On the Bubble – Man U Ratings

April 30, 2018

Heading up the M6 to the Old Cowshed in the middle of a Europa Semi was always destined to be one of the least tasty sandwich fillings. Adding some match fitness to Mkhitaryan’s comeback and giving the youngsters a run out while hoping the scoreline didn’t do them any lasting damage, seemed to be the main aims. Fairly lowly expectations for a trip to our old adversary they were. The presentation to Arsene before the game was all very lovely but giving credit to their fans for applauding a man they’d abused quite hideously for so many years seemed a bit rich for my liking.

Two of football’s greats alongside a pimple on the backside of the game

First Half

The game began in fast and furious fashion with both sides closing down quickly and buzzing toward either goal without there being too many clear cut chances.

The Manc goal came after a quarter of an hour and we all thought it might herald the opening of the flood gates. When Hector was waiting for the cross to come in, he glanced behind to see Sanchez in acres of space behind him, but, inexplicably, did nothing to close the gap. By the time the ball was delivered to the back post, his only option was to attempt the block Sanchez’ goalbound header. He did manage to touch it on to the post but the rebound favoured Pogba.

Was Nelson fouled in the build up to the goal? One thing was certain, the ref wasn’t going to be giving us much of anything during yesterday’s game.

Micki nearly brought us back level 5 minutes later but failed to bend the ball around De Gea into the far post corner. A couple of headers from Aubameyang and Nelson were our other reasonable chances in the first period, the first powder-puff and the second wide of the target. 1-0 at half-time which was as good as most expected; with our defence largely untroubled with Mavropanos looking confident and assured.

Photo REUTERS/Phil Noble – Alex prays that Ashley Young will see some justice

Second half

The second period got off to a fine start with Henrikh squeezing a shot into the corner of the net through the defender’s legs, fooling De Gea. The assist came from Granit winning the ball back high up in the manc half – wonders will never cease!

Some of the Arsenal football was very encouraging with swift interplay, the youngsters enjoying their moment in the limelight.

Lukaku went off and was replaced by the ineffectual Rashford. Martial and Fellaini came on for the excrescent Herrera and lively Lingard. So, Maureen’s plan B was to put their most skillfull forward on to have a crack at our right flank and if that failed, hoof it up to microphone head. When Rashford was waiting to come on to the pitch, he was shown a book of photos, presumably detailing team layouts. I wonder what Fellaini was shown?

Danny came on with fire in his belly and had a fine driven effort after winning the ball back, but it was straight at the keeper.

The final stages of the game saw us unable to hold on to the ball, so it seemed like a non-stop procession of balls humped into our penalty area. Could we hold on for a deserved point, all things considered. No, was the answer as a Young cross skimmed Xhaka’s head and skidded off the afro beyond Ospina’s left arm. The keeper just touched the ball but the combination of short arms and the proximity of the post meant that he couldn’t keep the ball out. Fellaini celebrated as if he’d won the Cup which was a depressing end to what turned out to be a rarity for the Gunners this season, a fine away performance.

All in all, it was a case of job done as Micki seems fit, the kids did not get hammered by any stretch of the imagination, our new Greek colossus had a fine debut and youngsters Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Willock and Calum Chambers all played well.

Ratings

Ospina – Didn’t have to produce too many saves – I wish his arms had been longer for the second … 6

Bellerin – Thank heaven he didn’t get injured for Thursday as we have no obvious back up – no idea what his thought process was for the first goal  … 7

Chambers – Seemed to respond to being the senior partner of the CB pairing and played very well   … 7

Mavropanos – Had Lukaku in his pocket, not afraid to inflict a little bruising; in a most cultured Arsenal way, of course – excellent debut … 8

Kolasinac (Monreal) – The Beast seems to always pass the ball back from whence it came with his arm raised that it needs to go over the other side of the pitch – Nacho came on and perked up the left flank for the last half an hour  … 6/7

Maitland-Niles – Still not sure what Ainsley’s best position is, but he looked classy in Arsenal’s midfield yesterday … 8

Xhaka – Got a bit of a clumping but one of his strengths seems to be his durability – great turnover and assist for the equaliser  … 7

Iwobi – Scampered around probing for an opening and looked more comfortable than recently – perhaps being surrounded by other youngsters helped  … 7

Nelson – Still looks a bit lightweight and was sometimes bullied off the ball too easily – a summer in the gym will do him some good; muscle and his undoubted ability could be a potent combination  … 7

Mkhitaryan – Looked dangerous and accomplished, though Ashley Young attempted to ruin his recovery by kicking him at every opportunity (why wasn’t Young booked for persistent fouling at the very least?)  … 8

Aubameyang – I get the impression that Pierre is in a period of stasis at present – he’s playing in meaningless league fixtures but not in the games which matter – doesn’t look as though he’ll get us a goal out of nothing for the time being, but I’d imagine he’ll explode as an Arsenal player from the start of next season  … 7

Subs

Willock and Welbeck both contributed but sadly not enough to help us avoid defeat 6/6

This game was an annoying mosquito buzzing around the Club’s ears with Thursday looming on the horizon. However the team produced a very good performance, so much so that, when we finally conceded to the mancs’ route one tactics so late on, it was bitterly disappointing for at least a few seconds after the final whistle.

