Prêt à acheter, Arsène

June 13, 2017

Come on, you get my drift. Pret à Manger, Pret à Porter, Footballers to Buy.

Anyway, France v England tonight (and on proper telly) in a friendly, and oh garçon, do they have some good footballers.

Looking through their squad there are quite a few who I reckon would look excellent in an Arsenal shirt, and don’t forget, the list does not include Benzema or Martial.

 

Hugo Lloris

Defenders: Lucas Digne, Christophe Jallet, Presnel Kimpembe , Laurent Koscielny, Benjamin Mendy, Djibril Sidibe , Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Kurt Zouma

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante ,Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba,  Adrien Rabiot,  Moussa Sissoko , Corentin Tolisso

Forwards: Ousmane Dembele , Olivier Giroud , Antoine Griezmann , Alexandre Lacazette , Thomas Lemar , Kylian Mbappe , Dimitri Payet , Florian Thauvin

 

Personally, I can’t stand England because of the filth that follow them, so couldn’t care less who wins, but I will watch with my Arsenal eyes glued to the French.

Guessing we’ll buy three players this summer, and with one excellent looking signing in the bag already, I would be very happy to select two more from that French lot.

Written  by MickyDidIt89


Stand up if you Love Arsene Wenger

June 7, 2017

Well I’m already standing and I have more hope for the future of our club than I have had in many a long year.

You may ask why?

The answer is that I want the Arsenal Football Club to be a club that all future generations of supporters can be as proud of as I have been in my seventy years of support. It is my opinion that in order for us to achieve that we need a manager who is honest, successful, and brings us stability along with common sense player decisions that are within our fiscal budget. Arsene Wenger brings all of that in spades and his twenty one seasons have been the most successful in our club’s history.

2016/17 was the only season that Arsene has not got us into a Champions League place – but with sixteen games remaining we were still in a good position to gain our accustomed spot. However the next eight games were disastrous causing Arsene Wenger to reconsider his tactics and switch to a back three in defence against Middlesbrough and it turned out to be very successful, as is shown in the chart below, but it proved to be too little too late as we missed our customary CL spot by a single point.

Not to be forgotten was our fantastic victory in the FA Cup Final when

Arsenal beat Chelsea 2 -1 while utilizing the same back three system.

There have been many periods; some lasting for many years, when I have been disappointed in our lack of success or ambition but my pride in the club has never waned.

The very worst period that I have personally experienced lasted for thirty three seasons.

During this period of thirty three seasons we won one League title, two FA Cups and one Fairs Cup and for the vast majority of the time we started off the season with little or no hope of winning anything. Looking back at these years is a stark reminder of just how bad we were as a team and how much we suffered as fans. Our first double in 1970/71 was, understandably, one of the few seasons when we fans could hold our heads high and we all oozed with pride.

Then along came George Graham (1986 to 1995) and he helped to lift our heads up by winning two League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups and one Cup Winners Cup, ending up with an average league position of 5.11. Unfortunately his demise was one of my lowest moments as an Arsenal supporter when he was fired after being caught accepting illegal payments from an agent whose players were transferred to Arsenal.

However the black cloud that it cast over Highbury turned out to have a silver lining as in 1996 Arsene Wenger was hired as our new manager and he quickly turned our frowns into huge grins as we won our second double in 1997 -1998. His record to date has made him the most successful manager in our long history putting him up on the same pedestal as the great Herbert Chapman (1925 – 1934) who won three league titles and one FA Cup and was a trail blazer in introducing multiple new innovations to the game.

Arsene’s level of consistency over his twenty one seasons with Arsenal is deserving of high credit and the only manager in history to have a better record over such a long period of time is Alex Ferguson. However, that is not a simple comparison as the conditions they managed under were very different.

Fergie inherited the Class of 1992 and these young players became the nucleus of the United team that dominated the Premier League; given United’s deep pockets Fergie was able to import some of the World’s top talents to round off his team.

Arsene inherited our famous Back Four – they were a top class but aging group of players. Ian Wright was approaching the end of his career while Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira had just joined Arsenal. These players formed the core of Arsenal’s initial team. Arsene, unlike Fergie, has had to work within a strict financial structure that became even tighter with the decision to build a new stadium.

