Arsenal deserve to be punished

October 29, 2015

Morning all

Our devastating defeat at the hands of Championship side Sheffield Wednesday has made many Arsenal supporters shrug their shoulders saying that we have bigger fish to fry. After  a walkover for Wednesday at Hillsborough, I had to to ask myself are Arsenal that good, that they can dismiss any competition that they feel is beneath them? The Capital One Cup is scorned at by most top Premier sides and Arsenal have for years used young inexperienced  players. Players that cannot get on the pitch for any of the 38 Premier games. Are they used in Champions league certainly not, why because the Champions league pays out big Bucks thats why.

Every time we play these kinds of games many ask who our next opponents are as there’s a feeling that we should we save players for more important games.

We lost at Hillsborough 3-0 without one shot from our side, our attacks were non existent, our team was more thrown together than pieced together. Here were young players that many ardent Arsenal supporters had never heard of, now in the Arsenal shirt playing a cup game.

Sheffield Wednesday is one of the clubs that is possibly older than Arsenal, they have been round a long long time. Sheffield of course were well known for their steel plants. In the past Sheffield was a thriving community but over the years it has had its problems. Steel is now imported and  that has had a detrimental effect on the population and the football club. As a boy I can remember Wednesday in the top league, the old Division One, they have history with us over the years in big games where the sides were evenly matched. Tuesdays game was a cop out. We disrespected Wednesday in the way our team were picked. We showed that the competition was below us and Arsène himself said that he didn’t want any of our first team travelling but he didn’t have a choice.

Arsenal football club had no intention of battling for the next stage and for me that is wrong. I very rarely speak against Arsène and Arsenal, but on this issue I do. Hillsborough saw 35 thousand fans turn up, the most they have had this season, why, because The Arsenal were in town. Tickets were sought after and I believe it was a sell out. Wednesday Supporters were well aware that Arsenal are currently sharing the same points as league leaders Manchester City. Many Wednesday supporters would have watched Arsenal last week against Bayern Munich, beating possibly the best side in the world. They saw Arsenal battle tooth and nail to win that game 2-0 and many would have made certain of their ticket for this round of the Capital One Cup.

Wednesday’s supporters probably felt they had very little chance of seeing Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez or Santi Cazorla but the Arsenal team coming to Hillsborough would have been draw enough. On the night all they got to see was a depleted Arsenal team devoid of talent and no super stars. I would have felt cheated, they probably did as well until their first goal went in, then the next and then the nail in the coffin, the third. Arsenal with a side in their minds of super stars, turn up and see a team of nobodies.

I feel its time for the FA to step in and sort these fixtures out. A team of the likes of Arsenal, one of the top ten richest sides in the world, field a side of nobodies and make the competition a non event. Arsenal should be punished for supporters shelling out to be entertained  and do not get what they are paying for.

Many will say that Arsenal’s season has currently got more going on than their counter parts, but that is no excuse. Arsenal’s squad is made up of top Premier league players, more than enough to field  a competitive side and they should be made to field it. Many will say that the season is too long and there are too many games, but that is the way it is. After all, we have ten games gone in the league, we have a 25 player squad and we have had two international breaks so tiredness is not an excuse, in fact what Arsenal have done is to bring the game into disrepute. They have disrespected the competition and its competitors and should face punishment. The supporters should be given their money back and Arsenal should be fined heavily.

Personally I was embarrassed, upset and disgusted at how my football club had acted. I feel that if the FA take no action at all then the competition should be taken off the agenda. Many of you will not agree but when a football club act this way punishment must be given.

Steve Palmer

 


Wednesday Left Us with Tuesday Blues

October 28, 2015

The game was like a smack in the kisser with one of tricky Micky’s wet babbling fish.

From the height of the Premier League to the nadir of being out-played, out muscled and consigned to the trash can of the CoC by a supposedly ‘inferior’ but totally deserving Sheffield Wednesday.

The injury to Oxo, within 4 minutes of the start of the game, was an oddity as those sharp-eyed sleuths among you would have seen him on the centre line doing acrobatic calisthenics just before kick off, which indicated he was feeling something, dirty devil or he was trying to pose like a pixillated flamingo. [no, not pixels – drunken] 🙂

As for the other injury, I heard it said that Theo was surprised and aggrieved when having stripped off his track suit, and walked to the Arsenal end to pose, he was ordered by Wenger to get on immediately and replace Oxo, without a warm up – hence the careless injury.

So what came next could not have been a surprise — the perfect storm was gathering on the horizon, or put more succinctly a cock-up of significance was brewing.

