Suddenly the FA Cup is Worth Winning?

March 19, 2018


So, Arsenal FC win the FA Cup in 2014 and finish 4th in the League.

Arsenal fans …………. No-one’s happy as we didn’t beat anyone decent on the way to Wembley – only the spuds, Liverpool and Everton – yeah, but they were all at home. Fourth placed trophy again – we should be finishing above City, Liverpool and Chelsea.


Then we win it the following year, crushing Villa and also come 3rd in the Prem.

Arsenal fans …………. Not good enough – still didn’t beat anyone any good on the way to the Final – only Man Utd at the Old Cowshed and a few other sh*te teams. Fancy comin 3rd to the chavs and blue mancs, why do we always finish behind them?


No cup but a 2nd place finish, ♫ It’s happened again ♬

Arsenal fans …………. We only finished second thanks to the spuds spursing it up by coming 3rd in a two-horse race. We should have won the league and only came second because the spuds are bigger bottlers than us.


Arsenal finish outside the top 4 for the first time in 20 years but manage to win the FA Cup for the third time in 4 years beating Abu Dhabi FC and the Fulham Oilers in the Final.

Arsenal fans …………. Tinpot trophy again – why can’t we win the League or the CL? Sack the board, sack the manager and get rid of most of the players. Spurs finishing above Arsenal for the first time in 22 seasons – that’s the final straw.


This season Spurs, Man U and Chelsea all went out in the CL Round of 16 and all three are clinging on to the hope of an FA Cup win to save their season. At least two of them will finish potless this season (hopefully all three, cmon Soton! 🙂 ). Then again, probably 2 of them will have a 4th place trophy as well for consolation.

Arsenal fans………..Wish we were still in the FA Cup and had a shot at the CL, other than via the Europa.

Do we need some perspective?






Does Money Buy you the Premiership Title?

March 17, 2018

This was a reply to a GoonerB question which needed a wider audience

Everyone saw the recent Watford game in which we won 3-0. Was anyone really surprised? No. Why? Because Arsenal have a better team. Why do Arsenal have a better team? Because Arsenal have more money to buy better players. This is not rocket science. So I think it is fair to say that if Arsenal played Watford 100 times, Arsenal would win 95 of them.

It then naturally follows that if there were a league of just those two teams that Arsenal would win most of the time. However as the odds suggest Arsenal could have an off day as we did when Watford dumped us out of the FA cup. This is the equivalent of Leicester winning the league, they are the exception that proves the rule that the clubs with greater spending power are more likely to win the league.

Things should be clear now using the Arsenal – Watford example, where it gets complicated is when loyalty gets in the way because that can be the only excuse for not seeing that exactly the same applies to Arsenal and Man City. If they they played us for 100 consecutive games they are more likely than not to win 95 of them for the same reasons I give above.

Winning is quite simply all about money, it is not a case of Stan Kroenke loosening the purse strings; he is not competing against another rich man he is competing against an oil rich country. It cannot be won and should not be expected to be won.

So what does this mean? It means that yes we can still win the league but the odds are against us. What I want is a manager who understands this and accepts the challenge in order to increase the small chance of winning the league to the maximum that it can be. And who do I think is best placed to achieve this? Arsene Wenger and that is why I remain loyal.

That obviously needs explanation but I don’t want to turn this into a book.

Taken from a comment written by LB

Arsenal thrash Milan. Draw 12:00 GMT today. Thoughts.

March 16, 2018

Usual from me here. You all saw the game.

My thoughts: we have much better shape with Mikhi in the side and Mesut should shoot more.

Ok, the competition itself…………………..

I’ve always believed Arsenal should be dining at the top table alongside the Bayerns and Barcas, but I am having second thoughts. We know from tried and tested experience what happens in the Champions League. Few rubbish group games, then we meet a good team and that’s that. We cannot compete amongst Europe’s finest.

The Europa is, frankly, more our level. I’d say the quality of destinations for the away traveller is on a par, and of course we don’t have to go through that terrible bother of trying to finish in the top four, which is increasingly becoming a bit of a bore. Being a dedicated cup team appeals to me far more, as each and every game of knock-out phase football encapsulates the conclusive drama about it.

Today’s draw.

Madrid, Salzburg, Moscow, Leipzig, Marseille, Rome, Lisbon.

