Chelsea. With Hindsight.

February 10, 2017

Was it really that bad? Enough to launch a Wenger Out campaign? Enough to insist upon radical changes in our squad?

Let me start with a statement which IMO is clearly true. Had we played our best 11 at SB we would have taken the points. We couldn’t and didn’t but that is not all …

We lost thanks to a dreadful refereeing decision.

Chelsea’s first goal came from a violent foul which affected  not just the scoreline but the whole of AW’s plans. Bellerin was essential to our game at SB, Theo is pants without him, and we have no-one else with real pace to combat the Chavs attack.

A proper ref would have sent The Deviant Chav off and cancelled the goal. I was apoplectic that a cowardly elbow to the face should be rewarded with a gaol. It was not just crap refereeing, it was rewarding violent and dangerous play.

If it happened in the street it would have been ABH.

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So, at one stroke the Chavs have removed a vital member of our team, scored a goal and are cock-a-hoop. We on the other hand have Gabriel at LB against a world class frontline.

Furthermore, the loss of Xhaka and Ramsey forced AW to rely upon hardworking but ultimately ineffective midfield, which could have a long-term impact upon the career of both Ox and Coq.

There is no getting away from the negatives, we lost an important game in a manner which hurt (forgetting the idiotic refereeing decision), and it raises questions…

  1. Ozil. Can a player be considered world class if he disappears in Big Games?
  2. If Sanchez leaves, would we be a better team?
  3. Walcott. What was his role?. The lack of intelligence of our front 3 was worrying.
  4. Cech. Is it time to promote Ospina?
  5. Monreal is a lovely chap but we have needed better for two seasons (if we can find someone)
  6. Coquelin. It isn’t his fault that Santi, Elneney, Xhaka and Ramsey are out, all of whom would start ahead of Ox, but it was time for Coq to show he is the go-to DM in the Arsenal team. IMO he showed he is a squad player.
  7. Ox. Where to start? Watford and SB, an ideal setup for him. Watford to get into the role of CM and Chavs to mix it with the best. He has all the attributes and did OK but we need more. I worry for his future. He needs a big game on the weekend (if picked)

Let’s be honest, the League was lost with the Watford game. Chas called it – he said it was a MWG, and it was. AW recognised it – in his press conference, Arsene’s face was a grey as his hair and tracksuit, he looked like John Major post election defeat. He was spent.

We are not as good as we should be but we are certainly good enough to challenge for second. A win tomorrow will start the repair process.

written by Big Raddy


Will Arsenal make it 19 in a Row?

March 19, 2015

The race for the top four Premier League positions is on in full force. Twenty nine games played and just nine games left. Fourteen teams still have a mathematical chance of finishing in the top four but I will only concentrate on the battle involving the top seven.

Chelsea still appears to be Championship favourites although their form has dipped of late and as it’s dipped their tactics have become even cruder. So far this season their only slip ups against non top seven teams were draws with Burnley and Sunderland and a loss to Newcastle. They only have three remaining games against the top seven – United and Liverpool at home and Arsenal away. I fully expect them to play ultra defensive football, hoping for a breakaway goal but happily settling for a point in each of the three games, while winning all of their remaining games against the non top seven teams.

However they have only managed to gain 19 out of 30 points in their last 10 PL games so my prediction may be overly optimistic.

My predictions are –

Hull – away win, Stoke – home win, QPR – away win, Man U – home draw

Arsenal – away draw, Leicester – away win, Crystal P – home win

Liverpool – home draw, WBA – away win, Sunderland – home win

Last 10 games DLWWDWWDWD (Pts % 63.3)

Current points 64

Projected points 88

Manchester City is difficult to predict as their form is inconsistent at best and erratic at worst, which was highlighted by their loss to Burnley. Against the non top seven teams they have drawn with QPR, Burnley, Everton, and Hull and lost to Stoke, West Ham and Burnley. Against the top seven they have already dropped 12 points.

City has only managed to win just 50% of the points in their last 10 games so they will have to turn things around to hold on to second place.

