Who will win the 2016/17 Premier League?

January 24, 2017

We are close to 60% of the way through the season having played 22 out of the 38 games.

It is the closest we have seen the league in many years with the top 6 teams separated by 14 points but the 2nd to 6th places by only 6 points.

The remaining schedule for each of the top 6 is shown below.

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Can anybody beat Chelsea to 1st place?

GunnerN5


Can Arsenal win the league?…..a fan’s view and player ratings.

January 23, 2017

So we managed not to slip on the banana skin or should that be the Burnley skin. Slippery enough as a fixture before the weekend which only got slipperier after the Liverpool result and was downright black ice slippery after Manu, man city and spuds all dropped points; we wobbled in added time but kept our balance and our nerve just long enough to claim all three points and move into second place in what turned out to be a thrilling end to an otherwise dull game.

Burnley are a very organised team, set out extremely well who chased everything down and if that isn’t a big enough compliment they took the game to us for large parts of the first half. I think I say this because I am an Arsenal snob and in general find it difficult to take clubs like Burnley seriously so I was respectfully surprised.

Still, that’s enough benevolence, we won and I am sitting here basking in that sweet glow of victory, the LB household is a happy place, pleasant tones will be used when addressing my girlfriend and children, even the cat can strut its stuff without fear of being kicked for all this week, well, up to the Southampton game anyway.

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Waffling, moi? Well you try and find something to say about that first half? Iwobi on the right and Sanchez on the left solved the team selection conundrum; the problem was that both of them naturally are drawn to the middle in an attempt to get more of the ball, the downside of that is that it gets very congested which made it much easier for Burnley to defend against. There was very little goal mouth action, I can’t even think of a decent chance at either end in the first forty five.

The second half started with far more gusto as all our games seem to have done in recent past, am I the only one out there asking why, I tell you if this were cycling there would be a full scale finger pointing drug investigation going on by now but it’s not so we must all assume that its Arsene’s pep talks that are doing the job.
We immediately pinned Burnley back and started turning the pressure screw up. I can’t think of a clear cut chance but we were definitely going in the right direction. The break though came with what I think was Mustafi’s first goal for the club: a well weighted corner by Ozil enabled his fellow countryman to guide his header into the far corner beyond the helpless keeper.

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Burnely huffed and puffed but they didn’t look as though they had enough to get back into the game or certainly not without a helping hand which came in the form of Xhaka being an absolute idiot by completely unnecessarily lunging at a Burnley player, giving the ref the perfect opportunity to show off his red card.

Down to ten, and all still seemed possible even with twenty minutes to go, we were spraying the ball around comfortably keeping possession, everything under control, ninety minutes came, Giroud had been replaced by Welbeck and Bellerin had replaced Ozil…..7 minutes, 7 minutes added on time, people started leaving, as even with that ludicrous amount of added time we still had things under control and then we slipped arse over face on the banana skin by giving away the penalty, the Burnley penalty taker was apparently an Arsenal supporter, well if he was that much of one he could have shown it a bit more and done the honourable thing and missed, it wasn’t a well taken penalty but it still found the back of the net.

1-1 with one and a half minutes to go and Chelsea and Tottenham laughing their arses off at us. But were we beaten, oh no we were not; it was all hands to the pump and into the breach. One last charge or so it seemed, a high ball into the box and the good guys gave it their all to get onto the end of it but none more than our captain who was painfully kicked in the head, screams of penalty seemed to fall on deaf ears as the ref peeled away dismissively. The game had gone as had our chance to claw some important points back, a draw against Burnley, oh the ignominy, but then a miracle – the linesman, who I shall be recommending for a medal in the next years honours list, indicated penalty, got to be a knighthood at the very least don’t you think? Sanchez stepped up and calmly chipped it over the goal keeper cue pandemonium.

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Player ratings:

Cech: still doing the business, about time you saved a pen though Petr. 8

Gabriel: interesting choice this one, does add more steel at the back, curious to see if Wenger continues with this, perfectly good performance. 7

Mustafi: did you see him try and do a scorpion kick in our own 18 yard box? Very funny. He is our lucky charm and a goal to boot. 8

Koscielny: Captain Kos, throwing your face at someone’s boot to get the penalty really is going beyond the call of duty and for that he gets my MOTM. 9

Monreal: a much tidier game today, worked really well with Sanchez down the left flank. 7

Xhaka: his sending off caused a bit of a kafuffle around where I was sitting, as people started clapping him as he walked off, others were absolutely livid with him letting the team down so unnecessarily, guess which side I was on? 4

