Poetic Justice does exist – Leicester Player Ratings

April 27, 2017

My old man used to bang on about justice to me when I was a kid. By the time I’d reached my teens, I had categorically realised that it is an abstract notion which does not, in reality, exist in any tangible form.

How beautiful it is when rare moments in this cruel and random world actually make it appear that poetic justice, karma, poor behaviour getting its comeuppance etc do have some outward manifestation, however imaginary.

Leicester have certainly returned to their shape and structure of last season. Ten men behind the ball as often as possible, hoof the ball up to Steptoe to chase whenever the opportunity to swing a size 11 boot presents itself. Don’t get me wrong, they did have a few sniffs at goal, largely from Arsenal-inspired breakdowns of possession, referee-inspired dubious free kicks anywhere in our half and even from some revolting, Delap-like trebuchet missiles. However their negative anti-football in the second half, purely designed to win them a point, got them exactly what was deserved – sweet Fanny Adams.

The first half was pretty tedious it has to be said. The personnel changes to our new system took some bedding in. We attempted to give Crisp Advertisers FC some golden opportunities with dodgy back flicks, poor GK clearances and other examples of sloppy play.

Our two best chances I can remember came from a Gabs’ near post header which nearly fell to our new striker, Nacho and the outstanding moment of the half when Sanchez crashed the ball against the bar with Schmeichel floundering just before the break.

The second half was a procession towards the North Bank goal. The Leicester defence dropped deeper, their half-time talk was obviously about wasting even more time and killing any entertainment the fairly sparse crowd had bothered to turn up in the hope of seeing. Unwittingly they were just the stooges in their own downfall, building the platform for an epic final 10 minutes.

The strangest challenge of the whole game was when the Leicester defender with the incandescent bonce decided he’d use Giroud as a climbing frame. How on earth Mike Jones didn’t see that as a red card only Mike Riley knows.

The goal, when it finally came, was beautiful in its grotesque manifestation. My brother had spent large parts of the second half repeating the mantra, ‘we must clear Huth’ every time we had a free-kick, corner or cross. For Nacho to smash it wide of the goal but not wide of Huth’s massive gut and the ball to cannon into the back of the net, became such a glorious vindication of my old man’s belief in the idea that people should get what’s owed them.

Those who left early not only missed the beautiful post goal celebrations but also a Mike Jones Brian Rix-inspired farce of epic proportions. (When I commented after the game about it being like a Brian Rix farce at the end, Ant wondered why I was on about Graham Rix).

Previously Ulloa had left the pitch when substituted as if he had bound feet, each step moving him forward six inches at the most. Now the Leicester defender with the shiny head, Bennylooanus or something, was subbed and he sprinted off. Every person left in the ground with a red and white heart, howled with derision. So funny.

Then the farce reached new heights when Sanchez stood in front of Fooks readying to launch another long throw into the box. Mike Jones did not ask Sanchez to retreat but encouraged Fooks to get on with the throw. Eventually Fooks’ petulance got the better of him and he simply threw the ball directly at the Chilean. It was clearly intended to cause a few lost teeth and so we were astonished when the ref failed to send off the Leicester player but instead booked Alexis for deciding he needed to closely inspect the fine partly-artificial weave of the Emirates turf. The melee involved most of the players on the pitch including both keepers.

Yeah sure, we believe you

Leicester’s final chance also seemed scripted for Mack Sennett’s keystone cops, bodies flying everywhere followed by Schmeichel and several players in blue chasing the hapless referee.

The 4 minutes injury time morphed into 6 or 7 with all the mayhem, but justified victory was finally and beautifully achieved when the ref thought he’d better blow before someone grabbed his shorts and yanked them to his ankles.

Ratings

Cech – Poor kicking, magnificent save from Mahrez ……7

Gabriel – Silky skills on the ball and a fearsome warrior in defence ……7

Koscielny – Cool, calm, composed Captain. Seemed to recover from a knock in the 2nd half – we need him on Sunday ……8

Monreal – Looked fine as part of a back three and his half-volley against Huth’s belly a thing of rare beauty….8

Gibbs – Gibbo looked a little short of match practice understandably. Covered well for Nacho …..7

Bellerin – Cornrows gone, back to man bun. Wing back could suit him down to the ground. Crossing/delivery into the box needs to improve ….7

Coquelin – Fighting every step of the way. You just cannot fault his commitment …….8

Xhaka – The new formation suits him as he has more cover behind, so can look forward instead. Lovely to watch in possession…..8

Ozil – Struggled to break down a resolutely tedious defence but never let that stop him trying…..7

Walcott – Really weak, struggled to get out of Hector’s way for most of the game. If he doesn’t score, he’s pretty redundant …..5

 Sanchez – Gave away possession, smacked the bar with a beauty and then rivalled Rivaldo for a Bafta  …..7

chas


Riverside Revolution? – Player Ratings

April 18, 2017

Match Thoughts

So three at the back is less than four at the back but as we generally play with the full backs over the halfway line, three is more than two. That’s the tactical bolleaux over with.

I’ll leave more in-depth analysis to the specialists.

