How important is it for Arsenal to retain experienced players?

June 15, 2019

Being worried about Arsenal’s continuity with so many players likely to be leaving is a valid concern.

On the technical playing side this does not worry me so much, and I think we need to go through a transition in that sense anyway accepting a season with the promotion of a number of academy players, in excess of what would be normal.

It is maybe not exactly ideal but the first goal is a need to get back to being one of the top 4 in the EPL again, which improves both the incoming revenue and the attractiveness of the club as a destination for top players, then we can focus on securing £60-£80m in their prime players to add to the squad again like our rivals. What I don’t want us to do is spend some of the valuable and limited current transfer funds on so-so players in positions where we have promising young players coming through.

I strongly believe that this crop of youngsters have the ability to take us forwards and, although there will be moments where the inexperience is exposed, I think they will become stronger and stronger as the season goes on if they know that the manager and fans have faith in them.

From a continuity perspective I feel what is more important is the senior leadership around these young players. More than anything they need proper mentors who can pull them up on attitude and application when needed but more often than not be that reassuring positive voice in their ear even when they make a mistake. Unfortunately GN5 in the departure of Cech, Ramsey and Wellbeck we have lost 3 players who are exactly that.

Mesut Ozil is 30 and has won the world cup and ECL so should be exactly that type of positive mentor for our young players. However, despite being a fine player technically he is more of an exasperated looking to the sky type player rather than a positive pat on the back type. I would now sacrifice his technical ability for some more positive players with greater leadership qualities, then look to the youngsters to develop and bring us that technical ability we will lose in him.

That is why I would look at players like Milner and Mata on a free and retain the likes of Kos and Monreal. They may not always be the 1st on the team sheet on may start to reduce the number of games they play but if you have Kos, Socratis, Milner, Mata in the side then you get that type of positive attitude and influence. We will still retain great technical ability in the side anyway.

I would also have a quiet word to Iwobi and Chambers and tell them that although they are young players still, they are now senior young players and need to step up and become mentors and leaders to those who are 5-6 years their junior. I still feel Chambers could become an excellent holding midfield player in the Gilberto mould, and Iwobi a great box to box CM. This is also their year to step up and prove they are top players that we don’t need to replace with external recruitment.

Personally I would be interested in Chilwell and maybe that young defender we are looking at (Andreason or something) as well as maybe Milner and Mata on a free, then look at Iwobi AMN, Chambers, Bielik, Holding, Bellerin, Willock, Smith-Rowe, Saka, Nelson, Douzi and Nketieh to all be senior squad players next year.

I would happily see Ozil, Micki, Elneny, Mustaffi, Lichtensteiner, and sadly corporal Jenks all depart to accommodate this and cleanse the squad and kick start a new and more positive dynasty.

Xhaka I am still in 2 minds about as I see some merit in him as a squad option, but don’t see him as a top class CM, so maybe it is better to let a player that could become that have his spot rather than thwart their progression.

Written by GoonerB

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Arsenal Arsenal’s Future

June 11, 2019

I have written 735 posts for AA.

This could be the last, it depends upon you.

The fact of the matter is that Chas and I have kept this fine blog running for a few years now and we are both feeling the strain. I need to stress that the following is my viewpoint and not Chas’s, but I think he is likely to agree.

When AA started, many moons ago, there were a group of bloggers who chose to write an unbiased blog which allowed Gooners to express their opinion without fear of threats, bullying, abuse or profanity. Through a weeding out process and the banning of a number of bloggers (most of whom can be found on AFCTV or Le Grove) we created a great blog, a blog where no-one has ever earned a single penny. It is a labour of love

But …

Slowly but surely the founders of the blog stopped contributing.  Others got bored, and sadly, one passed. Finally, it was just chas and I.

We put many hours into the blog, Fortunately, this season we have been helped by some fine posts from LBG and, in particular, GN5, but we still have to format, add pics and a header, write tags and categories and then publish. Neither Chas nor myself are willing to continue to do this.

In essence without more input from you, the reader and commentor, the blog will close. These are the options:-

1. We close the blog for summer. Start again at the start of the season and operate on one or two posts a week,

2. Through summer we have one post a week and try for more in August.

3. Some of you get involved and help us run the blog. We can give you access to the AA WordPress account and publish posts yourself.

4. We, as a group, move to another blog. Perhaps TA’s Bergkampesque (I haven’t asked him!) or another Arsenal blog which we agree upon.

5. We close the blog and say Goodbye to each other.

There have been bloggers who have been with us for many years and written thousands of comments, you know who you are ,and it would be sad to lose the camaraderie which AA has built all over the world but everything dies and perhaps it is time for AA to move to the Great Blog Heaven in the Sky.

