Watford, Minnows & Days of Yore.

January 31, 2017

An away draw at Sutton Utd . A win takes us into the 6th round a loss is unthinkable

Back in the Days of Yore, I went with AFC to Yeovil for an away Cup game.

In order to get tickets one had to check in the program, find out when the tickets went on sale and then arrive at Highbury at least 4 hours before the sale time. This meant bunking off school, not a problem for some but I had High Hopes (sadly unachievable 🙂 )

I recall it was a very cold queue though we got  to sing a fair bit before the turnstiles opened. I am not sure but think we queued at the Clock End, but as I seemed to be forever queuing for tickets to see the Arsenal, it could have been the North Bank. I preferred the North Bank because then I got a chance to visit the sweet shop to buy a bag of Mint Imperials.

Thousands were in the queue and less than half would have got tickets. Such was the disdain of the club for it’s fans that there was little stewarding and no-one to assess when to stop people from a vain pursuit. Even as a schoolboy I was able to understand that if there were 1000 tickets on sale, in a queue of 30000+ most would be wasting their time. But then, this was in The Days Of Yore, when folk just queued for a hobby. I remember queueing every Saturday night for the newspaper!

Different today. The molly-coddled away boys apply for tickets from the cosy comfort of their sitting rooms, only having to press a few keys on their laptops.


It was a long journey on a freezing day down to Yeovil. Dennis Sugarman got attacked by some Yokels but not too badly. We escaped a beating by running into a hotel lobby. It was the Way it Was.

We won 3-0, thanks to a Raddy brace and went on to win the Double.

So …. Sutton away. Should be exciting.

Yeovil is (and was) much like Sutton. A banana-skin fixture. Tiny ground, crap pitch, no glory for a victory.

p.s. I am reminded that we are playing Watford at the Emirates tonight! And it is transfer Deadline Day!  Just in case you are thinking “what a silly old fool Raddy is” may I point out that Tempes Fugit and it will be your turn to live in the cosy cocoon of forgetfulness in the coming years 😀

My Team:


Bellerin    Gabriel  Koscielny   Monreal

Ramsey    Coquelin   Iwobi

Theo   Sanchez   Ozil

We need a good and an injury-free performance ahead of Chelsea

Let it be so …

written by Big Raddy


Dannyyyyyyyy………………..and player ratings.

January 29, 2017

Well that was exciting, I was excited thinking about the game all week, even more so when I saw the team selection and by the end I was down right ecstatic. An outstanding performance and a great result. Days like this are our reward for being Arsenal supporters.


Player ratings

Ospina: when some think of him they go – ooh scary but I think that he is deceptive, yes he is south American so there is always going to be a bit of drama but look closely and you will notice that what he does he does well, clean sheet, that will do nicely: 8

Bellerin: Hector (we are back on first name terms) returned to his outstanding best; he and Walcott were pretty much unplayable down the right flank, it was interesting to see just how far Walcott was coming back to cover for Hector when the Spaniard was attacking, a real sign of just how much Bellerin’s attacking has improved and just how much Walcott has been told to respect that. 8

Mustafi: our lucky charm continues to shine as brightly as ever, should be interesting to put it to the test next weekend, another solid performance. 8

Holding: what’s not to like about this 2 million pound signing, still makes me laugh when I think of Wenger laughing at the beginning of the season when he was comparing him with the 55 million pound signing of Stones. I get the feeling that Holding is going to be at the club for years to come, a perfectly respectable performance. 7

Gibbs: said it before and will say it again, we are fortunate to have such solid back up for this position, an OK game, still the occasional mistake but equally there is still the occasional flash of quality. 7

Niles: it’s just good ol Niles from the hood now, lol, the young man had a fine game, a few understandable defensive wobbles but outstanding in his distribution: 7

Oxlaide-Beckenbauer: woo, haven’t seen him play the Ramsey role before and he was impressive, far more impressive than I expected and that in a nut shell is how and why I award my MOTM, Alex was spraying the ball around like the distant image I have of the great German, and calmly dealing with fires to boot. 9

Adelaide: Diabyesque, a few noticed this yesterday, he has such a characteristically Diaby dribble and drag back, of course, as soon as we had noticed it the next thing we know is that he is on the floor clutching his leg. He didn’t shine as much as I hoped, I must admit but that is not to say that I don’t expect great things from him in the future, I do. 7

Walcott: I am not a Theo fan and his three goals have not changed my mind, to me he is on the Giroud side of the attack, poor close control, no assists but gets you goals, whereas I want more on the Ozil – Sanchez side: great close control, lots of assists and get you goals. The problem for me is that I know that Walcott remains the best option on the right so I am going to have to grin and bear it. 5

Perez: I am a huge Perez fan; he is on the Ozil-Sanchez side of things, he gets assists, scores goals and has good close control, I thought he was outstanding yesterday and would have given a 10 if it weren’t for him missing his one on one with the keeper. 9

Welbeck: I may be a Perez fan but I have a man crush on Danny, I have said it before and I will say it again he is going to be the best attacker in the EPL. A front line of Welbeck, Sanchez and Walcott is going to be something awesome. Welbeck has everything we need from a player coming in from the left or even swapping with Sanchez, this is going to get really exciting. 9

Written by LB 

and some ‘feelings’ from mickydidit89 …………………….

