How Was it For You?

June 5, 2019

No, not that … the season.

Were you satisfied?

Did you enjoy it?

Did it cement your affections towards The Arsenal?

Did it make you confident about the future of the Club?

I can only answer Yes, to one of the above. For me this was the first season when I felt alienated from my club. It could have been the departure of Mr. Wenger, who was a magical figure and a man I admired hugely. He single-handedly maintained our traditions and honour. During his tenure I didn’t think at all about management structure, transfer budgets and especially, The Brand. With him gone I fear my connection has weakened.

Don’t get me wrong – I will die a Gooner but this season there were times when I coudn’t be bothered to watch the games. They bored me. In fact, I hate to admit this, but sometimes I preferred watching Liverpool or City than us. The highlights on Arsenalist saved me some of the tedium.

Of course it is not always so, sometimes we played superb football and I enjoyed the introduction of the young players,; Iwobi, Guendouzi, Terriera, Holding and AMN. I enjoyed the Europa run and of course, the early season unbeaten run. The future could be good but we are miles behind the Top 2 .

Mr. Emery had a very hard job taking over from a Legend, he has done OK and statistically it was a season of progress but we have lost our identity.

How was last season for you?

written by BR

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He’s Got No Hair.

May 31, 2019

I am still bruised and angry.

No point whatsoever looking at a one-off game and reaching conclusions about the future of certain players and whether they were responsible for that shitfest. Ozil was crap but he is one of 10 (Cech is excluded). It wasn’t lack of effort that cost us, it very rarely is, so what is it?

There is a simple answer …. look at our goals against record. I cannot recall a season when the defence was so porous. Goals conceded in the PL were 51!! Well over a goal a game. 13 conceded in the EL and we really only played 3 decent teams.

Is the personnel? I can’t say it is. Monreal may be a little slower but he remains a quality player. Kos and Sokratis are both experienced International defenders. Mustafi had a poor season but came good in the last couple of months. We have good young back-up in Mavro and Holding. AMN and Bellerin are both fine players with AMN doing well in a position which doesn’t suit his skills. Our GK’s made few mistakes.

Is this a new situation? Not really, we have been getting progressively more porous. 51 in the PL last season, 44 the year before and 36 the season before that.

Mr. Wenger was never a defensive minded coach and left a problem for Emery.  The problem seems to be that we do not have a viable defensive coach which considering who is our assistant manager is bizarre.

Steve Bould has been marvelous as a player and loyal as a member of the management team. One would expect him to be the man with the ability to create the defensive cohesion which is so clearly lacking. Why can’t he?  Is he not allowed to work on tactics? I cannot believe it. As a member of Arsenal best ever defence he has the knowledge and the experience, surely the defensive unity is his remit.

If we are to progress next season, the defence and especially the ability for the midfield to shield the CB’s has to improve. We may sign a defender or two but most of the players will still be at Arsenal in August …

Steve Bould may not.

written by BR

 


What makes a great Coach?

March 27, 2019

I have been watching with jaw agape the massive improvement in Raheem Sterling and wondered what has happened. This chap went from being a raw, undisciplined teenager at Liverpool into becoming, one of the best players in the PL. He excites. Then the penny dropped … Guardiola.

One of the essential qualities of the good coach is the ability to improve a player and help him reach their maximum potential. A manager/coach can come into a successful team and get them playing better – the new manager bounce is well known, but anyone can do that, think Roberto Di Matteo or OGS. It takes real talent to truly improve the team and the individual players, there are not many who can.

Of the current managers Klopp and  Guardiola are the first who spring to mind.

Klopp: This chap can clearly coach. Just look at Jordan Henderson. Used to be a Denilson, now a Gilberto Silva. Or Milner, was Stephen Hillier, now Ray Parlour. Up front Salah has gone from Sanogo to Ian Wright!

Guardiola: He has improved players throughout his career. Messi was a water carrier before Pep got to work (joke). Bernard Silva, Walker, Sterling etc are proof of his prowess.

