Can we continue our Unbeaten Run?

September 17, 2016

Hull away under a strong caretaker manager is a potential banana-skin for our team as they struggle to discover form and identity. Are Arsenal good enough to leave The Kcom Stadium (really?) with three points?

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I am always concerned about long  unbeaten runs and the fact that Arsenal have not lost an away fixture to Hull for 101 years frightens me, all runs end – sometimes with a diving Rooney. Before you get too excited we have only played 6 games over those years!

On paper we have a far better squad, man for man Arsenal inspire confidence but we know that individual quality does not equate to points, it is teamwork, cohesion, focus and above all clinical finishing which brings success.

Rumour has it that OG is not fit to start so there is likely to be a second start for Perez who must be hoping for a better afternoon than his ineffectual performance  last week.

My Team

Cech

Bellerin    Mustafa    Koscielny     Monreal

Xhaka    Elneny   Iwobi

Ozil   Sanchez

Perez

Formation? The Terry Venables Christmas Tree. Will not work like this in practice but looks good on paper!

It will be interesting to see whether the highly influential Cazorla is selected to play 3 games in a week especially with a CL game midweek. My guess is that we will play a more defensive midfield for an away fixture.

Will Hull cope with the pace and guile of our strikers? It is here where the game will be won. Our defence looks solid and will surely enter the pitch ready from the first whistle after the midweek lapse, so it is the goal scoring which needs to be addressed.

An oddity is that in the last three games between the clubs it has been 0-0 at halftime and there has been a goal after the 90th minute.

Can we win? Of course.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


A Spurs loss or an Arsenal draw?

September 16, 2016

Schadenfreude.

Which gave you more pleasure – seeing the results of both Spurs and Man Utd or Arsenal getting a “plucky” draw (we could remove the P and be more accurate)  in Paris.

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In Raddy’s case, the enjoyment of the two losses was considerable but fleeting, a little like a naughty doughnut, whereas the warm feelings created by the series of Cavani misses will help me through the long winter nights. So, on balance, I would have to say that a positive Arsenal result is better than a negative one for our rivals.

This is one of the most enjoyable parts of football fandom –  I care about other teams results in an antipathetic way. It isn’t enough that Arsenal gain 3 points and win handsomely, what heightens the enjoyment is an embarrassing loss for any of the Top 5 clubs.

What really piques the senses is when they lose points in an unjust manner such as Chelsea and Cahill getting “Marriner-ed” at Swansea which, following our questionable last-minute penalty the day before, made for an excellent weekend’s football.

Or is it just me?

written by Big Raddy


Arsenal are Getting Stronger.

September 14, 2016

A point away to PSG, you’re going to take it all day long, especially when we consider just how many golden chances PSG had to kill the game off; if Giroud had had the chances that Cavani had and missed we would be laying into him like there was not tomorrow. True we could have had a second ourselves when the ball fell kindly to Iwobi and had he converted it we may well have won the game but on balance to win last night would have been very lucky indeed.

We’re getting better slowly but surely, we are obviously not where we want to be yet but it is plain to see that we are moving in the right direction. The encouraging thing is that we all know that there is more to come. It is not as though we are fielding our best eleven and they are playing at the top of their game and we are still gifting the opposition chance after chance. No, the best attack combination has not yet been found neither has the best midfield become clear but I think we all know or certainly hope that this is all doable and will happen. What I am trying to say is that there is a lot more to come from this squad and it is going to be great watching it unfold and develop.

The talking point before the game was the team selection with people questioning quite a few of Wenger’s team selection. As it turned out a lot of it made more sense than many realised and any criticism I make from here I realise I do so with the very useful aid of hindsight.

Ospina’s agility, which could be argued is better than Cech’s, kept us in that game with saves that got better and better as the game went on so much so that towards the end they can only be described as amazing; can’t criticise AW for that choice. The back line is the best we have and all did pretty well once they woke up, got their kit and boots on and took to the field which was shortly after PSG scored.

