Waiting for My Man – CSKA Player Ratings

April 13, 2018

With the score from the first leg stood at 4-1 and having seen Roma rebuild an empire at the expense of the Catalonians, nerves were jangling slightly more than we might have expected for this particular second leg in Moscow. Could their away goal prove crucial? One way to resolve the issue – score one of our own and the tie would be effectively settled. Boy, did they make us wait.

First Half

CSKA huffed and puffed, gegenpress-style, closing down rapidly like high street businesses everywhere. Arsenal struggled to find any space, time and cohesion. On several occasions chances to break and grab that vital away goal presented themselves, but, on each, our attacking fluency deserted us with a misplaced final pass or failure to exploit having a man over.

I missed the goal as BT.com decided to freeze 30 seconds before it. It seemed as though Nacho was shoved in the back for the CSKA header, though I’m sure the studio ‘experts’ said that the Russian just wanted it more. Cech did well to get down to the header at such close range but keeping it out was all he did as he left a simple tap in. 1-0 down at half-time, just when was our moment of quality due to arrive? I was hoping it was before I ran out of beer.

Second Half

Shortly after the break, calamity struck again when a long range pot shot bounced back off the helmeted one into the path of the onrushing forward. Bang 2-0. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, surely another 3 goal comeback couldn’t be on the cards?

Watching without sound, I was celebrating when Elneny’s header went in as if it was job done, before realising the lino’s flag had been raised. Mo seemed to think bending his run slightly even though he was a yard or two behind the Russian defensive line, might somehow fool the official into thinking he was onside. Hmmmmm.

Arsenal restricted CSKA’s chances to score the vital third pretty well, keeping them to long shots, with Petr producing a good save from a free kick, but were still struggling to produce that one moment of quality to blast the comeback out of the water. When it finally came it was a thing of rare beauty.

Welbz was suddenly infused with the spirit of Thierry Henry, picking the ball up wide left and driving towards goal. Playing the ball inside to Bobby Pires, sorry Mo Elneny, he continued his run into the area. Elneny’s return pass was of such a delicious weight that it just invited the glorious finish which was duly applied by the Mancunian high into the corner of the net. Magnificent – all that time they had us worried, knowing full well that they had a goal of such exceptional quality up their sleeves.

You could visibly see how much CSKA were deflated by the goal, almost as if they knew it was 3-0 or nothing that would have got them through. Even the bare-shirted, gammon-fleshed hordes behind the goal Arsenal were attacking, perhaps realised that their game was up and it was time to go home to Olga.

Drifting towards a defeat but still in the draw for the semis, Aaron Ramsey then applied the cherry on top of the cake. His fragilty had seemed to rear its head again at the end of the first half when he seemed to overstretch, but he was still running in glorious fashion right up to the last few moments. Running on to another beautifully weighted and timed through ball from Mr Elneny, he lifted the ball gracefully over Akinfeev with his right seal flipper to send the best club in North London through with a comfortable 6-3 margin.

Player Ratings from LB

And there was I thinking that it would be a cushy victory……when will I learn?

Cech: since he has stopped the fancy footwork that was leading to a few too many embarrassing situations he has come back as strong as ever. I think the adjective of commanding is called for tonight. 8

Bellerin: Hector put his attacking desires to one side and focused on the defending side of his game — and he carried out that duty better than he has done in quite a while. 8

Mustafi: no silly errors just got on with the job at hand. Perfectly acceptable performance. 7

Koscielny: a good captain’s performance. 7

Monreal: I don’t need frills from our defence on games like this I just need them to read the tin and do what it says. 7

Elneny: Mo was the proverbial headless chicken in the first half; he certainly redeemed himself in the second half though with two assists to boot. 8

Ramsey: getting all the credit he deserves for being the great player that he has always been, another top drawer performance. 8

Wilshere: don’t get me started. 5

Ozil: King Mesut Rules OK. 7

Lacazzette: I heard that his goal scoring boots were held up in Russian customs and it showed. Interesting just how much he runs on confidence or not. 6

Welbeck: I stuck with Danny for so long regularly writing on here I expected him to become the most important CF in the EPL and then after finally and completely giving up on such an idea he starts to make some serious inroads into claiming that mantle. Really starting to enjoy his performances again. 9

Can I take my red and white tinted glasses off now?

The draw awaits at 11am, with Atletico, Salzburg (Lazio were on the receiving end of the comeback of the night) and Payet’s Marseille our potential opponents. Who do you fancy?  

chas

 

 

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Semi-Final beckons. Can we? Will we?

