Poor Danny – Arsenal player ratings versus unSporting Lisbon

November 9, 2018

Arsenal supporters turning up for Thursday night Europa League football were hoping for some excitement to warm them up and also for outright group victory with a win and three points. Things didn’t really turn out like that.

First Half

The best chance I can remember was when Douzi played a sweet one-two down the right and Welbz just failed to make decent contact at the near post with the Frenchman’s fizzing cross.

After half an hour Danny seemed to catch his foot in the turf trying to make good contact with a header. You could tell he was hurt by his reaction and by the reaction of those around him. So sad. He was having a fine season getting both game time and goals. Get well soon, Danny.

Second Half

The Arsenal players were obviously deeply affected by their very popular and likeable teammate having such bad luck. Auba had a few chances he might have gobbled up on a different day. Micki got into a great position and then couldn’t quite divert Wobbly’s driven cross beyond the Sporting keeper.

Lichtsteiner pinged a hammy by the look of it so efforts to preserve the fitness of the Wardrobe had to be foregone after the hour mark, but he seemed to come through unscathed. Hopefully Nacho will be match fit soon as well.

We had 14 efforts on goal, 5 on target, Sporting had five shots, none on target. A point was good enough for them and that’s what they came for.

This clip sums up Arsenal’s night in front of goal…….

Summary

The game was overshadowed by Danny’s injury.

The foul count was Arsenal 7 Sporting 13.  Lisbon’s 13 should have been a whole lot more. Acuna, playing on the left with no neck and the gait of a simian should have been sent of several times before Mathieu’s professional foul finally saw one of them leave the pitch. Unfortunately it came too late to have any effect on the result.

I realise that the ‘Sporting’ in the Portuguese club’s name doesn’t mean the same as it did for the Sporting Corinthians but they employed every destructive and negative ploy they could to disrupt the football match, including studs down the back of calf muscles, a wide variety of trips and the use of an arm. Nani should be sent off every time he steps on to the pitch just for his loathsome ‘5 year old having a tantrum’ face.

Our unbeaten run extends to 15 games, so let’s make it 16 by beating Wolves on Sunday for Dat Guy.

Ratings

Cech – nothing to do…6

Lichtsteiner – Booked fairly early after some Nani play-acting, then succumbed to his ageing muscalature in the second half…6

Big Sok – Looked very solid and he is…7

Holding – Growing in confidence in his own abilities with each game…7

Jenks – Did ok down the left without too much to trouble him…6

Guendouzi – what a great player he is at 19 years old. Just imagine what he could be like in his prime…7

Ramsey – Rambo couldn’t quite lift the game as you’d hope a player of his class might…6

Mkhitaryan – Likewise for Micki…6

Smith Rowe – Plenty of decent touches all over the pitch apart from in the final third where he sometimes lacks composure, which is only to be expected…6

Wobbly – got into some great positions but couldn’t quite seal his good work with an assist…6

Welbeck – Let’s pray his injury isn’t as bad as is feared. I was sure he was going to score last night…7

Subs

Auba – not his usual clinical self…6

Wardrobe – As with the rest of the team, he couldn’t find that killer cross after getting into some great positions…6

Maitland-Niles – looks fine as a back-up right back which may come in useful…6

chas

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Emery’s red-tailed Boa gently squeezes Sporting

October 26, 2018

If Unai Emery’s Arsenal were a snake, what snake would they be? What I mean is, if you had to compare Arsenal’s style of play or, let’s say, their game plan with a snake which snake comes to mind? It struck me as I was watching Arsenal beat Sporting to make it eleven wins on the trot that a clear pattern is emerging. We start games perfectly well then after about twenty minutes we start making silly mistakes; in the hope of capitalising on said mistakes the opposition are drawn further up the pitch and into the trap. What they don’t realise is that they have become caught in the snake’s coils and they are slowly closing; yes the opposition flail around for forty five minutes or so, they may even score a goal but as the second half moves on the coils start getting tighter and tighter, slowly squeezing the life out of them. The snake has surely got to be a Boa Constrictor.

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Well, you try and find a way of starting our eleventh win on the bounce “Ozil benched after pedestrian performance” lol.
There are two teams starting to appear, the one that starts the EPL and the one that starts the Europa, did you imagine at the beginning of the season that Iwobi could find himself being saved for the EPL? Me neither but it certainly is testament as to how far Unai has been able to bring him on this season. With only a slim advantage of one nil, I even found myself feeling relieved when he made his appearance. Strange times.

