Arsenal FC Player ratings – Almost Savaged by Wolves

November 12, 2018

This was always going to be a tough fixture against a team known for being hard to break down and quick on the break. Arsenal’s attitude was going to be key, matching the intensity of David Wagner’s boys. 🙂

First Half

Unfortunately Arsenal’s attitude stunk the place out early on. Yet another slow start not helped by yet another dreadful referee who allowed the same niggly fouls all over the pitch as the norm. He even allowed a blatant bodycheck on Wobbly which was a stonewall penalty if you view the replay.

The stats for the first half were …… shots for Arsenal 3, with a big fat zero on target. Wolves had 7 attempts with 3 on target including a decent goal on the counter after a Xhaka-induced turnover. The only stat we won was fouls – Arsenal 1 Wolves 8 which adequately illustrated both teams’ commitment levels.

Second Half

Emery’s tactical change at half time to shore up the exposed left flank of Arsenal’s defence, was both timely and effective. The Wardrobe looked anything other than a competent left back in that first half but why the players on the pitch couldn’t see he wasn’t getting any support, Dennis only knows.

Guendouzi made an immediate difference and with Wolves content to protect their lead and hit us on the counter, the game took its familiar ‘second half at the Emirates’ shape with all the action moving towards the North Bank goal.

To be fair, Wolves restricted the red and white chances to some extent. Terrier drew a fine fingertip save from the keeper. Hector failed to keep the ball down with his left foot when scoring appeared a formality and worst of all, Auba (POTM for October due to his impressive strike rate) hit the post from the edge of the 6 yard box when it seemed impossible to miss. If we’d have scored then, I don’t doubt we’d have gone on the win even if we hardly deserved it from the balance of play up to that point.

The subs sparked new chances which found the Wolves keeper in the right place when called upon, until he was finally beaten by a fizzing curling cross from Micki which was missed by everyone and nestled into the far corner. The Wolves players bleated about a non-existent offside assuming the ref would reprieve them in the same fashion as he’d given them everything else, but hard as he tried, him and his linesman couldn’t find anything wrong with the goal.

Wolves had a couple of excellent chances to seal victory on the break as Arsenal resorted to the old kamikaze Wenger style of throwing everyone forward, even when the opposition have brought on a speedy forward who looked as though he had a dead hamster on top of his barnet.

We couldn’t quite manage an undeserved victory in amongst our attempts at professional suicide and the game ended in a draw.


Wolves played very well with little possession and are an extremely well-organised and efficient outfit. Expect them to become features of the Premier League for many seasons to come.

The first half was appalling yet again and it was a miracle it didn’t cost us defeat. Auba and Laca on the pitch from the start is shoehorning which just doesn’t work. How many more times? The back 6 and front 4 had no link. Poor.

The amount of stoppage time at the end of the second half was a complete joke. There were 5 substitutions (the Wolves’ ones taking at least a minute apiece); the Wolves lad at the end play acting was on the floor for 3 whole minutes including one of the added on minutes; the referee himself wasted 3 minutes by insisting play was halted every time there was a booking so that he could find his pen to write the player’s details on his piece of card; not to mention all of the time wasting at goal kicks and when the ball went off the touchlines. A conservative estimate would have been 8 minutes. How can you discourage time wasting if you don’t add it all on?

The unbeaten run continues ………… just. 🙂

Ratings (based on the BR ‘miffed that we played so poorly’ system)

Leno – MOTM, which says a lot …9

Bellerin – as dangerous as ever, missed a glorious chance …7

Mustafi – iffy in defence and his passing isn’t that good either…6

Holding – holding the defence together – who would have thought …8

Wardrobe – not a left back, more of a massive Welsh dresser …3

Xhaka – another costly mistake …6

Torreira – efficient and tidy – the ref allowed him to be kicked as usual …7

Ozil – before the game Arsenal put up a clip asking him who people should put in their Fantasy teams, Auba or Laca? He replied “both”, as he would assist both. Not on yesterday’s performance, Mesut …5

Iwobi – never looks comfortable on the right – sacrificed for Douzi at the break to give us some balance …6

