Mutiny at Arsenal

December 18, 2020

230 years ago Fletcher Christian seized control of a ship from Captain Bligh. This has passed into history as ‘The Mutiny on the Bounty’.Watching Arsenal for the past few seasons reminds me of this woeful tale. To me it appears there are a number of players that aren’t giving 100% and more that are pursuing a mutiny for their own ends.

Unai Emery was the fall guy after Arsene Wenger ended his tour of duty. Initially he performed pretty well. We should have got into the Champions League then there was the disaster in Baku against Chelsea. From that point his days were numbered. There were problems on Emery’s ship. He cast aside players then brought them back. This inspired revenge. It was clear players wanted him out. There were stories of players taking the Michael out of Emery’s accent. Childish at best. The end came against Southampton at home, where the players accidentally got a draw, but hardly celebrated. They wanted Emery gone. Freddie came in as a stop gap and again the players could hardly be bothered. He ended up playing a number of the younger players to make clear what he thought of the effort of some of the ‘pros’.

Fast forward to Arteta. It started well with some blips along the way. The FA Cup win was a huge over-achievement, beating Man City & Chelsea on the way to our record 14th trophy. But come the new season and the grumbling started again. Wins turned to draws, draws to losses. The players looked like they were low on confidence, even sabotaging games.

In my opinion there is a Mutiny underway on the Good Ship Arsenal. The only way to stop it is by casting the villains adrift. The culprits:

  • Mesut Ozil – The leader of the mutiny. He should have been paid off in the summer. He’s hanging around like a virus infecting the rest of the team. Cast him adrift on Pitcairn Island!
  • Granit Xhaka – Only Wenger knows what he saw in Granit. All I can see is a player who isn’t at Premier League level and got sent off on purpose against Burnley to get Christmas off. To the stocks!
  • Alex Lacazette – I used to rate this guy. Since his contract negotiations have halted he has been hiding on the pitch. I swear he has missed a few chances on purpose. He has become the Union man that has downed tools for the cause. The guillotine is calling!
  • Hector Bellerin – He’s got some nice tattoos, an exciting vegan philosophy, but he can’t defend for toffee. Send for the Spanish Inquisition!
  • David Luiz – Plays when he has his ego massaged. When he’s not happy – red card. Banish him to the Amazon jungle!
  • Willian – Well he ain’t is he? 4 more years of this cowboy. Private jet to the Sargasso sea! Ably supported by minor crew members Mustafi, Kolasinac & Sokratis. Lock them up on the Rock!
  • The only solution to the Mutiny is to dump these muppets from the Good Ship Arsenal. It was never going to be easy for Mik, but these guys are making his job near impossible.
  • Yours truly, Pete the Thirst


We Want Our Arsene Back….

December 15, 2020

About three years before finally being shuffled out of the club I implored Arsene Wenger to resign we had just won the FA Cup beating Hull unconvincingly, many took my post as intended a love letter to Arsene asking him to go to stop the noise destroying our club from outside and in, others didn’t see that and attacked me for being mad to ask him to leave after winning the cup final. I expect the same today for those who don’t read to the end.

There were issues with the fans already according to many we were not good enough, signings were average the squad was full of “dead wood” and Arsene just wouldn’t adapt to more defensive tactics or bring in the new Gilberto.

The refrain from the stands was often “we want our Arsenal back”, my question was always what Arsenal, the one of Arsene’s early seasons, the Arsenal of George Graham, or maybe the Arsenal of Terry Neil, I guess it depended how old as a fan you were to what Arsenal you were referring to.

The Arsenal I have always wanted back is the one run by a Board of Directors who had a long history with the club, but that is pure fantasy what top side is owned independently without foreign investment? I have to accept the game has changed in that respect.

In the early days of Emery’s first season we smashed a poor Fulham side who went on to be relegated 5-1 at the Cottage, Arsenal fans rejoiced and the sound of “we’ve got our Arsenal back” reverberated from the away end.

A mere two years later we sit in 15th place with more losses than wins after 12 games, our worst start since 1974, not sure that was the Arsenal any of us wanted back and it was before my time on this small blue dot commenced.

It was an awfully long way back to where we ended the 90’s and started the naughties courtesy of Graham and then Wenger.

Now we look back in hindsight I have to ask, was it that bad with Arsene? Ok we maybe weren’t title contenders but on the flip side the team still managed to give us some hope we were only ever one or two players away. Where are we now? Five, six, seven players away?

