Time to Stand Up and Be Counted, Arsenal

March 8, 2018

So, who’s feeling confident about tonight? Are you thinking that a win might be too much to ask for? Or a draw, especially with an away goal or two, something to celebrate wildly? Perhaps a narrow defeat leaving all to play for in the second leg?

Expectations in the classier side of North London are so low after our current run of form that it really is anybody’s guess as to the outcome. Which Arsenal side will turn up?

As for Milan, well they were covered in yesterday’s post. Their current run of form has coincided with an easier run of fixtures so, perhaps, exaggerates how well they are actually playing. One thing’s for sure, the Milanese packing the Giuseppe Meazza stadium this evening will be confident and fiercely partisan.

Team news

Without Bellerin and Monreal available, it is essential that Calum and The Beast play to the best of their abilities. Remember, we reached the CL Final in 2006 with a record-breaking back four of Flamini, Toure, Senderos and Eboue, so all things are possible. Up front Danny must make a real nuisance of himself – perhaps a goal in Milan will give him the boost in confidence he needs to burst out of his shell with fire and passion.

Discipline both in midfield and defence is a must. The referee will have to be strong to resist being swayed by the crowd at every half tackle and dive.


Team talk from Al Pacino and Winston Churchill 

“I don’t know what to say really. Three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional season all comes down to today. Either we heal as a team or we are going to crumble. Heal inch by inch, play by play till we’re finished. We are in hell right now, gentlemen, believe me and we can stay here and get the sh*t kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch, at a time.

You know, when you get old in life, things get taken from you. That’s, that’s part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out that life is just a game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small. I mean one half step too late or too early you don’t quite make the tackle. One half second too slow or too fast and you don’t quite get a shot in. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game every minute, every second.

I’ll tell you this, in any fight it is the guy who is willing to die who is going to win that inch. And I know if I am going to have any life anymore it is because, I am still willing to fight, and die for that inch because that is what LIVING is. The six inches in front of your face.

Now I can’t make you do it. You gotta look at the guy next to you. Look into his eyes.
Now I think you are going to see a guy who will go that inch with you. You are going to see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows when it comes down to it, you are gonna do the same thing for him.

That’s a team, gentlemen and either we heal now, as a team, or we will die as individuals. That’s football guys. That’s all it is.
Now, whattaya gonna do?”

“We shall defend our Club, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the wings, we shall fight in the penalty areas, we shall fight in attack and in midfield, we shall fight the barbarian hordes of Milan; we shall never surrender.”



Into the Hornet’s Nest

October 14, 2017

The Good: We are on a fine run of results having lost just one of our last 5 games. Watford have yet to win a game at home this season.

The Not So Good: Watford are on a fine run of results having lost just one of their last 5 games. We have yet to win a PL game away from home this season.

A draw seems the obvious result.


The Interlull was costly in terms of injuries with Mustafi out for a number of games and Sanchez, Kolasinac, Xhaka and Ramsey unlikely to start this afternoon’s late kick-off thanks to exhaustion . Mustafi’s injury is unfortunate because Mr Wenger has yet to discover a consistently effective back 3, though our recent defensive record is good (none conceded in last 4 PL games). The injuries to Chambers, Kos and Mustafi must drive AW nuts.

Chambers is interesting. Rumours were that he would be sold in summer, instead it was Gabriel. Then fans said he was persona non grata with Mr Wenger and had no future at AFC, yet this week he signed a new contract until 2021!! I predict a big Arsenal future for the young man.


Thanks to the Internationals our starting 11 is difficult to predict. Welbeck is back in the squad, so is Magic Mesut. Will Iwobi be rested after his Nigerian exploits? Will Theo get a start or Giroud? I have huge respect for Mr Giroud as he continues to score on a regular basis – is there a better attacking sub in the PL?

Watford: Sorry – you will have to look elsewhere to discover their strengths and weaknesses. For some reason I cannot raise the enthusiasm to do any research. I enjoyed the trips to Vicarage Road and always associated Watford with an excellent multi-racial policy (think Blisset and the wonderful John Barnes), bit today …

My Team:


Holding     Koscielny    Monreal

Bellerin   Elneny    Wilshere    Kolasinac


Lacazette   Welbeck

I like this team, it has creativity and defensive security. Mr Wenger has been “bigging up” Wilshire as he returns to fitness and form, surely he will start this evening. With Theo and OG on the bench we have potent attackers on the bench should they be needed.

