Arsenal’s Interlull – Who’s involved and when?

November 13, 2018

It’s getting more difficult to find words to describe how horrendously tedious these regular international breaks actually are.

There will be 9 games for Arsenal in December – just imagine how much easier December could be if we dropped two of the international breaks, enabling fixtures to be more evenly spread. Injuries will inevitably mount as fatigue sets in. Clubs with the biggest squads and those teams which contain less international players will benefit.

Pros for the November break

Aside from Mesut still giving Die Mannschaft the finger, Terrier won’t have to travel halfway around the world this time around as he’s playing at the home of North London’s finest Club on Friday and then in Paris.

Cons (not A.M-N)

Two manc players have withdrawn from the French squad, so Laca has been called up.

Micki is playing away with Armenia, which means less travelling as the games are in Gibraltar and Liechtenstein

There are another 256 cons but I can’t be bothered to list them.

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Mikhi – Armenia

Friday 16th Nov Gibraltar (A) Uefa Nations League (UNL)

Monday 19th Nov Liechtenstein (A) UNL

 

Auba – Gabon

Saturday 17th Nov Mali (H) AFCON

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Terrier – Uruguay

Friday 16th Nov Brazil (Emirates Stadium) Friendly

Tuesday 20th Nov France (A) Friendly

 

Granit – Switzerland

Wednesday 14th Nov – Qatar (H) Friendly attempting to pretend Qatar are part of football

Sunday 18th Nov Belgium (H) UNL

 

Wobbly – Nigeria

Saturday 17th Nov South Africa (A) AFCON

Tuesday 20 Nov Uganda (H) Friendly

 

Big Sok – Greece

Thursday 15th Nov – Finland (H) UNL

Sunday 18th Nov – Estonia (H) UNL

Rambo – Wales

Friday 16th Nov – Denmark (H) UNL

Tuesday 20th Nov – Albania (A) Friendly

 

Mo Elneny

Friday 16th Nov – Tunisia (H) AFCON

Tuesday 20th Nov – United Arab Emirates (A) Friendly

 

Bernd Leno

Thursday 15th Nov – Russia (H) Friendly

Monday 19th Nov – Netherlands (H) UNL

Getty Images

Bournemouth away will be our first fixture when we get back to proper football on November 25th, hopefully with no more casualties.

Apologies for any inaccuracies/omissions.

chas

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Sporting Lisbon. Ramsey to Shine?

October 25, 2018

Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Quaresma, William Carvalho, Luis Figo, Peter Schmeichel, Phil Babb (!),  All played for Sporting and, had they still been in the green and white shirt, this evening would be very difficult but they don’t. In fact, Sporting Lisbon had a player revolt in summer which resulted in players cancelling their contracts and leaving the club.

7 players left including 4 Portuguese internationals, and all left on a free transfer. And we think players in the PL have too much power! Without too much research this happened because Sporting got a new Chairman who created a poisonous atmosphere within the club, they then went on a losing run resulting in some fans attacking the players on the training pitch, giving the players the right to cancel their contracts.

Needless to say, this has weakened the team and this season they sit in 5th place in the Primera Liga.

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As to their players I know Zip, but I am sure they will be hard working, good on the ball etc etc etc

We come into this game in tremendous form and, despite a mounting injury list, Emery is certain to play around with his squad and we may well see Smith Rowe or even Elneny in midfield.

My Team:

Lemon

Catwalk    Mustafi   Holding    Lich

Ramsey   Curly   Elneny

Mhiki

PEA   Welbz

Both AMN (Cons) and, believe it or not, Carl Jenkinson are travelling with the squad and must therefore be available. I really like Jenks – not as a player for Arsenal but as a proper Gooner. I wish him well and perhaps he will get a start in the Carabao. Maitland-Niles (Cons) has a big future at Arsenal and may well get some pitch time this evening.

Ramsey was poor in his 10 minutes at the weekend, he needs to up his game and I expect him to do so. A wonderful goal apart, he has struggled, but he remains a very influential player. Tonight he will want to show Emery he is deserving of a first team shirt.

Watching Emery’s press conference yesterday I was delighted that when questioned in Portuguese, Unai understood the question and then answered in English. This shows his commitment and also his intelligence.

