No Lacazette – but Welbeck is back

September 15, 2019

Finally, the Premier League is back, after the oh so boring International break!

Our 5th game of the season, is a trip to Vicarage Road, to face a Watford side, who are bottom of the table. After 3 losses & 1 draw, they decided to give Javi Gracia his P45 & reappoint Quique Sanchez Flores – who managed them during the 2015-16 season.

Unai Emery is familar with him, having both managed in La Liga. This will be their 8th meeting and what makes it even more interesting is QSF has 3 wins to UE’s 1… with the other 3 draws…

Since Watford’s return to the PL, after an 8 year absence, we have faced them 8 times – winning 6 & losing 2, GF – 18  GA – 5.

They also beat us in the 6th round of the FA Cup with QSF as their manager!

Watford team news – Troy Deeney is still recovering from knee surgery, so will not face the team his son supports.

Etienne Capoue is a doubt, through illness.

Rob Holding is back in full training, but doubt he will feature, what with being absent for so long.

Tierney & Bellerin are closing in on a return..

Willock had a calf problem, but is expected to be ok, as is Xhaka & Torreira.

As we all know, Welbeck was released at the end of last season and Watford signed him, so I’m just waiting for him to come back and haunt us, just like many others have previously.

Danny Welbeck made 88 appearances for us, finding the back of the net 16 times. One of my favourites was the last gasp winner against Leicester! But who could forget his goals against the Mancs – brilliant!! Will always think highly of him. He’s now played twice for Watford, but has yet to score…….

Watford are desperate for points & having changed managers, performances & results usually improve.. we need to get back to winning ways, after a disappointing loss & draw in our last 2 games. So it’s all set up to be a very interesting encounter!

Lacazette has been ruled out until next month, due to an ongoing problem with his left ankle. This is a huge blow, having scored 2 goals already this season…….. this will make for an interesting line-up.

Peaches here – I would start Reiss Nelson on the wing and put Aubamayang up top ……….. let’s see what Emery chooses.

The team I’m expecting to see is : –

Ref – Anthony Taylor

Assistants – Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn

4th Offical – Peter Bankes

Var – Chris Kavanagh Ass Var – Daniel Cook

Not going to predict a score, as I’m usually pants at it. I just hope we play well, Pepe scores & we win COYG

By Mrs Kolasinac

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This Is Unacceptable From An Arsenal Supporter

September 7, 2019

You call yourself an Arsenal supporter.

You love the club, you’re proud of our history and achievements. You’re desperate for the current team to achieve its potential.

But is there anything you could say or do as a Gooner that would be beyond the pale? Anything that would just be plain wrong coming from an Arsenal fan?

I have to thank GoonerB for the inspiration for this Post. His excellent idea of asking whether it was time for Arsenal supporters to rethink their antagonistic attitude towards Ashley Cole (a former Invincible, after all) prompted a lively discussion.

Some readers were minded to forgive and forget; others would not be budged from the view that Cashley is a wrong ‘un and would never be welcome back at The Arsenal (among the many eloquently argued points I couldn’t help but smile at Bernard’s short but emphatic: “Ten men went to bed, went to bed with Cashley, ten men and his mobile phone, went to bed with Cashley. I rest my case.”).

The discussion set me to thinking about whether there are certain opinions that no self-respecting Arsenal fan should hold or actions they should do.

I reckon 10 years ago, when we were still in the doldrums of the new stadium austerity and Cashley was winning trophies for fun at Chelsea, it would have been almost unsayable for an Arsenal fan to express admiration for our former Number 3.

With the passage of time it seems views have mellowed somewhat. But what are the other taboos for a Gooner?

I’d love your ideas in the comments, but here’s a list of potential no-nos for starters: would any of them be a step too far?

Is it acceptable for an Arsenal fan to say any of the following?:

“You know, I really quite like watching this Spurs team.”

“Manchester United have been the best team of the Premier League era.”

“I really miss the mint-coloured away kit.”

“People are being very harsh about Harry Kane. I don’t think it was a dive.”

“I hope we lose because…” (insert cockamamie reason here, eg:“…it will help us get rid of the manager”).

“In fairness, Mike Dean is a really good ref.”

“Roy Keane was better than Patrick Vieira.”

“We should get rid of Emery and appoint Mourinho – he’s a proven winner.”

Is it acceptable for an Arsenal fan to do any of the following?:

Go to Totteringham home games and sort-of support the Totts when Arsenal are playing away.

Boo one of our own players during a game.

Leave more than five minutes before the end of a game (except in the case of an emergency).

Miss an Arsenal cup final because you’ve been invited to a wedding (including your own).

Sit down during “stand up if you hate Totnum.”

Withdraw your support because you don’t like the manager/team selections/results.

Wear an Arsenal shirt with “van Persie” on the back.

