Arsenal 5 Bournemouth 1 – Player Ratings

February 28, 2019

Contrary to the apparent opinion of many in the Arsenal blogosphere, this game  might be more important than any of the matches coming up in early March in the Premier League. In all actuality, each game has its own significance.

First Half

The game got off to a flyer, plenty of space and a goal for Mesut from Kola’s instant pass within the first 4 minutes. Perfect. Bournemouth made a tactical change and were suddenly right back in it. Their tails were up and then we scored the second to take the wind out of their sails after a sloppy pass across the back four. Micki found Mesut and his return pass was just sublime; the Armenian’s finish clinical.

Stuart MacFarlane

Surely that would kill Bournemouth’s fightback? Nope. Some more titting about playing out from the back gifted them a goal. Guendouzi caught on the ball, though he was also caught with the follow through of the challenge which I always thought was a foul. Anyway 2-1 and raised heartrates all round.

The remainder of the first half was spent searching for a working stream. Did anything happen?

Second Half

According to the commentary I had, Emery laid into the players at half time.  It showed. Ferguson hairdryer, Emery blowtorch – who cares if it produces the right reaction from the players.

Kos scored from a free-kick which looked like it was going nowhere but back to our own half. It ended up being a nicely constructed goal which created the space in the penalty area by virtue of the backwards passing.

The fourth from Auba was all down to Micki’s strength bringing the ball out from deep Who would’ve thought? Taking the ball round the keeper – how often does anyone get a chance to do that these days?

Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

Mesut hit the post before the coup de grace. Laca’s free kick really was the cherry on the cake. The ball travelled over the jumping wall and still came down six feet from the ground. Boruc got a touch but had little chance of keeping it out.


Excellent home win – something we’ve come to expect at THOF as out home form is that of title contenders. The first half definitely had some worrying periods, but overall it was a football match of which the manager should be proud.

Spuds losing meant that we’re only 4 points behind their title challenge. 🙂 The chavs and red mancs winning meant fourth to sixth position stay exactly as you were.


Leno – no chance with the goal – crucial save from Fraser in the first half … 7

Jenkinson – didn’t disgrace himself without adding too much. A true Gooner  … 6

Koscielny – deserved his goal – luckily his injury at the end looked an impact job rather than one which would affect the knee joint for any length of time – the studs into his knee were unnecessary  … 8

Sokratis – implacable, indefatigable, imperturbable … 7

Monreal – La Cabra produced his usual high energy committed performance … 7

Kolasinac – an assist for Mesut’s goal – his attacking prowess is one of the team’s strengths … 7

Torreira – fought manfully with little protection from the ref – still not sure he knows his role in the team – seemed lost in the first half … 7

Guendouzi – Matteo, what were you doing for the Bournemouth goal? – his usual all action performance aside from that though … 7

Ozil – a goal, a superb assist – will always make a significant contribution to our goals tally – is it enough? … 8

Mkhitaryan – involved in most of the meaningful attacking action – his assist for Auba’s goal was brilliant … 8

Aubameyang – finally got his goal after looking disappointed in the first half … 7


Iwobi – will play against the spuds for sure … 7

Lacazette – hungry for goals and scored from a peach of a free-kick … 7

Suarez – we finally saw what he might be capable of in some impressive glimpses … 7


Emery – can rest easy before the spud game that he overcame a team which briefly threatened to come back at us – if it’s true that he went at the players at half time, then we need more of that Unai … 8

Wagner – struggling with a depleted squad … 4

Please give your own ratings/match report in the comments.



Bournemouth Preview

February 27, 2019

Micky summed up Bournemouth in  a few words yesterday – Language Schools and David Wagner.

Let’s start with language schools. The moment I passed my driving test at the age of 17 my mates insisted we spent each post-season weekend down in Bournemouth. Why? Because the language schools were full of ladies from Scandinavia with, what we assumed, were looser morals than our North London girlfriends.. We would rent a few rooms in the local B&B’s and go to the school’s discos with the hope of some horizontal exercise. Were the rumours of  degenerate behaviour correct? A gentlemen couldn’t possibly say.

David Wagner: His managerial record at a club whose ground capacity is under 12k is astonishing. Wagner’s first season in 2009 saw him take over a bankrupt club. Winning promotion in his first season he has transformed Bournemouth and brought unimagined glory to the PL smallest club.  I expect him to go to Spurs when the Podgy Argie leaves for Spain.


