Europa. Who Starts?

September 20, 2018

Back to Spursday football. An enjoyable test with the possibility of CL entry should we win the Big Vase. We did well last season, losing in the semi’s to the eventual winners, could we reach the final in Baku Olympic Stadium (that’s in Azerbaijan, you thicko))?


There are some very strong teams in the competition including Chelsea, AC Milan, Sevilla and FC København. Nonetheless, to get knocked out early would be a shock.

We start with a home tie against Vorskla Poltava. It would be a fib if I pretended I had heard of them before the draw, I very much doubt if any of you had either. Thanks to Chas’s excellent post we know what they eat, and more about the club which finished third in their league last season.

Quite frankly, we should beat any Ukrainian team with our reserves, many of whom will get a start tonight.

So, who gets a shirt and who will come out after the half time orange slice?

We will surely get a look at our hugely expensive new GK, Leno. Apparently, he is very good with his feet and can double as a left sided defender when Hector goes walkabout. Why else would we buy him?


Others who might get a start are Terreira, Lichtsteiner and Welbeck. None of whom has enough post- WC fitness to play more than 45 minutes…. it was very hot in Russia and Danny played at least 10 minutes. The Swiss Bloke i, in particular, will want to show how a full back should defend.

Perhaps Emery will experiment with his CB’s and give a chance to the Yoof, Holding and the other younger Greek bloke. Can’t see who will play LB with AMN out, maybe a Willock or Monreal? Or could we experiment with 3 at the back and Iwobi playing as an extra MF?

My Team:


Swiss Chap   Holding  GB   Anon

Elneny    Terrier  Smith-Rowe

Mhiki    Iwobi


A nice mixture of young fellows and chaps needing a kickabout. The bench should be fun and assuming we are ahead by a couple late in the game I expect to see some new blood.

That said, the above team has not one player who started at Newcastle and UE is unlikely to experiment to such an extent.

This a competition we can do well in and getting off to a good start is important. Doing a Man City and under-estimating the opposition could be embarrassing. We need to win this one and we should.



Gazidis. Goodbye and Thank You

September 19, 2018

How do we assess the work of Mr. Gazidis? Do we look at the results on the pitch? Of course not, that is the responsibility of the coaching and playing staff. So, has Gazidis taken Arsenal forward as a commercial venture? The answer must be a solid Yes.

When Ivan arrived The Arsenal we were the 6th biggest (in terms of revenue) football club in the world. Our turnover was £265m appr. There followed a decade of Oil money when countries bought and implemented their financial power into European clubs. Where are we now? We are still in 6th spot with a revenue of £487m.

This after City, PSG, Juve, etc have been Oiled.

I would say this is a job very well done. The club have expanded both in terms of revenue and staff size yet remain a club with traditional Arsenal values.

Much has been written about the power AW within the club and the inability of Gazidis to reduce his influence But how do you do that when Mr Wenger was already an Arsenal legend when Gazidis arrived? And … Gazidis is answerable to the owners of the club who wanted Wenger to stay.

Was the revolution in the summer of 2018 under the auspices of Gazidis? Surely he knew he would be out of the club before it saw any results. Yet being the gent that he is, nothing was said about the MD leaving as well.

It must be said that Arsenal have not been as successful on the pitch during Ivan’s reign though we have won 3 FAC’s.

One could question his inability to present a more transparent view of the off-pitch transactions. Many complained that he was aloof and refused to answer the questions raised at the AGM’s.

Gazidis has to be judged on the commercial success and value of AFC and in this he has been hugely successful in a time of change. He always attended the games, spoke well about Arsene and the Arsenal, led the club from the front – a very different type of MD to, say Ken Friar.

Ivan has taken on a difficult job in Milan despite the money available. I wish him good luck.

written by Big Raddy

FC Vorskla – Who are ya?

September 18, 2018

With the much-awaited return of Thursday night football this week, it’s time to take a look at our first opponents, FC Vorskla of the Ukraine.

