Why is Villa trying to snatch ESR from us?

June 28, 2021
Major reasons why Arsenal must build around Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe  and Selling the pair will be unacceptable - Martin Samuel - EPL Fans

I can’t remember which pundit but one of them said that if ESR wants to grow and improve, he has to leave AFC…I wholeheartedly disagree with him and actually the guy should just stop sharing his advice in the public space…

AFC is the perfect place for ESR for many reasons:

  1. It is his club – he is a Gooner
  2. There is a sense that Arteta trusts him and wants to make him a key player in our squad
  3. He is the new and fresh face of AFC with Saka and Tierney since X-Mas and has enjoyed a good second half and we hopefull could add Martinelli to that list very soon
  4. Why would he leave AFC for a team like Villa?

Villa can try all they want, AFC will just offer a good contract to ESR and keep him so everyone should just back off. AFC needs his quality and also needs him as one of our Home-Grown players so there is very little chance to let him go, let us just tie him up to a good contract similar to Saka’s and Tierney’s and end of speculation about his future.

Leno – Holding, White, Gabriel – Chambers, Partey, ESR, Tierney – Saka, Martinelli, Pepe

Not super balanced but appetizing line-up 🙂


Make your ultimate English-German AFC team with players that played from 2000 to 2020 for our club…

June 26, 2021

As the England-Germany game looms ahead at the Euro, it is fair to say that this game comes with a lot of history and almost emotional baggage for England. Tough losses and on a few occasion amazing wins but when it came to tournament games, England usually ends up on the losing side against Germany…BUT this year, Southgate seems to have a very pragmatic approach to the game and Germany has yet to find its rhythm. I think Germany is super talented especially from midfielder onwards but is a bit weaker defensively and England is just solid all around so I think we will be in for a good game and on my side, I d like to see a winner before PKs and I would like England to win but I am wary of Gnabry, Havertz, Muller, Werner, Kimmich, Goretzka, Musiala…It is not going to be easy but England can do it and if not, well it would be disappointing but England will get over it as always…

So if we take the last 20 years at AFC, we had amazing English talent and quality German players too so who makes your Ultimate XI of English-German team. Here is the trick, you must select at least 3 German players…choose wisely!

For me, I will definitely consider including the following German players:

Lehmann, BFG, Ozil, Poldi…I can’t include Gnabry because he hardly played for us…but feel free to add him

For the English ones, I am struggling in midfield: Wilshere, Oxlade…and up front, I suppose Walcott, Wellbeck will have to be considered…

Good luck everyone


The Saka Secret is Out

June 24, 2021

Bakayo Saka started for England last night and if the Press are to be believed he will be a solid fixture in Gareth Southgate’s England team for the rest of the tournament.

It is becoming apparent to the rest of the football world that Arsenal have a major talent here. This past season he was head and shoulders Our best player. At age 19 that is quite a statement. I don’t think We’ve had a standout talent from the Arsenal academy at such a young age since Tony Adams (Cesc Fabregas & Nicholas Anelka were lifted from other academies in my opinion). If he measures up to Big Tone he will be some player.

Unai Emery clearly saw something in Bukayo and gave him his first senior appearance. For all the things Unai got wrong at Arsenal he clearly got that one right.

What makes Saka stand out in England is his talent with both his left and right feet. He can use both equally well, which can be a nightmare to defend against. He may not be the fastest player, but he has a turn of pace and can dribble well. His crossing is also decent. Maybe where he is lacking at the moment is his finishing, but he has time to improve on that.

Despite his ability to play in many positions I see him as destined to play off a striker as an inside right or inside left (George Best?). He has too much talent to be stuck on the wing and his attacking ability would be wasted in midfield or defence.

Now the problem: Showcasing his talents on the International stage at Euro2020 (21 surely?) will attract interest from other teams. He is tied down to a 3 year contract, but as seen with Harry Kane this is no guarantee that a player will stay put. In the coming years we will need to match his ambition to keep him at the Club.

The best comparison in the England set up is Phil Foden (nice shiny gnashers). He is 2 years older than Saka and worth about £80 million according to Transfermarkt. He’s a good player, but very left footed, so what would that make Saka worth? If Man City with their Abu Dhabi vanity project money offer £150 million could we hold out? I hope so.