They have some decent players, in particular, the midfielder David Brooks who scored against us at Dean Park earlier in the season. He has a bright future. Begovic always excels at the Emirates and both King and Wilson are dangerous on the break.

Arsenal: Our home record is impressive and despite a growing long-term injury list we are over-performing this transition season, Win today and we can be either 4 points from Spurs in 3rd (if Spurs lose) or 6 points ahead of the Chavs (if they lose).

Would love to see Ozil start but expect the same starting 11 as the weekend with perhaps Koscielny in for Mustafi and AMG replacing Lichtsteiner should be not be fit.

And what of Auba? Too good for the bench but we play better with one up top (IMO),. Does Emery rotate on a weekly basis? He seems to prefer the industry of Lacazette over the mercurial PEA.

B’mouth have conceded 48 PL goals and I expect us to help them reach the half century. They have lost their last 7 away fixtures.

Trouble is …. as we often discovered with those young Scandigirls that there is many a slip twix’t the cup and the lip:-D

An important game ahead of two very difficult and possibly season defining fixtures


Arsenal FC – Our home record against Bournemouth

February 26, 2019

The 2018–19 AFC Bournemouth season is the club’s fourth consecutive season in the top flight of English football and their 129th year in existence.

Bournemouth’s stadium is the smallest in the Premier League, they play their home matches at Dean Court, which has a capacity of 11,329, and this season it will be the smallest stadium in the Premier League.

Dean Court early 1970s

The club’s badge has Bournemouth’s red and black stripes and also a footballer heading a ball.

The club is currently owned by Maxim Demin, a Russian multi-millionaire involved in the petrochemicals trading industry. He became co-owner of then Football League side A.F.C. Bournemouth with Eddie Mitchell, reportedly paying £850,000 for his share of the club. Subsequently (in 2015) the club were promoted to the Premier League. In 2015, he sold a 25% share in the club to Peak 6 Investments, although he remains the majority shareholder.

Demin spent £5 million on a mansion in Sandbanks (Dorset), also known as ‘Britain’s Palm Beach’.  He then promptly demolished it and employed Eddie Mitchell to rebuild a state of the art house.

Danny scored 2 in Arsenal’s 3-0 win in September 2017 © AFP / Ian KINGTON

Bournemouth is currently 10th in the Premier League with a record of W10, D4, L13, GF38, GA48. They have conceded 1.78 goals per game while we have scored 2.04 per game overall and 2.07 at home.

We have already beaten them away from home, sneaking the points with a narrow 2-1 victory. They scored one of the best OGs you’re ever likely to see to put us in front, before equalising on the stroke of half time with us committing 23 men forward. Auba got the winner midway through the second half. Remarkably we were wearing our pistachio kit – not sure if that was our first and only win in that kit in the Premier League?

Alex’s perfectly weighted pass inside the full back set up Kola to cross for Auba’s winner

We have a 100% home record against Bournemouth and I feel that, regardless of our squeaky defence, our attacking strength will be too much for them.


Southampton. Match Report and Player Ratings

February 25, 2019

A few years ago one of our bloggers (I think it was Kelsey) wrote a match report without having seen any of the game. Sometimes this is for the best. The second half of yesterday’s game was certainly a case in point.

At least our game had goals; the two other “Season Defining”  (according to Sky) games played yesterday afternoon were snooze-fests with only one shot on target in both games!! Call that entertainment? The only talking point were the Chav’s hissy fits, which were hugely enjoyable.


So … we kicked off. Played some fine football for 20 minutes. Ramsey made his presence felt, Iwobi entertained. Two defensive lapses, some clinical finishing and we were two up. I could stop here because until Auba came on it was a dull watch.

In the second half it was difficult to tell which team was in the relegation zone, we created nothing, S’ton created nothing. Auba’s arrival saw an injection of pace and he could have scored a couple. Ozil made a few lovely moves – one pass to free Auba, off the outside of his boot, was wonderfully creative.

A calf injury (?) to Licht could be costly. We created nothing down the right with Mhiki making little impact apart from his goal. Who knew that Bellerin was such an important player?

No Suarez. Why did we sign him?

