Arsenal v Western Sydney Wanderers

July 15, 2017

Lacazette has a new Arsenal striker competitor up front….

…from Per Mertesacker. Thats right, after a fantastic, stand out performance in the FA Cup final, it took Per only 4 minutes to get on the scorers sheet.

courtesy of the Arsenal Gentleman

Welcome to the land Down Under Arsenal. And a great start to the tour with Lacazette also finding the back of the net.

We now turn our attention to how Arsenal will fare in their next game against the Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.

But first a bit of background before kick-off

Two of the biggest exports of Australian football to the EPL were Mark Viduka and Mark Bosnich. Both with Croatian backgrounds and both products of the old Australian NSL (National Soccer League) which has been replaced with the new A-League. Another example of this breed of Australian Football export was Tony Popovic and Ante Milicic. Both with Croatian heritage, both played for Australia and in their retirement as players, both becoming key players in the development and success of the Western Sydney Wanderers. Popovic is coach and Milicic was his assistant (he is now assistant coach of the Australian Team).

Tony Popovic played 123 games for Crystal Palace, was an integral part of the Palace defence and became club captain. Tony also played 58 games for Australia. As head coach of Wanderers (Crystal Palace were at one stage chasing him) since the clubs inception and his background as a player in charge of the defence, this Arsenal game against the Wanderers will be a very different one from the one against Sydney FC on Thursday night.

Firstly, the Wanderers are only 6 years old but already boast one of the biggest and most passionate fanbases in Australian Football (the Red and Black Army) and they are the only Australian football team that have won the Asian Champions League on a budget that would make Arsene Wenger cry.

Secondly, Arsenal might feel obliged to throw a game for good will.

Personally I am hoping that Arsene plays a 3, 2, 5 –

Cech

Monreal, Per, Kolasinac

Xhaka, Ramsey

Wellbeck, Ozil, Lacazette, Giroud, Ox

Its going to be a great game for football fans everywhere.

COYG!

Written by VP of Oz


Arsenal in Australia from 1977 to 2017

July 11, 2017

Let’s start with extracts from Wiki and Original 1977 Programme

The tournament was the idea of English entrepreneur Reg Lambourne, Strata Travel owner Tom Lawrence and Red Star Belgrade FC Secretary General Dr Miroljub Stojkovic and consisted of two competitions. The first (also known as Metro 20th Anniversary Tournament) was a straight knock-out tournament in Singapore, and the second was a mini-league in which the top two teams would play in the final. The first trophy was won by Red Star Belgrade (FK Crvena zvezda) and the second by Celtic, and was the last ever trophy Jock Stein would ever lift for Celtic.

  • Celtic FC Latchford, McGrain, Burns, Stanton, McDonald, Aitken, Wilson, Conn, Glavin, Edvaldsson, Lennox, Doyl, Kay (Manager Jock Stein)
  • Red Star Belgrade Stojanović, Jelikić, Jovanović, Muslin, Bogićević, Novković, Nikolić, Petrović, Savić, Sušić, Filipović, Šestić, Lukić (Manager Gojko Zec)
  • Arsenal Rimmer, Rice, Nelson, Powling, O’Leary, Young, Brady, Hudson, Macdonald, Stapleton, Armstrong, Rix, Mathews (Manager Terry Neill)
  • A select XI from the host nation
  • Australia Reilly, Harris, Wilson, Bennett, Williams, Harding, Barnes, Rooney, Kosmina, Ollerton, Sharne, Nyskohus, Maher, Abonyi (Manager Jimmy Shoulder)

Life without Sanchez

July 6, 2017

So before talking about options for life without Sanchez lets just talk about what happens if he stays. Personally I think this is rather easy. He lines up as the left sided of our double number 10’s (with Ozil as 1st choice to the right of centre) behind our new boy Lacazette. That front 3 should have creativity and goals in it and would be exciting to watch. It could be a title defining front 3 in a formation where they all compliment each other. There is also excellent back up to each of the front 3 players.

In essence I hope Alexis stays but this is far from certain and the most recent rumours are of him demanding £400,000pw. This could just be paper talk of course with no basis whatsoever, but if it were true I am giving it the thumbs down. At that point I am looking to get us the best deal, but what is that?

Probably the worst deal would be a straight cash deal with an EPL rival. A straight cash deal would be better with an overseas club. Probably the best deal would be a swap with another big club. If it were Munich could we nab Lewandowski in return? One of our bloggers described Lacazette as a true 9 ½ so could he adopt the left sided 10 role behind a prolific 9 like Lewandowski? Ditto with Aguero. Could that happen?

