Now we play Stoke City in the Potteries

August 17, 2017

This is my least favourite away game of the season; we play the ever repugnant Stoke City. My thoughts are always dominated by the FA Cup semi final games in 1971 and 1972, both semis went to replays and we won them both. The circumstances involved in those losses caused Stoke fans to have an everlasting dislike/hatred for the Arsenal.

The most infamous away game was seven seasons back on May 10th 2010 when Ryan Shawcross got a red card for breaking Aaron Ramsey’s leg. One of the headlines that sticks in my head was –

“Spare us the sanctimony about Ryan Shawcross being a nice lad”

Poor Arsene Wenger always suffers terribly at the torrents of abuse cascading down from their “fans” but he handles it all like a true gentleman.

Anyway  – our away record against them is as abysmal as they are – we have only won two away games in the Premier League era and to make matters even worse their manager is the equally obnoxious – Leslie Mark Hughes.

Historically we have only managed to get 33.3% of the points in our away games against them so based on the past we should not be too optimistic – but the past is the past and we are the ARSENAL.

 Here is our complete league record against Stoke City.

Written by GunnerN5


Friday Night Football at the Emirates

August 9, 2017

For the first time in the Premier League history the season will kick off on Friday August 11th when Arsenal will host Leicester City at the Emirates with the game starting at 19:45.

We played our first game against Leicester 125 years ago on January 7th 1895 – back then the teams were known as Leicester Fosse and Woolwich Arsenal, we lost the game 3-1. Overall we have played 124 league games against each other with Arsenal having an overall record of – W58, D38, L28, GF247, GA169.

Woolwich Arsenal 1895 – courtesy Arsenal.com

We have not lost a league game against them for 23 years when Leicester beat us 2-1 at their ground on November 23rd 1994.

Our starting line up then was:

Goalkeeper David Seaman

Defender/Right back Lee Dixon

Defender Steve Bould

Centre back Martin Keown

Centre back Andy Linighan

Left back Nigel Winterburn

Midfielder Jimmy Carter

Midfielder Stefan Schwarz

Midfielder Ian Selley

Forward Paul Dickov

Forward Ian Wright

Ian Wright scored from a penalty in the 19th minute while Leicester’s goals came from Andy Linighan 16′ (og) and David Lowe 28′.

Here is our league record against Leicester for the past 40 seasons.

After our performance against Chelsea in the Community Shield I’m feeling very confident that we will win our opening game to set us on the right track for the season ahead.

Written by GunnerN5

(Ed – other notable Friday night Arsenal fixtures….)

Friday May 26th 1989

Friday April 16th 2004

 


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


The Ups and Downs of Arsenal

July 28, 2017

This is the time of the year when Arsenal, and every other club, seem to be caught in the footballing equivalent of the doldrums, once the bane of every sailing ship known to man, where a relatively calm period occurs out of nowhere, and during which time no wind has the temerity to stick its nose in, and indeed prefers to disappear like ice cream in a hot oven, trapping sailing ships for lengthy periods lasting days, weeks and sometimes months, where for what seemed an eternity to their crews – nothing happened.

The transfer window is the fans version of the fabled doldrums, where during a tedious and seemingly never-ending period, dozens of transfer rumours are offered up by the media and many blogsites, on a daily basis, and then roundly condemned and ridiculed as nonsense by the very same blogsites and sports media who started the stupid stories running in the first place.

Then just to give us a short break, these same rumour mongers announce stories, designed to add more click bait to bolster their media and blog site advertising revenues, they feed us cute stories which are hard to prove, or disprove, as falsehoods often are. The trick here is to base the rumours on stories with just a smidgeon of possible truths, and embellish them with wild abandon and make them into something far more juicy.

Instances of this are: Injured Cazorla out until February 2018 – Lucas disgusted with Wenger for pinching his #9 shirt and giving it to someone else – Wenger bids €100m for Mbappe – and then these gems are swiftly followed up by: Cazorla trains with team, back soon – Lucas to leave for more game time – Wenger denies making any bid for Mbappe – and away we go, with fans pointlessly arguing for or against whichever nonsense proposition catches their eye.

And still the transfer doldrums bear down, trying to suffocate us with their mediocrity.

But wait – from out of left field the clubs decide to join in and titivate our sensibilities by entering the spirit of this nonsense and allegedly willy-nilly start to offer kings’ ransoms for this player or that.

