Wobbly whips Watford – Deeney dismal

September 30, 2018

Well that was a really rip-roaring christening for my first game ever in the lower tier at the Emirates. Watching the game from lower down and closer to the pitch makes the whole experience more visceral. Yes, you don’t see the patterns of play in quite the same way, but footballers don’t either. Gaps and angles, space and geometry are all in a flat plane for the boys with the boots on. I enjoyed it.

First Half

Chances at both ends, the best for Arsenal was Laca’s one on one with the keeper. Robbing the hesitant lump in the Watford defence, dinking the ball beautifully over the keeper but just failing to keep the ball between the posts. Watford also had some decent efforts but were either wide or came up against the helmet.

Anthony Taylor failed to give a clear penalty when Lacazette was fouled. No wonder players go down easily when it’s the falling over that refs give decisions for rather than the actual foul itself. Poor from Mr Shiny Head.

Second Half

End to end and excitement throughout. Again Laca with several chances but none that easy. Watford not requiring large dollops of possession to create danger on the counter. You could see why they’ve been effective. Leno came on when the helmet’s hamstring pinged taking a goal kick. He proceeded to make a fine reaction save from Deeney diverting a dead ball, blocking a one on one and catching or punching everything that was launched at him.

Iwobi coming on for the ineffectual Ramsey turned the game on its head. Suddenly there was drive, pace and power down Arsenal’s right. Alex’s cross was diverted beyond Foster by Cathcart in the 81st minute and then Welbz on for Auba won the ball in midfield, Laca and Wobbly combined beautifully to slide the ball across for a perfect pink-booted Mesut sidefoot. What a wonderful couple on minutes it was!

What a fine view I had!

Summary

A clean sheet – shared by both keepers, each contributed equally. Was it the Torreira effect?  Are we looking more like the new incarnation of an Arsenal side capable of grinding out results by going up a gear or two? Or is it still much too early to tell? Either way it’s fun at the moment.

Ratings

Cech/ Leno – good stuff again from the helmet matched by his German replacement….7/8

Bellerin – better defensively to go along with always being dangerous going forward….7

Mustafi – a little bit Keystone Coppish again….5

Holding – looked the senior partner, visibly gaining confidence with each minute on the pitch….8

Monreal – as effective as ever, such a shame he couldn’t quite reach Xhaka’s brilliant diagonal pass in the second half….7

Torreira – still settling in and becoming accustomed to the type of bruising Premiership encounters teams like Watford are capable of dishing out….7

Xhaka – Love watching his glorious left foot. As TA said, him and the Terrier are a match made in heaven in midfield….7

Ramsey – Slime has got into his head and he doesn’t seem to know what he’s meant to be doing in Emery’s new team….5

Ozil – Came to life in that last segment of the game, with Iwobi on the pitch he had someone to pass to all of a sudden, an extra mark for his perfectly executed goal….7

Aubameyang – wasted on the left again, we’re going to have to move to 3-5-2 to get him involved at the sharp end….6

Lacazette – full effort and commitment. Not sure why he couldn’t celebrate the own goal – we’d finally scored, Alexandre, be happy. Excellent contribution to superb second goal….7

Subs

Iwobi – Wobbly made all the difference – thrust, power and penetration – well played young man….8

Welbeck – a significant part to play in that clinching second goal….6

chas

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Lucky 7?

September 29, 2018

Prior to reading GN5’s history lesson, I thought we always thrashed the Bees. Apparently not. Strange how personal perceptions can deceive. I recall that thug Deeney “bullying (read fouling) his way to a victory and a long ago victory at Highbury but other than that …  well, you get my drift.

We are on a fine run, lots of goals, an improving defence, signs of midfield cohesion and early evidence of the Emery revolution. Some of that is true! This enthusiasm must be tempered by a look at our recent opposition, until we play a top 4 team we cannot really judge.

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Watford sit above us in the table which is either a measure of their quality or the quality of their opponents – they beat Spurs and pushed MU, so perhaps they will prove to be difficult to beat.

Watford have conceded just 6 goals in the PL, they have a strong CB pairing and our forwards will have to be efficient with their finishing.

