A View from the Pew

September 21, 2016

Apparently it was the anniversary of Brian Clough’s demise as well as the return of Nicklas Bendtner to his adoring Gooner public. A photo of Cloughie, our designated meeting point, was obligatory. He would definitely be a staunch advocate of the style of football played by teams managed by AW.

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A merry pre-match bevvy ensued, taking in the Joseph Else, Vat and Fiddle plus the Trip to Jerusalem amongst others.

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I’m still not a 100% sure who started for The Arsenal. ElNeny, Xhaka, Lucas, the Ox, Holding and Gabriel seemed like a fairly decent core.

Forest are obviously a lower tier outfit these days and the first half clearly showed how Arsenal’s second string were levels above a fairly average Championship side. The minute’s applause for Cloughie in the 12th minute was beautifully observed by the whole stadium.

The first half was illuminated by Granit’s shot from distance which the Forest keeper seemed to try and save with the wrong hand, allowing it to spoon into the net. Arsenal’s passing was sharp and gave us hope for some tasty action coming towards us in the second half.

The penalty for the second goal was so clear from the terraces. Akpom was just about to shoot when he was unceremoniously barged off the ball. Lucas stepped up and sent the away fans into raptures with his first Arsenal goal.

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The gulf in class, even between an Arsenal second string and a reasonable Championship side grew as the game went on. I doubt the 11 players who started the game had ever played together before but all showed the benefits of the tutelage of our current manager. Xhaka is obviously one of those players foisted on the manager who will clearly struggle to fit into the current Arsenal plan. Not.

Lucas’ second, soon after his penalty, gave us great hope that he might become the finisher we need. He showed magnificent control under extreme pressure and produced a calm finish to boot.

The Ox improved as the game went on and his finish in injury time was sublime.

I must admit to feeling a little sorry for the Forest fans. Their ‘Have you won a European Cup’ was matched by the Gooners’ ’Forty Nine, Forty Nine Undefeated’ and eventually countered with ‘Nottingham Forest, You live in the Past’. I suppose living in the past is inevitable when the present is so mediocre. Ant and me couldn’t agree with ‘Nottingham’s a sh*thole, I want to go home’ as we both love our adopted city. It’s a fine place to live.

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What a fine evening out for anyone supporting The Arsenal.

Player Ratings

Martinez – The young keeper makes you feel reassured. Quick off his line, unflustered and agile for a big old unit – 9

Maitland-Niles – Not really troubled. Probably more scared of his Mum than the Forest forwards – 9

Holding – So composed on the ball, strong in the tackle. What a purchase! – 9

Gabriel – Still gets a little flustered in possession but made some excellent blocks and recovery tackles – 9

Gibbs – Looked like he’s been playing regularly for the first team. A fine professional – 9

The Ox – Not his best first half but grew in confidence as the game went on, capping it with a superbly taken goal at the end – 9

Jeff – Great balance, elegant and with a fine eye for a pass. How on earth are we going to fit all of these great players in one starting XI? – 9

Xhaka – Oozes presence on the football pitch. I’m so looking forward to seeing how his Arsenal career develops – 9

ElNeny – a perfect foil for Xhaka. I keep thinking they’ve played together before at Basel but don’t think they were there at the same time – 9

Akpom – Looked fast and aggressive asked to play out wide. Unlucky not to score – 9

Lucas – Strong, skillful and muscular. Superb to see him get off the mark – 9

Written by chas


Light Relief?

September 20, 2016

This could be a cracker.  We have some excellent squad players and Forest are an attacking team with probably the best striker who ever lived likely to start. Autumn night, small and full ground, the away boys in good voice, what more could we ask for?

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So what of our team?

Ospina has be be the gloveman, Debuchy has to start earning his corn and will be looking to show his talents in order to get a January transfer.  Holding has made a great start and will relish another start but if Gabriel is not fit who will start alongside him? Kos needs a break so it must be Mustafi. Gibbs, whom I like very much will complete the back line.

We have an embarrassment of riches in midfield, so much so that we can send an England International out on loan! Xhaka and Elneny?

