Roast Chicken?

February 16, 2013

Let’s cut to the chase from the start …. I actively dislike Blackburn. Never liked their kit, hated Simon Garner, Dalglish, Mark Hughes, Fat Sam, the SAS, Haj Diouf, Kean, the Chicken men, and their ground is as awful as the town.

Last time we played Blackburn at the Emirates we beat them 7-1 and they were lucky to get the 1. An insipid display from a doomed team.

ox v bburn

More of the same today …. please

Can we expect the same today? Who knows? Much depends on the mindset of The Arsenal because we have handed out some real hidings at THOF this season. I would love today to be another thrashing but somehow doubt it will happen.

And what of Blackburn? Sitting mid-table in the Championship, carrying huge debts  and reliant upon loan players (Bentley, DJ Campbell & Kazim Richards etc) they are a club in trouble. I was surprised when looking at B’burn’s squad to see the name of Nuno Gomes. 36 y.o and given a 2 year contract in summer . Gomes was once a  £20m player but that was before Ox was born! Why sign him and give him what must be a big pension fund? Who knows?

It’s not all mis-management at Blackburn, they have also had their share of bad luck. For example, they signed Leon Best from Newcastle for £3m in summer  – a good player who had recently recovered from a cruciate ligament tear, one month into this season and he got another one!

One very good signing has been Jordan Rhodes. Our CB’s can expect a good physical battle this afternoon.

David Bentley. Will he start today? I doubt it, but Bentley is sure to get pitch time, and I expect him to get the reception he so fully deserves for his celebration following the fluke at THOF a few years back. To us this is a chap who has thrown away his career, a man who was born with immense talent but allowed his ego to derail him – to Mr Bentley and his family, he is a multi-millionaire who lives a lifestyle few can imagine. Such is modern football.

With the Bayern game looming AW is sure to rest much of the team. This is my guess ……

Runners & Riders

arse v bburn

The above team has all the necessary firepower to win this afternoon, though I accept it is light in midfield with Ramsey being asked to play the DM role. It also highlights the lack of a centre forward to replace OG.

Today’s English Explorer: As we are playing a Championship side today we have a second division explorer. – top man nonetheless. Cecil Rowling (1870 – 1915). Young Cecil was one of England’s most accomplished mountaineers and was among the first to explore and survey Tibet, in the process identifying Everest as the highest mountain. He went on to discover the source of the Brahmaputra river, and later to survey the jungles of Papua New Guinea.


Don’t mess with me, Laddy ….

The First World War intervened and Rawling became a highly regarded soldier. Fighting at Ypres and the Somme he rose to Brigadier General, winning the DSO and the CMG. Leading his troops at Passchendaele, Rawling was killed by a German shell.

Blackburn will pack the midfield and likely parrk ‘t buss. As this is our last realistic chance of silverware we should get this tie settled early but somehow I feel Arsenal are in for a battle this afternoon.

To those fortunate to attend stay positive.


Written by Big Raddy

Hopefully the final trip to Blackburn – preview.

September 17, 2011

Let me start by stating the views held below are entirely my own and in no way represent the views of the site.

Anyone who has read my pre-matches over the seasons will know that I am not a huge fan of Blackburn, I will go further and say that for many seasons they have represented all that is reprehensible in football – from top to bottom.

Let’s look at their recent record:

Managers: Graham Souness, Paul Ince, Fat Sam, Mark Hughes, Steve Kean.  Only Dalglish brought some respectability to this awful club and he was sacked (by mutual consent).  The last 3 seasons have seen them reach their nadir – from the non-football of the Walrus through to Kean’s  commitment to the “big man.”

Ownership.: Jack Walker (the first man to buy the PL), the Chicken chaps – the chicanery of the promotion of Kean by the Venky’s, whom it is said had no conception there was relegation in football and the PL was based upon the franchise system as in the NFL!

Players: El Hadj Diouf, Robbie Savage, David Bentley, Craig Bellamy (both players of the season!) –  they are united in their awulness.

If you enjoy utilitarian football allied to workmanlike players who are encouraged to “get in their faces,” then Blackburn is the club for you. The management are at best pragmatic.  There is a reason Blackburn are most peoples favourites for relegation.

