Five Favourite Arsenal moments from this decade ……. add your own.

December 30, 2019

Sometimes, you just need some nostalgia, so here’s a big dollop as this decade draws to a close.

These are my top five favourite Arsenal moments from this decade. Feel free to like or dislike mine and add your own in the comments.

Henry returns v Leeds

January 2012

This was a marvellous night. Dad’s proudly brought small sons, who had never seen him play, to have the opportunity to watch Thierry Henry grace our pitch. They weren’t disappointed, we weren’t disappointed ……. he scored, The Emirates erupted, it was written in the script.

 

Arsenal 2 Barcelona 1

February 2011

There was no script for this next game or if there was, we tore it up. It was another atmospheric night at The Emirates. We really did play football like this 😁

 

Arsenal 5 Totts 2

Twice in 2012, February and November

This is a double whammy. Beating Totts twice at home in one year with the score line 5-2 oh how we laughed.

February 2012 – can only find this with arabic commentary.

November 2012

FA Cup win 2014

We won 3 FA Cups in this decade, 2014, 2015 and 2017. To me the 2014 is the sweetest, coming after a long trophy drought.

Oh how we smiled

Wilshire goal (team goal) v Norwich

There were some special goals scored, obviously there were. It was tough to choose between this fabulous team goal and the Olivier Giroud scorpion. But in the end I chose this one.

 

Please add as many goals and games as you like in the comments for everyone to enjoy.

Wishing you all a Happy New Arsenal in 2020 and beyond.

peachesgooner


Art Breaker: Chelsea Report & Ratings

December 30, 2019

This game brought out some emotions we haven’t felt for a while.

Pride, satisfaction, enjoyment… I experienced all of those for large parts of the match – and it has been a long time since an Arsenal performance produced that effect.

Then absolute heartbreak and disappointment, which again felt novel. This season our defeats have just been a depression sandwich with a layer of inevitability sauce smeared on the top.

But not yesterday. Yesterday we looked like a team that was well organised and that cared, so when we lost at the death I cared too and I think most fans felt the same.

A summary of the game: for the first half hour especially (and overall until we tired in the last 15 minutes) we actually looked like a team that knew what it was doing.

We were compact, we were organised, we tackled and chased. We were really good and it brought us a 1-0 lead that was thoroughly deserved. A cross from our left was flicked on by Chambers and Aubameyang’s movement and determination got him to the ball in the six yard box to head home.

We had other good chances throughout the game to score – Aubameyang laid it off to Lacazette in the box but his first touch was poor; a Willock shot drifted wide.

Torreira was having an excellent game in the holding midfield role and Ozil was pulling the strings going forward. Thirty minutes in we were so on top it was embarrassing.

In Saturday’s blog I raised the question of whether Arteta or Lampard had more promise as a manager. Well, Arteta is clearly having an instant impact on Arsenal, but it was Lampard who pulled off the managerial masterstroke.

With a little over half an hour gone and Chelsea being outplayed all over the pitch, he took the brave decision to make an early substitution, hooking Emerson and replacing him with Jorginho. Although we continued to play well, the change gave Chelsea more compactness and they started to have more of the ball from that point on.

In the second half Chelsea had plenty of possession but we were coping well and they had few chances on goal.

Then, with 10 minutes to go, our most consistent player of the season made an almighty boo-boo. A high cross came in from our right and Bernt Leno charged out to punch it, got nowhere near and the ball flew over everyone to Jorginho, who was unmarked at the back post for a tap-in.

It was a shocker from Leno and, if he had not messed up I’m pretty confident we would have held on for the three points.

Stung by the goal we went all out for a winner (Arteta threw on Pepe for some fresh legs). But whatever else we’ve been doing in training over the last year it’s clear that fitness has not been a priority and we were obviously tiring in the last quarter of an hour. So when one of our attacks broke down and Chelsea launched a counter, too many of our players lacked the energy to chase back effectively.

Chelsea got the ball wide, from where a cutback from Willian allowed Abraham to collect the ball in the box, turn and shoot home through Leno’s legs.

I have seen lots of people slaughtering Mustafi for the goal, but that’s just the usual scapegoating that certain Arsenal fans feel the need to indulge in whenever things don’t go the way they like. Could Mustafi have been tighter on Abraham? Yes, but Willian’s cutback was nicely disguised. It had looked as if he was going to square the ball across the six yard box and Mustafi took half a step to cut it out before seeing the ball cut backwards. No doubt if he had stayed with Abraham and Willian had squared the ball leading to a goal, Mustafi would be being slaughtered for not anticipating the cross.

