Arsenal to Park The Bus?

February 15, 2017

I should be excited as we go to play one of the very best teams in one of the best stadiums  in the world, I’m not. Is this CL fatigue, Arsenal fatigue, same old same old or something deeper – perhaps a winter depression? Who knows, all I know is that I’m not as passionate about tonight as I should be.

Last night didn’t help; to see the best team of my lifetime, Barca, humbled by a team we drew with twice (luckily!!) was a sign not just of the inevitable atrophy of life but also the end of another era, and I have only a few more eras left! A depressing thought.

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Let’s be honest, the vast majority of us hope only that Arsenal can fight hard and return with the second leg being competitive. If we score then that must be possible and score we can.

Bayern Munich are not unbeatable and if we had a fully functioning first 11 in good form I would expect us to win. Instead we have to be pragmatic and this is where Micky’s BM line up will come to the fore. Coquelin is not good enough or strong enough to combat BM’s midfield, he will need help, a lot of it.

We have beaten City  and BD  playing conservative tactics, rope-a-dope works sometimes (thankfully not often). Will Mr Wenger PTB? Doubtful.

My Team:

Ospina

Bellerin       Mustafi      Koscielny     Monreal

Xhaka     Elneny     Coquelin

Ozil

Welbeck     Sanchez

Of course AW will not play the above, he will start Theo ahead of Danny and almost certainly Iwobi ahead of Elneny, but we can hope.

Much has been written about Ozil, little of it good, but we all know that if there was a combined AFC/BM team only 2 or 3 of our lads would start and Ozil is one of them. He is German Player of the Year and has been  for 5 of the last 6 years. He is not a bottler, he is just a man out of form and we all know, form is temporary, class is permanent.

Arjen Robben may start tonight; what an objectionable cheating arse he is, for a man who has as much talent as any footballer on the planet, why does he have to be so objectionable? Hope he gets Xhaka’ed early..

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Thinking of which, if he starts this is a huge game for Xhaka. Get sent off tonight and his Arsenal career is deeply in doubt, we cannot play top teams with 10 men. Has he learned his lesson? Can he be as effective without a bit of spite? Vieira learned it and became a legend.

This could be Mr Wenger’s last CL campaign, he deserves a signature victory and tonight would certainly be one.

Can we win? Why not.

COYRRG


Clement to improve ailing Swansea?

January 14, 2017

Swansea. What a shame. Lovely small club, promoted to PL. Get big name manager. Do exceedingly well considering budget. Sell best players. Don’t re-invest. Manager wants better players, owners want profits, manager resigns.

Then it is all downhill. Managers come and go, results don’t improve. Relegation highly likely.

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So far this season Swansea have had 3 managers and are in dire straits (60 y.o. Mark Knopfler as their play maker). That’s what happens with crap owners. It could happen to any club.

Arsenal. What makes our club special? A history of careful stewardship. What would have happened had Usamov taken control? We will never know.

Today’s game is a potential banana skin. Swansea have some confidence after their win over CP. They also have a new, very good manager in Paul Clement, Quite why he left Bayern Munich where he was assistant manager to take over at Swansea is a mystery . At Derby, he only lost once in 19 games!

We have the usual injury list but welcome back some faces. Hector and Kos return having put pen to paper. I would play Gibbs and give Monreal a rest

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin    Mustafi    Koscielny    Gibbs

Ramsey    Xhaka     Coquelin

Perez    Sanchez    Ozil

Why drop Iwobi? I don’t know, just so Ramsey can get a mother game under his belt. There is likely to be a midfield battle and we are away so I would pack the midfield, hence Coq/Xhaka.

We need to win today (as always) but it will be no easy victory.

COYRRG


Where Gunners Dare

November 4, 2015

Permutations. It’s all about permutations and priorities.