Hey ho, on to the big one.

chas


If the Kids are United

April 29, 2018

This is usually one of the highlights of the season but today is before the Lord Mayor’s show. Win, lose, draw – doesn’t matter, what matters is that we go to Madrid with a fit and as full as possible squad.

Thinking of which, the AM game last week was made for Santi 😦

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With this in mind I would send out the Ladies team to play and beat Merino’s oh-so-dull Utd side.The Arsenal WFC have won the PL 12 times, the FA Cup 14 times, the League cup 11 times and 58 trophies since their inauguration in 1993. Makes perfect sense to me.

Alternatively, we could see many of the youth and U-23 team. Would be brilliant to see some of the kids weaving their way past a static MU defence but I fear AW will not agree.

As this is Arsene’s last game at OT, he is likely to play many of our stars, however meaningless the game is. Does he dare play Ramsey and Ozil? Or even Lacazette? My guess is that very, very few Gooners would take that risk.

And what of MU? If they win the FAC will the MU BoD consider it a major achievement after Merino belittled AW’s 3 times in 4 years? 16 points behind MC?

They have spent a fortune on this team with a €75m striker and a €100m MF, but are the faithful United fans satisfied? We know the answer as we had the same with George Graham – the football can be poor as long as there is silverware. This is why Merino always gets sacked because if his teams do not win trophies there is nothing for the fans.

Don’t want to write about Sanchez – the man is dead to me.

My Team

Cech

Chambers  Mustafi   Holding

Wilshere    Xhaka    Willock   Kolasinac

Nelson    Iwobi

PEA

In his press conference AW said Miki is almost fit and could play today. I would rest him ahead of AM because IMO he will give us more than Wilshere and Arsenal cannot take a risk with Miki’s fragile fitness in a meaningless fixture. Maybe 30 minutes as sub.

What I don’t want is a hammering, the thought of that slimeball’s face should they thrash a weakened AFC team is too much to bear.

On reflection, I think we go up there, play 10 defenders plus PEA and park the bus. AM did it to good effect midweek, why can’t we?

Either that or get the Women’s team kitted up

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Come on girls – make us proud.

COYRRG


Are We Witnessing The End Of An Era?

April 28, 2018

Written in April 2014 by Rocky, this post illustrates how long we’ve been debating the end of the Wenger epoch and what it might bring. That time is nearly upon us. Exciting or frightening?

There is an old Chinese curse that goes: “May you live in interesting times.”

It is aimed at impatient people; people who are bored; people who want change for the sake of change.

The implication is that although you may hate the status quo, you would be wise to beware of what comes after.

When the third goal went in up at Everton I had a strong feeling that we may be witnessing the end of era.

And not just any era. When the end of the Arsene Wenger era comes it will be the footballing equivalent of the Fall of Rome.

Compared with M. Wenger’s tenure, the reigns of other football managers are mere hillocks in the landscape of history. Wenger’s reign is a mountain – an elegant, ice-capped peak whose stature is rivalled only by the craggy, fractured slopes of Mount Fergie – a once-thunderous volcano now sitting sullenly dormant.

Why did I wonder if we were watching the end of this era?

Because it seemed unfair to ask him to take much more of this punishment: to watch his team (and by extension himself) humiliated again; to know the vitriol and hatred that would inevitably follow; to turn up to work the next day and have to start all over again.

If we fail to beat Wigan this weekend I now feel he will call it quits at the end of the season.

If we get to the Cup Final and lose, ditto.

If we win the Cup and finish fifth… again, ditto.

If we win the Cup and finish fourth… well, that’s a tougher one but I still suspect he will call it a day. He will see out his contract as he famously always does. And then he will bid us all farewell.

Few of us would blame him. Few of us could take the incessant criticism and abuse without it seriously affecting our mental health and our sense of our own worth. The fact that he has stuck it out this long is a testimony to his fortitude and intelligence.

But when he is driven out of the club to which he has contributed so much, we will be entering “interesting times.”

There is a lazy assumption that we will snap up some hotshot young manager who will immediately achieve the success that has eluded M. Wenger. Not so long ago the people who advocated this approach were all for us bringing in Michael Laudrup or Paul Lambert. Or even Andre Villas Boas, heaven help us.

Well, if Arsene Wenger quits we should prepare for a rocky road.

Yes, we could do an Everton. We could find a younger manager who lifts us to another level, but there is a greater likelihood of us doing a Manchester United.

And it will not take too long before people start looking back on the Wenger Era with nostalgia and affection.

This is not a Post about whether or not he should go. For the record I think he should stay because I believe that with a proper transfer budget this summer building on the excellent squad we currently have he can again fashion a team of champions.

If we flattered to deceive at times this season with our table-topping run, the heavy away defeats to big teams are equally an unfair reflection of our capabilities.

However I can understand those who feel his time is up, that the failings have become chronic and beyond his ability to fix. I am happy to accept that he is far from perfect: that he should have bought another striker in January; that he should have got to the bottom of our injury issues by now and much more.

Many decent and respectful Gunners have now reluctantly come to the conclusion that he should go. They tend to be drowned out by the clamour of the ignorant and the abusive who express similar sentiments in unacceptable ways.

And we are fast approaching the time, I fear, when these people will get their way.

I am not looking forward to it.

However, for now I will make a particular point of appreciating our manager whatever the results, whatever we achieve or fail to achieve in the remainder of the season.

