Oystons Out

January 5, 2019

Is there still any Magic in the Cup? Does the prospect of a day out at Wembley still set you in thrall? It does for me but I am traditionalist (in other words … old).

I still love the Cup and although there are less upsets than in previous years it remains one of the centre-pieces of the season with today’s tie up at Blackpool way more interesting than a Europa League game.

And, of course, we all know which club has won it the most, and which manager. The FA Cup has been good to us.

Will it be this afternoon?

It is distressing to read (and hear on the Arseblog podcast) of the current state of affairs at Blackpool. The Oyston saga is a warning to all and an indication of how impotent the PL and EFL are when facing a corrupt owner.

One must assume the B’pool fans want to lose today so no  more TV money goes into the club. Non-attendance is costing the owner as is the lack of money from the sales of shirts, burgers etc. A draw today and the resulting income of a game at the Emirates would be a huge boon to the Oystons.

What would happen at Arsenal if Kroenke starts to strip the club of its assets and refuse to buy players? He can. He owns the place. Would lifelong fans and the thousands of tourists who go to games refuse to attend? Even if they did, would it affect change when the owner is a billionaire and the club runs on TV money? Do you think, in this highly unlikely scenario, that the PL would do anything but issue platitude whilst jetting off to another meeting in a 5 star hotel in Dubai?

The action of the Blackpool supporters is a credit to all football fans. Oyston Out.

This is Mr. Emery’s first FA Cup game, how will he react? Will he send out a team of children with Grandad Cech at the back of them? Or will he persuade Mesut and Aaron that they need match sharpness?  We cannot risk PEA and Lacazette. Terrier, Wardrobe, Xhaka and Kos need a rest. I predict a start for AMN, Willock, Corporal Jenks, Elneny, Saka, Nketiah and Medley.

Blackpool’s most famous player is Sir Stanley Matthews, the Wizard of the Wing. The man was Ronaldo famous in his time, a worldwide icon. I actually saw him play at Highbury but for Stoke not the Tangerines. Arsenal could use a winger of his genius now, could Saka be the man?

We should win this game.

Let it Be So

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy

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Happy Invincibles Day!

January 4, 2019

So, the achievement of Arsene’s squad of 2003/4 remains without equal for another season.

Liverpool succumbed at the 21st hurdle thanks to a determined Citeh side keen to make a decent fist of defending their title and to 11 millimetres of a football which refused to cross a goal line.

The tide swung towards Pep’s side when Aguero lashed in superbly at the near post but Firmino’s equaliser had us all wondering if last night wasn’t to be the night when Liverpool’s Lost column clicked round to ‘1’. Leroy Sané scraped one in off the far post and via a small deflection to give us what we wanted in the 72 minute.

Dejan Lovren’s ‘Liverpool can go unbeaten’ claim a day or two ago now seems faintly ridiculous with the Christmas decorations still up. I doubt he was too popular in the Liverpool camp putting the bock on it, big-style.

The red mancs managed 24 games at the start of the 2010/11 season before losing to Wolves which remains second to Arsenal’s full season unbeaten in the Premier League era.

To go the full 38 games seems unbelievable and is rightly up there as perhaps Arsene’s finest achievement.

Maybe some club will eventually emulate the achievement of Paddy, Thierry, Sol, Ralph, Jens, Kolo and Arsene (amongst others) in the modern era, but until they do, let’s celebrate the glory of that magnificent accomplishment in the 2003/4 season with all our hearts.

p.s. it was LBG’s birthday yesterday – quite a nice present I’d say.

chas


New Year Wishes

January 1, 2019

In this first post of 2019 I would like to thank you. Thank you for reading AA, thank you to those who commented and an especial thank you to those who wrote a post.

2018 was a tumultuous year at Arsenal, I expect the same for 2019. Hopefully no managerial change but equally hopefully, a change of on-field personnel. Arsenal have created an entirely new management set-up, brought in the very best chaps to change the club from Arsenal Wenger. They have in Emery a man who will not be concerned about damaging egos and will bring AFC into the modern era.

