An Embarrassment of Riches?

July 19, 2018

Apparently an Arsenal X1 beat Crawley Town 9-0 yesterday in a behind closed doors game at Colney.

Bernd Leno made a first appearance between the sticks and plenty of other first teamers dusted off their boots to grab some playing time.

Lucas Perez and Laca bagged a brace each and Auba also got on the scoresheet.

                                                Courtesy AFC

Along with goals from Eddie, The Jeff, Reiss Nelson and Micki, it’s starting to look as though we have a very strong group of mobile attacking players to begin this season. 🙂

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Which Midfielder needs to Leave??

June 8, 2018

We have signed a man at the end of his career and one whose career has yet to start. Welcome both the Swiss fellow and the French chap.

We need to trim the squad. Starting with midfield, who gets sold?

One or more of Wilshire, Ramsey, Iwobi or Xhaka.

Xhaka? Towards the end of the season Xhaka showed he is becoming accustomed to the PL. He is a vital part of the team, a player who controls the pace of the midfield. He no longer gets red cards for stupid tackles but is more considered in his work. Definitely a keeper and next season could be a when we see his true quality. A big WC and his value will rocket. We need him to stay until M-N flowers.

Wilshire? His reluctance to sign his contract is worrying but should we keep him even if he is willing to sign? Jack is a proper Gooner who has been at the club since childhood, it would be sad if he moved on but his play is simply not good enough to get us to a Top 4 place. I ask this question … would JW get into any of the 5 teams above us? The answer is No. So, he has to go.

Ramsey? You know he is one of my favourite players but does he fit into the current squad? Not really. He is a wonderful player with all the attributes for a dynamic midfielder but he just doesn’t fit with Ozil and, for me, the team has to work around Mesut as it did around DB10. If Aaron hasn’t signed a contract extension by mid-July then he has to go. We should sell him whilst he still has a value. If he signs, and it is a big IF, will he be happy playing a bit-part? I doubt it.. If he goes, we will be losing  a man who has scored two winning FAC goals. It would be a sad but necessary loss.

Iwobi? Has tremendous potential but can he achieve it? Can he do so at AFC where he will not, for the time being, be a first choice player?  Lack of true pace is his problem because he has all the other skills needed to be a fine attacking MF. Another who could have a big WC. We have to keep him.

Would it be to the detriment of the squad if both JW and AR left? Of course it would – they are both International quality players but Arsenal are no longer a Wenger team and perhaps these men are part of our past, not our future.

I could be wrong but I very much doubt both will be at Arsenal come August.

written by Big Raddy

 


Who should be the new Club Captain and Allegri, the new Boss?

May 11, 2018

Arsenal FC’s new Club Captain?

So the BFG is moving even further away from the playing side at the Club leaving a situations vacant for Club Captain.

Does anyone leap out at you as his obvious replacement?

Does the position mean much anymore?

Do we need a leader on the pitch?

 

Massimiliano Allegri – the next Arsenal manager?

Allegri featured for a variety of Italian clubs during his playing career as a creative, inventive midfielder. Promotion and a couple of decent seasons in Serie A with Pescara perhaps the highlight.

The lowlight of Allegri’s time as a pro footballer was a one year ban in 2001 for match-fixing.

Allegri’s managerial career is a different kettle of fish entirely. Having served his apprenticeship in the lower leagues, he first hit the top flight with Cagliari in 2008. The Sardinians finished a creditable 9th, not far from UEFA League qualification and played with such flair with extremely limited resorces that Allegri was awarded the Panchina D’Oro (golden bench), the Italian version of Manager of the season, ahead of Serie A winning coach Mourinho (I’m liking this chap already).

Milan liked the look of this nuovo arrivato, signed him up in 2010 and he led them to the Serie A title in his first season. When switching to Juve in 2014, he again won the top flight title in his first season, though it was to be the Old Lady’s 4th title on the bounce (the previous three while managed by Antonio Conte).

The following seasons at Juventus were littered with Serie A titles and Coppa Italia victories plus two Champions League Finals (losing to Barca and Real).

He seems a fine choice as Arsene’s successor, being strong on tactics but liking fluid formations and attacking pressing football. His daughter is quite attractive too.

chas


Fun in the Sun – West Ham Ratings

April 23, 2018

The first in a series of goodbye games for the great man brought some glorious sunshine to North London. Hopes were high for exceptional entertainment, though the news that Auba wasn’t starting brought the mood down a notch. I suppose the hope was to further cement some combinations for Thursday’s semi, so it was understandable in that sense.