Feel you’d rather England win the World Cup than Arsenal win the league.

RockyLives


Do We Just Blindly Trust Unai Emery?

September 4, 2019

The “Opinion” Connundrum

We had a fantastic discussion yesterday on the question of Unai and Granit Xhaka related to how fans feel about them. FGG and I went back and forth, many others chipped in and in the end it seems there’s a fairly broad spectrum of opinion. Obviously that’s what a blog is for and on this particular site, almost always discussion and differences of opinion are respectful. So it seems discussion wise we’re on the right track. So what about the subjects of our discussion? Some of the points raised in the discussion were along the lines of:

“Should we be criticizing our own players/manager?”

“At what point is it disloyal as fans to criticize our players/manager?”

“Do we back them through thick and thin, even if we see an issue with their performance?”

All of which are legitimate questions. It got me thinking, when was the last time I felt like being critical of our players/manager (before Sunday !!)? I came up with during the last 2 years of Arsene’s reign when I got to the point of despair with his blind belief in his players’ ethic which it seemed obvious to most everyone else, was severely lacking. Anyone who watched Adams, Bould, Vieira, Parlour, Freddie, Santi but to name a few will know what I’m talking about.

I got to the point where I just couldn’t trust AW anymore because I believed he was too close to the technicalities of his management to see the more simple picture, which was – play your best players who will do the job you tell them to, no matter what their name or “status”. Also find a Captain that will lead by example and demand those players do what they need to. I think most people would agree that this was in fact the case and the reason he had to go.

So here’s the question: Do we just blindly trust Unai and not take our players to task. I think everyone would say no to that so where is the line? At what point is it ok to question, criticize, hold accountable? Obviously I’ve reached my tipping point with Xhaka and yet, although Unai keeps picking him, I am not there yet with the manager. It will probably take a while for that but I feel it’s ok to question him at this point.

I know we’re just fans and we don’t have all the technical information, nor see the players in training every day so is there a point that allows us to voice our opinion if it’s not necessarily positive or even downright negative. I’ll not be a hypocrite here and admit I had a few choice words for people who have criticized Wenger, Fizman, the Kroenke’s over the years because I always thought there was more to the picture. So what do you all think? Are there rules for this or do we just have to agree that we all see it differently?

Mike M

 

 


Liverpool v Arsenal … The First Big Test of the Season

August 24, 2019

Recent meetings:

18/19 Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal

17/18 Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal

16/17 Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal

15/16 Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal

14/15 Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Last Arsenal win:

12/13 Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal

Arsenal

After a pair of narrow victories against lesser opposition, Arsenal head to Anfield for their first real test of the season. So far, the team have shown good battling qualities and a reliance on Aubameyang’s clinical finishing in order to get 6 points out of 6, but if they are to continue with the strong start then they will need to perform much better than they have so far.

The natural thinking is that we will head into the game looking to soak up pressure in the first 20 minutes and build from there. There may even be a temptation for Emery to bring in more experienced players like Torreira and Xhaka and switch to a back 3, but I’m really hoping that Emery holds his nerve and continues with the 4-2-3-1 and the young, hungry players he’s relied upon so far.

I think this is the first time in a long time that we are going to Anfield with players who pose a real threat to the opposition and can hurt them. Based on that, I’d actually like to see us play an attacking side and see if we can go toe to toe with the scousers. There is no doubt that Salah, Mane and Firmino are a world class trio, but we have three players of our own who are just as capable and it would be a joy to watch Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang given the chance to run at the Liverpool defence and see who comes out on top in a good old-fashioned shoot out. 

Liverpool

As for our opposition, they had their usual strong first half at home to Norwich in week 1 which was enough for victory, and then struggled a little against Southampton which is understandable given they had 120 minutes of midweek Super Cup action. I don’t think Liverpool have actually started the season very well and will be alarmed at the amount of chances they have given up to lower quality opposition.

Chelsea ran them ragged at times in the Super Cup and even Norwich and Southampton managed to break through their back line. Everyone was keen to hype up their defence last season but I see the right hand side as a real weakness. TAA is a fantastic attacking full back but he gives away opportunities at the other end, and they haven’t quite decided who should play next to him with Gomez and Matip sharing responsibilities but neither being anywhere near the level of Van Dijk.

Possible line-ups ….

Key Areas

Liverpool usually start fast and can blow sides away in the first 25 minutes, so we need to take the sting out of the crowd by keeping the ball well and making sure we are able to get up the field when in possession. I think Ceballos will be key here as he is capable of holding possession in tight areas and he can draw fouls with his quick feet.

Pepe should start as his dribbling ability could be vital in launching counter attacks and getting through their press. If we can establish a foothold in the game then Aubameyang down that left hand side could be our match winner as TAA is prone to being caught up the field and can be exposed.