2nd XI’s (more or less) from Southampton and Arsenal took to the pitch on the South Coast for an important  fixture in the Worlds’ finest knock out tournament.

Quite a few Arsenal players staked their claims to never again be considered 2nd XI’ers.

Here’s one thought I had about our players who featured yesterday:

Regular 1st Teamers: Bell, Gibbs, Mustafi

Outstanding performers: The Rest.

Very, very nice situation indeed. It would be very tempting for me to dwell on the front three who were all sensational, however, it was the Maitland-Niles Oxlade-Chamberlain Reine-Adelaide midfield trio that really surprised me (although a mention in dispatches for Holding).

When I saw the team sheet I was overjoyed by the attack but certainly felt the midfield was simply too many rotations. Wow, how wrong was I. They were outstanding.


As I am someone who always blames the chap at the top when things go wrong, I don’t remember me ever bowing quite so low to Arsene as I did post match. It was an outstanding performance from the manager.

This morning I fancy Arsene has a massive headache, and it concerns team selection for the upcoming two PL games. Welbeck, Perez and Walcott have demanded selection and really, they are contesting two slots alongside Sanchez.

For me though, the biggest question mark is over The Ox. Has he done enough to start alongside Coquelin? I think so.

Happy Sunday Gooners from Admin 🙂

An Afternoon for Attack?

January 28, 2017

Are you confident of a win today? Really?

We always used to win at Southampton but in recent years our win ratio has plummeted.


Given the lack of Elneny, Xhaka and Cazorla we are reduced to just two effective MF’s -Ramsey and Coquelin, a partnership which has yet to blossom. Furthermore, we are playing Watford in the PL on Tuesday and away at The Bridge on Saturday.

AW has problems. How will he resolve them? Will he play AR/Coq in all three games? Or Sanchez and Ozil? Or will he prioritise the PL? I know I would.

Much as I love the FAC the need to have our best team available and fresh for Chelsea is paramount. So, what is the solution? Do we go all gung-ho in Didit style or do we throw in an extra defender in the hope we can keep it tight and sneak a win?

I would prefer the all-out attack route, either go down in flames or live to fight again following a glorious victory.

My Team:


      Gabriel     Mustafi    Holding    Gibbs

Ox     Coquelin     Iwobi

Perez    Sanchez    Welbeck

There is zero chance AW will play this team, but it would be great if he would.

I would keep Bellerin for Tuesday and play Gabriel, giving instruction to Ox to play the Ramsey role and get up the wings. In other words, a 3 at the back with Gibbs pushed further into midfield.

Imagine how worried the S’ton defence would be to face such a potent front line. If only Theo were fit to play his former team, but Perez is a fine replacement.

Is Welbeck ready to start a game? If so, should it be at St. Mary’s or at the Emirates on Tuesday. I would give the fellow a run this afternoon but doubt AW will.

Mr Wenger has said he will play one or two youngsters, so perhaps Maitland-Niles will start alongside Coquelin with Ox pushed further forward. Or even better we may get to see The Jeff!

Mr. Wenger will have a chance to rest his ageing bones in the stands, talking into his sleeve to Steve Bald (sp.) who will undoubtedly ignore him.

And what of the opposition?  They play in red and white striped shirts and black shorts. Matt Le Tissier used to play for them. So did Kevin Keegan and Gareth Bale.

And they have a very good young Danish MF called Højbjerg  (which means High Mountain) whom they signed from Bayern Munich.

We have a mountain to climb this afternoon. We have the necessary equipment, all we need is a bit of luck, the right weather and steely determination. It worked for Hillary and Tenzing – it will work for The Arsenal





China or Arsenal?

January 26, 2017

Imagine the situation …. you are sitting at your desk doing whatever it is you do (or in some  cases out on the streets) when you get a call from a friend who says” There is the possibility of quadrupling your wages but you have to move to the suburbs of Shenzheng”.

Shenzheng is a smog filled, uninspiring, industrial city without a redeeming feature. You do not speak the language, no-one speaks yours. You have no contacts there, no friends. You look different so can never melt into the background, as such you are always a source of interest – there is no escape from the spotlight. They eat dogs.

