Ok, your turn. Be Arsene – How do you play the rest of the season?

March 3, 2018

Obviously, full focus on The Europa.

Moi? I’d use the league games to discover who I wanted in next season’s first team squad so that I knew exactly who would be surplus to requirements before the summer window opens.

I’d want to see more action from Iwobi, M-N, Nelson and Nketiah.

Out of those, I reckon it’s time to really nail down M-N’s ideal position

Finally, that brings me to a dedicated Holding Midfielder/DM. Do we have one?

Written by MickyDidIt89

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Arsenal’s Most Valuable

September 30, 2016

A couple of seasons ago, I penned a post making the case for Theo being our most valuable player.

It stated that I didn’t think he was our best player in any particular position, rather that he was the most irreplaceable because of the threat he posed an opposition defence, and hence the value.

This summer saw us make some great signings right the way down the spine of the team. Of course we haven’t seen too much of Lucas Perez, but that is more to do with Arsene’s juggling of the pack across the front.

Right now, Arsenal are playing the best football we have witnessed in many years, however, one thing is for certain, both injuries and fatigue will come, and then we’ll see the real strength of the squad.

We have been watching what many would consider our best starting XI, and equally, many will be nervously thinking about where it will go wrong. Therefore, I’d love to hear your thoughts on where you see our Achilles heel.

The little I saw of Holding fills me with enormous confidence, and I also have a sneaky suspicion Gabriel might come good in the same way Laurent did, meanwhile the defensive side of midfield looks to me our strongest area.

My own view on Aaron differs to some regulars on here in that I don’t see him as a specialist in any role of our current system, however, he is a superb multi-functional stand in for a number of roles. I remember how last season we played arguably our best two games with Aaron on the right.

Strangely, and here you’ll think I’m being wildly optimistic, I fear injury to Mesut less than before as I believe Iwobi would do a more than adequate job standing in for an unreplaceable.

If I had to pick one player to represent that bit of Achilles, then it would be Bellerin.

What do you think?

Written by mickydidit89


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


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?

 


Don’t Underestimate Arsenal’s Emerging Talent

February 6, 2016

I think I speak for most people when I say I was glad to see the back of Project Youth. As much as it helped us through the stadium move, it was also massively frustrating to watch young talent that never quite reached its potential. The likes of Vela, Szczesny, Bartley, Djourou, Miyaichi, Merida, JET, Afobe, Frimpong, Eastmond, Bendtner and countless others have come and gone without quite being the answer. Thankfully though, the financial restrictions on the club are now lifted and we can afford to buy ready made superstars like Özil, Sanchez and Cech. But where does this leave our youngsters?

It’s been a while since we had a wave of talent coming through, with Bellerin and Coquelin the only real success stories in the last 5 seasons, but it does look as though we may have another group ready to burst onto the scene. There was a lot of talk during the transfer window about us needing to improve our forward players and today I wanted to have a look at some future stars and see if anyone thinks they could be good enough to break into the first team squad in the summer and give our current crop a run for their money.

Chuba Akpom (age 20) on loan at Hull

Striker

Apps 19(9)

Goals 7

Whoscored rating 6.61

Born in Newham, Chuba came through Arsenal’s Hale End academy before making his debut along with Mesut Ozil in September 2013. He signed a new long-term contract with the club in 2015. An England youth international with a true goalscoring instinct, he scored a hat-trick against the Singapore Select XI during the pre-season Barclays Asia Trophy.

Jon Toral (age 21) on loan at Birmingham

Attacking Midfielder

Apps 19(7)

Goals 6

Whoscored 6.78

An expert dribbler who can play on either flank or in the No 10 role, Jon (full named Jon Miquel Toral Harper) was involved with the first-team squad for last year’s pre-season tour to New York, and also played in the friendly against Borehamwood.