However, I think you can question whether it was sensible to push for a winner at 1-1, when we had so many tired legs.

Even at 1-2 down, Torreira had a great chance to volley home unchallenged to salvage a point but misconnected with the ball.

There were other gripes: the referee was awful, allowing constant small fouls by Chelsea players and showing massive inconsistency by not giving Jorginho a second yellow for a shirt tug on Guendouzi; we lost yet another defender to injury when Chambers had to leave the pitch; our fitness levels need looking at.

But my big take away was that for the first time in a long time we looked like a team that both had a plan and believed in that plan. I’ll take that for now, despite the pain.

RockyLives

Player Ratings

Leno 3

Sorry, I know that’s harsh and he has been good all season but… that was one terrible time to make such a colossal blunder and it cost us all three points.

Maitland-Niles 6.5

Continues his steady run of form.

Saka 7

Good energy and positional discipline for the most part. And linked up well going forward.

Chambers 7

Looked comfortable until forced off by injury.

Luiz 7

Good game for the Brazilian, winning headers, making tackles and cutting out Chelsea attacks.

Torreira 7.5

Seems to be loving being played in his proper position. A very effective midfield shield throughout. A shame he didn’t connect with that late volley chance.

Guendouzi 6

Plenty of energy but a little bit of a weak link yesterday. His tendency to make silly fouls is a dangerous one and we were lucky that VAR didn’t award a penalty for his tug on a Chelsea arm in our box. He needs more discipline.

Ozil 7.5

Was running the game for most of the first half and looked good throughout until tiring, at which point he was subbed off.

Nelson 7

This lad is justifying his selection under Arteta. Another decent game. His willingness to take on defenders helps make things happen.

Aubameyang 8 MoTM

Took his goal really well and worked tirelessly all game, often appearing to be an auxiliary left back. An example to the rest of the team.

Lacazette 6

I don’t know where he left his shooting boots, but I wish he’d hurry up and find them.

Subs

Mustafi 6

Filled in well when he came on for Chambers on 23 minutes, but he does not have Chambers’ composure on the ball and that probably affected us a little. Some will say he was at fault for Chelsea’s second but I think that’s harsh.

Willock 6

On for Ozil on 76 minutes. Didn’t make a huge impact.

Pepe 5

Got four minutes plus injury time (another seven minutes) but didn’t get a chance to do much.

 


Arsenal v Chelsea pre-match

December 29, 2019

Match day 20 and into the second half of the season. Today we welcome Chelsea to The Home of Football. We sit 12th in the table and they are 4th with eight points between us. Doesn’t seem real does it? Oh well, we are where we are and the only way is up (hopefully).

There were signs of improvement against Bournemouth in our last game (only three days ago) so I’m hopeful that the players are buying into Arteta’s vision and happy to follow his plans. I hope it doesn’t all go a bit silly today because it’s a London Derby.

There has been great rivalry between us and Chelsea over the years with them calling the shots recently although 2017 was a high point for us …….. beating them 3-0 at the Emirates in the league and then beating them in the FA Cup final 🙂 Their mean, tough strikers had been the undoing of us for quite some time, they were underhand and ruthless and punished us for being a bit soft. But in the 3-0 win we beat them with our most fabulous football which I’m hoping is what will happen today.

Against Bournemouth Mikel had plumped for experience with the addition of Nelson on the wing. I know he had Saka on the pitch at left-back but that was out of necessity and Saka is going to have to get used to playing there for a few weeks I think.

We should see Chambers back today which will be good as he’ll have played against Abrahams many times. No one else is banned for today and it would be good to have Martinelli back in the squad, he’s going to have a late fitness test.

We need to be ruthless in front of goal, we created chances in the last game but didn’t put them away. I think Martinelli could help there because he gets into great positions and loves to throw himself at an opportunity to score.

We have another big home game coming up on Wednesday so will Arteta rotate or stick with his starting line up from the other day plus a couple of forced changes.

Here’s my predicted line up.

Leno

AMN   Chambers  Luiz   Saka

Torreira   Xhaka

Ozil

Pepe  Lacazette  Aubameyang

I hope we can steal three points …………….

peachesgooner


Arteta or Lampard?