 First Half

West Ham supposedly dominated the first half according to some of the media. Apart from a ball bouncing off a Hammers’ player’s shoulder on to the top of the bar and a fairly routine save from Ospina from a shot on the break, West Ham barely had an effort on goal.

For the boys in red and white, Kos saw his decent header go just wide and Danny had two efforts showing the full spectrum of his abilities, one top quality and the other an awful scuffer. Elneny rolled his ankle (hopefully with no serious damage) but not much happened apart from that and our hopes were high that the second period would see an improvement.

           Not a day for fair-skinned celtic chaps

Second half

The second period burst into life with Nacho’s sweet volley off his shin from Granit’s corner five minutes after the break. Failing to build on this lead, Ospina then punched out a crossed ball South American style straight back to the Hammers and with the defence in complete disarray, the hideous Arnautovic crashed in a well-struck drive. 1-1, quelle surprise.

Time for the cavalry, Auba for Alex Iwobi and the world suddenly seemed an even brighter place. Hart made fine saves from Xhaka and from a peach of a curler from Welbz, before a beautifully floated cross from Rambo sneaked past a hesitant Hammers defender and into the far corner for the goal that finally broke United’s flagging resistance.

The third came after a fine passing sequence and ricocheted off the underside of a West Ham defender’s legs, fooling Hart at the near post. Effective strikers often seem to get that sort of break and Laca is proving to be very effective indeed. Get your shot off and things happen.

My favourite goal of the four was the last one because of Ramsey’s exquisite feet in rounding a bemused Zabaleta which had followed a jinking turn from Auba. Hart got a hand to Lacazette’s shot on the way in, which sort of summed up his day.

Ratings

Ospina – Fairly untroubled, had little chance with the equaliser … 6

Bellerin – Appalling effort ballooned over the bar in the first half, defended ok  … 6

Mustafi – A little more composed with his old buddy alongside him   …6

Kos – Hopefully now match sharp for Thursday, led from the front as usual  … 7

Monreal – Never gives less than 100%, so always going to be a fan favourite  … 7

Elneny – Hopefully Mo’s injury isn’t serious – I doubt he would have played Thursday anyway … 6

Xhaka – Granit always oozes class against opposition of this standard, perhaps he can kick on and raise himself up to this level in all games next season  … 7

Ramsey – Class personified, always trying something to remove the wheel clamp from the bus   … 7

Iwobi – Sometimes Alex’s pitter patter feet seem to be an outward manifestation of his agitated, hesitant mind – this was one of those days  … 5

Welbeck – Still improving and you never quite know if you’re about to see a world-class finish or something decidedly spursy … 6

Lacazette – 2 more goals added to his impressive tally for a first season  … 7

Subs

Maitland-Niles – Time for a bit of canvassing in the acres of space in midfield, but difficult to recognise with his new trim … 6

Aubameyang – His entry to the field with a tiring West Ham changed the game … 7

On to Thursday with that last ten minutes giving us a welcome boost of confidence and optimism.

chas

 

 


Waiting for My Man – CSKA Player Ratings

April 13, 2018

With the score from the first leg stood at 4-1 and having seen Roma rebuild an empire at the expense of the Catalonians, nerves were jangling slightly more than we might have expected for this particular second leg in Moscow. Could their away goal prove crucial? One way to resolve the issue – score one of our own and the tie would be effectively settled. Boy, did they make us wait.

First Half

CSKA huffed and puffed, gegenpress-style, closing down rapidly like high street businesses everywhere. Arsenal struggled to find any space, time and cohesion. On several occasions chances to break and grab that vital away goal presented themselves, but, on each, our attacking fluency deserted us with a misplaced final pass or failure to exploit having a man over.

I missed the goal as BT.com decided to freeze 30 seconds before it. It seemed as though Nacho was shoved in the back for the CSKA header, though I’m sure the studio ‘experts’ said that the Russian just wanted it more. Cech did well to get down to the header at such close range but keeping it out was all he did as he left a simple tap in. 1-0 down at half-time, just when was our moment of quality due to arrive? I was hoping it was before I ran out of beer.

Second Half

Shortly after the break, calamity struck again when a long range pot shot bounced back off the helmeted one into the path of the onrushing forward. Bang 2-0. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, surely another 3 goal comeback couldn’t be on the cards?

Watching without sound, I was celebrating when Elneny’s header went in as if it was job done, before realising the lino’s flag had been raised. Mo seemed to think bending his run slightly even though he was a yard or two behind the Russian defensive line, might somehow fool the official into thinking he was onside. Hmmmmm.

