3 points more important than A4.

April 30, 2016

What is more important  … some ne’er dowells expressing their dissatisfaction or three points in our quest to remain in the CL?

Had this been a non-match day I would have opened a discussion about the  best method of protest but IMO beating Norwich is far more important. All I will say is this – nothing the protesters do will have any effect; nothing will change, nothing.

We go into this game on an unbeaten run of 7 games which under other circumstances would be cause for celebration. We have not lost to Norwich at The Emirates – ever, we have scored 19 goals in our last 4 home games against Norwich. It should bode well.


But, Norwich are desperate for points, relegation is a real possibility with both their close rivals, Sunderland and Newcastle, picking up points. They have to get something from this afternoon and Arsenal should expect a battle.

How should AFC “set out their stall”(E. Gray 1994). We do not have the players for a physical battle so a focus on our strengths of pace and fast-passing will have to be the order of the day.

So … No Giroud. I would like to see Alexis central with Ozil left and Theo right but that won’t happen! I expect to see Welbz upfront.

With all the midfield fit will Ramsey start? Will Mr Wenger pick both Coquelin and Elneny ahead of the inevitable midfield battle ? Will  the impressive Iwobi be dropped for Wilshire? Will anyone be dropped for Wilshere?

Your guess has as much merit as mine so  – just for once – I make no predictions.

If Arsenal score early – we win.

Short PM today. Sadly, I have little time and a similar amount of inclination 🙂


Friday Rant: Mr Wenger’s News Conference

April 29, 2016

I thought I would write a post based upon the revelations from Mr Wenger’s weekly newscast. The trouble is the same questions are asked and the same answers given.

So  … here it is …


“Yes, he is back in training and is available for selection …. perhaps”

“I don’t know who will play.”

“Norwich are a strong team.”

“We are mentally strong and have a positive attitude in the squad.”

“The squad will all be fit in time for the Euro’s”

“Financially the club is in fine shape and we can compete with our rivals in the transfer market.”

“No, I do not worry about the fans concerns – there are always fans concerns.”

“I was very impressed with the quality of Chas’s slider videos this morning and look forward to more. It shows the strength and unity of the blog”

Let’s be honest, these news conferences are a waste of time especially for poor Arsene who has done hundreds of them. He gives nothing away and they are purely for the benefit of tired media hacks looking to trip up our manager and engender a misleading hit-provoking headline.

This morning saw a journalist putting words into AW’s mouth about the fan unrest. What the hack was trying to do was get AW to collude in the miscreant’s anti-Arsenal agenda. Thankfully our manager is too intelligent to be drawn into such base journalism.

Can we stop them, please?

written by Big Raddy

Totaalvoetbal and Are We Overcoaching?

April 28, 2016

Across the years there have been many great footballing eras. When they came along it represented times when something new and revolutionary was happening, something that would alter the way that football clubs would try and do things from that point.

The most recent era I feel came in with Guardiola’s Barcelona. Guardiola was undoubtedly the beneficiary of some fine ground work from those that came before him, but his quick passing, probing, possession football with an emphasis on winning the ball back quickly through a high press now looks to primarily be the modern blueprint for top sides.

Before this the Italian style of Catenaccio proved effective and saw the big Italian clubs as the dominant force for a period of time. Well organised defensive systems with devastating quick counter-attacking ability. Even with the newer developments with the high press you still see the art of Catenaccio proving effective today. In fact, it is almost the antithesis of the high press and the style of football most likely, carried out correctly, to still frustrate and overcome a dominant high press team enjoying superior possession.


Going even further back we have had Pele’s Brazil who were just….well they were just Brazil and brilliant. It is likely that a modern top team needs to borrow certain aspects from all the great eras.

One of the greatest eras that saw a revolutionary change in the landscape was that of Totaalvoetbal, or better known to most of us as Dutch total football. It is this concept that I wish to touch more upon today. It could be argued that it wasn’t a completely new concept at the time of its recognised development. The great Brazil, Hungarian and Madrid sides preceding this could have been viewed as total footballing sides. However, it certainly became recognised as an entity in its own right in the 70’s, mainly through the Ajax side of Rinus Michels with the great Cruyff (RIP) as its most famous offspring.

