Let’s get this one over with as quick as we can and move onto Saturday

November 1, 2016

November. We usually struggle.

I could stop the post here and just re-blog it as the PM for every game in the month but that wouldn’t be very entertaining , would it?

As to tonight’s game, it is eminently winnable. We smashed the Bulgarians at home and should do so again tonight …. but we are The Arsenal and there is many a slip twixt cup and lip etc etc.

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Our form is good though untested against decent opposition, our players are fit apart from a couple of centre forwards, our results are better away from home. What can go wrong?

Complacency; both from manager and players. They will expect to win, as we expect them to.

Ludogorets have earned the chance to play in the CL, having won the Bulgarian League and beaten among others, Red Star Belgrade in the qualifiers, they have also drawn with Basle so they are no pushovers. Less than 100% effort will result in a loss of important points.

Why are they important? You already know 😉 so I won’t waste your time.

My Team:

Ospina

Jens   Mustafi     Kos     Gibbs

Elneny    Coq      Iwobi

Ox    Sanchez    Ozil

Should Xhaka start in place of Elneny or Le Coq? Not for me – he has to stay on the Naughty Step and learn that making stupid tackles like the one v Swansea is not the Arsenal Way.

The only other question mark is whether Arsene will rest players (see :complacency). He may choose  to play Ramsey and Giroud in order to rest Ozil and Sanchez, however AW has been clear about giving Ramsey time to bed into the team again, so I doubt he will start. Whereas the FFP has shown why he is important and that sometimes Alexis can be the Plan B.

Ludogorets ground has a capacity of just over 8,000 and is sold out. I expect to see the crowd fervent for the first half, less so in the second, followed by some heads down muttering  allowing our travelling few to be heard celebrating.

Let it be So.

COYRRG


Arsenal 6 Ludogrets 0…………a few thoughts on the game.

October 20, 2016

Thracians thrashed and we have a better clock tower; well we do, the clock tower near the Highbury barn is much better than theirs by about six goals I would say.

Sanchez, Walcott’s twin brother, Oxlaide-Chamberlain all got on the score sheet but it was Mesut Ozil’s night with his first hat trick at THOF.

Arsenal cruised past the Bulgarian champions with the ease in which I think most anticipated; that’s to say, anticipated in the way that none of us knew what to expect from Ludogrets but most presumed, and rightly so as it turned out, that the champions of such a lowly league were hardly going to produce a team capable of beating us in the form we are in.

No, but, that is not to say that we didn’t have a few scares; it took two fine saves from the outstanding Ospina to keep us ahead: Sanchez having scored from what is fast becoming his trade mark “Scoop”. I am not sure what else to call it; it was as inch perfect as the “Scoop” he sent over for Ozil to score one of the best goals I have ever seen against Swansea on Saturday.

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The Chilean’s goal settled the nerves and gave a moment to reflect on what a clever team selection Wenger had made. For twenty years I have been trying to guess the team he is going to select and although there have been a couple of times when I have been really annoyed usually following a sound thrashing; that said, I am not daft enough to realise that my criticism was made with the use of hindsight. Anyway once again I couldn’t guess and once again I was really impressed with the way Wenger deployed the troops: Monreal needed time to cool down from his weekend roasting which gave Gibbs a chance and the Ox for Iwobi was smart.

It is all very well going on as we do about how much depth we have to the squad but it is easy to forget that they are human beings with feelings and they need be kept on side and motivated and that was exactly what Wenger was able to do to two key players in the very important Gibbs and Oxlaide-Chamberlain. Oops I almost forgot, that is three key players with Ospina.

Theo’s twin brother continued to impress with a superb long range effort from way outside the box just before half time which allowed us to go into the break having doubled our lead and a whole lot more relaxed. I say Theo’s twin brother of course because there is no way anyone is going to persuade me that this is the same Theo that we have had at the club for what, ten years now? No way. Theo’s twin seems to have worked out his best position in no time and even more important he has been given provisional membership into the elite Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla club. Yes a very exclusive club that very few get invited into, Ramsey has a provisional membership, Giroud by contrast doesn’t.

What this membership gets you is — the ball, it means that Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla will pass to you; they wouldn’t have passed to Theo of last season, no point he would have just lost possession but his twin this season is able to control it and make some telling passes and score some very important goals. I am not sure that Giroud will ever be in the club, have you noticed how those three will try a really complicated pass to one another rather than make a simple short easy pass to the Frenchman.