Detail of Steve Kean’s tactics

What should we expect from a team based around the physical presence of Yakubu, Samba, Jason Roberts? Tactically, I guess they will be very energetic, pack the midfield, look to stifle our creative players, defend in depth to stop the pace merchants,  hit a number of long balls to the isolated front man and look to score from set pieces. They do have quality, Givet and Samba are two fine players, Dunn has been,  and in Hoilett they have the makings of a top player.

To turn to the men in the white hats, we celebrate the return of the violent miscreants: Song, Gervinho and Jenkison, two of whom I expect to play today. Song was outstanding in Germany and I look forward to a more mature performance from him than the idiocy with Barton.

My team:

Gibbs has played twice in a week and being fragile could use the rest, furthermore I would like to see Santos play – he is supposedly a fine attacking LB and despite Holliet being a right winger, should have plenty of opportunities to get forward. Should Benayoun start ahead of Arshavin? In a game which is likely to get physical – yes.

Today’s referee is Andy Marriner (I think). Let us hope he gets early control and that our team can keep 11 players on the pitch.

Blackburn as everyone knows has 400o holes in it  (Lennon was referring to the appalling state of the local roads). What is less known is that Mitchell and Kenyon who were pioneers in the development of cinematography  lived in Blackburn until 1901.

A tough away  game with Blackburn looking to dig themselves out of a hole (sic) having won just one point so far this season but one that Arsenal have reason to be positive about.

N.B. Don’t forget the 12.45 kick-off!


Big Raddy

Arsenal to clean up Blackburn

April 2, 2011

Ready for a rant?

I have developed an irrational dislike of Blackburn Rovers. Firstly, there’s the name …. Rovers. Where do they rove,? Has Gamst Pederson roved and if so why wasn’t he arrested in the act of roving?  Blackburn, so named because it is dirty, the civil buildings are swathed in soot and the street urchins have a clear dislike of water (before I am accused of Northern-ism, I have spent many happy weekends in the town).

Then there is their football. Perhaps the club thought loaning out the odious Hadji Diouf would improve their image, but they ruined that by sacking Fat Sam in a manner which turned all the pundits against them. Installing an untried (and cheaper) manager they now face the prospect of relegation , and other than their fans, I believe you would struggle to find anyone who will be sorry to see them decline. How one can take a team full of fine footballers and turn them into the tedious, mundane cloggers seen week in week out at Ewood is a mystery known only to their manager and the Chicken men.

Seriously, if Arsene Wenger OBE managed Blackburn they would be a top 8 side. Look at the talent at their disposal. In defence, an England GK, the New Zealand Captain Nelsen, the monstrous Samba, Martin Olsson, who is getting rave reviews in Scandanavia, and the enormous experience of Salgado (over 250 games for Real Madrid). In midfield, the creativity and graft of Gamst, Emerton and Dunn. Upfront, the pace of Benjani, and MU’s young Diouf, allied to the height and movement of Santa Cruz. This SHOULD be a decent team – but they are not.

And why not? Perhaps a Blackburn fan could tell us (if they read this far without closing the page in fury).

Now I dislike Fat Sam as much as the next man, to me he is the antithesis of Wengerball, a man who believes in the Charles Hughes school of long ball, aggressive football, but whatever one thinks of him, he did a damned sight better job with this team than the current dummy whose only recommendation appears to be that he is Scottish…

John Jensen is Keen’s no.2. arriving after a disastrous time as manager of Randers in Denmark  (9 losses and 2 draws in 11 games). How on earth do these guys get their highly paid jobs??   Oh, & I was there when Jensen scored!

Enough of Blackburn, let us move onto the men in the white hats.

2 weeks break and a return to the first team for 3 players who have been sorely missed: Song, Cesc and Theo.  It appears all the players who went away on International duty have returned fit, even Chocolate Legs, so apart from the difficulties at CB and in goal, we have a proper team.

Big words those …. “apart from“…… The success of this season will turn upon the strength of our defence. We have no difficulties scoring, especially when Theo and Cesc are both fit and firing.  If Almunia and Squillaci find a decent run of form and Kosciely continues his improvement, I believe we will win the title,. The return of the very influential Song should add some much needed defensive security, but ultimately it will be the CB’s and in particular the GK who will come under immense pressure, because every T, D & H knows they are fallible.

