Vote: Beat Barcelona or Spurs?

February 18, 2016

So… here is the premise: The first knockout round of the Champions League is currently known as the Arsenal Stage because we (almost) always lose in it. We are about to face a team who are 31 games unbeaten, Champions of Spain and considered one of the best teams of all-time.

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Concurrently, we sit close to the top of the Premiership and have a damned good chance of winning it. In our way is an away trip to The Cave-Dwellers. Never a pleasant experience and a costly one in terms of points in recent times. A win there virtually eliminates the Lillywhites from the title race whilst boosting our own hopes.

Beating Barca over two legs would be immense but in your opinion would it carry as much glory beating our neighbours ?

 

 


Euros to win the League for Arsenal

February 17, 2016

Danny Welbeck came to Arsenal from Manchester United, where he had performed a bit part role as a wide playing attacker.

Soon after his arrival, and in the absence of Olivier Giroud, Arsene played Danny through the middle, and such was the success, he was soon deployed in the same role by England Manager, Roy Hodgson. Danny’s period as Arsenal striker culminated in the sublime Henryesque goals against Galatasaray, before the returning Giroud shunted him back out wide.

Right, back to England. This same period saw the emergence of Mr Kane from “down the road”, and he in turn began to receive telephone calls from Roy.

Fast forward one season, and the Premiership has seen the meteoric rise of Vardy, who himself, now sees the opportunity of grabbing an England starting berth as we head towards this summer’s European Championships. We are now in February, and the teams sitting in the top three League positions all have potential England Euro starters in the central striker’s role.

We all saw on Sunday how understandably knackered Vardy was during the last twenty minutes, and the same fate awaits Mr Kane. Danny, on the other hand, is fit, fresh and has much to prove for both club and country.

I do feel that the freshness and speed of both Danny and Theo will give Arsenal a real edge as the legs of other teams’ defences tire, but my question for today is, will the England carrot dangled before the Welbeck nose give Arsenal the edge over the battle worn legs of Vardy and Kane?

 Written by MickyDidIt89


The Run In.

February 16, 2016

It’s difficult but certainly not impossible, is it?

Leicester Home: Average League Position 12.71

Norwich 17
West Brom 14
Newcastle 18
SOUTHAMPTON 6
WEST HAM 7
Swansea 16
Everton 11

Leicester Away: 11.6

Watford 9
Crystal Palace 13
Sunderland 19
MAN UTD 5
CHELSEA 12

Tottenham Home: 9.83

Swansea 16
ARSENAL 3
Bournemouth 15
MAN UTD 5
West Brom 14
SOUTHAMPTON 6

Tottenham Away: 12.5

WEST HAM 7
Aston Villa 20
LIVERPOOL 8
STOKE 10
CHELSEA 12
Newcastle 18

Arsenal Home: 14.83

Swansea 16
West Brom 14
Watford 9
Crystal Palace 13
Norwich 17
Aston Villa 20

Arsenal Away: 8

MAN UTD 5
TOTTENHAM 2
EVERTON 11
WEST HAM 7
Sunderland 19
MAN CITY 4

Man City Home: 10.4

Aston Villa 20
MAN UTD 5
West Brom 14
Stoke 10
ARSENAL 3

Man City Away: 13.14

Newcastle 18
LIVERPOOL 8
Norwich 17
Bournemouth 15
CHELSEA 12
SOUTHAMPTON 6
Swansea 16

Here’s the remaining fixtures and the average positions. I’ve also highlighted what I would consider the tougher looking fixtures. Looking at the fixtures you can’t really write Leicester off. They have some very winnable games and they play once a week, so a lot of it is going to come down to how they react to today’s defeat. Spurs have probably the toughest run of fixtures and are still in EL and FA Cup, so it will be interesting to see the teams they put out in those. We have very good home fixtures but very tough away ones.

We should be looking to win 6/6 of our home matches and then if we can sneak a few away results we have a great chance. City have some tough fixtures too and are still in other comps, but they are not looking good at the moment and their home form is starting to drop which is not a good sign for them.