These may be his last days and I will give them the respect they and he are due. It’s more important than winning and losing.

After one of our recent heavy defeats a better man than me had this to say:

Football is only truly a business to those who A, rely on it for their salary or B, own shares in it. For the rest of us it is either a passion, a way of life or in many cases a family tradition.

“For me it has been a distraction and motivation through life that has taken my mind off business and filled the boring hours on uncountable motorways and airports and created opportunities to meet and make friends on many a terrace and in many places when I would have been lonely without it.

“Funny game football, which is why I find it amusing that so many of us who have no first hand experience of the business called AFC feel qualified to pass judgement on the course and direction of an entity for which we have no first hand knowledge. Even the mighty guardians entrenched in the fourth estate pontificate their perceived wisdom based on at best second hand information or at worst self published claptrap. As for living in the past – knowledge is gained through experience and what we see today is often relevant to the history of which we are all part.”

But then dandan always did have a way of finding the right words to encourage the better angels of our nature.

RockyLives


A Golden Chance Squandered but still only Half-time – Atletico Ratings

April 27, 2018

Massive excitement and expectation surrounded this great opportunity to send Mr Wenger off to his retirement with the decent divorce settlement of his first European trophy. Could we take some chances at the sharp end while defending successfully at the other? Simeone has constructed a team which few would want to go and see every week (I bet the Atletico supporters disagree with this assessment). Would Costa come back to haunt us or would it be a case of Griezmann up top on his own? The ground was pretty full when we arrived, the flags looked good and the atmosphere was buzzing with an electricity suitable for a game of such magnitude.

First Half

Arsenal came out of the blocks at a furious pace. The referee immediately issued a yellow card for what looked like a soft challenge from the stands. Lacazette hit the post with a scuffer and then hit the goalkeeper with a close range header. The second yellow looked soft, too, though, having seen a replay, it looked much nastier, number 16’s studs crunching down on Laca’s instep. How many players would be left on the pitch after 90 minutes if this was to be the yellow card issuing rate?

80 minutes to take advantage of playing against 10 men. Could we find a way around the biggest and most skillfully parked bus in the whole of European football? Chances came and went. Danny broke through but caught the keeper’s foot with his attempt when a far post curler was beckoning. Mesut skied one, Kos couldn’t wrap his foot around a ball dropping to him at the far post following a corner, Nacho’s right footed volley went just wide; the ball just wouldn’t go in. Atletico’s defending was magnificent, with blocks and interceptions at crucial moments littering the first half an hour.

colossal defending

Atletico finally managed to get a foothold in the game towards half time and Griezmann twice found opportunities to shoot and test Ospina. 0-0 at half time, surely the goals would come in the second period?

 Second half

The second period seemed like a non-stop procession towards the North Bank end of the stadium. Shots rained in on the Atletico goal, it had to be only a matter of time. On the hour that moment came. Jack stood up a delightful cross worthy of Liam Brady after Nacho had won the ball back on the edge of the opposition area. Laca rose Arshavin-like at the far post and planted the ball firmly past Oblak at last. The stadium erupted.

A crucial second goal failed to materialise thanks to great goalkeeping, superb body-on-the-line defending and some less than perfect finishing. Atletico used every tactic imaginable to disrupt the flow of the game, substitutions seemed to take minutes, players fell over at the slightest contact trying to buy breathing space, every restart from throws, free kicks and goal kicks was used to eat up so much valuable time.

We were all hoping that our defence would remain solid right up until the final whistle because conceding against ten men after such dominance would be heart-breaking. However, this current incarnation of Arsene’s team always seem to have one calamitous moment, locked away to disappoint us, where what can possibly go wrong, does go wrong.

With less than 10 to go, Danny overran the ball on the left flank gifting possession to Atletico. The ball was played forward to Griezmann, stood behind Kos, but both Monreal and Mustafi were playing him onside. Kos recovered beautifully judging the ball much better than the Atleti player but then decided that playing the ball back over his head was the best option. This seemed to be Kos’ only mistake of the game but what a costly one! Ospina parried Griezmann’s first effort and then Mustafi slipped as he tried to block the second but still got a knee on it.  The ball was in the Arsenal net from Atletico’s only chance of the half – a familiar story, unfortunately.

The goal brought to mind Freddie and Jaap Stam in Jan 2000

Perhaps a winner might have lifted us all from the gloom of that away goal conceded but despite good efforts from Rambo and Welbeck plus a skied blast from Xhaka, 1-1 was destined to be Atletico’s reward for soaking up all that pressure.

Surprisingly it seemed to be the Arsenal team who had run out of steam in that second period rather than the 10 men of the Spanish side.

Ratings (tempting to give all sixes and sevens, but that was only one moment in the match 🙂 )

Ospina – Fairly untroubled, did well against Griezmann and had little chance with the goal when it finally came … 7

Bellerin – Looked dangerous, especially in the first half and produced some fine moments throughout  … 7

Mustafi – Not much to do the whole game against one striker after the sending off. Why did he have to slip for the one and only time at that precise moment?   … 6

Koscielny – Such a shame his defending in last night’s game will be remembered for that crazy decision to play it clever with Griezmann … 6

Monreal – Tireless as ever, worked his nuts off – again the goal is all we will remember, jogged back after the failed step up for offside … 6

Wilshere – Still looks short of confidence but must be proud of that assist … 6

Xhaka – Granit looked good without ever being put under too much pressure  … 7

Ramsey – Rambo’s efforts weren’t quite up to his recent standards and he seemed to run out of gas more than most until that last five minutes  … 6

Ozil – Tried everything he could to unlock the Madrid version of Fort Knox  … 7

Welbeck – Came out of the blocks like a greyhound and looked likely to provide us a goal. I’m not keen on his trying to win free kicks by exaggerating falls – stop it Danny  … 6

Lacazette – A marvellous header for the goal, some brilliant turns and movement plus several other good efforts – all repelled by Oblak unfortunately … 8

Subs

There were none and when you looked at the bench you could see why.

