What is your best midfield?

January 17, 2017

The choices are Elneny, Cazorla, Ramsey, Xhaka, Coquelin.

Let’s make it more difficult and add in the attacking MF. So now we have to include Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ozil.

If we have 3 attackers and 5 defenders (inc Gk) it leaves 3 or 4 places.

Ozil is a guaranteed starter but no-one else. So, it is 3 from 7

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Much as I love Santi, he requires a holding MF alongside him which has historically been Coquelin but I think both Elneny and Xhaka are better passing from deep.

This isn’t an exam so let’s not have any of that “it depends upon the game” lily-livered indecision.

And if we can’t make a concrete decision, imagine how hard it must be for Mr Wenger whose selection is scrutinísed by a million people a week.

written by Big Raddy


Bournemouth Bullet Points.

November 27, 2016

Must win game.

Wilshere not playing.

Bournemouth managed by a good chap who may one day succeed Mr. Wenger

We are “stuttering”.

Xhaka?

Coquelin to be rested?

Sanchez burn out.

Giroud to continue his scoring run.

Walcott needs to get back to early season form.

18 game run

B’mouth have never beaten AFC

B’mouth only one away game since February without conceding a goal.

My Team:

Cech

Jens   Mustafi    Koscielny    Monreal

Xhaka   Ramsey     Iwobi

Walcott   Giroud    Ozil

I think that sums it up

COYRRG

 


What is wrong with Xhaka?

November 26, 2016

Just a quickie.

My guess is that if you were to ask 100 Gooners whether Xhaka would start against PSG, well over 90 would have said “Yes”. So, why didn’t Mr Wenger agree? The simple answer is that I have no idea! However, as we need a post I will make some suggestions.

  1. Against PSG Mr. Wenger wanted to give Ramsey a role further forward, not on the left or right wings and more central. However, AW does not believe Xhaka can curb his attacking instincts and required a more disciplined DM. Coquelin is the obvious choice.
  2. Xhaka is still on the naughty step. Perhaps he is lethal on the training pitch and AW was concerned that the diving (and combative) PSG midfield would have encouraged GX’s aggressive tendencies.
  3. In training the Xhaka/Ramsey axis simply doesn’t work. It looks fine on paper and many pundits have predicted they are the future for AFC, but in a recent game Elneny was chosen ahead of GX which raises some questions. One of which is where does Elneny fit in?
  4. It seems as though Mr Wenger’s first choice midfield is Cazorla and Coquelin, when Santi returns where does Xhaka fit in? Can Xhaka and Santi combine or is this too attacking?
  5. Mr Wenger was disappointed by GX’s very quiet performance against Spurs, a game of great importance in which he was anonymous and unable to  have a real influence. With both MU and PSG he wanted more experienced players (like Iwobi!)

We have yet to see the best of our second most expensive signing. I am excited to see how good he is as the portents are very good. He can shoot which it a major positive. Like Fabregas, he can control the tempo of the Arsenal attack, picking up the ball from deep and using both short and long passes to change the focus of attack.

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Mr. Wenger when questioned about Xhaka’s absence replied that he needs time to adapt to the PL. Strange that Mustafi doesn’t need the same bedding in!

If you were to ask 100 Gooners if Xhaka will start tomorrow I guess over 90 will say “Yes”. We could be wrong.

written by Big Raddy

 


Two Arsenal problems solved

November 11, 2016

 

“One can’t judge Wagner’s opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don’t intend hearing it a second time” –Rossini.

Just two problems, you may ask. Well yes, at the moment, because I’m not including the possibility that Sanchez plays against Uruguay and will therefore be fit to face Utd.

Right then, my two problems. Hector is out of action, and we have no position for Ramsey.

The solution is to go 3-5-2. Chelsea have a new continental manager with sensitive hair, and lo, he has transformed their season since going all Juve on them. For us, Monreal could snuggle up to Kos and Must at the back. Gibbs can charge up and down the left, which brings us to the right.

Some say Aaron is a Santi stand in. No he isn’t. Just not cultured enough as a footballer. Some say he is a Mesut stand in. No he isn’t. We’d be better off changing the system altogether and doing away with a No 10. You need Godlike skill to make that role work. Some say Aaron played well there for Wales. Wales?? Really?? They are a second division team who play in tournaments where the quality is so appallingly low that only third rate managers submit job applications. Any top flight club would win a Euros without breaking sweat.