Instead of sailing majestically through to the quarter finals the good ship Arsenal was out on its ear, like a dude being invited to clear off by the club doorman for unsuccessfully groping the big blond.

Our away fans were having none of this and gave the team tremendous backing support with their rendition of ‘Good Old Arsenal’ but the players were cocking a deaf ‘un, it seems.

There is no way of glossing over the performance – we were dreadful. Unable to create a single decent passing movement until late in the game when young Bielik gave a display promising much for the future, but sadly our ‘experienced’ players were playing as if they could not be assed, and the youngsters of 17 years of age were — well too young, and fell prey to a problem the first team often find – they were just physically brushed off the ball by the older, grizzled, bigger players of Wednesday, who went through their whole repertoire of diving, clogging and being — well I guess you would have to call it ‘professional’.

There is no need to pick at the scabs of the wounds we suffered both physically and mentally following one of the worst games I have seen for a while.

This has done nothing to help team morale as we come to yet another important sequence of games, and the feel good factor of the last couple of weeks might well blow up in our faces with Swansea, Bayern and the Spurs following in quick succession.

The finger pointing is pointless in a Post, frankly, but I am sure you all have your views and opinions – so let’s hear them. 😀

Written by Red Arse (RA)


Kevin or Joel Campbell?

October 27, 2015

I remember seeing us play Sheffield Wednesday way back in the Days of Yore – so long ago that Arsenal fielded 10 English players!! The only Johnny Foreigner was the great Anders Limpar. We won 7-1 with goals from the Swede, Kevin Campbell, Wrightie, Smudger and The Merse.

That day I was out on the left side of the North bank, near the West stand, uncovered with yards of space around us. Standing up. Yes, we took our lives into our own hands and stood. The attendance that day was a mere 26k. Could we ever see our attendances drop to that level again?

Of course none of that has any relevance to today, except it would be great if another Campbell scored tonight.

Just a thought …. how brilliantly would Ian Wright fit into our current first 11?

So who gets a run this evening? Cech has to start as Ospina is unfit, Chambers, plus a few other fellows.

Perhaps like this:

Cech

Debuchy    BFG    Chambers     Gibbs

Flamini    Ox    Bielik

Iwobi    Walcott  Campbell

Front line is unbalanced as is the midfield and in this team it would require the Ox to take a more influential midfield role than he has played so far. The bench can be filled with first 11 players.

Why not Ozil etc? Because we should prioritise the PL. Injuries have started to hit deep in midfield, a couple more and we will be banjaxed, so why risk it? 

I guess we will know from the starting line-up how much Mr Wenger wants to win this game and how much he is making the C1C his priority. It is a cup he has yet to win.

SW beat Newcastle in the last round so are clearly no mugs.

It is many years since we played SW in the Cups and I have just remembered the games at Wembley when we played SW three times to win the Cup double. I went to all three and evidence of how dull they were is that I can only remember the Morrow/TA incident! I am hoping for more entertainment tonight.

A week ago we beat the world’s best team, tonight we play lesser opposition. AW talked of the “perfect week”, why not make it a “perfect fortnight”?

COYRRG


Flamini strikes twice!

September 24, 2015

An unlikely source was the hero for Arsenal as Mathieu Flamini helped himself to a brace against bitter rivals Tottnumb and secured the Gunners’ passage in to the next round of the credit card cup.

An enthralling cup tie captured the imagination and the very best of the Arsenal away support with fans starting drinking at North London pubs as early as Midday. The Twelve Pins was the spot for pre-match drinks and come the late afternoon there was a huge police presence. The old bill focused very intensely on the Arsenal fans watching them chanting and even climbing traffic lights waiting to see when they would leave the bars for the the ‘Frog March’ down the Seven Sisters Road.

As the Red Army came out of the tube and marched up the Tottenham High Road there was a sense of pride and unity and the Metropolitan Police on their horses found it difficult to contain the hardcore Arsenal faithful. The fans finally entered Shite Hart Lane and there was the sense this meant more than the credit card cup. Arsenal had the early exchanges and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked bright. The decisive moment came when the Ox shot straight at Vorm which bounced in front of him and could only parry and there was Flamini to blast in the rebound. The goal sent Arsenals fans into raptures.

Despite the goal the Arsenal fans were voicing their concern at the lack of defensive discipline being shown by Mathieu Debuchy as Tottnumb were mainly attacking down the Arsenal right flank. Three friends sat together were fuming with the Frenchman saying he did not warrant his place in the team. However, half time came and so far so good as the away support were taunting the fans of their London rivals and highlighting our 13 league titles to Tottnumbs measly 2 league championships.

