Prêt à acheter, Arsène

June 13, 2017

Come on, you get my drift. Pret à Manger, Pret à Porter, Footballers to Buy.

Anyway, France v England tonight (and on proper telly) in a friendly, and oh garçon, do they have some good footballers.

Looking through their squad there are quite a few who I reckon would look excellent in an Arsenal shirt, and don’t forget, the list does not include Benzema or Martial.

 

Hugo Lloris

Defenders: Lucas Digne, Christophe Jallet, Presnel Kimpembe , Laurent Koscielny, Benjamin Mendy, Djibril Sidibe , Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Kurt Zouma

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante ,Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba,  Adrien Rabiot,  Moussa Sissoko , Corentin Tolisso

Forwards: Ousmane Dembele , Olivier Giroud , Antoine Griezmann , Alexandre Lacazette , Thomas Lemar , Kylian Mbappe , Dimitri Payet , Florian Thauvin

 

Personally, I can’t stand England because of the filth that follow them, so couldn’t care less who wins, but I will watch with my Arsenal eyes glued to the French.

Guessing we’ll buy three players this summer, and with one excellent looking signing in the bag already, I would be very happy to select two more from that French lot.

Written  by MickyDidIt89


Season Assessment: Goalkeeper

June 11, 2017

Dust has settled, we have silverware, no CL, the manager contract is signed. It is time to look back …

Let us start this series at the back and the men between the sticks.

Prior to the Back 3 experiment our keepers were under pressure as we conceded goal after goal. I will question why when critiquing the defence, but the fact remains that we conceded more goals than any other season of AW’s reign apart from 2011. Were the Keepers at fault?

I have to say No. There were times when mistakes were made but nothing in the Fabianski-mould. Conceding 4 goals from 4 shots vs Liverpool in our opening match may bring the GK into question but they were all unsaveable. Or the 10 vs BM? Again one should look at the men in front of the GK.

Unknown.jpeg

Cech:  IMO he had a fine season belying his advancing years. A difficult start to the campaign ended with perhaps his best performances for Arsenal in the run-in.

I love to see the urgency Petr has with the ball in hand; his first thought is to get the team  on the front foot and his distribution is superb.

I am sure he would have been disappointed when missing the FAC Final but Petr must have known about AW’s Cup decision from season’s start and he seemed genuinely delighted at the final whistle (and got another medal for doing nothing).

How long can Cech continue to be excellent? He is 35 and probably has, at best, another season or two in him. Both Seaman and Lehmann were kept for too long. Will AW give more game time to Martinez or sign a top young GK? We shall see.

Unknown-1.jpeg

Ospina: Difficult to criticise despite him picking the ball out of the net on too many occasions . Our Cup GK  and as we won the Cup it must be successful season. We were never going to win the CL though David must have been embarrassed to concede so often. Given the open spaces in our defence this was rarely his fault.

Leaving the club this summer. We must be grateful that such a fine GK chose to ride the pine at AFC since 2014 as this is a man who has been on the Ballon D’Or long-list and played 77 times for Columbia!

His two superb saves in the FA Final will live long in the memory. Thank you David.

Unknown-2.jpeg

Martinez:  Is he good enough to be Cech’s understudy?  I have no idea. 2 PL and 3 League Cup appearances is not enough to judge, but what I have seen is a man who looks comfortable and is well prepared for an exciting future. Emiliano has been at AFC since the age of 17 and at 24 he needs to get more games or leave and develop his career elsewhere.

I expect him to stay, join the first team squad  and get more games next season.

Summing Up. Responsibility for our defensive frailties cannot be laid at the hands & feet of our goalkeepers.

written by Big Raddy


Stand up if you Love Arsene Wenger

June 7, 2017

Well I’m already standing and I have more hope for the future of our club than I have had in many a long year.

You may ask why?

The answer is that I want the Arsenal Football Club to be a club that all future generations of supporters can be as proud of as I have been in my seventy years of support. It is my opinion that in order for us to achieve that we need a manager who is honest, successful, and brings us stability along with common sense player decisions that are within our fiscal budget. Arsene Wenger brings all of that in spades and his twenty one seasons have been the most successful in our club’s history.

2016/17 was the only season that Arsene has not got us into a Champions League place – but with sixteen games remaining we were still in a good position to gain our accustomed spot. However the next eight games were disastrous causing Arsene Wenger to reconsider his tactics and switch to a back three in defence against Middlesbrough and it turned out to be very successful, as is shown in the chart below, but it proved to be too little too late as we missed our customary CL spot by a single point.

