Pl 6 W5 D1 L0. Our Boys in France.

June 13, 2016

First to kick off at the Euros were The FP and Koscielny. Both had fine games with OG scoring the opening goal of the tournament, a classic centre forward’s headed goal. Given the pressure under which Giroud plays in France he must have left the pitch highly satisfied. Koscielny played as he does for Arsenal, with calm efficiency.

Aaron Ramsey: I like his hair colour – it makes him  very easy to identify. Ramsey had a strange game. Started in the number 10 role playing high up the pitch yet as the game progressed moved deeper and deeper. In the second half he was in his Arsenal position which is all over the place.

It would be an exaggeration to say Ramsey dominated the game but he was influential. Next up England where he will hopefully kick lumps out of TotEngland.

Granit Xhaka: Our first view of him as an Arsenal player. I suggested his play was similar to Elneny insomuch as he can break up play but also move forward to assist the attack and predicted a season on the bench for Coquelin. LB’s wrote “To me he looks like a straight swap for Arteta: plays deep, accurate passing, will link the defence with the attack as well as Arteta at his best, expected a tad more defensively and for that I can see slightly more of a time share with Coquelin.”

We shall see.

Wilshire: England kicked off without Jack! It was clear to see how much they improved when he came on. The media are raving about the quality of the England performance – I have no idea why apart from trying to keep interest in the team and tournament. How many chances did they create for the “lethal” Harry Kane? How could Hodgson keep a poor Sterling on the pitch with Vardy on the bench?  Against a poor Russia team a draw was Spursy.

Szczesny. Clean sheet, made a couple of fine saves. Didn’t have much to do in a game totally dominated by Poland but what he had to do he did with aplomb.

Ozil: Mesut was fairly anonymous but created a last minute goal for Schweini. As always the oil in the German attack, he rarely gave up the ball and unusually played the whole game.

So…. our boys result so far.  Played 6 W5 D1 L0.

Cech, Rosicky, Bellerin all play today (if selected).


A Gunner’s Euro Kit Bag

June 9, 2016

The Euros. Summer football. European time zone. Superb. Let’s get ready. There is much essential planning to be done, stocking up and dates in diary to cancel, so I hope my little kit bag guide will help you enjoy a memorable tournament.


The very most vital piece of kit this. No armchairer worth his salt can watch even the opening ceremony without a completed chart. I have never entered a single tournament unprepared on this front. Chas linked us to the one in The Mail on Sunday, and genuinely top notch it is too. Down to the re-cycling depot in the village I went yesterday, and successfully unearthed two of the very same.

I have to confess that I do not enter predicted scores, only winners/losers through to group stages and beyond, but perhaps you are more thorough.

Also essential is to have more than one chart should there be other footballistas in the same house. “Told you so’s” are an essential part of the chart experience, and evidence is crucial.

My Son and I have a simple points system for the group stages, with 4, 3, 2 and 1 points allocated to the final group standings. In other words, we have something meaningful attached to each and every game.


On this subject, I am less than my usual tolerant self. Get real and do the healthy eating early in the day, because with first group games at 2pm, there’s no room to manoeuvre from then on. It’s junk food, so let’s just deal with that like adults. Pizzas will form the foundation of the tournament, and my personal recommendation is to get down to the supermarket and stock up on Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza Pepperoni. Cheap, thin bottoms and the connoisseur’s choice. I say so. My Son says so. We know what we’re talking about here. They come in at a modest 750 calories. In other words, some morning fruit, with as many as two of these boys later in the day, and we’re still within acceptable boundaries of a controlled diet (oh big smiley face).


Now this is a very complex topic, so strap on and listen carefully. Get this wrong, and you have four very messy weeks ahead. My advice here is for the alcohol abuser only, so all tea totallers can boogey on to the next section.

Let’s be realistic here, we’re talking eight hour sessions, so careful thought is required, otherwise things could get very out of focus before the final whistle of the last game of the day.

Rule number one, is never mix the grain and the grape. You’ll need to be in good condition to crack on the following day. I think the real pro could alternate grains and grapes from one day to the next, but you must be the judge of your own abilities on this one.