The first half was pretty unmemorable with both Boro and Arsenal struggling to create many meaningful chances. The referee seemed hell bent on giving the home team free kicks anywhere in Arsenal’s half for the softest of challenges as if he realised Boro needed as many opportunities as possible  to lump the ball in the box.

The one cast-iron free-kick correctly awarded was for a foul on Xhaka at the edge of the ‘D’. Thankfully, Alexis had brought his up and over boots to the game and produced a magnificent dipper which the keeper would have struggled to have got anywhere near, even if he had been able to see the ball.

The second half started in customary ‘what are you smoking at half-time?’ fashion.

Boro equalised and looked capable of going ahead. Gradually we eased our way back into it and Mesut scored with his swinger from a fine chest lay-off from Ramsey. The last 20 minutes were reasonably comfortable and hanging on to the three points was exactly what was required.

The team looked genuinely pleased to have won after a difficult run of results and the new formation had been given its baptism.

Ratings

Cech– Fairly solid, though a huge upgrade on Martinez, I’m not so sure ……7

Gabriel – Gabs likes defending and maybe the back three will suit him  ……7

Koscielny – So good to have him back though Negredo gave him the slip for the equaliser ……7

Holding – Hopefully will mature into an Arsenal great. Very accomplished….8

Oxlade-Chamberlain – The Ox looked more comfortable in a middle 4 than stuck out on the flank. Involved throughout  …..8

Xhaka – Looked composed against an admittedly poor Boro side. Always looks good when a destroying DM is not really required   …..7

Ramsey – A little ponderous in the first half but grew into the game as some match sharpness returned …….7

 Monreal – Maybe Nacho will enjoy playing a role further forward without having to worry about the huge gap he’s leaving behind him as in a 4-3-3…. 7

Ozil – Ran his heart out for team and scored a really crucial goal …..7

Sanchez – Peach of a free kick. Many wasted dinks and chips into the box but one helped to produce the winning goal, so keep it up Alexis…..7

Giroud – Fought manfully (mais oui), was unlucky not to win a pen for being manhandled but should have scored with an attempted curler from one of our few clear-cut chances. …..7

chas

Match Thoughts from FGG

Don’t Juve play 3 CB’s under Allegri? Bit of conspiracy theory for you. Maybe this was nothing to do with what Wenger wanted and with the season practically over our new manager is now influencing things! 😄

Back to reality, I feel we need a ball playing CB to really make this formation work. Mustafi is decent but another is needed aswell. I’d also like to see a new LB, hopefully the lad that’s been linked is the answer. If not then why not go for Rodriguez who were linked with in the summer? His new manager is the guy who just left us and took Ljungberg with him. Could be an easy deal to sort out. Another question is how do Ramsey and Wilshere fit into this formation? It’s been an ongoing issue for a while and I don’t think this change makes it any clearer! Fabregas has found it tough to get in the Chelsea side.

Does this formation help or hinder Giroud? It gives us more crossing opportunities based on what we saw yesterday with Ox and Monreal getting chances to put it in the box, but at the same time there will be occasions where Özil and Sanchez get into narrower positions and are looking for a run in behind. Do we still need a better CF or could Welbs or Giroud thrive.

Finally, where does this change leave Walcott? If we are to switch permanently, how can you fit him in the team?

 fatgingergooner


Will Sanchez leave during this transfer window?

January 5, 2017

Maybe it’s just me but I’m worried that Sanchez is seriously considering leaving, in the last few games he has shown signs of disinterest and stands around with his hands on his hips and looks disgusted with his team mate’s decision making.

sanchez-hands-on-hips

I first noticed this during our loss to Manchester City where he seemed to disappear from the game and for the last 20 minutes he seemed to become an extra mid fielder. I thought that he must have been nursing an injury and I was worried that we would be without him in the next game against West Brom – but that proved not to be the case.

I’m getting the impression that he thinks he’s wasting his time with us and is looking to move on to greener pastures.

sanchez-looking-unhappy

Is it just me or should we be concerned?

GunnerN5


Draxler to Arsenal.

December 16, 2016

January  transfer window coming up. even the busy time coming up let’s think about our squad and if it needs tweaking.

Keeoer. No. We are good.

RB. Bellerin , Boosh, Jens, and Gabriel. Perhaps we could use another backup but most probably an area to look at in summer.

CB’s. Fine. Never better.

LB. The same.

Defensive Midfield. Happy with our choices.

Attacking Midfield. Packed tighter than a Japanese metro in rush hour.

CF. Lovely. Top players can’t get a start. And Welbz to return

Wings. On paper, fine.

But —-

What if a world class player whom Mr Wenger has been trying to sign for three years becomes available. Do we buy him?

images-1.jpeg

Draxler is top quality. Potentially another Bobby Pires and German to boot. One could question his attitude as he tries to escape from Wolfsburg but AW is not a man to worry about signing “characters” (Wiltord, Ade etc).

Thing is, does Draxler improve the squad, and if so, do we sell one of our chaps, and if so, whom?

Or, heaven forbid, Sanchez may not be willing to extend his contract in which case we will need another Worldie.