It will be interesting to see whether UE picks Ramsey this afternoon, I wouldn’t. I would have him riding the pine and play Mhiki instead. Mhiki’s part in the excellent second goal vs Brentford was special, and I think he is the better player defensively. Also, I think that Iwobi will become a pivotal player at Arsenal, he is still young and learning, we need patience. However, if AFC want to keep the Welshman, they have to give him game time.

Terrier or Curly or both? Can we drop Xhaka? Not in my opinion. I like the format of giving each of them 45 minutes, it is working.

My Team:

Helmet

Fashion Icon   AWTH   GB    Nacho

Curly   Xhaka    Rambo

Mesut

Laca   PEA

Once again, this set up relies upon the FB’s for width and I am not sure how effective this tactic is. It works at home when teams tend to PTB but away we need more defensive security.

Football is a game of confidence, confidence develops from winning consistently, we are on a fine run. Seven is my lucky number.

COYRRG

 

 


Arsenal FC – Our record against the Hornets

September 28, 2018

Aside from the following FA Cup wins, our league record against Watford (founded as Watford Rovers in 1881) only begins as recently as 1982. This is because they were in the Southern League up until 1920 and then finally reached the First Division with promotion from the second division in the 1981/2 season.

03 Feb 1906 Woolwich Arsenal v Watford W 3-0 FA Cup
15 Jan 1910 Woolwich Arsenal v Watford W 3-0 FA Cup
08 Mar 1980 Watford v Arsenal W 1-2 FA Cup

Elton John and his appointment of Graham Taylor in 1977 saw the club’s rise from the Fourth Division right up to the top flight in only 5 seasons.

These were the days of John Barnes and Luther Blissett. Blissett still holds Watford’s records for overall appearances 503 (league 415) and overall goals 186 (league goals 148). Luther Blissett was also famous for being signed by AC Milan “by mistake”. Rumours still abound in Italy that it was John Barnes who was being scouted but it was big Luther who was signed in error. Sounds a bit racist to me. He returned to Watford after one season.

The current incarnation of Watford FC has been in the Premier League since 2015 and they have consolidated well with a string of decent Spanish, Italian and Portuguese managers. The loathsome Troy Deeney is the current club captain, though some find his aggression and honesty refreshing.

Credit: Craig Prentis /Allsport

GunnerN5


Danny quells the swarm – Brentford Ratings

September 27, 2018

First Half

Two goals from Danny in the first half had Arsenal cruising as the interval approached. His first came from a Matteo Guendouzi pinpoint cross after a short corner. The many Arsenal runs in the box confused Brentford who forgot to mark the only player who stood still; but what a fine header it was from Welbz.

The second goal was warmly applauded by Mr Emery as it probably encapsulated all he wants from his players on the break. Brentford were pressing high, eventually the ball came to Lichtsteiner in a 50:50 challenge – no contest, Micki slipped the ball inside his marker freeing Iwobi on the burst. The Nigerian cockney used his mirrors to perfectly judge the run of Monreal steaming up behind him. A perfect perpendicular pass to the waiting Mancunian and it was two nil.

Second half

Arsenal quickly lulled themselves into a false sense of security in the opening few minutes of the second period. Emile Smith Rowe had a couple of decent positions which came to nothing; his usual youthful confidence giving way to indecision or a bad choice. Brentford fought for their hive like workers not drones and started to create some chances.

Their free kick to pull the game back to 2-1 was excellent but resulted from Guendouzi giving away a nonsensical free kick in a dangerous position. Suddenly the commentator was interested – he started to think he might see what he was hoping for after all.

Lacazette came on for ESR and proceeded to stink the place out with a complacent attitude and poor use of the ball. His touch was off even when slipped through by Guendouzi in prime real estate territory. Another sub was required.

Enter Lucas Torreira, avenger of evil and possessor of large hairy feet capable of mopping up in front of the back four. Things started to settle and the final quarter of the game left the commentator a little bereft of excitement and lacking in hope that all his dreams of a Brentford comeback would still come true.

Lacazette finally showed some class as he stroked home the third in the dying moments and it was through to the next round we go.

Summary

Unai Emery’s first League Cup team was a strong one and in the final reckoning, it needed to be.

