Suddenly the FA Cup is Worth Winning?

March 19, 2018


So, Arsenal FC win the FA Cup in 2014 and finish 4th in the League.

Arsenal fans …………. No-one’s happy as we didn’t beat anyone decent on the way to Wembley – only the spuds, Liverpool and Everton – yeah, but they were all at home. Fourth placed trophy again – we should be finishing above City, Liverpool and Chelsea.


Then we win it the following year, crushing Villa and also come 3rd in the Prem.

Arsenal fans …………. Not good enough – still didn’t beat anyone any good on the way to the Final – only Man Utd at the Old Cowshed and a few other sh*te teams. Fancy comin 3rd to the chavs and blue mancs, why do we always finish behind them?


No cup but a 2nd place finish, ♫ It’s happened again ♬

Arsenal fans …………. We only finished second thanks to the spuds spursing it up by coming 3rd in a two-horse race. We should have won the league and only came second because the spuds are bigger bottlers than us.


Arsenal finish outside the top 4 for the first time in 20 years but manage to win the FA Cup for the third time in 4 years beating Abu Dhabi FC and the Fulham Oilers in the Final.

Arsenal fans …………. Tinpot trophy again – why can’t we win the League or the CL? Sack the board, sack the manager and get rid of most of the players. Spurs finishing above Arsenal for the first time in 22 seasons – that’s the final straw.


This season Spurs, Man U and Chelsea all went out in the CL Round of 16 and all three are clinging on to the hope of an FA Cup win to save their season. At least two of them will finish potless this season (hopefully all three, cmon Soton! 🙂 ). Then again, probably 2 of them will have a 4th place trophy as well for consolation.

Arsenal fans………..Wish we were still in the FA Cup and had a shot at the CL, other than via the Europa.

Do we need some perspective?






Does Money Buy you the Premiership Title?

March 17, 2018

This was a reply to a GoonerB question which needed a wider audience

Everyone saw the recent Watford game in which we won 3-0. Was anyone really surprised? No. Why? Because Arsenal have a better team. Why do Arsenal have a better team? Because Arsenal have more money to buy better players. This is not rocket science. So I think it is fair to say that if Arsenal played Watford 100 times, Arsenal would win 95 of them.

It then naturally follows that if there were a league of just those two teams that Arsenal would win most of the time. However as the odds suggest Arsenal could have an off day as we did when Watford dumped us out of the FA cup. This is the equivalent of Leicester winning the league, they are the exception that proves the rule that the clubs with greater spending power are more likely to win the league.

Things should be clear now using the Arsenal – Watford example, where it gets complicated is when loyalty gets in the way because that can be the only excuse for not seeing that exactly the same applies to Arsenal and Man City. If they they played us for 100 consecutive games they are more likely than not to win 95 of them for the same reasons I give above.

Winning is quite simply all about money, it is not a case of Stan Kroenke loosening the purse strings; he is not competing against another rich man he is competing against an oil rich country. It cannot be won and should not be expected to be won.

So what does this mean? It means that yes we can still win the league but the odds are against us. What I want is a manager who understands this and accepts the challenge in order to increase the small chance of winning the league to the maximum that it can be. And who do I think is best placed to achieve this? Arsene Wenger and that is why I remain loyal.

That obviously needs explanation but I don’t want to turn this into a book.

Taken from a comment written by LB

Ossobuco alla Milanese or Soggy Pasta? – AC Milan Preview

March 15, 2018

Let’s take a look at our history against AC Milan in the Champions League (sorry, Europe) to date.

Peculiar that games have always finished to nil

In 2008 after a tight home leg finished goalless, Cesc in his pomp led Arsenal to a resounding 2-0 victory in the San Siro; the first English team to win there.

2012 was a different story altogether.  Battered 4-0 away from home, the return leg at the Emirates looked a formality for Milan.

This was from BR’s pre-match on 6th March 2012.

“I expect the atmosphere to be great tonight, few will expect us to go through, and the fans will get the opportunity to see some superb players in the Milan side. The mood from the blogs indicates we are favourites to win but not by much. I tend to go along with this view. Arsenal are a damned good team, capable of beating anyone when on-form (including Barca and RM),

Mr Wenger has stated that he will play a full team which is exciting. We do not play again until Monday evening, so the players can go flat out from the first whistle.”

As it turned out, the players did go flat out from the start, went 3-0 up by half time with goals from Kos, Tomas Rosicky plus BSR and so very nearly pulled off a glorious comeback.

This season the situation is reversed almost 180 degrees. Two goals to the good in the San Siro, on the back of a surprisingly excellent performance, leaves the second leg at home, with Milan in the position of having little to lose and Arsenal everything. As Micky said the other day, ‘Milan get one first half and it’s clenched buttocks time’.

