Arsenal’s Most Valuable

September 30, 2016

A couple of seasons ago, I penned a post making the case for Theo being our most valuable player.

It stated that I didn’t think he was our best player in any particular position, rather that he was the most irreplaceable because of the threat he posed an opposition defence, and hence the value.

This summer saw us make some great signings right the way down the spine of the team. Of course we haven’t seen too much of Lucas Perez, but that is more to do with Arsene’s juggling of the pack across the front.

Right now, Arsenal are playing the best football we have witnessed in many years, however, one thing is for certain, both injuries and fatigue will come, and then we’ll see the real strength of the squad.

We have been watching what many would consider our best starting XI, and equally, many will be nervously thinking about where it will go wrong. Therefore, I’d love to hear your thoughts on where you see our Achilles heel.

The little I saw of Holding fills me with enormous confidence, and I also have a sneaky suspicion Gabriel might come good in the same way Laurent did, meanwhile the defensive side of midfield looks to me our strongest area.

My own view on Aaron differs to some regulars on here in that I don’t see him as a specialist in any role of our current system, however, he is a superb multi-functional stand in for a number of roles. I remember how last season we played arguably our best two games with Aaron on the right.

Strangely, and here you’ll think I’m being wildly optimistic, I fear injury to Mesut less than before as I believe Iwobi would do a more than adequate job standing in for an unreplaceable.

If I had to pick one player to represent that bit of Achilles, then it would be Bellerin.

What do you think?

Written by mickydidit89

Player Ratings vs Basel

September 29, 2016

Given the awesomeness of our first half display I have decided rate the two halves separately . Scores out of 10.

First Half:

Ospina.   Didn’t touch the ball, hence a perfect performance.  11

Bellerin. A constant threat in attack and defended from the half way line.  11

Mustafi. Magnificent 11

Koscielny. Equally magnificent. 11

Montreal. See Bellerin. 11

Xhaka.  A metronome of timing and accuracy. 11

Cazorla. Perhaps his best ever AFC performance. 11

Iwobi. The future is bright, the future is Iwobi. 11

Sanchez. Noe-stop energy allied to amazing balance allied to amazing spirit and talent. 11

Walcott. Never better. 11

Ozil. A magician on top form. 11


Second Half:

Not quite a good, so everyone deserves just the 10.

Except the subs who get a 9 for effort (a bit like getting a mark for correctly spelling your name on an exam paper).

Another wonderful evening to be a Gooner.

written by BR

Blessed are the Cheesemakers

September 28, 2016

This is a game I really want us to win and win in style.

The bubbly, happy feeling generated by our magnificent victory over the Southern Oilers will continue into the weekend with a handsome victory. A scrappy one-nil would do but a little bit of Ozil magic allied to some Sanchez dynamite and a dash of Theo virtuosity would do even better.

We are playing a Swiss team. I have no wish to belittle the mountainous paradise but quite frankly football is not their strong-point. Skiing, Yes. Clock-making, Yes. Cheese production, Yes. Football, No.


And yet they have a decent national team who did OK in the Euros, until a certain Granit Xhaka missed a penalty, and in FC Basle have a team with a record of wins against big clubs. I am sure you have read all about their giant-killing exploits so I will not google and regurgitate here.

Let’s be honest, you expect us to win, don’t you? Come on …. if we drew you would be disappointed, especially given our recent results. Win both tonight and the away game in Bulgaria (Ludo Radz) and TOTL is centred upon a home game against PSG.

So… who will play?

My Team:


Bellerin    Mustafi   Koscielny   Monreal

Xhaka    Cazorla   Iwobi

Walcott    Sanchez    Ozil

Why change a winning team (bar Le Coq)? We have 4 days to recover before the trip to Burnley where I expect AW to rest some players. Perhaps Ox or Perez may start tonight in place of Iwobi but I doubt it.

Should Elneney start against his former club? The partnership with Xhaka is highly promising but who gets dropped? Cazorla? Santi has been magnificent and to drop him in order to save him for Turf Moor is poor reward for his excellence.

