Blackpool. Possible Line-Up. Miss Ross-Eggert

October 31, 2018

Carabao. Do you remember how we did last season? I have to admit I struggle.

We reached the Final and had a day out at Wembley which went very well until the 18th minute after which it all went TU.

Was it worth it? Do the clubs value the competition? On balance one has to say Yes, but I would temper that by pointing out AW’s policy of playing kids in the early rounds and first teamers as we progress, which IMO mocks the idea that it is an opportunity for the squad players (more of that later in the day, perhaps)

In yesterday’s post, GN5 gave us the background to our opponents, I cannot write about Blackpool without mentioning Stanley Matthews, the Wizard of the Wing. In my very early days, those days when one’s love for the beautiful game becomes an obsession, Stanley Matthews was as holy as Miss Ross -Eggert (my headmistress in junior school), and Dan Dare from the Eagle comic. In my first ever game at Highbury I saw Matthews playing for Stoke at the age of almost 50!! I could and perhaps one day will write a post upon the effect Matthews had upon a nation recovering from WW2,

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But of today’s Blackpool team I know nothing. I could Google but then so could you 😀

Given the forthcoming test against Liverpool and our growing injury list, I expect Mr Emery to start whomever is available sans Ozil and Xhaka. Even the over-worked Holding might have to start.

My Team:

Helmet

Jenks    Mustafi       Greek     AMN (Cons)

Ramsey   Elneney   Smith Rowe   Willock

Welbeck     Nketiah

A return for Corporal Jenkinson must be possible and I wiah him the very best. As to the other positions  – a mixture of experience and youth as always propped up by a solid deface. Maybe Medley at CB will get a kick later in the game.

We do not play League 1 sides very often and I look forward to seeing the standard of play. Blackpool will relish playing on the Hallowed Turf. Should be a good attacking game because, should B’pool try to PTB, they will lose in an ignominious manner, far better to go down in flames.

This is the Hors d’oeuvre before the main course at the weekend, hopefully a tasty morsel.

Arsenal should continue their unbeaten run.

COYRRG

 

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Arsenal FC – Our home record against the Seasiders

October 30, 2018

Division Two

Our first game against Blackpool was a Division Two fixture played December 19, 1896 – one hundred and twenty two years ago – we won the game 4-2 with a brace apiece for Gavin Crawford and Adam Haywood.

Highbury in 1914

League Cup

Ticket from first replay in 1976 League Cup tie

The following is a report of the 2nd replay in the League Cup competition from the 5th October 1976………

Memory Match: Arsenal 2-0 Blackpool, 1976 (From the Blackpool Gazette)

Blackpool’s love affair with the League Cup ended in the third round second replay at Arsenal. But the Seasiders pushed Arsenal all the way and had chances to equalise Frank Stapleton’s 48th-minute headed goal before David O’Leary hit the killer seven minutes from time, with Blackpool committed to attack.

Blackpool won warm praise from Arsenal observers for their tremendous organisation and it is true to say that, if they had attacked Arsenal in the first half as they did when they went a goal down, the fourth round home tie with Chelsea could have been theirs. They almost covered themselves in glory with a stirring second-half rally which highlighted their outstanding potential. And throughout the match they played their way out of defence and into attack with constructive, thoughtful soccer.

With Blackpool less committed to defence, Arsenal created more clear chances in the first half than they did a week ago in the original tie, with nothing like the sort of pressure. But after a couple of incredible misses by Malcolm Macdonald, Blackpool hit back with two chances for teenage debutant Brian Wilson. Although Wilson found it hard getting into a match of these proportions, he was not afraid to put his weight around and when Bob Hatton crossed after 14 minutes, Wilson – sliding in – sliced his shot wide. After 35 minutes Wilson almost scored with a crisp left footer after Walsh’s great run round the back and fine low centre into the box, but Jimmy Rimmer blocked the shot. Hatton was another shirt’s width away from nudging home Paul Hart’s head down under pressure from Pat Rice, but George Wood had to make a couple of fine saves, and the half was marked by the near misses of Macdonald and Stapleton.

