How Was it For You?

June 5, 2019

No, not that … the season.

Were you satisfied?

Did you enjoy it?

Did it cement your affections towards The Arsenal?

Did it make you confident about the future of the Club?

I can only answer Yes, to one of the above. For me this was the first season when I felt alienated from my club. It could have been the departure of Mr. Wenger, who was a magical figure and a man I admired hugely. He single-handedly maintained our traditions and honour. During his tenure I didn’t think at all about management structure, transfer budgets and especially, The Brand. With him gone I fear my connection has weakened.

Don’t get me wrong – I will die a Gooner but this season there were times when I coudn’t be bothered to watch the games. They bored me. In fact, I hate to admit this, but sometimes I preferred watching Liverpool or City than us. The highlights on Arsenalist saved me some of the tedium.

Of course it is not always so, sometimes we played superb football and I enjoyed the introduction of the young players,; Iwobi, Guendouzi, Terriera, Holding and AMN. I enjoyed the Europa run and of course, the early season unbeaten run. The future could be good but we are miles behind the Top 2 .

Mr. Emery had a very hard job taking over from a Legend, he has done OK and statistically it was a season of progress but we have lost our identity.

How was last season for you?

written by BR

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2018/19 Europa League Final – Arsenal v Chelsea history

May 28, 2019

We are off to Baku Azerbaijan; the city is the scientific, cultural, and industrial center of Azerbaijan. Many sizeable Azerbaijani institutions have their headquarters there. The Baku International Sea Trade Port is capable of handling two million tons of general and dry bulk cargoes per year. In recent years, Baku has become an important venue for international events. It hosted the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, the 2015 European Games, 4th Islamic Solidarity Games, the F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix since 2016, and now it will host the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League Final between London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea. It will also be one of the host cities for UEFA Euro 2020.

Baku is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. Baku is located 28 metres (92 ft) below sea level, which makes it the lowest lying national capital in the world and also the largest city in the world located below sea level. Baku lies on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, alongside the Bay of Baku. At the beginning of 2009, Baku’s urban population was estimated at just over two million people. Officially, about 25 percent of all inhabitants of the country live in Baku’s metropolitan area. Baku is the sole metropolis in Azerbaijan.

Baku is divided into into twelve administrative raions and 48 townships. Among these are the townships on the islands of the Baku Archipelago, and the town of Oil Rocks built on stilts in the Caspian Sea, 60 kilometres (37 miles) away from Baku. The Inner City of Baku, along with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower, were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. According to the Lonely Planet’s ranking, Baku is also among the world’s top ten destinations for urban nightlife.

Shirvanshah’s Palace

The city is renowned for its harsh winds, which is reflected in its nickname, the “City of Winds”.

Now let’s talk about football.

The first league meeting between the two teams took place on 9 November 1907 at Stamford Bridge (112 years ago). This was the first Football League First Division game played between two London clubs and drew a crowd of 65,000.

The first London derby 1907 at Stamford Bridge

A match between the clubs at Stamford Bridge in 1935 drew a crowd of 82,905, the second highest recorded attendance for an English league match. They met in two close contested FA Cup semi-finals in the 1950s, with Arsenal winning both times.

The clubs have contested three major finals: the 2002 FA Cup Final, which Arsenal won 2–0, the 2007 Football League Cup Final, which Chelsea won 2–1, and the 2017 FA Cup Final, which Arsenal won 2–1.

The two teams have also met in the UEFA Champions League in the quarter-finals in 2003–04, drawing 1–1 at Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea winning 2–1 at Highbury to go through to the semi-finals. (a bitter memory for Arsenal fans)

Throughout the 112 year history Arsenal has won more games in all competitions than Chelsea, having won 76 times to Chelsea’s 63, with 58 draws (as of 19 January 2019). Arsenal’s record win was a 5–1 victory in a First Division match at Stamford Bridge on 29 November 1930.

Arsenal has also won more league games – GP164, W63, D49, L52, GF231, GA210.

The last game was at The Emirates on January 19th 2019 when Arsenal won 2-0 with goals from Lacazette (14) and Koscielny (39).

1994 Copenhagen
Colorsport / Stuart Macfarlane.

The journey of 2,709 miles will be an arduous one for both teams.

GunnerN5


Should Petr Cech play in the Europa Final? Poll

May 22, 2019

Should Petr Cech keep goal for Arsenal in the Europa League Final?

Having played in Europe all season, he is the logical choice.