Not your boring common or garden £80m or £100m offers for a striker, or two, obviously, but €200m for Neymar or Mbappe (yes him again) and we all laugh holding our bellies, and scoffing at these crazy stories, until, in keeping with this cornucopia of scrumptious jelly and cream La La Land make believe, the reality squirts out from the asshole of the transfer window – Citeh sign Walker – yes that Walker – from the Spuds, for £55m – now that is both unbelievable and incredible, and shows reality can outshine even the most fanciful banality. Yee Gods.

Any sense of reality just evaporates with that news – but hold on, one of the blogsites today insists that Wenger is still in the hunt for Mbappe. Who could credit that? Tomorrow – Wenger denies bid for Mbappe – and off we go again.

I am on record in saying the transfer window should start after the season ends, and finishes on the 31st July – but I am not so sure. Much as I am consecutively annoyed, intrigued, baffled or sneer at these farcical stories, they do actually give me something to fill the doldrums betwixt the ending of one season and the start of the new one – so let the good times roll.

What say you? 😂

Written by Zee


Life without Sanchez

July 6, 2017

So before talking about options for life without Sanchez lets just talk about what happens if he stays. Personally I think this is rather easy. He lines up as the left sided of our double number 10’s (with Ozil as 1st choice to the right of centre) behind our new boy Lacazette. That front 3 should have creativity and goals in it and would be exciting to watch. It could be a title defining front 3 in a formation where they all compliment each other. There is also excellent back up to each of the front 3 players.

In essence I hope Alexis stays but this is far from certain and the most recent rumours are of him demanding £400,000pw. This could just be paper talk of course with no basis whatsoever, but if it were true I am giving it the thumbs down. At that point I am looking to get us the best deal, but what is that?

Probably the worst deal would be a straight cash deal with an EPL rival. A straight cash deal would be better with an overseas club. Probably the best deal would be a swap with another big club. If it were Munich could we nab Lewandowski in return? One of our bloggers described Lacazette as a true 9 ½ so could he adopt the left sided 10 role behind a prolific 9 like Lewandowski? Ditto with Aguero. Could that happen?

Both of those latter mentioned deals would still leave us looking pretty strong with a lot of fire-power even without Alexis. Other possible considerations could be Sterling or De-Bruyne but for some reason they don’t appeal to me quite as much.

With all the Sanchez talk there is another player issue that, although receiving some media coverage, is flying slightly more under the radar. We are in danger of losing Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, a player I really like. It is hard to believe that he has been with us since 2011 yet is still only 23 years old.

In many senses he hasn’t had a dissimilar pathway to Sanchez had to their respective 23rd year. The stats for both are not hugely different, where Sanchez was with Udinese to 23. Sanchez has slightly more favourable stats but then I have always maintained that AOC has been a slight victim of covering a multitude of positions, so a significant amount of games would have been in less favourable positions that would allow him to boost his goal-scoring stats.

Sanchez really only started to thrive as a goal-scoring wing forward from his 23rd year when he moved to Barca. It is time to nail down a regular position for AOC or risk losing him. He was excellent at right wing back but I am still not certain this is the position where we will see the best of him. Similarly I don’t think it is the position he feels is really best for him. We have Bellerin, who is excellent there in our back 3 formation, and I am sure we can find other alternative cover there.

I say that if we lose Sanchez then it is time to unleash the Ox. Give him the opportunity that Sanchez had at that same age to show the world that there is a world class left inside forward in there waiting to burst through, one that as his confidence increases in the position is full of goals and pacey attacking intent.

Is it a risk? Some would say yes and that we need to get some big foreign player to replace someone like Sanchez. But there is a risk there as well. Even some celebrated names have historically struggled in the EPL. There is as much risk in any player coming in as there is in one of our own changing to a new role.

Back up would be required, but Welbeck is adept from the left attacking position. We may need to bring another in though. Perhaps a player that can cover this position but could also cover Ramseys more attacking of the central 2 role. I like the look of Lemar at Monaco but I also like the look of the lad Golovin from CSKA that we have been linked with. World of football describes his strengths as dribbling, acceleration, flair and passing. What is not to like? Even better when listing preferred foot their answer was both.

I wouldn’t be unhappy if AW released AOC and just see if at 23 he is primed to become our own English Sanchez. There are no guarantees in football and sometimes you just have to be brave enough to take a chance on a player and put your faith in them.

