Is The Arsenal Jigsaw Complete? …. place your vote!

August 31, 2016

We’ve spent £100m (give or take)

We’ve brought in players in all the positions that needed reinforcement. We have a top keeper, a world class centre back, a block of solid Granit in front of our defence and a pacey fox in the box striker, whose quick feet should compliment our existing strike force.

We have 4 shiny new players who can walk straight into the first team – 3 in their peak years and one a fantastic young prospect who is already well in advance of his years.

We’ve got rid of (and I hate this phrase) some of the dead wood.

We’ve done the decent thing and allowed young players who need time on the pitch to gain experience elsewhere.

All in all, I’m very happy with our transfer activity this summer.

There are eminent bloggers on this site who will say that had we concluded our business earlier we might not be 5 points behind the league leaders, or that we should have splashed out £60m on a worldie striker – I can’t argue against these points, we will know if these criticisms are justified at the end of the season.

Personally, I am optimistic and looking forward to the coming season with real hope that we can achieve something special. How do you view Arsenal’s transfer business? … have your say and vote in the poll below ….

Rasp


Do Arsenal Supporters Smell Different?

August 29, 2016

A fairly easy win against Watford really and a win that was rightly expected; if it had gone the other way though the knives, as we all know, would have been out and sharp, very sharp. This possibility was obviously anticipated by Arsene who wisely held conformation of our two new signings back until after the game. It never hurts to add good news to a good win but it would have been a life saver for him had we gone and done something as stupid like lose.

I was fortunate enough to get a ticket, although, it was amongst the home supporters. All my in laws are Watford season ticket holders; they usually make themselves scarce when this game comes around and I come begging for a ticket but this time I got lucky, someone they knew was on holiday and so I got the nod.

Watford supporters are a bit like Scots, when they find out that you have one in the family they immediately warm to you. I know this because my girlfriend’s mother was a Scot and I saw this happen on a few occasions, as soon as my girlfriend mentioned that her mother was Scottish they were offering to buy her a drink in preparation for a long chat about the auld country. At the same time they were never quite sure what to make of me or what I was thinking which was just as well as most of the time I was considering what a wise decision it was to have built a wall between our two countries.

The same is true when I meet Watford supporters; they are a bit shy and hesitant in letting on which team they support especially after I have mentioned that I support Arsenal but as soon as I say that all my in laws are Watford season ticket holders I am immediately accepted. This doesn’t stop me thinking though that a wall could have been built a lot further south.

I am of an age that going to games at a few remaining clubs and sitting in the away end still holds a certain amount of concern for me all due to a history that is probably well out of date. For example, as much as Tottenham – Arsenal is my favourite game of the season and I love going there I find the idea of sitting amongst them uncomfortable to put it mildly. Not so with Watford though, I always got the feeling that they are victims of supply and demand; that’s to say, if there had been more season tickets available at Arsenal they would all be turning up to the Emirates week in and week out.

I didn’t know where I would be sitting but in the event that the seat was behind their goal which could have been a tad tricky should they score I wore my yellow top to blend in a bit. However, as it turned out there was no need for concern as I was in the family enclosure and that couldn’t have been more civilised if they had brought their nans along with them and actually thinking about it some of them did. It was refreshing to be around people who just wanted to get behind their team: one nil down, no despair around me, no calling for the manager’s head, two nil down, no screaming for the club to spend some money, three nil down and not one “c” word, not even an utterance under the breath, just love, support and encouragement.

Interesting comparison with the Arsenal fans who until Watford scored were in fine voice and so they should being three nil up but when the home side got one back you could have heard a pin drop in the away end; the concern was tangible even from where I was sitting.

I have to say that it was easier getting up to applaud the Watford goal being three up than had we been three down, although, I was bit late in getting to my feet, I forgot for a split second where I was and what I was supposed to do, I got a couple of unusual looks for the moment I was still in my seat longer than anyone else but this was rectified after I was up and clapping.

It crossed my mind that they might be able to smell that I was an Arsenal supporter; do we smell differently? I never anticipated that I might be in danger if they found out but it would have been a bit embarrassing. Anyway the game went on, we survived the mini Watford come back and with five minutes left, when it became apparent that we were not going to mess this one up, the Arsenal fans found their voices again.

I made my way to the Red Lion which is the only pub opposite the ground, flashed my Watford season ticket which allowed me to get in, gave it back to a couple of family members and made my way back home, a happy bunny having had a very enjoyable afternoon.


