A Last Minute Goal at Anfield!

April 15, 2016

Last night’s events at Anfield had me reminiscing about those glorious moments in football when everything falls into place for an almighty crescendo.

Kanu 1999 v Chelsea at the bridge.

Two nil down with 15 minutes to go, Nwankwo wrote his name into the Arsenal legends book with a hat trick to die for including one of the best goals you’ll ever see. Take it away Martin Tyler….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyjeVOTzRbA

Welbeck v Leicester 2016

It was Danny’s comeback game and what a way to crown it. Definitely one of my home highlights of the season…..

Gary lineker quote

danny

Alan Sunderland v Man U FA cup final 1979

I can remember sinking to my knees on the Wembley terraces after Manyoo’s spawny equaliser only to stand up just in time to witness one of the those ‘hair standing up on the back of your neck’ moments never to be forgotten……

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEZMErRVRf8

Henry v Sunderland 2012

We were at Lingfield racecourse for my nephew’s stag do and were suitably miffed when news came through of Mclean’s goal in the 70th minute. We were hopeful when Rambo scored off both posts to equalise and positively ecstatic as Thierry rose like a kung fu master to stab the ball home in injury time…….

Thierry+Henry+Sunderland

Kennedy v spuds 1971

50,000 in the ground, 50,000 left outside, Shite Hart Lane was red and white for the night in May 1971. My old man and older bro tried to take my younger brother and me to the Lane that night. We only got to the end of the Paxton Road before they decided it was too dangerous to continue. This would definitely be my older brother’s main Arsenal regret, as it was such a terrible disappointment to miss the first time we would win the League at SHL. At least it wasn’t the last…….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdALY2fLvq4

Vermaelen v Newcastle 2012                             

The poetic justice of this goal being scored near the end of the time added on for Tim Krul’s persistent time-wasting makes this my favourite last minute goal of recent times……..

tommy v

(photo courtesy of Stuart MacFarlane)

 

Henry v Man U 2007

To my mind this goal was the first big moment to happen at the Emirates. A goal of such beauty and Ferguson’s reaction to the goal at the end of this makes me laugh every time I see it….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIKL2yJ_Nx8

Thomas v Liverpool 1989

A last minute goal at Anfield – who would have thought?

Presumably this would be most Gunners’ favourite last-minute, spine-tingling goal because there was so much riding on it………..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFo1eyWbTtc

What’s your favourite last-minute Arsenal goal?

Written by chas


Cazorla a huge miss.

April 14, 2016

Once again our season has been blighted by injuries; almost every player has been out of the side for chunks of time but whose injury has had the most influence?

I would say without doubt it is Cazorla.

We all love our little Spanish genius but it is not just his smile we have missed it is also his ability. Just watch the video below

 

When Mr Wenger started the season with Santi alongside Coquelin as our defensive shield my (and many others) reaction was bewilderment – how could this attacking midget act as DM? He answered us by playing his exuberant shimmy-shammy skills closer to his own gaol and setting up the attacking play from deeper. He was a revelation and we looked as though the title was ours for the taking.

With Santi and Cazorla in tandem we gained 23 points from 11 games, without them 36 from 22 –  a potential loss of 10 points. Our goal ratio has also plummeted.

Perhaps we were not as tight at the back, though the goals against since his injury may tell a different story.

In my opinion, the midfield of Ramsey, Cazorla and Coquelin remains our best trio (though Elneny looks the nuts). Had all three played the full season we would be Champions, wouldn’t we?

written by Big Raddy


Leicester and Spurs benefiting from small club status

April 13, 2016

Has to be said anyone who lost consciousness in August 2015 and waking in April 2016 must be scratching their heads looking at the league table and wondering what the hell happened.

Well Leicester have been on an unbelievable journey, the miscreants from N17 are having their “best season ever” (but still may not finish above us) and everyone else has struggled for consistency.