With the signing of his latest contract it means that Arsene he will be with us until at least the end of the 2018/19 season. Given that we have to win our way back into a Champions League spot it will mean that Arsene will only have one season in which to win the trophy – if he wins then he will retire – if not I predict that he will extend it for a further two seasons.

Written by GunnerN5


On the Dotted Line

May 31, 2017

It’s an important day at The Emirates.

A new contract for Mr Wenger; yet to be confirmed but the media are convinced he will continue for another two years. No details of wages, sporting directors, new coaches or any real change but perhaps that will happen during the summer.

I have a question … why could this not have been announced at Xmas? Why the cloak and dagger?  Do you think the club will explain their delay? No, neither do I, and  it is high time the club took the concerns of the fans into consideration.

There seems to be a lack of understanding at Arsenal that the club does not exist without the fans – WE are the Arsenal, not Kroenke, not Gazidis, not Arsene Wenger or even the players; they all come and go, we don’t.

Am I being naive? Perhaps, but what would happen if the “magnificent” new stadium was half empty every week as fans become frustrated and find other entertainments to spend their wage on.

images-2.jpeg

Are you happy AW has re-signed or would you prefer if he had resigned?

I love Arsene but have two concerns – one is that he will die in the job. He looked terrible in early Spring, clearly not sleeping well and under tremendous stress. The other concern is the obvious – can he turn the current squad into PL Champions? Time will tell.

The other big news is the signing (subject to a medical) of the young Nigerian, Henry Onyekuru.

An important signing. Arsenal have a huge fanbase in Nigeria thanks to King Kanu, and from the Youtube clips, this chap is going to be special. Already doing well in the Belgian League (and before you get all sniffy think Hazard, Lukaku, De Bruyne etc) he is the cut-price Mbappe.

Cheap as chips, his signing will not prevent AFC buying a €80+m player or two in summer – at least I hope not.

Mbappe plays on the other wing or centrally so I have not given up hope.

Rumours abound about Mahrez. After his performances in 2016/17 his price must have plummeted. Could be the type of bargain our manager relishes.

written by Big Raddy


In The Merry Month of May. Player Ratings.

May 28, 2017

Just great to be a Gooner this morning.

You all watched the game so this will not be a minute by minute match report, more a flow of consciousness which considering I went to bed full of G&T’s, white Sauvignon Blanc and a nightcap of finest single malt, could be a little confusing. So this could be a long one.

Are you sitting comfortably?. Then we’ll begin ….

Firstly, Mr Wenger. He remains a wonderful manager. In recent weeks his team has beaten Guardiola, Me-rinho and Conte. So much for him being a man left behind in terms of tactics.

Prior to the game I was fairly relaxed thinking, as chas said “que sera, sera”, but within minutes of the kick-off when I watched Xhaka, Ozil and Ramsey completely dominate the midfield I knew we could win, and that made me tense, very tense.

In my bullet points in yesterday’s pre-match describing how we could win, a main one was a strong refereeing performance. Much to my amazement Mr Taylor was very good. Missed a bit of Costa thuggery and was a little soft on the Chav fouling but overall good. The decision over the Sanchez goal could have gone either way, I think it was the correct decision but understand why pundits said Ramsey interfered with play.

The Back 3. It just works. GIE is right when he says we could have won the title had we started earlier.

I was very concerned when I saw the team sheet with Ox on the left. Given that Hazard can be so dangerous and Moses is the new Lazarus (look it up) I felt we would be exposed but can you recall a single time that Hazard threatened? Lots of flashy runs and twists and turns but nothing to worry about. In fact Chelsea’s only real threat came from Costa – I may dislike Costa in a Chelsea shirt but I would absolutely adore the chap if he played for us.

How did that happen? Because of AW’s tactics and the exceptional work-rate of the entire team.

With some better finishing, worse Chav defending and a bit of luck we could have been 4 up at half time.

I expected Chelsea to dominate the start of the second half as Arsenal went back to their rope-a-dope tactics and hit on the break. Both Bellerin and Ozil had great chances to finish the game whilst Chelsea toiled.

Then Moses got sent off for cheating. Has that ever happened before in an FA Cup Final? Well done Mr. Taylor that was a gutsy decision and a correct one. Not much in the press about the dive but next season it will see Moses in the FA dock.

