The Big Game this Weekend

July 14, 2018

The game everyone has been waiting for this week end kicks off at 3pm and is, apparently, live on AFC.com.

A first glimpse at Emery’s boys. Who will play? What formation will Unai use?

Cmon you Gunners!

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Arsenals Top Season 2003-2004 Step up – Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles

June 6, 2018

They are the only team to go unbeaten for a complete season since Preston North End went unbeaten in the inaugural season of the Football League in 1889 with a record of P22, W18, D4, L0, GF74, GA15, Pts58.

In retaining the Premier League Championship in 2001/02, Arsenal had earlier equalled Preston North End’s record of going unbeaten away for the entire season by beating Manchester United 0-1 at Old Trafford in our final away game. Perhaps it was this outstanding achievement which prompted Arsene Wenger’s outrageous prediction in September 2002 that his side could go a whole season unbeaten – the journos and footballing establishment mocked such a claim.

The ‘Comical’ jibe plus beret were a reference to an Iraqi Information minister at the time

Arsene only used 22 players in the whole season with Jens Lehmann playing in all 38 games – which included 15 shut outs.

Although he performed well throughout the 2002/03 season, long-serving keeper David Seaman was released at the end of the campaign. Arsenal brought in Jens Lehmann from Borussia Dortmund for a mere £1.5 million – a steal, considering just how important he would be for Arsenal over the next 12 months. Due to building the Emirates there were no big-name signings; club captain Patrick Vieira signed a new contract in the face of strong interest from Manchester United, Chelsea, and Real Madrid. With Arsene not make any big changes to the squad, and with no major departures, Arsenal started the season with the same group of players as the previous season.

The season kicked off with Arsenal in inspired form. A 2-1 home victory over Everton on the opening day was followed up with 4-0 win over Middlesbrough, a 2-0 win over Aston Villa and a 2-1 away victory over David Seaman and Manchester City. With just four games played, Arsenal had already put three points between them and fellow title-chasers Manchester United, leaving them sitting comfortably in first place, having scored ten and conceded just two.

Our unbeaten run came close to ending at Old Trafford in the sixth game of the season when United were awarded a penalty in injury time (no surprise there) but (our least liked player) Ruud van Nistelrooy stepped up and missed the penalty and the match ended tied at 0–0. Tempers boiled over in the game dubbed the ‘Battle of Old Trafford’ following Vieira being given a red card.

October presented a tough schedule with a trip to Anfield and a home game against Chelsea.  Despite falling behind against Liverpool we recovered to win 2-1. Going into the Chelsea game, both sides were level at the top of the table and were also undefeated in the league. The game appeared to be heading for a draw until a Carlo Cudicini blunder saw Thierry Henry give Arsenal the win, bringing an end to Chelsea’s unbeaten run. Despite the fact we had still not lost a poor 0-0 draw against Fulham on Nov 30th gave Chelsea the chance to take over at the top of the table.

At the turn of the year Arsenal had made it half way through the season without tasting defeat in the Premier League and the unbeaten season began to take place: but despite this feat, Arsenal entered 2004 in second place, one point behind leaders Manchester United.

The Gunners’ first game of the year once again ended with a lacklustre draw against Everton, while United secured a victory to increase their lead to three points. Although, things picked up with a dominant 4-1 win over Middlesbrough, which saw us draw level with United on points, goal difference and goals scored. Henry then began a goal scoring run which would see him net in each of the club’s next six games, the second and third of which came against Aston Villa a week later giving Arsenal all three points. Despite a trip to title chasers Chelsea and a visit to Manchester City, February would prove to be one of the best months in the campaign, with five wins in five games.

After 30 games Arsenal had officially beaten the Premier League record of consecutive game without defeat.

The 31st game saw perhaps the game of the season with Thierry Henry scoring a blistering hat trick to beat Liverpool after being 2-1 down at halftime.

Henry beats Dudek having left a trail of prostrate Scouse defenders in his wake

On April 25th we went to White Hart Lane knowing knew that a single point would be enough to end any chance of a late Chelsea comeback. Goals from Vieira and Pirés were enough to secure a 2-2 draw that handed Arsenal the trophy at the home of the North London pretenders with four games to spare.