My predictions are –

WBA – home win, Crystal P – away win, Man U – away win, West Ham – home win

Aston Villa – home win, Tottenham – away draw, QPR – home win

Swansea – away draw, Southampton – home win

Last 10 games WDLDDWWLWL (Pts % 50.0)

Current points 58

Projected points 81

Manchester United have really ridden their luck this season by winning games that they should have lost but they are now heading into a run of very difficult games. After their loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup ended their hopes of any trophy’s this season their consequent win against Tottenham will be a boost to their confidence.

My predictions are –

Liverpool – away draw, Aston Villa – home win, Man City – home loss

Chelsea – away draw, Everton – away win, WBA – home win

Crystal P – away win, Arsenal – home draw, Hull – away win

Last 10 games DLWWDWLWWW (Pts % 66.7)

Current points 56

Projected points 74

Liverpool is showing some impressive form and is undefeated in their last 13 PL games.

I only see Pool dropping points against Man U, Arsenal and Chelsea. In their last game against Swansea they rode their luck but in the end they won the game on a very fortunate deflection. I see them as legitimate contenders for a PL place.

My predictions are –

Man U – home draw, Arsenal – away draw, Newcastle – home win

Hull – away win, WBA – away win, QPR – home win

Chelsea – away draw, Crystal P – home win, Stoke – away win

Last 10 games WWWDWWWWW (Pts % 86.7)

Current points 54

Projected points 75

Tottenham have beaten both Arsenal and Chelsea in their last 10 games but have also lost to Man U and Liverpool so they are very unpredictable, in their  0-3 loss at Old Trafford they did not look like a team capable of finishing in the top four.

Our shadow over the North London midgets is getting bigger and darker by the year.

My predictions are –

Leicester – home win, Burnley – away win, Villa – home win

Newcastle – away win, Southampton – away draw

Man C – home draw, Stoke – away draw, Hull – home win

Everton – away draw

Last 10 games WLWWWLDWWL (Pts % 63.3)

Current points 50

Projected points 69

Southampton seems to have run out of steam and have dropped 13 points in their last 10 games. In their last game they gained a point at Stamford Bridge and looked good in the process. I only see them losing to Man C in their final 9 games but I cannot see them making the top four.

My predictions are –

Burnley – home win, Everton away draw, Hull – home win

Stoke – away draw, Tottenham – home draw, Sunderland – away win

Leicester – away win, Villa – home win, Man C – away loss

Last 10 games WWWLWDLLWD (Pts % 56.7)

Current points 50

Projected points 68

Arsenal has won eight of the last 10 PL games and our only losses were to Tottenham and Southampton. During this period only Liverpool gained more points winning 26 while we won 24. I cannot remember the last time our squad looked so strong with only 9 games left in the season.

Our key players are close to their top form with Cazorla, Ozil and Alexis just oozing class. Ramsey and Walcott still have a way to go but it’s great to see them both fit again – they will be needed. Ospina has been very steady in goal and shows a lot of confidence, which spreads to the team.  Coquelin has added some steel and tenacity to our midfield while Giroud proved his worth with his performances against West Ham and Monaco. My main concern is with our full back positions, we always seem to be exposed down the flanks – when they make their forays downfield our center backs are drawn out of position while they are covering for the absentee’s.

My predictions are –

Newcastle – away win, Liverpool – home draw, Burnley – away win

Sunderland – home win, Chelsea – home draw, Hull – away win

Swansea – home win, Man U – away draw, WBA – home win

Last 10 games LWWWLWWWWW (Pts % 80.0)

Current points 57

Projected points 78

The season will hinge on the following 10 games and will most likely be decided based on the outcome of the first seven of them.  To be honest they are the type of games that should decide the championship – the best against the best – I await them with nervous anticipation.

 Arsenal v Liverpool

Arsenal v Chelsea

Man U v Arsenal

Chelsea v Man U

Chelsea v Liverpool

Liverpool v Man U

Man U v Man C

Spurs v Man C

Man C v Saints

Spurs v Saints

I firmly believe that we are up for the task – how about you?