Ratings

Leno – not ready to displace the helmet as yet but steady and secure after an early blip….6

Lichtsteiner – struggled just a touch with the pace of his youthful winger but used his enormous experience to redress the balance….6

Mustafi – only one really comical moment giving the ball away and then falling over. Just the one hair-raising moment is quite good for him….6

Holding – don’t remember much that he did good or bad. Is that good or bad?….6

Monreal – Nacho is a real 100 percenter and was justly rewarded with an excellent slide rule assist. It’s a good job the Beast is back to share some of his workload….7

Elneny – he stood out for me simply because he did almost nothing of note apart from run around like a headless chicken. A DM he is not….5

Guendouzi – the odd sloppy pass but 95% of his work was rapid, incisive and clever. Was fouled quite nastily by Yennaris which Dean overlooked completely….8

Mkhitaryan – Henrikh played very well when we were on top but sometimes appears to lack the cojones for a scrap. Excellent use of the ball in the build up to the second goal….7

Iwobi – Another fine performance from Alex….7

Smith Rowe – Playing a little further forward seemed detrimental to Emile’s play though he showed some bright moments in the first period. He seems better coming from deep to me….6

Welbeck – two great goals which effectively won the game – is Brentford his level? – I sincerely hope not….8

Subs

Lacazette – one awful moment after another until his opportunist’s goal late on….5

Torreira – steadied the ship according to LB….7

Ramsey – didn’t really add much more than the player he replaced, Elneny….6

Mike Dean – just as bad as we all know he can be – fat, old and incompetent….3

chas


Another London Derby

September 26, 2018

Carabao Cup. Usually a good night of soccer and we get to see Mr Emery’s first experiment of mixing yoof with experience. We reached the final last season before getting thumped by City and it would be great if we could win it this time. Why not? It’s silverware, isn’t it?

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Youth: We have not been too successful in recent years of developing world class kids; Bellerin and Iwobi are the only ones who have been through the academy (though M-N may  become a regular starter in time). I guess the bar is set so high that the days of local lads becoming top players are over, nowadays we sign youngsters at 19 from other clubs( Douzi, Holding, YGB (Young Greek Bloke) ).

An example of how difficult it is to become a PL star is Brentford’s own Josh McEachran, who was once touted as Chelsea’s next superstar. Tonight he will want to show he still has the talent to become a PL player. He is a fine example to Smith-Rowe (and a similar type of player). Having rave reviews is not enough, good luck with injuries, hard work and dedication are required to become a first team PL starter.

Brentford: Without GN5’s excellent synopsis of our opponents I know little about them. We last played them in May, 1947!! They are 7th in the Championship. So, no walkovers.

Who will play? And will there be anyone at The Emirates to watch them?

The crowd at the last Europa game was very disappointing and I expect the same tonight. We will see whether reduced prices can attract fans though I suspect not.

My Team:

Leno

Swiss Chap     Holding    ??    Kolasinac (if fit)

Curly      Egyptian Dreadlocks       Nigerian Dreadlocks

Smith Rowe (Lab)      Welbz

Nketiah

Given both Greek blokes have knee knack or something similar plus Kos is out, and Accident Waiting to Happen cannot play every game, we have a problem at CB. Do you remember when we always had a problem at CB? How UE solves this will be interesting Kolasinac could well be fit for tonight otherwise we are could play Willock.

I think tonight will be a struggle but a winnable one.

COYRRG

 


Watching The Arsenal around the World

September 25, 2018

LB was asking if Arsenal’s Caribou Cup game against Brentford is being shown on TV on Wednesday. Obviously on holiday in Spain, he knew that he could always join the Costa Blanca Arsenal Supporters Club as they’d usually have it on.

Anyway I had a quick look and the Arsenal Playa Flamenca Supporters Club have a website that, although not updated too regularly, does have the next Arsenal fixture and contact details. 🙂

And here they are pictured in full regalia…………….

This reminded me of when I was lucky enough to be in Kerala, India in February 2002 sat down having a meal in a bar/restaurant, when a cheer went up from the other side of the room. A TV was playing behind the bar and glancing over my shoulder, I could see some glorious red and white shirts on the distant screen. Moving swiftly over, I was just in time to see a replay of a rather spectacular Bobby Pires goal. This was soon followed by another beautifully constructed goal scored by Thierry Henry. I ended up staying for the whole game and being rewarded with a sublime Dennis chip near the end (though we threw away the clean sheet in typical Arsenal fashion a couple of minutes later – gnash, gnash, gnarl, effin typical 🙂 ).