Mustafi looks as though he has been in that team for about three seasons. If he can be that influential after two games we have got ourselves one heck of a CB.

Coquelin was the right choice; he is so much better at defending than Xhaka but you wait and see what happens on Saturday: Xhaka will start because Hull will be on the back foot and we will need to find a way to break them down, same situation as Watford.

Cazorla? Who else could have played there? It was the right choice. Ozil obviously has to play; Walcott was injured so it made sense to start with Iwobi. Now we come to the problem areas. It is admirable that Wenger is not giving up on Oxlaide-Chamberlain but it is going to get downright infuriating if he continues for too much longer.

Which brings me to the question of Sanchez being or not being a striker? Could you imagine the Barcelona goalkeeper or the Barcelona CBs hoofing highballs up the field for Messi to get his head on? No you can’t. So why on earth do we do this with Sanchez? What is the point? We take a situation in which we have possession and then kick the ball in such a way that then reduces our chances of retaining it to 50-50 at best. The problem is not that Sanchez is not a CF the problem is that so many of the other players are continuing to play as though Giroud is up top. This being the case it is little wonder that we look better for the two or three minutes the FFP comes on before getting sent off for one act of petulance or another.

All that said, Sanchez does seem to be better coming in from the left. Hopefully on the weekend we may get a glimpse of Perez in the middle with Sanchez on the left. I hope so as this in my mind is the Holy Grail of the Arsenal attack.

My perfect team against Watford, Hull etc

—————Cech
Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal
—————Xhaka
———–Cazorla——Ozil
—-Walcott, Perez, Sanchez

And against Chelsea, Man City, etc

—————Cech
Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal
—————Coquelin
———–Ramsey——Ozil
—-Walcott, Perez, Sanchez

LB


Who is Arsenal’s Top Scorer in the Champions League?

September 13, 2016

Lovely warm Autumn night, great stadium, very good opponents, a night to look forward to. Win or draw (I never mention a loss) I will enjoy our return to the Champions League, our 19th season in succession.

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Can we get further than the last 16? We haven’t since 2010; if Arsenal are to be taken seriously as a top team then we must reach at least the quarter-final. Can we? Much will depend upon tonight’s result because if we leave Paris with at least a point we are in the box-seat to win the group.

PSG are in poor form (for them) and having lost both Luiz and the Big-Nosed Swede during the summer (how could my favourite player sign for those Northern swine?), they are definitely weakened, especially upfront where Cavan has struggled though PSG have recently spent well over €20m on ex-Barca forward Jese´

But let us not feel too relaxed – PSG remain an Oiler team who have so much money that they paid €22m to get rid of a manager – that is a Perez! PSG have only lost one of their last twenty home games in the CL and have reached the quarter finals in the last 5 seasons.

Here’s a question. Without googling, do you know who is Arsenal’s top scorer in the Champions League? Have a guess but no cheating.

As to Arsenal, the knowledge that Kos is recovered and will start is a huge fillip – the man has developed into a cornerstone of the team; who would have thought so when Vermælen was our defensive pivot?

The defence picks itself but in midfield we have so many combinations – given that Santi played 90 minutes on Saturday I expect him to be riding the pine. My guess is that Xhaka and Elneny will start with the intention of protecting the back 4 in an away fixture.

Giroud is certain to return but a poor performance could see him behind Perez as our main striker. Many are concerned about OG’s inability to become a clinical finisher but he is the best we have. Perez may well prove to be the player we need but on the evidence of Saturday he has a settling-in period to go through.

My Team: (BTW I know we do not play 4-3-3)

Cech

Bellerin    Mustafa    Koscielny     Monreal

Xhaka     Elneny    Sanchez

Walcott   Giroud    Ozil

This team may be a little too attack-miinded for AW, we may see Theo dropped to make way for Ox or Iwobi who are better defensively.

Can we win? As always my answer is, Why not? Arsene has pointed to the mix of age and experience in the squad. Almost all our players are used to high pressure CL games and this must have a positive effect. Let’s hope so.