Blackpool did not seem at all flustered and the goal was unfortunate. Wood decided not to come for a cross he might have got, but Stapleton soared above two defenders to head home.

Blackpool roared forward with Billy Ronson, and also had Hart who was brilliant in defence and started a stream of attacks by surging through to midfield with some deft touches. Ronson, Stapleton and George Armstrong vied for Man of the Match. Blackpool sliced the Arsenal defence apart several times without any sort of luck with the run of the ball.

Walsh, who had taken Arsenal wide but been starved of the ball many times, powered through the middle but smacked a shot wide. Ronson’s surge down a similar path was halted by Alan Ball. After early lapses, Alan Ainscow’s authority as an attacking midfielder grew and his influence on the game became increasingly prevalent.

Ainscow then sent a brilliant chip over the advancing Rimmer but the ball went just wide. A superb Blackpool move started by Walsh’s defence-splitting pass and Ainscow’s great touch on, almost gave Hatton a goal but he could not adjust his stride running onto it so the ball hit his right foot and went agonisingly an inch or two past the post with Rimmer going the other way.

The infusion of the dropped Alan Suddick for Wilson after 75 minutes saw some brilliant play by the midfield star and sparked the Blackpool team as a whole. He brought the save of the match from Rimmer with a magnificent volley which few players could even have controlled. His class in knocking the ball about and moving it around rejuvenated Blackpool from a useful outfit into a highly dangerous one. Steve Harrison, who had a good game at left-back, shot just over the bar and Suddick and Bill Bentley worked a fine move for Ainscow to shoot at Rimmer.

Arsenal, notably Macdonald, missed a few chances before O’Leary rifled home from Armstrong’s corner, allowing the home fans to finally relax. But Blackpool had the last word with efforts from Walsh and Hatton blocked by Rimmer and Rice. Blackpool will not complain about the result because of the clear chances Arsenal missed, but their second half rally could so easily have won them the game.

Attendance: 26,791

Division One

Peter Storey (on the floor) heads home in March 1971

Blurry Pathe footage of the game on 20th March 1971 at Highbury. The playing surface doesn’t quite seem up to today’s standards!

Premier League

The only Premier League game against the Seasiders finished 6-0 featuring a Walcott hattrick and Arshavin penalty

So, during our history of playing Blackpool at home in the League or League Cup, we have lost just the two home games, both coming in 1958. These were the days of Stanley Matthews and Jimmy Armfield.

Hopefully our second string can beat the League One outfit this time around in the Caribou Cup.

GunnerN5


Arsenal’s winning run ended by Atkinson – Palace ratings

October 29, 2018

If you had to run 100 metres it would take you a certain amount of time, yes? With a bit of training you might improve slightly but it wouldn’t take long before you reached maximum capability. This is what yesterday’s game felt like to me; there was no more to give, the team that Emery fielded reached the peak of their collective talent and it wasn’t enough to beat Palace.

The defence didn’t play badly but I don’t think they could have played better. Naturally, we desperately missed the attacking qualities that Monreal brings to bear down the left flank but, with him missing, it was easy for Palace to work out that all our threat would come down the right and so they simply increased the number of bodies in that part of the field, pretty much nullifying our ability to dominate the opposition within our usual game plan. When Bellerin went off we became even more pedestrian; we were forced to play solely through the middle and that made us even easier to control. This was not helped by the link-up play from Torreira and Guendouzi; again neither played badly, in fact, I would have made Torreira my man of the match but neither one of them played a single pass that put an attacker into a goal scoring opportunity. To repeat myself, they had reached the peak of their talents.

And so we get to Ozil and, of course, this is where my little theory falls flat on its face. Ozil did not have his best day at the office and certainly did not play to the peak of his ability but I thought we saw the first chink in Emery’s armour today; it was a bad decision to take him off. Ozil is the only player who is capable of pulling a rabbit out of a hat; that’s to say, no matter how ineffective he is looking, he is always the one most likely to create the little bit of magic needed to win a game like that.