My targets for AFC up to summer will be a Top 6 finish, a good run in the Europa and most importantly an indication of an Emery team; one which is based upon organisation and a solid defence. He must be massively frustrated by the goals against column.

In summer I would like to see us loan/sell at least 5 players with a similar number coming in.

By Xmas I would like to see us less than 16 points below the PL leaders and playing the Arsenal way. with a cohesive defensive policy, creative MF’s and the same two excellent strikers.

Let’s start with a win this afternoon.

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A Proper Arsenal Goal

Many a slip twixt lip and cup, and we know Arsenal can slip up but Fulham have to be good opposition after the recent humiliation. Despite the mounting injury list, AFC should not lose in the manner of L’pool. A player of Sokratis experience should not be conceding 2 penalties (yes, I know they were both bogus).

GN5 gave us the stats which indicate a positive result. We need it.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and a fine victory this afternoon.

Let it be So.

 


Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy

December 21, 2018

No, we’re not talking The Who compilation albums but the effects of both removing managers and of installing new ones.

Thought AAers might be interested in the fascinating discussion on radio by a sports psychologist of two “effects” relevant to the Moaninho story and, I thought, relevant to us.

First effect is called the “false kick”. He was suggesting the problems at Manure are higher up and throughout the Club rather than at the managers door. The false kick believes all the problems will be removed by getting rid of him, and he was doubtful.

The comparison with the Arse was interesting to me. Did we get rid of the main problem by ousting AW? (Much more complicated, of course because we have changed the structure dramatically at the same time).

The second effect he talked about is the “bounce”, one we are very familiar with, even recently (don’t mention St Mary’s). The result of a new man coming in and the change in “motivation” from the same players who were seemingly not performing for the last manager, suddenly start playing like men possessed.

Again, surely we have witnessed a bounce from Dick’s arrival!?

I liked his comparison with teaching.

When a new teacher arrives, all the kids don’t know how to react (including the baddies, in my experience). How should we react, what will he/she be like, what are the rules?

This is the strongest moment in a teacher’s reign. Doesn’t last long though, folks.

LBG


Farewell Andrei

November 22, 2018

I remember it so clearly, we had seen a small genius at work at the Euro’s in the summer of 2008 then there was much in the media that we may sign him. I

Barca had offered €15m for Arshavin, then Spurs came in with a €16m bid but he refused to downgrade from Zenit St. Petersborg to either club. Then on a snowy final day of the TW he signed for us.

I was excited.

But let’s be honest, he never really fitted in, did he? 143 games, a few outstanding performances but not the Boy Wonder we were hoping for. Andrei was 27 when he signed and really should have had a bigger impact because he certainly had the talent.

Highlights: Of course the 4 at Anfield and his brilliant celebration but for most of us it is the winning goal at THOF against Barca. What a night that was ,and what a celebration; taking off his shirt to reveal a T-shirt with an image of his celebration at Liverpool. Do Russians do self-irony?

A loan period at Zenit was Wenger’s response to Arshavin’s weight issues and lack of consistency, followed by a return to Arsenal where he spent much of the 2012/13 riding the pine. A free transfer back to Zenit for a couple of seasons. After that it was all downhill.

Andrei has spent the last 3 seasons in the Kazakhstan PL (sounds a bit Harry Potter) where he was Player of the Season in 2016.

My memories are of a player who never fitted into the system Wenger developed. Arshavin was neither a speedy winger, an Ozil style creator or a Ramsey-like box to box MF. Why did Wenger buy him? Surely not on the strength of one excellent International tournament?

He retires aged 37 with a bundle of cash and a long, fairly successful career behind him, but for me it is a question of “what could have been”? In my opinion he should have signed for Barca and we could have signed Iniesta. Imagine Iniesta alongside a young Fabregas … dreamy.

written by Big Raddy


Was Arsène Right?

October 20, 2018

Before I begin, can I ask that if anyone reads this who really knows about player development to kindly leave a comment, because this post is a question as much as an observation, and I suspect that like myself, most regulars on this site would be guessing.