There is no way the players will be complacent after the sequence of results they (and we) have endured since the turn of the year. Exercising extreme control over any jitters and showing mental fortitude will be among the attributes required to see the job done.

Having said that, Milan were fairly average in the first leg and whether that was because they got stage fright or because they are not as good as their current run suggests, we shall find out this evening.

Team news

It would appear that everyone is available though there are still rumours about tests for Shkod and Mesut. Even Alexander Lacazette has resumed full training and could be available after the impending international break. Maybe Elneny might get a game after his fine performance against Watford, then again, maybe Jack was being rested on Sunday precisely because he will play tonight.


So, lads, all you have to do is play as you did last Thursday, closing down, always attempting to give the man on the ball options with some excellent off-the-ball movement, defend using the Roman ‘testudo’ formation and take a couple of chances. Cheers.

Testudo or ‘tortoise’ formation

We are comfortably odds on favourites to get through to the quarters with the best odds available on Milan qualifying about 6 to 1 against.

I, for one, am praying the bookies are right.






Why has it been so easy to say Goodbye to Sanchez?

March 14, 2018

Usually when one of our ‘star’ players leaves, it is painful to see them in another team’s strip. I’ve felt none of that angst when watching Sanchez play for the red mancs. Why?

Is it because he’s only scored one goal since moving?

Could it be that we knew he wanted to go to City and collect a Prem winners medal but had to accept the far less appealing move to a lesser team but for more money?

Or because he seems to have upset the balance of United’s side while stopping Martial and Rashford from playing in their best positions?

Maybe his need to constantly be the centre of attention by dropping into midfield and coming deep has ended up disrupting the mancs’ midfield?

Seeing the exasperated look on Maureen’s face is bound to soften the blow of the Chilean’s departure from North London.

The dog banner at the Emirates was all well and good in the Club’s attempts to make him feel wanted, but now that he’s gone, his canine obsession made so public seems a bit noncey.

Looking at it from the other angle, how has his move benefitted Arsenal FC?

Well, getting Micki in exchange seems a huge positive, as the boy looks an Arsenal player and his signing, I believe,  was also a key ingredient in the introduction of the next positive – Aubameyang.

Auba has been finding his feet since late January and the ridiculous Uefa ruling on his participation in the Europa Cup hasn’t helped. However three goals and the positive effect of being reunited with Mkhitaryan are plain to see. Next season could be good.

Reports of the dislike for Sanchez in the dressing room means that his leaving may have lifted the mood of the Arsenal players (though some of our recent results appear to belie that notion).  One thing’s for certain, the disruption caused by him not signing a contract extension needed to be ended (perhaps getting rid last summer would have been perfect but not being able to sign his replacement in Lemar from Monaco was a factor).

Maybe, it being relatively easy seeing Sanchez in a Chevrolet shirt, is down to the simple fact that we no longer invest emotionally in players because we know they are mercenaries, simply selling their services to the highest bidder?

What do you think? Maybe you’re still suffering the loss of your favourite player?



Football, Sexism or Naked Politics

March 13, 2018

Written by dandan on January 29th 2011, this post is still bang up to date with its topics of the changing face of football, getting sacked by Sky and media hypocrisy. Super stuff.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I am a long time Arsenal supporter, having first stood on the Highbury terraces  over 50 years ago, a time when seats were basically for the well to do and, as they would have it in those far off days, the bosses.

The workingman stood on the terraces; this was his place, and his fiefdom. Here he exorcised the frustrations of having to kowtow to those same bosses all week. Probably also working Saturday morning, before clocking out on the stroke of midday and rushing off to the North bank at Highbury, the Kop at Anfield or any of hundreds of other league and non league grounds scattered around the country for the statutory 3 O’clock kick off.

There to shout, swear, curse, cheer, sing and bond with mates who stood shoulder to shoulder with him at the same place on the terraces every week, watching their heroes, who had quite likely travelled to the game on the same bus or tube as the fan himself, before running out to perform on the hallowed turf which, if the truth were told, was the ultimate dream of the vast majority of fans massed in swaying ranks above them.

Dads took sons, who as the grounds filled and took on a swaying surging dangerous life of their own were lifted and passed hand to hand overhead by the adults and placed in a prime position close to the pitch.

What, you might well ask, has all this to do with today’s sanitised game?

Well for a start, women were generally conspicuous by their absence from these gatherings.  Yet, it is from this point that despite disasters, violence and hooliganism over the years, football has evolved into the all seater, health and safety obsessed, politically correct, female inclusive game that exists today. All brought about by massive investment as the game has grown and become the number one TV sport worldwide. Despite this  investment, somehow tribalism and bigotry have survived, and although women have joined the brotherhood, some brothers have not yet cottoned on.