Aubameyang – left his scoring boots at home with his award. Seems to have lost that smile he was playing with when he first arrived at THOF. Mind you, there wasn’t a whole lot to smile about for Arsenal on the pitch yesterday …5

Lacazette – not much service, but poor touches when he did get a sniff didn’t create a good impression of the Frenchman’s performance …5


Guendouzi – gave Arsenal some control back …7

Mkhitaryan – scored …7

Ramsey – popped up in a couple of good positions …6


p.s any Wolves fans daft enough to read as far as this……yes, it’s biased but if you read between the lines, you’ll see that it agrees you should have won. 🙂


Wolves: A Difficult Afternoon?

November 11, 2018

After two draws, can we return to winning ways this afternoon?

Wolves have lost their last 3 games, we are on an unbeaten run stretching back to 1982, the portents are good. But before we start assuming an easy victory Wolves are the only team apart from L’pool to take points off Man City and drew at Old Trafford – they have ability.


Every time I have visited Wolverhampton it has rained, and I have to say, it is a grim place enlivened only by its proximity to Tipton (home of Steve Bull). A historical highlight for W’hampton is that the first automated traffic light in the UK was sited in Princess St. (1927).   Slade come from Wolves as does the teams most famous supporter, Robert Plant of Led Zep fame. That’s it really.

Apart from it’s football team. Billy Wright, later to become Arsenal manager, is their signature player, a man whom in his day was the biggest star in English football.

In David Wagner they have a fine manager who is doing a wonderful job with very limited resources. By far the most impressive of the promoted sides, Wolves already have 18 points, just 2 behind the incredibly lucky Man Utd.

Mr. Emery must be delighted with his start in the PL, to take a team which is in a transitional period and go unbeaten for 14 games is remarkable. True, we haven’t hit the heights of Wenger’s first season but nonetheless the green shoots are clearly evident.  Our new signings have all bedded in well and both Terrier and Curly look amazing purchases.

My Team:


Catwalk    Mustafi    Holding   Wardrobe

Terrier    Xhaka   Mhiki


Laca   PEA

Towards the end of the Sporting Lisbon game Iwobi looked shot, perhaps he is carrying an injury because his stamina has never been an issue; as such I would start Mhiki.

Perhaps the Greek Bloke for Holding who could use a rest, otherwise the team picks itself ahead of another Interlull.

It would be excellent if we could go into the break on the back of 3 points, especially as the Top 6 are consistently winning.


Remembrance Day. 100 years since the Armistice.  5 out of the 23 Arsenal players who served died in the conflict. Humbling.


Arsenal FC – Our home record against Wolves

November 10, 2018

September 24th 1904 was the date we played our first game against Wolves and also the day we scored our first ever top flight goal.

Charlie Satterthwaite holds the honour of scoring Arsenal’s first goal in the First Division. The striker had a keen eye for goal during his six-year spell with the Club and scored 48 times in 141 appearances. Satterthwaite opened the scoring on that day in 1904 in a 2-0 victory over Wolves – both Arsenal’s first goal and also first victory of their maiden campaign in the top flight of English football. He had joined five months earlier from West Ham and made his debut on the opening day of the 1904/05 campaign in a 3-0 loss to Newcastle. Satterthwaite finished as the team’s top goalscorer that year and also in 1906/07 (with 19 goals) before retiring in 1910 at the age of 33. His younger brother Joe also played for Arsenal, which made them the first siblings to achieve the feat.

The following is an extract from the book Fighting for Football: From Woolwich Arsenal to the Western Front by George Myerson.

Getty Images

Getty Images


Sporting Lisbon Preview.

November 8, 2018

Win tonight. Top the group with two easier games to go. Job done.

Perhaps the post should stop here!

Man Utd and Spurs completely undeserved victory will hopefully keep them out of the Europa. There seems to be heightened expectations that we will win this tournament but, like the Carabao, it is relatively easy until the final rounds.


Sporting Lisbon have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 30 European games, I expect that run to continue. Having said that, we have not kept a clean sheet in our last 5 European games!

We have discussed Sporting in the first leg and we have little to add. They are a decent team, strong defensively, hard working … the usual. We should beat them in a home tie.

