Another Arsenal season is Upon Us

August 8, 2018

Here we are at the front door of my 71st season and I’m feeling uncertain about my feelings. (After hearing of Kronke taking full control of Arsenal I’m even more apprehensive).

What has happened in my first 70 seasons, well I’ve seen 2,876 league games, thousands of different players, 19 or 20 managers, experienced us winning 8 League Titles, 11 FA Cups, 10 Charity Shields, 1 Cup Winners Cup, I Fairs Cup, 2 League Cups and 2 Doubles. All in all I’ve been around for 33 out of our total 41 trophy seasons.

I’ll attempt to encapsulate my 70 seasons into one post.

Of the players that I have seen, my top team would be –

David Seaman, Goalkeeper (1990-2003), 564 games

Nigel Winterburn, Defence (1987-2000), 584 games

Tony Adams, Defence (1983–2002), 669 games

Lee Dixon, Defence (1988-2002), 619 games

Patrick Vieira, Midfield (1996-2005), 406 games

Freddie Ljungberg, Midfield (1998-2007), 328 games

Robert Pires, Midfield (2000-2006), 284 games

Frank McLintock, Midfield (1964-1973), 403 games

Ian Wright, Striker (1991-1998), 288 games

Denis Bergkamp, Striker (1995-2006), 423 games

Thierry Henry, Striker (1999-2012), 377 games

My bench would be –

Jack Kelsey, Goalkeeper (1949-1962), 352 games

Peter Storey, Defence (1961-1977), 501 games

David O’Leary, Defence (1973-1993), 701 games

Joe Mercer, Midfield (1946-1954), 275 games

Liam Brady, Midfield (1974-1980), 307 games

Robin van Persie, Striker (2004-2012), 278 games

Doug Lishman, Striker (1948-1956), 244 games

My top managers would be –

Arsene Wenger (1996-2018) 13 trophies, average league position 2.95

George Graham (1986-1995) 7 trophies, average league position 5.1

Tom Whittaker (1947-1956) 5 trophies, average league position 5.2

The worst managers would be –

Jack Crayston (1956-1958) Zero trophies, average league position 8.5

George Swindin (1958-1962) Zero trophies, average league position 9.4

Billy Wright (1962-1966) Zero trophies, average league position 10.5

Bertie Mee (1966-76) 3 trophies, average league position 8.3

Terry Neill (1976-1983) 1 trophy, average league position 6.0

Don Howe (1983-86) Zero trophies, average league position 6.7

Their joint ineptitude covered 1,260 league games (33 seasons) they had an average league position of 8.4 and they won just 4 trophies. That’s 432 more games than Arsene Wenger managed – give that some thought?

My top seasons would be –

1947-48 – This was my first season and we won both the League and the Charity Shield.

1969-70 – After 16 seasons in the trophy wilderness we won the Fairs Cup.

1970-71 – We won our first League and Cup double.

1997-98 – We won our second League and Cup double.

2001-02 – We won our third League and Cup double.

2003-04 – The year of the Invincibles

2016-17 – We won our record 13th FA Cup.

It was sad, for me, to see the end of the Arsene Wenger era, as his teams and achievements brought me more joy than all of the other managers I’ve witnessed.

But the memories of his players and style of football are etched in my brain forever,

Who can forget Dennis Bergkamp’s wonderfully incisive passes, Thierry Henry’s runs and goals or our wonderful Invincibles – far too many memories to list.

I hope that Unai Emery brings us some of the same calibre of football that I’ve enjoyed for the last 21 seasons.

I miss being in the crowd on game days, I miss the banter in the pubs, I miss the banter with my family, I guess I miss the overall English Arsenal atmosphere. But I have my memories to fall back on and I look forward to more great times ahead supporting the Arsenal.

Written by GunnerN5

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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

 

 


The Invisible Man

May 21, 2018

Amongst all the glam and glitter of the departure of Mr Wenger, there has been hardly a word about the loss of another gentleman who has worked faithfully  for over 20 years to bring glory to our fine club – Boro Primorac.

He is the chap who does all the unattractive groundwork, the man who puts out the cones, wanders around with a stopwatch, reads the pre-contracts, takes Arsene out for a few glasses of red wine after a defeat and has been the constant factor in Arsene’s reign.

Such was his media presence that know very little about Boro yet he was a fine player and an excellent coach.

