Thanks, Petr, good luck in the future

January 16, 2019

So, Petr Cech has announced he will retire at the end of the season. He could still have a big part to play in our season depending on Leno’s fitness.

There are some parallels between Petr’s switch from the dark side and our former keeper Pat Jennings’ move from the bowels of N17 down to the sunnier end of the Seven Sisters Road.

Cech won 4 League titles, 4 FA Cups and 1 a-piece of the CL and Europa cups with the chavs when Abramovich’s money was all conquering in the country. As a credit to him as a man, no Arsenal supporter has ever really held this against him.

In the same way that Jennings was universally respected, Petr Cech oozes decency and a certain statesman-like presence which commands admiring regard both in other players and in supporters alike.

In his early career Petr is reported to have played as a striker before switching to keeper. Perhaps his skills on the deck weren’t quite up to scratch.

Moving from  FK Chmel Blšany to Sparta Prague in 2001, Petr soon came to the notice of many clubs abroad including The Arsenal. In fact, he was really close to signing with the Gunners in 2002 but those pesky difficulties in obtaining work permits put the kibosh on the deal. Rennes in France were the beneficiaries and he played for two seasons in Ligue 1.

His career with Chelsea is well documented and, although the trophies won while he was there were all bought with oligarch’s money, he made a massive contribution to the chavs having a defence with an exceptional record. He made 3 penalty saves in the CL final in 2012 (2 in the shootout) and was voted fans’ MOTM.

Petr’s head injury was sustained in October 2006 after a collision with Stephen Hunt’s knee. The resulting depressed skull fracture left him needing to wear the goalkeeping helmet henceforth on the pitch.

Signing for Arsenal in the summer of 2015, Petr’s career took an upturn. No longer having to smear Vic’s vaporub on his top lip to be able to stand the smell of being in the same dressing room as Terry, Ivanovic and Cole etc, must have been a blessed relief to the Czech glove butler. His career sailed to new heights culminating in the FA Cup triumph over his old muckers in the 2017 Final. Although sidelined with injury for that Final, he had played in the glorious semi-final win over Man City.

Reuters

Thanks for the memories, Petr, you’ve always been a top bloke – it was just a shame you couldn’t have joined us in 2002 and become an Invincible. Still, your career turned out ok elsewhere, so I doubt it keeps you awake at night not having been part of such a momentous achievement.

Thanks again – what a great career you’ve had!

chas

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What is the one thing most likely to get us 4th?

January 14, 2019

It’s a slow day on the Arsenal front.

Saturday’s limp and pitiful performance has left everyone in a state of ‘Meh, whatever’.

Let’s have a poll to relieve this listlessness ….

(Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Please add any other (more sensible) answers to the question in the comments below.

chas


A Shambles in Stratford – Arsenal Player Ratings

January 13, 2019

No Mesut, not injured but a tactical decision to leave him out of the squad? What does that say to the other players going into the game? Something’s afoot.

First Half

Two equally poor teams created a roughly equal number of half chances. Really dreadful viewing. Is anyone else sick of watching forwards running around like blue arsed flies trying to close down centre backs with the ball. About 10 minutes of that first half seemed to be spent trying to move 20 yards up the pitch. Shockingly painful to watch.

As Didit said “Sick to the teeth of this passing the bloody thing around between 9 ‘effing defenders all sodding afternoon”

Second Half

We couldn’t be any worse, surely? Oh yes, we could.

Three minutes after the restart, a poorly defended breakdown from a corner and the most committed player on the pitch has a free strike from 14 yards. Leno had no chance.

Torreira and Ramsey on for Xhaka and Mustafi at least gave a semblance of hope. Ramsey, playing without the encumbrance of an Arsenal future started to make things happen, popping up all over in dangerous positions. Chances came and went. Auba had one of his barn door days.

Hector added more hope but ultimately we were just not good enough to score.

Conclusion

Wagner will be happy his side sneaked the points. They did seem hungrier and snappier in the tackle. Arsenal seemed lethargic and listless after a week’s solid training to get the team nailed down and perfect for matchday.

We were swamped in midfield as Kola and A.M-N didn’t help at all, leaving Wobbly, Laca and Auba isolated.

Auba and Laca do not a good combination make, regardless of the fact that they’re two of our best players – no linkage whatsover.

Making a poor West Ham side look ok, FFS.