Gunners sting Hornets and Xhaka can!!!

August 28, 2016

A confident Arsenal performance was too much for Watford as Granit Xhaka put in a man of the match performance on a warm afternoon in Hertfortshire.

Much of the talk en route to the game was of incoming transfers as Arsenal have raided La Liga with the signings of Lucas Perez and World Cup Winner Shkodran Mustafi. Fans were then delighted to hear of the news that Mustafi’s compatriot Mesut Ozil was named to make his first start of the season.
Watford1

The Arsenal away fans were in full voice yet again showing their fantastic support despite the negativity around the around the club in recent weeks.

The game kicked off and Arsenal came flying out of the blocks with Alexis looking lively and the Gunners using the flanks to exploit Watford’s weaknesses. Granit Xhaka was starting to impose himself on the game and fans were purring at his range of passing. One fan commented that the boy is “different gravy.” The talk in the stands was that the fans were pleased to see Granit put his foot in and stamp his authority in midfield.

Watford2
Arsenal’s fast paced start was rewarded as Alexis was clattered and Santi Cazorla stepped up to take a penalty. He sent Gomes the wrong way and 1-0 to The Arsenal as the fans were singing Cazorla’s name.

Arsenal then controlled the game with Xhaka’s passing combined with the movement of the Arsenal attacking players causing all sorts of problems. Walcott was then denied by Gomes with a low effort assisted by the the impressive Cazorla. The noisy away support were then shouting obscenities at referee Kevin Friend and when he booked Prodl it was greeted with sarcastic applause.

Watford3
Arsenal were bamboozling their opponents  but Watford did try to get rewarded by floating in crosses for Deeney and the dangerous Ighalo. Arsenal fans at this point were seething especially at Bellerin and Monreal claiming they were not going out to stop crosses. Cech had to be alert saving from a defected effort. Arsenal then looked to  ramp up the pressure and on 40 minutes a lovely cross from Theo Walcott was met by Alexis whose effort was over the line to send the Arsenal fans in raptures.

Then on the stroke of half time Alexis turned provider and fan favourite Mesut Ozil headed home a lovely move and Arsenal supporters were jumping for joy and the deafening chant broker out- “We got Ozil! Mesut Ozil! I just don’t think you understand!” Half time and Arsenal were cruising to their first win of the season. Arsenal were brilliant but the name on everyones lips was Granit Xhaka. My friend came to me from the lower row to tell me that Granit was running the show  and at 23 years of age he was showing so much maturity.
Watford4
The second half began and Watford were trying to restore some pride. Arsenal though took their foot off the gas and Watford then scored through Pereya with a close effort. Arsenal fans were complaining about the players failing to clear their lines and that if they got another one then it would be squeaky bum time. Some fans to the right had some toilet roll which was taken from the toilets and wanted to throw in the air at the right moment with a young fan claiming “this used to happen in the seventies!”

Arsenal were then hanging on as Cech made a save from Holebas and later made a fantastic double save showing his goalkeeping prowess. Troy Deeney looked like he was still on his holidays with a fan next to me eluding to the fact that he was 55 and not as fat as Troy Deeney. He commented that “he looked like a Sunday league player!” The same fan was enjoying himself and amusing the other Arsenal supporters around him as he then mocked Isaac Success who came on for Watford stating players have funny names now and that he has not joined the right club if he wants “success!”

Watford5

Mohammed Elneny, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs then came on to shore things up but Ighalo had a chance late on when his spectacular bicycle kick was over the bar. Arsenal saw the game out and secured their first win of the season.

The away support was unbelievable yet again and as fans were leaving the stands Granit Xhaka was being praised for a masterclass performance. The passing was sublime and he made some snapping tackles which made the supporters happy and feeling we have a player who will give us the bite in midfield.

Still work to be done but a big win and we look forward to the home match against Southampton after the international break.

If anyone can, Xhaka can! Up the Arsenal!!!

Written by Sir A

 


Hornets Ahoy

August 27, 2016

Mr Wenger said the start of the season has been “a shot in the foot”. Already 5 points off top 4 and a tricky away fixture today could worsen our situation.

Let’s look at the runners and riders.

Watford have done well since their return to the PL, 13th and some major scalps plus a reputation as a hard -working attacking team. Can they cement their place or will it be second-season syndrome? The same can be said for Bournemouth.