Jeff will start, so will Perez and probably Ox . Could Akpom get a kick as second striker or even as our centre forward with Perez playing slightly deeper if AW decides to keep Jeff on the bench.

All will be revealed later today.

My team:

Ospina

Debuchy    Holding    Gabriel   Gibbs

Ox    Elneny    Xhaka

Perez    Akpom     Jeff

That is a quality team and yet it lacks Ramsey, BFG, Welbz, OG, Jenks, Akpom and the entire first 11! Finally we have a proper squad.

A little about Forest. They used to be good when Red Nose the First was manager but have slipped. Forest have had 10 managers in 5 years as they try to re-establish themselves in the PL. This summer they sold their best player to Leipzig for €15m – a chap called Oliver Burke – a mystery to me too!

The City Ground will be full and excited to see one of the world’s best players pull on the red and white shirt of Forest – well, he thinks he is!! Lord Nik and Henri Lansbury will be trying to show that Arsenal were wrong to sell them. I wish them well, but not too well.

An early goal for Forest could see this develop into a super match and I am delighted to say it is on Danish TV. I hope for your sakes it is on UK TV as well.

The Carling/League/Whatever Cup is a chance to have some fun. Let it be so …

COYRRG

 


An Arsenal Subbuteo headache

September 19, 2016

Saturday 17th, 17:00 hrs.

I have spent four hours in the car, with the last stretch listening to Fivelive 2, and Arsenal sticking four past Hull. I’m pissed off as I missed the game with that goal from Granit, and what sounded like another fabulous performance from Alex Iwobi. I left the motorway as I approached destination suburbia, and immediately hit traffic. Superb. A chance to go straight on to the mobile device and AA, where Chas had brilliantly linked to the Xhaka goal. I watched it about twenty times on the final straight before arriving on the crest of an enormous wave of Arsenal euphoria (thanks Chas, you made my day).

Now picture this. Twenty minutes later and I am sitting on the floor opposite my eight year old nephew. Between us lies a green felt area, four foot by three foot. It’s a Subbuteo football pitch.

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The years suddenly roll back, and I too, am once again eight years old.  Nephew graciously allows his Uncle to take the field with the Gunners. I study my XI carefully. Hooray, two black players. Theo and Iwobi start.

It was strange how seamlessly I slipped back to my old self. Before I could blink, my XI were lined up for kick off in their traditional 2-3-5. Oh happy days. The good times were back.

I stared across the green at his hideous looking  4-4-2. The modern young. How lost and brainwashed they are.

Ok, a little background. Last time I saw Nephew was at Christmas, when he had asked me in his squeaky little voice “Uncle Didit, who’s your favourite Arsenal player?”. “Iwobi, of course” replied I.

Back to Saturday, and he asks me “Uncle Didit, is Iwobi still your favourite player?” “Yes, of course, he’s a tryer, smart, great control, forward going, speedy and shooty”. At this point, he leaps up with a massive smile on his face, and beckons me to his chamber. There, on the wall, is a massive poster of Alex Iwobi. This made me very proud. I have power.

Right, back to the game.

I said two things on AA last week. One was a question “Could Iwobi be a No10?”, and the other was “I think Iwobi is a better footballer than Aaron Ramsey”.

Some think Aaron’s only role is as a No10. I don’t. I think he belongs only in a Nephew style 4-4-2.

My Arsenal had Alex as No10. He scored four as The Arsenal smashed Chelsea 7-2.

Would either Aaron or Alex get into your Arsenal Subbuteo XI, and if so, where?

Written by MickyDitIt89


Hull 1 Arsenal 4………..A Few Thoughts

September 18, 2016

Arsenal won comfortably away from home, mmmmm, is that true, did they? Was it as comfortable as the score suggests? Not quite. Arsenal started brightly enough creating numerous chances but seemed to lack the ability to clinically finish the opportunities that were being laid before them. Away to Hull should always be regarded as a three point banker but as hard as we tried to even things up by squandering chance after chance the sheer volume of opportunities made it almost impossible to continue this benevolence and avoid converting at least one of the openings. And so it was: Iwobi fired home for what looked like his first goal of the season only to find out on closer inspection that Sanchez touched its way giving him the right to claim it for himself.

