Arteta’s new Arsenal v Klopp’s Liverpool – Community Shield

August 29, 2020

I’m prompted to write a few words following a fairly unpleasant contact with a so-called “supporter” on an Arsenal site who described us as “serial bottlers” who will obviously lose today.

We could of course get beaten, but I challenged his description and loyalty. I then called up his profile and discovered he was in fact a Liverpool fan!!

Having referred him to 30 years of waiting for his team’s current success, and possible “bottling” tendencies in that time, I gave up with reasonable debate.

So, having finished last season on a high, including that glorious win against the Dippers, what can we expect tomorrow?

I’m inclined to believe the comment, that neither team will be particularly concerned at the importance of the game, and may pick “weaker” teams. Hope however, that Mikel will see the need to try to keep momentum up and give us a team strong enough and motivated enough to get a win.

Bernd is back in as Emi is “not available” apparently. Will Mikel persist with three at the back? Pleased with Saliba’s first game on the right and, if three is the decision, would keep the MK Don’s line up. I, however, would like him to go back to four, even against those dangerous Liverpool front three ( if they play), and would select, Saliba and Holding, with Tierney and Bellerin as full backs.

I recognise that Liverpool, with their attacking fullbacks, are probably the most dangerous team to play four at the back with, but it’s what I would try out. Dont want to scare Saliba to death but…….well just me perhaps.

I would then go ‘different’ to precisely counter those full backs with five nominally in front of that back line. Shock! Horror! Not quite as radical as it sounds!A M-N on right and Saka on left. Both pressing those full backs first when Liverpool have possession. Torreira and Xhaka (if I have to!) centrally, with Dani just in front. Aubang to lead the line centrally. Pepe/Nelson to be potential right side replacements if required. Eddie and /or Laca if extra support required up front.

I’m hoping we haven’t given up on Partey, and good news to be announced re Aubameyang and Gabriel in near future. In the meantime, do us proud Gunners and make it a competitive game with hopefully a win to celebrate.


Starting Art School – Everton Preview

December 21, 2019

I was amused to see that if you scramble the letters of Mikel Arteta’s name you come up with: A TITLE MAKER.

Omens are not to be sniffed at, and if that anagram is a taste of what Miki is going to do for us I’ll grab it with both hands.

Mind you, for those who think we should have waited until he’d actually managed a team before snapping him up, there’s also an omen in his letters if you care to look for it: TAKE ‘IM LATER.

Enough of such nonsense.

It’s impossible not to feel encouraged and excited about the future now that we have a new man in charge.

Supporting a football team is a mixture of hope and despair and neither can exist without the other. We have been despairing of late, but now there’s a fresh start and – for a while at least – we can hope. It’s like that feeling you have on the morning of the first day of a new season: every fan of every club thinks that this could be their year.

So what about the man himself?

No doubt he has a big task ahead of him to turn around our fortunes, but it’s not the first time he’s arrived at the Emirates with the good ship Arsenal dangerously adrift and heading for the rocks.

He signed for us at the end of the summer transfer window in 2011 when we were all over the place and had just been hammered 8-2 at Old Trafford. Along with Per Mertesacker and Yossi Benayoun, who joined on the same day, he helped us find calmer waters.

When Arteta turned out for Arsenal he was an exemplary pro. He predominantly played as a deep-lying midfielder, the link-up man between defence and attack (forming an excellent partnership with the BFG). It was not his preferred position (he wanted to play further forward) but he never complained and did his job brilliantly.

The word that comes to mind to describe him is “precise.” Precise in his play, precise in his demeanour, very precise with his hair.

He’s had three and a half years learning from Pep Guardiola, the best club coach of the past 10 years. He’ll also have learnt plenty from Arsene Wenger and, let’s not forget, he experienced the famous Barcelona academy system as a youngster.

All this is encouraging, but the proof of this Christmas pudding will be in the eating. I don’t doubt Miki’s football knowledge and insight or his coaching credentials. But it will be his character and personality that will make the difference. Can he take that most difficult step from being a good number two to being a good number one? Can he impose himself on the fractious and demoralised egos among our squad? Can he deal with the very public pressures of coaching a top club like The Arsenal?

Your guess is as good as mine, but for now I’m happy just to have the hope.

One of my hopes is that he’ll take this squad by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake. I sense that, over time, Emery lost the respect of the players and they also lost confidence in him. Miki needs to hit the ground running and show that he won’t stand for carelessness, laziness, bad attitudes and sulks.

He’ll be watching from the directors’ box today as we take on his old club Everton at Goodison Park, with Freddie Ljungberg in charge of matters for the last time.

I suspect Fred is relieved to be passing the baton. This little stint will have done his future prospects as a coach no harm at all, but it was hardly a good situation for him to step into with no proper assistant coaches and a team whose confidence is shot.

I would love Fred to go out on a winning note and I fancy he will. What his role is moving forward remains to be seen, but I hope he stays at the club.

