Journey into the Unkown

September 28, 2017

I have to admit to knowing very little about Bate Borisov – I didn’t even know they were based in Belarus, in fact I don’t even know where Belarus is! But, if they are in the Europa then they have to be decent opposition!

I have read that Hleb started his career at Bate, that they have won the Belarus League the last 11 years running, Their ground holds 13k and will be filled with Arsenal fans because Belarus has many Arsenal fan clubs.

Beyond that ….??

So, this PM will concentrate on the away team. How many goals have Arsenal conceded in their last 4 games? I will tell you. None. Given  the start we had with 8 goals leaked in just 3 games, this is huge. Some may say that it is down to good fortune, fortunate refereeing decisions and poor opposition but the fact remains, we have gone 360+ minutes without conceding,

This is huge.

We are wonderful attacking players, so many that International first teamers cannot even get on the bench, but defenders? And defensive organisation?

And midfield control? Have we just been lucky or has Mr Wenger found a way to set up his team to stop the massive gaps exposed by Leicester and Liverpool?

Is the absence of Ozil and the resurgence of Ramsey just co-incidence?

3 games in 6 days means rotationand a chance to judge the quality of the squad.

Even allowing for over half the team being reserves we should still win tonight (though I hesitate to predict a victory as I usually put a bok on the team). A front line including Walcott, Sanchez and Giroud is potent.

My Team:


Holding    BFG     Monreal

Bellerin   Maitland- Niles     Wilshire     Elneny

Walcott   Giroud     Sanchez

Perhaps it would be good to start with Ryan Nelson but given Holdings frailty aon the right it makes sense to give him the security of Bellerin.

6 p.m. kick off (7.00 CET), ideal, wish there were more.

Our first away fixture in the Europa. It would be great to start with a win … Let it be So.






Arsenal’s Top Seasons – 1937-38, our 13th best

September 27, 2017

(As a preface to this post, I want to make it clear that I have created a list of all of our Division 1 and PL seasons and sorted them first by league position and then by the points won %. Therefore this series may exclude trophy winning seasons where we did not finish high enough in the League).

We start with our 13th best ever league season 1937-38.

George Allison (1934-37) was our Manager. He was born in Hurworth-on-Tees, County Durham and played amateur football in Stockton-on-Tees while dabbling in writing as a sideline; eventually becoming a full time journalist.

During WW1 he worked for the War Office and the Admiralty, producing propaganda, and later joined the Royal Flying Corps (later renamed the Royal Air Force). After the war he moved into broadcasting, joining the BBC and becoming the first person to commentate on the radio on events such as The Derby and the Grand National, as well as the annual England – Scotland international, and the 1927 FA Cup Final. By this time, he had already formed a strong association with Arsenal and became the Club’s programme editor and also a member of the board of directors soon after the end of the WW1; he was our first club secretary and then managing director. After the sudden death of Herbert Chapman in 1934 he was appointed as his full time successor.

The 1934-35 season ended up with us winning our 4th league title. Our fortunes turned in 1935-36 and we finished the league down in 6th position but won our 2nd FA Cup. The 1936-37 season ended up with us finishing 3rd in the league and losing 3-1 to West Bromwich Albion in the 6th round of the FA Cup.

The final round of matches of the 1937/8 season began with Wolves top of the League by a point. Arsenal had to win or draw and hope Wolves did not match the Gunners’ result to gain the title.

Arsenal was playing against Bolton at Highbury with a 3:30 kick off while Wolves were playing away to Sunderland at Roker Park with a 3:15 start. Arsenal were quickly ahead with a goal from Alf Kirchen followed before the end of the half by two goals from Eddie Carr, the second half was a stroll for Arsenal with Cliff Bastin joining in the fun and scoring two more goals. The game ended with wild cheering as the score board showed that Wolves had lost 0-1 leaving Arsenal as League Champions for the 5th time.

At the end of the game the crowd surged past the mounted police onto the field and started shouting for the team. They finally left after they had seen the team and had a good sing song, ending with the National Anthem.

The players received a proportion of the £275 pot from the Football League to be shared among them – being an amateur, Bernard Joy received a golf bag.