On to next Thursday, the tie is far from over and we have to be confident we can cancel out that calamitous away goal. When our away goal comes will be crucial – score first and it’s game on.

chas


I’ve Got A Feeling

April 26, 2018

Firstly, there is an AA’er in hospital (RA), wishing you a speedy recovery.

Tonight is an oddity, we go into a tie as firm underdogs. Hardly a pundit gives us a dog’s chance, and it would take a confirmed optimist to disagree with them; AM, on paper, are easily the best team in the competition.

But ….

We are The Arsenal. We are not Sunderland or Stoke or Lokomotiv Crapski, we have history and have won silverware in 3 out of the last 4 years. Atletico will be worried.  Even the mighty Real Madrid lost in London this season.

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Simeone has stated he is likely to play an extra defender tonight to bolster an already tight defence. Atletico boast the best defence in World football (or so we are led to believe). They have conceded only 18 goals in La Liga and not once at home for 11 matches. Simeone is the George Graham of Spanish football, a man who believes that defences win games.

Our defence is the opposite 😦

But …

Atletico have not won silverware since 2014. They are an ageing team with many players over 32. They may be missing Diego Costa (hopefully) and if we can stop Greizmann and Gameiro on the counter, are unlikely to hurt us (big IF). Should Costa play I look forward to his reception from the fans 😀

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Can Arsenal win? Of course we can. A slice of luck, some genius from Ozil, a Ramsey masterclass,  rapier-like finishing from Lacazette, allied to an organised defensive performance and we are Kushti.

My Team:

Cech

Mustafi    Koscielny    Monreal

Bellerin    Ramsey    Xhaka    Wilshire

Ozil

Lacazette    Welbeck

Elneny’s injury gives Jack a chance to shine, he has been below par the last few games but play well tonight and he will be WC Russia bound, play poorly and not only will he not get a new contract but he will be West Ham bound!

Patience may be vital without the team going gung-ho as the game progresses.

Some passionate support (Anfield was amazing on Tuesday),  players willing to give 100% and we have a chance.

I am an optimist, I think we can beat AM over two legs, as the Beatles sang “I’ve got a Feeling”

COYRRG

 


Arsenals Top Seasons – 1930-31 Our 2nd Best and First Top Flight Title

April 25, 2018

Here is an early accounting of the game against Liverpool when we won our very first Division One League Championship.

Date: Saturday 18 April 1931
Competition: Football League Division One
Location: Highbury
Attendance: 39,143
Arsenal: B Harper, T Parker (captain), E Hapgood, B John, H Roberts, C Jones, J Hulme, D Jack, J Lambert, A James, C Bastin. Manager: Herbert Chapman.
Liverpool: E Scott, J Jackson (captain), T Lucas, T Morrison, N James, J McDougall, H Barton, G Hodgson, D Wright, A McPherson, G Gunson. Manager: George Patterson.
A full strength Arsenal went into the game with Liverpool at Highbury needing only a point to secure their first ever League title. Arsenal were not helped by the wind which was blowing directly into their faces in the first half – in the third minute we conceded a goal when the wind diverted a cross which bounced off the thigh of Herbie Roberts and evaded goalie Harper’s left hand.
On 25 minutes David Jack equalised after a pass from Charlie Jones set him up to shoot. Arsenal despite the wind disadvantage held on for the remainder of the first half and began the second half with the wind on their backs! Arsenal piled on the pressure and the Liverpool defence held on until the 65th minute when James took a free kick from 25 yards out which he feigned to send to Hulme but passed to Lambert. The ball found its way on to Bastin whose crisp drive nestled just inside the post. Five minutes later Harper punted the ball up field and found Hulme whose cross to Lambert was rolled past Scott into the Liverpool net.

Rare brochure celebrating Arsenal at the beginning of our golden period in the 1930s

This was the first time one of the Southern teams won the Division One title. Arsenal were continuing their rise to the top echelons of football, Herbert Chapman had put together an exceptional forward line consisting of Jack Lambert, David Jack and Cliff Bastin and opposition defences simply could not cope with their combined skills. Lambert scored 38 goals in 34 matches, Jack 31 in 35 and Bastin 28 from 42. Joe Hulme also netted 14 times as Arsenal scored 127 league goals, a club record for a single season.

This was an exciting time to be a Gunner as we handed out a number of heavy defeats. Grimsby Town were on the end of a 9-1 hiding in a replay of the game that was abandoned on December 6th 1930, although they could consider themselves slightly unlucky as they were leading 1-0 when the re-scheduled game was abandoned due to fog.