It is up to you. Are you prepared to commit to helping run the blog (GN5 has already offered his assistance), not for a day or two but for the season?

Blogging has added much to my life, I am an ex-pat Gooner and have no outlet to discuss my passion but I recognise that the numbers who blog has diminished enormously – we are running at less than 20% of the viewers we had a few years ago though we still attract more than Barnet do for a home game.

This post will stay up for a few days so as many as possible can give their opinion, then we will make a decision as to the future.

Up the Gunners

BR


How Was it For You?

June 5, 2019

No, not that … the season.

Were you satisfied?

Did you enjoy it?

Did it cement your affections towards The Arsenal?

Did it make you confident about the future of the Club?

I can only answer Yes, to one of the above. For me this was the first season when I felt alienated from my club. It could have been the departure of Mr. Wenger, who was a magical figure and a man I admired hugely. He single-handedly maintained our traditions and honour. During his tenure I didn’t think at all about management structure, transfer budgets and especially, The Brand. With him gone I fear my connection has weakened.

Don’t get me wrong – I will die a Gooner but this season there were times when I coudn’t be bothered to watch the games. They bored me. In fact, I hate to admit this, but sometimes I preferred watching Liverpool or City than us. The highlights on Arsenalist saved me some of the tedium.

Of course it is not always so, sometimes we played superb football and I enjoyed the introduction of the young players,; Iwobi, Guendouzi, Terriera, Holding and AMN. I enjoyed the Europa run and of course, the early season unbeaten run. The future could be good but we are miles behind the Top 2 .

Mr. Emery had a very hard job taking over from a Legend, he has done OK and statistically it was a season of progress but we have lost our identity.

How was last season for you?

written by BR


Number 1 in Arsenal’s Century Club – Ted Drake

June 1, 2019

Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Ted Drake sits proudly at number 1.

Edward (Ted) Joseph Drake was born On August 16th 1912 in Southampton.

Ted started playing football at Winchester City, whilst continuing to work as a gas-meter reader.  In June 1931, he was persuaded by George Kay to join Southampton, who were in Division Two. He made his Saints debut on 14 November 1931 at Swansea Town, and signed as a professional in November, becoming first-choice centre-forward by the end of the 1931–32 season. In the following season he made 33 league appearances, scoring 20 goals.

After only one full season, his bravery and skill attracted the attention of Arsenal’s Herbert Chapman, who tried to persuade him to move to North London. Ted rejected the chance of a move to Highbury and decided to remain at The Dell. He started the 1933–34 season by scoring a hat trick in the opening game against Bradford City, following this with at least one goal in the next four games, thereby amassing eight goals in the opening five games. By early March he had blasted his way to the top of the Football League Division Two goal-scoring table with 22 goals.

Arsenal, with George Allison now in charge, renewed their interest and Ted eventually decided to join the Gunners in March 1934 for a fee of £6,500. Saints had declined several previous offers, but eventually were forced to sell in order to balance their books. Ted made a total of 74 appearances for Southampton, scoring 48 goals. He scored on his league debut for Arsenal against Wolves on 24 March 1934, in a 3–2 win. Although he joined too late to qualify for a League Championship medal in 1933–34, he would win one in 1934–35, scoring 42 goals in 41 league games in the process, this included three hat-tricks and four four-goal hauls. With two more goals in the FA Cup and Charity Shield, Ted scored 44 in all that season, breaking Jack Lambert’s club record, one that still holds to this day.

Ted made his England debut in the infamous ‘Battle of Highbury’ against Italy in 1934, the match was important enough to the Italians that Benito Mussolini had reportedly offered each player an Alfa Romeo car and the equivalent of £150 (about £15,000 in modern terms) if they beat the English team. Drake scored the third goal in an extremely violent, hate filled game which England won 3-2.  Drake became a national figure his unwavering bravery being a trademark. Stan Mortensen said “Drake made hard men flinch and he is absolutely fearless’’.

The following season, 1935–36 he scored seven in a single match against Aston Villa at Villa Park on 14 December 1935, a club record and top flight record that also still stands. Ted claimed an eighth goal hit the crossbar and went over the line, but the referee waved away his appeal. Drake would go on to win the FA Cup in 1935–36, scoring the only goal in the final. Despite being injured regularly (he was a doubt up until the last minute for the 1936 Cup Final), his speed, fierce shooting and brave playing style meant he was Arsenal’s first-choice centre forward for the rest of the decade and he was the club’s top scorer for five consecutive seasons.

