Waiting for My Man – CSKA Player Ratings

April 13, 2018

With the score from the first leg stood at 4-1 and having seen Roma rebuild an empire at the expense of the Catalonians, nerves were jangling slightly more than we might have expected for this particular second leg in Moscow. Could their away goal prove crucial? One way to resolve the issue – score one of our own and the tie would be effectively settled. Boy, did they make us wait.

First Half

CSKA huffed and puffed, gegenpress-style, closing down rapidly like high street businesses everywhere. Arsenal struggled to find any space, time and cohesion. On several occasions chances to break and grab that vital away goal presented themselves, but, on each, our attacking fluency deserted us with a misplaced final pass or failure to exploit having a man over.

I missed the goal as BT.com decided to freeze 30 seconds before it. It seemed as though Nacho was shoved in the back for the CSKA header, though I’m sure the studio ‘experts’ said that the Russian just wanted it more. Cech did well to get down to the header at such close range but keeping it out was all he did as he left a simple tap in. 1-0 down at half-time, just when was our moment of quality due to arrive? I was hoping it was before I ran out of beer.

Second Half

Shortly after the break, calamity struck again when a long range pot shot bounced back off the helmeted one into the path of the onrushing forward. Bang 2-0. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, surely another 3 goal comeback couldn’t be on the cards?

Watching without sound, I was celebrating when Elneny’s header went in as if it was job done, before realising the lino’s flag had been raised. Mo seemed to think bending his run slightly even though he was a yard or two behind the Russian defensive line, might somehow fool the official into thinking he was onside. Hmmmmm.

Arsenal restricted CSKA’s chances to score the vital third pretty well, keeping them to long shots, with Petr producing a good save from a free kick, but were still struggling to produce that one moment of quality to blast the comeback out of the water. When it finally came it was a thing of rare beauty.

Welbz was suddenly infused with the spirit of Thierry Henry, picking the ball up wide left and driving towards goal. Playing the ball inside to Bobby Pires, sorry Mo Elneny, he continued his run into the area. Elneny’s return pass was of such a delicious weight that it just invited the glorious finish which was duly applied by the Mancunian high into the corner of the net. Magnificent – all that time they had us worried, knowing full well that they had a goal of such exceptional quality up their sleeves.

You could visibly see how much CSKA were deflated by the goal, almost as if they knew it was 3-0 or nothing that would have got them through. Even the bare-shirted, gammon-fleshed hordes behind the goal Arsenal were attacking, perhaps realised that their game was up and it was time to go home to Olga.

Drifting towards a defeat but still in the draw for the semis, Aaron Ramsey then applied the cherry on top of the cake. His fragilty had seemed to rear its head again at the end of the first half when he seemed to overstretch, but he was still running in glorious fashion right up to the last few moments. Running on to another beautifully weighted and timed through ball from Mr Elneny, he lifted the ball gracefully over Akinfeev with his right seal flipper to send the best club in North London through with a comfortable 6-3 margin.

Player Ratings from LB

And there was I thinking that it would be a cushy victory……when will I learn?

Cech: since he has stopped the fancy footwork that was leading to a few too many embarrassing situations he has come back as strong as ever. I think the adjective of commanding is called for tonight. 8

Bellerin: Hector put his attacking desires to one side and focused on the defending side of his game — and he carried out that duty better than he has done in quite a while. 8

Mustafi: no silly errors just got on with the job at hand. Perfectly acceptable performance. 7

Koscielny: a good captain’s performance. 7

Monreal: I don’t need frills from our defence on games like this I just need them to read the tin and do what it says. 7

Elneny: Mo was the proverbial headless chicken in the first half; he certainly redeemed himself in the second half though with two assists to boot. 8

Ramsey: getting all the credit he deserves for being the great player that he has always been, another top drawer performance. 8

Wilshere: don’t get me started. 5

Ozil: King Mesut Rules OK. 7

Lacazzette: I heard that his goal scoring boots were held up in Russian customs and it showed. Interesting just how much he runs on confidence or not. 6

Welbeck: I stuck with Danny for so long regularly writing on here I expected him to become the most important CF in the EPL and then after finally and completely giving up on such an idea he starts to make some serious inroads into claiming that mantle. Really starting to enjoy his performances again. 9

Can I take my red and white tinted glasses off now?

The draw awaits at 11am, with Atletico, Salzburg (Lazio were on the receiving end of the comeback of the night) and Payet’s Marseille our potential opponents. Who do you fancy?  

chas

 

 

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Should Arsenal be worried by empty seats?

April 7, 2018

Empty seats at a European competition quarter final? – what’s going on? Should the Club be worried about the loss of matchday revenue through advertising and corporate entertainment, as well as overpriced hotdogs and fizzy lager? With a healthy season ticket waiting list, does it matter if some regulars fall by the wayside? 

