Things we learnt from the weekend

January 21, 2019

The dust has settled on matchweek 23, so what can we take from the proceedings?

……. Unai Emery took a close look at the way Chelsea play and came up with an excellent way of nullifying their threat. Was this completely by design? Answers on a postcard.

……. The loss of Hector just as he was getting back to full match fitness is a blow. We have other options at right back and between them they will have to take up the slack.

……. The Arsenal players knew the significance of the Chelsea game and you could see they were right up for it. This doesn’t explain how they could have been so unaware of the importance of the game the week before in Stratford. Every single game is worth 3 points, lads. Teams that are going somewhere always realise this week in, week out.

Stuart MacFarlane

…… The Liverpool and Man City juggernauts roll on and it looks a two way fight for top spot. I presume we’d all prefer City to win it just because we’ve got used to them buying the title, so another Champs trophy barely makes any difference. The Mickey Mousers on the other hand…..

…… The spuds spawned yet another injury time win. They’ve had no draws so far, even though they’ve probably deserved at least half a dozen. It appears Rodent-in-Chief, Dele Alli, joined Mr Kane in the sick bay with a hamstring (expect him back in 2 rather than an Arsenal 6 weeks). Their luck must run out sometime as their pool of attacking players dwindles. (Mind you, Llorente did get on the scoresheet)

…… Cardiff, our next League opponents, lost heavily at fellow strugglers Newcastle. Colin W*nker said that losing was not the end of the world. They lack quality up front – the opposite to us.

…… After Man City away, our following fixture is on February 9th at Huddersfield. Let’s hope their new manager is installed well before then so we aren’t on the receiving end of a ‘bounce effect’. Sky Sports thought they’d spotted their new chap in the crowd but it turned out his name was John not Jan.

……. The red mancs gained their 7th straight win since OGS took over. The run has to end sometime!

chas


Back in Business – Arsenal v Chelsea Ratings

January 20, 2019

No Mesut in the starting line-up. Could the team raise their performance without him after last week’s dismal showing in Stratford? You Betcha.

First Half

It was Blitzkrieg in that opening period of the game. The only disappointment was having only Laca’s wonderful strike to show for it.  We retreated a little just after the goal as if the team couldn’t quite believe it was actually winning in a first half. Pedro’s dink over the keeper was the only real moment of extreme danger, though.

We still had the better chances in the remainder of the first half including a bullet header from Kos straight at the keeper’s face. When almost exactly the same chance came again, Kos decided to use something he’d practised in training, a  no-look header (© fgg).  Fooling the Arrizabalaga that he was going to power a header again, he deftly deflected the ball off his shoulder, cushioning it into the far corner. The keeper stood as if he’d watched a magic trick. It gave us some vital breathing space before half time.

Getty Images

Second Half

Chelsea huffed and puffed but failed to really get up a decent head of steam against Arsenal’s well-organised defensive structure.

Kos even took one in the orchestra stalls blocking a pile-driver. You can see the after effects here.

OG came on from the bench and got more respect in a few minutes than he ever did while playing for the Club.

A third goal looked possible on a couple of occasions but wasn’t to be.

Conclusion

A different team performance altogether from our recent away efforts. Everything worked perfectly on the day, so a time to bask in beating our West London rivals.

One shot on target from the chavs in the whole 90. Emery using Ramsey to cut the supply lines to Hazard was a masterstroke. A superb defensive tactical display from the Arsenal and a clean sheet to boot. Not often we say that.

Reuters

Ratings (extra point for everyone for beating the chavs)

Leno – one shot on target from Alonso, saved comfortably, competent elsewhere … 8

Bellerin – such a shame just as he was regaining form and importance … 8

Koscielny – majestic in defence and cunningly brilliant for his goal … 9

Sokratis – shame he couldn’t find the net with his first half header, solid throughout …8

Kolasinac – almost looked an accomplished defender in addition to being a wardrobe on wheels … 7

Torreira – still not sure if he knows 100% what his role in the side is but he worked really hard throughout, tiring a little in the second half … 8