The second half began and again Debuchy was the brunt of the Arsenal fans anger as he was not covering and Chadli was allowed to cross low only for the unfortunate Calum Chambers to turn the ball past Ospina. The fans were left frustrated but rallied around the team and Chambers who despite scoring the own goal was having a fantastic game. The misfiring Harry Kane then had his acrobatic effort headed off the line by Kieran Gibbs who put in a steady performance on the night.

Arsenal pressed and Ramsey and Ox were trying to carry the fight but the the team needed another spark.. Welcome Alexis Sanchez. But that was not before a commotion in the stands between some Arsenal fans and the bitter stewards. The area seemed very congested with fans and stewards began to move fans anywhere to keep them in line. One 16 year old boy argued with a steward stating “Do you want another Hillsborough?”

On the pitch Alexis looked promising and cut inside only to shoot straight at Vorm. Arsenal looked the more dangerous team and were then rewarded. Tottnumb failed to clear their lines and a looping ball in the air dropped to the right boot of that man Flamini who struck a sweet volley into the bottom right hand corner. The Arsenal section erupted with people falling over, legs up on the air and seats being broken! It was a joy to behold for the Arsenal fans as the Gunners were closing in on a derby day win.

Tottnumb threw everything forward but to no avail and then came the final whistle. It was all over and the long wait to get out of he stadium did not bother the fans. Tottnumb Signs were ripped out in the stadium much to the laughter of the fans. The police then escorted the fans to the seven sistes tube station and the walk began just like it started on the way to the game. As fans poured out of Shite Hart Lane, a certain Frenchman was on everyone’s lips and was even given the accolade of “Cult Hero” status.

UTA!!!

Written by Sir A Hussein


 Out but not Down – Match Review

September 24, 2014

I had a very hazy view of the game but here goes.

Ospina….. Made a few excellent stops. He looked a bit short in the team photo and Clyne’s worldie sailed over his head, but this was partly down to the swerve on a brilliantly hit ball. The goal reminded me of one Thierry scored against Roy Carrol in front of the North Bank.

Bellerin….. Looked composed on the ball and particularly good when making recovery tackles. Must be that lightning speed.

Chambers….. What a buy!

Hayden….. Stepping up and didn’t look out of place. 4th choice CB, maybe?

Coquelin….. A few positional errors but largely a super performance at an unfamiliar left back. As LB says, perhaps we have more cover at left back than we thought.

Diaby….. Great to see the big man back, purring like a Rolls Royce. Fingers crossed.

Wilshere….. Jack never stopped driving the team forward. Unlucky to be on the losing team.

Rosicky….. From what I could make out Tomas is unsurprisingly a little ring-rusty. Tried a lot of stuff which didn’t quite come off. His challenge to get the Saints back in the game was stupidity itself.

Podolski….. Did very little to stake a claim for a first team place. I would have thought he’d be champing at the bit to impress, not just biding his time riding the pine.

Campbell….. I really liked what I could make out, especially in the second half. Needs game time also, but I’m not sure where he’s going to get it now we’re out of the Mickey Mouse Cup.

Sanchez….. Man, what a player we have. He never stops running and has as many tricks as Paul Daniels. His free kick was amazing. Perhaps the GK thought it was sailing over the bar as he helplessly watched it dip from outer space just under the crossbar. Stunning.

sanchez

Admittedly the Saints had a few good chances on the break but our rookie defence could not be blamed for either of the goals.

The midfield looked good. If Rosicky had been sharper, Jack and Abou’s good work might have brought more reward.

The only thing the performance lacked was more goals.

What did you think? Especially if you were lucky enough to be at the Emirates.

chas


Akpom. The New Anelka?

September 23, 2014

We are at home. The tickets are cheap. It is an autumn night. There are few expectations. We have a big enough squad to play some top players mixed with exciting youngsters. Southampton play expansive, attacking football.

Wish I was going.

Given the size of our squad and the strength of our bench I believe our B team can win the Capital One Cup. It would be a fine addition to the trophy cabinet and something we haven’t achieved since Rasp had hair …. without looking it up, when were we last League Cup Winners? (see bottom of post).

Reading Koeman’s pre-match thoughts it appears as though S’ton are going to play a very strong team, as close to the first team as possible. I can understand why because winning a piece of silverware – any trophy at all – would be huge for S’ton whose last trophy win was back in 1976, almost 40 years ago!

