Arsenal Stroll in Villa Park

December 14, 2015

Arsenal cruised to the top of the league after a controlled but determined two nil win over Aston Villa which topped off what was pretty much a perfect week.

It wasn’t that much of a surprise that the EPL league leaders elect should have beaten the team at its foot and soon to be Championship fodder but before the start of these kind of games there is always a nagging doubt at the back of the mind that whispers: maybe today is the day when Villa get lucky and pull off the totally unexpected and we all know that a WBA or Norwich result was just about the last thing we had wanted.

The Good Guys took to the field clearly brimming with confidence after our heroic midweek win and proceeded to take control. Nothing could have suited us better than an early goal and that is exactly what we got. After nine minutes, Özil sent a long pass down the wing for Theo to sprint after, shoulder to shoulder with Alan Hutton the Arsenal away supporters pantomime villain for the day, Theo got free but was pulled back in the box by Dick Dastardly.

TW

The Arsenal players pleaded for a penalty which looked as though was going to go missing until all of a sudden the referee did a quick calculation and realising that we needed all three points to go top duly pointed to the spot. Giroud grabbed the ball with purpose, as though any one else was going to get close, and placed it on the spot, made sure everyone was looking, signalled the drum roll and then coolly slotted it home.

Aston Villa v Arsenal - Premier League

Arsenal immediately went into keep ball mode but as poor as Villa were, Arsenal were always going to need a second and, yet again, that is exactly what happened. Villa were pouring forward in the vain attempt to get an equaliser when Ramsey made an excellent tackle at the edge of our box to recover possession. With Villa having committed so many men forward the break was on; Wales’ finest sent the ball ahead of Walcott who sprinted onto it, he immediately sent it cross field to Ozil who, although, having an excellent chance to score himself squared the ball to no other than Ramsey who had made a lung busting run into their box where he was able to guide it home.

AV

Two nil and the game was over bar the shouting. Villa did put a bit of effort into it at the beginning of the second half but Wenger made two earlier than normal substitutions in Gibbs and Oxlade-Chamberlain for the tiring Campbell and Walcott and English pair’s freshness ended Villa’s flutter and normal service was resumed with Arsenal looking like the side who were more likely to score again.

The little piece of controversy I would throw into the mix is that I don’t know if you have noticed but in my opinion we are playing a lot more simply since Sanchez got injured. Our football is less complicated, the ball is being passed, controlled and then quickly passed on again, no trying to beat three players first, just receive it and move it.

Normally, 9 times out of ten, when Özil gets the ball looks for Sanchez but with Chile’s finest out, Özil has to look elsewhere. Mr Assist has no other choice but to try and find Giroud or such. In normal circumstances the Frenchman would be ignored, frozen out, the pass of last resort. Giroud is not part of Sanchez, Özil and Cazorla’s club, whole games have gone by with the three musketeers playing amongst themselves with Ollie hardly getting a touch which must be a drain on his confidence but with Sanchez injured Özil has had no choice but to try and find Giroud, as do the others; the result being, that Giroud’s confidence has soared and his scoring has hit a purple patch.

I know what you are thinking, there is no way that Campbell or Walcott are going to keep Sanchez out and yes I agree but Arsenal have won all three matches since Sanchez was sidelined so maybe they should keep mining this rich vein of form for a while longer?

Written by LB


Arsenal cruise to win and reach Premier League summit!

December 13, 2015
Arsenal brushed a poor Aston Villa team aside to go top of the Premier League for at least 24 hours.

The train journey from Oxford to Brum was smooth with no delays and the Arsenal support were gathering in force at Birmingham New Street station. The much anticipated team line ups were announced and the fans on the train seemed relatively happy with the same team which dispatched Olympiakos in Athens midweek.

The opening minutes of the game was cagey but Theo Walcott broke free and the hapless Alan Hutton brought him down but referee said no penalty.

Arsenal fans and players were initially fuming with the decision but comment sense prevailed as as the linesman flagged for a penalty. Olivier Giroud, hero in Greece, converted the penalty calmly much to the delight of the fans despite scratching their heads at not seeing Hutton given his marching orders. The supporters were unhappy that Kevin Friend did not apply the letter of the law and send Hutton off for being the last man.

This set the tone for the rest of the the game as the Gunners got into there stride. The supporters were fantastic yet again but some section the the away support were left arguing with stewards who were constantly in the faces of the supporters telling them to sit down. The fans responding by singing “Stand up! If you hate Tottnumb” so the Arsenal fans could remain standing! The fans were very happy with what they were seeing and much praise was poured on the energetic Ramsey and many fans were stating how happy they were seeing him play centrally. One fan described Rambo as having his weetabix in the morning and that he has a fantastic engine.

