Arsenal’s 12th Man Needs a Better Song …

August 31, 2019

We need a new anthem.

Something Rasp mentioned the other day about how he wasn’t very keen on the chant of “stand up if you hate Totnum”, got me thinking. Rasp said:

Something that really wound me up at The Emirates on Saturday happened when we were probably only 20 minutes into the game – the ‘stand up if you hate totnum’ chant started up.

I find it pretty juvenile at the best of times, and it’s disrespectful to the players on the pitch. I just wanted to concentrate on watching the game. It’s usually brought out when there’s not much happening. This time it died down quite quickly, but it was started a couple of times more during the game and was met with the same indifference.

I started to think about the different songs and chants that we hear at the Emirates but also around the other grounds. I would assert that some are more positive, and really grip you, making the hairs on the back of your neck stir.

These songs sweep you along and change the mood in the stadium to a positively Arsenal one that must surely rub off on the players.

I agreed with Rasp that “the stand up if you hate Totnum” had more of a negative feel to it. I am not saying it should be binned entirely, but more that it should be used less often and at the appropriate times.

I have also never been too keen on the “come on Arsenal, come on Arsenal” chant. It just sounds a bit feeble and insipid in its tone to me.

Also invariably it comes out at a time when we are either losing a game or drawing in a game we should be winning. With this chant we are urging the players to shift up a gear, but I never feel it is an entirely inspiring chant.

Back to the main point in the title, and I believe the Emirates needs a new anthem. Something positive that seeps through the stadium infecting every Arsenal fan and player. Something that says to the opposition fans and players “we are the mighty Arsenal, and you have entered our den”.

 

 

The kind of chant I feel we are missing out on is one that starts in a slower more haunting way for one verse and then once repeated it builds up in pace to a crescendo ending with the whole stadium chanting “Arsenal,”Arsenal”.

West Ham have ” I’m forever blowing bubbles”, Liverpool have “you’ll never walk alone”, Southampton have “oh when the Saints, go marching in”, and dare I say it Totnum have their own identical version of the latter which I hate to admit is quite haunting and rousing.

I would like to hear from all A.A’ers about how they feel about our chants and songs. Which ones do you like and dislike?

More than this though I want you to seek out your inner Mozart and help us come up with something new. There must be some budding Beethoven’s and Tchaikovsky’s out there that can do this. Let’s start the ball rolling and create a pandemic in goonerdom.

I have my personal choice but will leave that till later and see if anyone else chooses my option…..I’m more of a Des O’Connor than Mozart anyway…… In the meantime, over to you gooners.

Gooner B


What the North London Derby Meant to a True Gooner

August 30, 2019

1971 – a week in the life of a veteran Gooner

Today’s post was written by dandan back in 2010. Sadly Dandan died in 2014. He became a regular and very popular blogger on the site. He was patient with the new generation of ‘entitled’ supporters who had grown up with the stellar success under Arsene Wenger and always sought to remind them of the rich history of the club and the standards it upholds. He’d seen the good times and the bad times, and through all that his love for the Arsenal remained true and constant.

This post is an account of what is considered by many to be the most important north London derby and dandan’s passion for the club. It’s a really good read, we hope you enjoy it.

Monday 3rd May 1971.  Just one day in a 66 year long life. Five children, 10 grandchildren and a couple of wives ago. A working life, a happy life, a fulfilled life, yet in all that life, that day, that Monday 39 years ago stands out clearly, a milestone, a marker to excitement, expectation, pride and above all friendship, togetherness and achievement.

It began early, after working the morning and fidgeting away an hour of the afternoon it was time. I climbed into my car, picked up my mate, one of four of us that traveled to all Arsenal games together. The other two plus my brother were travelling in the Ford escort that was our real communal football vehicle. Our plan was simple we would meet up inside the ground.

We traveled the back doubles avoiding main roads, but it was soon abundantly clear that something was up; mid afternoon and even the side roads were busy. Eventually at about  4 o’ clock we found a road full of parked cars, with a police no parking cone at the end, quickly we parked the car with it’s front against the cone, jumped out, moved the cone to the back of the car and walked off.