So, Draxler. €40m. 23 y-o- German WC Winner. Mate of Mesut. Would you?

 

Written by Big Raddy


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


Swansea hoodoo broken

October 16, 2016

Yesterday’s game had everything: excitement, drama and sex, yes sex, the third goal from Mesut was sex. One of the best games, excitement wise, I have seen at THOF in a while.

Here are some player ratings……….

Cech: will you stop hoofing the ball up field, almost always we lose possession, just roll it out, simples. 6

Bellerin: Hector can do no wrong. 8

Mustafi: Everyone’s favourite new player looks more and more like a bargain after every game he plays. 8

Koscielny: Captain Fantastic. 8

Monreal: OK, but got roasted a few too many times in the second half and was responsible for Swansea’s second goal. 5

Xhaka: did start off quietly commanding but he gave the ball away badly for Swansea’s first goal and it should be noted that that is the second time that he has done that. The red card should have been a yellow, just rugby tackle him if you want to make sure the player doesn’t go any further. 5

Cazorla: passing was a bit off today, not the best game but with his smile how can you not love him. 6

Ozil: this man is getting near to being the best player we have ever had, his winner was worthy of the great Dutchman himself; one of the great Arsenal goals of all time. 9

Iwobi: it is impressive that someone so young can hold his own in the ball control stakes with Ozil and Sanchez, in many ways he looks more comfortable playing with those two than Walcott does but the hyperbole has advanced quicker than the reality of where Alex is in his career. I am not suggesting that there isn’t an awful lot more to come from the player but right now Welbeck would and should walk straight back into that team. With maturity you get a confident selfishness as a striker, a determination and a self belief that you can always score. Welbeck has this Iwobi hasn’t — yet.

Sanchez: passing astray, trying too hard and then he crosses the ball for Ozil to score our third with such accuracy I wonder why I even bother thinking about a negative side at all. 7

Walcott: New Theo and Old Theo were on display today, New Theo scored two vital goals, Old Theo missed two sitters. 7

Good subs by the way, the Ox was impressive.

Written by LB


Match stats – discuss last night’s game

April 22, 2016

Arsenal 2 – 0 West Brom

Possession %

71.3 – 28.7

Total Shots

16 – 8

On Target

7 – 1

Off Target

6 – 4

Corners

2 – 6

 

Press Conference:

on the win…
I believe we dominated from the start to the last minute, in fact what we did against Crystal Palace. Overall I believe the quality of our game was very good. Maybe, we could have scored more goals. That is the only thing you could say tonight. We didn’t concede and couldn’t finish the game off the way we wanted.
on Iwobi…
He is improving game after game because he is just coming in. That is another positive from the season. He has shown quality game after game and he is surprising. His consistency is surprising, because he has only played youth football and suddenly he plays at that pace. I’m a bit cautious with him sometimes, but overall what he produces is a football player.
on Alexis…
He had a top quality first half and I think he dropped a bit in the second half physically. Overall, his contribution was vital today.

on the importance of the win…
You look at the time like us, every point is important at the moment. I think we are under permanent pressure in every single game so it is important to have the lead and focus on the way we want to play football.
on the early goal…
Ideally, you want to always score early goals but the Premier League is the Premier League and it is difficult for everyone at the top of the table. There are top, top teams behind us, and because Leicester City is in front, everyone thinks that we should have done it. Yes okay, you can see that for any other team. Leicester were bottom of the table last year, so all the 19 teams can say it.
on home matches at Emirates…
If you love football, you go out there and I think you see quality football. That’s what we try to give to our people. It was a special night as well, Thursday night, and I don’t know if you are intelligent enough, nor am I, to detect exactly why everybody that did not turn up tonight did not turn up.
on the game clashing with Masterchef…
That’s a good reason maybe [for the game not selling out]!
on if he’s looking over his shoulder or looking above…
We want to finish as high as possible. You never know what happens in front of you. There can still be twists and turns but we want to win our games. We came out of West Ham and Crystal Palace thinking we had produced the quality and didn’t get the points. If you look at our last five games, we won at Everton, we won against Watford, we had two draws and we won today. The regret we have is being in the lead against West Ham and being in the lead against Crystal Palace and not getting the points. I don’t know where we’ll finish but we have to give everything in every game. We go to Sunderland, Sunderland fight not to go down. That will be a battle and we have to prepare for that.
on Kieran Gibbs’ absence from the squad…
[He had] a back problem. It looks short term. He had a training session today.
on Giroud’s lack of goals…
Of course it’s affecting him. Tonight he hit the head of the keeper and at the moment he looks for a goal.
on Bellerin’s inclusion in the PFA Team of the Year…
He was like Iwobi last year, that means he came into the squad and continued to develop. For Iwobi that’s a good way to follow, to move even a step up next season. The positive of the season is that Hector has been consistent. He was outstanding in the first half as well.

Player Ratings taken from the Daily Mail

Cech 6.5

Bellerin 7

Koscielny 6.5

Mertersacker 6.5

Monreal 6.5

Ramsey 7.5

Elneny 7

Iwobi 7

Sanchez 8.5

Özil 7.5

Giroud 6

Stats compiled by fgg