Mr. Wenger retires

April 20, 2018

End of an era. I was still on my second marriage when Arsene signed. I am in shock.

Mr. Wenger, your teams gave me so much happiness, you have been a superb ambassador for my club, you have developed a mid-table, struggling club into becoming one of the world’s biggest. A remarkable achievement

There will be much to discuss over the remaining weeks prior to the new manager’s appointment but in the meantime, can I just say …

Thank you

written by BR


Arsenals Top Seasons 1970-71 – Our 3rd Best Season and First Double

April 19, 2018

Welcome to the 1970/71 season, after 18 seasons in the trophy wilderness Arsenal finally broke their duck and won a trophy – the Inter City fairs Cup in 1970. That was the end of an extremely miserable period for us Arsenal supporters and gave us hope for the next season. The last time we won the FA Cup was in 1950 and our last League Championship victory was in the 1952/53 season.

The 1970-71 season started with two wins, three draws and one loss in the opening six matches. This included the visits of Manchester United and  Leeds United to Highbury, as well as visiting the previous season’s FA Cup winners, Chelsea, and League Champions, Everton. We also visited West Ham at Upton Park and hosted Huddersfield at Highbury. To emerge from those six games with a solitary defeat – at Stamford Bridge was impressive and built a solid foundation for the season ahead.

Game seven was played before a crowd of 48,713 at Highbury where a double from George Armstrong gave Arsenal victory over Tottenham in the first north London derby of the season. After such a bright start Arsenal looked to be out of the title chase after a 5–0 away loss to Stoke in September. However we recovered and put in a strong run and did not lose again in the league until Januar, and as the season progressed we became involved in a tight race with Leeds United.  After losing away to Derby County on April 26th we went on a run of nine consecutive victories conceeding only a single goal before ending the winning run with a 2-2 draw with West Brom.

With three games left we travelled to Elland Road to face Leeds United. The game was decided in a very controversial manner – in extra time Leeds struck with a quick central attack, Billy Bremner passed to the tall long-legged Jack Charlton, who was adding his weight to the final attack. At that moment the Leeds centre-half looked a clear two or three yards offside as Bob Wilson came out at him. His shot hit the foot of the post, came back at him and rebounded into the Arsenal net for victory.

The official version (the Leeds official version), was that the ball had touched McNab before it crossed the line, which made it a good goal. For this to have happened to Arsenal in injury time was hard enough to bear but for it to happen with a goal which none of them believed was legitimate made it unbearable.

In our penultimate game of the season we beat Stoke 1-0 at Highbury. Of all places to go for the final game of the season on Monday May 3rd 1971, we had to travel to White Hart Lane. Arsenal knew that they needed either to win or secure a scoreless draw to bring the title back to Highbury for the first time since 1953. A score draw would not do as Leeds United was waiting – hoping for an Arsenal slip-up.

Programme from the first time we won the League at White Hart Lane

51,192 fans managed to squeeze into White Hart Lane with thousands of fans outside hoping to get in; Spurs were desperate to deny Arsenal the bragging rights in North London. It was a difficult situation to be in for the Gunners as oddly enough if they scored, they still couldn’t concede for as I mentioned above, a score draw would have shattered Arsenal’s dreams. A Spurs goal at any stage was most unwelcome. Tottenham goalkeeper Pat Jennings was in splendid form and made many fine saves throughout as Arsenal tried to break the deadlock.

Finally in the 88th minute Ray Kennedy headed in a George Armstrong cross via the underside of the bar. After the goal Tottenham put Arsenal under relentless pressure in the hope of preventing them from winning the title. A Tottenham goal would have been enough for Leeds to win the title, but there was limited time left for them to score. In the end Arsenal prevailed. Bob Wilson prevented any Spurs equaliser from happening and Arsenal sealed the first half of the Double by winning the league in front of Tottenham supporters at White Hart Lane, much to the delight of our ecstatic fans.

Next up was the FA Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday May 8th, 1971 – it turned out to be a classic encounter with Liverpool in front of a crowd of 100,000 frenzied supporters.

In the previous rounds Arsenal had been drawn away in every round and in the semi-final trailed Stoke City 2-0 before equalising with a very controversial last minute penalty. This forced a replay at Villa Park four days later, a game Arsenal won 2-0 with goals from George Graham and Ray Kennedy.