December 28, 2019

Tomorrow brings an intriguing clash not just between Arsenal and Chelsea, but between the two youngest managers in the Premier League.

Mikel Arteta, who will be in charge for only his second game, is 37 years old. Frank Lampard is 41 and will be sending out a Chelsea team for only the 29th time.

So here’s a question to get us in the mood for tomorrow’s fixture: which of these two young coaches do you feel in your gut is most likely to have a successful career in management?

Let’s have a very quick look at their CVs:

Frank Lampard

Lampard was born into a footballing family, the son of Frank Lampard Snr who played left back for West Ham from 1967-1985 and the nephew of Harry Redknapp, the well known former Tottenham manager and amateur accountant.

After starting his career at West Ham, Frank Jnr joined Chelsea in 2001 and went on to become a mainstay of the most successful Blues team in decades, winning three league championships, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League. Not a bad haul.

His style of play was as a hard-grafting box-to-box midfielder with a particular eye for goal. His knack for scoring from deflected shots was so effective that pundits began to wonder if he was doing it on purpose.

As a player Lampard worked under some very successful managers including Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafa Benitez.

After retiring as a player he started his coaching career as manager of Derby County in the Championship, where he guided them to a sixth place finish and a place in the play-offs in the 2018-19 season. They lost in the play-off final to Aston Villa and Lampard was snatched up by Chelsea in the close season.

In this, his first season in charge of the Blues, he has a record of Played 28, Won 14, Drawn 5, Lost 9, with a win rate of 50%.

Mikel Arteta

Born in San Sebastian, Spain, Arteta played with Barcelona’s youth set-up but never made the first team and signed for Rangers in the Scottish Premier League in 2003, winning the double in his first season. He moved to Everton in 2005 where he stayed for six years. He was a fan favourite at the Toffees and widely considered to be the classiest player in the team.

In 2011 he joined Arsenal where he stayed for five years, playing in a more withdrawn role in front of the defence than he had at Everton. As at Everton, he quickly became a highly valued player by the fans who especially loved his immovable Action Man hair.

His honours include the FA Cup with Arsenal, that Double in Scotland and an Intertoto Cup win while on loan from Barcelona at Paris St Germain.

After hanging up his boots Arteta was offered three career opportunities: to head up the Arsenal Academy, to join Mauricio Pochettino’s coaching set-up at Totteringham or to become assistant coach at Man City under Pep Guardiola. Obviously the first and third options were the only ones in play, since no Arsenal man would dream of heading to the N17 Toilet Bowl, and in the end Arteta plumped for Man City.

In his time at the Etihad he established himself as the right hand man of Guardiola and became highly valued by Pep and the senior team at City.

So there you have it.

Lampard had a more successful playing career than Arteta and already has quite a bit more managerial experience. However, Arteta has spent three years learning from the best and most innovative coach of the last decade.

There is one other aspect to take into account: call it “demeanour” or “the X factor”. It’s that special something that makes winners out of people. Arsene Wenger had it, so too Alex Ferguson. For all his faults Jose Mourinho has it, as does Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola has it in spades.

It can probably best be described as a kind of moral toughness and certainty: the refusal to accept anything but the best and the conviction to believe that you know how to achieve the best.

I’d say the jury is out on Lampard in that regard. My suspicion is that he might be too nice a guy to really be a top, top manager.

With Arteta, the jury hasn’t even been selected, never mind going out. But there is something about the way he has handled himself in his interviews since being appointed head coach at Arsenal that hints at a steely determination to succeed.

My gut instinct is that Arteta may have a bit more Ingredient X than Lampard, but that’s easily put down to my inherent bias as an Arsenal supporter.

Time will tell, starting tomorrow.

What do you think?

RockyLives


Arsenal Invent New Concept: Bournemouth Report & Ratings

December 27, 2019

If I had a pound for every time I heard someone say: “How come we’re the only club that doesn’t get a New Manager Bounce?” I’d have… well, a few pounds.

But everyone saying that is missing the point. The Arsenal has always been a club of innovation: first team to use numbers on the back of the players’ shirts (1927); first team to play a match broadcast live on radio (versus Sheffield United, 1927); first team to play in a match broadcast live on TV (versus Arsenal reserves, 1937); first team to play a match broadcast live in 3D (versus Man Utd, January 31st 2010); first team in the modern era to go a whole season unbeaten (2003-4)… I could go on.

And now we’ve done it again. Let the others have their New Manager Bounces, we have something new.

