Arsenal 2 Napoli 0 – Player Ratings

April 12, 2019

Ramsey and Ozil play together again along with our most prolific goal scorers up front. Wingbacks and three at the back. Mustafi on the bench – no sign of Xhaka.

First Half

A brilliantly constructed opener saw A. M-N set up Rambo for a pass into the far corner.

The second came after Koulibaly had blocked a couple of fine efforts on goal but his third blocking attempt diverted Torreira’s effort beyond Ospina’s replacement.

The BT Sport commentary team with Nobbie Savage and some other moron was so awful, mute was the only sensible option for the second half.

Second Half

The second period saw us have several brilliant chances of stretching our lead even further while also allowing Napoli a couple of sniffs at that important away goal.

Rambo could have had a hat trick in the end, he seems to be revelling in his his desire to win something with us in his last season. Auba’s clinical early season finishing is not there at the moment but he’ll be fine now that the antibiotics are out of his system.

Even the subs were decent, adding extra oomph when needed.

Conclusion

Brilliant result at home – a third goal would have been superb but what’s  better 3-1 or 2-0?

If we score in Naples they will need 4.

It was a fine game of attacking football, so much better than the tepid snorefests dished up by the Champions League this week.

Ratings

Cech – good fisting when required – clean sheet, all good … 8

Sokratis – excellent from Papa – Mustafi will struggle to get back his right side back three position … 8

Koscielny – how good a defender has he become? Ligue 2 defender to world class – who was our Director of Football when he signed? … 9

Monreal – the billy goat came good again even with creaking limbs … 8

Maitland-Niles – really superb tonight – sharp passing, quick to cover, bang up for it … 8

Kolasinac – likewise for Sead – contributed throughout and his passing went up a notch as it did for most of tonight’s team … 8

Torreira – absolutely majestic in the first half, interceptions and successful tackles galore – only understandable that he faded a little near the end … 9

Ramsey – playing like a man possessed – he wanted to leave for the change but wanted to stay because he loves Arsenal – scored one, could have had two more – reborn in midfield … 9

Ozil – everything was good in Mesut-world for tonight’s game – his use of the ball and ability to find space are world-class … 8

Lacazette – another banging performance just lacking that goal to cap it off – maybe one is waiting for him in Naples? … 8

Aubameyang – a few decent sniffs but no goals – what are the odds on both him and Laca scoring in Italy? … 8

Subs

Mkhitaryan – nearly got an assist for the Ramsey chance which was skied – it was the perfect scenario for him to come on with both teams going for it … 7

Iwobi – didn’t let the team down by adding drive and enthusiasm in exchange for tired legs … 7

Elneny – good that his non-performance against Everton has been consigned to the history books … 7

Managers

Emery –  dominated his much-lauded opposition manager – top marks, Unai    … 9

Carlo Wagnerotti – his side came to play football which should be praised, though the early goal forced his hand somewhat … 5

Ref

Alberto Undiano Mallenco – Spanish, so an expert at spotting diving. He has been a full international referee for FIFA since 2004. Undiano is also a part-time sociologist. He was almost invisible which is exactly what’s required from all refs … 9

chas

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Forza Arsenal!

April 11, 2019

Exciting night ahead. And who would have thought that many fans would not be sad if we lost this two-legged tie? Given the choice of a Top 4 spot and reaching the semi-finals (again) of the Europa with the prospect of a nerve jangling final against the Chavs, many would choose the PL position.

Not me. Silverware trumps Top 4 and there is no trophy for a CL place.

We have drawn the favourites for the EL, just as we did last year. We lost narrowly last time but I believe we can win this tie. Napoli are strong but certainly not unbeatable. A clean sheet tonight and I think we will go through.

Napoli have some fine players. Their talisman is Lorenzo Insigne who sadly for us has regained fitness after a month out. Alongside Milik and Mertens he makes up a formidable forward line. At the back is the much in demand, and likely to be the subject of a massive transfer fee, Kalidou Koulibaly (someone RC pointed out over a season ago). This chap is quality.

