Arsenal 5 Benfica 1- a great afternoon’s entertainment

August 3, 2014

Well, what a great afternoon’s entertainment that was?

Plenty of new players to see for the first time, confirmation that others are moving in the direction we hoped for — and goals!

Lot’s of goals. I know the expression goes “from the sublime to the ridiculous”, well somehow Sanogo has managed to go from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Once again he started the game with all the control of a puppy with a beach ball but somehow turned this around to bag himself four goals.

And what’s more we discovered that he is a good dancer, there were some great moves going on as he celebrated his goals; well, almost, all except the last goal when he ran to the fans to do his celebration dance and some how managed to trip over his feet. Everyone howled with laugher in the pub and the inevitable thought of “from the sublime to the ridiculous” returned.


The thing I like about him above all is how he always plays with a smile on his face; he is very, very confident, and yet somehow he manages to carry this off without a hint of arrogance. There never seems a moment when things start to get him down — miss a sitter, no probs I’ll get the next one. The only thing that was completely unexpected was that this time he did get the next one and the one after and the one after that, four times in all.

He seemed to have some kind of injury towards the end and to my absolute surprise I actually cared. Well done Yaya more of the same please.

Around this time in the pre-season I think that most of us usually have a good idea of what is going to happen as regards to players in and players out; well, normally but yesterday when the team was announced along with the subs I realised I still haven’t got a clue who will be with us at the start of the season. There still seem so many possibilities for players to be sold or go out on loan.

It was good to see Campbell in the glorious red and white at last, he took his goal well. The problem is that he, Ozil, Walcott, Sanchez, Ox and Gnabry all play out on the right, I know it is possible to make the case that some of them can play in other positions as well but there is no hiding the fact that that position is a little over crowded and at least one must surely depart?

The other position around which we can surely expect change is the central defence: Monreal as a CB – really? Vermaelen is obviously shopping around, where was Diaby today and I for one will not rule out Khadira’s arrival until the shutters are firmly down on this transfer market. See what I mean there are still so many more possibilities for change.

I expect to see Callum Chambers on the bench or playing as much as Jenkinson did so last season. He had a very reassured debut and I certainly agree with GIE that he is CB in waiting, a position that requires far more skill and maturity than a right back.

Everyone else played their part well: Rosicky appeared sharp as did the Ox. And finally we got to see the player we had all been waiting for: Alexis Sanchez. While just sitting on the bench the man projected an image of being a “star in waiting” and the Chilean certainly didn’t disappoint when he came on; the man oozed class. But the stand out player of the afternoon was, of course, Ramsey, what a power house we have in the still young Welshman. Go Rambo.

A very happy afternoon, onwards and upwards.

Written by LB


Arsenal and Saturdays are back.

August 2, 2014

The Emirates Cup. What’s it all about then?

Well, it’s the first get together of the season at The Emirates. Four teams playing two games each over two days. A competition in its seventh year, it begins at 14:00 today with Valencia playing AS Monaco, followed by Arsenal taking to the field against Benfica at 16:20.

It’s a fitness sharpener, a chance for mates to get together, and it will be the weekend when many of the next generation of supporters get their first taste of seeing The Arsenal, and we all remember that day.

It will be the first glimpse of our new signings, and fans may well see Sanchez, Chambers and Debuchy, while Ospina is definitely ruled out.

I will be particularly interested to see how Joel Campbell performs now that he’s back in the squad.

For those going, there’s a sense of “thank God, the summer’s over”. Hour upon hour of pretending to be in interested in some bloody awful sport to fill the gap. “Ok, I thought, I’ll really get to grips with the Tour de France as that’ll occupy me for two weeks. Then the English bloke fell off after ten minutes. Athletics? Oh blimey, no Usain Bolt, forget it. Synchronized diving? Nope.

Today, however, the wait is over. Fans get to see their second home again. Some can even get there early to see the wonderful new posters hanging around the ground on their elegant galvanized steel posts. Something for everyone today.