To arrive at my final conclusions I’ve predicted the outcome of 54 games so I’m bound to be wrong but how wrong do you think I am?

19th march

GunnerN5


Why Always Arsenal?

April 19, 2014
These are some random barmy ramblings constructed in a hurry. I know that you journos, the ignorant, useless and even sinister lot, deserve a firmer and more careful bo**ocking, but that has to wait for another day. Beware!! We have taken this too long, we Arsenal fans are very hurt and feel deeply betrayed.
It has come to our notice that recently Daily Mail has snared a supposed Arsenal fan Pete from Le Grove with substantial benefits, in cash or kind. In turn, Pete has allegedly pocketed the tosh and spewed some bile against our beloved club on to the back pages of the said shite roll.But such bile spewing useless pieces of uninspired journoulism, on newspapers, television and radio, is nothing new. We Arsenal fans have got so used to it that it does not even tickle our senses any more. Let alone any sense of hurt that has been cast aside at least a decade back. But the question we want to ask is, why? Why would journos and useluss pundits be so keen to damn Arsenal? Is this a new development, or was this always the case? If there is anything new, what is it? Partial explantions were suggested on the sidelines of GN5’s fantastic post on the 1936 FA Cup triumph yesterday.
Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, and honourable members of alternate sexuality, I want to bring this to your notice.The scene is 1936. Arsenal has won the FA Cup final against Sheffield United. The opening excerpt from the Daily Telegraph match report, quoted in GunnerN5’s post, reads:”Arsenal are Cup holders again for the second time in six years. As expected, they beat Sheffield United in Wembley’s fourteenth Final Tie, but not as comfortably as 2-to-1-on favourites are supposed to win .

“The honours of a match which rarely produced a high standard of play should go to Sheffield United, whose defence held out for an hour and a quarter and who twice narrowly missed taking the lead before Drake scored.”

How typical? Where have we heard such disdainful disregard earlier, for a team that has fought its way to a trophy? Or even to fighting hard for a trophy? Plenty of times, yes, and always against Arsenal. That is not the surprise, at least to me. It is that such rubbish was also spewed way back in the mid 1930s.

What about the also rans, Manchester United, Liverpool, and now the oiled up knobbly joints Manchester City and Chelsea? Never. But why?

TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT provids a partial answer (April 18, 2014 at 10:55 am): “One thing that strikes me about your [GunnerN5’s] articles is how rarely you see a southern based club in the mix. Is that why Arsenal are the greatest club in the world? because we were the only team south of the M25 worth bothering about?”

Now that is some food for thought. Maybe the journo bias is largely a reflection of a north-south divide. The blog then generated the following discussion.

Arnie suggests (April 18, 2014 at 2:17 pm): “what also struck me as interesting was the whinging journos. This combined with Terry’s observation of Arsenal being the only club south of the M25 with both history and style. Maybe, this is still one reason why we are hated by journos such a lot. 😦 ”

GunnerN5 (April 18, 2014 at 2:41 pm): “Being one of the few Southern teams and then having the audacity to be successful was certainly our downfall among the predominately Northern journalists.”

arnie (April 18, 2014 at 8:54 pm): “The mystery is, why are the northern journos not so bile spewing towards the Chavs? Or, are they?”

Big Raddy (April 18, 2014 at 9:33 pm): “Because no-one cares about Chelsea. They do not excite or entertain and apart from the manager and the criminal behaviour of the Club Captain nothing about them is interesting.”

GunnerN5 (April 18, 2014 at 9:34 pm): “Maybe Roman Abramovich has them scared off?”

Arnie (April 18, 2014 at 9:56 pm): “Raddy: boring boring Chavs? 🙂 Yes, they play a boring brand of football, but have been reasonably successful in buying success. GunnerN5: scared by Abramovitch, or perhaps bought off?”

I believe money certainly plays a role, but there is another issue as well.

Chelsea, or if you prefer Abramovitch, was the first to experiment with just buying expensive players and finding out whether one can build a team out of these disparate players.