Now to the small matter of the most important game in our history- The FA Cup Final.

A victory over Liverpool would give us our 1st League and Cup double. Arsenal wore their away strip of yellow shirt and blue shorts. Arsenal eventually won 2–1 after extra time, with all three goals coming in the added half hour. Steve Heighway opened the scoring for Liverpool with a low drive past Bob Wilson on his near post. However, Arsenal equalised with a scrambled goal from substitute Eddie Kelly – the first time a substitute had ever scored in an FA Cup final. The goal was initially credited to George Graham, but replays showed that the decisive touch came from Kelly after Graham had struck the shot.

 

Charlie George then scored a dramatic winner late in extra time, when his long range effort flew past Ray Clemence. This prompted George into a famous celebration – lying flat on his back on the Wembley turf waiting for his team mates to pick him up.

The match was played with a great spirit of sportsmanship by the players and was responded to by the fans. Arsenal’s victory and double win, after a gruelling 64-match season, was greeted with an ovation by both sets of fans at the stadium. This was repeated when Liverpool took their lap of honour after the presentation of the trophy and medals.

One of GN5’s programme collection with some famous autographs

Wonderful memories.

Written by GunnerN5


Is a change of Playing Style required?

April 17, 2018

Problems at Arsenal based on player analysis and playing style analysis:-

Keeper:

This hasn’t traditionally been our big problem area over the last few seasons, so is not the right place to look to for our consistent failings. It may be that in the here and now a new keeper is needed with father time catching up with Cech and a lack of world class options behind him.

Central defenders:

A penchant for smaller central defenders Pep era Barcelona style doesn’t work with us. We are often out-muscled and don’t look anywhere near commanding enough in central defence. One smaller quicker CD is ok with the right partner but 2 at the same time??

If Kos had been paired with a Kompany / Sol Campbell type CD for the last few years we would have been a different animal. With his injuries Kos can’t be a 1st choice consideration all season anymore and the rest are more squad player quality and not 1st team quality (at least not yet with some of them). 2 new CD’s likely required but different types to what we have.

Full backs:

Had some decent options in the last few years, so again not the right place to see our main failings. The biggest problem with the FB’s has been that they largely become wingers for much of the game but in a poorly executed fashion (discipline wise). This is more a team style issue than player issue per se and is dictated in some ways by the midfield in front of them (see later).

Having said all this, there are player concerns potentially arising now. Monreal is getting on and is Kolasinac good enough to replace him? Bellerin has looked squad player standard for much of this season but you do feel he can sharpen up with the right coaching and advice.

Midfield:

Will look at this as a whole because outside of CD it is where our main problems are. Individually assessed we have a lot of good midfielders. Collectively they don’t gel. Why? This seems to come down to Arsene and his player preference. He seems to mainly only look for slightly slower, cultured ball playing, tippy tappy style CM’s and then just string 5 of them out in the bit between the midfield and striker.

This is a criticism that has been mooted by some of us on here for a few years, so is not a new consideration. Arsene doesn’t seem to value the specialist holding midfield role or the specialist winger / wing forward role in this 3rd era at Arsenal (pre Emirates move era, Emirates move austerity era, post austerity Emirates era).

What we end up with is a lack of pace or width and a lack of support to the striker leaving them often isolated. Hence we end up with 5 players who are all kind of in a laterally aligned set up looking for a forward pass to play but finding no pacy winger / wing forward to play a ball for them to run on to and a striker isolated with 2 CD’s on him. Result, tippy tappy sideways and backward passing or forcing a forward pass through a narrow central congested channel which is likely intercepted or more easily defended.

We fail regularly to stretch opposition defences and pull them around. Our width for the most parts seems to come from the FB’s stationed high up the pitch in the wing positions, but too often they receive the ball there statically rather than bursting forward on an overlap. This is mostly seen with park the bus teams where the FB’s just seem to be permanently stationed high up and the more dynamic overlap only seems to happen when we play a team we are able to use a counter-attacking strategy from deep with. We probably only need to keep 2 or 3 from the 4 when looking at Xhaka, Elneny, Ramsey and Wilshere, and free up space for 1 specialist HM and at least 1 specialist winger / wing forward (in the Robben / Sane mould).