COYRRG

 


So do you think Arsenal can win the League now?

September 12, 2016

The Man City love in that went into overdrive this weekend is at last starting to abate and the focus is turning towards the appearance of the first chink in Perfect Pep’s amour: Claudio Bravo? Oh boy is he going to be bullied now. Claudio meet Arnoutovic and while I am at it here’s Shawcross……

It didn’t seem to cross a single one of those Guadiola fawning journalists that the reason for City’s dominance was not that they were so good but rather that Manu were so poor — and they were, as poor as pants in the first half. I look forward to playing them I don’t think we have anything to be worried about.

But before that, of course, we have the chance to test ourselves against Chelsea. Yet again I see no reason to be worried or certainly less than in recent seasons. Conte looks out of his depth especially in the transfer window. The idea of a Chelsea manger moaning about the spiraling cost of transfer fees got the same amount of sympathy from me as I did Keith Vaz for his infractions last week; you reap what you sow boys. Only being able to sign Batshuayi and Side Show Bob goes to show how hard it was to bring in big names and that is of course with the help of a billionaire who doesn’t care whether he ever gets repaid or not.

Or does he? We don’t get very much to chew on when it comes to Stan Kroenke but every now and then we get thrown a scrap. The last time was a couple of years ago when he was over and at the training ground where the memorable point he made was how Arsene Wenger was out in the rain taking the training sessions. The odd thing about this was that Kroenke was surprised that Wenger was prepared to get wet rather than, as I saw it, that our manager was simply doing his job for which he is very well paid. I know Wenger’s wages are used as a stick to beat him with but I think that it is appropriate here – a bit of rain, please?

Back to the story, Kroenke made one other observation that stayed with me and that was when asked about Chelsea’s spending, and this is the insight of one billionaire into another, he said that they may spend their money without return for a while but they won’t continue doing it forever and I think that is where we are with Chelsea now; their golden days of care free spending are over and, by contrast, the spending power that our new stadium affords us is now coming to the fore.

It wasn’t great on Saturday; we are not going to have a style of football named after us for that performance Tikka Takka? Nah. But what it did show, and I have been dying to use this line by VP of Oz, was that there was “a real sense that some steel was being forged”. Come on, how good is that? And what’s more, the more I think about it the more it rings true.

Arsene knows already who his “go to” back 5 are, so that is sorted. In the midfield there are many possibilities, all good and that can be altered and adjusted to suit the opposition which leaves the attack. It is not clear which is the best combo and I doubt that AW has it clear in his mind who his “go to” attack is either but fortunately we still have two more games to iron more of these things out and continue to improve before we are tested by Chelsea and if we can just keep 11 players on the field this time I think we will be singing ‘One Team in London’ with a bit more conviction this time around which brings me back to the title.

LB


Arsenal 2 Southampton 1

September 11, 2016

Player ratings:

Cech: it is easy to start getting blasé about the high standard of performance this guy puts in week in and week out. It is only when you look at how bad things could be and by that I mean take a look at the nightmare in the form of Claudio Bravo that Guardiola imported from Barcelona. This guy has won La Liga by standing behind that incredible Catalan out-field which means he had so little to do he could troll on Twitter for the best part of the game. But then, of course, look what happens when he has to do some work as was required against Manu. The man was all over the place. Contrast that with Peter Cech’s performance? Coolness personified ladies and gentlemen, coolness personified. 8

Bellerin: another standout performance from probably the fastest right back in the country. Remember whenever things are not going as hoped think of Hector and the world is alright again. 8

Chambers/Mustafi: I had to do a double take when he first took to the field; his hair and his physicality were so much like he who has gone to Middlesbrough. But that, of course, is where the comparisons stop. This guy has all the strength and determination of Koscielny and that is high praise indeed. Considering that was the first time he played with that group of players he did really well, going from strength to strength as the game went on. Yes, there were a couple of really poor passes at the beginning but after apologising to the bench he sorted that side of his game out – give the ball to Ozil, simples. I was surprised at how high up the field he felt comfortable playing; he was so far up he was almost joining in with the attack. All in all I felt comfortable with him there; his German calmness gives him the edge, in my opinion, over Paul Easter. 8