We all heard terms such as Project Youth during the Wenger years, and we also noted that very few players emerged through the Arsenal ranks to have top flight careers, whether at Arsenal or anywhere else.

We now appear to be on the threshold of seeing a very good looking bunch possibly breaking through, with the likes of M-N, Iwobi, Nelson, Eddie and Smith Rowe.

One of my criticisms of the way the project unfolded under Arsène was that most of these players appeared during their sporadic appearances in a variety of positions, while I always believed they should be developed in specific positions.

I’m beginning to think I was wrong. Here’s why.

It strikes me that our homegrown players are relatively late developers, but perhaps there is good reason for this. I’ll expand this thought with a few questions/observations:

  • playing them in a variety of positions could simply be to give them game time when opportunities open up through injuries
  • or, could this have been a deliberate strategy to make them more complete players?
  • examples: we’ve seen Iwobi left, central and right midfield, likewise, M-N left and right back as well as defensive and attacking midfield
  • I get the impression Unai has a more structured approach to positional duties, but will he, and the players, have benefited from Arsene’s more fluid approach?

mickydidit89


Alex Iwobi – What’s changed?

October 14, 2018

Following on from Friday’s post and the idea that youth players may not have that drive and hunger to succeed, let’s take a look at Alex Iwobi who appears to be emerging from his chrysalis like a Giant Swallowtail this season. How has a player who in the past sometimes didn’t appear to know himself which way his feet were going to dance, suddenly be staking a claim for a starting spot in our first choice eleven?

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Alex came to this country at the age 4 as his father sought a new start in England. His blood is rich in footballing gravy with the magnificent Jay Jay Okocha, his uncle.

Alex Joined Arsenal while still at Primary school aged 8.

At not too far off 12 stone and a shade under 6 feet tall, Alex is a fairly big old unit to have such twinkling feet. He made his debut on 27th Oct 2015 in the League Cup and his Premier League debut 4 days after, as a late sub. Alex’s first Premier start came against Everton on 19th March 2016 and was capped by a splendid goal which featured a run from the halfway line.

Iwobi’s career at the Home of Football has flattered to deceive so far. He has made respectable appearance numbers in the past two seasons without ever really establishing himself a permanent niche. Though, it has to be said, those two seasons weren’t really Arsenal’s finest in recent decades.

In May 2018 Arsene Wenger announced he would be leaving the club, and Alex Iwobi described the great man as an “inspiration” and stated it was sad but also exciting. That ‘exciting’ reference has been echoed by everyone who follows the Gunners, as an overdue, new era beckoned.

This season has begun really well for BIG17 with 5 Prem appearances, 4 assists and the equaliser against Chelsea up to now. He started against the chavs, West Ham and Fulham, and came on as a sub against Everton and Watford.

In a 4-3-3 Alex usually plays left side in the front three. The recent Arsenal formation employed by Unai Emery in the game at Craven Cottage appeared to suit him; playing more as the outside left midfielder in a middle 4. Unai Emery seems to hold the Cockney Naija boy in high regard and this season could be a monster for the lad.

So what’s changed about Alex this season? All round, his decision-making has improved, with far less running up blind alleys. Although his finishing is still a little rushed with a tendency to lift his head and spoon the ball over the bar, his passing has been top notch. He’s far less likely to give the ball away but also doesn’t seem afraid to turn and drive forwards rather than just lay the ball back from whence it came.

Has Unai been encouraging him to take players on and thus create that vital opening needed to open up massed Premiership defences? The youtube video above amply demonstrates the many tricks and skills Alex employs to beat a man.

He also seems more tactically aware defensively, covering a tremendous amount of ground up and down that left flank. Although tackling is not his strong point, much defensive work these days is more about creating pressure on the man with the ball and limiting passing options for the opposition.

This does seem a critical point in Wobbly’s Arsenal career. He could really cement his future at the Gunners by adding great end-product to those glittering, silky skills. Good luck to the lad, he’s definitely the closest we have to a Mr Arsenal.

The change at the top of the Club is having all sorts of trickle down effects and Alex seems to be one of those benefitting.

chas