Player Ratings:

Leno: Little to do but made one superb save near the end.   7

Lichtsteiner: Had little work defensively. Created nothing and his link play with Mhiki needs work.     5

Mustafi. Played well. I feared the worst when Austin came on, but our CB’s stopped S’ton from creating a single clear chance.      7

Sokratis:: Another solid game. I love that he is first in when there is a rumpus, almost TA-esque.    7

Kolasinac: His link play with Iwobi improves. Had little work to do defensively. 103 touches – the most in the team   6

Xhaka: Solid. Made 2 key passes at 90+% accuracy.    7

Torreira. Busy as always yet didn’t have his usual influence. Rusty?    7

Ramsey. Deserved the ovation he received when subbed.  Worked hard.     8

Mhki. Not one of his best afternoon’s. Had he not scored I would not have known he was playing. A point for the goal     6

Iwobi. Very pleased he tries the outlandish. He is the one player with a touch of the Kanu about him. Faded in the second half     7

Lacazette. Led the line, battled, scored. 5 shots, 4 aerial battles won.My MotM.  8

Koscielny. Came on for Licht. Ran about    6

Ozil. Just a few minutes but we improved offensively.  He has to start.   7

Auba. Could have scored a couple against a tiring defence. Bad luck or bad finishing?   6

Written by Big Raddy


Saints Alive! – Mesut starts again?

February 24, 2019

Since David Wagner took over at Southampton in December, they’ve won 4, lost 4 and drawn 3 in the league. Their victories included our dreadful performance at St Mary’s when the bounce effect of a new manager was in full force. Under Mark Hughes they were tending to draw or get battered, so it was definitely the correct thing to do to get rid of such a loathsome specimen, since it looked very likely he would have taken them down.

AFP Images

They still sit in the bottom three but are vying to escape that third relegation spot with 5 other teams only a couple of points above them. That’s assuming Fulham and Huddersfield are doomed. We must ensure they get no points from their trip to The Home of Football to help with their fight against relegation.

Team news

Kos is a doubt after his knock against Bate but as a replacement, Big Sok fills me with confidence – even when paired with Shirley. (If anyone is offended by the gentle ribbing of Shkodran’s abilities, then please don’t be as he is as important as any other member of the squad and has given us some outstanding performances already this season). There still appear to be some doubts about Mavro’s fitness but this has been difficult to confirm.

Will Mesut retain a starting place? That is the burning issue team selection-wise. Unai was quick to suggest that Mesut isn’t guaranteed a starting spot after Thursday’s win. Perhaps Ramsey will be asked to play in the free role again. It’s the sixty four thousand dollar question.

Getty Images

Up front Laca will be itching to get back into the action. I’d imagine he’ll start in the next few Prem games while Auba is wrapped in cotton wool for the Rennes tie as our only eligible senior striker. Wobbly should keep his place as he’s been one of our outstanding recent performers. Maybe Denis Suarez could get a start to replace Micki who’s been looking a little jaded? It would be great to see what he can do when he plays for longer than 15 minutes.

Team news update – according to Jeorge Bird on twitter, both Kos and A.M-N were in full training on Saturday, so both could start. Eddie Nk also trained with the first team.

Possible Team



………….Terrier ……..Granit



Our home form is good in the League, unbeaten in 12 – including six wins on the bounce in our last half a dozen.

Score predictions in the comments, please (as it drew a few on Thursday).

Another strong performance in front of the Emirates unfaithful, please lads.



Arsenal FC – Our home record against the Saints

February 23, 2019

Southampton FC was founded in 1885 and plays their home games at St. Mary’s Stadium. The stadium opened in 2001 and has a capacity of 32,589; it is the biggest stadium in the south of England, outside of London. The stadium was built to replace ‘The Dell’, where Southampton played between 1898 and 2001.

The Dell – a ramshackle ground with great character

The club has been nicknamed “The Saints” since the club was founded in 1885. This is because it was founded as a church football team and was originally called St Mary’s Young Men’s Association. The club was renamed Southampton F.C. after the club won the Southern League in 1897, but the nickname has endured.

The current manager is Ralph Hasenhüttl who was appointed on 5 December 2018, succeeding Mark Hughes. His first game in charge was a 0–1 defeat at Cardiff City. His first win as Southampton’s manager came on 16 December in a 3–2 win at home to Arsenal ending the Gunners’ 4-month 22-match unbeaten run.