It is well documented that there is an increase in money due next year to all EPL clubs and that to preserve their status they have all spent before they have banked it on a vast array of talented solid Europa and Champions League players complementing their existing squads.

In doing so they have attracted players who are keen on the money but also used to European football. Many of them I suspect have used it as a stepping stone to the holy grail of EPL clubs the top four/five teams who have dominated for so long. Bring themselves to the EPL and show what they can do week in week out and specifically to the big boys.

No disrespect meant to Leicester but plenty intended towards the swamp dwellers this talented bunch of players are not going to enjoy the benefits and add ons that come from playing at the likes of Chelsea, City, Liverpool, United and yes even Arsenal. So when they get to play against these clubs it’s inevitable that they will raise their game to put themselves in the shop window. What self respecting mercenary really wants to turn out in N17 week in week out?

We haven’t lost to either of those above us, how many others can say that, we have struggled elsewhere as have the other super powers of EPL, both Leicester and Spurs have benefited from being small clubs where in reality no one really wants to play….

Gooner in Exile

(Tongue firmly in cheek)


What Happened Up at WHU?

April 12, 2016

It was as strange game; Arsenal scoring 3 goals away and yet taking only one point is unusual, as is a player scoring a hat-trick against us (when was the last time?).

We started with the team everyone wanted apart from the odd omission of Cech which IMO was massive. Cech dominates his area in a manner which Ospina cannot  and I am sure he would have stopped at least one of the goals.

Midfield: We were lauding our new defensively aware pairing of Coqeny, yet we were over-run for much of the game – how did that happen?

CB’s? Can’t really complain because they played as well as expected. Perhaps they could have got closer to Caroll for his second but it was a well taken goal.

And we were punished by Bilic’s tactic of attacking the space behind our full backs, WHU cleverly made sure that Caroll was challenging our wimpy Spanish fullbacks. Couldn’t see Lauren getting bullied like Bellerin was! Fortunately there are no teams in the PL who have such an aerially dominant CF.

Upfront: No complaints. We scored three, made other chances and Mr Wenger made attacking substitutions to try and win the game.

Referee: Bottled it. Our boys were continually hammered. A few more yellows, a straight red for Caroll was the least he could have done, but well-played the linesman who refused WHU a legitimate opener.

Looking at the stats, we dominated possession yet had fewer shots and less corners which indicates we were a bit too tippy-tippy and on a pitch which quite frankly was more suited to the Grand National than a football match we were always going to struggle.

Another way of looking at the game was that we took a point from a tough away fixture, played a part in an exciting 6 goal thriller and came back from a losing position

 


Match stats – discuss

April 10, 2016

West Ham 3 – 3 Arsenal

Possession %

39.1 – 60.9

Total Shots

19 – 11

On Target

7 – 6

Off Target

7 – 3

Corners

7 – 4

 

Managers:-

“You never know what can happen. You have to look behind us, clubs are chasing us and we have to be serious and focus. When you see the game that’s one of the places you feel guilty you dropped points.”

Arsene Wenger

“We have a few players who are capable of bending a ball really well. If they put the ball into the box it is up to Andy.

“I told them before that we expected to have time and space on their flanks.”

Slaven Bilic

Man of the Match:- Andy Carroll

Player Ratings taken from the Daily Mail

Ospina 6

Bellerin 6

Koscielny 7

Paulista 6

Monreal 5

Coquelin 5.5

Elneny 6.5

Iwobi 7

Welbeck 5

Ssnchez 6

Özil 5.5

So there are the stats. if you’re an Arsenal supporter obviously we should have won but if you’re a Whammer you know you edged it and probably should have got three points.

Either way it was a fantastic game of football. For the purists we scored three beautiful Arsenal goals and were undone by an Andy Carroll that we should be able to defend against and that on another day could have seen two yellow cards and not been on the pitch for his third goal. Bitter? Moi? You bet.

The best bit was Arsene throwing all the attacking players onto the pitch at the end in search of more goals. Love it when he does that 🙂

Stats compiled by fgg and comment by peaches


Ramsey or Iwobi to say Goodbye to the Boleyn?