BFG or Gabriel, Gibbs and/or Monreal, Flamini or Campbell, defend or attack, 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 or 4-3-3, expect to lose and play at 90% therefore keeping something back for Sunday, prioritise the PL over the CL?

Oh, how I wish we had taken some points from our first two games, if we had then this could be a game where our boys could attack and play our normal game, testing our wonderful flowing inventive football against the best in the world. As it is, I expect Arsenal to use the same tactics as in the home leg – defend and hope to hit on the break.

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Munich’s Finest

This being the case I would start Flamini alongside Coquelin and pack the midfield especially as the brilliant Bellerin is injured and Robben is fit. I doubt Muller will play so poorly again nor that Neuer repeats his Flapianski mistake, Bayern will be even better.

However, Mr Wenger has stated in his pre-match conference that Arsenal will attack from the start – could I be wrong or is this one of AW’s smokescreens? We shall see.

A forward line of Giroud, Sanchez and Campbell is potent especially with Ozil supplying the ammunition – we can score on the road as we have shown by scoring twice as many goals away from home in the PL as at the Emirates (7 home, 14 away – bet you didn’t know that!!)

I loved the result in the first leg but in all honesty I would have preferred us to try and match BM punch for punch. Playing the Chav way and parking the bus is effective and shows that our team has a Plan B and a Plan C but great teams play attacking football, which is why the Mourinho’s CL victories are so tainted.

BM are a brilliant side, already way ahead in the Bundesliga and are 2/5 on to win tonight; they have won all 7 home games this season. At the Emirates BM controlled possession and the tempo of the game but lost. My fear is that if Arsenal try to do the same tonight we will lose as well. A loss at BM and a draw in the Olympiacos/Zagreb would be OK.

In recent times it is rare that I go into a game thinking that a point would be a wonderful result but a draw in Munich would be fantastic, it may do nothing to help us get out of the group but fantastic nonetheless.

COYRRG


Rope-a-Dope versus Tika Taka

October 21, 2015

In 1974 Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman for the Heavyweight Championship of the World.  Throughout the bout Ali hung on the ropes, covering up, defending and soaking up the punishment being dealt out by the favourite.  When Foreman inevitably tired, Ali took advantage and won the title.  Ali called it his Rope-a-Dope method.

Last night Arsenal emulated the great Ali.

Bayern came to play Tika Taka, a style of football developed at Barcelona under Bayern’s manager Pep Guardiola.  They dominated possession, they dominated passing, they dominated territory.  Arsenal defended, as the first half went on Arsenal defended deeper and deeper, Cech pulled off some terrific saves.  It was not all one way however, Arsenal attacked on the counter and it was Neuer who pulled off a great save to scoop Theo Walcott’s close range header off the line.  Still Bayern created the intricate passing patterns but the didn’t score.

The second half was a repeat of the first, Bayern keeping the ball for long periods, racking up the pass count but being unable to break down Arsenal’s resolute team defending.  Eventually the Bayern players began to tire and the inevitable happened.  Santi Cazorla swung in a free kick from the right, Koscielny went for the ball Neuer flapped at it and missed, Oliver Giroud stumbled into the gap left by Koscielny and somehow got enough contact on the ball to force it over the line.

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On nil to the Arsenal.

The tiring Bayern players swarmed forward in a desperate search for an equaliser, leaving ever widening gaps at the back.  Hector Bellerin won the ball near the half way line, sprinted forward and beyond his full-back to square the ball to the onrushing Mesut Ozil whose shot crossed the line fractionally before Neuer knocked it out but it was just too late, the fifth official stood with his arm upraised signalling the goal and a remarkable Arsenal win.

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A two nil victory that seemed as unlikely as Ali’s over Foreman all those years ago in the Rumble in the Jungle.

Written by Norfolk Gooner.

We have been blessed with 2 match reports today – only fitting after such an epic performance 🙂

…. and now the inimitable Steve Palmer’s unique view of the game …..