Our team on the day –

G Swindin, G Male, E Hapgood (captain), L Jones, B Joy, W Copping, A Kirchen, G Bremner, E Carr, G Drury, C Bastin

Final League Table 1937-38

There are only nine of the current Premier League (highlighted) in the 1937-38 table with Manchester United and Tottenham nowhere to be seen.

Written by GunnerN5

Now we welcome the Baggies to the Emirates

September 25, 2017

West Bromwich Albion Football Club was formed in 1878 and they have played at their current ground since 1900. They are known as The Baggies, The Throstles or WBA. They are based in the West Midlands with their main rivals being Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

In 1930/31 they won The Double of The FA Cup beating Birmingham 2-1 and winning Promotion – this version of The Double had not been managed before or since then.

In 1953/4 they came close to being the first team in the 20th century to win the recognized League and Cup double. They beat Preston North End 3-2 in the FA Cup but  finished as runners up to their bitter rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in the league.

They have only been English Champions once after winning the League in 1919/20.

For the main part of their history The Baggies have played in the top flight of English Football, however when the FA formed the Premier League in 1992, Albion were down in the third tier (the current League One). Gary Megson was appointed as their manager in March 2000 and he led them to promotion into the Premier League in 2001/02.

Our home record against the Baggies –

Arsenal go into the game with a renewed level of confidence after winning their previous three home games against Bournemouth 3-0, FC Koln 3-1 and Doncaster Rovers 1-0.

My team = a shot in the dark.

Tony Pulis was appointed as their manager in January 2015 and in August of 2016 they were purchased by a Chinese investment group.  With Pulis as their manager, we should expect them to park a bus in front of goal and hope to beat us on a break away – in the past we have found these types of defences inordinately difficult to break down.

Let’s hope Gibbo has an off day

They have only beaten us at home once and that victory came back on September 25, 2010 so even with Pulis in charge, I fully expect us to come out as 2-0 winners.

Enjoy the game – but most of all keep the FAITH in our Gunners.

Written by GunnerN5.

Bonny Donny Gonny – Player Assessments

September 21, 2017

Revelations and facts

Ospina’s mother’s maiden name was Ramirez

Chambers is closer to leaving than I realised.

Mertasacker will always be an Arsenal legend.

Holding purposely had his confidence massaged in this game.

Reiss-Nelson is not as advanced as I had hoped.

Elneny should be playing in the first team more.

Wilshere is better than I had remembered. (gone next window) lol

Maitland-Niles is fast, I mean hot damn fast. This was the biggest revelation of the night. Hadn’t noticed this before.

Walcott looks like a poodle when he jogs back after an attack.

Giroud is surprisingly happy playing his bit part role.

Sanchez is the greediest footballer in the EPL. Surprised he played the whole game as he should start on Monday.

Thoughts from LB

“Donny” come to The Emirates

September 20, 2017

The Rovers were formed in 1879, 138 years ago and turned professional in 1885, they have spent most of their years bouncing about in the lower leagues of English football and currently play in League 1 after gaining promotion from League 2 in 2016/17. Their ground is the Keepmoat Stadium which has a capacity of 15,231 which interestingly is bigger than Premier League Bournemouth’s which only holds only 11,360.

They along with Stockport County hold the record of playing in the longest ever competitive game while playing in Division 3. The match was tied after 90 minutes and remained tied after extra time, the rule at the time was that the game would carry on until one team scored but after 203 minutes the game was still tied so the decision was made to stop the game and have a replay which Doncaster went on to win 4-0.

They won their first major honour when they beat Bristol Rovers after extra time to win the Football League Trophy.

We’ve only played Doncaster 8 times in our history; our first game was on November 30th 1901 when we played in the 2nd division.

The last game was on Dec 21, 2005 in the League Cup, the game was tied 1-1 at full time and Doncaster went ahead 2-1 in the 104 minute and it was not until the 121st minute that Gilberto Silva scored the equaliser – we went on to win via penalty kicks.

Our team that day was:

Alumnia, Cygan, Senderos, Eboue, Djourou, Silva, Hleb, Song, Van Persie, Abeyie and Lupoli.