Against 10 men my nerves receded and I thought I would enjoy seeing us coast to a 1-0 to the Arsenal victory. But we don’t do that anymore, do we ? No, Costa scores a very good deflected goal ( I don’t agree that Ospina was at fault, he would have saved it but for the deflection) and my heart sank. Could we recover? Would Chelsea be inspired and go on to win?

OG and the Welsh Wizard had other ideas. Brilliant goal made by OG’s quality and strength allied to Rambo’s unbelievable energy.

From then on despite a couple of scares and some fine goalkeeping from Ospina, we were in Easy street. Didn’t stop me from wanting the final whistle though!

On such a day, I hope you will indulge me and let me continue to …

Player Ratings.

Ospina.  I have to say I questioned AW’s decision to play him. I was wrong. Ospina did not put a foot wrong all afternoon.      10

Holding. Loved the way he confronted Costa. What a player he can become. Needs to be a little stronger.  10

BFG. Imperious. Played a magnificent game. Our MotM.   11

Monreal.  Perhaps his best game in the shirt. Huge energy, solid in the tackle, stopped all attacks down the left.    10

Bellerin.   Back to his best. Would have loved to see him finish what would have been a superb goal but it wasn’t to be. Stopped everything coming down the right.   10

Ramsey.  His best game for ages. 3 FA Cup winners medals, 2 winning FAC goals. He deserves them.  Ran 14.4 kms during the game, the most of anyone in history (apparently)   10

Xhaka.  Magnificent. I said earlier in the season that we should build the team around him and Xhaka is showing why. Dominated the game in a Vieira-like fashion.    10

Ox. We just have to keep him. So versatile and developing into a true International class player    10

Ozil. Worked so hard to dominate the midfield. Played deeper than usual which I assume was on AW’s instruction    10

Sanchez.   If we goes he will be missed. MotM for the TV commentators. I disagree but the little Chilean had a fine game and I love his smile.    10

Welbeck. Worked so hard. Made so many runs.  10

Subs.

OG. What a set-up for Rambo. Made an immediate impact.   10

Coquelin.    Tried to be Sanchez in his cameo. Amusing.   10

Elneny. Played 2 minutes. Not at his best    5

Mr Arsene Wenger. Answered his critics in a display of tactical excellence. Out-thought Conte. More FA Cups than anyone in history which is record unlikely to be beaten. The Man.   10

Chelsea .   Complete over-hyped rubbish. Kante. Did he play? Hazard? Flatters to deceive. Sponge Bob? Ordinary. Costa and Chaill? Only players who lived up to their reputation.       1   (for turning up)

So. A successful end to a difficult season. We have silverware but Thursday nights. Spurs have as much chance of winning the Champions League next season as we do and have nothing in the trophy cabinet.

Deep Joy.

 

written by a Very Happy Big Raddy

 

 


George Best? Merinho wouldn’t have picked him

May 7, 2017

For so many years this was my favourite fixture of the year; Best and Charlton coming to Highbury, hating Sheringham, Cantona getting sent off , Van Nistleroy and Keown, TH14’s wonder goal at the Clock End, PV4’s penalty in Cardiff, Pizzagate and much much more.

Post- Merinho –it has lost it’s glamour. Completely. United are just an expensive Stoke.

Unknown.jpeg

Words cannot describe how much I dislike the little Portuguese misery. To see a Man Utd team thrilled by a 0-0 draw at Maine Rd summed up the changes he has made up at OT; thank goodness the man will never come to the Emirates.

Enough of him, he gets enough press. What of his team? Packed with very, very expensive players.  Homegrowns? Rashford will get a game but only due to injuries, Lingard? Bit part player because he can be entertaining.I could go on. How can one take a wonderful prospect like Luke Shaw and destroy him? Answer …. ask Juan Mata.

Rooney? Must love his manager. England Captain and can’t get a game.  Certain to leave in summer. If he would come to AFC, I would sign him. Terrific player and one who could do a fine job for a couple of seasons.

George Best was a hero at MU, yet can you imagine Jose playing him? Look what the man did to the brilliant Eden Hazard and he works twice as hard as George. Bobby Charlton? No way – couldn’t tackle. Cantona? You’re joking.

Unknown-1.jpeg

Proper Football

So, this afternoon we will get the usual Merinho PTB dull, dull football. Unfortunately Arsenal are not in the right shape for us to be confident of taking advantage of MU’s player rotation and injury problems.