Unknown-1

S’ton, 6th in 2nd Div. beat Man Utd at Wembley with a goal by Bobby Stokes 1/5/1976

How will Mr Wenger respond? Well, we know that Diaby will start and I wish him all the best. He is such a good player whose career has been hampered by injury, at 28 he still has the chance to achieve his ambitions.

Ospina will start his first match for the Gunners. This is a strange signing for me – a fine signing for the club but weird for Ospina. Perhaps he believes TPIG is not very good and that he has a chance to usurp him, I think he is mistaken but I guess he is earning a far higher wage and is happy to ride the pine for the foreseeable future. As I say, an odd decision for a much in demand International class keeper.

Another point of interest will be the progress of Akpom. Chuba has played and scored for England at every Youth level, he is the fastest player over 10 yards in recent AFC history (beating both Walcott and Henry) and recently scored a hatrick for the U-21’s. He looks excellent when playing in the U-21’s but it is a huge step up to play with the Big Boys. Ray Kennedy did it, Anelka did it, can Chuba Akpom?

Then there is Isaac Hayden. Could he be the reason Mr. Wenger didn’t buy a back-up central defender? He did well in his previous outing with the first team when he played the defensive midfield role and looked very composed in the recent U-21 win over WBA.

It is upfront where we have so much in reserve. A forward line of Podolski, Akpom and Campbell is dangerous, add in the attacking midfield of (I assume) the Ox or Rosicky and we should score goals. The problem, as ever, is in defence.

Possible team:

23rd sept

This team could be a bit light defensively so perhaps Akpom will be on the bench and Ox play on the left with Campbell through the middle. Another alternative is Flamini at left back rather than Gibbs. Why? Because there is a rather important game on the weekend and we do not want to risk an injury-prone Gibbs.

So …… did you recall the last time we won the League Cup? Yes, it was in the 1992/3 season when we won the Cup Double against Sheffield Wednesday. I went to all 3 games at Wembley and this was the first. It was the Coca-Cola Cup in those days and we won 2-1. Sheffield scored first, the Merse equalised then Steven Morrow scored the winner. It was the famous occasion when Tony Adams broke Morrow’s arm whilst celebrating

Unknown

Morrow’s Big Day Out and a pre-recovery Merse.

Win this and there are just 9 PL teams left in the draw. Lose and we free up some game-time. Here’s to an entertaining match.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy

 


Make this a Night to Remember

October 29, 2013

Assuming the storms abate we are in for an interesting evening with our young heroes against the expensive Chav flops. Let’s take a closer look …..

Chelsea: The Arrogant One is already moaning about his side having to play Sun/Tues, poor, fragile little sweethearts. Imagine, all those cossetted millionaires having the possibility of playing 180 minutes in 3 days, oh, the ignominy and stress. Moaninho may have to play his reserve team – you know the one – the blokes who cost tens of millions of wasted money.

Who are these unknown beginners? Well, Some no-hoper defenders called David Luiz, Ryan Bertrand,and Azpil something , a useless MF named Essien, another called Obi- Won Kanobi, a few forwards who would struggle to get into the Barnet side – Eto’o, Demba Ba, and Willian. Oh and some bloke called Juan Mata who Jose has had to pull in from the Stevenage reserve squad. Desperate times down at Stamford Bridge.

What this highlights is how poor Chelsea have been at developing their youth policy. It would be great if every player on show tonight was under, say, 23. That allows for some experience players as well as giving a great night out for lads on the edge of the first team. But Chelsea can’t do that can they? (though to be fair they have bought in some exceptional youth who are on loan – Kakuta, Courtois, Romeu, Lukaku, Moses etc).

It is all well and good preaching about how important it is to develop youth players but apart from Southampton and Arsenal, which top 6 side does? (letters to Arsenalnuts)

You may gather from the above my disdain for all that Chelsea stand for – and you would be right. In my opinion the arrival of Abramovich has been hugely detrimental to English football. This is not sour grapes because they have won more trophies than us in the past decade, it is because they have no honour or class. The purchase of Willian is a case in point.

There was a time when I thought Jose was great fun but his self-promotion, as witnessed so perfectly after Torres goal on Sunday, is sickening, and so is his brand of football.  He is the Lord High Prophet of the Me Generation.

Arsenal: Full house, local rivals, a young team, another exciting night in prospect at The Emirates.

We are clearly going to need some experienced players to support the younger chaps but which one’s can be spared ahead of the Liverpool game? Your guess is probably better than mine.