GoonerB’s take on some of these questions is below. What do you think?

Afternoon all. Went last night as got a late club level offer I couldn’t refuse. Sorry I couldn’t meet any of the guys but I was beholden to the itinerary of those I went with.

I really enjoyed the game and we were very good with the ball last night, but you could still see certain old problems bubbling beneath the surface that a better team would punish.

I know a lot of season ticket holders and meet different types of Arsenal fans all the time, and you do get an insight for the general feelings of many fans. This is how I would perceive it :

There are still some stalwarts out there who will go and support come what may and don’t concern themselves with things like the direction the club has gone in and whether Arsene is the right man. I feel these fans are becoming a very small minority. Many of these fans will probably still want Arsene to continue and feel he is the right man.

At the other end for some staying away has become a form of protest. I know some season ticket holders who refuse to step back inside the stadium till Arsene is gone. They are also still more of a minority for me.

I have to say I feel there are very few that see Arsene as the man now. The bigger group seem to be the ones that feel Arsene should have already stepped down by now and feel he churns out the same old stuff and follows the same pathway even when it proves not to work. In not looking for a manager to improve us, many feel the board are more concerned with sticking with him because he keeps us at a certain level with little outlay required. They feel the club lacks ambition and have stagnated to the point that we are somewhat regressing now.

They have now become apathetic about the club, the football we play, and even football as a whole. Some still regularly attend in their apathy, but others just aren’t that bothered anymore and have lost their love and excitement of it. If there is something else they can do they will likely often do that instead of going to the game, where before going to the game always came above all else.

This is what I feel is the majority group and the club should be worried about this. I don’t think they have been bothered about it, and as GN5 said I don’t think they have been too bothered because they just take the view that there are more fans in waiting to get a ST.

Very dangerous to ignore your long standing fan base though, because there is no guarantee that those newbies in the waiting have anywhere near the long term emotional investment in the club and their support from the terraces that the long standing fans have, and that can have knock-on effects in how the club is viewed in its standing worldwide with all the negative commercial consequences Micky mentioned.

Like the rest of you I feel the remaining EPL attendances will prove an embarrassment to us. Anyone bothering to listen could have seen this coming but there has been a fairly dismissive approach taken towards the majority fanbase, a bit like the attitude towards the public leading up to the Brexit vote. You realise, too late, that you should have listened earlier.

Written by GoonerB


We all know better than Arsène ………

March 30, 2018

This post was written in July 2012 and illustrates how playing personnel changes so much. I thought the journos’ questions about prioritising the Europa over the Prem, lineup-wise, were attempting to back Stevie Bould into a corner. Anyway, as excitement mounts for Sunday’s game, who would you play? 🙂

We all love doing it. I guarantee there to be at least one in every comments section of any Arsenal blog, forum or news site you can think of. The speculative lineup, it’s addictive. Why, I have know idea. There is just something so satisfying about writing the names of our beloved players down into a thoughtfully deliberated formation. Only a handful of us have a significant knowledge of tactics and almost none of us know anything substantial about the players apart from our parochial, emotion-fuelled observations during games and from their blogosphere reputations. And yet, we fancy ourselves as Arsenal managers and pick our own teams week in week out. So here we are in the pre-season, with the summer transfer window hotting up; this is the time where the phenomenon reaches its pinnacle. The debate over our team’s lineup is well and truly alive!

Something we don’t often think about is that your speculative lineup is actually a great indicator of who you are as a person and as an Arsenal fan. Think back to the lineups you’ve produced over the years (maybe even in the last few days!), and find out where you fit in the spectacular spectrum that is the whole gamut of Arsenal fans. So where do you fit?

1. Signing Obsessed

———————–Lloris————————

–Sagna–Vermaelen–Vertonghen–Baines–

———————M’Vila—————————

—————Wilshere–Gotze———————

–Dzagoev——-Giroud——Podolski——

How often do we see a lineup like this? All the players who are even remotely linked with the club are portrayed as saviours, must-buys and symbols of hope for the coming season. This type of lineup will usually be followed by a comment such as ‘Get on it Arsene!’ or ‘Make it happen Gazidis!’

2. Academy Mad

—————–Szczęsny ——————

–Yennaris—Miquel–Bartley–Gibbs–

—————-Gnabry———————–

———Wilshere–Lansbury/Eisfeld—-

—-Aneke——-Afobe——Miyachi——

A lineup like this will usually be followed by something like ‘Future Arsenal first team, 2 years away?’ If this is you, you may need an injection of reality. Explore the archives of blogs from seasons past and have a look at some of the teams suggested as ‘Arsenal’s future’. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas anyone? Jay Simpson? The fact is that – if we are lucky –  each season has only one or two academy players that have what it takes to make the step up to the first team. Last season it was Coquelin, before that it was Wilshere and Szczesny. Who will it be this season? How exciting!