Then there are the coaches who take a team and get them to punch above their wight – Eddie Howe and, this season’s probable Manager of the Year, Nuno Santo at Wolves,.

And what of our chap, Mr. Emery?

So far so good, but let’s look at how he is doing with individual players. Who has improved under his coaching – certainly Rob Holding. Before his injury the lad wasa revelation. Iwobi has become integral to the team. Xhaka is also much improved as is Lacazette. So, was Bellerin. The chap who has made the biggest advancement is Kolasinac, who has become an automatic first choice when last season he was a liability.

Young players are coming through under Emery’s tutelage with Douzi leading the way.

Players flocked to Wenger’s Arsenal because they knew he could improve them, I think Emery has the same ability – it bodes well.

written by BR


Chelsea Preview.

January 19, 2019

Much of this morning’s speculation will revolve, once again, about Mr. Ozil. This being the case I think we can gloss over that and discuss something else. No, not Brexit or a Wall or even the heat in Australia. Not even the worrying statement from Emery about our economy.

How about we cheer ourselves up in the knowledge that the squad is returning to good health with only Welbz and Holding on the long-term injured list. Emery can pick a solid defence – or as good as he can with the tools available, not that I wish to call Mustafi a tool, but if the cap fits …

My opinion:

The back 3 doesn’t work, one only has to look at our goals against to confirm this, so we have to go back to a more solid 4 and abandon the idea of FB’s as wing-backs, especially with AMN and the Wardrobe. The return of Hector and Nacho should add some backbone.

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Some AA’ers doubt Belllerin’s defensive ability, you may be right, but IMO he is amongst our best players.

Quite why Mr. Emery abandoned the deep Xhaka/Terrier combo by sending the little chap further forward is a mystery. Against Spurs they were the key to our victory, surely he will operate the same system this afternoon?

Also, a return to playing one upfront. It appears great mates do not make a great striking partnership. It worked well when we could bring on PEA in the final 20 minutes, his pace terrifying tiring defenders. Why was this tactic abandoned?

Not sure if Mhiki is fit, but we need him back to provide something positive ahead of Bellerin, yet there is no space in the team for both Iwobi and Mhiki if Ozil plays, and Ozil MUST play.

What of Chelsea?. Their manager, David Wagner, is a strange but likeable chap who appears to be doing a very good job with a team depending upon the genius of Hazard allied to the tenacity of the marvelous Kante. The goalkeeper shows the difference between a €60m and a €25m signing, ugly bugger though, our boy is no oil painting but at least he looks human. The midget microphone, Willian always does well against us, hopefully he is crocked.

World Cup winner OG returns to his real home where he should get a rousing reception, thanking him for some unforgettable moments including this …

Look for OG’s pass early in the move

When I lived in London most of my friends were Chelsea or closet Spurs. We always beat them. Always. Who can forget Winterburn’s screamer at the Bridge? As GN5 showed yesterday, those days are well in the past.

Play like we did against West Ham and we will get hammered again, play like we did against Spurs and the points are ours.

Let it Be So

COYRRG

 


Meet The New Boss … Same as the Old Boss

August 25, 2018

We are fortunate to have another of West Ham Bob’s posts about this fixture. Thank you Bob.

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It all changed one Saturday afternoon in March. Burnley were the visitors to the London Stadium and there was a palpable sense of anger and frustration just waiting to boil over. Sure enough, all it took was a goal from Chris Wood to put the men from Lancashire 2 up and the game was up in so many ways. A well known supporter, affectionately known as Bubbles, strode onto the pitch and planted a corner flag into the centre circle, recalling a famous protest from the bad old days of the bond scheme. And the rest as they say is history.

The Dildo brothers, as they were affectionately labelled by the president of Sporting Lisbon, realised that two years of zero investment had to come to an end if they were to have any chance of holding together what was left of the club’s historical and loyal support.

Unbeknown to the fans, they had already agreed a deal with ‘that charming gentleman’, Manuel Pellegrini behind David Moyes back. If Moyes could keep the team up, Pellegrini would be in his place by the start of the 2018/19 season and he would be given wonga like no West Ham manager has had before.