Let’s be honest, the Spurs game was awful. Play like that for a season and we are relegation fodder. But be positive, after all Mr. Wenger must be desperate to finally beat a Jose´team. We are at home, we have few injuries and are rested after a week off. It can be done.

My Team:

Cech

Gabriel     Koscielny     Holding

Ox    Ramsey    Xhaka  Monreal

Welbeck    Sanchez   Ozil

No chance of the above but I believe this team could win. I would like to see Iwobi get some pitch time as he has been terrific this season and could use the fillip of a few minutes in another big game. Maybe Elneny instead of Ramsey, and Mustafi instead of Holding.

Please Arsenal, please Mr Wenger, please fans at the ground, do everything possible to beat MU. This United is a shadow of the great club of the past, they need to be thrashed.

Let it be so

COYRRG


One Cockerel does not a summer make

April 30, 2017

So here we go folks, the final North London Derby at WHL. This occasion really should have called for the daddy of pre-matches, but unfortunately there are some trees that need a hug…..so you are stuck with me.

I need to say in advance that I have a superstition about being too condescending ahead of these games so if you are expecting lots of belittlement and ridicule then disappointment will be the order of the day. Having said that the rest of you can fill yer boots.

I strangely feel a degree of sadness that this is the last outing at their place, as WHL holds some fond memories for us. I am normally very nervous about these games. On reflection I think this is because we have pretty much been the favourites in games against them since some fellow called Newton had an apple fall on his head. As such I think the expectancy to win adds more angst to the occasion. This time however I have them down as favourites. Spurs are the form team this season while we have struggled.

Stating this actually doesn’t cause me any issues because this aberration can be redressed in readiness for next season. A shift in the balance of power?……pffft (he expectorates on the floor in distaste). As Lord Wenger intimated the other day, one cockerel does not a summer make. If anything Spurs form versus ours this season may be the main proverbial kick up the derriere that we needed. If it turns out to be the catalyst for action that sees us awaken from our slumber and head into next season a different animal, then I will doff my cap to those white lillies and say thank-you. I may even resort to a chicken on a beach ball as my screen saver……ok maybe not….still a few white wine spritzers clouding my judgement this morning.

I am reconciled with the fact it is now near impossible for us to celebrate St. Tott’s day this year. If you gave me a choice between winning the F.A cup and finishing below them or finishing above them with no silverware then I would take the former all day. This is a real possibility for us so it could be that in a few weeks time we are actually celebrating a more successful season than them. How galling would that be for them?

Onto team matters. I am not sure if a mere stand in for the pre-match is allowed to mutter these sacred words, but here goes………..

my team (ooh it does make one feel powerful) :

 

Cech

Holding Koscielny Gabriel

Ox Coquelin Ramsey Monreal

Ozil Sanchez

Welbeck

Why change the formation that has revived our fortunes recently. I would also like to stick largely with the same players with a couple of proviso’s. I think the pace of Welbeck with Ozil and Sanchez flitting about behind him would suit this game more. Giroud and Walcott are useful impact subs. I think we need the defensive graft of Coquelin in a disciplined role front of the defence. They are dangerous in that area and a big game from him could be a deciding factor. If he is able to largely stifle them in this area and free up the rest of our team in attack then I will be very hopeful. Xhaka has played well recently but is more reckless and we can’t afford to be down to 10 men in this game. Other than that it is as you were.

As I said, based on form and them being at home they are the favourites…….but I have a feeling in me bones. Being favourites carries that extra psychological burden. Also our new system will be far less easy for them to predict than when we were labouring with the 4-3-3 system. Even we don’t yet fully know what Arsenal will turn up in this system, so it should create some doubt and uncertainty in their minds.

All this should mean that for once, us rather than them, can approach the game with less to lose and can literally just go out and play without burden. There is one final consideration. This is a historic day for them. There must be a few nerves in their camp that the final NLD at old WHL could go down as an Arsenal win. WHL holds some fond memories for the Arsenal. Who can forget the 3rd May 1971 or the 25th April 2004? Let the record books show that Sunday 30th April 2017 saw Spurs title bid crash down around them as the good guys in red and white registered a historic final win at WHL.

COYRRG’S

Written by GoonerB

 


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