Based in the city of Poltava, FC Vorskla were born out of the ashes of a former Soviet trade union sports society, called Kolos. Going through a number of name changes and bankruptcy, the club re-emerged in 1986 in the Soviet third division before joining the second tier of the new Ukrainian League in 1992.

Promoted to the Ukrainian Premier League in 1996, they have remained there ever since. On the European stage, the club played twice in the old Uefa Cup  before various assaults on the Europa League, the highlight being group stage participation 2011/12. Of course that highlight has been superseded by the ultimate in FC Vorskla’s history, when drawn to play the mighty Arsenal FC in this season’s Europa League group stage.

The club play at the Oleksiy Butovskyi Vorskla Stadium which was named after a famous Poltava dignitary from a cossack family who was instrumental in the founding of the International Olympic Committee.

Vociferous rivalries amongst various Ukrainian club supporters have largely been put to one side due to the fighting in Eastern Ukraine. Fans of Vorskla Poltava are fierce patriots of the Ukraine and many are said to have taken part in the Ukrainian revolution of 2014.

On 26 July 2014, the club’s president and active local politician, Oleh Babayev  was shot dead. Police opened a criminal case under Article “premeditated murder” but it appears the perpetrator was never found in the familiar fashion of disputes between Ukrainian and pro-Russian factions in the region.

Local Food – Borshch, Varenyky (stuffed dumplings) and Banosh with Brynza (corn flour cooked in sour cream with sheep’s cheese and crunchy pork fat) are examples of local cuisine along with Holodets – “This strange dish shocks tourists. But, for Ukrainians, it is the central dish served at all celebrations. Holodets is made of meat broth, frozen to a jelly-like state, with pieces of meat inside. One of the main components for this kind of aspic is pork leg. To be more specific, the lowest part, the one that ends with hoofs. During the process of cooking, the smell spreads all over the apartment. But the result is so satisfying that it is worth it.”

While I’m sure local Ukrainian food is delicious, I’d imagine Arsenal will be taking their own chef! (as most clubs seem to after the spuds’ experience of Lasagnegate 🙂 )


Things we Learnt from the weekend

September 17, 2018

When Lucas Torreira was bought from Sampdoria, a clause was inserted in the sale agreement which would trigger large additional payments if he started a League game before Christmas.

Auba doesn’t appear to like his left wing duties and didn’t look best pleased when substituted.

No-one really knows what happened at half-time at St James’ Park. Torreira came on as sub for Guendouzi, but that still doesn’t explain how virtually every other player came out of the tunnel with a spring in their step, at least two yards quicker and with a desire to actually play some football.

The Ramsey/Ozil conundrum becomes more complex, unbalancing the side with both vying for the same free role.

Sokratis, while not quite in the Usain Bolt category, has not been taking sprinting lessons from the BFG. Catching and dispossessing  Newcastle’s speedy youngster, Murphy, was no mean feat for our Kalamata Colossus.

Sokratis gleefully runs to celebrate our second goal with the rest of the lads

Our next League opponents, Everton, were finally beaten having drawn three and won one of their opening four games. The hammers rode their luck and took chances to make West Ham Bob’s weekend. Jack is back in the sick bay with an ankle knock.

Liverpool and Citeh look strong but the chavs have somehow managed to keep pace by hook or by crook. Burnley are in an early season swamp, as are Newcastle.

The analysis around the spuds defeat centred around Pochettino having a bad game. Is he getting homesick and looking at Spanish weather forecasts with an envious eye? Let’s hope so. 🙂 (yep, I realise he’s Argentinian – his birthplace is called Murphy!)


Toon dooned by a Xhaka boom

September 16, 2018

First Half

Nothing happened. Hopes (and fears) for a deluge of goals were battered on a sea of directionless football from both sides. No shots on target, virtually no shots. Duller than a day trip to Sunderland.

Second half

Another half time sub, presumably a firework or two tactically inserted and a different Arsenal emerged for the second period. The ball suddenly became an important ingredient in the footballers’ toolkit. Torreira injected an urgency and positive momentum that the first 45 had totally lacked.

Ozil and Ramsey, instead of looking like Arsenal’s equivalent of Lampard/Gerrard, started to enjoy finding each other. Every player looked hungry for the ball and keen to find space for a pass when not in possession.

