A Last Hurrah.

May 15, 2016

Final PM of the season and Your Foreign Correspondent is away on manoeuvres, but being a man with a sense of duty this post is being written before WHU (hopefully) beat MU .

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Villa come to the Emirates after what must be their worst season in living memory. 3 managers , 3 wins all season, the draw with N’castle gave them their first point in 10 games. An angry fanbase, an owner who lives 5 thousand miles away and doesn’t appear to give a damn, players who are equally dispassionate, It is a shambles.

Could Villa win today?

They better not!!

I have no doubt Villa will be looking for a battling performance after all these are professional men playing for their careers. Some who are at the end of their contracts will be desperate to show they have value, others, like Lescott and Abangymethingy are already multi-millionaires and perhaps not so committed but this afternoon will not be an easy victory – we will have to play well to win.

Pressure. Can this Arsenal team respond to pressure? Well, we are on a unbeaten 9 game PL run, have shown character to come back from losing positions against MC, WHU and Spurs, so the answer should be Yes.

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The Last time we played AV on our Final game of the Season

A huge fillip is the return of our midfield, any team would struggle without such vital players. That said, as soon as a few come back a couple of England Internationals get long-term injuries!

We all know the value of 3 points today especially if The Miscreants fail up at St. James Pk. How funny would that be?  😀

The team: I would start the same chaps who got the draw at City with Ozil replacing Welbz.

Cech

Bellerin     Gabriel      Koscielny     Monreal

Ramsey      Elneny     Iwobi/Wilshere

Sanchez     Giroux     Ozil

Given how important Mr Wenger views the Euro’s I would not be surprised to see Wilshere start in place of Iwobi allowing Ramsey to play further forward.

Coquelin: Is he on the naughty step? He is fit so why isn’t he starting? He has gone from being one of the first names on the team sheet to riding the pine without any discernible reason.

I am sure Santi will get some pitch time in order for the fans to show their love. Rumours are that he is off in summer though my hope is that he continues to entertain us for a couple more seasons.

No excuses – we have to win this afternoon. The tough work was done up in Manchester now the lads have to finish their season in style.

Let it be so …

p.s. This being my final pre-match of an exciting campaign may I take this opportunity to thank all those who have read my views and contributed to the discussions.

COYRRG


Arsenal Stroll in Villa Park

December 14, 2015

Arsenal cruised to the top of the league after a controlled but determined two nil win over Aston Villa which topped off what was pretty much a perfect week.

It wasn’t that much of a surprise that the EPL league leaders elect should have beaten the team at its foot and soon to be Championship fodder but before the start of these kind of games there is always a nagging doubt at the back of the mind that whispers: maybe today is the day when Villa get lucky and pull off the totally unexpected and we all know that a WBA or Norwich result was just about the last thing we had wanted.

The Good Guys took to the field clearly brimming with confidence after our heroic midweek win and proceeded to take control. Nothing could have suited us better than an early goal and that is exactly what we got. After nine minutes, Özil sent a long pass down the wing for Theo to sprint after, shoulder to shoulder with Alan Hutton the Arsenal away supporters pantomime villain for the day, Theo got free but was pulled back in the box by Dick Dastardly.

TW

The Arsenal players pleaded for a penalty which looked as though was going to go missing until all of a sudden the referee did a quick calculation and realising that we needed all three points to go top duly pointed to the spot. Giroud grabbed the ball with purpose, as though any one else was going to get close, and placed it on the spot, made sure everyone was looking, signalled the drum roll and then coolly slotted it home.

Aston Villa v Arsenal - Premier League

Arsenal immediately went into keep ball mode but as poor as Villa were, Arsenal were always going to need a second and, yet again, that is exactly what happened. Villa were pouring forward in the vain attempt to get an equaliser when Ramsey made an excellent tackle at the edge of our box to recover possession. With Villa having committed so many men forward the break was on; Wales’ finest sent the ball ahead of Walcott who sprinted onto it, he immediately sent it cross field to Ozil who, although, having an excellent chance to score himself squared the ball to no other than Ramsey who had made a lung busting run into their box where he was able to guide it home.