Tricky away fixture (we have never won in Portugal), if we draw this and win the home tie we will top the group. but we have a very food squad in good form and there is no reason why we cannot win tonight in Lisbon then celebrate with a bowl of Sopa de Cacao.

COYRRG


Are Arsenal handling the Ramsey situation well?

October 17, 2018

Just when we thought that the Aaron Ramsey story of ‘will he or won’t he leave the Club’ had been flogged to death, flickers of new life have appeared since he scored ‘that goal at Fulham’, leading me to believe that it needs a bit more flogging and that is exactly what I intend to do.

Ramsey’s contract ends in the summer and he will be a free agent to leave at that point but he can sign a pre-contract with another European team in January. (I think) Obviously if he leaves for free in the summer, the club will miss out on a lucrative transfer fee from any potential sale. Conversely, if he is sold in January, he may miss out on a hefty signing on fee.

There are people who have criticised both the player and the club over how things have been handled. In the player’s case the criticism has been levelled for not wanting to show more loyalty to the club that has nurtured him from a raw talent to the highly rated player that he is today and, as such, Ramsey should show more willing to sign an extension to his present contract. In the club’s case, of course, the criticism is for allowing Ramsey’s contract to have run down as far as it has.

As this has unfolded I have found myself asking what could or should the player or the club have done differently and I have struggled to find an alternative. In the case of Ramsey, I completely respect his right to stay at Arsenal for as long as his contract lasts and not a minute longer and as it draws to a close I also respect his right to seek the best offer that might be out there before committing to Arsenal, and that clearly is what he is doing right now.

In the club’s case, the criticism has been for allowing Ramsey’s contract to run down to the last year, meaning that the club should have got him to sign an extension earlier. Now for the life of me I cannot see how anyone can force a footballer to sign a contract when the person does not want to do so. By way of solution, there have been two suggestions put forward as to how the club should have acted differently. The first is that the club should have offered much more, much earlier: rumours have it that Ramsey wanted his wages to match Özil, we have no proof of that but then again if it is true why shouldn’t he, or at least, why shouldn’t he try?

The second is that the club should have threatened to leave him on the bench for six months, or some such Draconian action, unless he made a decision. This suggestion is so impractical that it borders on infantile; the negative effect it would have on the other players not to mention steering other potential signings away would be profound to say the least. Most other players at the club, certainly the young ones will (or certainly would) like to envisage themselves in the same situation as Ramsey and that is, as their contracts near an end they will be in demand – having options as to where their career may take them. If that strongarm tactic of threatening to be sent to the stands is attempted on one player, it follows that other players would believe that it would be tried with them. Who in their right mind would want to work in that environment when you have other choices and how would that endear the world’s elite footballers to the Home of Football? There would only be one loser in this scenario and that would be the club. Or perhaps two losers – you and me, also, missing out on viewing the players that the club should be attracting.

The same people who criticise the club have pointed to other clubs’ success in stopping players run down their contracts. This to me is like comparing apples with oranges. In Man City’s case when a player nears the end of his contract he knows that no-one else out there can match the wages that City can pay and therefore there is no point in shopping around for a potential higher wage because it will never happen, the player is in the situation of take it or leave it and most of them take it.

Some of the same people point to Tottenham as being more comparable and sing their praises as how they have managed to tie their talent down long before they reach the dangerous area we are in with Ramsey right now. This is true up to a point; they have managed to get Kane and Alli to sign extensions and, at first sight it does looks like Tottenham have been more savvy.

But if we drill down a bit, other things appear. Firstly, there is only Kane and Alli that any other top club would fight over, so apart from increasing their wages the enticement/caveat that must have been explained to Kane (for example), is that if you leave for City (again for example) you will be fighting for your place and that might affect the upward trajectory that you’re currently enjoying at Tottenham. The same is true if you join United and even if you wanted to go back to the club you dreamed about playing for as a child, you will still have to vie for a starting berth with Aubameyang and Lacazette, whereas if you stay at Tottenham you will remain top dog. The opposite is the case with Ramsey; he is vying with Özil for prime pitch real estate.