Gibbs short appearance on Saturday  was superb, possibly his best performance in many a month, though it would come as surprise to see AW change his back line.


Basle are no pushover, they have won their first 9 games in the Swiss League scoring almost 3 goals a game and won their league 7 times in a row but we are different gravy. It is one thing winning away at BellRingers Sion or Grasshopper Young Boys of Thun and quite another beating one of the best teams in the world. Having said that, Basle beat the Chavs home and away in 2014!

So, will we continue our fine run of form and take a huge step towards the next round of the CL or will we stutter against a team who will come to defend (parken den bus)?

We have the team, we have the experience, we have the 12th man in the stands (for now).  Cheesemakers blessed? We shall see tonight.





Arsenal 3 Chelsea 0………..A few thoughts.

September 25, 2016

So to start this post off, let’s have a little count to see if we all arrive at the same number. Ready, right then, how many teams are there in London?


Any match report from an Arsenal supporter after that game would and should be one long list of superlatives, so here you go.

Player ratings:

Cech: Solid as a rock 10

Bellerin: Phenomenal 10

Mustafi: Vorsprung durch technik 10

Koscielny: Magnificent 10

Monreal: Brilliant 10

Coquelin: Hero 10

Cazorla: Outstanding 10

Ozil: God like 10

Iwobi: Sublime 10

Sanchez: Awesome 10

Walcott: Exceptional 10

Well that was fun.

OK, the thing is that anyone reading this obviously saw the game so instead of me trying to point out all the things that were special or might have gone unnoticed what I would like you to do is to point them out in the comments below.

For example: one of the things that I thought might have gone unnoticed is that for the first time the team stopped hoofing high balls up to Sanchez and instead only played to his feet, in other words that was the first time that the team played to Sanchez’ strengths rather than what was Giroud’s and surprise, surprise the result was one of the best performances we have seen from the Good Guys in recent years. Interestingly to me was that when the Frenchman did come on he looked completely out of place. I know, I know, this is not the time to start picking holes and furthermore I am sure that there will be times when his skill set will come in useful but any thoughts that Sanchez can’t play a number nine have now vanished from this Arsenal supporters mind.

Have the best Sunday you have had in ages.

Written by LB on Cloud 9

Cheating Costa to get his Comeuppance?

September 24, 2016

What would we do without the comedy villain? In the past it has been Shearer, then Sheringham, Van Nistelrooy or Keane, Shawcross etc. I guess it has always been such as we construct our narrative about our favourite game. Chelsea are unusual insomuch  as they have two.

And we all know who we want to get a good shoeing and a red card this afternoon.

Diego Costa is a player whom I would love to see in the red and white of Arsenal, he is a horrible but efficient, destructive player. I suspect that off pitch he is a really good bloke but on-pitch he changes. We do not have anyone like him and perhaps we are the lesser team because of our “niceness”. Perhaps Xhaka will change this.

Of course ,the other villain is the ageing and possibly missing JT . Be honest – if he had been in the Arsenal shirt and under the tutelage of Mr. Wenger for the last 15 years we could have been a legend; instead Terry is a boor.


We need to win today, we need to beat Chelsea and get this monkey off the back. Me-rinho has gone but we still haven’t beaten them in too long, much too long.

Let’s be clear, whatever they do Chelsea will always be in our shadow. Arsenal are the biggest club in London and no amount of illicit money will change that. Yes, they have won more silverware in the past 10 years than we have but so what? We have history, Chelsea have Russian money.

I still admire Fabregas. Bear with me, this is a man who desperately wanted to return to his home club in Barcelona, got binned and saw the error of his ways. He wanted to re-sign for Arsenal but Mr Wenger decided we  had better, it wasn’t Cesc’s fault that we signed Ozil and Cazorla. Why castigate the poor chap who has to pull on that repulsive Blue shirt? Isn’t that enough punishment? Imagine the pain every time he has to walk into the dressing room. I think the chap deserves our sympathy not our dislike.