When Chelsea started doing this, this was not the dominant religion, or the leading mainstream idea. Real Madrid and Barca at least tried to build teams rather than put together big players and somehow organise them into a squad. Likewise Manchester United and Liverpool in England, Bayern in Germany and the leading clubs in Italy. Quickly this became the dominant religion of a society that firmly believes in the dictum that success and brilliance can be bought.

This belief appears to have been reinforced by the relative success of Chelsea and Manchester City, and by the millions that have passed the doors of many other clubs, most notably PSG. These days, most journos, indeed most football fans and clubs are followers of this religion. Alas!

Arsenal dares to be different and is therefore hated even more. It is the convenient punching bag, and target of cliches like “spend money Arsenal and Arsene”, “you cannot win anything with kids” and most foolishly “sack Arsene”.

Well, this new found momentum in the spend money rather than build team idea, together with the northern bias, has led us to a situation that anything Arsenal related that you can find on the backpages, Beebs Shite of the Day or TalkShite is plain and unadulterated bile. 😦

Do we care a flying fig? No we dont. But it is still important to know where this bile come from, and to defend ourselves from its smelly and slimy influence.

However, the above is only one opinion. Maybe even a loony barmy view. The jury is still out. Chums, what do you think?

written by arnie


The Mole. Can Benitez finish the Job?

January 20, 2013

Doesn’t seem that long ago since Terry hit the dirt and watched as Brave Sir Robin danced away from him. Happy Days.

And what chance of a repeat today? Well, we did it against the Cave Dwellers so why not against Chelsea? I know, I know – lightning doesn’t strike twice but in a world of infinite probabilities, it does!

Both teams are going through an inconsistent patch. Chelsea’s home loss to QPR was inexplicable but so was ours at Bradford. We have both lost at home to Swansea. The main difference being that Chelsea have a squad which cost at least double Arsenal’s and a bottomless pit of money to overcome any problems; they also sack managers with alarming regularity.

Benitez. Why? What kind of incompetent signed this man? How can Chelsea employ a manager who a few years previously publicly stated his dislike of the manner in which they do business? Bizarre. But one must be impressed by they way Rafa is doing his best to destroy the club, a loss or draw to us and Swansea will see the Chavs out of the CC and with no chance of winning the PL. Perhaps he is on a huge earner from the Northern Oilers. Fairplay to the man!

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Do you think it is to Arsenal’s advantage to have Arteta injured for a while? Could the midfield of Diaby, JW and Santi function more cohesively? Admittedly, we only have a reduced Swansea to compare and today will be a far sterner test, but I believe this will become our first choice midfield (though how long Diaby can stay fit is impossible to predict). None of them are  defensive players but both JW and Diaby are strong in the tackle. Concentration will be the key and a full awareness of who ventures forward . For this reason I would play and  extra MF – either Coquelin or Ramsey, both of whom played well on Wednesday.

For this reason having Koscielny out is also positive, BFG’s lack of pace requires hime to sit deeper! I must say, I am worried about Ba, he is in fine form and loves scoring against us. Furthermore, the excellent wingers at Chelsea will cause major problems to both Sagna and Gibbs.

Runners & Riders:

chavs v arse

Of course, playing a 4-4-2 is not Wengerball, but I doubt AW will start the game with Giroud upfront and he is unlikely to trust Ox in a game where we will be under the cosh.

Stamford Bridge is a strange place, an uglier ground it would be hard to find, but then it has to house some of the ugliest fans in world football. If one were to make a League of teams with the ugliest fans Chelsea would get a Champions League slot every season, Stoke would win the Prem most years 🙂

Today’s English Explorer is from the Days of Yore, and one of England’s Finest. Sir Walter Raleigh (1552 – 1618). An aristocrat and favourite of QE1, he is best known for his colonisation of North America and the introduction of tobacco to England and the world (how costly has that been?). His first colony was in Virginia where tobacco was harvested  – it got the Royal Seal from Her Maj and thus became the famous Royal Virginia tobacco.

