Must Do Better.

February 29, 2016

That was the worst performance for a long time. And just to rub salt in the wounds, they scored two goals.

I’ve exhausted most of my anger already, but I thought our lack of intensity/focus was disgraceful. Our finishing got a bit better, but our application was gone. Look at Ramsey stroll around for their third goal. Time and again Coquelin and Ramsey simply let players run off them. Our midfield was so non existent all ManU had to do was pick up the ball and run and suddenly they’d be in our box.

Is Mertesacker so important to us? Gabriel was terrible and for a while now Kos hasn’t been as good as we’re used to seeing. Despite having the potential to be caught out perhaps Per’s organisation and passing is important to us. Without Santi in there, and with Ramsey only focused on getting on the end of things rather than making them happen, we need someone to be able to pick out the right pass, and Gabriel just looks lost with the ball at his feet.

Theo Walcott needs to be benched. Play Jeff and at least it’ll be like playing with 11 men.

Alexis isn’t contributing anything positive, but maybe it’s time to play him at CF with Welbeck and Campbell on the flanks to support him. Keeps him from having to track back, and I think a lot of the problem with him comes from tiredness.

The title is not gone, but maybe it’s better we think it is. We’ve been playing with such a burden on our shoulders, perhaps it’s better we just concede the title and go out and play football the way we want to. Win, lose or draw, at least entertain us Arsenal. Usually, the results will follow the performance.

The refereeing was very good yesterday. Including the decision to not send off Aaron Ramsey who only pushed Herrera’s (?) hands away, and he decided to go down like he was shot. Good call to book them both.

This performance should really draw a sharp reaction from the manager. Drop Ramsey for doing the Denilson jog, drop Walcott for being a liability, and take Gabriel off and bring in Chambers if Per was dropped for the Chelsea red card. Play the kids if you have to. At least they’ll bring some enthusiasm. Though Iwobi looked shockingly unprepared yesterday in the short time he was on. Which is weird because he’s looked good before.

written (as a comment) by Shard


Welbeck to Start.

February 28, 2016

Any trip to Old Trafford is cause for trepidation and despite MU’s poor recent form, this afternoon is no exception. It is 10 years since we won at their miserable, ugly, prawn-ridden stadium.

True, United no longer get sent out to kick two-colours out of our lads by the inspirational red-nosed alkie – instead they are inspired by Oliver & Hardy (LVG & Giggsy).


LVG asking Giggs if he should sub Carrick

It has been an underwhelming season so far for MU, especially given their huge financial investment into the squad. 10 points behind us and 15 off the top is not what MU’s board would have hoped for.

BUT, the Mancs always raise their game against us. Just think back to the stand-out moments of recent seasons; the PV4/Keane battle, AW sent to the stands surrounded by bile-spewing muppets, Rooney’s dives, RvP’s goal off his shoulder (for MU), Fellaini. There always seems to be some misfortune which follows Arsenal at OT.

For example, De Gea returns from injury as does Smalling (wish AW had signed him), Martial and Rojo. This will not be the massively weakened MU we have seen over recent weeks.

There are concerns about our goal-scoring; almost 6 weeks since OG’s last goal, Sanchez playing way-below form, Theo ineffective, Ramsey not being able to hit a cow’s arse etc etc. However, in Ozil/Welbeck we have the keys to drive us to victory, not just today but in the title run-in.

I fervently wish for Welbeck to start today. Quite where he fits in I cannot fathom but we need his pace and strength. Where do you think he should play? He is naturally a left-sided attacker but that is where Sanchez plays and Alexis is undroppable.

We have succeeded in Manchester by parking the bus, playing a pressing game and attacking on the break. I think a similar plan would be effective this afternoon – it almost worked on Tuesday.

In an attempt not to repeat myself 🙂 I will not write of my admiration for Aaron Ramsey nor the need to remain vigilant for the excellent United wing play – Depay is starting to look like the world’s most expensive teenager again.

Nor will I mention Leicester or the need to keep pace with the excrement from N15. If we are to win the title a point today is the least we should hope for.

At this time in a post I often reflect upon my feelings about our opposition. For some reason I do not hate MU this season! Is it because of the humour and humanity of LVG, the awful run of injuries, the difficulty of changing from the SAF old guard to a new MU filled with exciting attacking intent (that is a joke) or just that it is an unpleasant trait to laugh at those who are going through tough times? Whatever the reason, I find I have some sympathy for our old rivals plight.

I still want to beat them though.

A repeat of the thrashing we gave United at the Emirates would be lovely





Friday Rant ….. English football sucks!

