Stoke, no longer The Orcs?

I admit it – they don’t play hoofball any more, they have players who can pass a ball and others who are highly skilled, but they are still Stoke and the stands at The Britannia are still packed with Neanderthals and Orcs.


Even the obnoxious Sparky Hughes has mellowed, though not to the extent where one would want him to meet the family. There is a cockney saying …. “you can’t polish a Richard (the Third)”.

Stoke, on paper, look a decent team; the addition of Zouma, on loan from Chelsea, will tighten an already good defence. They have got rid of the appallingly violent Bardsley,  Whelan and Walters and replaced them with ball-players from abroad. Though they have signed Darren Fletcher who loves a tackle from behind.

Given the size of the Stoke team allied to our vulnerability to the high ball it will be no shock to see Stoke rely on set plays to score. This will be recurrent theme this season. For this reason I would start Giroud ahead of Welbeck (though the return of BFG and Mustafi is a major positive). Or we take the  preferred Micky route and just score more than Stoke.

Our Team:


   Mustafi     BFG     Monreal

Bellerin    Ramsey    Xhaka     Kolasinac


Giroud    Lacazette

I expect AW to play Welbz but IMO it would be a mistake.

Where do we find a place for Ox? Does he replace Bellerin in home games? Or Monreal? No wonder the young chap is restless and concerned about his future at AFC.

Last weekend saw us win a very exciting and error-strewn game. More of the same could be fun but I would prefer a copy of last season’s game – a 4-1 victory to the Arsenal.

Let it be So …


109 Responses to Stoke, no longer The Orcs?

  1. Rasp says:

    Great stuff, thanks Raddy, they’ll always be Orcs to me as long as sparky is in charge.

    We should play with our vulnerability to set pieces in mind and avoid free kicks that can be delivered into our box.

    I agree Giroud must start to help our aerial defence, but more importantly we need to control the midfield. A close 1:2 to the good guys is my prediction 🙂

  2. Gööner In Exile says:

    NIcely done Raddy, its about time we put the Orcs in their place, but at the same time forgetting the title Orcs we should have a team that is capable in the battle today.

    Rambo will get booed from the first minute so we can only hope he shuts them up.

    I agree with your team apart from in two places, firstly I’d play Ox at right wing back. Firstly because I think he has more of a goal threat than Hector and secondly because rather perversely I think he has done a better job defensively in that role. He is not as gung ho going forward I assume because he respects his defensive responsibility and that he probably doesn’t have pace to recover if caught out of position. For me Hector relies to greatly on that pace. Also the three can shift to go right and with Kolasniac the more likely to shift back in to Left back duties we need someone more attacking on the right.

    Also with that three at the back I’d probably play Nacho in a sweeper role. He reads the game well and it allows BFG or Mustafi to go and attack first ball.

  3. LB says:

    Interesting times, you probably could have picked about three teams that should be capable of winning today.

    That is a really good choice up there but I think that AW will be a little bit more cautious and start with Elneny, Welbeck and with so many other clubs sniffing about I also expect to see Oxlaide-Chamberlain taking up one of the starting berths.



    —-Mustafi BFG Monreal

    Bellerin Elneny Xhaka Ox



  4. chas says:

    Cheers, BR.

    I really hope our quality shines through today.

    I saw this the other day and was really surprised.

  5. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning all.

    Thanks Raddy, to me they will always be a club that encourages violent play and their supporters just thrive on it and they consider it to be a great day out when they can abuse their opponents.

    I accept that teams with inferior squads have to resort to packed defenses but when they resort to thuggery they overstep the mark.

    I always worry about our team when we play there as the memories of our history travels with them.

  6. Red Arnie says:

    ha ha ha ha. nice one, Raddy. 🙂 glad to be back. COYG.

  7. GunnerN5 says:

    I had the Man U game on behind me and I only turned around to see the score – it was on mute as the “neutral” commentators nauseate me.

