Life without Sanchez

July 6, 2017

So before talking about options for life without Sanchez lets just talk about what happens if he stays. Personally I think this is rather easy. He lines up as the left sided of our double number 10’s (with Ozil as 1st choice to the right of centre) behind our new boy Lacazette. That front 3 should have creativity and goals in it and would be exciting to watch. It could be a title defining front 3 in a formation where they all compliment each other. There is also excellent back up to each of the front 3 players.

In essence I hope Alexis stays but this is far from certain and the most recent rumours are of him demanding £400,000pw. This could just be paper talk of course with no basis whatsoever, but if it were true I am giving it the thumbs down. At that point I am looking to get us the best deal, but what is that?

Probably the worst deal would be a straight cash deal with an EPL rival. A straight cash deal would be better with an overseas club. Probably the best deal would be a swap with another big club. If it were Munich could we nab Lewandowski in return? One of our bloggers described Lacazette as a true 9 ½ so could he adopt the left sided 10 role behind a prolific 9 like Lewandowski? Ditto with Aguero. Could that happen?

Both of those latter mentioned deals would still leave us looking pretty strong with a lot of fire-power even without Alexis. Other possible considerations could be Sterling or De-Bruyne but for some reason they don’t appeal to me quite as much.

With all the Sanchez talk there is another player issue that, although receiving some media coverage, is flying slightly more under the radar. We are in danger of losing Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, a player I really like. It is hard to believe that he has been with us since 2011 yet is still only 23 years old.

In many senses he hasn’t had a dissimilar pathway to Sanchez had to their respective 23rd year. The stats for both are not hugely different, where Sanchez was with Udinese to 23. Sanchez has slightly more favourable stats but then I have always maintained that AOC has been a slight victim of covering a multitude of positions, so a significant amount of games would have been in less favourable positions that would allow him to boost his goal-scoring stats.

Sanchez really only started to thrive as a goal-scoring wing forward from his 23rd year when he moved to Barca. It is time to nail down a regular position for AOC or risk losing him. He was excellent at right wing back but I am still not certain this is the position where we will see the best of him. Similarly I don’t think it is the position he feels is really best for him. We have Bellerin, who is excellent there in our back 3 formation, and I am sure we can find other alternative cover there.

I say that if we lose Sanchez then it is time to unleash the Ox. Give him the opportunity that Sanchez had at that same age to show the world that there is a world class left inside forward in there waiting to burst through, one that as his confidence increases in the position is full of goals and pacey attacking intent.

Is it a risk? Some would say yes and that we need to get some big foreign player to replace someone like Sanchez. But there is a risk there as well. Even some celebrated names have historically struggled in the EPL. There is as much risk in any player coming in as there is in one of our own changing to a new role.

Back up would be required, but Welbeck is adept from the left attacking position. We may need to bring another in though. Perhaps a player that can cover this position but could also cover Ramseys more attacking of the central 2 role. I like the look of Lemar at Monaco but I also like the look of the lad Golovin from CSKA that we have been linked with. World of football describes his strengths as dribbling, acceleration, flair and passing. What is not to like? Even better when listing preferred foot their answer was both.

I wouldn’t be unhappy if AW released AOC and just see if at 23 he is primed to become our own English Sanchez. There are no guarantees in football and sometimes you just have to be brave enough to take a chance on a player and put your faith in them.

Written by GoonerB


Prêt à acheter, Arsène

June 13, 2017

Come on, you get my drift. Pret à Manger, Pret à Porter, Footballers to Buy.

Anyway, France v England tonight (and on proper telly) in a friendly, and oh garçon, do they have some good footballers.

Looking through their squad there are quite a few who I reckon would look excellent in an Arsenal shirt, and don’t forget, the list does not include Benzema or Martial.

 

Hugo Lloris

Defenders: Lucas Digne, Christophe Jallet, Presnel Kimpembe , Laurent Koscielny, Benjamin Mendy, Djibril Sidibe , Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Kurt Zouma

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante ,Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba,  Adrien Rabiot,  Moussa Sissoko , Corentin Tolisso

Forwards: Ousmane Dembele , Olivier Giroud , Antoine Griezmann , Alexandre Lacazette , Thomas Lemar , Kylian Mbappe , Dimitri Payet , Florian Thauvin

 

Personally, I can’t stand England because of the filth that follow them, so couldn’t care less who wins, but I will watch with my Arsenal eyes glued to the French.