February 26, 2016

OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration. There are a few reasons the EPL should be celebrated. It provides a level playing field, as the success of Leicester this year would demonstrate. It provides a fantastic place to park black money, which Abramovitch and his groupies would testify to. Finally, it also is a fantastic advertisement for the idea that money can buy success. City being one good example. OK, so are Barca, Real and Bayern. But not all clubs in their leagues can do the same.

No, the above are not why the EPL sucks. It sucks because it is not footbal at all. It is an overly glorified cross between rugby and football. Truth be said, British school children want to become rugby players. If at all they are interested in sports. Of course, in addition to pocket billiards and computer games. And some of the ones that fail to make it in rugby land up in football. Take one look at Wayne Rooney and you would know what I mean.

And the ardent followers of the game often defend this colonisation by rugby as the uniquely British “robust” brand of football. My foot! It is a street brawl transported into the football stadium. And to think that once upon a time, Britain and particulrly the FA was the undisputed world leader in setting standards in the game.

AAers, is that not a huge disgrace?

Written by Red Arnie

Should Arsenal play like the Cheating Barcelona? …. your vote counts

February 25, 2016

Today we continue with our new regular feature ‘Your Vote Counts’ which gives you the opportunity to see if your opinion is in line with the majority.

Following the defeat against Barcelona, consider this …..

On Tuesday, in addition to playing some magnificent football, Barca gave a master class in cynical fouling (otherwise known as professional fouling) and simulation with the intention of getting an opposition player carded/sent off.

We seek to emulate the Catalans in their brilliant style of play, but should we also follow their lead in the mastery of the less virtuous dark arts?

Arsenal generally try to play fair; to play the game in the correct spirit …. and that may have cost us the game on Tuesday.

Once Mertesacker went to ground and missed the tackle, our remaining 3 defenders had to deal with the forward movement of the most potent front 3 in the history of club football.

Bellerin, Monreal and Koscielny all had the opportunity to bring down the player with the ball before play entered our box. But they didn’t. The good guys stayed true to type, Barca scored and with it our chances of progressing in the Champions League evaporated.

Earlier in the game, I can think of at least 2 occasions when The Ox was dumped on his backside when a quick break was on. We got a free kick, the player who fouled wasn’t carded and our advantage was lost – Barca had successfully dealt with our threat.

There are 2 polls today, the first relates specifically to the passage of play leading up to the first goal …..

The second poll is more general. Many of us will have seen incidents in recent games when our players have had contact in the box and stayed on their feet, whereas a ‘Suarez’ would have gone to ground and won a penalty. Are we just too nice as a team? Would we win more games if we played the continental style of gaining any advantage we can even if it contravenes the spirit of the game?


7 Bullets in Arsenal’s Head

February 24, 2016

We saw the good and the bad of Arsenal yesterday. The result and subsequent reaction from AW have added fuel to the ‘we should have bought X, Y & Z’ campaign. No one wanted to write a report on this game, so I have just bulleted the key points as I saw them and invite you all to add your perspective on the game.

  1. For 70 minutes we got our game plan spot on and the players executed it perfectly apart from the vital ingredient of taking our chances when they were presented.
  2. A moment’s madness when Mertesacker forgot his discipline and ventured way too high up the pitch (we’ve seen this from him before)
  3. The failure of our defenders to be as cynical as Barca and ‘take one for the team’ by bringing down the player before the ball got anywhere near our box
  4. Bringing on Flamini, it should have been Elneni but he wasn’t even on the bench – why?
  5. Mertesacker laying the ball off to Flamini instead of clearing it out of the box
  6. Flamini being Flamini
  7. Arsene stating we made the same mistake as we did against Monaco as if he had no responsibility to ensure the players understood what went wrong in that game. He should have drilled them in how to avoid making the same mistake again.


Ramsey or Rakitic or Both?

February 23, 2016

Are you like me – fed up of hearing how Barcelona’s forward line is the best of all-time? How we have no chance this evening? How poor Mertesacker is going to have a second fundament after the game?

Firstly, I do not agree that  the frontline of MSN are the best of all-time. I would point to the Brazil ’70 attack of Pele, Jairzinho, Tostao backed up by Gerson and Rivelino. What a shame they cannot play each other, that Brazil side would spank the Catalans.


Best Ever?

We can win and I will tell you why. Because we are The Arsenal. That’s it. Nothing more. If Mr Wenger and Stevie B. manage to get this simple message into the heads of our lads we can and will win.

