Starting Art School – Everton Preview

December 21, 2019

I was amused to see that if you scramble the letters of Mikel Arteta’s name you come up with: A TITLE MAKER.

Omens are not to be sniffed at, and if that anagram is a taste of what Miki is going to do for us I’ll grab it with both hands.

Mind you, for those who think we should have waited until he’d actually managed a team before snapping him up, there’s also an omen in his letters if you care to look for it: TAKE ‘IM LATER.

Enough of such nonsense.

It’s impossible not to feel encouraged and excited about the future now that we have a new man in charge.

Supporting a football team is a mixture of hope and despair and neither can exist without the other. We have been despairing of late, but now there’s a fresh start and – for a while at least – we can hope. It’s like that feeling you have on the morning of the first day of a new season: every fan of every club thinks that this could be their year.

So what about the man himself?

No doubt he has a big task ahead of him to turn around our fortunes, but it’s not the first time he’s arrived at the Emirates with the good ship Arsenal dangerously adrift and heading for the rocks.

He signed for us at the end of the summer transfer window in 2011 when we were all over the place and had just been hammered 8-2 at Old Trafford. Along with Per Mertesacker and Yossi Benayoun, who joined on the same day, he helped us find calmer waters.

When Arteta turned out for Arsenal he was an exemplary pro. He predominantly played as a deep-lying midfielder, the link-up man between defence and attack (forming an excellent partnership with the BFG). It was not his preferred position (he wanted to play further forward) but he never complained and did his job brilliantly.

The word that comes to mind to describe him is “precise.” Precise in his play, precise in his demeanour, very precise with his hair.

He’s had three and a half years learning from Pep Guardiola, the best club coach of the past 10 years. He’ll also have learnt plenty from Arsene Wenger and, let’s not forget, he experienced the famous Barcelona academy system as a youngster.

All this is encouraging, but the proof of this Christmas pudding will be in the eating. I don’t doubt Miki’s football knowledge and insight or his coaching credentials. But it will be his character and personality that will make the difference. Can he take that most difficult step from being a good number two to being a good number one? Can he impose himself on the fractious and demoralised egos among our squad? Can he deal with the very public pressures of coaching a top club like The Arsenal?

Your guess is as good as mine, but for now I’m happy just to have the hope.

One of my hopes is that he’ll take this squad by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake. I sense that, over time, Emery lost the respect of the players and they also lost confidence in him. Miki needs to hit the ground running and show that he won’t stand for carelessness, laziness, bad attitudes and sulks.

He’ll be watching from the directors’ box today as we take on his old club Everton at Goodison Park, with Freddie Ljungberg in charge of matters for the last time.

I suspect Fred is relieved to be passing the baton. This little stint will have done his future prospects as a coach no harm at all, but it was hardly a good situation for him to step into with no proper assistant coaches and a team whose confidence is shot.

I would love Fred to go out on a winning note and I fancy he will. What his role is moving forward remains to be seen, but I hope he stays at the club.

The Everton game brings two great footballing superstitions face to face: it’s “ex players come back to haunt their old club,” versus “new manager bounce.”  We’re at risk from the ex players, but if Iwobi or Walcott manage to bag a goal against us I hope we’ll have the fortitude to score more in reply.

As for our new boss bounce, I know Miki is not technically in charge today, but all the players know he’ll have his eye on them and they’ll want to impress.

Our crop of injuries doesn’t help. With Kieran Tierney already out for weeks the last thing we needed was for Sead Kolasinac to get crocked, but crocked he did get. With Rob Holding still out and Hector Bellerin doubtful we’re looking threadbare at the back.

Here’s my wild guess at our starting line-up:

Leno

Chambers Luiz  Sokratis  AMN

Xhaka  Torreira

Smith-Rowe

Pepe  Aubameyang  Martinelli

Everton are six places and four points below us in the Premier League table, but have started showing a bit of spirit since Duncan “Elbows” Ferguson took over as caretaker manager. They’ll be up for it today and I expect a close game which we’ll shade by the odd goal, perhaps 2-1 or 3-2 to us.

It’s way beyond time that we Gooners had something to be excited about it. Let the new era begin.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!

