One Cockerel does not a summer make

April 30, 2017

So here we go folks, the final North London Derby at WHL. This occasion really should have called for the daddy of pre-matches, but unfortunately there are some trees that need a hug…..so you are stuck with me.

I need to say in advance that I have a superstition about being too condescending ahead of these games so if you are expecting lots of belittlement and ridicule then disappointment will be the order of the day. Having said that the rest of you can fill yer boots.

I strangely feel a degree of sadness that this is the last outing at their place, as WHL holds some fond memories for us. I am normally very nervous about these games. On reflection I think this is because we have pretty much been the favourites in games against them since some fellow called Newton had an apple fall on his head. As such I think the expectancy to win adds more angst to the occasion. This time however I have them down as favourites. Spurs are the form team this season while we have struggled.

Stating this actually doesn’t cause me any issues because this aberration can be redressed in readiness for next season. A shift in the balance of power?……pffft (he expectorates on the floor in distaste). As Lord Wenger intimated the other day, one cockerel does not a summer make. If anything Spurs form versus ours this season may be the main proverbial kick up the derriere that we needed. If it turns out to be the catalyst for action that sees us awaken from our slumber and head into next season a different animal, then I will doff my cap to those white lillies and say thank-you. I may even resort to a chicken on a beach ball as my screen saver……ok maybe not….still a few white wine spritzers clouding my judgement this morning.

I am reconciled with the fact it is now near impossible for us to celebrate St. Tott’s day this year. If you gave me a choice between winning the F.A cup and finishing below them or finishing above them with no silverware then I would take the former all day. This is a real possibility for us so it could be that in a few weeks time we are actually celebrating a more successful season than them. How galling would that be for them?

Onto team matters. I am not sure if a mere stand in for the pre-match is allowed to mutter these sacred words, but here goes………..

my team (ooh it does make one feel powerful) :

 

Cech

Holding Koscielny Gabriel

Ox Coquelin Ramsey Monreal

Ozil Sanchez

Welbeck

Why change the formation that has revived our fortunes recently. I would also like to stick largely with the same players with a couple of proviso’s. I think the pace of Welbeck with Ozil and Sanchez flitting about behind him would suit this game more. Giroud and Walcott are useful impact subs. I think we need the defensive graft of Coquelin in a disciplined role front of the defence. They are dangerous in that area and a big game from him could be a deciding factor. If he is able to largely stifle them in this area and free up the rest of our team in attack then I will be very hopeful. Xhaka has played well recently but is more reckless and we can’t afford to be down to 10 men in this game. Other than that it is as you were.

As I said, based on form and them being at home they are the favourites…….but I have a feeling in me bones. Being favourites carries that extra psychological burden. Also our new system will be far less easy for them to predict than when we were labouring with the 4-3-3 system. Even we don’t yet fully know what Arsenal will turn up in this system, so it should create some doubt and uncertainty in their minds.

All this should mean that for once, us rather than them, can approach the game with less to lose and can literally just go out and play without burden. There is one final consideration. This is a historic day for them. There must be a few nerves in their camp that the final NLD at old WHL could go down as an Arsenal win. WHL holds some fond memories for the Arsenal. Who can forget the 3rd May 1971 or the 25th April 2004? Let the record books show that Sunday 30th April 2017 saw Spurs title bid crash down around them as the good guys in red and white registered a historic final win at WHL.

COYRRG’S

Written by GoonerB

 


Poetic Justice does exist – Leicester Player Ratings

April 27, 2017

My old man used to bang on about justice to me when I was a kid. By the time I’d reached my teens, I had categorically realised that it is an abstract notion which does not, in reality, exist in any tangible form.

How beautiful it is when rare moments in this cruel and random world actually make it appear that poetic justice, karma, poor behaviour getting its comeuppance etc do have some outward manifestation, however imaginary.

Leicester have certainly returned to their shape and structure of last season. Ten men behind the ball as often as possible, hoof the ball up to Steptoe to chase whenever the opportunity to swing a size 11 boot presents itself. Don’t get me wrong, they did have a few sniffs at goal, largely from Arsenal-inspired breakdowns of possession, referee-inspired dubious free kicks anywhere in our half and even from some revolting, Delap-like trebuchet missiles. However their negative anti-football in the second half, purely designed to win them a point, got them exactly what was deserved – sweet Fanny Adams.

The first half was pretty tedious it has to be said. The personnel changes to our new system took some bedding in. We attempted to give Crisp Advertisers FC some golden opportunities with dodgy back flicks, poor GK clearances and other examples of sloppy play.