It is this fact that has led inexorably to what will undoubtedly become known as the Keys and Gray affair, as the unsuspecting broadcasters were cast on the altar of political correctness, with the usual suspects and rent-a-gobs queuing to gleefully castrate the hapless pair.

For what, you may ask?  An unfortunate conversation deemed sexist and broadcast across a microphone left open unknown to the smug Keys and his footballing Guru by some careless engineer. A conversation in which they suggested the female referee’s assistant was unlikely to understand the intricacies of the offside law and followed by a disparaging remark concerning a newspaper article about sexism penned by Ms Brady of Birmingham and West Ham fame, these comments were made in what they believed to be a private conversation.

Of course, given the animosity between the various arms of the media, it was seized upon by a rival in the printed press who obtained a recording from a willing punter and triumphantly trumpeted its existence in large type across their pages before, in a fit of splendid self-indulgence, despatching a copy in righteous disgust to Sky TV asking for answers.

Do we believe that this mass outpouring from the purveyors of the written word, was solely driven by a genuine distaste of the boundaries they alleged had been crossed? Could it be that after years of dealing with yesterday’s news on the back pages, whilst trying to compete with the immediacy of sky they had finally been handed a scoop of sorts or at least a chance to get even? The paper concerned is, of course, famous in its own right among football fans for its accuracy and impartiality. (I wish)

Who was it then waiting in the wings, who had access to this material as well as other previously recorded salacious titbits ready to be  uploaded to Utube, thus ensuring the twenty-year reign of the unfortunate pair would be terminated. The old cliché Careful who you damage on the way up, less they get you on the way down seems relevant and points perhaps to a crew member, probably emboldened by the whistle blowing antics on-line and in print of recent times.

From Sky’s point of view a combined salary of £2.2 million will undoubtedly entice whatever pairing they consider appropriate. A revamp after twenty years is probably seen as a gift from heaven in this fast changing technical world. Whilst at the same time enabling them to come out as White knights in the cause of Political Correctness just as they did with Ron Atkinson’s demise.

Now I have no love for the long-term red top TV front men, in fact I can think of many good football based reasons to replace the gruesome twosome, not least among them the deliberate and constant striving to create controversy rather than celebrate excellence.

Their treatment of our own Eduardo is a case in point. A gifted striker who had his leg so savagely broken that he will never be the same player again. Indeed so horrific was the incident that Sky themselves decided the tackle should not be broadcast again. Notwithstanding that decision, had poor Eduardo been in any condition to listen to the end of the match discussion, he would have heard the deadly duo blithely passing it off as an accident, as the player whose flying tackle caused the damage, ”wasn’t that kind of player”. I suspect some would dispute that.

A year later on his return, Eduardo then finds himself being crucified for supposedly diving, which whether true or not on that occasion, is universally acknowledged as being rife among most premier league players. Witness Rooney’s double somersault with twist against Sol Campbell to end the Invincibles’ unbeaten run, which was again watched, replayed and then forgotten.

So perhaps the result can be perceived as a kind of poetic justice for football. But for me there is the smell of hypocrisy in the air, an unholy alliance of expediency within sky, coupled to the frenzied baying of the press hounds both in the written word and in their headlong rush for guest appearances on air. thereby swelling their bank balances at the table of opportunity and who knows, maybe convincing the powers that be, that a journalist and not an ex-player should get the pundits job

Written by dandan

Truly, Ugly, Deeney – Watford Ratings

March 12, 2018

Troy Deeney being fit to play (when I say fit, I mean breathing and able to walk as long as it’s not uphill and too fast) was the best news this game could have had. With Watford in the relative safety of mid-table obscurity and ourselves being so far off the title pace, meant that there was little to play for except a few points and some comparisons of testes size. Deeney was the vital ingredient in the latter and he didn’t disappoint.

 First Half

Shkodran scoring a carbon copy of his goal against the spuds after 8 minutes calmed any supporter fears that Watford might spawn a couple of early goals as they did at the Emirates last season. It was a perfect delivery from Mesut with which he smashed Cantona’s first to 50 assists record. How the first half finished 1-0 is anybody’s guess. There really were some great chances. 4-2 was Ant and mine’s assessment of the possible goal score.

Amongst our better chances, Auba missed a one on one right at the start of the game, The Beast battered one across the penalty area so quickly that Auba could only get a toe on it and then Mesut got into a magnificent position with a glorious first touch only to lose his composure with the keeper floundering on the deck. Pereyra missed Watford’s best chance skying over after Petr had ended up behind his goal line blocking a free kick.

Second half

The cones did not do their job at the start of the second half. The Arsenal crowd and players all looked as though they wished they could be at home (along with the many who didn’t bother attend). Watford, on the other hand, had their best spell, pressing Arsenal back towards the Clock but without giving us too many heart flutters.