Striker:

After his first year with us Giroud should have graduated to becoming a good back up option and something alternative from the bench to shake it up. He was never the type of striker that we should have been developing our play around. Playing with this type of striker as a 1st choice demanded a different way of playing that was to a large extent very non Arsenal (Wenger era) like. We should have been looking towards a quicker more mobile lethal front man and we stuck with the less mobile target man as our choice of play for far too long.

Having said that I didn’t want Ollie to go if we could have kept him. Having now recently recruited 2 of the types of strikers that we should have done a while back, we still don’t look right. Why? Well essentially we haven’t changed our set up to compliment the new different style of striker we now have, and are setting up the team behind them exactly the same as we did with Ollie, the  bigger slower target striker.

Pining for him and what he offered us as being the answer to our problems, is the wrong call for me. We failed regularly when we had him anyway. Our new strikers cannot be left isolated with 2 CD’s to deal with. They need to be mobile and be supported by other quick players to create space for them, and to fill the CF position when that striker has provided an outlet in the wide channels and has essentially become the supplier / creator. Arsene’s midfield combination preferences don’t allow for this.

Overall coaching and style:

I often think of Arsene as having changed what type of team he wanted when Pep’s Barcelona was in its pomp, and feel he contracted a kind of Barcapeperatippytappyitis, which still afflicts to this day. They were in a different league, with a collective of specific types of technical players, under a different manager that actually, despite the possession and attack focus of that side, was very disciplined and well coached. We are in a different league in a different era and don’t seem to bother with that extra attention to coaching detail that Guardiola did, and still does.

We look the most ill disciplined and poorly drilled out of all the big clubs and it has often been said that Arsene likes players to work it out for themselves. Over-coaching can, of course, also be an issue, so one doesn’t want to make it too regimented, but it would seem the mantra of the players working it out for themselves is quite easily trumped by coaches paying more attention to detail.

Should we be aiming for that Barca style or looking more towards our old blueprint of pace and power complimented by excellent technical players. I know which I prefer. We all love the idea of Wengerball, and being considered the most easy team on the eye, and being the club that develops the young precocious players the best, but in reality we are actually none of these anymore.

Wengerball is a nice memory from a bygone era and we are more often stale and boring in our football than off your seat excitement. A mere handful of games see us play good football from start to finish with the rest made up by flashes of excellent football in a game we have also looked equally poor in, or just a poor game from start to finish. Probably the middle one dominates in what we produce most frequently.

Our young players seem to be failing once introduced to 1st team environment. It is other clubs who are the ones that have the young players developing from precocious talent into top class talent, so that is another bragging right we have lost in reality.

The big question is does Arsene have either the will or the insight to change many or all of the factors that are stifling us? Do we think he will start to coach in more detail and / or allow other first team coaches to do more, for example Bould with the defence? Do we think he will look towards a more traditional commanding type of central defender? Do we think he will change his preferences for those types of CM’s he seems to love and shake the squad up, maybe looking towards different types of players, like pacey wide men and HM’s, that may compliment us more and give greater depth and balance to our team and performances?

This would require a harder edge in accepting some of the players identified by him are not quite what we needed afterall and then having that harder edge to move them on.

I tend to find myself answering no in all cases with these questions. I don’t see any evidence that Arsene wants to change the set up, style or type of coaching, or that he wants to identify a different style of player to those he has traditionally preferred in recent years. I also think he treats his players, the ones he identified and wanted, as if they are his own children and doesn’t really have it in him to move them on for something different. A new manager can more ruthlessly look at this situation and decide who stays, who goes, and who should come in without that personal attachment.

Things have just run their course. We can but hope for those 3 big displays that we know we have in us at times that may secure the EL for us. Win this and Arsene could walk away with his head held high at that point, and this should happen because the club needs a fresh and new approach with a touch more pragmatism, attention to detail and adaptability within it.

Written by GoonerB


Turned over by The Toon – Newcastle Ratings

April 16, 2018

The only people looking forward to this one were some Geordies hoping to finally take some points from Arsenal and Joe Willock making his debut. My mate, Nick had a tenner on 2-1 so at least some good came of it.