Arsenal restricted CSKA’s chances to score the vital third pretty well, keeping them to long shots, with Petr producing a good save from a free kick, but were still struggling to produce that one moment of quality to blast the comeback out of the water. When it finally came it was a thing of rare beauty.

Welbz was suddenly infused with the spirit of Thierry Henry, picking the ball up wide left and driving towards goal. Playing the ball inside to Bobby Pires, sorry Mo Elneny, he continued his run into the area. Elneny’s return pass was of such a delicious weight that it just invited the glorious finish which was duly applied by the Mancunian high into the corner of the net. Magnificent – all that time they had us worried, knowing full well that they had a goal of such exceptional quality up their sleeves.

You could visibly see how much CSKA were deflated by the goal, almost as if they knew it was 3-0 or nothing that would have got them through. Even the bare-shirted, gammon-fleshed hordes behind the goal Arsenal were attacking, perhaps realised that their game was up and it was time to go home to Olga.

Drifting towards a defeat but still in the draw for the semis, Aaron Ramsey then applied the cherry on top of the cake. His fragilty had seemed to rear its head again at the end of the first half when he seemed to overstretch, but he was still running in glorious fashion right up to the last few moments. Running on to another beautifully weighted and timed through ball from Mr Elneny, he lifted the ball gracefully over Akinfeev with his right seal flipper to send the best club in North London through with a comfortable 6-3 margin.

Player Ratings from LB

And there was I thinking that it would be a cushy victory……when will I learn?

Cech: since he has stopped the fancy footwork that was leading to a few too many embarrassing situations he has come back as strong as ever. I think the adjective of commanding is called for tonight. 8

Bellerin: Hector put his attacking desires to one side and focused on the defending side of his game — and he carried out that duty better than he has done in quite a while. 8

Mustafi: no silly errors just got on with the job at hand. Perfectly acceptable performance. 7

Koscielny: a good captain’s performance. 7

Monreal: I don’t need frills from our defence on games like this I just need them to read the tin and do what it says. 7

Elneny: Mo was the proverbial headless chicken in the first half; he certainly redeemed himself in the second half though with two assists to boot. 8

Ramsey: getting all the credit he deserves for being the great player that he has always been, another top drawer performance. 8

Wilshere: don’t get me started. 5

Ozil: King Mesut Rules OK. 7

Lacazzette: I heard that his goal scoring boots were held up in Russian customs and it showed. Interesting just how much he runs on confidence or not. 6

Welbeck: I stuck with Danny for so long regularly writing on here I expected him to become the most important CF in the EPL and then after finally and completely giving up on such an idea he starts to make some serious inroads into claiming that mantle. Really starting to enjoy his performances again. 9

Can I take my red and white tinted glasses off now?

The draw awaits at 11am, with Atletico, Salzburg (Lazio were on the receiving end of the comeback of the night) and Payet’s Marseille our potential opponents. Who do you fancy?  

chas

 

 


Milan 0 Arsenal 2 – Witnessing A Miracle in Milan – Player Ratings

March 9, 2018

The psychology of the human, or is it the human psychology? I don’t know, but one thing is for sure, it is a funny old thing. Bit like football.

I have just scanned down the list of the remaining 720 sides left in the Europa, and Milan are, by some considerable margin, what we would call the historically ‘biggest’ named team remaining.

Of course they are nowhere near the Milan of old, but an away win in their home town at the legendary San Siro must feed the psychology of the Arsenal footballer a huge dose of positive vibrations.

Those select, nay elite, few of us who actually managed to watch the entire second half unaided, may have missed the two goals that knocked the stuffing out of the Italians, I wouldn’t know, but not only will our players take confidence into the second leg but into the rest of the competition.

I’m sure we’d all rate Atletico as the biggest threat, but come on, beating them is certainly not beyond us, and I believe our chances would be improved by meeting them in a one off game like the final as opposed to an earlier round two-legger.

Ok, the game itself. For previously mentioned reasons, I might not be best placed with the detail, in any case, I don’t like detail so I’m very much in my comfy zone here.

The team pretty much picks itself which is a real positive. I’ve mentioned before on the blog how I think Granit is a fine player, just not best suited to our own team’s needs in the more frantic English League, however he looked way more comfortable on a pitch with our continental neighbours. You may think it strange that I pick out this particular individual, but this defensive midfield spot is our Achilles heel in the league.

Not sure how serious The Beast’s injury is, but M-N looked absolutely superb. Confident, composed and very very capable.

That’s it. Me done. Over to you Arsene. Rest the whole lot against Watford I say.