Is more money enough?


Is it better to be in the footballing wilderness and earning an unspeakably disgraceful amount of money than to be at a club where the fans love you, you are an important cog in a team playing great football and you live in one of the world’s most interesting cities earning more money than you can spend.

Do you move?


I have given this much thought. What would I do?

Aged 25 I would stay in Europe. Aged 30 I would be on the plane, chopsticks in hand.

written by Big Raddy

Who will win the 2016/17 Premier League?

January 24, 2017

We are close to 60% of the way through the season having played 22 out of the 38 games.

It is the closest we have seen the league in many years with the top 6 teams separated by 14 points but the 2nd to 6th places by only 6 points.

The remaining schedule for each of the top 6 is shown below.



Can anybody beat Chelsea to 1st place?


Can Arsenal win the league?…..a fan’s view and player ratings.

January 23, 2017

So we managed not to slip on the banana skin or should that be the Burnley skin. Slippery enough as a fixture before the weekend which only got slipperier after the Liverpool result and was downright black ice slippery after Manu, man city and spuds all dropped points; we wobbled in added time but kept our balance and our nerve just long enough to claim all three points and move into second place in what turned out to be a thrilling end to an otherwise dull game.

Burnley are a very organised team, set out extremely well who chased everything down and if that isn’t a big enough compliment they took the game to us for large parts of the first half. I think I say this because I am an Arsenal snob and in general find it difficult to take clubs like Burnley seriously so I was respectfully surprised.

Still, that’s enough benevolence, we won and I am sitting here basking in that sweet glow of victory, the LB household is a happy place, pleasant tones will be used when addressing my girlfriend and children, even the cat can strut its stuff without fear of being kicked for all this week, well, up to the Southampton game anyway.


Waffling, moi? Well you try and find something to say about that first half? Iwobi on the right and Sanchez on the left solved the team selection conundrum; the problem was that both of them naturally are drawn to the middle in an attempt to get more of the ball, the downside of that is that it gets very congested which made it much easier for Burnley to defend against. There was very little goal mouth action, I can’t even think of a decent chance at either end in the first forty five.

The second half started with far more gusto as all our games seem to have done in recent past, am I the only one out there asking why, I tell you if this were cycling there would be a full scale finger pointing drug investigation going on by now but it’s not so we must all assume that its Arsene’s pep talks that are doing the job.
We immediately pinned Burnley back and started turning the pressure screw up. I can’t think of a clear cut chance but we were definitely going in the right direction. The break though came with what I think was Mustafi’s first goal for the club: a well weighted corner by Ozil enabled his fellow countryman to guide his header into the far corner beyond the helpless keeper.


Burnely huffed and puffed but they didn’t look as though they had enough to get back into the game or certainly not without a helping hand which came in the form of Xhaka being an absolute idiot by completely unnecessarily lunging at a Burnley player, giving the ref the perfect opportunity to show off his red card.

Down to ten, and all still seemed possible even with twenty minutes to go, we were spraying the ball around comfortably keeping possession, everything under control, ninety minutes came, Giroud had been replaced by Welbeck and Bellerin had replaced Ozil…..7 minutes, 7 minutes added on time, people started leaving, as even with that ludicrous amount of added time we still had things under control and then we slipped arse over face on the banana skin by giving away the penalty, the Burnley penalty taker was apparently an Arsenal supporter, well if he was that much of one he could have shown it a bit more and done the honourable thing and missed, it wasn’t a well taken penalty but it still found the back of the net.

1-1 with one and a half minutes to go and Chelsea and Tottenham laughing their arses off at us. But were we beaten, oh no we were not; it was all hands to the pump and into the breach. One last charge or so it seemed, a high ball into the box and the good guys gave it their all to get onto the end of it but none more than our captain who was painfully kicked in the head, screams of penalty seemed to fall on deaf ears as the ref peeled away dismissively. The game had gone as had our chance to claw some important points back, a draw against Burnley, oh the ignominy, but then a miracle – the linesman, who I shall be recommending for a medal in the next years honours list, indicated penalty, got to be a knighthood at the very least don’t you think? Sanchez stepped up and calmly chipped it over the goal keeper cue pandemonium.