Think about it. What does a “bounce” mean. It means you suddenly rise up, usually by winning games. But keen students of gravity will know that a bounce doesn’t only go in one direction. At a certain point planetary mass enters the equation and the bounce goes into reverse, and this phenomenon is often experienced by clubs with new bosses: a short term improvement followed by a return to previous struggles.

Which is why I am not unhappy that we have taken a different path… indeed, as far as I can tell, a completely new one.

We have had one game with Mikel Arteta fully in charge (yesterday) and one immediately after he was announced as Head Coach and in which he appears to have had at least some input with the players (Everton away).

Taking these two games as a piece, there have been definite signs of improvement, even though both resulted in away draws for us.

So, we did not suddenly start winning (no New Manager Bounce) but nor did we lose and, along the way, we started playing better.

We are the proud inventors of the New Manager Glide: a smooth sense of progress with a gentle uphill trajectory. The good thing about a Glide is that, unlike a Bounce, it is not fated to go into reverse at any moment.

The Glide was in evidence in numerous ways in our Boxing Day trip to trifle with the Cherries: faster passing and an improvement in off-the-ball movement; key players (particularly Torreira and Xhaka) holding their positions much more than usual; an improved effort from Mesut Ozil; and an overall sense of commitment and effort from ALL players, not just the young ones.

Arteta’s first starting 11 was partly dictated by injuries (hence Saka at LB, AMN at RB and no real options outside of Sokratis and Luiz as starting CBs). Further forward he opted more for experience than youth, with Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang all starting. Reiss Nelson was the only unforced youth option.

Whatever has happened in training in the short period Arteta has had with the squad, it seemed to pay off from the start. The small signs of improvement we were seeing during Freddie’s stewardship took a big step forward.

In the first half hour we could easily have had two or three goals if our strikers had been just a little bit more on their toes and if the ball had broken more kindly for us once or twice.

Ozil was demanding the ball and dictating play; Torreira’s relief at finally being told he could play as a holding midfielder was palpable and he had his best game for at least a year; Nelson also had his best game in an Arsenal shirt and was a threat throughout; if Saka had worn a football boot instead of Daniel Day Lewis’s prosthetic leg from My Left Foot he might have bagged a hatful of assists.

At the back, Luiz and Sokratis were mostly solid and Leno continued his good run of form with a display of German aerial dominance not seen since Dunkirk.

It was genuinely exciting to watch us attacking at pace and creating chances in the Bournemouth penalty area… but just to show that you don’t get rid of bad habits overnight, we inevitably conceded in what was almost the Cherries’ first attack.

Predictably it came from us trying to pass out from our ‘keeper while all our players were being heavily pressed by the opposition. It ended up going to Luiz at the corner flag who managed to get it down the line to Saka, under pressure. He had to play it to a closely marked team mate and we lost the ball. Bournemouth broke fast, no-one tracked the run of Dan Gosling into our six yard box and we were 1-0 down against the run of play.

I did not like seeing Saka doing the “Denilson Jog” back towards our box after giving possession away: he probably would not have caught Gosling but I’d damn well like him to make the effort, because if Gosling’s shot had not gone straight in, Saka’s presence might have been needed to prevent a second chance opportunity.

As far as playing out from the back is concerned, we surely need the players to use some in-game intelligence in these situations. If Leno has the ball and every opportunity to pass it out from the back is cut off, it’s far better to kick it long and lose possession deep in the opposition’s half rather than deep in our own.

After conceding we went into our shell for the remaining 15 minutes of the first half (a clear sign that our confidence levels, so damaged by the mismanagement of the Emery period, will take time to recover).

In the second half we stepped up a gear and got an equaliser through Aubameyang who neatly tucked away a deflected Nelson shot. We had other chances that didn’t quite fall for us (sometimes we were denied by brave defending from Bournemouth). We seemed to tire in the last 10 to 15 minutes and by that stage the draw looked inevitable.

I have mentioned the positives: some signs of green shoots of recovery under the new regime. There were also some negatives which Arteta will have seen and will need to deal with. Some of the lackadaisical concentration that has crept into our play was still there (players attempting stupidly dangerous passes and losing possession, players switching off at crucial moments, some hesitation in passing etc). But these can all be fixed.

This was an encouraging start to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal reign and something to hopefully build on for two very big games coming up fast.