It’s going to be an interesting end to the season though and we are definitely in with a chance if we can keep a run going.

written by FatGingerGooner


A Fine Day’s Foxhunting

February 15, 2016

Well, that was something, wasn’t it?

It feels like a VERY long time since we’ve had an injury time winner at home in a game of real importance (no doubt someone will correct me in the comments, but hey ho – I’m talking about feelings, not facts).

We started the day five points behind Leicester City, which inevitably had us all reaching for that most common of clichés… it’s a Must Win Game.

But yesterday it really did feel like a MWG. Lose, and we would be eight points behind the leaders. Win and the gap would be just two.

Arsene recalled the BFG into central defence alongside Koscielny. Coquelin started in central midfield in place of Flamini and The Ox, perhaps as a reward for his goal against Bournemouth, got the starting berth on the right. The rest of the team was as expected.

The referee was Martin Atkinson, under whom we have not had the best of luck in recent fixtures.

We started very brightly, controlling possession and making several good chances. As early as the third minute we almost scored: Alexis leapt like a salmon on a trampoline to head just wide from a corner.

In the 10th minute we should have had a penalty. The ball was kicked into the Leicester penalty area. Kante, who had an otherwise excellent game for the Foxes, tried to block it with his midriff. The ball was going too far to his left so he leaned over and controlled it between body and arm. It was a blatant arm-to-ball movement and should have been given, but Atkinson was giving very little to Arsenal in the first half.

Giroud was leading the line manfully. He got through and scored but was fractionally offside; he should also have had a penalty when a Leicester defender tried to borrow his shirt during one of our attacks.

Leicester were content to soak up pressure and hit us on the break. They didn’t get many breakaways but when they did, it was definitely squeaky bum time.

In one attack Bellerin dozed off for a split second at the back post, Vardy got in behind him and forced a very good save out of Cech from a header.

In general, however, we were quite good at limiting chances to the visitors. For one thing it was obvious that Bellerin had been ordered to stay back for all our set pieces. With his lightning speed he was able to snuff out most of City’s counter attacks before they became dangerous.

Martin Atkinson’s first half stinker continued as he booked three Arsenal players for their first fouls, while letting Leicester get away with a lot of small offences including several off-the-ball blocks and trips.

And the ref topped off his abysmal efforts shortly before half time by allowing himself to be conned into awarding Vardy a penalty. The Leicester pace man had attacked into the left hand corner of our box. Monreal put a foot in, made no contact and then ostentatiously pulled out of the challenge. Vardy had other ideas. Having overhit the ball to his right, he turned left and crashed into Monreal.

vardy dive

It should have been a foul to Arsenal, but with Atkinson in this form there was little doubt what he would do.

Vardy took the pen – we went in 0-1 down at half time. The fact that there had been a colossally obvious foul on Ozil at the start of the Leicester move only compounded the sense of injustice.

But then something happened. I can only guess that Atkinson must have looked at some replays in the dressing room because he came out a chastened man. If he was all for Leicester in the first 45, he was suddenly all for Arsenal. Undoubtedly the crowd played their part in this too, having let Atkinson know exactly what they thought of his first 45.

Early in the second half Simpson was yellow carded for a not-too-serious foul. Then, 10 minutes into the half, the same player picked up a second yellow for tugging back Giroud. The second was definitely a yellow, but the two cards cumulatively and so close together seemed harsh. Not that I’m going to cry about it. We should have had a penalty for shirt tugging in the first half, so a red card for shirt tugging in the second was a form of poetic justice.

From then on the Foxes went to earth and it was just a question of whether Arsenal’s hounds could dig them out in time.

The manager immediately made a progressive substitution, replacing Coquelin with Walcott.

The big negative was that Koscielny had gone off at half time with a dead leg to be replaced by Chambers, which meant that our central defensive pairing was now Slow and Slower. Fortunately, with the visitors somewhat lacking in the personnel department, Vardy was forced to plough a lonely furrow and our CBs were not too threatened. In fact Chambers had an excellent half.

theo v leicester

At the other end it was a full on siege. We created numerous half chances but the breakthrough eventually came when, from a brilliant Giroud cushioned header, Walcott calmly finished to put us level. Still 20 minutes to go (plus stoppages). Could we do it?