Bergkamp & cruyff

I am sure some of our Dutch contingent can add far more to my more limited knowledge on the subject but the basic idea is that you coach a team of highly technically skilled players that can take up the position of any one of their team-mates at any time in the game thus creating a fluid attacking system with interchanging players.

The question I have is – can it still effectively function on its own in the modern game, to the point where other styles and systems need not be considered? Alternatively, does it still have its place in modern football but not in its full purist all-encompassing style that was seen in the 70’s? Can the total football style still be a key component in a modern football club but it is now necessary to know where its effectiveness ends in the modern game?

In today’s game I feel you can still see great merit in this style of coaching, particularly with the academy player’s skill set development. I will put my neck out and state that I feel that Arsene Wenger adheres to its principles in his footballing philosophy and utilises it in the development of our academy players.

I wonder though if we take it too far in this modern era. By this I mean is it now an effective concept in modern top level first team football beyond the development period of the academy player. It seems to me that Arsene frequently carries its concepts into our first team, and even at this point still likes to move certain senior first team players around into different positions.

Personally I feel the 70’s total football concept is excellent for youth development but that, in the modern game, once a player is considered a regular first team player it becomes more important to discern where their key strengths and weaknesses lie and to identify that players best position and then let them then develop their skills further to become as effective as they can in that role.

I have harboured a feeling for a while that we are almost over-coaching many of our more senior young players, beyond the point of where it is useful, and that then it becomes a hindrance to their further development. Are we creating too many Jack of all trades master of none, and does the modern game requires a greater number of specialists than was required back in the 70’s where a greater number of adaptable players was effective?


The player that really comes to mind for me is Oxlade Chamberlain. I feel he has been shunted around too much and we have not found his best position and allowed him to develop into it. This idea could be applied to other players as well and I do wonder if this is why we are seeing the likes of Oxlade Chamberlain seemingly stall, if not go backwards, in their development as a player once they are more regularly in the first team.

Anyway…..Discuss 🙂

Written by GoonerB

Is the ‘Parked Bus’ an Exaggerated Problem?

April 26, 2016

Extract from GIE comment

So next season, what should we expect? What do we need? Do we actually need to take a few steps backwards to go forward?

Firstly we need more goals from midfield, plus more goals from wide and up top. I reckon you need 3/4 very good to great players to have a consistently great season, so we need to be looking at Kozzer, Jack, Ozil and Alexis to offer that.

But the going backwards bit? Well we need to stop committing men forward and leaving ourselves open, I think that will lead to a lot of 0-0’s but may encourage teams to start coming out of their bus formation more?


Is the parked bus as big an issue as we make out? I suppose when it works against us it’s usually a smaller team that’s doing it and the result of a draw or defeat to these sides sticks in our minds more than a similar result to a Man City or Chelsea.

I’m going to suggest that it’s mainly an issue for home fixtures, as when we play away teams tend to have more of a go, and it’s us that plays on the counter. So let’s look at the results table from the last 2 seasons and see how many times we have been caught out?


Chelsea 0-0
United 1-2
City 2-2
Sunderland 0-0
Swansea 0-2
Spurs 1-1
Hull 2-2


Chelsea 0-1
Palace 1-1
Liverpool 0-0
Southampton 0-0
Swansea 1-2
Spurs 1-1
West Ham 0-2

So out of 38 home games we’ve gained 81/114 points. That means we’ve dropped 33 points:

Swansea 6
Chelsea 5
Spurs 4
United 3
West Ham 3
Liverpool 2
Palace 2
Southampton 2
City 2
Sunderland 2
Hull 2

21 of the points were lost against Chelsea, United, City, Liverpool, Spurs, West Ham and Southampton. Whilst not great results they are not exactly lost to teams parking the bus. These are all very capable, top half teams. So that means in the last 2 seasons only 12 points have been lost at home to ‘small’ teams bringing a bus:

Swansea 6
Palace 2
Sunderland 2
Hull 2

Now rather than us changing tactics, if we just defend better and stop conceding stupid goals, as suggested by GIE yesterday, then we could easily have saved points. In fact, if we’d conceded 1 less goal in each of the 14 games we’d be 13 points better off!