Arsenal Information Corner in the south west corner of Highbury  Stadium was extremely busy in the 1930/31 season

Blackpool lost 7-1 at Highbury, Derby conceded six on their visit to North London, and Arsenal won 7-2 at Leicester. Cliff Bastin – already Arsenal’s youngest scorer, became their youngest scorer of a hat-trick (at 18) in a 6-3 win over Derby on February 14. Arsenal won four of their first seven games by 4-1 and looked the only possible winners after beating their nearest challengers, Aston Villa, 5-2 on November 8 – a defeat compounded by Villa’s 6-4 home defeat by Derby the following week. Villa won the return against Arsenal 5-1 in March, but by then it was too late.

Arsenal’s first League title set them on the way to their domination of the 1930s. The previous year’s FA Cup final victory over manager Herbert Chapman’s old club, Huddersfield, was very symbolic, but the championship cemented the arrival of Arsenal. It took Chapman six years to win it, but then the floodgates opened, with three in a row from 1933-35, another in 1938 and a second Cup win in 1936 – although sadly he didn’t live to see most of the silverware, having died in 1934.

Herbert Chapman surveying the future

The 1930/31 season also saw the debut of the Gunners first player signed from overseas, Dutch goalkeeper Gerry Keyser. He played in the first 12 league matches of the campaign. Another debutant was George Male who made his Arsenal debut against Blackpool in December and went on to serve the Club until 1948; his first appearance was on Christmas Day. The team played three games in three days over the Christmas period, and won them all scoring 14 goals in the process.

Arsenal’s 66 points were six better than the previous best in League history. Only Arsenal have stayed in the top flight without interruption since then, Everton were Second Division champions in their first year below the top level and won the League title the following season.

The Times on 20 April wrote an intelligent piece entitled “Arsenal’s Triumph” about the key to the team being Herbert Chapman’s planning the construction of a watertight defence balanced with the counter attack:

The Team succeed by the rapidity and unexpectedness with which they transform defence into attack. They lure their opponents into a false sense of security, and then, with a short series of sudden blows, accomplish their downfall. A goal is scored before the other side has realised that it is not the attacking side. Theirs is a cunningly devised plan, and its success is to be judged by the large number of goals scored, averaging almost three a match.

The successes of Arsenal have been due more to excellent team play and adaptability than to the brilliant individualism of a few costly players of renown…The various players have sunk their individuality in the team and each has taken his full share in promoting the fortunes of the club.

The club held the League Championship winning dinner and dance at the Café Royal on the evening of Thursday 30 April. This was to be the first of five such celebrations in the decade of the 1930s. 300 people were present at the banquet including the full complement of Aston Villa players, who were cordially invited as runners up.

The trophy was handed to Tom Parker by John McKenna, President of the Football League after the end of the Bolton game, the final game of the season at Highbury. This presentation on 2 May 1931 was made in the grandstand with supporters allowed to congregate on the pitch in front of the ceremony.

Tumultuous scenes were witnessed as the game was delayed as thousands ran onto the pitch thinking the game had ended. They all had to be removed by the police from the pitch before the final whistle could be blown. When the whistle blew they all ran on again and carried off the players to the grandstand.

35,406 witnessed the 5-0 win followed by the League Championship trophy being awarded to Arsenal, and indeed to any London club, for the very first time.  Previously the most southerly team to win the League had been Aston Villa.

Written by GunnerN5


What is supporting The Arsenal all about?

April 24, 2018

Written on Saturday soon after the managerial announcement, this comment from one of our respected bloggers already seems prophetic with regard to the journos’ insatiable need to stir up discontent within the Arsenal support. ‘Did he jump or was he pushed?’, ‘ Wenger lets rip at hurtful  fans’ etc etc.  Anyway back to the question, What does your support of Arsenal Football Club amount to?

Now see what happens…..there is no will he won’t he leave debate anymore so the press with all their “wisdom” need something else to generate some much needed ad revenue, and sadly Arsenal fans as so oft publicised are one of (if not the most) internet savvy/enabled/keen bunch of fans. So what are they going to do to get more hits, well make more stuff up obviously.

Seriously, has anyone really known any serious leaks to come out of Arsenal, ever, apart from discontented players when they leave or players that mis-speak in interviews. Those working in the club can give no comment as doing so will be seen as a “cover up”/“united front” and by not commenting and not denying they allow the rumours to persist. But they are inbetween a rock and a hard place and there’s no way out of the hell.

As Welsh Gooner predicts ( ed: that our ‘entitled’ fans won’t suddenly disappear) and the people Rocky refers to above (see Saturday’s post) we are not going to get away from this churlishness, neither in blogs or on the terraces, they will survive because unlike those of us who grew up in a different generation, football is apparently all about winning, it isn’t.

It’s about the the atmosphere, it’s the smell of burgers and fried onions as you walk up Avenell Road, it’s the sea of red and white shirts on their way to and from a game, it’s about sharing the same hopes and dreams.

Not once have I ever expected a win/demanded a win.

I’ve been disappointed, heartbroken, ecstatic, angry, joyful, satisfied and any other emotion you can think of whilst watching Arsenal, but isn’t that why we go? Isn’t that proof that we care, but if somehow you think because you’ve bought a shirt from the club shop or have a season ticket or go to one game a season somehow you are entitled to demand success. Then you are watching the wrong sport, in the wrong country in the wrong way.

