Confusing, Cruising Arsenal

December 29, 2015

 

If you’re familiar with The Mighty Boosh you’ll be aware that Noel Fielding occasionally refers to himself as “The Confuser.” By which he means that – with his long hair, slight frame, fine features, girly make-up and androgynous dress style – he confuses nominally ‘straight’ men. They can see he’s a bloke, but he’s also sort of attractive.

That’s Arsenal this season.

After a comfortable win over Bournemouth we sit top of the league, yet barely 48 hours ago we stank the place out at St Mary’s. Confusing.

We conquered Manchester City in a display dripping with discipline, concentration and effort; we lost to West Brom. Confusing.

We went away to Olympiacos in search of an unlikely win and pulled it off. We went to Norwich for what should have been a regulation victory and dropped two points. Confusing.

What are we?

Sexy title challengers?

Or just a bloke with a dress on?

Watching the way Mesut Ozil bestrode the turf yesterday – gliding like Bergkamp on ice – it was easy to believe we are sexy champions-in-waiting.

I know it was “only” Bournemouth but they have been in fine form including recent victories over relegation strugglers Chelsea and mid-table muddlers Manchester United.

Bournemouth may be the retirement capital of England, but their team arrived with a spring in their step and a belief that they could get a result at The Home of Football. Their fans felt it too – and for the first quarter of the match regaled us at length with the witty “is this a library” chant. Clever of them to think that one up.

During that first quarter it was obvious that the hammering at Southampton was still on the players’ minds, even though Arsene Wenger had made four changes (Gabriel, Chambers, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gibbs in for Koscielny, Flamini, Campbell and Monreal).

With nerves still a bit frazzled we turned the ball over unnecessarily, our passing was sloppy and we had the same sluggishness in attack that blunted our efforts at Saints.

Gradually, however, we worked our way into the game, mainly thanks to Ozil’s roaming brilliance and Ramsey’s industry.

And when our German genius whipped in a perfect corner for Gabriel to power onto and head home the nerves were well and truly settled and we started to enjoy ourselves.

We could have scored three more in the first half just from corners – all of them delivered with unerring accuracy by Ozil (who now remembers our constant complaint about corners never beating the first man?).

The closest was a header that pinged off the bar straight at Mertesacker and rebounded off the big German’s schnozzle to fly just the wrong side of the post.

Other chances were created (notably for Walcott, who had one of his “Oh Theo!” days) and we went in at half time with that feeling so familiar to us fans: that we were good value for our lead but it was only one goal and would we come to regret the missed chances?

In the second half Bournemouth had a go at getting in the game, creating a couple of half chances, but we continued to create better ones almost always thanks to slide-rule passes from Ozil. That bloke has an internal sense of geometry that would make Euclid weep with envy.

Our second goal was a thing of beauty. Starting on the right hand side in our own half, we moved the ball quickly between Ozil, Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil finally laying it on for Giroud on the edge of the Bournemouth penalty area. Giroud did one of those little back flicks he loves so much. Ozil had continued his run into the six yard box and finished first time with complete control. I love it when classy players pass the ball into the net.

By now the library had shifted to the away supporters’ end and it was the see-sawing rivalry of “We’re the North Bank… We’re the Clock End…” that echoed around the stadium.

From 2-0 onwards we were always comfortable and could have scored two or three more before the final whistle.

Some overview thoughts:

  • It was pleasing to see Calum Chambers have a solid game in central midfield. A couple of days ago I got a text from my 23-year-old son saying “Chambers is the worst player in our squad.” I’m not sure what prompted Sam to say that, but I begged to differ and I think yesterday showed the potential he has.
  • In the pre-match comments I referred to Oxlade-Chamberlain as a liability. I believe I was justified based on the mistakes he has made this season that always seem to lead to goals conceded. But yesterday I thought he had a very good game – always trying to take people on and make things happen. His final decision making wasn’t always up to scratch but, for me, it was his best outing for a very long time.
  • Gabriel: took his chance extremely well. I loved the way he attacked Ozil’s corners and his defending was fierce. He’s going to be an Arsenal legend in time.
  • Mesut got one assist and one goal. I can’t remember the stat for the number of clear goal scoring chances he created in the game. I believe it was 237. I have always been a monotheist (Dennis is God, and he sent his only son Cesc to save us) but Mesut is turning me into a polytheist. There’s now room for more than one God in my heaven.
  • Congratulations to Helmet for breaking David James’s clean sheet record. Is that just a Premier League record or does it also include the old First Division? If so, surely there must have been an awful lot of sheets covered by Seaman?
  • I’m doing player ratings below. I know not everyone likes a ‘player rating’ so, instead of marks out of 10, I am awarding them famous footballing name associations based solely on yesterday’s performance. Read on and you’ll get the picture. You may even have alternative suggestions of your own, in which case you know what to do…

 

Player Ratings

Petr Cech: David Seaman

Hector Bellerin: Ashley Cole

Per Mertesacker: Bobby Moore

Gabriel: Martin Keown

Kieran Gibbs: Nacho Monreal

Calum Chambers: Gilberto Silva

Aaron Ramsey: Micky Thomas

Mesut Ozil: Dennis Bergkamp

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Jose Antonio Reyes

Theo Walcott: Glenn Helder

Olivier Giroud: Lee Chapman

 

RockyLives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Gabriel and Ox to start?