April 9, 2016

Arsenal’s final game at the Boleyn, a stadium filled with bubbles, passion and occasional violence.

Bob gave his reminiscences yesterday – here are some of mine:

  1. The first time I visited Upton Park was in the 60’s. I was astonished to find that the disgusting men’s toilets had no washing facilities. I know this was in the days of black and white but even so …
  2. 2. The Chicken Run. Terrifying place which our away boys tried to take season after season. Tried being the operative word because WHU had some of the most violent fans in the league.
  3. Racism. The Chavs are possibly worse but this is the only ground where I have seen bananas thrown at a player – in this case Kevin Campbell.
  4. Liam Brady. It hurt so much to see a hero playing well for the claret and blue.
  5. John Radford. See 4. but thankfully he didn’t play very well for them – scoring zero goals in 28 apps!
  6. Ian Wright. See 4.& 5. Though Wrighty MBE scored on his debut for WHU.

There are many other memories. I loved the bubbles pre-match, enjoyed the Hammers singing,and the passion they have for their club.

West Ham were “The Academy”, the club with 3 WC winners, a club closely attached to their locality but the future? Will they carry their proud history over to the new stadium? I doubt it but money rules and tradition is just history and as any accountant will tell you, you cannot bank tradition.

Onto today: Hugely important for both teams. WHU have (astonishingly) the chance to get into the CL! We need to keep up the pressure on the Miscreants and Leicester. Would either club be happy with a draw?

Bilic has done a remarkable job and in any other season would be a shoe-in for Manager of the Year. Think of it this way – how many of the claret and blue would you have in Arsenal’s first team? Payet perhaps, but  ahead of Ozil? Not for me. Nonetheless, Bilic has created a team which has beaten us at the Emirates and every team in the top 6.

Should Ramsey return for AFC? I guess bench at best. Iwobi is doing too well to drop and the team looks settled for the first time since Cazorla’s injury.

BFG? WHU have some big units and perhaps it would be erudite to start the German, especially as Giroud is likely to be on the bench and as such unable to help at set plays.

Thinking of set plays; when have you ever seen a better free kick than Payet’s vs Palace? We need defensive discipline and not give him the opportunity  to test our GK.

Is Cech fit? If so, he must start. Ospina has done very well but Cech is different gravy.

So, our team: I expect an unchanged side as the performances against Everton and Watford were so good.

West Ham? Will they give it the beans knowing they have a huge FA Cup game at home to MU on Weds? Of course they will – they always do against us.

Under normal circumstances I would be happy to leave East London with a draw but if we are to put pressure on Leicester and the swamp-dwellers then saying goodbye to the Boleyn with 3 points is a must. Will we get them? Why not?

 


The Boleyn: A Hammer Reminisces

April 8, 2016

 

And so it approaches, the very last ‘London Derby’ at The Boleyn Ground.  Gooners everywhere know exactly the emotions we Hammers are supposed to be experiencing.  But here’s the thing, a bit like when we sold our family home of 22 years recently, it’s only bricks and mortar – nothing more nothing less.  Well NO actually.  This is nothing like the sale of our 4 bedroom semi nestled in the suburbs of St Albans.  This is my bloody ancestral home they’re getting rid of and I’m going to miss it big time.

I should have been a Gooner, all my family supported them, Dad had been a season ticket holder in the 50’s and 60’s.  Used to take me along in the mid-sixties, lifted me over the turn style gates and sat me on his knee watching the likes of Jim Furnell, Georgie Armstrong, George Eastham, John Radford et al.  But then he stopped going due to Saturday work commitments and my next door neighbour seized the day.

