Coquelin’s Punishment. No trip to Hull.

March 8, 2016

Let’s be honest, the home leg was dreary. How can this evening  be an improvement?

Simple. Goals. As Didit continually harps on about, goals are what we pay for. I love a crunching tackle, even better a little outrageous skill (aka Mesut), a towering defensive header or a sprint down the wings but let’s face it, a 0-0 draw rarely excites. It is goals which get us out of our seats.

Awful Music Alert. Turn off Speakers before Watching

There have been some fine 0-0, I recall at cracker at WHL a few seasons ago. Thinking of which I saw this and giggled – hopefully you will too.

Ccy5PWtW4AAKw9G.jpg

Mr Bruce, he of the badly squashed face, you know the mush, the one that looks as though he has run full-face into a wall, Come on, you know, the chap who resembles an overweight pug dog. Well, Mr Bruce has once again stated that he will rotate his squad. He did so at The Emirates and came away with an unwanted result. With the PL a priority Bruce will not want a home game against Watford on Sunday – or will he? It must be a financial boon.

The FA Cup has to be a priority for Mr Wenger. We are doomed in the CL and the PL title remains open; the chance to make FAC history must be alluring. 3 on the spin would satisfy even Herb’s Army!

So, we will play a few reserves and chaps who need games to return to form. Giroud will start alongside Walcott. Campbell too.

I expect to see Chambers at RB which forces Mr Wenger to play his first choice, fit, CB’s – BFG and Paul Easter. Gibbs to continue at LB after a fine game on Saturday.

Team:

Ospina

Chambers   BFG   Easter   Gibbs

Elneny   Flamini   Iwobi

Campbell    Giroud    Walcott

A strong bench in case of our lads being silly.

Hull played well at the Em’s and they are not going to be easy opponents tonight – they never are. Two decent CB’s backed up by a fine GK and a battling midfield, they are hard to break down. If Hull score first it could be a long night.

BTW have you ever been to Hull? If not, keep it that way. If, like me, you have visited this outpost of civilisation you will know that the game is best watched from the comfort of your own home or a pub.

And remember, the match kicks off at 19.00. Can you recall a match ever kicking off at 19.00? Anyone know why?

Another big game for Arsenal. A home tie against Watford beckons; win that and we are into the Semi’s.

Glory and Silverware awaits

COYRRG


Bore draw : And a trip to Hull beckons

February 21, 2016

The pre match media around this round of FA Cup fixtures has focused much on the congestion caused by this pesky competition. City are rightly annoyed that they will be playing tomorrow with a Champions League trip to Kiev on Wednesday. At least we got the early kick off and at home in our tie and haven’t got to worry about flying anywhere this week.

Bruce was quoted as saying he thinks FA Cup replays should be scrapped and Arsene said he preferred to preserve the current format. If Bruce didn’t want a replay he had a strange way of showing it putting his second string out to defend in two solid banks. Even with three days to recover before Barca Arsene also made 9 changes, Arsene had no choice but to keep BFG and Koscielny in the line up. Another chance for Theo to show what he can do at centre forward, another welcome to England for Elneny and another game for Iwobi to make an impression this time from a more central role.

In the early stages we managed to create a few chances, bit of slick interplay around the box leading to a variety of shooting opportunities, unfortunately the angles were generally tight and the keeper was giving a traditional Emirates performance thwarting anything sent his way.

In truth I felt we started to run out of ideas towards the end of the half, I don’t think we were as fluid as we could have been given our starting attacking three. They have all played centre forward at various times in their career and they have also been wide men. For me they all stuck to their starting roles far too much and what interchange of position there was did not feel instinctive.

We did have some good moments again in the second half, the closest we came to scoring were Campbell’s free kick, and Welbeck’s curling drive. Unfortunately Hull’s keeper was equal to both.

Ox, Ollie and Alexis were thrown on but to no avail and Hull held out for a 0-0 draw and a replay that their manager definitely did not want.

For me Elneny stood out, I felt he was constantly available for the ball and generally used it well. We saw glimpses from Welbeck that reminded us of the talents he possesses, Iwobi continues to improve. There was not much new learned from anywhere else on the pitch in my opinion, we know these players.

So Hull are added to the schedule for a midweek and hopefully we still have plenty of available players to rotate in.

Written by GoonerInExile


Up for the Cup?

February 20, 2016

Who will be the stronger team – our reserves or Hull’s?

