Out with a Whimper rather than a Bang – Atletico Ratings

May 4, 2018

Looking for highlights to refresh the memory of major incidents in the game, the go-to place is often Arsenalist. The clip descriptions for last night seem to form a decent match report, illustrating the fact that we didn’t really have many clearcut chances whereas Atletico did. Fair reflection or not?  Here they are……..

First Half

Ospina punches it away early

Dangerous Lacazette cross

Huge Diego Costa chance

Koscielny injury

Oooo…Monreal almost pulls it back for Lacazette

Good Arsenal play but Bellerin’s cross is poor

Big Lacazette chance, doesn’t get shot off

Atletico volley – Ospina save

Monreal chance

Ooooo…Atletico just wide

Ooooo…Griezmann chance

Diego Costa goal 1-0

Second Half

Welbeck fouled very smartly to stop Arsenal break

Big Ramsey chance – can’t get clean shot off

Chambers bails out Mustafi (who fell) on Costa chance

Dangerous Ozil cross…nobody at the end of it

Ozil wins it back, but cross is cleared

Xhaka chance

Huge chance Costa/Griezmann, they should have scored

Bellerin cross poor

Mikhitaryan chance, over

Monreal heads it down into the box – nobody there

Great Xhaka tackle on Griezmann

Costa and Mustafi double bookings

Ozil doing stuff you expect Welbeck to do

Is this….is this a cross?

Can one of you please effin shoot

Ospina save on Torres

Ratings

Ospina – Made some decent blocks … 6

Bellerin – Wakey wakey for the Costa goal, crossing poor throughout  … 5

Mustafi – Shkodran seems a bit thick, left on his backside far too often  … 5

Koscielny/Chambers – Poor Laurent, perhaps a career-ending injury/ Calum did well with a few fine interceptions/recoveries  … 6

Monreal – Worked hard to find something for us to bite on around the Atletico goal … 6

Wilshere – Seemed to lack belief  … 5

Xhaka – Granit gave full effort but is never going to be the one to unlock a resolute defence  … 6

Ramsey – Nothing really came off, looked a bit lightweight … 5

Ozil – Some dangerous moments but couldn’t find anyone to finish off his good work  … 6

Welbeck – Gave everything but still lacking that last little bit of quality  … 5

Lacazette – Plan A requires Alexandre to have some service, Plan B may have been what Arsenal required last night … 6

Summary

Just not good enough on the night against one of the best defences in Europe.

Such a shame for Kos – his Achilles has been an accident waiting to happen. Two new centre backs please, Mr Next Arsenal Manager.

Oh well, on we go to Sunday’s 6th place decider.

chas

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A Golden Chance Squandered but still only Half-time – Atletico Ratings

April 27, 2018

Massive excitement and expectation surrounded this great opportunity to send Mr Wenger off to his retirement with the decent divorce settlement of his first European trophy. Could we take some chances at the sharp end while defending successfully at the other? Simeone has constructed a team which few would want to go and see every week (I bet the Atletico supporters disagree with this assessment). Would Costa come back to haunt us or would it be a case of Griezmann up top on his own? The ground was pretty full when we arrived, the flags looked good and the atmosphere was buzzing with an electricity suitable for a game of such magnitude.

First Half

Arsenal came out of the blocks at a furious pace. The referee immediately issued a yellow card for what looked like a soft challenge from the stands. Lacazette hit the post with a scuffer and then hit the goalkeeper with a close range header. The second yellow looked soft, too, though, having seen a replay, it looked much nastier, number 16’s studs crunching down on Laca’s instep. How many players would be left on the pitch after 90 minutes if this was to be the yellow card issuing rate?

80 minutes to take advantage of playing against 10 men. Could we find a way around the biggest and most skillfully parked bus in the whole of European football? Chances came and went. Danny broke through but caught the keeper’s foot with his attempt when a far post curler was beckoning. Mesut skied one, Kos couldn’t wrap his foot around a ball dropping to him at the far post following a corner, Nacho’s right footed volley went just wide; the ball just wouldn’t go in. Atletico’s defending was magnificent, with blocks and interceptions at crucial moments littering the first half an hour.

colossal defending

Atletico finally managed to get a foothold in the game towards half time and Griezmann twice found opportunities to shoot and test Ospina. 0-0 at half time, surely the goals would come in the second period?

 Second half

The second period seemed like a non-stop procession towards the North Bank end of the stadium. Shots rained in on the Atletico goal, it had to be only a matter of time. On the hour that moment came. Jack stood up a delightful cross worthy of Liam Brady after Nacho had won the ball back on the edge of the opposition area. Laca rose Arshavin-like at the far post and planted the ball firmly past Oblak at last. The stadium erupted.

A crucial second goal failed to materialise thanks to great goalkeeping, superb body-on-the-line defending and some less than perfect finishing. Atletico used every tactic imaginable to disrupt the flow of the game, substitutions seemed to take minutes, players fell over at the slightest contact trying to buy breathing space, every restart from throws, free kicks and goal kicks was used to eat up so much valuable time.

We were all hoping that our defence would remain solid right up until the final whistle because conceding against ten men after such dominance would be heart-breaking. However, this current incarnation of Arsene’s team always seem to have one calamitous moment, locked away to disappoint us, where what can possibly go wrong, does go wrong.

