11 simple steps to becoming a happy Gooner.

March 15, 2016

Are you fed up with life as an Arsenal fan?

Has the Wenger in/out debate left you feeling frustrated with your fellow supporters?

Are you spending your days thinking of ways to kill Piers Morgan without getting caught?

If the answer is yes, then don’t fret. All you have to do is follow these 10 simple steps and you will soon be a happy Gooner once again.

STEP 1: Stop reading negative online articles about Arsenal, taking great care to avoid anything with the words ‘protest’, ‘lack’ or ‘out’ in the title.

STEP 2: Delete Twitter. As an alternative why not use Instagram instead and upload all those nutscaping photos you took when you last visited the Emirates.

STEP 3: Lower your expectations. If you go in with the mindset of ‘we are going to lose 10-0’ then suddenly a 2-1 home defeat against Watford becomes a good result.

STEP 4: Start your own silverware collection and buy more every time Arsenal get knocked out of a competition. Maybe keep it in a nice cabinet so visitors can see, or under the bed in a nice box*.

STEP 5: Learn to use the mute button on your remote. Anyone with BT Sport will have already mastered this but for the rest of you, take time out of your day to get this right.

STEP 6: Avoid watching Arsenal games live. I find recording the game and only watching if I know it’s a good result is a great way to follow my team. It also means i can fast forward through the Graeme Souness bits.

STEP 7: Agree with every blogger and avoid terms like ‘I think’, ‘in my opinion’ and ‘Kelsey, you are wrong’. You will save yourself a lot of time and grief, and who knows, you may even make some friends.

STEP 8: If you insist on attending the matches, why not try sitting in the away end? The fans there tend to be much more pleasant towards the Arsenal and the atmosphere more singy and drinky.

STEP 9: Be more supporter and less board member. Nobody wants to hear about how the wage bill is structured, or what the owners business portfolio contains, or wether or not we have £130m in the bank. Why not try discussing more pleasant things like the new flavour of pie at the next home game, or the £3m French youngster we’ve just signed, or sliding cats?

STEP 10: Why not persuade your mum to use her spare time and her spare bed sheets to make you a banner? Something like ‘YOU ONLY SING WHEN YOUR WINNING’ would be perfect to whip out when we salvage a last minute point after inevitably going a goal behind.

STEP 11: Respect the Arsenal family. If you have an issue with the manager or board then that’s ok, but don’t let it become more than your love for Arsenal Football Club. There are enough people out there waiting to drag our club through the dirt without us doing it ourselves. Stay positive and be a happy Gooner.

* speak to Eddie for all your box needs.

Written by fgg


Match thoughts

March 14, 2016

An interesting question yesterday, as to if not Arsene, what is happening in the last 10 weeks.

Now it’s all tended to blur as one bad run (which it is) so I went back and looked at our games since the new year and just my impression of them.

Newcastle (H) Unmemorable except I think a defender scored.

Sunderland (FA Cup) Again, I can’t remember. Routine victory.

Liverpool (A) Frustrating to concede late. Felt at the time that might be huge

Stoke (A) Refereed in a manner that was harmful to us (not big decisions, just how it was refereed)

Chelsea (H) Not a very good performance, but the red card changed everything . A handball penalty appeal from us prior to that was not shown on replay on TV.

Burnley(FA Cup) Chambers goal is what I remember.

Southampton (H) Once again, I have to bring up the referee. Lee Mason as I recall. It was at this point that I believed we wouldn’t win the league. The other takeaway from this game was that we didn’t take our numerous chances. Which isn’t new.

Bournemouth (A) A decent performance and good win.

Leicester (H) Poor refereeing first half. Crowd up for it. Referee decided to play fair second half, we get a stoppage time winner.

Hull (Fa Cup) Decent performance, but not enough attacking efficiency. Again.

Barcelona (H) Great job sticking to the script for 70 minutes. Before then getting overambitious and lazy, and then further throwing it away with Per and Flamini’s cockup.

ManU (A) A totally insipid performance, except weirdly, the first 10 minutes or so.