The Everton game brings two great footballing superstitions face to face: it’s “ex players come back to haunt their old club,” versus “new manager bounce.”  We’re at risk from the ex players, but if Iwobi or Walcott manage to bag a goal against us I hope we’ll have the fortitude to score more in reply.

As for our new boss bounce, I know Miki is not technically in charge today, but all the players know he’ll have his eye on them and they’ll want to impress.

Our crop of injuries doesn’t help. With Kieran Tierney already out for weeks the last thing we needed was for Sead Kolasinac to get crocked, but crocked he did get. With Rob Holding still out and Hector Bellerin doubtful we’re looking threadbare at the back.

Here’s my wild guess at our starting line-up:


Chambers Luiz  Sokratis  AMN

Xhaka  Torreira


Pepe  Aubameyang  Martinelli

Everton are six places and four points below us in the Premier League table, but have started showing a bit of spirit since Duncan “Elbows” Ferguson took over as caretaker manager. They’ll be up for it today and I expect a close game which we’ll shade by the odd goal, perhaps 2-1 or 3-2 to us.

It’s way beyond time that we Gooners had something to be excited about it. Let the new era begin.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!


Who Do You Believe?

May 28, 2018

Mr Gazidis stated last week that the BoD had rigourously interviewed 8 candidates prior to employing Mr Emery. He said that all 8 wanted the job right up until the final decision was made and all had been through a full interview process.

Do we really believe this?


Who were the 8? The media say PV4 was approached at the last minute as a token gesture but that at no time was he interviewed for the post. Arteta we know about but the other 6/7?

Dyche? Howe? Seri? Could it have been Allerdyce or Moyes? The chap from Østerlund?

I cannot believe Guardiola or Zidane or Tuschel or any of the top managers who are currently employed by successful Big Clubs would want to take on AFC – despite it being a very attractive and well-paid job.

Conte? Perhaps. Poccettino? It would have been very funny but surely, if Ivan is telling the truth, we would have employed him as Poch would be an excellent choice for us.

Any other candidates?

Or was Ivan’s statement just a fop to the fans  as we took a last minute punt on Emery instead of Arteta?

We will never know

written by Big Raddy

Goodbye Poldi, Mattie, and who else?

June 9, 2015

Deadwood. We always have them but our current deadwood is quality.

We don’t have a Bendtner or a Denilson (sorry boys I liked you both), instead we have a German International with 123 caps and almost 48 international goals (more than Rooney), a French DM who wowed us on his return from AC Milan but is now well down the pecking order thanks to the excellence of the players in front of him. We have Campbell who had a fantastic WC and is still only 22 but has over 40 International caps. Times have changed.

And who else? No-one in the defence, they are all good enough and young enough. Perhaps Szczesny could go but I for one hope he stays.

Midfield? Apart from Flamster who could go?

Jack? Don’t be silly.

Cazorla? No way.

Ramsey? Are you nuts?

Coquelin? Given his remarkable improvement who is to say that he cannot continue to improve next season?

Arteta? Club captain and the recipient of a contract extension to 2016. Same as Rosicky.

In the forward line there are more possibilities for change. As discussed over that past few days, a new CF would be good  and Sanogo could be sold but why when he has potential and has just turned 22.

Theo? We have done this 🙂

Ozil and Sanchez? To sell them would be completely mad – unless we can get €30m more than we paid for them and even then I hope AW would say Non.

OG? Neigh.neigh and thrice Neigh. Another who is improving every season.

What do you think, who gets the Spanish Archer? (El Bow)

written by Big Raddy

Do we need a Centre Back or a Defensive Midfielder? Vote.

December 31, 2014

To CB or DM, that is the question?

We are rapidly approaching the January transfer window and let’s be honest we are aquiver with excitement (slight exaggeration!) We have a gaping hole in our squad and AW is sure to fill it, but how?

CB: Do we need another centre back? With Monreal, Debuchy and Chambers all able to understudy BFG and Koscielny, is another CB essential? Will we be able to attract a young player to sit on the bench or will the new chap take over BFG’s starting role? There are fears that Kos will leave in summer, I have not heard anything which convinces me he is Barca-bound but who knows? If he is then a big money signing is a must – Hummels or someone of his standing will be the order of the day. BFG has played almost every game this season and he needs a break – is it any wonder his form has suffered, but perhaps his loss of form is permanent as the Big Man becomes even slower.

But if they both stay and we buy someone who will be benched? My gut reaction is neither as we will try to continue with the personnel already at the club.

DM: Flamini’s contract is for 18 more months, Arteta is starting to creak and is prone to muscle injuries – his absences are costly as Flamster, despite his energy and commitment, is simply not good enough. We need to sign someone who can play DM and at a push CB. But they are much in demand and expensive. Carvalho – the flavour of the month – is valued at over €25m and the only time I have seen him the man was anonymous. However, we are in need of a direct replacement for Arteta or are we? Can Ramsey, Wilshere or Ox or even Chambers play the role?

