Östersunds – Skating on Thin Ice – Player Ratings

February 23, 2018

Well we can take heart from the knowledge that we are still capable of beating a fourth division team from the north of Sweden. (Over two legs, that is)

There was quite a bit of moaning on the blog, I have no sympathy for you lucky few watching it in front of your warm tellies, being there was a far worse torture, the only crumb of comfort I took from the first half was that at least I didn’t have to watch Walcott anymore.

We are through, job done, this game will be forgotten in a nano second.

Ratings

Ospina: seemed good enough, better than Cech? Well yes I suppose so. 5

Bellerin: I guess he played because he has no back up, did ok. 6

Chambers: dumb 2

Holding: dumber. 3

Kolasinac: the thing about Sead is that when scoring needs to be done, he scores, that’s it, simple as. 5

Maitland-Niles: well there have been people like me chomping at the bit for him to start in the EPL ahead of Xhaka, well I was put in my place tonight, still a lot to learn but obviously very young, gets a pass. 4

Wilshere: the thing about Jack is that when scoring needs to be done he scores, no he doesn’t, he is all over the place. And you lot are gagging for him to sign an extension? I don’t get it, another average performance. 3

Elneny: you get what it says on the tin, a lot of running but not too much shine. 4

Iwobi: I am trying to work out who the Forrest Gump award should go to for tonight’s performance. 3

Welbeck: who is the other contender for the Forrest Gump award.
Run Forrest, Run. 2

Mkhitaryan: this is the first time that I have seen him play in the flesh so it is all still new and exciting, there is a lot a class there, working with the rest of that shower must be difficult. 6

Written by LB

 

Advertisements

Should Gooners support English Teams in the CL?

February 21, 2018

If an English team in the Champions League is facing oppostion from across the water, do you want them to do well and progress or see a defeat of momentous proportions?

Last night one of our illustrious commenters said this…

Anyone gutted Chelsea drew today, I was so rooting for OG?

Now the big Frenchman was a fine servant for the Arsenal, but wanting the chavs to do well so that you can see a big smile on Olly’s face – hmm, not sure about that.

Earlier in the day, I’d seen this tweet from Danny Baker and again I couldn’t quite see how it was a hard and fast rule that all football followers would think the same.

The Round of 16 draw meant that English teams couldn’t face one another. At present 2 are almost guaranteed progression to the quarters, one achieved a good draw away from home, one a knife-edge draw at home and the red mancs are still to play. Does the prospect of seeing 5 English clubs in the last eight fill you with dread or make you proud of the success of the Premier League?

I suppose the further English teams get in the competition the better our UEFA coefficient, but watching Champions League football has to be more interesting if you’re seeing teams that you don’t see play every week?

One benefit of having all-English quarter finals would be the opportunity to see two of the five clubs above us, kicking great lumps out of each other.

Personally my dislike of the spuds, chavs and red mancs is too strong to ever want to see them win any game in Europe. For some reason, Liverpool and Man City don’t stir the same feelings of loathing. Having said that, I’ll still smile when either get knocked out.

How is it even possible for anyone outside red Manchester to want this fella to win a game? Even if he took over at the Home of Football, I’d struggle. 🙂

Anyway, what do you think? Do you agree with Danny Baker that proper English football fans would never support other English clubs in Europe?

Or maybe you feel some pride in Tottenham and Chelsea beating top European opposition?

Then again, you may have the opinion that you want to see the best possible football, so it makes sense to want to see the best teams progress?

Alexander Pushkin 


Oil Money FC losing to Wigan – Good, Bad or Irrelevant to The Arsenal?

February 20, 2018

So, the quadruple is off. What effect might that have on Sunday’s game at Wembley?

Good

Seeds of doubt sown.

Shows that anything is possible in a one-off game – even when you have only 17% possesion.

Aguero might be banned for throwing a punch at a supporter.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Delph is banned?

City look less effective without De Bruyne.