Wellington Silva (age 23) on loan at Bolton

Winger

Apps 15(3)

Goals 2

Whoscored 6.91

Despite producing match-winning performances Wellington (full name Wellington Alves Da Silva) could not rescue Almeria from relegation, but his impressive individual performances were rewarded with a first call-up to Brazil’s under-21 side in November.

The tricky forward became very popular with the Spanish side’s fans for his inventiveness and ambition going forward.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles (age 18) on loan at Ipswich

Centre Midfield

Apps 21(5)

Goals 2

Whoscored 6.82

Immensely talented midfielder Ainsley was a key figure in Arsenal’s academy sides last season, and will spend this season on loan at Ipswich in the Championship.

Known for his tricky feet, sharpness and lung-busting runs, versatile Ainsley is nominally a midfielder, but can also play on either wing

Jeff Reine-Adelaide (age 18)

Winger/Attacking Midfielder

Possessing great pace and close ball control, the youngster has excelled in wide attacking midfield positions, but Arsene Wenger believes the teenager has all the attributes to become an all-round central midfielder.

Serge Gnabry (age 20)

Winger/Attacking Midfielder

The skilful winger did not feature for the Arsenal first team last term due to a knee injury, but made eight appearances for the under-21s, scoring three times.

Alex Iwobi (age 19)

Winger/Attacking Midfielder

With nine goals in the under-21s’ final nine games of the campaign, powerful forward Alex was the academy’s form player in the second half of last season.

Naturally a winger, the Lagos-born attacker – who is the nephew of former Bolton star Jay-Jay Okocha – was converted into a central striker and caught the eye with a hat-trick against Stoke City at Emirates Stadium.

As you can see we really do have an excellent crop of youngsters waiting in the wings. Personally, I believe these players have a better chance of making it than some of those that were used in Project Youth because they are being given the opportunity to learn their trade out on loan rather than having to play in front of 60,000 frustrated Arsenal fans every week.

It’s great to see new signings walk through the Arsenal door but I think there is nothing quite like seeing one of our own pulling on the red and white shirt. I reckon a few of these lads could be doing that on a regular basis next season, but what do you think?

Written by FatGingerGooner


Arsenal 2 Burnley 1 — A Supporter’s View.

January 31, 2016

Thank you Burnley Football Club and all your supporters; we at Arsenal have not been having such a good time recently, results have not gone the way they could and should have for a club with aspirations of winning the league for the first time in thirteen years and so a win yesterday was vital to get us back on track. Thank you again for making that happen; you may just have been the stimulus that wins us at least one trophy.

If the team that Wenger chose to go out and play were a car I think it would be fair to say that Arsene put just enough petrol in the tank to get us to the fifth round; that’s to say that there was just enough quality in the selection to win the tie without wasting the precious energy of Özil, and importantly Ramsey who was looking very tired against Chelsea so this little break should see him back, fresh and raring to go on Tuesday. Not only that, Wenger got to play and we got to see our shiny new toy: Elneny, and what a perfectly respectable debut it was. The man is clearly happy on the ball. I would guess that in the first half the Egyptian had the ball more than any other player; well, except Sanchez, of course, he always has the ball more than any other player on the pitch.

It didn’t stop there, more presents were still under the tree and needed to be opened; we got the chance to welcome back Tomas Rosicky and what a fine reception he received when he came on with twenty minutes to go. But I have saved the biggest present until last: Alex Iwobi, if there was any doubt as to what he can do it was cleared up today, this young man went from strength to strength as the game went on. Buoyed by a fine first half he was obviously encouraged by Wenger during his half time team talk because the Nigerian came out and bossed the midfield in the second half until that is his young legs started to tire and was given a standing ovation as he walked off to make way for Arteta.

The game started as expected with Arsenal having the lion’s share of the ball, putting Burnley under constant pressure. The passing was slick and the commitment was tangible, a goal was on the cards although the scorer was not: Calum Chambers on duty for the rested Bellerin curled the ball with the outside of his boot past the Burnley keeper and into the top corner, a fine finish to what had been at least a twenty pass build up, Sanchez was instrumental throughout and it was his assist: rolling the ball deftly between the legs of a Burnley defender that enabled Chambers to get onto the score sheet.