With less than 10 to go, Danny overran the ball on the left flank gifting possession to Atletico. The ball was played forward to Griezmann, stood behind Kos, but both Monreal and Mustafi were playing him onside. Kos recovered beautifully judging the ball much better than the Atleti player but then decided that playing the ball back over his head was the best option. This seemed to be Kos’ only mistake of the game but what a costly one! Ospina parried Griezmann’s first effort and then Mustafi slipped as he tried to block the second but still got a knee on it.  The ball was in the Arsenal net from Atletico’s only chance of the half – a familiar story, unfortunately.

The goal brought to mind Freddie and Jaap Stam in Jan 2000

Perhaps a winner might have lifted us all from the gloom of that away goal conceded but despite good efforts from Rambo and Welbeck plus a skied blast from Xhaka, 1-1 was destined to be Atletico’s reward for soaking up all that pressure.

Surprisingly it seemed to be the Arsenal team who had run out of steam in that second period rather than the 10 men of the Spanish side.

Ratings (tempting to give all sixes and sevens, but that was only one moment in the match 🙂 )

Ospina – Fairly untroubled, did well against Griezmann and had little chance with the goal when it finally came … 7

Bellerin – Looked dangerous, especially in the first half and produced some fine moments throughout  … 7

Mustafi – Not much to do the whole game against one striker after the sending off. Why did he have to slip for the one and only time at that precise moment?   … 6

Koscielny – Such a shame his defending in last night’s game will be remembered for that crazy decision to play it clever with Griezmann … 6

Monreal – Tireless as ever, worked his nuts off – again the goal is all we will remember, jogged back after the failed step up for offside … 6

Wilshere – Still looks short of confidence but must be proud of that assist … 6

Xhaka – Granit looked good without ever being put under too much pressure  … 7

Ramsey – Rambo’s efforts weren’t quite up to his recent standards and he seemed to run out of gas more than most until that last five minutes  … 6

Ozil – Tried everything he could to unlock the Madrid version of Fort Knox  … 7

Welbeck – Came out of the blocks like a greyhound and looked likely to provide us a goal. I’m not keen on his trying to win free kicks by exaggerating falls – stop it Danny  … 6

Lacazette – A marvellous header for the goal, some brilliant turns and movement plus several other good efforts – all repelled by Oblak unfortunately … 8

Subs

There were none and when you looked at the bench you could see why.

On to next Thursday, the tie is far from over and we have to be confident we can cancel out that calamitous away goal. When our away goal comes will be crucial – score first and it’s game on.

chas


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

 

 


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


The Russians are coming

April 5, 2018

The International break was beyond tedious, while the Stoke game made me beg on my knees for another international. Break.

Today, on the other hand, is the real deal, and I cannot wait.

Speaking of I, today, and for one day only Ladies and Gentlemen, I have become a Liberal. Reason being, the Russian are coming to the Ems, and therefore I will have a build-in excuse if we lose.  No more having to look critically at ourselves or our own failings, no, nice and easy…blame someone else. God, it’s good to be wet and weak. Loving. it. The level headed thinkers among you won’t like this, but I will be blaming rigged team selections and poisoning. Perfect.

Right. The game.

Laca is back. Mikhi will start and we have Mesut.

Auba, the gent, stepped aside to allow Laca the confidence boosting goal from the spot the other day.This will have made Laca feel loved, and being French, these things matter.  Mikhi has allowed me to completely forget about Sanchez, and with the shape of the side looking so much better, I think we will really come love this man in an Arsenal shirt.

Mesut…ah, the ghoulish one. Often, I look at him on the pitch, and have to rub my eyes as he appears to lose focus, the edges fuzz and blur, and then puff, the spectre has vanished. Like one of those meditative guru’y Indian fellas, who can disassemble there own molecules, vanish in Delhi and then re-materialise in Bombay just a few short moments later. Other-worldly is what he is.

The rest? Granit, Jack and Ramsey with some defenders, I’d imagine.

Tonight, we shall prevail and excuses not required. Bring it on

Written by MickyDidIt89


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


Arsenal thrash Milan. Draw 12:00 GMT today. Thoughts.

March 16, 2018

Usual from me here. You all saw the game.

My thoughts: we have much better shape with Mikhi in the side and Mesut should shoot more.

Ok, the competition itself…………………..

I’ve always believed Arsenal should be dining at the top table alongside the Bayerns and Barcas, but I am having second thoughts. We know from tried and tested experience what happens in the Champions League. Few rubbish group games, then we meet a good team and that’s that. We cannot compete amongst Europe’s finest.

The Europa is, frankly, more our level. I’d say the quality of destinations for the away traveller is on a par, and of course we don’t have to go through that terrible bother of trying to finish in the top four, which is increasingly becoming a bit of a bore. Being a dedicated cup team appeals to me far more, as each and every game of knock-out phase football encapsulates the conclusive drama about it.

Today’s draw.

Madrid, Salzburg, Moscow, Leipzig, Marseille, Rome, Lisbon.

You may have noticed I list as destinations rather than football clubs, because this is the way I view these things. We all know Madrid are the best side (as well as being the top spring time destination), and should be avoided until a more palatable one-legged final.

Of the remaining destinations, my order of priority would be: Lisbon, Salzburg, Rome, Moscow, Marseille, Leipzig.

Written by mickydidit89