Today’s referee is Neil Swarbrick, surely not the violin wizard from Fairport Convention?

Can we open our Away wins account? Why not?

Let it be so ….


Arsenal 2 Burnley 1 — A Supporter’s View.

January 31, 2016

Thank you Burnley Football Club and all your supporters; we at Arsenal have not been having such a good time recently, results have not gone the way they could and should have for a club with aspirations of winning the league for the first time in thirteen years and so a win yesterday was vital to get us back on track. Thank you again for making that happen; you may just have been the stimulus that wins us at least one trophy.

If the team that Wenger chose to go out and play were a car I think it would be fair to say that Arsene put just enough petrol in the tank to get us to the fifth round; that’s to say that there was just enough quality in the selection to win the tie without wasting the precious energy of Özil, and importantly Ramsey who was looking very tired against Chelsea so this little break should see him back, fresh and raring to go on Tuesday. Not only that, Wenger got to play and we got to see our shiny new toy: Elneny, and what a perfectly respectable debut it was. The man is clearly happy on the ball. I would guess that in the first half the Egyptian had the ball more than any other player; well, except Sanchez, of course, he always has the ball more than any other player on the pitch.

It didn’t stop there, more presents were still under the tree and needed to be opened; we got the chance to welcome back Tomas Rosicky and what a fine reception he received when he came on with twenty minutes to go. But I have saved the biggest present until last: Alex Iwobi, if there was any doubt as to what he can do it was cleared up today, this young man went from strength to strength as the game went on. Buoyed by a fine first half he was obviously encouraged by Wenger during his half time team talk because the Nigerian came out and bossed the midfield in the second half until that is his young legs started to tire and was given a standing ovation as he walked off to make way for Arteta.

The game started as expected with Arsenal having the lion’s share of the ball, putting Burnley under constant pressure. The passing was slick and the commitment was tangible, a goal was on the cards although the scorer was not: Calum Chambers on duty for the rested Bellerin curled the ball with the outside of his boot past the Burnley keeper and into the top corner, a fine finish to what had been at least a twenty pass build up, Sanchez was instrumental throughout and it was his assist: rolling the ball deftly between the legs of a Burnley defender that enabled Chambers to get onto the score sheet.

Chambers goal

One nil to the Arsenal and the world was a wonderful place; we should have simply gone on and crushed Burnley but they had other ideas and equalised from a header while our central defenders had momentarily gone awol. This goal upped the tension and in fact turned a gentle stroll into a cup tie — a cup tie that we needed to win.

In every round of the FA cup there is a giant killing and we very nearly went from being way down the viewing list on Match of the Day to the opening game which you may have noticed happens with every giant killing: Burnley came mighty close to going ahead shortly after the start of the second half but this fright didn’t last long and help was on hand, in the form of Sanchez, our very own Whirling Dervish who put us ahead with a well placed shot, wide of the keeper from an excellent cut back by Oxlaide-Chamberlain. The Ox was better than he has been recently but all it showed me was that this is his level – Championship; he just isn’t improving anymore and others are waiting in the wings ready to take his place in the pecking order.

Interestingly Wenger chose not to shore up the defence and see the game out by bringing on Monreal as he does nine times out of ten in these situations but instead he went for an attacking option and the pace of Walcott who had a golden chance to put the game completely out of reach but Theo fluffed his lines and Burnley almost equalised on the counter attack. The final whistle was blown, we are in the hat for the next round draw and all in all it was an entertaining game of football.