The day in question was Saturday 21st September 1974.  My first visit to Upton Park.  I will never forget queuing for over an hour to buy my seat in the Upper West Stand as it used to be known.  Leicester City were the opponents and walking up the steps from the concourse just felt so different to visiting other grounds.  Various family friends had dragged me to all manor of stadia in the hope of a new recruit- Shite Hart Lane, Underhill, Brisbane Road, Vicarage Road, Stamford Bridge (what a shit hole that used to be!).  But that day at The Boleyn was just meant to be – I knew I was home.  We beat Leicester 6 -2, including a couple from Billy Jennings and 2 from ex-gooner Bobby Gould.  How could I be anything but hooked.

So as we move closer to our last ever game at Upton Park, I thought I would recount three special games at the place I call home.

The 70’s were symptomatic of being a West Ham fan.  Cup Final win in 75, Cup Winners Cup Finalists in 76 and relegation in 78.  But then we began to build a new team as we enjoyed three cracking seasons in the old division 2 and managed to reach another FA Cup final – some of you may remember it (The Cup Final that is, not the new team).  Brooking was now in his prime, Devonshire marauding down the wing, the industry of Geoff Pike, the steel and work rate of Billy Bonds and a hard as nails centre forward in David Cross.

Winning the FA Cup once again meant a run out in Europe and after an eventful 2nd round tie against Real Madrid’s second team, Casillas, played at home in front of just 262 spectators in what was known as the Ghost Match, we progressed to the last eight.  I was at Upton Park that night for the quarter final tie in March vs Dynamo Tiblisi. A night that for me said everything that needed to be said about true Hammers.  We were played off the park.  Tiblisi ran rings around a very good West Ham team.  35,000 packed into ground and when the final whistle blew, all 35,000 stood and applauded the Tblisi players for a good 5 minutes as they took a ‘lap of honour’.  Of course we were gutted, but this, Big Fat Sam, was truly ‘The West Ham Way’.

Obscene I Tell You, Obscene

By the early 90’s we were becoming a true yoyo club and the 91-92 season was one that ended in relegation.  The penultimate game was against Man Utd with the Mancs favourites to pip Leeds United to the First Division Championship.  We were already down.  We beat them courtesy of a Kenny Brown toe poke and Taggart described our effort as obscene, rightly pointing out that a similar work rate would have seen us comfortably mid table.  But that’s who we are – starved of success, denying others had become our reason for being.

And so we arrived at the last game of the 1994-95 season.  We were back in the big time (now known as The Premier League) and Jack Walkers millions had set up a superb end to the season as Blackburn and Man Utd slugged it out for the winners trophy.  We were comfortably mid table, but Ferguson spent the week recounting the 1992 season ending story and warning his players what they were in for.  Public Enemy No.1 Paul Ince was coming back and a season high attendance of 24,700 awaited the clash.

Michael Hughes’s opener mid-way through the first half was greeted with wild celebration.  United needed to score twice to have any chance of taking the prize.  Roared on by 20,000 manical cockneys (I’d forgotten how crowds had dipped in football in the late 80’s early 90’s), the team made the 1992 performance look like a training ground workout.  Ludek Miklosko (he comes from near Moscow) produced one of the finest performances ever seen by a goalkeeper at Upton Park (think Robert Green in our first visit to The Emirates and multiply by two).  He was eventually beaten by a Brian McClair header but wave after wave of subsequent attacks were repelled.

Half the ground had radio’s pressed to their ears listening out for the Blackburn result at Liverpool.  And to cap off a perfect day, Liverpool scored a last minute winner meaning Blackburn still won The Premier League, but we’d gone and stopped The Mancs.

The joyous scenes reminded me of days when we had won promotion.  Ferguson moaned and bitched, Ince cried and we celebrated long into the night.

It’s Happening Again

Which now brings me to the third game and one which all Arsenal fans will likely remember.

7th May 2006.  The day when The Scum were convinced they were going to make the top four at the expense of their best friends at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.

Once again, we had finished in a respectable mid-table position.  We had a Cup Final to look forward to the following week and Spurs had assumed we would rest a bunch of players and roll over in case of injury before our trip to The Millennium Stadium.