Our passing out of the back from goal kicks still looks like a work in progress, and if we surrender possession as much as we did against Burnley then we could end up shooting ourselves in the foot. A few raking passes from Luiz would be a godsend and could be a way for us to get through their press if he can be accurate.

Set pieces will be important at both ends. Van Dijk and Matip are very good in the air and will need to be marshalled properly as Liverpools delivery is usually spot on. At the other end, Ceballos’ delivery actually made us look dangerous from corners against Burnley and with Adrian flapping around in goal it could be a way for us to get a cheap goal.

Positives

With Spurs up next, this is a real testing period for Arsenal and will show us where we are in terms of finishing top 4. There is a lot of excitement around the club at the moment and I’d hate to see that fade if results don’t go our way in these next 2 matches. We need to remember that Spurs and Liverpool are years ahead of us in terms of their recent projects and that we are still in the very early stages of a rebuild with a lot of our new signings not even starting a game yet.

These are exciting times at the Emirates and whilst the next couple of results will be important, they will not define our season or our future and we should not let a poor result diminish the positive feeling around the club. Let’s keep it upbeat and get behind this young, talented squad.

fatgingergooner


First Home Game of the Season … Arsenal vs Burnley

August 17, 2019

Emery had some very complimentary words for Dyche and his Burnley team. He commented that they were among the best teams in the league when it came to long balls, physicality and fighting for the second balls. Emery knows their game plan and he knows their top players.

Will he adapt our team to be able to cope with their game plan or will he try to impose our pace and trickery to them especially since we re playing at home.?

I expect a bit of both so here is my expected line up with Luiz being handed his first start and us to play in a 352:

This team has pace and physicality. Only question mark would be on Guendouzi as he could well give way to LT or eventually Mkhy.

I say it will be a tough battle but we will come out victorious. 2-1 with Auba and Chambers to score while we concede a goal on a corner courtesy of Tarkowski.

Don’t forget that Burnley won 3-0 in their opening game with Barnes scoring two and their left back providing assists as well. We know the danger but let s keep our good record vs Burnley and put in a strong display. CYYG!

RC78


Double Pants Dilemma: Newcastle v Arsenal Match Report and Player Ratings

August 11, 2019

The first game of a new season prompts a strange mix of emotions: excitement, anticipation, hope, nervousness. Perhaps fear.

I imagine it’s the way a bride must feel on the morning of her wedding when everything has been planned just the way she wants it but she has a nagging suspicion that she might be marrying the wrong man.

Well, let’s hope Arsenal’s 2019/20 season is a ‘happily ever after’ story and we don’t end up feeling betrayed, abandoned and embittered with only chocolate and cats to console us.

The auguries were not good for yesterday’s season opener against a Newcastle United team led by new coach Mrs Doubtfire.

There were two reasons for concern: firstly, our opening day form has been pants in recent years. And secondly, for the first time in years our opening match was away from home and, as we all know, our away form has also been pants.

So we had a double pants dilemma, like an anxious incontinence sufferer.

First, our opening day form: in the previous four years, starting with last year, we have managed the following: home defeat to Manchester City; scrappy and somewhat lucky home win against Leicester City; home defeat to Liverpool; home defeat to West Ham.

Next, our overall away form: last season and the one before we contrived to lose exactly half of our away games in the Premier League (19 out of 38) and managed to win only 11 out of 38 – a win rate of just 29%.

Yet, with all that in mind, it was impossible not to feel a bit chipper going into the game.

Most of us would probably agree we had a good transfer window and this has helped the mood music around the club to be more upbeat. There’s a cautious feeling that we have started to plant the seeds of recovery after some frustrating years.

There appears to be a bit more of a clear direction at the club and it’s hard not to be excited about new signings like Ceballos, Pepe and Martinelli, and the continuing progress of home-grown talents like Willock and Nelson.

Unai Emery went with a starting line-up that will probably bear little resemblance to our eventual first choice eleven this season (once the broken ones have returned and the new ones have settled). He put his faith in some of the youngsters. Willock, Nelson and Guendouzi started, as did Maitland-Niles and Chambers (does Calum Chambers still count as a youngster?).

Lacazette, rightly, was not risked due to recent injury issues, but was on the bench in case we needed to chase a goal late on. That meant the irrepressible Aubameyang would be carrying most of our attacking hopes.

The first half was a fairly even affair. The Barcodes had a 10 minute spell when they created some half chances, including a shot from noted Nosferatu impersonator Jonjo Shelvey that hit the post (although Leno may just have had it covered).

From our side, we were finding it difficult to break down a well-organised Newcastle defence and whenever it looked like we might find a way through a wayward pass or piece of control would bring an end to things.

But there were promising signs in the way we knocked the ball around at times and it was particularly pleasing to see Willock and Nelson so involved and showing a lot of confidence. Guendouzi, meanwhile, was my stand-out player of the first period. He’s strong, competitive, always makes himself available and is ever keen to get on the front foot: he may look like the dopey sidekick from a 1990s teen movie, but this kid has future leading man written all over him.

