side night with his answer to the question, ‘What are your plans for Wembley?’  Ant’s reply was, ‘The usual’ which was deemed  a little presumptuous by someone  who rarely gets to go. Then again, as this was to be our fourth trip in just over a year , was completely understandable.

Our routine involved an overnight stop at Beaconsfield and subsequent train into Wembley Stadium overground. So we set off at our ‘usual’ time of 8.45 in the car from Nottingham, aiming to get to Beaconsfield in time for a swift beer at the Wetherspoons alongside our budget hotel, before trekking off to get the bus into Beaconsfield town centre to catch the train. On the car journey we received a message from one of my godsons who’d drawn an Arsenal badge to get us in the right mood. Beautiful!

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So we arrived at the hotel car park, as was tradition, in plenty of time to sneak an aforementioned swift blonde real ale at the ‘Spoons. The first photo of Ant in his Cup Final beret was duly posted on Facebook and proceeded to get over 20 ‘likes’, largely down to Ant’s uncanny resemblance to Benny Hill.

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Our next photo message received showed the Vines Gooners from South London proudly displaying their yellow colours, including our littlest Gooner, Charlie. We also saw that my attempts at a homemade rosette had been well and truly trumped by older brother Jon with his spectacular red and white creation.

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Meanwhile Ant and I had disembarked at Wembley and had eventually found Watkin’s Folly, our potential first stop. A fiver on the door which was to include cheeseburger and chips put off the younger Vineses as we knew that a packed lunch of humungous proportions to come negated the need for early sustenance. The Sports Bar across the road had no such door charge and with Ant in desperate need of some bladder relief proved a convenient first stop in the Wembley environs.

The said bar was festooned with shirts from many top teams and also one from Totteringham Hotspurs. Ant’s attention was grabbed by a peculiar signed photo of Tony Adams cut from a newspaper which made our Tone look huge. Judge for yourselves.

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And so it was on to The Torch, our intended substitute for The Green Man which had been the venue for the Semi and both Semi and Final trips at the end of the 2013/4 season. The South London contingent arrived and we were provided with an FA Cup-themed packed lunch menu. So pleased we refused the cheeseburger!

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Jon strung his Santi banner up on the pub car park fence much to the consternation of the next door neighbour who’d had his fence pulled over in previous football supporters’ shenanigans. After some reassurance that we would be extra careful not to do any damage, photos were taken and the usual disarray ensued.

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The back bar of The Torch used for drink replenishment, was ideal with small queues which allowed  several refill runs with virtually no hassle, to be purchased. Double rounds the order of the day. Jon bought a free Captain Morgan hat for a fiver from a happy fellow Arsenal fan who cheekily tried to get us to buy another only a few minutes later.


Having quaffed a gallon we set off toward the stadium, but as we were Eastsiders for the day, the route took us along Wembley Way for a change allowing time for more photos which demonstrated how we’d managed to stay pretty sober!

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Taking our seats, the atmosphere was electric. The Villa fans contributing a great amount to the atmosphere, while the Arsenal fans, complete with complimentary yellow and very dark blue scarves, turned Wembley East side to a cacophony of buzzing bees.

The match was a sublimely joyous celebration of Wengerball with almost zero stress, some magnificent goals and a Villa team completely outclassed on the day. What a Final for us Gooners to savour!

Post match saw more photo opportunities at our designated meeting point, the Bobby Moore statue.



Next on the agenda was beer. We eventually found Las Iguanas restaurant in the Wembley retail complex and jugs of beer and some organic cider for older bro were ordered to be quaffed at a perfect table outside. We spoke to many supporters on their way past. The Villa fans were graciously magnanimous in defeat. In a way they were  just pleased to have avoided relegation thanks to Tim the Gooner and were revelling simply in the chance to be part of the day. All credit to them. Our favourite encounter was with a Villa fan who had teamed up with an Arsenal fan only an hour previously but who’d suddenly become best buddies. The Villa fan reminisced about players from previous generations including ‘Sideways’ Mortimer which involved a crab-like mime which was priceless. The mention of the venerable Jimmy Rimmer of Arsenal and Villa fame stimulated a favourite Arsenal keeper discussion of which Almunia was the clear winner. Superb.

Having turned down an overpriced burger restaurant, we headed back to our usual curry house on Wembley High Road. We were welcomed by the owner as if she recognised us.  It was another excellent decision and raucously enlivened by some Villa fans playing Roman numeral beer games at the adjacent table. Their forfeits involved the belting out of old Villa songs involving  ex players such as Nigel Reo-Coker  and garden sheds. We joined in their rendition of ‘ Where’s your European Cup?’ much to the consternation of a particular Arsenal fan on the table the other side of us.

All that was left for the day were train journeys back to our respective billets, so the four of us made our joyous way to the train station and eventually into the land of nod.

Ant had managed to procure an extra scarf and some discarded flags which I’ve since given to my godsons in Nottingham. Their Mum would like them to be Notts County supporters but she agreed that there’s no harm in them supporting another team ‘that wins things occasionally’. Haha.


What an amazing trip, on a par with some of our Cardiff experiences of the early 2000s.

Up The Gunners, roll on next season.

Written by chas