Arsenal were pressing Villa who looked like they had no ideas and Joel Campbell was once again very impressive. The focused Ramsey then won the ball in midfield with a fantastic tackle which released Mesut Ozil who was through on goal who unselfishly squared the ball from Ramsey to slot home and make it 2-0. The Arsenal fans were left purring with the fans in the upper tier welcoming his return to central midfield. The fans were also discussing another assist from Ozil and convinced that he will perhaps break Thierry Henry’s assist record.

The half time interval brought much cheer as Arsenal fans were standing and off to get a drink but were sarcastically telling fans to sit down mocking the Aston Villa stewards.

The second half began and Aston Villa upped the tempo and had more of the possession but lacked cutting edge. A cross midway through was headed over the bar by Sinclair which was their only real chance of note.

Arsenal tried to hit Villa on the counter but also lacked the killer instinct to score a third goal with Chamberlain forcing Guzan into a save.

Arsenal managed the the game perfectly and stopped Villa in their tracks every time they went forward. So three points for Arsenal heading into next weeks huge game with Citeh and spreading some festive cheer amongst the Arsenal following.

UTA!!!

Written by Sir A Hussein


Brothers in Arms

December 13, 2015

After the fantastic victory midweek and the joy which emanated around the Arsenal world a win today would make Xmas shopping just that bit more fun. Unfortunately this Arsenal team is quirky – last time we won 3-0 away (Swansea) we lost the next 1-5! This time I expect the 3-0 to precipitate a long run of success

Fortunately Villa are not yet at the level of Bayern Munich but they are improving under Remi Garde who has taken on a huge challenge; a job which if he takes them down will be money for nothing and let’s face it, Villa are in dire straits.

I like Villa and wish them well but no wins in 14 and 8 games without a home victory bodes ill. However, Gestede, Bacuna and Grealish are due to return from injury and the naughty step so they will be optimistic of a change of fortune.

Villa have some real “take the man as well as the ball” players – the mad Scot Hutton, the mad Dane Okore and the mad Englishman Lescott who will be looking to let Ozil and friends “know they are there”. A windy day, a heavy pitch and a determined team with more sweat than ability could lead to more injuries for our boys.

And what of The Arsenal? I expect the FP to be rested this afternoon and get the last 20 minutes, that said I am sure he will want to continue his scoring run and perhaps Mr Wenger will opt for his strength upfront. IMO we would be better off with the pace of Theo and Campbell against AV’s lumbering defence.

I would like to see The Ox start, so my team would be:

Cech

Bellerin     BFG     Koscielny    Monreal

Ramsey     Flamini     Ox

Ozil

Campbell     Walcott

This season has seen some bizarre results with unexpected losses by the top teams – let’s all congratulate Bournemouth – so Arsenal have to beware of over-confidence.

Our last match against AV was one of the best performances I have ever seen by an Arsenal team. Enjoy.

If we win we go ToTL and we will – if we play as a team and work in harmony, like brothers in arms

Let it be so …..

COYRRG


How Much Impact Can a New January Signing Have This Season?

December 12, 2015

Will we get a new toy in the January transfer window?

Who knows, probably not even Arsene.

The question I’d like to ask is ‘how much impact can a new signing make to our Premier League run-in?’.

I was thinking the other day about signings such as Ozil and Pires who both, in their first seasons, had supporters wondering if they were value for money. Of course Bobby went on to be a legitimate Arsenal great. Mesut is fast becoming the same.

We have had January signings like Arshavin who seemed to hit the ground running and helped us to a CL place when it looked in danger (the Arsenal myth generator says that he single-handedly won us qualification ). We shall conveniently forget that those few months were the peak of Andrey’s career with us.

Someone like Gabriel was also signed in January but will only prove his real worth as the seasons progress and the BFG gets sent to the glue factory.

Ian Wright is the best example of a Premier player ready to go off the shelf, as his early Arsenal goalscoring record proves. He won the golden boot in his first season scoring 29 goals, 5 of which were for Palace and memorably snatched the award from a certain Edward Sheringham ( I believe) by scoring a hat trick on the final day of the season.

If we do buy a DM, you’d imagine they will come from another league. Will they have much chance of acclimatising rapidly and playing first team football from the off? What do you think?

