The Case for the Defence – New Manager Conundrum

May 17, 2018

So, the dust has settled on the 2017/8 season and all final league positions have been decided. What pointers will it have given our new boss as to how the team needs to be reinforced?

Let’s take a look at the teams at the top of table.

Man City

Well Pep has forged an exciting new team by lashing out close to half a billion on top of an already decent squad. 106 goals and 27 against. Hmmm, maybe we ought to look elsewhere for clues.

Man U

Mourinho bored the pants off everyone yet again, his team scoring six goals less than us but almost emulating City’s meanness in defence. No thanks.

Totts

Surprisingly with the best England striker in decades and a vibrant young attack, they managed to score precisely no goals more than us. Their 15 goals better goal difference came from another source!

Pool

Fun to watch during the season with a rampaging front three operating along similar lines to City. Second only to City in goals scored and with goals conceded similar to the spuds and chavs.

Chelsea

8 goals less than AFC but 7 points more. Last season’s runaway winners were not in evidence at all. It is so hard to win back to back titles, though. (Will City sustain their dominance next time around?)

AFC

74 goals for, 51 against (12 more than 7th placed Burnley, though they only scored an appalling 36 goals).

One conclusion might be that the new chap in the hot seat needs to spend any moolah available to him on bolstering our porous defence.

Or is it more a case of better game management all round?

With a front 4 of Auba, Mkhi, Laca and Mesut, recruits up top seem less of a consideration unless a top line left sided forward becomes available, maybe. (I’ve no idea if this is true but always see it written everywhere!)

A new defence or defensive plan is much needed – that does appear a logical conclusion. Or is that just too simplistic an analysis for the tactical geniuses out there. 🙂

What do you think?

chas

 

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So Long and Thanks for all the Fish – Huddersfield Ratings

May 14, 2018

So after over 1200 games in charge, we finally reached the point where M. Arsene Wenger would be Arsenal FC boss for the last time. A goalfest in the sun would be perfect but some sneaky first away points of the year, acceptable.

First Half

Huddersfield pressed like terriers in the first twenty minutes without really creating a chance, except from dead balls. One particular goalmouth scramble saw David Ospina make his first close range block.

Two planes flew banners over the beautiful arches of the Huddersfield stadium and the 22nd minute of appreciative applause was well observed.

The Beast wasn’t sharp enough to poke home a near post flick-on from a corner before the first quality piece of football in the match produced Aubameyang’s mini record-breaking goal. Laca and Mkhi exchanged passes before setting Rambo free on the left. His outside of the boot driven cross was superbly anticipated by Auba sliding in on his derriere at the far post.

Second Half

The second half saw even more huffing and puffing from Huddersfield but little quality. Twice as many ‘attempts’ on goal than us but with one fewer on target tells its own story.

Two glorious one on ones for the boys in charcoal grey and pink were both squandered by Laca and Welbz respectively. Laca chose to lob a keeper who carried on standing up and Danny really needed to stop and change the angle rather than continue on his weaker left.

Huddersfield had two last attempts at spoiling the Wenger party, one shot flicking off the top of the crossbar and Ospina keeping out a last gasp header at the second attempt.

Ratings

Ospina – Probably did more than anyone else to ensure Arsene left with a victory … 7

Bellerin – Looked great in the Yorkshire sunshine  … 6

Mustafi – Some decent challenges and blocks … 7

Holding – Will be interesting to see if the next manager can bring more out of Rob … 6

Kolasinac – Rampaging Berserker … 7

Ramsey – Flitted in and out like a delicate butterfly  … 6

Xhaka – Great end of season, looking forward to him doing it all year  … 7

Iwobi – Scampered around trying to find a crack … 7

Mkhitaryan – on the beach already  … 6

Aubameyang – Became the fastest Arsenal player to reach 10 Prem goals, ultimately the match winner   … 7

Lacazette – Will a new manager have Alexandre down the middle with PEA on the left? – hmmm … 7

Subs

Monreal – presumably came on to bolster the defence? … 6

Welbeck – created his one on one with a fine challenge but couldn’t find the coup de grace – 6

Maitland-Niles – came on, passed and tackled well … 6

Summary

So Arsene got the send off he deserves with the team finally winning three points away from home at last.

Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending demolition of Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind to the danger. But most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs, or whistle for titbits, so they eventually gave up and left the Earth by their own means – shortly before the Vogons arrived. The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double backwards somersault through a hoop, whilst whistling the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’. But, in fact, the message was this “So long and thanks for all the fish”.

chas


Who should be the new Club Captain and Allegri, the new Boss?

May 11, 2018

Arsenal FC’s new Club Captain?

So the BFG is moving even further away from the playing side at the Club leaving a situations vacant for Club Captain.

Does anyone leap out at you as his obvious replacement?

Does the position mean much anymore?

Do we need a leader on the pitch?

 

Massimiliano Allegri – the next Arsenal manager?

Allegri featured for a variety of Italian clubs during his playing career as a creative, inventive midfielder. Promotion and a couple of decent seasons in Serie A with Pescara perhaps the highlight.

The lowlight of Allegri’s time as a pro footballer was a one year ban in 2001 for match-fixing.

Allegri’s managerial career is a different kettle of fish entirely. Having served his apprenticeship in the lower leagues, he first hit the top flight with Cagliari in 2008. The Sardinians finished a creditable 9th, not far from UEFA League qualification and played with such flair with extremely limited resorces that Allegri was awarded the Panchina D’Oro (golden bench), the Italian version of Manager of the season, ahead of Serie A winning coach Mourinho (I’m liking this chap already).

Milan liked the look of this nuovo arrivato, signed him up in 2010 and he led them to the Serie A title in his first season. When switching to Juve in 2014, he again won the top flight title in his first season, though it was to be the Old Lady’s 4th title on the bounce (the previous three while managed by Antonio Conte).

The following seasons at Juventus were littered with Serie A titles and Coppa Italia victories plus two Champions League Finals (losing to Barca and Real).

He seems a fine choice as Arsene’s successor, being strong on tactics but liking fluid formations and attacking pressing football. His daughter is quite attractive too.

chas


The Leicester Game….some match feelings

May 10, 2018

Well, if our own intrepid specialist author of the “in-depth” post, Mr GoonerB Esq, was confused after watching The Arsenal play majestic football against The Burnley, he will be aghast at the away performance of last night.

This was a match with no meaning, and the ten men of Arsenal put in a staggering display of effort, and commitment. Remember, this was away AND meaningless. Unreal. Had Arsenal managed to combine the performance of Sunday with that effort, over the course of the season well, who knows.

One thing for sure, I’d imagine the new manager will lick his lips at the prospect as he is inheriting a very talented squad who can really give it the beans. Yip, I know, the defence, but aren’t we just two or three worlds short, GB? I think we are.

My overall feelings? Yes, I still reckon Iwobi has what it takes, and Maitland Niles remains a truly outstanding prospect, and I believe that even using the word prospect is exceedingly harsh. Of course, the question of his his most effective role remains unresolved, but after last night, I’m a whole lot less concerned about an injury to Bell.

Lastly, it was a crying shame our young Greek got himself sent off, as I’m pretty sure we would have won otherwise, nonetheless, losing meaningless games does not hurt. It was after all a pulsating end-to-end encounter leaving me feeling very optimistic.

Written by MickyDidIt89


This Glorious Arsenal– Burnley Ratings

May 7, 2018

BR’s pre-match predicted the day’s path with Burnley facing both a glorious tsunami of emotion and wave upon wave of breathtaking Arsenal attacks. Could the joint third meanest defence in the league stand up to the onslaught? Would the finger in the Dyche prove capable of holding back the torrent? The wonderful sunshine at the Emirates was the perfect backdrop to the guard of honour, a farewell befitting the great man.