This frustration is compounded in my mind by leaving Iwobi on; this is the equivalent of saying that Iwobi is likely to be more effective than Ozil in the closing stages. Wenger tried taking Ozil off early and it always went wrong, you bring Ozil off when you are three up with ten minutes to go in order for him to get a standing ovation, apart from that, you leave him damn well out there.

Do I need to cover how poor Atkinson was? I think that one has been done; do I need to say that Zaha dived? I think that one has also been done but what I would say is that I thought Zaha was the best player on the park and I wish we had him at THOF.

All in all, a frustrating day. I thought we were going to get away with it again after the team had taken Emery’s half time magic potion as we came out and dominated, scoring two quick goals in succession but alas, no. It was irritating to lose our winning run but I suppose the reason for my sombre tone is a sign of just how high Emery has lifted us in the recent past. I suppose the only way we are going to get that euphoric feeling back is to beat Liverpool next week but if we are to, we are going to need Bellerin and Monreal fighting fit and raring to go.

Quick player ratings

Leno: clean sheet from open play, top keeper. 8

Bellerin: too much asked of him today. 7

Mustafi: someone must be coaching him as he is getting better every week. 7

Holding: I am not sure we can ask any more of him. 8

Xhaka: playing out of position and unsurprisingly got suckered into giving a penalty away. Excellent goal. 6

Torreira: held the fort, if it wasn’t for him it could have been worse. 9

Guendouzi: I really want to say that from here on it was pedestrian, it is all very well looking busy but you have got to be effective as well. 7

Ozil: ineffective but should have stayed on. 6

Iwobi: is he really going to be Emery’s pet project, heaven help us if it is. Ran around a lot and very fast at that but was totally ineffective. 5

Lacazette: not his best day, poor service. 5

Aubameyang: another game another goal. Mah. 7

Subs.

Lichtsteiner: it made me laugh watching how he dealt with Zaha, the Palace forward had the run of that flank in the first half but that all stopped in the second. Lichtsteiner gave him such a hard time that he was forced onto the other flank, maybe that wasn’t such a good thing as, of course, that is where he was able to con Atkinson.

Welbeck and Ramsey: not enough time for them to influence the game.

LB


Another London Derby. Another Scorpion?

October 28, 2018

Yet another London Derby. Games at Palace are usually exciting events, let’s hope for a winter cracker this lunchtime.

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I am always grateful to Crystal Palace for developing the talents of Ian (God 8) Wright. I fondly recall his brace for Palace in the 1990 FA Cup Final against MU. That little chap brought me so much pleasure – thank you GG for signing him.

Thinking of GG, he scored a couple of stunners against Palace (as LBG wrote) but none as good as Giroud’s from 2017.

Which brings us to today. Arsenal are in wonderful form, can it continue? I see no reason why not not. The chaps will be rested (apart from those who played in Lisbon).

So far this season we have seen a constant change of formation and it is almost impossible to predict what is UE’s choice of tactic. How can it be that we play so poorly in the first halves and then improve so radically in the second? Is it really rope-a-dope?

We have to be excited by the quality of the new signings and also the development of our young players. The future looks very bright.

Palace are struggling but have the ability to upset any team at Selhurst Park. In Zaha they have a much-in-demand winger, one we have been linked with over many years. I am not convinced by him, we need consistency and Zaha is a bit too mercurial for me. We have the better rounded and younger Iwobi.

My Team:

Burnt

Catwalk  Mustafi   TGB    Swiss Chap

Another Swiss Chap      Terrier     Nigerian

Genius German

Laca   PEA

Will Emery play two upfront? He doesn’t usually. SO, given PEA started in Lisbon, it is likely he will be benched for Mhiki and get another brace in his 30 minutes.

Left back remains a problem. AMN (Cons) got a few minutes in the U-23s but to play him against CP’s biggest threat (Zaha) would be risky. Nacho and Wardrobe are still not ready, so we have to play Lichtsteiner or Xhaka. Xhaka is no LB, he looks lost, so another run out for our ageing Swiss full back, a master of the Dark Arts, I love to watch his opponents infuriated by his “Italian “skillset” but hope Nacho is fit enough to play.