Guessing we’ll buy three players this summer, and with one excellent looking signing in the bag already, I would be very happy to select two more from that French lot.

Written  by MickyDidIt89


Stand up if you Love Arsene Wenger

June 7, 2017

Well I’m already standing and I have more hope for the future of our club than I have had in many a long year.

You may ask why?

The answer is that I want the Arsenal Football Club to be a club that all future generations of supporters can be as proud of as I have been in my seventy years of support. It is my opinion that in order for us to achieve that we need a manager who is honest, successful, and brings us stability along with common sense player decisions that are within our fiscal budget. Arsene Wenger brings all of that in spades and his twenty one seasons have been the most successful in our club’s history.

2016/17 was the only season that Arsene has not got us into a Champions League place – but with sixteen games remaining we were still in a good position to gain our accustomed spot. However the next eight games were disastrous causing Arsene Wenger to reconsider his tactics and switch to a back three in defence against Middlesbrough and it turned out to be very successful, as is shown in the chart below, but it proved to be too little too late as we missed our customary CL spot by a single point.

Not to be forgotten was our fantastic victory in the FA Cup Final when

Arsenal beat Chelsea 2 -1 while utilizing the same back three system.

There have been many periods; some lasting for many years, when I have been disappointed in our lack of success or ambition but my pride in the club has never waned.

The very worst period that I have personally experienced lasted for thirty three seasons.

During this period of thirty three seasons we won one League title, two FA Cups and one Fairs Cup and for the vast majority of the time we started off the season with little or no hope of winning anything. Looking back at these years is a stark reminder of just how bad we were as a team and how much we suffered as fans. Our first double in 1970/71 was, understandably, one of the few seasons when we fans could hold our heads high and we all oozed with pride.

Then along came George Graham (1986 to 1995) and he helped to lift our heads up by winning two League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups and one Cup Winners Cup, ending up with an average league position of 5.11. Unfortunately his demise was one of my lowest moments as an Arsenal supporter when he was fired after being caught accepting illegal payments from an agent whose players were transferred to Arsenal.

However the black cloud that it cast over Highbury turned out to have a silver lining as in 1996 Arsene Wenger was hired as our new manager and he quickly turned our frowns into huge grins as we won our second double in 1997 -1998. His record to date has made him the most successful manager in our long history putting him up on the same pedestal as the great Herbert Chapman (1925 – 1934) who won three league titles and one FA Cup and was a trail blazer in introducing multiple new innovations to the game.

Arsene’s level of consistency over his twenty one seasons with Arsenal is deserving of high credit and the only manager in history to have a better record over such a long period of time is Alex Ferguson. However, that is not a simple comparison as the conditions they managed under were very different.

Fergie inherited the Class of 1992 and these young players became the nucleus of the United team that dominated the Premier League; given United’s deep pockets Fergie was able to import some of the World’s top talents to round off his team.

Arsene inherited our famous Back Four – they were a top class but aging group of players. Ian Wright was approaching the end of his career while Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira had just joined Arsenal. These players formed the core of Arsenal’s initial team. Arsene, unlike Fergie, has had to work within a strict financial structure that became even tighter with the decision to build a new stadium.

With the signing of his latest contract it means that Arsene he will be with us until at least the end of the 2018/19 season. Given that we have to win our way back into a Champions League spot it will mean that Arsene will only have one season in which to win the trophy – if he wins then he will retire – if not I predict that he will extend it for a further two seasons.

Written by GunnerN5


26th May 1989 – It’s up for grabs now!!!

May 26, 2017

This is Big Raddy’s story of arguably the Greatest Day in Arsenal’s history.

May 26 1989, a day never to be forgotten in Gooner history, but also a preface to the modern Arsenal. Here is my story of the evening and why I think it changed the face of our fabulous club.

 

The run up to the game is embedded in the history books, but no-one can effectively describe the disbelief and despair that echoed around Highbury following the 2-2 home draw to Wimbledon. We had a 12 point lead over Liverpool at Xmas and had seen it whittled away to being 3 points behind. We had thrown away 5 home points in two games against poor opposition. We had choked. Goodness knows the furore had there been blogs in those days – Samaritans would have been busy!

The drudge home after the Dons game was very long. I gave little hope for our chances at Anfield and didn’t even try to get a ticket, but approaching the game I dug deep, sought some “mental strength,” found some fighting spirit.

