Fun in the Sun?

May 12, 2019

Final game of a”transitional” PL season. We expected there to be difficulties and there have been, yet win today and we finish 5th with a European Final to come. I would have certainly taken that at season’s start.

Should we draw and MU win … 6th. Is it important? Not if we win the Europa, otherwise I believe we have to play a qualifier in July for the EL.

Although Burnley are in 15th place they remain stern opposition at Turf Moor. Sean Wagner is a beast of a man and has created a team in his image – dogged :-D. Given our away malaise, this afternoon could be a struggle.

On a positive note, we have not lost our final game since 2005. Negative? Referee- Mike Dean.


And what of Burnley? They have scored a record (for them) 44 goals but have conceded 65. They have improved considerably post-Xmas as relegation was a genuine concern. Peter Crouch could start,  Burnley  play as you would expect, long balls, scoring from set-plays, PTB and counter-attack when possible, we will not see ticky tacky from the Clarets.

Who starts for AFC? Iwobi is a cert, as is Leno.  Other than that? Douzi, Mavro, Mustafi, maybe Lichsteiner’s final game. Elneny? Will Nketiah finally get a start or will our superb front two continue?  I simply do not know.

BTW Danny Welbeck is back in full training and according to the Metro (I know, I know), he could ride the pine today and even feature in the coming Final. We are desperate for an experienced attacker on the bench.


What is certain is the wonderful job done by our Aussie Women’s team manager, Joe Montemurro, obviously a man with a big future in football and hopefully at Arsenal.

The sun should be shining and we are always better in warm climes (Napoli,Valencia).  I hope for a good performance ending on a positive note prior to our journey to Baku

To be honest, although this is an important game for AFC my interest will be elsewhere in this excellent finale to the season. To have one team achieving 95+ points is impressive but to have two is astounding. Liverpool and City play superb attacking football and I would like to thank them both for showing that it is still possible to win the Wenger Way. Arsene would be proud.

Looking for two away victories this afternoon.



Burnley face a wave of Emotion

May 6, 2018

Has there ever been such an irrelevant game with such relevance? Today is about Mr Wenger, Burnley and the 90+ minutes between the first and final whistle are a sideshow.


Should this PM be a peon to the mighty Arsene or your bog-standard run through of the runners and riders? Let me ponder a little ….

OK. I have decided. It is to be a normal PM because this game is not season’s end and the final minutes of an era, it is an opportunity for the paying Gooners at The Emirates to say goodbye to a man who is one of my heroes. There will be time for the obituaries in a couple of weeks.

But …. I wish I could be there. I really, really wish I could be there. I want a Merci Arsene t-shirt.


So, Burnley.

Sean Dyche has done a fantastic job and must be manager of the season. Guardiola has created a monster of a team but Dyche’s achievement is outstanding. How many Burnley players can you name? Try. How many did you name? I got two – Aaron Lemon and Jack Cork.  Do you know that Ben (Bertie) Mee is their Captain?

Yet if Burnley win today they have a fair chance of finishing above us!! Remarkable, almost as amazing as Ranieri taking Leicester to the title.

My Team:


Chambers    Mustafi     Monreal

Ramsey    Xhaka    JW

Mhki    Ozil

PEA    Laca

An attacking line up. Perhaps AW will give one or two of the youngsters a run – M-N in place of Ramsey, or our new Bubble at CB? Or could Mr. W play the same sort of team which did so well at Old Trafford?

Whomever plays and whatever the result today is all about The Great Man.

I have a favour to ask. If you are  lucky enough to be going to the game and someone around you bad-mouths Mr W. please don’t just sit seething , please tell the ingrate to Go Forth and Multiply.  This is one of the rare occasions when having a contrary opinion is totally unwarranted.

A final home win would be marvellous. Let it Be So.



In A League of Our Own

February 12, 2018

We had a game this weekend, it was won by the home team. It wasn’t a surprise.