First Half

A beautiful sunny scene at St James’ was brightened further by an excellent volleyed goal from Laca with the assist coming from our new Gabonese left winger.

Then came the inevitable. Mustafi should have been trying to block Perez’ near post effort by getting his whole body in the way between ball and goal, not poking a hopeful foot out. Cech would have only saved it if it had hit him.

Unfortunately our best chances during the first half fell to Calum Chambers.

Second half

Nothing happened worthy of note except for the usual déjà-vu.

Ratings

Cech – Beaten by two good finishes … 6

Chambers – Hector had a prior engagement at Brent Cross, so we were left with more proof that Calum isn’t really a full back (p.s. he ain’t no striker either)  … 5

Mustafi – without Kos there to mop up, Shkodran looked a little limited. Beautiful pass to Auba for the goal  …6

Holding – Tried as hard as anyone else  … 6

Monreal – Missed Mesut and Rambo when looking for a pass  … 6

Elneny – Couldn’t recreate the heights of Moscow in a team lacking movement and creativity … 6

Xhaka – Should have stayed in bed with the flu  … 6

Willock – Didn’t look out of place, comfortable on the ball (as you always expect from an Academy player). Unfortunately got in the way of a pass to Auba in our best first half breakaway   … 6

Iwobi – Best of a poor bunch, enjoying his freer role and taking some responsibilty … 7

Aubameyang – Looked to have initiated a perfect partnership with his striking buddy early on with a beautiful left footed assist, but sank into relative anonymity – 6

Lacazette – Cracking finish for his goal, but ultimately drifted off to sleep like the rest of us  – 6

chas

 


Howay The Lads

April 15, 2018

Mid-table, virtually meaningless clash? Exciting PL game between two highly experienced, quality managers? The chance to see world class footballers giving their best? Or a mix or all three?

IMO any Arsenal game is anticipated with bated breath, I love to watch my team; sadly, in recent time the excitement has dissipated after 30 mins as we muck about with hardly a shot on target; hopefully the new attack can change this.

PEA can be the answer.

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We are on our best winning run of the season, admittedly we have played some very average teams, most of whom are relegation threatened. Newcastle are also on a fine run and are now safe.  Will both teams give it the full beans? I doubt it.

We haven’t lost to Newcastle since 2010 but we have yet to win an away PL fixture in 2018. One of these runs will continue. Apparently we have not lost 5 away games in a row since 1925!

My Team:

Cech

Chambers    Mustafi     Holding

Bellerin      Xhaka    Elneny    Iwobi

Ozil

PEA    Welbeck

A few second string players, maybe Nelson or Maitland- Niles will get a kick. Ramsey, who suffered a very nasty cut midweek, Kos, Nacho, should be rested. Maybe Ozil benched for Nelson with Iwobi “in the hole”.

Early kick-off following a heavy Sunday lunch. Hope I can stay awake for the second half.

COYRRG


Waiting for My Man – CSKA Player Ratings

April 13, 2018

With the score from the first leg stood at 4-1 and having seen Roma rebuild an empire at the expense of the Catalonians, nerves were jangling slightly more than we might have expected for this particular second leg in Moscow. Could their away goal prove crucial? One way to resolve the issue – score one of our own and the tie would be effectively settled. Boy, did they make us wait.

First Half

CSKA huffed and puffed, gegenpress-style, closing down rapidly like high street businesses everywhere. Arsenal struggled to find any space, time and cohesion. On several occasions chances to break and grab that vital away goal presented themselves, but, on each, our attacking fluency deserted us with a misplaced final pass or failure to exploit having a man over.

I missed the goal as BT.com decided to freeze 30 seconds before it. It seemed as though Nacho was shoved in the back for the CSKA header, though I’m sure the studio ‘experts’ said that the Russian just wanted it more. Cech did well to get down to the header at such close range but keeping it out was all he did as he left a simple tap in. 1-0 down at half-time, just when was our moment of quality due to arrive? I was hoping it was before I ran out of beer.

Second Half

Shortly after the break, calamity struck again when a long range pot shot bounced back off the helmeted one into the path of the onrushing forward. Bang 2-0. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, surely another 3 goal comeback couldn’t be on the cards?