April 12, 2018

4-1 up, it can’t go wrong, can it? Given the results over the past two days anything can happen and with Mustafi in his current form we have to be concerned.

It may be unfair to spotlight one player in what has been an awful season for us at the back (43 PL goals conceded so far) but Mustafi’s inconsistencies are hardly of benefit to the confidence of the others. Take the S’ton game, both goals came directly from his shilly-shallying (now there’s a word!).

So what should we do? Drop him for Chambers? Probably not. Should AW select a team to PTB or play a normal attacking game? Will he include Elneny as an extra defender in place of the attacking Miki or give Iwobi a run? My guess is he will err on the side of caution.

We saw that CSKA Moskva are limited in their defensive abilities themselves with us carving out chance after chance at the Emirates. I expect us to score and then the tie is done but what if we don’t? Can the team keep a pacy Russian attack at bay? It is questionable.

My Team:

Cech

Koscielny   Mustafi    Monreal

Bellerin   Ramsey    Elneny    Kolasinac

Ozil      Welbeck

Lacazette

Jack has to be benched in a match of importance and with his form at such a low ebb. Kolasinac is the better defender and more likely to add some steel.

The first half of the home tie (which thanks to Chas and Peaches I was able to attend), was the best we have played in many a moon, the ingenuity, pace and sheer verve of the performance gave rise to hopes that next season could be so much better.

I expect CSKA to be very aggressive in an attempt to unseat our brave boys; they will have to start fast and stop our passing through midfield. Ramsey etc will need shin and calf and ankle pads. A strong, unbiased referee, please.

Concede early and the nerves will kick in, score early and the tie is over. I know what we all want.

COYRRG


Guardiola is right to be unhappy & Sorry Spurs

April 11, 2018

Elneny’s red card has been rescinded. His sending off could have been costly, the completely useless Andy Marriner clearly lost the plot when the game got heated (as it should be) Has Marriner been punished  with a suspension or demotion? No, he hasn’t Should he be?

The referee and two linesmen wrongly decided Sane was offside when scoring for MC last night possibly costing MC the victory and with it many millions of pounds. Were the referee and linesmen questioned about their mistake? Has there been any fuss apart from Guardiola being sent to the stands for stating a truth?

This post could go the VAR route but we have covered the subject in depth, instead I am questioning the punishment of referees who make blatant errors.

Chas mentioned Graham Poll yesterday, my example would also be against Newcastle when Phil Dowd gave the worst example of refereeing in my footballing experience in a 4-4 draw at St James in 2011. Dowd escaped with an unblemished record having given Diaby a red card, awarded two highly dubious penalties to the Magpies and allowed Barton, Tiote and others to repeatedly kick our boys.

images-1.jpeg

Yes, I know the argument about referees only being human and mistakes can be made but the general standard is poor. And of course, all referees are wa**ers, They have to be to pick up the whistle.

On another subject …

Did you know that since Spurs last won a major trophy (i.e. not the Carabootee Cup) in 1991, Arsenal have won the same number of trophies as Spurs have in their entire history!!

Ooh to be, Ooh to be, Ooh to be a Gooner

written by BR


Arsenals Top Seasons 2001-02 – Our 4th Best

April 10, 2018

2001- 02 was a very competitive season with several teams challenging for the top spot in the league. For the first 11 games an unbeaten Leeds team were the early leaders and in November they were top of the table. At the start of December Liverpool was three points clear with a game in hand, Newcastle took over as leaders at Christmas but by February Manchester United was in first place, looking to make it four titles in a row.  Arsenal was never far off the pace but they suffered their lowest point of the season during October and November taking only three points from four games. They responded to that four-game winless run in style with a 3-1 victory over Manchester United which was memorable for Freddie Ljungberg’s lob and two gift wrapped presents from Fabian Barthez which Thierry Henry happily accepted.

Notably, on the player front David Seaman, Martin Keown and Ray Parlour were still going strong, while both Tony Adams and Lee Dixons careers were winding down.

Arsene Wenger brought in Sol Campbell, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Kole Toure while John Lukic. Sylvinho and Nelson Vivas left the club.

The Arsenal 2001- 02 Squad.

Seaman (17), Dixon (13), A. Cole (29), Vieira (36), Keown ( 21), Adams (10), Pires (28),Ljungberg (25), Bergkamp ( 33), Wiltord (33), Lauren (27), Taylor (10), Henry (33), van Bronckhorst (21), Edu (14), Grimandi (16), Upson (14), Luzhny (18) Campbell (31), Wright (12), Kanu (23), Stepanvos (8).

