Two ‘L’ and Back

August 20, 2016

Could we lose twice in a week to teams beginning with L? Has it ever happened before?


Going away to a team who are the current Champions is always going to be difficult – I know they are “only” Leicester and we smashed them twice last season. Let’s be honest – we are under pressure. A potential loss would see us in a Spurs position after just two games.

But we won’t lose, will we?

I was delighted that both Ranieri and LCFC won the title, it lifted the spirits as one of the nice guys and a humble team consistency overcame the odds. It was brilliant and no shame to finish second by a mere 10 points.

This season will  be different or will it. The same media morons who predicted the Foxes would collapse under the pressure of leading from the front are predicting them finishing mid-table. Why? It is the same team bar one MF who has been replaced. They are a bloody good side.

We both lost last w/e and both need to kickstart the season, Leicester will view this game as winnable. Our defensive frailties against Vardy and Mahrez (does anyone think we really tried to sign Mahrez? Really?) could once again cost us dear.

I rarely make a prediction because I invariably put a bok on the team – so I won’t today but I am hopeful. Why? Because Arsenal have fantastic players. The injury to Ramsey gives space for the little Spanish genius and as we are away Xhaka is likely to start. They make an excellent midfield. As you know, I am not a Coquelin fan and hope Elneny gets the DM role alongside Xhaka. That is one powerful midfield, full of attacking possibilities.

We scored three last weekend and the attack appeared potent. Theo’s goal will do his confidence wonders – he took it brilliantly as did the Ox.

And what of the elephant in the room, the centre of defence? Well …. they just have to do better. If players want to have a career at one of the top clubs in the world they HAVE to step up. No excuses. We need young players to develop into future stars, they get few opportunities and therefore must make the most of them. Chambers must improve and the experienced players around him HAVE to help. Monreal was rubbish for 20 minutes last w/e, so was Coquelin; they cost us the game. No point looking at an inexperienced 21 y.o to blame.

And what of Cech.? I like him but others have major concerns. I felt he should have saved at least one of Liverpool’s goals.

Sanchez is SO important. In the absence of the Pass Master Ozil, his quality is paramount to our success. He looked hungry last week but understandably  faded. If he hits 30 minutes of form this afternoon, we can win.


Will the atmosphere at The Emirates become poisonous?

August 18, 2016

When I lived in England I estimate that I watched over 800 games live at Highbury. Back in the early days the crowd consisted mainly of working class men hardened by the events of WW2 – typically they wore heavy leather soled boots and cheese cutter hats. At 3:00pm on Saturdays there was only thing on my family’s mind and that was, of course, going to watch and support the Arsenal.

People squeezed into the ground and pushed and shoved to get into their regular spots, ours was at the clock end and as many as 30 of our family were usually in attendance.

There was only one thing on our minds and that was to cheer on our side and barrack the referee for every perceived injustice. There was no separation of supporters so we intermingled with the away supporters; that only caused an issue when we were playing Tottenham – but even then there was rarely any serious trouble.

Very few supporters had any deep football knowledge of the game and it was rare to hear talk of things like – tactics, formations, transfers or club ownership. Instead the talk surrounded the game we had just watched and the player’s individual contributions. Media coverage was limited to newspapers, radio and early TV.

During the 60’s media coverage got more intense and fans began to read, hear and see more details about their own team and football in general. We began to see interviews with players and managers and heard about potential transfers and started to learn more about transfers and tactic’s – all of which was positive.

Fast forwarding to the current situation and we have intense 24/7 world wide instant media coverage and are inundated with the “expert” opinions of pundits who are usually ex players who dissect every aspect of the game. In order for these media outlets to survive and prosper they have to attract and grow audiences – one method they use is to pull in readers/viewers by creating self fulfilling headlines and show previews. This has both positive and negative consequences; some see through the thin veneer of fact and form their own opinions while others believe it as though it were the gospel.

While I have not set foot inside the Emirates stadium I’ve watched every single game on TV and as the years without winning either the PL or CL has grown so has the chorus of discontent. Our away supporters continue to be behind our team and show an amazing level of support, while our home fans are far less accepting and they make their negative feelings known.

