Yes. We Can. (Win the FA Cup Final)

May 27, 2017

Is it just a British thing to support the underdog? Doesn’t seem to happen in the States (except in Rocky1).

It is rare that we Gooners support the underdog but we do today. Quite a nice feeling if I am honest. The last two FA Cup victories were against teams we should have hammered, one we did and one we nearly didn’t.

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So let’s get to the game.

First: In order to win we will need a strong and efficient referee. Another inept display like Blind Lemon Oliver’s last weekend will scupper any chance we have.

Chelsea will try to dominate and be physical early in the game. It sets up their play for later in the game when they push forward through their wingbacks. (I wrote that having no idea whether it is true as I have never watched 90 minutes of a Chav PL game unless AFC are involved 😀 ).

To win we HAVE to have 11 players on the pitch for the whole game. How will Holding cope with Costa’s fouling? Or Hazard’s diving? Will Sanchez, Xhaka and Ozil be rotationally fouled as usual against these Blue Devils and respond with aggression?

It is how Chelsea play and we need a proper unbiased referee, instead we will have Anthony Taylor. FFS.

I need say no more

2. Huge game for Ramsey and Xhaka. If they perform to the top of their abilities we can win. Even more than Ozil and Sanchez they have to get a grip of the game and supply the ball to our two magicians.

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3. Solid defence. My heart sank when Kos got his red card, I am sure his did has well. Kos has been outstanding this season and held our defence together. We will miss him. Gabriel is knacked, Mustafi could be on the bench,so it is towards the BFG we look for comfort. I love the man. What a bonus it would be to have our team captain lift a trophy on his first start this season.

4. Lethal finishing. This is a worry for me as Welbeck, who is my chosen CF, can’t hit a cow’s behind with a banjo,  and Giroud is Giroud; our over-reliance on Sanchez could prove costly. That said, Welbeck is a big game player and usually does well at Wembley. Chelsea have a fine defence and we will not get many chances, the few we get have to be taken.

There is little point writing about Chelsea. They are frighteningly good and worthy Champions. Strong all over the pitch with both Hazard and Fabregas in fine form, they have won their last 6 matches. A Double is within their reach and they will be both rested and determined.

I read that Mr Wenger is likely to start with Ospina – this surprises me. I know that AW is a man of honour and I imagine there was some agreement that Ospina would play in all the Cup game but …. Ospina is leaving in summer, Cech is our best GK and is in great form. IMO he has to start. But we know he will be benched and no doubt resentful.

My Team

Ospina

Holding    BFG    Monreal

Bellerin    Ramsey    Xhaka    Gibbs

Ozil      Sanchez

Welbeck

I would love to find a place for Ox but can’t squeeze in especially when considering how the back 3 will need strong pacy defensive support. Theo, Iwobi and OG on the bench

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I love going to Wembley and am deeply envious of those attending. Give the lads a cheer for us armchair fans and please be NOISY. I am not sure if Peaches got a ticket (hope she has her own ticket-fairy). If not we will all have to squeeze into Ant and Chas’s pockets.

We beat the Chavs last time we played them in a FA CF, with two brilliant goals from It’s Only Ray Parlour and a very handsome chap with red hair. I understand Mesut has had a Cup Final haircut and it would be lovely to see It’s only Granit Xhaka smash one into the net from 25 yards. Why not?

Let it be So ….

COYRRG

p.s .Last game of the season and the last PM. I would like to thank all those who took the time to read my ramblings over the season. You have my utmost respect (not really 😀 )


Arsenal’s Glorious FA Cup History

May 24, 2017

Well here we go it’s the 136th edition of the oldest football competition in the world and our record 20th FA Cup Final. It’s our 2nd against Chelsea; in the 2002 final we ended up victorious, winning 2-0 with goals by Ray Parlour in the 70th minute and Freddie Ljungberg in the 80th.

Let’s take a walk back in time:

1927 Cardiff v Arsenal

1927 was the first time we appeared in the FA Cup Final and we ended up losing 0-1 to Cardiff City – Arsenal went into their first Final as slight underdogs against the Bluebirds who had reached the final only two years earlier. Despite having Charlie Buchan to bolster the ranks the Gunners could not break down Cardiff and Hughie Ferguson scored the winner. His effort slipped under Arsenal goalkeeper Dan Lewis’ body and the cup left England for the only time in its long history. This was the first FA Cup final to be broadcast live on BBC radio, having future Arsenal manager and experienced journalist George Allison at the microphone.

1930 Arsenal v Huddersfield

1930 was the first time we won the famous trophy the attendance at Wembley was 92,488 and our team consisted of – Charlie Preedy, Tom Parker (captain), Eddie Hapgood, Alf Baker, Bill Seddon, Bob John, Joe Hulme, David Jack, Jack Lambert, Alex James, Cliff Bastin.
Goalscorers: James (16), Lambert (88).

For their second final Arsenal were pitted against Herbert Chapman’s former team. Arsenal’s first goal had been planned on the team bus on the way to the game, Alex James taking a quick free-kick to Cliff Bastin who returned the ball to the unmarked linchpin to slot home. In the dying minutes a long through-ball found Jack Lambert who shrugged off the Huddersfield defenders to secure the game and Arsenal’s first major silverware. Both teams were led onto the pitch side-by-side for the first time in honour of Herbert Chapman.

Now some FA Cup statistics:

Final appearances (3 or more):

5 – Ray Parlour, Pat Rice, David Seaman

4 – Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp, Ashley Cole, Joe Hulme, Martin Keown, Freddie Ljungberg, David O’Leary, Patrick Vieira

3 – Cliff Bastin, Liam Brady, Lee Dixon, Eddie Hapgood, Thierry Henry, Pat Jennings, Bob John, Lauren, Sammy Nelson, Tom Parker, Robert Pires, David Price, Graham Rix, Frank Stapleton, Alan Sunderland, Sylvain Wiltord, Willie Young

Winner’s appearances (2 or more):

4 – Ray Parlour, David Seaman.

3 – Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp, Ashley Cole, Martin Keown, Lauren, Freddie Ljungberg, Patrick Vieira.

2 – Cliff Bastin, Santi Cazorla, Lee Dixon, Edu, Lukasz Fabianski, Eddie Hapgood, Thierry Henry, Joe Hulme, Alex James, Laurent Koscielny, David O’Leary, Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil, Robert Pires, Aaron Ramsey, Pat Rice, Gilberto Silva, Jack Wilshere, Sylvain Wiltord, Nigel Winterburn

Enjoy the game.

GunnerN5

 


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