So in conclusion, I don’t think the parked bus is as much of an issue as we think but we cause the problem ourselves. Its not tactics that need to change, but maybe the mentality of the players. Sometimes it’s better to make sure you don’t concede than it is to push for a goal and leave yourself wide open to counters. As GIE said, it may lead to more draws, but it may also encourage teams to come out a little bit and give us the opportunities to score without as much risk of losing valuable points.

The problem? How do you think Arsenal fans would react if we were drawing 0-0 with 10 minutes to go against a side like Sunderland and we were probing for gaps rather than pushing everyone forward to find a winner? I suppose it all comes down to one thing, balance.

If we start to concentrate on clean sheets rather than winning games though, are we not one step away from becoming a side that Jose Mourinho could manage!? *shudder*

Written by fgg

Arsenal Firing Blanks

April 25, 2016

Sunderland 0 – 0 Arsenal

Possession %

29.6 – 70.4

Total Shots

12 – 20

On Target

3 – 7

Off Target

6 – 5


7 – 7

Press Conference:

on the game…
We had good cohesion and movement off the ball in the first half. In the second half we dropped physically and the game became a bit more tight because both teams had chances. In the first half, we should have run into the dressing room with the lead. Overall, that is the story of the game.
on Sunderland making things difficult…
They did. I felt a team like Sunderland is ready to fight for their lives. They never give up during the 90 minutes and they started with a bit of anxiety. We should have taken advantage of their level of anxiety at the start of the game, but we couldn’t do it. The fact that we played Sunday, Thursday and then today, we suffered a little bit physically in the second half and then the game was much more difficult for us.

on the penalty shouts…
I wouldn’t have given any of them because the players were very close to the guy who took the shot. There was an intention to play the ball. Overall, I would say they did well on that.
on Arsenal lacking goals…
Maybe a little bit in front of goal because at the moment Olivier Giroud cannot score so you feel that he does not completely have the same confidence. You go through spells like that and I believe we have to support him and give him the needed confidence.
on Giroud’s confidence…
His performances are more about his confidence but I think he will come back. He has gone through spells like this before.

on teams fighting…
We care about that and we worry about it as well because it is a fight and there are two [different kinds of] teams at the moment in the league. There are teams that are taking it a little bit easier that you see some games and you think you would like to play them now – the teams that are safe and do not go for Europe. Then you have the teams that go for something at the front and the teams that fight not go down and they are different games.
on not winning the title…
It is disappointing, because we play to win the league and the fact that we have not won it is of course frustrating like it is for many other teams.

Player Ratings taken from the Daily Mail

Cech 7.5

Bellerin 6.5

Koscielny 6

Mertersacker 6

Monreal 6

Ramsey 5.5

Elneny 6

Iwobi 6.5

Ssnchez 6.5

Özil 6

Giroud 5.5



A draw was probably a fair reflection of the game as both teams had chances to win it. Personally, I would’ve started with Welbeck and Campbell instead of Iwobi and Giroud as I felt playing Thursday was going to leave us tired in the second half and so it proved. I’m surprised Wenger touched on this in his press conference but did nothing about it in the game. With United still having to play Norwich, West Ham and Leicester I still think we will get top 4, but I would prefer if we didn’t need to go to Man City needing a result.

Stats compiled by fgg

Match stats – discuss last night’s game

April 22, 2016

Arsenal 2 – 0 West Brom

Possession %

71.3 – 28.7

Total Shots

16 – 8

On Target

7 – 1

Off Target

6 – 4


2 – 6


Press Conference:

on the win…
I believe we dominated from the start to the last minute, in fact what we did against Crystal Palace. Overall I believe the quality of our game was very good. Maybe, we could have scored more goals. That is the only thing you could say tonight. We didn’t concede and couldn’t finish the game off the way we wanted.
on Iwobi…
He is improving game after game because he is just coming in. That is another positive from the season. He has shown quality game after game and he is surprising. His consistency is surprising, because he has only played youth football and suddenly he plays at that pace. I’m a bit cautious with him sometimes, but overall what he produces is a football player.
on Alexis…
He had a top quality first half and I think he dropped a bit in the second half physically. Overall, his contribution was vital today.