As a player Boro was a centre half who played in Yugoslavia and France (where he met AW) , representing and captaining his country 14 times. He became a manager with Cannes where he and AW furthered their friendship, Cannes being the neighbour club to Monaco.

When Arsene went to Grampas in Japan Boro joined him as an assistant and followed him to Arsenal in 1997.

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A point in Boro’s favour is his fluency in 8 – yes, 8  –  languages! He can speak to every member of the squad in their own language which given the inability of some players to learn English is of vital importance (looking at you Mr Sanchez). He is apparently the analyst of opposition (apparently we do have one), has encyclopedic knowledge of players.

I am having trouble fleshing out this post because despite Boro being at Arsenal for as long as Arsene there is little information about him. We know he is a big bloke – 6´3″.  We know he is clever but he doesn’t give interviews … ever. He doesn’t sit on the bench, preferring to be in the stands leaving just before half-time to give his analysis to the manager before he talks to the players.

What of the future for such a loyal servant? Can’t see him finding a role in the new manifestation of AFC. Perhaps he will follow Arsene to his new job. Whatever it is, thank you Mr Primorac for such loyal service.

A statue? No-one would have a clue who he was.


So Long and Thanks for all the Fish – Huddersfield Ratings

May 14, 2018

So after over 1200 games in charge, we finally reached the point where M. Arsene Wenger would be Arsenal FC boss for the last time. A goalfest in the sun would be perfect but some sneaky first away points of the year, acceptable.

First Half

Huddersfield pressed like terriers in the first twenty minutes without really creating a chance, except from dead balls. One particular goalmouth scramble saw David Ospina make his first close range block.

Two planes flew banners over the beautiful arches of the Huddersfield stadium and the 22nd minute of appreciative applause was well observed.

The Beast wasn’t sharp enough to poke home a near post flick-on from a corner before the first quality piece of football in the match produced Aubameyang’s mini record-breaking goal. Laca and Mkhi exchanged passes before setting Rambo free on the left. His outside of the boot driven cross was superbly anticipated by Auba sliding in on his derriere at the far post.

Second Half

The second half saw even more huffing and puffing from Huddersfield but little quality. Twice as many ‘attempts’ on goal than us but with one fewer on target tells its own story.

Two glorious one on ones for the boys in charcoal grey and pink were both squandered by Laca and Welbz respectively. Laca chose to lob a keeper who carried on standing up and Danny really needed to stop and change the angle rather than continue on his weaker left.

Huddersfield had two last attempts at spoiling the Wenger party, one shot flicking off the top of the crossbar and Ospina keeping out a last gasp header at the second attempt.

Ratings

Ospina – Probably did more than anyone else to ensure Arsene left with a victory … 7

Bellerin – Looked great in the Yorkshire sunshine  … 6

Mustafi – Some decent challenges and blocks … 7

Holding – Will be interesting to see if the next manager can bring more out of Rob … 6

Kolasinac – Rampaging Berserker … 7

Ramsey – Flitted in and out like a delicate butterfly  … 6

Xhaka – Great end of season, looking forward to him doing it all year  … 7

Iwobi – Scampered around trying to find a crack … 7

Mkhitaryan – on the beach already  … 6

Aubameyang – Became the fastest Arsenal player to reach 10 Prem goals, ultimately the match winner   … 7

Lacazette – Will a new manager have Alexandre down the middle with PEA on the left? – hmmm … 7

Subs

Monreal – presumably came on to bolster the defence? … 6

Welbeck – created his one on one with a fine challenge but couldn’t find the coup de grace – 6

Maitland-Niles – came on, passed and tackled well … 6

Summary

So Arsene got the send off he deserves with the team finally winning three points away from home at last.

Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending demolition of Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind to the danger. But most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs, or whistle for titbits, so they eventually gave up and left the Earth by their own means – shortly before the Vogons arrived. The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double backwards somersault through a hoop, whilst whistling the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’. But, in fact, the message was this “So long and thanks for all the fish”.

chas


The Final Hurrah

May 13, 2018

So we come to the end of a momentous season. Superb at home, dreadful away, nearly-men in the Europa, and about to be manager-less.

But let’s not look back just yet, let’s focus on this afternoon, just as Mr Wenger will. Can we finish with a win?