Swansea (H) A goal up. A referee decision allows a breakaway which we concede from (poor defending) and the crowd turn on the players, moaning and grumbling every pass backwards, players went into their shell, and gave up the game. Poor second half performance.

Tottenham (A) Just the game to get some fire going. Did well to soak up 30 mins of pressure. Then opened them up to score. Could have had another. Coq’s stupid slide tackle gave them the initiative. Then panic and two silly goals conceded. Then a fightback, looking the better team for the last 20 minutes. Ref affected the match with no red card for a Spurs player. Still had a chance to win at the end.

Hull (FA Cup replay) 4-0 Ok performance, some good goals.

Watford (FA Cup) Poor defending on both goals, poor finishing, and a marginal offside call. Deserved loss though. Despite the (too) late fightback.

So, I think in the early part of the year we were just about at the end of having to deal with so many injuries. Remember Coquelin, Cazorla, Alexis, and Welbeck were all out. We’d coped for a long period, but it was starting to tell. We’ve also had a fair few games where referees have negatively impacted us. This is also a narrative of our season that needs to be considered.

For the rest, it has been low confidence, some terrible defending, especially recently, and mostly, a lack of finishing that is the problem.

To me, the defending on transitions is now a worry. I have considered it after some other blogs brought it up as a managerial weakness and it seems that is a legitimate concern (though everyone is vulnerable to the counter to some extent) But in terms of attacking (the tradeoff with the defense I suppose), the manager’s setup is doing its job. Creating chances.

We’re I think still the best at that, and it isn’t all because of Ozil either. We’re just not scoring them. In that, I find it hard to blame the manager. Except of course, he (and I) was wrong in that Alexis, Walcott and the Ox were going to add enough goals to us. In fact they’ve all regressed this season. Is that on the manager? Only in a notional sense for me. It’s on the individual players there.

The other thing is, I think the loss of Santi (and an absence of Wilshere and Rosicky) makes it harder for us to control games now. We rarely keep control of the game with our possession and passing. We need better ball players in the middle because we aren’t efficient in either our defending or our scoring to play a great counter attacking game. We need better ball players, and Elneny seems like a step in the right direction.

So, things that are on the manager. Not buying a striker. Poor defending.

Things that are not in the managers control. Referees. Injuries (I know the argument exists that it’s because of him, but he and the club have done everything to get it to change)

Things that the manager is doing well. Having a system that despite the injuries is helping us create chances.

I think our weaknesses and failings are highlighted more than our achievements which gives the impression that we’re always on the edge of crisis. Is this a crisis?

Not really, no. But it’s just that we now expect to rise up further, and since all the other big clubs have fallen off (Why?) this is seen like a chance that we’re blowing it.

Plus we’re dealing with a history of a negative media campaign going back to 2007 when the words trophy drought were first coined.

Lastly, the season still isn’t over. 9 league games is a lot of games. We’ll see how it goes.

By Shard

 


Wenger’s 3rd Double?

March 13, 2016

FA Cup quarterfinals, at home in front of our 12th man, a relatively fit squad and against a team we have already beaten 3-0 away this season; surely an Arsenal win – if only it were so simple!

The draw at SHL and away hammering of Hull could and should give rise to optimism with the expectation of a successful run in both the League and FA Cup, The team must be buoyed by the prospect of the Hatrick of FAC’s.

What of Watford? Nice family club 😀

Strong in defence and midfield, stuttering upfront after initially looking potent. It is only a couple of moths since the media (bizarrely)  linked us with Troy Deeney and  were raving about his strike partner (whose name I can’t be bothered to Google).

Watford have already had an excellent season having probably achieved their target of survival in the PL. They come to THOF in the midst of a poor run having won only 2 of their last 11 PL games.

I like their manager; Quique Sanchez  Flores, I would like both his job and his name.(useless fact – the legendary Alfredo di Stefano is his godfather)

One certainty this lunchtime is whomever is in goal for Watford will have a stormer. They always do. Both Gomes and Pantilliaman are excellent GK’s and I expect them to be busy, very busy.

