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


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.


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.






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


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


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


Time to Stand Up and Be Counted, Arsenal

March 8, 2018

So, who’s feeling confident about tonight? Are you thinking that a win might be too much to ask for? Or a draw, especially with an away goal or two, something to celebrate wildly? Perhaps a narrow defeat leaving all to play for in the second leg?

Expectations in the classier side of North London are so low after our current run of form that it really is anybody’s guess as to the outcome. Which Arsenal side will turn up?

As for Milan, well they were covered in yesterday’s post. Their current run of form has coincided with an easier run of fixtures so, perhaps, exaggerates how well they are actually playing. One thing’s for sure, the Milanese packing the Giuseppe Meazza stadium this evening will be confident and fiercely partisan.

Team news

Without Bellerin and Monreal available, it is essential that Calum and The Beast play to the best of their abilities. Remember, we reached the CL Final in 2006 with a record-breaking back four of Flamini, Toure, Senderos and Eboue, so all things are possible. Up front Danny must make a real nuisance of himself – perhaps a goal in Milan will give him the boost in confidence he needs to burst out of his shell with fire and passion.

Discipline both in midfield and defence is a must. The referee will have to be strong to resist being swayed by the crowd at every half tackle and dive.


Team talk from Al Pacino and Winston Churchill 

“I don’t know what to say really. Three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional season all comes down to today. Either we heal as a team or we are going to crumble. Heal inch by inch, play by play till we’re finished. We are in hell right now, gentlemen, believe me and we can stay here and get the sh*t kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch, at a time.

You know, when you get old in life, things get taken from you. That’s, that’s part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out that life is just a game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small. I mean one half step too late or too early you don’t quite make the tackle. One half second too slow or too fast and you don’t quite get a shot in. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game every minute, every second.

I’ll tell you this, in any fight it is the guy who is willing to die who is going to win that inch. And I know if I am going to have any life anymore it is because, I am still willing to fight, and die for that inch because that is what LIVING is. The six inches in front of your face.

Now I can’t make you do it. You gotta look at the guy next to you. Look into his eyes.
Now I think you are going to see a guy who will go that inch with you. You are going to see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows when it comes down to it, you are gonna do the same thing for him.

That’s a team, gentlemen and either we heal now, as a team, or we will die as individuals. That’s football guys. That’s all it is.
Now, whattaya gonna do?”

“We shall defend our Club, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the wings, we shall fight in the penalty areas, we shall fight in attack and in midfield, we shall fight the barbarian hordes of Milan; we shall never surrender.”



Raging Bull – Gattuso Promises Arsenal an Ugly Night

March 7, 2018

Gennaro Gattuso was born in Corigliano Calabro a picturesque but relatively poor town in Calabria, Southern Italy. He’s married to a Scottish woman of Italian descent (an explosive combination if ever there was one) and his reputation of being a man with a short fuse has added fuel to the fire of their tempestuous relationship.

Beginning his career at Perugia, he was signed by Walter Smith at Glasgow Rangers when only 19 years old. He quickly became a cult hero on the banks of the Clyde with his ‘mad dog’ careering style – the Glaswegians were unused to Italians who didn’t cruise about in expensive suits. Paul Gascoigne at Rangers at the same time must have produced a rather volatile dressing room atmosphere.

Gattuso’s playing career really took off when he was signed by AC Milan in 1999. He enjoyed 12 productive years at Milan before an eyesight problem forced his early retirement in 2013. When playing colleague, Andrea Pirlo was dropped into a deep-lying  “trequartista”role, ‘Rino’ became the perfect foil for the cultured playmaker. Complimented by the close presence of Clarence Seedorf, with Inzaghi and Shevchenko up front and Rui Costa in behind, a formidable Milan emerged. Kaká, Rivaldo, Hernán Crespo, Christian Vieri all played in front of the twin engine midfield of Gattuso and Pirlo. Unsurprisingly, Milan won the Champions League twice in 2003 and 2007.

One of Gattuso’s most appealing moments from the point of view of an Arsenal supporter came in 2011 when he grabbed Joe Jordan of Tottnumb Hotspurs by the throat during a CL game. There was also a reported headbutt after the match.  Joe Jordan had played for AC Milan himself after his succesful time with Leeds and the red mancs in England.  Gattuso’s agent’s statement that Jordan called the player “a f****** Italian bastard” seems unlikely. Gattuso was reported to have said that the verbal exchanges were “in Scottish”.