Four games after beating Manchester United we suffered our third defeat, at home to Newcastle but it proved to be the final loss of the season. (ed: this was the game  in which Graham Poll came close to being lynched after sending off Ray Parlour for two bookables and handing the game to Newcastle late on with a disgraceful penalty decision; it still makes my blood boil thinking about it). 

In the next two games we defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield with only 10 men and followed that with a 2-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day with Sol Campbell scoring his first goal for Arsenal. The next six games saw us win 3 and draw 3 ending in a 1-1 draw with Southampton at Highbury on February 2 which left us toiling in 3rd position.

It would take a special effort to beat off the many competitors to the title and the draw against Southampton proved to be the game that spurred us on – it would be the last time we dropped points all season. In the final 13 games we went unbeaten, including a 2-0 win at title rivals Newcastle which will be forever remembered by Denis Bergkamp’s stunning goal. He made it look so simple, pirouetting within a split second of his flick to score the goal and leaving no doubt as to whether it was intended. Nobody has pulled off anything as special since, suggesting it was a more remarkable piece of skill than he made it appear. The fact that we all talk about it 17 years later is an indication of just how wonderful Bergkamp’s touch and intelligence was to create such an incredible goal.

Five games later we beat Tottenham 2-1 at Highbury with Lauren scoring the winning goal from a late penalty. With 2 games left in the season we met Manchester United at Old Trafford, to have any hopes of retaining their crown United had to beat Arsenal, but Sylvain Wiltord’s 55th minute winner sealed a second Premier League title for Arsene Wenger’s side. We ended the season seven points clear of second-placed Liverpool, who sneaked ahead of United on the final day.

We finished the season off in style with a 4-3 win over Everton on the final day that saw Tony Adams lift the title trophy in front of the home fans as he bowed out alongside Lee Dixon.

Credit: Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal Football Club.

Henry, Pires and Ljungberg  all made huge contributions to our season. Henry finished the season with 24 goals in the Premier League and the Golden Boot, Pires recorded a league-high 15 assists and won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award, Pires was so good that when he took his turn to lift the Premier League trophy on the last day, his team-mates bowed down in front of him.

Freddie Ljungberg scored 12 times in just 25 games and claimed the official Barclaycard Premier League Player of the Season honour.

We lost only three games, all at Highbury and went the full season unbeaten away from home in the league, scored in every game and finished the season with 13 consecutive wins.

Not to be forgotten is the fact that a week before the season ended we won the FA Cup Final beating Chelsea 2-0 with stunning goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg.

Unsurprisingly Arsene Wenger was named as the Manager of the Season after winning his second double in five seasons.

Written by GunnerN5


The Saints are Coming – Southampton preview

April 8, 2018

Southampton come to the Emirates sitting in the bottom three of the Premier League and in desperate need of some points. For Arsenal the fixture comes as the filling in a Moscovian, Europa sandwich. Momentum and confidence are again at stake with League points a bit of an irrelevance.

The Saints’ squad is a bit of a mystery to me (like most of the PL teams, I’m afraid). They still have Shane Long who only ever plays well against us. I also recognise the names of Tadic and Charlie Austin and the ex-chavs player Romeu, but the rest are a roll call of unknowns. Let’s hope it stays that way.

We know all about the Saints ‘new’ manager, the loathsome Mark Hughes. I really don’t understand the home-grown manager merry-go-round. Pardew, Poolis, Fat Sam, Hughes – what is the point of continually employing managers you know will probably let you down in the near future? At least Hughes did play on the South coast when his playing career was in decline, so there is a little history there.

Enough of the opposition, how are we fixed? Mkhitaryan caught a nasty bang on the knee against CSKA and is out for a period. Aubameyang will be keen to build on his recent League form. Aside from those two, it might be a case of shuffling the pack a little to save the more fragile for next Thursday. Chambers will relish playing his old team and Kos needs to rest his dodgy Achilles. Mesut is rarely rested, though the more delicate Rambo may want to continue his recent good run.  Maybe a few others will be rested with Holding, Iwobi, Elneny and Welbeck keen to get some game time. Jack had a really poor night in Europe, but might get another chance in the hope he plays himself into some decent form.

Team  

With less pressure on the team we usually perform well, finishing past seasons strongly after all hope of the title has vanished. Some decent finishing to match Thursday’s would be rather nice, though it’s doubtful the Saints will allow us as much space down their flanks.