This tweet he put up the other day is a bit sickening but it was a personal triumph for him to be a part of the spawniest CL win in history in 2012.

Now we have the news (presumably leaked by Chelsea ) as the Europa Final approaches that the big Czech is to return to the bus stop in Fulham as Director of Football after this season is over.

Is there a sudden conflict of interest or will Petr’s outstanding professionalism dispel any doubts in Unai’s mind?

What do you think?

Should he play in the Final? Are you having any second thoughts?

chas


Valencia 2 Arsenal 4 – Player Ratings

May 10, 2019

A solid looking team on paper with three at the back plus wingbacks and the Xhaka-Torreira axis. The front three could get isolated if the wingbacks don’t push forward.

Ten men defence or all out attack – let’s hope Unai has got it bang on

First Half

After a slow first ten minutes we decided to spice things up a bit by losing the ball on the edge of Valencia’s penalty area and all of a sudden, 7 men were caught ahead of the ball. A simple goal on the break resulted.

Valencia had a few sniffs but nothing of any consequence and then with our first chance Laca and Auba combined, with the help of a backwards defensive header from our Gabriel, to create a beautifully executed finish from the Gabonese Gooner. Away goal cancelled and an equaliser completely out of the blue. Phew.

Our other two chances both came as we got into the game and even started to string a few passes together. First Auba drove straight at the keeper with his weaker left and then the best chance of the first half fell to Laca after Auba’s brilliant run down the right flank. Alex’s first time effort clipped the outside of the post with the keeper nowhere – oh so close to a second away goal.

Second Half

The second half began in magnificent style with a nicely worked goal finished with a great 360 from Laca and drive into the bottom corner. Two away goals and Valencia now needed 4 goals. Surely that would be enough?!!

from AFC twitter

When they got one back 8 minutes later there can’t have been many Gooners who were completely certain that the mayhem of the previous two nights might not start again in the Mestalla.

Mesut was replaced by Mkhitaryan and we started to control things once more. Ainsley’s assist for Auba’s second was just sublime. The trick to beat the full back and then the driven near post cross were just majestic. When did we last score at the near post? Auba’s finish sent the Gooners both in the stadium and around the world wild with joy. 3-2 away from home and Valencia were back needing 4.

Kolasinac replaced by Mustafi improved the defence as Nacho is so much better as a defending wing back.

Sergio Perez/REUTERS

Matteo for the Terrier was the last excellent substution. He controlled the game for the last ten against a demoralised Valencia team. The final goal was a thing of rare beauty with intricate passing, a stepover, superb return pass by Micki and blasted roof of the net finish for Auba to seal his hat trick. Just superb.

Conclusion

Where has this Arsenal side been hiding in the Premier League? Or is it just a case of English teams are that much more intense?

Unai excelled in the Europa again – it really does seem to be his speciality. The two top-class strikers again proved their worth with 4 goals of such high quality. Seven between them over the two legs – simply outstanding.

What a glorious and unexpected night after the two previous nights of despair! The team confounded most people’s expectations with a performance of real quality. Well Done!

The chavs in Baku and a one game shoot-out. Bring it on.

From AFC
twitter

Ratings

Cech – not sure he had too many saves to make as Valencia’s shooting and crossing wasn’t much better than Napoli’s had been in the quarters … 7

Papa – loved him chest bumping with Kos right near the end – as a pair they were excellent … 8

Kos – magnificent captain’s performance putting his body on the line for the team …  8

Nacho – played his part in his usual whole-hearted way … 8

Ainsley – if he can remove the odd lapse in concentration from his game he’s going to develop into a superb Arsenal stalwart – his assist was so, so good … 8

Sead – still too happy to shovel the ball backwards and then disappear forward – we improved when he got cramp … 7

Granit – a little lumpen on occasion and his intricate short passing game needs work – he gave his all, mind you, which is all we can ask … 7

Lucas – the game seemed to be played around him a little in the first half – great assist for Laca’s goal – still not sure if he and Granit complement each other … 7

Mesut – was ok but when he went off he wasn’t really missed which is telling … 7

Pierre – a world class hat trick from a world class finisher on his day … 10

Alexandre – the second goal came at just the right time and Laca never stopped putting in 100% effort – such a good signing …. 9

Subs

Henrikh – away from the hustle and bustle of the EPL, Micki sometimes excels – his cameo was top drawer, topped off with a glorious assist for Auba’s hat trick goal – that old Dortmund combination in all its glory … 8

Shkodran – filled in nicely … 7

Matteo – looked brilliant in his ten minutes on the Mestalla pitch – instrumental in that final goal with his positive forward passing … 8

Manager

Unai Emery – everything right on the night – you cannot ask for more … 10

Baku here we come!