I can safely say I’ve probably never been so excited before a match at Upton Park.  I know Arsenal fans believe they hold the exclusive license for despising Tottenham and their supporters, but believe me, we in the claret and blue area of London run a very close second.

As we were getting ready to go to the game, the news started to filter through that a dodgy pasta was working it’s way through much of the Spurs squad, literally.  Doubts started to be aired as to whether the game would go ahead.  But due to a combination of the games importance and our impending Cup Final, the match was given the go-ahead.

The atmosphere inside the ground was nothing short of surreal.  Grown men’s faces were contorted, saliva foaming from their mouths and abuse was flying in the direction of the blue and white half of London like I can’t remember.  Once again, Upton Park resembled Radio City as trannies were held to ears all over the stadium.  Thierry Henry put The Arse one up vs Wigan.  One Nil to The Arsenal sang 7/8ths of the ground.  Wigan equalised and there was an audiable groan throughout the ground, closely followed by mass celebrations from 3,000 pieces of Scum.  But then Carl Fletcher put us 1 up from 25 yards.  Paul Robinson tried to keep it out, but it’s not easy diving whilst you’re trying to keep your bum cheeks firmly shut.

Somehow Spurs managed to stay in the game, and Defoe drew them level before half time.  More goals followed at The Library and at half time, Spurs were clinging on to 4th place and a very short sojourn into Champions League Qualifying.

The second half continued at a furious pace, with Tottscum players visibly wilting.  At least two threw up on the pitch.  Every Aaron Lennon corner was greeted by a toilet roll being lobbed onto the pitch from the Chicken run.  Arsenal went 4-2 up.  “It’s happening again” sang three quarters of the ground.  Spurs had to match Arsenal’s result.  But West Ham looked the more likely to score.  And then it happened – The 80th minute and Yossi Benayoun hit a pearler from 10 yards.

Now I’ve witnessed some fantastic moments at Upton Park.  Ray Stewart’s 90 minute penalty vs Villa in a Cup Quarter Final, at least 3 Play Off wins, Di Canio’s volley versus Wimbledon, A Clive Allen tap-in securing promotion back to the old division 1.  But I can remember no goal being celebrated at wildly as Yossi’s.

And of course, as we approach the end of our era, it is worth remembering that the result that day made for a far better celebration as Arsenal spent the rest of the afternoon saying goodbye to Highbury.  I am told that at one point that afternoon, the sound of bubbles echoed around the old ground.

Our last ever game at The Boleyn was supposed to be against Swansea City, but due to our Cup run and a delayed Quarter Final replay coming up next week, we now have the delicious prospect of the last ever Cup and League games being against our old mates from Manchester and both evening games.  Somehow I think the supporters have at least one more magical night to look forward to.

And so to Saturday.

We are on a great run, but Bilic is clear that the Cup is our priority.  You boys are doing what you seem to do every year – fall away in February and then come back with a rattle in the final few games.  I’m a little pessimistic about this one, but I’m going to hold out for an entertaining 2-2 draw with both teams reduced to 10 men (Gabriel and Carroll).

See You at The Olympic Stadium!

written by West Ham Bob


Gunners, football fans and people with beards. Lend me your ears.

April 7, 2016

I am a Gunner, so I know how you are probably feeling, and I sympathise. If you have a beard, I’m sorry. Now, if you are a football fan, then we may have some common ground.

Beyond matters Arsenal, we all have players and managers we like, and those we detest. Ditto other clubs. Many of all of those will still be involved in a trophy hunt, and of course that includes the big fourth place one 🙂

Some may like a Leicester League win as it might stir the romantic in them. Some may like it as a two fingers to the establishment and the money men. Then we have the knock out stuff.

Any of this list in the FAC stir any strong emotions. Utd, Everton, Palace, Watford, West Ham.

Then, of course, we have the Champions League. Madrid, Athletico, Barca, Bayern, PSG, City, Wolfsburg and Benfica. Any thoughts or feelings either way?