Koscielny: I had a small wager before the game that King Kos would be the first to score and do so with an overhead kick and I was right, I won quite a bit on money on that bet. This guy is just so determined and it rubs off on other players by encouraging them to try and emulate his commitment. MOTM 9

Monreal: best game so far and he needed it as he has been poor by the high standards he set last season. I have a hunch about this and that is that he is much more comfortable with Sanchez playing ahead of him; there is something about that combo that works. 8

Coquelin: our French ferret was everywhere in the middle of the park yesterday, breaking up play and winning back the ball. He is such an important player and one that will not lose his place to Xhaka; they are both perfectly suited to two different types of opposition. Arsenal – Watford? They were never going to really trouble us at the back so Xhaka is our man. Now we come to play City, who would you prefer sitting in front of the defence acting as a shield? 8

Cazorla: Did you see that last ditch tackle he made to stop Shane Long breaking through for a one on one with Cech? It was a tackle that Tony Adams would have been proud of. That may have got the crowd singing his name but it was his emphatic penalty strike that really got everyone out of their seats jumping for joy. He will lose his place to Ramsey when he returns; the Welshman adds just that little bit more steel in the middle but when it comes to art, Santi is our man. 8

Ozil: if you think I have been fawning over the players I have been writing about so far, you better turn away now because I am about to pour it on as thick as treacle. This is the best player we have ever had at the club; well maybe there is one other occupying the top table on Mount Olympus but if Mesut started scoring a few more goals its possible he could even take that crown. I cannot believe how lucky we are to have this player; he is a joy to watch, a thing of beauty. 8

Oxlaide-Chamberlain: for all those who saw the whole of the game you would have seen a player who made some really good runs in the first half, beating players for fun and then sending in a dire cross because he clearly hadn’t bothered looking up, this infuriatingly happened more times than it should and as such it only served to highlight why people remain unconvinced about his future. He looked very down coming off when substituted but as we all know he is never going to keep Sanchez out of the team and Sanchez is much happier and much more effective coming in from the left which means that that starting berth is going to be occupied for as long as the Chilean is fit. So Alex what to do, perhaps a peek in a few Bournemouth estate agents windows? 6

Perez: early days obviously. A bit off the pace of course but what really made his life difficult was that he was off the wave length, Ozil’s wave length. For this guy to succeed he has to be able to be able to link with Mesut, if he can do that then we have the player that we have been crying out for. His close control was good, very good in fact, not flicks and tricks that Giroud does which sometimes work and sometimes don’t, no. Perez’s close passes were deliberate, he knew what he was doing, he was completely in control of things. As he becomes better acquainted with the best player we have at the club, things will improve and this all bodes well for the future. 7

Walcott: Theo was rightly in the starting line up but it is hard to see him staying there unless he can continue to improve which in all fairness he has done quite a bit of this season. Iwobi replaced him and we got a direct comparison: Iwobi obviously doesn’t have Walcott’s pace but the Nigerian’s control is so much better that he created more dangerous moves in the fifteen minutes that he was on than Walcott did during all the time he was on. Iwobi isn’t quite ready yet but Theo you might want to start looking at estate agents brochures — in Bournemouth perhaps? 7

The Match Report.

Cazorla saved our bacon in the last minute with a well taken penalty to give us the all important three points. The team got better and better as the game went on although we were lucky that Shane Long wasn’t on the same annoyingly good form he was last season as he had two really good chances to embarrass us. But he didn’t, as we know, which means we get the luxury of basking in the glory of our unbeaten run this week.