We go into the game on a strong run of results and must be confident. The Alexis experiment is likely to continue and I expect AW to pick the same team which won at Hull

My Team:


Bellerin    Mustafa    Koscielny    Monreal

Cazorla   Coquelin    Iwobi

Walcott    Sanchez    Ozil

One of the most interesting aspects of today’s game will be how Mustafi copes with the aggression of Costa, let us hope he can control himself better than Gabriel!

Also, how will Hazard play? If he is on-song the man is a potent weapon and will certainly stretch our defence.

It should be a cracking game, especially if Chelsea  and Conte choose to attack.

I see no reason why we cannot win against a team who, quite frankly, have besmirched our wonderful sport since the days of the execrable criminal Ken Bates. We are the men in the white hats waiting for the outlaws to arrive. let’s give them a thrashing and send them home crying.

Let it be so


Do you remember Cliff Holton?

September 22, 2016

He was born in Oxford and was a natural sportsman, winning medals for swimming and diving as befitted the son of a Headington boat builder, reared by the river. He was an outstanding school track athlete, played cricket for Essex Seconds for four years, turned down a place as a professional with Middlesex and reserved his penchant for fast-medium bowling in local club cricket.


Later, he became an outstanding golfer, serving on the board at Hadley Wood, still playing off a seven handicap and working for the Herts Handicap Committee. His father’s view was that professional football was a dead-end job which prompted Cliff to become an apprentice tool-maker with Morris.

He began his football life as a defender, serving Isthmian League Oxford City as a full-back before joining Arsenal in 1947. It was not until 1950, after National Service in the Army, that he was switched to centre-forward and he earned a place in the Gunners’ senior side in the spring of 1951. Imposing, strong and far quicker than was suggested by a rather ungainly, loping gait, Holton adopted a rampaging style which unsettled opponents. He wasn’t a bad passer either, but he was most famous for the thunderous power of his shot with either foot, which accounted for many of his goals.

He was in the Arsenal side to reach the FA Cup Final in 1952 and his19 goals in 21 outings helping to secure the League Championship in 1952-53, and the promising 24-year-old was spoken of as an England international of the future. He continued to figure for Arsenal for another three seasons and on 6 October 1956, he scored four goals in a home match against Manchester City, becoming the first player since Jack Lambert to score more than three in a game at Highbury.

He lost his place to an ageing Tommy Lawton but a year later, having been switched to left-half, Holton was restored to the side and became captain for a spell. But despite doughty service in various roles, he was judged surplus to requirements as the new manager George Swindin sought to revamp a lacklustre team. Holton was sold to Watford for £10,000 in October 1958. After taking a little time to settle at Vicarage Road, he became one of the most revered figures in the Hornets’ history, netting a club record for one term of 48 League and FA Cup goals as he skippered them to promotion from the Fourth Division in 1960.

His departure from Vicarage Road in the late summer of 1961 to Northampton Town caused such a furore; his shadow remained over the club for a decade. Fifteen years later, when Jim Bonser resigned as chairman, he was still trying, to no avail, to justify that transfer, which disillusioned a generation of Vicarage Road regulars. He finally admitted when he stepped down, what everybody had known 15 years earlier: “We got rid of the wrong man”.

At Northampton Town in 1961 – he scored a club record 36 goals in 1961-62, achieving the rare feat of holding the all-time goals in a season record at two different clubs. He went on to play for Crystal Palace, signing in December 1962 and was part of the Palace side which achieved promotion to the second tier in 1964, with 43 appearances that season scoring 20 goals. He then returned to Watford on 6 May 1965, before moving on to Charlton Athletic and subsequently Leyton Orient.

Only four men since the Second World War had scored more goals in English League football than Cliff Holton namely Arthur Rowley, Jimmy Greaves, John Atyeo and John Aldridge, all of whom, unlike Holton, concentrated solely on a striking role. However the big, burly Oxonian never scaled the giddy heights predicted for him as a young Arsenal star during the early 1950

He finally retired in 1968, due in part to a knee injury and left the game completely. A forthright and articulate individual, Holton seemed ideal soccer management material but he preferred instead to concentrate on a precision engineering business, which he ran until 1989 before working part-time in sports marketing.

