The Opener.

August 14, 2016

It starts.

What an interesting couple of games to get us going – especially with our injury situation.  Two teams beginning with L. No idea what our record is agains teams beginning with different letters of the alphabet but I know we do well against T teams.

Strangely last season Liverpool struggled upfront despite having Origi, Benteke, Ings, Sturridge and Balotelli😀. This is a massive investment into centre forwards but Klopp is so unsure about his attack that he has spent another bucket of money on the potentially excellent Mane (who would have fitted well into our squad).

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I noticed that they have signed an ex-Gooner in Alex Manninger. A pleasant and unexpected  addition to Alex’s pension fund.

If you look at Liverpool’s squad they are very strong in all positions, especially midfield. Klopp has strengthened an already promising team and in Coutinho they have a player who is almost Ozil-esque … almost.

But despite having a manager we coveted, a team which cost way more than AFC’s and a huge fanbase, they have consistently failed to get amongst the Big Boys. Why? In all honesty I do not know and more to the point I don’t care; this is an Arsenal blog!

So, what of our boys? Well, the Boyo is likely to start following his heroics in the Euro’s, so is our new boy, Xhaka, who is likely to have a major influence upon our season should he stay fit and strong.

Injury problems in defence will surely result in us playing with two DM’s to assist the youngsters. It will be interesting to see whether Coquelin or Elneny starts alongside our the Swiss chap. Midfield is going to be fascinating as we progress through to Xmas we have Cazorla, Ramsey, Iwobi, Wilshere, Ox and Ozil all vying for the attacking MF position.

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin    Holding   Chambers    Monreal

Xhaka   Coquelin

Ramsey

Ox     Walcott     Sanchez

It hurts to leave out Santi – he is such a wonderful player and perhaps he will take Ox or Ramsey’s place, more likely he will be a super-sub. Iwobi is a Wenger favourite, and rightly so, but I just cannot find a place for him although an alternative could be to play Ramsey on the left in place of Ox with Iwobi on the right of midfield

Walcott has to lead the line; he is a confidence player and should he score a goal we will benefit.My fear is that the Emirates faithful will scapegoat him should he endure a poor half and then we know that Theo will hide. Alongside Ox, Sanchez and Rambo we should have enough.

I don’t think we can judge how the season will unfurl from this afternoon – we lost to Villa a couple of season’s ago and our record over the past 5 seasons is W1 D3 L1, not too dusty.

A win today would be terrific, the bookies have us at 55% likely to win and Liverpool just 33% (the remainder is the draw).

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners

written by Big Raddy

 

 


Ramsey to join Mourinho?

May 25, 2016

We are at approaching the time of year when the Deadwood express drives at Arsenal station to pick up a few passengers. Early at the station were Flamini, Rosicky and Arteta but who else will be shipped out?

Today I will focus upon the midfield.

Given that we have signed Elneny and also (potentially) Granit Xhaka, some  midfield players must be going. Ramsey, Wilshere, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ox, Ozil, Iwobi, Gnabry, plus the returning  Toral is perhaps excessive and it is in midfield that we find the biggest puzzle……. What is going on with Coquelin?

Early in the season Coquelin would have been the first name on the team sheet, it was inconceivable that he wouldn’t start. It has to be said that I am not a big fan but reluctantly started to appreciate just how much he had improved, yet Francis is firmly on the naughty step as evidenced by the arrival (?) of Xhaka – you don’t spend €30m on a reserve.

The final unbeaten run of games saw Francis on the bench with AW not picking a sitting DM preferring to play Elneny alongside Ramsey as a double pivot (™️ TA).  I doubt anyone could have predicted Coquelin being dropped.

If we assume that Xhaka is signed and that Elneny has impressed Mr Wenger  tough to be considered a sin the starting X1, then a first team place is unlikely for Coquelin and he will become a squad player. Too good to sell? Probably and we will need him in case of injury/rotation.