One – nil and all was going to plan. We were obviously going to push on from here right? No. More and more chances were being created and all coming to nothing. This wastefulness seemed to lift Hull’s spirits and they were starting to see a way back into the game but being the helpful chaps that they are one of them decided to put his hand out to block a shot that was going harmfully into their keeper’s arms. Hand ball! Yes it was. Livermore was sent off and Sanchez stepped up to put us two ahead and thereby allowing us to relax and enjoy the rest of the game. Nooooo. Sanchez propelled himself high up the charts of Arsenal’s most limp-wristed penalty attempts.

There is always a worry that any opposition can get back into the game when you are only one up even if you they only have ten men. So we had to suffer another twenty minutes of anxiety before Walcott earned his £90,000 wages this week and put us two up and the game to bed. Noooooo again. We ridiculously let them back into the game again when they were awarded a penalty for which Cech was lucky to stay on the pitch.

HULL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17:  Dieumerci Mbokani of Hull City is bought down by Petr Cech of Arsenal for a penelty during the Premier League match between Hull City and Arsenal at KCOM Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

      Clearly a dive

Snodgrass (yes I know) showed Sanchez how it is done and converted the kick with power and accuracy. This led to more unnecessary worry for the next ten minutes before Sanchez put Snodgrass back in his place with a powerful drive of his own to make it three – one. Not even Arsenal were going to let that one slip and so the game came to an end and we all turned our attention towards the mid week game against Nottingham Forrest.

Smoke coming out of his fingers

Ooooooh no we didn’t; I have just waded through that lot up there to get to the golden nugget lying at the end of this rainbow. There is the small matter of the fourth goal and I am going to savour it. OMG and other very youthful over the top expressions; what a goal? The Exocet, the Howitzer, the Xhaka pile driver, can you think of the last time someone scored a goal from that far out? I just stood clapping in the middle of the 12 Pins for a good full five minutes. Which by the way has been modernised at last, more screens and all in HD. £9 to get in which gets you two drinks.

Back to the game and perhaps a little less of the snippy tone; this was a good win from a continually improving side. Wenger deployed his troops well, slowly introducing the new arrivals and giving opportunities to Iwobi and Walcott who are close to fulfilling their potential. My guess is that at the end Wenger was trying out important combinations in preparation for next week’s test against Chelsea. Can’t wait?


Can we continue our Unbeaten Run?

September 17, 2016

Hull away under a strong caretaker manager is a potential banana-skin for our team as they struggle to discover form and identity. Are Arsenal good enough to leave The Kcom Stadium (really?) with three points?

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I am always concerned about long  unbeaten runs and the fact that Arsenal have not lost an away fixture to Hull for 101 years frightens me, all runs end – sometimes with a diving Rooney. Before you get too excited we have only played 6 games over those years!

On paper we have a far better squad, man for man Arsenal inspire confidence but we know that individual quality does not equate to points, it is teamwork, cohesion, focus and above all clinical finishing which brings success.

Rumour has it that OG is not fit to start so there is likely to be a second start for Perez who must be hoping for a better afternoon than his ineffectual performance  last week.

My Team

Cech

Bellerin    Mustafa    Koscielny     Monreal

Xhaka    Elneny   Iwobi

Ozil   Sanchez

Perez

Formation? The Terry Venables Christmas Tree. Will not work like this in practice but looks good on paper!

It will be interesting to see whether the highly influential Cazorla is selected to play 3 games in a week especially with a CL game midweek. My guess is that we will play a more defensive midfield for an away fixture.

Will Hull cope with the pace and guile of our strikers? It is here where the game will be won. Our defence looks solid and will surely enter the pitch ready from the first whistle after the midweek lapse, so it is the goal scoring which needs to be addressed.

An oddity is that in the last three games between the clubs it has been 0-0 at halftime and there has been a goal after the 90th minute.

Can we win? Of course.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


A Spurs loss or an Arsenal draw?

September 16, 2016

Schadenfreude.