RockyLives


It’s Going To Be Arteta

December 17, 2019

I’ve been following Arsenal’s transfer dealings for many years now and know the signs when a deal is done … believe me … Mikel Arteta is going to be our next manager.

He’ll know the magnitude of the challenge he is facing – he saw it graphically on Sunday when City exposed the physical, technical and cultural flaws in our play.

As a supporter … (I’m speaking to you!) … do me a favour, if you want the best for Arsenal and are not waiting for the opportunity to say “I told you so” then this is all you have to do:

  1. Be patient.
  2. Get behind the players.
  3. Get behind the manager.
  4. Don’t judge until Mikel has had a chance to work on the squad and bring in some players.
  5. Lower your expectations.
  6. Applaud and enjoy when it’s good, encourage and support when it’s not.

As supporters we’ve gained (earned?) a reputation for being flaky, for not supporting as we should and for feeling entitled.

Currently we’re not being viewed as a top six club. We are not going to turn that around over night.

If we finish the season in the top 6 that will be a major achievement. If we don’t, see it as a stepping stone and let’s be optimistic that we can improve next season.

Rasp


Onwards and upwards ……… Freddie has his work cut out.

December 16, 2019

 

Leading up to the game I really didn’t think we would actually win, but after reading yesterday’s pre match  I thought how could we not (right said Fred)?

Team lineup was as expected since it was correctly predicted by RockyLives in his pre match post.

This time,  I reached the game on time but even before I reached my seat I saw Martinelli driving into the box and getting a shot off which was saved by Ederson. My thoughts were, wow is this going to be a game and the day I see my first top 6 victory live from the Home of Football.  Two minutes later Chambers gave me an answer to that question, as a through ball was sent in and instead of Chambers dealing with it and cutting out the ball, he opted to let the attack run on to it and the delivered cross was 1 nil to Man Shitty. Why is Kolasinac ducking is he afraid of balls?

As the game continued we looked positive, but Arsenal kept playing a dangerous game by passing it around the back.

Another defensive lapse sees KBD able to roll the ball across for Sterling making it 2 nil, Kolasinac again this time ball watching.

In the 25th minute Guendouzi looked like he was fouled from the upper tier but of course not given, it seems we are the only team who don’t get home advantage.

At 2-0 down the Emirates crowd kept trying to motivate the team.

Kolasinac pick up an injury, let’s hope it isn’t serious and on came one of the players I really like in this current squad –  Saka. But before he was given a chance to bring us back from a 2 nil deficit Guendouzi let KBD in and boom is was 3 nil(cant believe I removed him from my fantasy side).

Clearly this is how the Arsenal team thinks it should defend, let the attackers run onto the ball and hope Leno could stop the shot.

Half came and I took a long walk to block 106 to meet peaches for the first time. Pleasure to meet you peaches.

Then on top of the that I was offered a set next to Ant and LBG. (Should have a picture for chas to show him how we look in the upper tier).

Hopefully some of that good fortune could be passed on to my name sake.

The second half opened with City still dominating and on one occasion KDB almost grabbed his hatrick but Leno made a great save sending it onto the post.

ESR came on for Ozil and LBG was a happy camper, he didn’t make an instant impact but he gradually grew into the game and on one occasion chipping a through ball for Aubameyang to run onto but he rushed it and dragged it wide. Arsenal’s second shot on goal.

City then began playing keep ball and weren’t really troubled.

My Current record of watching Arsenal play is 3 – 3 (rough)

Player ratings are ………. Everyone gets a 4 probably Leno could get a 6 since he keep us from being slaughtered second half.

The referee gets a 2(as Arsenal get no home advantage)

Fred

 


Too Sexy for our Shirts: Man City Preview

December 15, 2019

“Right,” said Fred, let’s be having you.

The faltering champions are coming to town and it’s time for Freddie Ljungberg’s Arsenal to stand up and be counted.

Who thinks we’re going to beat Man City today at the Emirates?

…and answer came there none.

You lily-livered bunch of chicken-poop surrender monkeys.

Of course we’re going to win. It’s way beyond time we all got out of this defeatist funk we’ve been in for months.

