Granit for Captain?

March 24, 2019

Granit Xhaka is a marmite player. There are those who think he only ever passes the ball sideways or backwards or, at least, rarely forwards. Some believe Xhaka is an accident waiting to happen, either by dwelling on the ball in our own final third, making ill-advised passes or by lunging into rash challenges. Others see him as the fulcrum of the team, anchoring the midfield, always available, never shirking the hard yards necessary to be defensive central midfielder.

Admittedly, he has picked up 23 yellow cards and 2 reds in his 95 Arsenal appearances so far. In January 2017 there were articles about his appalling red card record with his 9th sending off in 3 years as he was dismissed against Burnley. He’d been unlucky to be sent off a few months earlier when deliberately tripping a Swansea player who’d only just crossed the halfway line. Since then he’s cleaned up his act with no further early baths.

His passing efficacy is up for debate, but not the sheer metronomic volume of those passes. Granit has made just over 500 more passes than the next Arsenal player in the list, 1921 to Lucas Torreira’s 1417. When Xhaka is playing well, the team plays well. He dictates that central area in front of the back four without being the most mobile of defensive anchors in a more Makelele style.

When Granit steps into the bear pit, he wears his heart on his sleeve, geeing up those around him and revving the crowd up on occasion, too. We’ve lacked a vocal presence at the heart of the team for years. A captain like Laurent Koscielny leads by example but it’s doubtful many of his fellow professionals would quake in their boots if Kos decided to take them to task. Granit, on the other hand, does seem to possess a fiery, bullish temperament to be feared and respected

When Auba missed that late pen against the spuds which would have consigned them to a deserved defeat, it was Granit who was immediately there at his side giving him support. No William Gallas ‘sitting on the halfway line crying’ antics for the big Swiss but instead there seems to be a genuine desire to cajole and encourage those around him.

(The tweet above prompted this post, so don’t blame me, blame Cockneys)

Granit always features prominently when playing for his home country, though his Albanian roots perhaps preclude him from being the on-field captain when the present captain, Stephan Lichtsteiner, hangs up his boots.  Off the pitch Granit conducts himself with an air of class and appears to be a fine ambassador for the Club.

Unai Emery certainly seems to hold him in high regard and it is with great anticipation that the Arsenal fans view him lining up a long ranger on that sweet left peg. Ask David De Gea or Mignolet (?)  🙂

What do you think? Is Granit a future captain or would you choose an alternative from the current playing staff?


p.s. I’m choosing to ignore tabloid scaremongering that Granit wants away to progress his career. The man’s just signed a new contract until June 2023, ffs.


Arsenal Centre Forward Ronnie Rooke

March 23, 2019

Ronald Leslie Rooke was born on December 7, 1911 in Guildford, Surrey.

His football career started with his local club Guildford City and he went on to play for Woking (1932–1933), Crystal Palace (1933–1936) & (1949–1950), Fulham (1936–1946), Arsenal (1946–1949) and Bedford Town (1950–1953). He then went to Haywards Heath Town and Addlestone as player manager before returning to Bedford Town (1956-1961).

During WW2 he served as a physical training instructor in the RAF. Rooke played as a centre forward and was a natural goal scorer scoring 170 goals in his 256 appearances (.664 GPG).

Arsenal were bottom of the table at Christmas and having signed Joe Mercer in November, we required some extra firepower up front, too. Rooke was signed in December of 1946 for £1,000 plus two players, Cyril Grant and Dave Nelson.  He was the ripe old age of 35 and had never played for a top flight team. He made an immediate impact by scoring the winner on his debut, against Charlton Athletic and by the end of the season had taken his total to 21 goals from 24 league matches (.875 GPG) and helped Arsenal finish in mid-table.

Courtesy of The Arsenal Collection

In the first game that I watched at Highbury (Nov 2, 1947) I was fortunate enough to see Rooke play against Huddersfield Town, Arsenal won 2-0 with goals from Ronnie Rooke himself and Jimmy Logie. That season (1947/48) he scored 33 league goals a total that made him that season’s First Division top scorer; in the final game of the season he scored 4 goals in the 8-0 demolition of Grimsby.

As of 2018/19 he retains Arsenal’s all-time record for the most goals scored in a postwar season (33) and helped Arsenal win their sixth League title (1947/48). He finished his career at Arsenal in 1949 having scored 70 goals in only 94 games (.745 GPG)


Who should be AFC Director of Football?

March 22, 2019

It seems we are in desperate need of a Director of Football. Apparently, Arsenal have failed miserably (once again) in their hunt for this Magic Man which makes us the laughing stock of the football world. We are officially “in crisis” 😀

As I understand it we have never had an official Director of Football (henceforth known as DOF) but if we need one let’s look at possible candidates …

Well, he clearly cannot be a red head. They just cannot do the job, hence the reluctance to give Mr. Sven Mislintat the job which led to his resignation. We have never been lucky with redheads – Willy Young struggled, Alan Ball was better at Everton,  Steve Sidwell at anywhere but AFC. In fact I can’t think of a carrot-top who has succeeded at THOF.