Auba was fouled a few yards outside the area and it looked as though Torreira had decided he fancied a pop. Lo and behold, Granit produced a peach and Arsenal’s first goal direct from a free kick for donkeys. Beauty.

The whole red and white machine was suddenly infused with extra confidence and a second looked likely as Toon heads dropped. Mesut passed the ball into the net 10 minutes later after a blocked effort from Laca and that looked to be enough to see off the demoralised barcodes.

Arsenal, being Arsenal regardless of who the manager is, still managed to give us all kittens in the final 5 minutes of the match. First Cech had to make his first meaningful save from a free header at the back post, before an identical chance was duly despatched as injury time began. Thank Dennis there were only the three extra minutes to endure.


Guendouzi must have been perplexed seeing the Arsenal side which emerged from the tunnel after half time. It looked one he might have enjoyed playing in. That first period, on the other hand, probably made him grateful he’d been hooked.

Why did we ease off after the second goal? Was the tactic to allow the opposition to come on to us and then to pick them off on the counter? Two goals rarely seems like a convincing lead where Arsenal are concerned.

Anyway it turned out that they were enough in the final reckoning. Another away win, three points in the bag plus two home fixtures next up and things look a whole lot rosier than when we were in ‘crisis’  a few games ago.


Cech – more comedy on the floor from Petr’s feet. A couple of dangerous passes followed by humping it up the pitch. Strange. Had little to do with his hands, one decent stop from the header and numerous catches of overhit lofted balls into the area….6

Bellerin – acres of space behind him in the first half. Good job Shkodran is always there to cover with his lightning pace. Still think Lichtsteiner behind him makes sense. Hector is always dangerous going forward though….6

Mustafi – some good stuff in amongst some typically crazy moments….5

Sokratis – stoic and resolute from our stone faced Greek. Made several important tackles, blocks and interceptions plus he even showed a yard of pace. Settling in nicely….7

Monreal – competent without having too much to do….6

Guendouzi – seems to have lost just a touch of his earlier confidence. Though when passing backwards is your only option as it was in that appalling first half, it’s always going to be a struggle….5

Xhaka – grew into the game, usual high number of passes and a glorious peach of a dead ball which sailed into the net….7

Ramsey – completely anonymous and disinterested in the first period. Much better when the football began in the second….5

Ozil – looked especially pleased to mark his 200th appearance with a goal….6

Laca – tried hard to make an impact throughout. Didn’t have a great deal of service….6

Auba – no smiles in the first half and didn’t look comfortable on the ball before finally being withdrawn….5


Torreira – another 45 minutes for the Uruguayan. Seemed to make an immediate impact with tempo and forward movement….6

Mkhitaryan – tidy in possession without achieving much at all….5

Welbeck – one impressive break but didn’t have the balance to finish off a fine chance….5

Manager – changed things at half time which was much needed….6


Haway The Lads

September 15, 2018

The Toon away. We do OK up there but as RC78 so rightly says, this will be a difficult fixture from which to garner 3 points. NU have only lost by one goal against the Chavs, MC and the Lilly-livered Lillywhites


Last season we lost 2-1 at St James. With good fortune and the wind at our backs we hope for a better result this afternoon.

Benitez has done a wonderful job and deserves a Toon statue. Promotion plus keeping them up with hardly any money and an appalling group of Southern lardarses on the BoD.

What is lacking is a proper No.9 and that is an essential requirement for the Toon Army. What a history of great CF’s they have had: SuperMac, Dirty Shearer, Thieving (allegedly) Cole, Keegan, Beardsley and back in GN5’s time, Jackie Milburn. Now they have …  Rondon. That said, Rondon and probably Rondon’s mother could score against our fragile defence.

Newcastle could well have Shelvey and Matt Ritchie back in midfield so we have be secure – surely a start for Terrier to put a marker on Shelvey.

Thankfully, Rafa has got rid of the filthy tactics previously employed by NU managers – let us not forget that Joey Barton played for this prestigious club.