Now the good news. I do have an excellent role for Aaron. Right side in the mid 5. Great engine, good crosser.

Soooo, we have our back three, our two flankers, Coq with Mesut and Santi either side and a front two of Sanchez and Theo.

 

…………Sanchez    Theo

Gibbs  Santi  Coq  Mesut    Aaron

……….Mon  Kos  Must

…………..Petr

 

It is possible you are still wondering about the relevance of the opening quotation. The answer is none whatsoever. Read it last night. Liked it.

written by MickyDidit


The November Curse – Real or Imaginary?

November 4, 2016

It now seems to be accepted fact that November is always a bogey month for Arsenal.

A calamitous November last season is still fresh in the memory. In the League we started with a drab 1-1 with the N17 miscreants. This was followed by a 2-1 away defeat to the Baggies (they had 1 shot on target); Le Coq was injured early on and Arteta, his replacement, put the ball in his own net before being replaced himself. Santi missed a penalty after some spot-tampering by Olsson. What could go wrong, did go wrong.

The final League game of November 2015 was a 1-1 draw with Norwich in which Santi was injured early in the 2nd half but played the whole game for some strange reason (causing him to miss most of the season) and Alexis was withdrawn with a hamstring after being shoved into a camera dug-out!

In the Champions League, the month had started with a 5-1 battering from Bayern with the only consolation, a 3-0 win over a poor Zagreb side.

alexis-dugout

On the basis of that evidence, it certainly seems as though November is cursed for us, but I wondered just how bad it had been over the past 10 years, so decided to take a gander.

The snapshot below shows both Prem and CL games won, lost and drawn and also details of any fixtures played against our next two League opponents. The bottom row shows our win, draw and loss percentages over the last 10 Novembers.

november

Arsene Wenger’s overall percentages are 57.5% wins, 23.2% draws and 19.3% losses. (Based on 1,136 total games including 653 victories, 264 draws and 219 defeats)

It immediately becomes clear that, in the League particularly, there is an 18% increase in defeats compared to the average. That is huge. In the Champions League the defeat percentage is about average and an increase in draws maybe due to the nature of the CL group stages.

What could be the cause of such a large anomaly in the League?

Injuries? Possibly.

An increase in snood and glove–wearing nambypambyism caused by colder weather? Doubtful.

Excrement happens? Maybe so, but why always in the same period of the season?

Has anyone got any theories?

On a more positive note, November has had some highlights and in some seasons has even been pretty good.

November 2008 saw us beating our November nemesis, the mancs, 2-1. This victory was easier than it sounds. Two goals by the FFBW, one a belter from a snake-like pass from Fabregas, were followed by the mancs getting a late consolation.

November 2012 included the second glorious 5-2 (in one calendar year) against the spuddies. Adebayor, both put them in the lead and then, in true secret agent style, revealed his Arsenal roots and deliberately got sent off a few minutes later.

November 2013 saw us win 3 of our 4 Prem games. A 2-0 win over Liverpool, including a stonker from Rambo, one of the highlights. We also won 2 out of 2 Champions League games that month; one of which, a 1-0 away win in Dortmund, is fondly remembered by two of our AAers and their Ford Focus.

rambodippers

November 2016 started with a fine, hard-fought CL win on Tuesday capped with a goal of rare beauty from our German maestro. Hopefully we can continue to build a head of steam with the NLD on Sunday and our visit to the Old Cowshed the following weekend.

The next two fixtures probably won’t make or break Arsenal’s season, but they could certainly go a long way to breaking the ‘bogey November’ idea and launch us forward into a successful winter.

We’ve recently broken the Swansea hoodoo, let’s continue with this theme and banish another skeleton from our closet.

Written by chas


Ozil is better than Bergkamp. Match Report.

November 2, 2016

Character building, yes, character building is the way I would describe that win and probably the best preparation for Sunday we could have had. What, I hear you say; surely another six-nil win would have been better giving us the chance to rest Ozil and Sanchez after seventy minutes? Not necessarily, there is no way it is going to be a stroll in the park on Sunday and if we go a goal behind we will have had very recent experience in knowing how to put it right. The same goes for if we are two down but I don’t want to dwell on that possibility for too long. What I am saying is that we are in good shape and are now completely prepared to face the knuckle draggers.