Pacing yourself can be greatly aided by keeping an eye on alcohol content. Peaking early can be fatal. As our own Ant knows, there are some very delicious feminine, light, fizzy and rather cheeky white’s out there to ease yourself into a session. Sturdy reds to wash down the tobasco drenched pizza, sherry to savour the evening fixture, and port to complete the day.

Grains. Simple formula here, and you all know the drill. Light first, Special brew last.

A final recommendation for the dedicated follower. Drink your way around the map of Europe, selecting only beverages brewed in the country of the side you will be following in any particular match. Belgian ales brewed by monks, German lagers, Russian vodkas and so on.


There will still be lawns to be mown and dogs to be walked, perhaps you hoover things in your house, I don’t know, but do deploy evasion tactics. Personally, my calf muscle is going to break rather badly tonight after surfing, and when during the tournament I bravely go out in the car with surfboards on the roof, it will be to considerately lend them to a mate in need for a few hours. I’m like that. You too may have hobbies that require attention, so all I’m saying is the key to a successful tournament is in the planning.


Always a tricky subject, but one I enjoy. There will be nations you harmlessly enough enjoy to “disrespect”, and of course beware, there will be Spurs players on display. If there are any “sensitives” in your household, a cautionary pre-tournament warning could be displayed. A friendly Mr Marmite DJ style A4 banner forewarning loved ones, perhaps.


So, in conclusion, you have two days remaining. Please remember that tournaments begin with a sprint. Three matches a day winds down to a more relaxed pace as things progress to the later stages, so don’t knock yourself out in the early rounds.

In the words of Keith Richards “I’ve done world tours I didn’t even know I was on”. Stay focussed, plan well, and you’ll remember the thing. Enjoy.

written by MickDidit


Rioja vs Barolo: a preview from an Arsenal perspective

July 1, 2012

In Saturday’s Guardian, there is a fantastic picture of Iniesta surrounded by five Italian players, literally encircling him in order to somehow get the ball of him. Straightaway, it reminded me of a very famous painting by Henri Matisse: ‘Dance’. In the artist’s picture, the dancers are naked and there is nobody in the middle.

Iniesta is the kind of player who can escape such a circle of top quality defenders and midfielders in a flash – leaving them behind like emperors without clothes. “When he has the ball, it’s like everything else stops”, says Torres – “He knows exactly when to release it [the ball], and he holds it so long, inviting pressure on himself and taking responsibility because, somewhere deep down, he knows that he is better than them”, says Guardiola.

Andres Iniesta is one of the finest midfielders I have ever watched playing football.

I have a similar admiration for the Italian ‘Quarterback’ Andrea Pirlo, although they are a different sort of midfielder. As I described in a recent post, he is the sort of player who, with brilliant simplicity, can totally control a game: an absolute joy to watch.

To be able to see them both again today, fighting for the second biggest football prize a nation can win, is simply mouth watering.

This evening’s Euros final between Spain and Italy promises to be a feast for the eye. The only potential blot could be the southern European nasty tendency to cheat, or the sickening waving of imaginary cards for opponents.

The two best teams have made it to the final, and this is the fourth time in the history of the Euros that the finalists have met already in their opening game of the tournament – bizarrely enough, every time with exactly eight years between them.

I don’t know about you, but I cannot watch a game that does not involve Arsenal without making a reference/comparison to/with our beloved team. Today’s game will give us a great insight into what sort of football we could be playing in the next few years.

Yesterday’s brilliant tactical post by Sagar Tarkhadkar highlighted clearly that nobody can tell with absolute certainty which formation and style of football Arsene will opt for next season. With the purchases of Giroud and Podolski, and Wenger’s announcement that he wants to play these two with RvP up front – and this combined with potentially more player purchases and hopefully the return to full fitness of JW and Diaby – it really is hard to tell what he is going to do next. Very exciting times lay ahead of us!

Today’s finalists represent two styles of football which have a fairly strong connection with the way we play currently, and have played in our recent past. I don’t really want to go into a deep analysis of formations, as we have done that yesterday. I feel we could be on the crossroad here between going some distance towards the Spain/Barca way, or towards a formation not too dissimilar to the way Italy is set up.