First Half

Early on Alex Iwobi jinked his way through like a slalom skier and we knew we were in for a treat. Auba’s first goal looked similar to umpteen goals he scored for Dortmund. Someone who anticipates a driven cross has been something we’ve lacked for ages – we don’t anymore. The assist from Lacazette was superb.

The ball fizzed down Burnley’s left flank time and again, Micki firing over before a Bellerin cut-back was smartly dispatched by Laca’s left foot volley.

Second Half

At the start of the second period, Vokes tamely headed the ball straight at Cech – this was the only Burnley chance I can remember; though copious pre-match libation may have something to do with that.

A spanking left foot piledriver from The Beast after superb work from Jack, got the second half properly underway. Fred’s favourite, Iwobi, soon followed up with the 4th goal from an Auba cross. The rout was complete with my favourite finish of the day, Auba diverting Hector’s cross past the keeper with a delicious outside of the foot touch.

As BR said yesterday, the 90 minutes in between honouring Arsenal’s greatest ever manager were always destined to be a sideshow, but what a glorious sideshow it was, wholly befitting a man who helped to transform and revolutionise both Arsenal’s football and football in England in general.

A pre-booked train meant that we could not stay for the after match festivities. I’ll have the chance to savour AW’s final Emirates moments later on today.

Thanks for being such a massive part of my life for so many years, Arsene.

Merci beaucoup.

Ratings

Cech – Almost a spectator he saw so little of the ball … 8

Bellerin – Loved the sunshine and provided two fine assists  … 9

Mavropanos – Another fine game, looks a big old unit with skill, class and composure … 8

Chambers – Looks to have found the quality that Arsenal shelled out for in the first place … 8

Kolasinac – Spanking goal, looked comfortable … 8

Wilshere – A vast improvement on recent form  … 9

Xhaka – In a game like this Granit looks perfectly at home to orchestrate the midfield  … 8

Iwobi – Revelled in the sunshine, corking goal too … 8

Mkhitaryan – great skill, passing and passion to drive forward, part of a new attacking golden triangle  … 9

Aubameyang – Two excellent goals, great wing play  … 9

Lacazette – Left footed peach and right footed assist, next season should be good … 9

Subs

Ramsey/Welbeck – both enjoyed their late arrival to the party – 8

Mertesacker – even in his short time at the club he’s proved to be a true Arsenal man and got the send off as a player he deserves – 9

Big Weng – Thanks man – 10

Summary

Just the most perfect day up The Arsenal.

chas

 


On the Bubble – Man U Ratings

April 30, 2018

Heading up the M6 to the Old Cowshed in the middle of a Europa Semi was always destined to be one of the least tasty sandwich fillings. Adding some match fitness to Mkhitaryan’s comeback and giving the youngsters a run out while hoping the scoreline didn’t do them any lasting damage, seemed to be the main aims. Fairly lowly expectations for a trip to our old adversary they were. The presentation to Arsene before the game was all very lovely but giving credit to their fans for applauding a man they’d abused quite hideously for so many years seemed a bit rich for my liking.

Two of football’s greats alongside a pimple on the backside of the game

First Half

The game began in fast and furious fashion with both sides closing down quickly and buzzing toward either goal without there being too many clear cut chances.

The Manc goal came after a quarter of an hour and we all thought it might herald the opening of the flood gates. When Hector was waiting for the cross to come in, he glanced behind to see Sanchez in acres of space behind him, but, inexplicably, did nothing to close the gap. By the time the ball was delivered to the back post, his only option was to attempt the block Sanchez’ goalbound header. He did manage to touch it on to the post but the rebound favoured Pogba.

Was Nelson fouled in the build up to the goal? One thing was certain, the ref wasn’t going to be giving us much of anything during yesterday’s game.

Micki nearly brought us back level 5 minutes later but failed to bend the ball around De Gea into the far post corner. A couple of headers from Aubameyang and Nelson were our other reasonable chances in the first period, the first powder-puff and the second wide of the target. 1-0 at half-time which was as good as most expected; with our defence largely untroubled with Mavropanos looking confident and assured.