Xhaka – only the odd sloppy pass but generally a rock in midfield … 8

Guendouzi – perpetual motion, which sometimes make him look like a schoolboy chasing the ball over the field, ten out of ten for youthful exuberance … 8

Ramsey – excellent in that first period where we could have run away with it – the pressure’s off for Aaron, so hopefully he can have a massive positive effect on the rest of our season … 8

Lacazette – magnificent finish at the near post the like of which we have seen before from him – tireless and willing … 8

Aubameyang – A couple of belting chances not snaffled up in the first half, though the bicycle kick was unlucky … 7

Subs

Maitland-Niles – a couple of really important challenges – with Hector out, it’s time for him to push on … 8

ElNeny – tidy, and helped in the second half rearguard display … 7

Iwobi – didn’t see much of the ball up top but helped out in his own half … 7

Managers

Emery – does this make up for the West Ham debacle? – yeah , go on then, one game at a time … 9

Wagner – out thought, outplayed, lovely … 5

chas

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Additionally we have an FGG assessment of yesterday……..

Without a doubt, my favourite performance of the season.

Obviously we all enjoyed the Spurs game at home, but we’ve just beaten Chelsea without our goalkeeper making a single significant save. Tactically we were absolutely outstanding and you could see that Emery had looked at the opposition and had decided that stopping Jorginho was the way to stop that team hurting us. Ramsey dominated him for 60 minutes and then Elneny came on and stood next to him for the last half hour. We allowed them space out wide knowing that they could couldn’t hurt us with crosses, and the performances of our CB’s was a joy to watch. If we had more players who cared about the job they do as Sokratis then we would win the league. He may not be the best player, but he was absolutely immense today and you can see he cares about defending. We haven’t had a player like that for a while. Everything the Greek lacks in technical ability though, the guy stood next to him absolutely makes up for it. Koscielny oozed class and gave a defensive masterclass in positioning and guile. What a performance.

I’m not going to pretend this makes up for the last few performances, but I can see that with the right players, Emery has the tactical nous to take us forward. We just need the right players to implement what he’s asking.

Absolutely loved that 2nd half and watching the last 15 minutes knowing that Chelsea had zero chance of scoring was a rare treat. Let’s hope it continues.

Interesting to listen to Keown’s comments after the game. He seems really frustrated that Ramsey played so well today but won’t be with the team moving forward. I’ve also seen a lot of comments from Merson recently about Arsenal letting players go on the cheap. Whilst we all agree that certain things have been awful behind the scenes, I don’t understand the total negativity that comes from these people.

Personally, I believe that getting rid of players like Ramsey and Özil will see the club move forward. Emery has his own ideas about the squad and if he believes that the £350k we pay Özil and the probable £200k+ we would’ve had to pay Ramsey can result in us signing 2 or 3 players then I’m with him. Don’t get me wrong, the club could’ve handled the contract situations of Wilshere, Ox, Ramsey, Özil and Sanchez so much better than they have, but in reality, I look at that list of players and wonder how many of them really would be moving our club forward right now. Four of them have been out injured for the last month ffs, how often was that a problem for Wenger’s teams!?

Comments from FGG


Chelsea Preview.

January 19, 2019

Much of this morning’s speculation will revolve, once again, about Mr. Ozil. This being the case I think we can gloss over that and discuss something else. No, not Brexit or a Wall or even the heat in Australia. Not even the worrying statement from Emery about our economy.

How about we cheer ourselves up in the knowledge that the squad is returning to good health with only Welbz and Holding on the long-term injured list. Emery can pick a solid defence – or as good as he can with the tools available, not that I wish to call Mustafi a tool, but if the cap fits …

My opinion:

The back 3 doesn’t work, one only has to look at our goals against to confirm this, so we have to go back to a more solid 4 and abandon the idea of FB’s as wing-backs, especially with AMN and the Wardrobe. The return of Hector and Nacho should add some backbone.

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Some AA’ers doubt Belllerin’s defensive ability, you may be right, but IMO he is amongst our best players.

Quite why Mr. Emery abandoned the deep Xhaka/Terrier combo by sending the little chap further forward is a mystery. Against Spurs they were the key to our victory, surely he will operate the same system this afternoon?