3. Formation Fans

———————Szczęsny ———————–

—Koscielny—Mertesacker—Vermaelen—-

—————Song–Coquelin———————

—-Ox-Chamberlain—Rosicky–Diaby——-

————–Podolski—-Giroud—————–

There is always someone out there telling anyone who will listen that Wenger should being deploying his team in 3-2-3-2 or 4-1-3-1-1 or 5-2-4 or God knows what else. There’s always someone who’s certain the team would be better off with Vermaelen commanding the midfield or that so-and-so should surely be unleashed in the ‘hole’. Every now and then the fan knows what they’re talking about, not often though.

4. Nickname Fans

—————World’s Number One————-

–Sanga—Verminator—BFG——-Gibbo—-

—————–Rambo——–Le Coq———–

————————–LJW————————

——–Theo—The Boy Wonder—The Ox—

Football fans must be the only people in the world to give affectionate nicknames to men we’ve never met. But although we don’t actually know our players personally, in a deeper sense, we know them very, very well. Some of the nicknames are brilliant anyway, we don’t need to justify ourselves. I cannot stand when ostensible ‘fans’ invent hurtful nicknames for members of our beloved team such as ‘Flapihandski’ or ‘Ramilson’. Here’s a mystery I’ve often pondered. Why are some players known universally by their first name and others not? We always hear about Robin, Theo and Arsene and used to talk about Cesc all the time, but we never hear a thing about Mikel, Bacary, Laurent or Kieran.

5. England Snobs

——————-Szczęsny ———————

-Jenkinson—Vermaelen-Bartley-Gibbs-

————Ramsey—–Frimpong————-

———————Wilshere———————

—Ox-Chamberlain–RVP—-Walcott——-

Some fans are extraordinarily concerned by the amount of English players in the team. Nationality is their top priority. Ramsey’s Welshness is considered acceptable. They even prefer players who are half English or aren’t really English at all such as Jenkinson and Frimpong. As more English players have developed and integrated into Wenger’s new team, these types of posts have steadily become less common.

6. Trollers and P*ss Takers

—————-Almunia———————-

Djourou—–Squillaci–Silvestre–Traore

——–Denilson——-Bischoff————–

——Park—-Chamakh—–TGSTEL—–

Poor Djourou cannot play full back can he? I couldn’t even think of enough players but you get the idea.

7. Diaby lovers

——————-Szczęsny ———————

–Sagna–Vermaelen–Koscielny-Santos–

————–Song—–Arteta——————-

——————-DIABY—————————

——–Podolski—-RVP—-Walcott———-

Staunch Diabyists. They exist in their droves. But I do have this feeling like he’s gonna have an amazing season….

8. Fence sitters

—————————-Szczęsny ————————

—Sagna—Vermaelen—–Koscielny—Gibbs/Santos–

————————–Song—–Arteta/Ramsey————–

————————-Wilshere/Rosicky———————–

——–Podolski/Ox—-RVP/Giroud—-Walcott/Gervinho-

This sort of lineup is a good sign; it means the club is spoilt for choice, that we have a lot of depth and competition for places. They manifest themselves in a variety of ways: slashes, parenthesis, brackets. But it sort of defeats the point of picking a team. Alternatively some fans like to make two teams, a first team and a second team and sometimes even a third team.

So now that we’ve analyzed it, let’s indulge in the activity we love so much. How do you think we should line up next season? Remember, everyone’s an expert – except for Arsène of course.

Written by Gus


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.

Team

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.

COYRRG

chas

 

 

 


Milan 0 Arsenal 2 – Witnessing A Miracle in Milan – Player Ratings

March 9, 2018

The psychology of the human, or is it the human psychology? I don’t know, but one thing is for sure, it is a funny old thing. Bit like football.

I have just scanned down the list of the remaining 720 sides left in the Europa, and Milan are, by some considerable margin, what we would call the historically ‘biggest’ named team remaining.

Of course they are nowhere near the Milan of old, but an away win in their home town at the legendary San Siro must feed the psychology of the Arsenal footballer a huge dose of positive vibrations.

Those select, nay elite, few of us who actually managed to watch the entire second half unaided, may have missed the two goals that knocked the stuffing out of the Italians, I wouldn’t know, but not only will our players take confidence into the second leg but into the rest of the competition.

I’m sure we’d all rate Atletico as the biggest threat, but come on, beating them is certainly not beyond us, and I believe our chances would be improved by meeting them in a one off game like the final as opposed to an earlier round two-legger.