The Arsenal onslaught continued. Ten man Leicester defended brilliantly at times, but we also made openings. One Giroud shot forced a stunning save from Schmeichel Junior.

The boss had brought on Danny Welbeck in the 84th – to a great reception from the crowd after such a long injury lay-off.

The 90 minutes ticked by. Every throw-in and goal kick for Leicester took an eternity. Surely it was too late?

But cometh the hour, cometh the returning hero.

A Leicester lump committed a stupid foul on Monreal outside the visitors’ area in the final minute of injury time. If you wanted one person in all the world to take a free kick in that situation, that person would be Mesut Ozil. And lo and behold, we happen to have Mesut Ozil.

Up he stepped, caressing the ball with a Valentine’s Day lover’s touch to send it whipping over the first couple of Leicester defenders straight onto the Holy Head of Welbz.

danny v leicester

Two-one to the Arsenal. The title race thrown wide open (again). The crowd went Radio Rental.

Is that 95th minute goal a turning point? Will it – and the players returning from injury – give us the boost we need to push on for the Title?

Don’t know, but I darn well hope so. It ain’t going to be easy. I don’t see Leicester slumping: they’ve gone too far and play too well in their preferred system. I think it will be between them, us and the noisy neighbours… meaning that our visit to the swamp on March 5th is beginning to take on epic proportions.

If yesterday was a Must Win Game, then March 5th is a MMMMMMMWG.

RockyLives

Ed ….. just drool over this once more ….. 🙂

http://arsenalist.com/f/2015-16/arsenal-vs-leicester/welbeck-goal-with-commentary-from-different-languages.html

 

 


Valentines Day. Love Arsenal

February 14, 2016

Valentines Day. I woke up thinking why and who? Do you know? Do you care?

Why would you on such a fantastic day of sport?

I am praying to St Valentine (a Roman Christian martyr) for 3 victories and a draw.., England x 2, a draw for the Northern Oilers and at The Emirates – I am not sure.

Unknown-1

Arsenal vs Leicester: You know the runners and riders, you know the state of the ground (good to soft), the recent form, the health of the stables, the colours, the on-field odds, the background “fairytale” etc etc. So I am not going to spend this post teaching you to suck eggs (whatever that means!)

Instead I would like to briefly explore what football means to you, or more to the point, me.

Valentines is about emotional attachment and appropriately my connection to The Arsenal  and football as a whole is purely emotional based. I love football and I love The Arsenal. Which do I love more? BTW this is a slow build up to my point 🙂

Why do I not really care if we lose today? Because IMO it would be just marvellous for the game if Leicester won the title. And I say that knowing that for them to win it we would have to lose it.

I have been struggling with this all week. Which is more important, an Arsenal victory or a Leicester title win? I find that my romantic nature supersedes my desire for Arsenal glory. The truth is that I love the sport more than my team (I think).

However, if we win and go on to win the title I would be thrilled; my fears are that we could win today and balls up the title run-in. Oh, come on – you know you feel the same!

Unknown

Arsenal: Defensively we have been looking better – could it be the emergence of Gabriel or just we have been playing poor teams? Rumour has it that The Archangel is injured; if he is then our tactics will have to be adjusted to allow for BFG’s lack of pace. Much is made of the pace of Vardy and Leicester’s counter attack, yet we have faced much faster frontlines and coped. It is a question of organisation and concentration.

We knocked 5 past young Kasper up at Filbert Street and I cannot see him keeping a clean sheet this lunchtime. OG must be due a goal as too is Alexis.

I expect us to start with Ox on the right and a return for Coquelin, other than that the team picks itself. I will bet Mrs.Raddy’s Valentines Day gift (a Snickers bar) that OG starts ahead of TW.