Given the absence of both Flamini and Arteta we are struggling for a defensive screen in front of the back 4. Frimps is unfit, so is Eisfeld and Zelamamanememan. Hayden played well for an 18 y.o. in the last round, so perhaps he will start. And who will partner Vermaelen ? Both BFG and Kos have been piling up the games both a t club and international level. Should Gnabry start? He was very good in his cameo at the weekend but should we risk such a young man who picked up a slight ankle knack?

OK. Here is my punt …..

arse v chacs c1c

The bench will have a couple of familiar faces but mostly kids.

It is a shame we are facing such a strong side in a competition we should prioritise. The Chelsea squad is so deep that they really do have two first 11’s, and we , thanks to extensive injuries, don’t. Had we a fully fit squad I would be more certain of victory, as it is the odds have to be against us.

But ….. We are the Arsenal, we are at home, we have The Great Dane, and put in simple terms, we are a better club from top to bottom.

Our tea lady has more class than theirs (whom I have it on good authority used to be a lady of the night working in the outer reaches of Brentford). We have Sir Chips, they have a lawyer called Buck. Says it all ….

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


The kids did us proud – Match report

September 26, 2013

What can I tell you about our League Cup game against West Brom? Not a lot, just a few comments based on the seven microseconds of coverage the BBC made available, the Radio 5 commentary and a few bits and bobs from the tinternet.

But I can tell you that:

1. We won;

2. The first half was crap;

3. With a squad shredded by injuries, the kids from the Academy Squad featured heavily; and

4. The Arsenal fans were in great voice.

Taken from the away end by chas

Taken from the away end by chas

OK, there are a few other things to say. The most important bit was how the game was won with the kids holding their nerve to prevail in a penalty shoot-out, against more experienced opponents and on their ground. The performance may not have been a slick classic, but winning in those circumstances could be the making of some of those youngsters.

Nicklas Bendtner made his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt in over two years. His reputation amongst fans has gone from bad to worse in that time, so it was sensible for a bit of humble pie to be eaten in the run-up to the game. And from what I saw, while he was certainly no world-beater last night, he was committed to the cause. His reaction when the winning penalty went in confirmed that. And he also made the goal we scored, when he received the ball from Gnabry, turned, paused while Eisfeld’s run opened up a chance and then played in the other young German with a perfect through ball. Well done to Eisfeld for slotting it home, but the goal was the creation of the big Dane.

He should have had one himself in extra time, when Gnabry played him through for what should have been a one-on-one but Bendtner took an age to compose himself for his shot, perhaps thinking the defenders were further back than they were. Unfortunately West Brom’s Dawson was able to catch Bendtner and dispossess him before he could get his shot away. The absence of preseason matches was there on display.

There will be plenty who will take a pop at Bendtner, and God knows he deserves it plenty of the time, but I thought he showed a real determination to contribute. It’s no minor thing that he took the first penalty in the shoot-out, that is taking responsibility.

Another serial under-achiever, Fabianski, had a pretty busy night and did well, making a number of good saves. He couldn’t stop Berahino equalizing ten minutes after we’d taken the lead, but that had more to do with our defenders leaving Berahino too much space when a recycled clearance from a corner was lobbed back into the box.

It was disappointing to hear relatively little being created by Arsenal in open play, though it did sound like things picked up significantly in the latter stages, in particular with the appearance of Olsson, Bellerin and Akpom from the substitutes’ bench. The 17-year old Akpom got especially positive reactions from the Radio 5 commentary team – I’ll definitely look out for that performance once I can see some proper coverage of the game.

A penalty shoot-out felt inevitable from a long way out, not that that alleviated the sense of dread about how the kids would do. That pessimism seemed well-founded, when Serge Gnabry missed our second penalty and the more experienced West Brom players (Reid, Rosenberg and Morrison) confidently despatched their first three spot-kicks. An early exit seemed very much on the cards, with West Brom on the verge of victory. Then Kris Olsson stepped up and scored (just about, the keeper was close), to make it 3-2. West Brom’s fourth penalty taker, Craig Dawson, bottled it, and put his kick well wide. The scores were level and the momentum was suddenly with us.

Next up: Chuba Akpom. The talented lad from Newham, who wasn’t even a year old when Arsène Wenger became Arsenal manager, held his nerve and put his kick away, the scores were level and we were in sudden death mode; the next miss would likely be terminal for that team’s continuation in the competition. And so it was: West Brom cracked again, when Morgan Amalfitano also blazed his kick wide, and now it was us about to kick for the win. We’ve seen plenty of failures in penalty shoot-outs down the years, but it was something of a relief to see an older head for the final kick: Nacho Monreal put his one away without undue fuss, and was rapidly bundled by some very enthusiastic young Arsenal players who’d sprinted form the centre circle.