Ratings

Leno – Nowt to do except pick the ball out of the back of his net … 6

Maitland-Niles – not sure he found a mint choc shirt with one pass in that dreadful first 45 … 2

Mustafi – awful tackling, think he might be a bit thick … 4

Sokratis – tried hard to shackle both Arnautovic and Carroll … 5

Koscielny – not really much to do as a centre back, had plenty of touches trying to get the ball up to the halfway line … 5

Kolasinac – so far offside for the chances he set up in the second, pretty clueless … 5

Xhaka – No command of the midfield today, though missed having a link player to pass forward to. Most ducked the responsibility of making themselves available for a pass … 4

Guendouzi – passing a bit off today – popped up all over when we really could have done with attempting to establish some midfield control – needs to work on his shooting … 5

Iwobi – flitted in and out of the match like a moth battering its head on a lightbulb – perhaps looked most likely to open up the bus once Ramsey had come on … 5

Aubameyang – not his finest day in a pistachio coloured shirt – perhaps should have had at least one … 4

Lacazette – huffed and puffed without really doing a great deal … 5

Subs

Ramsey – my MOTM – looks to have had a weight lifted from his shoulders … 6

Torreira – should have been on from the start sat in front of the back four … 6

Bellerin – suddenly the right flank was an option when he came on … 6

Managers

Wagner – Overjoyed his team faced an even worse team today … 6

Emery – Oh dear, not good – strange team selection after a full week to get things right in training, led to a disjointed team performance – no discernible plan visible … 3

chas 

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You also have some player assessments from LB to savour – you lucky folk.

Leno: couldn’t do anything about the goal, otherwise, and in view that they didn’t score anymore, he was fine.

Koscielny: one of the few bright spots in the sense that he no longer looked out of place.

Mustafi: 6th place defender for a 6th place team.

Big Sok: no mistakes, slightly better than recent past.

Kolasinac: couldn’t get his byline thing up and running and we suffered because of it.

AM-N: so disappointing, poor passing, poor positioning, no penetration, let it not be said that he didn’t get his chances.

Xhaka: another of the few and far between bright spots in this game; that’s to say, Emery finally took of his “I Love Granit” glasses off and hooked him. Another school boy error to gift WH the points.

Guendouzi: not bad, wish he would show a bit more strength, he is muscled off the ball too easily.

Iwobi: in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.

Lacazzete: ran around a lot in the first half, faded in the second.

Aubameyang: poor close control, poor errrrr pretty much everything really completely ineffectual.

What a crap day when Nasri is the most talented player on the pitch.

LB


Arnautovic. Sell, Sell, Sell.

January 12, 2019

No West Ham Bob post today, the chap has gone underground (or to the Caribbean!).

I have never been to the London Olympic stadium, I understand it is a soulless bowl unless inhabited by the Great Gooner, Mo Farah. Our record at the ground is good, with only one loss, a draw and a few wins. WHU have only won one out of the last 21 fixtures with AFC. This may explain why they keep buying our ex-players – Little Jack, $amir Nasri, Flapianski etc

Do you recall the days when if Wrighty didn’t score we were screwed? It is much the same at WHU.  Take out that unpleasant devil, Arnautovic and they are toothless. That said, on the rare occasion Andy Carroll plays they can lump the ball into the Big Man and WHU have another attacking weapon.

I like the look of Anderson, who could do well at a better club, one which isn’t being ruined by rapacious owners. He is a more direct Iwobi.

The Hammers manager, Manuel Pellegrini, is doing a good job after the club was damaged by the tactics of Fat Sam and Moyes. He seems a likeable chap and at least is trying to get WH back to playing decent football.

Back to Arnautovic. I can never forgive the swine for his cowardly attack on Debuchy which effectively ended his Arsenal career (allowing Catwalk  to take his place). West Ham understandably are refusing to sell him. The bloke is highly likely to score this afternoon against our porous defence.

Awful Music Alert. Turn off Sound

Of which … Could Hector start this afternoon? Please, pretty please.

And Mesut. No more of this knee knack, back pain, headache, flu, dog’s eaten my homework bolleaux. Let him play, and let him dazzle.

And Catwalk. Stop him looking like a bright red blimp up int the stands and get him up that wing in order to give the team some balance.

Getting the injured back into the team will make a huge difference.

I expect this afternoon to be frustrating, we are not playing particularly well, even when winning, and the Hammers are very inconsistent. And we know Fabianski will have one his best performances.

We need 3 points.

Let it be So.

COYRRG


Arsenal need a CB. Really?

January 11, 2019

The scene:

  • we’re in a transfer window
  • Mid-term of a new manager’s first season
  • Lying in 5th (very Kloppy/Peppy for a new boy)
  • GF column ok. GA column not good
  • Transfer budget: outlook bleak
  • Recent poll here showed overwhelming support for a CB in Jan

First up, the bleeding obvious. Real Madrid and Juventus are always looking to strengthen/upgrade. All teams, from Barcelona to Bognor are always two players short. We will never be any different.

The CB? If talk of limited budget and only loan deals is to be believed, where’s the benefit of signing some short-term aged colossus? One of the essential ingredients of a good defence is understanding between the back three/four. I reckon we’re better off with what we have until a sensible budget is available. Also, we may get some top level experience for the promising Mavro and therefore have a clearer understanding of CB requirements for the summer after the return of Holding. We may well need a quality CB, but I don’t believe a stop gap loan is going to make any significant difference this season and I ‘d rather we wait.