    Like I said in my post they have a relatively easy first seven games and we are all already hearing echoes of “their back” the old United have returned – I’ve always had an intense dislike for them and now with Moaniho there as well it’s amplified.

  8. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi, Arnie welcome back to football life.

  9. GunnerN5 says:

    Wow Chas that equals 36% of last seasons goals.

  10. Red Arnie says:

    down with the orcs. stay safe to the good guys

  11. Red Arnie says:

    thank you, GN5. Hope all is good in Canada. Travels over for me for the moment, so all well.

    Peaches and Shard, have not managed to respond to your messages, tough times, will do so. 🙂

  12. Red Arnie says:

    forgot to say. Nah! still the orcs! for me at least

  13. Red Arnie says:

    after our huge activities in the transfer market, dont even know what the team looks like. so, looking forward to the game. 🙂

  14. chas mobile says:

  15. LB says:

    That is a very attacking team, this should be another goal fest……….

  16. Big Raddy says:

    Not sure I like Monreal in the centre of the defence and the team has little height.

  17. mickydidit89 says:

    Yessss. Flight delayed. Nearly crash landed and still get on the sofa with minutes to spare.

    Thank you Erik. Correct. Score more than them 🙂

    Great team. Midget defence. Bet they hoof it.

  18. mickydidit89 says:

    Ah Erik. You’re there. Organized the take away?

  19. Hi all, who’s on the sofa? Is it too early for wine?

  20. Arnie 😁😁😁 where have you been? Was chatting with kelsey yesterday and he asked about you, hope you’re well

  21. mickydidit89 says:

    It’s August, Peaches
    Drinking starts at 10am
    Ask Chas

  22. Big Raddy says:

    Marriner already having a ‘mare

  23. Big Raddy says:

    Already on my second glass of Chablis

  24. mickydidit89 says:

    Arnie 🙂

  25. LB says:

    Goal fest a?

  26. 2nd half LB ……. it’s coming 😉

  27. Premier teams shouldn’t be allowed to loan to each other ….., Zouma saving their arses at the moment

  28. Big Raddy says:

    100% penalty which Marriner bottled.

    We have done well in the first half but I would like to see the players looking for the runs of Lacazette, who has been anonymous (TH14 was right to point out the lack of passes)

    Still, happy so far.

  29. Cheers Raddy

    I have nothing against Stoke, but I don’t like them. What have they ever contributed to society apart from a ceramic pot?

    We will thrash them second half. Make them pay for man handling clay.

  30. LB says:

    Yep looks like it has started…..

  31. Big Raddy says:

    Bum. Too much hot chocolate a half time?

  32. Big Raddy says:

    We may be losing but we are playing some great football.

  33. fatgingergooner says:

    Welbecks finishing…..

    Hopefully we get a Rambo or Giroud goal soon

  34. fatgingergooner says:

    Playing well until that last shot! Could’ve had 5 or 6 today. Can’t afford a sloppy defensive moment when you can’t finish.

  35. Offside ……. really?????

  36. fatgingergooner says:

    Not having any luck either. That was a goal.

  37. fatgingergooner says:

    Not many sides will play this well this season and be 1-0 down with 10 minutes to go. Just been one of them days. Chances falling to wrong players and not getting the right decisions i.e. Penalty and offside goal.

    Hopefully we can score

  38. Big Raddy says:

    Agree. We have played very well apart from the vital part – the finishing. What a shame the chances have fallen to Welbz and not Lacazette (so far)

  39. mickydidit89 says:

    We badly miss Sanchez

  40. Big Raddy says:

    Difficult game to assess. We made one mistake at the back and lost the game. Created chance after chance but were unable to finish.

    Dreadful decisions from both the referee (two clear pens) and the linesmancost us points.

    Ramsey had a fine 75 minutes but ran out of steam. Lacazette was anonymous. Welbeck is not a finisher. Ox played well.