It should be noted that the game was on a Friday night…. unheard of in those days and rare now.

My wife, thinking that football was a Saturday sport, had booked us to go to a dinner party at her new Boss´s (let’s call him Rupert) flat in the centre of Hampstead. She worked in the media business, and all the guests were from Saatchi & Saatchi.  I told her that I couldn’t attend unless I could watch the game through dinner, her response was to tell me to call Rupert. And here we come to the huge social change that came about that night, and in my opinion changed the face of football forever.

This was the season of Hillsborough, the reputation of English football fans was at an all-time low. If you liked football you were either violent or ignorant and uncultured. Football was for Yobs. Rupert, being cultured and polite, was delighted to hear from me and said that as a guest of course I could watch the game, but ….. I would have to sit at the table with the sound off and participate in the conversation.

We arrived and were shown into a beautiful dining room with a long table and I was sat at the end with a separate table for my 14″ TV. I felt humiliated and less-than, however my addiction came first and I was satisfied. The host had caterers to do the food and serve the wine allowing him to concentrate on his guests. Needless to say., I was at the opposite end of the table to him, due to his assumption that my passion must mean I was incapable of enriching any intelligent conversation.

Seriously, to those youngsters who read this, football fans were viewed as stupid. There were no University courses in Sports Management, no Soccer Academies etc et

So, the first half comes and goes and I am getting tense. At half time people were very “nice” to me, commiserating as though I had lost a pet. Champagne was flowing around the table, some guests went to the toilet to “powder their nose” and I sat there non-communicative, wishing I could find somewhere dark to be alone.

Second half kicked off. Smudger scores. I jump up shouting; they look at me as though I have escaped from a Psychiatric Unit, BUT and here is the start of the change – they got caught up in my passion. Rupert asked me to turn the TV so he could see it. Questions were asked “Who is the tall bloke who keeps raising his arm?”, Why don’t they shoot more? ( 😉 )”, “Why , when Arsenal play in red & white are they playing in yellow and blue?” Needless to say, I was incapable of speech.

The Mickey T moment. Never ever to be forgotten. It replays in my mind in slow motion (as I am sure it does for you). The whole table went mental. Jumping in the air, hugging, back-slapping and shouting. My main recollection was thinking “Where is my coat, I have to get to Highbury…”. but Rupert and his friends were high on the game. They had really enjoyed watching a half of football. They connected! If Big Raddy  – a less thuggish man you could never meet – was a football fanatic, it couldn’t be just razorblade toting thugs that went to Highbury.

I am ashamed to say that I “liberated” a couple of bottles of bubbly, grabbed the wife, and scedaddled as fast as I could to N5. I was dropped off outside the Gunners Pub carrying the champagne which lasted about 4 minutes.  The Fever Pitch film got it right, there was an enormous street party, a feeling of camaraderie never repeated. The noise was deafening and I stood on the Marble steps until around 3 a.m. Even at that time the Holloway Road was awash with jubilant Gooners , sharing laughter and booze. Fantastic.

I met Rupert and a number of the fellow guests over the following seasons. All had bought season tickets at Highbury and were as knowledgeable and connected to the Arsenal as any Gooner. Football had become the Cocaine of the Masses!

This is what the Guardian write of the game and the social effect….

“Many cite the match as a pivotal turning point in English football. Writing in The Guardian, Jason Cowley notes how instead of rioting, as had occurred at Heysel with fatal consequences, Liverpool fans stayed on after the game and applauded Arsenal “as if they understood that we were at the start of something new; that there would be no returning to the ways of old”. Cowley describes the match as “the night football was reborn” and that the event “repaired the reputation of football”.

The match is not only seen as the starting point of a renaissance in English football, but also the moment where people started to see the untapped commercial potential of live football on television.”

“Good Old Arsenal We are proud to say that name”

Big Raddy’s story.


One Cockerel does not a summer make

April 30, 2017

So here we go folks, the final North London Derby at WHL. This occasion really should have called for the daddy of pre-matches, but unfortunately there are some trees that need a hug…..so you are stuck with me.

I need to say in advance that I have a superstition about being too condescending ahead of these games so if you are expecting lots of belittlement and ridicule then disappointment will be the order of the day. Having said that the rest of you can fill yer boots.