Let’s weigh up the evidence: Arsenal have a second team full of players who have been strained through one of the most rigorous examinations of world footballing talent. Targets identified, Arsenal spend many millions bringing players into the squad then working together to become a team. They are pampered, cosseted and trained by the very best coaches money can buy.

Hull are not in this fortunate position. Their scouting for squad players involves going to the local park and seeing if there are a few blokes who can run a bit and have a sense of direction.

Unknown.jpeg

Hull are expected to make 9 changes from their last game and Arsenal about the same.  What does this say about the current status of the FA Cup?

Yesterday I had a pleasant chat with a friend on this very subject (following on from a discussion on AA with Herb). Is the FA Cup relevant? Is it important to anyone who was born post-Sky Sports?

The first thing to say is that financially it is far better to finish 4th than to win the FAC. This diminishes its value to the moneymen and accounts (to some extent) in big clubs using squad members prior to the semi-final.

Secondly, winning the FAC gains entrance into the Europa  Cup which is hardly a plus.

Then there is the unfortunate decision on the part of the FA to play semi-finals at Wembley, thus diminishing the grandeur of the Final.

Balanced against this is Glory. Silverware. Tradition. History. A Street Parade. Champagne. Celebration on a massive scale. Placards around the Emirates.

Which is more important to you?

 

Back to today:    Let’s see how many I get …

Ospina

Chambers    BFG   Koscielny    Gibbs

El Nino   Flamini   Iwobi

Campbell   Theo    Welbeck

Should be enough to win and allows the main players to rest ahead of the big midweek game.

I expect most of this afternoon’s entertainment to come from  the man who used to wear black but now wears yellow and black – the mercurial Mike Dean. This bloke is a complete plum and probably a Parking Attendant in daily life. Inefficient, egotistical, blind – many an epithet comes to mind.  Earlier this season over 100,000 people signed a petition for him not to referee AFC again, yet the FA selected him which tells all about how the FA view the paying punter’s opinions.

I could, and probably will, write a post about the deeds of Mr Dean.

Don’t forget the early K.O.

COYRRG

 


Difficult February/March – decisions to make?

February 8, 2016

These are crunch months for me, whilst we face the prospect of 4 more games in February, and at least 5 in March, Leicester have 13 games between now and end of season.

We can reduce our pile up by making some simple decisions, play youth team in Champions League, play the same team in the FA Cup, save the first choice eleven for the Premier League.

Many have mooted that this is our best chance in years to win the league, many have said how we need to make sacrifices of playing style and stars for the pursuit of the trophy, in extreme circumstances some have talked about replacing Wenger with the repugnant Mourinho (yeah I know he’s a “winner”…..but at what cost?).

Is sacrificing the FA Cup 3peat and any chance of progress in the Champions League worth a possibility of winning the league?

Gooner in Exile


Arsenal 2 Burnley 1 — A Supporter’s View.

January 31, 2016

Thank you Burnley Football Club and all your supporters; we at Arsenal have not been having such a good time recently, results have not gone the way they could and should have for a club with aspirations of winning the league for the first time in thirteen years and so a win yesterday was vital to get us back on track. Thank you again for making that happen; you may just have been the stimulus that wins us at least one trophy.

If the team that Wenger chose to go out and play were a car I think it would be fair to say that Arsene put just enough petrol in the tank to get us to the fifth round; that’s to say that there was just enough quality in the selection to win the tie without wasting the precious energy of Özil, and importantly Ramsey who was looking very tired against Chelsea so this little break should see him back, fresh and raring to go on Tuesday. Not only that, Wenger got to play and we got to see our shiny new toy: Elneny, and what a perfectly respectable debut it was. The man is clearly happy on the ball. I would guess that in the first half the Egyptian had the ball more than any other player; well, except Sanchez, of course, he always has the ball more than any other player on the pitch.

It didn’t stop there, more presents were still under the tree and needed to be opened; we got the chance to welcome back Tomas Rosicky and what a fine reception he received when he came on with twenty minutes to go. But I have saved the biggest present until last: Alex Iwobi, if there was any doubt as to what he can do it was cleared up today, this young man went from strength to strength as the game went on. Buoyed by a fine first half he was obviously encouraged by Wenger during his half time team talk because the Nigerian came out and bossed the midfield in the second half until that is his young legs started to tire and was given a standing ovation as he walked off to make way for Arteta.