In the last few months pretty much everything in the Ramsey case has followed the increasingly well-trodden path taken previously by Sanchez and Özil. Both refused to sign a new contract, this generated headlines that served as advertisement to the fact that they would listen to offers from other clubs. Sanchez and Ozil were pampered by Arsenal in an attempt to get them to stay; that’s to say, both players always played whenever and wherever they wanted; the same was true of Ramsey – until something totally different happened, Arsenal withdrew the offer of a four year contract – a brilliant piece of business in my opinion. Ramsey will continue as before following the usual path but, by withdrawing the contract offer, the Club are saying to other clubs that we are prepared to let him go and thereby letting potential suitors know that there will be no resistance from Arsenal if someone wants to buy him in January.

In brief, Arsenal have removed the obstacle of the four year contract and by doing so are making it easier for other clubs to believe that they can sign Ramsey which, in turn, increases the possibility of getting something from him, by way of a transfer fee, in January.

The other advantage of withdrawing the contract offer is that it frees up Emery to pick Ramsey as and when he wants rather than having to pander to him in an attempt to entice him to stay. A big part of me wants him to re-sign but another part of me really wants to hasten the time when Emery has all the players and the team that he sees in his mind’s eye. Is Ramsey part of that? I don’t know. It should be interesting to see how this one pans out.

Please feel free to disagree with anything up there, in fact, the more the better.

LB


Unai’s boys flatten Fulham with flawless finishing

October 8, 2018

Wow, it really is an exciting time to be an Arsenal supporter. With the toxic infighting of last season fading from memory and now, incredibly, nine wins on the bounce it rightly has to be said that the Unai Emery revolution is gathering pace. I can’t remember the last time I found myself looking forward to the next game with such eagerness: you just don’t know what you are going to get.

We continued to make mistakes at the back in the early part of yesterday’s game and I can’t be the only one who feels that a better team is going to punish us to the tune of three quick goals giving us a mountain to climb to get back on level terms; but, on the other hand, there are now elements of our play that suggest that not only could we get top four – we could win the league. More level-headed and certainly more annoying sourpusses will probably say that the truth is somewhere in between.

My take on what turned out to be the thrashing of Fulham was that it was a workman-like performance studded with five incredibly good goals. Our football in general wasn’t that convincing but our goals certainly were. I could go through all of them, describing each in turn but wouldn’t be able to do justice to the fine collection.

Probably the most important was Lacazette’s second; it came at a crucial time, shortly after the restart and dampened down the enthusiasm that Fulham had worked up having scored just before the break. Back in charge Arsenal went on to slowly strangle the life out of the home side and add another three important points to our growing tally.

Yes, we have to continue to fend off accusations that we have not played anyone of note during this run but as dull as the saying goes that you can only beat who is in front of you, we still have had to do it and I for one did not expect us to do it so well as we have and be in this excellent position – especially in the wake of the first two games. Still, I am happy and pleasantly surprised to write that things really are looking good.

Ratings

Leno: looking more confident and I have to say, commanding; I don’t think he could have done any more to stop Fulham’s goal. 7

Bellerin: excellent game, early criticism of his gallivanting down the wing, leaving us exposed at the back is now seen as unfounded as all have noticed that he was acting on instructions and he was not being covered as he is now successfully by Torriera. Hector looked the DB’s. 8

Mustafi: I think it was Fred who said that Shkod seems to be playing better with Holding rather than with Sokratis, this may be true; he did look a little more secure yesterday. 7

Holding: Well, who would have expected him at the start of the season to be in a position to stake a claim to an automatic place in the starting line-up? Not I, but he has. He really is improving his ability of playing the ball out from the back. Pretty much, always in the right place at the right time yesterday. 8

Monreal: everything was going down our left in the first half with he and Iwobi dominating proceedings, all marred by a really annoying bad pass that led to the Fulham goal. 6

Torreira: yep, the image of the Duracell Bunny works for me. Lacazette maybe most people’s man of the match for his goals but that is what I would argue he was supposed to do in the same way as a goalkeeper is supposed to save shots and just because Leno made some fine save does not make him man of the match. Now Torriera on the other hand controlled the game from start to finish and that is why he gets my man of the match. 9