Our two best chances I can remember came from a Gabs’ near post header which nearly fell to our new striker, Nacho and the outstanding moment of the half when Sanchez crashed the ball against the bar with Schmeichel floundering just before the break.

The second half was a procession towards the North Bank goal. The Leicester defence dropped deeper, their half-time talk was obviously about wasting even more time and killing any entertainment the fairly sparse crowd had bothered to turn up in the hope of seeing. Unwittingly they were just the stooges in their own downfall, building the platform for an epic final 10 minutes.

The strangest challenge of the whole game was when the Leicester defender with the incandescent bonce decided he’d use Giroud as a climbing frame. How on earth Mike Jones didn’t see that as a red card only Mike Riley knows.

The goal, when it finally came, was beautiful in its grotesque manifestation. My brother had spent large parts of the second half repeating the mantra, ‘we must clear Huth’ every time we had a free-kick, corner or cross. For Nacho to smash it wide of the goal but not wide of Huth’s massive gut and the ball to cannon into the back of the net, became such a glorious vindication of my old man’s belief in the idea that people should get what’s owed them.

Those who left early not only missed the beautiful post goal celebrations but also a Mike Jones Brian Rix-inspired farce of epic proportions. (When I commented after the game about it being like a Brian Rix farce at the end, Ant wondered why I was on about Graham Rix).

Previously Ulloa had left the pitch when substituted as if he had bound feet, each step moving him forward six inches at the most. Now the Leicester defender with the shiny head, Bennylooanus or something, was subbed and he sprinted off. Every person left in the ground with a red and white heart, howled with derision. So funny.

Then the farce reached new heights when Sanchez stood in front of Fooks readying to launch another long throw into the box. Mike Jones did not ask Sanchez to retreat but encouraged Fooks to get on with the throw. Eventually Fooks’ petulance got the better of him and he simply threw the ball directly at the Chilean. It was clearly intended to cause a few lost teeth and so we were astonished when the ref failed to send off the Leicester player but instead booked Alexis for deciding he needed to closely inspect the fine partly-artificial weave of the Emirates turf. The melee involved most of the players on the pitch including both keepers.

Yeah sure, we believe you

Leicester’s final chance also seemed scripted for Mack Sennett’s keystone cops, bodies flying everywhere followed by Schmeichel and several players in blue chasing the hapless referee.

The 4 minutes injury time morphed into 6 or 7 with all the mayhem, but justified victory was finally and beautifully achieved when the ref thought he’d better blow before someone grabbed his shorts and yanked them to his ankles.

Ratings

Cech – Poor kicking, magnificent save from Mahrez ……7

Gabriel – Silky skills on the ball and a fearsome warrior in defence ……7

Koscielny – Cool, calm, composed Captain. Seemed to recover from a knock in the 2nd half – we need him on Sunday ……8

Monreal – Looked fine as part of a back three and his half-volley against Huth’s belly a thing of rare beauty….8

Gibbs – Gibbo looked a little short of match practice understandably. Covered well for Nacho …..7

Bellerin – Cornrows gone, back to man bun. Wing back could suit him down to the ground. Crossing/delivery into the box needs to improve ….7

Coquelin – Fighting every step of the way. You just cannot fault his commitment …….8

Xhaka – The new formation suits him as he has more cover behind, so can look forward instead. Lovely to watch in possession…..8

Ozil – Struggled to break down a resolutely tedious defence but never let that stop him trying…..7

Walcott – Really weak, struggled to get out of Hector’s way for most of the game. If he doesn’t score, he’s pretty redundant …..5

 Sanchez – Gave away possession, smacked the bar with a beauty and then rivalled Rivaldo for a Bafta  …..7

chas


Winning Run to Continue?

April 26, 2017

A chance to play and beat the Champions. We managed a draw away at a time the Leicester boys were shafting Ranieri, can we do better tonight?

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Since Tinkerman left LFC have done very well and seem a rejuvenated team (shameful), we have won two on the bounce. It should be a good game. Leicester tend to rely on the pace of their attack, in particular Vardy.

Vardy and Mahrez. Both AFC targets last summer, both turned us down, both had awful seasons. Good. I was hoping for relegation but mid-table mediocrity will do.

In the excellent Ian Wright interview with Arseblog, Wrighty complained long and hard about our buying policy. On the whole I agree with him, but the non-signing of two Leicester players who just a season before had been journeymen, shows how hard it must be to land the big fish.