Here’s why I think we will prevail this afternoon:

  • Slowly, slowly you can see our confidence returning. Players who had lost faith in Unai Emery are starting to believe again.
  • I get the sense Freddie and Big Per are beginning to earn the respect and trust of the squad.
  • Our young players are turning in quality performances on a regular basis and that is bound to have a motivating effect on the senior pros. It also makes them an excellent asset off the bench.
  • We tend to perform better against top teams than against strugglers whom we are expected to dispatch easily.
  • Man City are watching the title slip away from them and their own confidence is in question.
  • Aguero will miss the game through injury and David Silva is a doubt.

I can hear the objections that have no doubt formed in the minds of many of you:

“But, but, performances…”

“But, but, injuries…”

“But, but, players are not good enough…”

“But, but, defending like the Royal Society for the Blind’s second team…”

I’m not going to argue with you, certainly on performances. We still look shaky and unconvincing, but something quite significant has happened since Emery left. We have started rescuing games from losing positions rather than throwing away games from winning positions.

The win against West Ham after being 0-1 down; the point salvaged against Standard Liege after falling 0-2 behind… these betoken a team that is starting to believe it can force results.

And how better to continue that progress than by beating the reigning champions? I reckon our lads are going to be well up for it.

Although City are without Aguero, we have our own injury problems. Tierney needs surgery on a dislocated shoulder (that young man has Debuchy levels of bad luck), Ceballos, Holding Bellerin and Xhaka are all ruled out.  The good news is that Pepe, who was a doubt, is expected to be available. I expect him to outshine Raheem Sterling today.

Here’s my predicted starting line-up.

Leno

Maitland-Niles – Chambers – Luiz – Kolasinac

Torreira – Guendouzi

Ozil

Pepe – Aubameyang – Martinelli

If we play without fear we have the ability to really trouble the City defence.  We know how good they are going forward so there’s no point trying to sit back and soak up pressure.

Let’s go at them.

Let’s be proud of wearing the shirt.

Let’s play sexy football.

Let’s leave the field with a 3-2 win for the Mighty Arse.

Ready, Freddie… GO!

RockyLives

 


The Young Guns Open A Window To The Future

December 13, 2019

I didn’t see the game yesterday but it comes across as Saka being the key player in this game. It’s exciting when the youngsters give you a vision of what they could become.

I also read a report that spoke highly of ESR. Maybe he didn’t shine as much as Saka, and he lacked some consistency in his input across the 90, but this report was praising him for many of his lay off balls, and his ability to receive the ball and drive forwards at pace.

This is something that has been sorely missing in our play over the last number of months, the ball carriers in midfield, and even the mid to lower table sides seem to have midfielders that are comfortable receiving the ball and driving through the midfield, while we adopted a pedestrian passing game with little direct running from midfield.

Until recently we have had those players that can twist turn and spin away from opposition players and drive forwards when able; Rosicky, Santi, Jack, Cesc. As we now try and redevelop this team it is important that we do so around midfielders who are comfortable in receiving in tight spaces and then being able to carry the ball, as well as being able to pick a pass.

This is where Xhaka falls down in that he always needs an available pass, rather than being able to receive and move with it if a decent pass is not immediately available. Hence the number of sideways and backwards passing.

However in Douzi, Willock, Saka and ESR we have those players that have the natural talent to do it and we must build around all those players. Each may find a slightly different position. For instance will Douzi or ESR become more the intermediate BTB type midfielder, or will they become the most attacking CM / number 10. Will Saka be a wing forward type or could he be the most attacking CM / number 10.

All of them will have games where their precocious talent shines and some games that will be a bit mehh. Douzi is probably slightly ahead because he has played more games with the first team while ESR for instance has been hampered by injury which has hampered his loan spells.

My gut instinct actually tells me that ESR has, at the base level, the greater natural ability in CM, and I have always said I see a young De-Bruyne in him. However I think all 4 should succeed with the right coaching, patience (when it doesn’t always come off), and emphasis on that quicker attacking style of play, and each may take up a slightly different role in the side anyway.

What has also hampered them all, and the team in general, is in not having the right DM (holding type DM) tucked in behind them. It is going over old news I know, but it is not just the team that has suffered from this oversight, but it could start to stifle the development of these young quality players.

This is why I would like Xhaka removed from the equation. I actually recognise many of his qualities, but they look more suited to a different league, and what he lacks for the EPL is, not only unbalancing the team, but is not allowing those young players to develop in their best positions with freedom.