Not to be forgotten was our fantastic victory in the FA Cup Final when

Arsenal beat Chelsea 2 -1 while utilizing the same back three system.

There have been many periods; some lasting for many years, when I have been disappointed in our lack of success or ambition but my pride in the club has never waned.

The very worst period that I have personally experienced lasted for thirty three seasons.

During this period of thirty three seasons we won one League title, two FA Cups and one Fairs Cup and for the vast majority of the time we started off the season with little or no hope of winning anything. Looking back at these years is a stark reminder of just how bad we were as a team and how much we suffered as fans. Our first double in 1970/71 was, understandably, one of the few seasons when we fans could hold our heads high and we all oozed with pride.

Then along came George Graham (1986 to 1995) and he helped to lift our heads up by winning two League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups and one Cup Winners Cup, ending up with an average league position of 5.11. Unfortunately his demise was one of my lowest moments as an Arsenal supporter when he was fired after being caught accepting illegal payments from an agent whose players were transferred to Arsenal.

However the black cloud that it cast over Highbury turned out to have a silver lining as in 1996 Arsene Wenger was hired as our new manager and he quickly turned our frowns into huge grins as we won our second double in 1997 -1998. His record to date has made him the most successful manager in our long history putting him up on the same pedestal as the great Herbert Chapman (1925 – 1934) who won three league titles and one FA Cup and was a trail blazer in introducing multiple new innovations to the game.

Arsene’s level of consistency over his twenty one seasons with Arsenal is deserving of high credit and the only manager in history to have a better record over such a long period of time is Alex Ferguson. However, that is not a simple comparison as the conditions they managed under were very different.

Fergie inherited the Class of 1992 and these young players became the nucleus of the United team that dominated the Premier League; given United’s deep pockets Fergie was able to import some of the World’s top talents to round off his team.

Arsene inherited our famous Back Four – they were a top class but aging group of players. Ian Wright was approaching the end of his career while Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira had just joined Arsenal. These players formed the core of Arsenal’s initial team. Arsene, unlike Fergie, has had to work within a strict financial structure that became even tighter with the decision to build a new stadium.

With the signing of his latest contract it means that Arsene he will be with us until at least the end of the 2018/19 season. Given that we have to win our way back into a Champions League spot it will mean that Arsene will only have one season in which to win the trophy – if he wins then he will retire – if not I predict that he will extend it for a further two seasons.

Written by GunnerN5


Champions League Final on the AA sofa.

June 3, 2017

August 2016, and I was sitting next to an Italian chum in a restaurant in Northern Italy. Chum, born Italian and Juventus, has for the past fifteen years lived in North London and become Arsenal as well. The company was good and the conversation flowed merrily.

I ask him about Juve’s recent €90M acquisition of Higuain, and he responds quickly and very matter of factly “the loss in the final of 2015 to Barca hurt them badly. They have bought Higuain purely to try and win the Champions League”.

Here we are, and tonight they face Real Madrid going for their incredible 12th victory as Champions of Europe. Juve go for their 3rd.

I’m very much behind Juve, but of course, look forward to a high scoring entertaining finale to the season.

Hopefully an expert or two will join me on the AA sofa tonight and point out a few potential Arsenal targets.

I will be eating pizza.

written by MickyDidit


On the Dotted Line

May 31, 2017

It’s an important day at The Emirates.

A new contract for Mr Wenger; yet to be confirmed but the media are convinced he will continue for another two years. No details of wages, sporting directors, new coaches or any real change but perhaps that will happen during the summer.

I have a question … why could this not have been announced at Xmas? Why the cloak and dagger?  Do you think the club will explain their delay? No, neither do I, and  it is high time the club took the concerns of the fans into consideration.

There seems to be a lack of understanding at Arsenal that the club does not exist without the fans – WE are the Arsenal, not Kroenke, not Gazidis, not Arsene Wenger or even the players; they all come and go, we don’t.

Am I being naive? Perhaps, but what would happen if the “magnificent” new stadium was half empty every week as fans become frustrated and find other entertainments to spend their wage on.

images-2.jpeg

Are you happy AW has re-signed or would you prefer if he had resigned?

I love Arsene but have two concerns – one is that he will die in the job. He looked terrible in early Spring, clearly not sleeping well and under tremendous stress. The other concern is the obvious – can he turn the current squad into PL Champions? Time will tell.

The other big news is the signing (subject to a medical) of the young Nigerian, Henry Onyekuru.