I doubt we’ll buy a striker with Giroud and Walcott fit and also with the prospect of Sanchez now back before the new year (not that I’d rely much on that estimate)! But if we do, do you think they would find it easier or harder to settle into the team than a DM?

Written by chas


Bring back Highbury ……

December 11, 2015

It’s been a good week for Gooners………. great result in Greece, through to the knock out stage, literally!

But I’ve been thinking recently about the old Highbury stadium, all the times I was there, through the good and the bad, and for me Highbury will always signify the Arsenal, the greatest team in London and even greater in North London.

highbury

It got me wondering as to why the new stadium wasn’t given the same name…. why not New Highbury Emirates Stadium…. or the Emirates Highbury Stadium… or just New Highbury Stadium? Ok I know it was all to do with money and sponsorship, but a little bit of nostalgia wouldn’t have been too hard, would it?

I still say Highbury when talking of home games…. it’s been extremely difficult to say the Emirates…. I wonder if in the future they could re-think the name…. would that be possible, other stadiums have done it, haven’t they?

So my rant is bring back the great name of Highbury Stadium…. I miss it and I’m sure many others do too…..

 

northbank69


Arsenal don’t do Thursday Football, Right!

December 10, 2015

There was only one Greek God in Athens last night and his name was Olivier Giroud or Adonis as I shall now refer to him. I suspect that he would like that name and rightly so, three crucial goals that left Olympiakos to reflect on a night that turned into their own Greek tragedy while the mighty Arsenal go marching onto the knock out stages.

Now that’s what I call a cup tie, end to end stuff from the outset with no let up until the third goal was scored which allowed us to breathe a little more easily. I am still amazed at how the Greeks with a two goal advantage came onto us from the start with such numbers, as entertaining as it was it left their flanks vulnerable. I mean, if we had had a two goal advantage I would have expected every bus in Victoria Coach station to have been parked in front of our goal for protection. Still, maybe their plan was to get an early goal and kill the game off, they certainly threatened with some nail biting attacking football all of which worried me no end.

I must admit I feared the worst but all of a sudden after fifteen minutes Campbell, attacking down the right, pulled the ball back to Flamini who, although, unluckily hit the bar, made me think that there might be something in this for us.

We needed some luck and it arrived in the form of Giroud’s first, carrying on where he left of in the week end he met an excellent cross from Ramsey with his head which somehow found its way past their goalkeeper.

One – nil, game on, could this really be our night? We started the second half with renewed belief that we could pull off what every pundit thought impossible. Monreal and Campbell continued to make inroads down the flanks while Ozil was pulling the strings in his familiar attacking midfield role. It was the German’s excellent pass to Ramsey that enabled him to send in the cross for Giroud’s first and it was Ozil’s pass to Campbell whose sublime pass to Giroud enabled the Frenchman to score his second.

Giroud may rightly be the man of the match but the assist of the night has to go to Campbell; sublime pass doesn’t quite do it justice. I have to make way for Slim here to get the full effect: “Campbell opened em up like a tin of soup” Great stuff.

It started to become clear to me why Olympiakos didn’t just park the bus, they simply didn’t know how to. By this time we looked like we could score with pretty much with every attack and were deservedly given the opportunity to get a third and for Giroud to get his hat trick from a penalty that Adonis was never going to miss.

The defense was solid, Cech was imperious, Flamini and Ramsey worked tirelessly, Ozil was as classy as ever, Giroud did what Giroud was supposed to do, Theo was OK and Campbell arrived and what a time and game to arrive, Joel Campbell we salute you.

Thursday KO 18.00 FC Sion v Liverpool
Thursday KO 20.05 Tottenham v Monaco

Will you be watching?

NO YOU WONT, BECAUSE WE DON’T DO THURSDAY FOOTBALL.

Hahahahaha, what a great night to be an Arsenal supporter.


The Dynamic Duo: Giroud & Walcott to Start.

December 9, 2015

In the words of one of Highgate’s finest” Tonights, the Night, It’s gonna be Alright” or will it be “I don’t wanna talk about it, How you broke my Heart”?

Either way  “You’re in my Heart you’re in my Soul, You’ll be my breath should I get Old”

images-2

In the Home Kit

We are sure to be in for an exciting couple of hours tonight and there will be little room behind LB’s sofa, get there early 🙂

The doubts and fears about tonight are known to all – the history of our visits to Olympiakos,, the injuries, the stupidity of the home leg, the amazing home form of the Greeks, our inability to keep a clean sheet  etc etc but instead of writing about all those negative vibes I prefer concentrate upon why we will win. Why so? Because negativity attracts negativity and it follows that a positive post will augur a positive result.