Ramsey: interesting debate in the week about who should play in the midfield alongside the must be played Özil and when you think about it one of those players has to be able to score goals and there is only one other that is likely to do that and it is Ramsey. He is still not back to his best but who would really be surprised if he scored against Chelsea? 8

Iwobi: Alex obviously drew the short straw and got shunted out on the right wing, not his position at all and unsurprisingly was not very effective. 6

Özil: not a classic from the German Genius but nothing wrong either. 8

Giroud: it doesn’t look like I am going to get my wish of us starting with Perez with his far superior close control but I might get to see Welbeck there which will do just fine and dandy. Giroud is only effective when we are hoofing the ball high into the box and that usually only happens in the second half; he should not be starting, jogged around the pitch reasonably well. 6

Sanchez: yesterday’s game and winning the way we did was made for our little busy bee. 8

An LB offering.


Did Arsenal bid for Barton?

January 22, 2017

Seems ages since we last played. Imagine how it is for teams that don’t have European football like Chelsea and Liverpool.

But … does this really give them an advantage.? Well, it is said, justifiably, that the table does not lie.

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We have two home games ahead of the Chavs away, Burnley and Watford. You would think an automatic 6 points but it never is, is it? We know what to expect – 10 men behind the ball, an aggressive (read violent) midfield, and our boys reduced to ticky-tacky.

I quite understand why Burnley will play this way, their away form is terrible with just 3 goals scored in 9 games and but one point. Why would they take the risk of attacking us and getting hammered?

Yet Burnley sit 10th in the PL. One hell of an achievement considering the size  of Burnley which has a population roughly equivalent to todays attendance at The Emirates.

Thinking of Burnley’s midfield …  Joey Barton.  Here is a fine example of the genetic aberrations which result from Northern family inbreeding. Can you recall Gervinho’s first game for us in which he received a red card after being attacked by Barton? I loved AW’s rebuttal of Barton’s claims that we tried to sign him – hilarious. What a preposterous idea that just because Barton wanted to join AFC that Mr. Wenger would let him!!

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin    Mustafi    Koscielny    Monreal

Ramsey    Xhaka     Iwobi

Ozil     Giroud   Sanchez.

We will need some height and strength upfront because Burnley are sure to sit deep.

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A few long-distance shots today, please. And an early goal would be delightful. As would a first half with all 11 players awake (unlike our last few games).

We have to win this one, I think we will

Let it be So.

COYRRG


Arsenal have the Best Fans?

January 19, 2017

Only 13k at S’ton last night. What has happened to the Magic of the Cup?

If we draw at S’ton how many would go to the replay at the Emirates? My guess is another full house.

Our average gate through 2016 in the PL was 59,444 which is 99.4%  capacity.  Slightly lower for Cup games.

The police numbers are a little lower because there are some season ticket reprobates who do not attend all games yet the club maintain that as the ticket is sold, it is an attendance.

Sadly, some of those fans are not supporters!

Why are Arsenal so popular? What do you think?

Written (in haste) by Big Raddy

 


3-5-2. What’s that all about, then?

January 18, 2017

Quite apart from the fact that it’s all the rage, we go to Chelsea in a few weeks, and we know this is how they will set up.

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What is considered the best formation to counter the 3-5-2?

Do managers build a team around a formation, or a formation around the players they have?

Is the classic No10 role redundant?

After all these years, how come there isn’t a definitive formation?

What happened to the Libero, remember him?

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What the hell was wrong with 2-3-5?

Ps this would be my Arsenal XI under the new pattern:

 

………..Sanchez  Welbeck

Gibbs Santi Coq Mesut Bellerin

………Holding Kos Gabriel

………………Cech

 

Written by mickydidit89


What is your best midfield?

January 17, 2017

The choices are Elneny, Cazorla, Ramsey, Xhaka, Coquelin.

Let’s make it more difficult and add in the attacking MF. So now we have to include Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ozil.

If we have 3 attackers and 5 defenders (inc Gk) it leaves 3 or 4 places.

Ozil is a guaranteed starter but no-one else. So, it is 3 from 7

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Much as I love Santi, he requires a holding MF alongside him which has historically been Coquelin but I think both Elneny and Xhaka are better passing from deep.

This isn’t an exam so let’s not have any of that “it depends upon the game” lily-livered indecision.

And if we can’t make a concrete decision, imagine how hard it must be for Mr Wenger whose selection is scrutinísed by a million people a week.

written by Big Raddy


Swansea 0 Arsenal 4……..A fan’s view and player ratings.