Chambers goal

One nil to the Arsenal and the world was a wonderful place; we should have simply gone on and crushed Burnley but they had other ideas and equalised from a header while our central defenders had momentarily gone awol. This goal upped the tension and in fact turned a gentle stroll into a cup tie — a cup tie that we needed to win.

In every round of the FA cup there is a giant killing and we very nearly went from being way down the viewing list on Match of the Day to the opening game which you may have noticed happens with every giant killing: Burnley came mighty close to going ahead shortly after the start of the second half but this fright didn’t last long and help was on hand, in the form of Sanchez, our very own Whirling Dervish who put us ahead with a well placed shot, wide of the keeper from an excellent cut back by Oxlaide-Chamberlain. The Ox was better than he has been recently but all it showed me was that this is his level – Championship; he just isn’t improving anymore and others are waiting in the wings ready to take his place in the pecking order.

Interestingly Wenger chose not to shore up the defence and see the game out by bringing on Monreal as he does nine times out of ten in these situations but instead he went for an attacking option and the pace of Walcott who had a golden chance to put the game completely out of reach but Theo fluffed his lines and Burnley almost equalised on the counter attack. The final whistle was blown, we are in the hat for the next round draw and all in all it was an entertaining game of football.

Quick player ratings:

Ospina: back to his best, made some excellent saves, if he is looking for a move he would have done his chances no harm at all with that solid performance. 7

Chambers: he is obviously never going to take Bellerin’s place in the starting line up, well certainly not at right back anyway but he exuded more confidence than I usually notice and a goal certainly helped that. 7

Easter: you can see that the legs are better than Mertescaker but the brain is still not quite there, nothing really wrong but still room for improvement. 6

Koscielny: commanding, possibly even more so that he was captain and had full responsibility for the back line. Not sure where he or PE were when Burnley equalised. 7

Gibbs: a very good performance by his standards, did all the simple things well, just when you can’t see him ever being the first choice LB he surprises. We are lucky to have such quality back up in the still young Englishman. 8

Coquelin: great to have him back, all started well but then he got a knock which looked bad enough that he was going to be forced off; he stayed on but his concentration had gone and he got sloppy. 5

Elneny: I really expected him to throw himself around alla Coquelin but no he was on his feet throughout the game. I was hoping to see if he could defend but I am left with less idea than before the match started. Good start though. 7

Iwobi: this is my Man of the Match, like Elneny I still have no idea which position he is best suited to but if he has aspirations of being a number 10 then he is going to have to be world class to make that position his own at THOF because the competition for that spot is fierce. Good luck young man. 8

Oxlaide-Chamberlain: Keep going Ox we all want you to succeed. I have spoken above about this player. 6

Giroud: I wonder if it is possible to start a game with a back heel, I mean from kick off, the Frenchman seems to like that way of passing so much that it crossed my mind that he could be the first player in history to start a game like that. Ollie was clearly not impressed with the opposition and as such seemed to be only working on 80% effort. 6

Sanchez: still holds the ball longer than he should but being one of only three world class players we have at the club I am just grateful that he is back. 8

Written by LB


Arsenal, Sunderland and Tony Soprano.

January 10, 2016

The FA Cup or as it should be referred to from now on: ‘Cosa Nostra’. I was having a bit of an Italio/Latin afternoon yesterday. I have no idea why but anyway did you ever notice how the Romans used to call the Mediterranean ‘Mare Nostrum’? There is a justifiable sense of ownership about it, a confident swagger as they referred to it as ‘Our Sea’. You have probably twigged where I am going with this now: ‘Cosa Nostra’, the FA Cup, Our Cup and if anyone tries to take it away from us they will have to answer to Tony Soprano, cah-peesh?