White Hart Lane was where all my family’s loyalties lay, only I was the rebel, a gooner among all those spuds. We were on enemy territory, god and what a sight a queue of people 5 or 6 deep all round the ground and into the distance. We knew immediately, absolutely no chance to get in there by normal means. What to do? We headed for the front of the queue, passing thousands of people, hundreds of coppers. A plan was needed this was serious. Finally the main iron gates into the ground were reached, luckily they were still closed, 50 yards beyond them the turnstiles stood mockingly empty, inviting, waiting for the hordes in the endless queue. A line of police stood turning away anyone trying to join the queue.

Right by the main gate stands the White Hart Pub from which the ground gets its name. It was open, we went in and got a couple of half’s (part of the plan –  couldn’t waste money) and then stood outside casually leaning against the pub wall right by the gates, sipping our beers. At 5.30 the gates are unlocked and pulled open inwards. Immediately the people at the front of the queue, who have waited there overnight, rush forward scattering the line of police. We drop our glasses literally, join the rush, and sprint to the turnstiles, pay our money and we are through and in. We must have been two of the first 50 in the ground, as the man says don’t you love it when a plan comes together.

Not only are we in the ground, but also in the enclosure, people were pouring in. We felt desperate for our mates, knowing they had no chance of getting in as they had intended leaving work a bit later.

Then amazingly there they were, pushing through the crowd to join us, I had reckoned they’d be without my brother, a spud, although he knew this ground like the back of his hand.  In those days there was a press gate in one of the side roads, he was a regular there, a few quid in the attendants hand and he and they were through. 52,000 thousand locked out and we had all made it. They had just abandoned the car in a traffic jam, if it got towed, tough. It wasn’t they found it after the match and drove home.

The game was a blur with chances at either end, gradually we got on top, a 0 – 0 draw would be enough to win the league. Then with 3 minutes to go, Geordie Armstrong centered, Ray Kennedy leaped and headed home. Pandemonium, the stadium muted with tension till then, erupted. White Hart became Red and White Hart, every Spud seemed to disappear under a sea of scarves, hats and frantic, cheering, hugging, jumping Gooners.  The Spurs team went berserk kicking all and sundry the intention seeming to be that we would not field a full team in Saturdays cup final to take their ‘double’ record away. The referee saw what was happening and sensibly blew the whistle early. Where and how all the spuds disappeared to has puzzled me over the years, but the stadium from the moment the goal went in belonged to The Arsenal.

We left deliriously happy, found the car. No ticket, moved the cone and moved off listening to the radio singing and laughing. The normal 1hr journey home took 2 hrs but we never really noticed, what a day, what a night and the cup final still to come just 5 days away.

I had intended to end this post right there, with the championship won and the first leg of the 1971 double secured. But the act of writing it down after all these years, set me to thinking just how immense the events surrounding The Arsenal of the double year and that week in particular were in my life. Enlightening me above all to the importance of friendship and loyalty in a changing world.

First some background, as I said earlier I came from a family of Spuds, my earliest football memories are of being taken to WHL by my father (I saw Stanley Mathews play there, for Stoke I think) and the cup finals on TV. In those far off days the Cup Final was the only game live on TV, although before that you could see short highlights of it on Pathe News at Saturday morning cinema.

We then moved from London to Hertfordshire about a mile from what is now Beckingham Palace the home of David and Posh. So a trip into London for a carless family was an expensive undertaking and not taken often. For this reason as we got older the annual BBC Cup Final broadcast became a big event in our house. My 2 mates from school both Gooners would come along together with a gaggle of friends and family of the Spud variety.

Mum would move back and forth recharging cups and glasses and topping up the buffet she had provided, whilst we huddled around the TV. Then came the 1961 final when Dads dreams came true and Spurs did the double and the family partied long into the night. Us three Gooners of course the butt of every joke going. We were 17 at the time, apprentices or trainees, just able to afford to go to the home games at Highbury by train. Later I got a car and all games became available. But always the Cup Final at my parents home for my mates and I was mandatory.

Fast forward to 1971 double year, my parents have moved to Southampton, as Dads progression through the company required him to relocate. Then a week before Christmas the world changed, whilst travelling the dual carriageway that predated the M3 my dad’s car was hit by a lorry that came through the trees that lined the central reservation, he and his passenger died instantly.