We have injuries and players returning to the squad, they should remain out of the team. A mixture of youth and experience is what is required.

My Team:


Licht    Mustafi     Holding    Wardrobe

Ramsey   Curly    Smith Rowe (Lab)     AMN (Cons)

Mhiki       Welbz

A strong attacking bench will allow Mr Emery to play a very inexperienced and young midfield. I very much doubt he will play this team but it would be fun. Xhaka needs a rest, and I would keep Iwobi for Wolves at the weekend, same with Laca, Hector, Terrier and PEA.


Tonight’s 6 officials (referee, linesman, behind the goal-line linesmen and 4th official) are from Lithuania, could this be a first?

Not as easy a fixture as many are assuming, this will not be a walkover.

Enjoy the game


Was Leno at Fault for Liverpool’s Goal?

November 7, 2018

Following on from a thread about  whether Leno was at fault for the Liverpool goal, this is taken from a comment by our resident Keeper, GIE:

Now on to the goal plus Leno’s general command of the box and I am not so impressed. That said, I think Cech is also not the greatest in this area and we have seen examples on several occasions (one being his debut). Always thought at Chelsea he was well protected by Terry and co in front of him and could stay on his goal line. So yes, Leno is currently our no 1 but I do think he needs to improve that area of his game and he can, given time.


What would I liked to have seen different on their goal?  Well you only have to watch their keeper in a similar situation in the first half. A similar cross, a similar dive except he fisted it away therefore adding power and it came at Mikhi really quickly, meaning he needed to kill it dead, which he didn’t, and the chance was gone. Compare that to the nicely settled ball Milner had to strike.

This was because Leno tried to catch it, which was not necessarily the worse decision if it had stuck, but I would rather see him either adjust his hands and flick the ball up over onrushing defenders and attackers without deviating the ball’s path or use two strong fists to punch away at speed. What happened was probably a result of indecision; all keeping errors in cross situations are nearly always a result of that. So he needs to work on decision making and he will be fine.

And decisions need to be made later even when the ball is in flight. Now I know I didn’t play at this level but whatever level you play at, you should have the necessary skill/mental capacity to achieve the same result against players of equivalent standard. (One team I used to play against (Haringey Boro) are in the first round of FA Cup this week, they’ve gone up a couple of leagues since I played them).

Take a free kick situation (like the one that led to Van Ducks header) and a high line (I was fond of that too as it gave me the 18 yard box unimpeded). If they put the ball between penalty spot and goal line and in centre of goal, I was coming for it, anywhere else it was the defenders’ and attackers’. Not many players were going to beat me with a header from further out. The only time I’d have to worry about bodies around me is if they floated it up high but even then I’ve got height advantage with arms so as long as I watched the flight and attacked at the highest point it was never going to be an issue.


Corners are trickier balls that can be whipped in flatter and therefore take height advantage out of the equation. That said, I think as a team we need to change it slightly: if they put a man on the keeper you have to leave him on his own – we tend to put a second man in there, so not only is Leno blocked by one attacker he is also impeded by a defender too. If the opposition, as Watford do, put a second player on the keeper and the defence does likewise,  the GK now has two attackers and two defenders to navigate around.

My view was if they put a man on me, tell the defender to F off and make sure one of the men on the posts pick him up in second phase (if necessary) then I could ignore him, play my normal game. If he blocked my run to the ball, it was easy for officials to see the foul. Also if I ignored him, he wasn’t in my mind when I went to attack ball

written by Gooner In Exile

Pleased with a point from Saturday? Really?

November 6, 2018

So the dust is starting to settle after the Liverpool game and minds are starting to turn to future fixtures which is understandable, but the thing is, I find myself troubled and not quite ready to move on just yet. Apparently, if I believe what I read, we passed a stern test and for that we should all be grateful. Or that seems to be the thrust of the view pushed upon us throughout the “non partisan” media and even more by many of the faithful in Arsenal Blog World.

Well you know what, I don’t feel grateful, I don’t think we passed a “stern test” and I was not happy that we drew. We could have won, we should have won and here is the bit that all the media have been afraid to say and that is – We were the better team.