    So we lose 3 points but play exciting football. It augurs well.

  41. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. Agree we would have won with Sanchez playing

  42. Gööner In Exile says:

    Ok three observations from today’s game.

    1) Sign Butland at any cost… (rare I say that about a keeper…I normally find at least one weakness)
    2) Giroud should start, he creates space and is the only one of our front man who doesn’t think first about running towards goal, he pulls defenders out of position and creates great chances for others because of his willingness to receive ball back to goal.
    3) A couple of players need their heads pulled out of their arses and to be told it’s a team game and if they can’t find it within themselves to look at their own game rather than hold hands up at others then they don’t deserve to be in the team.

  43. fatgingergooner says:

    One thing I hear often from Wenger, and I heard it from Klopp recently aswell, is that it’s not all about who you buy, but also how you can improve your team on the training pitch. Well, can someone tell me how Welbecks finishing has improved? Or how our defending in situations like their goal has improved?

    I don’t expect us to go out and buy 12 new players every window, but I do expect some improvement from existing players year on year.

    I’m not going to panic and worry about that game, after all we played well and should’ve won by a couple, but we have to improve in front of goal and tighten up at the back if we are to progress.

    We can look at some dodgy decisions, but Arsenal players are to blame for the result, and Wenger is at fault for bringing on the likes of Walcott and Iwobi which disrupted us at a time when we were creating chances. They were desperate subs which weren’t needed.

  44. If we can’t score it’s going to be a long old season. Agree with Raddy, played some lovely football ……. Butland a very good keeper, we were worth a draw at the least, didn’t deserve to lose 😦

  45. Red Arnie says:

    hmmm. onwards

  46. Three excellent points GiE 😉

  47. fatgingergooner says:

    Hard to take second game of the season. Halfway through you can blame tiredness or fixture congestion, but not today.

    I would’ve liked to have seen OG and Lacazette together, but if Sanchez is due back then I don’t see how that fits. A front 3 of Sanchez/Lacazette/Özil is our future.

    I thought the Kolasinac sub was strange. Why not bring Bellerin off and stick Kolasinac at LB in his natural position rather than having Bellerin at LB?

  48. fatgingergooner says:

    77.3% possession apparently. Our most in a game since 2003/04 and we lost!

  49. Aaron says:

    Agree with much said, but for f’s sake, did stOke even come to play- at home?

    Arsenal owned the game, saw 2 handballs, a penalty, a goal taken back and somehow the right back on the opposing team not even carded. Surreal!

    When Kos and Sanchez come back that game we win, should have won anyway. The Arsenal came to play and get the 3 points that everyone is on about.

    Yes, it was a cluster f type goal, but Jese had much to do, and scored a really clean goal. That is the breaks and one can’t get them all the time.

    Yes- am pissed, but it is just the start to the season and we had more changes today at the back which contributed to the goal.

    The Arsenal will move up, stOke will take points off of the top 6.

    Still want Arsene to sign a DM!!

  50. Red Arnie says:

    yes, GiE, excellent points.

    Thanks, Micky and Peaches. Interesting that just yesterday, I heard from Kelsey after a very long time. First time after we had a huge spat, in fact. 🙂

  51. Gööner In Exile says:

    I think the goal sums up the team’s problem in the first two games entirely. We only think attack when in possession we seem to care little about where the opposition are. 5 men are in front of the ball, Ozil the only option who hasn’t put himself behind a red and white shirt and therefore unavailable. So when pass goes astray the DM can step out to intercept with no one marking him. And it’s not like Stoke were on their 18 yard box they were within twenty/thirty yards of halfway line. So giving the ball away there gave them a rekatively short distance to goal. Given half the team were out of position.

  52. fatgingergooner says:

    2 of our next 3 are Liverpool and Chelsea away. We need Sanchez and Koscielny back and firing straight away and we need good results to keep the fans on side.