Firstly, I think Arsene will start with both the FP and Theo with Campbell sitting on the bench. We need to score and they are our best bet. Giroud may be a marmite player but he can and does score goals; Theo owes us and is a Big Game player.

Olympiakos will play the counter-attack so we need to have pace and common-sense from a defensive point of view – so we start with the regular back 5 and tell Flamini only to venture forward when he is certain an FB is covering him. Kos and BFG only go forward for set plays.

We come into the game having shown we can score goals aplenty.

We have the best attacking midfielder in world football.

Ramsey has broken his duck and historically he scores in runs of games.

We have The Ox. None other than Mr Roy Hodgson spoke recently about how he thought Young Alex was a major find and has a golden future. I believe him. Ox needs a run of games to get back to the levels we know he is capable of. Expect a towering performance tonight.

Arsenal have been in this situation before – many times we have failed heroically but this being an Auspicious day Arsenal can and will overcome. This is why it is auspicious:

25 years ago today Lech Walesa was elected President of Poland

Dec 9 1949. Arsenal played their first ever Cup Game against Spurs. We won 3-0

There is other stuff but you would get bored!!

However there is one reason which stands out above all others …….

We will win because We are The Arsenal

COYRRG

 


Arsenal could win if they lose – or lose if they win?

December 7, 2015

Saturday’s win over a committed Sunderland must have provided a bit of a boost to the teams morale.

Morale, or the lack of it, has become a bit of a problem recently, what with the string of injuries and some less than encouraging results.

Having said that, we are second in the Premiership, only two points behind the surprise leaders Leicester City and one point above Man City.

Our regular competitors for the top four positions are all suffering to some extent.  Man City are strangely erratic.  Man U, while not conceding many are failing to score goals on a regular basis.  Chelsea are struggling just above the relegation zone and even “The Special One” has publicly given up on a top four finish.

Despite the queues in our treatment room, it’s beginning to look like 2015/16 is our best chance, for too many years, to win the title.

The elephant in the room is the Champions League.

Wednesday’s match in Athens will decide whether or not we proceed to the knockout stage or slip into the Europa League. It has to be said that our record in the knockout stage is not that good and with our current injury list, allied to a thinnish squad, it doesn’t bode well when it comes to mixing it with Europe’s elite.

Now I would like nothing better than to beat Olympiakos by the requisite two goal margin thus avoiding the ignominy of Thursday night football and it’s treks to the far flung corners of the European Continent. For that reason alone I sincerely hope we field our strongest possible side against the Greeks.

So, should we go for one last all out effort on Wednesday evening with the hope of wrapping up qualification for the Champions League before it shuts down for the winter break?  Or do we field an even more weakened side in the hope of resting a few tired legs ahead of the busy Christmas fixture pile up?

I suppose what I’m really asking is, do you think we would stand a better chance of winning the Premiership by getting into the Champions League knockout stages where we have little chance of progressing, or would we be better off playing more games, with a realistic chance of winning the Europa League, to the detriment of our chances of walking off with the Premiership title?

Written by Norfolk Gooner.


Arsenal provide tonic to injury problems

December 6, 2015

An injury plagued Arsenal earned a welcome 3 points after securing a win which was flattering to say the least.

On route to the Grove there was a sense of apprehension given Arsenal’s injury list but there was some hope with the news that Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott were restored in the squad with the former starting.

Fans were arriving early given the rumours of security checks taking place following recent tragic events. Arsenal started the game sloppy and Sunderland were through on goal early but Petr Cech was ever dependable and spared Arsenal’s blushes.

The big Cech stopper was then alert to save a deflected effort and the fans were becoming concerned this would become a long afternoon. They were right and Oliver Giroud was to feel the brunt of the Arsenal supporters frustration. Two elderly Gentleman in the North Bank then started a verbal volley about the Frenchman using very colourful language and calling him everything under the sun. The forward looked very lazy and fans were angered that he was not even doing the basics like holding the ball and bring his teammates into the game.

Arsenal then took the lead and it was that man Mesut Ozil who put a exquisite pass through for Joel Campbell to finish superbly low into the bottom corner.

Then a sucker punch.. Arsenal gave away a needless free kick. Yann M’Vila, who once seemed destined to join Arsenal swung in the free kick and yes.. It was Olivier Giroud who stuck a boot out to divert the goal past his own keeper. The fans in the North Bank were furious and  there were calls for him to be substituted for Walcott. The fury amongst the fans was evident to see and with Ramsey missing from close range rift at the end of the half compounded matters.