Also, a return to playing one upfront. It appears great mates do not make a great striking partnership. It worked well when we could bring on PEA in the final 20 minutes, his pace terrifying tiring defenders. Why was this tactic abandoned?

Not sure if Mhiki is fit, but we need him back to provide something positive ahead of Bellerin, yet there is no space in the team for both Iwobi and Mhiki if Ozil plays, and Ozil MUST play.

What of Chelsea?. Their manager, David Wagner, is a strange but likeable chap who appears to be doing a very good job with a team depending upon the genius of Hazard allied to the tenacity of the marvelous Kante. The goalkeeper shows the difference between a €60m and a €25m signing, ugly bugger though, our boy is no oil painting but at least he looks human. The midget microphone, Willian always does well against us, hopefully he is crocked.

World Cup winner OG returns to his real home where he should get a rousing reception, thanking him for some unforgettable moments including this …

Look for OG’s pass early in the move

When I lived in London most of my friends were Chelsea or closet Spurs. We always beat them. Always. Who can forget Winterburn’s screamer at the Bridge? As GN5 showed yesterday, those days are well in the past.

Play like we did against West Ham and we will get hammered again, play like we did against Spurs and the points are ours.

Let it Be So

COYRRG

 


Arsenal FC – Our record against Chelsea

January 18, 2019

Some of Chelsea’s origins.

Chelsea FC was formed on 10 March 1905 in an upstairs room at the Rising Sun pub, Fulham Road. Among the founding directors were millionaire owner Henry Augustus ‘Gus’ Mears, his brother Joseph, their brother-in-law Henry Boyer, publican Alfred Janes and his nephew Edwin. In 1904, Gus Mears acquired the Stamford Bridge athletics stadium with the aim of turning it into a football ground. An offer to lease it to nearby Fulham was turned down, so Mears opted to found his own club to use the stadium.

The club, the brainchild of another founder, Frederick Parker, would be started from scratch to fill Gus Mears’s ambitious stadium, being built across the road at Stamford Bridge by the architect Archibald Leitch. Scotland international Jacky Robertson was engaged as the fledgling club’s player-manager. In collaboration with Parker, who also engineered Chelsea’s admission to Football League Division Two, Robertson built a squad that included their larger-than-life 23 stone goalkeeper Willie Foulke; the club hired football’s first ball-boys to emphasise his presence.

The first game was away on 2 September 1905 at Stockport County in front of a crowd of 7,000. William Foulke, known as ‘Fatty’ became the first Chelsea goalkeeper to save a penalty, but in the melee that followed a wayward County shot was deflected into his own net by Robert McEwan, resulting in a 1- 0 loss.

Here is our entire league record.

Our overall home record against Chelsea has been positive but we have only won 3 of our last 14 games – W3, D6, L5, GF14, GA18.

Memorable home victories in the Prem

27th December 2010 Arsenal 3 Chelsea 1

Goals from Song, Fabregas and Walcott in the 10 minutes either side of half time blew the chavs away. Petr Cech was in goal that day and our only survivor for tomorrow is Kos.

24th September 2016 Arsenal 3 Chelsea 0

Mesut and the dog fancier ran riot two seasons ago. Sanchez and Walcott scored in 4 glorious minutes at the start of the game and Mesut wrapped it up five minutes before half-time. We could field the same team tomorrow minus Le Coq, Santi, Walcott and the dog fancier, which is quite surprising.

Chelsea are 6 points ahead of us therefore losing would put us 9 points behind with only 15 games remaining – and if Man U win or draw against Brighton we would drop into 6th place. A must win game for sure.

GunnerN5


Where are They Now?

January 17, 2019

I always enjoy researching the fate of players who have retired or left Arsenal. So many descend into depression, addiction and financially destitution. This is understandable because for most players the knowledge that the pinnacle of their lives is in the past is too heavy a burden. No more adulation, no more dressing room comraderie, no more endorphin-inducing physical training, no more highs of performing in front of thousands of adoring fans, and there is no way back. The bell has rung for you.

For most people their middle to late 30’s is a time of job advancement or life development. For football players, particularly in the less well paid lower leagues, it is a time to re-start life and for many this is an challenge they struggle to meet.