Xhaka: Captain Granit, I know he is flavour of the month and he has been spraying the ball around well recently but he is still guilty of early lapses in concentration that seem to cause heart stopping nightmares early on in the game. We won 1-5 so I don’t want to get too moany. 6

Iwobi: confidence soaring, decision making improving, goal assists coming, what is not to like? Emery still took him off early and you could see the disappointment in his face, the aim was clear and it worked: don’t rest on your laurels Alex, more is still expected. The difference this season to last is that most people now expect him to successfully rise to the challenge. 8

Lacazette: two top goals, tons of hard work, swagger in his play. More excellent man management; he was left out of the team earlier in the season and has risen to the challenge of getting back into the starting eleven. 9

Welbeck: a fans’ favourite, everyone wants him to do well but he has two strikers around him who are at the top of their game and as such Danny is being shown to be the slightly inferior striker that he is. 6

Mkhitaryan: probably the thing he was guilty of was not scoring, that’s not to say that he had the chances it’s just that as those around him were scoring for fun and he was made to look human. I don’t think he had a bad game it’s just that he didn’t have a stellar game as some around him did. 7

Subs

Ramsey: well if that doesn’t win goal of the season then the one that does is going to be very, very special indeed. I have a lot more to say about Aaron but I will save it for another time. 8

Aubameyang: treat em mean to keep em keen. Raring to go as soon as he came on and gave a master class in finishing. 8

Guendouzi: superb cameo, ok the game was won but he offered so much to the midfield. 7

PS. If Ozil had played we would have won 1-8

LB


Away form to Continue?

October 7, 2018

A trip to The Cottage is full of nostalgia. Cosy ground by the river, no longer owned by that clown Al-Fayed (now owned by a Pakistani American) and managed by a chap from Serbia, Fulham are a fine club

A family club (whatever that means).

They have some decent players as well … the wonderkid Sessegnon, the powerful Mitrovic, the speedy and very expensive ex-Chav Schurrle, a very good Italian MF named Seri. They are a decent team who have yet to find their feet in the PL.

If you need to know more, read GN5’s excellent post from yesterday.

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I expect a tough game this lunchtime. We returned from a very long Spursday trip to Baku  late Friday morning and had only a day to prepare for this one, though many players were rested for the Qarabag tie.

The team almost picks itself with only the Holding or Mustafi selection in doubt. My hope is that Emery rewards Holding with a starting  role but I suspect he will give the shirt to Mustafi (AWTH).

Oh … I forgot. We still have the Ozil & Ramsey quandary. I much prefer Iwobi to play instead of Aaron but think we will see a repeat of the early subs with Ramsey starting but not finishing the game.

My Team:

Leno

Bellerin    Mustafi    GB   Monreal

Ramsey   Terrier    Xhaka

Ozil

Lacazette    PEA

As usual we will have a very strong bench.

Much is being made of the possible 9. Given we have yet to see a solid consistent 90 minutes in any of our victories it is proof that good fortune remains important in a fledgling managerial career. Had our opposition taken the many chances on offer we would be discussing Emery in a very different manner.

Should be an entertaining game and, if we can score early, a positive result.

COYRRG

 


A new month for the New Arsenal

October 1, 2018

A pinch and a punch for the first of the month. What does October have in store for us?

Despite the month being split right down the middle with yet another interlull (albeit slightly improved with the new competitive format), it’s still quite a busy time for the Club. There will be two games in the Europa on the 4th and the 25th. both away trips and to CarrierBag and Lisbon respectively.

Qarabag FK stadium

In the League we travel to Fulham and Palace on the 7th and 28th, so Oyster cards at the ready. October 22nd is a Monday night home fixture playing Leicester and the month is topped off with the recently drawn Caribou Cup game against Blackpool which could be on either the 30th or 31st.

To summarise, 2 away Spursday games, two Prem away games in London and a home Prem Monday nighter, too (all televised), with the home tie against the Seasiders in the Caribou to top it all off. None of that sounds too difficult but, of course, football isn’t quite that predictable. Let’s hope our run can continue.

Weekend observations

Rob Holding is benefitting from new management. He looks taller and more sophisticated somehow.