Most importantly, the sacred turf. Ahhh…sigh.  Many of us mow lawns, and many of us do the Arsenal Head Groundsman Stadium thing. You know damn well what I’m on about. The lines one week, wide ones, narrow ones, little circles the next. For me the highlight of any seasons’ first game is that first glimpse of the green carpet laid out before you as you enter the arena. The promise of so many memories that will be forever engrained in your memory over the coming season. Hope. Expectation. The unknown.

I won’t do any kind of team sheet, as it would be purely guesswork ahead of two days of change, but if you are going, enjoy seeing your chums, getting back into the familiar surroundings of your pre-match routine, and knowing that finally, all is once again as it should be.

Our weekends are back, and they start today.


If You Booed After Yesterday’s Game Please Don’t Ever Come Back To The Emirates Again

August 1, 2011

A pre-season friendly.

Substantial team changes for the starting 11. Even more substantial changes at half time and subsequently.

Young, up-and-coming Arsenal players like Bartley and Afobe getting a run out.

Nobody wanting to get injured before the serious stuff starts in a couple of weeks.

And you booed the team?

You, who call yourself am Arsenal supporter, booed your team because they failed to win a meaningless pre-season runaround?

What is wrong with you?

And before you start typing your response in the Internet equivalent of big green letters (which usually means ALL CAPITALS and lotsa bad spellin an txt talk cos u no shit man u no wot I’m sain?), I am not an apologist for Arsène Wenger.

I was deeply unhappy with the way last season ended, just like all Arsenal fans; I think changes need to be made and transfers brought in to help us avoid a similar collapse this season; I do not think Arsene Wenger is beyond criticism.

But despite my reservations I am and always will be a supporter of Arsenal, which means that when they take the field they have my total support, whoever is in the line-up, whatever is the opposition and whatever is the performance.

For the duration of the game I will do nothing but be behind them – it’s what supporters are meant to do, or have you forgotten? Afterwards, in the pub, I might well say that Player X is not good enough for us or that AW made a Horlicks of his substitutions. That’s different.

If you were one of yesterday’s boo boys (or girls – for there seem to be plenty of hatchet-faced harridans among the ranks of the discontented at The Emirates) you should seriously ask yourself why you go to the games at all.

If you get your kicks from looking for any reason to have a go at an individual player, or the manager, or the team then you are not a supporter at all. You are an Unsupporter. And your Unsupport, as well as being stupid, I’ll-informed and rude, is counter-productive to what genuine supporters want: a good atmosphere at the ground and fervent support for the lads so that they raise their game, rather than shy away from the ball for fear of incurring the wrath of the idiotic minority.

You Unsupporters are probably the same people who slam Nasri and even Cesc for having no loyalty.

Loyalty? You wouldn’t know loyalty if it knelt at your feet.

What must Benik Afobe feel today? He has played in front of a packed house at his own ground, he has shared the turf with an icon of the stature of Thierry Henry, and he was booed off the pitch.

Likewise Kyle Bartley, who had the added misfortune to put the ball in his own net.

Are you trying to destroy these kids before they have had a chance to show what they can do?

What do you think they – and Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Vermaelen – think about you, the discontented minority?

You know what I think, I think they despise you and I just hope to God that they recognize that you represent only a truculent rump of the Arsenal support. In fact, not even a rump, just the festering boil on the rump.

Take it from me – and I know I speak for the vast majority of true Arsenal fans – we do not want you; the players do not want you; the club does not need you.

So, with all due disrespect, will you kindly PISS OFF and never come back…


Arsenal Draw – but what conclusions?

July 31, 2011

Written by Gooner in Exile

Back at the Home of Football to the traditional start of footballing season entertainment known as the Emirates Cup.

This is normally a fun filled affair where we take on a couple of fair to middling teams put some skilful moves together introduce a few youngsters and send the punters home happy.