Ok it’s wishful thinking Arsene won’t want to interfere. Arsene wouldn’t want a second fiddle job and has moved on to pastures new, but I can’t help thinking Arteta needs help, and who better to give it than Arsene, the man that gave Arsenal players unbelievable belief gave young players opportunities, if you were good enough you were old enough. He was ruthless to players who were usurped, Debuchy signed to replace Sagna, got injured, Hector came in and made the place his own and Debuchy a decent player everyone expected to be first choice right back left the club soon after.

But if there’s one thing I want back from watching my club it’s freedom to play, playing with a smile and making me smile. Yes we didn’t always win but it was at least good to watch.

Come back Arsene all is forgiven make me smile again.

Gooner in Exile


Frustration building up…

December 13, 2020

Another loss at the Emirates and another really tasteless and toothless performance except for the first 10 minutes of the second half…Not many positives to take on tonight.

The numbers in the EPL are damning:

  • 15th in the EPL, with only 13 points in 12 games and with a -5 goal difference (10 for, 15 against)
  • 4th home defeat in a row for 1st time since 1959
  • 1st defeat to Burnley in the EPL
  • 1st goal conceded on a set piece
  • 0 goal score in open play,,,

But tonight was worrying on many levels:

  • Xhaka’s red card showed that he was still not learning anything but it also showed frustration
  • Few minutes later El Neny could and should have been sent off
  • Bellerin also getting carded
  • Willian is still not hitting the next gear
  • Auba is really looking like a lost puppy on the field;
  • Creativity still a major issue, ineffective set-pieces and crosses still a trademark this season
  • Laca missing a golden opportunity that could have paved the way for a victory
  • Arteta unable to find a solution, which is the worse.

So where do we go from here? Well, if Arteta does not finally accept that he needs to do something different in terms of team set-up and squad selection, then I think we will be going straight to relegation battle because there is no reason why we would improve in this set-up although Martinelli and Partey will make a difference for sure but 2 players can’t solve everything.

If Arteta has some clue, he may at least start to:

  • Go back to a system with 3 central defenders
  • Rely more on youth and hungry players such as AMN and ESR for example
  • Give a rest to Auba.

My problem was that the players really seemed to get frustrated on the pitch and that does not bode well because it shows lack of communication, lack of trust in each other, lack of trust in the manager’s instructions…If some are looking to replace Arteta already, Favre is now available.

Ratings:

Leno – 4

Bellerin – 3; Holding – 4; Gabriel – 4; Tierney – 5

El Neny – 4; Xhaka – 2

Willian – 3; Laca – 4 – Saka – 5

Auba – 3

Arteta – 2


Mikel’s Arsenal Career on the line?

December 11, 2020

Mikel really is at a massive crossroads in his Arsenal career and more importantly to us of course as Arsenal supporters.

Aubamayang, Lacazette, Nketiah, Pepe and Willian are not working.

There are too many players there with too much talent for all the blame to placed solely at their door — meaning the lion’s share must lay with the manager.

When Arteta arrived he built from the back with 3 defenders and five in front — it worked; we won the FA cup, he has tried to change into a more attacking formation and it is failing badly.

Arteta’s tactics are fairly straight forward, when there is a position that is not working as well as it should he will alternate between the contenders in the hope that one of them gels, the obvious example is the left wing back. Kolasinac and Tierney vied for that position until it became clear that Tierney was the best player for the role.

Arteta is also doing the same with Lacazette and Nkatiah for the number 9 role, the difference here is that neither of them is firmly staking their claim; neither of them has very good close control, neither of them has the ability to hold the ball and neither of them can run with it: can you imagine either scoring the goal that Martinelli did against Chelsea from his own half. Ok, I accept I just put my red and white tinted glasses on and sure Arteta would have almost certainly played the Brazilian were he available.

Arteta needs to go further and be brave enough to play Balogun ahead of Nketiah; there should not be a pecking order, decisions should be made on the basis that the best player gets the job; further, it should make no difference to the club which one of them succeeds so long as one of them succeeds. Same applies to Nelson and Pepe, it should make no difference that Pepe cost more than Nelson and Pepe should not be given priority because of it. Arsene Wenger on Bergkamp: What makes Bergkamp such a good player is his ability to do the simple things really well. I paraphrase. Bergkamp didn’t need to show off, if you think about it he just did all the simple things really, really well. Pepe — take note, a simple pass is more effective than yet another flashy step over, just pass it man aahhhhhhhhh.