AV

Two nil and the game was over bar the shouting. Villa did put a bit of effort into it at the beginning of the second half but Wenger made two earlier than normal substitutions in Gibbs and Oxlade-Chamberlain for the tiring Campbell and Walcott and English pair’s freshness ended Villa’s flutter and normal service was resumed with Arsenal looking like the side who were more likely to score again.

The little piece of controversy I would throw into the mix is that I don’t know if you have noticed but in my opinion we are playing a lot more simply since Sanchez got injured. Our football is less complicated, the ball is being passed, controlled and then quickly passed on again, no trying to beat three players first, just receive it and move it.

Normally, 9 times out of ten, when Özil gets the ball looks for Sanchez but with Chile’s finest out, Özil has to look elsewhere. Mr Assist has no other choice but to try and find Giroud or such. In normal circumstances the Frenchman would be ignored, frozen out, the pass of last resort. Giroud is not part of Sanchez, Özil and Cazorla’s club, whole games have gone by with the three musketeers playing amongst themselves with Ollie hardly getting a touch which must be a drain on his confidence but with Sanchez injured Özil has had no choice but to try and find Giroud, as do the others; the result being, that Giroud’s confidence has soared and his scoring has hit a purple patch.

I know what you are thinking, there is no way that Campbell or Walcott are going to keep Sanchez out and yes I agree but Arsenal have won all three matches since Sanchez was sidelined so maybe they should keep mining this rich vein of form for a while longer?

Written by LB


Brothers in Arms

December 13, 2015

After the fantastic victory midweek and the joy which emanated around the Arsenal world a win today would make Xmas shopping just that bit more fun. Unfortunately this Arsenal team is quirky – last time we won 3-0 away (Swansea) we lost the next 1-5! This time I expect the 3-0 to precipitate a long run of success

Fortunately Villa are not yet at the level of Bayern Munich but they are improving under Remi Garde who has taken on a huge challenge; a job which if he takes them down will be money for nothing and let’s face it, Villa are in dire straits.

I like Villa and wish them well but no wins in 14 and 8 games without a home victory bodes ill. However, Gestede, Bacuna and Grealish are due to return from injury and the naughty step so they will be optimistic of a change of fortune.

Villa have some real “take the man as well as the ball” players – the mad Scot Hutton, the mad Dane Okore and the mad Englishman Lescott who will be looking to let Ozil and friends “know they are there”. A windy day, a heavy pitch and a determined team with more sweat than ability could lead to more injuries for our boys.

And what of The Arsenal? I expect the FP to be rested this afternoon and get the last 20 minutes, that said I am sure he will want to continue his scoring run and perhaps Mr Wenger will opt for his strength upfront. IMO we would be better off with the pace of Theo and Campbell against AV’s lumbering defence.

I would like to see The Ox start, so my team would be:

Cech

Bellerin     BFG     Koscielny    Monreal

Ramsey     Flamini     Ox

Ozil

Campbell     Walcott

This season has seen some bizarre results with unexpected losses by the top teams – let’s all congratulate Bournemouth – so Arsenal have to beware of over-confidence.

Our last match against AV was one of the best performances I have ever seen by an Arsenal team. Enjoy.

If we win we go ToTL and we will – if we play as a team and work in harmony, like brothers in arms

Let it be so …..

COYRRG


Our Annual Trip to Wembley!

June 4, 2015

The build-up to Wembley started on the previous Thursday with Ant upsetting Pedro the Mackem on their five-a-side night with his answer to the question, ‘What are your plans for Wembley?’  Ant’s reply was, ‘The usual’ which was deemed  a little presumptuous by someone  who rarely gets to go. Then again, as this was to be our fourth trip in just over a year , was completely understandable.

Our routine involved an overnight stop at Beaconsfield and subsequent train into Wembley Stadium overground. So we set off at our ‘usual’ time of 8.45 in the car from Nottingham, aiming to get to Beaconsfield in time for a swift beer at the Wetherspoons alongside our budget hotel, before trekking off to get the bus into Beaconsfield town centre to catch the train. On the car journey we received a message from one of my godsons who’d drawn an Arsenal badge to get us in the right mood. Beautiful!