1938 against Brentford – Drake being carried off by Whittaker

With four games to go in the 1937-38 season, Arsenal and Wolves were level on points at the top. The introduction of substitutes was almost 30 years away. Drake was badly injured in a game against Brentford and was carried off the field over Whittaker’s shoulder, Drake regained consciousness, had a deep cut stitched up and was sent back out for the second half. He had a fresh bandage around his head to go with the dirty one on his left wrist. Arsenal lost 3-0, while Wolves won 3-0 at Middlesbrough. It looked a major moment, and it was for Drake he was taken to the Royal Northern Hospital for an X-ray and was kept in. Opponents may not have relished his physicality, but Drake was popular. Newspapers recorded his recovery progress with something approaching awe.

Not all football fans, though, were so enamoured. As a columnist in the Daily Herald pointed out: “Ted Drake’s robust style might not be everybody’s meat, but when a fellow, after taking a five-stitch wallop, and with his hand already in plaster, has the pluck to come out and continue to play, surely it’s bad taste, to say the least, to hoot every time he touches the ball?” “There was even a certain amount of cheering as Drake was carried off, unconscious and bleeding. I didn’t like it.” The injury was bad enough for Drake to miss the next match, but he was back for the one after that, a victory over Liverpool.

Getty Images

On the last day of the 1937-38 season Arsenal were I point behind Wolves – Arsenal beat Bolton Wanderers 3-0 at Highbury while Wolves lost 1-0 away to Sunderland and Arsenal were champions once more.

The Second World War curtailed Drake’s career, he served in the Royal Air Force as well as turning out for Arsenal in wartime games; he also appeared as a guest player for West Ham United later in World War II. However, his career would not last long into peacetime; a spinal injury incurred in a game against Reading in 1945 forced him to retire from playing. With 139 goals in 184 games, he is the joint-fifth (along with Jimmy Brain) all-time scorer for Arsenal.

After retiring as a player, Ted managed Hendon in 1946, and then Reading from 1947. He led the club to the runners-up spot in Division Three South in 1948-49 and again in 1951–52, though at the time only the champions were promoted.

He was appointed manager of First Division Chelsea in 1952. Upon his arrival at Chelsea, he made a series of sweeping changes, doing much to rid the club of its previous amateurish, music hall image. He discarded the club’s Chelsea pensioner crest and with it the Pensioners nickname, and insisted a new one be adopted. From these changes came the “Lion Rampant Regardant” crest and the Blues nickname. He introduced scouting reports and a new, tougher, training regime based on ball work, a rare practice in English football at the time.  Within three years, in the 1954–55 season, Ted had led Chelsea to their first-ever league championship triumph. In doing so, he became the first person to win the league title both as player and manager. However, he never came close to repeating that success and left Chelsea to become reserve team manager at Fulham, later becoming a director and then life president.

He was a gifted all-round sportsman and played county cricket for his native Hampshire in the 1930s he still retained a lively interest in football into his eighties, though excursions from his Wimbledon home to watch matches became increasingly rare as his health deteriorated. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Drake betrayed no trace of bitterness that he had played in an era when material rewards were meagre, a telling measure of a fine footballer and a delightful man.

Ted Drake and Alex James 1936 – Mirrorpix

Ted Drake owns the following records for Arsenal –

Most goals in a game 7 against Aston Villa in a 7-1 victory on December 14th 1935

Most League goals in a season 42 in 1934-35

Most goals in a season 44 in 1934-35 – League 42, FA Cup 1, Charity Shield 1

Most goals per game .76

Least amount of games to score 100 goals – 108

(He also has the second highest amount of hat tricks at 11)

Drake passed away at the age of 82 on 30 May 1995.

GunnerN5


He’s Got No Hair.

May 31, 2019

I am still bruised and angry.

No point whatsoever looking at a one-off game and reaching conclusions about the future of certain players and whether they were responsible for that shitfest. Ozil was crap but he is one of 10 (Cech is excluded). It wasn’t lack of effort that cost us, it very rarely is, so what is it?

There is a simple answer …. look at our goals against record. I cannot recall a season when the defence was so porous. Goals conceded in the PL were 51!! Well over a goal a game. 13 conceded in the EL and we really only played 3 decent teams.

Is the personnel? I can’t say it is. Monreal may be a little slower but he remains a quality player. Kos and Sokratis are both experienced International defenders. Mustafi had a poor season but came good in the last couple of months. We have good young back-up in Mavro and Holding. AMN and Bellerin are both fine players with AMN doing well in a position which doesn’t suit his skills. Our GK’s made few mistakes.

Is this a new situation? Not really, we have been getting progressively more porous. 51 in the PL last season, 44 the year before and 36 the season before that.

