Let’s Americanise Soccerball.

June 26, 2016

Four things.

  1. I know nothing about North American sports.
  2. When I say “Americanise”, I include South America.
  3. I fell asleep three times last season watching Arsenal from the armchair.
  4. The Euros have churned out some very dull games.

Simplistically, there may be two ways of looking at it. Defending  (as a team, individually and tactically) is getting better, or, quality attackers are fewer and further between (combined with the tactical etc, as above).

The problem with all these theories is when you look at The Copa America (TCA) and the abundance of goals and attacking football. As I sit here, my 15 year old son as two mates staying for the weekend, and I’m staggered at their knowledge of players. One listed the entire likely Croatian starting XI way before any announcement. Anyway, he also explained to me how for the Quarter and Semi Finals of TCA, extra time is not played, instead they go straight to penalties.

We all know the lovely old tale of an Englishman explaining the rules of cricket to a bewildered American chap. It remains to this day a source of complete loss to the latter, how a match can last five days, and still end in a draw.

So my angle today is this. How the heck do we make football more exciting, and why does South America produce so many great attackers?



Vardy to Arsenal, OR….You Vote

June 22, 2016

Let’s face it, the strikers on show at The Euros will not have filled Gunner Transfer Speculators with much hope. I have not seen anything of The Copa America, so realistically, given our place in the pecking order behind yer Barcas and Bayerns, Vardy is looking not just ok, but possibly the best we can hope for.

Personally, I think he’d be a great addition, but far from a worldy.

So, for the sake of a simple poll, we’ll look at a straight choice.  Vardy OR  a Mahrez/Mkhitaryan type. Someone to provide more ammo. from the right, as well as goals.

Incidentally, I think we could have both, but I’m interested to see which you consider would improve the side the most. Without changing formations, we have very limited alternatives to Ollie, bar moving to a Sanchez little ‘un kind of set up, whereas we do have options on the right from Aaron/Jack to Joel/Iwobi.

Remember, it’s an either/or

If Vardy is not for you, tell us who else we should be looking at …. try to keep it realistic 🙂


Fabregas: Did Wenger make a mistake?

June 20, 2016

I know we have done this to death a couple of seasons ago with the general consensus being that he is “dead to us” but ….  during the Euros, is Fabregas showing us what we have lost?

Let’s compare is work with Aaron Ramsey.  Fabregas controls the pace of the team through his positioning and passes, Ramsey doesn’t. I realise they are not the same type of player but they do play in the same position and carry the same responsibilities. Which player has more influence? Sadly, you know the answer.

Or was it Little Jack Wilshere  (see, I can spell kelsey) who was the player whom AW thought would be better than Fab? Surely not. JW is a little magician but he is simply not in the same class as Cesc.

Or Ozil, though they are very different players and operate in different areas of the pitch. Imagine the two of them orchestrating the Arsenal team – would we have fared better over the past 2 seasons?

My guess is that it was Cazorla whom Mr Wenger thought was a better choice than Fabregas, in this he is mistaken. Cazorla is  undoubtedly a wonderful player however Del Bosque,who knows both players well, chooses Cesc every time.

Spain have been the best attacking team in the Euro’s and Fabregas is an integral part of their midfield. Had we re-signed Cesc he would have combined wonderfully with Cazorla and made us a better team.

Mr Wenger made his decision and Cesc was forced to sign for a morally bankrupt club guiding them to the title in his first season

BUT ….

The Euro’s have also given us our first view of Mr Wenger’s next Arsenal playmaker, Granit Xhaka. Xhaka’s stats are impressive, very impressive. The way he controls the tempo and direction of play from a defensive position is reminiscent of the Great Man, PV4. Only Pogba in the modern game holds a candle to Vieiera but nonetheless Xhaka in combination with Santi, Ramsey, Wilshere, Elneny, Ox or Coquelin could be a winning midfield.

Cesc was the past and in my opinion should have been the present but Xhaka is the future and the future is looking bright (assuming we buy an extraordinarily expensive striker)

written by Big Raddy

Giroud was always Wenger’s Plan B …. Vardy fits Plan A

June 16, 2016

Following on from LB’s post yesterday asking what we could expect from Vardy in an Arsenal shirt, I thought that I would delve a bit deeper into the factors that would affect that expectation and why he is the type of player we need.