I was devastated, my Dad and great mate gone. But my three Arsenal mates took over and made sure that I was accompanied to every Arsenal game that season and as they moved inexorably towards the double the sadness and realisation of the leg pulling and verbal I was missing with Dad grew.

Came that final week in May, Spurs on the Monday a euphoric, poignant day safely negotiated. Now because we had saved our programme vouchers, we also had our cup final tickets. But as the five days past I realised that I could not go to Wembley leaving my Mum alone down in Southampton, I needed to go and watch it with her. I gave my ticket to my mates and told them to give them to a Arsenal fan outside the ground.

They said nothing until Friday, our snooker night, when we met up they dropped the bombshell, they too had given their tickets away, and the faithful Escort all ballooned and ribboned up was parked outside and  bound for Southampton in the morning.

Needless to say it was a marvelous day tinged with sadness of course, Liverpool were overcome. Willow missed one on  the near post, Charlie lay on his back and waited his adulation, GG claimed a goal he never touched, whilst Eddy the real scorer couldn’t give a monkeys at the time, Frank at the final whistle, told the world we had xxxxxxx done it. Whilst we in the smart bungalow in Southampton watched it all on the big new colour Television that Dad had brought for my mum just 6 months previously.

It helped a lovely lady start to come to terms with her loss, but it taught me the meaning of true friends, enriching my life beyond belief and now all these years later as retirees, we still meet and greet and talk about our Arsenal days.

So I owe the Arsenal a great deal. Remarkably just that one word conjures up memories, of triumphs and disasters, but most of all it reminds me, that a common interest cemented four young men into lifetime friends.

Finally, may I say, as a newcomer, that as I read your posts, I sense that same feeling of comradeship, and respect for each other. Great game football, great club the Arsenal.

Written by dandan R.I.P.


Torreira and Xhaka – what are their best positions?

August 29, 2019
This week there has been a lot of discussion about how our collection of mid-fielders fit into different systems and what our best combination could be. The following comments formed part of that discussion a couple of days ago.
Mike M says:

FGG. Here’s a question that I don’t know the answer to, mostly because I didn’t really know anything about him before we signed him but what role do you think we signed Torreira for?

I really though he’d be our anchor DM along with Xhaka. Indeed when we signed Xhaka I thought that’s what he was too !! Now I understand interchanging so if LT or XG go forward, someone covers them but without the ball, shouldn’t they be our deep lying midfielder and if we lose the ball, be busting a gut to get back in front of the defence centrally? Or is it that the roles are changing in the PL?

fatgingergooner says:

Mike,

I have to say that they’ve both baffled me a little as well. I think roles have changed a little in that clubs now realise you can get more from a HM player than just tackling, so in that respect these 2 could be perfect modern day players as they both offer more (Xhaka with his long passing and Torreira with his attacking play) but the problem seems to be that neither does the defensive part well enough in the first place!

I can’t answer your question about why they were bought, but what I would say is that there are a couple of things to ponder when looking at the signings. Firstly, they were bought by different managers who have different ideas about what our midfield should look like, and secondly, and probably more importantly, they were both bought within a certain budget limitation.

What I mean by that is sometimes when you don’t have infinite financial backing, you have to compromise a little bit on a players skill set and hope that you can develop him as you want, which is always a bit of a gamble. Maybe both managers saw tenacious, tough tackling players and thought they could mould them into a HM type, but actually when they’ve had them on the training ground, it’s turned out that they don’t quite have the discipline or the ability to read the game as they had hoped.

Xhaka just seems to lack the ability to sniff danger before it’s happened, whereas Torreira doesn’t quite have the positional discipline required and seems to enjoy getting involved in the attack a little more than expected. I wonder if both were bought with that HM position in mind but it just hasn’t worked out.

I actually think they were our best partnership last season and their skill sets complimented each other fairly well. I’d like to see them get another crack as a pair or maybe even as a 3 with Willock behind 3 attacking players.