The other thing that surprised me during the game, was going from feeling quite neutral about little ol’ Sporting with their nice food and pleasant weather to absolutely hating their guts for their dirty fouls and their dirty play acting. This was made all the worse when I realised that the ex manu player Nani was playing for them – once a banned ‘C’ word, always a banned ‘C’ word.

It obviously wasn’t a vintage Emery display (lol), no hope long range shots in the first half; the order made all the more tall with Xhaka and Lichtsteiner as makeweights on the flanks but we did what we do nowadays and found a solution, after a good opportunity was missed by Aubameyang and things looked like they might not go for us, Ralph Coates made a schoolboy error that gifted Welbeck a deserved goal which turned out to be a deserved winner.

Onwards and upwards.

Ratings

Leno: what’s not to like, another clean sheet. 8

Lichsteiner: I loved watching him last night; it makes me wonder how they teach them in Italy, the complete gamut of Dark Arts were on display, Machiavelli would have been proud. 6

Holding: I keep on waiting for him to slip up but he doesn’t and goes from strength to strength, the weekend will tell us where he stands in Emery’s eyes, will it be him and Mustafi or Mustafi and Big Sok. A very level-headed display tonight; I suppose, as RC suggests, he should be MOTM. 9

Big Sok: When the Sporting player was through, bar Big Sok; he knew what to do; he knew how to make it look like he grabbed the oppo’s shirt without really doing so, my question is would Holding have known how to do that? This is what comes with experience which is probably why I would still plump for Big Sok with Mustafi to start on the weekend ahead of Holding. 8

Xhaka: not often I find myself having to cut Granit some slack but taking one for the team by playing completely out of position certainly deserves just that and he didn’t play too badly there either. 7

Guendouzi: yep, no probs for me, continues on his upward trajectory and long may it continue. 7

Ramsey: struggled to get a grip on the game which in my opinion was his job, got better as the game went on. Still loving the fact that Arsenal have withdrawn his contract offer which has freed up UE an awful lot. Evidence being, Ozil playing in his preferred place on Monday. Nothing to really complain about but Mesut he ain’t. 7

Elneny: he huffed and he puffed, I was surprised to see him play the more advanced player out of him and Guendouzi. His days must be numbered. 6

Mkhitaryan: did an awful lot better than he has been doing lately, a really determined performance and a hard working one at that. 8

Aubameyang: Unai Emery is playing this so well, it’s gentle rotation between him and Laca; neither feels that one is being given priority over the other and as such they are looking fresher than a lot of other strikers in the EPL but to think that UE is not purposely creating competition for places between them would be naïve in my opinion. 7

Welbeck: and on the subject of competition for places Emery should be applauded for how he is keeping Welbeck involved and clearly feeling an important member of the team and I purposely used the word team and not squad. Superbly taken goal. 8

LB


Danny quells the swarm – Brentford Ratings

September 27, 2018

First Half

Two goals from Danny in the first half had Arsenal cruising as the interval approached. His first came from a Matteo Guendouzi pinpoint cross after a short corner. The many Arsenal runs in the box confused Brentford who forgot to mark the only player who stood still; but what a fine header it was from Welbz.

The second goal was warmly applauded by Mr Emery as it probably encapsulated all he wants from his players on the break. Brentford were pressing high, eventually the ball came to Lichtsteiner in a 50:50 challenge – no contest, Micki slipped the ball inside his marker freeing Iwobi on the burst. The Nigerian cockney used his mirrors to perfectly judge the run of Monreal steaming up behind him. A perfect perpendicular pass to the waiting Mancunian and it was two nil.

Second half

Arsenal quickly lulled themselves into a false sense of security in the opening few minutes of the second period. Emile Smith Rowe had a couple of decent positions which came to nothing; his usual youthful confidence giving way to indecision or a bad choice. Brentford fought for their hive like workers not drones and started to create some chances.

Their free kick to pull the game back to 2-1 was excellent but resulted from Guendouzi giving away a nonsensical free kick in a dangerous position. Suddenly the commentator was interested – he started to think he might see what he was hoping for after all.

Lacazette came on for ESR and proceeded to stink the place out with a complacent attitude and poor use of the ball. His touch was off even when slipped through by Guendouzi in prime real estate territory. Another sub was required.

