Qarabag Ratings

December 14, 2018

This is the reason international friendlies never entice – if there’s nothing riding on a game of football, tedium ensues.

First Half

Laca scored a beauty from a Mesut pass.

Laca even had time to do a celebration dance as the ball sped under the keeper

Second Half

I went to bed to read.

Ratings

Everyone got a … 6

except

Laca (for scoring),  Kos (for surviving) and Mesut (for being Mesut) … 7

Qarabag … 2 – so poor they didn’t even try to make it an entertaining game of football even though they had nothing whatsoever to lose.

Comments from AA match attendees

LB

I got the feeling that Ozil wasn’t out there for as long as he was to get important game time but as a kind of sop to us poor souls who braved the cold.

LBG

I can safely say that was a worse game to be at than even the recent 0-0 draw.
Good luck with player ratings. Not one of the youngsters did themselves justice. Sokratis OK, Kos OK Laca frustrated by no service. Mesut reasonable. Ref shit (for a change…ed)

On to Sunday, take your boots if you’re going, you might be needed.

chas

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Boys will be men! – Arsenal v Vorskla Player Ratings

November 30, 2018
Well, everything seemed to be stacked against the team in the beginning. Whose idea was it to organise a long trip away midweek before celebrating some serious Spud-bashing in the weekend! Really bad idea!

And then, serious brass monkey weather in the Land of Always Winter! Note, the ref needed a replacement can to paint the ground in the second half because the first one froze in his pants! 🙂

To top it all, martial law and proxy wars of the kind never seen in the civilized end of Europe on the correct side of 1945. Who would have thunk!

And then, in a shocking late move just to disrupt our preparations, UEFA decided at the last minute to move the game to the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. Surely, the sole purpose was to bring memories of another Brexit side crashing to European opposition in last season’s Champions League final!

Yes, the odds were all stacked against us.

In response, Unai Emery decides, in his enormous wisdom, to pack the team with teenagers fresh out of nursery. Bless the man and his sense of humour! In the event, we had a fantastic spectacle where the young gunners ran amok and Vorskled the shell-shocked opposition 3-0 on the night! What’s not to like?

We have struggled a bit with our academy setup in the past couple of years. But, if there was one thing we learnt last night, it was that the future is bright and shining. Yes, these young boys will be men soon enough. But will they stay and take it up the Arse? That is the long term question. In the short term, things look bright. We can look forward to another brilliant teen-show of Emery-ball against Qarabag.

Here are some quick thoughts and ratings. Please feel free to disagree.

Helmet: 6
Better with his feet than with his hands, which were probably frozen. Had to make a couple of saves, which he did, not without pretending to be nutmegged once early on. But that was just play-acting. Especially loved his bold clearance outside the box in the second half.

AMN: 6.5
Holding: 6
Jenks: 6
Licht: 6
The defence had precious little to do by way of stopping opposition attacks. It seems all aggression is diverted towards the Russians at the moment. Holding and Jenks were solid. Licht was good on the overlap. AMN was somewhat iffy in defence but linked up really well with the midfield.

Elneny: 5
Worked hard, but I thought he was the weak link on the night. Caught out of position a few times, and got himself into an offside position in the second half for what would have otherwise been Smith-Rowe’s second goal. However, decent assist for the third goal.

Rambo: 7
Almost convinced the ref and everyone else that he was attempting to dive, but in the process earned as fair a penalty as one would ever see. Wonderful stewardship of a bunch of youngsters (Cech was the captain on the night, I think, but Rambo looked very much the leader on the field). Most importantly, he got the opposition goalie on his knees for the penalty. Now, how many times have a seen a goalie defending a penalty kneeling down rather than diving! Wow!

Douzi: 6
Good solid link up play. Nothing spectacular except the hair, but valuable nevertheless.

Smith-Rowe: 8
Such games can sometimes be nervy affairs, and the first goal is always important. On the night, a wonderfully cool finish for an early first goal that set the tone for the game. To top it all, a wonderful sheepish smile after calmly finishing off a second half goal only for the goal to be disallowed very late. Just because Elneny was caught too far upfront trying to give the opposition goalie the eye!