It seems to me that we have been collecting mid-fielders in the hope that some turn out to be the players we require in the positions we need them. If Emery is going to find the right combination, how long is it going to take?

peachesgooner


Mesut Özil Ate My Hamster …

August 28, 2019

I know, I know, but its a slow Wednesday morning and Sunday seems to be taking forever to arrive so don’t expect too much this morning people. The link, however, is the position that Ozil plays and I am assuming that had he been fit and on form then he would have played at the head of the diamond in place of Ceballos against Liverpool, agreed, or maybe not?

Özil or Ceballos?

This brings me to the link between Ozil and Ceballos and the question of why do we need them both; the answer is that we probably don’t. My guess is that Ozil remains wrapped in cotton wool on the off chance that someone might buy him in the remainder of this Euro transfer window. As a guess as to what is going on behind the scenes with him this is no big deal, pedestrian really, but how the club are going about replacing him is what is fascinating me.

Buying a tried and tested attacking midfielder would probably cost, in wages terms, around four hundred thousand pounds a week, hang on didn’t we have one of those but let him go – Ramsey wasn’t it? You get my drift, they are few and far between, they are expensive and even worse it is still possible to make a massive mistake. There is no better example than the debacle that United are dealing with right now with the “tried and tested” Sanchez — phew, dodged that bullet.

Back to Ceballos. Last week we all would have been happy if he were signed then and there and the name Ozil never mentioned again, this week, mah, not so much. It is also far easier to see why the club didn’t try and push the boat out in an attempt to sign him outright from day one. Cleverly, we get to see him develop all season before we choose to spend the big bucks, the club might want to do that as well but our opinion (we) is far more important of course, lol. It’s a good strategy, it’s a clever strategy and as an attempt to replace Ozil, be it this season or next, I think it is worth pointing out.

Ceballos or Torreira?

And, that believe it or not, brings me to where I wanted to be all along. Mike asked: “If you lose a game does it by definition mean the tactics are flawed?” Certainly not, in my opinion, but with the use of hindsight surely we would have been better off playing Torreira at the head of the diamond instead of Ceballos.

I am not convinced that our five foot, two Uruguayan is the defensive midfielder that we all seem to think he is. Has anyone seen such archetypal DMs such as Kante or Makelele steal inside the box and score goals such as Torreira’s against spuds or against Liverool on the weekend for that matter?

Our pocket rocket can operate well in the box and score goals, the importance of which should never be underestimated; perhaps I can describe him as a Swiss army knife with far more tools available than people are realising or maybe accepting — surely he is better deployed as an attacking midfielder than a rigid DM?

LB


Does Guendouzi Do It For You?

August 27, 2019

Emery said this about Guendouzi in his pre-match conference for the Liverpool game:

Matteo is very young but he has talent, his talent is to adapt to what we need. We are working tactically and individually, a lot on videos and a lot on the pitch. It’s a big challenge for me and him to achieve a big level here. Last year his process was very good but we miss a lot with him to achieve big moments.

Really, really I am very optimistic with him because he has this talent. We can improve other things, physically – we are working in the gym – his mentality. He has potential right now to help us achieve the best performance.

After the game, Emery praised Willock but also said that Douzi had a good match.

I thought that Douzi had an “OK” game. He ran a lot, he had a lot of passes but he (and Sokratis) were beaten for the Matip goal on a corner kick and he did not have one shot on target, not one key pass. Douzi is only 20 and we shouldn’t be too harsh on him but it is clear to see that there is a lot of room for improvement. I think for him, it is about:

  1. Becoming more effective with his running and his passing
  2. Being tactially more aware on defensive, transition and offensive phases
  3. Becoming stronger physically as well

Torreira, Willock and Guendouzi have fantastic attitude and also a great desire to run and work hard for the team. They are young and full of energy but none of them is a DM as of now and they need to play with someone who is more sound defensively. If we are playing in a double pivot (DM-MC), then none of them can play together unless Torreira is confined to a DM role and none of them should play with Xhaka. So what is our best available DM-MC pair?

Now back to Douzi – I think he is a well liked players and fans – but should he command a starting spot for EPL games? Wouldn’t it be wiser to help him grow as a player by playing him in Cup Games and then giving him some game time in the EPL as a sub?