That leaves 4 excellent players fighting for the single forward midfield role: Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla and Ox. All deserve to be starting PL players. All are committed to Arsenal but I expect one to be sold, the difficulty is who?

I really love watching them all. Ramsey is exceptional as his work for Wales displays. But … but. Other Gooners are not so impressed. It was not a great season for Aaron. Less goals, less assists, more mistakes; nonetheless he remains a seemingly integral part of Mr.Wenger’s plans.

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Cazorla? Brilliant player. Upon his return at season’s end we improved and once again looked like potential title winners. Had he stayed fit we would have won the title – maybe – but he is over 30, somewhat injury-prone and slowing down. Arsenal need his experience – I doubt he willl be sold.

Ox. Horrible season for him. Injuries destroyed what should have been his breakthrough season. Nonetheless, he has huge potential and most of his on-pitch problems are due to his determination to be better. He needs to relax. But can he do so at Arsenal?

Jack. Another who had his season ruined by injury and who separates fans. IMO he  cannot be allowed to leave. His energy, vision and eye for goal is exceptional but his injury history is such that we cannot rely upon JW to play 40+ games.

Can Arsenal afford to keep 11 midfield players? Can Mr Wenger keep them happy? More to the point – does he want to?

I would not be surprised to see Mr Wenger selling a big name player to finance his summer purchases. Man Utd were in the hunt to sign Aaron Ramsey prior to his making the obvious decision to join AFC; they are desperate for a Carrick replacement and Aaron is a similar player (but better). A goal-scoring midfielder with International experience and a mate of Monkeyboy (who must be a MU target) – he fits MU’s and Mourinho’s requirements exactly. Could/would AW sell him to MU?

written by BR

 


BFG to Return?

April 21, 2016

Under normal circumstances the prospect of WBA arriving at The Ems when we are in desperate need of three points would bring a smile especially as despite the furore we are unbeaten in 4 games and have 8 points from 12.

But ….. if you are reading this then you know how the fans and media are turning on the team, particularly at Fortress Arsenal, and to a long-in-the-tooth Gooner that hurts. Our 12th man is already on the beach – worse, our 12th man has become toxic or as Mr Wenger puts it “we play in a negative atmosphere”

It is sad to say that we would be more likely to beat our opposition when playing away from home, Of course this is purely an opinion and an opinion based upon the evidence seen on a television 1000 miles from the Emirates.

Putting this subject aside for a full post, let us return to tonight.

If we are to continue  our run of playing each season in the CL – a run unsurpassed by any other team in Europe ( a little exaggeration because RM are equal with us at 19), then a win tonight is vital.

Will Mr Pulis allow his team to roll over like Chelsea did to MC or Stoke vs Spurs? Probably not. Does any manager whose team are on a poor run of form?

Will Rondon and Berahinho score for a team that averages one goal a game?

I don’t do stats but I know that WBA have lost 7 of their last games at The Emirates and have won just one of their last 11 away games in the PL.

Arsenal: Is it time for rotation? If so, who gets dropped?

My guess is that Iwobi will be given a rest. Apart from him, only Mr Wenger knows. If it were me I would play Walcott against WBA’s less than sprightly FB’s and give OG a start upfront. If we are to throw crosses into the box (which seems to have become de rigueur) the we have to have someone who can muscle his way past defenders; as much as I like Welbeck this is not his forte.

Ramsey has to return. He has become a marmite player in the team but I am huge fan of his (whilst hating marmite).  Giving Ramsey the freedom to play that is given to young Iwobi may lead to a resurrection of his form.

A regular fans complaint is that Arsenal are lacking a leader, if so BFG has to start. Paul Easter has potential but I miss the Big Man.

We need to win, not just for the points but for the atmosphere around the club. If Arsenal walk off the pitch with less than 3 points they will leave the pitch to a chorus of boos from three-quarter empty stands.