Perhaps good runs by Utd, W Ham and City could benefit our own ambitions by distracting them, or does any level of success by rivals simply hurt too much?

How about players we may be “eyeing” in the latter stages of Europes elite competition.

Is life worth bothering about without a beard?


Which Youth Team Players will make the 1st Team Squad?

April 6, 2016

On Monday night I watched a really enjoyable FA Youth Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Man City.

First the bad news. We lost on aggregate and MC had the best two players on the pitch. Brahim Diaz and Manu Garcia, both Spanish, were a constant danger and showed why they are so highly rated.

But we are not interested in the worrying success of the Northern Oilers youth policy, what we want to know is are our chaps any good?

Well, it is hard to assess based upon just 90+ minutes. Some fared better than others.

Starting at the back, I was impressed by the keeper, Keto. Finnish,  6’3″ and athletic. He looked assured made some good stops. Do Finns make good keepers? I know they like a drink, fishing , ski-ing and Sibelius.

Centre backs are always of interest because the last time one came through the ranks seems a long time ago. Bola and Beilik are highly thought of, Bola got sent off and made little impression but Bielik looks a player. Mobile, powerful and with an eye for a pass he may well be the man who progresses from the defence. He is normally a DM but is being played at CB to learn his trade, this became clear as he was out of position too often for my liking but nonetheless was our stand-out defender.

The full backs, Robinson and Johnson looked typical Wenger FB’s – fast, concentrated upon getting forward and thus open to the counter-attack.

In midfield Bennacer impressed. A French Youth international, he reminded me of Samir Nasri in his play.

A very young man named Nelson (could his nickname be Lord?) did well against older players. He has Wengerball  – power, control, pace and always looking to pass the ball forward. An England U-16 regular he is highly rated at AFC.

I was looking forward to an evening of Jeff but despite working hard he rarely found space to impress. This was thanks to an excellent defensive display from the MC DM’s. Nonetheless Jeff is comfortable on the ball and I predict will be a success at Arsenal.

Upfront Hinds and Maviiddi worked ceaselessly. Hinds plays like Chuba Akpom which is no surpirise. A Dutch chap named Marlen came on in the 60th minute and looked sharp, scored and generally impressed.

But my favourite player on the night was Chris Willock. Playing on the left he has obviously spent many hours watching Alexis Sanchez. He scored a neat goal and was a constant menace.

It is impossible to accurately predict how such young men will develop. I did not see any baby superstars like Rooney, Owen or Fabregas but we do have talent.

My guess, based upon very little, is that Bielik, Jeff and Willock will be the next ones to join the first team squad but what do I know?  I thought Glenn Helder would be the a Superstar!

Disclaimer: The above is based upon just one game with hardly any background research!


Elneny. Ramsey, and the Box to Boxer.

April 4, 2016

Elneny. Mo. The Egyptian. Fabulous Pharaoh. Like the hair, like the man.

I would say we played our best football this season with Coquelin paired with Santi, and the seemingly odd choice of Aaron on the right. Sure, this was complemented with pace through the middle, but nevertheless, Aaron on the right was designed to compensate for a defensive fragility in the middle of the pitch due to the presence of Santi.

The more formidable and solid midfield pairing of Coquelin and Elneny allows us, as seen on Saturday, to free up the speedsters and magicians in front of Mesut.

Elneny certainly charges about a lot, but this does not make him a Box to Boxer. Aaron is a Box to Boxer and this does make us more vulnerable against the counter. In theory, with a B to B’er you have an additional goal threat, but we haven’t seen this. Perhaps it is because of our slow build up and by the time the end to end man gets near to goal, the wretched area is clogged solid.

Perhaps also, if by doing away with the B to B’er, you replace him with a more disciplined Egyptian with long range shooting ability, not only have you compensated for the goals that weren’t there anyway, but you have added an additional string to the bow, arrow to the quiver and worry for the opposition.

Plus, a player to whom the crowd can scream “shooooooot”, which must be a worry for Aaron