In Arsenal world tonight was a resounding win but it will still go almost unnoticed. I am not sure whether to be pleased or annoyed. I suppose it is useful that all the media continue to kneel in front of Pep, lip gloss applied, while we go on winning almost unnoticed, it certainly keeps the pressure on Man City and off of us. It is a two horse race, no doubt in my mind about it.

But we were good tonight, we are very good, who would have expected Ozil to start scoring the way he is and before I go any further I want make sure Perez’s two assists do not go unnoticed. Do you remember when we bought him and we were all excited about how finally we might have someone who can play with Ozil and Sanchez up front, someone who has the same close control as those two titans of our team, well you saw it tonight. Perez was outstanding which of course leaves me with a bit of a problem choosing my superlative for Ozil but before I do a thought crossed my mind as he completed his hat trick.

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What would Ozil have to do to be regarded as the best player we have ever had at Arsenal? I will leave that one to you to discuss.

Back to the game, no actually I am done, Ozil’s three goals were magnificent and boy what a pleasure it was to be there and witness them. One last very personal point that gave me goose bumps. It is always a sign that we are on top and cruising when the you hear We’re the North bank, we’re the North Bank followed by we’re the Clock end, we’re the clock end, nothing new here but the difference last night was that like phoenix from the ashes the sound of we’re the East Stand, we’re the East Stand, we’re the East Stand Highbury came ringing out for the first time ever at THOF, I have goose bumps just writing it. Oh how lucky I am to support this football club, thanks Dad.

Written by LB


Thrashing the Thracians?

October 19, 2016

To be quite honest I had absolutely no idea which country PFC Ludogorets Razgrad came from until I started writing this. Bulgaria is the answer and I sincerely hope my appalling ignorance and downright lack of awareness is not matched by the manager and team of Arsenal Football Club.

Looking at Ludogorets’ record in the Champions League, their biggest home win was 1-0 v Basel in 2014 and their biggest away defeats were both 4-0 to Basel (again) and Real Madrid (both in 2014). At present their biggest away win is …… non-existent. A continuation of that record for another few days would be great. (n.b. they’ve only been in the group stage once before) .

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Razgrad itself is in north-east of the country and a couple of Bulgaria’s famous landmarks have parallels with landmarks in England.

First there is the Bulgarian Icarus statue.

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According to legend, the man known as the “Bulgarian Icarus” was also a builder. Apparently a Turkish Sultan survived a terrible disaster, so he decided to build a mosque in Edirne in gratitude to God. At that time, Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire. So, the Sultan summoned the most famous builder and this was Bulgarian, Manol. He worked for seven years and constructed a miraculous temple. After it was completed, the Sultan asked him: “Can you build a more beautiful mosque than this one?” and Master Manol replied: “One always has more to learn. Maybe I made some mistakes here that I will avoid in the future and I will be able to build an even more majestic temple.” Hearing this, the ruler ordered that Manol be shut in one of the mosque minarets until his last breath. The inventive craftsman, however, managed to create another miracle – he designed himself wings made of wood. And one day, the people in Edirne saw a huge flying creature soaring in the sky and heading home to Thrace. In this way, Master Manol managed to save his life and turned into a favourite hero in Bulgarian folk tales and songs.

This tale reminded me of the Angel of the North statue when some Geordies launched an enormous Alan Shearer shirt over its shoulders.

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Whilst the statues have similarities, Master Manol and Mr Shearer are almost polar opposites, one an educated and erudite craftsman builder and the other a football pundit.

The second parallel is between the beautiful Razgrad clock tower and our own clock tower at Highbury Barn.

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Team News

It would appear Rambo and Ollie G. are continuing to train alone. I’d imagine Granit will start due to a soon-to-be enforced absence from the Prem and EFL Cup (cheers, J. Moss).

It appears we emerged unscathed from the Swansea game so perhaps the team isn’t likely to be changed to any significant degree. Perhaps Kieran Gibbs could get a game after Nacho’s run around on Saturday. Oh, and Oooooooooooo-spiiiiiiiii-naaaaa may get the goalkeeper jersey.

‘Complacency’ seems to be the watchword for everyone with regards to this game. Theo and Shkodran have both issued warnings to their teammates to be on their guard against assuming it will be an easy and straightforward 3 points. Each and every player has to be thinking the same, especially after escaping by the skin of our teeth against Swansea.

