1-0 Down, 3-1 Up.  MOTM: Arsene Wenger.

September 15, 2017

Here are some brief “feelings” on the back of last night’s game, pulled together from my own thoughts as well as picking through the excellent comments on here from genuine experts.

  1. Back three/four. I think it’s wrong to judge a system by the personnel. Throw Koscielny and Mustafi into yesterday’s starting XI and I’m sure things would have looked different.
  2. However, perhaps we looked better second half BECAUSE of the switch. Thoughts?
  3. I’ve stated my concerns over our midfield pairing of Xhaka and Ramsey. Chief amongst my concerns is the lack of back-up, and now heavily underlined by the injury to Coquelin. Has anything from last night changed the thinking here? I always have liked Elneny’s quiet, unfussy, business like approach to the game. I thought he was excellent.
  4. Maitland-Niles moved more central, and we also saw the welcome return of Jack. I reckon we saw enough to think we have real quality in depth waiting in the wings.
  5. Sanchez, oh Sanchez. How would he react to the boos on Saturday and even having to start last night? My answer, he plays against Chelsea.
  6. Alex Iwobi. Love the guy, but I think his role lies further up field as back-up to Mesut, rather than in the deeper Ramsey role.
  7. Arsene Wenger played a superb 15 minutes at the break. A rare half time substitution, a change in formation, together with a considerably upped tempo from the boys from the first minute of the second period means he gets my MOTM.

Thoroughly enjoyable game. We saw many exciting things. Bring on Chelsea. Cannot wait.

MickyDidIt89

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The Mesut/Alexis Conundrum

September 13, 2017

Question of the day from GoonerB

What do people feel we should do with Sanchez and Ozil? Options could include:

  1. Play them as 1st 11 choices all season and let them leave on a free in May.
  2. Show them the contract now and say sign or you go to the reserves, and we invest the playing time in our future players rather than you.
  3. Play them till January then look for the best deals we can get. If so should we look for player swap deals (but with which clubs?) or straight cash (but with which clubs?).

Liverpool Preview

August 27, 2017

Yet again we go to Anfield as the underdogs , a strange circumstance as for so many years they were also rans. FairPlay to the LFC BoD for investing hundreds of millions into the playing staff and then signing such an in demand manager.

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It has to be said that most of the hundreds of millions have been wasted but if I were a Scouse, I wouldn’t give a monkeys as Liverpool have also signed a few gems; Mane, Coutinho, Firmino, Can, Lallana and Wijnaldum are all fine players. Sturridge, despite being a bit of a girl, is hugely talented and Salah is quality. They specialise in counter-attack and our defence will be tested.

Defensively they can be shaky but Klopp adheres to the Micky philosophy of football –  score more than the opposition.

Arsenal will be seething after losing a very winnable game last weekend; a stupid defensive error and a lack of composure in front of goal lost us 3 valuable points. Especially as the following two games are away to two Top 4 clubs.

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However, we have some fine men returning to the first team – Koscielny  and Sanchez are probably our two best players. We have missed them

The Mustafi business is odd and if he is really going to Italy then it would be a surprise to see him play today. I hope he stays but if we are to sign a better defender then Bye Bye Shkodran.

Team selection is not easy to predict, will AW stay with the Back 3 or play a little more safe and include more defensive wing-backs. I think he will

My Team;

Cech

Mustafi    Koscielny    Monreal

Bellerin    Xhaka     Ramsey    Kolisinac

Ozil

Lacazette     Sanchez

This is a tasty team. No Ox, no Theo, no Iwobi or OG, nor a Welbz, but when playing away from home against a team that knocked 7 passed us (in 2 games) it is balanced. We have a superb bench

Of course there is the YNWA factor but if we can keep them at bay for an hour Anfield can become as much a Library as the Emirates.

I have to be honest and say I would be delighted with a point,

COYRRG


Arsenal Decisively Indecisive?

August 3, 2017

Being decisive is usually recognised as recognising a problem, or identifying a need to improve a situation, and arriving at a decision to quickly and effectively act to resolve it.

And in some ways, that has happened, in that defensively we seemed to be all at sea last season, until realising that the absence of the wise old head of Per Mert and the continuing frustrating injuries affecting Kozzer, AW decided to change to a three at the back, primarily until the injured CBs returned to the roster the following season at which time he would review which formation fitted the team the best. And undoubtedly the change in formation worked very well.

The ‘3 at the back’ was self-evidently caused by the lack of resources in defence because in addition to the loss of Per and Kozzer, Chambers had been loaned out, Gabriel had shot himself in the foot, or something, and Holding was still learning his trade and making a good fist of it, but to cap it all there were injury problems in the backs as well.

So, good decisive reactions helped us to almost qualify for the CL, except for possibly one of the more inept performances seen in many a year, when we lost to a poor Crystal Palace team who every pundit expected us to put to the sword. The three points conceded there would have given us 4th place, instead of just missing out.

It was clear in a very confusing time, when even the Chief Executive Gazidis said it was a catalyst for a change meaning that there had to be a restructuring of the team personnel and the management, presumably in the close season.

Frustrated fans reacted with a glimmer of hope that a decisive reaction had come at a time when Arsene was indecisively stalling on renewing his contract. Again – action and reaction – yin and yang – decisive and indecisive.

Last summer the club should have reacted decisively to the failure of Özil, Sanchez and Chamberlain to extend their contracts, but instead there was a sense of apathy and indecision throughout the summer 2016 transfer window, and eventually AW announced he was sure contracts would be signed during the season, and anyway there was still 2 years left in which to negotiate. Wishy washy? Selling such important players under 2017 transfer window pressure and attempting to buy top replacements has been predictably difficult.