Nketiah: 7
Tireless work throughout the game. Really gutsy, and very skillful. A fine assist to boot!

Willock: 7
What wonderful maturity, skill and finish for the third goal! A fine talent. A great pleasure to watch.

Zech Medley, Bukayo Sako and Charlie Gilmour.
What wonderful names! Never heard of them before. Medley was wonderful in defence, seems to be a real talent for the future. Sako was excellent in link up play. Both solid 6’s for me. Gilmour was not on long enough to make an impression.

Two final thoughts………..

First, a special thought for the team doctor (don’t know their name) who apparently did not travel with the team and reached late on his own. Then forgot that the game was moved to Kiev and travelled a pointless 400 miles by road to finally reach the game. What a performance!

Second. By the way, that is now 18 and counting! Look forward to some serious mauling of the blue-skinned swamp dwellers from N17 in the weekend.

A mildly satisfied,

Red Arnie


Arsenal FC – Our record playing in the Ukraine

November 28, 2018

Our record in the Ukraine hasn’t been all that auspicious.  It’s a difficult place to go as winter creeps in.

Dynamo Kyiv were our first Ukrainian opponents in 1998. These were the days of playing at Wembley to allow more people in and swell the coffers that bit more. It was a dreadful idea as virtually all home advantage was lost. Kiev (as we called them in those days) had Shevchenko and Rebrov, which also didn’t help! We drew at home and then lost 3-1 away in November. (This was before Rebrov disgraced himself by going to the spuds, coming 12th and 9th before going on loan to Fenerbahce).

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In 2003 we again lost away but sneaked a 1-0 home win at Highbury with a late Ashley Cole goal. Kiev were drawn in our group for the third time in 2008. We managed to sneak a 1-1 draw in the Valery Lobanovskiy Stadium thanks to a very late Billy G equaliser and sneaked the home tie when Lord Bendtner popped up with an 87th minute winner.

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Against Shakhtar Donetsk in September 2000 at Highbury, I was proud to witness one of my favourite ever live games. Losing 2-0 early on, Wiltord gave us hope on the stroke of half time slotting in the rebound from a missed penalty. The last ten minutes will live long in the memory as Martin Keown popped up with two goals (one which appeared to be off his arm) to snatch victory at the death. Must have been his only brace ever. I smiled all the way home to Notts. The less said about the 3-0 away defeat in November the better.

We romped past Shakhtar in October 2010 5-1 at the Emirates featuring goals from the FFBW, a Cesc penalty and a Chamakh special before again losing away 2-1 in November. (Eduardo, our Brazilian Croatian ex-player, scored in both legs but shunned any goal celebrations)

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There’s a theme developing here. The later in the year you play away in the Ukraine, the harder it is to come away with a point. A proliferation of gloves and too many thermal layers probably doesn’t help.

Still all trends are there to be broken, starting on Thursday.

Update on Thursday’s game

Russian aggression towards the Ukraine appears to be escalating and in response the Ukrainian government has declared martial law. President Petro Poroshenko has said the implementation ‘aims to prevent an all-out Russian invasion’.

A statement from Uefa read: “The emergency panel has today taken the decision to relocate FC Vorskla’s Europa League group stage match against Arsenal from the city of Poltava, following the introduction of martial law into certain regions in Ukraine.

“Uefa will continue to monitor and assess the security situation in Ukraine in the coming days before making any decision on potentially relocating other matches.”

Up to 500 Arsenal fans were expected to travel to the game in Poltava and now must make alternative arrangements, with the decision coming less than 48 hours before the scheduled start time, which remains unchanged. (17:55pm)

chas


What’s in store for Emery’s Arsenal in December?

November 27, 2018

Yep, I realise November isn’t over yet but December starts on Saturday and Europa League matchday 5 will take up the end of this week.

So, what’s in store for December – Nine flippin games is what. This is partly due to the ridiculous amount of international breaks, maybe. Injuries will abound and the clubs with the biggest squads will benefit.

These 9 games include 7 in the Prem, 1 Caribou Cup game and our remaining Europey fixture. With us still to win in Vorskla away this Thursday, hopefully Qarabag at home on the 13th December will finally be a chance to play some Academy players.