An important signing. Arsenal have a huge fanbase in Nigeria thanks to King Kanu, and from the Youtube clips, this chap is going to be special. Already doing well in the Belgian League (and before you get all sniffy think Hazard, Lukaku, De Bruyne etc) he is the cut-price Mbappe.

Cheap as chips, his signing will not prevent AFC buying a €80+m player or two in summer – at least I hope not.

Mbappe plays on the other wing or centrally so I have not given up hope.

Rumours abound about Mahrez. After his performances in 2016/17 his price must have plummeted. Could be the type of bargain our manager relishes.

written by Big Raddy


In The Merry Month of May. Player Ratings.

May 28, 2017

Just great to be a Gooner this morning.

You all watched the game so this will not be a minute by minute match report, more a flow of consciousness which considering I went to bed full of G&T’s, white Sauvignon Blanc and a nightcap of finest single malt, could be a little confusing. So this could be a long one.

Are you sitting comfortably?. Then we’ll begin ….

Firstly, Mr Wenger. He remains a wonderful manager. In recent weeks his team has beaten Guardiola, Me-rinho and Conte. So much for him being a man left behind in terms of tactics.

Prior to the game I was fairly relaxed thinking, as chas said “que sera, sera”, but within minutes of the kick-off when I watched Xhaka, Ozil and Ramsey completely dominate the midfield I knew we could win, and that made me tense, very tense.

In my bullet points in yesterday’s pre-match describing how we could win, a main one was a strong refereeing performance. Much to my amazement Mr Taylor was very good. Missed a bit of Costa thuggery and was a little soft on the Chav fouling but overall good. The decision over the Sanchez goal could have gone either way, I think it was the correct decision but understand why pundits said Ramsey interfered with play.

The Back 3. It just works. GIE is right when he says we could have won the title had we started earlier.

I was very concerned when I saw the team sheet with Ox on the left. Given that Hazard can be so dangerous and Moses is the new Lazarus (look it up) I felt we would be exposed but can you recall a single time that Hazard threatened? Lots of flashy runs and twists and turns but nothing to worry about. In fact Chelsea’s only real threat came from Costa – I may dislike Costa in a Chelsea shirt but I would absolutely adore the chap if he played for us.

How did that happen? Because of AW’s tactics and the exceptional work-rate of the entire team.

With some better finishing, worse Chav defending and a bit of luck we could have been 4 up at half time.

I expected Chelsea to dominate the start of the second half as Arsenal went back to their rope-a-dope tactics and hit on the break. Both Bellerin and Ozil had great chances to finish the game whilst Chelsea toiled.

Then Moses got sent off for cheating. Has that ever happened before in an FA Cup Final? Well done Mr. Taylor that was a gutsy decision and a correct one. Not much in the press about the dive but next season it will see Moses in the FA dock.

Against 10 men my nerves receded and I thought I would enjoy seeing us coast to a 1-0 to the Arsenal victory. But we don’t do that anymore, do we ? No, Costa scores a very good deflected goal ( I don’t agree that Ospina was at fault, he would have saved it but for the deflection) and my heart sank. Could we recover? Would Chelsea be inspired and go on to win?

OG and the Welsh Wizard had other ideas. Brilliant goal made by OG’s quality and strength allied to Rambo’s unbelievable energy.

From then on despite a couple of scares and some fine goalkeeping from Ospina, we were in Easy street. Didn’t stop me from wanting the final whistle though!

On such a day, I hope you will indulge me and let me continue to …

Player Ratings.

Ospina.  I have to say I questioned AW’s decision to play him. I was wrong. Ospina did not put a foot wrong all afternoon.      10

Holding. Loved the way he confronted Costa. What a player he can become. Needs to be a little stronger.  10

BFG. Imperious. Played a magnificent game. Our MotM.   11

Monreal.  Perhaps his best game in the shirt. Huge energy, solid in the tackle, stopped all attacks down the left.    10

Bellerin.   Back to his best. Would have loved to see him finish what would have been a superb goal but it wasn’t to be. Stopped everything coming down the right.   10

Ramsey.  His best game for ages. 3 FA Cup winners medals, 2 winning FAC goals. He deserves them.  Ran 14.4 kms during the game, the most of anyone in history (apparently)   10

Xhaka.  Magnificent. I said earlier in the season that we should build the team around him and Xhaka is showing why. Dominated the game in a Vieira-like fashion.    10

Ox. We just have to keep him. So versatile and developing into a true International class player    10

Ozil. Worked so hard to dominate the midfield. Played deeper than usual which I assume was on AW’s instruction    10

Sanchez.   If we goes he will be missed. MotM for the TV commentators. I disagree but the little Chilean had a fine game and I love his smile.    10

Welbeck. Worked so hard. Made so many runs.  10

Subs.