Enter Lucas Torreira, avenger of evil and possessor of large hairy feet capable of mopping up in front of the back four. Things started to settle and the final quarter of the game left the commentator a little bereft of excitement and lacking in hope that all his dreams of a Brentford comeback would still come true.

Lacazette finally showed some class as he stroked home the third in the dying moments and it was through to the next round we go.

Summary

Unai Emery’s first League Cup team was a strong one and in the final reckoning, it needed to be.

Ratings

Leno – not ready to displace the helmet as yet but steady and secure after an early blip….6

Lichtsteiner – struggled just a touch with the pace of his youthful winger but used his enormous experience to redress the balance….6

Mustafi – only one really comical moment giving the ball away and then falling over. Just the one hair-raising moment is quite good for him….6

Holding – don’t remember much that he did good or bad. Is that good or bad?….6

Monreal – Nacho is a real 100 percenter and was justly rewarded with an excellent slide rule assist. It’s a good job the Beast is back to share some of his workload….7

Elneny – he stood out for me simply because he did almost nothing of note apart from run around like a headless chicken. A DM he is not….5

Guendouzi – the odd sloppy pass but 95% of his work was rapid, incisive and clever. Was fouled quite nastily by Yennaris which Dean overlooked completely….8

Mkhitaryan – Henrikh played very well when we were on top but sometimes appears to lack the cojones for a scrap. Excellent use of the ball in the build up to the second goal….7

Iwobi – Another fine performance from Alex….7

Smith Rowe – Playing a little further forward seemed detrimental to Emile’s play though he showed some bright moments in the first period. He seems better coming from deep to me….6

Welbeck – two great goals which effectively won the game – is Brentford his level? – I sincerely hope not….8

Subs

Lacazette – one awful moment after another until his opportunist’s goal late on….5

Torreira – steadied the ship according to LB….7

Ramsey – didn’t really add much more than the player he replaced, Elneny….6

Mike Dean – just as bad as we all know he can be – fat, old and incompetent….3

chas


International Rescue – who’s coming back unscathed?

September 10, 2018

Saturday

Along with Danny Welbeck’s five minute cameo for England and the surrounding controversy, some other Arsenal players were involved in action for their national sides.

Mo Elneny had a leisurely run out for Egypt in a 6-0 win against Niger in their opening African Nations Cup qualifier. He even managed to pop up with the final goal of the six, which apparently bounced off the keeper into the net. Sounds a cracker!

Difficult to find a photo of Mo playing but they might be his dreads in the background!

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang equalised against Burundi, thus salvaging a draw for Gabon in more African Cup action. Auba also captained the side.

Granit played the full ninety for Switzerland as they cruised past Iceland on Saturday. Granit was booked – Quelle Surprise!  Stephan Lichtsteiner didn’t even appear to be on the bench?????

Sokratis Papastathopoulos also played the full match in Greece’s sparkling 1-0 win over Estonia.

Lucas Torreira was substituted at half time playing for Uruguay versus Mexico and apparently had ice applied to his calf during the second half. Cosmic.

Sunday

Rambo lost with Wales to a couple of spawny efforts from Eriksen.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan also lost in Armenia’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of Macedonia.

Tuesday

Granit, Stephan and Danny could feature in the tedious England Switzerland friendly at Wembley.

Sokratis will again have the chance to hone his skills against Hungary in one of the group C games of the UEFA Nations Cup.


Welbeck denied a typical Welbeck goal

September 9, 2018

So, the UEFA Nations Cup opened up for England in dramatic style with the ref displaying the usual UEFA bias towards Spanish teams when he disallowed Danny Welbeck’s late equaliser.

Foul?

Apparently the goal was disallowed because Welbz just stood underneath De Gea waiting for him to fall on top of him! Reasoning of that kind just beggars belief.

Wembley looked rammed as the new competition format promised more than the usual tedious friendlies. Spain were the classier outfit throughout as you might expect with so many spuds on show for England. The Spanish (and Basques) shaded possession but had fewer shots on target from the same number of efforts on goal.

The moment all Arsenal fans were waiting for came in the 94th minute – there was a large amount of injury time due to an unfortunate clash of heads involving the unlucky Luke Shaw just after half time. Welbz had only been on the pitch for a minute or two when he majestically stroked the ball into the net after De Gea fumbled.