And what has happened to the reinforcement of the CBs? Kozzer has what is known as a chronic injury that is not going to go away, Per has announced that he will retire soon, and although he has the right mental attitude to play, his physical decline has continued as was clear in the pre-season and he is unlikely to be able to play regularly – and both are getting older.

To add to that, there is still no sign that Gabriel is likely to recover from his injury any time soon, and with Calum on the ‘to sell’ list, not much attention seems to have been shown in shoring up a key area for the team. Decisive? I think not.

AW explained quite clearly that he did not like other clubs continually asking for Sanchez, Chamberlain and Özil, and ignoring his decisive message that they were not for sale.

He went on to declare that Arsenal’s policy was that when we wanted a player we would inquire if that player was available for sale, but, if told they were not for sale, then the club would respect that and walk away.

But hold you hard. How does that decisive statement square up with the rumoured bids for Lemar when it seems Arsenal have been told he is not for sale, and yet we appear to have been going back with increased offers in trying to acquire him. Not taking ‘no’ for an answer there then.

It beggars belief that Arsenal will reject the prospect of possibly making £150m in sale proceeds for selling the above-named trio this summer, and simply lose all that money next summer, as they walk away on ‘frees’.

Either the manager will decide late on in this window that he will sell after all, and probably find it difficult, if not impossible, to buy replacements at short notice, or we will be without 3 key players next summer, and to make matters worse – also without that £150m needed to buy the equivalent replacements.

Does anyone feel a little tremor of indecision creeping into the Arsenal thought processes – especially from Kroenke, the man whose money it is?

Me too.

Written by Zee


Arsenal: Tight Fisted Scrooges or Profligate Wastrels?

July 31, 2017

The Emirates Cup was a strange mixture of youthful carefree enjoyment in a deeply satisfying and fun filled first game against Benfica, and an inhibited and surprisingly chaotic lurch into the tippy tappy football of the older more experienced players who did not appear to gell in the second game.

It would be pointless to read too much into the games with many different variables conflating to make it impossible to predict what will be the strongest team that AW will put out for the start of the season.

We meet the Chavs, again, next weekend in the pre-season FA Community Shield, with donations going to the Grenfell Tower support fund, a worthy cause.

The problem is that Chelsea gave a very youthful Arsenal team a bit of a pasting 3 : 0 in an earlier pre-season, so-called friendly, and now they will look to go into the new season on a high by repeating the dose at the weekend and in doing so have the opposite effect on our lads.

So what can we make of all that? Well to start with we had several players making appearances in the Ems Cup who may, or may not, be sold on or let go this summer. Confusingly we also had players who played who are looking to leave us, although the manager has resolutely maintained that every one of them, including the ‘flu stricken one, and his dog, will stay, come what may.

All I can say to that is …… hmmmmm?

The stance by Arsene is at least a gamble, because keeping players who are disillusioned with the club, or who are mendaciously wanting to stick their snouts deeper into the money trough demanding increases to their already sky high salaries is risky because angry employees, and they are only employees, cannot be relied upon when the going gets tough.

An interesting side note is that if we keep Sanchez (boo, hiss) and Özil (brilliant but spasmodic) and the Ox (excellent – in patches) then at a market guesstimate, of £60m + £60m + £3om the club stands to ‘lose’ £150m.

Does that ‘don’t care’ attitude sound like the club, or Wenger? Experience tells me no way, José.

Then there were those playing like Chambers and El Neney and Ospina and Giroud and Le Coq who were heavily rumoured to be playing their last games for the Gunners – although we all know how much bollix is spouted through bloody rumours.
What was the point of playing them – if the rumours were accurate?

To cap that, we had oodles of Tyros, young wannabees playing at the tender ages of 17 to 20, many of whom like Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock and Nketiah and Maitland-Niles were making a good fist of their chances to impress the manager – but frankly for all their skill, energy and enthusiasm have not got Chas’ cats’ chances in hell of playing in anything but cup games next season.

Confused? Me too.

Then there is the other side of the club, or Arsene, (indistinguishable?) we spent what seemed to be weeks negotiating the purchase of La Caz, and that tactic revolved around bidding the lowest figure possible, having it rejected and increasing the bid incrementally.
Look it is a seller’s market – ask them what they want – evaluate it and pay it or leave it.
But no – this is the parsimonious side of deal making and it is ineffectual.

Lesson learned? Nope. We are allegedly trying to buy Lemar a very highly rated young midfielder – and blow me down — the same ‘negotiating’ tactic is being used with the lowest, and most implausible bid offered to start with, which predictably gets refused and is currently creeping up in incremental bands.

These club owners are mostly already billionaires – they are not billionaires because they are stupid. They will say what they want – give it to them or gracefully walk away, and stop getting our hopes up.

There we have it – two sides of the same coin – prepared to blow £150m on a year’s worth of playing time from three reluctant if not recalcitrant ‘stars’ who are not for bending, but then farting around over £5m or £10m for Mr Lemar, a player many of us believe is essential for our chances next season – and that defies logic.

So, what is it? Parsimonious nitwits, or profligate spenders throwing good money after bad?

If the various rumours and leaks are mostly correct in these cases, I would sell SOO for £150m (you work it out) – sell Chambers, Giro etc for £50m (if that is what the powers that be have decided) and reinvest that dead £200m into completing the deal for Lemar and then buying at least two others to stiffen the spine (as we pundits call it 🙂 ) at CB and CF and hey presto we are in good shape – if not I will blame Terry. 😀

Written by Zee


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