Our Team: Ramsey is a major loss especially given the number of injuries in midfield. One more and Flamini returns! However, this gives Elneny a chance to cement his place in the team; a very impressive performance at Hull gives rise to the hope that Mr Wenger has discovered another gem. The El Nino/ Coq combo gives defensive solidity and also allows the attackers to concentrate more on attack. Walcott, in particular, could benefit .

Walcott or Campbell?  Welbeck or Giroud? What do you think? I lean towards Campbell and Giroud.

I believe that happiness depends upon setting achievable goals; the CL is not achievable thanks to the quality of the top 3 clubs (4 with PSG and 5 with BD). Realistically we are highly unlikely to beat one of them let alone two, so we must look elsewhere to find our goals and they are the PL and the FA Cup. Arsenal have won one of the goals their past two seasons, we are in a strong position to continue this quest for happiness.

The Double is On.

COYRRG


Weekend Focus

March 12, 2016

Being Arsenal fans, we see absolutely everything through red and white glasses, and as such, there is always much fun to be had at the expense of others.

On Thursday, we had the Europa games, and we look for other teams to have confidence knocked, momentum lost, and legs to become weary. We get embroiled in other petty rivalries, and wonder what outcomes will best suit our own ends.

The main course this weekend will be served up lunchtime Sunday at The Emirates with our Cup game against Watford, but around us are sandwiched lesser gourmet delights, but entertainment nonetheless with much to appetise on the menu.

We have a smorgasboard of both League and Cup games, many of which impact The Arsenal. Can we progress tomorrow, while our League fortunes prosper without us kicking a League ball today? Will the other Cup ties produce favourable results for us?

There are times and places in life when it’s good to laugh at the misfortunes of others, and football is one of those. Where are we likely to see the best “misery” this weekend?

Much to feast upon. Enjoy the football.

written by MickyDidIt


Where Arsenal supporters really think we will finish at the end of this season.

March 10, 2016

Let’s pretend that in the race for the League Title, all teams have played 29 games, and for that to be the case, City and Pool have played, and won, their game in hand.

  1. Leicester 1st on  60
  2. Totnum
  3. City
  4. Arsenal 4th on 52
  5. West Ham
  6. Utd
  7. Liverpool 7th on 47

Personally I cannot see Leicester losing three more games than us over the remaining 9 games, but hey, mathematically we can still win the thing. Another factor in overall positions could well be goal difference, and really only Totnum have a significant advantage over the other runners and riders, so that could effectively equate to an additional point in the final analysis.

Ok, today’s post is a poll, and so you could push a button and push off, job done, however, you could lob in a comment with your hopes and aspirations. This could range from “don’t care, going to jump anyway”, to “above Totnum or I’m moving to Grimsby, where I shall survive by selling my body to lonely fishermen”.

Some may argue that Top Four doesn’t matter too much (and what’s the point of the CL, we’ll never win it, and I’m jumping anyway so don’t care) outside of the cash consideration, as a period of consolidation and focus on the League, could be what’s needed, which so nearly worked for Liverpool a few season’s ago.

We recently played Totnum, in what I think was our final opportunity for top spot, now I’m looking below and seeing real threats from the likes of West Ham.

We could look in depth at the individual fixtures of all contenders, but I’m not bothering, rather it will come down to desire and hunger during phases of certain games when things are not going our way. Of course, this applies to the teams around us, and other factors will come into play such as other Cup commitments. There is another factor. The Manager. How will City and possibly Utd, react knowing a different man will be at the helm next term.

If nothing else, it is going to be exciting, and that for me is brilliant.

Where do you think Arsenal will finish?

Written by mickydidit89

 


Ban the Banner and the Banner … Or Not? ….. Your Vote Counts

March 9, 2016

This is just my opinion ……

The gloss was taken off yesterday’s excellent victory for me by the decision of one/some of our away supporters to hold up a banner at the end of the game which called for Arsene Wenger to resign.

I was particularly sad for our players who were making their way over to celebrate with the fans when the banner was raised and then had no alternative but to turn around and walk away dejectedly for fear that the Press would have a field day …. you can see the headlines …”Arsenal players celebrate in front of Arsene Out banner”

No one is going to complain about a banner that is positive in its message, but do we have a right to display negativity in such a public way?