His record as a manager is –

Southampton have played in the Premier League for a total of 16 seasons, they have been relegated once, in 2004-05, but were promoted back to the Premier League in 2011/2012. They reached the Premier League after back to back promotions from the third and second divisions.

Our overall home record against the Saints is extremely solid, just 2 losses, and they have not managed a single win against us in the Premier League – the last time they won a game was a slender 1-0 victory at Highbury on November 21, 1987.

Memorable home fixtures against Southampton

23rd September 1995 – Arsenal 4 Southampton 2

The press had made a massive thing about our new £7.5m Dutch signing not scoring yet with September nearly over, in true clickbait style. After 17 minutes in glorious Highbury sunshine, their story was dead in the water and a new legend born. Glenn Helder sent a looping cross over to the far post and DB10 thumped a well-controlled volley into the far corner. Bould and Adams conjured a second with the near-post flick on routine, before Southampton sneaked two back before half-time. Dennis crashed in his superb swerving second to restore the lead in the 68th minute and Wrighty squeezed in a 4th a few minutes later.

Dennis Bergkamp celebrates scoring his goal for Arsenal with Ian Wright, Lee Dixon, Ray Parlour and Paul Merson. Highbury September 1995 by Stuart MacFarlane

7th May 2003 – Arsenal 6 Southampton 1

This double hat-trick game became the very first match in a sequence of 49 unbeaten, encompassing the tail end of 2002/3, the whole of 2003/4 and 9 games of the 2004/5 season. Jermaine Pennant scored his hat-trick inside 10 minutes in the first half and two for Robert Pires made it 5-1 at half-time. Bobby completed his hat-trick with the goal of the game, a sublime chip over the stranded Southampton keeper. Forty eight more Arsenal teams were to leave the field in the next 18 months without being beaten.

Match odds

There is a 18.9% chance of a draw. In simulations where the game is not a draw Arsenal, at 71.5%, are heavy favourites to beat Southampton who have a 9.6% chance.

In simulation wins, Southampton upsets Arsenal by averaging 7.7 shots and 3.2 shots on goal. They average 1.7 goals in simulated victories vs just 0.4 in simulation losses. Overall, the average simulation score is Arsenal 2.2 to Southampton 0.6.

It is inconceivable that Ralph Hasenhüttl would become the first Southampton manager to have back to back home and away wins against us, therefore I foresee a resounding victory.


Arsenal master Bate Borisov 3-0 – Player Ratings

February 22, 2019

Mesut to start – thank funk for that.

First Half

In need of a goal, the team started really well. Wobbly had a chance to shoot immediately. Only a few minutes had gone when Bate scored – in their own net, the defenders confused – not realising that, since it was Auba crossing the ball, nobody would be in the middle.

Frustratingly the foot then came off the pedal. Either that or Bate realised that an away goal was their best chance and upped their game. One in the side netting and then one off the line cleared by Lichtsteiner. As usual Arsenal allowed the poorest of opposition good chances.

Gradually we regained superiority. Xhaka had a cracking pot shot. Just before half time and after a succession of short corners which produced diddly squat, Xhaka planted one into the perfect spot for Shirley to fool the defender and then get in front of his man, bulleting a close range header for 2-0. Superb celebration from the master carpenter!

Second half

After a bit of Keystone cop defending in the first few minutes after the break and a few heart flutters, the result was never really in doubt once that half time malaise had worn off.

Papa majestically finished off another Granit corner launched right into the mix. Shirley put the goalie off and the big Greek planted the ball into a gaping net with the back of his swede.

Auba struggled to find a goal but he could have played all night and not scored. Saving them for Southampton on Sunday, I hope. Mesut scuffed a relatively simple volley with the goal at his mercy but the three goals would have to suffice, and they did.


Job done. Relatively straightforward in the end. Bate had two decent chances to get the away goal they craved but we really should have had more to show for such dominant superiority. An OG and two headed goals from corners from 22 efforts on goal did prove enough to put us in the last 16 though.

The draw for the round of 16 is today at 12 noon GMT. There are a few teams we’d  miss ideally, though we’ll have to beat some good teams if we’re going to win it, no doubt.