Have you looked at the PL table? It is possibly the most unusual in a few decades. To see one team so dominant that they are 16 points ahead of 2nd and likely to harvest the highest number of points in PL history (though they will lose 3 when we beat them at The Emirates).

City are a brilliant team, team being the operative word. They have fine players but unlike United they are not dependent upon individual skills. Me-rinho knows he cannot compete as a manager with Pep but he can spend a few hundred million buying players who can win a match on their own. It will get him 2nd or 3rd spot

Spurs and Liverpool are on season highs as Chelsea  plummet. If Spurs get 4th will it be considered a trophy 😀

And what of Arsenal. When Chelsea win tonight we will be 7 points off 5th and 8 off 4th. Realistically it is all over for the top 4 place.

Yet, we are also 9 points ahead of 7th place. We will finish 6th and in a league of our own. Had Arsenal a clue when it comes to playing away from home, this was a season when we could have finished much higher but our mysterious away form.

There is a problem arising in the PL. None of the teams below are going into the Top 6 in the near future.. Everton have spent a fortune, so have Leicester yet both of them are almost 20 points off top 4 and 10 points behind us.

Everton and Leicester are in competition with Bournemouth, Burnley and Watford for 7th place (Europa?).

Given our BoD’s decision to loosen the purse strings and buy our way back to the Top 4, 2019 will be exciting.

Strange Days.

written by Big Raddy

Up North Again.

November 26, 2017

Our away form is a worry and a trip to Burnley, which a couple of seasons ago would have been one filled with optimism, is now a concern.

Chapeau off to Burnley who have done remarkably; a team with little money, small crowds and limited resources, are not only keeping a place in the PL but currently in the in 7th, level on points with the Mighty Arsenal. It shows what hardwork, playying as a team and good tactics can do. Sean Dyche will undoubtedly go onto bigger clubs as he has ta touch of the George Graham about him – an ability to create a united club.


As to Arsenal, how do we break this away hoodoo? The same way that Burnley do it – hard work, cohesive tactics and the odd piece of exceptional creativity. Just how we played last weekend.

We know what to expect, at least 65% AFC possession and Burnley looking for goals from the counter and set plays. We are used to games following this pattern.

Almost everyone is fit so there will be selection headaches for Mr Wenger but I expect the same team as entertained us so royally against the Miscreants.

My Team:


Mustafi    Koscielny    Monreal

Bellerin    Ramsey    Xhaka    Kolasinac


Lacazette    Sanchez

This is our best starting 11 and with Welbeck, Giroud etc on the bench we have a damned good first team.

Weather today will be rubbish, cold and wet. Referee will need to be alert and consistent. Much has been written about how lucky we were with the decisions vs Spurs. Poppycock.  We won because we were the better team. More of the same today please.



Did Arsenal bid for Barton?

January 22, 2017

Seems ages since we last played. Imagine how it is for teams that don’t have European football like Chelsea and Liverpool.

But … does this really give them an advantage.? Well, it is said, justifiably, that the table does not lie.


We have two home games ahead of the Chavs away, Burnley and Watford. You would think an automatic 6 points but it never is, is it? We know what to expect – 10 men behind the ball, an aggressive (read violent) midfield, and our boys reduced to ticky-tacky.

I quite understand why Burnley will play this way, their away form is terrible with just 3 goals scored in 9 games and but one point. Why would they take the risk of attacking us and getting hammered?

Yet Burnley sit 10th in the PL. One hell of an achievement considering the size  of Burnley which has a population roughly equivalent to todays attendance at The Emirates.

Thinking of Burnley’s midfield …  Joey Barton.  Here is a fine example of the genetic aberrations which result from Northern family inbreeding. Can you recall Gervinho’s first game for us in which he received a red card after being attacked by Barton? I loved AW’s rebuttal of Barton’s claims that we tried to sign him – hilarious. What a preposterous idea that just because Barton wanted to join AFC that Mr. Wenger would let him!!