Celebrations at wba

So there you go, our winning away record was extended to 11 competitive games in all competitions and our winning sequence is now eight games. We are into the next round, and once again we have a tough draw: we will play Chelsea at Ashburton Grove on 29 or 30 October, days before we begin a rapid sequence of games against Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United in the space of eight days. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing to get tough draws in cup competitions, but we’re on a roll, with draws against Fenerbahce, Napoli, Dortmund, Marseille, West Brom and now Chelsea. Still, it’s better than facing Bradford and Blackburn…..

The Arsenal away contingent at the Hawthorns were fantastic last night, they were the loudest bunch in the house throughout. The Radio 5 bods were impressed at their old school refusal to sit down and the fact they had turned out in such numbers for a midweek League Cup game in another part of the country. Well done to Chas & Co, they remained in fine voice in what was, other than the shoot-out, largely a forgettable game and one in which our opponents were often on top.

There may be questions about what the presence in the squad of so many callow members of the Academy squad, and a couple of players most of us expected to have left by now. There may also be questions about first teamers like Mertesacker and Arteta being asked to play up to 120 minutes when we have an important and demanding run of two league games and a Champions’ League game coming up. This fear was made worse when Arteta was substituted, possibly as the result of an injury. Hopefully, that won’t turn out to be true. And fair play to the kids, they did us proud.

I’m afraid I can’t give ratings, I haven’t seen enough of the game yet to make those judgments. But it seems that Fabianski, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bendtner, Hayden, Jenkinson, Bellerin and Akpom all did well, and that Gnabry and Miyaichi had off-nights.

Written by 26may89


We Can All Learn Something From the Capital One Cup Final

February 25, 2013

Yesterday was a real treat, a cup final at Wembley contested by two proper football clubs and two proper football teams. There’s little needed to say more about Swansea and their wonderful style of play, but Bradford, still stuck in the bottom tier of English professional football, have been a revelation this season. That’s brought pain to us, of course, when we failed to muster enough of what mattered to overcome their well-drilled, energetic game. But what they’ve shown is that there is no need to be condescending, they have disposed of us as well as Wigan, Villa and Watford, and a couple of others – they are no mugs. It hurt, but if we’re honest, Bradford deserved to beat us, even if it was a victory borne of an appalling penalty shoot-out performance.

Living in northwest London, Wembley isn’t far away from my house, and it warmed my heart to see the streets filling up, not with cocky Chavs, Spuds, Reds, Oilers, Scousers or Gooners, but with the fans of two teams that haven’t come to take cup final appearances for granted, fans who really know the value of cup competitions, rather than treat them as consolation for failing to win the title or sideshow baubles. These were fans from less fashionable parts of the country (sorry Sheep!), and fans who love their football. Good on them.

Beyond the satisfaction of seeing two good footballing sides and two good sets of fans go to Wembley, there is a lesson in watching the success of Bradford and Swansea. These two clubs have spent years at the bottom of the football heap, laid low by years of short-sighted and incompetent management by their boards. Bradford had gone nuts when they got into the Premier League, splurging tomorrow’s money on stupid contracts for the likes of Benito Carbone. That stupidity saw them go into administration and go tumbling down the footballing pyramid. The Premier League glory days were long gone, but under Phil Parkinson, with no money to spend, they have found sufficient shape and confidence on the pitch to suggest the club has happier days ahead.

And Swansea’s renaissance is just remarkable. Little more than ten years ago, when being managed by ex-Arsenal player John Hollins, they were midway through a descent to the bottom, the club was sold for £1, players were being sacked, fans were protesting and the Football League was talking about punishing them. In 2002, they only narrowly avoided relegation out of the Football League. And then in 2004, they made the first of a series of managerial appointments that sent them climbing up the divisions. First there was Kenny Jackett, then Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup (with a Paulo Sousa interlude). Without being able to know quite how they organise things, it is obvious that the board there have established a superb way of working: the club’s resources (not a sugar-daddy’s) are used incredibly well, they keep on recruiting high quality managers and undervalued players and they have enough confidence in the coaches and players to allow creativity to flourish. None of your Pulis, O’Neill or Allardyce rubbish for them, they’ve created an environment where skill and talent rule. And now they’ve won a major trophy, with European football attached, and look like they’ll see their side finish in the top half of the division. Anyone who loves football must love Swansea these days. Perhaps not if you’re from Cardiff (they must hate life right now), but everyone else.