Mazzari is an interesting choice of coach and arrives having managed both Napoli and Internazionale. Will he propel Watford to the Top 10? The owners are not afraid of experimentation and that alone makes Watford an interesting club.

An Argentinian MF named Pereyra is WFC’s record signing at €20m (sorry my keyboard and mind don’t do  UK Sterling!!). The inflation in the market is crazy when a small town club can spend €20m on a player.

As always if we defend well the game will be easier and we will have to  – Deeney and Inhale have shown they can be very dangerous. Other standout players are the new signings Janmaat and Kabul. Kabul could have been a fine CB but sadly for him he is tainted but the skinny Cockerel, Janmaat is a Dutch international FB and someone I thought AW may be interested in when his previous club (Newcastle) were released.

Watford play at The Vicarage. Last time I went there we smashed them in the FA Cup. Can’t remember when – it is lost in the clouds and steam of time.

Enough of them.

Given his excellent game last weekend it must be strange for Holding to know a €35m man (who is only 4 years older) is taking your place. Can Holding play at RB? Will he be a squad member? Is he as good as Gabriel? So many questions about our CB situation. Mustafa’s arrival almost certainly means this will be BFG’s last AFC season.

We have to score today. Ozil will return which is a boon. Rumour has it that OG is injured 😦 so my guess at the team is this (and it gets harder as players return)

 

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin    Holding    Koscielny     Monreal

Cazorla    Xhaka   Coquelin

Walcott   Sanchez     Ozil

We are reaching the point where even the bench is hard to pick! This bodes well for the season given Arsenal’s propensity for injury.

Important to win today given the coming Interlude; should we lose the doomers will be  bitching for 2 very long weeks. But we won’t lose , will we?

COYRRG


Transfers? Leave it to Arsene

August 23, 2016

Transfers? I leave it to Arsene to decide

We take Arsene for granted. The mans achievement to maintain a top four level of consistency is unparalleled and in the world of competitive football, simply extraordinary. To lift, maintain a harmony, and instil required motivation to a squad of players is incredible.

After 20 years in charge how well do we know Arsene?

I can guarantee every blogger on this site, you will never beat Arsene in mind games or any form of dispute. The man is razor sharp and his emotional intelligence second to none.

Let me give you an example. Your a player on the fringes and want to play. You become anxious, letting feelings get the better of you. Your options are to either go knocking on Wengers door and have it out or knuckle down in training and see were it gets you?

What is the correct answer? With some managers it can work either way but with Arsene?…..the answer is neither.

What ever you do Arsene will decide on whats best for the team. By the time he is finished with you there will be no resentment on your part. He will make you feel bad for questioning him. You will look back and actually admire and respect the man for his actions. This is why players that have left the club speak so fondly of the man.

In all the 20 years of Arsenes management I don’t recall an over reaction, over charged emotional outburst, melt down, or any profound loss of logic. Name me another manager that you can say that about?

What is the result of this amazing ability to remain calm, controlled, fair, and emotionally healthy? Consistency, that’s what.

The reason the club has prospered and maintained top four level is down to Wenger. Under the pressures of a stadium move, the emergence of sugar daddy owners, and the influx of money across the board he has achieved something which is nigh on impossible. I dont care who it is, no other manager could match that.

Yet some of our support deride him. Why? For the same reasons that has made the man admired by his peers and respected by those who work with him, they let themselves down by emotional over reaction, and in turn come over needy and weak.

I ask the critics this. Remove your selves for a minute from the highly charged emotion of supporting Arsenal, stand back and take a look at the mans 20 year career in its entirety, and reflect on what you see..

written by Terry Mancini’s Hair Transplant


Wenger, Spend Some Money.

August 22, 2016

Well we all had the opportunity to closely scrutinise and compare Walcott with Mahrez on Saturday, having watched it which of the two would you prefer at THOF? Both had the best of the half chances and neither could convert them into goals. I know who I would prefer to be turning out in the glorious red and white of Arsenal next week at Watford which would you?

It seems to be coming clearer that Arsenal didn’t even put a bid in for the Algerian, the strongest rumour circulating is that it was Mahrez’ agent was feeding the press to get a better deal for his client.

To a certain degree it is understandable that Wenger didn’t try and get involved. If your philosophy is that you are only going to buy if that purchase improves the existing squad then it sort of makes sense. Is Mahrez really that much better than Theo?