I actually have a bit of sympathy for Willian, he came from a team that if he passed to a player and then moved he would more than likely get the ball back — our forward line has the close control and the ability to return a pass of that of hoofed animals. I am clinging to the hope that he and Martinelli, his fellow Brazilian, will form a good understanding.

Aubamayang’s close control on the move is atrocious, his inter-play with his team mates is worse and his ability to run with the ball on a break is laughable — he should be benched until a formula can be found in which he can be reintroduced not the other way round which is happening and failing now. Put simply I think Balogun would do a better job.

Saka does not get a pass here either, he has stagnated in the last few games and should be given a break for either Nelson or Smith-Rowe, it was interesting that Arteta moved ESR out to the left side for the second half against Dundalk he may have ideas of playing him there in the EPL. Again it should make no difference which of the 2 makes it to greatness so long as at least one of them does.

The midfield, don’t get me started…………..

You need to show some strength Mikel, I do not want Fat Sam anywhere near our club after Christmas.

Ok, happy note to end on, did you notice how Balogun runs? He has a long torso and short legs so it looks like they move really quickly when he moves at pace; I mean that is, opposed to the giant strides of Vieira for example; anyway, I was trying to cast my mind back to who had a similar running style and then it hit me.

SUPER MAC…………..

Something to think about, chuckles to himself and finishes the post.

COYRRG


Balogun, our future Batigol?

December 10, 2020
Batistuta Best Power Shots ||HD|| - YouTube
Gabriel Omar Batistuta aka BATIGOL

For those of you that have been watching football religiously in the 90s, there was one incredible Argentinian player who terrorized defenders in Argentina and Italy called Gabriel Batistuta but known as Batigol. He was such a talented striker, a real predator in the box with good speed, movement and good use of his body. He was so good that if you picked Argentina or Fiorentina in the Fifa video games from 95 to 99, you could just get the ball to him and you will know there will be a goal for you…I was a big fan of his. A really good forward and I would say that in the last few years, maybe Cavani is the closest player to him although Batigol was faster but Cavani may have better movement…In any case, a quality striker.

Today, Balogun showed that he can play for us in the Europa League for sure and he will certainly be given a run in the Cups and I think that Arteta sees the potential of the kid so we may even see him in the EPL. He showed strength and composure today and he was decisive. I also thought that ESR had a great game today but that’s for another day 🙂 Arteta said that they are working on signing Balogun on a long-term deal because he finds the kid superb and apparently Balogun wants to stay. So what do we do now?

Who do we bet on to join Auba up front? Laca, Martinelli, Nketiah or Balogun. Auba will find his scoring boots, it is just a matter of time. I think his best partner in front 2 may be Martinelli but maybe we could have Martinelli, Balogun, Auba as a front three supported by Partey, El Neny, Saka in the middle…

The decision is tough – we are almost out of the Top 6 race in the EPL. Isn’t it the perfect season then to give our promising youngsters a real chance at gaining experience in the EPL? We can always play competitive teams in the EPL but have younger players in it and then also play more seasoned players in the Europa and Cup League. And if we play the young guns in the EPL, who do you put forward between Nketiah and Balogun?

So the point of this post is to reflect on:

  1. Shall we give a chance to your young guns in the EPL and hope they develop into top players?
  2. Who gets the nod as starting CF between Nketiah and Balogun if we decide to bet on youth?
  3. Do you think that Balogun has what it takes to be our Batigol or Haaland?

Another win the Europa league tonight. Feels good. It may be our direct path to CL…who knows?


Is our right side our wrong side?

December 7, 2020
Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney could rescue Unai Emery  from wrath of Arsenal fans - Arsenal.News

So it seems that we are letting quite some goals in from the right side with Bellerin often caught out of position, Holding outpaced or misplaced and with Willian/Pepe not necessarily supporting enough and same goes with our midfielders who are not closing the opposition down on that side…

I like Bellerin when he goes forward and I think that he has a good mentality and can also pass the ball decently but he sometimes goes missing defensively, at least one or twice in a match and we often get punished for his lapses.

As for Holding, well he can be superb one match and absolutely average or poor the next one. His main issues are his pace and his positioning on certain situations. He does not always know when to close down or when to cover the back post….He is good in the air and his passing is also good but is that enough to be a starter for us?