I disregarded TotalArsenals advice yesterday and watched on ESPN with the volume up, like a scab I couldn’t stop picking, and before long the inanity of Champion’s and Burley’s mutterings were winding me up more than they should for a game with nothing riding on it.

Apparently Van Persie doesn’t like attacking the near post. Cue Robin stage centre attacking the goal and getting on the end of a lovely counter which started with a Wilshere pass to Gervinho who drove forward and provided a great cross for Robin to do what he does best. 1-0 Arsenal and alls well with the world again.

We started the match rather disjointed and seemed to be a little leggy.

There were occasional glimpses of why Jenkinson and Gervinho have been brought in, however Nasri went a long way to justify not giving a pay rise with an anonymous performance in the advanced midfield role.

There should have been a penalty in the first five minutes when Wilshere was clearly fouled but Atkinson did what English refs do and assumed Jack must of been summer holidaying with Tom Daley and waved away the appeals. Oh well I guess it’s the refs preseason too.

Boca were professional, they set about disrupting our rhythm by fouling wherever they could as is the prescribed tactic against us. Jack was most often on the receiving end.

The high line played by our defence with no pressure on the ball led to a couple of opportunities for Boca but we reached half time unscathed.

The second half brought a number of changes, Robin, Jack, Fabianski, Gervinho and Kozzer making way for Chamakh, Ramsey, Vela, Squillacci and Mannone.

Within a minute of the restart Vela had jinked his way past a couple and the ball rolled to Ramsey who struck a good drive into the net, 2-0 cue feelings of happy days to come. I liked this goal because again it proved to me that faced with a likely impact Ramsey is not suffering the same mental frailty that understandably reduced Eduardo’s goalscoring knack.

After that the Arsenal performance slowly petered out, a lack of balance to the side, Chamakh drifting on to the left wing when he should be occupying the 18 yard box.

Frimpong started getting overrun in midfield and leaving our defence exposed. I thought he had a reasonable game but he seemed to lose energy in the second half, although he wasn’t exactly helped by teammates. The defensive midfield role at Arsenal really is a thankless task.

And then the familiar site of Squilacci behaving randomly for a Centre Back  he had already steam rollered Jenkinson in a fashion not seen since he headbutted Kozzer last season and then got caught in possession Boca didn’t need inviting twice and duly got a goal back.

Not long after and it was Djourous turn to gift one, first to the ball but under pressure he inexplicably missed the ball with his sliding clearance and the eager Boca player chasing him picked up the ball and equalised.

From then on Champion and Burley had a field day as they set about telling us all how regular an occurrence this all is at the Arsenal. Some of the support appears to agree having had a quick look on Twitter. As always the wins in our other preseason games have been forgotten and everyone wants to concentrate on this draw and the way it happened.

Okay so what did we learn?

  1. Jenkinson and Gervinho are good acquisitions.
  2. We really do need one more Centre Back to complete the squad. Maybe we will get to see him today if its Bartley.
  3.  Mannone is third choice.
  4. Robin and Jack are looking to continue where they left off as is Kozzer.
  5. Traore may be the answer at left back I thought he had a reasonable game.
  6. Nasri can’t play the advanced midfield role, or can’t play it like Cesc, his propensity to want to dribble rather than pass is one of the things that slows our progress up the pitch.
  7. Our new defending set piece approach is zonal marking, a system employed by Adams, Keown et al. For this to work we need at least four players over 6ft (five players best in my opinion) to patrol the key areas. I think it can work I would just like to see us take it a yard further out for a starting position.

Hopefully we will get more of an idea in the first half against Red Bulls as to what our likely starting lineup against Newcastle in two weeks will be. I doubt Nasri, Frimpong, Traore or Jenkinson will feature having played 90 minutes yesterday.

I’d also like to see Bartley and Afobe get a run out to give us all a positive vibe about the squad this coming season.
Enjoy the game AA’ers who are making the pilgrimage have a Peroni for me.