Damn it …. this is not what I set out to write, this is meant to be a post about Kieron Gibbs!

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Kieron’s career path was a meteoric rise into the Arsenal first team and then an England shirt. Where is he now? West Brom via Norwich City.

Arriving at AFC as 1 5 y.o. his dreams were fulfilled early. An injury, a loss of form, the arrival of Nacho, led to him being given the Spanish Archer (El Bow). It must have been devastating., imagine his thoughts when he walked out of Mr. Wenger’s office. Thankfully, Kieron seems to have adapted to his new life but how must he have felt on his first week at WBA.? And then relegation? From Arsenal captain (when Kos was injured) and the England team to the Championship in just 2 years.

However, compared to, let us say, Abou Diaby, he has been fortunate. Diaby had the potential to be a world superstar but despite his very best efforts injuries took their toll – he is a free agent today.

I heard a podcast with Tony Cotteee talking about his post-football career and his slide into gambling addiction, which thanks to the wonderful Tony Adams Sporting Chance clinic, he has overcome. Tony said, “how in the remainder of his life will he ever re-create the feeling of scoring a goal in front of tens of thousands (and millions at home)”? He won’t, so how does he come to terms with it and find a purpose for the next 50 years? For Cotteee it has been a job in media but few can achieve this, for others it is coaching at club or ground level.

Damn it – I am back to the “what next” theme! Must be the grey skies above.

This could, and perhaps should, have been a post about the off-field shenanigans at Arsenal, or about the effect of Brexit upon the club but I will leave that for next time. Be thankful it is not another post about Mr. Ozil 😀

written by BR


Thanks, Petr, good luck in the future

January 16, 2019

So, Petr Cech has announced he will retire at the end of the season. He could still have a big part to play in our season depending on Leno’s fitness.

There are some parallels between Petr’s switch from the dark side and our former keeper Pat Jennings’ move from the bowels of N17 down to the sunnier end of the Seven Sisters Road.

Cech won 4 League titles, 4 FA Cups and 1 a-piece of the CL and Europa cups with the chavs when Abramovich’s money was all conquering in the country. As a credit to him as a man, no Arsenal supporter has ever really held this against him.

In the same way that Jennings was universally respected, Petr Cech oozes decency and a certain statesman-like presence which commands admiring regard both in other players and in supporters alike.

In his early career Petr is reported to have played as a striker before switching to keeper. Perhaps his skills on the deck weren’t quite up to scratch.

Moving from  FK Chmel Blšany to Sparta Prague in 2001, Petr soon came to the notice of many clubs abroad including The Arsenal. In fact, he was really close to signing with the Gunners in 2002 but those pesky difficulties in obtaining work permits put the kibosh on the deal. Rennes in France were the beneficiaries and he played for two seasons in Ligue 1.

His career with Chelsea is well documented and, although the trophies won while he was there were all bought with oligarch’s money, he made a massive contribution to the chavs having a defence with an exceptional record. He made 3 penalty saves in the CL final in 2012 (2 in the shootout) and was voted fans’ MOTM.

Petr’s head injury was sustained in October 2006 after a collision with Stephen Hunt’s knee. The resulting depressed skull fracture left him needing to wear the goalkeeping helmet henceforth on the pitch.

Signing for Arsenal in the summer of 2015, Petr’s career took an upturn. No longer having to smear Vic’s vaporub on his top lip to be able to stand the smell of being in the same dressing room as Terry, Ivanovic and Cole etc, must have been a blessed relief to the Czech glove butler. His career sailed to new heights culminating in the FA Cup triumph over his old muckers in the 2017 Final. Although sidelined with injury for that Final, he had played in the glorious semi-final win over Man City.

Reuters

Thanks for the memories, Petr, you’ve always been a top bloke – it was just a shame you couldn’t have joined us in 2002 and become an Invincible. Still, your career turned out ok elsewhere, so I doubt it keeps you awake at night not having been part of such a momentous achievement.

Thanks again – what a great career you’ve had!

chas


David Wagner. A Sad Loss

January 15, 2019

Firstly, it is important to say Mr David Wagner has not kicked the bucket, he has not shuffled off this mortal coil, nor has he run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. No, he has “chosen” to leave his club.