  53. mickydidit89 says:

    “2 of our next 3 are Liverpool and Chelsea away”

    There’s a nasty welcome to the day. Yikes!

  54. LB says:

    Xhaka was the guilty party again yesterday; he gave the ball away which led to their goal as he did the week before against Leicester, these errors are compounded by the fact that at the time he was playing as the DM. Which brings me to another issue: Xhaka is not defensively minded to be a DM and he does not score enough goals to be an AM, that’s to say he is not Kante or Ramsey. Moan, moan, moan somehow it feels better……………I don’t know.

  55. mickydidit89 says:

    Sorry LB, but guess what, I disagree.

    The problem yesterday was we didn’t bother scoring even one goal, let alone the minimum requirement of two.

    Zero goals scored in an hour and half is pathetic. Weak 🙂

  56. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    England won the cricket 😀

  57. fatgingergooner says:

    I thought at times Özil played too deep yesterday and therefore too close to Xhaka. Xhaka has all the ability in the world to pick out passes and switch play so Özil doesn’t need to get in his space and do it for him. Just play 10 yards in front of Xhaka and look for spaces for Xhaka to play it into feet.

    It probably means Özil sees less of the ball, but it should mean that when he does get the ball its in a more dangerous position. At times yesterday it felt like Xhaka and Özil were doing the same job.

  58. mickydidit89 says:


    I reckon Ozil went deep to help Xhaka to be able to make the simple safe option pass, because as usual, Xhaka’s partner in the two, Ramsey, spent about 80 minutes abandoning him in his efforts to go all superhero

  59. mickydidit89 says:


    Sorry to sound like I was dissing ( 🙂 I just spent two solid weeks with teenagers) your comment.

    Pre match, you made a correct prediction that in an effort to keep The Ox happy, he’d be shoehorned in. You were bang on.

    Result was, our two best left wing backs were relegated to the back three. For me, it’s Bell or Ox RWB, and Monreal or The Beast LWB

    Final point.

    We’re nowhere near as effective without Sanchez. End of last term, I said if we lose him we’re in trouble, and right now I pray he really wants to stay.

  60. fatgingergooner says:


    In the context of the game I had no issue with Ramsey trying to get the goal as he does get himself in some fantastic areas and makes great runs. Just a shame about the end product yesterday. It wasn’t as if Stoke were much of a threat the other way once they scored. I just think Özil wastes himself at times by getting involved in the early build up on halfway. Xhaka and others are more than capable of doing that.

    I totally agree on the LWB situation. Just get Kolasinac out there and find 3 CB’s. Leave Ox and Bellerin to battle out for the RWB spot.

    We started with 3 or 4 out of position when we could’ve started Merts instead of Ox or Bellerin and had nobody out of position. I just don’t understand the thinking behind that. We know Merts is fit because it was only a gash above his eye, so no excuse to start like that. It’s not like we were coming off a great performance either where you don’t want to risk disrupting the back 3. Stupidity.

  61. mickydidit89 says:


    I do agree Ramsey gets into great positions, so don’t mean to sound too harsh on him. However, I do think that in this system, the midfield two should work better as a unit.

    On a positive, the return of Sanchez and some dedicated backs, and we have a very good First XI with great cover in most positions.

  62. fatgingergooner says:

    Agreed Micky, but its worrying that we still seem to make the same naive defensive mistakes and fail to put away our chances. Different personnel, same result? I hope not.

    I look at our next 3 fixtures and worry that a couple of bad results could damage team confidence and make the atmosphere toxic even at this early stage. I just hope our returning players improve us enough to beat Chelsea and Liverpool. We definitely have the quality in that first XI if all fit and we play well.

  63. Red Arnie says:

    happy with the way we played. the ref took the game away from us!

  64. mickydidit89 says:

    Ahhhhhh, the ref

    So, nothing to do with not sticking the ball in the back of the net, then Arnie 🙂

  65. Red Arnie says:

    Micky. 2 deserved penalties given would be simply two balls in the back of the net. No?