What do you think?

Written by Big Raddy

Arsenal 1 – 0 Leeds: Genius Never Gets Old

January 10, 2012

It’s not a trick of the eye, it’s not a fancy photoshop job. That is indeed Thierry Henry in an Arsenal shirt, an Arsenal shirt of 2012, wheeling away to celebrate a goal.

And not just any goal, but an Henry goal. Song played in a brilliant through ball that split the two covering defenders, Henry took one touch to control the ball, and himself, and then he curled right into the corner of the net away from the keeper’s despairing dive. This was a goal that was a blast from the past – the good old times when it would be Bergkamp or Bobby Pires or Freddie playing the ball into Henry. It brought a joy to the Emirates that we’ve not seen in some time.

More importantly, it also brought us into the Fourth Round of the FA Cup where we play Aston Villa.

Leeds came with one objective last night: shut up shop and try to get a return leg at Elland Road to bring in some much needed funds. In the first half we had 63% possession, but created little in the way of real chances. Arshavin, Ramsey and Arteta all had half-chances but none that really caused panic in their defence.

I must give a word to the three mentioned above. Despite his wayward shots and odd bad decision, Arshavin put in as much effort last night as he has done in a long time in an Arsenal shirt. He kept going until the last minute, and it was pathetic he got the yellow card (although deserved) when he was the one kicked and dragged all night. Ramsey and Arteta also put in a massive shift in midfield, both are neat players who aren’t afraid to get stuck in. Wenger’s choice of Captain was spot on – Arteta is a calming influence in there, and with Jack due back soon from injury we’ve a nice midfield forming.

As for our younger players, Chamberlain had a decent game. He is a willing lad, always game to run and try the odd trick to get around his man, he’s not afraid of a shot either. What I liked about him last night was how he would spot a man free on the other wing and switch play with a good pass. Ramsey did the same on occasion. It was a great shame Coquelin went off injured, he has played well of late and was proving he was deserving of his run in the first team, hopefully his injury isn’t serious. Yennaris had a decent game with he came on for Coquelin, didn’t do anything rash and wasn’t afraid to get on the ball.

As for Ignasi Miquel – can someone make sure we wash all that Barcelona DNA bullshit out of him so when he becomes a top defender he’ll stay at the mighty Arsenal and not whinge to “go home. ” Here is your home Ignasi! He is only 19?! Is he?! Composure or what? (Although I know it is Leeds and they didn’t threaten much but this is based over his few games this season). (PPS He also has lovely hair).

At the back Kos and Squidgy did what was needed, which wasn’t much. Szczesny also did well to stay alert and make a good save right at the death – however, he needs to remember that sometimes it is okay for the keeper to just boot it into the stands. His fancy dan stuff out on the sideline that gave the ball to a Leeds player could be more costly against a better side.

Aside from that, Chamakh started well for ten minutes and then did little. I’m not sure if its him not trying or us not playing to his strong suit (whipping balls into the box for him to attack) but at the moment I’d rather see Park getting the spot on the bench and having a shot – with Chamakh off to Africa he should have his chance now, or will Henry take it?

And so we are back to where we began – with Henry. The headlines are all going to be about him tomorrow and why not? Look how much the goal meant to Henry, meant to Wenger, meant to everyone at the Emirates, to Arsenal fans worldwide, to non-Arsenal fans worldwide.

You see, genius doesn’t get old. No matter who a man plays for, you have to appreciate when they are good, when they are great. There was just this more than horrible belief that Henry’s career would be overshadowed by that handball against Ireland because that was the last “big thing” Henry did. Until last night. Last night’s goal was so simple to Henry, it brought back all those other 226 goals with waves of emotion.

THIS IS HENRY! This is the Henry that must be remembered. Twitter was absolutely mental last night with people proclaiming the “Return of the King” and it wasn’t just Arsenal fans. All the Arsenal players were buzzing, players from other clubs, commentators, celebs, nobodies, everybodies – think what you may of Henry’s return but isn’t the buzz that moment created reason enough to smile and be happy?

That handball against Ireland will be put into the annals of history and everyone will be talking of 9th Jan 2012 and where were you for the second coming of the king?

Me? I was at home in my room in Ireland going mental, thanking Henry for the one birthday present I wanted more than most (ask Peaches), and while you are reading this I will be at work, wearing an Arsenal shirt from the Unbeaten season with “Henry 14” on the back and telling any Irish person that wants to argue otherwise that 78 minutes into last night’s match is Thierry Henry, Son of Arsenal and one of the finest players the world has ever seen.

With 12 minutes remaining, Henry scores his 12th goal against Leeds in 12 appearances wearing number 12 on his Arsenal shirt in 2012

Tell me it wasn’t meant to be?!

Written by IrishGunner