Wagner seems a good chap; honest, passionate. hard working and highly intelligent. Importantly, when he talks he is understandable – could one of our problems lie in the awful English spoken by Emery? I don’t understand him so why should the players?

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His departure highlights just how difficult and pressurised a job being a PL manager is, it also highlights just how resilient Mr. Wenger is/was. Wagner has been the most successful manager of Huddersfield Town since Herbert Chapman (almost), yet he clearly feels he is failing his team and club.

If you massively over-achieve in your first season, as keeping H’field in the PL must be considered, when you are unable to repeat this miracle should you leave “by mutual consent”? Surely it makes sense to set yourself and your team reasonable and achievable goals. Competing with teams who have a bigger budget, fanbase, squad etc etc.is inevitably difficult, there are always 3 losers.

Will bringing in one of the usual candidates  – Fat Sam, Pulis, Moyes, Hughes etc etc – help? No, it won’t. H’field are doomed.

Has Wagner received a better offer? A mid-table club in Spain/Germany who need a mid-season boost? It seems unlikely because he seems to be an honourable man, as such it must be the pressure. I cannot imagine how one copes. A PL manager must be obsessive, totally focussed, committed to a 24/7 working week, have a strong constitution added, of course, to the necessary football and man-management requirements.

Why am I writing this on an Arsenal blog? Because the loss of Wagner takes away one of our recent in-house jokes, though he may return!

Also, it gives an insight into the pressures Mr. Emery must suffer on a daily basis.  Mr. Emery must know that millions of fans around the globe question his relationship with Mr. Mesut Ozil, do you think it is easy for him?

David Wagner, I hope you return to the PL, in the meantime, I wish you well and thanks for the jokes.

written by BR


What is the one thing most likely to get us 4th?

January 14, 2019

It’s a slow day on the Arsenal front.

Saturday’s limp and pitiful performance has left everyone in a state of ‘Meh, whatever’.

Let’s have a poll to relieve this listlessness ….

(Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Please add any other (more sensible) answers to the question in the comments below.

chas


A Shambles in Stratford – Arsenal Player Ratings

January 13, 2019

No Mesut, not injured but a tactical decision to leave him out of the squad? What does that say to the other players going into the game? Something’s afoot.

First Half

Two equally poor teams created a roughly equal number of half chances. Really dreadful viewing. Is anyone else sick of watching forwards running around like blue arsed flies trying to close down centre backs with the ball. About 10 minutes of that first half seemed to be spent trying to move 20 yards up the pitch. Shockingly painful to watch.

As Didit said “Sick to the teeth of this passing the bloody thing around between 9 ‘effing defenders all sodding afternoon”

Second Half

We couldn’t be any worse, surely? Oh yes, we could.

Three minutes after the restart, a poorly defended breakdown from a corner and the most committed player on the pitch has a free strike from 14 yards. Leno had no chance.

Torreira and Ramsey on for Xhaka and Mustafi at least gave a semblance of hope. Ramsey, playing without the encumbrance of an Arsenal future started to make things happen, popping up all over in dangerous positions. Chances came and went. Auba had one of his barn door days.

Hector added more hope but ultimately we were just not good enough to score.

Conclusion

Wagner will be happy his side sneaked the points. They did seem hungrier and snappier in the tackle. Arsenal seemed lethargic and listless after a week’s solid training to get the team nailed down and perfect for matchday.

We were swamped in midfield as Kola and A.M-N didn’t help at all, leaving Wobbly, Laca and Auba isolated.

Auba and Laca do not a good combination make, regardless of the fact that they’re two of our best players – no linkage whatsover.

Making a poor West Ham side look ok, FFS.