In goal should be our friend and current AFC player David Ospina but I guess he will not be allowed to play against us. This must be to our advantage

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More of the same please.

Napoli have won the Scudetto twice, both times with a drug-fuelled but possibly GOAT  Diego Maradona leading the team. I was in Naples for one of my honeymoons when Maradona was at his peak and the whole town worshipped the man. There were Maradona pizzas, Maradona gelati, pasta alla Diego, it was crazy. Eventually Diego was forced to take a drug test, found to be full of cocaine and banned from football for 15 months, but what a footballer he was. Since then second has been their best position

Managed by Carlo Wagnerotti, a man who has won everything there is to win, they are comfortably the second best team in Italy.

You may wonder why the Chavs are at home and AFC away for the second legs, it is because Chelsea are the FA Cup holders and as I told you, silverware trumps PL position.

We have the usual injury concerns and given the awful MF performance at Everton, the loss of Xhaka is a worry. So is the potential loss of Koscielny who will be very important if we are to keep the precious clean sheet.

I expect Mr Emery to take a safety first, pragmatic view of tonight’s game and play  with a single striker and a packed midfield. If we win 1-0 he will be delighted as Arsenal are likely to score in Naples.

The Emirates should be rocking tonight the fans will be noisy. Hopefully they will get behind the team even if we concede early. This is a high profile game which will attract viewers all over the world and I would like the Gooners attending to put on a show.

I will be watching in a bar somewhere in the North of Italy, surrounded by Juventus fans, who will no doubt want an Arsenal win. So do I.

COYRRG


Arsenal FC – Our home record against Napoli

April 10, 2019

Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited urban areas in the world. It was first settled by Greeks in the second millennium BC. In the ninth century BC, a colony known as Parthenope was established on the Island of Megaride later refounded as Neápolis in the sixth century BC. The city was an important part of Magna Graecia, played a major role in the merging of Greek and Roman society and a significant cultural centre under the Romans. It served as the capital of the Duchy of Naples (661–1139), then of the Kingdom of Naples (1282–1816) and finally of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.

Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli S.p.A.

Nickname(s)    Gli Azzurri (The Blues), I Partenopei (The Parthenopeans)

Napoli’s San Paolo Stadium (capacity 60,240) was inaugurated in 1959 and is the third largest in Italy, after Milan’s Meazza Stadium and Rome’s Olimpico. Situated in the Fuorigrotta neighbourhood, it measures 110 by 68 meters. It was remodelled for the 1980 European Championship and again for the World Cup hosted by Italy in 1990, when a covering and a new 330-seat press stand were installed, the track and lighting systems were redone and the stadium was brought up to FIFA safety standards. With an 8-lane track, three sports gyms, a boxing gym, a fitness gym and a wrestling and martial arts gym.

Naples Football Club was the first true Neapolitan football club to represent the city.  It was founded between late 1904 and early 1905, after a series of meetings at the homes of an Englishman, William Poths, and a Neapolitan, Ernesto Bruschini.

William Poths

Dark and pale blue stripes were chosen as the team colours. Their first President was engineer Amedeo Salsi, flanked by Poths, Bayon and two amateur football players, Conforti and Catterina. William Poths deserves special mention. An employee of the Cunard Shipping Line, he moved to Naples from England in 1903 and quite naturally brought all his English customs with him, including an immense passion for football, which had been played in England since 1847 and was rapidly gaining popularity in Europe and Italy too. There were already several teams in Naples: The aristocratic Open Air team, The Helios team, and the Audace team.

Early games were played at via Campegna. Napoli’s early history seems sketchier by comparison to Arsenal’s. The following is a translation from a SSC Napoli history site which beautifully captures the appeal of the early rise of football in the area by describing the via Campegna playing conditions.

a rather unstable and dusty expanse of land where a group of “stoic gamblers” chased a rolling sphere in shorts and rough and often ungainly attitudes that induced the paying public (at that time half a lira) including marquises, countesses, dukes and real dudes and ” gagà ” of Naples to smile at observing that absurd race to those who conquered the ball

Napoli broke the world transfer record fee after acquiring Diego Maradona in a €12 million deal from Barcelona on 30 June 1984. The 1986–87 season was the landmark in Napoli’s history; they won the double, securing the Serie A title by three points and then beating Atalanta 4–0 to lift the Coppa Italia.