Quick player ratings:

Ospina: back to his best, made some excellent saves, if he is looking for a move he would have done his chances no harm at all with that solid performance. 7

Chambers: he is obviously never going to take Bellerin’s place in the starting line up, well certainly not at right back anyway but he exuded more confidence than I usually notice and a goal certainly helped that. 7

Easter: you can see that the legs are better than Mertescaker but the brain is still not quite there, nothing really wrong but still room for improvement. 6

Koscielny: commanding, possibly even more so that he was captain and had full responsibility for the back line. Not sure where he or PE were when Burnley equalised. 7

Gibbs: a very good performance by his standards, did all the simple things well, just when you can’t see him ever being the first choice LB he surprises. We are lucky to have such quality back up in the still young Englishman. 8

Coquelin: great to have him back, all started well but then he got a knock which looked bad enough that he was going to be forced off; he stayed on but his concentration had gone and he got sloppy. 5

Elneny: I really expected him to throw himself around alla Coquelin but no he was on his feet throughout the game. I was hoping to see if he could defend but I am left with less idea than before the match started. Good start though. 7

Iwobi: this is my Man of the Match, like Elneny I still have no idea which position he is best suited to but if he has aspirations of being a number 10 then he is going to have to be world class to make that position his own at THOF because the competition for that spot is fierce. Good luck young man. 8

Oxlaide-Chamberlain: Keep going Ox we all want you to succeed. I have spoken above about this player. 6

Giroud: I wonder if it is possible to start a game with a back heel, I mean from kick off, the Frenchman seems to like that way of passing so much that it crossed my mind that he could be the first player in history to start a game like that. Ollie was clearly not impressed with the opposition and as such seemed to be only working on 80% effort. 6

Sanchez: still holds the ball longer than he should but being one of only three world class players we have at the club I am just grateful that he is back. 8

Written by LB

Gabriel and Ox to start?

December 28, 2015

How can our team beat the Northern Oilers and then get absolutely demolished by S’ton? It is so typical of the last 10 years. Unfathomable.

If I had to pick a first 11 out of the 22 that took the field on Boxing Day 10 would be Gunners. Is this my AFC bias? I don’t think so – which is why such a defeat came as major shock. An unlucky one goal loss like WBA away one can understand but a 4 goal drubbing??


Mr Wenger will be looking to get us back on track today against a surprisingly in-form Bournemouth. Let there be no doubt, B’mouth can leave the Emirates with a good result. A 6 game unbeaten run including wins over Chelsea, WHU and MU are evidence of a team brimming with confidence but today I expect us to recover some pride.

Wouldn’t it be great if the Ox could find some form? The man has unquestionable quality and is one of England’s great hopes but what has happened? Is it confidence, over-training, trying too hard – whatever it is he needs to get back to form or face a career as a squad player.

I would like to see Gabriel start, he is going to be a top CB and needs pitch time to establish a partnership with Kos, though today I would like to see the Frenchman rested after a poor game against the cheating Long.

Chambers in midfield? Surely not. Gibbs instead of Monreal? Unlikely. Ox to play instead of whom? If it is to be Giroud then Theo plays centrally.

We are at home, Leicester have a tough game, we can be top going into 2017.

Let it be so


Zagreb Victory Discussion

November 25, 2015

Things to discuss:-

The brilliance af the Alexis/Ozil combination. Best since DB10/TH14?

Why has Monreal improved so much?

Flamini is good enough for teams like Zagreb.

Is Campbell any good?

Why were there 12,000 empty seats?

Which was the best goal?

Can Chambers develop into a DM?

How do flies stand on glass?

Giroud’s record is good, make that very good. Why do fans not believe in him?


Was winning last night the best result for the club?

Should Alexis or any of last night’s team be rested on Sunday?

Is Mrs Frith a force of good or evil?

Does Bellerin’s pace allow Campbell the freedom to play with confidence?

Why did DZ allow Cazorla so much space?

Hastily written by BR

Keep the Corporal

June 22, 2015

It is my belief that we should be looking to retain the services of one Corporal Carl Jenkinson at THOF for the immediate future and I will state my case as to why.

What would be the reasons to let him go? Firstly some would argue he is not good enough. Others would say that we are well covered in his position and that there is no place for him when we have Bellerin, Debuchy and Chambers who can all play there.

Out of all our British players the corporal is still playing catch up. He doesn’t yet have the experience of being a regular senior international player and is arguably not yet able to put in performances at the highest level on a consistent basis, as you would expect from the likes of Jack, Ramsey, AOC, Gibbs.