Ref

Danny Makkelie (NED) – wasn’t fooled by much on the night – excellent … 8

chas


Courage, Cohesion and Confidence.

May 9, 2019

Our turn.

So far in the semi-finals the team which lost the first leg won the tie. These are not good omens nor is our away form.

No … stop this Raddy,. Get a Grip. Negativity breeds negativity. As Mr. Python says “Always look on the bright side of life.”

Unknown.jpeg

If we score one Valencia have to score 5 to win (4 for pens), if we score two Valencia have to score 6. So, what should Emery do? In my opinion, he should stack the midfield and attack from the first whistle.

The Mestella is a hostile stadium for the away teams. Valencia’s home record is very good particularly in defence, they have conceded just 11 goals in 18 La Liga games. Not so dusty upfront with 21 goals scored (to compare, at home we have scored 42 and conceded 16 in the same number of matches – away from home we have conceded 34 😱)

Valencia were poor at the Emirates. We conceded a stupid set piece goal which puts the tie at risk but otherwise Arsenal were comprehensively the better team The Frenchman, Gameiro, looked quality and on both wings we looked vulnerable.

This week we have seen other fine sides collapse in the second half which should be a clear lesson. The best team does not always win, sometimes it is luck and strength of character. We need both.

Do we have strength of character? Looking at the last few weeks the answer has to be No but tonight is different. We are two games away from Glory and no-one will remember the pisspoor performances if we get to Baku.

If Ramsey, Hector, Holding and Welbz were available I would be mega-confident, they aren’t. So who gets to start?

Cech in goal – I wouldn’t pick him but Unai is loyal to his players. Kos and the Greek Bloke. Does he start Monreal or Mustafi to complete the Back 3 Mustafi has been better in the last few games – always the butt of the Gooner’s ire (usually well-deserved) one must also recognise when he plays well. Monreal always giving his all, I would play Mustafi

Unknown-1.jpeg

Kola will surely start but would you pick AMN

The midfield is much harder to predict. I would not play Douzi but he is a favourite of UE and startedd in the home leg. Nor would I start either Ozil or Mhki who are not in good form, but if we don’t start one of them, who supplies the ammunition to our front two?

I don’t know and have to trust that UE does.

IMO if Xhaka and Terrier play well we will win.

And what of the bench? Do we have anyone riding the pine who gives you confidence that they can either shore up a crumbling defence or give us attacking impetus? You know the answer.

Courage, Cohesion and Confidence will get the Arsenal to Baku because we already have the skill and talent. It will be a battle and in the words of a true Englishman …

“The games afoot, Follow your spirit and upon this charge, Cry “God for Unai, England and Saint Charlie George.”

COYRRG


Arsenal FC – Away to Valencia

May 7, 2019

Well this has turned into a real must win game.

Here are the odds from five betting sites and only one predicts an Arsenal loss.

We are leading 3-1 going into the second leg at Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium and must avoid losing by two clear goals in order to progress to the final; on the other hand Valencia’s task will become increasingly more difficult if they allow Arsenal to score.

The Mestalla will be intimidating

Valencia have lost just one of their last 21 games at home in all competitions and have lost just three times in total, twice in La Liga and once in Europe, which was a 2-0 loss to Juventus in the Champions League.

Arsenal have won just two of their last eight games on their travels between cup and league competition and have won just four out of 16 road matches since the start of December.

Valencia will be hoping to win a European trophy for the fist time since they beat Marseille 2-0 in the 2004 UEFA Cup Final.

Arsenal is looking to reach their first European final since they lost to Barcelona 2-1 in the 2006 Champions League final.

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, 4/5/94. Credit Colorsport/ Stuart Macfarlane

Here is a look at Valencia’s entire Europa League record, their home form is quite formidable W45, D12, L6, GF145, GA57 – on average they score 2.3 goals and concede .9 goals per game.

Will we march on to the Europa League Final on May 29th at the Olympic Stadium in Baku or will our poor away form be our Achilles heel?

My belief is in Unai Emery pushing our squad beyond its natural limits and on to Baku.