Obviously all this is based on the assumption that Vardy will sign for North London’s Finest ….. so take that as the premise and run with it.

Olivier Giroud and Jamie Vardy are polar opposites in the spectrum of strikers. Both are very good at what they do but they have little in common in terms of the striker’s repertoire.

Arsene bought Ollie when we were still having to be careful financially. He was the best we could get with the money available and his goal tally since signing make him very good value for money.

We have seen from the first games at the Euros that Giroud is a much better hold up player in a 4:5:1 than that Kane bloke from some minor club down the road, but we also saw in France’s game yesterday that a striker of his type struggles when the pattern of play doesn’t suit …. he benefits from chances created for him but doesn’t create that many chances from his own play. Giroud won’t pick the ball up at the half way line, weave and trick his way through the defenders and tuck it away, he’s not built for that.

Let’s look at our style of football. Arsenal under Arsene Wenger have been compared to Barcelona. The Dutch model of total football is often quoted when describing our fluid style of play (when it’s working). OG can hold the ball up, he’s very good with his head, he makes clever lay offs …. but those aren’t the core attributes required for the aforementioned style of football. No, that requires pace, movement, good close control, mobility, a clinical finisher …. remind you of anyone?

We were actually heading down this road when Welbeck became first choice striker towards the end of last season. That version of Plan A had to be shelved due to Welby’s latest untimely injury. Vardy is just a more finished article than Welbeck. Morata fits the bill. None of the strikers we have been linked with have been ‘Girouds’.

Ask yourself this….who will benefit most from a sliderule pass from Ozil? Who will have the pace, movement and incisive runs to capitalize on the genius of the best ‘assister’ in the world?

So my conclusion is that Arsene has been pragmatic. OG was the best we had and we have tried to play to his strengths when he’s leading the line, but in reality, a player like Vardy is what the system really requires and that would have been Plan A all along. We won’t have to adapt our style that much to accommodate Vardy, we’ve been having to compromise it all this time to get the best out of Ollie.



I should make reference to GoonerB’s continual evangelism last season on the need for a ‘fast fluid striker’ and  for Total Arsenal’s undying love for all things Ollie 🙂

What do we expect from Vardy?

June 15, 2016

The reason for that question was that I was watching the England-Russia game with a friend (QPR) and he said:

“Are there any Arsenal players in the squad?”

To which I said “Yes, 2: Vardy and Wilshere.”

Which, after a second, the penny dropped and he laughed and said “You haven’t got Vardy”

To which I said that “I thought it was a done deal” and then skeptically he asked:

“Do you really want him?”  and I said: “Oh yes, we are are very excited about his arrival”

And then he said “Ahhh but don’t you think he is just a one season wonder?” to which I didn’t have an answer ready but it has made me think.

What do we expect from Vardy?

Written by LB

Pl 6 W5 D1 L0. Our Boys in France.

June 13, 2016

First to kick off at the Euros were The FP and Koscielny. Both had fine games with OG scoring the opening goal of the tournament, a classic centre forward’s headed goal. Given the pressure under which Giroud plays in France he must have left the pitch highly satisfied. Koscielny played as he does for Arsenal, with calm efficiency.

Aaron Ramsey: I like his hair colour – it makes him  very easy to identify. Ramsey had a strange game. Started in the number 10 role playing high up the pitch yet as the game progressed moved deeper and deeper. In the second half he was in his Arsenal position which is all over the place.

It would be an exaggeration to say Ramsey dominated the game but he was influential. Next up England where he will hopefully kick lumps out of TotEngland.

Granit Xhaka: Our first view of him as an Arsenal player. I suggested his play was similar to Elneny insomuch as he can break up play but also move forward to assist the attack and predicted a season on the bench for Coquelin. LB’s wrote “To me he looks like a straight swap for Arteta: plays deep, accurate passing, will link the defence with the attack as well as Arteta at his best, expected a tad more defensively and for that I can see slightly more of a time share with Coquelin.”