Marc “Roadrunner”  Overmars has chosen to stay at Ajax which must be to do with the Dutch cuisine which he clearly has developed a passion for (see below)



There was talk of the Brazilian, Edu ,who attested to his love of AFC but chose to remain in a cushy job in a warm climate – and who can blame him.

Other candidates abound but we need an Arsenal Man.

How about one of the TV experts … Wrighty? Now that would be a laugh. Magic Man Merson – we need someone who can read and write. TA6 – imagine the mess after a year. Lee Dixon – possibly. MArtin  Keown – why not? George Graham – I would love to see him cope with the restrictions of working with the Kroenkes

We all know who is the only right and proper candidate  … step up to the plate Sir Arsene Wenger.

You have had your rest, you look back to your magnificent self and you know more about the club than anyone. You never needed a DOF because you are a DOF.

Mr. Wenger … Your Club Needs You

written by Big Raddy

The Genius Players of Arsenal and Beyond

March 21, 2019

A few days ago, Lionel Messi scored an exquisite goal. It was simply sublime in its apparent ease, and nonchalant simplicity.

There is an Italian word for this…….Sprezzatura
Def: The art of performing a difficult task so gracefully that it looks effortless.

I remember using this term here on AA a few years ago, although I cannot remember to whom I was referring. A good guess would be DB10.

We very briefly discussed this Messi gem the other day on here, and it led to an even briefer chat about other such great players that have graced the beautiful game. 

More often than not, when discussing the worlds’ greatest exponents of our beloved game, the names of Maradona and Ronaldo feature highly. Both sensational players, and both capable of turning games single handedly, but for me, they relied too much on blood, sweat and tears to wear the sprezzatura crown. 

I’m thinking of the Mesuts and Le Tissiers of this world…

One common denominator is that these silky players are more often than not the preserve of those in the attacking half. Were there defenders that also possessed this graceful elegance in their play? Maldini? Moore?

Finally, of course, The Arsenal players. Vladimir Petrovic? Alan Hudson? 

written by Micky Didit

Where will we finish in the Prem? – Poll

March 20, 2019

Ten weeks ago on 3rd January, we’d beaten Fulham at home 4-1 a couple of days previously and City had just beaten Liverpool (still the scousers only defeat of the season).

We sat 7 points behind the spuds and 3 behind the chavs in the Premier League. According to the stats chaps we had a 1 in 3 chance of finishing in the top 4. The spuds sat on 90% chance and chavs 70%. Our simulated end of season points total was 71 points, 8 less than the spuds and 4 behind Chelsea.

Scott Willis @oh_that_crab on twitter

Since then we’ve caught up 6 points on both of our London rivals, including picking up maximum points at home to Chelsea and Man U and gaining a creditable (and a touch unlucky to be only a single) point away at Wembley.

The race for the top 4 has opened up with the red mancs having marginally better form than us over those same games. Thankfully the steam appears to be evaporating slightly from the OGS express with back to back defeats.

Since early January our chances of achieving that top four position have, apparently, more than doubled . Meanwhile the spuds’ chances have dropped from 90 to just under 70% and chavs from over 70% to  just less than 1 in 3.

Scott Willis @oh_that_crab on twitter

I realise that this kind of analysis annoys some folks in a similar way to GIE’s swing-o-meter used to perplex me. 🙂

I’ve seen comments on twitter under the second projection saying, ‘this is basically just the League table, isn’t it?’. Of course it’s fine to think like that about attempts to try to statistically analyse a game involving 22 chaps, a pig’s bladder and a man and his buddies dressed in black (or green), all being of indeterminate parentage.

AFP – Getty Images

Anyway, moving on to the fun part. Optimism is high in the Arsenal camp at the start of the interlull having disposed of Rennes and the resurgent mancs in the past week but with 5 away games left of our remaining eight, there are sure to be some ups and downs in the weeks to come.  Wolves away (the game postponed because of their FA Cup game last weekend) has been been rescheduled for Wednesday April 24th and we’re sure of a hot reception at Molineux under the floodlights.

Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal Football Club

Here’s a chance for you to show what a balanced and reasonable Arsenal supporter you are by guessing where we’ll finish come May 12th. We already know that FGG thinks we’ll be lucky to finish 6th and BR only appreciates our slim chances of finishing 4th if the sun’s out in Denmark. 🙂

What other factors need to be taken into account for the run-in?  Your thoughts in the comments below, please.


Back to the beginning of Arsenal

March 19, 2019

Arsenal’s inception came on October 4th, 1886 in the Prince of Wales pub on the edge of Plumstead Common; during a meeting of the Dial Square Cricket Club it was decided to expand the club to include a football section. According to various reports the main people behind adding the football section were David Danskin. Elijah Watkins, Fred Beardsley, John Humble and Richard Pearce.