Note…. Big Raddy is currently on manoeuvres in Ireland and without pre-match writing facilities. Thankfully this hiatus from normality will only be fleeting.

P.S. we need a nickname or shortened version of Shkodran. Any suggestions?

Written by chas


Player Ratings vs Basel

September 29, 2016

Given the awesomeness of our first half display I have decided rate the two halves separately . Scores out of 10.

First Half:

Ospina.   Didn’t touch the ball, hence a perfect performance.  11

Bellerin. A constant threat in attack and defended from the half way line.  11

Mustafi. Magnificent 11

Koscielny. Equally magnificent. 11

Montreal. See Bellerin. 11

Xhaka.  A metronome of timing and accuracy. 11

Cazorla. Perhaps his best ever AFC performance. 11

Iwobi. The future is bright, the future is Iwobi. 11

Sanchez. Noe-stop energy allied to amazing balance allied to amazing spirit and talent. 11

Walcott. Never better. 11

Ozil. A magician on top form. 11

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Second Half:

Not quite a good, so everyone deserves just the 10.

Except the subs who get a 9 for effort (a bit like getting a mark for correctly spelling your name on an exam paper).

Another wonderful evening to be a Gooner.

written by BR


Blessed are the Cheesemakers

September 28, 2016

This is a game I really want us to win and win in style.

The bubbly, happy feeling generated by our magnificent victory over the Southern Oilers will continue into the weekend with a handsome victory. A scrappy one-nil would do but a little bit of Ozil magic allied to some Sanchez dynamite and a dash of Theo virtuosity would do even better.

We are playing a Swiss team. I have no wish to belittle the mountainous paradise but quite frankly football is not their strong-point. Skiing, Yes. Clock-making, Yes. Cheese production, Yes. Football, No.

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And yet they have a decent national team who did OK in the Euros, until a certain Granit Xhaka missed a penalty, and in FC Basle have a team with a record of wins against big clubs. I am sure you have read all about their giant-killing exploits so I will not google and regurgitate here.

Let’s be honest, you expect us to win, don’t you? Come on …. if we drew you would be disappointed, especially given our recent results. Win both tonight and the away game in Bulgaria (Ludo Radz) and TOTL is centred upon a home game against PSG.

So… who will play?

My Team:

Ospina

Bellerin    Mustafi   Koscielny   Monreal

Xhaka    Cazorla   Iwobi

Walcott    Sanchez    Ozil

Why change a winning team (bar Le Coq)? We have 4 days to recover before the trip to Burnley where I expect AW to rest some players. Perhaps Ox or Perez may start tonight in place of Iwobi but I doubt it.

Should Elneney start against his former club? The partnership with Xhaka is highly promising but who gets dropped? Cazorla? Santi has been magnificent and to drop him in order to save him for Turf Moor is poor reward for his excellence.

Gibbs short appearance on Saturday  was superb, possibly his best performance in many a month, though it would come as surprise to see AW change his back line.

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Basle are no pushover, they have won their first 9 games in the Swiss League scoring almost 3 goals a game and won their league 7 times in a row but we are different gravy. It is one thing winning away at BellRingers Sion or Grasshopper Young Boys of Thun and quite another beating one of the best teams in the world. Having said that, Basle beat the Chavs home and away in 2014!

So, will we continue our fine run of form and take a huge step towards the next round of the CL or will we stutter against a team who will come to defend (parken den bus)?

We have the team, we have the experience, we have the 12th man in the stands (for now).  Cheesemakers blessed? We shall see tonight.

COYRRG

 

 

 


Who is Arsenal’s Top Scorer in the Champions League?

September 13, 2016

Lovely warm Autumn night, great stadium, very good opponents, a night to look forward to. Win or draw (I never mention a loss) I will enjoy our return to the Champions League, our 19th season in succession.

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Can we get further than the last 16? We haven’t since 2010; if Arsenal are to be taken seriously as a top team then we must reach at least the quarter-final. Can we? Much will depend upon tonight’s result because if we leave Paris with at least a point we are in the box-seat to win the group.

PSG are in poor form (for them) and having lost both Luiz and the Big-Nosed Swede during the summer (how could my favourite player sign for those Northern swine?), they are definitely weakened, especially upfront where Cavan has struggled though PSG have recently spent well over €20m on ex-Barca forward Jese´

But let us not feel too relaxed – PSG remain an Oiler team who have so much money that they paid €22m to get rid of a manager – that is a Perez! PSG have only lost one of their last twenty home games in the CL and have reached the quarter finals in the last 5 seasons.