In the second half we were the superior team overall, without creating clear cut chances until the breakthrough came courtesy of two men for whom two initials are just not enough: AMN and PEA.

Maitland-Niles showed brilliant anticipation as Newcastle played the ball out from the back. He beat the Newcastle player to the ball around the half way line, took a couple of touches and looked up to see Auba moving into space in the penalty area. Maitland-Niles’s 35-yard* pass to our Gabonese gazelle was beautifully executed. Aubameyang brought it under control and coolly side-footed it past the on-rushing ‘keeper.

Mrs Doubtfire will be fuming at the space given to our striker in the box, but that should not detract from the fact that he found the space or the sublime way in which he finished.

As Auba ran to celebrate with his Number One Best Bro (Lacazette) on the touchline I liked that he turned to beckon Maitland-Niles to join the party.

After that Newcastle huffed and puffed but caused few real scares.

It’s tempting to say that Aubameyang’s quality was the difference, but in truth we displayed superiority in most areas for the majority of the game.

We also got to have a look at Ceballos, Pepe and Martinelli as they came on for Willock, Nelson and Mkhitaryan. There were a couple of nice moments from Pepe in particular, but the main thing was they got their debuts under their belts and they can feel they contributed to a win and a clean sheet.

I think a special word is also merited for our new away kit – and that word is “Yes!” Well done Adidas.

*For younger readers who don’t understand imperial measurements, 35 yards is equivalent to 28 Ells, or 70 Cubits.

Player Ratings

Leno: dealt with everything that came his way. In particular I enjoyed the moment in the second half where he came out of his area to head the ball clear and snuff out a dangerous Newcastle attack. 7.5

Maitland-Niles: excellent overall game from the young fullback and his anticipation and skill directly led to our winning goal. 8

Monreal: solid and unspectacular from Nacho, but he did little wrong. 7

Sokratis: it’s hard to get excited about our Greek colossus, but he is a very dependable defender and had a good game. 7

Chambers: a year on loan playing in midfield has been good for Chambers. I fancy he could be one of the surprise success stories of the season. Like his central defence partner he was solid. 7

Xhaka: seemed more subdued than usual but was tidy and played some very nice attacking passes at times. 6.5

Guendouzi: all energy all the time. I love the way he turns his body as he receives the ball so he is always ready to surge towards the opposition end. 8

Nelson: confident and tidy. It’s very encouraging to have players like him and Willock coming through, not least for the way it can inspire other up-and-coming talents at the club. 7

Willock: this lad’s a class act. 7.5

Mkhitaryan: I know he’s not a fan favourite but I thought he was lively in the first half and helped create some of our better chances. His final ball let him down a couple of times and he faded in the second half. 6

Aubameyang: exuberant, talented and full of energy – what a great player to have wearing the Arsenal shirt. MoTM 8.5.

Subs:

Ceballos: misplaced a few passes as he tried to find his feet, but grew into the game.

Pepe: showed one or two very nice moments of skill. Looking forward to seeing more of him.

Martinelli: a Brazilian forward at the Arsenal? What’s not to like?

RockyLives


Message to Mr Kroenke, “horses for courses Stan”

July 23, 2019

This is a thought that I will bring to the table regarding the analysis of Stan Kroenke’s ownership of his other sporting franchises in the States compared to The Arsenal.

The question is, can they be considered the same animal? I am no expert on state-side sports but I would imagine that they are far less of an all encompassing global attraction, and are more marketable purely in the region in which the club is located, given such large populations in any given region in the States.

Arsenal has a fan base that stretches across the globe and a history that is probably longer and richer than anything else he has. Sporting institutions like the Rams and Nuggets surely can’t and shouldn’t be compared with Arsenal in the way they should be run, and the Rapids as a football team aren’t even in the same ball park (excuse the baseball pun). Different sports, different institutions with completely different landscapes with regard to finances, marketability, and what success or lack thereof means to the bigger picture and health of the club.

It seems that many feel that Kroenke will sing the same tune with Arsenal that he has with all his other franchises, but this sport and this club are different and should accordingly be run in a different way.

I am not saying that we are more special, but we are different, and the consequences of towing the same line, that he has with his other franchises, with a top globally supported football club like ours, could be far more damaging long term than what it would be with his State-side franchises.

It is up to our fan base to let him know that this is unacceptable. He deserves a bit of time to show he can do something different, especially following Josh Kroenkes poetic words and impassioned pleas to the fans (unfortunately likely pure BS though). I am not hopeful about Kroenke though and feel that this next period of fan patience with him is potentially purely paying lip service to a period of time before the inevitable fall out.

As I always say, “I would love to be proven wrong”.

Gooner B