What I really, really do not want to happen this afternoon is for us to draw and the cave-dwelling, knuckle-dragging N17 miscreants to win up at The Etihad. That would ruin my day and dent both our and Ranieri’s title ambitions.

I may love football more than Arsenal but if Young Aaron smashes in the third at the Clock End I will be out my seat, jumping up and down and convinced this is OUR year.

And if it isn’t, how great would it be for a top chap like Ranieri to take a team which a year ago was relegation fodder to the title?

COYRRG


Feb/March. Difficult decisions to make

February 13, 2016

These are crunch months for me, whilst we face the prospect of 4 more games in February, and at least 5 in March, Leicester have 13 games between now and end of season.

We can reduce our pile up by making some simple decisions, play youth team in Champions League, play the same team in the FA Cup, save the first choice eleven for the Premier League.

Many have mooted that this is our best chance in years to win the league, many have said how we need to make sacrifices of playing style and stars for the pursuit of the trophy, in extreme circumstances some have talked about replacing Wenger with the repugnant Mourinho (yeah I know he’s a “winner”…..but at what cost?).

Is sacrificing the FA Cup 3peat and any chance of progress in the Champions League worth a possibility of winning the league?

Gooner in Exile


TV Football Pundits Wanted. No Experience Necessary.

February 12, 2016

I am fed up with crap pundits. Really fed Up.  Back teeth fed up.

Take Sunday. What was the focus of the imbecile co-commentator? It was Flamini’s tackle and how he should have been red-carded. Same went for Souness the Arch-Hypocrite. Nothing about the fact that the referee, whose job it is to make such judgements, was two yards away and decided to yellow card Flam. They criticise Flamini for the tackle but not the referee for the decision. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Let’s start with Alan “Smudger” Smith. I used to chant this half-wits name.  More fool me. Had I known that he was a closet Spurs fan (can there be another explanation?) I would have given him short shrift. Hard to think that a man who scored the winner in Copenhagen could be so damning of the Arsenal. I cannot recall a single time when he has praised our boys in recent times – just this week he has questioned the bottle of our lads for the run-in. Why not come out before the Leicester game and admit that he wants them to win, at least his fellow Leicester striker, Lineker has made his preference clear..

Then there are the imbeciles who have played for West Ham – Lampard, Gale, Ferdinand and Cottee. Not a brain-cell between them and yet they are allowed to spout their biased nonsense to millions.

And the Liverpool mugs; Lawrenson, Thompson & Hansen (thankfully retired) Redknapp,  Souness, Macnamananananan and Owen. Dull, dull, dull – worse than that, ignorant and dull.

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Quality

Thinking of stupid, how about Barton and Savage? Words fail me.

And don’t start me on how the BBC think Alan Shearer is in any way informative!

These blokes ruin my enjoyment of the game. That they are paid to do so boggles the mind.

Unknown

Banality

I can understand why there is a need for an un-biased opinion in a PL game but why can’t we have a proper Gooner as our CL pundit. Get rid of that violent knob Souness or the inane grinning Lineker – let’s have Wrighty, Keown and Dicko – men who love the club. Same for the other CL teams. (Thierry is above criticism thanks to the decade of joy he gave me.)

There are some quality presenters; Gary Neville, Jeff Stelling, Carragher, Dwight Yorke, Bellamy, Tyler, Quinny and even Hoddle can inform and entertain but the general standard is lamentable.

Let’s end on a positive … James Richardson. If only the others could be as humorous, informed and entertaining. Sadly, they are not.

So … to sum up. I could do better than most, so could you.


Who should start against Leicester – Olivier Giroud or Theo Walcott?

February 11, 2016

It appears that bloggers like nothing better than to express their opinion by voting on an Arsenal related poll. To that end we are introducing a ‘Your Vote Counts’ feature which will give you the opportunity to see if your opinion is in line with the majority. Traditionally polling days are on spursdays, but we may present the option on any quiet football news day.

Today you have the opportunity to cast your vote on:

Who should Arsène choose to lead the line on Sunday?