Here’s a question. Without googling, do you know who is Arsenal’s top scorer in the Champions League? Have a guess but no cheating.

As to Arsenal, the knowledge that Kos is recovered and will start is a huge fillip – the man has developed into a cornerstone of the team; who would have thought so when Vermælen was our defensive pivot?

The defence picks itself but in midfield we have so many combinations – given that Santi played 90 minutes on Saturday I expect him to be riding the pine. My guess is that Xhaka and Elneny will start with the intention of protecting the back 4 in an away fixture.

Giroud is certain to return but a poor performance could see him behind Perez as our main striker. Many are concerned about OG’s inability to become a clinical finisher but he is the best we have. Perez may well prove to be the player we need but on the evidence of Saturday he has a settling-in period to go through.

My Team: (BTW I know we do not play 4-3-3)

Cech

Bellerin    Mustafa    Koscielny     Monreal

Xhaka     Elneny    Sanchez

Walcott   Giroud    Ozil

This team may be a little too attack-miinded for AW, we may see Theo dropped to make way for Ox or Iwobi who are better defensively.

Can we win? As always my answer is, Why not? Arsene has pointed to the mix of age and experience in the squad. Almost all our players are used to high pressure CL games and this must have a positive effect. Let’s hope so.

COYRRG

 


Pay Da Money …

July 27, 2016

From the last 10 year’s experience of Arsenal’s transfer activity, we know that this is how it works ….

Most of the stories linking us to players or claiming we are interested in a particular player are either from web sites/journalists trying to garner hits, or from agents trying to manipulate the market = lies.

Often, when we are actually interested in a player, it becomes quite obvious from an early stage =  Nasri, Holding, Xhaka.

Sometimes we do a last minute deal = Park, Ozil

I believe we made an offer for La Cazette about a month ago. West Ham subsequently offered more but reportedly (that word means probably a lie), La Caz wants CL football. He’s good, he’s an alternative to Giroud, he knows where the goal is, he’s French 🙂  …. what’s not to like?

‘Reportedly’ Lyon want £40m. So if that is the case, just pay the *&^%ing money and get on with finding us a top CB to fill the vacuum in our defence please Ivan/Arsene.

Don’t tell me it’s not that easy – I know it isn’t but other clubs are securing targets, we need to pull our fingers out and do the business.

Rasp ….. T In C


If Henry Can, Welbeck Can

March 16, 2016

Time to play with The Big Boys. Finish Top 4 and this is the reward. No-one expects us to win the CL, only one club can do so and, let’s be honest, it is not going to be Arsenal in the near future, but what Top 4 offers is the chance to play in the Camp Nou or the Allianz Arena or the Bernabeu.

In other words glory.

Can you remember when Thierry waltzed through the Real Madrid defence to score an unlikely winner? Or wee Arshavin slotting home to beat Barca? Or Ramsey scoring against all the odds at Dortmund?  Why do you remember those particular goals?  It is because we played and beat the very best and we have the opportunity to do so tonight.

 

Can Arsenal win? Why not? We have beaten Barca before and they have already declared that a couple of their first team will be rested (well, Pique at least). Barca will expect to win at a canter and there is no pressure on an Arsenal team who have been written off by both the media and their own fans.

We were a Bendtner kick and a bent referee away from beating them over two legs in 2011. Given that Welbeck is even better than The Greatest Striker Who ever Lived, we must have a fighting chance, though  it must be admitted that MSN are slightly better than VMP (Villa, Messi, Pedrito).

Our Team: Should Mr Wenger prioritise the weekend game with Everton or go with a full first choice team tonight ? Montreal and Bellerin were benched on Sunday and will surely start. Welbeck played just 15 minutes but what an impact he had! Will he start ahead of Giroud who took a battering from the Watford CB’s? In my opinion, Welbeck  – if fit – should be our first choice central striker until season’s end.

Campbell on the right or Theo? Was Theo rested or or dropped on Sunday?

Midfield must be Elneny and Coquelin, we have little choice.

And what of Ozil? He went missing in the home leg and has been peripheral in recent weeks. He tried to grab the game on Sunday and almost effected an unexpected comeback but where was he in the first 75 minutes? People question whether Ozil wants to stay at Arsenal; perhaps they should think about who would sign him to a winning team. Leave Arsenal and Ozil is unlikely to find a club playing to his unique talents nor will he find a place with the Big Boys. Sanchez is in the same situation.