This lad is potentially world class. He needs to be the beating heart of the Arsenal team over the coming years with support from Smith Rowe, Tierney and Partey. Keep these players together and we might be back in the big time…

A piece from Pete the Thirst – thank you from RC78 and RockyLives and LBG


Why are we being linked with Ben White?

June 23, 2021

I am very puzzled why our club is being linked with Ben White…At this stage, we have the following Centre Backs:

  • Holding, Gabriel
  • Mavropanos, Mari
  • Saliba, pbbly will be loaned out again

Knowing that we can also use Chambers and Tierney as central defenders, I am not quite sure why we would pursue Ben White. Sure, he is a good defender but if we are to buy a defender, why not aim for a very top defender? Someone that could transform our team like Dias did at City…

If Ben White joins then it would surely be the end of Mavro and/or Saliba at AFC and then if we pay 50 Mln for him, does that mean that Holding or Gabriel drop to the bench?

A real weird rumour that one…


Tough Start But Some Christmas Cheer: Highlights from Our 2021/22 Premier League Schedule

June 17, 2021

The fixtures for next season’s Premier League were published yesterday and some parts immediately stood out from an Arsenal perspective.

You can read the full list on the club website, but here are some of the highlights:

We Need To Hit The Ground Running

The fixtures computer has given us a challenging start to the new season, which kicks off on August 14th when we are away at newly promoted Brentford, followed by Chelsea at home and Manchester City away.

The Brentford game may look easily winnable on paper (the Bees finished third in the Championship and had to battle through the play-offs), but newly promoted teams are often at their most dangerous at the start of the season when they are still full of hope and expectation. By mid October they have usually had the stuffing knocked out of them with some heavy defeats.

So, this opening day fixture is no gimme and it is immediately followed by matches against the teams that finished fourth and first in the Premier League last season. Chelsea and Man City will both be intent on getting a strong start to their campaigns and we’ll have to be ready to match them. We will learn a lot about the Arsenal of 2021/22 in the first two weeks.

A Reasonable Christmas

The seasonal schedule can be difficult for several reasons: a lot of games crammed into a short space of time; players wanting to be with their families rather than travelling all round the country; odd kick-off times.

This year we’re away at newly promoted Norwich on Boxing Day, then home to Wolves two days later, with a New Years Day fixture against Man City at home. Obviously City will be a challenge, but the fact that we don’t have to travel after Boxing Day until the middle of January is helpful. And given how good City were last season and will probably be in the season to come, I’d rather be playing them on a special occasion like New Years Day, when our home crowd will be merrily lubricated and well up for it.

The Enemy

Our home fixture against the Noisy Neighbours is on September 25th. We play them again at the Armitage Shanks Arena on January 15th, by which time it will hopefully be apparent to them and all their fans that they’re in for another season of disappointment.

It’s also possible that their involvement in the Europa No-Hoper Conference – which will see them having to trail round half the far-flung countries of Europe – will impact their league form, while we have no such excuse.

An Excellent Run In

If we can remain competitive up to the start of March (for a shot at the top four, let’s say) then we’ll have a fighting chance of making it thanks to our decent run in.

After Liverpool at home on February 26th, we have 11 games to the end of the season, of which only one is against a traditional ‘Big Six’ team (Man United at home on April 23rd).

Of course, you could argue that the traditional Big Six is no longer a thing, and that our run in includes teams who may well be in the actual top six at that point of the season (notably Leicester, whom we play at the Emirates on March 12th) and possibly Aston Villa (March 19th away) who are busily trying to strengthen their squad this summer.

However, a final 11 games of Watford (a), Leicester (h), Villa (a), Palace (a), Brighton (h), Saints (a), Man United (h), West Ham (a), Leeds (h), Newcastle (a) and Everton (h) is not bad at all.

Finishing with a home game can also make a difference if we need a result on the final day.

Tough Away Days in the First Half

The fact of that decent run in should tell the observant reader that there must be some pain lying elsewhere in the schedule, and it comes with a bunch of hard away days in the first half of the season.

We face away games at Man City, Man United, Liverpool and Leicester before the end of November.

However…

In the end the fixtures probably mean little. If our team is functioning well and has been intelligently added to during the summer we will do OK, regardless of the order in which our opponents come at us.