The second half began with Arsenal on the front foot and Arsenal were rewarded with a goal and the elderly gentlemen who were swearing from the rooftops were left red faced as Olivier Groud scored with an accurate diving header to restore Arsenal’s lead.

The game then became scrappy and the Arsenal fans were left biting their nails and Sunderland had a chance to score but the ball went blazing over the bar. The 3 points were secured when Aaron Ramsey fired home from close range after a breakaway.

So an important win for the Gunners on a day when our closest rivals dropped points.

I would like to finish though by asking this audience to spare a thought.. I wrote this match report with lots of sadness. Ernie Crouch, 90 years old, sadly died today on his way to the game.. Ernie was an Arsenal fanatic and went to every Arsenal home and away game and has been going since 1935.. It is a sad day for Arsenal football club. Ernie was a gentleman and it was always a pleasure to speak to him and had so many great stories. He will be sadly missed and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends and this difficult time.

RIP Ernie Crouch xxx

Written by Sir A Hussein


Be Gone November, Arsenal Match Report.

December 5, 2015

Well that turned out better than expected considering the length of the injury list. Strangely enough, although, Sunderland are residing in a part of the league table I rarely bother looking at I am not sure that we were favourites to win before the start. Unlike November, due to the higher calibre of team that we were able to field, there was little doubt, if any, that we were favourites to beat the other equally small clubs we played namely Norwich, WBA and Tottenham and yet we failed to win any of them.

So apart from the month, what changed?

With the silky skills of Cazorla and Sanchez missing a more basic workman like style was inevitably going to be deployed; well, that was the excuse for the midfield and attack but the first choice back four were out there as usual and yet they started game with all the fluidity of a rusty shopping trolley that had been laying at the bottom of a canal for six months.

There were bright spots in the first half, two of our three world class musketeers may have been injured but the third, Ozil, was alive and kicking or should that be alive and assisting, sorry I couldn’t resist.
Campbell who had been about as useful as a wooden stake driven into the ground for the best part of the first half was put through with a sublime pass from the German Maestro and slotted home with aplomb, this immediately triggered the selective memory of myself and the people around me at the game making us remember how we had always thought that Campbell just needed more game time to show how good he really was. Funny goal celebration though, all seemed normal at first and then he seemed to became fixated on tying up the cord in his shorts rather than continue soaking up the praise.

One nil up and half time approaching what could possible go wrong? Enter the FFP: a corner to Sunderland, dummied by one of their players before being sliced in past the helpless Cech to make it one all. Nice one Ollie. We did have a good chance before the break with Monreal cutting the ball back to Ramsey but he unfortunately blasted wide.

General Rambo did well in the middle I thought considering how few minutes of game time he has had recently, as Rasp said, we missed Sanchez far more than we missed Cazorla. Ramsey is not quite as familiar with the role as Cazorla but there is little doubt in my mind that he will make that position his own in the not too distant future.

The game was crying out for Walcott’s pace. It had been that way, in fact, from the outset. I can only assume that the reason for him starting on the bench was political. It would not have been PC to have started the game with Giroud riding the pine considering how he has had to carry the Arsenal banner while Walcott has been injured. Anyway, however this was decided the FFP got the nod and preceded to lumber around the pitch for most of the game until Walcott took his track suit off which was the signal for Giroud to come to life.

Have you noticed this? Giroud started the season like, well, like a FFP culminating in his petulant sending off in Zagreb but as soon as it looked like he would actually lose his place to Walcott, no doubt Ollie, like most of us, never actually thought that Walcott really had a number nine in him; anyway, as soon as Ollie realised his place was seriously under threat he suddenly started to find his inner Ibrahimovic. Well the same thing happened today, as soon as it was clear that Walcott was coming on Giroud changed and scored a brilliant header which again triggered my selective memory and those around me who remembered that we had always thought that Giroud was a good goal scoring addition to the squad.

Two – one up, all seemed well but no matter how hard we tried to help Sunderland get a draw, with Monreal almost turning it into his own net and such, we couldn’t. Finally, after a comedy of errors in front of the Sunderland goal, Ramsey put the game to bed with a vital third. Yay, December and our first three points. Ozil was MOTM by the length of an autobahn. If Mertersacker had had to go off for one reason or another Ozil would have taken the band, who would have envisaged him as Captain this time last season?

Onwards and upwards chaps and chapessess the league is ours for the winning.

Written by LB