on the importance of the win…
You look at the time like us, every point is important at the moment. I think we are under permanent pressure in every single game so it is important to have the lead and focus on the way we want to play football.
on the early goal…
Ideally, you want to always score early goals but the Premier League is the Premier League and it is difficult for everyone at the top of the table. There are top, top teams behind us, and because Leicester City is in front, everyone thinks that we should have done it. Yes okay, you can see that for any other team. Leicester were bottom of the table last year, so all the 19 teams can say it.
on home matches at Emirates…
If you love football, you go out there and I think you see quality football. That’s what we try to give to our people. It was a special night as well, Thursday night, and I don’t know if you are intelligent enough, nor am I, to detect exactly why everybody that did not turn up tonight did not turn up.
on the game clashing with Masterchef…
That’s a good reason maybe [for the game not selling out]!
on if he’s looking over his shoulder or looking above…
We want to finish as high as possible. You never know what happens in front of you. There can still be twists and turns but we want to win our games. We came out of West Ham and Crystal Palace thinking we had produced the quality and didn’t get the points. If you look at our last five games, we won at Everton, we won against Watford, we had two draws and we won today. The regret we have is being in the lead against West Ham and being in the lead against Crystal Palace and not getting the points. I don’t know where we’ll finish but we have to give everything in every game. We go to Sunderland, Sunderland fight not to go down. That will be a battle and we have to prepare for that.
on Kieran Gibbs’ absence from the squad…
[He had] a back problem. It looks short term. He had a training session today.
on Giroud’s lack of goals…
Of course it’s affecting him. Tonight he hit the head of the keeper and at the moment he looks for a goal.
on Bellerin’s inclusion in the PFA Team of the Year…
He was like Iwobi last year, that means he came into the squad and continued to develop. For Iwobi that’s a good way to follow, to move even a step up next season. The positive of the season is that Hector has been consistent. He was outstanding in the first half as well.

Player Ratings taken from the Daily Mail

Cech 6.5

Bellerin 7

Koscielny 6.5

Mertersacker 6.5

Monreal 6.5

Ramsey 7.5

Elneny 7

Iwobi 7

Sanchez 8.5

Özil 7.5

Giroud 6

Stats compiled by fgg

BFG to Return?

April 21, 2016

Under normal circumstances the prospect of WBA arriving at The Ems when we are in desperate need of three points would bring a smile especially as despite the furore we are unbeaten in 4 games and have 8 points from 12.

But ….. if you are reading this then you know how the fans and media are turning on the team, particularly at Fortress Arsenal, and to a long-in-the-tooth Gooner that hurts. Our 12th man is already on the beach – worse, our 12th man has become toxic or as Mr Wenger puts it “we play in a negative atmosphere”

It is sad to say that we would be more likely to beat our opposition when playing away from home, Of course this is purely an opinion and an opinion based upon the evidence seen on a television 1000 miles from the Emirates.

Putting this subject aside for a full post, let us return to tonight.

If we are to continue  our run of playing each season in the CL – a run unsurpassed by any other team in Europe ( a little exaggeration because RM are equal with us at 19), then a win tonight is vital.

Will Mr Pulis allow his team to roll over like Chelsea did to MC or Stoke vs Spurs? Probably not. Does any manager whose team are on a poor run of form?

Will Rondon and Berahinho score for a team that averages one goal a game?

I don’t do stats but I know that WBA have lost 7 of their last games at The Emirates and have won just one of their last 11 away games in the PL.

Arsenal: Is it time for rotation? If so, who gets dropped?

My guess is that Iwobi will be given a rest. Apart from him, only Mr Wenger knows. If it were me I would play Walcott against WBA’s less than sprightly FB’s and give OG a start upfront. If we are to throw crosses into the box (which seems to have become de rigueur) the we have to have someone who can muscle his way past defenders; as much as I like Welbeck this is not his forte.

Ramsey has to return. He has become a marmite player in the team but I am huge fan of his (whilst hating marmite).  Giving Ramsey the freedom to play that is given to young Iwobi may lead to a resurrection of his form.

A regular fans complaint is that Arsenal are lacking a leader, if so BFG has to start. Paul Easter has potential but I miss the Big Man.