Given our flaky back five scoring is essential and thankfully we have the firepower upfront. Did you know that we have scored 8 PL goals this season with 8 different scorers?!

My Team:


Fashion Icon    CUWTH (Cock up waiting to happen)   GB     Nacho

Terrier    Granit    Welsh Chap

German Genius

Laca   PEA

Should we start this team the onus is very much on the FB’s to provide the width. As always, we have a strong attacking bench.

I fear that away from home Emery will be more pragmatic and choose  to play with just one upfront, perhaps including Mhiki as a false 8 (whatever that means). Had Iwobi been fit, I would expect him to start ahead of Laca.

And just in case you have forgotten, St James was the scene of the worst refereeing performance ever seen. Who will ever forget the afternoon in which Phil Dowd showed himself to be a complete and utter  ****.? No Gooner will. Dowd is now a Traffic Warden in Wallsend.

Newcastle’s recent tactics have been PTB and hope for the best, I expect Benitez to be more expansive this afternoon, correctly surmising that our defence is prone to lapses. Should be another exciting game.





Arsenal F.C. – Our record against the Toon

September 14, 2018

This is an incredible accounting of our first ever official league game – it was in Division 2 against Newcastle United and was played at The Manor Field on September 2nd 1883.

The report is courtesy of the brilliant “The Arsenal History” website ……..

Competition: Football League Division Two

Location: Manor Field, Plumstead

Attendance: 10,000

Referee: Joseph Tillotson

Match Report:
Arsenal 2
Shaw, Elliott

Newcastle United 2
Crate, Sorley

Woolwich Arsenal’s inaugural Football League appearance was played at the club’s “new” ground, the Manor Field, having vacated the Invicta Ground during the summer. A bumper crowd, travelling from all parts of London, turned up to witness the first Football League game played in the south of England.

Joe Powell had the honour of captaining Arsenal for this historic game and won the toss, allowing Newcastle to kick off at 3.30pm on a glorious autumn afternoon.
Newcastle started well and caused a commotion in Arsenal’s penalty area from a corner, Charlie Williams fisted away and William Jeffery eventually cleared. But Arsenal drew first blood when, after just six minutes of play, Elliott broke through, fed Charlie Booth on the left wing and his cross found Walter Shaw who, with a terrific shot, put the ball into the net just out of Ramsay’s reach. This maiden League goal was met by rapturous applause from the crowd.

The game then settled down, play was very even with each team playing different styles: Newcastle playing more as a unit whilst the Arsenal players preferred to create their own chances. This was much in evidence as Newcastle had a good spell of possession resulting in Jock Sorely forcing Williams into a good save, and winning a series of corners. In amongst Newcastle’s possession, Arsenal twice broke away and James Henderson was unlucky to hit the post and also headed wide from a Booth cross.

Shortly after the break Arsenal went further ahead when, following an impressive solo run from his own half by Booth, Arthur Elliott beat Alex Ramsay with a stinging shot. There was a hint of offside by Elliott but the referee was not best placed to see it.

Thinking that they had won the game, Arsenal eased off which allowed Newcastle to continually press the Arsenal goal. Powell and Williams seemed to be equal to everything Newcastle threw at them but eventually, after 65 minutes, Tom Crate got through to score through a melee of players.

This goal spurred the Magpies on and they equalised in a similar manner a couple of minutes later through Sorley, despite protests for offside from Arsenal. This resulted in a frantic finale as both teams went all out for the win, but no more goals were scored resulting in a 2-2 draw which, on the balance of play, was the fairest result.

2 September 1893 Woolwich Arsenal v Newcastle United


Woolwich Arsenal: C Williams, J Powell, W Jeffery, D Devine, B Buist, D Howat, D Gemmell, J Henderson, W Shaw, A Elliott, C Booth.

Newcastle United: A Ramsay, H Jeffrey, J Miller, R Crielly, W Graham, J McKane, J Bowman, T Crate, W Thompson, J Sorley, J Wallace.

Arsenal v Newcastle all time results:

Written by GunnerN5

Ramsey, Contracts and Mr Slime

September 13, 2018

Something has been troubling me, so this is more a line of inquiry rather than one of my indisputable facts.

