In A League of Our Own

February 12, 2018

We had a game this weekend, it was won by the home team. It wasn’t a surprise.

Have you looked at the PL table? It is possibly the most unusual in a few decades. To see one team so dominant that they are 16 points ahead of 2nd and likely to harvest the highest number of points in PL history (though they will lose 3 when we beat them at The Emirates).

City are a brilliant team, team being the operative word. They have fine players but unlike United they are not dependent upon individual skills. Me-rinho knows he cannot compete as a manager with Pep but he can spend a few hundred million buying players who can win a match on their own. It will get him 2nd or 3rd spot

Spurs and Liverpool are on season highs as Chelsea¬† plummet. If Spurs get 4th will it be considered a trophy ūüėÄ

And what of Arsenal. When Chelsea win tonight we will be 7 points off 5th and 8 off 4th. Realistically it is all over for the top 4 place.

Yet, we are also 9 points ahead of 7th place. We will finish 6th and in a league of our own. Had Arsenal a clue when it comes to playing away from home, this was a season when we could have finished much higher but our mysterious away form.

There is a problem arising in the PL. None of the teams below are going into the Top 6 in the near future.. Everton have spent a fortune, so have Leicester yet both of them are almost 20 points off top 4 and 10 points behind us.

Everton and Leicester are in competition with Bournemouth, Burnley and Watford for 7th place (Europa?).

Given our BoD’s decision to loosen the purse strings and buy our way back to the Top 4, 2019 will be exciting.

Strange Days.

written by Big Raddy


Can VAR stop Spurs Cheating?

February 5, 2018

An exciting game at Anfield left Mr. Klopp fuming and a few million viewers shaking their heads at another example of the lack of moral fibre in the Spurs Miscreants. Which , to be candid, comes as no real surprise.What is surprising is that following at least a dozen slo-mo replays there was disagreement about both penalty decisions.

So how will VAR improve matters?

Let us look at both decisions.

Penalty 1. Kane is offside when the ball is played. It hits Lovren and thus Kane is adjudged onside (according to the TV referee Dermot Gallagher who has, at best, a loose knowledge of the game). Kane then sees the GK come towards him and dives, trailing his leg which brushes the GK’s arm. It is a clear dive. The man was falling before being minimally touched.

Much discussion followed. Penalty given.


Penalty 2. Lamela gets into front of Van Dijk. Backs into him as Van Dijk attempts to clear the ball and hits the deck mortally wounded. No way a penalty – it was another example of crafty cheating.

Yet … penalty given and despite replays many would agree that it was a penalty.


Would VAR have corrected either decision?

Alli got booked for an obvious dive earlier in the game, Lamela and Kane were simply better cheats.

We saw a similar act in our game vs Everton, when some no-mark got in front of the defender running at speed into the penalty area  -I think it was Calvert-Lewin Рthen halted abruptly causing the defender to run into him. The inevitable dive followed but the Everton miscreant was not booked, hence his cheating went unpunished.

Many say VAR would slow the game down whilst the decision is being made and that the fans would see less football. Given that the ball is in play for less than 45 of the 90 minutes, something could be done to correct this i.e. stop the clock when the ball is out of play at throw-ins, free-kicks and goal-kicks. It is an easy solution. What isn’t easy is finding a unbiased panel of referees to act as VAR officials.

In my opinion anything which stops a player cheating is beneficial, whether it is 100% accurate or not. There are players and managers who use diving and foul play as a tactic, VAR can help with this.

It is not perfect but IF, the replays are shown to the fans it can add to the excitement, as it has in rugby; unfortunately I doubt very much whether the replays will be shown to the attending fans. Which raises another point – VAR is for the home viewer, the billions who watch the PL around the world, not the tens of thousands who attend the game. And it is their dollar which counts.

Do you think VAR will make professional players stop cheating?

p.s. If you did not see the Anfield game, you will just have to take my¬† judgement as fact – after all, I am completely unbiased ūüėÄ ūüėÄ

Will the Gamble Pay Off?