I might be gutted that we won’t have a pot again this season, but seeing two clubs like Swansea and Bradford at Wembley just goes to show the value of a well-run club, that doesn’t think it’s all about throwing money about but instead achieves success through hard work, planning and skill. That, in my opinion, is something to respect and savour, and it’s something some in the Arsenal community would do well to bear in mind, there are lessons in there for all football clubs.

Written by 26may


A New Kind of Stupid – Bradford 1 – Arsenal 1 (3-2 pens)

December 12, 2012

All the critics of Arsenal internal and external use our 7 years without a trophy as a thorny stick to hit us with over and over again. Last night on a trip to the frozen North of England Arsene Wenger surprised us fans and I’m sure most pundits by picking a pretty strong team to face Bradford from League Two.

Two of the starting eleven could be considered “squad” players (Ramsey and Coquelin). The rest of the names on the team sheet were either experienced internationals, or players with many games of competitive club football under their belts. And I am afraid it is those players that once again let us down.

Plenty of us pre match yesterday were saying how important it was that the team took control of the game and silenced the crowd, of course they were going to be fired up for the first ten minutes but swot it away and start passing it around and their fans would soon go quiet, then you could concentrate on playing the nice stuff, do the right thing first.

But no, the team decided to let them get on top quickly and early, all they had to do was put the ball high in the air and deep in Arsenal’s half and they looked like they could score, so yet again meaningless passing around the Bradford half resulted in an attack for them when those in Purple and Black eventually passed into their keeper’s hands.

To compound matters the team decided on 16 minutes to make it even harder for themselves, specifically the skipper Thomas Vermaelen, allowing a long punt up field to be controlled by a Bradford player over by the corner flag, then allowing that player to nutmeg you, and then fouling him. Vermaelen’s ill judged attempts to tackle were to be a feature of the night and a growing rage towards him from me.

From that corner the experienced players in the team decided that it would be a good idea to allow Gibbs and Coquelin to defend the near post area, and for Mertesacker to defend the middle, for Vermaelen to stand behind him and to be covered by Sagna. All three of our most experienced defenders got sucked towards the ball, which was flicked on at the near post taking all three out of the game and despatched into the back of our net through the despairing hands of Szczesny.

One nil Bradford and yet again we were in for a long night and hoping for some kind of miracle to try and get the game back. These miracles are really only possible if everyone is working hard. And for the rest of the half not enough players were close to the required levels.

Coquelin provided the best effort on goal so far when he jinked past a defender and hit a bobbler with his left foot that came back off the post. Gervinho missed a sitter from two yards when it was easier to score following good work from Jack, Santi and Gibbs. How he managed not to put enough on that ball is beyond me, he wasn’t desperately lunging, he wasn’t being mucsled by a defender he was there, he could have put any body part on it, even his todger and it would have gone in, but he somehow managed to open his foot up so far that he just flicked it wide.

Other than those two chances the team created very little in the remainder of the half.

In the second half the team came out with a bit more tempo, but still failure to do the the basics right meant that Bradford were given the opportunities to put pressure on the Arsenal area from free kicks and possession in the final third.

Chamakh came on for Coquelin who I felt was unlucky to be subsititued but clearly Wenger needed to give some kind of focus to the attack. Soon after Rosicky and Oxlade-Chamberlain came on to replace Ramsey (seeing double after taking a boot in the face) and Podolski who will be seeing double if Bould kicks him into next week like he deserves, as he walked off I didn’t think i saw a bead of seat on his body, I know it was cold up there but the rest of the players were showing the effects of playing a game of football.

Excuse me while I send a personal rant to Mr Podolski:

The song we sing is “He Scores When He Wants”, not plays where he wants not tries when he wants, it’s scores when he wants. You have not earned the right to criticise other players around you yet, you have not earned the right to tell the manager where you want to play, we already have Theo trying that one, and you apparently want it too. Right now I’d rather we cancelled your contract and sent you back to Koln on a free, because you are not worth the wages the club are paying you.

At one point yesterday you enetered the box and waited for a cross from Gervinho, you stood with your arm in the air, ok the first cross didn’t come, but the ball was still live we still had it, still you didn’t move, you just stood on your heels in the same place with the same stupid arm up in the air, when the ball finally did come across the goal from Gervinho you were still standing there and watching it roll harmlessly wide at which point you complained because it would have meant you doing what a centre forward does….MOVE IN THE BLOODY BOX!

Now I’m not an international Centre Forward who has scored countless goals, but I have watched football a long time, and never have I seen a supposed centre forward move so little in the 18 yard box waiting for a cross, the likes of Lineker, Shearer, even bloody Stephen Fletcher would have moved four or five times in the time you stood on that one spot.