December 28, 2015

How can our team beat the Northern Oilers and then get absolutely demolished by S’ton? It is so typical of the last 10 years. Unfathomable.

If I had to pick a first 11 out of the 22 that took the field on Boxing Day 10 would be Gunners. Is this my AFC bias? I don’t think so – which is why such a defeat came as major shock. An unlucky one goal loss like WBA away one can understand but a 4 goal drubbing??

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Mr Wenger will be looking to get us back on track today against a surprisingly in-form Bournemouth. Let there be no doubt, B’mouth can leave the Emirates with a good result. A 6 game unbeaten run including wins over Chelsea, WHU and MU are evidence of a team brimming with confidence but today I expect us to recover some pride.

Wouldn’t it be great if the Ox could find some form? The man has unquestionable quality and is one of England’s great hopes but what has happened? Is it confidence, over-training, trying too hard – whatever it is he needs to get back to form or face a career as a squad player.

I would like to see Gabriel start, he is going to be a top CB and needs pitch time to establish a partnership with Kos, though today I would like to see the Frenchman rested after a poor game against the cheating Long.

Chambers in midfield? Surely not. Gibbs instead of Monreal? Unlikely. Ox to play instead of whom? If it is to be Giroud then Theo plays centrally.

We are at home, Leicester have a tough game, we can be top going into 2017.

Let it be so

COYRRG


A Year on from ShowerGate

December 26, 2015

How times have changed since we last visited The Saints. We lost 2-0 with Chesney making a couple of poor decisions which led to Marlboro-Gate and the young Pole being sent to Rome (I can think of worse punishments).

Can you imagine our current glovesman  behaving like TPIG? Cech started his Arsenal career with a poor game at home to WHU, 3 months later and the man is being spoken of in the same breath as David Seaman, who is without question the best AFC gloveman of my lifetime (sorry Bob Wilson).

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If we win the title – sorry – when we win the title Cech will have been a major contributor; Ozil and Sanchez may be the obvious choice for our most important player but Cech is hugely influential, just think how we did in the CL and COC without him.

Important match tonight; it is wonderful beating MC but the Xmas rush would be ruined if we drop points. A draw is barely the bare minimum.

Our lads must be rested, confident and relaxed – they have been out playing Santa at local hospitals and sitting playing Xbox on their plush leather settees; they should be ready for a battle today.

And it is sure to be a battle because S’ton are in trouble‚ playing poorly, losing regularly and unable to score. I expect Koeman to pack the midfield, fill out the flanks and sit his team very deep. Nothing new when teams play Arsenal but not what we expect from the usual free-flowing football he promotes.

Wanyama: Should we sign him in January? S’ton are saying that no-one is leaving but money talks. My opinion is that he is a fine destructive MF but hasn’t the passing skills to improve our team

Amazing to think of the talent sold by S’ton over the past few years. Theo, Ox, Chambers, MonkeyBoy, Lovgren, Schneiderlin, Clyne, Luke Shaw, Lallana etc etc

As to our Brave Lads, the team will surely be the same as beat MC, much has been talked about rotation and the need to rest players but with the  home games with Bournemouth and Newcastle to come  AW can afford to wait.

We are learning to win games with less possession, today we shall surely have the majority of the ball and need to find different solutions, with the Ozil/Ramsey axis we are more creative and not so reliant upon tricky/tacky when facing PTB tactics.

Really looking forward to tonight.

COYRRG

 

 


A Message From Arsenal Arsenal

December 24, 2015

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ARSENAL DREAMS

December 24, 2015

Dreams are funny old things aren’t they.  I mean, what the hell is going on there when you are supposed to be shut down for a few hours?

Strange and unpredictable, and yet as we head off into that most mysterious of zones, we all know that both ecstasy and horror lurk in our paths.  Both sit patiently in the shadows, and we know not which will assault us first.

Well, that is until we are awoken by a sharp clout around the earhole by our loved one, who herself has been awoken by the screams of “Kylie, Kylie, come back Kylie”. Thump, aaaaargh!!!!

Thing is, there’s a common denominator between heading off into the unknown of dreamland, and heading off into the second half of the league season, fantasy and what lurks ahead.