Shkod desperately needs some extra coaching about staying on his feet and not launching into poorly considered challenges. He’s a bit like a Staffie chasing a manky tennis ball sometimes.

Perhaps the Welsh Messi needs some time riding the pine to reconsider his choice of agent.

Why do we need to see 45 minutes of a poor team structure to realise things need changing every chuffing week? Perhaps a strong second half is part of the new tactics?

Apparently 12 Man U players are struggling to agree new contracts. Could be just the Mourinho effect or is it the new norm with all the power in the hands of the players?

After our two tricky opening fixtures, we’ve won the next five, sit level with the spuds, two behind the chavs and have cruised up into the Europa League place…….5th. 😦

Golfers playing for pride and not just money has proven once again that team games are always going to produce a better spectacle than individuals ever can. (Feel free to disagree)


Hardly convincing but we’ll take it – Everton ratings

September 24, 2018

Injury doubt, Lucas Torreira, was declared fit to make his first Prem start replacing Matteo Guendouzi but apart from that, an unchanged Arsenal were set to face their next challenge in the rebuilding process.

First Half

Again it was a case of not much happening at all. Everton harried and chased with extreme vigour and application, though without really troubling the helmeted one, partly due to their own jitters in front of goaL At the sharp end Arsenal were blunt, with even the Terrier struggling to make much of an impact. Nacho Monreal had the only effort on target for the Gunners in the first period but could only place the ball well within Pickford’s reach.

Greek philosopher, Sokratis, left the arena after half an hour  having damaged his hip mopping up after his prone centre back partner.  Rob Holding looked reasonably assured and confident entering the fray which was a great relief.  Mustafi grabbed the senior partner role with both hands and made no further obvious blunders.

Everton produced a few worrying moments for the Arsenal defence but Petr Cech stood firm.

Second Half

The first goal when it arrived was of such quality that it shone like a sparkling, golden nugget sifted from the silty detritus of the river bed. Ramsey’s first significant contribution to the whole game was to find Laca inside the box. The Frenchman produced a curling finish of stunning execution quite unlike anything up to that point. A real beauty.

A few minutes later and we were two up as PEA finished off a 3 on 1 break. Did we care that he appeared a yard offside when Ramsey flicked the ball forward to him?….did we heck as like.

The Toffees huffed and puffed but our Czech in goal made sure his performance put him strongly in the running for MOTM.

Theo got a bang on the eye and was replaced after looking one of Everton’s least effective players. The defence held firm with Torreira marshalling the area in front of the back four in a fashion quite unlike we’ve seen for many a year. A clean sheet against all the odds. Wonders never cease.

Summary

After some nervous moments in the first half for those of us with dodgy tickers, the team consolidated in the second with two well taken goals and a clean sheet. Job done.

Ratings (LB)

Cech – Outstanding, MOTM by a country mile, and noticeably so much more commanding with his feet….10

Bellerin – so much better both attacking and defending. It was possibly the Terrier who made this all work….8

Nacho – workman like performance, no frills, no spills….7

Mustafi – bizarrely got better when Holding came on. Absolute pants before that….5

Sokratis –  I thought we were doomed when he went off. Interesting to watch him starting to tell Mustafi off, much improved….7

Terrier – hard to really believe that he is still only 22. If that is what he can do in his first start we have good things in store….7

Xhaka – nightmare start with school boy errors at every turn. But, he is a very experienced player and he started to find his range as the game went on….6

Ramsey – looked lost in the first half but after the half time magic orange juice, started to look the player we are trying to persuade to stay at the club….6

Özil – I have said so many times that there are 2 Ozils, the one you see on telly and the one you see live, I was not at the game and he looked under the weather….6

Aubameyang – always happy when he scores, he plays so much like TH14 down the left, I keep on expecting him to accelerate past the defender and am confused when he doesn’t….7

Lacazette – picked himself up from his horizontal protest in the week and found the net with a very important breakthrough goal. Crap celebration but will gladly suffer it as much as he wants to do it….7

Subs

Holding – Thursday obviously gave him some confidence and he was an able deputy….7

Iwobi – added fresh legs, he looks a big old unit these days….6

Welbeck….6