The first day of the L.G.O.C. route 99 outside the “Prince of Wales,” on the 22 May, 1916

David Danskin (9 Jan 1863 – 4 Aug 1948) was born in Burntisland, Fife, and grew up in Kirkcaldy. He played as an amateur for Kirkcaldy Wanderers; two of his team mates were Jack McBean and Peter Connolly, who would later join him at Royal Arsenal. In 1885 Danskin moved to London to find work, and took a job, as an engineer, at the Dial Square workshop at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich. There he met Jack Humble and former Nottingham Forest players Fred Beardsley and Morris Bates. John Humble and David Danskin are considered to have been the driving force behind the formation of a works football team, Dial Square FC.

Dial Square Sundial, Woolwich

Danskin organised a whip-round amongst his fellow enthusiasts and purchased Dial Square’s first football, and captained the team in their very first match against Eastern Wanderers on 11 December 1886; Dial Square won 6–0. Danskin continued to play for Royal Arsenal, as the club were soon renamed afterwards, for the next two years. Due to an injury incurred against Clapton in January 1889, Danskin elected to step down from the side and rarely played after that.


Arsenal turned professional in 1891, and although Danskin stood for election to the club’s committee in 1892, he did not succeed in getting elected. He ended his official association with Arsenal and later became associated with a new works team from the area, Royal Ordnance Factories, which folded in circa 1896. He also officiated as a referee in local matches. He was still fond enough of Arsenal to attend their games, and his son Billy used to sell programmes at their Manor Ground as a child.

He later started up his own bicycle manufacturing business in Plumstead, before moving to Coventry in 1907 to work for the Standard Motor Company. In his later life he was troubled by ill-health, caused by football related injuries to his legs, and took early retirement. He died in a hospice in Warwick in 1948, at the age of 85 and was buried at London Road Cemetery in Coventry.

In 2007, to commemorate his role in the club’s history, the Arsenal Scotland Supporters Club dedicated a blue plaque to Danskin, near his birthplace in Burntisland.

During Arsenal’s 125th anniversary celebrations, two of David Danskin’s great-grandchildren delivered the match ball for Arsenal’s 1–0 victory over Everton at Emirates Stadium as Arsenal celebrated another milestone.


Where do you stand with VAR, or perhaps more importantly with the laws of our game?

March 18, 2019

So what can we agree upon? Despite the obvious need for a trial of said VAR in advance of it being rolled out “in full” next season, surely it cannot be in any way just for the system to be called upon and used in some quarter finals of the World’s oldest knockout competition, and yet NOT be available to use in others? If it was not possible for it to be used yesterday in the Swansea game, it should not have been used in any of the quarter finals.

David Ramos – FIFA via Getty Images

In a not unusual controversial game as is seen in British football season after season, it might be the case that there are six incidents that it is felt appropriate to refer to VAR. If the average time taken currently to make a decision is between 2 and 3 minutes, this could add 15 to 18 minutes extra to the running time for a game. This is surely not acceptable to us in this country. The next thing will be advert breaks for hot dogs, and Diana Ross singing at half time!

On the same point, with discussions (and punishments) occurring last week regarding pitch invasion and protection for players, surely the VAR system must provide ongoing information for the spectators as to what is being assessed? Frustration/anger at officials is just as likely to bring about pitch invasion on the part of the idiots escaped from the asylums, in my opinion.

This said, I hope Arsenal Arsenal bloggers will agree that if VAR corrects only one of the incompetent decisions most of us see every week from the officials allocated to Arsenal games, it’ll be worth having – even if it’s only once in a while!

And so to the second part of my question……

Three laws in Association Football provide the greatest cause for controversy in our game (and will undoubtedly be the the reason VAR is called upon next season). Rather than tinkering with the laws and, in my opinion, making them even more difficult to understand (as the “authorities” appear to have done in recent years), why not simplify them and make them easier to assess for both officials and spectators alike?

Handball:- take out the word “deliberate” (the one thing that has always been in the law and always been the cause of controversy) and say that if the ball hits the hand or arm in any circumstance it is handball, and if occurring in the penalty box by a defender, a penalty. Of course players will learn how to flick the ball up and onto hand/arm. Same for all, teach it.

Offside:- Go back to giving the forward the advantage. For an assistant referee to give an offside he must see a clear gap between forward and last defender.

With the aim of producing more open and exciting play leading to more goals hopefully, I, personally, would extend the eighteen yard box out to the sidelines and change the law completely to say offsides can only occur forward of that line. You could have cameras stationed on that extended line on both sides of the pitch.

And so to the only law I believe will always be subjective.

The Foul:- change the interpretation required by the officials. It is a man’s game (and women’s ….ed 🙂 ) with physical contact an integral part. Does the challenge from one player on another constitute one that by its force brought down the player? If so, it is an illegal challenge  and should be penalised. Everything else is the difference between largely honest rugby players and largely cheating footballers.

Does that give you anything to contemplate? Happy contemplating!