Player Ratings

Leno 6.5

Didn’t have to make too many saves but commanded his area well. No chance for the goal.

Maitland-Niles 6

We never look fully secure with AMN at right back. This was not his best game but he did OK.

Saka 5

Jogging back for their goal; couldn’t get a cross anywhere near the danger area to save his life; out of position a few times when Bournemouth attacked…  and yet: he was a constant threat down our left flank and if his many crosses had been delivered with accuracy he might have had a couple of assists. Far from a good game but I still like this kid’s potential.

Sokratis 6

Did OK. Bournemouth have some big lads and he coped fairly well. He’ll always have a couple of moments on the ball in every game where he gives me heart palpitations.

Luiz 6.5

Pretty good in defence including some brave blocks. He made one trademark David Luiz pass to set up a good chance after carrying the ball out from the back. More of that please David.

Torreira 7.5 MoTM

Who knew? When you give a natural defensive midfielder the job of being, um, a defensive midfielder, he plays well and improves the whole team. Positional discipline was strong, he was quick to the tackle and broke up numerous Bournemouth moves.

Xhaka 6

Whether or not he’s on his way to Berlin, Granit seemed to enjoy not having to be an out-and-out holding midfielder. Typically tidy on the ball but might have influenced the game a bit more going forward.

Ozil 7

Tailed off in the second half, but in the first half we saw how a committed Ozil at the heart of the team can really make a difference. I could see Arteta starting to build his whole approach around capitalising on Ozil’s abilities (using Ozil in a similar way to that in which Man City have used David Silva).

Nelson 7

I have questioned whether Nelson needs a loan spell, but on this evidence he doesn’t. He had some excellent moments and if he can improve his final ball and decision making he’ll create a lot of goals.

Aubameyang 7

With Ozil pulling the strings and a generally faster style of play, Auba was much more involved than he has been when playing as the lone striker. He had several good attempts which were blocked before grabbing the goal that earned us a point.

Lacazette 7

His touch and finishing seemed a little off, but I’m still giving him 7 for his work rate and for being in those dangerous areas at the right time. On another day he might have bagged a couple.

Subs

Willock (for Ozil) 6

Mustafi (for the injured Sokratis) 6

Pepe (for Nelson) 6.5

RockyLives


A Boxing Day trip to the seaside ……. Bournemouth pre-match

December 26, 2019

Football on Boxing Day is such an amazing tradition isn’t it. I can imagine, in the days before televised games, whole families striding through the streets of N5 towards Highbury. And because Amazon Prime have bought these games, they’re mostly on at 3pm today. Great if you can organise your Christmas around football, a bit of a pain if you can’t.

This is such a landmark game, the first under the stewardship of Mikel Arteta. I am thrilled with his appointment, I love how serious he is, how he sounds like he has a definite plan. We have been a rudderless ship for far too long.

I hope the players respond to him because he loves our club and we need to see our players playing like they love our club too. Playing like they’re proud to have pulled on the shirt.

What comes now is the future ……… no doubt there will be the usual rollercoaster because that is the nature of football. If the highs are high, I can cope with a few lows along the way.

In this first game will he stick with the talented young players that we have seen progress to the first team or will he give the experienced players (possibly) a chance to redeem themselves.

Some of our experienced players have looked so down in the dumps recently, can he work a bit of magic and inspire them? Over the last few weeks they’ve looked like they’ve forgotten how to play football.

I shall be pleased to see some good football from our team. I watched, with football envy, when Man City zipped the ball around us a couple of weeks ago. That used to be us. Chelsea played some great football against the totts at the weekend.

I’m not expecting a miracle but I’m hoping for a change of style. Something to cheer, even if we don’t win.

I like Bournemouth, they play good football. We should have smashed them when they came to The Emirates because they leave a lot of space for everyone to play. But smashing teams is not what we do these days.

I’m not going to pick a team, but you can all have a stab in the comments.

Enjoy your day.

peachesgooner

p.s. Rasp and I started out blogging, many years ago, on a site called Goonerholic and sadly the owner, Dave Faber, lost his battle with illness and passed away this Christmas. He was an excellent man, a true Gooner and, personally, I shall miss his Friday night music fests on Twitter.

RIP Dave


Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to Gooners Everywhere … and a Big Thank You to Mike Steeden

December 25, 2019

Well it’s not been an easy year to be an Arsenal supporter, but here we are still going strong, slightly battered and bruised but with renewed optimism now that Mikel’s sleigh has landed on our roof.