Written by LB
COYRRG


Southampton pre-match

September 10, 2016

In the 2001 census Southampton and Portsmouth were recorded as being parts of separate urban areas, however by the time of the 2011 census they had merged to become the sixth largest built-up area in England with a population of 855,569. This built-up area is part of the metropolitan area known as South Hampshire, which is also known as Solent City, particularly in the media when discussing local governance organisational changes. With a population of over 1.5 million this makes the region one of the United Kingdom’s most populous metropolitan areas.

Here are a few miscellaneous pieces of trivia about Southampton.

The Mayflower, the famed ship which brought the Pilgrim Fathers to America, actually set sail from Southampton. There were in fact two ships – The Mayflower and The Speedwell, which left Southampton together in early August, 1620.

However, the smaller Speedwell was soon found to be taking on water, so the two ships diverted to Dartmouth for repairs before setting sail again, only for The Speedwell to spring yet another leak. All the passengers then clambered onto The Mayflower and continued on for Cape Cod in New England that September.

God’s House Tower, on the corner of Town Quay, Lower Canal Walk and Platform Road, was the first dedicated artillery fortification built in England. It was constructed in 1417, as part of the drive to fortify Southampton following the French raids some 80 years earlier. The town gunner was paid sixpence a week.

Southampton played a major role in the success of fish fingers. Clarence Birdseye tested herring sticks and cod sticks on shoppers in Southampton and South Wales. The Southampton customers loved the cod sticks, which then became known as fish fingers and rolled out across the country.

Arsenal and Southampton have played against each other 34 times in the Premier League

The record is –

Away – W6, D5, L6, GF23, GA21

Home – W12, D5, L0, GF41, GA 14

Our home record is most impressive not losing a game and winning 80.4% of the points.

I see no reason for this to change and I predict a straightforward 3-0 win.

My prediction for our starting eleven will be –

ars-v-soton

 

Subs – Ospina, Gibbs, Holding, Mustafi, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ox.

GunnerN5

 


Wenger: End of an Era or a New Beginning?

September 8, 2016

Is Mr. Wenger building a squad for his successor or as a squad to see him through his next contract?

Arsenal have spent over €100m this year, it is unprecedented; add to this the signings of Ozil, Sanchez and Gabriel and you can see that the squad is very different from that we had  just a few seasons ago.

Mr. Wenger has regularly built squads over his 20+ years, often assembled around a player (Fabregas) or a style of play (Invincibles). This one reminds me of the early days of Petit and Vieira.

It remains to be seen whether Xhaka and his fellow midfielders can have the influence of the PV/EP axis but I have a good feeling about it. Whether it will be Xhaka, Elneny and Ramsey or Xhaka, Coquelin and Cazorla or another combination, it is the midfield where the power of the new Arsenal will crystallise.

For many years the fans (AA’ers included) have begged for three signings – a CB, a DM and a striker with pace. We have them. The next question is whether the signings are good enough. As usual, they are not from the current top-drawer – no Pogba or Higuain for us – but Mr. Wenger has a history of signing good players and making them great.

There is much to discuss about the transfer window; why were Campbell , Wilshire and Chambers allowed to leave? It is clear that Arsene has made some tough decisions on players who have stalled in their progress. Perhaps the alarming improvement in Walcott’s attitude is due to a new fear factor within the club. If so, this is a necessary development as some players have not had enough competition for their places and become complacent.

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Today we have a squad where no-one apart from Ozil, Bellerin, Sanchez and Koscielny is an automatic starter. This has to be of benefit to Arsenal over the coming years.

 

Then there is the age of the squad. We have a number of players approaching 30 and AW has managed to buy in youth (apart from Perez). In my opinion, we have some very exciting times ahead as Mr Wenger moulds what could be his final squad. Let us hope he has as much success as SAF’s last hurrah.

The Ghosts of the Thirties are Stirring

written by Big Raddy


Hungry Perez Can Do A Wrighty

September 6, 2016

Cast your mind back to September of 1991. George Graham had just lashed out a club record £2.5 million to sign 28 year old Ian Wright from Crystal Palace.