In January 2010, Gattuso opened a fish shop in his home town, presumably as some form of insurance for the end of  his playing career, but the lure of the game saw him immediately launch into various managerial exploits with differing degrees of success.

Stints at Sion (as player manager), Palermo, OFI Crete and Pisa, eventually saw him return to Milan in the summer of 2017, equipped with a full coaching licence, to manage the Milan Primavera Under 19s.

Vincenzo Montella’s sacking last November, catapulted Gattuso to the head chair at the club and although Milan are currently 7th in Serie A, their form is good with 6 wins and two draws out of their last 8 games. The Milan derby last Sunday was postponed due to the untimely death of Davide Astori, so they’re relatively rested, with their last game over a week ago (they scraped past Lazio in the Coppa Italia on penalties).

Apparently 67,000 tickets have been sold by Milan for Thursday’s home leg which goes to show that North London’s finest still prove to be an immense draw. One things for sure, Gattuso will lack nothing in motivating his team to ensure Arsenal receive a very warm reception indeed.






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


The Skater’s Waltz in Östersund – Player ratings

February 16, 2018

First Half

Instead of coming out all reindeer blazing as many home teams do, Östersunds went immediately into contain mode. This tactic backfired as Arsenal quickly gained confidence, possession and shots on goal. The artificial pitch, so different from those monstrosities at Luton and QPR, proved to be a fine playing surface, perfectly flat but with a realistic bounce. It suited the Arsenal far more than we might have expected.

When the Spanish Messi chipped in with yet another goal, it seemed only to be expected. Well, judging by Paul Parker’s reaction on Sky Sports anyway.

A second goal soon followed – as Terry said “Poor Papagianopolous. Bullied at Greek school for having a short surname, he now scores an own goal” – though Micki’s driven cross was difficult to defend and I’m sure Welbz would have scored if the Greek backside hadn’t.

Two up and cruising, so back into Arsenal mode, complacent and dozing. Maybe that’s a little harsh and it was just that Östersunds decided they had nothing to lose, so stepped up a gear.

Terry again, “They have had their chances? Honestly, if I turned up with my old gran and the rest of the chicken admiration society, we would get beat but still create chances against this current Arsenal team”. Seems about right. 🙂

Second half

I must admit to losing a bit of interest in the second half, much like the players and spectators.

Though that is understandable as when Arctic winds, nordvästan, are blowing through your Helags, it’s difficult to concentrate on anything other than your chattering teeth.

Mesut scored a third from another Micki assist and the return leg next week was looking more of a foregone conclusion. The excitement wasn’t over, oh no; in stoppage time David Ospina rescued a clean sheet for the Gunners with our first penalty save for donkey’s.


Mission accomplished, a healthy lead for the home leg, no digits missing from frostbite and hopefully no injuries apart from a few minor carpet burns.


Ospina – A Catcher in the Rye – A couple of good stops and an excellent penalty save … 7

Bellerin – Vanity Fair – made some great runs down the right needs to up his end product  … 6

Mustafi – All Quiet on the Western Front – took everything in his stride and passing was better  ….6

Chambers – Brave New World – looking more comfortable with each game, but not really tested in Sweden … 6

Monreal – The Sun Also Rises – Nacho was born in Pamplona and probably used to train running with bulls  … 7

Elneny – The Kite Runner – MOTM, “Really liked Elneny’s workrate. This is a man who understands his limitations and plays like it. Good man” … 7

Maitland-Niles (Con) – First Among Equals – competent in centre midfield, though not an immediate solution at DM as yet  … 6

Ozil – The Great Gatsby – cruised through the game in second gear in which he still looked majestic … 7

Mkhitaryan – Far From The Madding Crowd – two more assists, his quality was apparent, still settling in … 6

Iwobi – Great Expectations – seemed to like the artificial surface, fluctuates between composed excellence and hasty mediocrity  … 6

Welbeck – Wuthering Heights – lacking in confidence in his abilities, will be so much better when he can find some  … 5