Ludogorets looked pretty good in the first twenty minutes at the Emirates and if it wasn’t for a couple of fine saves from Ospina we could have just as easily have been two down inside the first twenty minutes then. Things didn’t fall inch perfect for them in that game but they did last night and they also had luck on their side: the ball was drilled at speed towards Xhaka who no more than turned away but the referee who was poor all night wrongly gave a free kick from which they scored; our defending wasn’t at its best, but it was one hell of a good cross. Shortly after, Gibbs was given a Brazilian by one of their nippy players who played a slide rule pass into our box for another one of their nippy players to slot home. Don’t ask me their names I don’t know and I don’t care.

gibbs

Two down, things weren’t going to plan and we were looking rattled which showed in our hurried passing and unnecessary loss of possession; still, we do not sing that “we are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen” for nothing.

The fight back was on.

Özil of course was involved it was his cross from the byline that was missed by several players in the penalty area before falling invitingly to Xhaka who guided it home and brought us back into the game. The goal steadied the nerves, confidence returned and with it the accuracy of the passing. We were the better team overall but they were still looking dangerous on the break.

giroud-ludo

Enter our two returnees.

Ramsey was everywhere or so it seemed; a tireless engine, superb vision and my man of the match, it was his pinpoint cross that enabled Giroud to bring us back on terms: a well-taken header from the man who seems to push himself just that much more when he perceives his starting place is under threat. Do you remember the last time he was out for a while and Theo seemed to have taken his place? When the FFP did start again he scored something like four goals in four games. Two on Sunday, Ollie, and the world will be a wonderful place.

Chances fell to both teams in the second half and the game could have gone either way, I had resigned myself to a draw and had already persuaded myself that two-two was not a bad result away from home and all that. But Mesut Ozil had different ideas which leaves me in the really bad situation of having to try and put that goal into words; save from a long list of superlatives, I can’t.

mesut2

Goal of the season, yes, one of the best Arsenal goals I have ever seen, yes, I am trying to stop myself from gushing ahhhhh, I can’t, it was fantastic, brilliant, breathtaking, sheer class from the best player I have ever seen play for Arsenal. There I said it; forgive me Dennis, I couldn’t stop myself. lol

Nothing left now but to watch that goal over and over again and purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Written by LB

 


Let’s get this one over with as quick as we can and move onto Saturday

November 1, 2016

November. We usually struggle.

I could stop the post here and just re-blog it as the PM for every game in the month but that wouldn’t be very entertaining , would it?

As to tonight’s game, it is eminently winnable. We smashed the Bulgarians at home and should do so again tonight …. but we are The Arsenal and there is many a slip twixt cup and lip etc etc.

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Our form is good though untested against decent opposition, our players are fit apart from a couple of centre forwards, our results are better away from home. What can go wrong?

Complacency; both from manager and players. They will expect to win, as we expect them to.

Ludogorets have earned the chance to play in the CL, having won the Bulgarian League and beaten among others, Red Star Belgrade in the qualifiers, they have also drawn with Basle so they are no pushovers. Less than 100% effort will result in a loss of important points.

Why are they important? You already know 😉 so I won’t waste your time.

My Team:

Ospina

Jens   Mustafi     Kos     Gibbs

Elneny    Coq      Iwobi

Ox    Sanchez    Ozil

Should Xhaka start in place of Elneny or Le Coq? Not for me – he has to stay on the Naughty Step and learn that making stupid tackles like the one v Swansea is not the Arsenal Way.

The only other question mark is whether Arsene will rest players (see :complacency). He may choose  to play Ramsey and Giroud in order to rest Ozil and Sanchez, however AW has been clear about giving Ramsey time to bed into the team again, so I doubt he will start. Whereas the FFP has shown why he is important and that sometimes Alexis can be the Plan B.

Ludogorets ground has a capacity of just over 8,000 and is sold out. I expect to see the crowd fervent for the first half, less so in the second, followed by some heads down muttering  allowing our travelling few to be heard celebrating.

Let it be So.

COYRRG