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So we arrived at the hotel car park, as was tradition, in plenty of time to sneak an aforementioned swift blonde real ale at the ‘Spoons. The first photo of Ant in his Cup Final beret was duly posted on Facebook and proceeded to get over 20 ‘likes’, largely down to Ant’s uncanny resemblance to Benny Hill.

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Our next photo message received showed the Vines Gooners from South London proudly displaying their yellow colours, including our littlest Gooner, Charlie. We also saw that my attempts at a homemade rosette had been well and truly trumped by older brother Jon with his spectacular red and white creation.

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Meanwhile Ant and I had disembarked at Wembley and had eventually found Watkin’s Folly, our potential first stop. A fiver on the door which was to include cheeseburger and chips put off the younger Vineses as we knew that a packed lunch of humungous proportions to come negated the need for early sustenance. The Sports Bar across the road had no such door charge and with Ant in desperate need of some bladder relief proved a convenient first stop in the Wembley environs.

The said bar was festooned with shirts from many top teams and also one from Totteringham Hotspurs. Ant’s attention was grabbed by a peculiar signed photo of Tony Adams cut from a newspaper which made our Tone look huge. Judge for yourselves.

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And so it was on to The Torch, our intended substitute for The Green Man which had been the venue for the Semi and both Semi and Final trips at the end of the 2013/4 season. The South London contingent arrived and we were provided with an FA Cup-themed packed lunch menu. So pleased we refused the cheeseburger!

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Jon strung his Santi banner up on the pub car park fence much to the consternation of the next door neighbour who’d had his fence pulled over in previous football supporters’ shenanigans. After some reassurance that we would be extra careful not to do any damage, photos were taken and the usual disarray ensued.

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The back bar of The Torch used for drink replenishment, was ideal with small queues which allowed  several refill runs with virtually no hassle, to be purchased. Double rounds the order of the day. Jon bought a free Captain Morgan hat for a fiver from a happy fellow Arsenal fan who cheekily tried to get us to buy another only a few minutes later.

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Having quaffed a gallon we set off toward the stadium, but as we were Eastsiders for the day, the route took us along Wembley Way for a change allowing time for more photos which demonstrated how we’d managed to stay pretty sober!

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Taking our seats, the atmosphere was electric. The Villa fans contributing a great amount to the atmosphere, while the Arsenal fans, complete with complimentary yellow and very dark blue scarves, turned Wembley East side to a cacophony of buzzing bees.

The match was a sublimely joyous celebration of Wengerball with almost zero stress, some magnificent goals and a Villa team completely outclassed on the day. What a Final for us Gooners to savour!

Post match saw more photo opportunities at our designated meeting point, the Bobby Moore statue.

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Next on the agenda was beer. We eventually found Las Iguanas restaurant in the Wembley retail complex and jugs of beer and some organic cider for older bro were ordered to be quaffed at a perfect table outside. We spoke to many supporters on their way past. The Villa fans were graciously magnanimous in defeat. In a way they were  just pleased to have avoided relegation thanks to Tim the Gooner and were revelling simply in the chance to be part of the day. All credit to them. Our favourite encounter was with a Villa fan who had teamed up with an Arsenal fan only an hour previously but who’d suddenly become best buddies. The Villa fan reminisced about players from previous generations including ‘Sideways’ Mortimer which involved a crab-like mime which was priceless. The mention of the venerable Jimmy Rimmer of Arsenal and Villa fame stimulated a favourite Arsenal keeper discussion of which Almunia was the clear winner. Superb.

Having turned down an overpriced burger restaurant, we headed back to our usual curry house on Wembley High Road. We were welcomed by the owner as if she recognised us.  It was another excellent decision and raucously enlivened by some Villa fans playing Roman numeral beer games at the adjacent table. Their forfeits involved the belting out of old Villa songs involving  ex players such as Nigel Reo-Coker  and garden sheds. We joined in their rendition of ‘ Where’s your European Cup?’ much to the consternation of a particular Arsenal fan on the table the other side of us.

All that was left for the day were train journeys back to our respective billets, so the four of us made our joyous way to the train station and eventually into the land of nod.