    Otherwise, no problem, now that we have procured a “proper” striker, no?

  66. mickydidit89 says:

    Well yes, Arnie, if you want to put it like that 🙂

    I prefer the Sanchez approach of taking matters into your own hands

    Re Lacazette. Loved the lightning quick way he lashed the ball into the net from the less than half chance. Highlight of the afternoon for me.

  67. mickydidit89 says:

    Spot on match report on Arseblog

    Have nice days one and all

  68. GoonerB says:

    Good day all. Writing from phone so sorry if it is bad.

    We played some good football admittedly but we lost. We have been here before and history suggests that it tends to lend itself to us struggling in a season.

    We look weaker (less solid) now than we ended last season. We seemed to find a balance in the latter part of last season that looks absent again now.

    Monreal as the central of the 3 defenders? Where were holding bfg and chambers who are all more natural cd’s?

    I dont like it that AW seems to be trying to be too clever again by tinkering with the players roles and playing people out of position and not getting a solid balance to the team. It has been an achilles heel of his for a few seasons and he only seems to recognise things not working and changing it when it is too late and we are done for in the title challenge.

    Hate to say it but even at this stage i have some groundhog day concerns.

  69. LB says:

    Ramsey’s job description is attacking midfield, it is his job to burst into the box in an attempt to score — often he does — and we have an FA cup sitting in the trophy cabinet to prove that.

    I am not trying to have a go at Xhaka although two poor passes leading to two goals is not a good look, what I am saying is that Xhaka role does not seem clear, he is not a DM and he is not an AM, or prhaps not clear to me would probably be a better way of putting it.

  70. fatgingergooner says:

    Deep-Lying Playmaker was all the rage a couple of seasons ago and I would suggest that Xhaka fits into this category, although he does also have the physicality of a Holding Midfielder.

    I think the idea is to be a Pirlo type quarterback who sprays the ball around, but with Xhaka you’ve also got a bit more defensive cover aswell.

    Does it work in our system? I’m not 100% sure as of yet, but I think it will look much better when our CB’s and WB’s are in the right places and I also believe we look better with Xhaka/Ramsey playing in a 343 than we do with them in a 4231 and that’s probably because Ramsey is always going to bomb into the box, but in a 343 we should have an extra defender behind the ball if a team breaks on us (assuming our FB’s/WB’s have also been caught upfield as is usually the case!).

  71. LB says:

    Yep, that makes sense.

  72. Xhaka aint no defensive midfielder. Hes slow and when he trys to tackle he looks like Philip Hammond trying to pull off an 80 kilo bench press.

    Mesut’s defensive skills consist of a man running away from an aggressive Anatolian Goat and Aaron bombs forward under the logical and correct assumption that the bench pressing Chancellor has him covered?

    All three are excellent players, and the need to escape the clutches of an angry Anatolian Goat and financial prudence are admirable, but I thought football was about balance? Am I missing something?

  73. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning all. Deeply disappointed by yesterday’s result.

    Trouble is that it seemed like a carbon copy of last season, we are still trying to break through steel doors with snow balls.

  74. wally says:

    A team decides to park the bus and we respond with loads of possession, a simple defensive mistake, lots of sideways passing, a few shots which didn’t test the keeper and no goals.
    I think i’ve seen this movie before.

  75. GunnerN5 says:


    I’m as disappointed as the next supporter that we lost yesterday but the reality is that we played some superb football against 12 men, one who happened to have a whistle in his hand.

    We had two calls for penalties and a perfectly good goal disallowed. Welbeck had many opportunities to score and missed them all.

    Not all movies have a happy ending and neither are all pictures painted black.

  76. goonerjake says:

    I really hope this doesn’t start wenger in Wenger out again.

    Listened to the game on the radio sounded frustrating and like so many away games I’d watched in the flesh.