We need to win, not just for the points but for the atmosphere around the club. If Arsenal walk off the pitch with less than 3 points they will leave the pitch to a chorus of boos from three-quarter empty stands.

It is a well-known fact that Her Majesty, QE 2 is a dyed-in-the-wool Gooner. She has a poster of Tony Adams scoring vs Everton on her mantlepiece at Windsor Castle and another of Micky’s somersault in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace. On her 90th birthday it is up to the players to bring a smile to her much wrinkled face.

Let it be So.


Arsenal need Agüero

April 19, 2016

Everyone and their dog knows that we need Agüero, I know it, you know it and above all Wenger knows it.

Really — is there someone reading this who thinks that Arsene Wenger doesn’t realise that we need an Agüero? Well, in that case, I accuse you of being more naive than Sniffer our resident troll and that takes some doing.

Furthermore, it is not just us who want one of those low centre of gravity players with great close control who seem to effortlessly score twenty goals plus per season; no it is not: Manchester United want one, Chelsea want one, PSG want one and I suspect that Real Madrid would swap Benzema for one. That is a lot of Agüeros needed.

The obvious problem is that there are only four Agüeros on this planet and Barcelona have three of them; the genuine article being safely under contract for the foreseeable future at Manchester City.

With such a shortage of Agüeros what was Wenger supposed to do? The one thing he shouldn’t have done was do nothing and he didn’t; he tried to find a solution: Giroud was his first attempt and Welbeck was his second.

So, once again I say to all those who were whining at the beginning of the season about Wenger having the money and not spending it that all the Agüeros were taken. I am obviously using Sergio Agüero as a metaphor for the dearth of available strikers and I point to the amount of clubs that I name above who were equally on the hunt but were equally unsuccessful.

I suspect that one of the principal divides between Arsenal supporters is that there are those who believe that Wenger would spend 60mil if an Agüero became available and, all importantly, wanted to come to THOF and there are those who believe that for some bizarre reason he wouldn’t spend the money. I say bizarre because it makes no sense for him not to; no manager in Europe has a greater backing of the board, the money was and is there for him to do just that; so of course he is going to want to improve the team if he could, who wouldn’t for crying out loud?

Let me say this slowly: there weren’t any other strikers available at the beginning of the season that is why Wenger didn’t buy one, maybe there was another Giroud but why would we have wanted another one of those.

Am I surprised we haven’t won the league? No, not really, not with the team we have. Giroud is not as bad as some make out; he uses what he has very well but as I have said several times before, he does not have the skill set to win the league. I don’t blame Wenger for buying him; I mean, with the shortage of Agüeros he had to do something.

Walcott is of course another anchor holding us back; the cries of sell him miss a very important point – who out there is dumb enough to buy him? No one is the answer and because of which Walcott isn’t going anywhere. If you cast your mind back to the last contract negotiations which seemed to take an eternity there were people on this site who were saying things like: Walcott is holding the club to ransom by taking as long as he can to agree terms. I said at the time that it was not Theo who was stalling, it was the club who were dragging their feet in the hope that another club would come in for him.

WWWWW The five double-Us

We won’t Win With Walcott. Bit harsh but I got a bit bored watching the Watford game and it came to mind and I have wanted to use it ever since. But thinking about it, is it too harsh, can you imagine winning the league with Walcott? I can’t. When he does eventually leave which will almost only be when his contract is up I suspect we will end up referring to long period we went without a league title as the “Walcott Years”.

Quite a bit of negativity there, some may ask why do you still support Wenger if you are unhappy with two of the key players that he brought to the club? The answer is simple my friends, I do not believe that there is anyone else out there who is more capable of finding an Agüero and bringing him to the home of football than our very own Arsene Wenger.

And there you have it folks, I have tied myself to the mast and if this ship sinks I am going down with it.