We are massive underdogs for a reason , primarily thanks to Coquelin’s stupid foul for the penalty and BFG’s momentary lapse of reason, should they make similar mistakes we could be on the end of a hammering BUT Mr Wenger cannot PTB at Camp Nou – we have to score. Get one early and Barca could wobble. Get two and we will win.

Unlikely but possible, and whilst the possibility exists let’s believe it can happen

COYRRG

 

 

 


7 Bullets in Arsenal’s Head

February 24, 2016

We saw the good and the bad of Arsenal yesterday. The result and subsequent reaction from AW have added fuel to the ‘we should have bought X, Y & Z’ campaign. No one wanted to write a report on this game, so I have just bulleted the key points as I saw them and invite you all to add your perspective on the game.

  1. For 70 minutes we got our game plan spot on and the players executed it perfectly apart from the vital ingredient of taking our chances when they were presented.
  2. A moment’s madness when Mertesacker forgot his discipline and ventured way too high up the pitch (we’ve seen this from him before)
  3. The failure of our defenders to be as cynical as Barca and ‘take one for the team’ by bringing down the player before the ball got anywhere near our box
  4. Bringing on Flamini, it should have been Elneni but he wasn’t even on the bench – why?
  5. Mertesacker laying the ball off to Flamini instead of clearing it out of the box
  6. Flamini being Flamini
  7. Arsene stating we made the same mistake as we did against Monaco as if he had no responsibility to ensure the players understood what went wrong in that game. He should have drilled them in how to avoid making the same mistake again.

Rasp


Ramsey or Rakitic or Both?

February 23, 2016

Are you like me – fed up of hearing how Barcelona’s forward line is the best of all-time? How we have no chance this evening? How poor Mertesacker is going to have a second fundament after the game?

Firstly, I do not agree that  the frontline of MSN are the best of all-time. I would point to the Brazil ’70 attack of Pele, Jairzinho, Tostao backed up by Gerson and Rivelino. What a shame they cannot play each other, that Brazil side would spank the Catalans.

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Best Ever?

We can win and I will tell you why. Because we are The Arsenal. That’s it. Nothing more. If Mr Wenger and Stevie B. manage to get this simple message into the heads of our lads we can and will win.

Forget tactics, forget worrying about the front 3, forget about the diving and cheating the Spanish Champs will inevitably display. When Alves hits the deck Coquelin must stand over him and laugh, pointing to the badge on his chest. When Messi cuts in from the wing and dummies his way into our penalty area, let The Helmeted Cech put his massive frame in the way and smile.

Let us recall that last time we played them over two legs Barca were forced to bribe the ref and even then needed a Bendtner blunder to win. By the way, has any player in the CL been sent off for kicking a ball away since? No they haven’t. QED.

So what if Barcelona haven’t lost for 32 games and are currently – Spanish Double winners, Champions League winners and both European Super League and World Club Champs; we are The Arsenal, and they aren’t – they don’t even have a The. It’s true, have you ever heard them called The Barcelona? No, you haven’t.

Team …

Cech

Bellerin   BFG   Koscielny   Monreal

Ramsey   Coquelin   Sanchez

Ox   Giroud   Ozil

My only concerns are Ox and Sanchez who were dreadful in their sub appearances on Saturday. Sanchez was a shadow of the player  we know him to be – Kelsey could have played as well.

As always when Barca or Real Madrid are rebuilding there are rumours of transfer targets; Ramsey is one who is often mentioned. Ramsey is a marmite player – hugely admired by his fellow players but not so by many a Gooner. To me he is the heart and soul of Mr Wenger’s team. Rakitic is the Barca equivalent. Both play similar styles allowing others to do the fancy-dan work and occasionally doing some themselves. Given their similarity I do not understand why Barcelona would be interested in Ramsey but perhaps together they could make a dynamic midfield pairing. Real Madrid would be a more likely destination but for the sake of Arsenal, I hope Ramsey stays.

More worrying is the Boy Wonder – Bellerin.  Surely a major target over the coming years. Hopefully young Hector doesn’t have Barca DNA or a Child Within.

Most important tonight is for both teams to excel and entertain the watching billions. We are unlikely to win the Big Cup but have to make an impression. We can win this leg and go to Barcelona with a lead to protect.

Last time we played them at The Emirates it was a little chap playing on the left who scored the winner for Arsenal  – could history repeat itself?

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Let it be So.

COYRRG