Cech – nowt to do … 7

Lichtsteiner – looked more like his experienced professional self against the Belarusians … 7

Mustafi – excellent header – relatively untroubled throughout and even showed some composure on the ball … 7

Koscielny – class again – hope his injury isn’t too serious … 8

Monreal – battled manfully – love his commitment to the cause … 7

Xhaka – available throughout – passing excellent – went a little anonymous when moved forward to accommodate Torreira but two assists and plenty of great work – loved how he defended Nacho from the thuggery near the end… 8

Guendouzi – enjoyed himself – he’s going to be some player if he continues progressing at this rate … 7

Ozil – class – his movement is incredible – mind you, the opposition weren’t up to much … 7

Mkhitaryan – a bit lightweight – he really should be able to shine in these sort of games … 6

Aubameyang – poor Auba – a goal was never going to come, nevertheless he competed well and came deep when nothing was fed to him in the area – the dink over the keeper near the end should have ended up in the back of the net … 7

Iwobi – always a threat, just lacked that killer final ball …7


Sokratis – he was good enough that Kos wasn’t missed and he also popped up with the decisive third … 7

Torreira – not sure why he was brought on for Matteo, contributed little of note – a run out, I suppose … 6

Suarez – late sub to give him a run also – inconclusive … 6


Emery – got the job done – picked Mesut for a game against lowly opposition and it was the right decision – lovely heartfelt goal celebrations … 8

Wagner – should go back to Huddersfield … 6


A big chunk of our season is on the line today – Bate preview

February 21, 2019

First and foremost, please remember that kick off is 17:55pm UK time today. We wouldn’t want Micky rolling up at 7.30pm wondering what the team news is. 🙂

Last week in Belarus was dire, there’s no getting around it. A shapeless, ineffective Arsenal team, admittedly hampered by an appalling pitch surface, delivered a performance of virtually zero quality.

That game has been and gone – nothing can be done about it. If we play to our strengths tonight and score enough goals to get us through to the Round of 16, it will be consigned to the past as a deep and distant memory. Simple, isn’t it?

Invoking the spirit of Big Raddy in 1970

Team News

There has been a bit of a Mugabe media lockdown at Arsenal over the last week. Probably best, since any attempt to appease supporters with ‘we’ll strive to put it right’ platitudes would only be met with abuse. The only place to make amends is on the pitch.

The team news made public so far is that Aaron is fit and in full training. Big Sok is also nearing a return – whether it’s in the Europa or for Sunday’s Prem game against Southampton, we shall see.

Maybe Unai’s press  conference will tell us more.

Press conference update – Mesut has been training well this week (?) and Ainsley M-N missed Wednesday training with sickness. 

Rambo’s return will definitely help to cover that creative shortfall we saw in the away leg. Could Mesut find favour again and both of them play? Doubtful perhaps, but could work as long as both don’t attempt to play in the same position..

One thing is for certain, Lacazette will not be featuring due to the Bate lad running into his elbow, which leaves Aubameyang  as our main threat.

Possible team

………………………………. Cech

Licht (if no A.M-N) … Shirley … Kos … Nacho

……………………..Terrier ………….Granit


…………….. Micki ……… Auba …….. Wobbly

As far as possible game scenarios go, the only way extra time and penalties will happen is if we are 1-0 up at 90 minutes. If Bate score first, we will have to score three times to counter their away goal.

In fact, a Bate goal at any point in the match might give cause for concern (unless we’re over the hill and faraway by that stage). Perhaps dead balls are the most likely source for the Belarusians.

Having said that, this game isn’t really about how Bate play but more about the level of performance Arsenal can produce. As LBG said, three up at half-time and we’ll be laughing.

Your score predictions in the comments, please.


Arsenal FC – Our home record against Bate Borisov

February 20, 2019

Last week in Belarus is still a very raw memory. On a ploughed field of a pitch Arsenal had a miserable night. Controlling or passing the ball with any efficiency was very difficult. Stanislaw Drahun’s goal on the stroke of half-time was just reward for Bate’s efforts. Alexandre Lacazette let his frustration boil over when he elbowed Aleksandar Filipovic late on, receiving a straight red card. Hopefully his absence from the home tie will not be too costly.