My headline is intended to invite open dialogue on the positive or negative influence that our home support has on our players and therefore our results?


Well Who Would Have Thought? Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4

August 15, 2016

Many people predicted that a beating was on the cards as many predicted that we would score a few ourselves and so it was. Possibly the biggest surprise to me was that we looked as though we were going to win for the better side for forty six of the forty seven minutes played in the first half. Theo’s penalty miss was quickly put right a few minutes later when he accurately slid the ball past a helpless Mignolet and not only were we one nil up we were looking good. So much so that I started to think that I may have read this one completely wrong.

Comments from FGG such as “Coutinho is over rated” started coming to mind and concerns about the potential long term mental damage to Holding should we suffer a thrashing seemed way off the mark. But then with just one minute before the break everyone decided to pick up the script and give it a good read. Coutinho’s free kick from distance was so good it only warranted the slightest of sighs of annoyance as it flew into the top corner. Czech was well beaten but worse, much worse it gave Liverpool the belief that they could get more than just a draw from the sundrenched afternoon at the Emirates.

And so that proved. Liverpool came out after the break with renewed belief and quickly took the lead through Lalana. This was followed shortly after by Courtinho and then finally by Mane turning Chambers inside out.

Things were looking grim, people around me started walking out, the groans aimed at Wenger were getting louder and some people were even saying things like “we should have brought a central defender and a striker”. Really, who would have thought? I searched for my inner Zen consoling myself that this was predictable and I should not be upset because winning is not the only reason I go to watch Arsenal (OK that bit’s a lie). The mood of the crowd had changed, the groans aimed at Wenger were getting louder but just as those very groans were about to turn into full scale abuse, up popped Oxlaide-Chamberlain to slalom past the Liverpool defence and fire in through the smallest gap at the near post.

Wooo, this was getting exciting. Wenger sent the kitchen sink down the touchline to warm up before throwing it on, and it worked; Chambers flicked on into the net a delightful Cazorla free kick making it 3-4, and for a moment we allowed ourselves to dream that the full come back was on. Alas, it didn’t happen as we know but the next best thing did and that was that we witnessed a really exciting game. Never a dull moment at Arsenal, bring on Leicester and let the signings begin.

Player ratings:

Czech: another commanding performance. I can’t see that he was at fault for any of the goals but I will defer to GIE for a more knowledgeable view. 5

Bellerin: We have a saying around where I sit which goes: when things are going wrong think of Hector. Did you see that tackle he made in the dying minutes when he raced back at turbo speed, amazing and uplifting at the same time. I have not seen replays but Hector had the air of the veteran about him, calm collected, right place, right time. 6

Holding: I have been looking forward to writing this: the man was outstanding, his passing ability, his accuracy, both short and long were excellent. The idea that he was going to be the one to buckle proved unfounded; all the problems came from the Chambers and Monreal side. 7

Chambers: there was a time in the first half when I was thinking this man is going to be MOTM but then his passing started going astray and then he started going astray. If Koscielny is fit next week I would keep Holding and drop Chambers. 3. OK I will give him an extra point for his goal. 4

Monreal: I thought he and Chambers were responsible for the last three Liverpool goals. The left flank was constantly exposed. Nacho’s positioning was all over the place. 3

Elneny and Coquelin: Our midfield dogs of war, love’em. For the amount of work they both put in they deserved more. 7 each.

Ramsey: Europe’s second best number 10 carried on where he left off at the Euros which was very good;  it is easy to forget how effective he is when played in his natural position. 7

Iwobi: Not a good day for Alex; he really was the weak link. His inability to find his man when a simple pass was all that was needed had a huge knock on affect so much so that I would say that it reduced Sanchez’ effectiveness by 50%. 4

Sanchez: with no one to play the quick one twos that make him so effective he was reduced to being isolated for much of the game. It is too early to say whether he can or can’t be a number nine; we will only know that when Ozil, the king of the assists returns. 6

Walcott: Theo thrived when fed but that was not as often as he needed and so he faded. Still good from Theo though, I liked what I saw. 6

The Opener.