Honours

National titles

Serie A

Winners (2): 1986–87, 1989–90

Coppa Italia

Winners (5): 1961–62, 1975–76, 1986–87, 2011–12, 2013–14

Supercoppa Italiana

Winners (2): 1990, 2014

European titles

UEFA Cup

Winners (1): 1988–89

Our only home game against Napoli was in Group F of the 2013-14 Champions League – we won the game 2-0 with goals from Ozil (his first Arsenal goal) and Giroud.

The Napoli fans have a reputation it’s fair to say and caused a deal of trouble in Islington in 2013.

Getty Images

Given our away record this season we will need to take full advantage of playing in front of our home supporters and win the game with an all important clean sheet.

GunnerN5


How to Balance the Squad?

April 9, 2019

I still feel that one of our major problems is that UE has inherited an unbalanced squad that had been getting more steadily unbalanced over the latter few seasons.

In many ways it could be argued that UE is over-achieving with this current squad, but I also wonder if at times he doesn’t quite know how to set up what he has at present to give us a team where the players compliment each other and therefore give a more rounded and fluid performance.

Questions could be:

Do you feel the squad is unbalanced?
What do we need to do to improve the balance in the squad?
What are the orders of priority to be addressed?

If we are talking about ins and outs within the team in the summer TW it would be good if suggestions are quantified to fit within what is likely to be our financial constraints, rather than just a load of players that will exceed it, and therefore is not realistic

Another consideration is Ramsey. I like Ramsey, and ideally would have liked to keep him, but have always felt he was replaceable. More recently, however, he seems to have become increasingly important in our play.

Is this because he has now transcended to a different level, or is it more that he has a a style of play we are missing elsewhere in the squad, so his importance to us is overly magnified beyond what it really is, which is what I kind of felt with Sanchez in the last 2 seasons.

What he brings does seem to be needed to be replaced though, so how?

written by Gooner B


Everton Arsenal – Player Ratings

April 8, 2019

Torreira banned, Xhaka not quite ready plus Rambo eased back slowly (perhaps because he’s in the red zone) means that Elneny and Guendouzi got the gig in centre midfield. Mkhitaryan there to help and with the wingbacks we should have enough in midfield? Kos is still out so the back three is as against Newcastle but will surely face greater pressure than on Monday night.

First Half

The start to the game tended to suggest which way the game might head. After a couple of minutes Laca was completely cleared out by Zouma with a late, sliding, reckless challenge in the penalty area which the ref completely ignored. A penalty and caution were obvious, but no, it was Guendouzi who received the first yellow with a silly follow through a couple of minutes later.

Action Images via Reuters

The goal when it came was typical Arsenal, back to those away days at Stoke when Delap used to terrorise us with his trebuchet. The throw was legal as Digne’s heel was on the touchline contrary to a huge outcry on twitter. The 50/50 header wasn’t read by the Arsenal defence and the follow up header hit Kolasinac on the foot, deflected 90 degrees straight to Jagielka who hadn’t been down to play until a half hour before kick off. He hadn’t scored since the 20th century. Classic Arsenal concession.

Not too much happened goalmouth-wise for the rest of the first half. There were, however, a series of nasty challenges. We’ve been kicked off the park at Goodison before but it never gets any easier to watch.

Only one effort from Arsenal in that 45, zero on target, not good enough. Mesut was swamped every time he touched the ball. Pre-match doubts about the Guendouzi/Elneny partnership were completely justified in that first half. The only way to match them in the second half would be to match their intensity or completely change formation.

Second Half

The necessary change in personnel with Ramsey and Auba replacing Elneny and Wardrobe appeared to have an immediate positive effect, but illustrated the absolute poverty of that first half performance and team selection.

Our best period of the game was the ten minutes after half time. There were a few good chances but none looked remotely like being taken.

The rest of the second period was Arsenal pressing but Everton looking more likely to score on the break.