You may have noticed I list as destinations rather than football clubs, because this is the way I view these things. We all know Madrid are the best side (as well as being the top spring time destination), and should be avoided until a more palatable one-legged final.

Of the remaining destinations, my order of priority would be: Lisbon, Salzburg, Rome, Moscow, Marseille, Leipzig.

Written by mickydidit89


Ossobuco alla Milanese or Soggy Pasta? – AC Milan Preview

March 15, 2018

Let’s take a look at our history against AC Milan in the Champions League (sorry, Europe) to date.

Peculiar that games have always finished to nil

In 2008 after a tight home leg finished goalless, Cesc in his pomp led Arsenal to a resounding 2-0 victory in the San Siro; the first English team to win there.

2012 was a different story altogether.  Battered 4-0 away from home, the return leg at the Emirates looked a formality for Milan.

This was from BR’s pre-match on 6th March 2012.

“I expect the atmosphere to be great tonight, few will expect us to go through, and the fans will get the opportunity to see some superb players in the Milan side. The mood from the blogs indicates we are favourites to win but not by much. I tend to go along with this view. Arsenal are a damned good team, capable of beating anyone when on-form (including Barca and RM),

Mr Wenger has stated that he will play a full team which is exciting. We do not play again until Monday evening, so the players can go flat out from the first whistle.”

As it turned out, the players did go flat out from the start, went 3-0 up by half time with goals from Kos, Tomas Rosicky plus BSR and so very nearly pulled off a glorious comeback.

This season the situation is reversed almost 180 degrees. Two goals to the good in the San Siro, on the back of a surprisingly excellent performance, leaves the second leg at home, with Milan in the position of having little to lose and Arsenal everything. As Micky said the other day, ‘Milan get one first half and it’s clenched buttocks time’.

There is no way the players will be complacent after the sequence of results they (and we) have endured since the turn of the year. Exercising extreme control over any jitters and showing mental fortitude will be among the attributes required to see the job done.

Having said that, Milan were fairly average in the first leg and whether that was because they got stage fright or because they are not as good as their current run suggests, we shall find out this evening.

Team news

It would appear that everyone is available though there are still rumours about tests for Shkod and Mesut. Even Alexander Lacazette has resumed full training and could be available after the impending international break. Maybe Elneny might get a game after his fine performance against Watford, then again, maybe Jack was being rested on Sunday precisely because he will play tonight.


So, lads, all you have to do is play as you did last Thursday, closing down, always attempting to give the man on the ball options with some excellent off-the-ball movement, defend using the Roman ‘testudo’ formation and take a couple of chances. Cheers.

Testudo or ‘tortoise’ formation

We are comfortably odds on favourites to get through to the quarters with the best odds available on Milan qualifying about 6 to 1 against.

I, for one, am praying the bookies are right.







Truly, Ugly, Deeney – Watford Ratings

March 12, 2018

Troy Deeney being fit to play (when I say fit, I mean breathing and able to walk as long as it’s not uphill and too fast) was the best news this game could have had. With Watford in the relative safety of mid-table obscurity and ourselves being so far off the title pace, meant that there was little to play for except a few points and some comparisons of testes size. Deeney was the vital ingredient in the latter and he didn’t disappoint.

 First Half

Shkodran scoring a carbon copy of his goal against the spuds after 8 minutes calmed any supporter fears that Watford might spawn a couple of early goals as they did at the Emirates last season. It was a perfect delivery from Mesut with which he smashed Cantona’s first to 50 assists record. How the first half finished 1-0 is anybody’s guess. There really were some great chances. 4-2 was Ant and mine’s assessment of the possible goal score.

Amongst our better chances, Auba missed a one on one right at the start of the game, The Beast battered one across the penalty area so quickly that Auba could only get a toe on it and then Mesut got into a magnificent position with a glorious first touch only to lose his composure with the keeper floundering on the deck. Pereyra missed Watford’s best chance skying over after Petr had ended up behind his goal line blocking a free kick.

Second half

The cones did not do their job at the start of the second half. The Arsenal crowd and players all looked as though they wished they could be at home (along with the many who didn’t bother attend). Watford, on the other hand, had their best spell, pressing Arsenal back towards the Clock but without giving us too many heart flutters.