Ok, we have Southampton to play before we are actually at the half way point, however, Christmas always feels like the fulcrum point to me. As we sit, seeing if we can peel off the satsuma skin in one piece, we will all seek a quiet corner away from family feuds and contemplate the state of things Arsenal.

Top of the list will be can we win the league?

We will weigh the pros and cons, so what are they.

PROS

We are second, and this is very good.

We are no longer just beating the minnows.

We have victories over the big boys and our main rivals, including Utd, City and Leicester.

We are not awaiting the dark patch, when the wheels come off through injuries. That has already happened, and we have successfully navigated our way through.

The form of understudies like Campbell and Flamini.

CONS

Fixture congestion. We have CL and FAC commitments, and this will cause stress points.

The reliance on a fit Mesut

Will Kylie ever return?

Over to you then, and what obstacles do you see during the sprint to The Title?

MickyDidIt89

 


Mesut/Theo ….. Mesut/Ollie ….. Mes-merising Arsenal

December 22, 2015

It was clear right from the off that the crowd were fully tinselled up, had taken aboard one or two extra pre-matchers, all swallowed down by a festive Crème de Menthe chaser.

Perfect scene for the final game before Christmas, featuring the Bookies’ two favourites for the title.

A bit of cat and mouse from both sides during the opening gambits, and perhaps the casual observer may have sensed a long evening ahead. Theo changed all that with an absolute cracker.

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Two chances, two goals, and Arsenal into the break at 2-0 following a clinical strike from Ollie. Both terrific finishes. Both created by the sublime Mesut Ozil.

ollie 2

Two behind at the 45, and City had no option but to attack throughout the second half, ensuring a pulsating game. City began with three strikers. This didn’t work, so they tried three other strikers, but it was Toure with a magical strike that proved the old adage.
Errr, what is the old adage. Goals win games?

Anyhow, a few fatigued Arsenal players were replaced by fresher ones, and being 2nd XI’ers, we looked shaky, but still managed to see out a memorable victory.

A week or so ago on here, our own LB asked who, with all our injuries, may step up to be the surprising find of the season, in much the same way as we witnessed with young Francis Coquelin last term. The answer is Joel Campbell, who at no point looked out of place last night. What a terrific attitude he has. Well played, Sir.

MATCH TALKIES

• Is Theo better playing from the left?
• Are the Team more effective with Aaron or Santi alongside Coquelin/Flamini?
• When, if ever, is Paulista a better option than Per?
• The Fans were superb, and few left before the final bell. Were the trains running later than usual?
• The Title is in our own hands. Does this victory convince you we are now favourites?
• Why can’t it be Christmas every week?

MickyDidIt89


Ramsey’s Day?

December 21, 2015

The build up to this game has been lengthy  – it is 9 days since our last victory. Sky Sports have been building tonight up in their usual manner telling us that it is almost a title decider which is quite frankly nonsense.

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What is true in a season when no team has been able to put together a run of wins (apart from Leicester) is that the title is open and beating City will be important. Must Win Game? No. Important game? Definitely. More important than beating Southampton away on Boxing Day? You decide!

The team picks itself apart from a question mark over Sanchez. Should he be played if 90% fit? Will he or Campbell start and be subbed on the hour? I would risk him, he is too valuable and we have been doing well with Campbell in the team.

LB wrote  an interesting post pointing out our different playing style with Sanchez in the team, which can only be a positive as the more variety we can offer the more difficult it is to combat.

The Northern Oilers are proof that an open wallet does not guarantee trophies. They spent €70m on defenders in summer and yet look fragile when the ageing and increasingly injury-prone Kompany is absent. Neither Mangala nor Otamendi have impressed so far.

Unfortunately most of their injured players are returning tonight – Silva, Aguero, Toure are likely to start and when one looks at MC’s team it is quite frankly, frightening, especially as an attacking force; De Bruyne, Aguero, Sterling, Navas, Toure, and Silva are all wonderful players .

But we have wonderful players as well. We have a team which on its day can beat Bayern Munich (and will beat Barcelona). Pellegrini will be worried, especially as MC have lost their last 4 away games.

Given the MC full backs are the ageing Sagna and Kolarov, Theo and Campbell could be in for a fruitful afternoon and it is certainly an area which Mr Wenger will focus upon.

In midfield Ramsey’s energy will be a constant problem for City. Toure is a great player but he can no longer compete with the non-stop running of Ramsey and will be looking to Fernandinho for cover. It is our pace and energy which will concern Pellegrini.

Who would you prefer, Ozil or Silva? Both great players. Ask any City fan who is their favourite player and the answer is invariably David Silva, yet to supporters of other clubs he seems just a very good player and not at the same level as Ozil. Mesut is The Man this season and against a team like City who will use skill as opposed to muscle to combat him, Ozil may well flourish.

Cech is likely to have a busy evening and so (I hope) will Joe Hart because these are two teams committed to attack. It should be a terrific match.

COYRRG