Will we continue with the Back 3? Your guess is as good and probably better than mine.

Will AW put out a second string team with the Spurs game in mind on  Sunday? I hope not. A win in either gives the same points.

My Team

Cech

Bellerin     Gabriel    Koscielny    Monreal

Ramsey   Coquelin    Iwobi

Walcott  Welbeck    Sanchez

Some rotation is necessary with 3 games in just over a week., and for this reason I would revert to the normal back 4. Resting Ozil may be contentious but I want to see Iwobi and Mesut can have a rest on the bench. Welbeck ahead of Giroud because pace could be important.

Of course, the above team will win, Leicester rarely leave Arsenal with points and we must hope tonight continues the trend.

A win tonight puts us back in the mix for an unlikely Top 4 finish. ….

Let it be So

COYRRG


A Sunny Day.

April 25, 2017

I guess we are still basking in the glory of a Wembley win, but it could have been so different.

Time for a reality check. We often complain about how a referee steals the game from us, that bad decisions have resulted in lost points, but Sunday we were blessed. Had the linesman made a correct call on  a cross going out of play, we would have legitimately been one down, Had the referee seen Ox’s ankle tap to bring down Aguero in the penalty area, it most probably would be two. City were all over us in the first half and anyone saying we were playing RopeaDope needs his/her bumps felt.  Added to their legitimate goal, we could have been 3-0 down.

But we weren’t 😃 😀

I said pre-game that we play better in the sun and so it proved, let us hope for the same the next time we go to Wembley.

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Ramsey has been quoted as saying “we have underperformed and now have 7 Cup Finals” left in the season. Ox says that the players have “let the club and the fans down”. Seems a bit obvious.  I know that football players have a mean IQ of below 50 but surely they know they have to give 100% in every game they play? It is an attitude I cannot understand. If I had an Aladdin’s lamp, my second wish would be to play for Arsenal First team – these lads have won life’s lottery.

Bellerin & the Back 3. He doesn’t fit in. Hector must know this, what will he and AW do? Ox has been excellent in his wingback role,  Holding, Gabriel and Monreal have also flourished (apart from losing Downing at ‘Boro).  Why change a winning formula?

written by Big Raddy


Our Rorke’s Drift

April 23, 2017

I was hesitant about writing a FAC SF post with the prospect of Spurs awaiting us in the Final. Amusingly, that is no longer the case as the Hotspurs take yet another sad drag home along the North Circular 🙂

So, it is with a lighter heart that I write this post.

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Let’s kick off with my belief that we can beat City. Yes, they have great players and a fine manager. Yes, they have a squad which cost the equivalent of a mid-sized nation’s Gross National Product but they still play the likeable, but ageing, Sagna, and sometimes even Gael Clichy!

Here’s how we beat them. … solidity at the back, full backs being less adventurous, midfield staying on their feet and harrying rather than tackling, Ozil continuing his return to form, wingmen tracking back and always finding a red shirt with their passes, the front men being efficient and potent. Oh, and Cech/Ospina has to be alert at crosses.

Bosh.

We win.

Now how hard is that?

Will Mr. Wenger continue with his Back 3 experiment? I doubt it but it would be exciting. Sterling and Sane are much better widemen that Stewart Downing, who caused problems at ‘Boro. Can he trust the inexperienced Holding to stop such a quality attack?

On paper we are even in most areas of the pitch. Silva is not as good as an on-form Ozil. Aguero and Sanchez are both similar and wonderful players. Sterling and Theo are also similar, in fact all over the pitch there are likenesses between the squads.

The huge difference is De Bruyne, a marvellous talent and when on form, head and shoulders the best in his position, thankfully in recent weeks he has been struggling. We must hope for him to have an awful game this afternoon.

Guardiola will be looking for the FAC to save an ordinary season. I still think he was perfect for Arsenal but that ship has sailed.

As to Arsenal,  I just cannot see how we go into the game without Bellerin, it would be madness. Does he fit into a back 3? No, so we will revert to norm

My Team:

Cech (unless Ospina is fit)

Bellerin    Gabriel    Koscielny     Monreal

Ox   Ramsey    Xhaka

Walcott  Sanchez    Ozil

It is highly unlikely AW will play the above as it has no defensive “enforcer” but who gets dropped for Coquelin/Elneney? And who is left out if AW decides to play Giroud as a target man? Welbeck is not 100% fit, so Walcott starts.