The game started as expected with Arsenal having the lion’s share of the ball, putting Burnley under constant pressure. The passing was slick and the commitment was tangible, a goal was on the cards although the scorer was not: Calum Chambers on duty for the rested Bellerin curled the ball with the outside of his boot past the Burnley keeper and into the top corner, a fine finish to what had been at least a twenty pass build up, Sanchez was instrumental throughout and it was his assist: rolling the ball deftly between the legs of a Burnley defender that enabled Chambers to get onto the score sheet.

Chambers goal

One nil to the Arsenal and the world was a wonderful place; we should have simply gone on and crushed Burnley but they had other ideas and equalised from a header while our central defenders had momentarily gone awol. This goal upped the tension and in fact turned a gentle stroll into a cup tie — a cup tie that we needed to win.

In every round of the FA cup there is a giant killing and we very nearly went from being way down the viewing list on Match of the Day to the opening game which you may have noticed happens with every giant killing: Burnley came mighty close to going ahead shortly after the start of the second half but this fright didn’t last long and help was on hand, in the form of Sanchez, our very own Whirling Dervish who put us ahead with a well placed shot, wide of the keeper from an excellent cut back by Oxlaide-Chamberlain. The Ox was better than he has been recently but all it showed me was that this is his level – Championship; he just isn’t improving anymore and others are waiting in the wings ready to take his place in the pecking order.

Interestingly Wenger chose not to shore up the defence and see the game out by bringing on Monreal as he does nine times out of ten in these situations but instead he went for an attacking option and the pace of Walcott who had a golden chance to put the game completely out of reach but Theo fluffed his lines and Burnley almost equalised on the counter attack. The final whistle was blown, we are in the hat for the next round draw and all in all it was an entertaining game of football.

Quick player ratings:

Ospina: back to his best, made some excellent saves, if he is looking for a move he would have done his chances no harm at all with that solid performance. 7

Chambers: he is obviously never going to take Bellerin’s place in the starting line up, well certainly not at right back anyway but he exuded more confidence than I usually notice and a goal certainly helped that. 7

Easter: you can see that the legs are better than Mertescaker but the brain is still not quite there, nothing really wrong but still room for improvement. 6

Koscielny: commanding, possibly even more so that he was captain and had full responsibility for the back line. Not sure where he or PE were when Burnley equalised. 7

Gibbs: a very good performance by his standards, did all the simple things well, just when you can’t see him ever being the first choice LB he surprises. We are lucky to have such quality back up in the still young Englishman. 8

Coquelin: great to have him back, all started well but then he got a knock which looked bad enough that he was going to be forced off; he stayed on but his concentration had gone and he got sloppy. 5

Elneny: I really expected him to throw himself around alla Coquelin but no he was on his feet throughout the game. I was hoping to see if he could defend but I am left with less idea than before the match started. Good start though. 7

Iwobi: this is my Man of the Match, like Elneny I still have no idea which position he is best suited to but if he has aspirations of being a number 10 then he is going to have to be world class to make that position his own at THOF because the competition for that spot is fierce. Good luck young man. 8

Oxlaide-Chamberlain: Keep going Ox we all want you to succeed. I have spoken above about this player. 6

Giroud: I wonder if it is possible to start a game with a back heel, I mean from kick off, the Frenchman seems to like that way of passing so much that it crossed my mind that he could be the first player in history to start a game like that. Ollie was clearly not impressed with the opposition and as such seemed to be only working on 80% effort. 6

Sanchez: still holds the ball longer than he should but being one of only three world class players we have at the club I am just grateful that he is back. 8

Written by LB


Arsenal, Sunderland and Tony Soprano.

January 10, 2016

The FA Cup or as it should be referred to from now on: ‘Cosa Nostra’. I was having a bit of an Italio/Latin afternoon yesterday. I have no idea why but anyway did you ever notice how the Romans used to call the Mediterranean ‘Mare Nostrum’? There is a justifiable sense of ownership about it, a confident swagger as they referred to it as ‘Our Sea’. You have probably twigged where I am going with this now: ‘Cosa Nostra’, the FA Cup, Our Cup and if anyone tries to take it away from us they will have to answer to Tony Soprano, cah-peesh?

Well there was no need to bring out the heavies yesterday afternoon; it was just about as perfect as it could get really. We draw home advantage, check. We play a team whose priorities lay elsewhere, check. We are able to rest key players while some youth and fringe get important game time, check. No one gets injured and we win and progress to the next round, check, check, check.