February 3, 2018

In the past 2 years we have seen 34 players leave AFC with just 5 coming in (according to Arseblog). Who could have imagined such a scenario?


Today we welcome both an incoming and outgoing player to The Emirates. Black Jedward is apparently ill but Mkhiki is due to start. This is exciting. Whom will he join in midfield? Will he play on the left wing? Only Mr Wenger knows.

I have to say that it is my belief Mr Wenger did not intend to buy Mkiki, we have other priorities and perhaps taking him was the best we could achieve in the Sanchez sale. That said, Mkiki is a player with much to prove and Arsenal is a good vehicle for him. How he fits into the first 11 is not obvious.

Arsenal have made a major shift in their forward planning, relying upon older, big name players coming in and reducing the numbers of the squad.The attack has been dealt with, Mr Wenger has stated he wanted to do more business with the defence needing more bodies (Evans??).  About time some may say but it is a gamble.

Fat Sam/Everton. Like one, dislike the other. One is all that is shite about the North, and the other the opposite. How quickly has The Walrus been allowed back into the top echelon’s of UK football after being sacked as England boss and outed as a liar and cheat?


Everton are a proper club with good values. Walcott is a perfect fit. Let’s hope he is welcomed back and then has a stinker. They paid huge money for players in summer and January and have yet to really see an improvement. We made a mistake in allowing Everton to sign Pickford – he is a terrific young GK as we will witness this evening

My Team: Assuming JW and Auba are ill.


Koscielny     Mustafi    Monreal

Bellerin   Ramsey    Xhaka    Mkiki

Ozil   Iwobi


I am tempted to play Welbeck instead of Iwobi as this team lacks real punch. And of course, if JW /Auba are fit they should start.

Super day of sport ahead with an evening kick off for the Arsenal. Let us hope we continue our fine home form and take the points


Sticky Toffee Pudding

October 22, 2017

Everton desperate both for points and confidence. Koeman deep in the mire wearing open -toed sandals. Fans disgruntled by the awful football played, New owners disappointed by the poor return on the ¬†‚ā¨150m+ spent in summer.

Not the best time to visit Goodison.

Especially as we are hardly in the best of form. The win in Belgrade was welcome relief but not enough to heal the scars  earned at Vicarage Rd.


But before I get too upset about our return of just one point from 4 away games, may I point out that we are just 3 points behind Chelsea in 4th having played a game less. In other words, apart from MC we are keeping up with the pack. What does this show? That we can expect some unexpected results, not just for AFC, but for all teams. It will, as ever, be an interesting season.

Everton have some fine players, they have players whom AFC have reputedly tried to sign. A midfield from Schneiderlin, Barkley, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Gueye and Davies is sure to be strong and combative. In defence they have some excellent players. Upfront? How do you replace Lukaku, a one man attack? Answer – they haven’t.

One player to point out is James McCarthy. I really dislike this bloke. Dirty, violent and a man prone to dive whilst protesting his innocence. He is Alan Shearer without the talent.

We must hope for a strong referee as the messages coming out of Goodison is that Everton are ready to fight i.e. they will try and kick our delicate flowers off the pitch. Expect rotational fouling on both Sanchez and Ozil and probably one of our lads leaving the field on a stretcher. Following those final 15 minutes at Watford we can expect this type of treatment almost everywhere we play.

I expect (hope) to see a team ready to attack; not one lacking Ozil. He has to play if fit. Lacazette has been desperately lacking his genius.

My Team:


Holding    Koscielny    Monreal

Bellerin    Ramsey    Xhaka    Kolasinac


Lacazette     Sanchez

We have a strong bench especially with the return of Coquelin.

In my opinion, apart from Mustafi, this is our strongest team. This leaves Iwobi, Welbeck, Walcott and Giroud out in the cold. Finally, we have a host of attacking options.

I am not expecting an easy 90 minutes, I expect Everton to battle, what we will need is “mental strength”.


Champions 2017/18?

August 10, 2017

How do you think we will fare this season? Will the strengthening of the squad be enough to propel us to the Title? Will it be enough to regain our Top 4 status?