Oh, and by the way,  in that poll, I voted (twice) for an attacking midfielder.

Throughout this first half of the season, we’ve been plagued with the repeating pattern of a game of two halves. As I said earlier, our Goals For column is ok, unlike the Goals Against and the temptation for many is to assume that automatically implies the need to strengthen at the back.

BUT, throw in the fact that our defence has been ravaged by injuries, and I come up with another explanation.

Bloggers have mentioned our rope-a-dope sixty odd minutes of containment before invariably only landing the knock-out blows late in the game. This means the defence are under pressure for too long in every game. To be expected when playing the better sides, but we’re subjecting our defence to this every game, and this may explain the high casualty rate.

This brings me back to the Goals For column, which I described as Ok. Of course you can never score enough, however, we lie joint third in this column, but here’s the problem. We don’t score a higher enough percentage of these in the first forty five against the lower calibre sides. We don’t finish ‘em off before oranges. The problem this side has is not how many we score, but when.

In short, the attacking midfielders are not performing.

Unai is clearly still evaluating his largely inherited squad, and I’d expect a cull before significant quality replacements are brought in to compliment HIS ideas and vision.

I’d be ok with no arrivals this window, unless of course, Stan unearths a stash to……nah.

(Apologies. Chaotic thoughts. Rushed)

Written by Mickydidit89

Arsenal’s most important player this season is _______?

January 10, 2019

This question was posed on twitter by @ltarsenal and some of the replies were quite surprising, so why not have a crack at it on here while we wait for the weekend?

Runners and Riders (in no particular order)

Rob Holding

Many were surprised when Calum C went out on loan before the season started and a certain lad we bought from Bolton for a £2m was chosen to stay and develop at his home club.  His play this season has been a revelation. Cool, composed, able to bring the ball forward and with an eye for a pass, too. Some might say our defence looking decidely ropey has coincided with his absence.

Lucas Torreira

Eased in slowly frustrating Arsenal fans at the start of the season, Lucas began by making top notch contributions from the bench before getting his starting berth. Perhaps, if LBG is correct and he’s been moved further forward in Unai’s recent formations, his effectiveness has been slightly lessened when not sat right in front of the back four receiving and destroying.

Alex Lacazette

Many replies on twitter mentioned Laca. He is a fans’ favourite and certainly brings an aggressiveness and work rate which often seem responsible for lifting the whole shooting match. Less goals than Auba from perhaps more chances but he’s often won back possession from his feisty closing down (and given away a few free kicks into the bargain!).

Granit Xhaka

To some, Granit’s inclusion in this list would be the biggest shock but he does seem Unai’s first name on the teamsheet in many respects. When we are playing well, he does seem the centre of the well-oiled machine. Countless accurate passes and an ability to switch play others lack. Detractors would say ‘yes, but how many of those passes actually achieve anything’.  Then again, all teams require water carriers, ask Gilberto.

Hector Bellerin

When he’s missing from the team, you do start to realise how important he is on the right side. Still not the finest defender in the world but such a talent on the ball. Arsenal’s right flank without the Catwalk king and, to a lesser extent Micki, has been a little lacking in punch, drive and creativity.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang

Goals from nowhere, some have suggested we’d be floating just below mid-table without Auba’s 14 goals. His strike record in October/November was simply stunning, scoring from virtually all of his shots on target. A fair few of his goals have come when he’s made an entrance off the bench. Some point out his lack of fire, Laca style, but maybe that isn’t the quality he was bought for.

I’m not sure if anyone else should be regarded as a contender.

What do you think? Could you make a case for someone not listed above.

Mesut anyone?

chas


Transfer Window Targets.

January 9, 2019

January. Same message from the Boss, “we are actively looking but it is difficult”. Cobblers. There have been some excellent signings in January – Aubameyang, Arshavin, Reyes, Louis Suarez, Van Dijk, Walcott, Giroud, Coutinho, the list is long.

It comes down to money and contracts.

Of more interest is just where on the pitch Emery will be looking to improve the squad.

So far we’ve had talk of ……

Denis Suarez, a midfielder and presumably possible replacement for Ramsey

Yannick Carrasco, a Belgian left winger

plus

James Rodriguez, attacking midfielder/winger, Galactico (seems a luxury player which is the last thing we need IMO)

All this talk of players for the front half of the team may just be clickbait, as that’s obviously where the sexy stuff occurs. Losing Danny W. also means that an injury to Laca or Auba may leave us short of experienced back up.

Surely our problems this season have come from a lack of quality in the back half of the pantomime cow? Clean sheets are a rarity and we never look comfortable holding a lead. Talking of Holding, losing him has put a big dent in the quality, composed side of our central defending and losing Nacho and Hector, the same with our full back options.

Where would you like to see Unai and Arsenal’s new super-duper purchasing team bolster the squad in the next three weeks?

BR and chas