Our Rorke’s Drift

April 23, 2017

I was hesitant about writing a FAC SF post with the prospect of Spurs awaiting us in the Final. Amusingly, that is no longer the case as the Hotspurs take yet another sad drag home along the North Circular 🙂

So, it is with a lighter heart that I write this post.

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Let’s kick off with my belief that we can beat City. Yes, they have great players and a fine manager. Yes, they have a squad which cost the equivalent of a mid-sized nation’s Gross National Product but they still play the likeable, but ageing, Sagna, and sometimes even Gael Clichy!

Here’s how we beat them. … solidity at the back, full backs being less adventurous, midfield staying on their feet and harrying rather than tackling, Ozil continuing his return to form, wingmen tracking back and always finding a red shirt with their passes, the front men being efficient and potent. Oh, and Cech/Ospina has to be alert at crosses.

Bosh.

We win.

Now how hard is that?

Will Mr. Wenger continue with his Back 3 experiment? I doubt it but it would be exciting. Sterling and Sane are much better widemen that Stewart Downing, who caused problems at ‘Boro. Can he trust the inexperienced Holding to stop such a quality attack?

On paper we are even in most areas of the pitch. Silva is not as good as an on-form Ozil. Aguero and Sanchez are both similar and wonderful players. Sterling and Theo are also similar, in fact all over the pitch there are likenesses between the squads.

The huge difference is De Bruyne, a marvellous talent and when on form, head and shoulders the best in his position, thankfully in recent weeks he has been struggling. We must hope for him to have an awful game this afternoon.

Guardiola will be looking for the FAC to save an ordinary season. I still think he was perfect for Arsenal but that ship has sailed.

As to Arsenal,  I just cannot see how we go into the game without Bellerin, it would be madness. Does he fit into a back 3? No, so we will revert to norm

My Team:

Cech (unless Ospina is fit)

Bellerin    Gabriel    Koscielny     Monreal

Ox   Ramsey    Xhaka

Walcott  Sanchez    Ozil

It is highly unlikely AW will play the above as it has no defensive “enforcer” but who gets dropped for Coquelin/Elneney? And who is left out if AW decides to play Giroud as a target man? Welbeck is not 100% fit, so Walcott starts.

This game is a huge opportunity to show that the current Arsenal are not as poor as some believe. Form is temporary. Class is permanent.

My main concern is the weather. We do not play as well when the temperature drops into single figures and the forecast is for chilly. If it gets over 15C, we win.

Let’s hope for a game as good as yesterday and an Arsenal win.

Let it be So.

COYRRG

p.s. Thank you to Chas for the headline’s inspiration

 


The Magic of the FA Cup returns on Sunday

April 21, 2017

On July 20th, 1871 at a Football Association meeting a discussion was held about “breathing life” into its Challenge Cup. After the formal business was concluded,

  1. W. Alcock proposed: “That it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association, for which all clubs belonging to the Association be, invited to compete.” The idea was received at once with general favour, and at a subsequent meeting held on October 16th 1871 the rules were drafted, the entries were received and history took a deep breath and prepared for the plunge.

That was the day that the FA Cup was born and 146 years later the magic remains.

The first FA Cup semi finals were held in 1872:

The two fixtures were:

Crystal Palace v Royal Engineers & Queens Park v Wanderers with both games ending in 0-0 draws. Royal Engineers won their replay 3-0, but it was a different story for Queens Park; public donations had been used for their long trip down from Glasgow for the first semi final at Kennington Oval but unfortunately they were unable to arrange the funding for the journey back for the replay and were forced to withdraw from the competition. However the lack of funds had a silver lining as it allowed the Scottish pioneers to hold their heads high and retain their dignity as they returned to Scotland unbeaten.

Shirt numbers were not even imagined back then and knickerbockered players were distinguished by the colour of either their caps or stockings. The crossbar was a length of tape or rope. Inside the touchlines the field was unmarked, chuck ins were taken with one hand and the teams changed ends after every goal was scored. There was little or no heading of the ball and defence was rarely considered. The game was based on dribbling with most of the team backing up the man in possession, somewhat like a standing scrum.

A few Semi Final facts-

Most used stadium: Villa Park 55 occasions.

Highest attendance: 88,141 Everton v Manchester United in 2009

Biggest win: 6-0 Newcastle over Fulham in 1908

Biggest post war victory: 5-0 Stoke over Bolton in 2011

Most games needed for a result: 4 – Arsenal vs. Liverpool in 1980

Highest scoring game: 5-3 Hull over Sheffield United in 2014

Most semi final appearances: Arsenal 29

The semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989 at Hillsborough ended in tragedy when 96 spectators were killed in a crowd surge due to overcrowding. The cause of this tragedy was studied and the conclusions reached have helped in the design of new stadiums.

Our first semi final was in 1906 when we lost 2-0 to Newcastle United.

Arsenal are now appearing in their all time record 29th semi final, 11 of them under the management of Arsène Wenger. Arsène has also won the cup on a record 6 occasions along with George Ramsay who was the club secretary of Aston Villa from 1874 to 1926.