I can accept a player being shit but working hard, I used to think Perry Groves was a legend for example, but accepting a talent who fails to work hard I will not and will never accept.

Rant at Mr Podolski over.

Rosicky injected some much needed pace to our play, between him and Jack who seemed to cover every blade of grass from defence to attack in the second half the team finally started to dominate possession, and actually began to look threatening in and around the Bradford area.

The shot count was rising but so was the off target count, and when it was on target Matt Duke in the Bradford goal was using his large frame to good effect.

With time running out Santi Cazorla produced a lovely cross to the far post, luckily it was just after a corner and we had some good headers of the ball in and around the box, Thomas Vermaelen rose at the back post to provide probably his only positive contribution on a dismal night for him personally.

The team pushed for the winner in normal time, but could not find it.

Extra time came and went with little action until the dying minutes when Duke was again called upon to make good saves from Santi and Jack.

So onto penalties, I was already worried as Duke posed an impressive physical presence inside the Bradford goal, he is actually the same height as Szczesny but a few more years of living he is stronger muscularly, it also helps that he doesn’t have to wear a pink goalkeepers top.

I was further worried when considering the psychological pressure on each group of players, Bradford – be a hero, Arsenal – be a villain. It was that simple, a Bradford player misses and they get a pat on the back and a commiseration, the Arsenal player that misses is vilified for the rest of the week/season/life (depending on how long you like to hold a grudge).

Bradford went first and it was calmly dispatched. Santi stepped up and hit a weak penalty into the hands of Duke who guessed correctly. Bradford made it 2-0, Chamakh steps up and cooly places the ball onto the post. Chips are down, I’m ready to hit the off switch. Szczesny guessed right for the third time in a row and saved to keep Arsenal alive, up stepped Jack who had simply no trouble putting the ball home. Bradford made it 3-1, up stepped Ox who made it look just as easy as Jack and rifled home to make it 3-2. Szczesny then guessed right for the 5th penalty in a row and saved a very tame effort by Bradford.

Up steps the Arsenal captain to take it to sudden death, he followed Chamakh’s lead and rolled it against the other post, cue pandemonium at Valley Parade as Bradford claim a famous victory.

No Professional team should see the opposition miss two penalties and not even take it to sudden death……abysmal.

A miserable night was complete, miserable for the fans, miserable for the manager, miserable for the club…..miserable for the players? I’m not so sure, they just go home to their mansion, loose women and fast cars. Why would they be miserable?

I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, I can support young players who work hard and put it all on the pitch, I can’t support players who do not play for the team for each other, or the fans.

I want players to show they know what it means to us fans and in my opinion too many on the pitch for Arsenal at the moment look like their doing a job, and it doesn’t even look like its a job they love.

Ratings:

Szczesny 8 Two penalty saves, could do nothing about the goal, swept well all night trying to urge the team forward and get ball back up field quickly.

Sagna 5 Poor performance from “Mr Consistent”, I am not sure I care whether he signs a new deal, as i am not sure what he is Mr Consistent at.

BFG 5 Outjumped by an industrial centre forward for the entire game, normal assured self when on the ball.

Vermaelen 0 Sorry you are not worthy of that armband right now, silly free kicks all night, and a failure to take care of your own job first.

Gibbs  7 Our best defender on the evening, and probably of the season so far, quiet going forward first half but always offering himself.

Ramsey  5 Nothing went his way tonight, needs a rest needs to work out the issues and decision making. Worked as hard as ever though.

Coquelin  6 Did his best in a misfiring midfield first half, still a lot to learn in the first team.

Wilshere  8 (MotM) Tried everything he could to push the team forward ran for 120 minutes, tackling, shooting, the boy has got it all, we need to get players with his attitude and desire around him soon.

Cazorla  6 Very quiet first half, much better second especially when Rosicky came on.

Podolski  -5 Didn’t bother turning up

Gervinho  4 he tries hard bless him, and doesn’t stop running, end product absent all night.

Subs:

Rosicky  7.5 quick passing, forward runs, forward passes, what we have been missing of late

Oxlade-Chamberlain  6.5 A display that showed he is returning to form, used his pace and strength well, committed defenders. Horrible team to come on and play for right now.

Chamakh  4 I miss Giroud already

Written by a very pissed off

Gooner in Exile

Someone will probably quote these stats in defence of the team:

37% Possession 63%
(so f’ing what)
5 Shots 28
(and?)
3 On Target 12
(less than half?)
3 Corners 12
(remember when this used to mean we would score?)