While we are on the subject of comparisons, who do you think is the better striker out of Welbeck and Vardy? Well, I suppose that while Welbeck is injured the answer has to be Vardy but when both are fit the answer should surely be the other way round. Vardy might not come across as the sharpest tool in the box but he knew enough to see that he was being brought to be an understudy and as soon as Welbeck was back he would be riding the pine. There was no other way that this was going to play out and as such the best Arsenal could offer him was a three year deal and that was generous. This restriction made it easy for Leicester who simply made him an offer of four years which was an offer he couldn’t refuse and we move on or am I missing something?

We have to do Mustafi again but for a change try to imagine for a minute that you are Peter Lim the owner of Valencia who happens to also be one of the most successful investors in Singapore, so we can take it as green that he knows a thing or two about negotiations; he also has a lot of connections with the EPL so he also knows how things work here.

OK, it is pretty clear that Arsenal have made a bid for Mustafi so if you were Peter Lim what would you do? Accept the offer or knowing that you have Arsenal in the bag wait to see if Chelsea or even Liverpool come in for him? Let’s not forget that Liverpool are desperate for additional bodies in defence and the fact that Klopp is a fellow German would also surely be a draw.

Who cares just spend some money and buy him. Not that easy really. Unfortunately it’s not Tesco’s in which the price for every item is fixed, all you need to do is pick one up and take it to the counter and pay for it. But we need him just make it happen Wenger; if we had had him against Liverpool we might well have won. Not so, it is easy to forget that ‘A’ he played in the Euros and therefore would not have been ready to play against Liverpool and ‘B’ that he was injured; he is only now getting close to being able to play again.

Could you imagine the fall out if Wenger had signed a player who was not good to go? In the mean time it has given Wenger the opportunity to get a good look at Holding who even the most mean spirited of Arsenal supporter has to admit is doing well. This means that in the near future we are going to have Gabriel and Koscielny on the pitch and Mertesacker, Holding and Chambers on the bench as cover. Where does Mustafi fit in?

I suspect I will read comments that this is just another example of Wenger’s indecision; so in advance of that, I think that it is worth remembering how decisive the club were when signing our last significant player – Xhaka. As clear an example as you will find of a player who came available and would improve the squad, no fuss, no faff, £30 million paid, job done.

The whole thing I suppose comes down to whether you believe Wenger or you don’t, I am fairly obviously one of those who does, I believe him when he says that he is ready to spend if the right player becomes available. I agree with him when he says that good players become available at the end of the transfer window. Lacazzete is available now and the club have put in a reasonable offer for him, Lyon are playing hard ball and have reportedly upped the asking price to £70 million. A figure that doesn’t reflect the value of a player who couldn’t even get into the French Euros team; so now imagine you are Wenger, do you spend the money you have on Lacazzette today or wait a little longer and try and get Draxler?


Stale Arsenal leave fans fuming at full time whistle!

August 21, 2016

A new season, a new kit (3 in fact) and only a few new players so far. However the same problems seem to remain at Arsenal Football Club, one of English footballs grandest clubs. The team traveled to Leicester and left with 1 point but this maybe a watershed moment given the hostile chanting towards Mr Wenger, at the end of the match, by the away fans.

The journey to Leicester was filled with apprehension more than optimism given Arsenal’s poor record at the start of the season and the feeling of being “under-prepared” yet again. On arrival and walking to the Counting House pub, there was lots of talk about possible incoming transfers with most fans voicing their frustration at the lack of money being spent.

warmup

As fans got their last orders in, the teams were announced and there was huge relief to see the name Laurent Koscielney in the starting line up after he’d had a  busy summer with France at Euro 2016. By contrast there was disappointment that Giroud was on the bench leaving Alexis to lead the line one more time.

the ground

 

champs

Arsenal kicked off and set themselves under pressure from the off as new boy Granit Xhaka gave the ball away cheaply, which was played forward to Jamie Vardy, the man who rejected Arsenal’s attention over the summer. A chorus of boos and jeers from the travelling support greeted the Leicester forward as the danger was cleared.