After consultation, the bent ref ruled the goal out and England’s celebrations were cut short. Here’s the incident, judge for yourself.

  chas (didn’t watch the game but am still livid)

 


Slightly less pants than West Ham – Player Ratings

August 26, 2018

And we’re off. Arsenal’s season is up and running with a 3-1 win over West Ham. Not one for the purists, names like Bergkamp, Pires and Henry will not be needed to describe this one; live long in the memory it will not, if it makes it past Tuesday it would have done well. But a win, is a win is a win and those important three points will stay with us for the whole season.

Goodness only knows what style of play Emery is trying to create; I guess we are going to have to wait a bit longer to see how that one unfolds. As for the system; he employed a 4-2-3-1 which sort of made sense. Our Basque manager is obviously getting closer to what he wants. I was particularly impressed with his substitutions and his taking advantage of the change in the FA rules that must now say that it is permissible to make changes at half time, I am guessing that it is a new directive because I have never seen such a thing in all my time of watching Arsenal, well certainly not for the last 22 years.

Iwobi you are not cutting it – off. Guendouzi: a few too many loose passes – off and Aubameyang: feeling a bit under the weather – off. The substitutions were decisive — you under perform and you are off. I like it.

As for the game, West Ham went ahead after more Keystone defending which allowed Arnautovic to rifle a low shot past Cech’s out flung right hand.

“We’re winning away, we’re winning away how (awful) must you be, if we’re winning away.”

Monreal put them back in their place, with superbly controlled effort that fell kindly to him after some kind of shananigans, I can’t remember exactly; I was just too relieved that it went into the back of the net.

Half time arrived and on came Lacazette who gave us a lot more thrust upfront. We were always in control it’s just that until you get the second goal there is always that nagging doubt that it might not happen and I have to write something on the lines of at least we didn’t lose. But not this time, Lacazette put us ahead after he spun, fired the ball into Aubameyang’s chest and into the goal. The man obviously plays snooker as he knew exactly where PEA was and the exact angle he needed to hit him in order for the ball to go into the pocket.

On came Danny to enthusiastic singing from the crowd; do you realise that Welbeck is the only player with a song. Think about it, what a sad indictment, there is only one player in the squad who is deemed worthy to have his name sung – having his own song. And long may it continue, I have a soft spot for Welbeck, I still think there is time for him to turn into one of the absolute best strikers in the EPL. What a cool finish; gather ball, back to goal, spin and blast past keeper. 3-1, and we all sighed a huge sigh of relief, no one more than Unai Emery.

Cech: great keeping, kept us in the game again, have you noticed how immediately after the break when there is a goalkick, Cech plays the ball out at a 90 degree angle and then, out of panic, because no one is quite sure what they are supposed to do, it is passed back and we all start feeling really nervous, this must be on half time managerial instructions. My point is that I liked it when Cech clearly thought that this is nonsense and reverted to clearing the ball like normal teams. 8

Bellerin: someone suggested that he must be playing as high as he does on instructions, there can’t be any other answer because again we were getting slaughtered down the right flank when we lost possession. Still, good going forward as usual. 5

Mustafi: I don’t know what to say, is it all his fault? Does he really know what is expected of him? Who knows? 4

GB: played one superb long diagonal pass that I was impressed with – slowly finding his feet. 4

Monreal: Excellent goal, still our number one left back choice, I do like Nacho. 7

Guendouzi: probably guilty of trying a bit too hard and not keeping enough of an eye on the basics; should be interesting what UE does with him next. 5

Xhaka: a workman like performance, not a DM and not a goal scorer. Imagine Torriera as the DM and Ramsey next to him, you have a genuine DM and a genuine attacking midfielder who scores goals. 5

Ramsey: well he got to play his supposedly favourite position, mah, it was ok. Now about that leaving Ozil in his ‘sickbed’  malarkey, hmmm. 6

Mkhitaryan: he was better today, tracking back and all, his place is secure because no one else can play on the right. 7

Aubameyang: come on PEA, we need a hero, someone worthy of a new song; it’s been so long since a player had his own shiny new song. 6

Favourite comment:

Aaron says:
August 25, 2018 at 4:43 pm
Did I just see the Arsenal slow up a counter? My goodness……

Written by LB

Time to Stand Up and Be Counted, Arsenal

March 8, 2018

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

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

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

Team news

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

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

 Team

Team talk from Al Pacino and Winston Churchill 

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

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

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

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

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

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

chas