Back to you…Does Douzi do it for you? Here are somes stats for you to help you make up your mind: https://www.premierleague.com/players/50512/Matteo-Guendouzi/stats?co=1&se=274

RC78

Enough of Your Moaning … Now For The Positivity

August 26, 2019

There were mixed reactions to Arsenal’s loss to Liverpool at the weekend, but most subscribed to the ‘work in progress’ theory and looked for the positives … here are some of the more constructive appraisals:

Kelsey:

Many are now blaming Emery for his team selection (debatable) and tactics but if he is to be a top manager for us he will hopefully have learnt something and the key areas where to strengthen. Luiz was stupid but you see that in every game. In all probability without pulling Salah’s shirt, he still would have scored

Xhaka again didn’t stamp any authority on the game and Monreal yet again got caught out of position.

Maybe Pepe should have scored but he will be awesome and no mean task to make your debut at Anfield.

We were always second best but one can’t fault our work rate.

fatgingergooner:

The first goal is always key in these games. If Pepe had scored when through then this could’ve been a different story, but to concede just before and just after half time will kill any side. It’s even worse when you gift them the goals.

I thought our shape was actually ok. We played a diamond with Ceballos at the point and Xhaka deep. Yes, we were very narrow and allowed their full backs space, but actually they didn’t test Leno really from the crosses that came in and it was other parts of our overall play that cost us.

Pepe was fantastic and if you don’t get excited watching him and Auba linking together then I don’t know what to say. I really hope we see the trio soon with Lacazette coming in to see what we can really do. His finishing needs work but his running and eye for pass were on show again.

Willock was outstanding and looks every bit a new star in our midfield and exactly what we need. What’s not to love about his energy, composure and ability. Love him.

Geundouzi’s energy was also a joy but he lacks a bit of refinement. Hopefully that will come with experience and I think his and Willock energy just takes a bit of pressure off Xhaka. Before the first goal I actually thought the midfield 3 were giving us good protection and we looked pretty good until that Pepe miss and set piece lapse in concentration.

Pat7:

Yes, we gave away the wings but did well protecting our centre and the crosses and I’d say we had the best of chances in the first half. I’m not sure if we were back to full concentration when Luiz saw Salah slip in and grabbed his shirt. I can’t blame him for that. Despite the rule change with VAR all players are still grabbing shirts and it will take time to get this habit out of their game, especially one that’s been playing the whole of his career like that!

So, 2-0 down and then 3. At this point I thought we looked doomed to another bashing with half hour to go but not sure whether Pool lost the desire a bit knowing the game was won or maybe they tired too – maybe a bit of both.

We played out the game and our heads didn’t drop, gained a bit more confidence and got a consolation, one back. I thought on the day we were just not as well oiled or confident as them. We have 3 first teamers waiting to join the crew and I look forward to a better match next time, maybe with better tactics by then if all goes well.

RockyLives:

Another thing to bear is mind is that ‘Pool had pretty much their strongest team on the pitch yesterday.

It’s quite likely that UE’s strongest team later in the season will be something like:

Leno
Bellerin-Holding-Luiz-Tierney
Torreira-Ceballos*-Guendouzi/Willock
Pepe-Lacazette-Aubameyang

GoonerB:

The positives from this game were as follows:

1. we can see that we have the depth and variety to change things from our bench, and Pepe I think will soon start to terrorise teams.

2. Willock indeed looks a great BTB player completely suited to the EPL and with quality as well. Scarily (good for us) he will also improve further.

3. We have some great players individually and I feel this will be a stronger EPL campaign for us overall. We should have enough to beat most of the teams that we should beat with less banana skins.

4. Torreira has again shown he has an eye for goal and the ability to drive forwards in addition to his tackling and defensive tenacity. He looks another great potential BTB player, but this raises the conundrum of who plays the holding midfield position to allow him to play to his peak.

So all in all, an away loss to the team that only lost one game last season and whose home ground has been the proverbial fortress is not a disaster.

We’d all have taken a loss at Anfield if we get the 3 points this weekend wouldn’t we?