Morning all,

And what a beautiful morning it is, One sentence sums up the game just right. Hook, Line and Sinker. They came with a long run of wins, and feeling we would just roll over. They had taken the hook. We gave them line lots of it, and we let them take as much as they wanted, but we defended Magnificently, in  the final minute we sunk them good and proper, the first sinker came after Giroud replaced  Walcott. In the first minute of him coming on, a flighted ball into the box Had their goalkeeper scampering to the penalty spot, but Koshielney’s jump  made him lose sight of the ball, a diving Giroud had the ball hit him, straight in the face which ricochet onto his hand, and then in the goal. Our final sinker was steered in by Ozil, after a fantastic interception from Belerin who robbed the defender by sheer pace , he was being wrestled, but shrugged that off, to slide a perfect pass to our German Midfielder, Hook Line and Sinker in one.
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I watched this game live on TV Lineker gave us little chance, after all Bayern had won Nine Bundesliga games on the trot, plus their last two Champions League games, Ferdinand sporting a beard that did little to hide his wonky mouth, he felt like all defenders, that our defence needed to be aware and Per Merts would have trouble with Lewandowski, after all the man is a goal scoring machine.
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Asked if Arsenal could win this game , Ian Wright said of course, to sniggers from the panel, Michael Ballack Rio Ferdinand all looked at Wrighty, and he said, Well they have to. The talk was all about Lewandowski, Hardly a word about Arsenal but what else would you expect. Even the news reported the game, but no mention of the fantastic win, only about the Bayern Munich fans arriving late to their seats, in way of protesting the price of tickets.
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The fact that Arsenal had beaten probably the best team in the world at the moment, by two goals to nil. was secondary to the price of tickets. Last nights result showed Arsenal to be the best team in the world on the night. When a team claiming to be, the New Invincibles, at the Home of the original Invincible’s, are asking to get beat, and beaten they were.
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Chances for both teams through out the game,  the better chances for us in my opinion, but we squandered them, I felt we could have been leading comfortably at half time, but instead we were level. Bayern had the majority of the possession, and were playing majestically, but they were playing against a very robust Arsenal defence. They tried and tried to force a way  through, but Arsenal were resolute, Arsenals breakaways were fast and swift, often penetrating Bayern’s defences, but poor finishing let them off, time and time again.
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We did have a tendency to rush passes, and we gave the ball away on many occasions, but the way we recovered and massed in force kept Bayern at bay. Every Arsenal player worked their socks off, they worked from the first minute till the last, every one a hero, Sadly Aaron Ramsey suffered a hamstring, and will miss three or four weeks, but every body else walked off Jubilant, and no others looked to have any visible signs of distress, tired of course, but all should be ready for our next game.  Petr Cech made some very good saves, and was adjudged MOTM I felt his half a dozen great saves was secondary to our magnificent  team, i would have awarded it to the whole team.
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There were things that could have been better, but that’s for another day, today is to sit back and reflect, Arsenal’s talents are surprising me more and more.
Steve Palmer.
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………. and just to celebrate the victory from every aspect, here are the thoughts of one of AA’s most insightful analysts Gooner In Exile

It was interesting to hear Ferdinand’s thoughts on Ollie coming on and the difference it made, basically he said that if you are not switched on as a defender it is tough to switch from the way you have attempted to contain the small pacy forward and suddenly you have to switch to a physical game against someone who wants the ball in to his body.

And I guess that the defenders have been worried about the ball in behind so much they are giving themselves one or two yards head start on the foot race, suddenly the ball is going into Ollies body and he is bringing midfielders into the game with a platform. Also the fact that at the set piece with they had to put Muller on Kozzer so the centre backs could deal with BFG and Ollie, and that adds further confusion to their game plan.

Whilst possession might not have been level according to stats zone we had an equal number of shots in the box however we got far more of ours on target, and Munich were adjudged to have 2 clear cut chances whilst we had 4.