Just extrapolate the thought process. “We should win every week” > if we should and could that means every opponent will lose, which means every opponents ground will be empty because why would they bother, and at that point it’s not sport anymore, and you never suffer the injustices, the hurt, the pain, so the wins are never going to bring you nights of elation.

If Arsenal could win every season I would not have jumped so high with arms outstretched smashed a light in the lounge when Mickey Did It, I wouldn’t have had that joy, that one moment of pure elation was probably enough for me, it’s lived long in the memory (I was 13) that’s 29 years ago. The fact that in the meantime we have suffered ups and downs, is what has made every trophy since joyful, and for some pretty painful evenings too. Giggs, Lehman, Koscielny/Szczesny (I could go on).

But Overmars at OT, Wilford at same place, Limpar from the half way line, Henry v Spurs mazy Run, Merse’s chips, Wright’s over and over and over v Everton, God v Newcastle, Rambo vs Hull and Chavs, Linighan v Sheff Wed, Morrow v Sheff Wed, etc etc these are the moments we cherish as fans, because they’re special, they’re not every day of the week.

I’ll support the next manager like I supported Arsene, like I supported Neil, Howe and Graham and yes even Rioch, because :

You are my Arsenal,
My only Arsenal
you make me happy when skies are grey
you’ll never know just how much I love you
until you take my Arsenal away,
la la la la la, oo,
la, la la la la, oo,
la la la la la la la la la la la”

Written by GoonerInExile


Fun in the Sun – West Ham Ratings

April 23, 2018

The first in a series of goodbye games for the great man brought some glorious sunshine to North London. Hopes were high for exceptional entertainment, though the news that Auba wasn’t starting brought the mood down a notch. I suppose the hope was to further cement some combinations for Thursday’s semi, so it was understandable in that sense.

 First Half

West Ham supposedly dominated the first half according to some of the media. Apart from a ball bouncing off a Hammers’ player’s shoulder on to the top of the bar and a fairly routine save from Ospina from a shot on the break, West Ham barely had an effort on goal.

For the boys in red and white, Kos saw his decent header go just wide and Danny had two efforts showing the full spectrum of his abilities, one top quality and the other an awful scuffer. Elneny rolled his ankle (hopefully with no serious damage) but not much happened apart from that and our hopes were high that the second period would see an improvement.

           Not a day for fair-skinned celtic chaps

Second half

The second period burst into life with Nacho’s sweet volley off his shin from Granit’s corner five minutes after the break. Failing to build on this lead, Ospina then punched out a crossed ball South American style straight back to the Hammers and with the defence in complete disarray, the hideous Arnautovic crashed in a well-struck drive. 1-1, quelle surprise.

Time for the cavalry, Auba for Alex Iwobi and the world suddenly seemed an even brighter place. Hart made fine saves from Xhaka and from a peach of a curler from Welbz, before a beautifully floated cross from Rambo sneaked past a hesitant Hammers defender and into the far corner for the goal that finally broke United’s flagging resistance.

The third came after a fine passing sequence and ricocheted off the underside of a West Ham defender’s legs, fooling Hart at the near post. Effective strikers often seem to get that sort of break and Laca is proving to be very effective indeed. Get your shot off and things happen.

My favourite goal of the four was the last one because of Ramsey’s exquisite feet in rounding a bemused Zabaleta which had followed a jinking turn from Auba. Hart got a hand to Lacazette’s shot on the way in, which sort of summed up his day.

Ratings

Ospina – Fairly untroubled, had little chance with the equaliser … 6

Bellerin – Appalling effort ballooned over the bar in the first half, defended ok  … 6

Mustafi – A little more composed with his old buddy alongside him   …6

Kos – Hopefully now match sharp for Thursday, led from the front as usual  … 7

Monreal – Never gives less than 100%, so always going to be a fan favourite  … 7

Elneny – Hopefully Mo’s injury isn’t serious – I doubt he would have played Thursday anyway … 6

Xhaka – Granit always oozes class against opposition of this standard, perhaps he can kick on and raise himself up to this level in all games next season  … 7

Ramsey – Class personified, always trying something to remove the wheel clamp from the bus   … 7

Iwobi – Sometimes Alex’s pitter patter feet seem to be an outward manifestation of his agitated, hesitant mind – this was one of those days  … 5

Welbeck – Still improving and you never quite know if you’re about to see a world-class finish or something decidedly spursy … 6

Lacazette – 2 more goals added to his impressive tally for a first season  … 7

Subs

Maitland-Niles – Time for a bit of canvassing in the acres of space in midfield, but difficult to recognise with his new trim … 6

Aubameyang – His entry to the field with a tiring West Ham changed the game … 7

On to Thursday with that last ten minutes giving us a welcome boost of confidence and optimism.

chas

 

 


Be Careful What You Wish For

April 22, 2018

Today we have another guest post from West Ham Bob, a man with considerable knowledge about the great game but who, through no fault of his own, supports today’s opposition…

Six weeks ago, I viewed this game with a great deal of fear. However thanks to the appalling form of Southampton and Stoke (wouldn’t it be brilliant if Mark Hughes took both clubs down in one season?) we reach this point with very little for either side to play for.

In some respects both our clubs have been experiencing a great deal of turmoil. Yours over the future of Arsene Wenger and the failure of your board to run a coherent transfer and team investment policy and ours over the total and utter mismanagement of our club, by three complete imbeciles.