I do not follow any Arsenal behind-the-scenes action. In other words, I’m not interested in The Board, finances, staff, training or anything much beyond our goal scorers, however, I’m slightly, just slightly, curious about the role of a football agent, who from hence forwards, I shall call Mr Slime.

Fresh in our minds are the cases of Mesut and The Dog Fancier from last term, so let’s look at the current case of Mr Ramsey.

He’s an asset. Last year of contract. So all familiar so far.

We’ve just been through his penultimate transfer window, and it sounds to me like all the power rests with AR and Mr Slime.

Naturally, Slime will be hoping for interest from the world’s finest, all vying for the Welshman’s services, but suppose nothing materialises, then what?

AFC: “Come in…..ah Slime, what an unpleasant surprise, but we’ve been expecting you”

Slime: “My member wants a massive pay rise or we’re talking to The Giants”

AFC: “Thing is Slime, the blower hasn’t sounded once, so we’re thinking of a slight wage reduction”

Ok, so this kind of conversation is doubtful to say the least, but how does it work if there really is no serious interest. Presumably, we have to sign him up so as to preserve wealth, but if there’s a gulf between AFC and Slime in terms of perceived value, where does this go?

Written by mickydidit89

Is Xhaka Pants?

September 12, 2018

Well. is he?

Xhaka has become the butt of the doubters and stands in danger of getting the Eboue, Cygan, Squillaci, Stepanovs or Song treatment. None of them were bad players but only two of them were able to turn the “haters” (horrible modern word).

At Cardiff, Xhaka made 99 passes at a success rate of 86%, almost all of which were forward passes, yet what do most fans focus on? A pass he made up the pitch that led to a goal. Nothing said about the awful defending by the MF’s or the defenders, No, the fault was all Xhaka’s. He was even castigated for taking a yellow stopping a counter-attack,  a tactic we have been calling for. Yes, he has lapses of concentration but he is far and away our best player to distribute the ball after receiving a pass from the CB’s.

What do Emery and Wenger see in him? There must be something as Granit has been first choice for both managers ever since his arrival 3 seasons ago.

The man has a vicious and accurate shot on him. Could it be the coaching which has curbed his ability to score from distance or could it be that he knows the crowd reaction should his shot hit Row X?

Every player needs confidence, they need to feel loved yet the modern fan expects perfection and that pressure can make a player hide. It is the manager who has to help players overcome the pressure.

There are other players whom the faithful have doubts about; Mustafi, Bellerin, Ramsey, Cech and even Ozil. Does open criticism help them improve? My hope is that the players do not watch Arsenal TV which is dominated by airheads.

So, is Xhaka pants? What do you think?

Written by Big Raddy

Dreams Can Come True

September 11, 2018

Sport is fantastic, it can infuriate, inspire, thrill, and every now and again, bring a tear to the eye. Sometimes it can get an old man out of his chair cheering when everything he wishes for comes together in a magical moment. These moments are few and far between and yesterday was one of those moments, it seems like destiny.


I know this is a football blog but bear with me – Alistair Cook’s hundred in his final Test innings was a truly magical moment. I, and millions of other cricket fans, spent a tense morning with crossed fingers as he approached his milestone.

Cook is the highest scoring English batsman of all-time. He deserved the wonderful ovation he received and it reminded me of another occasion when a Great Man fulfilled his destiny- it was when TH14 scored in an FA Cup game at The Emirates against Leeds. Those who were there will never forget it – neither will I

Football has given us some incredible emotional occasions, Other sports do the same, for example …

Mo Farah at the London Olympics

Or Tom Brady winning the Superbowl and MVP award at the age of 40.

Or Jack Nicklaus winning The Masters at 46 y.o.

Or Mohammed Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle

Or Boycott’s 100th 100 at Headingley.

Or Lester Piggott winning the Guineas at 57 (!)

Or Tony Adams scoring vs Everton to win the title  (my favourite)

Great players create great moments.

What sticks in your mind?

written by Big Raddy