It is a well-known fact that Her Majesty, QE 2 is a dyed-in-the-wool Gooner. She has a poster of Tony Adams scoring vs Everton on her mantlepiece at Windsor Castle and another of Micky’s somersault in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace. On her 90th birthday it is up to the players to bring a smile to her much wrinkled face.

Let it be So.

COYRRG


Cazorla a huge miss.

April 14, 2016

Once again our season has been blighted by injuries; almost every player has been out of the side for chunks of time but whose injury has had the most influence?

I would say without doubt it is Cazorla.

We all love our little Spanish genius but it is not just his smile we have missed it is also his ability. Just watch the video below

 

When Mr Wenger started the season with Santi alongside Coquelin as our defensive shield my (and many others) reaction was bewilderment – how could this attacking midget act as DM? He answered us by playing his exuberant shimmy-shammy skills closer to his own gaol and setting up the attacking play from deeper. He was a revelation and we looked as though the title was ours for the taking.

With Santi and Cazorla in tandem we gained 23 points from 11 games, without them 36 from 22 –  a potential loss of 10 points. Our goal ratio has also plummeted.

Perhaps we were not as tight at the back, though the goals against since his injury may tell a different story.

In my opinion, the midfield of Ramsey, Cazorla and Coquelin remains our best trio (though Elneny looks the nuts). Had all three played the full season we would be Champions, wouldn’t we?

written by Big Raddy


Ramsey or Iwobi to say Goodbye to the Boleyn?

April 9, 2016

Arsenal’s final game at the Boleyn, a stadium filled with bubbles, passion and occasional violence.

Bob gave his reminiscences yesterday – here are some of mine:

  1. The first time I visited Upton Park was in the 60’s. I was astonished to find that the disgusting men’s toilets had no washing facilities. I know this was in the days of black and white but even so …
  2. 2. The Chicken Run. Terrifying place which our away boys tried to take season after season. Tried being the operative word because WHU had some of the most violent fans in the league.
  3. Racism. The Chavs are possibly worse but this is the only ground where I have seen bananas thrown at a player – in this case Kevin Campbell.
  4. Liam Brady. It hurt so much to see a hero playing well for the claret and blue.
  5. John Radford. See 4. but thankfully he didn’t play very well for them – scoring zero goals in 28 apps!
  6. Ian Wright. See 4.& 5. Though Wrighty MBE scored on his debut for WHU.

There are many other memories. I loved the bubbles pre-match, enjoyed the Hammers singing,and the passion they have for their club.

West Ham were “The Academy”, the club with 3 WC winners, a club closely attached to their locality but the future? Will they carry their proud history over to the new stadium? I doubt it but money rules and tradition is just history and as any accountant will tell you, you cannot bank tradition.

Onto today: Hugely important for both teams. WHU have (astonishingly) the chance to get into the CL! We need to keep up the pressure on the Miscreants and Leicester. Would either club be happy with a draw?

Bilic has done a remarkable job and in any other season would be a shoe-in for Manager of the Year. Think of it this way – how many of the claret and blue would you have in Arsenal’s first team? Payet perhaps, but  ahead of Ozil? Not for me. Nonetheless, Bilic has created a team which has beaten us at the Emirates and every team in the top 6.

Should Ramsey return for AFC? I guess bench at best. Iwobi is doing too well to drop and the team looks settled for the first time since Cazorla’s injury.

BFG? WHU have some big units and perhaps it would be erudite to start the German, especially as Giroud is likely to be on the bench and as such unable to help at set plays.

Thinking of set plays; when have you ever seen a better free kick than Payet’s vs Palace? We need defensive discipline and not give him the opportunity  to test our GK.

Is Cech fit? If so, he must start. Ospina has done very well but Cech is different gravy.

So, our team: I expect an unchanged side as the performances against Everton and Watford were so good.

West Ham? Will they give it the beans knowing they have a huge FA Cup game at home to MU on Weds? Of course they will – they always do against us.