My Team…

Our full record:

The only time we lost to Doncaster was in 1905, 112 years ago and they have only scored 3 goals against us – so it would take a very brave person to place money on Arsenal losing this game; being a coward I forecast a big win for our kids.

Written by GunnerN5

It’s not the players … it’s the tune

September 19, 2017

Following on from yesterday’s post, there was a degree of agreement that balance is a crucial factor in the way a team performs.

An extension to that theory would be that the best team may not necessarily comprise the best 11 players. Jeff Beck playing in Black Lace (showing my age 🙂 ) wouldn’t have appreciably improved the music.

Players in their best position and performing to their maximum, surrounded by other players all of who understand their role in the side, breeds confidence … and confidence combined with work rate and ability makes good teams great.

We have the potential with the players currently in the squad to win the league … I have no doubt about that …. we just need them all to be singing from the same song sheet.

Discuss …..


Superb performance, balanced side …. and without Ozil?

September 18, 2017

What you are about to read may be considered sacrilege by many. I don’t want to cast any negatives after such a good result yesterday ….. but I’m just going to put something out there.

I only saw highlights of the game, but from that and the comments of respected bloggers, I think we all agree that the team performance was excellent with special mention for Monreal, Iwobi, Ramsey and Bellerin … and all that without Mesut Ozil.

Many of us would make Ozil the first name on the team sheet. His technical ability is on a different level, and contrary to popular opinion he works very hard and covers a lot of ground … but there is a growing belief that he and Ramsey (and Iwobi, his understudy) cannot function effectively in the same side. Moreover in playing them both, the team becomes unbalanced and gaps appear in our midfield.

I’m a self confessed Ozil fan. I’m also a big fan of the Ramsey we saw in yesterday’s game. He’s a much more potent attacking force when he’s not having to share territory with Ozil. There doesn’t seem to be the same problem when he plays with Iwobi. I don’t know the answer. They’re both great players. Ironically, I think that more clubs would be interested in signing Ramsey than Ozil.

Arsene clearly loves having Ozil in the side. He hasn’t signed a new contract and may leave on a free in the summer …. would that be a huge loss if we can get the best out of Ramsey and Iwobi continues to improve?

I don’t want this topic to be hijacked by ‘fans’ who don’t have the perception to appreciate what a brilliant player Ozil is … he’s class … the only question I ask is …. is he always the best man for the balance of the team?


Now we travel to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea

September 17, 2017

 Chelsea Football Club was founded in 1905 and since that day their only ground has been Stamford Bridge.  Since then they have had no less than 39 different managers go through their turnstiles.

The following does not make pleasant reading but the facts are that Stamford Bridge has not been a very happy hunting ground for Arsenal in the Premier League era. We have not won a game there since Oct 29, 2011 and have only gained 8 points in the last 13 seasons – so our expectations should be minimal.

Here is our Stamford Bridge record.

From 1993 to 2004 –

P12, W5, D4, L3, GF18, GA13, Pts19, Pts% 52.78

From 2005 to 2017 –

P13, W2, D2, L9, GF11, GA27, Pts8, Pts% 20.51

We fared a lot better away from 1907 to 1992 in the Division 1 era when we spilt the games equally. (The points are based on 3 points for a win).

W18, D19, L18, GF73, GA69, Pts73, Pts% 44.24

Roman Abramovich purchased  Chelsea Football Club in 2003 and the money that he has pumped into the club and squad heralded a change in their fortunes and a major shift of power in the Premier League.

My team.

Now here’s a slice of very pleasant memorabilia.

May 4, 2002: Chelsea 0-2 Arsenal, FA Cup final

Ray Parlour had scored just one goal all season before unleashing a screamer from 25 yards to give Arsenal the lead in the 70th minute. Freddie Ljungberg then added the second with a spectacular solo effort, curling in a shot from outside the area to make sure of the victory. A few days later we beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford to secure the Premier League title and a famous Double.

Oct. 23, 1999: Chelsea 2-3 Arsenal, Premier League

This game looked well out of reach for Arsenal after we conceded two headers to trail 2-0 against a Chelsea side that had not conceded a league goal at Stamford Bridge that season. But substitute Kanu single-handedly lead us to an improbable victory, scoring a hat trick in the final 15 minutes to stun Chelsea and silence the crowd. The winner came in the 90th minute after he came through the puddles to round goalkeeper Ed de Goey near the by-line before scoring from a tight angle with a shot that sailed over the heads of two Chelsea defenders.