Here’s what BR thinks (subject to change depending upon results ūüôā )

Let’s look at the opposition, starting with:

Chelsea: We have recently ¬†beaten them twice in two important games and lost a meaningless friendly. We are better than them – full stop. Yes, they may be Champions but I fear for them and doubt they can repeat their mid-season run of form which propelled them to the title. They are lacking in midfield (why sell Matic??), are half the side without Hazard and are about to sell their best attacker. Morata? ‚ā¨60m is a huge gamble on a man who has yet to play a full season in a first team (RM made ‚ā¨30m profit ¬†on him after just 26 games!!).

We will finish above them.

Man City: ¬†Spent a fortune – over ‚ā¨100m on just full backs! Almost ‚ā¨40m on a GK who has yet to gain a full International cap. If their first 11 stay fit and Stones starts to show why he is so highly rated they will do well.

Champions? A team with De Bruyne, Sterling, Aguero, Gundogan and Sane will not be far off but somehow, they just don’t do it for me.

Man Utd. Mourinho has to deliver. Winning the Europa was good but not considering the massive investment made in the summer of ’16, Finishing just 6th could have been a sackable offence. Over ‚ā¨150m spent (added to the ‚ā¨165m last summer) makes this a hugely expensive squad. They have managed to recoup less than ‚ā¨10m in sales! MU should have the best squad and if they had a manager who had the slightest intention to entertain we should be happy to see such wonderful talent in the PL BUT they don’t, and MU remain a dull team to watch. The purchase of Lukaku points to a Route One season¬†They were awful in the Supercup where Real Madrid made them look amateur.

MU should be favourites in a financially doped league.

Spurs: If any other team had achieved what Spurs have I would be delighted and rooting for them to go one step further – but it isn’t, it is Spurs and I have an innate dislike of anything Blue & White – to the point where I will not even allow a blue & white toothbrush into my bathroom. FairPlay to them, they have managed to retain the bulk of their squad (so far), sold players for massive profits and look potential Champions. But, there are two huge problems , firstly, they are playing at Wembley, and secondly, and much more importantly, they are Spurs.

Relegation awaits.

Liverpool: Dark horses. On paper they look excellent. Solid in every position. If they can keep Coutinho it will be a signal of their intent. Salah is a good signing and if Sturridge can form a partnership with Mane, they are strong in attack. Klopp remains a terrific addition to the PL . Good enough to move on and win the title? Good enough to maintain a top 4 place?

I doubt it.

Everton: Given their ambitions and expenditure they have to be considered. Koeman is doing very well and has created an excellent defence, strengthened by Pickford and Keane. Given the loss of Lukaku how will they cope in attack? Will Rooney have the legs? Where does he fit into the team? Not in midfield where Everton have Schneiderlin, Barkley, Davies and Barry. Goalscoring could be problematic.


Arsenal: If Sanchez, Ozil and Ox stay plus we sign another body, then the title is ours. The development of Iwobi and Xhaka, plus the purchase of Lacazette means that both Ozil and Sanchez can leave in 2018. However,they need another season to bed in. Rumour abounds about Gabriel being sold but I doubt it, nor Chambers who has a future at AFC. Mustafi has had a bedding in season and the 3-4-3 means that we have choices, especially given the exciting arrival of Kolasinac.


written by Big Raddy

Everton: Player Ratings

May 22, 2017

A sunny day, the end of the PL season, JC last game (?), a fine win yet one mingled with regret and disappointment

Given that we played 80 minutes with 10 men against a strong Everton team and a bent referee it was a fine victory. Had we not been cheated out of a point at Everton away, it would have meant much more but in the end we were the 5th best team in the PL. Thursday nights and lots of Sunday games await.

Player ratings.