Watching without sound, I was celebrating when Elneny’s header went in as if it was job done, before realising the lino’s flag had been raised. Mo seemed to think bending his run slightly even though he was a yard or two behind the Russian defensive line, might somehow fool the official into thinking he was onside. Hmmmmm.

Arsenal restricted CSKA’s chances to score the vital third pretty well, keeping them to long shots, with Petr producing a good save from a free kick, but were still struggling to produce that one moment of quality to blast the comeback out of the water. When it finally came it was a thing of rare beauty.

Welbz was suddenly infused with the spirit of Thierry Henry, picking the ball up wide left and driving towards goal. Playing the ball inside to Bobby Pires, sorry Mo Elneny, he continued his run into the area. Elneny’s return pass was of such a delicious weight that it just invited the glorious finish which was duly applied by the Mancunian high into the corner of the net. Magnificent – all that time they had us worried, knowing full well that they had a goal of such exceptional quality up their sleeves.

You could visibly see how much CSKA were deflated by the goal, almost as if they knew it was 3-0 or nothing that would have got them through. Even the bare-shirted, gammon-fleshed hordes behind the goal Arsenal were attacking, perhaps realised that their game was up and it was time to go home to Olga.

Drifting towards a defeat but still in the draw for the semis, Aaron Ramsey then applied the cherry on top of the cake. His fragilty had seemed to rear its head again at the end of the first half when he seemed to overstretch, but he was still running in glorious fashion right up to the last few moments. Running on to another beautifully weighted and timed through ball from Mr Elneny, he lifted the ball gracefully over Akinfeev with his right seal flipper to send the best club in North London through with a comfortable 6-3 margin.

Player Ratings from LB

And there was I thinking that it would be a cushy victory……when will I learn?

Cech: since he has stopped the fancy footwork that was leading to a few too many embarrassing situations he has come back as strong as ever. I think the adjective of commanding is called for tonight. 8

Bellerin: Hector put his attacking desires to one side and focused on the defending side of his game — and he carried out that duty better than he has done in quite a while. 8

Mustafi: no silly errors just got on with the job at hand. Perfectly acceptable performance. 7

Koscielny: a good captain’s performance. 7

Monreal: I don’t need frills from our defence on games like this I just need them to read the tin and do what it says. 7

Elneny: Mo was the proverbial headless chicken in the first half; he certainly redeemed himself in the second half though with two assists to boot. 8

Ramsey: getting all the credit he deserves for being the great player that he has always been, another top drawer performance. 8

Wilshere: don’t get me started. 5

Ozil: King Mesut Rules OK. 7

Lacazzette: I heard that his goal scoring boots were held up in Russian customs and it showed. Interesting just how much he runs on confidence or not. 6

Welbeck: I stuck with Danny for so long regularly writing on here I expected him to become the most important CF in the EPL and then after finally and completely giving up on such an idea he starts to make some serious inroads into claiming that mantle. Really starting to enjoy his performances again. 9

Can I take my red and white tinted glasses off now?

The draw awaits at 11am, with Atletico, Salzburg (Lazio were on the receiving end of the comeback of the night) and Payet’s Marseille our potential opponents. Who do you fancy?  

chas

 

 


Semi-Final beckons. Can we? Will we?

April 12, 2018

4-1 up, it can’t go wrong, can it? Given the results over the past two days anything can happen and with Mustafi in his current form we have to be concerned.

It may be unfair to spotlight one player in what has been an awful season for us at the back (43 PL goals conceded so far) but Mustafi’s inconsistencies are hardly of benefit to the confidence of the others. Take the S’ton game, both goals came directly from his shilly-shallying (now there’s a word!).

So what should we do? Drop him for Chambers? Probably not. Should AW select a team to PTB or play a normal attacking game? Will he include Elneny as an extra defender in place of the attacking Miki or give Iwobi a run? My guess is he will err on the side of caution.

We saw that CSKA Moskva are limited in their defensive abilities themselves with us carving out chance after chance at the Emirates. I expect us to score and then the tie is done but what if we don’t? Can the team keep a pacy Russian attack at bay? It is questionable.