And that at the end of the day was the biggest difference.

Here’s a stat for you, we completed 207 of 278 passes against the possibly the best team in Europe, Chavs managed only 278 out of 378 in Kiev with an equal number of passes on the other side.

Biggest difference between us and those Chavs playing Munich in the CL final is the way we break with the ball, it’s not a hit and hope to someone to chase and then attempt to polish a turd, it’s worked through the midfield with pace and precision, we did the same vs City last season.

But best of all is probably the way we have changed our game in the last three matches.

United….high tempo….high pressing….
Watford…..patient…..passing possession…
Munich…..defensive shape…..quick counters…

But obviously we never change our game plan for the opponents 🙂

The thing is it’s always been the same 11 and the same formation, and that is why players should be able to drop in and out without issues. The subtlety in tactics is what we do with and without the ball.

The thing is we often play sides like Watford so that style gets seen as our norm, we rarely face three contrasting opponents in quick succession so the tactical changes are never as evident.

United have a front three that can hurt you, but if they can’t get the ball to them they can’t hurt you, so you press their poor passing through midfield and from the back, Watford like so many others will sit back and kill you on counter, that tactic will work against us once in awhile but generally we find a way through to a win, and Munich like us to teams like Watford can kill you with fullbacks, midfielders and forwards, so you keep them in front of you and use the ball when you have it well.

There was a very interesting discussion about Klopp and his style on one of the podcasts, basically the theory being that he won’t yet have realised that the game is played at 100mph every week in the PL and that teams do not accept their fate even 1 or 2 nil down. His ability to cope with that will make or break him and his “heavy metal” football at Liverpool.

Gooner in Exile

 


Coquelin’s Night.

October 20, 2015

MWG. I could stop here, couldn’t I? Having spent three days of almost constant vodka drinking it may be for the best but such a peach of a game deserves more.

Tonight’s match is everything we long for as football fans. An evening kick-off at home against probably the best team in the world. Our team is in good form, we have few injuries, the weather looks clement, the pitch is perfect, we have the chance to see Lewandowski and his pals try to repeat recent victories at The Emirates. It should be a great game.

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One major difference between our 0-2 loss last time out is our goalkeeper. TPIG/Fabianski or Cech for an important CL game – who would you pick? Though to be fair TPIG was sent off thanks to a Robben dive.

Team selection will be interesting; OG or Theo or both? BFG or Gabriel?

I would start with Theo and continue the successful policy of bringing on OG for the final 20 minutes (should we need goals). Walcott is in the best run of form of his AFC career and pace is more likely to cause BM problems than OG’s more ponderous play.

Gabriel may be more suited to playing against Muller and Lewandowski but BFG has the nous and we will need his experience (plus he can understand what the opposition players are saying to each other!)

Big night for Ozil. He was poor when we played BM last time. I wonder whether he would rather be playing for the opposition tonight? This is no throw away question, my guess is that any German player wants to play for BM just as any Spanish player would like to play for RM or Barca; this is not the case in the PL where we have no stand-out club.

If we are to win sound defence is essential. We are potent upfront and in good goal-scoring form. Total concentration and no mistakes from the back 5 please – none of that silly stuff we have seen in the previous two CL games.

Did you read that Mr Wenger is in the list of 10 managers who can win the the Ballon D’Or ? So too, is Guardiola. Guardiola’s BM contract runs out at the end of next season – as does someone elses. Co-incidence?

The Bayern team is full of big names, thankfully Robben, Goetze and Ribery are unfit but BM don’t seem to be affected by the loss of two wonderful players.

Coquelin will have fun tonight. Vidal, Xabi Alonso, Alcantara and Costa are somewhat different opponents to the chaps at Watford and Leicester! I am really looking forward to seeing how he copes with this challenge and judge just how far his game has progressed. Discipline will be important – his habit of picking up silly yellow cards could become costly. It is amazing that Coquelin has become such an important cog in the team, long may his development continue.