Of course freedom of speech says we do, so let’s qualify the question a bit in this poll.

You can tick multiple answers if you choose.

Rasp


Coquelin’s Punishment. No trip to Hull.

March 8, 2016

Let’s be honest, the home leg was dreary. How can this evening  be an improvement?

Simple. Goals. As Didit continually harps on about, goals are what we pay for. I love a crunching tackle, even better a little outrageous skill (aka Mesut), a towering defensive header or a sprint down the wings but let’s face it, a 0-0 draw rarely excites. It is goals which get us out of our seats.

Awful Music Alert. Turn off Speakers before Watching

There have been some fine 0-0, I recall at cracker at WHL a few seasons ago. Thinking of which I saw this and giggled – hopefully you will too.

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Mr Bruce, he of the badly squashed face, you know the mush, the one that looks as though he has run full-face into a wall, Come on, you know, the chap who resembles an overweight pug dog. Well, Mr Bruce has once again stated that he will rotate his squad. He did so at The Emirates and came away with an unwanted result. With the PL a priority Bruce will not want a home game against Watford on Sunday – or will he? It must be a financial boon.

The FA Cup has to be a priority for Mr Wenger. We are doomed in the CL and the PL title remains open; the chance to make FAC history must be alluring. 3 on the spin would satisfy even Herb’s Army!

So, we will play a few reserves and chaps who need games to return to form. Giroud will start alongside Walcott. Campbell too.

I expect to see Chambers at RB which forces Mr Wenger to play his first choice, fit, CB’s – BFG and Paul Easter. Gibbs to continue at LB after a fine game on Saturday.

Team:

Ospina

Chambers   BFG   Easter   Gibbs

Elneny   Flamini   Iwobi

Campbell    Giroud    Walcott

A strong bench in case of our lads being silly.

Hull played well at the Em’s and they are not going to be easy opponents tonight – they never are. Two decent CB’s backed up by a fine GK and a battling midfield, they are hard to break down. If Hull score first it could be a long night.

BTW have you ever been to Hull? If not, keep it that way. If, like me, you have visited this outpost of civilisation you will know that the game is best watched from the comfort of your own home or a pub.

And remember, the match kicks off at 19.00. Can you recall a match ever kicking off at 19.00? Anyone know why?

Another big game for Arsenal. A home tie against Watford beckons; win that and we are into the Semi’s.

Glory and Silverware awaits

COYRRG


Money Can’t Buy You Love (or Silverware)

March 7, 2016

Following our recent disappointments the blogs have been awash with requests for Arsenal to spend money – big money, in summer. Apparently, it was our lack of spending in 2015 that has led to our current situation.

Some blame Kroenke for not investing into the team; calling for him to sell his shares to Jabba the Hut who will buy Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Pogba etc etc and thereby bring back the glory days.

Perhaps, but let’s look elsewhere to see if this is true.

I will start in Spain and at the second biggest club in world football, Real Madrid. Note I wrote second. RM spend on a massive scale, they have the two most expensive players in history and have spent hundreds of millions on their squad.

RM won what in 2015? I will tell you … nothing. Zip. De Nada. Rien.

Let’s come closer to home and look at the Premier League.

Nett biggest spenders … MC, MU, Chavs, L’pool. How are these 4 clubs faring this season? As of today, they are all behind the mighty Gunners.

Arsenal have spent €250m less than MU,CFC and MC over the last 5 seasons and €140m less than Liverpool.

To be fair, MC and CFC have won stuff but MU and L’pool, despite huge investment haven’t and are unlikely to in the near future. For them money has not been able to buy silverware.

Mr Wenger has often talked about financial doping  and it’s negative effect. Just look at France and Italy. Their leagues are ruined by the massive spending power of the two main clubs, PSG and Juventus.

I am definitely not saying that Arsenal do not need to buy players, we clearly do but let’s be realistic – throwing money at the team is only part of the project to take us to success.

In my opinion some tweaking, a couple of quality signings and good fortune with injuries will see us dominate the PL for many years top come.