In summary, we were garbage and made an average Everton side look quite good.

This pretty much sums up the performance …..

Conclusion

What has become a somewhat predictable away performance from Arsenal. Few chances created but plenty of opposition chances allowed. We probably could have played for another hour and not scored. Beaten by a really poxy set piece calamity of a goal.

So, we’re back behind the spuds and those 4 away games left look dangerous unless there’s some sort of change in mentality.

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Ratings

Leno – nowt much do again, a good block from Sigurdsson in the second half and a fine block when Bernard was through – when the keeper is MOTM and you’ve lost, you know it’s been a shite performance from the team … 7

Mustafi – a pretty standard performance from the German – some good challenges mixed in with some garbage … 5

Sokratis – too often left exposed by our weakness on the flanks – his booking means he misses our next two matches against Watford and Palace … 5

Monreal – struggled manfully as usual but received no cover from the wing back or central midfield … 5

Maitland-Niles – seemed confused by Everton’s intensity – mind you, he wasn’t the only one … 3

Kolasinac – pretty clueless – no help to Monreal and he passes backwards if he’s not barrelling toward the byline, which he never was … 4

Guendouzi – felt sorry for him – a 19 year old shouldn’t be placed under that much pressure and responsibility … 5

Elneny – a squad player at best – a chance to shine and he was barely noticeable in that first half … 3

Mkhitaryan – lightweight and not what was required for a battle at Goodison … 5

Ozil – captain? do me a favour – not very good leadership either by command or by example … 4

Lacazette – not one of his best days – almost our best move/chance and Laca could only fall over when a simple pass to Aubameyang was on … 4

Subs

Ramsey – raised the level of Arsenal’s performance from the depths – but couldn’t engineer a goal … 6

Aubameyang – another who perhaps should have been on from the start – it would have been nice to see him double-teaming with Laca, especially near the end when we needed a goal … 5

Iwobi – had an excellent little test of his dribbling skills for 15 minutes – perhaps unlucky not to achieve more … 6

Managers

Emery – he’s still not cracked the away form weakness – let’s hope inspiration comes before Watford … 5

Marco Wagner – set his team up to steamroller the Southern softies into submission and it worked – 3 points reduction for beating us … 4

Ref

Kevin Friend of Everton – a penalty and a yellow for Zouma in the first few minutes and it’s a different game – allowed far too much niggly foul play from the Toffees … 3

chas


Time to Improve the Away Form

April 7, 2019

If I was unlucky enough to live in Lancashire (or is it Merseyside?), Everton would be my team though wearing blue and white would be an anathema. There is something regal about the red and white.

I mentioned in an earlier comment about Everton being a proper English club. What I meant was they have proper history; the first to play at Anfield, the first Liverpool club, decades of close run failure, and until recent times, not Oiled up. Fairplay to them. And I love their old fashioned ground, so much better than the soul-less bowls that modern stadium designers put up to maximise the brands profit (sadly a new ground is about to be built).

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It is unfortunate that Everton have run into a rich patch of form having just beaten the Chavs. This will be a tough test for our boys. But not impossible – Everton are not a Top 6 team and we have a good record at Goodison.

Their manager, Marco Wagner, has finally found a way to win after a dreadful (by their standards) start to his Everton career. A much vaunted manager, he has much to do if Everton are to break into the Top 6. I don’t see how it is possible but hope is eternal – especially in football.

As ever, control of the midfield will be vital and Everton have a fine midfield. I would have liked us to sign Sigurdsson (who is a perfect Ramsey replacement), he is a very dangerous player. Another transfer target may be Gueye, a fine defensive MF. Upfront Richarlison is quality and showing why the Toffees paid so much for him.

Expect Pickford and Keane to be on top form andf we are looking for a left back Digne would certainly fit into the AFC team, a younger Monreal.

Enough of the them,

Mr Emery has to find a way to improve our away form if we are to achieve our ambitions. I would start a similar team which thrashed Newcastle. Depending upon fitness,we should welcome back Xhaka for Douzi and Kos for Mustafi.

Arsenal have a very busy couple of weeks ahead and perhaps Mr Emery will allow Kos and Xhaka more recovery time.