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This season has seen a significant worsening of relations between some of our fan base and the board, which culminated in the scenes witnessed at the Burnley game. The lead up to that moment would take me many pages of script to explain, however suffice to say, it was a total and utter failure to provide investment to the team, together with a string of outright lies and incompetence over so many aspects of the move and life at the soulless bowl.

Whilst as a vfan base we are divided on much of this (some actually like the stadium and think the owners saved us from oblivion 9 years ago) the one thing that unites us is Karren F’ing Brady. For it was her job to manage the transition to the Olympic stadium and she negotiated what has turned out to be a truly appalling contract for all concerned. Interestingly for someone who bills themselves as the country’s pre-eminent female entrepreneur, she’s never actually launched a single company in her life!

Her list of crimes and lies is very very long and includes giving up all control on match day stewarding, food and beverage, the ability to West Hamify the stadium, the tedious walk to the ground, mixing would be sitters and standers leading to countless fights, insulting Leicester’s owners in her high quality Saturday article in the currant bun which has lead to them refusing to carry out transfer business with us and the list goes on and on.

But perhaps her biggest crime was her sickening attempt to pitch fan vs fan during the build up to a protest march which seemed to have gained significant support. Through a series of lame promises and outright bribes (don’t march and we will donate monies to a young girl suffering from cancer) she managed to get the protest called off and in the process set the seeds for what occurred at the Burnley game.

Similarly, one of our esteemed Chairman, (brilliantly named The Dildo Brothers by the President of Sporting Lisbon) David Sullivan met with WHUISA (our independent supporters association) and made another series of ridiculous promises including him stepping down from his self-appointed ‘director of football’ role. And just 4 weeks later he has rowed back on that, claiming that Moyes doesn’t need a DOF and will handle all incomings and outgoings.

Truthfully, our club has become a total clusterfuck. We brought into a promise of a world class team in a world class stadium. By moving we would get to play with the big boys. And so many of us became greedy and believed it. Whilst all the time, The Dildo brothers were refusing to invest in the team (28 m net spend in the last 4 transfer windows) and charging 7% interest on their loans thus stripping millions of pounds out of the club. Interestingly, Mike Ashley charges slightly less at Newcastle for his loans – a big fat zero!

And then there is the sale of the ground. Originally sold to Galliard Homes for 38 million and then the day after our last game, sold on by Galliard to Barratt Homes for 80 million and surprise surprise, no one can quite work out why and where exactly that 42 million went!!

And it’s now been 16 months since I went to the soulless bowl. You see I decided that the only true form of protest was to boycott the games and refuse to give these three shysters any of my money. And interestingly, it appears from the outside that this is exactly the tactic that has seen this weeks change at Arsenal as match day attendances have plummeted. And I am more convinced than ever that it is the only effective form of protest available to us fans.

So to today’s game. Whilst we are still mathematically in the relegation shake up, Moyes will view a point as gold dust so expect 10 behind the ball and a very moody Marko up top getting more and more frustrated as the game goes on. Keep an eye out for Declan Rice, future Republic of Ireland captain, and a real class act at centre back and if you sit in the first couple of rows on either side, take a poncho as Arthur Masuaku will be gobbing his way down the wing. Our last away game was a 1-1 draw with Chelski, but I think the Arsene effect will be on parade and I expect you boys to win by 3.

Finally some thoughts about your managerial vacancy. My sincere hope is Alan ‘chocolate’ Pardew gets the job but I think that’s a little bit of a long shot! 20 odd years ago Arsenal brought in an unknown manager who turned out to be pretty good so why not go for something similar. Graham Potter at Ostersund is about to be out of a job (turns out his Chairman has been a very naughty little boy) and he has that team playing a great brand of football.

Enjoy the Game

written by West Ham Bob


The Childlike Delusions of the Arsène Haters

April 21, 2018

Written in June 2012 this post from Rocky has renewed relevance after yesterday’s announcement. Let’s hope that some elements of the Arsenal fanbase fade back into obscurity when Arsene leaves.

There is a strong current of opinion among some Arsenal supporters that our seven year winless streak is a disgrace.

The argument goes like this: “Arsenal are a big club. Big clubs win things. We haven’t won anything for seven years. Therefore… our manager isn’t good enough; our Board of Directors lack ambition; they’re only interested in money. Let’s change everything.”

The flaws in the reasoning are obvious and you really don’t need me to reiterate them.

But what is not often mentioned is that this type of thinking is recognisable to psychologists and is described as “Childlike Behaviour in Adults”.

The symptoms of childlike behaviour in adults are reflective of emotional immaturity and can be grouped under five headings:

  • Egocentrism
  • Uncontrolled Emotion
  • Gratification
  • Attitude
  • Magical Thinking

If you go on some of the more negative Arsenal blogs you will find these symptoms displayed in abundance by both the authors and the commenters. The most important symptom, in the context of Arsenal’s recent history, is gratification, but the others play their part too.

Egocentricism:

Emotionally immature individuals are self centred and selfish. They have little regard for others and are preoccupied with their own ideas and feelings. They deeply believe that they are somehow special therefore demand constant attention, respect and sympathy.