Bad

They could be after revenge against the footballing gods and take it out on us.

Mancs, spuds and chavs path to the trophy got easier.

De Bruyne will be playing.

They can’t be as bad as in last season’s semi.

Irrelevant

What happens in a different competition six days prior to a Final has no bearing whatsoever.

In a one-off game even the BFG can play in Beckenbauer fashion.

Auba will be playing.

Good, bad or not relevant to Sunday? What do you think?

Mink DeVille 

 


The Skater’s Waltz in Östersund – Player ratings

February 16, 2018

First Half

Instead of coming out all reindeer blazing as many home teams do, Östersunds went immediately into contain mode. This tactic backfired as Arsenal quickly gained confidence, possession and shots on goal. The artificial pitch, so different from those monstrosities at Luton and QPR, proved to be a fine playing surface, perfectly flat but with a realistic bounce. It suited the Arsenal far more than we might have expected.

When the Spanish Messi chipped in with yet another goal, it seemed only to be expected. Well, judging by Paul Parker’s reaction on Sky Sports anyway.

A second goal soon followed – as Terry said “Poor Papagianopolous. Bullied at Greek school for having a short surname, he now scores an own goal” – though Micki’s driven cross was difficult to defend and I’m sure Welbz would have scored if the Greek backside hadn’t.

Two up and cruising, so back into Arsenal mode, complacent and dozing. Maybe that’s a little harsh and it was just that Östersunds decided they had nothing to lose, so stepped up a gear.

Terry again, “They have had their chances? Honestly, if I turned up with my old gran and the rest of the chicken admiration society, we would get beat but still create chances against this current Arsenal team”. Seems about right. 🙂

Second half

I must admit to losing a bit of interest in the second half, much like the players and spectators.

Though that is understandable as when Arctic winds, nordvästan, are blowing through your Helags, it’s difficult to concentrate on anything other than your chattering teeth.

Mesut scored a third from another Micki assist and the return leg next week was looking more of a foregone conclusion. The excitement wasn’t over, oh no; in stoppage time David Ospina rescued a clean sheet for the Gunners with our first penalty save for donkey’s.

 

Mission accomplished, a healthy lead for the home leg, no digits missing from frostbite and hopefully no injuries apart from a few minor carpet burns.

Ratings

Ospina – A Catcher in the Rye – A couple of good stops and an excellent penalty save … 7

Bellerin – Vanity Fair – made some great runs down the right needs to up his end product  … 6

Mustafi – All Quiet on the Western Front – took everything in his stride and passing was better  ….6

Chambers – Brave New World – looking more comfortable with each game, but not really tested in Sweden … 6

Monreal – The Sun Also Rises – Nacho was born in Pamplona and probably used to train running with bulls  … 7

Elneny – The Kite Runner – MOTM, “Really liked Elneny’s workrate. This is a man who understands his limitations and plays like it. Good man” … 7

Maitland-Niles (Con) – First Among Equals – competent in centre midfield, though not an immediate solution at DM as yet  … 6

Ozil – The Great Gatsby – cruised through the game in second gear in which he still looked majestic … 7

Mkhitaryan – Far From The Madding Crowd – two more assists, his quality was apparent, still settling in … 6

Iwobi – Great Expectations – seemed to like the artificial surface, fluctuates between composed excellence and hasty mediocrity  … 6

Welbeck – Wuthering Heights – lacking in confidence in his abilities, will be so much better when he can find some  … 5


Life is a Cabaret – Östersunds FK

February 14, 2018

One thing that caught my eye when reading up on our opponents for the upcoming Europa League round of 32 tie, was that the club liked to employ unusual methods to get the best out of its players. So, let’s take a look at the club’s management and its leftfield ideas.

Since 2011 Östersunds FK have blasted their way to the top tier of Swedish football, having been promoted three times. In 2017 they won the Svenska Cupen which enabled them to participate in this season’s Europa League for the first time. Marching past Galatasary and PAOK in qualifying, Östersunds finished second in their group on the same points as Athletic Bilbao, leaving Hertha Berlin trailing in their wake. They are no mugs.