Are we going towards a style of football similar to Spain’s tiki-taka, with the purchase/introduction of a classic DM, who sits in front of the back four, and play a boxing-in/pressing football, high up the pitch, with two attacking midfielders in front of him? With the purchase of two more typical strikers it is now highly unlikely we will ever play anything like 4-6-0 or 4-5-1, but Arsene could be working on his own variant again of something similar to ‘tiki-taka’ football.

Or are we going to stick to our 4-2-1-3/4-3-3, or even move towards MickyDidIt89’s preference of Italy’s current 3-5-2 formation?

It all remains to be seen.

The thing is formations are not everything: you also really need a lot of good players, and a few great players, to make it work.

Iniesta is a great player and he is surrounded by a number of very good/great players. The likes of Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva and Fabregas are the reason the tiki-taka football is played at such an incredibly high level. Ok, it has not been as good this tournament as it was during the WC, but nevertheless we are still watching, from a tactical point of view as well as individual skills on display, phenomenally good football – even though it might not always be a pure joy to watch. Some of the key players lack form and seem fatigued which has an impact on the quality of their overall football at the moment.

Pirlo is also a great, great player and he is surrounded by a number of very good, if not great, players too. The likes of De Rossi, Marchisio, Cassano and especially Montolivio are fantastic to watch, and the enigmatic Super Mario has potential to be absolute world class. I like the look of this Italy side, and would not mind at all if Arsenal were to be set up in a similar way – and I think we have the right sort of players for it.

Both teams have a decent to good defence and an excellent goalkeeper, so it will be the battle of midfield and how clinically the teams are in front of goal, which are likely to make the biggest difference tonight.

This final will be a clash of two styles of football, and I will be watching it with the likes of Wilshere, Song, the Ox, Ramsey, Coquelin, Arteta and Diaby in mind. I will be fantasising about how they could play for us in next season’s campaign, and how the formations and style of football on display could work for us.

I am sure the game will give us plenty of input for further analysis for days to come, but let’s hope it will live up to its promise and not be spoiled by unsporting-like behaviour.

Will it be Barolo or Rioja which ends up on top? I have a feeling the latter might turn out to be corked.

If you are watching, I hope you’ll enjoy the game.


I hate the French but like sizzling hot redheads

June 24, 2012

I need to open with a couple of points of clarification. I hate the French for not beating Spain, and the bit about redheads was only lobbed in to garner hits.

Now I have to admit that due to other commitments, I only watched ten minutes of the France-Spain encounter, however, I was bored rigid. If the Spanish pass, pass, pass, pass, pass game is any way the apex or ultimate variant of the Barca Style, then I want “out” now.

When we at The Arsenal play our intricate little passing triangles with 70% possession, while camped in the final third and the opposition with the bus firmly parked, quite often the most exciting moments of the game are when said oppo. break free and counter.

Back in the day, when DB and TH graced the hallowed green meadow at Highbury, we would power away up field from defending a corner with such electric pace and fluidity that the opposition would be transfixed like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

By all means let’s hog possession, but can’t we do it lower down and save the high line for taking the mick once we are two up after ten minutes.

Look at the times we were undone at home last season, by whom, and playing what system?

What I will now call the “Sparca Style” lacks pace, expansiveness and above all excitement. It has become, to my bright eyes at least, a bus parky variation. Simply, they are parking further up the road.

The only times we get to Ooo and Ahhh during Barca play is when we witness moments of magic from a Messi or an Iniesta. What I’m saying is, would those moments simply be magnified if played at high speed and in wide open spaces.

“This is rubbish” I said to myself while watching my whole ten minutes. It’s like a game of pass the bloomin’ parcel where the host Mum has left the cd playing and buggered off outside for a fag or two.

What I am saying is let’s mix it up. Not long ball, but just remember it’s a long pitch so let’s use it.

Oh, and who I am I kidding, I really do hate the French (I had a wee bet on the soap dodgers to win), and I also do like sizzling hot redheads (although “did like” would be slightly more accurate).

Written by MickyDidIt89