Again my immediate solution would be to move Luiz forwards into the holding midfield role. In his absence we could play Chambers there. We should go and get a top CD in January as our main priority (say for instance Upemacano), and move on either Socratis or Mustaffi in Jan, with the other going in the summer once Saliba arrives.

Then we could go and try and source an up and coming Ndidi (rather than spend a fortune on the actual one), safe in the knowledge that we have cover in that role for a couple of seasons through Luiz and possibly Chambers.

Going into next season we could have our main CB’s as Holding, Saliba, Chambers, Upemmacano. We could have a holding midfield boasting Luiz and the promising new Ndidi, and across both the CB and holding midfield positions we know we can shift Luiz and Chambers into either role depending on where we are suffering the most with injuries.

Then just let the youngsters mentioned, including Martinelli and possibly John Jules and Nketieh, thrive and develop in the CM, ACM, wing forward and forward roles, with Ozil there as experience for 1 more season and one of Laca or Auba staying on (I think we will lose at least one of them).

GoonerB


Standard Liège – No Waffling Please Freddie!

December 12, 2019

Arsenal travel to Liege, a little town in Belgium known for its waffles (gauffres de liege), coffee (cafe liegeois), its opera house and train station and not so exciting weather but very friendly local people who despite the rain do not hesitate to sit outsite on terraces to enjoy coffees and beers alike…

This is our last Europa League group stage game. Barring a 5-1 loss at Liege’s hand, we will qualify. A draw sees us through for sure and a win would help with our mood and confidence.

What should Freddie do? Keep the momentum going with the same squad or rotate ahead of our big test against City? We have a few injured with Bellerin, Tierney, Xhaka, Ceba and certainly Holding. Liege is not a bad squad, they have some decent players, especially Mpoku – a very able dribbler and he is an industrious player too not hesitating to put in a shift. Liege will create chances but will concede chances too so if I were FL, I d play a team with fast players on the sides and Laca upfront.

Expected team:
Martinez

Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac

Douzi, Torreira, Willock

Nelsson, Laca, Saka

 

My team:
Martinez

Medley, Chambers, Sok – AMN

Douzi, Luiz, Nelsson

Willock, Saka – Laca

I know that I put Nelsson as a WB but I think that with our back 3, AMN and Nelsson as WBs are not too much of a risk as long as the front three also defend properly.

COYG!

RC78


The case for Ancelotti ……..

December 11, 2019

And so the search for a new coach just got very exciting with Ancelotti now released by Napoli.

Why shall we try to convince him to join us?

  1. He knows the EPL and he has been successful here. He also likes London.
  2. He is an experienced coach that comes with winning pedigree, having won the EPL, Italian league, French League and German league and has won a few Champions Leagues too.
  3. He is the type of coaches that players want to play for so he is not only going to have the current team’s buy-in but his name will also be able to attract new players.
  4. He is very tactically astute and likes his teams to play attacking football with a balanced squad.

From the start, he was my preferred option BUT he needs to work with Freddie in his staff.

So shall we finally hire an Italian coach? He gives me more confidence than Sousa for example

RC78


A win at last.

December 10, 2019

Hell on Earth – Purgatory – First rung of stairway to Heaven

Just as I was beginning to believe, like some Emery contagious disease, that it wasn’t really Freddie and the BFG sitting on the bench but holograms, a young 18 year old turns up, unmarked in the box!!!

A first half that could be summed up by…….well, virtually 22 professional footballers, with no confidence, or belief, or ability to pass, or turn and lift the head or beat a man.

That said, West Ham at least seemed to want to win, were more often first to the ball, and were prepared to tackle forcefully. They got a deflected goal when a blanket would have covered our players in the box and half time came with the feeling all was lost.

Nothing much changed for the first 10 mins of the second half, then God, of whatever persuasion looked down and said ” Enough of this sh***, Satan, we all know you are a Totteringham fan, get your foot off Arsenal’s neck”.

And so Martinelli popped up, and we started to look a bit more confident. Pepe did what he was bought for and Aubameyang, despite being out of the game, did an Aubameyang.