This season the semi final draw pits four of the Premier League’s best teams against each other.

Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur on April 22nd.

Arsenal vs. Manchester City on April 23rd.

At this point I cannot think of a better ending to the season than Arsenal beating Tottenham in the final.

GunnerN5


A Nice Semi?

March 14, 2017

In anticipation of the FA Cup Semi-Final draw there were mixed feelings.

Man City probably play the most open football, so perhaps drawing them would give us the best chance of progressing.

It seemed an opportune moment to play the spuds at Wembley as they have had a torrid time there in Europe. 🙂

The chavs are firing this year under Conte this season so would likely be the least attractive draw.

When the draw came out, I was pleased for selfish reasons. A day out at Wembley could easily be spoiled by supporters of both the hideous chavs or the N17 swampies. Though, of course, if we are to progress we will have to play either in the final.

The suggestion that the police would not want chavs versus spuds on London Marathon day, Sunday 23rd April, makes perfect sense, so I’d imagine that’ll be when we play.

Whether the draw gives us the best chance of reaching another final only time will tell.

What do you think?

chas

 


She wore, She wore ….

March 11, 2017

Today we celebrate both a home FA Cup fixture and the birthday of one of our most esteemed bloggers. Happy Birthday.

What was your reaction to drawing Lincoln?  Joy? A quantum of fear?  Both understandable as this is a no-win situation for the team and a possible disastrous, history-making banana skin.

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I cannot see any way Arsenal will not win this tie, our U-23 team should be good enough to win handsomely. Or cheapest purchase costs more than the entire Lincoln squad.

Lincoln City have a long history playing in the same ground (Since Bank) since 1895! They won Div 3 in 1975. This afternoon may be the biggest game in their long history – I hope the Imps have a good time.

What to say of our team? Rifts, cliques, disappointment, dissatisfaction, resignation and anger – this seems to be the language used about the dressing room in recent weeks, even our club captain stated that there was not enough fight. It is simply not good enough. These charlatans are paid a fortune to do one thing …. give 100% for 95 minutes. To lose is OK, what is not acceptable is to go missing when under pressure. Can you remember the last time Arsenal gave a 90+ minute performance? I can’t.

Do you give credence to the stories that Oxlade-Chamberlain wants to leave? I think it must be agent talk ahead of his new contract. Ox has played 35 games already this season and started more than half of them. He  appears to be committed and is one of the few to work continuously. It must be paper talk.

My Team:

Ospina

Bellerin     Holding     Gabriel    Gibbs

Ramsey   Xhaka     Coquelin

Perez    Giroud     Jeff

Given the flu bug (and I know just how debilitating that can be) I doubt Welbeck, Ozil or Iwobi will play. We can have a brilliant bench with Sanchez, Theo, Kos, Maitland-Niles etc

I am hoping for an open game with Arsenal scoring early to settle the nerves. A goal for Lincoln would be good gesture as long as we have at least 3 goals more.

Beating Lincoln will allow us to go into what is sure to be the most competitive semi-finals in FA Cup history.

Let it be so.

COYRRG

 


Watford, Minnows & Days of Yore.

January 31, 2017

An away draw at Sutton Utd . A win takes us into the 6th round a loss is unthinkable

Back in the Days of Yore, I went with AFC to Yeovil for an away Cup game.

In order to get tickets one had to check in the program, find out when the tickets went on sale and then arrive at Highbury at least 4 hours before the sale time. This meant bunking off school, not a problem for some but I had High Hopes (sadly unachievable 🙂 )

I recall it was a very cold queue though we got  to sing a fair bit before the turnstiles opened. I am not sure but think we queued at the Clock End, but as I seemed to be forever queuing for tickets to see the Arsenal, it could have been the North Bank. I preferred the North Bank because then I got a chance to visit the sweet shop to buy a bag of Mint Imperials.

Thousands were in the queue and less than half would have got tickets. Such was the disdain of the club for it’s fans that there was little stewarding and no-one to assess when to stop people from a vain pursuit. Even as a schoolboy I was able to understand that if there were 1000 tickets on sale, in a queue of 30000+ most would be wasting their time. But then, this was in The Days Of Yore, when folk just queued for a hobby. I remember queueing every Saturday night for the newspaper!

Different today. The molly-coddled away boys apply for tickets from the cosy comfort of their sitting rooms, only having to press a few keys on their laptops.

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It was a long journey on a freezing day down to Yeovil. Dennis Sugarman got attacked by some Yokels but not too badly. We escaped a beating by running into a hotel lobby. It was the Way it Was.

We won 3-0, thanks to a Raddy brace and went on to win the Double.

So …. Sutton away. Should be exciting.

Yeovil is (and was) much like Sutton. A banana-skin fixture. Tiny ground, crap pitch, no glory for a victory.

p.s. I am reminded that we are playing Watford at the Emirates tonight! And it is transfer Deadline Day!  Just in case you are thinking “what a silly old fool Raddy is” may I point out that Tempes Fugit and it will be your turn to live in the cosy cocoon of forgetfulness in the coming years 😀

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin    Gabriel  Koscielny   Monreal

Ramsey    Coquelin   Iwobi

Theo   Sanchez   Ozil

We need a good and an injury-free performance ahead of Chelsea

Let it be so …

written by Big Raddy


Dannyyyyyyyy………………..and player ratings.