Enough of this rambling …

This is not an easy fixture and should we rack up No.12, I will be very, very happy.

COYRRG

 


Arsenal FC – Our away record against the Eagles

October 27, 2018

In 1895, the Football Association had found a new permanent home for the FA Cup Final at the site of the famous Crystal Palace Exhibition building. Some years later the owners, who were reliant on tourist activity for their income, sought fresh attractions for the venue, and decided to form their own football team to play at the Palace stadium. There had been an amateur Crystal Palace team as early as 1861, but they had disappeared from historical records around 1876. The owners of the venue wanted a professional club to play there and tap into the vast crowd potential of the area. Although the Football Association disliked the idea of the owners of the Cup Final venue also possessing their own football team and initially rejected their proposal, a separate company was established to form and own the club. Crystal Palace Football Club, originally nicknamed “The Glaziers”, was formed on 10 September 1905.

Our first game against Crystal Palace was in the FA Cup and took place at Highbury on January 27th 1934 in front of 56,701, Arsenal won 7-0 . The goals were scored by Ralph Birkett (1), Jimmy Dunne (2), Pat Beasley(2) and the legendary Cliff Bastin (2).

Here’s a little timelapse Pathe footage of the Clock End filling up for that game in 1934 (well, it appears to be the Clock End as the old East Stand is on the left?)

This was also the year that we lost our inspirational manager Herbert Chapman.

Our away record against Crystal Palace is superb we have only lost twice at Selhurst Park our overall record is – W10, D6, L2, GF34, GA19, GD, 15.

Photo by Chris Turvey/EMPICS via Getty Images

It would be very difficult to predict anything other than a resounding victory for Arsenal.

However our only loss in the Premier League came as recently as April 10, 2017  when we lost 0-3 so we cannot afford to take a victory for granted.

GunnerN5


Emery’s red-tailed Boa gently squeezes Sporting

October 26, 2018

If Unai Emery’s Arsenal were a snake, what snake would they be? What I mean is, if you had to compare Arsenal’s style of play or, let’s say, their game plan with a snake which snake comes to mind? It struck me as I was watching Arsenal beat Sporting to make it eleven wins on the trot that a clear pattern is emerging. We start games perfectly well then after about twenty minutes we start making silly mistakes; in the hope of capitalising on said mistakes the opposition are drawn further up the pitch and into the trap. What they don’t realise is that they have become caught in the snake’s coils and they are slowly closing; yes the opposition flail around for forty five minutes or so, they may even score a goal but as the second half moves on the coils start getting tighter and tighter, slowly squeezing the life out of them. The snake has surely got to be a Boa Constrictor.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Well, you try and find a way of starting our eleventh win on the bounce “Ozil benched after pedestrian performance” lol.
There are two teams starting to appear, the one that starts the EPL and the one that starts the Europa, did you imagine at the beginning of the season that Iwobi could find himself being saved for the EPL? Me neither but it certainly is testament as to how far Unai has been able to bring him on this season. With only a slim advantage of one nil, I even found myself feeling relieved when he made his appearance. Strange times.

The other thing that surprised me during the game, was going from feeling quite neutral about little ol’ Sporting with their nice food and pleasant weather to absolutely hating their guts for their dirty fouls and their dirty play acting. This was made all the worse when I realised that the ex manu player Nani was playing for them – once a banned ‘C’ word, always a banned ‘C’ word.

It obviously wasn’t a vintage Emery display (lol), no hope long range shots in the first half; the order made all the more tall with Xhaka and Lichtsteiner as makeweights on the flanks but we did what we do nowadays and found a solution, after a good opportunity was missed by Aubameyang and things looked like they might not go for us, Ralph Coates made a schoolboy error that gifted Welbeck a deserved goal which turned out to be a deserved winner.

Onwards and upwards.