He died suddenly in 1996 at the age of 67 while on holiday in Almeria, Spain.

His scoring record was –

Goals Games  G.P.G.
Arsenal 83 198   2.39
London XI 3 4   1.33
Watford 84 120   1.43
Northampton Town 62 86   1.39
Crystal Palace 40 101   2.53
Charlton Athletic 7 18   2.57
Leyton Orient 17 41   2.41
Total 296 568   1.92



A View from the Pew

September 21, 2016

Apparently it was the anniversary of Brian Clough’s demise as well as the return of Nicklas Bendtner to his adoring Gooner public. A photo of Cloughie, our designated meeting point, was obligatory. He would definitely be a staunch advocate of the style of football played by teams managed by AW.


A merry pre-match bevvy ensued, taking in the Joseph Else, Vat and Fiddle plus the Trip to Jerusalem amongst others.


I’m still not a 100% sure who started for The Arsenal. ElNeny, Xhaka, Lucas, the Ox, Holding and Gabriel seemed like a fairly decent core.

Forest are obviously a lower tier outfit these days and the first half clearly showed how Arsenal’s second string were levels above a fairly average Championship side. The minute’s applause for Cloughie in the 12th minute was beautifully observed by the whole stadium.

The first half was illuminated by Granit’s shot from distance which the Forest keeper seemed to try and save with the wrong hand, allowing it to spoon into the net. Arsenal’s passing was sharp and gave us hope for some tasty action coming towards us in the second half.

The penalty for the second goal was so clear from the terraces. Akpom was just about to shoot when he was unceremoniously barged off the ball. Lucas stepped up and sent the away fans into raptures with his first Arsenal goal.


The gulf in class, even between an Arsenal second string and a reasonable Championship side grew as the game went on. I doubt the 11 players who started the game had ever played together before but all showed the benefits of the tutelage of our current manager. Xhaka is obviously one of those players foisted on the manager who will clearly struggle to fit into the current Arsenal plan. Not.

Lucas’ second, soon after his penalty, gave us great hope that he might become the finisher we need. He showed magnificent control under extreme pressure and produced a calm finish to boot.

The Ox improved as the game went on and his finish in injury time was sublime.

I must admit to feeling a little sorry for the Forest fans. Their ‘Have you won a European Cup’ was matched by the Gooners’ ’Forty Nine, Forty Nine Undefeated’ and eventually countered with ‘Nottingham Forest, You live in the Past’. I suppose living in the past is inevitable when the present is so mediocre. Ant and me couldn’t agree with ‘Nottingham’s a sh*thole, I want to go home’ as we both love our adopted city. It’s a fine place to live.


What a fine evening out for anyone supporting The Arsenal.

Player Ratings

Martinez – The young keeper makes you feel reassured. Quick off his line, unflustered and agile for a big old unit – 9

Maitland-Niles – Not really troubled. Probably more scared of his Mum than the Forest forwards – 9

Holding – So composed on the ball, strong in the tackle. What a purchase! – 9

Gabriel – Still gets a little flustered in possession but made some excellent blocks and recovery tackles – 9

Gibbs – Looked like he’s been playing regularly for the first team. A fine professional – 9

The Ox – Not his best first half but grew in confidence as the game went on, capping it with a superbly taken goal at the end – 9

Jeff – Great balance, elegant and with a fine eye for a pass. How on earth are we going to fit all of these great players in one starting XI? – 9

Xhaka – Oozes presence on the football pitch. I’m so looking forward to seeing how his Arsenal career develops – 9

ElNeny – a perfect foil for Xhaka. I keep thinking they’ve played together before at Basel but don’t think they were there at the same time – 9

Akpom – Looked fast and aggressive asked to play out wide. Unlucky not to score – 9

Lucas – Strong, skillful and muscular. Superb to see him get off the mark – 9

Written by chas