The League Cup game on Wednesday the 19th is, of course, against our loathsome neighbours from Middlesex. I’ve no real idea how we approach that tie, except to win by as many as is humanly possible.

Arsenal’s David Rocastle shows the League Cup trophy to the fans at Highbury. 11/04/1987

December kicks off, yep you’ve guessed it, against the spuds at THOF – next Sunday the 2nd, with an earlyish kick off of 2.05pm, presumably to minimise potential crowd disturbances. Three days later sees a midweek trip to Manchester – everyone gets a draw there. Can we grab a point or even go one better? These are two massive fixtures which could set the tone for the whole month.

Either side of that Qarabag fixture we take on Huddersfield at home and Southampton away. Huddersfield at home last season was a bit of a romp – hoping for more of the same this time around. St Mary’s was turning into a bit of bogey ground a couple of seasons ago; what with Szczesny smoking after almighty howlers and other such nonsense like Shane Long looking a half decent player but only ever in the one game he played against us each year. Recently, however, we’ve managed to win 2 and draw 1 of our last three down on the South coast. Definitely need to keep up that improvement.

The ground staff will have their work cut out to fumigate the Clock End lower Tier after the spud Caribou game in time for the visit of Burnley in the League 3 days later.

Our last two fixtures between Christmas and New Year involve away trips to Brighton and then to Liverpool. Both will be tricky in different ways.

All in all, a quite horrendously busy month with the only 5 day gap between matches fairly early on, after the Huddersfield game and before Qarabag. I suppose we’ll just have to take it one game at a time. 🙂

Twenty one League points up for grabs. Where we might finish in the table come the end of the season should become more obvious by the turn of the New Year.

chas    


Poor Danny – Arsenal player ratings versus unSporting Lisbon

November 9, 2018

Arsenal supporters turning up for Thursday night Europa League football were hoping for some excitement to warm them up and also for outright group victory with a win and three points. Things didn’t really turn out like that.

First Half

The best chance I can remember was when Douzi played a sweet one-two down the right and Welbz just failed to make decent contact at the near post with the Frenchman’s fizzing cross.

After half an hour Danny seemed to catch his foot in the turf trying to make good contact with a header. You could tell he was hurt by his reaction and by the reaction of those around him. So sad. He was having a fine season getting both game time and goals. Get well soon, Danny.

Second Half

The Arsenal players were obviously deeply affected by their very popular and likeable teammate having such bad luck. Auba had a few chances he might have gobbled up on a different day. Micki got into a great position and then couldn’t quite divert Wobbly’s driven cross beyond the Sporting keeper.

Lichtsteiner pinged a hammy by the look of it so efforts to preserve the fitness of the Wardrobe had to be foregone after the hour mark, but he seemed to come through unscathed. Hopefully Nacho will be match fit soon as well.

We had 14 efforts on goal, 5 on target, Sporting had five shots, none on target. A point was good enough for them and that’s what they came for.

This clip sums up Arsenal’s night in front of goal…….

Summary

The game was overshadowed by Danny’s injury.

The foul count was Arsenal 7 Sporting 13.  Lisbon’s 13 should have been a whole lot more. Acuna, playing on the left with no neck and the gait of a simian should have been sent of several times before Mathieu’s professional foul finally saw one of them leave the pitch. Unfortunately it came too late to have any effect on the result.

I realise that the ‘Sporting’ in the Portuguese club’s name doesn’t mean the same as it did for the Sporting Corinthians but they employed every destructive and negative ploy they could to disrupt the football match, including studs down the back of calf muscles, a wide variety of trips and the use of an arm. Nani should be sent off every time he steps on to the pitch just for his loathsome ‘5 year old having a tantrum’ face.

Our unbeaten run extends to 15 games, so let’s make it 16 by beating Wolves on Sunday for Dat Guy.