Oliver Giroud is our top goalscorer this season. He has scored some beautiful goals from difficult chances – remember that super swivel and goal against Liverpool – and missed some absolute sitters. He is good at holding up the ball and bringing others into play which means that we can compete using ‘long ball’ tactics.

Theo Walcott has again had time out with injuries this season and hasn’t quite found his shooting boots. He would like to play as a centre forward but the jury is still out on whether he can. He seems to have lost a bit of acceleration since returning from injury but I still think he would terrify defenders if he gets to run onto the right ball. I don’t think he has the strength or the guile to beat most centre-backs when positioned close to them. But has he had enough chances?

These two were most effective when it seemed they were fighting for their place. When Theo started games and Giroud came off the bench he would add a different dimension to our play. Theo is good running at a tired defense but doesn’t seem to get enough minutes to have an effect.

Who would you choose?

Written by peachesgooner


The Arsenal dressing room …… fiery cauldron or yoga retreat?

February 10, 2016

 

We have all heard interviews with ex-players where they’ve said that Arsene is not a ‘shouter’. He prefers calm and tranquillity in the dressing room before games and at half time. Yes he can get angry, but that is usually after the game when a performance has been poor. Arsene’s assistant managers also know they have to buy into the ethos and any over exuberance from them is viewed with disdain.

Our players stroll out onto the pitch in relaxed style, none of the fist pumping huddle stuff Southampton engaged in at The Emirates.

Arsene doesn’t necessarily see the role of captain as that of an on-pitch leader. With Cesc and BSR, it was a means of elevating the status of a player in order to try to keep them at the club. In Mertesacker he has a captain in his own image. A very nice guy, but not a marauding shouter by any means.

Arsene relies a lot on his players’ intelligence and probably believes that they should have the professionalism to self motivate – but is that expecting too much?

There have been times in recent years, and demonstrably in our last 4 or 5 performances when the team has been less than the sum of its parts. We’ve dropped points against sides where few if any of their players would get into the current Arsenal line-up …. why?

We are going to need to be a cohesive and determined team unit to beat Leicester at the weekend. The players will need to buy into a strategy for the game and must fight for one another. We must win more 50/50 battles than we lose. In short, we need to be a better team than of late.

The question I would ask is … “Would we see a more battling performance from our players if the dressing room pre-game was more of a fiery cauldron than a yoga retreat?”

Rasp


Arsenal have five days to hate Leicester

February 9, 2016

I am so pleased the current Arsenal side has so many overseas players, and here’s why. The English like an underdog, and that is a real weakness. Fair Play, good manners, the rule of law, honour, glorious defeat and so on. Not great characteristics to ingrain deep within a sporting institution, other than, in England, that’s precisely what Sport means.

However, look around the globe, and you’ll see the word Sport has an entirely different meaning.

Americans like Winners, Latin Nations like, approve, and have developed an honourable art out of Cheating, East and Bribery, Over There performance enhancing drugs and so on. Yet here we English are stuck back in the Victorian era where it’s still it’s all “No, after you”. That was all fine back in the day when losing was ok, because we knew deep down we could have them shot later.

So, back to this weekend and Leicester. Are we ready?

Arsenal, more than any other Club, epitomize this national characteristic trait, and we have to snap out of it, and prontissimo, or we’re in for a very nasty shock. In short, we need to get nasty and develop some serious attitude issues, and we have five days to do it.

Over this short five day period, each and every Arsenal player needs to develop a deep and meaningful grudge, and it’s really hard to know where to start. They will simply not “get” how annoying Gary Lineker is, because that’s down to context. You see, had this been almost any other Minnow sitting top, the job of hating would have been made a whole lot easier, but I’m really struggling with Leicester City.

Our Boys aren’t the best at being motivated on any day, and the five we stuck past them earlier won’t help either as the old chestnut complacency could have crept past front door security.

If I was Ranieri, I’d be posting scented candles to our boys, birthday cards, Facebook Requests, free tanning sessions and so on. Really soften us up.

If I was Wenger, I don’t know what I’d do.

Written by MickyDidIt89