January 15, 2017

There is never anything wrong with winning four nil and that, as you know, is exactly what we got and it sure made a pleasant change from going behind and having to claw our way back all the while with stress levels climbing to unhealthy heights before Giroud scores his customary late equaliser or winner. No, not this time Giroud got his goal early on and the valium remained untouched.

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Swansea started as expected, new manager and all; he certainly watched the Bournemouth game and clearly believed that rather than park the bus his new charges best chance of getting something was to take the game to us. Well that would have been my guess anyway as they came out full of beans and full of belief but the new manager momentum soon wore off and after twenty minutes and we took control of the game.

The first goal coming from the lumbersexual as I said above but he seemed to hurt himself in the process. Half time came and went and surprisingly to me we came out after the break looking very determined indeed. So often we are guilty of going ahead and then taking the foot off the pedal allowing the opposition to get back into the game. Not this time, the sheer force of numbers as we pushed forward was impressive.

The second came from Iwobi who in an attempt to fire the ball low across the six yard line had the good fortune to hit a leg of one of the Swansea players which looped the ball up over the helpless Fabianski.

When things are going against you they really do go against you and that is what was happening to Swansea. It seemed as though we got all the breaks, not that I mind that but it would have been nice to have saved some of that luck for the forth coming Chelsea game. Iwobi yet again tried to send a low cross into the danger area only this time it hit an ex-spud and ricocheted into the net to make it three nil.

The good fortune continued when the ball bounced up kindly to the waiting Sanchez who simply steered it home to make it four nil and put the game well and truly beyond Swansea.

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With such a lead it gave us a chance to give Perez another outing and Welbeck a few more precious minutes, there is an elegance to the way he glides over the ground, a thing of real beauty. I stuck my neck out a long time ago by saying that he will become the best striker in the league, I haven’t changed my mind.

Player ratings

Cech: few doubts creeping in recently to the point where some where suggesting Ospina might be given more playing time but then the helmeted one goes and puts in commanding performance like that, including a series of fine saves and you go nah, if the clock works. 8

Easter: as much as we love Hector the reality is that he is more of an attacker than a defender, the opposite, of course, is true of Gabriel and for that reason he unsurprisingly gives the defence a more solid feel; he is particularly effective being able to cover Mustafi when he goes walk about. 7

Mustafi: hay, you know the rule, when the German plays and we don’t lose, what’s not to like about that? Basks in Koscielny’s glow a lot but then Kos seems to look more effective when Skod is playing next to him so it balances up a bit. I like him. 7

Koscielny: good to have him back, makes a huge difference commanding performance, if Easter’s house is made of straw and Mustafi’s house is made of wood then Kos’s house is made of bricks. 8

Monreal: they really tried to kick the Spaniard off the park in the first half; poor man spent most of it rolling around the floor holding one part or his body in pain or another, a usual Nacho performance although not responsible for conceding a goal this week. 7

Xhaka: getting better or at least that is what it seemed to me from my tv. I always feel that with Granit you have to be at the game to really access what he brought to the table as in the position he plays in it is just as much about what you do off the ball as much as it is about what you do on the ball and his off ball movement is not shown on telly. Still, there didn’t seem too much wrong with his performance. 7

Ramsey: a perfectly acceptable performance; adds an important defensive element to the attacking part of the midfield and augments the attack in the 18 yard box extremely effectively. 8

Özil: slow start but got better as the game went on, another player that you have to see live to really access his performance. Some may remember, earlier on, especially after his goal against Ludogrets, I started wondering if he had indeed started to breathe the same rarefied air as Dennis Bergkamp? Chas put a few Bergkamp show reels up and my perspective returned. Nevertheless, I remain a massive Mesut fan and right now, we’ve got Özil, Mesut Özil, I just don’t think you understand you know the rest. 7

Iwobi: gave just that little bit more than expected, more drive, more goal threat, more chasing back, more all round really and for that reason I make him my MOTM. 9

Giroud: clearly disorientated, obviously lost all sense of time, well he must have as he scored in the first half rather than saving our bacon close to the end, still wouldn’t start in my team though. 7

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Sanchez: I have no idea what he was doing after he had been subbed, I mean it’s understandable that he wants to play and being reassured that he will always be picked if fit has got to have been one of the biggest deciding factors in his choice to come to THOF; well it has to be doesn’t it, can you imagine him at a club spending large amounts of time on the bench? Happened at Barcelona; he must have gone nuts, another excellent performance with a goal to boot. 8

An LB offering.