But, to coin a footballing cliche, it can be a game of fine margins and in the areas listed above we can hope that the margins might favour us.

RockyLives


Who would you bring in from England Squad (only starters or close to be) to AFC?

June 16, 2021
Declan Kane High Resolution Stock Photography and Images - Alamy

The coach: Southgate

The goalkeeper: Pickford

A defender: Walker, Maguire/Mings, Stones, Trippier/Chilwell

A defensive midfielder: Rice,

A central midfielder: Henderson, Philipps, Mount

An attacking midfielder/winger: Foden, Sterling, Grealish, Sancho, Bellingham

A striker: Kane, Rashford

I think if we strengthened at DM, our team would look more solid so I would opt for Rice.


Who would you build your AFC team around?

June 12, 2021

As we are in the transfer period, we are supposed to strengthen our squad but a few questions remain:

  1. Are we to stick in our 4231 system or will Arteta move back to his 433?
  2. Who do we build our team around?

I want to focus on the second one although one could argue that it is dependent on the first one and the argument wold be valid 😛

We have a few talented players in Holding, Tierney, Partey, Saka, ESR, Pepe (?), Martinelli…and then there is also the perennial question related to Aubameyang…so how do we put our best players in the best conditions to perform and who would you build your team around?

Do you build it around Auba and then maybe a 433 or 442 (4312) may be more adapted and who would play upfront with Auba?

Do you build the team around Saka and then is the 4231 system better suited and does that mean that Pepe has to play on the left side?

Do you build the team around Tierney and then do we need a CF that can be a target for his beautiful crosses?

Do you build the team around ESR and then do we need to play Saka, Pepe (or Martinelli) next to him and Laca up front, meaning leaving out Auba?

…We could go on and on…so who do you think we should build our team around and why?


Norwegian Would? Or Wouldn’t? How Much Should Arsenal Spend on Odegaard?

June 11, 2021
A problem solved?

According to supposedly well informed media sources we are making an active attempt to sign Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid on a permanent basis.

The Norwegian attacking midfielder made a generally good impression during his Arsenal loan spell, although it’s fair to say he did not convince everyone that he was a “must have’ for the team moving forward.

The potential for a full transfer is unclear because of Zidane’s departure from Los Blancos, but the story has not gone away.

So, two questions:

Do you think we should sign the 22-year-old?

If so, how much should we prepared to pay for him?

On the first point, there are a few factors that weigh in favour of completing the deal if possible: Arteta really likes the player; the coaching team have had a chance to get a really good look at him up close; he will fit back in to the Arsenal set-up without any need of an adjustment or settling-in period; he’s young and would have sell-on transfer value in a few years time; his potential is high.

The factors against him: if we’re looking to move to the next level and secure Champions League football for the 22/23 season, is he the best we can get for a CAM? Not all would agree that he did enough in his loan spell to demonstrate that he is the man to bring back the glory days; signing him would be the easy option and might make us overlook the opportunity to bring in someone better.

On balance I would be up for signing him if the price makes sense, which brings us on to question two.

With sums like £30-35m being mooted for Buendia, a deal for Odegaard that did not exceed £30m would be a no-brainer in my humble opinion.

At a push I would not be unhappy to see us go to £35m for him (again, he’s young enough that he will have sell-on value in the future), but if the asking price goes much beyond that then we should be looking at alternatives.

With all the squad development that needs to happen at Arsenal during this close season (and with the distraction of the Euros delaying a lot of potential transfer activity) I can imagine that signing Odegaard would remove one big item from Arteta’s “To Do” list: he would have filled a key role with a player who will not need all the extra work of acclimatisation and adjustment that a complete newcomer would have.

An attacking line-up next season that comprised members of Auba, Saka, Pepe, Martinelli, ESR and Odegaard looks pretty fine to me (provided we can find a formation that brings the best out of Auba).

Over to you.

RockyLives


Arsenal’s Best Ever Transfer

June 10, 2021
Two of the best…

Following on from Fred’s howl of pain about the transfer window in a Post on Monday, I thought it would be good to think about the best transfer signing Arsenal has ever made.

I suggest we use two categories, otherwise it will simply come down to a question of “which Invincible was our best acquisition?”

Category 1: Our best signing of all time.

Category 2: Our best NON-INVINCIBLE signing of all time.