GunnerN5


Arsenal 3 Valencia 1 – Cojones found – Player Ratings

May 3, 2019

Three at the back, wing backs for width, narrow up front and no Terrier. We need to score goals so hopefully our two main strikers on the pitch can do the business, but they will need service.

First Half

Things looked bleak after an early set-piece setback. The lad who looked like he’d never walk again moments earlier rose at the far post to nod home.

Arsenal’s response was majestic. Lacazette with a brilliant turn set a sprinting Auba free through the middle. Pausing to take the keeper out of the game, he laid it off for the following up Laca to stroke the ball into an empty net.

Seven minutes later, yet another spin by Laca saw him beat the offside trap and be available for Xhaka to pop it beautifully right on to his forehead. The ref’s wrist piece told him the ball was miles over the line when the keeper tried to claw it out after it had come off the post. Laca knew it was in – cue delighted celebrations and suddenly we were in front. Wow.

Second Half

We were excellent in the first 20 of the 2nd period with a full on power play. Every single player snapped into challenges determined to be first to the ball. It was a shame we couldn’t capitalise and score a third and fourth during this purple patch.

As energies dwindled, Valencia began to come back into it and Cech made a brilliant save to keep the slender lead in tact.

Laca’s chances came and went. He really should have grabbed his third but made a dog’s breakfast of a simple header and then hit the keeper’s legs in a one on one.

In the 88th minute Valencia made a time wasting substitute, keen to hang on to the 2-1 and their precious away goal. I began to think about how a slim lead was better than nothing but was doubtful it might be enough.

Then Mkhitaryan, who had provided real thrust when coming on for Mesut, had a shot blocked. The ball ricocheted back to Laca who tested the keeper with a deflected effort but again the ball found its way to Kolasinac who floated his classiest ball of the season to the far post where Auba shinned it in. Perfect. From a squeaky 2-1 to a far more convincing 2 goal cushion. Well played, lads.

Conclusion

We’ll still probably require an away goal in the Mestalla but at least we’re in there with a great chance of the Final.

The first half was pretty even but our second half dominance merited the 3-1.

Another great thing about that late goal was that those who can’t be bothered to remain in their seats until the end of the match, all missed it.

Ratings (extra point for all for us winning the first leg of a semi by 2 goals)

Cech – looked a little shaky on high balls but his save at 2-1 could well be crucial … 8

Mustafi – a fine performance from the German – pre-match worries from Gooners were banished by Shkodran’s commitment , drive and effort … 8

Koscielny – looked to have pulled a hamstring early in the 2nd half but played on fighting for the cause – hope he’s ok, his experience is invaluable  … 8

Sokratis – enjoyed the rough and tumble of the game and even smiled on occasion – he’s so likeable … 8

Maitland-Niles – some good, some not so good, but his positive contributions were excellent after he settled down … 7

Kolasinac – not brilliant in the first half but his final ball got better and better, as did his passing and interplay on that left flank in 2nd half – gem of an assist … 8

Xhaka – excellent through the game – controlled the midfield in the second period and delivered a peach of a cross for Laca’s second … 8

Guendouzi – I was surprised to see him subbed as he seemed to be playing well at that time, intercepting and interchanging to great effect   … 7

Ozil – a little anonymous in the first period but put the after burners on after half time – had a lovely time pinging the ball to and from Xhaka … 8

Lacazette – ran his socks off, scored two goals – could have had two more … 9

Aubameyang – sprinting around with real purpose, it really seemed that Auba had saved himself for this one – instrumental in Laca’s first and got that vital 3rd at exactly the right time … 9

Subs

Torreira – found his early season form with great interceptions, tackles and distribution – Unai’s substitution of the tiring Matteo was completely justified by Lucas’s performance … 8

Mkhitaryan – added much more in 20 minutes than he has done in the last three or four games combined in this little cameo … 7

Monreal – little to do as a sub for Kos … 7

Managers

Emery – Unai’s magic Europa wand appears to still be in tact after his move to Arsenal – hopefully he can come up with a plan to see us over the line next week … 9

Rob Newell – Camerasport via Getty Images

Marcelino Garcia Wagner – it was perfect that he was satisfied with the 2-1, tried to waste time and then looked crestfallen when he found his side two goals behind … 5

Ref

Clement Turpin – any lame efforts at using ‘highway robbery’ in the assessment of Monsieur Turpin were not required as the Frenchman did his best to uphold the rules without wanting to dominate proceedings in a sickening Oliveresque way – loved that moment when he pointed to his wrist to confirm the 2nd goal … 8

chas