We saw out the final month of Premier League action comfortably, with a bore draw against Birmingham City followed up with a 1-1 draw at Portsmouth and a 1-0 victory over Fulham. Despite going behind in their final game against Leicester City, Arsenal bossed the second-half, claiming victory thanks to goals from Henry and Vieira.

After Arsenal completed the only 38-match season unbeaten, the Premier League commissioned a unique gold trophy to commemorate the achievement. Arsène Wenger was presented the trophy as a parting gift from the club after his last home game as manager on 6 May 2018.

 Written by GunnerN5

 

 


Build it around Mesut, Unai, or I storm the bridge

June 4, 2018
Brace yourselves as I’m in new territory here as far as post writing is concerned. Two reasons: yesterday I finished a book which is relevant, and unbelievably, I’ve just done seven minutes of research.
The book: Art of Learning. This is about an American fella called Josh Waitzkin. From being a chess prodigy, he quit the game at twenty three, took up a form of Tai Chi, and went on to become world champion. It is a highly illuminating and in depth analysis of the competitive psyche, and I recommend it.
While reading, it made me think about Mesut Ozil. 
Waitzkin talks about the fine margins that define the difference between competitors at the very highest levels of any discipline/sport. Part of that difference is the recognition that you cannot operate at peak performance at all times, and true champions know how to operate at a higher level for most of the time and elevate to peak level for short but decisive moments. This is Mesut Ozil.
Now the research bit. This morning I googled the Low German World Cup team formations and then did ditto for the Unai PSG sides, as I wanted to understand how and where Mesut was likely to fit in.
For Germany Mesut plays central of a three behind a lone striker.  These three operate in front of the rock steady pair of Khedira and Kroos.
Next up, Unai’s PSG. Here we see a temptation to play a deeper anchor midfielder with two in front. Can’t do this as you end up with the awful box to box headless chicken runners stuff. Happily, many google images of the Emery PSG line ups show the more Germanic set up with the two, which of course, is what any sensible manager would do to optimise The Mesut Ozil.
Arsene understood that creative genius is an essential component to the art of football, and even the more pragmatic Germans realise that a Mozart needs someone to build the concert hall.
Written by MickyDidIt89

When will we see The Emery Effect?

June 2, 2018

Just won our first trophy of the new season as Beth Mead was voted England’s Women’s Young Player of the Year. Well played Beth.

It is early days in the transfer market. It will be a very busy few weeks as the transfer period has been shortened to conclude on Aug 9th instead of Aug 31st, plus few players will be willing to discuss moving clubs during the World Cup.

We have discussed at length the needs of the team though Emery may well disagree. Do you think it was the new manager who decided the shirt numbers? If so, Cech is our Number One and my hopes of us signing a top quality young GK will be dashed. Perhaps the young GK’s at Arsenal are considered to be good enough to step up the the first team.

How will Emery assess the strength of the squad without actually working with them? He will not get the chance until after the WC and the player’s holiday time. I doubt we will see the Emery effect until after Xmas.

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Anyone who watched the France vs Italy game last night will have seen why Lacazette is not in their final 23. Two teenage front men whose combined transfer fees are €400m (yes – €400m) were frighteningly good. Lemar got a short kickabout and our former target looks top quality, though whether he is worth €100m is doubtful. I can see France winning the WC playing some wonderful attacking football, if they don’t it will be due to crap management.

Not much going on, hence the randomness (is that a word) of the post!

written by Big Raddy


The Emery job at Arsenal: Easy or hard?

May 29, 2018

Here on AA yesterday there was a discussing between FGG (who knows an awful lot about football), and Erik.

Naturally they disagreed, but I thought the topic was interesting. Does Emery have a difficult task ahead to improve The Arsenal.

FGG felt we had a fallen quite a way behind the top four, and using this as a barometer, amazingly I’d side with Erik. We all remember how Arsene transformed Arsenal into double winners in his first full season, and despite the fact I know how seismically the footballing landscape has changed, I do believe that we are looking at tweaks rather than having to deploy the surgical scalpel.