My Team:

Cech

Koscielny   Mustafi    Monreal

Bellerin   Ramsey    Elneny    Kolasinac

Ozil      Welbeck

Lacazette

Jack has to be benched in a match of importance and with his form at such a low ebb. Kolasinac is the better defender and more likely to add some steel.

The first half of the home tie (which thanks to Chas and Peaches I was able to attend), was the best we have played in many a moon, the ingenuity, pace and sheer verve of the performance gave rise to hopes that next season could be so much better.

I expect CSKA to be very aggressive in an attempt to unseat our brave boys; they will have to start fast and stop our passing through midfield. Ramsey etc will need shin and calf and ankle pads. A strong, unbiased referee, please.

Concede early and the nerves will kick in, score early and the tie is over. I know what we all want.

COYRRG


Guardiola is right to be unhappy & Sorry Spurs

April 11, 2018

Elneny’s red card has been rescinded. His sending off could have been costly, the completely useless Andy Marriner clearly lost the plot when the game got heated (as it should be) Has Marriner been punished  with a suspension or demotion? No, he hasn’t Should he be?

The referee and two linesmen wrongly decided Sane was offside when scoring for MC last night possibly costing MC the victory and with it many millions of pounds. Were the referee and linesmen questioned about their mistake? Has there been any fuss apart from Guardiola being sent to the stands for stating a truth?

This post could go the VAR route but we have covered the subject in depth, instead I am questioning the punishment of referees who make blatant errors.

Chas mentioned Graham Poll yesterday, my example would also be against Newcastle when Phil Dowd gave the worst example of refereeing in my footballing experience in a 4-4 draw at St James in 2011. Dowd escaped with an unblemished record having given Diaby a red card, awarded two highly dubious penalties to the Magpies and allowed Barton, Tiote and others to repeatedly kick our boys.

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Yes, I know the argument about referees only being human and mistakes can be made but the general standard is poor. And of course, all referees are wa**ers, They have to be to pick up the whistle.

On another subject …

Did you know that since Spurs last won a major trophy (i.e. not the Carabootee Cup) in 1991, Arsenal have won the same number of trophies as Spurs have in their entire history!!

Ooh to be, Ooh to be, Ooh to be a Gooner

written by BR


Arsenals Top Seasons 2001-02 – Our 4th Best

April 10, 2018

2001- 02 was a very competitive season with several teams challenging for the top spot in the league. For the first 11 games an unbeaten Leeds team were the early leaders and in November they were top of the table. At the start of December Liverpool was three points clear with a game in hand, Newcastle took over as leaders at Christmas but by February Manchester United was in first place, looking to make it four titles in a row.  Arsenal was never far off the pace but they suffered their lowest point of the season during October and November taking only three points from four games. They responded to that four-game winless run in style with a 3-1 victory over Manchester United which was memorable for Freddie Ljungberg’s lob and two gift wrapped presents from Fabian Barthez which Thierry Henry happily accepted.

Notably, on the player front David Seaman, Martin Keown and Ray Parlour were still going strong, while both Tony Adams and Lee Dixons careers were winding down.

Arsene Wenger brought in Sol Campbell, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Kole Toure while John Lukic. Sylvinho and Nelson Vivas left the club.

The Arsenal 2001- 02 Squad.

Seaman (17), Dixon (13), A. Cole (29), Vieira (36), Keown ( 21), Adams (10), Pires (28),Ljungberg (25), Bergkamp ( 33), Wiltord (33), Lauren (27), Taylor (10), Henry (33), van Bronckhorst (21), Edu (14), Grimandi (16), Upson (14), Luzhny (18) Campbell (31), Wright (12), Kanu (23), Stepanvos (8).

Four games after beating Manchester United we suffered our third defeat, at home to Newcastle but it proved to be the final loss of the season. (ed: this was the game  in which Graham Poll came close to being lynched after sending off Ray Parlour for two bookables and handing the game to Newcastle late on with a disgraceful penalty decision; it still makes my blood boil thinking about it). 

In the next two games we defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield with only 10 men and followed that with a 2-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day with Sol Campbell scoring his first goal for Arsenal. The next six games saw us win 3 and draw 3 ending in a 1-1 draw with Southampton at Highbury on February 2 which left us toiling in 3rd position.