And that is how we now find ourselves facing our first relegation six pointer of the season. It’s a little like Norway facing Norway in Eurovision. Nil Points for the Hammers and the Gunners.

Now I’m not going to be so bold as to suggest what’s gone wrong with the Arsenal. I’m sure Big Raddy and co are filling pages of this esteemed fan site discussing the teams failings (albeit against two top 4 teams). No, what I do intend to talk about, is why we have been so bloody awful.

You see, Moyes and the previously departed Bilic failed to solve our most pressing problem and sure enough. Pell has fallen into the same trap. Our midfield and defence is absolute gash. Our fullbacks are either lightning quick but unable to defend (Fredericks and Masuaku) or slow and laborious (Cresswell and Zaballeta). Our centre backs lack positional sense and are guaranteed to make 2 or 3 mistakes a game. We’ve spent £30 million in this area and have ended up with a South American who can’t defend (Balbuena) and a young prospect who is not deemed ready for the Premiership (Diop for £22 million).

One of the problems for our defence is a total lack of midfield protection. In our last match, our central midfield comprised Mark Noble and Jack Wiltshire. Now it’s all well and good investing huge sums on wide players, but when you’re getting overrun for 90 minutes, they tend to do good Stevie Wonder impressions – they never see the poxy ball.

Of course, after only 2 games it’s a little early and harsh to knock Jack and I’m sure he’ll be wanting to show Dick Emery what he’s missing, but I’m prepared to lay an extraordinarily large bet that he won’t be playing in a two with Nobes come November. The balance is just all wrong and Pell had better wake up and smell the coffee quickly.

Felipe Anderson and Yarmolenko cost £50 million between them. Once again early days but they both look like ‘luxury players’, and not necessarily built for the rigours of the Premiership.

Up front, Pellegrini has either played Arnautovic as a 1 or Arnautovic and Hernandez (where Arnautovic also seems to play as a 1!!). There’s a reason why Little Pea has never held down a regular place in the Premiership.

So how are we likely to line up at The Emirates?  In goal will be ex-gooner, Lucas Fabianski.  I expect Cresswell and Zabaleta to fill the full back positions and Ogbonna to get a new centre back partner in either Declan Rice or Issa Diop.

With Arnie up front, I think we will pack 5 into our midfield with Jack playing as a number 10.  Expect Carlos Sanchez and Pedro Obiang to sit, leaving 2 of Lucas Perez, Yarmalenko and Felipe Anderson to provide the pace and aimless balls up to Arnie who within 10 minutes will have a right proper face on.  That’s right gooners – your first three points are a coming.

written by WH Bob

A new feature will be the history of fixtures against our opposition compiled by our resident stat expert GN5.

Arsenal v West Ham United

Our first game against West Ham was an FA Cup game played at Woolwich Arsenal on January 13, 1906 it ended in a 1-1 draw, five days later we lost the replay 2-1.

We first met West Ham United in League Division 1 on August 27, 1923 in an away game that we lost 0-1.

So our history goes back 112 years overall and 95 years in League play.

Record in Division 1.

Record in the Premier League.

Our last 18 games. 

Based on our past record our home game against West Ham is very winnable and may be just the tonic the team needs.

GunnerN5


A Point?

August 18, 2018

Let’s be honest, if we get a point from this evening it would be a surprise. Come the final whistle we are likely to be rooted at the bottom of the table with no points to our name. When was the last time we propped up the table? Only GN5 could answer that (perhaps).

Unlike BR to start with a negative as he is an optimist and always believe we will win prior to kick-off.

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We weren’t terrible against City, had a couple of chances to draw level at 0-1, and could, with a bit more luck,  have ground out a point but City showed why they are so good. The hope is that we can re-create their tactical pressing game.

Chelsea are also in transition but a little ahead of us – it should be recalled that they won the title a year ago. Sarri seems a good appointment. They have bought well and will be serious rivals for the Top 4.