The baseline for evaluating improvement is the point at which you begin, and in our case, that’s winning nothing and finishing above The Burnley.

Next point is that one of the major obstacles in previous season’s was the fact that Arsene appeared from the outside to have too many roles to be hugely effective at any one of them. The Club have clearly recognised, and addressed, this weakness. Bearing in mind I believe the effects of that division of responsibilities has already become fruitful by way of our January transfer activities, leaving Emery to be more focused on the footballing side.

Finally, few would disagree that we have an exceedingly talented squad, together with two or three very promising younger players, which should provide the continuity so vital to progress. Also very unusually, most can agree about the obvious areas to strengthen, so I doubt the Arsenal recruitment team will be far away from seeing the same needs.

His biggest challenges? Team structure and understanding of responsibilities within the Emery system, defensive organisation, and our away form.

Great, just the 2-3 players short, then 🙂

Written by MickyDidIt89


Who Do You Believe?

May 28, 2018

Mr Gazidis stated last week that the BoD had rigourously interviewed 8 candidates prior to employing Mr Emery. He said that all 8 wanted the job right up until the final decision was made and all had been through a full interview process.

Do we really believe this?

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Who were the 8? The media say PV4 was approached at the last minute as a token gesture but that at no time was he interviewed for the post. Arteta we know about but the other 6/7?

Dyche? Howe? Seri? Could it have been Allerdyce or Moyes? The chap from Østerlund?

I cannot believe Guardiola or Zidane or Tuschel or any of the top managers who are currently employed by successful Big Clubs would want to take on AFC – despite it being a very attractive and well-paid job.

Conte? Perhaps. Poccettino? It would have been very funny but surely, if Ivan is telling the truth, we would have employed him as Poch would be an excellent choice for us.

Any other candidates?

Or was Ivan’s statement just a fop to the fans  as we took a last minute punt on Emery instead of Arteta?

We will never know

written by Big Raddy


The new Arsenal manager…let’s try and be rational

May 24, 2018

You, me, him, her, and probably everyone who reads this knows that Arsenal are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen. We’re right, they are wrong and facts are facts.

However, let’s consider some other poor souls for a few short moments, and by poor souls, I’m referring to the Allegris, Tuchels and the Zidanes of this world.  By my calculations there are six sides who you would back to lift the Champions League trophy in any one season, although I appreciate other runners and riders can emerge to upset the betting, and this season it is Liverpool who have emerged as a surprise contender. The souls to whom I just referred will always look to manage an elite club with a realistic chance (and budget) of lifting ‘Ol Big Ears.

Arsenal are not one of those sides. So. What are we, who should we be, and why is Emery a very good fit for us now?

Before the start of last season, I suggested that Arsenal were a Cup side. My comment referred as much to what I thought was an element of the glory seeking, big time Charlie attitude of one or two of our superstars. In other words they didn’t have the appetite for a seasons’ long slog in the rain to sustain a League challenge, and anyhow, barring the freak event we are outside the main pretenders as defined by budget.

What are we? We are a top six English side, and yes, we are a good cup side. What should we be? We should be a club that strives to grow through better results/performance within the boundaries of our budget. In other words, without oiling up, out target models are the likes of Bayern (and Juve?). This is a longer long term objective than the media driven immediacy demanded by today’s society permits, but the club just have to deal with that crap, as do we all.

The aim for the next 1-3 years is to establish ourselves as the best of the rest. This brings me back to two things I have mentioned, one was Liverpool and the other was cups.

When I spoke almost a year ago about our cup sidedness, I did mention also how I liked this. It’s a personal thing, but I way prefer knockout football to league football.

This, at last,  brings me to Emery. RC79 has very kindly enlightened us as to the detail of the man, his tactical philosophies and his footballing ethos. I especially liked his insight on Emery’s ability to get the most out of a second tier budget by developing youth and pushing the superstars.

I believe he is the right man to lead us through the next three years or so as we consolidate amongst our domestic top four, and, as he has done at both PSG and more impressively at Sevilla, become a Cup specialist.

Who knows what lies beyond that, but step one looks good to me.

Written by MickyDidIt89