As regulars know I am a huge fan of Aaron Ramsey. His goal at the weekend could be the start of a return to his form in front of goal which has been so sadly lacking of late. Add a few more and he is amongst the best MF’s in the PL.

No point writing about the effect a draw/loss would have upon our CL future, we all know the situation.

On a personal note, should we lose tonight it will result in another season with no Raddy/Didit tour – for that reason alone I am desperate for a win.

I cannot say I am confident but I do give us a fighting chance. Arsenal are a bloody good side when we are on form and we are in the midst of a good spell. Play like we did against MU and we can win.

Football is all about Glory. A win tonight would be Glorious!


Bayern: A Fan’s View.

March 15, 2014

The draw for the next round of the Champions League was about to be made. Please, please Munich or Madrid. Two sides I’d love to see us beat, and two Cities I’d love to visit.

I packed light. Scarf, wallet, passport, ticket, fags, lighter, Nicorette gum, e-cigarettes and a lightweight tunnelling shovel just in case.

We lift off from Bristol Airport at 2pm on the Monday, and I’m in my hotel in the middle of Munich by 6pm local time. My chum Max doesn’t arrive until Tuesday evening, so I head to the bar where there are already gathered ten or more committed drinking Gunners. Three of us head into town and explore a wonderful City. We launch into a heart stopping Bavarian Meat Fest of epic quality and then back out into town. We visit every one of the famous beer halls (thanks for the tip YanMan), and eventually roll back into the hotel in the early hours.

Match Day. Kick off not until 20:45 local time, so plenty of time to explore. I opted for the two hour trip to Mount Wank. The train journey South and West to The Alps takes you through absolutely stunning countryside. Past Lakes and then into the foothills before journeys end. Turns out Mount Wank is little more than a pimple, so I opt to head up The Zugspitze (Germany’s highest peak at over 9,000 feet with views over four countries).

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Step One. I board the small mountain train that climbs the steep snowy base before entering a tunnel gouged through the heart of the mountain itself. Being the only passenger not in heavy footwear and florescent arctic clothing, looks in my direction are curious. Emerging in some ski resort or other, I then head to the cable car for the final push. At this point, curious looks turned to something more sinister. Now I don’t know if any of you have ever in your youth boarded a tube train in rush hour, with dyed orange and black hair, reeking of fish with every square millimetre of your hands bloodied and scabbed, having done a day’s work with sea lions, but I have, and the feeling is one of being highly toxic and infectious. The unsurprising upside is that you find yourself, as I did in the cable car, with a lot of space to yourself and the most terrific choice of views.

Wow, the view from the top was breathtaking on a perfect day. I felt fantastic. Things were going well.

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I managed to re-join one old mate as well as my new chums back in the hotel bar around 18:00.

Off to the match and a fast thirty minute express train to the outskirts of the city. Emerging from the underground, the Stadium comes into view. Perhaps half a mile away, it sits isolated on a barren plain sitting there like some squashed glowing poisonous tropical fruit. It is impressive in its Bayern Red luminous robes.

Stadium

I’m guessing there were three odd thousand Gooners high in the North End behind the goal. For me, our vocal support was somewhat muted in its potential as there were two distinctive areas of noisy support, and being divided by a quieter central group, we never managed to sync and get maximum volume. Nevertheless, we did our best against overwhelming numbers. Incidentally, and perhaps it was just on this occasion, but the Bayern support was nothing like as colourful or vocal as we experienced in Dortmund. Having said that, they all remained until the very end. Now it’s worth remembering, that this Stadium is a 40 minute tube ride to the main Munich rail station, and also, that kick off is a full hour later. Mmmm.