Ok, the game itself. For previously mentioned reasons, I might not be best placed with the detail, in any case, I don’t like detail so I’m very much in my comfy zone here.

The team pretty much picks itself which is a real positive. I’ve mentioned before on the blog how I think Granit is a fine player, just not best suited to our own team’s needs in the more frantic English League, however he looked way more comfortable on a pitch with our continental neighbours. You may think it strange that I pick out this particular individual, but this defensive midfield spot is our Achilles heel in the league.

Not sure how serious The Beast’s injury is, but M-N looked absolutely superb. Confident, composed and very very capable.

That’s it. Me done. Over to you Arsene. Rest the whole lot against Watford I say.

Written by MickyDidIt89

Ratings (chas)

Ospina – Another clean sheet, his pace off the line is both his strength and also his weakness, made some excellent interceptions though, so gets a deserved pass – 7

Chambers – Calum must have found playing in a team running its nuts off to support one another so much easier than playing during Sunday’s debacle, nearly scored with a left foot half volley belter  – 7

Koscielny – Really focused and oozing assurance, watching those scary Gattuso videos must have helped get him ‘in the zone’ – 8

Mustafi – another who grew in confidence as the team began to play football again, a warrior when he’s not acting like a tart – 7

Kolasinac – gained in confidence along with the team until he got injured, needs to work on his final ball, though has probably forgotten what you do when you reach the byline – 7

Ramsey – he covers so much ground trying to find space and his ability to pop up in support of the striker is crucial to our style of play, I so love it when you see an Arsenal player round the keeper, it’s as if you can start celebrating a whole half second before the ball is over the line – 8

Xhaka – playing in Europe you could see Granit’s class, his passing and defending were excellent away from the frantic white noise of the Premiership – 8

Wilshere – Jack seemed to be playing further forward than expected, linked very well with his midfield partners, a competent display   – 7

Ozil – two assists, you could visibly see him enjoying playing in a team that was playing football once more and he ran his legs off   – 7

Mkhitaryan – his quality shone through, crucial goal to cement the team’s fine start, a proper footballer, that’s why he didn’t get on with Mourinho – 8

Welbeck – Vast improvement from the MTH, constantly closing down, finding space and holding the ball up well. Much talk about his mishit but I thought the Milan player running behind just clipped his heel, anyway, everyone catches one fat every now and then – 8

Subs

Maitland-Niles – so cool on the ball, his pace is a wonderful asset – 7

Holding and Elneny – slotted in and did what was asked of them – 7

Manager

Big Weng – got everything right, Gennaro who? – 9


Ok, your turn. Be Arsene – How do you play the rest of the season?

March 3, 2018

Obviously, full focus on The Europa.

Moi? I’d use the league games to discover who I wanted in next season’s first team squad so that I knew exactly who would be surplus to requirements before the summer window opens.

I’d want to see more action from Iwobi, M-N, Nelson and Nketiah.

Out of those, I reckon it’s time to really nail down M-N’s ideal position

Finally, that brings me to a dedicated Holding Midfielder/DM. Do we have one?

Written by MickyDidIt89


Östersunds – Skating on Thin Ice – Player Ratings

February 23, 2018

Well we can take heart from the knowledge that we are still capable of beating a fourth division team from the north of Sweden. (Over two legs, that is)

There was quite a bit of moaning on the blog, I have no sympathy for you lucky few watching it in front of your warm tellies, being there was a far worse torture, the only crumb of comfort I took from the first half was that at least I didn’t have to watch Walcott anymore.

We are through, job done, this game will be forgotten in a nano second.

Ratings

Ospina: seemed good enough, better than Cech? Well yes I suppose so. 5

Bellerin: I guess he played because he has no back up, did ok. 6

Chambers: dumb 2

Holding: dumber. 3

Kolasinac: the thing about Sead is that when scoring needs to be done, he scores, that’s it, simple as. 5

Maitland-Niles: well there have been people like me chomping at the bit for him to start in the EPL ahead of Xhaka, well I was put in my place tonight, still a lot to learn but obviously very young, gets a pass. 4

Wilshere: the thing about Jack is that when scoring needs to be done he scores, no he doesn’t, he is all over the place. And you lot are gagging for him to sign an extension? I don’t get it, another average performance. 3

Elneny: you get what it says on the tin, a lot of running but not too much shine. 4

Iwobi: I am trying to work out who the Forrest Gump award should go to for tonight’s performance. 3

Welbeck: who is the other contender for the Forrest Gump award.
Run Forrest, Run. 2

Mkhitaryan: this is the first time that I have seen him play in the flesh so it is all still new and exciting, there is a lot a class there, working with the rest of that shower must be difficult. 6

Written by LB