Rasp


Arsenal Lose … by Trying Not To Lose

August 25, 2019

The starting lineup:

Leno, AMN,Sokratis, Luiz, Monreal, Willock, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Xhaka, Aubameyang and Pepe. This was the side that was going to keep our unbeaten strike alive hmm? I thought Lacazatte not starting a very strange one.

 

First Half

Arsenal started the game nervously making a few defensive errors while trying to pass the ball from the back. We are lined up differently with a back four and diamond in the middle with Ceballos at the tip and xhaka at the base (OH BOY). It seems Emery wanted to win the midfield battle and then release PEA and Pepe. It nearly worked when Pepe was released and Adrian trying to clear the ball gave it to PEA, but his chip went narrowly wide.

The most glaring error came when was Ceballos had dropped deep and then tried to hit a cross ball but instead passed it straight to Mane. Luckily Leno kept it out. There was some good work from Willock on the left nutmegging Arnold and giving the ball to PEA who then feds Pepe whose curling shot was narrowly wide of the post.

Arsenal allowed Liverpool’s FBs to cross the ball far too often. I was extremely nervous of this after last week against Burnley when we missed a lot of headers.

Another chance came when Pepe ran onto a though ball and beat the last defender, but he didn’t get enough power in the shot.

As often happens, we miss a chance and then the opposition scores as they did when Matips then put Liverpool one in front from a corner just before half time.

Poor defending from the corner let us down once again. Why was  Gendouzi marking Matip? The last few time we have visited Anfield the game was all but over by half time so I was pleased we were still in with a fighting chance today at this point.

 

Second Half

Not a great start.

Another lapse in defense this time from our most experienced defender who tugged on Salah’s jersey led to a penalty (what was he even thinking) and it was 2 nil to Liverpool. What was so infuriating about this goal was that it came 46th minute, Luiz shouldn’t be losing his concentration so early into the second half.

In the 51st minute Pepe slipped a ball through to PEA who was clearly offside, but the recovering tackle form Matip was amazing – why don’t we get that type of desire from our defenders. Later Luiz decided to jump out of the way Salah’s way and left the defense exposed and the Egyptian was clinical making it 3-0.

At this point, Emery decided to make a change bringing on Torreira on for Ceballos. I didn’t understand the move because at 3 nil down surely we should be attacking not trying to defend a 3 nil deficit. Liverpool just kept slicing us open and we were lucky not to concede another.

With 10 minutes to go Emery now decided to bring on Lacazette and within four minutes,Torrerira had made it 3-1. With 6 minutes to go there wasn’t enough time for a comeback. The side began to play with more confidence with Lacazette who looked lively and called for a hand ball but wasn’t given. Full Time 3-1

 

Conclusion

I’m still not sure how to feel after this defeat. If PEA or Pepe had taken their chances game might have turned out differently. Today was a real test and what I wanted from it was for us to show that we are improving. If we are going to play anti-football at least do it with some conviction. Should we be even be playing anti-football with our squad we have one of the best front 3’s in football?

Under Emery we seem to lack an identity, one minute we pressing the next we playing defensively. In the Burnley game I saw the passing out from the back worked on just one occasion – we have been practicing this for an entire year. (I watched Norwich today and they seem to be able to pass out from the back way better than we ever do).

 

Ratings

Leno – Little he could do for the goals, didn’t he have a stealer penalty record in Germany hmm … 6

AMN – should have given us some more width but seem he was instructed to defend rather than attack … 5

Sokratis – needs to stop pulling the person he is marking … 6

David Luiz – The reason I didn’t want him to be bought was shown in full effect in second half, was decent in first half … 4

Monreal – Wasn’t able to help the team today, better defending could have stopped the third goal… 5

Guendouzi – made some good dribble to bring the ball out … 6

Wiilock – another good performance … 7

Ceballos – sloppy passing almost leading to a Mane goal … 4

Xhaka – tried some long ball to find the attacker … 5

Aubameyang –  should have scored when mistake was made by Adrian … 5

Pepe – had to great chances unlucky not to covert … 5

 

Subs

Torreira – scored our consolation goal, hopefully he ready to start am sick of xhaka… 6

 

Emery – was guyilty of overthinking things I believe. He lined up today not to lose, rather than to win the game … 3

fred1266