Both of those latter mentioned deals would still leave us looking pretty strong with a lot of fire-power even without Alexis. Other possible considerations could be Sterling or De-Bruyne but for some reason they don’t appeal to me quite as much.

With all the Sanchez talk there is another player issue that, although receiving some media coverage, is flying slightly more under the radar. We are in danger of losing Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, a player I really like. It is hard to believe that he has been with us since 2011 yet is still only 23 years old.

In many senses he hasn’t had a dissimilar pathway to Sanchez had to their respective 23rd year. The stats for both are not hugely different, where Sanchez was with Udinese to 23. Sanchez has slightly more favourable stats but then I have always maintained that AOC has been a slight victim of covering a multitude of positions, so a significant amount of games would have been in less favourable positions that would allow him to boost his goal-scoring stats.

Sanchez really only started to thrive as a goal-scoring wing forward from his 23rd year when he moved to Barca. It is time to nail down a regular position for AOC or risk losing him. He was excellent at right wing back but I am still not certain this is the position where we will see the best of him. Similarly I don’t think it is the position he feels is really best for him. We have Bellerin, who is excellent there in our back 3 formation, and I am sure we can find other alternative cover there.

I say that if we lose Sanchez then it is time to unleash the Ox. Give him the opportunity that Sanchez had at that same age to show the world that there is a world class left inside forward in there waiting to burst through, one that as his confidence increases in the position is full of goals and pacey attacking intent.

Is it a risk? Some would say yes and that we need to get some big foreign player to replace someone like Sanchez. But there is a risk there as well. Even some celebrated names have historically struggled in the EPL. There is as much risk in any player coming in as there is in one of our own changing to a new role.

Back up would be required, but Welbeck is adept from the left attacking position. We may need to bring another in though. Perhaps a player that can cover this position but could also cover Ramseys more attacking of the central 2 role. I like the look of Lemar at Monaco but I also like the look of the lad Golovin from CSKA that we have been linked with. World of football describes his strengths as dribbling, acceleration, flair and passing. What is not to like? Even better when listing preferred foot their answer was both.

I wouldn’t be unhappy if AW released AOC and just see if at 23 he is primed to become our own English Sanchez. There are no guarantees in football and sometimes you just have to be brave enough to take a chance on a player and put your faith in them.

Written by GoonerB


Arsene’s fantastic Vision of Beautiful Football

July 2, 2017

So, here we are, a year on and openly or sneakily looking at the myriad of transfer rumours flowing around us, not just about Arsenal, but around all our rivals too – who is buying whom, who is asking for the humongously ridiculous salary and so on.

The season finished on something of a mixed bag of results – some terrific football to win the FA Cup at a canter from Chelsea, the Premier League champions, but all culminating in a somewhat disappointing relegation from the fabled ‘top four’ finish, and thus we are relegated to the Europa League, taking the place of the Spuds.

The cockles of the fans heart were warmed by the scintillating finish to the season by the way the team played at the season finale, and the captivating style of total football that was on show for all the world to see.

Where did this performance come from? Was it a one off? Will we treasure it and hold it to our manly chests as we slip back into the old slip slop ways of yore?

Not if Arsene Wenger has his way!

Looking back to last summer, we can remember the constant and probably unfair criticisms of Arsene for his apparently dilatory decisions in not addressing the perceived weaknesses of the team, at least as far as the fans were concerned.

Where is the desperately needed holding midfielder we need, many have asked, seemingly year on year, season on season? Where is the top notch CF we need? And why are our full backs encouraged to frequently desert their defensive duties and hare upfield in support of the attack?
[OK, that last one is not transfer related, but when were fans logical in their complaints?] 🙂

On the face of it, there appears to be a hotchpotch list of gripes that have resulted in the fulminating anger of the fans spilling over from time to time when results have not gone our way, and this has led to many supporters despairing of Arsene ever changing his spots.

The transfer acquisitions made last summer did cheer up the fans by addressing addressing some of the issues, but it did not take long for the moans to re-start after the first game we lost.

The suppurating anger of some fans has not been helped by Mr Wenger appearing to refuse to explain his vision, his strategy and his tactics in a way that would, perhaps, allow everyone to understand better what he is striving to achieve, and to explain his supposed reluctance to caulk over the defensive and offensive holes in his team by buying more suitably qualified players and addressing the long term issues concerning the fans.