I’ll be honest, I’ve found it difficult to maintain my input on AA at times this season and have had to retire to a darkened room to execute a self imposed ban on all media. Thankfully the likes of Peaches, Rocky, RC78 and other much valued regulars have kept the ball rolling on here.

There’s one guy in particular who without knowing it has helped keep me going. I view him and what he represents much like the Unknown Soldier … even though I know his name … it’s Mike Steeden.

To me, Mike represents the thousands of Arsenal supporters who read our blog but for their own reasons don’t wish to roll their sleeves up and get down and dirty in the daily debate. Just knowing that something an author on AA has bothered to write has been read is reward in itself.

But Mike does one other thing … on occasion, when he thinks the author deserves it .. he ‘likes’ a post. You can tell when he has because his name and pictogram are displayed at the end of the post in question.

Mike is no pushover however. He’s discerning. He doesn’t ‘like’ every post, far from it, but when he does, I am always warmed by the fact that a post has received the MS seal of approval … it’s been awarded a ‘Steeden’ if you like. On the odd occasion he even likes one of my posts … what’s the betting he won’t this one 🙂

So a big thank you to Mike (sorry for blowing your cover), to our fabulous band of regular bloggers, and to all who visit and read AA … and to Arsenal supporters everywhere …  and since it’s Christmas … to everyone else on the planet … from all the team at AA.

Rasp

As an extra treat, Rocky has gifted us all his version of this well known classic Christmas poem ….

 

‘Twas the night before Arsemas, when all through N5

Gooners were dreaming our club would soon thrive;

The stockings were hung by the kitman with care

But the Emirates stadium was still cold and bare.

 

The players were nestled all snug in their beds

While visions of title wins danced in their heads.

And Mesut in his jimjams and Bernt in his cap

Had just settled their brains for a long winter’s nap

 

When on the stadium roof there came such a clatter

I opened my window to see what was the matter.

Across Drayton Park I ran in a dash

And was up at the Ems in barely a flash.

 

The moon on the carpet of newly-mown grass

Shone bright on the strangeness now coming to pass.

For what to my wondering eyes should be there

But an open top bus pulled by eight spectral players,

 

With a spritely young driver, who held himself well:

I knew in a moment it must be Mikel.

He looked at his team mates all stripped for the game,

And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

 

“Now Dennis! Now Liam!

Now Adams and Seaman!

On Patrick! On Bobby!

On Charlie! On Lehmann!

Through the hole in the roof!

To the top of the stand!

Now pull away! Pull away!

We’re in Arsenal-Land.”

 

Just as Tiny Tott hopes wilt when May comes around

In that terrible toilet bowl they call a ground,

So gravity yielded with hardly a fuss

And up to the roof flew Mikel and his bus.

 

And then in a twinkling above the Clock End

Mikel stood surrounded by Arsenal’s legends.

As I drew my head in and was looking around

Down onto the pitch he came with a bound.

 

His shirt was all red, with two sleeves of white,

His hair made of plastic, his boots shining bright.

A coach’s fat file he held in his hand

Wherein winning tactics were perfectly planned.

 

His eyes all a-twinkle he began speaking most gently

While his famous old club-mates listened intently:

“Things have been tricky of late we all know,

We have felt like we have no idea where to go.

We have stopped being hopeful and started to fear,

But that can all stop because now I am here

To lead us to places where we’re meant to be

For we’re never vanquished: we’re Arsenal FC!”

 

The legends all cheered and pumped fists in the air

It brought tears to my eye to see how they cared.

At that moment the floodlights came on with a bang

And more legends were there to join with the gang.

 

There Kelsey, there Wrighty, there Henry and Fred,

Here Bastin and Wilson and Rocky the Red.

And now from the neighbouring streets did appear

A crowd in their thousands all wearing the gear.

They filled up the stadium from bottom to top

And still they kept coming, the flow never stopped

And from all their mouths one message rang true:

“We love you! We love you Arsenal, we do!”

 

Mikel sprang to the bus and yanked down the cord,

And pulled by the legends it lifted and soared,

And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight:

“Happy Arsemas to all, and to all a good night!”

 

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore.

RockyLives


The Martinelli decision – Arteta’s first big test?

December 24, 2019

With all the doom and gloom surrounding the club and the unexpected rise to stardom of our young Brazilian some of us may have missed the fact that there is a very difficult decision approaching Arsenal and Arteta reacting to Martinelli.