Here we are in September 2016, and Arsene has just signed 28 year old Lucas Perez (well, he will be 28 in 4 days’ time) for £17 million.

LPPerez has had to work hard to get where he is. Born in Coruña Spain, he travelled Europe with stints in Ukraine and Greece before returning to play for his beloved hometown team, Deportivo. There, he helped his club avoid relegation by way of goals, heart and fight.

While all International breaks are a pain in the arse, the first one hurts especially as after the footballing vacuum of summer, it’s sprung on us after only three games. However, the first one usually gives us the opportunity to review new signings and do some tactics bollocks about new formations shit and how things will pan out as a result.

Sadly, while we’ve seen exceedingly promising performances from Xhaka and Holding, we’ve yet to see Mustafi or Perez. For now, however, Mustafi doesn’t matter because we’re discussing Perez.

Like many, youtubing clips are the sum of my knowledge regarding Perez, and while we know the stats, that was Deportivo in Spain, and this is Arsenal. Here, he plays with Mesut.

At this point I must lob in a cautionary note. During the height of the summer’s transfer fever, I scanned newsnow. “A source” had said we’d bid for Vardy, and also explained one of the reasons he had decided to stay in “over land and sea and Leicester” was that he’d had a conversation with Arsene, and he hadn’t liked what he’d heard about his proposed role at Arsenal. To me this implies either he wouldn’t have been guaranteed first choice striker, or far more worryingly, it’d been suggested he play wide.

I’m hoping Perez had no such conversation, and cannot wait to see him play. Then, next international break, we can do tactics and formation bollocks and talk about the New Wrighty.

MickyDidIt89


Spend, spend , spend …. has the Premier League gone crazy?

September 2, 2016

After just 3 games we have already seen the influence of new managers and the untold wealth they have had at their disposal. The only teams with 100% records are Manchester City managed by Pep Guardiola, Manchester Untied managed by Jose Mourinho and Chelsea managed by Antonio Conte. All three managers are new to their clubs and only Mourhino has Premier League experience – with Chelsea.

They are all competent managers and have managed and been successful in various different countries. Other than their success they all have another thing in common – they have all moved to clubs with seemingly endless cash availability and none of then wasted any time in proving that they are also good at spending.

Conte has already spent 120 million at Chelsea on five new recruits

Michy Batshuayi 33m, David Luiz 33m, N’Golo Kante 30m, Marcos Alonso 20m and Eduardo 4m.

Mourhino wasted no time at Manchester United and has spent 158 million

Paul Pogba 90m, Henrikh Mikhitaryan 36m and Eric Bailly 32m.

Not wishing to be outdone Guardiola has left no doubt about Manchester United’s cash reserves and his willingness to spend by setting a Premier League record in the amount of 181million on nine – yes nine new players

John Stones 47m, Leroy Sane 43m, Gabriel Jesus 27m, Ilkay Gundogan 23m, Claudio Bravo 15m, Nilito 15m, Marlos Moreno 5m, Geronimo Rulli 4m and Oleksander Zinchenko 2m.

Meanwhile at Arsenal Arsene Wenger has spent a club record of 113 million on five new recruits ….

Granit Xhaka 45m, Shkodran Mustafi 41m, Lucas Perez 20m, Takuma Asano 4m and Rob Holding 3m.

So even though we spent over 100million we were still outspent by the big three.

(The transfer amounts are all taken from the Transfermartkt .com)

It has the making of being both one of the most competitive and the most exciting seasons for several years.  Gaining one of the coveted top four positions will be more difficult than ever before. Our purchases have been very impressive but we did not manage to add an out and out super star striker which many of us felt was a must buy. Lucas Perez looks to be a superb player who is fast and tricky he has a good eye for goal plus AW has stated that he is also technically gifted. He may not be the sparkly diamond that we were hoping for but he can most certainly be described as a diamond in the rough.

Personally I’m very excited about the 2016/17 season and feel that we will gain a top four slot but what position we finish is anybodies guess.

Where do you think we will finish?

GunnerN5