Written by LB

Snatching a Draw from the Jaws of Victory

April 18, 2016

Arsenal 1 – 1 Palace

Possession %

71.6 – 28.4

Total Shots

21 – 7

On Target

6 – 2

Off Target

8 – 4


10 – 5


Press Conference:-

on the result…
I’m very disappointed. It is one of those days where you don’t like to do a press conference after because it is not pleasant. I felt that we had possession 70 per cent of the time and we lacked a bit of accuracy with our final ball, a change of pace or have enough men forward. In the end, we got caught by a unique shot on goal by Crystal Palace. They played deep and defended well. They got us on the break and that is the story of the game. It is very frustrating.
on leadership…
I don’t believe that today was about leadership. It was about scoring the second goal and stopping a goal that we gave away as it was avoidable. That was the regret of the day. We knew we couldn’t get frustrated and make a defensive mistake. In the end, I must say they have the players that can take advantage of every counter attack. They are quick and powerful. When it was 1-0 they never came out really.
on whether he is concerned about Arsenal not taking their chances…
Yes. There is a difference. Usually we have a high number of goal chances, but I agree with you today that despite the high level of possession we had, we did not create enough chances. I think we lacked a bit of sharpness on the day and as well we had a bit of free confidence in our head after the result against West Ham where we felt we had absolutely to do a job today. In the end, we did not play with enough pace in the final third.
on the title race…
After today I’m not in that kind of mood to dream about the Premier League title. I’m more in a mood to repair the mental damage and prepare for the next game. It is much more about that and looking behind us because we need to play well and win games. For us, we need to fight until the end to get the place in the top four. If we can do more, we will do more but lets not dream and focus on the next game.
on not killing teams off…
It is to do with the Premier League as well. Like today, sometimes you have to win 1-0 and today was one of those days.
on players lacking confidence…
We are a team who likes to take the initiative and with the initiative you expect goals. We accept the risk of taking the game to the opponent but I think what you expect is what we are told before, that we should have more goals.
on trying to do better than top four…
As long as you don’t win every game, you want to add what is needed. I’m responsible for the result and I think I’m the first person who is frustrated. I can say that at the moment, we will make complete balance at the end of the season and see where we stand. At the moment it is about being together and giving our best until the end of the season.


Man of the Match:- Alexis Sanchez

Player Ratings taken from the Daily Mail

Cech 5

Bellerin 6

Koscielny 6

Paulista 5

Monreal 5

Coquelin 5

Elneny 6

Iwobi 6

Welbeck 6

Sanchez 7.5

Özil 7


Stats compiled by fgg

Coquelin to Conquer Crystal Palace?

April 17, 2016

The season is getting exciting, which is not what I expected. I thought we were strolling to a Top 4 position, probably 2nd or 3rd but instead the Manchester clubs are finding some form, progressing to semi-finals and steadily picking up points.

Which makes this afternoon an important fixture. Under normal circumstances I would welcome Palace and wish them well, after all we usually beat them (don’t we?), instead I want them to get at least two players sent off and succumb pre-match to a series of nasty , short-term, debilitating disease.

We need a win.

One would have thought that to go to WHU  and return with a point would be heralded with joy, but instead it felt like a defeat. With hindsight, Getting out of Upton (could be a title for an album),  where WHU have been in superb form was a decent performance with many positives. Means nothing today though …


One reason we need to beat CP is Alan Pardew. Being a hippy I don’t hate anyone (apart from the obvious) but I have an active dislike of Pardew. He is one of those blokes who hides his vicious personality behind an expensive haircut and clothes. How anyone can employ him given his CV is surprising and once again Pardew’s team is falling down the league after a decent start.

Another reason to beat CP is the return of that oddity Adebayor. Rarely has a man been blessed with so much talent and yet been hated at every club he has joined. I don’t care how many he scored for us I can never forgive him for the run towards the away fans at the Emptihad. Hope he gets Coquelinned.

An absolute must for today … Cech has to start. I like Ospina but IMO Cech would have won us another 2 points at the Boleyn. If he is fit enough for the bench then he is fit enough to play.

It will be interesting to see whether Mr Wenger picks Ramsey and if he does who gets dropped. The two possibilities are Iwobi and Elneny, who are just bedding into the team. Unfortunately for Ramsey they have been our standout players in recent weeks. Thankfully, this is not my problem.

Whomever plays, they have to give 100%. Pardew has stated that anyone who shirks will not be playing at Wembley in their upcoming FAC semi-final (It should have been Us – another song title?), we should expect the same endeavour from our chaps..

We have to win. Let it be so.