January 29, 2017

Well that was exciting, I was excited thinking about the game all week, even more so when I saw the team selection and by the end I was down right ecstatic. An outstanding performance and a great result. Days like this are our reward for being Arsenal supporters.

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Player ratings

Ospina: when some think of him they go – ooh scary but I think that he is deceptive, yes he is south American so there is always going to be a bit of drama but look closely and you will notice that what he does he does well, clean sheet, that will do nicely: 8

Bellerin: Hector (we are back on first name terms) returned to his outstanding best; he and Walcott were pretty much unplayable down the right flank, it was interesting to see just how far Walcott was coming back to cover for Hector when the Spaniard was attacking, a real sign of just how much Bellerin’s attacking has improved and just how much Walcott has been told to respect that. 8

Mustafi: our lucky charm continues to shine as brightly as ever, should be interesting to put it to the test next weekend, another solid performance. 8

Holding: what’s not to like about this 2 million pound signing, still makes me laugh when I think of Wenger laughing at the beginning of the season when he was comparing him with the 55 million pound signing of Stones. I get the feeling that Holding is going to be at the club for years to come, a perfectly respectable performance. 7

Gibbs: said it before and will say it again, we are fortunate to have such solid back up for this position, an OK game, still the occasional mistake but equally there is still the occasional flash of quality. 7

Niles: it’s just good ol Niles from the hood now, lol, the young man had a fine game, a few understandable defensive wobbles but outstanding in his distribution: 7

Oxlaide-Beckenbauer: woo, haven’t seen him play the Ramsey role before and he was impressive, far more impressive than I expected and that in a nut shell is how and why I award my MOTM, Alex was spraying the ball around like the distant image I have of the great German, and calmly dealing with fires to boot. 9

Adelaide: Diabyesque, a few noticed this yesterday, he has such a characteristically Diaby dribble and drag back, of course, as soon as we had noticed it the next thing we know is that he is on the floor clutching his leg. He didn’t shine as much as I hoped, I must admit but that is not to say that I don’t expect great things from him in the future, I do. 7

Walcott: I am not a Theo fan and his three goals have not changed my mind, to me he is on the Giroud side of the attack, poor close control, no assists but gets you goals, whereas I want more on the Ozil – Sanchez side: great close control, lots of assists and get you goals. The problem for me is that I know that Walcott remains the best option on the right so I am going to have to grin and bear it. 5

Perez: I am a huge Perez fan; he is on the Ozil-Sanchez side of things, he gets assists, scores goals and has good close control, I thought he was outstanding yesterday and would have given a 10 if it weren’t for him missing his one on one with the keeper. 9

Welbeck: I may be a Perez fan but I have a man crush on Danny, I have said it before and I will say it again he is going to be the best attacker in the EPL. A front line of Welbeck, Sanchez and Walcott is going to be something awesome. Welbeck has everything we need from a player coming in from the left or even swapping with Sanchez, this is going to get really exciting. 9

Written by LB 

and some ‘feelings’ from mickydidit89 …………………….

2nd XI’s (more or less) from Southampton and Arsenal took to the pitch on the South Coast for an important  fixture in the Worlds’ finest knock out tournament.

Quite a few Arsenal players staked their claims to never again be considered 2nd XI’ers.

Here’s one thought I had about our players who featured yesterday:

Regular 1st Teamers: Bell, Gibbs, Mustafi

Outstanding performers: The Rest.

Very, very nice situation indeed. It would be very tempting for me to dwell on the front three who were all sensational, however, it was the Maitland-Niles Oxlade-Chamberlain Reine-Adelaide midfield trio that really surprised me (although a mention in dispatches for Holding).

When I saw the team sheet I was overjoyed by the attack but certainly felt the midfield was simply too many rotations. Wow, how wrong was I. They were outstanding.

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As I am someone who always blames the chap at the top when things go wrong, I don’t remember me ever bowing quite so low to Arsene as I did post match. It was an outstanding performance from the manager.

This morning I fancy Arsene has a massive headache, and it concerns team selection for the upcoming two PL games. Welbeck, Perez and Walcott have demanded selection and really, they are contesting two slots alongside Sanchez.

For me though, the biggest question mark is over The Ox. Has he done enough to start alongside Coquelin? I think so.

Happy Sunday Gooners from Admin 🙂


Arsenal have the Best Fans?

January 19, 2017

Only 13k at S’ton last night. What has happened to the Magic of the Cup?

If we draw at S’ton how many would go to the replay at the Emirates? My guess is another full house.

Our average gate through 2016 in the PL was 59,444 which is 99.4%  capacity.  Slightly lower for Cup games.

The police numbers are a little lower because there are some season ticket reprobates who do not attend all games yet the club maintain that as the ticket is sold, it is an attendance.

Sadly, some of those fans are not supporters!

Why are Arsenal so popular? What do you think?

Written (in haste) by Big Raddy