You may have noticed that I have stopped putting up my anticipated starting team, there are two reasons; the first is that Me Emery is impossible to second guess and unlike Mr Wenger he tailors his team for the opposition. The second is I got bored with it 😀

Referee this afternoon is Kevin Friend who has only officiated one AFC game this season, giving out 7 yellow cards vs Burnley (we won 3-1). The dreadful performance of Taylor last week could have been costly, we must hope for better today.

Given the remarkable good fortune (read luck) enjoyed by both MU and the Chavs, we could use some of the same today.

COYRRG


Arsenal’s Century Club – John Radford

April 6, 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. Big Raddy sits at number 17.

John Radford was born on 22 February 1947 in Hemsworth, Yorkshire.

He joined Arsenal as an apprentice in 1962, turning professional in February 1964.

During an interview he said – “I well remember the day before my debut in Arsenal’s senior side. It was Friday 20th March 1964, just a month after my 17th birthday. In those days we youngsters had to do all sorts of menial tasks around the place and one of them that day was to clean the baths at Highbury stadium. I was scrubbing away when the next thing I knew, our manager Billy Wright was standing watching me.

“John, you’ll need to rest up a bit when you’ve finished doing that.” he said looking serious.

“Why’s that?” I replied a bit puzzled.

“Because you’re playing at West Ham tomorrow” he said and walked away leaving me stunned as you can well imagine.”

Prior to the start of the 1968-69 football season. (Photo by Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

John was a prolific goal scorer in his youth but his only appearance in 1964-65 was his debut game against West Ham. In the 1965-66 season he played 15 times, and became Arsenal’s youngest ever hat-trick scorer, against Wolves on 2 January 1965, at the age of 17 years and 315 days, a record that remains to this day.

He soon became an Arsenal regular, and blossomed under the management of Bertie Mee; in 1968-69, although he had been moved out to the right wing, he scored nineteen goals and reached the 1969 League Cup final. As he peaked, so did Arsenal; in 1969-70 he again scored nineteen goals, and helped Arsenal win the 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, their first trophy in seventeen years; John scored the second goal in Arsenal’s 3-0 win in the second leg of the final, which they won 4-3 on aggregate.

John was moved up front again and continued to score regularly. The following season (1970-71) he scored 21 goals, his best single tally in a season, forming a partnership with Ray Kennedy they recorded 47 goals between them. With his goals, John was an instrumental part of Arsenal’s FA Cup and League Championship double-winning side, and his assists played an important role too; he set up Kennedy for the winning goal in Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final replay win against Stoke City, and set up both Eddie Kelly and Charlie George for their goals in the Final against Liverpool.

Arsenal footballers Ray Kennedy, Frank McClintock, (captain) and John Radford celebrating in the changing room after Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup final. Original Publication: People Disc – HP0267 (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

He continued to play for Arsenal through the early 1970s, scoring another 19 goals in 1972-73. However, his goal rate gradually reduced (only achieving single figures in 1973-74 and 1974-75) and he was injured in 1975-76, further restricting his appearances. By now, the partnership of Malcolm Macdonald and Frank Stapleton had become Arsenal’s first-choice attacking duo and John only played twice in the first four months of 1976-77.

Unable to keep a regular place in the side, he moved on to West Ham United in December 1976 for £80,000. After a year and 28 league appearances and no goals with the Hammers, Radford joined Blackburn Rovers in 1977. He was moderately successful with the Second Division side, scoring ten times in 38 league appearances. He left Rovers in 1978 and played for non-league Bishop’s Stortford before retiring. After retiring, he became a pub landlord, and enjoyed several spells as manager of Bishop’s Stortford in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In all he played 485 times for Arsenal, scoring 149 goals, which makes him Arsenal’s fourth all-time top scorer.

His 100th goal was scored against Leicester City at Highbury on September 25th 1971 in his 306th game for Arsenal.

In a supporter’s poll to determine Arsenal’s all time top 50 players John placed 24th. His total of 149 goals puts him 4th on Arsenal’s all time top goalscorer list.

GunnerN5