An Auba hat trick will get the enormous crowd off their feet; though if he scores late on, many will miss it in their rush to get home for Songs of Praise.

Apols for the lacklustre PM (BR is on manoeuvres), though I’d imagine its general CBA-feeling sort of captures the unbridled enthusiasm for this particular fixture. 🙂

COYRRG

chas


Should Arsenal be worried by empty seats?

April 7, 2018

Empty seats at a European competition quarter final? – what’s going on? Should the Club be worried about the loss of matchday revenue through advertising and corporate entertainment, as well as overpriced hotdogs and fizzy lager? With a healthy season ticket waiting list, does it matter if some regulars fall by the wayside? 

GoonerB’s take on some of these questions is below. What do you think?

Afternoon all. Went last night as got a late club level offer I couldn’t refuse. Sorry I couldn’t meet any of the guys but I was beholden to the itinerary of those I went with.

I really enjoyed the game and we were very good with the ball last night, but you could still see certain old problems bubbling beneath the surface that a better team would punish.

I know a lot of season ticket holders and meet different types of Arsenal fans all the time, and you do get an insight for the general feelings of many fans. This is how I would perceive it :

There are still some stalwarts out there who will go and support come what may and don’t concern themselves with things like the direction the club has gone in and whether Arsene is the right man. I feel these fans are becoming a very small minority. Many of these fans will probably still want Arsene to continue and feel he is the right man.

At the other end for some staying away has become a form of protest. I know some season ticket holders who refuse to step back inside the stadium till Arsene is gone. They are also still more of a minority for me.

I have to say I feel there are very few that see Arsene as the man now. The bigger group seem to be the ones that feel Arsene should have already stepped down by now and feel he churns out the same old stuff and follows the same pathway even when it proves not to work. In not looking for a manager to improve us, many feel the board are more concerned with sticking with him because he keeps us at a certain level with little outlay required. They feel the club lacks ambition and have stagnated to the point that we are somewhat regressing now.

They have now become apathetic about the club, the football we play, and even football as a whole. Some still regularly attend in their apathy, but others just aren’t that bothered anymore and have lost their love and excitement of it. If there is something else they can do they will likely often do that instead of going to the game, where before going to the game always came above all else.

This is what I feel is the majority group and the club should be worried about this. I don’t think they have been bothered about it, and as GN5 said I don’t think they have been too bothered because they just take the view that there are more fans in waiting to get a ST.

Very dangerous to ignore your long standing fan base though, because there is no guarantee that those newbies in the waiting have anywhere near the long term emotional investment in the club and their support from the terraces that the long standing fans have, and that can have knock-on effects in how the club is viewed in its standing worldwide with all the negative commercial consequences Micky mentioned.

Like the rest of you I feel the remaining EPL attendances will prove an embarrassment to us. Anyone bothering to listen could have seen this coming but there has been a fairly dismissive approach taken towards the majority fanbase, a bit like the attitude towards the public leading up to the Brexit vote. You realise, too late, that you should have listened earlier.

Written by GoonerB


The Russians are coming

April 5, 2018

The International break was beyond tedious, while the Stoke game made me beg on my knees for another international. Break.

Today, on the other hand, is the real deal, and I cannot wait.

Speaking of I, today, and for one day only Ladies and Gentlemen, I have become a Liberal. Reason being, the Russian are coming to the Ems, and therefore I will have a build-in excuse if we lose.  No more having to look critically at ourselves or our own failings, no, nice and easy…blame someone else. God, it’s good to be wet and weak. Loving. it. The level headed thinkers among you won’t like this, but I will be blaming rigged team selections and poisoning. Perfect.

Right. The game.

Laca is back. Mikhi will start and we have Mesut.

Auba, the gent, stepped aside to allow Laca the confidence boosting goal from the spot the other day.This will have made Laca feel loved, and being French, these things matter.  Mikhi has allowed me to completely forget about Sanchez, and with the shape of the side looking so much better, I think we will really come love this man in an Arsenal shirt.

Mesut…ah, the ghoulish one. Often, I look at him on the pitch, and have to rub my eyes as he appears to lose focus, the edges fuzz and blur, and then puff, the spectre has vanished. Like one of those meditative guru’y Indian fellas, who can disassemble there own molecules, vanish in Delhi and then re-materialise in Bombay just a few short moments later. Other-worldly is what he is.

The rest? Granit, Jack and Ramsey with some defenders, I’d imagine.

Tonight, we shall prevail and excuses not required. Bring it on

Written by MickyDidIt89