Ratings

Leno: what’s not to like, another clean sheet. 8

Lichsteiner: I loved watching him last night; it makes me wonder how they teach them in Italy, the complete gamut of Dark Arts were on display, Machiavelli would have been proud. 6

Holding: I keep on waiting for him to slip up but he doesn’t and goes from strength to strength, the weekend will tell us where he stands in Emery’s eyes, will it be him and Mustafi or Mustafi and Big Sok. A very level-headed display tonight; I suppose, as RC suggests, he should be MOTM. 9

Big Sok: When the Sporting player was through, bar Big Sok; he knew what to do; he knew how to make it look like he grabbed the oppo’s shirt without really doing so, my question is would Holding have known how to do that? This is what comes with experience which is probably why I would still plump for Big Sok with Mustafi to start on the weekend ahead of Holding. 8

Xhaka: not often I find myself having to cut Granit some slack but taking one for the team by playing completely out of position certainly deserves just that and he didn’t play too badly there either. 7

Guendouzi: yep, no probs for me, continues on his upward trajectory and long may it continue. 7

Ramsey: struggled to get a grip on the game which in my opinion was his job, got better as the game went on. Still loving the fact that Arsenal have withdrawn his contract offer which has freed up UE an awful lot. Evidence being, Ozil playing in his preferred place on Monday. Nothing to really complain about but Mesut he ain’t. 7

Elneny: he huffed and he puffed, I was surprised to see him play the more advanced player out of him and Guendouzi. His days must be numbered. 6

Mkhitaryan: did an awful lot better than he has been doing lately, a really determined performance and a hard working one at that. 8

Aubameyang: Unai Emery is playing this so well, it’s gentle rotation between him and Laca; neither feels that one is being given priority over the other and as such they are looking fresher than a lot of other strikers in the EPL but to think that UE is not purposely creating competition for places between them would be naïve in my opinion. 7

Welbeck: and on the subject of competition for places Emery should be applauded for how he is keeping Welbeck involved and clearly feeling an important member of the team and I purposely used the word team and not squad. Superbly taken goal. 8

LB


Sporting Lisbon. Ramsey to Shine?

October 25, 2018

Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Quaresma, William Carvalho, Luis Figo, Peter Schmeichel, Phil Babb (!),  All played for Sporting and, had they still been in the green and white shirt, this evening would be very difficult but they don’t. In fact, Sporting Lisbon had a player revolt in summer which resulted in players cancelling their contracts and leaving the club.

7 players left including 4 Portuguese internationals, and all left on a free transfer. And we think players in the PL have too much power! Without too much research this happened because Sporting got a new Chairman who created a poisonous atmosphere within the club, they then went on a losing run resulting in some fans attacking the players on the training pitch, giving the players the right to cancel their contracts.

Needless to say, this has weakened the team and this season they sit in 5th place in the Primera Liga.

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As to their players I know Zip, but I am sure they will be hard working, good on the ball etc etc etc

We come into this game in tremendous form and, despite a mounting injury list, Emery is certain to play around with his squad and we may well see Smith Rowe or even Elneny in midfield.

My Team:

Lemon

Catwalk    Mustafi   Holding    Lich

Ramsey   Curly   Elneny

Mhiki

PEA   Welbz

Both AMN (Cons) and, believe it or not, Carl Jenkinson are travelling with the squad and must therefore be available. I really like Jenks – not as a player for Arsenal but as a proper Gooner. I wish him well and perhaps he will get a start in the Carabao. Maitland-Niles (Cons) has a big future at Arsenal and may well get some pitch time this evening.

Ramsey was poor in his 10 minutes at the weekend, he needs to up his game and I expect him to do so. A wonderful goal apart, he has struggled, but he remains a very influential player. Tonight he will want to show Emery he is deserving of a first team shirt.

Watching Emery’s press conference yesterday I was delighted that when questioned in Portuguese, Unai understood the question and then answered in English. This shows his commitment and also his intelligence.

Tricky away fixture (we have never won in Portugal), if we draw this and win the home tie we will top the group. but we have a very food squad in good form and there is no reason why we cannot win tonight in Lisbon then celebrate with a bowl of Sopa de Cacao.

COYRRG