He discovered Guyana and explored East Venezuala. His ship was the first Ark Royal which was a gift from QE1.

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Top Bloke. Full Set. Knighthood. Beheaded.

Raleigh wasn’t just an explorer he was also one of England’s great warriors.We all know the story of his defeat of the Spanish Armada, but what is less known is that after Elisabeth died and King James came to the throne, Raleigh was imprisoned in The Tower for 13 years for “plotting against the Crown”. Following an unsuccessful expedition to South America in search of El Dorado, he was re-arrested and beheaded. His head was embalmed and sent to his wife who kept it in a velvet bag until her death when it was re-united with his body.

Two defensive errors cost us the game at the Emirates; we weren’t outplayed and had the better of the game. Raddy would be satisfied with a point.

COYRRG

Big Raddy


Wenger to Chelsea?

December 14, 2012

Too many words have already been written on the subject of Arsene Wenger, nevertheless BR would like to give his tuppence worth.  I don’t usually write serious posts and this is a rarity (hence no pics or explorers)

Firstly, is Mr Wenger too old for his job? The crux here is that he is two generations older than some of the players and could easily be their grand-father-figure!  Does he understand “Dench”? Of course not.  The question is does he need to? Wenger has never been the arm around the shoulder buddy to the players – he has been and remains a much respected, somewhat distant manager. He has other people to be the emotional rock, though it should be pointed out that AW does create close relationships with his players – just look at TH14. But as an older man myself, I know that the mind is not as open and flexible as it once was, there are new ideas in football and it is the younger men who embrace them. Would a Lambert or a Laudrup be better? Can Wenger adjust to the digital age?

Is Mr Wenger, as has often been touted, tactically naive? Now BR is no tactitian and is not able to judge but a manager doesn’t suddenly go from being manager of the decade to dunce or does he? It certainly appears that AW does get  out-thought by the top European managers, SAF seems to have the hoodoo over him and has beaten us with teams which on paper should never have won. The strict adherence to 4-3-3 may be costing Arsenal – right now though it is the team rather than the system which is letting us down.

Is Mr. Wenger’s notorious reluctance to pay big money for star players the problem?  I recall AW stating that there are many highly expensive players who were simply not worth the money ( I believe he was referring to Kaka and Ronaldinho). His preference has always been to shop elsewhere and who can say whether signing Ibrahimovitch (for example)  instead of Giroud would have improved the team. In my opinion Ibra would have had a huge impact, not only because he is a brilliant player but he also takes a huge reputation (and ego) into the dressing room. A few years ago our young players could say they shared a dressing room with TH or PV or TA or DB …. now? ?  To be a big club we have to have big players and the biggest one we have at present is Theo, who isn’t even a first choice England player. We need to sign someone who can attract other quality players to the club.

Please Mr Wenger, I beg you – buy a World Class player – forget the wages, forget the fee because if we want to see kids wearing Arsenal shirts around the world then we need a name to hang the team on.

Is Mr Wenger responsible for the poor performances of late? Damn right he is. One may well say that it was the players who caused the embarrassment at Bradford but who bought/nurtured them? Who picks them? Who motivates them?

Mr Wenger is not above criticism nor should he be. Of late he has made costly and inexplicable mistakes in his transfer dealing; he continues to use players out of position causing uncertainty and frustration. Worse, this team seems devoid of inspiration and football intelligence. Who can one look to when a team which includes the imagination of Cazorla, Wilshere, Arteta, Rosicky and Diaby does not create goal scoring opportunities? Since when have Arsenal been a team who play with a target man, a tactic not used since the days of Wright? And if we are forced into this tactic because of a dreadful shortage of strikers – who is to blame?

I am not questioning AW’s continued reign as Arsenal manager – I remain convinced he is the right man for the job. He has the experience, the courage and the skill to take us back to the top but something has to change. The transition of Arsenal from being a football club to an American owned Corporation has been painful and for some fans unacceptable but in the words of Paul Weller “This is the Modern World”. Those asking for “our Arsenal back” are deluded – it has gone forever. If it has been hard for the fans imagine how difficult it has been for Mr. Wenger. My hope and expectation is that Arsene will see out his contract and leave on a cloud of love and appreciation to become a National manager .