Our first attack of note in the second period resulted in the BVB connection putting us two up. Micki slipped the ball through to Auba with perfect weight, stranding the keeper in no man’s land.

Then came the moments everyone had come to see. A Watford striker went over Maitland-Niles’ knee (in live time it looked to me as if our young Tory had got himself in a position to field a cricket ball rather than make a tackle) and the ref had no option but to give a pen. The pantomime villain stepped up to take the kick, only to allow Cech to make a one handed block which went away from the goal rather than back towards fatty. Cue wild celebrations – it was just like scoring a goal. Two one and things could have gone tits up quickly, but with a two goal lead we were still cruising. Great fun.

Conceding and then saving the penalty woke up both the crowd and the team. We looked comfortable from that moment onward, even with Calum having to deputise for Shkod. The third goal came with a quarter of an hour to go when Micki and Auba reversed roles allowing the Armenian to notch another Arsenal goal so quickly after his crucial effort against Milan. The Emirates crowd even produced a little volume, asking Mr Deeney if he knew what the score was. To his credit, he did seem to be smiling, the hideous gargoyle.


(Ratings are always subjective and always likely to be swayed by confirmation bias. Some like them, others don’t – perhaps it’s worth remembering that they’re there to give you something to bounce off.)

Cech – A save from a penalty against our Troy, no flapping and 200 clean sheets, lovely … 9

Maitland-Niles – a few sloppy passes didn’t detract from a quality performance, defended well with both interceptions and tackles, while looking smooth with the ball at his feet  … 7

Mustafi – Excellent early header, drove the defence and looked more like the leader he could be. Hope his groin isn’t too sore this morning  …7

Holding – All of our defenders struggle against the high press when the rest of the team do not give enough options for a pass, Rob was no exception. Made some fine tackles and blocks, and was even making better decisions about when to just get rid, TA6 style as the game progressed  … 7

Kolasinac – Improving as an Arsenal player, whether that’s partly down to the standard of opposition or down to eating less fish and chips, we’ll find out later  … 7

Elneny – Had a fine game in the centre. Chosen to start alongside Xhaka we might have thought that the midfield would look a bit static and lacking forward drive, but Mo provided plenty of thrust and no small measure of forward attacking passes, too … 8

Xhaka – Granit’s form is improving game by game, his defensive positioning is better and I still love his left foot  … 7

Ozil – No subjective rating is ever possible for Mesut, he oozes class and the number of goals and great chances he creates is testament to that  … 8

Mkhitaryan – Looking more like an Arsenal player with each game, should have had a penalty which Atkinson (Fifa referee, yeah right) chose to ignore to add to his goal and assist … 8

Iwobi – Watching Alex from the upper tier, you can see that he’s seeing great passes all the time, it’s just that, at the moment, his execution is lacking somewhat. It’ll come, keep working hard BIG17  – 6

Aubameyang – Settling in nicely, once he gets his razor-sharp finishing back up to scratch, his partnerships with Mesut and Micky could be most productive  – 7

Subs – Chambers slotted in well, Danny produced a rasper and Jack came on for no good reason.




Losing Faith In Arsène

March 10, 2018

This post was written by the inimitable RockyLives on October 23rd 2012. It’s worth another look, not only for the superlative nature of the writing but also the sentiment. Read until the end else you’ll miss something. Ah, Rocky. 

Saturday’s defeat at Norwich affected me much more than is normally the case with our setbacks and I have spent the last couple of days trying to figure out why.

Usually in the wake of a bad defeat (or even a depressing draw, like the 4-4s against Newcastle and Totteringham) I am able to keep things in perspective.

But on Saturday evening perspective was nowhere to be found: it was off cavorting somewhere with Lord Lucan and the Loch Ness Monster.

In yesterday’s Post Kelsey said: “That was one of the worst team performances I have seen for many a season.”

I would go further: it was the worst performance I can remember from Arsenal since Arsène Wenger took charge.

Casting my mind back to earlier horrors, there was always either an extenuating circumstance or something positive to grab hold of.

Collapsing 8-2 at Old Trafford? Well, we were a club in turmoil with a team comprising mostly youths and reserves.

Drawing 3-3 at home to Norwich during the run-in last season? The defence may have gone missing but at least we scored three.