My Team:


Bellerin    Mustafi    Koscielny    Monreal

Ramsey    Xhaka     Iwobi

Ozil     Giroud   Sanchez.

We will need some height and strength upfront because Burnley are sure to sit deep.


A few long-distance shots today, please. And an early goal would be delightful. As would a first half with all 11 players awake (unlike our last few games).

We have to win this one, I think we will

Let it be So.


Rest Sanchez?

October 2, 2016

Back on the road after a couple of lovely games at The Emirates and where do we go? You guessed it, Up North.

I have never been to Burnley, perhaps in the future I will be fortunate enough to visit the historic town but given my aversion to any UK trip North of Barnet, it seems unlikely.

In my youth Burnley were a massive club; unlike our opponents last weekend, they have history. 150 years ago Burnley was the largest cotton cloth producer in the world! Can you imagine? And in the 50’s/60’s their football club was their pride – a town of under 60k inhabitants had a team which won the League, the FA Cup and reached the quarter-finals of the European Cup.

Things have changed as the clubs from the large metropoles control the top of the leagues – Manchester, London, Barcelona, Munich, Paris, Madrid. Only Leicester have been able to break the monopoly.

Burnley’s ambitions this season will be survival in the Prem and to take a couple of big scalps. Beating us would be huge so, as always, our chaps should expect a battle.

My main concern is the pitch. Arsenal play fast-flowing, passing football which depends upon a decent playing surface – if I were the opposition manager the first thing I would tell the groundsman to do is make the pitch as bumpy as possible, especially if you play hoof-ball like Burnley or Chelsea. Big chaps like Grey and Vokes are more used to a Hackney Marshes than the Emirates.

For that reason, if fit, I would start Giroud, if not then Perez. I would also look to the Elneny/Xhaka axis and give Santi a rest.

My Team:


Bellerin    Mustafi     Kos    Gibbs

Xhaka    Elneny    Iwobi

Walcott   Perez    Ozil

I would prefer AW to continue with the starting 11 which marmelised the Chavs and Basel but what is the point of a large squad if we do not rest some players?

I would even be tempted to drop Ozil for Santi or Theo for Ox. This is not under-estimating Burnley but we have important games ahead and over-playing chaps who have not had full summer breaks results in a Ramsey situation.

Given the unpleasant manner in which the title contenders have started their seasons a win is important today and, of course, this is an anniversary weekend. Chapeau Arsene.

Let it be so






April 11, 2015

A year ago our good friend and fellow AA contributor DanDan passed away. His calm analysis of all things Arsenal is much missed. Dandan was a lifelong Gooner but more importantly a family man and a real gentleman. May he rest in peace.

Our chaps head up to North to a place no-one has ever visited. I have been to most grounds in England but Burnley’s time in the Div 1 was before I travelled away.

Burnley were a huge club in the 1950’s and 60’s but by the time we won our fist double they had started their decline. It is a testament to the ambitions of their management and BoD that they are in the PL – I really hope they can stay up (not at the cost of a win for AFC today, of course).

Can there be a more likeable manager than Sean Dyche? Despite looking like one of the Bash Street Kids he has been breath of fresh air. One doesn’t expect honesty and respect from a PL manager (apart from our own).


Dyche’s team have decent home form, 18 of their 26 points came at Turf Moor (thanks for the info AW). They have beaten MC and drawn with Spurs in their last two home games .

Our last visit to Turf Moor was in 2009, of the starting 11 that day only one AFC player has a chance of starting today, can you guess who that is? Ramsey and Wilshire were on the bench.

Could this be the only pre-match which doesn’t mention Danny Ings? Oops …..

The first 70 minutes of our home game against Burnley were frustating as we couldn’t find the net; thankfully Alexis scored and we won 3-0. Burnley showed themselves to be hard-working, well-organised and capable in defence. Much like Leicester they do not deserve to be in the relegation zone. Burnley’s run-in includes many of their relegation rivals but mostly away from home. I fear for them and would much prefer to see the Manc Steve Bruce’s Hull alongside Tim But Dim’s Villa go down. Sadly, both teams have much PL experience and it is likely the three promoted teams will drop.