My final point is this and it is a question to those with an “Arsene Out” agenda:-

Chelsea have been looking for a manager who will develop their youth system and get them playing attractive football – they have been looking for many years now. Do you imagine that Roman hasn’t had his men approach AW? It doesn’t take much vision to see how quickly AW would build a team with the brilliance of Hazard, Mata etc allied to an open cheque book. What would you think if the next manager of Chelsea was one who was pee’d off with the complaints from the minority of Arsenal fans and decided to take a  last, huge financial payday at Stamford Bridge?

Arsene Wenger – next Chelsea manager? It is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Would that make you happy?

Written by Big Raddy


Rivals: Can Arsenal win the League?

September 8, 2012

Given the evidence of the first 3 games, where do you think we will finish in the league this season?

Today’s post is a look at our rivals, starting with the current Champions.

Manchester City

Man City have strengthened in areas which Mancini identified as weak – Garcia, Rodwell, Sinclair and Maicon arriving with the very average Savic, Johnson, De Jong and a few others leaving. Maicon, despite being 31, is a top quality player and will definitely be an asset, but did they need to sign anyone? MC’s first team  improved steadily over last season and with the return of Tevez to the fold they continue to look formidable. My guess is all the new arrivals will be spending most of the season sitting down.

Their first two games showed some weaknesses, particularly at Anfield where they were a defensive mistake away from defeat. they trailed at home to Southampton before getting a squeaky win and walloped QPR.  City travel to Stoke for their next game afar which we can compare our game to theirs.

In my opinion the title will be City’s to lose; they have a powerful and high quality squad which is well prepared for inevitable losses of form and injuries. Plus they have a manager who knows how to win titles

Manchester United

Essentially the question is “Can RvP deliver the title to MU”? The lack of investment into an ageing and non-creative midfield would be a cause for concern in any other team,but Ol’ Bacon Face has won the PL so many times with what to outsiders were average teams we cannot dismiss them. So far RvP has saved them humiliation at Southampton and scored the first in a fortunate win v Fulham and they have lost at Everton – hardly the stuff of champions. Yet despite having a thin squad, particularly at the back where Carrick has played CB, they must be considered a threat – MU always are. Kagawa looks quality, a player in the Giggs mould and SAF has looked to the future with the signings of the highly rated Powell and Buttner.

But have they got enough?. Are 3 world class players (RvP, Rooney, Vidic) enough to compete with the other challengers? Can they continue to rely upon the ancient legs of Scholes to give them impetus? Not in my opinion. There is a fragility in defence which teams will expose, though it has to be said, the Old Red Nose knows a hell of a lot more about football than I do!

Chelsea

A very impressive start to the season for the history lacking Southern Oilers. The new signings look superb – the combination of Mata, Hazard and Oscar is frightening (though this must be tempered by the very average Obi One Mikel). Hazard will light up the season as Silva did when he arrived at MC, he has deceptive strength, vision and pace – what a pity AW couldn’t persuade him to sign a few years back.But as good as they are in midfield where Fatboy Lampard will struggle to get a game, there are problems at The Bridge. An over-reliance upon the questionable gifts of the PL’s most expensive player will prove costly, and there is not much else. How do you replace a player like Drogba? Sturridge isn’t the answer, Victor Moses despite being quality will not score the missing goals. So if teams can stifle the midfield threat, then Chelsea will struggle.

In defence there are also problems. JT is a  …., we all know it, he is thankfully at the end of a career which has disgraced English football but in Cahill they have a decent replacement. Add in the “mercurial” (read unreliable/nuts) talents of Luiz, the ageing legs of Cashley  to the quirkiness of Ivanovic and we can see cracks.