Klopp mockingly said after the game that Arsenal sent on so many attackers that he was half expecting Bergkamp and Van Persie to make an appearance. The thing is again that we had the option to do that; Emery was able to send on Welbeck and Iwobi and even Ramsey is one of the most attacking midfielders in the league. But what has Klopp got? … ok, it can be argued that Shakiri is on a par with Ramsey but then what? They have no more strikers.

If you go through the teams, player for player, I think that you take far more Arsenal players than Liverpool.

Keepers: I am quite happy with Leno; there certainly was not a huge difference between them. The back line, bear in mind when you think about this, Liverpool had no injuries and were able to field their best 11. I wouldn’t swap our wing backs: Bellerin and Monreal for theirs, would you? I don’t think that Gomez is better than Koscielny and when the media take Van Dyke’s appendage out of their mouths they might see that Holding was every bit as good as the Dutchman on the day.

I don’t believe that anyone would swap any part of our midfield, (Torreira and Xhaka) for theirs, so that is over quickly and then we get to the attack. Mane for Ozil, err no, as good as Mane is, that is not a good swap. Firmino for Lacazette? No. And so we get to what is the one change anyone would make: Salah for Mkhitaryan. So that is just one change and we should remember that one blow to Salah at the wrong time and they could find themselves losing a very important game, oh wait, that already happened last season, shame.

So where did this idea come from that we were the underdogs at the start of that game and we should be grateful for our draw? I suppose fools like Merson fuelled this idea by predicting that Arsenal could get whooped 3-0 if Liverpool were on their game. The thing is, Paul, some of us had been watching Arsenal’s recent games and had seen with our own eyes how we have steadily improved and just how far we have risen since our unlucky loss against Chelsea.

Liverpool have been lauded by so many as the only true rivals to Man City and by that count above they only have one better player than we do and it is that fact which finds me taking issue with the idea that we should be both grateful for and content with the draw. Well, I am not grateful and I am not content, I am damn right furious that we, The Arsenal, the better team, did not win.



What does November hold in store for Emery’s Arsenal?

November 5, 2018

So, after October ended in subdued fashion with a ‘bridge too far’ performance away at Selhurst and a workman-like win at home to Blackpool, November began with a bang with a really decent fireworks display against Klippety Klopp’s team. How good was it to see the new Arsenal stand toe-to-toe with one of the bookies’ Prem title favourites and not look outclassed?

Some ‘pundits’ were made to look exactly what they actually are – utter clowns.

What does the rest of November have in store for us – let’s take a look?

Next up it’s the return fixture with Sporting Lisbon, this time at The Home Of Football. (I’ve never quite understood why you always play one team twice in a row in the middle of group game fixtures – oh well). Danny’s well-taken strike in the Portuguese capital has put us completely in control of our own destiny in Group E. Another decent squad performance on 8th November and the last two fixtures could be used to give pitch time for more of the youngsters.

The Europa means back to Sunday fixtures and we entertain Wolves on 11th November at the curious kick off time of 4.30pm. The game isn’t being televised and only seems to be at 4.30pm so as not to clash with the manc derby which also kicks off then. There’s no thought for travelling supporters yet again – what a surprise!

Let’s hope for a good performance against the Wanderers as it needs to carry us through yet another Dennis-forsaken interlull which begins immediately after.

Real life begins again on Sunday 25th November at 1.30pm with a televised game away at high flying Bournemouth. They will be licking their wounds and coming out fighting after being unluckily beaten at home by Mourinho’s mob this weekend. This will be another great test of Unai’s red and white machine. Anything like the performance at Palace and we could be punished.

The final game for the month is another away fixture in the Europa. FC Vorskla and a long  trip to the Ukraine. Hopefully we’ll have the group wrapped up by then and be able to rest some of the first Xl because December begins in rather tasty fashion – more of that at a later date.

To summarise, 3 home games in a week at the start of the month and 2 away games near to its end, separated by some tedious, pocket-lining fixtures for the game’s international governing bodies. (England are at home to the USA in a friendly and Croatia in the Uefa Nations League, if you’re even vaguely interested)