Written by GoonerB


Arsene’s fantastic Vision of Beautiful Football

July 2, 2017

So, here we are, a year on and openly or sneakily looking at the myriad of transfer rumours flowing around us, not just about Arsenal, but around all our rivals too – who is buying whom, who is asking for the humongously ridiculous salary and so on.

The season finished on something of a mixed bag of results – some terrific football to win the FA Cup at a canter from Chelsea, the Premier League champions, but all culminating in a somewhat disappointing relegation from the fabled ‘top four’ finish, and thus we are relegated to the Europa League, taking the place of the Spuds.

The cockles of the fans heart were warmed by the scintillating finish to the season by the way the team played at the season finale, and the captivating style of total football that was on show for all the world to see.

Where did this performance come from? Was it a one off? Will we treasure it and hold it to our manly chests as we slip back into the old slip slop ways of yore?

Not if Arsene Wenger has his way!

Looking back to last summer, we can remember the constant and probably unfair criticisms of Arsene for his apparently dilatory decisions in not addressing the perceived weaknesses of the team, at least as far as the fans were concerned.

Where is the desperately needed holding midfielder we need, many have asked, seemingly year on year, season on season? Where is the top notch CF we need? And why are our full backs encouraged to frequently desert their defensive duties and hare upfield in support of the attack?
[OK, that last one is not transfer related, but when were fans logical in their complaints?] 🙂

On the face of it, there appears to be a hotchpotch list of gripes that have resulted in the fulminating anger of the fans spilling over from time to time when results have not gone our way, and this has led to many supporters despairing of Arsene ever changing his spots.

The transfer acquisitions made last summer did cheer up the fans by addressing addressing some of the issues, but it did not take long for the moans to re-start after the first game we lost.

The suppurating anger of some fans has not been helped by Mr Wenger appearing to refuse to explain his vision, his strategy and his tactics in a way that would, perhaps, allow everyone to understand better what he is striving to achieve, and to explain his supposed reluctance to caulk over the defensive and offensive holes in his team by buying more suitably qualified players and addressing the long term issues concerning the fans.

Arsene, like many highly intelligent men when they are confronted with the seemingly incomprehensible angst of fans regarding, what appears to him, as a straightforward situation, sometimes shows an inability to understand why there is even a problem, when his vision, motives and methodology are so obvious to him.
Perhaps he needs to learn to use the English colloquialism “What’s your problem, mate?”

The answer, I believe, lies in his vision of the beautiful game. Football, so he advocates, is not broken down into the micro or macro analysis and management of defense and or offense, he really does see the game as being one unified, flowing, seamless whole. To him there is no need to assign specific responsibilities to one type of player or the other, because the whole team should be capable of defending and attacking as one smoothly working unit.

Every Wenger team is expected to play in a certain way — his way — conforming to his vision, and to hell with worrying about the opposition. He wants to win, and win beautifully, by playing football as an art form with each cog of the team working synchronically like a perfectly functioning and exquisite Rolex watch, and stuff the Timex teams which may be acceptable to the other clubs and other fans.

Therein lies the problem. Most fans want to win trophies to give them bragging rights, and it matters not to them if it was the result of a fluke deflection off someone’s ass, or a bad refereeing decision, or playing against 10 men or whatever advantage the Gods threw at them.
A win is a win, is a win, innit?

But maybe Arsene needs to promote and explain his vision to the fans better, and to reassure them that he does indeed want to win trophies, but also to win them in a style that would make them proud to support a club who fostered such a vision of perfection — a vision of playing beautiful footie.

Arsene also needs to appreciate, if he doesn’t already, that every Rolex or Hublot needs to be made of the very best of materials, and to have a thorough annual overhaul in order to hit the amazingly high standards of perfection they lay claim to, and so too does his Arsenal team. Hence the transfer turmoil every summer when defective parts need to be replaced.

Buying the very best players possible for his team, and leaving others to worry about the cost of doing so, is an essential requirement which not only will make his vision for Arsenal more achievable, but also marry up his desires with those of the loyal fans who crave success and would give their unstinting support to this magnificent project if this was the case. But ….. AW does care about the cost, unlike every other top manager – and that leads to its own problems.

There are very many of us who would love to see this man reach his visionary goal, and not appear in history as just another footballing Don Quixote, futilely tilting at windmills, and not just for his sake, but also for the sakes of those of us who have supported Arsenal all our lives, and will do so until the end.

Written by Zee