Arsene, like many highly intelligent men when they are confronted with the seemingly incomprehensible angst of fans regarding, what appears to him, as a straightforward situation, sometimes shows an inability to understand why there is even a problem, when his vision, motives and methodology are so obvious to him.
Perhaps he needs to learn to use the English colloquialism “What’s your problem, mate?”

The answer, I believe, lies in his vision of the beautiful game. Football, so he advocates, is not broken down into the micro or macro analysis and management of defense and or offense, he really does see the game as being one unified, flowing, seamless whole. To him there is no need to assign specific responsibilities to one type of player or the other, because the whole team should be capable of defending and attacking as one smoothly working unit.

Every Wenger team is expected to play in a certain way — his way — conforming to his vision, and to hell with worrying about the opposition. He wants to win, and win beautifully, by playing football as an art form with each cog of the team working synchronically like a perfectly functioning and exquisite Rolex watch, and stuff the Timex teams which may be acceptable to the other clubs and other fans.

Therein lies the problem. Most fans want to win trophies to give them bragging rights, and it matters not to them if it was the result of a fluke deflection off someone’s ass, or a bad refereeing decision, or playing against 10 men or whatever advantage the Gods threw at them.
A win is a win, is a win, innit?

But maybe Arsene needs to promote and explain his vision to the fans better, and to reassure them that he does indeed want to win trophies, but also to win them in a style that would make them proud to support a club who fostered such a vision of perfection — a vision of playing beautiful footie.

Arsene also needs to appreciate, if he doesn’t already, that every Rolex or Hublot needs to be made of the very best of materials, and to have a thorough annual overhaul in order to hit the amazingly high standards of perfection they lay claim to, and so too does his Arsenal team. Hence the transfer turmoil every summer when defective parts need to be replaced.

Buying the very best players possible for his team, and leaving others to worry about the cost of doing so, is an essential requirement which not only will make his vision for Arsenal more achievable, but also marry up his desires with those of the loyal fans who crave success and would give their unstinting support to this magnificent project if this was the case. But ….. AW does care about the cost, unlike every other top manager – and that leads to its own problems.

There are very many of us who would love to see this man reach his visionary goal, and not appear in history as just another footballing Don Quixote, futilely tilting at windmills, and not just for his sake, but also for the sakes of those of us who have supported Arsenal all our lives, and will do so until the end.

Written by Zee


Season Assessment: Centre Backs

June 24, 2017

We have a lot of them don’t we? Do we need so many? Are they all good enough to do the job? Do we need to improve on their quality?

The season was definitely split into two as regards the defence, with the move to a Back 3 making giving the CB’s more support. But … one must question why we conceded so many goals whilst operating AW’s favoured Back 4 formation, Tony Adams etc were rightly critical.

Arsenal conceded more goals from set pieces than any of the Top 10 teams. Given the quality of the individuals one can only surmise this was an organisational problem, but why did things improve with the new system? How does that affect defending a corner?

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Mustafi: First season. Started well. Got injured. Came back less assured. Has undoubted quality and seems to be a leader as he is very vocal. To be honest I expected more considering how much we paid for him but then I remember that MC paid €50m for Stones 🙂

Gabriel: Love his attitude. The man is a passionate defender, grimacing his way through the game. His spats with Costa are great fun. Prone to the odd positional error. Improving but I am not sure of his AFC future as the youngsters come through.

Koscielny. Another superb season. Probably the PL’s finest CB. Pacy, determined, intelligent. The first man on the team sheet. And … a worthy Captain.

Holding. An excellent prospect. His Cup Final performance was an indicator of how good this man will be. Versatile enough to play as Bellerin’s replacement. Mr. Wenger showing he still has the ability to find a diamond.

Monreal: Has to be included as he did some sterling work in the centre. Not sure I want him there on a regular basis. Where does he fit in when we play a Back 3 and how does he feel about the signing of Kolasinac?

Mertesacker: What can one say about his single start? Perfection. I love the BFG.

Chambers: His season in a relegated team has allowed him to mature and blossom which can be evidenced by his excellence with the England U-21’s. With Kos and BFG hitting their mid-30’s the future is bright.

We have an excellent balance of youth, age and experience in the heart of defence which is not something which could be said a few years ago. No signings needed.

written by Big Raddy.


Mbappe to Arsenal for….how much?