It would take a special effort to beat off the many competitors to the title and the draw against Southampton proved to be the game that spurred us on – it would be the last time we dropped points all season. In the final 13 games we went unbeaten, including a 2-0 win at title rivals Newcastle which will be forever remembered by Denis Bergkamp’s stunning goal. He made it look so simple, pirouetting within a split second of his flick to score the goal and leaving no doubt as to whether it was intended. Nobody has pulled off anything as special since, suggesting it was a more remarkable piece of skill than he made it appear. The fact that we all talk about it 17 years later is an indication of just how wonderful Bergkamp’s touch and intelligence was to create such an incredible goal.

Five games later we beat Tottenham 2-1 at Highbury with Lauren scoring the winning goal from a late penalty. With 2 games left in the season we met Manchester United at Old Trafford, to have any hopes of retaining their crown United had to beat Arsenal, but Sylvain Wiltord’s 55th minute winner sealed a second Premier League title for Arsene Wenger’s side. We ended the season seven points clear of second-placed Liverpool, who sneaked ahead of United on the final day.

We finished the season off in style with a 4-3 win over Everton on the final day that saw Tony Adams lift the title trophy in front of the home fans as he bowed out alongside Lee Dixon.

Credit: Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal Football Club.

Henry, Pires and Ljungberg  all made huge contributions to our season. Henry finished the season with 24 goals in the Premier League and the Golden Boot, Pires recorded a league-high 15 assists and won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award, Pires was so good that when he took his turn to lift the Premier League trophy on the last day, his team-mates bowed down in front of him.

Freddie Ljungberg scored 12 times in just 25 games and claimed the official Barclaycard Premier League Player of the Season honour.

We lost only three games, all at Highbury and went the full season unbeaten away from home in the league, scored in every game and finished the season with 13 consecutive wins.

Not to be forgotten is the fact that a week before the season ended we won the FA Cup Final beating Chelsea 2-0 with stunning goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg.

Unsurprisingly Arsene Wenger was named as the Manager of the Season after winning his second double in five seasons.

Written by GunnerN5


The Saints are Coming – Southampton preview

April 8, 2018

Southampton come to the Emirates sitting in the bottom three of the Premier League and in desperate need of some points. For Arsenal the fixture comes as the filling in a Moscovian, Europa sandwich. Momentum and confidence are again at stake with League points a bit of an irrelevance.

The Saints’ squad is a bit of a mystery to me (like most of the PL teams, I’m afraid). They still have Shane Long who only ever plays well against us. I also recognise the names of Tadic and Charlie Austin and the ex-chavs player Romeu, but the rest are a roll call of unknowns. Let’s hope it stays that way.

We know all about the Saints ‘new’ manager, the loathsome Mark Hughes. I really don’t understand the home-grown manager merry-go-round. Pardew, Poolis, Fat Sam, Hughes – what is the point of continually employing managers you know will probably let you down in the near future? At least Hughes did play on the South coast when his playing career was in decline, so there is a little history there.

Enough of the opposition, how are we fixed? Mkhitaryan caught a nasty bang on the knee against CSKA and is out for a period. Aubameyang will be keen to build on his recent League form. Aside from those two, it might be a case of shuffling the pack a little to save the more fragile for next Thursday. Chambers will relish playing his old team and Kos needs to rest his dodgy Achilles. Mesut is rarely rested, though the more delicate Rambo may want to continue his recent good run.  Maybe a few others will be rested with Holding, Iwobi, Elneny and Welbeck keen to get some game time. Jack had a really poor night in Europe, but might get another chance in the hope he plays himself into some decent form.

Team  

With less pressure on the team we usually perform well, finishing past seasons strongly after all hope of the title has vanished. Some decent finishing to match Thursday’s would be rather nice, though it’s doubtful the Saints will allow us as much space down their flanks.

An Auba hat trick will get the enormous crowd off their feet; though if he scores late on, many will miss it in their rush to get home for Songs of Praise.

Apols for the lacklustre PM (BR is on manoeuvres), though I’d imagine its general CBA-feeling sort of captures the unbridled enthusiasm for this particular fixture. 🙂

COYRRG

chas