Player ratings:

Cech: still doing the business, about time you saved a pen though Petr. 8

Gabriel: interesting choice this one, does add more steel at the back, curious to see if Wenger continues with this, perfectly good performance. 7

Mustafi: did you see him try and do a scorpion kick in our own 18 yard box? Very funny. He is our lucky charm and a goal to boot. 8

Koscielny: Captain Kos, throwing your face at someone’s boot to get the penalty really is going beyond the call of duty and for that he gets my MOTM. 9

Monreal: a much tidier game today, worked really well with Sanchez down the left flank. 7

Xhaka: his sending off caused a bit of a kafuffle around where I was sitting, as people started clapping him as he walked off, others were absolutely livid with him letting the team down so unnecessarily, guess which side I was on? 4

Ramsey: interesting debate in the week about who should play in the midfield alongside the must be played Özil and when you think about it one of those players has to be able to score goals and there is only one other that is likely to do that and it is Ramsey. He is still not back to his best but who would really be surprised if he scored against Chelsea? 8

Iwobi: Alex obviously drew the short straw and got shunted out on the right wing, not his position at all and unsurprisingly was not very effective. 6

Özil: not a classic from the German Genius but nothing wrong either. 8

Giroud: it doesn’t look like I am going to get my wish of us starting with Perez with his far superior close control but I might get to see Welbeck there which will do just fine and dandy. Giroud is only effective when we are hoofing the ball high into the box and that usually only happens in the second half; he should not be starting, jogged around the pitch reasonably well. 6

Sanchez: yesterday’s game and winning the way we did was made for our little busy bee. 8

An LB offering.

Did Arsenal bid for Barton?

January 22, 2017

Seems ages since we last played. Imagine how it is for teams that don’t have European football like Chelsea and Liverpool.

But … does this really give them an advantage.? Well, it is said, justifiably, that the table does not lie.


We have two home games ahead of the Chavs away, Burnley and Watford. You would think an automatic 6 points but it never is, is it? We know what to expect – 10 men behind the ball, an aggressive (read violent) midfield, and our boys reduced to ticky-tacky.

I quite understand why Burnley will play this way, their away form is terrible with just 3 goals scored in 9 games and but one point. Why would they take the risk of attacking us and getting hammered?

Yet Burnley sit 10th in the PL. One hell of an achievement considering the size  of Burnley which has a population roughly equivalent to todays attendance at The Emirates.

Thinking of Burnley’s midfield …  Joey Barton.  Here is a fine example of the genetic aberrations which result from Northern family inbreeding. Can you recall Gervinho’s first game for us in which he received a red card after being attacked by Barton? I loved AW’s rebuttal of Barton’s claims that we tried to sign him – hilarious. What a preposterous idea that just because Barton wanted to join AFC that Mr. Wenger would let him!!

My Team:


Bellerin    Mustafi    Koscielny    Monreal

Ramsey    Xhaka     Iwobi

Ozil     Giroud   Sanchez.

We will need some height and strength upfront because Burnley are sure to sit deep.


A few long-distance shots today, please. And an early goal would be delightful. As would a first half with all 11 players awake (unlike our last few games).

We have to win this one, I think we will

Let it be So.


Arsenal have the Best Fans?

January 19, 2017

Only 13k at S’ton last night. What has happened to the Magic of the Cup?

If we draw at S’ton how many would go to the replay at the Emirates? My guess is another full house.

Our average gate through 2016 in the PL was 59,444 which is 99.4%  capacity.  Slightly lower for Cup games.

The police numbers are a little lower because there are some season ticket reprobates who do not attend all games yet the club maintain that as the ticket is sold, it is an attendance.

Sadly, some of those fans are not supporters!

Why are Arsenal so popular? What do you think?

Written (in haste) by Big Raddy


3-5-2. What’s that all about, then?

January 18, 2017

Quite apart from the fact that it’s all the rage, we go to Chelsea in a few weeks, and we know this is how they will set up.


What is considered the best formation to counter the 3-5-2?

Do managers build a team around a formation, or a formation around the players they have?

Is the classic No10 role redundant?

After all these years, how come there isn’t a definitive formation?

What happened to the Libero, remember him?


What the hell was wrong with 2-3-5?

Ps this would be my Arsenal XI under the new pattern:


………..Sanchez  Welbeck

Gibbs Santi Coq Mesut Bellerin

………Holding Kos Gabriel



Written by mickydidit89

What is your best midfield?

January 17, 2017

The choices are Elneny, Cazorla, Ramsey, Xhaka, Coquelin.

Let’s make it more difficult and add in the attacking MF. So now we have to include Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ozil.

If we have 3 attackers and 5 defenders (inc Gk) it leaves 3 or 4 places.

Ozil is a guaranteed starter but no-one else. So, it is 3 from 7


Much as I love Santi, he requires a holding MF alongside him which has historically been Coquelin but I think both Elneny and Xhaka are better passing from deep.

This isn’t an exam so let’s not have any of that “it depends upon the game” lily-livered indecision.

And if we can’t make a concrete decision, imagine how hard it must be for Mr Wenger whose selection is scrutinísed by a million people a week.

written by Big Raddy