I strangely feel a degree of sadness that this is the last outing at their place, as WHL holds some fond memories for us. I am normally very nervous about these games. On reflection I think this is because we have pretty much been the favourites in games against them since some fellow called Newton had an apple fall on his head. As such I think the expectancy to win adds more angst to the occasion. This time however I have them down as favourites. Spurs are the form team this season while we have struggled.

Stating this actually doesn’t cause me any issues because this aberration can be redressed in readiness for next season. A shift in the balance of power?……pffft (he expectorates on the floor in distaste). As Lord Wenger intimated the other day, one cockerel does not a summer make. If anything Spurs form versus ours this season may be the main proverbial kick up the derriere that we needed. If it turns out to be the catalyst for action that sees us awaken from our slumber and head into next season a different animal, then I will doff my cap to those white lillies and say thank-you. I may even resort to a chicken on a beach ball as my screen saver……ok maybe not….still a few white wine spritzers clouding my judgement this morning.

I am reconciled with the fact it is now near impossible for us to celebrate St. Tott’s day this year. If you gave me a choice between winning the F.A cup and finishing below them or finishing above them with no silverware then I would take the former all day. This is a real possibility for us so it could be that in a few weeks time we are actually celebrating a more successful season than them. How galling would that be for them?

Onto team matters. I am not sure if a mere stand in for the pre-match is allowed to mutter these sacred words, but here goes………..

my team (ooh it does make one feel powerful) :

 

Cech

Holding Koscielny Gabriel

Ox Coquelin Ramsey Monreal

Ozil Sanchez

Welbeck

Why change the formation that has revived our fortunes recently. I would also like to stick largely with the same players with a couple of proviso’s. I think the pace of Welbeck with Ozil and Sanchez flitting about behind him would suit this game more. Giroud and Walcott are useful impact subs. I think we need the defensive graft of Coquelin in a disciplined role front of the defence. They are dangerous in that area and a big game from him could be a deciding factor. If he is able to largely stifle them in this area and free up the rest of our team in attack then I will be very hopeful. Xhaka has played well recently but is more reckless and we can’t afford to be down to 10 men in this game. Other than that it is as you were.

As I said, based on form and them being at home they are the favourites…….but I have a feeling in me bones. Being favourites carries that extra psychological burden. Also our new system will be far less easy for them to predict than when we were labouring with the 4-3-3 system. Even we don’t yet fully know what Arsenal will turn up in this system, so it should create some doubt and uncertainty in their minds.

All this should mean that for once, us rather than them, can approach the game with less to lose and can literally just go out and play without burden. There is one final consideration. This is a historic day for them. There must be a few nerves in their camp that the final NLD at old WHL could go down as an Arsenal win. WHL holds some fond memories for the Arsenal. Who can forget the 3rd May 1971 or the 25th April 2004? Let the record books show that Sunday 30th April 2017 saw Spurs title bid crash down around them as the good guys in red and white registered a historic final win at WHL.

COYRRG’S

Written by GoonerB

 


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


Opposing views about Arsene Wenger erupt in violence

April 4, 2017

I’ve been watching in dismay videos of fights between various factions of Arsenal supporters both during and after the Manchester City game. I guess it was only a matter of time before the different groups clashed but as a long time supporter I found it to be very sad. It’s a long time since I attended games on a regular basis but when I did I never witnessed a fight between Arsenal fans – that was always reserved for the opposition and not our own.

The fight in the stand appeared to be between those that had hung up a pro Wenger sign and those that felt it did not support their opinion. Outside the ground it was near the guy holding Arsenal Fan TV interviews and again it was between those with opposing views on Arsene.

Those involved appeared to be in their twenties and thirties and their main comparison would obviously be Arsene’s early years when we winning on a consistent basis. The feeling is shared by people in all age groups but hopefully the older generations would only verbalize their thoughts and not resort to violence.

My opinion is that both sides of those involved in the fights should be identified and banned for life from attending any Arsenal games.

I have several questions that I would like to some opinions on.

  1. Is it mainly the younger fans that would resort to violence?
  2. Is a lifetime ban appropriate?
  3. Do the Arsenal Fan TV post game interviews stir up emotions unnecessarily?
  4. When should Arsene announce the decision on his future?
  5. Should Arsenal ban the use of signage in the ground?
  6. Is fighting amongst Arsenal fans commonplace?

Written by GunnerN5