Our first attack of note in the second period resulted in the BVB connection putting us two up. Micki slipped the ball through to Auba with perfect weight, stranding the keeper in no man’s land.

Then came the moments everyone had come to see. A Watford striker went over Maitland-Niles’ knee (in live time it looked to me as if our young Tory had got himself in a position to field a cricket ball rather than make a tackle) and the ref had no option but to give a pen. The pantomime villain stepped up to take the kick, only to allow Cech to make a one handed block which went away from the goal rather than back towards fatty. Cue wild celebrations – it was just like scoring a goal. Two one and things could have gone tits up quickly, but with a two goal lead we were still cruising. Great fun.

Conceding and then saving the penalty woke up both the crowd and the team. We looked comfortable from that moment onward, even with Calum having to deputise for Shkod. The third goal came with a quarter of an hour to go when Micki and Auba reversed roles allowing the Armenian to notch another Arsenal goal so quickly after his crucial effort against Milan. The Emirates crowd even produced a little volume, asking Mr Deeney if he knew what the score was. To his credit, he did seem to be smiling, the hideous gargoyle.


(Ratings are always subjective and always likely to be swayed by confirmation bias. Some like them, others don’t – perhaps it’s worth remembering that they’re there to give you something to bounce off.)

Cech – A save from a penalty against our Troy, no flapping and 200 clean sheets, lovely … 9

Maitland-Niles – a few sloppy passes didn’t detract from a quality performance, defended well with both interceptions and tackles, while looking smooth with the ball at his feet  … 7

Mustafi – Excellent early header, drove the defence and looked more like the leader he could be. Hope his groin isn’t too sore this morning  …7

Holding – All of our defenders struggle against the high press when the rest of the team do not give enough options for a pass, Rob was no exception. Made some fine tackles and blocks, and was even making better decisions about when to just get rid, TA6 style as the game progressed  … 7

Kolasinac – Improving as an Arsenal player, whether that’s partly down to the standard of opposition or down to eating less fish and chips, we’ll find out later  … 7

Elneny – Had a fine game in the centre. Chosen to start alongside Xhaka we might have thought that the midfield would look a bit static and lacking forward drive, but Mo provided plenty of thrust and no small measure of forward attacking passes, too … 8

Xhaka – Granit’s form is improving game by game, his defensive positioning is better and I still love his left foot  … 7

Ozil – No subjective rating is ever possible for Mesut, he oozes class and the number of goals and great chances he creates is testament to that  … 8

Mkhitaryan – Looking more like an Arsenal player with each game, should have had a penalty which Atkinson (Fifa referee, yeah right) chose to ignore to add to his goal and assist … 8

Iwobi – Watching Alex from the upper tier, you can see that he’s seeing great passes all the time, it’s just that, at the moment, his execution is lacking somewhat. It’ll come, keep working hard BIG17  – 6

Aubameyang – Settling in nicely, once he gets his razor-sharp finishing back up to scratch, his partnerships with Mesut and Micky could be most productive  – 7

Subs – Chambers slotted in well, Danny produced a rasper and Jack came on for no good reason.



Revenge – A Prayer for Owing Deeney – Watford Preview

March 11, 2018

And so we’re back to the League, 13 points from top 4, 8 behind 5th, Burnley only 2 behind over our shoulder, what sort of team do we put out? Thursday’s return leg against Milan has to be our overriding priority, but team confidence and momentum are important, too. I certainly wouldn’t go as far as Micky suggested on Friday and rest the whole team!

Chubster Troy Deeney has featured in much of the build-up during the week with the media absolutely loving being able to drag up his ‘lack of cojones’ comments made after our defeat in October. My overriding memory of that game was the ridiculous penalty awarded for a Richarlison dive which got Watford back in the game when they were dead and buried.

Arsenal were stunned to be on the wrong end of yet another appalling refereeing decision but that’s still no excuse for the abject capitulation which occurred from that moment onwards in the game. The execrable Deeney crashing into Cech just before the winner was scored, was also vital. Watford had two shots on target in the whole game. We owe Bellend of Troy some retribution.

Team news

Our two replacement fullbacks in Milan both left the pitch with injuries apparently (the Chambers knock is a surprise to me, though it seems he is in the squad). Maitland-Niles has to play in that case and I’d imagine we’ll also see an outing for Rob Holding. Maybe a back three might make best use of available resources.

Aubameyang will be raring to go after missing our Europa win and it will be great to see Micki and Mesut supporting him while continuing to build their own budding understanding. Maybe give Xhaka and Rambo a rest?


We have to build on that magnificent performance in Milan. I’d love to see us come out all guns blazing, closing down, shifting the ball quickly and nabbing a few sharp goals early on.

Post Mr Deeney’s photo plus quote from October up in the dressing room as a teamtalk.

Should be all that’s required, surely?