That doesn’t mean though that he will not reach this level and, as with many of our youngsters, it is too early to say whether he will cut it at the top level or not. There have been glimpses that he has that level of performance in him. His recent performances at U21 level have seen him looking like one of the best of the young England players participating. The one game though that above others sticks in my mind was his performance against Bayern Munich in our 2-0 away victory. I believe it was Robben and Muller that were changing flanks to have a go at our young rookie, but he managed to keep both of them quiet for more or less the whole game, which is no easy feat. If that kind of performance is in there and can be replicated consistently then we have a player.

What about the competition?

Bellerin is a fine player and would currently get the nod as first choice but I have 2 things in my mind where this is concerned. Firstly it might be nice to have the option of playing Bellerin as a speedy right winger at times with Jenks behind him. Secondly is the dreaded Barca DNA. I would say there is a good chance that we will lose Bellerin to Spain at some point in the future, and also while he is still in his prime, if not at his peak. If Jenks has developed into that consistent top level player the impact will be lessened, rather than facing the situation scrambling around trying to recruit a new top level player who may need to bed in.

Debuchy? Well he is over 30 so has a limited period that he can provide us with top level cover in this role anyway. Debuchy’s ability to cover at CD and possibly even for Le Coq, (according to RC he played there for Lille which I found an interesting option), means for me that we can keep all 3 with Jenks easing into a more regular role as Debuchy fades / moves on. If Jenks is not as likely to get that playing time right now then I would suggest we get another loan season going while making sure we have him secured on a decent contract term. Chambers can also cover the role but my preference would be to develop him as a CD.

Finally, and perhaps the most important of the lot is the home grown quota rules. This consideration really extends beyond Jenks to all our quality young home grown players. The home grown quota rule may start to bite on some top teams as much as FFP. The team with the greatest amount of high quality home grown players could hold a significant advantage in the next few seasons to come, and we are, in my opinion, in one of the strongest (if not the strongest) positions in this sense relative to our top table rivals. For me it is a hands off to the Chavvies and Northern Oilers with Jenks, Jack, Aaron, Kieron, Calum e.t.c

As always over to you guys for your opinions.

Written by GoonerB

Summer Signings. Balotelli, Lukaku or Costa?

March 27, 2015

Let’s take an early review of our summer business in 2014. How are Mr Wenger’s new boys faring?   They are rated like this: Balotelli – a poor signing, Lukaku – an OK signing but could do better, and Costa- a great addition to the team

1. Ospina: I am undecided. His goals against and shots saved stats are impressive and he is top of the PL for average goals conceded in games played but there is something missing. He just doesn’t inspire confidence. I like a keeper who dominates his box, controls his defence and is vocal – Ospina seems too “nice”. Szczesny is a loony – and as we all know the best keepers are nuts (Schmeichel/Seaman/Shilton/Kahn.)

BR’s Rating: Lukaku

2. Debuchy. We can only go on his contribution to this season’s campaign and thanks to injury it is minimal. On his rare appearances he seems all we we would wish for – pacy, a good crosser, good in the air and a fine tackler but 10 appearances is not good value.

BR Rating: Balotelli 

3. Chambers: The lad has had a strange season insomuch as he has been seen as a brilliant signing in his first few games and done less well of late. He is clearly a fine prospect as told by his considerable signing-on fee . I think he will become an Arsenal stalwart but right now he needs to find a settled position. As I wrote yesterday, Bellerin’s progress has not helped his season.

BR Rating: Lukaku

4. Alexis Sanchez. What a start to his AFC career the little fellow has had. Goals, excitement, energy, skill, entertainment, desire, determination, strength, speed, joy – he brings it all. It has to be said that he looks tired of late but nonetheless he is a marvellous addition to the team and at €32m was cheap

BR Rating: Costa.

5. Welbeck. Danny has yet to establish himself in the team. With a fully fit squad he is unlikely to start but we never have a fully fit squad so his input is important. To start with, he is fine value at €16m. Welbz brings enthusiasm, pace and hard work, what he doesn’t bring is a proper goal threat. To be a top striker goals are an essential and his finishing needs much work – 4 PL goals is not enough. That said, his overall contribution is considerable.

BR Rating: Lukaku

written by Big Raddy (inspiration from RC78)