Going from 4-0 up to finish 4-4 in the debacle at Newcastle? Again, we scored goals. Plus Joey Barton behaved despicably to get one of our players sent off and Phil Dowd gave the worst refereeing performance that this spectator has witnessed in more than 40 years.

I could go through many more examples (sadly) and there would always be some crumb of comfort to take away from the mess. But not on Saturday.

On Saturday we were so poor that the only crumbs were little bits of broken dream, dissolving dismally into the East Anglian turf.

Going forward, we were as toothless as a granny with gingivitis. At the back, we were as impregnable as an Essex girl on a Saturday night. And in midfield we made so many backwards passes we might as well have been playing rugby.

The three pillars of successful football – Skill, Passion and Determination – were absent without leave, away with Lucan and Nessie.

Of course, as you probably know, the disappointment hit me harder this time because I truly believed that we had put those sorts of performances behind us. Not that we would never again have bad results – that happens to everyone – but that there would be no more examples of just not turning up for a game that was  there for the taking.

In recent seasons I have felt that these kinds of showing were down to an inherent psychological weakness in the squad – one that also always manifested itself in our traditional late-season collapses.

And the weakness I blamed on the fact that the balance of the squad was wrong: too many young players who did not know what it took to win the big prizes. And that we also had players who were disruptive to good team spirit (like Nasri and Adebayor).

This season no-one can say we don’t have experienced, mature players throughout the squad: Mertesacker, Arteta, Podolski, Giroud, Cazorla for starters. And there seems to have been a good sense of camaraderie among the players so far. The only potentially disruptive factor has been the on-going saga of Theo’s contract, but you just don’t get the sense that he is someone who would cause trouble in the dressing room.

I know we have a lot of injuries, but when I saw the starting 11 for Saturday’s game I was happy we had a team capable of bringing home the points.

So when we lost in such a timid fashion, my train of logic went like this: here we are again with another abject surrender; but we now have mature players; we no longer have the disruptive elements… so it must be down to the manager and his team.

I do not for one second believe we lost because we were tired from international travel; or that we were complacent. Other teams also had many players on international duty and they did just fine. And we have had so many bad results to lower placed teams in recent seasons that the complacency thing doesn’t wash.

What was lacking, I felt, was any sense of motivation from the team. And the man ultimately responsible for motivating them is the manager.

If you look for a link between all the bad performances of the past five or six years, it’s not the players: the personnel have changed so much that our current team is barely recognisable from even two season ago; it’s not even the silent whipping boy of some supporters, Pat Rice. Pat has left and the man everyone wants to replace him is now in his position; the only link is Arsène Wenger.

In my post-Norwich doldrums I started to realise I was losing faith in Arsène. And that’s why this defeat hit me harder than any previous one.

Losing faith in Arsène is like falling out of love with your wife. It can creep up on you and before you know it, you’re looking at someone you have known for years as if they are a stranger.

The things that were so appealing, so charming – the windmilling arms, that way of drawling “weeellll…” at the start of every answer, the silly knee length puffer jacket – suddenly look silly. Unattractive even. But that’s enough about my wife. A similar effect was starting to happen with my view of Arsène.

In a marriage you can go to a relationship counselor who might just make you realise that the woman you always loved is still there, it’s just that current circumstances have got in the way of you seeing her properly.

In a football relationships, there are no counselors but there is good counsel to be found. And I found it here in the comments of Arsenal Arsenal. I read a litany of disappointment and disbelief. But, as the shock of that awful performance wore off, I also read many comments putting it down to “a bad day at the office.”

And while there has, perhaps, been a reassessing of expectations for this season, many commenters also pointed to the optimism we felt after the West Ham and Liverpool wins; to the quality of our performance against Man City. Surely the team that did so well in those games can not have vanished overnight?

There IS a link connecting all our poor performances of recent years. But it’s not Arsène (or at least, not a failure on his part to motivate players). The link is the changing economics of football.

This link forced us (rightly) to build a bigger stadium, with the period of austerity that it inevitably brought; it meant that when sugar daddy owners came on the scene they could skew the market for players to such a degree that even a club like Manchester United can no longer compete equally; and it meant a club like Arsenal, running itself sustainably, would suffer defections of key players at bad moments.