I cannot remember the last time all 3 promoted teams stayed up, can you? (without the help of Google!). A tiny club like Huddersfield avoiding the drop is a remarkable achievement. Huddersfield is a rugby town, home to Harold Wilson, There has been a settlement there for over 4,000 years and yet not since the ’30’s have they had any footballing success. HTFC have not been in the top tier since the early ’70’s. Promotion was huge, staying up is even bigger.

Given they needed points from their last 3 games which were MU, Chavs and AFC the Terriers seemed doomed but they did better at OT and the Bridge than we did – much better. Can they three-peat?

Herbert Chapman. Before AW without question HTFC & AFC’s most influential and successful manager. You know the rest … blah, blah blah Arsene Wenger.

My Team:

Cech

Chambers    Mustafi    Monreal

M-N   Xhaka    Wilshire   Kolasinac

Mhki

PEA     Laca

Ozil injured (???) and the Big Bubble banned.  This could be the final game in the shirt for a few of our players  – Wilshire, Ospina and a couple more may be on their way out.

It is the time for change which is very exciting.

The focus will inevitably be upon Mr Wenger. I have written hundreds of posts and PM’s  – all of which have featured Arsene. I have enormous respect for him and wish him well. The reception he was given at Leicester was spine-tingling, we can expect the same this afternoon.

A win would be great for a number of reasons; a final hurrah for Arsene, a better end of season party for the players, removing the inevitable media focus upon not winning an away match in 2018, and sending BR into the summer break with a smile on his face.

Thank you to those who have read my pre-matches throughout the season, they are usually fun to write.

COYRRG

 

 


Who should be the new Club Captain and Allegri, the new Boss?

May 11, 2018

Arsenal FC’s new Club Captain?

So the BFG is moving even further away from the playing side at the Club leaving a situations vacant for Club Captain.

Does anyone leap out at you as his obvious replacement?

Does the position mean much anymore?

Do we need a leader on the pitch?

 

Massimiliano Allegri – the next Arsenal manager?

Allegri featured for a variety of Italian clubs during his playing career as a creative, inventive midfielder. Promotion and a couple of decent seasons in Serie A with Pescara perhaps the highlight.

The lowlight of Allegri’s time as a pro footballer was a one year ban in 2001 for match-fixing.

Allegri’s managerial career is a different kettle of fish entirely. Having served his apprenticeship in the lower leagues, he first hit the top flight with Cagliari in 2008. The Sardinians finished a creditable 9th, not far from UEFA League qualification and played with such flair with extremely limited resorces that Allegri was awarded the Panchina D’Oro (golden bench), the Italian version of Manager of the season, ahead of Serie A winning coach Mourinho (I’m liking this chap already).

Milan liked the look of this nuovo arrivato, signed him up in 2010 and he led them to the Serie A title in his first season. When switching to Juve in 2014, he again won the top flight title in his first season, though it was to be the Old Lady’s 4th title on the bounce (the previous three while managed by Antonio Conte).

The following seasons at Juventus were littered with Serie A titles and Coppa Italia victories plus two Champions League Finals (losing to Barca and Real).

He seems a fine choice as Arsene’s successor, being strong on tactics but liking fluid formations and attacking pressing football. His daughter is quite attractive too.

chas


The Leicester Game….some match feelings

May 10, 2018

Well, if our own intrepid specialist author of the “in-depth” post, Mr GoonerB Esq, was confused after watching The Arsenal play majestic football against The Burnley, he will be aghast at the away performance of last night.

This was a match with no meaning, and the ten men of Arsenal put in a staggering display of effort, and commitment. Remember, this was away AND meaningless. Unreal. Had Arsenal managed to combine the performance of Sunday with that effort, over the course of the season well, who knows.

One thing for sure, I’d imagine the new manager will lick his lips at the prospect as he is inheriting a very talented squad who can really give it the beans. Yip, I know, the defence, but aren’t we just two or three worlds short, GB? I think we are.

My overall feelings? Yes, I still reckon Iwobi has what it takes, and Maitland Niles remains a truly outstanding prospect, and I believe that even using the word prospect is exceedingly harsh. Of course, the question of his his most effective role remains unresolved, but after last night, I’m a whole lot less concerned about an injury to Bell.

Lastly, it was a crying shame our young Greek got himself sent off, as I’m pretty sure we would have won otherwise, nonetheless, losing meaningless games does not hurt. It was after all a pulsating end-to-end encounter leaving me feeling very optimistic.

Written by MickyDidIt89