This game is a huge opportunity to show that the current Arsenal are not as poor as some believe. Form is temporary. Class is permanent.

My main concern is the weather. We do not play as well when the temperature drops into single figures and the forecast is for chilly. If it gets over 15C, we win.

Let’s hope for a game as good as yesterday and an Arsenal win.

Let it be So.

COYRRG

p.s. Thank you to Chas for the headline’s inspiration

 


The Magic of the FA Cup returns on Sunday

April 21, 2017

On July 20th, 1871 at a Football Association meeting a discussion was held about “breathing life” into its Challenge Cup. After the formal business was concluded,

  1. W. Alcock proposed: “That it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association, for which all clubs belonging to the Association be, invited to compete.” The idea was received at once with general favour, and at a subsequent meeting held on October 16th 1871 the rules were drafted, the entries were received and history took a deep breath and prepared for the plunge.

That was the day that the FA Cup was born and 146 years later the magic remains.

The first FA Cup semi finals were held in 1872:

The two fixtures were:

Crystal Palace v Royal Engineers & Queens Park v Wanderers with both games ending in 0-0 draws. Royal Engineers won their replay 3-0, but it was a different story for Queens Park; public donations had been used for their long trip down from Glasgow for the first semi final at Kennington Oval but unfortunately they were unable to arrange the funding for the journey back for the replay and were forced to withdraw from the competition. However the lack of funds had a silver lining as it allowed the Scottish pioneers to hold their heads high and retain their dignity as they returned to Scotland unbeaten.

Shirt numbers were not even imagined back then and knickerbockered players were distinguished by the colour of either their caps or stockings. The crossbar was a length of tape or rope. Inside the touchlines the field was unmarked, chuck ins were taken with one hand and the teams changed ends after every goal was scored. There was little or no heading of the ball and defence was rarely considered. The game was based on dribbling with most of the team backing up the man in possession, somewhat like a standing scrum.

A few Semi Final facts-

Most used stadium: Villa Park 55 occasions.

Highest attendance: 88,141 Everton v Manchester United in 2009

Biggest win: 6-0 Newcastle over Fulham in 1908

Biggest post war victory: 5-0 Stoke over Bolton in 2011

Most games needed for a result: 4 – Arsenal vs. Liverpool in 1980

Highest scoring game: 5-3 Hull over Sheffield United in 2014

Most semi final appearances: Arsenal 29

The semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989 at Hillsborough ended in tragedy when 96 spectators were killed in a crowd surge due to overcrowding. The cause of this tragedy was studied and the conclusions reached have helped in the design of new stadiums.

Our first semi final was in 1906 when we lost 2-0 to Newcastle United.

Arsenal are now appearing in their all time record 29th semi final, 11 of them under the management of Arsène Wenger. Arsène has also won the cup on a record 6 occasions along with George Ramsay who was the club secretary of Aston Villa from 1874 to 1926.

This season the semi final draw pits four of the Premier League’s best teams against each other.

Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur on April 22nd.

Arsenal vs. Manchester City on April 23rd.

At this point I cannot think of a better ending to the season than Arsenal beating Tottenham in the final.

GunnerN5


Bellerin. Mid-Term Report

April 20, 2017

Hector Bellerin. Now there is a problem arising for whomever is to be our manager.

Has a last decent season and thinks he is Jack the Peanut. Believes he is already the finished article and all he needs to do is turn up then bide his time until Barca/Real come calling.

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Big Raddy’s Pre- FAC SF Report:

Dating the fit and famous may do wonders for your rep in the dressing room but some fans just think you are a flash ponce. Well … let me tell you laddie … a pony tail does not make a man (I know, I have had one) nor does a few tattoos. Nor does belting upfield looking for the spectacular pass and forgetting that Mustafi is not the fastest on two legs.

No, my young man, defending is the essence of the work of the full back, just ask Dicko, Ralph or Nige, they will tell you. TA would have given you a forearm smash for some of the recent performances. Yes, an attacking fullback is very modern and you have been excellent at getting forward to support Weak Theo but what do we remember you for? We remember the brilliant last ditch tackles when your pace got you into positions no other FB could manage. Practice and repeat.

Being dropped at Boro was the start. You are not an automatic first team choice if you do not put in the yards, and it comes as no surprise that you were booed post-defeat by the away fans at Palace (though at least you went over to them).
Potential is what you have, make it a reality and become the great player you could be; it requires application, concentration and determination. You have all the God-given tools, use them.

5/10

written by Big Raddy