Ratings

Cech – nothing to do…6

Lichtsteiner – Booked fairly early after some Nani play-acting, then succumbed to his ageing muscalature in the second half…6

Big Sok – Looked very solid and he is…7

Holding – Growing in confidence in his own abilities with each game…7

Jenks – Did ok down the left without too much to trouble him…6

Guendouzi – what a great player he is at 19 years old. Just imagine what he could be like in his prime…7

Ramsey – Rambo couldn’t quite lift the game as you’d hope a player of his class might…6

Mkhitaryan – Likewise for Micki…6

Smith Rowe – Plenty of decent touches all over the pitch apart from in the final third where he sometimes lacks composure, which is only to be expected…6

Wobbly – got into some great positions but couldn’t quite seal his good work with an assist…6

Welbeck – Let’s pray his injury isn’t as bad as is feared. I was sure he was going to score last night…7

Subs

Auba – not his usual clinical self…6

Wardrobe – As with the rest of the team, he couldn’t find that killer cross after getting into some great positions…6

Maitland-Niles – looks fine as a back-up right back which may come in useful…6

chas


Sporting Lisbon Preview.

November 8, 2018

Win tonight. Top the group with two easier games to go. Job done.

Perhaps the post should stop here!

Man Utd and Spurs completely undeserved victory will hopefully keep them out of the Europa. There seems to be heightened expectations that we will win this tournament but, like the Carabao, it is relatively easy until the final rounds.

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Sporting Lisbon have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 30 European games, I expect that run to continue. Having said that, we have not kept a clean sheet in our last 5 European games!

We have discussed Sporting in the first leg and we have little to add. They are a decent team, strong defensively, hard working … the usual. We should beat them in a home tie.

We have injuries and players returning to the squad, they should remain out of the team. A mixture of youth and experience is what is required.

My Team:

Helmet

Licht    Mustafi     Holding    Wardrobe

Ramsey   Curly    Smith Rowe (Lab)     AMN (Cons)

Mhiki       Welbz

A strong attacking bench will allow Mr Emery to play a very inexperienced and young midfield. I very much doubt he will play this team but it would be fun. Xhaka needs a rest, and I would keep Iwobi for Wolves at the weekend, same with Laca, Hector, Terrier and PEA.

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Tonight’s 6 officials (referee, linesman, behind the goal-line linesmen and 4th official) are from Lithuania, could this be a first?

Not as easy a fixture as many are assuming, this will not be a walkover.

Enjoy the game

COYRRG


What does November hold in store for Emery’s Arsenal?

November 5, 2018

So, after October ended in subdued fashion with a ‘bridge too far’ performance away at Selhurst and a workman-like win at home to Blackpool, November began with a bang with a really decent fireworks display against Klippety Klopp’s team. How good was it to see the new Arsenal stand toe-to-toe with one of the bookies’ Prem title favourites and not look outclassed?

Some ‘pundits’ were made to look exactly what they actually are – utter clowns.

What does the rest of November have in store for us – let’s take a look?

Next up it’s the return fixture with Sporting Lisbon, this time at The Home Of Football. (I’ve never quite understood why you always play one team twice in a row in the middle of group game fixtures – oh well). Danny’s well-taken strike in the Portuguese capital has put us completely in control of our own destiny in Group E. Another decent squad performance on 8th November and the last two fixtures could be used to give pitch time for more of the youngsters.

The Europa means back to Sunday fixtures and we entertain Wolves on 11th November at the curious kick off time of 4.30pm. The game isn’t being televised and only seems to be at 4.30pm so as not to clash with the manc derby which also kicks off then. There’s no thought for travelling supporters yet again – what a surprise!

Let’s hope for a good performance against the Wanderers as it needs to carry us through yet another Dennis-forsaken interlull which begins immediately after.

Real life begins again on Sunday 25th November at 1.30pm with a televised game away at high flying Bournemouth. They will be licking their wounds and coming out fighting after being unluckily beaten at home by Mourinho’s mob this weekend. This will be another great test of Unai’s red and white machine. Anything like the performance at Palace and we could be punished.

The final game for the month is another away fixture in the Europa. FC Vorskla and a long  trip to the Ukraine. Hopefully we’ll have the group wrapped up by then and be able to rest some of the first Xl because December begins in rather tasty fashion – more of that at a later date.

To summarise, 3 home games in a week at the start of the month and 2 away games near to its end, separated by some tedious, pocket-lining fixtures for the game’s international governing bodies. (England are at home to the USA in a friendly and Croatia in the Uefa Nations League, if you’re even vaguely interested)

chas