Now we come to our right wing. Willian has been disappointing and Pepe not much better. We have not seen enough from RN yet so I will give him some slack.

All that to say that while on the left, we have Gabriel – Tierney – Saka and we seem more solid defensively and coherent going forward from that side, we seem to be struggling on the right. There are players that could help us maybe and especially AMN. If we continue with our back 4, we could play with 4 midfielders to and one of them on the right side could be AMN.

Anyways, seems our right side is our wrong side…


Have the Arsenal Players Just Had Their Blackburn 1997 Moment?

December 5, 2020
A clearing of the air at Arsenal?

According to reports in the press (yes, I know) Mikel Arteta called a team meeting on Tuesday to try and get to grips with our terrible Premier League form.

After going over a number of issues he left the players to talk among themselves.

Apparently there was much finger-pointing and heated words were exchanged, but the meeting ended up with the air having been cleared and much hugging all round.

This brings to mind the events of December 1997 when, following a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers, the players had a meeting in which the ‘old hands’ like Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon laid into their recently arrived French colleagues (Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit) for not offering the defence enough protection.

The French lads got the message and Arsenal won their next 10 league games on the way to clinching Arsene Wenger’s first league title at the club in 1998. We also won the FA Cup that season.

Now, I am not suggesting that the current crop of Arsenal boys are going to go unbeaten and win the league (although hey, you never know). Sadly we don’t these days have players of the caliber of that famous back five, or of Petit and Vieira in midfield, or Bergkamp, Anelka, Overmars and Wrighty up front.

But if the 2020 version of a clear-the-air December meeting has any kind of positive effect we can at least hope for an improvement in performance, starting on Sunday at the Armitage Shanks Arena.

It’s a football fact of life that no matter how good a manager is, there are some things that can best be sorted out among the players themselves.

Any of us who’ve played (or still play) club football at a park or local level will have experienced some version of this phenomenon: you’ve had some disappointing results, people are blaming each other, factions are forming, it’s even got physical at times… but eventually it all bursts out into the open, you have a great big barney and then you’re all best mates again. In the next game you’re all suddenly trying that bit harder for each other and offering encouragement instead of criticism when someone makes a mistake.

There was certainly an added exuberance about our Europa League performance on Thursday night and that could be taken as evidence of a change of attitude following Tuesday’s get-together.

Yes, we have been generally performing OK in that competition (although not as well as we did on Thursday), yes the opposition weren’t up to much and yes, there was a live crowd for the first time in ages, but the performance of many of the players – Lacazette in particular – makes me feel the lads were particularly fired up.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we can get a helping of that tomorrow.

RockyLives


We got our Arsenal back.

December 3, 2020


Rapid Vienna were not very good it has to be said, Arsenal had already qualified for the knock-out stages before the start and if you, like me, expected a game something akin to a training ground kick about you were wrong. The returning home fans were treated to a determined display of high intensity football the likes of which we have not seen in a while.

The team selection made sense although there was one thing that confused me, which I will come to. Mikel was able to be a bit more relaxed in defence and play a back line who all needed a bit of game time, this included the long awaited return of Mari who played well enough, he certainly took his goal well, the problem I have is I don’t understand why we signed him?

By contrast Soares whose signing is also questioned makes complete sense to me. As much as we take relegation or the absence of it for granted it is obviously important that those who have their hands on the reigns do not.

If Bellerin gets injured and is out for the season (it has happened) we need someone who knows what they are doing to steady the ship; Soares is an insurance policy, a small hedge if you like.

Mari on the other hand is playing in the same position as the best defensive signing we have made in years. Possibly covid wasn’t anticipated and Luiz wasn’t expected to extend for another year so we would have an interchangeable back line of Gabriel, Mari and Holding? Perhaps Gabriel wasn’t expected to hit the floor running quite so well as he has? I’m not sure?

The goal keeper had to play and should have played in all of the games in this competition, if Leno gets injured this is the guy that is going to be holding us together.

Elneny and Maitland-Niles in front of the back line was I hope a trial run for a start on Sunday, although I am not holding my breath. I am working on the basis, of course, that Partey will come up short for Sunday.

There was talk before the game about Arteta playing two number tens in the form of Lacazette and Nelson, I don’t think it turned out this way, to me it was a straight forward three up front with Lacazette playing in the pocket just behind. I was deeply sceptical as I just don’t think he has the close control to carry this off; he may or may not but he has got one hell of a thunderous shot and one was unleashed early on that found the back of the net that shut sceptics like me up. I expect him to play in that role on Sunday and then we will see if this idea has legs.