Photo REUTERS/Phil Noble – Alex prays that Ashley Young will see some justice

Second half

The second period got off to a fine start with Henrikh squeezing a shot into the corner of the net through the defender’s legs, fooling De Gea. The assist came from Granit winning the ball back high up in the manc half – wonders will never cease!

Some of the Arsenal football was very encouraging with swift interplay, the youngsters enjoying their moment in the limelight.

Lukaku went off and was replaced by the ineffectual Rashford. Martial and Fellaini came on for the excrescent Herrera and lively Lingard. So, Maureen’s plan B was to put their most skillfull forward on to have a crack at our right flank and if that failed, hoof it up to microphone head. When Rashford was waiting to come on to the pitch, he was shown a book of photos, presumably detailing team layouts. I wonder what Fellaini was shown?

Danny came on with fire in his belly and had a fine driven effort after winning the ball back, but it was straight at the keeper.

The final stages of the game saw us unable to hold on to the ball, so it seemed like a non-stop procession of balls humped into our penalty area. Could we hold on for a deserved point, all things considered. No, was the answer as a Young cross skimmed Xhaka’s head and skidded off the afro beyond Ospina’s left arm. The keeper just touched the ball but the combination of short arms and the proximity of the post meant that he couldn’t keep the ball out. Fellaini celebrated as if he’d won the Cup which was a depressing end to what turned out to be a rarity for the Gunners this season, a fine away performance.

All in all, it was a case of job done as Micki seems fit, the kids did not get hammered by any stretch of the imagination, our new Greek colossus had a fine debut and youngsters Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Willock and Calum Chambers all played well.

Ratings

Ospina – Didn’t have to produce too many saves – I wish his arms had been longer for the second … 6

Bellerin – Thank heaven he didn’t get injured for Thursday as we have no obvious back up – no idea what his thought process was for the first goal  … 7

Chambers – Seemed to respond to being the senior partner of the CB pairing and played very well   … 7

Mavropanos – Had Lukaku in his pocket, not afraid to inflict a little bruising; in a most cultured Arsenal way, of course – excellent debut … 8

Kolasinac (Monreal) – The Beast seems to always pass the ball back from whence it came with his arm raised that it needs to go over the other side of the pitch – Nacho came on and perked up the left flank for the last half an hour  … 6/7

Maitland-Niles – Still not sure what Ainsley’s best position is, but he looked classy in Arsenal’s midfield yesterday … 8

Xhaka – Got a bit of a clumping but one of his strengths seems to be his durability – great turnover and assist for the equaliser  … 7

Iwobi – Scampered around probing for an opening and looked more comfortable than recently – perhaps being surrounded by other youngsters helped  … 7

Nelson – Still looks a bit lightweight and was sometimes bullied off the ball too easily – a summer in the gym will do him some good; muscle and his undoubted ability could be a potent combination  … 7

Mkhitaryan – Looked dangerous and accomplished, though Ashley Young attempted to ruin his recovery by kicking him at every opportunity (why wasn’t Young booked for persistent fouling at the very least?)  … 8

Aubameyang – I get the impression that Pierre is in a period of stasis at present – he’s playing in meaningless league fixtures but not in the games which matter – doesn’t look as though he’ll get us a goal out of nothing for the time being, but I’d imagine he’ll explode as an Arsenal player from the start of next season  … 7

Subs

Willock and Welbeck both contributed but sadly not enough to help us avoid defeat 6/6

This game was an annoying mosquito buzzing around the Club’s ears with Thursday looming on the horizon. However the team produced a very good performance, so much so that, when we finally conceded to the mancs’ route one tactics so late on, it was bitterly disappointing for at least a few seconds after the final whistle.

Hey ho, on to the big one.

chas


Are We Witnessing The End Of An Era?

April 28, 2018

Written in April 2014 by Rocky, this post illustrates how long we’ve been debating the end of the Wenger epoch and what it might bring. That time is nearly upon us. Exciting or frightening?

There is an old Chinese curse that goes: “May you live in interesting times.”