Written by Big Raddy

 


The Good the Bad and the Ugly

March 6, 2016

This was probably the most important and stressful NLD in many a year for both sets of fans. I have said over the last number of years that the NLD is the best of the lot. Maybe this sentiment is because of my having a greater emotional involvement in it, but I have looked at other derby’s like the Merseyside and Tyneside ones and I really feel that the NLD’s are more frequently infused with the best atmosphere, the best end to end attacking football, and the most goals and drama. For that I say kudos to both clubs and both sets of fans and I feel both sides are a credit to the EPL in these fixtures.

Right that is enough of giving the Spuds praise, now to the game. I thought Spurs started the better team. The reason for this is because they just had to play as they had been training and developing to play all season. They employ the (Guardiola Barca style) high press game with quick intricate passing when in possession and pressing quickly in the opposition third when possession is lost. They just slipped into a style of play that is now becoming second nature to them.

In contrast we have not been playing this way, although I have seen evidence we can, and I still feel we are a team currently without a solid identity of playing style. We seemed to struggle with their play and energy early on in the game, as we often have against the sides playing this way. However, we have quality players and we took the lead against the run of play with a very well executed goal. Ramsey’s finish was sublime but Bellerin’s hard low pass when shaping to shoot, which most players would have, showed a calmness and maturity beyond his years.

This seemed to galvanise our belief and we then came more into the game with the rest of the half ending on an equal footing for me. Entering the second half I was expecting us to weather a storm, but low and behold we soon started to take the game by the scruff of the neck and were the team in the ascendency, and 1-0 up to the bargain. They were the team struggling to free themselves from our high press all of a sudden.

That was until that moment. The danger from where Kane was moving forwards relative to his support and our defensive set up was minimal. The challenge was therefore unnecessary and really poor game management in that situation. I didn’t know whether to be angry with Coquelin for sheer stupidity, or the coaching and management for not instructing their players better. On hindsight I think that the players that are more in the heart of the battle (like the Coquelins, Vieiras and Keanes) will always have some reds in their career, and it needs to be accepted to a degree. This one was silly and unnecessary though and harmful to us, but I believe that Coquelin will learn from this and I still feel he is a very important player for us.

However we paid for it. I am not even sure whether it was the missing of 1 player that resulted in the next number of minutes of play, or whether it was more purely a massive psychological boost in a positive way for them coupled with a nervy negative psychological blow to us. Either way we were all of a sudden 2-1 down with 10 men, seemingly only in a matter of minutes, from having been 1-0 up with 11 men and playing the better football.

I was worried then but it seemed we were made of sterner stuff. The much touted spirit that Arsene often talks about, sometimes to my annoyance, was actually there. We created a few chances and one of them resulted in our equaliser and a much needed goal for Alexis. We weathered a few shaky moments but gave as good as we got in the last 20 minutes and it could have easily gone either way, even with us down to 10 men. Ospina, who had a great game, was required on a few occasions, but then again so was Lloris and their defenders.

So what did we learn?

Elneny, in Santi’s absence, looks a better bet alongside Coquelin than Ramsey. I refer to LB’s comment yesterday :

The thing that impressed me the most today about Elneny was not his incredible engine that enabled him to cover every blade of grass, not his ability to be able to read the game and position himself exactly where he was best needed; no, what most impressed me was the continuous metronomic accuracy of his short range passes; that’s to say, when he played a pass it seemed to always find its man. Nothing fancy, nothing Hollywood just plain simple passing which took the pressure off and enabled us to build.

I agree with slim that he needs to bull up a little bit and then he would be completely running the midfield.

We look better with a more mobile striker up top and, along with Ospina and Elneny, Welbeck was the third stand out performer for me. We need to develop this and these relationships that work more.

The third thing, and likely more controversial, is about the high press. I am largely a believer in it as being the more effective modern style of football. Now we actually spent some of this game doing it and some not. For me this style of play normally sees quick incisive forwards passing between players, and into fellow team-mates, even when the opposition players are in close attendance. The risk is that you may lose possession more easily than passing backwards or sideways, but then if you have “x” amount of players near by anyway, if the slick pass doesn’t quite come off, you can press immediately to win back possession or force them into a mistake.