Sept. 21, 1997: Chelsea 2-3 Arsenal, Premier League

This proved a key victory in Arsene Wenger’s first title-winning campaign and one of the finest moments for long-serving left-back Nigel Winterburn. Dennis Bergkamp had scored twice to leave the game level at 2-2 before Winterburn unleashed a stunning 25-yard strike with his left foot that curled into the far top corner. Arsenal went on to win their first Double under Wenger.  This game has very special memories for GN5 as it was the last game that I ever watched with my Dad – while he was on a visit to Canada.

Our last PL game against Bournemouth was a very positive sign and even knowing of our misfortunes at Stamford Bridge I still remain positive and hopeful that we will gain yet another memorable win at Stamford Bridge.

Written by GunnerN5

1-0 Down, 3-1 Up.  MOTM: Arsene Wenger.

September 15, 2017

Here are some brief “feelings” on the back of last night’s game, pulled together from my own thoughts as well as picking through the excellent comments on here from genuine experts.

  1. Back three/four. I think it’s wrong to judge a system by the personnel. Throw Koscielny and Mustafi into yesterday’s starting XI and I’m sure things would have looked different.
  2. However, perhaps we looked better second half BECAUSE of the switch. Thoughts?
  3. I’ve stated my concerns over our midfield pairing of Xhaka and Ramsey. Chief amongst my concerns is the lack of back-up, and now heavily underlined by the injury to Coquelin. Has anything from last night changed the thinking here? I always have liked Elneny’s quiet, unfussy, business like approach to the game. I thought he was excellent.
  4. Maitland-Niles moved more central, and we also saw the welcome return of Jack. I reckon we saw enough to think we have real quality in depth waiting in the wings.
  5. Sanchez, oh Sanchez. How would he react to the boos on Saturday and even having to start last night? My answer, he plays against Chelsea.
  6. Alex Iwobi. Love the guy, but I think his role lies further up field as back-up to Mesut, rather than in the deeper Ramsey role.
  7. Arsene Wenger played a superb 15 minutes at the break. A rare half time substitution, a change in formation, together with a considerably upped tempo from the boys from the first minute of the second period means he gets my MOTM.

Thoroughly enjoyable game. We saw many exciting things. Bring on Chelsea. Cannot wait.


We welcome the Billy Goats for our 1st Europa League game

September 14, 2017

This season we play Thursday night football in the Europa League and our first game is home to Fußball-Club Köln also known as FC Köln or FC Cologne in English. They play in the Bundesliga, the highest league of German football and were Champions in 1962/3, 1963/4 and 1977/8. The club’s nickname Die Geißböcke (“The Billy Goats”) refers to the club’s mascot, a male goat named after the veteran FC player and former manager Hennes Weisweiler. The first mascot goat was donated by a circus entrepreneur as a Cologne carnival joke.

The competition has gone through several changes and was previously known as the Fairs Cup then the UEFA Cup and now the UEFA Europa League.

Below is a comparison of both teams’ records in these competitions.

FC Köln – P98, W52, D16, L30, GF184, GA105, Win% 53.6

Arsenal –   P49, W24, D9, L16, GF91, GA51, Win% 48.98

Arsenal have won 2 European competitions the 1970 Inter City Fairs Cup and the 1994 European Cup Winners Cup.

As far as I could find we have only played FC Koln once before – in the 1971 Fairs Cup when we won 2-1 at home and lost 0-1 away.

My team (Oh dear where is Big Raddy).

An under par Arsenal lost to Liverpool 4-0 in our 3rd Pl game and then we dominated against an under par Bournemouth to win 3-0.  The boost in confidence we gained from the victory over Bournemouth should be used as a springboard and a reminder of how well we can play.

This competition is very winnable and to start with a home game is a positive; if the crowd get behind the team then I predict (always confident) that today we will have a comfortable 3-0 victory over FC Koln.

Written by GunnerN5