Well, that certainly describes some Arsenal blog authors. People who are so preoccupied with their own “ideas and feelings” that they are unable to take on board the views and feelings of others. And they acquire an unfounded estimation of their own importance (believing they are “somehow special”). There is no doubt that some Arsenal sites, because they have attracted a modest following of like-minded delusionals, believe they speak for the greater Arsenal community. Further, they believe they are fighting a good fight (against the Triple Threat of Wenger, Kroenke and Gazidis) on behalf of that larger Arsenal community. Let me tell you chaps: you don’t speak for the rest of us and the fight you have embarked on is no more than Don Quixote tilting at windmills.

Uncontrolled Emotion:

Immaturity expresses itself in temper tantrums, prolonged pouts and rapidly changing moods. Emotionally immature individuals get frustrated easily and over-react to perceived criticism. They are unwilling to forgive and are prone to jealousy pangs.”

Ring any bells? Over-reacting to perceived criticism? Like banning perfectly reasonable and well-mannered contributors who post comments at odds with the prevailing orthodoxy? As for the temper tantrums and pouts… well, you can visit any Arsenal blog after a bad result and see evidence of them in their droves.

Gratification:

Children and childish adults often want everything now, and avoid enduring any thing they do not like. Their behaviour is superficial, thoughtless and impulsive.”

This hits straight at the heart of the “no trophies for seven years” issue. People who take that fact as a personal affront (and conveniently ignore the compelling reasons why Arsenal have been unable to win silverware in that period) are behaving like children: “I want twophies now and if I don’t get them I’ll scweam and scweam and scweam.” No matter how many times old stagers pop up to describe periods in our history when we went way more than seven years as Potless Percies, the childlike adults among our fan base just scream louder that they want it, and they want it NOW. If you have had children and remember the toddler phase, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. The idea of “deferred gratification” (seeing the big picture and accepting short term pain for long term gain) is anathema to the childlike adult.

Attitude:

Immature individuals have a hard time with integrity. They avoid and deny money and relationship problems which demand integrity and seek to pass the blame. They avoid reality and attack people when frustrated.”

Attacking people when frustrated – like making up silly names and acronyms for those who have a different viewpoint to your own. Lacking integrity – like never feeling ashamed or embarrassed when your dire predictions and made-up stories turn out to be nonsense.  There are Arsenal commentators and bloggers out there who (apparently) joyfully predicted that we would be in a relegation fight in the season that’s just finished. You won’t see them referring to that now. Instead, as childlike adults, they have simply shifted the goal posts and now predict doom and gloom for next season instead.

Magical Thinking:

The interpreting of two closely occurring events as though one caused the other, without any concern for the causal link. For example, if you believe that crossing your fingers brought you good fortune, you have associated the act of finger-crossing with the subsequent welcome event and imputed a causal link between the two. Magical thinking invests special powers and forces in many things that are seen as symbols.

Among the staunchest opponents of Arsene Wenger, magical thinking, indeed, takes the form of “interpreting two closely occurring events as though one caused the other.” For example, believing that because Arsene looks to achieve the best value when buying players, he must be on a “bonus” to spend less on transfers. There is, of course, not one shred of evidence for this ridiculous notion, but it has not stopped certain authors from repeating it endlessly as fact. Another example of spurious causal connection is the fact that we didn’t sign Xabi Alonso from Liverpool. The childlike adults, with their simple but deeply held world view of all things Arsenal, can only conceive of the idea that Alonso did not come because we were too cheap to pay the asking price. They, and we, have no evidence that that was truly the case.

Magical thinking invests special powers and forces in many things that are seen as symbols,” which, in the case of Arsenal, takes the form of an irrational belief that some flavour-of-the-month player from some other team is the answer to all our problems. Be it Cahill, Samba, Hazard, Mata, M’Vila (even, ludicrously, Joe Cole once upon a time). It doesn’t occur to the childlike adults who champion these causes that it might be the slightest bit inappropriate for them – with their day-jobs as IT workers, local government officials, Post Office sorters, or Sainsburys shelf stackers – to think they know better than a man like Arsene Wenger about which players are needed for Arsenal.

One important caveat: of course I am not suggesting that all criticism of Arsene Wenger and the current running of the club is a manifestation of psychological delusionality.

If you think Arsène should be removed as manager and can present cogent reasons for your opinion – fine, let’s have a debate. We may not change each other’s minds but we can at least respect each other and, through going back and forth, offer each other new perspectives on the issues.

Furthermore we can do so without playground abuse.

If you believe Ivan Gazidis is nothing more than a spin merchant who has overseen repeated failure in our transfer dealings – again, let’s go at it.

It’s not the argument itself that matters, but the way in which it is conducted. This is what separates the emotionally mature adult from the childlike adult and the emotionally mature Arsenal blog site from the childlike sites, of which, sadly, there are several.

That doesn’t mean that the emotionally mature adult is immune from occasional lapses of temper or good manners.

Many regular blog contributors go over the top at times (whether through frustration, a perception that they are being personally attacked or, as in my case, too much Scotch whisky) but if you examine the totality of their contributions you can soon judge their prevailing psychological state.

So what am I saying?

That some Arsenal blog sites and some of the people who contribute to them are psychologically not fully developed? They are, in effect, a bit mad?

Absolutely.

And thank goodness for the organisers of this site for keeping its standards high and emotionally mature and allowing wafflers like me to have our thoughts aired in an environment that (most of the time) is 100% sane.

RockyLives