We did this at the start of the second half and Spurs didn’t like it. What they liked was when we slowed it all down a bit and took less chances with our quick forward passes and started to pass the ball back more and circulate it around. They could then push out again themselves and pressure our defenders. This all says to me that we need to move away from the slower, more possession guaranteed, passing back to defenders and move towards the slightly higher risk quick passing in the opposition third but with a quick press when possession has been lost.

We can do it and possibly could be the best exponents of it in the EPL, if we adopt it. I think this game showed both our weaknesses and our strengths, and it showed us what we have been doing wrong, and what we need to do with the set-up and style of play to really move forwards. We have the capability to win every remaining game this season, and what would that mean? Time to pull the finger out and get the best out of this highly talented squad I say.

Written by GoonerB


Wenger’s Waterloo?

March 5, 2016

Last time we had such a hyped NLD was at Wembley ’93, thankfully TA sent me down the North Circular Rd with a wide smile on my face, which somewhat made up for the awful drive home following the Gazza semi-final.

I would argue that those games were bigger because there remains almost a quarter of the season to play as opposed to a one-off winner takes all match. In the unlikely worst case we would be 9 points behind LCFC with 9 games to play – not insurmountable. But that is not going to happen.

Unknown.jpeg

The past few trips to the SHL have been, let’s be honest, difficult, though Rosicky’s rocket stands out like a diamond in a pile of excrement.

Our chances have been written off by all and sundry (apart from our superfan Rocky Lives), even the great Bob Wilson expects us to lose. Why? Has everyone forgotten that the bunch of no-marks who inhabit the swamplands around WHL are at best a miserable group of poltroons?

Spurs, as all right-minded folk know are a team of half-wits managed by a ferret-faced philanderer (he could be, couldn’t he? 😉 ).

We are told we have to fear Harry Kane (the Gooner)! The last time I saw a face so ugly it had a hook in it. He is the best player in Snow White’s basketball team.

Then there is their defence. Supposedly the rock upon which the Knuckle-Draggers depend. A group of low-browed criminals brought together at great expense in order to protect the French Gibbon guarding the goals. Come on – even Theo can score against this bunch.

And what of Eriksen? Rumour has it that he was a errand boy in a tenth rank brothel in downtown Copenhagen before being “invited” to Amsterdam where he continued plying his trade. SHL is the perfect environment to develop his particular skills.

Dele Alli? An ex MK Don better suited to selling bananas on Lordship Lane Market. It is rare to find a more over-hyped young player. Based upon what? 25 games for Spurs.

images-1.jpeg

 

Dembele? It is as if Nature had intended to make a gorilla and changed its mind at the very last second. Coquelin is already snarling.

BTW Do you know who is the highest scorer in PL NLD’s (obvious really)?

Enough of them…

We have a few minor problems in  terms of injuries, confidence and lack of form. Nothing that cannot be resolved .

Ospina is a fine substitute for Cech. Is there a better No.2 GK in the PL? I doubt it.

Koscielny is a miss as he always plays well against the numpties and Gabriel for all his talent is not yet at Kos’s level.

Welbeck must start this game. 15 minutes at the end of the midweek misery was not enough to influence the result.

I would play Elneny alongside Coquelin with Ramsey on the right.

My Team:

Ospina

Bellerin     BFG     Gabriel     Monreal

Ramsey   Elneny   Coquelin    Sanchez

Welbeck    Giroud    Ozil

You may notice one glaring error in the above team, but Hey, it is my team, my rules 😀

I see no reason why we cannot get a result this afternoon; we are playing Spurs not a rampant Barcelona. West Ham did them (as they did us), so can the Mighty Gunners.

The fools in the stands are ready to be rocked like jelly in the wind. Silenced like a defendant in a Mafia trial. Deflated like an undercooked soufflé .

Much will depend upon how, and more to the point, whether, Mr Wenger can get his players organised in such a way that they can cope with the pressure. Lose this afternoon and the knives will be well and truly out. Given AW’s almost 20 years of sterling service the dog’s abuse he receives is monumentally unjust.

We have won the League at The Lane – Twice. We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

COYRRG.