Bate Borisov’s away record in Europe includes all sorts of Champions League and Europa qualifying games along with group games in both competitions, plus a sprinkling of InterToto matches. In other words, it includes matches against a wide range of opposition in terms of quality.

Bate Borisov all European away games ——-

This is the 3rd time they’ve reached the Round of 32 in the Europa Cup. On the previous two occasions they were narrowly knocked out by PSG in 2011 on away goals, and in 2013 by Fenerbahce with an aggregate score of only 1-0.

The only other time we’ve played Bate Borisov at home was last season in the Europa League group stage.

Group H – 7th December 2017 – Arsenal 6 Bate 0

Neither Jack Wilshere nor Theo Walcott had started a Premier League game for Arsenal in the 2017/8 season before being given a starting berth against Bate in December. With the group wrapped up, Arsene Wenger could afford to field a largely second string selection.

Mathieu Debuchy opened the scoring with a thumping angled drive (a goal Fred remembers well, since he was, allegedly, in the upper tier that night).

Theo scored a simple second before Jack smacked in a similar goal to The Boosh’s but from the other side of the area. An own goal, a pen from big Ollie and a superb first time curler from Mo Elneny sealed a comfortable win.

Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

Let’s hope Bate travel as badly this time around, but with a goal start, they might prove a sterner test.


Who would you pick in Arsenal’s midfield three? – Poll

February 19, 2019

Time for a poll.

This post has been prompted by various discussions on the site with bloggers stating various individual preferences for our midfield line-up – Guendouzi, Mo Elneny, Xhaka in a double pivot or even Ainsley M-N as a box-to-boxer are among the choices/favourites.

For the purposes of today’s poll let’s assume Unai is playing 4 at the back with his first choice players available. Also assume we have three up front, perhaps in a 2 wide and 1 centre forward formation or alternatively a number 10 behind a striking duo.

Here are the runners and riders for a place in that middle three listed in the order they appear on (let’s include Alex Iwobi even though he’s down as a striker).

Mo Elneny

An excellent squad player and perhaps a touch underrated, though rarely gets picked as a first choice starter. Why?


Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Often used as part of the front three on the right side to provide some width. Could he be better employed just in front of two DMs?

Aaron Ramsey

Perhaps his best position (well according to his new Juve boss) is just behind a front two and it’s difficult to deny that proposition. Could he still be used in the middle three? When tried before, his natural tendency to be looking to make bursts forward into the box has sometimes left us exposed in midfield.

Mesut Özil

Another whose best position appears to be just behind the striker(s) in a front three. Then again, he often plays wherever he feels he can do the most damage which might be the cause of his contretemps with Señor Emery.

Lucas Torreira

When he first came to the Club and was being gently eased in as a sub, it seemed he was being used as the central DM sweeping across the width of the back four. Now he seems to be established on the right side. Where’s his best posititon?

Celebrating his goal against the spuds

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Mr Versatile means that we’re not sure which is his favoured spot in the team. Could he play in front of a double DM formation where his youth, energy and calmness might be perfect weapons for the position?

Denis Suarez

It’s a bit early in Denis’s Arsenal career to know where he might end up in the team. Does anyone have more of an idea they could share?

Matteo Guendouzi

Still 19, he can’t have imagined he’d play so many games for The Gunners in his first season. Not a natural DM perhaps, but another with a great engine. Maybe he’s also suffered playing in a team which is low on confidence sometimes and others look to him to provide a creative spark.

Granit Xhaka

A marmite player if ever there was one. Usually picked by whatever manager he plays for, so he must be doing something right.  Should Granit get an automatic starting berth?

Alex Iwobi

Another player maybe best suited to a front three position. Has he got the discipline to stay central? Or would he be wasted further back where his dribbling skills might be less useful?


Perhaps one of the Academy lads might be given the opportunity to step up. Smith Rowe and Nelson are on loan, but Joe Willock, in addition to his 2 goals at Blackpool in the FA Cup 3rd round, has had a fine season up to now for Freddie’s u23s .  Robbie Burton and Charlie Gilmour are also getting decent reviews and are names to look out for in the future perhaps.


Now for the poll. Choose the three you would prefer in your midfield three.

They could be in a 1-2 formation, a 2-1 (double pivot 🙂 ) or any other variation you can think of.  Specify your preference in the comments below.