Forget tactics, forget worrying about the front 3, forget about the diving and cheating the Spanish Champs will inevitably display. When Alves hits the deck Coquelin must stand over him and laugh, pointing to the badge on his chest. When Messi cuts in from the wing and dummies his way into our penalty area, let The Helmeted Cech put his massive frame in the way and smile.

Let us recall that last time we played them over two legs Barca were forced to bribe the ref and even then needed a Bendtner blunder to win. By the way, has any player in the CL been sent off for kicking a ball away since? No they haven’t. QED.

So what if Barcelona haven’t lost for 32 games and are currently – Spanish Double winners, Champions League winners and both European Super League and World Club Champs; we are The Arsenal, and they aren’t – they don’t even have a The. It’s true, have you ever heard them called The Barcelona? No, you haven’t.

Team …


Bellerin   BFG   Koscielny   Monreal

Ramsey   Coquelin   Sanchez

Ox   Giroud   Ozil

My only concerns are Ox and Sanchez who were dreadful in their sub appearances on Saturday. Sanchez was a shadow of the player  we know him to be – Kelsey could have played as well.

As always when Barca or Real Madrid are rebuilding there are rumours of transfer targets; Ramsey is one who is often mentioned. Ramsey is a marmite player – hugely admired by his fellow players but not so by many a Gooner. To me he is the heart and soul of Mr Wenger’s team. Rakitic is the Barca equivalent. Both play similar styles allowing others to do the fancy-dan work and occasionally doing some themselves. Given their similarity I do not understand why Barcelona would be interested in Ramsey but perhaps together they could make a dynamic midfield pairing. Real Madrid would be a more likely destination but for the sake of Arsenal, I hope Ramsey stays.

More worrying is the Boy Wonder – Bellerin.  Surely a major target over the coming years. Hopefully young Hector doesn’t have Barca DNA or a Child Within.

Most important tonight is for both teams to excel and entertain the watching billions. We are unlikely to win the Big Cup but have to make an impression. We can win this leg and go to Barcelona with a lead to protect.

Last time we played them at The Emirates it was a little chap playing on the left who scored the winner for Arsenal  – could history repeat itself?


Let it be So.




The Invincibles would have struggled too

February 22, 2016


Ok I won’t leave it there, I’ll put some thoughts down first and then you can all have at it…..

Over the last few games a similar theme has arisen, why don’t we move the ball as quickly as we used to, obviously this often conjures up images in the mind of Paddy passing to God and him choosing which pawn to move next normally a rushing Thierry or Freddie and we just waited for the inevitable sound of ball in onion bag.

Repeat a couple of times then coast through the rest of the game conserving energy for the rest of the season. It is widely accepted that at some point Arsene shifted away from pace and power to smaller more gifted technical players, why?

I have a theory it stems from when we lost our unbeaten record, Ferguson decided stopping us playing would be far more beneficial than playing against us. He put a couple of solid banks out there and had his men go about kicking everything that moved, theory which proved successful in that upsetting the rhythm of our team stopped counter attacks early and denied us space in behind and time. This formula was gradually copied by everyone else, some like Allardyce had already done it.

With everyone else copying this tactic how would pace and power get round crowded midfield threes and solid defensive lines who were reluctant to move further than twenty five yards from their own goal, the power might have worked but the pace not so much. Hence the move to technical players who can unpick these packed defences and pass round midfield anchormen.

But here are my questions and the point behind the post:

Why did the likes of Blackburn, Newcastle, Middlesborough etc turn up at Highbury and play a proper game of football (ie both sides attacking)?

This allowed our pace men to burn away from opponents and exploit gaps left.

Why have teams adopted a very different style now?

They’d rather escape with a point, because Premier League survival is paramount and secondly once that is secure the next step is Premier League prize money, and every point counts. So when they arrive at the home of football they prefer to park the bus, would the Invincibles have had more weapons to break this down? I’m not sure.

Gooner in Exile

Bore draw : And a trip to Hull beckons

February 21, 2016

The pre match media around this round of FA Cup fixtures has focused much on the congestion caused by this pesky competition. City are rightly annoyed that they will be playing tomorrow with a Champions League trip to Kiev on Wednesday. At least we got the early kick off and at home in our tie and haven’t got to worry about flying anywhere this week.

Bruce was quoted as saying he thinks FA Cup replays should be scrapped and Arsene said he preferred to preserve the current format. If Bruce didn’t want a replay he had a strange way of showing it putting his second string out to defend in two solid banks. Even with three days to recover before Barca Arsene also made 9 changes, Arsene had no choice but to keep BFG and Koscielny in the line up. Another chance for Theo to show what he can do at centre forward, another welcome to England for Elneny and another game for Iwobi to make an impression this time from a more central role.