Which gave you more pleasure – seeing the results of both Spurs and Man Utd or Arsenal getting a “plucky” draw (we could remove the P and be more accurate)  in Paris.

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In Raddy’s case, the enjoyment of the two losses was considerable but fleeting, a little like a naughty doughnut, whereas the warm feelings created by the series of Cavani misses will help me through the long winter nights. So, on balance, I would have to say that a positive Arsenal result is better than a negative one for our rivals.

This is one of the most enjoyable parts of football fandom –  I care about other teams results in an antipathetic way. It isn’t enough that Arsenal gain 3 points and win handsomely, what heightens the enjoyment is an embarrassing loss for any of the Top 5 clubs.

What really piques the senses is when they lose points in an unjust manner such as Chelsea and Cahill getting “Marriner-ed” at Swansea which, following our questionable last-minute penalty the day before, made for an excellent weekend’s football.

Or is it just me?

written by Big Raddy


Arsenal are Getting Stronger.

September 14, 2016

A point away to PSG, you’re going to take it all day long, especially when we consider just how many golden chances PSG had to kill the game off; if Giroud had had the chances that Cavani had and missed we would be laying into him like there was not tomorrow. True we could have had a second ourselves when the ball fell kindly to Iwobi and had he converted it we may well have won the game but on balance to win last night would have been very lucky indeed.

We’re getting better slowly but surely, we are obviously not where we want to be yet but it is plain to see that we are moving in the right direction. The encouraging thing is that we all know that there is more to come. It is not as though we are fielding our best eleven and they are playing at the top of their game and we are still gifting the opposition chance after chance. No, the best attack combination has not yet been found neither has the best midfield become clear but I think we all know or certainly hope that this is all doable and will happen. What I am trying to say is that there is a lot more to come from this squad and it is going to be great watching it unfold and develop.

The talking point before the game was the team selection with people questioning quite a few of Wenger’s team selection. As it turned out a lot of it made more sense than many realised and any criticism I make from here I realise I do so with the very useful aid of hindsight.

Ospina’s agility, which could be argued is better than Cech’s, kept us in that game with saves that got better and better as the game went on so much so that towards the end they can only be described as amazing; can’t criticise AW for that choice. The back line is the best we have and all did pretty well once they woke up, got their kit and boots on and took to the field which was shortly after PSG scored.

Mustafi looks as though he has been in that team for about three seasons. If he can be that influential after two games we have got ourselves one heck of a CB.

Coquelin was the right choice; he is so much better at defending than Xhaka but you wait and see what happens on Saturday: Xhaka will start because Hull will be on the back foot and we will need to find a way to break them down, same situation as Watford.

Cazorla? Who else could have played there? It was the right choice. Ozil obviously has to play; Walcott was injured so it made sense to start with Iwobi. Now we come to the problem areas. It is admirable that Wenger is not giving up on Oxlaide-Chamberlain but it is going to get downright infuriating if he continues for too much longer.

Which brings me to the question of Sanchez being or not being a striker? Could you imagine the Barcelona goalkeeper or the Barcelona CBs hoofing highballs up the field for Messi to get his head on? No you can’t. So why on earth do we do this with Sanchez? What is the point? We take a situation in which we have possession and then kick the ball in such a way that then reduces our chances of retaining it to 50-50 at best. The problem is not that Sanchez is not a CF the problem is that so many of the other players are continuing to play as though Giroud is up top. This being the case it is little wonder that we look better for the two or three minutes the FFP comes on before getting sent off for one act of petulance or another.

All that said, Sanchez does seem to be better coming in from the left. Hopefully on the weekend we may get a glimpse of Perez in the middle with Sanchez on the left. I hope so as this in my mind is the Holy Grail of the Arsenal attack.

My perfect team against Watford, Hull etc

—————Cech
Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal
—————Xhaka
———–Cazorla——Ozil
—-Walcott, Perez, Sanchez

And against Chelsea, Man City, etc

—————Cech
Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal
—————Coquelin
———–Ramsey——Ozil
—-Walcott, Perez, Sanchez

LB