That’s the link that has left us now with a team in which several regular starters have only been with the club a few months; a team, therefore, that will inevitably stutter occasionally as it gels together; a team that has lost the EPL’s top goal scorer and player of the season; a team that gets lambasted by the ignorant press for not adopting the sort of Gordon Gekko economics that have bankrupted the entire nation.

No manager could have produced a title winning team during that period. In fact, no manager could have kept a team in the top four throughout all those crazy years.

Except that one man did: Arsène Wenger.

My faith wobbled, but it has come back stronger. We may win nothing this year. We may not even finish in the top four. But Arsène is still the right man at the helm and the tide in football finances is turning ever so slowly in our favour.

And I have a funny feeling that this version of Arsène’s Arsenal is going to surprise us all.

Written by RockyLives


Milan 0 Arsenal 2 – Witnessing A Miracle in Milan – Player Ratings

March 9, 2018

The psychology of the human, or is it the human psychology? I don’t know, but one thing is for sure, it is a funny old thing. Bit like football.

I have just scanned down the list of the remaining 720 sides left in the Europa, and Milan are, by some considerable margin, what we would call the historically ‘biggest’ named team remaining.

Of course they are nowhere near the Milan of old, but an away win in their home town at the legendary San Siro must feed the psychology of the Arsenal footballer a huge dose of positive vibrations.

Those select, nay elite, few of us who actually managed to watch the entire second half unaided, may have missed the two goals that knocked the stuffing out of the Italians, I wouldn’t know, but not only will our players take confidence into the second leg but into the rest of the competition.

I’m sure we’d all rate Atletico as the biggest threat, but come on, beating them is certainly not beyond us, and I believe our chances would be improved by meeting them in a one off game like the final as opposed to an earlier round two-legger.

Ok, the game itself. For previously mentioned reasons, I might not be best placed with the detail, in any case, I don’t like detail so I’m very much in my comfy zone here.

The team pretty much picks itself which is a real positive. I’ve mentioned before on the blog how I think Granit is a fine player, just not best suited to our own team’s needs in the more frantic English League, however he looked way more comfortable on a pitch with our continental neighbours. You may think it strange that I pick out this particular individual, but this defensive midfield spot is our Achilles heel in the league.

Not sure how serious The Beast’s injury is, but M-N looked absolutely superb. Confident, composed and very very capable.

That’s it. Me done. Over to you Arsene. Rest the whole lot against Watford I say.

Written by MickyDidIt89

Ratings (chas)

Ospina – Another clean sheet, his pace off the line is both his strength and also his weakness, made some excellent interceptions though, so gets a deserved pass – 7

Chambers – Calum must have found playing in a team running its nuts off to support one another so much easier than playing during Sunday’s debacle, nearly scored with a left foot half volley belter  – 7

Koscielny – Really focused and oozing assurance, watching those scary Gattuso videos must have helped get him ‘in the zone’ – 8

Mustafi – another who grew in confidence as the team began to play football again, a warrior when he’s not acting like a tart – 7

Kolasinac – gained in confidence along with the team until he got injured, needs to work on his final ball, though has probably forgotten what you do when you reach the byline – 7

Ramsey – he covers so much ground trying to find space and his ability to pop up in support of the striker is crucial to our style of play, I so love it when you see an Arsenal player round the keeper, it’s as if you can start celebrating a whole half second before the ball is over the line – 8

Xhaka – playing in Europe you could see Granit’s class, his passing and defending were excellent away from the frantic white noise of the Premiership – 8

Wilshere – Jack seemed to be playing further forward than expected, linked very well with his midfield partners, a competent display   – 7

Ozil – two assists, you could visibly see him enjoying playing in a team that was playing football once more and he ran his legs off   – 7

Mkhitaryan – his quality shone through, crucial goal to cement the team’s fine start, a proper footballer, that’s why he didn’t get on with Mourinho – 8

Welbeck – Vast improvement from the MTH, constantly closing down, finding space and holding the ball up well. Much talk about his mishit but I thought the Milan player running behind just clipped his heel, anyway, everyone catches one fat every now and then – 8


Maitland-Niles – so cool on the ball, his pace is a wonderful asset – 7

Holding and Elneny – slotted in and did what was asked of them – 7


Big Weng – got everything right, Gennaro who? – 9