Between 18 January 2020 and 9 February 2020 there is a football tournament taking place in Columbia, it is called the CONMEBOL it features under 23 teams from the South American nations aiming to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. I am sure when we signed the young Brazilian there was no question he would be allowed to travel to Columbia but the form of the first team and Martinelli’s obvious qualities have thrown up quite a difficult decision for the club and new head coach.

This is not an official tournament in the FIFA calendar, so there is no obligation on The Arsenal or Arteta to grant Martinelli permission to play for Brazil in the tournament should he be called up.

Currently he would miss 4 games (assuming we overcome Leeds in the FA Cup 3rd round) and he only has to arrive in South America on 18th January, fortunately the 8 February is Arsenal’s scheduled mid season break.

Undoubtedly Martinelli has been one of the players we have wanted to see week in week out, he is giving a very good account of himself, working tirelessly and one of the few players who consistently shows for the ball even when more senior heads around him are dropping.

If you were Mikel what would you do? Let Martinelli travel off to South America and miss an important cog in the team for 4 weeks or refuse permission?

Gooner in Exile


Arsenal Fan TV … An Outlet For ‘Fans’ To Express Their Legitimate Concerns … Or An Embarrassment?

December 23, 2019

There is widespread coverage of the away supporters confronting Robbie and his AFTV crew at the Everton game this weekend.

The first point we should accept is that AFTV has a perfect right to exist and is not breaking any laws by legitimately interviewing fans on public property before and after games.

I also think it’s fair to say that AFTV has become a bit of a pantomime displaying the full range of characters from Widow Twanky’s (AKA Claude) ignorance and entitlement personified and his alter ego Buttons (Ti) who is often interviewed at the same time in an attempt to offer some journalistic balance.

AFTV grew out of the disgruntlement that divided supporters in Arsene Wenger’s latter years. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if AFTV gets more hits from non Arsenal supporters who find our public self flagellation a source of great amusement. Personally I find it an embarrassment.

Let’s be honest, AFTV doesn’t exactly paint us as the most intelligent or loyal supporters. It’s entertaining viewing I suppose and I believe it has been very good for Robbie’s bank balance. Some would argue that it is a way of conveying a message to the club from ‘grass roots’ supporters.

The problem is that after the departure of the great man we’ve already made one bad managerial appointment and the need to be unified and supportive behind the new manager has never been greater if we are going to restore our club and the values we all hold dear …. and AFTV is not exactly helping is it?

Accepting that freedom of speech is sacrosanct and there is nothing we can do to stop Robbie and his crew, let us know how you feel about the idea of being represented by AFTV.

Rasp


Thank You Freddie: Everton Report & Ratings

December 22, 2019

Like two middle aged men fighting with mops round the back of the school gym after going home time, this was the battle of the caretakers.

Freddie Ljungberg for The Arsenal and Duncan Ferguson for Everton had both been parachuted in to hold the fort after their teams’ failing managers were ousted for crimes against points acquisition.

By yesterday morning both knew this would be their last game in charge, with new managers already announced: Mikel ‘Action Man’ Arteta* for us, and Carlo ‘Could Be An Extra In The Sopranos’ Ancelotti for them.

So, two temporary bosses in their final game; two teams under the watchful eye of their incoming managers; it could have turned out to be anything.

In the end it was a dull 0-0 draw with Arsenal shading it as the better team (just).

Freddie’s final game in charge ended with a clean sheet, a point away from home and a half decent performance.

Our legendary Invincible was dealt a very bad hand when he stepped up from assistant head coach to temporary head coach. The team was on a run of terrible form with confidence shot to hell and no perceptible style or tactics.

To add injury to insult, when Unai Emery was shown the door, his coaching team left with him, leaving Freddie with no back-up. Per Mertesacker joined him from the youth academy but it was still a massive ask to turn things round.

His brief tenure comprised an away draw at Norwich, a home defeat to Brighton, an away win at West Ham, an away draw at Standard Liege, a home loss to Man City and, finally, an away point at Everton: P6 W1 D3 L2.

So at this point I think I can speak for all of us at AA when I say: Thank You Freddie!

In the circumstances it was probably as well as any stand-in could have done results-wise, but Freddie also acquitted himself well in the way he conducted himself and the way he talked about the job (in particular with his courageous frankness about how little support he was getting from the club).