August 14, 2016

It starts.

What an interesting couple of games to get us going – especially with our injury situation.  Two teams beginning with L. No idea what our record is agains teams beginning with different letters of the alphabet but I know we do well against T teams.

Strangely last season Liverpool struggled upfront despite having Origi, Benteke, Ings, Sturridge and Balotelli :-D. This is a massive investment into centre forwards but Klopp is so unsure about his attack that he has spent another bucket of money on the potentially excellent Mane (who would have fitted well into our squad).


I noticed that they have signed an ex-Gooner in Alex Manninger. A pleasant and unexpected  addition to Alex’s pension fund.

If you look at Liverpool’s squad they are very strong in all positions, especially midfield. Klopp has strengthened an already promising team and in Coutinho they have a player who is almost Ozil-esque … almost.

But despite having a manager we coveted, a team which cost way more than AFC’s and a huge fanbase, they have consistently failed to get amongst the Big Boys. Why? In all honesty I do not know and more to the point I don’t care; this is an Arsenal blog!

So, what of our boys? Well, the Boyo is likely to start following his heroics in the Euro’s, so is our new boy, Xhaka, who is likely to have a major influence upon our season should he stay fit and strong.

Injury problems in defence will surely result in us playing with two DM’s to assist the youngsters. It will be interesting to see whether Coquelin or Elneny starts alongside our the Swiss chap. Midfield is going to be fascinating as we progress through to Xmas we have Cazorla, Ramsey, Iwobi, Wilshere, Ox and Ozil all vying for the attacking MF position.

My Team:


Bellerin    Holding   Chambers    Monreal

Xhaka   Coquelin


Ox     Walcott     Sanchez

It hurts to leave out Santi – he is such a wonderful player and perhaps he will take Ox or Ramsey’s place, more likely he will be a super-sub. Iwobi is a Wenger favourite, and rightly so, but I just cannot find a place for him although an alternative could be to play Ramsey on the left in place of Ox with Iwobi on the right of midfield

Walcott has to lead the line; he is a confidence player and should he score a goal we will benefit.My fear is that the Emirates faithful will scapegoat him should he endure a poor half and then we know that Theo will hide. Alongside Ox, Sanchez and Rambo we should have enough.

I don’t think we can judge how the season will unfurl from this afternoon – we lost to Villa a couple of season’s ago and our record over the past 5 seasons is W1 D3 L1, not too dusty.

A win today would be terrific, the bookies have us at 55% likely to win and Liverpool just 33% (the remainder is the draw).

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners

written by Big Raddy



Are you ready for the 25th edition of the Premier League?

August 13, 2016

Looking ahead to our 25th season in the Premier League I’m filled with both anticipation and apprehension of what lies ahead for our team. In just a short few days our players will step on the field at the Emirates to play our 925th game in the PL to date our record is won 502, drawn 241 and lost 181 – which is the 2nd best all time PL record, shown below.