Then there is the manager. An incredibly lucky CL win (has there ever been a more fortunate win in the history of football?) led to his appointment. One can only assume RdM is a stop-gap appointment prior to Guardiola. But what happens if it all goes TU? Will Abra give him time?  We all know the answer.

Tottenham

Yes, laughable as it may seem the knuckle draggers are rivals. Can they win the title? Of course not – they haven’t won it since Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister and he was born in 1894!!! (love that fact) but they finished 4th last season and must have chances of a repeat performance. One can only assume that Monkey Boy has no ambition as he remains at  Sh*te Hart Lane; whilst Ratboy and FanderFart have had enough of the lack of light in the caves. As usual the Totts have made some decent signings – Dempsey was an AFC target as were Vertoghen and Loris; Dembele should have been. Ade will continue to score goals and infuriate with equal measure, and Defoe will sit on the bench.

Their problems lie in defence where Gallas’s pace is constricted by his Zimmer frame. Dawson was out the door until someone realised Kaboul was too fragile and King has retired. They do have some very good youngsters coming through and I guess they will blood them this season should Vertoghen struggle.

Then there is their new manager. I like AVB and expected him to be a huge success at Chelsea. Will the fans (gimps) and the board give him breathing space? I hope not because he will improve them given time.

Liverpool

Two thoughts come to mind: You’re having a Turkish and Calm Down.

Newcastle

Did well last season and definitely punched above their weight. Again the defence has to be their weak point. They have managed to retain their best players despite the attempts of AW to sign Cabaye. Newcastle have beaten the Totts (easily) lost to the Chavs (easily) and fortunately drawn with AV. A difficult start but 4 points is OK and about on par. My expectation is they will have a good home record but struggle away.

Others

Everton have a decent first team and started better than normal, AV are dull in the extreme, but Top 4 ? No chance.

Conclusion:

There can only be one outcome …… Arsenal will be crowned Champions in late April.

1. Arsenal

2. Chelsea

3. Man City

4. Man Utd

5. Newcastle

6. Stoke

7. Wigan

8. The Noisy Neighbours

What do you think?

Written by Big Raddy


Arsenal In Disgrace

October 4, 2010

This Arsenal team matched the champions in every department except finishing, yet as far as I’m concerned they are still in disgrace.

Why?

Because if they had shown just 50% of yesterday’s commitment, concentration and skill against West Bromwich Albion eight days earlier we would now be only four points behind Chelsea and level with the Middle Eastlanders. Not to mention three points ahead of the knuckle-scrapers from down the road.

Losing away at Stamford Bridge is no shame, particularly with a battling performance like yesterday’s, but what will kill us this year is inconsistency. That and our worrying ability to collapse in games we should win comfortably – a phenomenon that started in the last quarter of last season.

I know some will say that West Brom is history and we should move on, but the single biggest lesson our squad needs to learn is that they have to be up for every single game as if it’s Chelsea away.

So onto yesterday’s match. The first thing to say is that it was an excellent game of football: two good teams going at it, chances at both ends and two outstanding goals (sadly both from the Forces of Darkness).

We were fast out of the traps and had two chances early on – a difficult diving header from Chamakh that led to a corner, then a lame headed effort from Koscielny inside the six yard box with the goal beckoning. He seemed to get his body into the wrong position and ended up connecting with the back of his head, sending the ball over the bar. Frustrating in the extreme. Arsene Wenger even singled it out for mention in his post-match comments, which is a real rarity as the boss hardly ever criticises individual players.

What was pleasing in the early stages was that we were defending from the front and closing down Chelsea whenever they were in possession. Nasri was busy, Song was committed and less profligate in his forward forays than against Partizan, Diaby had remembered to turn on the ‘on’ switch in his brain, Wilshere looked classy, both fullbacks were having good games.

Then there was Arshavin who was, well, Arshavin. Winston Churchill once described Russia as a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma and we might well use that description for our own little Russki. He looks semi-involved and semi-interested most of the time and then springs to life to create goal chances. In the first half he managed to produce two powerful shots that brought two good saves from Helmet in the Chavs’ goal.