Under normal circumstances I would be happy to leave East London with a draw but if we are to put pressure on Leicester and the swamp-dwellers then saying goodbye to the Boleyn with 3 points is a must. Will we get them? Why not?

 


Elneny. Ramsey, and the Box to Boxer.

April 4, 2016

Elneny. Mo. The Egyptian. Fabulous Pharaoh. Like the hair, like the man.

I would say we played our best football this season with Coquelin paired with Santi, and the seemingly odd choice of Aaron on the right. Sure, this was complemented with pace through the middle, but nevertheless, Aaron on the right was designed to compensate for a defensive fragility in the middle of the pitch due to the presence of Santi.

The more formidable and solid midfield pairing of Coquelin and Elneny allows us, as seen on Saturday, to free up the speedsters and magicians in front of Mesut.

Elneny certainly charges about a lot, but this does not make him a Box to Boxer. Aaron is a Box to Boxer and this does make us more vulnerable against the counter. In theory, with a B to B’er you have an additional goal threat, but we haven’t seen this. Perhaps it is because of our slow build up and by the time the end to end man gets near to goal, the wretched area is clogged solid.

Perhaps also, if by doing away with the B to B’er, you replace him with a more disciplined Egyptian with long range shooting ability, not only have you compensated for the goals that weren’t there anyway, but you have added an additional string to the bow, arrow to the quiver and worry for the opposition.

Plus, a player to whom the crowd can scream “shooooooot”, which must be a worry for Aaron


If Henry Can, Welbeck Can

March 16, 2016

Time to play with The Big Boys. Finish Top 4 and this is the reward. No-one expects us to win the CL, only one club can do so and, let’s be honest, it is not going to be Arsenal in the near future, but what Top 4 offers is the chance to play in the Camp Nou or the Allianz Arena or the Bernabeu.

In other words glory.

Can you remember when Thierry waltzed through the Real Madrid defence to score an unlikely winner? Or wee Arshavin slotting home to beat Barca? Or Ramsey scoring against all the odds at Dortmund?  Why do you remember those particular goals?  It is because we played and beat the very best and we have the opportunity to do so tonight.

 

Can Arsenal win? Why not? We have beaten Barca before and they have already declared that a couple of their first team will be rested (well, Pique at least). Barca will expect to win at a canter and there is no pressure on an Arsenal team who have been written off by both the media and their own fans.

We were a Bendtner kick and a bent referee away from beating them over two legs in 2011. Given that Welbeck is even better than The Greatest Striker Who ever Lived, we must have a fighting chance, though  it must be admitted that MSN are slightly better than VMP (Villa, Messi, Pedrito).

Our Team: Should Mr Wenger prioritise the weekend game with Everton or go with a full first choice team tonight ? Montreal and Bellerin were benched on Sunday and will surely start. Welbeck played just 15 minutes but what an impact he had! Will he start ahead of Giroud who took a battering from the Watford CB’s? In my opinion, Welbeck  – if fit – should be our first choice central striker until season’s end.

Campbell on the right or Theo? Was Theo rested or or dropped on Sunday?

Midfield must be Elneny and Coquelin, we have little choice.

And what of Ozil? He went missing in the home leg and has been peripheral in recent weeks. He tried to grab the game on Sunday and almost effected an unexpected comeback but where was he in the first 75 minutes? People question whether Ozil wants to stay at Arsenal; perhaps they should think about who would sign him to a winning team. Leave Arsenal and Ozil is unlikely to find a club playing to his unique talents nor will he find a place with the Big Boys. Sanchez is in the same situation.

We are massive underdogs for a reason , primarily thanks to Coquelin’s stupid foul for the penalty and BFG’s momentary lapse of reason, should they make similar mistakes we could be on the end of a hammering BUT Mr Wenger cannot PTB at Camp Nou – we have to score. Get one early and Barca could wobble. Get two and we will win.

Unlikely but possible, and whilst the possibility exists let’s believe it can happen

COYRRG