In both cases we’re looking at players signed as pros, not players we acquired during their youth development phases.

Please give your answers and your reasons.

I’ll get the ball rolling:

Best signing of all time: SOL CAMPBELL

I know big Sol is not as glamorous as the attacking options we could choose from (Henry, Bergkamp, Pires, Cazorla, Van Persie etc) but he was the rock on which our Invincibles season was built.

More than that, when news broke that we had pinched him from the noisy neighbours it was the most sensational Arsenal transfer moment of my lifetime.

In one fell swoop we secured one of the best central defenders in the world; massively diminished our traditional rivals; and established that North London really was red.

Yes, those aforementioned attackers – plus players like Vieira, Gilberto and Cole – were all crucial components of the team that made history, but without Campbell I wonder whether there would ever have been an “Invincibles.” A title-winning team? For sure. But an UNBEATEN title winning team? Unlikely.

Best NON-INVINCIBLE signing of all time: IAN WRIGHT.

It was a close call for me between Wrighty and Aaron “Mr FA Cup” Ramsey. They have both given me huge pleasure as an Arsenal fan. I know we have had many players with better all round skill than Ramsey, but his cup final heroics make him really special for me.

As for Wrighty, it was impossible not to love his exuberance, his passion and his love of the game. If you are too young to have experienced his skills first hand, look at some YouTube compilations of his Arsenal goals: you will see one of the greatest natural finishers ever to have played for us.

Those are my choices – what about yours?

RockyLives


Let us talk about the French…Open before we all go crazy about the Euros 2020

June 8, 2021

I am not sure many of you follow other sports than football but if you do, welcome to the club! Besides my AFC and PSG passion, I am an avid tennis fan and am devouring the French open at the moment and it is quite an interesting one so far…

In the women’s side, the highest ranked player left is last year’s winner Swiatek. I really like the way she plays and her attitude. She is playing solid tennis with the necessary hints of risk but tomorrow, she may lose to the Greek sensation, Sakkari. She is very solid, extremely consistent and also physically ready for a grueling battle. I think that the winner of the F.O will be the winner of this encounter. Today, Zidansek and Pavluchenkova qualifed but neither will prevail in the final and I am not sure Coco Gauff is ready yet…so if all goes according to plan, we should see Zwiatek land her second Roland-Garros. The talk of the tournament was of course Osaka and what she has done by pulling out citing mental health issues was not only brave but pioneering. She is really a trail blazer and the leader of woman’s tennis. This French Open also showed that Serena probably will never lift the F.O trophy again but that she can still compete so I wouldn’t put it past her to win another 2 slams especially at Wimbledon and the US Open. On another note, Rybankina and Badosa have the weapons to be top 10 players but will they have the mental fortitude on court to realize their potential?

On the men’s side, Roger came to Paris to prepare Wimbledon so let us hope for him that he actually goes far in Wimbledon and ideally wins it. I d like him to leave tennis on a victorious note and ideally at Wimbledon but the Olympics would also do 🙂 Rafa seems destined to win another RG. He is just so good on clay and so hard to beat. Given the current draw and level of play of the other players so far, only Tsitsipas could stop him and that would be in the final. So I am confident of a Rafa – Tsisipas final with a 4 sets victory of Rafa. If you would like to bet an upset, do not understimate the chances of Berretini against Djokovic – the Italian guy is playing very well and our Serb maestro is not his usual clinical and sharp self so I could see Berretini winning in 4 sets tomorrow against Djoko to set-up his semi-final against Rafa. On the other side of the raw, Zverev is looking too timid in his intentions to be able to beat Tsitsipas so that is an easy call…The talk of the tournament has been the emergence of Italian tennis with Berretini, Musetti (I call him Baby Fed because he has the best shot-making ability on tour), Sinner reaching the last 16…Well done to our Italian friends for the production of a golden generation of tennis players.

We are slowly coming to the end of the Fed and Williams era and we are not far away from ending the dominance of Nadal-Djoko with the solidification of the challengers pack (Tsitsi, Medvedev, Zverev, Berretini) and the emergence of huge talents (Musetti, Sinner) so definitely exciting times for the neutral fans

So here are my two cents on tennis and looking forward to your thoughts on Tennis or on whether the abysmal form of French tennis players could be compensated by Les Bleus’ triumph at the Euros?