June 21, 2017
  1. Mmmm, sounds like the answer is about 100M.
    Just been reading an article about Roberto Sanches. Remember him. Portuguese star of the Euros.
    Last May, at the age of 18, he moved from being the star man at Benfica to Bayern for a fee that will eventually hit €80M, and has started two games since December. To top that, he’s been dropped from the full International team, and now plays for the Portuguese U-21’s.
    “The problem is that you basically have to be the finished article at a club like that. He was learning so much playing at Benfica every week, it was the perfect environment for him to develop, but he was a still a rough diamond with flaws in his game. Portugal is well known for producing precocious young talents who get sold before they are the finished article. That’s what happened with him”, said someone.
    Now, Arsenal. Whatever the figure is, we have a transfer budget the Club are unhappy to spend this summer, and I doubt if it’s a whole lot more than £100M.
    My hope is that all key players remain, meaning that whoever we buy, and whenever that is, we’ll still hit the road running with a settled side in our first encounter against…..and Leicester.

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    So, back to Mbappe. The “someone” that said the above, felt that at Bayern, a player needed to be the finished article. Arsenal are not quite at the Bayern level (cough!), so does that make Arsenal the ideal destination?
    Would you risk the whole of our budget on him?
    I would, but then I famously have a rather relaxed attitude towards being sensible, whilst at the same time having a somewhat gung-ho take on risk. Above all, I like excitement and think he’d bring skip loads of the stuff.
    If, on the other hand, I was a remotely sensible sort and a little more mature, I’d probably say I’d prefer a player like Aubameyang. In other words, someone with a little more history, and having proved themselves in a tougher league.
    What say you. All for one?

    ps I know the bookies would probably have Lazazette at considerably better odds than Mbapp, but the principle of the post applies. All on one mega deal

    written by Micky Didit


Season Assessment: Full Backs

June 15, 2017

If you have been reading AA over the past few years you will know that BR knows sweet FA about tactics. This makes it difficult to judge the effectiveness of our full backs whose jobs change depending upon the formation. It was much easier to critique a performance in the days of Bob Mcnab and Pat Rice; things changed with the excellence and athleticism of Ashley Cole.

So, full backs or wing backs? How did they perform last season?

The first thing to say is that we improved once Mr Wenger tried the Back 3, the gaping holes in the defence disappeared but can the FB’s be blamed? You decide?

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Monreal: Dreadful start to the season. Unable to stop attacks down his flank which led to crosses and shots flying towards Petr. By season’s end he was back to being one of the best FB’s in the league but was he now a CB, a FB or a WB? Nacho has made over 150 appearances for Arsenal and as much as I like him I still hope AFC will sign a better defender. That said, one of my highlights of the season was the triple block of Costa’s shot in the FACF by Nacho, Holding and BFG. Real commitment.

Monreal always gives 100%, is passionate, versatile, combative and this season scored a vital goal at Wembley. He signed a long-term contract in 2016, so I guess it will be Gibbs who is leaving.

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Gibbs: I hate to be critical of a proper Arsenal man but Gibbs hasn’t achieved his potential. A sparkling early career leading to England caps had me thinking he was the successor to Ashley. He isn’t. Good player for sure but we need better (and hopefully we have already signed him).

Keiron started only 5 games last term, and 3 of those were at left wing back – a position he did well in and we certainly improved defensively with both Nacho and Keiron working in tandem.

For his sake, he needs regular first team football and I expect Keiron to be sold in the summer.

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Bellerin: Fantastic player when fully fit and in form. Amongst the very best in his position as is indicated by the media hyping a move to Barca. Hector had his worst season in the shirt thanks to a series of injuries. IMO he returned too early to the first team which affected his performances and it was only at season’s end when we saw the real Bellerin – a player with tactical awareness, a superb tackler and the fastest player in the squad.

Some awful haircuts this season as Hector attempted to be become a fashion icon. What is wrong with a short B & S?

I expect him to leave in a couple of season’s but by then he will have won the CL and PL with Arsenal.

Holding/Ox/Gabriel:  In here as an addendum because they all filled Bellerin’s position during the season. Not did the job as well as Hector but nonetheless were not embarrassed . The Ox at RWB worked better than expected.

Will we see the Back 3 experiment continue next season? And if so, where does Hector fit into the formation? Perhaps this is why there is so much media speculation, possibly activated by Bellerin’s agent.

All in all, our FB’s did not give enough defensive support to their CB’s and this resulted in too many goals conceded from wing positions. Could do better.

written by Big Raddy