My team:

We should even be able to have a very strong bench (apart from CB).

I expect Arsenal to come out very fast and attempt to win the game in the first 20 minutes. If we score early, B’burn are doomed. However, after the recent frustrations, a poor first half will have a detrimental effect upon the faithful and the tension will mount. That said, I am confident of 3 points.

Big Raddy is very much looking forward to meeting fellow AA’ers today and will raise a glass to absent friends.

To The Tavern …..


Arsenal were Stronger, Blackburn were Blackburn – written by peachesgooner

August 29, 2010

Written by peachesgooner

Yesterday BigRaddy asked if Arsene should risk Cesc for the visit to the Ewood Park and after 30 minutes it was clear that it was actually Mr Chocolate Legs himself that shouldn’t have been risked as van Persie was subbed after twisting an ankle. Although Cesc wasn’t himself, with passes going stray, he hasn’t had a pre-season and he is obviously going to need a few more games.

This was a big test. Blackburn launched ball after ball into our box from either Robinsons goal kicks or the ever boring towel wrapped long throw from Pederson. This was all hands to the deck and with Almunia in goal we had to hope that he would be strong and confident in what will probably have been his last game as the no 1. I have to say that I don’t think he let us down at all, even smashing his head on the upright in the call of duty and having a spat with El-Hadj Diouf.

There was an early chance for us to take the lead when a short corner surprised the Blackburn defence and Diaby unleashed a shot that struck a defender and then Robinson’s leg but refused to go into the goal. We didn’t have to wait too long though as van Persie slipped a great ball to Theo on 20 minutes and without even breaking his stride, he broke the net with his shot low into the far corner.

Typically, Blackburn equalised within minutes, as Koscielny was outrun and outmuscled by one Diouf who then slid the ball to another Diouf who had acres of space to slot it home. Dreadful defending, everyone was asleep.

Diaby was having a great game, making intelligent passes and not getting caught on the ball. To have him marking the massive Samba was reassuring. In this form you never know what Diaby is going to do next and the upcoming 2 week international break could undo all that was good yesterday, we’ll have to hope not.

Arsenal hadn’t dominated the first half and after the game Arsène felt the team were nervous, so to score early in the 2nd half was definitely the tonic we needed. Sagna went on a great run chasing a ball that looked like it was going out of play and sped towards the Blackburn goal, he found Fabregas in the middle whose shot hit Walcott and rebounded into the path of the ‘onrushing’ Arshavin and the russian slotted it neatly home.  2-1 up and just over half an hour to play.

Blackburn worked hard to find an equaliser but Arsenal for the most part were strong in defense. It was still nervy and each time the ball went out for a Blackburn corner, I covered my eyes but we passed the test. This was full on defending in our area, not having to defend as a team higher up the pitch, but those challenges will still come with other teams that want to pass the ball.

Rosicky came on for Cesc after 70 minutes and immediately added a new spark. Theo didn’t have as much of the ball as last week but was still alert late on in the game where last season he may have given up, he seems to be developing a good engine. I may get to like Alan Shearer after his comments on MOTD aimed at Hansen’s rubbishing of Theo’s performance and hat-trick last week. Hansen is obviously going to stick to his guns about Theo, but both Shearer and Lineker clearly disagree. Arsène said at the start of last season that it was Theo’s time to emerge as a great player – his prediction was accurate, but just 12 months early!

Wilshire came on with less than 10 minutes to go and was unlucky not to score after being presented with a great chance – similar to last week’s, maybe he has a chocolate leg too?

To come away from Blackburn with three points was a very good day’s work. Unfortunately it looks like we may have lost Robin for a couple of weeks but with Internationals looming that’s not a crisis. Our passing game is awesome and our resilience in defense will make other teams worried oh and that little no 14, he’s pretty good too.