Throughout his tenure Freddie showed a willingness to give young players a chance and that was reflected in his starting 11 for the Everton game.

Emile Smith-Rowe was given his first Premier League start, Saka was again preferred at left back (with Tierney and Kolasinac injured), Maitland-Niles at right back and Nelson and Martinelli further forward.

If Freddie has doubts about some of the senior players, his decision not to pick Ozil, Lacazette and Pepe was an elegant way of expressing them. (Ozil was not on the bench and is allegedly carrying a knock).

After a bright first couple of minutes we fell back into some of the bad habits that have become too familiar recently: poor first touches, misplaced passes, lack of running off the ball, risky balls that fail to come off and put us in immediate trouble. David Luiz in particular seemed to want to misread every pass and foul every Toffee that came in range.

Gradually – very gradually – we settled down and although Everton had the better of the first half, they never threatened our goal and for once Bernd Leno had a quiet time.

We looked good on the break occasionally, with Saka, Nelson and the tireless Martinelli all causing problems at different times. We had one great chance to get a one-on-one with Pickford but Smith-Rowe fluffed what should have been a simple pass to put Martinelli in. And Martinelli would later get through to the left of the Everton goal only to slice his shot wide of the near post.

In the second half our confidence and comfort level grew, even if we were creating few chances. The best opportunity of the game fell to the largely anonymous Aubameyang when a ball across the penalty area reached him on the edge of the six yard box. Unfortunately it was at an awkward height and he could only shin it towards the net without much power (although it still forced Pickford into a good reaction stop).

In the end 0-0 was probably fair given that neither side’s attackers were able to make much headway.

There was plenty for Arteta to feel positive about (especially the young players) and also plenty for him to work on. I said in comments after the game that I feel a lackadaisical attitude has been allowed to creep into our squad in the last year or so. I get the impression that Emery was to discipline what Attila the Hun was to diplomacy and that players were seldom called out for sloppy mistakes.

In his first interview as Arsenal boss Mikel talked about being ruthless and about making sure the culture was right. I think he’ll need to take a firm hand for a while (and risk being disliked by some senior players) until the team learns who’s in charge.

Frankly this group of players probably need to hear some hard truths, so I hope he has at it.

*For American readers, Action Man is the British equivalent of the GI Joe toy, with perfect plastic hair, just like Arteta.

Player Ratings

Leno 6

For once had a quiet game and got the clean sheet that his excellent recent performances have deserved.

Maitland-Niles 7

A very decent all-round performance from AMN. He was alert, strong in the challenge and offered help in attack at times.

Calum Chambers 7.5

He’s looking like our most accomplished centre half at the moment (at least until Holding returns). Got the MoTM award from Steve McManaman on the television.

David Luiz 6.5

Had an erratic first 20 minutes but was pretty solid thereafter.

Saka 7.5

What a good young prospect this lad is. He did well with his defensive duties and was dangerous when he attacked. This sort of experience (playing fullback) will make him a better attacking player in the long run.

Xhaka 7.5

A really tidy game from Granit. He is always comfortable on the ball and was our best outlet when we had to play out from the back through Everton’s press.

Torreira 7

Tried one silly and unnecessary flick pass in the first half which almost put Everton through on our goal, but overall had a solid game.

Smith-Rowe 5

I was delighted to see him start, but whether it was nerves or just an off day he seemed to be playing with steel capped Dr Martens instead of footy boots. His first touch was terrible and his passing was way off. In the second half he had a decent chance to take a shot at goal but hesitated because he seemed to be intimidated by the presence of Aubameyang (who was in a worse position to take the shot). It doesn’t matter though. We’ve seen enough of this young man to know he’ll come good.

Nelson 6.5

A solid shift and some good attacking moments, but there were times when he could have imposed himself more.

Martinelli 7.5

How can any Arsenal fan not love this kid? Non-stop chasing, running and pressuring despite being kicked off the park. He could have done better with a shooting chance but his attitude is exemplary.

Aubameyang 5

Not involved for most of the game. It’s not really his fault as he does not work as a central striker with the type of system we were using. Looked a bit peeved when substituted. I don’t see him as a captain.

Subs

Willock 7

Came on for Smith-Rowe and looked pretty good.

Lacazette 6

Had about 15 minutes but the chances didn’t fall his way. His effort was as good as we’ve come to expect.

Head Coach 8 (MoTM)

Thank you Freddie.

RockyLives