Cech. Magnificent … Again. He has been superb the last few games. Had little chance with a well -taken penalty. Cut out the ball early from crosses, made an acrobatic save from a Lukaku header and his distribution was faultless. ¬† ¬† 9

Holding.  In a constantly changing back line he played well, made the odd error of judgement. Continues to improve and must have won a place in the Cup Final    7

Koscielny. Stupid and rash challenge which deserved the red card. Out of the CF.   5

Gabriel. Until his injury the Brazilian was outstanding. Looked a nasty injury. Got a yellow card for his pains when he was in front of the man and got the ball.    8

Monreal. ¬†Was it a penalty? I couldn’t tell. Other than that he played well with his usual energy. After Kos ‘s red card Nacho was understandably more defensive ¬† 7

Bellerin. Finally getting his speed back. Non-stop work up and down his wing. Scored a tap in but was there to do so. Better.    8

Ramsey.  Started slowly with inaccurate and poor choice of passes. Improved second half and scored an absolute peach.    7

Xhaka. Terrific. Is becoming the player AW hoped for. No more stupid tackles, even Oliver could find a reason to give him a card.    9

Ozil. Once again in good form. Worked tirelessly, as usual created some chances. Hopefully not his last game at THOF     8

Sanchez.  Typical Alexis game. Non-stop workmate, dangerous on the ball, hugely frustrating in his timing and choice of pass, scored. Brilliant player and I love to watch him. Hopefully not his last game at THOF.    8

Welbeck.  Worked hard. Missed an absolute sitter and should have scored at least two of his chances.      7


BFG. Great to see our Club Captain. Fitted in seamlessly.    7

Coq. 30 minutes & but didn’t embarrass himself ¬† ¬†6

Iwobi. Seemed to be everywhere on the pitch in his cameo.    7

Mr Wenger. On a difficult afternoon he got his tactics spot on.    8

Referee: ¬†Michael Oliver. Dreadful. Lost control to the point that a quiet Emirates resounded with “you don’t know what you’re doing”. ¬† ¬† ¬†2

written by Big Raddy

Everton. A Chance to say Goodbye?

May 21, 2017

Will this be the final time Alexis and Mesut grace Islington’s most sacred turf? Hope not , but if it is let’s win this afternoon with the style and brio they have both brought to the Arsenal.


Everton are a good team and Koeman has done well to keep them in the mix until the last month or so, they will finish in 7th at least 14 points ahead of 8th. With a much smaller budget than the Top 6 it would be fair to say, they have comfortably won League 2 of the PL. Whether they can push on is doubtful without massive investment.

Everton will be no push-overs, they are good all over the pitch and AFC will have to play well to secure the points. This being the case I do not think AW will rest his best players ahead of Wembley.

My Team:


Holding     Mustafi    Monreal

Bellerin   Ramsey   Xhaka     Gibbs

Ozil      Sanchez


Such a pity Ox is injured as he adds a better attacking punch than Bellerin but Hector is a wonderful replacement and gives the immature Holding fine back-up. Ramsey wasn’t as crocked as I feared, Kos is still a doubt, the rest pick themselves. Apart from upfront where despite the gulf in the goal stats I still prefer Welbeck to the FFP. Why? Movement. Versus Boro we looked so much better when Iwobi and Welbz came on as subs.

Thinking Iwobi, AW has to find a place in the first team for this young fellow, the man is just terrific and probably the man to take Sanchez’ or Ozil’s shirt when they leave.

I hate the end of the season. I need the weekly injection of football in my life. What happens in the close season? Gossip, speculation and fantasising (and in my case a long sun-filled holiday in Italy). Thankfully, unlike our noisy neighbours, we have another week to enjoy.

Will it be Weds or Thurs evenings? Quite honestly, I don’t really care. As an armchair fan I do not get the thrill of seeing Messi, Ronaldo, Cavani, Dybala etc in the flesh. If it is to be Thursdays I will have the enjoyment of seeing teams I know nothing about, safe in the knowledge that Arsenal have a good chance of winning well and seeing loads of goals.

But that is for another day, today is all about beating Everton. It can be done and I will be sending positive waves all the way to North London alongside shouting at my television in support of my team.

For the final time this season a win at THOF is possible. Can we do it? Of course.

Let it be So ….