And of the attack, who would have thought that a left footed winger playing on the left and a right footed winger playing on the right could be so effective? Errr, our very own GB, but apart from him I mean. Both Pepe and Nelson both put in very impressive displays.

The last bit might upset a few but I am still not impressed with Nketiah, if you want a fox in the box then he is your man but I want to see far better close control and far better hold up play before I am convinced.

An easy victory really, we are good at going forward when there is space to run into but no one in the EPL gives us that kind of freedom and without it close control is everything — Martinelli has it Saka has it and even Willian has it but the list of players who we continue to persevere with who do not is long.

I tried to finish this on an up note but I clearly failed probably because I am worried about the weekend, perhaps tonight’s determination will be carried over to Sunday naturally I hope so. COYRRG


Arteta’s Dilemma: Vienna Preview & Predicted Line-Up

December 3, 2020
Oh, Vienna

The dilemma referred to in the headline is this: given that we have already qualified from our Europa League group, should we use tonight’s visit of Rapid Vienna to rest as many players as possible; or do we start some of the senior players in an attempt to rebuild confidence?

The down side to the second option is that we have a monster game looming on the horizon: away at the Armitage Shanks Arena in N17 against the table-topping Spuds, a fixture in which we can only hope that the opposition will be distracted by the nosebleeds they’ll be suffering from the unfamiliar altitude.

If we had a less high profile fixture on Sunday I think El Patron might even be tempted to start Aubameyang against the Austrians tonight to get his scoring juices flowing, with a view to starting him again on Sunday.

But given that there are only 67 hours between the end of tonight’s game and kicking off against the Spuds, I suspect Arteta will play it safe and stick with a similar team to the one that has started recent EL games. After all, caution seems to be our manager’s guiding principle at the moment, even though it’s not serving him well.

In fact Arteta may decide to send out an even weaker team this evening if, for example, he is planning to start Willock at Totteringham.

Kolasinac is available again after his stint in Covid quarantine, Partey is still out with his thigh injury but due to rejoin first team training. It’s highly unlikely he’ll be available for the weekend (sadly).

Here’s my guess at the team:

Runarsson

Soares – Mustafi – Holding – Kolasinac

Willock – Xhaka – Smith-Rowe

Pepe – Lacazette – Nelson

I’ve put Xhaka in the team in the expectation that he will not be starting on Sunday after his awful game against Wolves. And I have left Ainsley Maitland-Niles out because I am hoping he will start at the weekend and be given the job of marking Bale out of the game.

Vienna were disappointing in the first leg and whatever team we put out should expect to win tonight.

The Europa League is providing our only enjoyment at the moment so here’s to another entertaining outing and to us hitting our EL average of three goals per game.

In other news, I made the point in yesterday’s Post that I would like to see us get a fast, big, powerful centre forward in the January window. “Someone like Olivier Giroud from five years ago,” I said. I guess that must have rankled with Big Ollie because, as you may have seen, he banged in four goals for the Chavs last night.

RockyLives


Arsenal’s Game-Changing January Signing

December 2, 2020
Milik to N5?

Simple question: if we could sign one player in January to really transform our prospects, who would it be?

I’d like to propose that we keep our suggestions within the realms of the possible (so no Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Dennis Bergkamp please).

Do we prioritise a striker for our goal-shy attack?

A creative midfielder or Number 10 who can make the magic happen?

A defensive midfielder to let Partey roam forward?

A goalie who doesn’t make a habit of spilling the ball onto the feet of oncoming attackers?

Maybe you feel another defender is what we need.

Whatever you think, have your say in the comments below.

My preference would be for Jack Grealish, although his star is rising so fast and ours is falling so fast that I think such a deal barely scrapes into the ‘realms of the possible’.

If not Grealish, I would go for a big, fast, powerful centre forward. I can’t give you a name that fits the bill (although Olivier Giroud from five years ago would be perfect if you gloss over the ‘fast’ bit) but I have it on good authority from my friend RC78 that the Polish forward Arkadiusz Milik, who currently plays for Napoli, is the sort of man we need.

RC78 is a keen watcher of European football so if Milik is good enough for him, he’s good enough for me.

Over to you.

RockyLives