In the early stages we managed to create a few chances, bit of slick interplay around the box leading to a variety of shooting opportunities, unfortunately the angles were generally tight and the keeper was giving a traditional Emirates performance thwarting anything sent his way.

In truth I felt we started to run out of ideas towards the end of the half, I don’t think we were as fluid as we could have been given our starting attacking three. They have all played centre forward at various times in their career and they have also been wide men. For me they all stuck to their starting roles far too much and what interchange of position there was did not feel instinctive.

We did have some good moments again in the second half, the closest we came to scoring were Campbell’s free kick, and Welbeck’s curling drive. Unfortunately Hull’s keeper was equal to both.

Ox, Ollie and Alexis were thrown on but to no avail and Hull held out for a 0-0 draw and a replay that their manager definitely did not want.

For me Elneny stood out, I felt he was constantly available for the ball and generally used it well. We saw glimpses from Welbeck that reminded us of the talents he possesses, Iwobi continues to improve. There was not much new learned from anywhere else on the pitch in my opinion, we know these players.

So Hull are added to the schedule for a midweek and hopefully we still have plenty of available players to rotate in.

Written by GoonerInExile

Up for the Cup?

February 20, 2016

Who will be the stronger team – our reserves or Hull’s?

Let’s weigh up the evidence: Arsenal have a second team full of players who have been strained through one of the most rigorous examinations of world footballing talent. Targets identified, Arsenal spend many millions bringing players into the squad then working together to become a team. They are pampered, cosseted and trained by the very best coaches money can buy.

Hull are not in this fortunate position. Their scouting for squad players involves going to the local park and seeing if there are a few blokes who can run a bit and have a sense of direction.


Hull are expected to make 9 changes from their last game and Arsenal about the same.  What does this say about the current status of the FA Cup?

Yesterday I had a pleasant chat with a friend on this very subject (following on from a discussion on AA with Herb). Is the FA Cup relevant? Is it important to anyone who was born post-Sky Sports?

The first thing to say is that financially it is far better to finish 4th than to win the FAC. This diminishes its value to the moneymen and accounts (to some extent) in big clubs using squad members prior to the semi-final.

Secondly, winning the FAC gains entrance into the Europa  Cup which is hardly a plus.

Then there is the unfortunate decision on the part of the FA to play semi-finals at Wembley, thus diminishing the grandeur of the Final.

Balanced against this is Glory. Silverware. Tradition. History. A Street Parade. Champagne. Celebration on a massive scale. Placards around the Emirates.

Which is more important to you?


Back to today:    Let’s see how many I get …


Chambers    BFG   Koscielny    Gibbs

El Nino   Flamini   Iwobi

Campbell   Theo    Welbeck

Should be enough to win and allows the main players to rest ahead of the big midweek game.

I expect most of this afternoon’s entertainment to come from  the man who used to wear black but now wears yellow and black – the mercurial Mike Dean. This bloke is a complete plum and probably a Parking Attendant in daily life. Inefficient, egotistical, blind – many an epithet comes to mind.  Earlier this season over 100,000 people signed a petition for him not to referee AFC again, yet the FA selected him which tells all about how the FA view the paying punter’s opinions.

I could, and probably will, write a post about the deeds of Mr Dean.

Don’t forget the early K.O.



I Hate Professional Football

February 19, 2016

Tell you what I dislike most about the modern game. Professionalism.

Yes, all the money in the game has brought exciting foreign players to these shores to brighten the gloomy winter days, but all the loot has had a very nasty side effect. We’ve killed the characters in the game.

Prime example close to home is the case of Jack Wilshere. I mean, Dear Lord, one effing fag break caught on someone’s Twitter Device and all hell breaks loose. We cannot possibly have our sensitive sponsors all blubbing and withdrawing their cash, can we?

George Best. The cars, the night clubs. The tight trousers. Superb. The morning after winning the European Footballer of The Year Award, George was found clutching the shiny figurine in a gutter after a night of serious thirst quenching. Marvellous stuff.

(L-R) Manchester United's George Best and his fiancee Eva Haraldsted outside his clothing boutique on Manchester's Bridge Street

Vinnie Jones (baddie) clutching the goolies of Gazza (wayward genius). Again, terrific stuff. Marsh, Cantona, where are they?

You’d think in this day and age of micro celebrity scrutiny, there would be more revelations and scoops, not less. The only conclusion can be that they’ve all cleaned up their acts. It’s awful. Can you imagine having all that loot, so young. Would you be tucked up in bed after a soothing hot chocolate? I bloody well wouldn’t.

Written by MickyDidIt89