Seeds of new growth. Send the youth, and Mustafi, out to Belgium and wrap up first place in our group. And add any player who shows heart to the squad for Sunday. We don’t expect miracles, but we do expect heart, Fred ( no, not you!).

LBG

And some player ratings from RC78

Leno – 6
AMN – 6
Chambers – 7
Sokratis – 6
Kolsinac – 6
Xhaka – 6
Torreira – 6
Ozil – 6
Pepe – 7
Auba – 6
Martinelli – 8

And so after 64 days Arsenal supporters could go to bed with a smile on their faces. Whoever flicked the switch, can they please flick it early on Sunday ……….. before we’ve conceded would be good 😉

 


Arsenal v West Ham pre match ………

December 9, 2019

Having not won in our last 7 PL games, we travel to the London Stadium to face a West Ham side, winless in their last 4 home games, sitting 16th in the table, only 3 points behind us!!

Our last away win was back in August, against Newcastle!! Sheesh!! So, needless to say I’m very nervous about this game (& not only because half of my family are Hammers!)

I’m hoping it’ll be 3rd time lucky for Freddie, who’s bound to get a warm reception from the home fans, having been a Hammer for the 2007-08 season.

I came across these interesting facts –

1) Aubameyang hasn’t scored against West Ham in 3 appearances.

2) We haven’t scored in our last 2 visits to the London Stadium.

3) West Ham have lost a PL high of 29 matches on a Monday. While only the Mancs (43) have won more than us (39)

I also saw that Felipe Anderson hasn’t scored/assisted in his last 8 appearances, oh great, we all know what will happen tonight!!

For them, our former keeper, Fabianski, is still out injured. Wilshere is a doubt. If selected, Mark Noble will make his 500th senior appearance 👏

For us, Ceballos is still out, Holding to be assessed.

This is the team I’d like to see –

Leno

Bellerin   Chambers   Luiz  Kolasinac

Guendouzi  Torreira   Martinelli

Pepe  Ozil  Aubemeyang

 

We really need to get back to winning ways, as we’re too close to the bottom 3 for my liking!!

Oh jeez, Mike Dean is refereeing, so more than likely we’ll be playing against 12 men!! 😬

My heart says we’ll win 2-1, but my head says 2-2….. COYG!!!

Sue


Aussie Arsenal Coach?

December 8, 2019

As an Arsenal supporter from the land down under, I thought I would consider an Australian coach to fix the Arsenal malaise and return us to title glory.

So I have 2 applicants for you all to consider.

One is already at Arsenal and the other is in Japan (remember that place where Arsene was plying his trade).

Arsenal Womens team were struggling, they used to be the best in the land but were in a barren patch with no titles or trophies for many years (sound familiar), so Arsenal scoured the world for a new coach and settled on Aussie Joe Montemurro. Success quickly followed and continues to this day. Joe has successfully coached mens teams in the past and he now has much more experience so maybe its time to transition that success from Arsenal Womens across to the Arsenal Mens team.

And then we have Ange Postecoglou, fresh from winning the J League title, something not even Arsene could achieve. As for Yokohama F Marinos, it was the teams first title in 15 years (again similar to us).

From Fox Sports –

The manner in which he’s turned the Marinos side from mid-table battlers into champions, playing attacking, expansive football, has sparked rumours he could take his talents to Europe.

Postecoglou’s tremendous accomplishment is merely the latest in a long line of accomplishments.

As a player, he won the NSL – a competition he then won twice as a coach.

Then there’s his two A-League championships, and a record-breaking run with Brisbane Roar that saw them go 36 games undefeated in 2011, breaking a 74-year-old record for Australian national club competitions (previously held by rugby league’s Eastern Suburbs).

He then took over the Socceroos, guiding them to 2015 Asian Cup glory and ensuring they qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Both coaches are from European heritage and have suffered and been forged in the fires of diversity that continues to besiege Australian Football/Soccer. And even though the odds seem always against them, they seem to easily able to assert their own identity and attacking playing style onto the teams they coach and more importantly they get the results and the titles.

So maybe its time that Arsenal had an Australian revolution and appointed their first ever Aussie coach. The J League has just had the very first Australian coach winning the title and maybe the EPL is now due for an Australian title winning coach. What are your thoughts?

VP from OZ