    Couldn’t bring myself to watch the highlights but did watch fan reaction on arsenal fan tv. Have to say that response was pretty negative.

    Here seems to be more measured.

    I did think from what I’d heard
    1. Players played out of position
    2. Not clinical enough up front
    3. Too much sideways passing
    The above areas should be addressed by manager.

    However whether played out of position or not they are professional footballers a tackle is a tackle a pass is a pass.

    Footballers should not have to be told that you shouldn’t be switched of at the start of the second half.

    The above is the players responsibility

    Football is not complicated. To quote George graham you can pass and pass all day and go nowhere what you need is crosses into the box and shots on target.

    While I like the beautiful game the above approach would be best in away games like this against teams like stoke

  77. LB says:

    I love reading your comments Terry…………….

  78. mickydidit89 says:

    HA Spurs 0-1 down

    Couple of “home” defeats and spaces will appear, making for a poor atmosphere

    I hope

    Fairly pretty graph 🙂

  79. mickydidit89 says:

    bench pressing Chancellor ROLF

  80. mickydidit89 says:

    1-2 he he

  81. chas says:

    Thanks, spuddies. 🙂

  82. mickydidit89 says:

    Wonderful start to their home campaign
    Brightens a very dull and gloomy day

  83. chas says:

  84. fatgingergooner says:

    Did the commentator really just say that Chelsea had to piece together a team for the match today?

    Those pieces that poor Conte had to cobble together:-

    Courtois 6m
    Rudiger 29m
    Christensen 0m
    Azpilicueta 7m
    Luiz 34m
    Alonso 23m
    Moses 9m
    Kante 30m
    Bakayoko 40m
    Willian 30m
    Morata 60m
    Pedro 21m
    Batshuayi 32m

  85. mickydidit89 says:

    Perfect floor surface for sliding 🙂
    Where’s the pussy when you need one?

    Blimey, swift work FGG

  86. Big Raddy says:

    5.59 Cats can’t do that

  87. Big Raddy says:

    FGG. Great stuff 🙂

  88. Red Arnie says:

    ha ha ha. Spuds. 🙂

  89. mickydidit89 says:

    Just trying to start a Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency group
    The wretched form asks people to list interests
    I was expecting stuff like anarcho-capitalism
    Not this shit…. I copy and paste

    Vegan Events with Vegan People and Vegan Stuff · Raw Food · Vegan Food and Vegan Living and Vegan Veganing · Vegan · Sound Therapy & Healing · Sound Healing with Crystal Bowls · HEALING WITH SACRED SOUNDS · GONG SOUND BATH MEDITATION · sound vibrational healing with chant and mantra · Sound Vibrational Healing · Sound Healing · Energy Healing · Chakra Clearing · Chakras · Spiritual Awakening · Spirituality · House Rabbits · Rabbit · Pets · Animals · Animal Rescue

    Reckon she’s single
    What do I do?

    Send her Erik’s email address? 🙂

  90. Red Arnie says:

    good idea, Micky. and Chas’ as well. 🙂

  91. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Micky. Sounds like my ideal woman apart from the rabbits

  92. chas says:

  93. chas says:

  94. chas says:

  95. Big Raddy says:

    chas. Wonderful pics especially the 6.59’s

  96. mickydidit89 says:


    I damn sure you’d like your chakra cleaned by her
    Re the rabbits. I think either lapin a la moutarde or bunny boiler

    Amazing dolphin spin

  97. mickydidit89 says:

    I could do a brief (and badly informed) quickie on the transfer market

    Sod it, I go do

  98. mickydidit89 says:


  99. mickydidit89 says:

    Are you there?
    Can’t you get it up on your own, or do you need help with some Chas images?
    The poor fellow may be busy, so please don’t wait on my behalf as words alone are fine. I don’t need pictures.

  100. Morning all, thanks Micky, just sorting the post ……… back in a bit

  101. We have a New Post …………………..

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