It is aimed at impatient people; people who are bored; people who want change for the sake of change.

The implication is that although you may hate the status quo, you would be wise to beware of what comes after.

When the third goal went in up at Everton I had a strong feeling that we may be witnessing the end of era.

And not just any era. When the end of the Arsene Wenger era comes it will be the footballing equivalent of the Fall of Rome.

Compared with M. Wenger’s tenure, the reigns of other football managers are mere hillocks in the landscape of history. Wenger’s reign is a mountain – an elegant, ice-capped peak whose stature is rivalled only by the craggy, fractured slopes of Mount Fergie – a once-thunderous volcano now sitting sullenly dormant.

Why did I wonder if we were watching the end of this era?

Because it seemed unfair to ask him to take much more of this punishment: to watch his team (and by extension himself) humiliated again; to know the vitriol and hatred that would inevitably follow; to turn up to work the next day and have to start all over again.

If we fail to beat Wigan this weekend I now feel he will call it quits at the end of the season.

If we get to the Cup Final and lose, ditto.

If we win the Cup and finish fifth… again, ditto.

If we win the Cup and finish fourth… well, that’s a tougher one but I still suspect he will call it a day. He will see out his contract as he famously always does. And then he will bid us all farewell.

Few of us would blame him. Few of us could take the incessant criticism and abuse without it seriously affecting our mental health and our sense of our own worth. The fact that he has stuck it out this long is a testimony to his fortitude and intelligence.

But when he is driven out of the club to which he has contributed so much, we will be entering “interesting times.”

There is a lazy assumption that we will snap up some hotshot young manager who will immediately achieve the success that has eluded M. Wenger. Not so long ago the people who advocated this approach were all for us bringing in Michael Laudrup or Paul Lambert. Or even Andre Villas Boas, heaven help us.

Well, if Arsene Wenger quits we should prepare for a rocky road.

Yes, we could do an Everton. We could find a younger manager who lifts us to another level, but there is a greater likelihood of us doing a Manchester United.

And it will not take too long before people start looking back on the Wenger Era with nostalgia and affection.

This is not a Post about whether or not he should go. For the record I think he should stay because I believe that with a proper transfer budget this summer building on the excellent squad we currently have he can again fashion a team of champions.

If we flattered to deceive at times this season with our table-topping run, the heavy away defeats to big teams are equally an unfair reflection of our capabilities.

However I can understand those who feel his time is up, that the failings have become chronic and beyond his ability to fix. I am happy to accept that he is far from perfect: that he should have bought another striker in January; that he should have got to the bottom of our injury issues by now and much more.

Many decent and respectful Gunners have now reluctantly come to the conclusion that he should go. They tend to be drowned out by the clamour of the ignorant and the abusive who express similar sentiments in unacceptable ways.

And we are fast approaching the time, I fear, when these people will get their way.

I am not looking forward to it.

However, for now I will make a particular point of appreciating our manager whatever the results, whatever we achieve or fail to achieve in the remainder of the season.

These may be his last days and I will give them the respect they and he are due. It’s more important than winning and losing.

After one of our recent heavy defeats a better man than me had this to say:

Football is only truly a business to those who A, rely on it for their salary or B, own shares in it. For the rest of us it is either a passion, a way of life or in many cases a family tradition.

“For me it has been a distraction and motivation through life that has taken my mind off business and filled the boring hours on uncountable motorways and airports and created opportunities to meet and make friends on many a terrace and in many places when I would have been lonely without it.

“Funny game football, which is why I find it amusing that so many of us who have no first hand experience of the business called AFC feel qualified to pass judgement on the course and direction of an entity for which we have no first hand knowledge. Even the mighty guardians entrenched in the fourth estate pontificate their perceived wisdom based on at best second hand information or at worst self published claptrap. As for living in the past – knowledge is gained through experience and what we see today is often relevant to the history of which we are all part.”

But then dandan always did have a way of finding the right words to encourage the better angels of our nature.

RockyLives