Pos- Team P W D L Pts
1- Man U- 924 586 194 144 1952
2- Arsenal – 924 502 241 181 1747
3- Chelsea – 924 486 238 200 1696
4- Pool – 924 456 233 235 1601
5- Spurs – 924 374 239 311 1361
6- Everton – 924 332 267 325 1263
7- Villa – 924 316 275 333 1223
8- Newcastle- 844 326 216 302 1194
9- Man C- 734 304 181 249 1093
10- Blackburn- 696 262 184 250 970
11- West Ham- 768 253 200 315 959
12- Saints- 658 210 177 271 807
13- Leeds- 468 189 125 154 692
14- Boro – 536 156 157 223 625
15- Sund’land- 570 147 153 270 594
16- Fulham- 494 150 136 208 586
17- Bolton- 494 149 128 217 575
18- Leicester- 384 118 110 156 464
19- Coventry- 354 99 112 143 409
20- Sheff W- 316 101 89 126 392
21- Dons – 316 99 94 123 391
22- WBA – 380 94 106 180 388
23- Stoke – 304 98 86 120 380
24- Charlton- 304 93 82 129 361
25- Norwich – 316 89 92 135 359
26- Wigan- 304 85 76 143 331
27- QPR – 278 81 65 132 308
28- Pompey- 266 79 65 122 302
29- B’ham- 266 73 82 111 301
30- CPR – 274 74 73 127 295
31- Derby – 266 68 70 128 274
32- Nottm F- 198 60 59 79 239
33- Swansea- 190 62 52 76 238
34- Ipswich- 202 57 53 92 224
35- Hull – 152 32 41 79 137
36- Wolves- 152 32 40 80 136
37- Sheff U- 122 32 36 54 132
38- Reading- 114 32 23 59 119
39- Watford- 114 23 28 63 97
40- Oldham- 84 22 23 39 89
41- Burnley- 76 15 18 43 63
42- Bradford- 76 14 20 42 62
43- B’mouth – 38 11 9 18 42
44- B’pool  – 38 10 9 19 39
45- Barnsley- 38 10 5 23 35
46- Swindon- 42 5 15 22 30
47- Cardiff – 38 7 9 22 30


We play Liverpool in what will be our 49th game against them in the PL where our home record is W9, D9, L6 and our away record is W6, D8, L10. Personally I am very nervous about our chances as with our makeshift defence Liverpool could easily turn us over.

My apprehension also surrounds our lack of a proven goal scorer; if we do not significantly improve in this area and are forced to compete with the same attacking force, I have strong doubts about our ability to win major trophies. We still have until the end of August to add a striker and another centre back but leaving it so late causes me great angst and reduces our chances of success.

My anticipation comes from the excitement of another season of watching the team I have grown old with; as odd as it may sound, I’m still like a young child waiting for the season to start (my 70th) and as usual I will be behind them 100%.

With the improvements in both management and players for Liverpool, Man U, Man C, Chelsea and Spurs, not to mention Leicester I feel that this will be one of the most exciting and competitive Premier League seasons on record.

Are you ready?  I am.


Prediction Time. Can AFC compete with the Big Spenders?

August 11, 2016

Just a few days until the start of the campaign, surely the best time to dream that Arsenal can finish one place higher than last season.

Or perhaps you are a “realist” and think we will finish outside the Top 4; that the spending frenzy by The Oilers, Liverpool and United will condemn us to the Europa League at best.

What do you think?


written by Big Raddy

Theo Walcott: Like a new signing?

August 5, 2016

The one player that has divided opinion more than any other over the last few seasons is Theo Walcott. Last season his attitude to certain games (especially during spring) and his desire to play up top had the pendulum swinging further to the nays and taking on the form of the axe.

One player more than any other that represented the chaff to be separated. Think back three seasons and we were all imploring Theo to “sign da ting” which he eventually did but it appeared with some kind of caveat that he didn’t want to play on the wing anymore.

Whether you think Theo has a football brain or not he has often given us moments of pure joy, remember the mazy run and finish against Chavs and Newcastle where both times he bounced up off the ground mid run.

For me he has never possessed the attributes to be a striker, there are plenty of players his size that have managed it, Suarez, Aguero, Bellamy, even Shane Long can be counted in that group. What they possess and Theo doesn’t is a bit of the b****** about them, they are tough competitors, maybe too tough at times in the case of some. But you have to be if you want to be a centre forward and are not over 6ft.

So why isTheo like a new signing? This quote on

I’ve said to the manager that I want to be known for playing on the right again, I can play up front, given the opportunity, and the manager says I can play up front, so it depends on which game it is.

I know I can do a job up front as well as on the right, but I want to make my position the right-hand side.

All together now “thank f*** for that”, it has to be said it’s taken too long for Theo to come to this conclusion, being left out of the Arsenal side and watching centre midfielders and academy players fill his berth on the flank also not going to the Euros has probably helped him realise. But at least he has.

So will Theo be like a new signing and become the perfect running machine for the likes of Ozil, Santi and Rambo? Comments on a post card, or the blog – it’s more immediate.

Gooner in Exile