Ratings

Leno – Nowt to do except pick the ball out of the back of his net … 6

Maitland-Niles – not sure he found a mint choc shirt with one pass in that dreadful first 45 … 2

Mustafi – awful tackling, think he might be a bit thick … 4

Sokratis – tried hard to shackle both Arnautovic and Carroll … 5

Koscielny – not really much to do as a centre back, had plenty of touches trying to get the ball up to the halfway line … 5

Kolasinac – so far offside for the chances he set up in the second, pretty clueless … 5

Xhaka – No command of the midfield today, though missed having a link player to pass forward to. Most ducked the responsibility of making themselves available for a pass … 4

Guendouzi – passing a bit off today – popped up all over when we really could have done with attempting to establish some midfield control – needs to work on his shooting … 5

Iwobi – flitted in and out of the match like a moth battering its head on a lightbulb – perhaps looked most likely to open up the bus once Ramsey had come on … 5

Aubameyang – not his finest day in a pistachio coloured shirt – perhaps should have had at least one … 4

Lacazette – huffed and puffed without really doing a great deal … 5

Subs

Ramsey – my MOTM – looks to have had a weight lifted from his shoulders … 6

Torreira – should have been on from the start sat in front of the back four … 6

Bellerin – suddenly the right flank was an option when he came on … 6

Managers

Wagner – Overjoyed his team faced an even worse team today … 6

Emery – Oh dear, not good – strange team selection after a full week to get things right in training, led to a disjointed team performance – no discernible plan visible … 3

chas 

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You also have some player assessments from LB to savour – you lucky folk.

Leno: couldn’t do anything about the goal, otherwise, and in view that they didn’t score anymore, he was fine.

Koscielny: one of the few bright spots in the sense that he no longer looked out of place.

Mustafi: 6th place defender for a 6th place team.

Big Sok: no mistakes, slightly better than recent past.

Kolasinac: couldn’t get his byline thing up and running and we suffered because of it.

AM-N: so disappointing, poor passing, poor positioning, no penetration, let it not be said that he didn’t get his chances.

Xhaka: another of the few and far between bright spots in this game; that’s to say, Emery finally took of his “I Love Granit” glasses off and hooked him. Another school boy error to gift WH the points.

Guendouzi: not bad, wish he would show a bit more strength, he is muscled off the ball too easily.

Iwobi: in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.

Lacazzete: ran around a lot in the first half, faded in the second.

Aubameyang: poor close control, poor errrrr pretty much everything really completely ineffectual.

What a crap day when Nasri is the most talented player on the pitch.

LB


Arnautovic. Sell, Sell, Sell.

January 12, 2019

No West Ham Bob post today, the chap has gone underground (or to the Caribbean!).

I have never been to the London Olympic stadium, I understand it is a soulless bowl unless inhabited by the Great Gooner, Mo Farah. Our record at the ground is good, with only one loss, a draw and a few wins. WHU have only won one out of the last 21 fixtures with AFC. This may explain why they keep buying our ex-players – Little Jack, $amir Nasri, Flapianski etc

Do you recall the days when if Wrighty didn’t score we were screwed? It is much the same at WHU.  Take out that unpleasant devil, Arnautovic and they are toothless. That said, on the rare occasion Andy Carroll plays they can lump the ball into the Big Man and WHU have another attacking weapon.

I like the look of Anderson, who could do well at a better club, one which isn’t being ruined by rapacious owners. He is a more direct Iwobi.

The Hammers manager, Manuel Pellegrini, is doing a good job after the club was damaged by the tactics of Fat Sam and Moyes. He seems a likeable chap and at least is trying to get WH back to playing decent football.

Back to Arnautovic. I can never forgive the swine for his cowardly attack on Debuchy which effectively ended his Arsenal career (allowing Catwalk  to take his place). West Ham understandably are refusing to sell him. The bloke is highly likely to score this afternoon against our porous defence.

Awful Music Alert. Turn off Sound

Of which … Could Hector start this afternoon? Please, pretty please.

And Mesut. No more of this knee knack, back pain, headache, flu, dog’s eaten my homework bolleaux. Let him play, and let him dazzle.

And Catwalk. Stop him looking like a bright red blimp up int the stands and get him up that wing in order to give the team some balance.

Getting the injured back into the team will make a huge difference.

I expect this afternoon to be frustrating, we are not playing particularly well, even when winning, and the Hammers are very inconsistent. And we know Fabianski will have one his best performances.

We need 3 points.

Let it be So.

COYRRG