Everyone was handed a script prior to the game and everyone knew what to do, or so we thought. Unfortunately two of our players namely Gibbs and Koscielny fluffed their lines early on and allowed Sunderland to take the lead. The problem is, when this happens there is always a nagging doubt that even though we know we have the better team, an upset could always be on the cards.

As it turned out we didn’t have to worry for too long as parity arrived in the shape of Campbell shortly after with a well crafted goal involving Iwobi and Walcott down the left flank before everyone’s favourite Costa Rican guided the ball home to make it one – one.

campbell

Wenger had chosen his team well; just enough to do the job but no unnecessary wasting of energy, only the smallest amount of extra pressure in the form of Arteta and Ramsey’s introduction was required to finish the day’s work.

Man of the Match was Bellerin who ran Sunderland ragged down the left flank; it was he who was finally able to send the ball across for Ramsey to show Walcott how to finish, the third goal gave us breathing space and that came in the form of yet another beautifully weighted pass from Bellerin which made its way all the way across the goal mouth for Giroud to tap home.

Giroud fa cup 2

Wenger had plan B, C and D on the bench, if we had just been one ahead with ten minutes to go he would have sent on Monreal for some proper defensive cover in an attempt to avoid a draw and a horrible, energy sapping return trip to Sunderland that would follow but as we were two up he was able to give Jeff his long awaited debut.

We get our new signing next week, why am I so sure? Look at the pattern. The club announce medium level signings only after Wenger has given certain players, usually youngsters, a chance to shine. In the close season it is normally after the Emirates Cup, the reason being is so as not to harm the confidence of those who might be hoping to make a particular position their own or older players wanting to re-establish themselves after injury.

In yesterday’s case Chambers was the youngster being protected and Arteta was the experienced player trying to re-established himself. Although they have now had their games, improved their confidence, had their chance to show what they can do or still do in the case of Mikel without the confidence sapping knowledge of already having met someone in the training ground who is more than likely to be taking their place in the very near future.

But, next week gentle sensitivities will be put aside and we will get someone who can do a Champions League level job in the form of El Neny, the much talked about Egyptian. By the way, with world class players the club announce them as and when they happen there is no pattern or not one that I can see.

Villa at home in the next round please?

Cech: Zen and the Art of Goalkeeping. 9

Bellerin: MOTM, most of the team were functioning at 60% output but not our Hector, 100% for him. 9

Gabriel: Perfect game for him, if it wasn’t for that Costa incident he could well have been the break through player of the season, gets better with every game really, only a question of time before he becomes first choice. 7

Koscielny: someone near to me at the game asked the question, who is Captain, I didn’t know but low and behold it was Kozzer; the guy next to me said that he expected him to make the captaincy his own. I looked at him, smiled, said nothing but knew he was wrong as it is going to Özil. 6

Gibbs: this competition thing between him and Monreal is working really well, Gibbs is rightly second choice but you can see that he does give it everything. 7

Oxlaide-Chamberlain: Did you hear the rumour that Chelsea might try and sign him if Hazard leaves? What was your reaction? Was it, oh no, you’re not having another one of ours or was it, hmmm, if he goes who could we buy? He is getting his run of games but he is still not impressing. 5

Chambers: perfectly decent job but he is not going to make Wenger think twice about buying further defensive midfield back up. 6

Iwobi: some good touches, lovely drag back in the first half, perfect game for him to take his training wheels off. 6

Campbell: getting better but with Ozil and Sanchez setting very high standards I still have my doubts. 7

Walcott: I have made so many predictions that he is going to leave to another club and have obviously been wrong every time, I have decided to change tack and predict that he will stay at Arsenal so long that he will become the next manager. 5

Giroud: perfect example of someone doing just what is needed with the least amount of effort. 8

Written by LB


Black Cats in the Cup – Not For Long?

January 9, 2016

This is a mobile pre-match from your roving disgraceful supporters Ant and Duck. Apologies for any lack of quality. BR has technical difficulties.

Rumours are that Fat Sam will field a weakened Sunderland line-up. No-one rates the FA Cup anymore except Micky.

Who would you like to see play today for the good guys?

Ant and Duck predicted line-up

Ospina

Gibbo Gabriel BFG Debuchy

Chambers Arteta

Ramsey

Ox Giroud Walcott

Sunderland is one of our favourite away trips, but we really could do without a replay. Will our second string have enough to beat their ‘weakened’ team?

I’d imagine we’ll have a strong bench in case of emergencies.

Fat Sam allegedly said that a full press causes leg injuries – his teams need strong necks!

written in a huge hurry by Ant and Duck


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