We shall see.

Wilshire: England kicked off without Jack! It was clear to see how much they improved when he came on. The media are raving about the quality of the England performance – I have no idea why apart from trying to keep interest in the team and tournament. How many chances did they create for the “lethal” Harry Kane? How could Hodgson keep a poor Sterling on the pitch with Vardy on the bench?  Against a poor Russia team a draw was Spursy.

Szczesny. Clean sheet, made a couple of fine saves. Didn’t have much to do in a game totally dominated by Poland but what he had to do he did with aplomb.

Ozil: Mesut was fairly anonymous but created a last minute goal for Schweini. As always the oil in the German attack, he rarely gave up the ball and unusually played the whole game.

So…. our boys result so far.  Played 6 W5 D1 L0.

Cech, Rosicky, Bellerin all play today (if selected).

A Gunner’s Euro Kit Bag

June 9, 2016

The Euros. Summer football. European time zone. Superb. Let’s get ready. There is much essential planning to be done, stocking up and dates in diary to cancel, so I hope my little kit bag guide will help you enjoy a memorable tournament.


The very most vital piece of kit this. No armchairer worth his salt can watch even the opening ceremony without a completed chart. I have never entered a single tournament unprepared on this front. Chas linked us to the one in The Mail on Sunday, and genuinely top notch it is too. Down to the re-cycling depot in the village I went yesterday, and successfully unearthed two of the very same.

I have to confess that I do not enter predicted scores, only winners/losers through to group stages and beyond, but perhaps you are more thorough.

Also essential is to have more than one chart should there be other footballistas in the same house. “Told you so’s” are an essential part of the chart experience, and evidence is crucial.

My Son and I have a simple points system for the group stages, with 4, 3, 2 and 1 points allocated to the final group standings. In other words, we have something meaningful attached to each and every game.


On this subject, I am less than my usual tolerant self. Get real and do the healthy eating early in the day, because with first group games at 2pm, there’s no room to manoeuvre from then on. It’s junk food, so let’s just deal with that like adults. Pizzas will form the foundation of the tournament, and my personal recommendation is to get down to the supermarket and stock up on Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza Pepperoni. Cheap, thin bottoms and the connoisseur’s choice. I say so. My Son says so. We know what we’re talking about here. They come in at a modest 750 calories. In other words, some morning fruit, with as many as two of these boys later in the day, and we’re still within acceptable boundaries of a controlled diet (oh big smiley face).


Now this is a very complex topic, so strap on and listen carefully. Get this wrong, and you have four very messy weeks ahead. My advice here is for the alcohol abuser only, so all tea totallers can boogey on to the next section.

Let’s be realistic here, we’re talking eight hour sessions, so careful thought is required, otherwise things could get very out of focus before the final whistle of the last game of the day.

Rule number one, is never mix the grain and the grape. You’ll need to be in good condition to crack on the following day. I think the real pro could alternate grains and grapes from one day to the next, but you must be the judge of your own abilities on this one.

Pacing yourself can be greatly aided by keeping an eye on alcohol content. Peaking early can be fatal. As our own Ant knows, there are some very delicious feminine, light, fizzy and rather cheeky white’s out there to ease yourself into a session. Sturdy reds to wash down the tobasco drenched pizza, sherry to savour the evening fixture, and port to complete the day.

Grains. Simple formula here, and you all know the drill. Light first, Special brew last.

A final recommendation for the dedicated follower. Drink your way around the map of Europe, selecting only beverages brewed in the country of the side you will be following in any particular match. Belgian ales brewed by monks, German lagers, Russian vodkas and so on.


There will still be lawns to be mown and dogs to be walked, perhaps you hoover things in your house, I don’t know, but do deploy evasion tactics. Personally, my calf muscle is going to break rather badly tonight after surfing, and when during the tournament I bravely go out in the car with surfboards on the roof, it will be to considerately lend them to a mate in need for a few hours. I’m like that. You too may have hobbies that require attention, so all I’m saying is the key to a successful tournament is in the planning.