Here’s a German clip of that game (ooops, it’s probably Dutch). The first goal is just amazing. That Vieira tackle would probably get a yellow card these days for him not being in full control (the opposition player would now leap in the air as if a scythe had chopped him off at the ankles while letting out a scream, even though he wasn’t even touched). Titi’s full circle run around Bobby to create space is amazing too.

The second goal is like poetry in motion – Pires plays a wonderful ball out of defence, the exchange between Dennis and Paddy in midfield just gorgeous, before the lay off to Wiltord and his cross to Henry in full flow.

The final goal – well just take a look – it’ll come eventually.

How lucky was I to catch such a great game while abroad!

Still furious about losing that clean sheet, mind. 🙂

chas


Hardly convincing but we’ll take it – Everton ratings

September 24, 2018

Injury doubt, Lucas Torreira, was declared fit to make his first Prem start replacing Matteo Guendouzi but apart from that, an unchanged Arsenal were set to face their next challenge in the rebuilding process.

First Half

Again it was a case of not much happening at all. Everton harried and chased with extreme vigour and application, though without really troubling the helmeted one, partly due to their own jitters in front of goaL At the sharp end Arsenal were blunt, with even the Terrier struggling to make much of an impact. Nacho Monreal had the only effort on target for the Gunners in the first period but could only place the ball well within Pickford’s reach.

Greek philosopher, Sokratis, left the arena after half an hour  having damaged his hip mopping up after his prone centre back partner.  Rob Holding looked reasonably assured and confident entering the fray which was a great relief.  Mustafi grabbed the senior partner role with both hands and made no further obvious blunders.

Everton produced a few worrying moments for the Arsenal defence but Petr Cech stood firm.

Second Half

The first goal when it arrived was of such quality that it shone like a sparkling, golden nugget sifted from the silty detritus of the river bed. Ramsey’s first significant contribution to the whole game was to find Laca inside the box. The Frenchman produced a curling finish of stunning execution quite unlike anything up to that point. A real beauty.

A few minutes later and we were two up as PEA finished off a 3 on 1 break. Did we care that he appeared a yard offside when Ramsey flicked the ball forward to him?….did we heck as like.

The Toffees huffed and puffed but our Czech in goal made sure his performance put him strongly in the running for MOTM.

Theo got a bang on the eye and was replaced after looking one of Everton’s least effective players. The defence held firm with Torreira marshalling the area in front of the back four in a fashion quite unlike we’ve seen for many a year. A clean sheet against all the odds. Wonders never cease.

Summary

After some nervous moments in the first half for those of us with dodgy tickers, the team consolidated in the second with two well taken goals and a clean sheet. Job done.

Ratings (LB)

Cech – Outstanding, MOTM by a country mile, and noticeably so much more commanding with his feet….10

Bellerin – so much better both attacking and defending. It was possibly the Terrier who made this all work….8

Nacho – workman like performance, no frills, no spills….7

Mustafi – bizarrely got better when Holding came on. Absolute pants before that….5

Sokratis –  I thought we were doomed when he went off. Interesting to watch him starting to tell Mustafi off, much improved….7

Terrier – hard to really believe that he is still only 22. If that is what he can do in his first start we have good things in store….7

Xhaka – nightmare start with school boy errors at every turn. But, he is a very experienced player and he started to find his range as the game went on….6

Ramsey – looked lost in the first half but after the half time magic orange juice, started to look the player we are trying to persuade to stay at the club….6

Özil – I have said so many times that there are 2 Ozils, the one you see on telly and the one you see live, I was not at the game and he looked under the weather….6

Aubameyang – always happy when he scores, he plays so much like TH14 down the left, I keep on expecting him to accelerate past the defender and am confused when he doesn’t….7

Lacazette – picked himself up from his horizontal protest in the week and found the net with a very important breakthrough goal. Crap celebration but will gladly suffer it as much as he wants to do it….7

Subs

Holding – Thursday obviously gave him some confidence and he was an able deputy….7

Iwobi – added fresh legs, he looks a big old unit these days….6

Welbeck….6