Chelsea always looked a threat on the break and although our centre backs just about coped with Drogba’s pace and strength, they never looked assured against him and it was no surprise when he opened the scoring: an audacious near post finish, leaving Fabianski no chance.

Half time 1-0 down, but we came out for the second half with the air of a team that really felt they could get back in the game. Our pass-and-move football was a joy to watch, with Nasri, Wilshere, Diaby and Song at the heart of everything. We were pulling Chelsea all over the place and looked the better team.

I really believed we were going to get the equaliser our pressure deserved but whatever chances we carved out were squandered. Chamakh rose well for a header that went three feet wide when it should have been on target and was probably our clearest scoring opportunity, but there were many occasions when we got into the box in threatening positions only to be foiled by wrong options, mis-control or good defending. Sometimes it was plain bad luck, with ball running kindly for Chelsea on several occasions.

Clichy and Song both tried long distance shots with predictable results. (With Clichy’s goal record he should be under strict orders NEVER to shoot from distance – it just wastes an attacking move).

At the other end we held a high line and played Russian Roulette with our offside trap. Fortunately whenever we pulled the trigger the chamber was as blank as Ashley Cole’s moral conscience.

Song did a good job breaking up Chelsea’s moves and tried his best to out-muscle Drogba, although the Ivorian’s strength meant that sometimes the only option was to foul him. I’m not going to complain about that – we have all been crying out for our midfield and defence to take the pragmatic option more often and that’s what Song was doing.  At least he didn’t pick up another yellow card.

When Alex made it 2-0 with a thunderbolt free kick in the 85th minute you knew there was no way back. Again, Fabianski had no chance and although you could criticise our wall you have to acknowledge the quality of the strike.

We ended up losers, but with a much better performance than we managed against Chelsea either home or away last season. With our missing players back  you would really fancy us to do them at the Grove.

We’re now seven points behind, but at this stage of the season that’s easily capable of being made up. And make no mistake, Chelsea are not as good as their results indicate. They will drop more points as the season goes on and if we can avoid any more performances like the one against West Brom we can keep ourselves right in the race.

Player  Ratings

Fabianksi: one dodgy moment early on, but did very well after that. Could the Pole be beginning to slay his demons? 8

Sagna: good defensively and really contributed to the persistent threat we posed down their left flank. 7

Clichy: got caught out upfield a couple of times, but overall had an excellent game. We were terrorised down our left side against Chelsea last season but this time he kept them quiet. I wish he wouldn’t shoot from outside the box though. 7

Squillaci: named captain presumably because of his age and experience, I thought he did well against a very powerful and potent attack.  Yes, he didn’t always win the tussles but at least he was tussling and he held his position well. 6.5

Koscielny: should have scored very early on, but defensively did OK. The jury is still out but I think he’ll be a top player when he fully settles in to the PL. 6

Wilshere: spread play beautifully, kept his discipline and always moved the ball quickly and well. I would rather see him swap position with Song because he offers more threat in the final third. 7.5

Diaby: by no means my favourite player but he was very good in this game, showing skill and commitment. He also cleared three or four of their corners from the front of our six yard box. How can he be the same man as the one who ambled round the pitch against WBA? 7.5

Song: very good all round performance, breaking up Chelsea’s moves, giving the likes of Drogba and Essien a real physical battle and passing much better than he did against Partizan. 7.5

Arshavin: a lot of things didn’t come off for him (his touch is very on/off at the moment) but he is always a threat and was unlucky not to score with one long range shot. 6

Nasri: becoming Arsenal’s best player this season by a stretch. Involved in everything and always looking to get at the Chelsea defence. His effort and attitude are top notch. 8 – MotM

Chamakh: could have done better with that second half header, but always offered, worked hard to close them down from the front and got into dangerous positions, even if they didn’t come off for him. A couple of penalty shouts, but they would have been generous in the extreme if the ref had given them. 7

Subs:

Rosicky: involved in some good moments. 7

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Carlos Vela weren’t on long enough to merit a rating.

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