Ant had managed to procure an extra scarf and some discarded flags which I’ve since given to my godsons in Nottingham. Their Mum would like them to be Notts County supporters but she agreed that there’s no harm in them supporting another team ‘that wins things occasionally’. Haha.

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What an amazing trip, on a par with some of our Cardiff experiences of the early 2000s.

Up The Gunners, roll on next season.

Written by chas 


Alexis to score. Ozil MotM.

May 30, 2015

If I said I was totally confident I would be fibbing.

A year ago we were a goal-line header away from being 3 down after 20 minutes to Hull, and Villa are a better team. Much better.

Under normal circumstances having beaten a team 3-0 away and 5-0 at home I would be planning my trip to the Victory Parade but Sherwood has transformed Villa, more importantly he has transformed Benteke. In my opinion, Villa’s chances rest on the big fellow’s shoulders. Yes, they have other weapons but nothing our heroes cannot cope with if they play as per normal.

How to rate Sherwood? Tim “Nice But Dim” – or is he? I like the cut of the man’s jib; he is a very different manager to Mr Wenger who eschews passion and fire (and gilets) for logic and intelligence. Mr Wenger’s management style fits his team- we are artists who play with the brain first and foremost, whereas a Sherwood team plays from the heart and stomach. I prefer our style, don’t you?

Statistics all point to an Arsenal win – Villa have beaten us just 3 times in out last 34 games, Alexis has scored more goals this season than the AV team added together etc etc but stats don’t win games, players and luck do.

We have the players, we will have to see about the luck but I was up early cycling down to the forest to sacrifice a virgin (I had to import her from the Faroe Islands as there are none in Copenhagen), I have feng shuie’d my living room so the TV is correctly positioned (which meant blocking the doorway with the sofa), I have donned the lucky socks and pants, wearing the lucky shirt, will drink the lucky wine and Mrs Raddy will buy the lucky cake from the lucky cake shop. If we lose it will not be my fault 🍀

As to tactics ….. mwaaah. I know very little and leave that up to the AA tactical wizards.

One thing I have yet to mention is just how excited I am that Arsenal are in their second FAC Final in two years and have the chance to win it two years running for the second time  – the only club to do so, and this is our 19 FA Cup Final – another record.

17.30 kick off. Anyone know why? What is wrong with 15.00? Is it to sell more beer to the fans?

Referee: Jon Moss. This is the lemon who did nothing when Debuchy was pushed over leading to his shoulder injury and to his season being ruined. He also allowed Crouch to repeatedly elbow our CB’s in the face. Let us hope for a better performance this evening.

We have many AA’ers going to the game and I hope we can have some wonderful pre-match commentary from A & D along with some pics from other attendees. For the rest of us it will another afternoon hiding behind LB’s sofa.

I am hoping for an early goal to settle the nerves. I expect Alexis to score. I expect our midfield to weave their intricate magic and set up chances for our forwards. I expect Ozil to be voted MotM.

And in the words of one of England’s greatest heroes “Arsenal expects that every man to do his duty”

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Rabid Gooner and Sammy’s Dad

I am 56% confident.

COYRRG


Arsenal 5 Aston Villa 0

February 2, 2015

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Five superb goals from the good guys and a clean sheet to boot, what more could we want from a Sunday midday match?

The same next week, I suppose is the answer to that question but one step at a time.

With Welbeck and Sanchez out we had to make do with Ozil and Walcott, I know, I know but needs must and all that and yet even with this handicap Arsenal brushed Villa aside with a top drawer display from pretty much every player throughout the team.

The first fifteen minutes were impressive, the interplay was crisp and precise: Walcott was making excellent runs through the middle and his team mates were finding him. Villa had no answer to his lighting fast speed but it was Giroud who opened the scoring with a deft little pass from the returning and ever stronger Ozil. The Frenchman found himself one on one with the keeper and seemingly when everyone thought he was going to lose control, he chipped the ball over the on coming Villa keeper and into the back of the net.

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Everything looked set for a thrashing but we were made to wait as our initial impetuous plateaued. Somehow we managed to start letting Villa back into the game: Ospina needed to make a fine save to keep us ahead but no matter how hard we tried to make them look good and boy did we try, we were not able to succeed. Villa are absolutely awful.