OG. What a set-up for Rambo. Made an immediate impact.   10

Coquelin.    Tried to be Sanchez in his cameo. Amusing.   10

Elneny. Played 2 minutes. Not at his best    5

Mr Arsene Wenger. Answered his critics in a display of tactical excellence. Out-thought Conte. More FA Cups than anyone in history which is record unlikely to be beaten. The Man.   10

Chelsea .   Complete over-hyped rubbish. Kante. Did he play? Hazard? Flatters to deceive. Sponge Bob? Ordinary. Costa and Chaill? Only players who lived up to their reputation.       1   (for turning up)

So. A successful end to a difficult season. We have silverware but Thursday nights. Spurs have as much chance of winning the Champions League next season as we do and have nothing in the trophy cabinet.

Deep Joy.

 

written by a Very Happy Big Raddy

 

 


Yes. We Can. (Win the FA Cup Final)

May 27, 2017

Is it just a British thing to support the underdog? Doesn’t seem to happen in the States (except in Rocky1).

It is rare that we Gooners support the underdog but we do today. Quite a nice feeling if I am honest. The last two FA Cup victories were against teams we should have hammered, one we did and one we nearly didn’t.

Unknown.jpeg

So let’s get to the game.

First: In order to win we will need a strong and efficient referee. Another inept display like Blind Lemon Oliver’s last weekend will scupper any chance we have.

Chelsea will try to dominate and be physical early in the game. It sets up their play for later in the game when they push forward through their wingbacks. (I wrote that having no idea whether it is true as I have never watched 90 minutes of a Chav PL game unless AFC are involved 😀 ).

To win we HAVE to have 11 players on the pitch for the whole game. How will Holding cope with Costa’s fouling? Or Hazard’s diving? Will Sanchez, Xhaka and Ozil be rotationally fouled as usual against these Blue Devils and respond with aggression?

It is how Chelsea play and we need a proper unbiased referee, instead we will have Anthony Taylor. FFS.

I need say no more

2. Huge game for Ramsey and Xhaka. If they perform to the top of their abilities we can win. Even more than Ozil and Sanchez they have to get a grip of the game and supply the ball to our two magicians.

images-1.jpeg

3. Solid defence. My heart sank when Kos got his red card, I am sure his did has well. Kos has been outstanding this season and held our defence together. We will miss him. Gabriel is knacked, Mustafi could be on the bench,so it is towards the BFG we look for comfort. I love the man. What a bonus it would be to have our team captain lift a trophy on his first start this season.

4. Lethal finishing. This is a worry for me as Welbeck, who is my chosen CF, can’t hit a cow’s behind with a banjo,  and Giroud is Giroud; our over-reliance on Sanchez could prove costly. That said, Welbeck is a big game player and usually does well at Wembley. Chelsea have a fine defence and we will not get many chances, the few we get have to be taken.

There is little point writing about Chelsea. They are frighteningly good and worthy Champions. Strong all over the pitch with both Hazard and Fabregas in fine form, they have won their last 6 matches. A Double is within their reach and they will be both rested and determined.

I read that Mr Wenger is likely to start with Ospina – this surprises me. I know that AW is a man of honour and I imagine there was some agreement that Ospina would play in all the Cup game but …. Ospina is leaving in summer, Cech is our best GK and is in great form. IMO he has to start. But we know he will be benched and no doubt resentful.

My Team

Ospina

Holding    BFG    Monreal

Bellerin    Ramsey    Xhaka    Gibbs

Ozil      Sanchez

Welbeck

I would love to find a place for Ox but can’t squeeze in especially when considering how the back 3 will need strong pacy defensive support. Theo, Iwobi and OG on the bench

images-2.jpeg

I love going to Wembley and am deeply envious of those attending. Give the lads a cheer for us armchair fans and please be NOISY. I am not sure if Peaches got a ticket (hope she has her own ticket-fairy). If not we will all have to squeeze into Ant and Chas’s pockets.

We beat the Chavs last time we played them in a FA CF, with two brilliant goals from It’s Only Ray Parlour and a very handsome chap with red hair. I understand Mesut has had a Cup Final haircut and it would be lovely to see It’s only Granit Xhaka smash one into the net from 25 yards. Why not?

Let it be So ….

COYRRG

p.s .Last game of the season and the last PM. I would like to thank all those who took the time to read my ramblings over the season. You have my utmost respect (not really 😀 )