The Gunners began to get in their stride with Cazorla trying to pull the strings in midfield and making Arsenal play. The flanks were proving to be Arsenal’s best option but there were numerous occasions when the final delivery was disappointing. The fans then slowly started to bemoan the lack of presence up front with Alexis playing as a makeshift forward.

play

Another Leicester man, Riyad Mahrez, who like Vardy, rejected Arsenal’s advances was next to be hounded by the away support every time he touched the ball with one man in the upper tier chanting “you could have played for a big club, played for a big club, you could have played for a big club!” Then on 24 minutes play was brought back as Francis Coquelin picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on the rattled Jamie Vardy who was sent sprawling to the floor.

Arsenal began to work through the gears with Hector Bellerin charging forward at every opportunity. The fans then began to turn on Theo Walcott who seemed to be non-existent and fans were getting angry at his lack of runs. Fans began to question his £120k salary per week, with one young fan screaming “you’ve done nothing in 10 years apart from grow a beard!”

Then Arsenal’s first attempted shot came from the lively Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain which brought some to enthusiasm to the fans. Then the first contentious decision of the game. Cech came racing out of his goal to deny Leicester, Drinkwater want crashing to the ground. Mark Clattenburg waved away the penalty claims as Laurent Koscielny was deemed to have got a touch on the ball with his momentum taking Drinkwater down.

Half time and much of the talk in the concourse was about Arsenal’s lack of cutting edge with the play being too predictable and intricate.

grumps

The second half began and Leicester ramped up the pressure with Mahrez looking to unlock the Arsenal defence. The fans were warming to young Rob Holding who alongside Koscielny was delivering a very resolute performance winning his aerial duels and keeping Vardy in check.

The Arsenal fans began to turn on Mark Clattenburg as Mendy was forced to go off the pitch with the stretcher coming out but the player standing much to the displeasure of Arsenal fans who wanted the game to continue. One fan shouted “how is Clattenburg a World Cup referee!”

Again Arsenal were up to their usual tricks of trying to overcook the ball with Chamberlain being the culprit trying to play the perfect ball through leaving supporters fuming and Walcott again looking lost and low on confidence with supporters chanting for Mesut Ozil to appear. Bellerin then tried his luck from distance but his shot was easily saved. Walcott then had an effort ruled out for offside and Chamberlain faded as the game progressed. Vardy was then off target as his shot was too high with the ball landing in row z.

Arsenal fans were then pleading with Arsene Wenger to show more desire and stand on the touch line with supporters asking  “how the f**k can the players be inspired when all he does is f**king sit down!” In contrast his counterpart Mr Ranieri was in his technical area barking instructions at all times.

Finally some substitutions were made but fans were moaning about how late these changes came. Wilshere and Ozil came on for Xhaka and Cazorla and the difference was glaring. Ozil was a delight to watch as he forced the issue and was trying to make the team go forward in search of that elusive goal. Olivier Giroud shortly followed coming into the pitch after Walcott was through only for his take effort to be deflected wide. Then moments later Walcott was through on goal with Giroud free for what would have been a simple tap in but Walcott went for glory himself and missed and the this was the turning point for the fans who were fuming more towards the manager than the players. The chant “spend some f**king money” was ringing around the King Power Stadium with Leicester fans finding the whole episode rather amusing.

Ozil had a late chance but was denied and then a Leicester free kick late on never troubled Cech. Ahmed Musa was sent to the ground under Hector Bellerin with the young Spaniard very fortunate not to have given away a penalty in the dying moments of the game.

During the last 10 minutes the supporters were expressing their anger and the majority of the away support where chanting ‘Wenger out’. This is why it could be a watershed moment as the support for the manager is waning fast with perhaps it being 70-30 in the Wenger out camp. The chant was deafening and there was no denying that the atmosphere at the end was toxic amongst the away support. The game was over and it was a case of 2 points dropped rather than 1 point gained and the Arsenal fans were left pondering what might have been. Some pressing concerns for the supporters as the aggressive chants continued as fans headed for the exits.

the end2

Outside the ground there was fighting between Arsenal and Leicester fans and reports of missiles being thrown at the Arsenal supporters end which struck a child, a young Arsenal fan. This left Arsenal fans reeling resulting in clashes with Leicester supporters. Online reports claiming the fighting was between Arsenal fans was wide of the mark and nonsense.

Again a poor start to the season.. I ask myself why do we put ourselves through this every season. Maybe us fans should be in the dug out and on the pitch. Maybe then we will have a club who will show the desire to reach the top of English football once again.

We want our Arsenal back! UTA!!!

Written by Sir A