What to say about Arsenal without jinxing them? If we play as we did last Saturday we will win., in fact if we play like we have in almost all the games since November we will win. But who plays this evening?

Koscielny is a doubt, so Chambers, Gabriel or Monreal will deputise. I expect to see Gabriel who has made a very impressive start to his Arsenal career. Other than him I expect the same team which thrashed – yes, thrashed -Liverpool. Perhaps Debuchy will replace young Bellerin.

My Team:


Bellerin     BFG     Gabriel     Monreal

Cazorla    Coquelin

Ramsey     Alexis



Looks like a Christmas tree. Is that really how we play?

Given the paucity of Burnley’s attack I may be tempted to replace Ramsey with Welbeck.

Mike Dean is the ref, he has been better this season though capable of making a total arse of himself at any time. Expect some bookings.

I have just read a surprising fact …. No team has scored more goals from set-pieces than Arsenal (20) this season! Are we the new Stoke?

Arsenal are the form team in the PL and Europe – if we win today it will be the longest winning streak in all the European leagues. We have a week’s break before our next game as a result of not playing a winnable CL tie vs Juventus (shame,shame, shame). We should win this game but such is the magic of the PL that all results are in doubt. MC lost at Turf Moor, so can we.

On paper it is an away win, Let it be So

I am 61% confident

Burnley. Pre-match entertainment.

November 1, 2014

I don’t usually do stats but in light of the negativity around AA this week let’s start with just one ….. Arsenal are unbeaten in 22 home games. Stick that in your pipe.

Today we welcome the Pride of Lancashire, forget the billionaires down the M65 in Manchester, Burnley are a proper Lancashire club;  Hovis bread, Satanic mills and Lowry landscapes. The last time I visited Turf Moor Bob Lord was still Chairman of Burnley and as he died in 1981, I guess my impressions may be a tad outdated!


LB in his youth delivering Hovis

These are tough times for Burnley. Like many clubs who scrape into the PL for a season in the limelight they and their supporters say “it is just being there which we will enjoy. Going to Old Trafford, The Emirates etc etc will be brilliant”

Sadly, the reality is different and the clubs who do not replace the managers who got them into the PL by dint of hard work are few and far between. Sean Dyche is the unlucky incumbent, seems a likeable chap who is working with a team who are obvious relegation fodder: will Burnley stand by him in what has already been a terrible start? Who knows … I hope so.

Chalobah, a Chelsea loanee has potential to be a fine player. Having Captained England at all levels he has 19 U-21 caps at the young age of just 19. Danny Ings is another fine youngster who has started to score in the PL, only 22 he was last season’s Championship Player of the Year.

No wins, just 4 points, 12 goals conceded in their last 4 games, Burnley are a banana skin for our heroes. Anything less than a resounding victory will heighten the frustration around the Emirates.

Arsenal: Once again the talk is about injuries and the defence. We have discussed this way too often and it is dull, dull, dull. Quite frankly, if Welbeck played alongside BFG and The Ox played at LB we should beat Burnley (MU is another matter). We have enough players to put out an effective defence and as the ball will be almost always in the Burnley half they will be under-employed. This is not to say that Burnley have no chance of scoring – this is an Arsenal side who have conceded first in each PL home game this season!

Given the ever expanding injury list picking a side, at least in defence is relatively easy.

Should Mr Wenger continue with the Flamini/Arteta axis at home to the bottom club in the league or be a little more adventurous? I would love to see Rosicky start – won’t happen but a nice thought. Same with Podolski and Campbell.  Theo is likely to get a few minutes

Or we could go the Didit route ……


Bellerin      BFG     Chambers    Monreal

Ox   Ramsey    Arteta

Campbell     Welbeck    Alexis.