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Needing to be at the airport at 14:00 on the final day, there was time to explore the City. It really is a lovely place. Stunning architecture and very friendly people. Time to visit a Palace, and track down some chocolate to bring home. Sitting outside a café in the sun, I pondered the difference between Munich and London. Striking to me was the absence of road markings and hideous signposts everywhere. The lack of traffic wardens and surveillance cameras. Uncluttered by ludicrous instructions. It struck me that citizens in Munich are capable of making their own decisions and not nanny stated. Clearly a very personal view, but it appeared to me that people were allocated individual responsibility, and they used it wisely. It was refreshing. I liked the place very much.

Here’s a question to myself. If I knew for absolute certain that The Arsenal were going to win every single game, would I still go? No, I wouldn’t. We lost to the current European Champions, and these things happen. I don’t mind. The team played with passion and pride, and I banked more very happy memories. I was in Dortmund with Raddy when we won, and that was also memorable but for more reasons than just the victory, and next season I want to try again. I met Gooners who were there when we beat Villarreal and Madrid, but they had to witness losses on their travels for that to be possible. This is football, and it is exciting. To make these journeys with fellow Arsenal fans is a privilege.

Thank you Chas and Ant, as without your amazing away support, I would never have been able to go.

Written by MickyDidIt


Can he inspire us to another win in Germany?

March 11, 2014

One of our own is out there. A solo mission without backup and on his birthday. Can he do it again? Can Didit’s positive energy inspire The Arsenal to another surprise win? It has worked before so it could work again – perhaps he is the lucky charm.

Big Raddy is a logical man, not prone to flights of fancy nor believing in things which cannot be proven …. and yet …. I still believe in lucky socks, lucky wine, lucky mints +++ When I go to The Emirates I have to take a certain route to the ground and drink in a lucky pub. My guess is that you have rituals as well, so why shouldn’t Micky’s presence affect the result?

I could write at length about this wonderful Bayern team – you will have read or heard all the stats – they are the best team ever in the Bundesliga which is some achievement. They have averaged almost 3 goals a game at home and have only lost twice in 100 home games – we know who inflicted one of those losses  🙂

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So, despite Guardiola’s assertions, BM are huge favourites to win the game and the tie. But  ….. we have reasons for quiet confidence. We have won there before, we have just beaten a good Everton side, we were better than BM prior to Szczesny’s sending off and we are The Arsenal. Plus we have our secret agent  ……

It is remarkable that we have beaten both Bayern and Borussia in their own grounds on our last two visits to Germany. Which other team in world football can say the same? I will tell you …. none

My Team:

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Gibbs has a late fitness test and Monreal is just recovering from his foot knack so given the inexperience of both Jenks and Bacary playing left back I would prefer to see Captain Fantastic playing there  – he has done so in the past and it allows us to play the dreaded 3 at the back.

Give Podolski a run on the hour and perhaps give Gnabry a kickabout should we be losing (highly unlikely)  on 75 minutes – just to show the Germans what they have allowed to slip away.

Munchen: In Old German means “place of the monks” (unsurprisingly) because the Benedicitne monks established a monastery in the area. It was officially granted city status in 1175 and was a stopping point on the Old Salt Route through Germany. The city expanded rapidly when Duke Louis of Bavaria was crowned German king in 1314 and Holy Roman Emperor in 1328. He gave Munchen the salt monopoly which brought great wealth into the city and by the 15thC it was a gothic centre for arts and architecture.. By 1506 Munchen had become the capital of the independent  state of Bavaria (later to become a Kingdom) and remained so until the unification of Germany in 1871 .

Pre-match we will be split in our predictions between the optimists and the other less smiley people but come match time we shall all unite behind our team. There is a chance we can recover from an undeserved home defeat and without belief all is lost. A similar scoreline to last season will take us to penalties  …. errrm  ….. we need to score 3 !

A final note …. About now Micky will be climbing Mt. Wank singing songs from the Sound of Music – which song do you think he will sing at the summit? I am going for “High on a Hill was a Lonely Goatherd”. 🙂

Written by BigRaddy