Well there was no need to bring out the heavies yesterday afternoon; it was just about as perfect as it could get really. We draw home advantage, check. We play a team whose priorities lay elsewhere, check. We are able to rest key players while some youth and fringe get important game time, check. No one gets injured and we win and progress to the next round, check, check, check.

Everyone was handed a script prior to the game and everyone knew what to do, or so we thought. Unfortunately two of our players namely Gibbs and Koscielny fluffed their lines early on and allowed Sunderland to take the lead. The problem is, when this happens there is always a nagging doubt that even though we know we have the better team, an upset could always be on the cards.

As it turned out we didn’t have to worry for too long as parity arrived in the shape of Campbell shortly after with a well crafted goal involving Iwobi and Walcott down the left flank before everyone’s favourite Costa Rican guided the ball home to make it one – one.

campbell

Wenger had chosen his team well; just enough to do the job but no unnecessary wasting of energy, only the smallest amount of extra pressure in the form of Arteta and Ramsey’s introduction was required to finish the day’s work.

Man of the Match was Bellerin who ran Sunderland ragged down the left flank; it was he who was finally able to send the ball across for Ramsey to show Walcott how to finish, the third goal gave us breathing space and that came in the form of yet another beautifully weighted pass from Bellerin which made its way all the way across the goal mouth for Giroud to tap home.

Giroud fa cup 2

Wenger had plan B, C and D on the bench, if we had just been one ahead with ten minutes to go he would have sent on Monreal for some proper defensive cover in an attempt to avoid a draw and a horrible, energy sapping return trip to Sunderland that would follow but as we were two up he was able to give Jeff his long awaited debut.

We get our new signing next week, why am I so sure? Look at the pattern. The club announce medium level signings only after Wenger has given certain players, usually youngsters, a chance to shine. In the close season it is normally after the Emirates Cup, the reason being is so as not to harm the confidence of those who might be hoping to make a particular position their own or older players wanting to re-establish themselves after injury.

In yesterday’s case Chambers was the youngster being protected and Arteta was the experienced player trying to re-established himself. Although they have now had their games, improved their confidence, had their chance to show what they can do or still do in the case of Mikel without the confidence sapping knowledge of already having met someone in the training ground who is more than likely to be taking their place in the very near future.

But, next week gentle sensitivities will be put aside and we will get someone who can do a Champions League level job in the form of El Neny, the much talked about Egyptian. By the way, with world class players the club announce them as and when they happen there is no pattern or not one that I can see.

Villa at home in the next round please?

Cech: Zen and the Art of Goalkeeping. 9

Bellerin: MOTM, most of the team were functioning at 60% output but not our Hector, 100% for him. 9

Gabriel: Perfect game for him, if it wasn’t for that Costa incident he could well have been the break through player of the season, gets better with every game really, only a question of time before he becomes first choice. 7

Koscielny: someone near to me at the game asked the question, who is Captain, I didn’t know but low and behold it was Kozzer; the guy next to me said that he expected him to make the captaincy his own. I looked at him, smiled, said nothing but knew he was wrong as it is going to Özil. 6

Gibbs: this competition thing between him and Monreal is working really well, Gibbs is rightly second choice but you can see that he does give it everything. 7

Oxlaide-Chamberlain: Did you hear the rumour that Chelsea might try and sign him if Hazard leaves? What was your reaction? Was it, oh no, you’re not having another one of ours or was it, hmmm, if he goes who could we buy? He is getting his run of games but he is still not impressing. 5

Chambers: perfectly decent job but he is not going to make Wenger think twice about buying further defensive midfield back up. 6

Iwobi: some good touches, lovely drag back in the first half, perfect game for him to take his training wheels off. 6

Campbell: getting better but with Ozil and Sanchez setting very high standards I still have my doubts. 7

Walcott: I have made so many predictions that he is going to leave to another club and have obviously been wrong every time, I have decided to change tack and predict that he will stay at Arsenal so long that he will become the next manager. 5

Giroud: perfect example of someone doing just what is needed with the least amount of effort. 8

Written by LB