Why they didn’t buy another striker is a mystery; will Giroud and Morata be enough firepower? Hazard is fantastic but they cannot continually rely upon his brilliance.

Giroud was crap at the WC, yet played every game (?) and won a WC Winners medal. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke and I wish him well, apart from this afternoon.

In defence the Chavs are strong on the flanks and if we are to find the net it will be through pace in the cantre of attack. A few clever passes and PEA will get behind their CB’s, then a little dink over the world’s most expensive GK. No-one highlighted the extraordinary finish against City from an offside position, the man is class.

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Changes to last week? Torreira has to start, he is to be our Kante (who IMO is the best player in the PL). The Hairy One should to be benched. Ramsey or Mhiki could be dropped to allow us to play two up-top. Monreal to return and add some spine to the right side, though it must be said that the Swiss bloke was very good last week.

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin    Mustafi   A Greek Bloke   Monreal

Ramsey   Torreira   Iwobi

Ozil

PEA   Lacazette

We will not start with this team but it is how I would like to see us line up. Iwobi is more mobile and better defensively than Mhiki (though perhaps not a better attacker). Mhiki was anonymous last week, so was Ozil – we need more.

Of the London teams Chelsea are the second best club, they may be Oilers but they play decent football and have got rid of the awful JT/Frank L generation.

Martin Atkinson is today’s referee.

I would be delighted with a point

Up the Gunners

 


Opening Day

August 12, 2018

Last season’s champions versus this season’s. The PL couldn’t have a better opening.

Man City were magnificent in winning the title, possibly the best team since the Invincibles. They showed in the thrashing of Chelsea in the Community  Shield that they remain highly impressive, BUT we will beat them.

Why? Because We Are The Arsenal.

Who will be lucky enough to pull on the red and white this afternoon? TBH I have little idea.

GK? Cech or Leno? Cech for me, but we do not know who is to be our regular gloveman, nor do we know the quality of Leno. I will go for the experience of Cech in this important game.

Bellerin/Lichsteiner?  Hector struggled against Sane last season but who didn’t? The Swiss fellow is a fine defender and will hopefully inspire Hector to achieve his undoubted ability.

CB’s? GIven the startling decision to ship Chambers, one must assume Emery has confidence in our new signings. Mustafi was a liability and made some very strange decisions which cost us points, I don’t trust hm but the management does. No point signing the Big Greek unless we play him.

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LB? Beast crocked, Nacho half-fit, Either we play a Back 3 with Holding or M-N gets the shirt. Hardly what we want in such a tough challenge. We all love M-N, he has huge potential and has played this position in the past. Let’s hope

Midfield? We cannot go gung-ho at City, we need to maintain some defensive discipline in front of what is a shaky Back 4, hence my choice of Terrier, Ramsey and Xhaka. I expect Xhaka to become the on-field leader of the team, he has the talent and appears to be maturing as a man and a player. If Ramsey is not fit then we can trust Elneny to be tidy and responsible. Torriera could be the player we have been waiting for, much rests upon his diminutive shoulders.

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Upfront? Ozil and PEA, but who else? Some fine players are going to have to ride the pine as our new manager experiments. Today I would play Mhiki, he is just too good to leave out. But this team lacks width and neither Mesut nor Mhiki have the pace to trouble City’s excellent FB’s. We will have to rely upon skill, cohesion, cute-passing and rapier like finishing and if that isn’t working, we have Iwobi, Welbeck and, above all Lacazette on the bench.

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin   Mustafi   Sokratis   M-N

Ramsey   Torreira   Xhaka

Ozil   Mhiki

PEA

And what of City? Guardiola has improved an already excellent team, another PL win is expected (even with Klopp’s spending) with the CL the club’s main priority. However, we have a new manager who is well versed in Pep’s tactics, a man who will want to show from the outset that his team have the beans to compete.

Excited? You bet, it couldn’t be a better opening game.

On an AA note, does anyone have a theme for this season’s PM’s? It makes it more fun to write when I have a non-football focus.