Always a tricky subject, but one I enjoy. There will be nations you harmlessly enough enjoy to “disrespect”, and of course beware, there will be Spurs players on display. If there are any “sensitives” in your household, a cautionary pre-tournament warning could be displayed. A friendly Mr Marmite DJ style A4 banner forewarning loved ones, perhaps.


So, in conclusion, you have two days remaining. Please remember that tournaments begin with a sprint. Three matches a day winds down to a more relaxed pace as things progress to the later stages, so don’t knock yourself out in the early rounds.

In the words of Keith Richards “I’ve done world tours I didn’t even know I was on”. Stay focussed, plan well, and you’ll remember the thing. Enjoy.

written by MickDidit


Our Boys in France

June 8, 2016

We have 10 players strutting their stuff at the Euro’s, how will they fare?

In a quiet summer where transfer rumours are few and far between we need something to chat about so I suggest we look at the performances of our chaps on a game by game basis.

So, on Friday we have Koscielny and Giroud quickening the pulse playing for France against Romania KO. 20.00 GMT.

Saturday afternoon gives us a view of Granit Xhaka playing for Switzerland against Albania.


The evening entertainment is England’s first game and the chance that Wilshire will start. In my opinion he is head and shoulders England’s best midfielder (name a better one) and must start.

Aaron Ramsey will also be playing on Saturday at 17.00 GMT vs Slovakia. Surely a must win game for Wales.

TPIG is in the squad for Poland on Sunday at 17.00 GMT but I expect Flapianski to start ahead of him.

Mesut Ozil kicks off his campaign against on Sunday night at 20.00 GMT against Ukraine.

Young Hector should start for Spain on Monday at 14.00 GMT against our gloveman Petr Cech who is representing Czech Republic alongside the wonderful Tomas Rosicky.

Luckily, most of our players have not been selected and will hopefully start the season rested and 100% fit. Who knows – it could happen!

written by Big Raddy

Is Vardy the Right Man?

June 4, 2016

I will admit it, I was horrified when Young Tom, phoned me last night from Blighty with the news of AFC triggering Vardy’s release. Why when we are looking for a striker of the ilk of the chap at Dortmund whose name I cannot possibly spell would we look at a PL striker who has done nothing special until this season?

Is Vardy as good as, say, Welbeck?  I get that with Welbz out for the season we need another CF but we needed one anyway as our goals for clearly states, and I guess Vardy at €20m appr. is a decent short term solution.


The current FWA Player of the Year and PL Player of the Season he should be good enough. 24 goals last season but and this is a HUGE but …. he scored just 5 the season before (from 34 games), and prior to that was not in the PL.

His performance for England last week was at best average, at worst anonymous, though to be fair to him, the whole team was awful (apart from Jack, of course).

Vardy’s signing is still at an early stage and perhaps he will decide to stay at Leicester but we can speculate can’t we?

Do I think he can improve Arsenal? Yes. Verdy’s pace frightens defenders and he is definitely a Plan A for Giroud.

Do I think he is someone for the future? Not at 29 y.o. We will be lucky to get 3 seasons out of him.

My main concern is that by signing Vardy we are not signing the striker who Arsenal can base their attacks in the long-term. I want us to sign a 23/24 y.o. who Mr Wenger can improve – Vardy is not that chap.

But …. if he repeats his 24 goal haul in the red and white I will be thrilled.

What do you think?

4-3-3 0r 3-5-1? Be the Manager

June 2, 2016

Given our current squad, do you believe that the 4-3-3 maximizes on the available potential or would you like to see something else as there are many options to set up a team.

Juve plays 3-5-2
Bayern plays 4-2-3-1

I would be quite keen to see our team as a 4-3-1-2 with

Cech – Bellerin, RECRUIT, Kos, R.RODRIGUEZ – Ramsey, Xhaka, El Neny – Ozil – RECRUIT, Sanchez

Ospina – RECRUIT, BFG, Gabriel, Gibbs – Ox, Coquelin, Wilshere – Cazorla – Wellbeck, Giroud or Walcott

What are your thoughts?

Written by RC78