There were a few frustrating moments in the first half; we should have wrapped the whole thing up a lot quicker, attacks were petering out too easily, although, now in the warm after glow of the win they can be comfortably filed under the heading of “Still a bit rusty”.

I think we started the second half the same way as we left off, no better no worse it looked as though the game was going to simply drift but 42 million pounds worth of talent does not stay anonymous forever – and it didn’t. I haven’t seen the replay so I cannot remember how the ball came to him but oh how deliciously sweet did Mesut Özil hit that it into the far corner. It had a purr factor of 10.

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2-0, nerves settled and Wengerball was back on the menu. Not to be out done by the retuning German, the returning Walcott was going to get in on the act as well. Yet again, I don’t remember who played the ball to Giroud but Theo jumped on it before it got to him, instinctively controlling it before curling it past the keeper. It was a very well taken goal.

SOCCER Arsenal

Villa were beaten and the play turned on “Olé” football with everything going through Cazorla who was outstanding as ever. He got on the score sheet with a penalty won by Chuba (hope he stays) Akpom, as did his fellow countryman Bellerin with a low precise drive into the corner which I think I am correct in saying was his first senior goal for the club.

All in all a result that we expected but as the saying goes: you can only beat the team in front of you and we did just that – emphatically.

Bring on the spuds.

COYRRG

Written by LB


Heroes and Villains

February 1, 2015

Remember the opening game of last season? Remember the final whistle? The feeling of angst and anger following the disappointment of losing 1-3 to Villa pervaded the club. Perhaps that atmosphere created the determination which drove us to be top at Xmas (brilliantly predicted by Rocky Lives).

What has changed since then?

Ozil, Alexis, Chambers, Bellerin, Ospina, Welbeck, Debuchy. Quite an ensemble. Are we better? The points tally would say No.

I would be shocked if Villa scored 3 times this afternoon – they have been through difficult times, scoring just 11 goals – 9 less than the next worst (Hull), 28 less than The Arsenal and have scored one goal or less in their last 19 away games! Yet, their last game showed improvement, Villa beat high-flying Bournemouth in the FA Cup.

Lambert is yet another of the hyped managers who have been trumpeted by the media as the next big thing; like Laudrup, Clarke, AVB etc etc he is proving how difficult the PL can be.  Do you think that if Mr Wenger managed Aston Villa they would be a better club and team? Of course they would.

Having won our last 4 games with increasing panache the portents are definitely for an Arsenal win but I have been supporting this team for too long to take a win for granted. This will not be a walkover – Villa have some excellent players; Benteke would flourish at The Emirates, Delph is a better Coquelin, the goal from new-signing Gil shows he is a talent, their defence is strong especially at CB. Beating them will require Arsenal to be in top form.

 UnknownBenteke praying for AW to sign him

Enough of them, what about us? Selection is interesting as the long-term injured return to fitness and the first team. To Ozil or not? To Walcocott or not? To drop the excellent Rosicky or not? Ospina or TPIG? etc etc

Here’s my tuppence worth. Defence: Ospina has to start. Then it is Chambers or Bellerin. Given the pace of Villa’s attack (Ang-backdoor etc) I would start Bellerin. CB pick themselves. Monnreal desrves to keep his place after a good run of form.

Coquelin or Flamini? Coq deserves to continue. Tomas or Aaron? Sorry Mozart, but Aaron is essential. As wonderful as Tomas is I prefer the youth and power of Ramsey. Cazorla is undroppable, which leaves the attack.

Given the absence of Alexis I would play Ozil, OG and Theo.

Can you name all the managers of English clubs who have won the European Cup? Have a try.

Clough is easy, so is Paisley, SAF, Busby,. You may struggle with Fagan’s Liverpool or to remember it was Di Matteo who lifted Big Ears with Chelsea. But if I told you that Aston Villa have won the European Cup could you recall their manager without Googling? No? Neither could I 😀 (answer below)

Given yesterday’s results and the improvement in form of both the Knuckle-Draggers and the Hub-Cap Barons we need to in today. If we don’t it will be a huge disappointmet. But we will.

Too depressed watching yet another England batting collapse to write more.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy

(AV manager who lifted Big Ears was Tony Barton.)