Here are some player ratings from London

Almunia: credit where credit is due, one of the best performances in goal for Arsenal I am tempted to use the word commanding. 7

Sagna: solid, powerful performance, made some excellent runs, good crosses and great tackles back to his absolute best. 7

Koscielny: dealt with the aerial threat better than expected which reassures me no end but was guilty for their equaliser in my opinion. 6

Vermaelen: not quite at his imperious best, although, it is obviously no easy task dealing with Blackburn’s high ball bombardment. 6.5

Clichy, I don’t quite understand what people mean when they say he can’t defend, very little got past him and from that I form the opinion that he did his job well. 6.5

Fabrégas: If this transfer window has proved anything it is that any player who wants to move can make it happen. I say this just in case there was anyone left who still doesn’t realise rather than the majority who probably think that that statement is as banal as saying grass is green. Macherano is as good an example as it gets, a player who refused to play for Liverpool in the Europa Cup for fear of losing his dream move to Barcelona.

So, I put this question to all of you that still believe that Cesc really wanted to move back to the Catalan capital: why didn’t he do exactly the same as the Argentine? The answer is that Cesc never wanted to leave. The one thing that brought him here in the first place was that Arsenal give him the opportunity to play, so when he is fit he is the first name on the team sheet.
I don’t think he was fit and would have been far better deployed as a sub

Nevertheless, on a purely emotional level it was great to see our captain back, still clearly the most talented player we have and he will no doubt be back to his old self in the near future. 6.5

Diaby: his characteristic sloppy play was the thing I was most worried about today, dithering in the middle, leading to loss of position; we have all seen him do it. Not today, this was the player that gave a performance over and beyond his normal level, his powerful determination was the difference in the midfield and for this I make him my man of the match. 8

Song: poor first half gave the ball away far too often and I suspect he will receive strong criticism in some quarters but he was no more guilty of missed placed passes than Fabrégas. The second half was a different story, I suspect a word in his ear was had; anyway, he was back to his strong ever improving self. 6.5

Walcott: well if not going to the world cup produces this kind of performance lets start the rumour that he is not going to the next one. Now has the confidence to shout at other players when they don’t pass to him when they should, it was funny watching him tearing into Diaby, Theo was so insecure in his own performance he wouldn’t have said boo to a goose. 7.5

Van Persie: he like Cesc probably would not have started if it wasn’t for the Braga game, before that there was no need to for them to really be fit until the Chelsea game but I suspect the Champions League draw forced Wenger to step things up. In short not fit and should not have been playing but lets not forget that assist for the first goal.

Arshavin……who knows? He is in a world of his own, one minute he seems so disinterested, almost as though his mind has wandered onto what he is going to say in his blog tomorrow; then, up he pops, to save the day. I wish he would show some pleasure in scoring. I wonder how he would feel if nobody cheered when he scored. 6

Blackburn ….. Would you risk Cesc? – written by BigRaddy

August 28, 2010

A question to Blackburn supporters. Would you prefer to finish 10th playing the Fat Sam way or 13th playing some entertaining football?

An indication of the success of Fat Sam’s tactics at Blackburn lies in the question marks surrounding the appearance of Fabregas –  in his first full game back do we risk him getting mauled? Undoubtedly Allardyce’s tactics will focus on our playmakers and their ability to perform under great physical pressure. We can expect rotational fouling, badgering of the referee, the soundtrack of “Same old Arsenal always cheating” accompanying Colin Lewin onto the field as he tries to patch up a prone player who has been assaulted by a less talented but more aggressive opponent.

It is Allardyce’s contention that football is not about the ball, it is about the man. Blackburn have little chance  of success playing expansive football (if they could) but they can bully us into submission. Their primary goal scoring opportunities will come from set plays where they will surround our GK and hope to intimidate our defence. It has worked in the past and should it work on Saturday, we can expect a whole season of lesser teams practising the same.

However, we need to win games like this and we can.  I would play Cesc, Theo and Rosicky, as we will win through guile, pace and skill.

As to the Blackburn team, should he play, look out for Biram Diouf (not the hissy spitting one), on loan from Man Utd and a forward in form. Gamst Pederson is still there (god knows why) and will pepper our box with long throws. David Dunn is a typical Allardyce player  and has a nasty knack of scoring against us.

Apart from the 4000 holes what can I tell you about Blackburn?  Carl Fogerty was born there, as was James Hargreaves, the inventor of the spinning jenny. Gandhi visited on his tour of England, and Blackburn has the highest percentage population of Muslims outside of London. Not much to show for 700 years of history!