Mr. Wenger was never a defensive minded coach and left a problem for Emery.  The problem seems to be that we do not have a viable defensive coach which considering who is our assistant manager is bizarre.

Steve Bould has been marvelous as a player and loyal as a member of the management team. One would expect him to be the man with the ability to create the defensive cohesion which is so clearly lacking. Why can’t he?  Is he not allowed to work on tactics? I cannot believe it. As a member of Arsenal best ever defence he has the knowledge and the experience, surely the defensive unity is his remit.

If we are to progress next season, the defence and especially the ability for the midfield to shield the CB’s has to improve. We may sign a defender or two but most of the players will still be at Arsenal in August …

Steve Bould may not.

written by BR

 


Europa Final – Player Ratings

May 30, 2019

There was a Final.

We lost rather embarrassingly.

What a depressingly poor last eight weeks of the season it’s been.

Over two weeks to prepare for a European Final and all we could come up with was that.

Hello Europa for the third year – we’ve found our level.

Ratings

Every player gets a rating of 4 – one for each of Chelsea’s goals.

Soz, that’s all I’ve got.

chas


Emery Knows

May 29, 2019

I woke up yesterday morning thinking I was remarkably calm considering we have a European Final on Wednesday. This morning I awoke with a nervous energy not felt for many a moon. The hours until kick off  going to be very long. I have bought a 9 pack of Tuborg Green (we Danes are hard drinkers and 6 packs are rare!) and a couple of bottles of a cheeky Italian Dolcetto to make the time go faster and numb my pre-match nerves.

Baku is awash with intrepid Gooners, people who have sacrificed much to support their team. Can the Arsenal give them the victory they deserve?

My first emotion when we made the Final against the Shed Boys was a cloud of negativity – “Chelsea are too good”, “Hazard’s last game”, Chavs have more experience and Big Game players” etc etc. I am sure many of you will have shared those thoughts. But I find today I am far more positive – this is a winnable game. All we need to do is perform as we did earlier in the season when we annihilated the Chavs at the Emirates. That’s all.

Can we? Of course we can.

Now I know there is many a slip twixt cup and lip and Arsenal have royally effed up many big games in recent time (Brighton/Palace etc etc) but Emery Knows 😀

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The media are expecting a Chelsea win and the betting odds are against us but how can anyone gamble against a side with our front two? They are special and above all they are winners.

Do you think Mr Emery will pick Mesut to start? I don’t know either. I dither, changing my mind on a hourly basis. Had Mhki been available then No, but given his absence Yes, I would start Ozil. However by the time I finish writing this PM, I may well have changed my opinion.

Cech or Leno? We had a poll and Leno won but we all know Cech will start. The man has been great for AFC. I recall when he signed how excited I was that we had a safe and secure GK after the two flaky Poles (both of whom have developed in top GK’s). I wish him well in his final game.

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And what of Iwobi? Will Mr E. choose a more defensive model and leave Alex on the bench?

Who is sure to start? Cech, Koscielny, Sokratis, Kolasinac,  Xhaka, PEA and Laca. The rest remain in doubt, even Nacho.

If we play 3 at the back then, given his recent form, I would trust Mustafi but Nacho is so reliable and so experienced.

Could AMN start? We will need pace to counter Hazard, Willian, Pedro etc.

And in midfield, will Douzi be picked ahead of Terrier? I hope not though a midfield of Xhaka, Terrier, Douzi and Kolasinac is quite likely.

Cech

Mustafi    Kos   Sokratis

AMN   Terrier   Xhaka   Kolasinac

Ozil

PEA    Laca

My concern with this side is the reliance upon AMN and Wardrobe to get forward thereby allowing space  behind for fast counter attack by the excellent Chelsea wide players. As always, midfield discipline must be maintained.

For Chelsea, well mostly I don’t care but I will be very upset if  OG scores. Very. Hopefully Kante will be injured as he is a wonderful player.

VAR will be used tonight; much discussed, I believe VAR assists the game though some decisions remain open to interpretation. Referee is Rocchi, an Italian with much experience, we must hope he hasn’t been gifted a house or two by Chelsea’s owner

Last night I was over in Malmo Sweden  alongside West Ham Bob watching another Malmo victory. He sat on the fence but hoped for an AFC win. Like many his head says Chelsea but his heart is Gooner. For us it is simple – Death or Glory. If we are to lose I do not want to look at any AFC player and think they could have worked harder – mistakes will be made, they are human, but to win tonight will require 100% effort and concentration.

A European Final as the final game is way beyond my season expectation. Win or lose the team have had a successful campaign but how wonderful would it be to lift the trophy?

Come on boys, you can do it.

COYRRG