Unlikely but you never know. We are more likely to kick off with Cazorla in the side despite his poor form in front of goal. Benchwise we have some quality attackers so once again we are subject to Didit’s Law…… Score one more than Burnley and everything is Hunky Dory.

Instead of the food report let me give you a little more history. Today we will look back a century to World War 1.

Many of the men from Burnley volunteered to join Kitchener’s Army – 15% of the entire male population were killed  n WW1 amongst whom were the Accrington Pals. Men from all around Burnley signed up  to the East Lancashire Regiment to be shipped out to France.  On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916, the Accrington Pals were sent “over the top.” Of the 720 men who ran towards enemy lines 584 were brought down in the first half hour of the battle. It was a tragedy which even today resonates to such an extent that there are songs, plays and documentaries written about the Accrington Pals. ( for further reading


 Some of the Pals

Last weekend we struggled against an ultra-defensive Sunderland, Burnley are likely to be the same. Compresss the play, try to score from set pieces or a breakaway, above all don’t get thrashed. Arsenal should be used to such tactics, particularly at The Emirates – we should win.

Let it be So.


written by Big Raddy






The ‘Ramsey Factor’ will prove too much for Burnley

March 6, 2010

I am reminded of the satanic mills, Bob Lord, and for some reason a young lad with a bicycle climbing up a cobbled street  to the sound of the New World Symphony with a loaf of Hovis underarm. Such are the prejudices of youth!!

Burnley are as Northern as one can get in terms of football culture. The Tyne teams may be geographically further North but not in terms of football mentality. I have no idea why I think this way, perhaps because Burnley were the most successful Northern team of my childhood and it seemed such a bleak place. Whilst Spurs employed Danny Blanchflower and Wolves had Billy Wright (both urbane and media friendly), Burnley had Jimmy Mcilroy – hardly a household name in North London!.

Of course this was Burnley’s golden era and since the early ’60’s success has remained elusive.  Over the following 40 years they suffered a descent to the bottom of the 4th division, narrowly escaping oblivion. Under the managership of Steve Cotterill and subsequently Owen Coyle, Burnley returned to the Premier division in 2009 – just being in the Premiership is huge testament to their progress. Unfortunately for Burnley they have only a few games left at the top table, and in all likelyhood will return to the murky depths of the Championship. Of course, Burnley fans would argue that they are just 2 points from safety, but sadly their away form of 1 point this season will secure their fate.

Currently managed by Brian Laws, Burnley play attractive football. I believe Laws has a decent future as an EPL manager, though taking over from Owen Coyle just 2 months ago was a brave decision on his part. Of their team, Chris Eagles has looked the most creative player –  raised at OT under the tutelage of SAF, he has pace and trickery but little end product. Eagles gave us some problems up at Turf Moor and in Robbie Blake he has a willing central runner. In Brian Jensen they have a Danish keeper to chat with Nik, and a man who is hero worshipped by the fans. You may recall that we squeezed a 1-1 draw away in December and were fortunate to escape with a point. We scored early (perhaps the only time this season) and then went to sleep. Backed by their very vocal fans, Burnley stormed back into the game and soon equalised. They then dominated the second half, hitting the woodwork and could consider themselves unlucky not to take all 3 points.

As to Saturday, we are as usual bereft of a number of first teamers, however, we are all aware of Burnley’s away form (one point in 14 games), the dire state of their defence (conceded at least two goals in every away game), and how potent we can be at THOF. And of course there is the Ramsey Factor which will surely spur our lads onto victory. If we drop a point in this one, I will flambé my favourite hat!

Few will know that David Lloyd George, founder of the Welfare State and Liberal Prime Minister in the 20’s, was a big football fan. It will further surprise you that my father used to stand next to him on the terraces of the Clock End (Lloyd George being a man of the people). And as everyone now knows David Lloyd George was a renowned Gooner…..