When are we going to get most decisions right at club level? A cry from the heart

July 15, 2021

Here is Dexter’s latest post – slightly edited:

“William Saliba….What the hell is going on here?

Either he’s not it and we should have sold him, or he is not quite good enough, yet, so would benefit from a loan to a PL club.

Neither has happened. I am baffled and the decision making of Arteta, Edu and others at the club. They are all rightly under massive scrutiny after last season.

For a club like Arsenal to fork out 27 MILLION QUID on an 18 year old defender smacks of either…

Gross negligence/incompetence or some kind of money laundering/tax evasion scheme.

Maybe that’s why Arteta doesn’t want Saliba anywhere near the club??? 

Blimey, when is this club going to get MOST (not all, I’m not greedy or deluded!) decisions right? When are we going to have a well balanced squad that features (at the same time) a good keeper, decent defenders, an actual proper defensive minded midfielder, an attacking/creative number 10 and strikers who can score goals??? 

Oh boy….

COYG!!! “

So are you feeling like Dexter? Is the club not getting enough decisions right? Is the duo Edu-Arteta actually not delivering? Are the people above them not doing their job?


A fun EURO but now time for Club footie again

July 12, 2021

So the Euro was quite fun this year with:

  • The fans back in the stadium
  • Some good games
  • Overall good refereeing
  • Overall good camaraderie between players
  • The advent of a solid England team full of talent, experience and tactical nous (except in the second half of the final)
  • A final between the best two teamsi n the tournament
  • And the victory of a team that was brave on the ball

Now, we are back to Club football and I am looking forward to it to be honest but also I am expecting a lot from Edu-Arteta in the transfer market and would echo Emmanuel Petit’s sentiment that Arsenal has to purchase not only players with proven quality but also players with character. He said it was not only important to improve the team but also to keep our young talents, especially Tierney, Saka and ESR.

So far, we have gotten Nuno Tavares…and we have off-loaded a few players Luiz, Mavropanos and Guendouzi…

A lot of work to do still for our Sporting Director and Manager

COYG!


Building from the back…

July 11, 2021
FIFA 20 Career Mode: All the best Wonderkid Left Backs (LB & LWB) to sign -  Tavares, Malacia & more

Our first recruit is Nuno Tavares – a 21 yo Portuguese who plays at LB mostly but can also play at LM and eventually RB…He is young, quite quick and athletic, a Under-21 Portugal player and he is the…back-up of A.Grimaldo at LB at Benfica…So we are now buying the back-up of Benfica to add some depth to our squad…I would have rather gone for Grimaldo to be honest but of well, let us hope that Tavares adapts well to English football and our squad. He is a very energetic full-back apparently and he may come in handy to support Tierney at LB over the season…

I think we definitely missed a chance to sign Emerson Royal as I am sure he will do well…

Tavares coming in may mean the end for Cedric and maybe AMN and definitely for Kolasinac…

Here is our probable defensive line-up for next year as it seems that we are building our squad form the back:

Chambers, Bellerin, Holding, RECRUIT (White), Gabriel, Mari, Tierney, N. Tavares

To all the English fans today: Good luck tonight! I am rooting for you but I believe it will be:

  • A tough win if you win, beating Italy is never easy
  • A tough loss if you lose, losing a final is never easy especially at home

If I were Southgate, I would play a 433 tonight:

  • Pickford – Walker, Stones, Maguire, TRIPPIER – HENDERSON, Rice, K.Philipps – MOUNT, Kane, Sterling

I think Philipps has to press the likes of Verratti and Jorginho and he will need Henderson’s and Mount’s help. Trippier would start ahead of Shaw for this game for me as England needs to be more tight at the back…Depending on how the game evoles, Shaw, Saka, Grealish, Sancho, Rashford, Bellingham could all come in…To beat Italy, you need to

  • constantly run between their CBs and FBs and Sterling and Mount could do that ;
  • press Jorginho and Verratti and Philipp, Henderson and Mount could do that;
  • Keep the ball as much as possible, this is where Henderson comes in;
  • Not make any mistakes and take your chances and this is were Trippier and Kane come in.

My biggest worry for you is Pickford and also sometimes Stones-Maguire can be caught off-guard by pace and trickery and Walker can make a loose pass as well. Don’t make silly mistakes tonight. Keep tight, keep the ball and score.

CO England 🙂


Is Arteta anti-French?

July 8, 2021

Arteta was a youth player at Barcelona when PSG took him on loan and then offered him quite a good contract at the time. He refused to sign it and then went to Scotland before joining Everton and then Arsenal…His French stay gave him a good platform for a decent career afterwards…

Now – he has been at the club for 18 months and here is his performance with French players:

  • Saliba, out of the squad from the on-set and we re not sure he is ever gonna play for us;
  • Guendouzi, out of the squad quickly and then permanently;
  • Lacazette, initially out of the squad and then back in it regularly…

Is Arteta anti-French players? Or is it just that they are not good enough according to him…When I see that he sticks with Bellerin or Willian, I ask myself the question…

COYG!

PS: Well done England to reach the final – well deserved. The perfect final with the two best teams of the tournament in it. It is going to be hard but England can do it. Saka with another good performance.


To win the league – score one more goal than the other team. To win Cups, make sure you are hard to break…

July 4, 2021
Sol Campbell Thierry Henry Arsenal Premier League title 2004 - Planet  Football

It is very interesting to see International Cups, European Cups and domestic leagues…and for me, it seems that:

  1. The teams that can find the right balance between attack and defense do well
  2. The teams that attack and defend together do well, sometimes beyond expectations
  3. If you want to win a League, you have to produce goals first and defend well second
  4. If you want to win a Cup, you have to defend well first and produce goals then…

Man City, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan are fine examples of this at national level and even Atletico and Lille who really outperformed themselves offensively without losing their defensive solidity…

At European Cup level, Chelsea was hard to beat because they were so solid defensively and clinical going forward. Villareal – same story. Solid defensively in the end and then clinical forward. But both teams were very much about asking teams to try to break them down…

Now at the EURO 2020, it is hard to bet against England and Italy at this stage. England is for me the favourite now. England is not conceding goals and better than that, they do not concede many chances. Out of the 4 semi-finalists, England seems to be the most solid defensively and I see them lift the trophy next week unless they really mess up mentally and unfortunately, Pickford, Maguire, Walker have a mistake in them and could be England’s downfall…but that said, I think that overall the team is super well balanced and cohesive with a lot of options at the back and going forward…

I think it is amazing for Saka to be part of this squad because he is getting so much experience and also so much exposure and will learn greatly from this Euro.

Sancho for 85 Mln EUR is a steal for Man Utd…I think that City will be pouncing on Kane. So both Manchester teams will be going in the next season as favourites with Chelsea as apparently Chelsea is pushing hard to get…Haaland

Anyways, another post on a very dull Sunday: no EURO 2020 and no Wimbledon…

So what do you think? England to win the Euro? Defensively strong teams win Cups?


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