A big game for us and an indicator of how the season may progress


Money to Burn – written by dandan

August 19, 2010

Written by dandan

Morning all. So now a tycoon is about to buy Blackburn Rovers, promising in yesterday’s Times to make available to Sam Allardyce enough money to buy every football kicking assassin on the face of the earth. Rumour has it, that plans are well advanced for the SAS to be co-opted as the latest addition to his hi tech training staff, providing advisors to coach the ‘double tap lets flatten em tackle’, at present being field tested by covert operations.

Arsenal themselves are rumoured to be a target for a takeover and Liverpool are desperate for the injection of life saving capital that new owners would bring. Meanwhile city are buying almost every player another club might want and refusing to sell even the disillusioned ones to any club that might be seen as a threat to their attempted premier league dominance.

What is the point of all these high flyers buying clubs? The one thing they have in common is they are winners, but only four possible trophies are available including the Champion’s League for which you first have to qualify. So are they all playing for a top four finish? Is Wenger right that it is the most important result if you can’t win the darn thing? His argument is based on money, but as these guys are all the progeny of Croesus with money to burn, that argument goes out of the window.

So multiple rich owners, four trophies to be won, how many of these guys will keep throwing money at the problem if they don’t win anything? How long before these clubs are tossed aside along with the grieving fan base to sink into debt induced oblivion.

Could it be that AW’s youth policy and prudence that has delivered our own almost debt free stadium and kept us in the top four thus far, will win the day?

Or perhaps this Indian guy is right to back Sam, after all if his team is the last one left standing he will win by default.

Blackburn Preview

May 3, 2010

Ewood Park. Hardly inspires a sense of excitement , does it? Sam Allardyce? Seems a marriage made in Northern hell. Work ethic, win ugly, they don’t like it up ’em, let them know you are there, passing football is for soft southern poofs, hit hard and hit often, we will score from set pieces…… the epitome of anti-football.

But is that a fair summation? Am I being Southcentric? Only you can decide. I have been to Ewood Park, to the shabby Northern streets of Blackburn, and it was exactly as expected – though the pies are excellent!

The stats: One point and we are guaranteed third place. Blackburn have lost only 2 of 17 home games, they have won just 2 out of 18 against top half opposition. Arsenal have scored 16 goals in the last 4 meetings between the clubs. Van Persie has scored 9 in 8 games against B’burn. The usual suspects are missing for Arsenal, though there is a small chance that Arshavin could play. Allardyce has a full squad to choose from. We will have the opportunity to check out Phil Jones (CB) and N’Zonzi (MF) both talked of as potential AW’s targets (though AW has been his usual non-commital self).

Writing this I feel a sense of apathy, and really fear the team will feel the same. The Fulham home game will secure the 3 position and a trip to Ewood is hardly an enjoyable experience. I am concerned the team will just go through the motions and look to escape without injury prior to the World Cup selections. However, as these are men who are paid a huge amount of money to play for The Arsenal, will they give their all for the cause against a fired up Blackburn team? – because there is no doubt Allardyce will want his team to give 100% and mirror his gum-chewing, snarling self. When the first thumping tackle goes in will our lads fight fire with fire or will they roll over and avoid the confrontation? We have some players that undoubtedly will give as good as they get (Sol & RvP to name but two), but we also have players who go missing in the heat of battle and in a meaningless game like this, I would not play them. So, I would continue the Eastwood experiment and play Bendtner instead of Theo. Maybe let Eduardo show us the improvement AW has seen in training.

There is not much more to say about Rovers. We know their style of play, exemplified by El Hadji Diouf – a serial bad boy and a man even his own fans are ashamed of.

Blackburn was the centre of the textile business during the Industrial Revolution with 43 mills and 43,000 looms! Real Lowry country. The spinning Jenny was invented in Blackburn. What else…..? Carl Fogarty was born there. It has the highest percentage of Muslims in the UK. And of course, as most of the world knows, there are 4,000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire but what that means I have no idea!

Expect a physical battle. Be happy to escape injury free with the point to secure 3rd. My personal target is to stay awake until the final whistle, but I will be recording the game just in case……..