Written by MickyDidIt89

Ratings (chas)

Ospina – Another clean sheet, his pace off the line is both his strength and also his weakness, made some excellent interceptions though, so gets a deserved pass – 7

Chambers – Calum must have found playing in a team running its nuts off to support one another so much easier than playing during Sunday’s debacle, nearly scored with a left foot half volley belter  – 7

Koscielny – Really focused and oozing assurance, watching those scary Gattuso videos must have helped get him ‘in the zone’ – 8

Mustafi – another who grew in confidence as the team began to play football again, a warrior when he’s not acting like a tart – 7

Kolasinac – gained in confidence along with the team until he got injured, needs to work on his final ball, though has probably forgotten what you do when you reach the byline – 7

Ramsey – he covers so much ground trying to find space and his ability to pop up in support of the striker is crucial to our style of play, I so love it when you see an Arsenal player round the keeper, it’s as if you can start celebrating a whole half second before the ball is over the line – 8

Xhaka – playing in Europe you could see Granit’s class, his passing and defending were excellent away from the frantic white noise of the Premiership – 8

Wilshere – Jack seemed to be playing further forward than expected, linked very well with his midfield partners, a competent display   – 7

Ozil – two assists, you could visibly see him enjoying playing in a team that was playing football once more and he ran his legs off   – 7

Mkhitaryan – his quality shone through, crucial goal to cement the team’s fine start, a proper footballer, that’s why he didn’t get on with Mourinho – 8

Welbeck – Vast improvement from the MTH, constantly closing down, finding space and holding the ball up well. Much talk about his mishit but I thought the Milan player running behind just clipped his heel, anyway, everyone catches one fat every now and then – 8

Subs

Maitland-Niles – so cool on the ball, his pace is a wonderful asset – 7

Holding and Elneny – slotted in and did what was asked of them – 7

Manager

Big Weng – got everything right, Gennaro who? – 9


Toffees Trampled in North London – Player Ratings

February 4, 2018

How one feels about some event tends to say more about the individual doing the feeling than it does about the event itself.

Of course I am talking about one isolated game of football, and for me, the fluctuations in my range of feelings begin with anticipation, the team sheet, and finally the performance. The bigger picture stuff is completely forgotten about in the moment. It can wait.

The anticipation of this particular isolated event was naturally bolstered as it came on the back of a storming transfer window which brought the promise of a refreshing new era.

I don’t suppose anyone believed our new star, PEA, would be making the XI, but that is what happened. If you did not experience a surge of tingles shortly after the team was announced just after 4:30, then hope fades for you. Auba was starting, and better still, being re-united with the man with whom he shared such a devastating partnership in their heyday at Dortmund, Mikki.

The game was pure joy from start to finish, and with the exception of LB, we all saw it (I hope our own cyclist has access to internet replays). Stars shone and stars were born, but most importantly there was the old Arsenal swagger back in sharp focus. Confidence oozed and smiles on players faces returned, replacing the furrowed brows of our recent visit to Wales.

Now that the dust has settled, and the sun rises over a new era, we get to do the bigger picture stuff. Well, to be more precise, you lot do.

I think  Eddie has already perfectly captured the new mood regarding the big picture when she said earlier: “the best aspect of yesterday’s display is our imminent trip to Wembley. Instead of being scared I am actually looking forward to watching some spuds being mashed.”

On a personal note, I never believed for one second we’d actually sign Auba. Damn it’s good to be wrong.

 

Ratings

Cech/Ospina – Where Did Our Love Go – It’s so much more fun being in the crowd when David is taking goal kicks ….8/8

Monreal/Kolasinac – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Nacho is important to the team – as the Beast proved in the second half…9/8

Mustafi – Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Committed, positive and forthright ….8

Koscielny – Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) –  Stooping header to finish off his centre back partner’s flick on – Bould and Adams?  ….8

Bellerin – Living For the City – Loved going forward, knowing he might actually receive the ball  ….8

Xhaka – Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today) – Much better from Granit – Fat Sam not playing any strikers until the second half helped ….8

Ramsey – Three Times a Lady –  Bang, bang, bang – enjoyed himself immensely – as did we all ….9

Mkhitaryan – Reach Out, I’ll Be There – Micki loves creating goals, works hard for the team and hits early pinpoint balls across the box – what’s not to love? ….9

Iwobi  – You Can’t Hurry Love – Didn’t look out of place playing in such esteemed company  ….8

Ozil – Let’s Get It On – Loves playing with his new teammates ….9

Aubameyang – Dancing In The Street – Majestic finish to equal Stevie Bould’s achievement of scoring on his debut ….8

Written by MickyDidIt89 

(except the ratings)