Graham Potter had a so-so career in English football playing for Stoke, Southampton and West Brom amongst others. With a strong desire to stretch himself academically, he studied for a degree in Social Sciences via the Open University and later followed that up with a Masters in Leadership and Emotional Intelligence from Leeds Metropolitan University.

As the man himself has said, “You need to know about football to coach, but you need to know about people, too. Sometimes that can be the difference. It’s about how you bring a team together. How you communicate as a team. How you understand each other. And, ultimately, how you unite the group for a common cause.”

Potter had worked as a football development manager for the University of Hull and Leeds Metropolitan University plus as assistant coach for the England Universities Squad, before being approached by Östersunds chairman, Daniel Kindberg, about a coaching job. After initial hesitation from Kindberg, Graham Potter was eventually employed as Östersunds head coach in December 2010.

Together they came up with the idea of a ‘Culture academy’ when former lieutenant colonel, Kindberg, realised he might have to take an unorthodox route to make the Swedish minnows successful.

As the Östersunds chairman has said about his playing staff, “Many of them were discarded by their clubs — leftovers that people perceived as not good enough, but when we put them together, in an environment like ours, they have become fantastic players in Europe.”

How to get the best out of individuals and the team as a whole has been the cornerstone of the club’s philosophy. An art exhibition, writing a book, dancing to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake plus various singing and theatre assignments have followed, all designed to bring the players together and make them ‘comfortable in uncomfortable situations’.  Scheduled rehearsals go on throughout the season, fostering a real sense of camaraderie and team spirit which extends to the football pitch.

Billy Reid, Potter’s Glaswegian No.2, used to manage Hamilton Accies but recently wrote and performed a rap about the Sami people, an indigenous minority of the Swedish Arctic known for reindeer herding.

To say it’s an unconventional approach is an understatement – take a look. This was the Östersunds players opening the 2016 Swedish Football Gala by dancing along to ‘There’s No Business Like Showbusiness’.

What do we think? Could a similar approach be successful at Arsenal?

Maybe Snow Wenger and the Seven Dwarfs, a rueful tale about the manager’s obsession with skillful, slight midfielders of limited stature?

Or The Wizard of Oz – starring Brave Sir Robin, Samir Nasri and Adebayor as the Tinman, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow alongside Cesc Fabregas’ Dorothy?

Can you think of any productions Arsene and the boys could have featured in, in the past?

However strange the approach taken by the Östersunds FK management might seem, it has certainly reaped dividends and Arsenal can be sure of a warm welcome on Thursday evening.

chas

 

 


What Does it Take to Win the League?

February 13, 2018

If you are averse to statistics and spread sheets then you should stop reading.

We are now 27 games into the 26th Premier League Season and to date it has only been won by 6 different teams –

Manchester United 13 – last win 2012/13

Chelsea 5 – last win 2016/17

Arsenal 3 – last win 2003/04

Manchester City 2 – last win 2013/14

Blackburn Rovers 1 – only win 1994/95

Leicester City 1 – only win 2015/16

Manchester United have been the dominant team with 13 Championships, but that dominance has now slipped and they have not won in the last 4 seasons which is the longest period without them being champions.

Arsenal have not won the Premier League since 2003/04 and in the last 13 seasons we have finished 2nd twice, 3rd on 4 occasions, 4th 6 times and 5th once.

Chelsea own 4 Premier League records – most games won – 30 in 2016/17, most points won – 95 in 2004/05, most goals scored – 103 in 2009/10, least goals against 15 in 2004/05.

After 27 games Arsenal have only 13 wins – the same as in 2012/13 and the least since 2008/09, we have lost 8 the same as in 2012/13 and the most since 2005/06, goals scored does not appear to be an issue, 51 being 4 above our overall PL average, goals against seems to be our Achilles heel with 36 being the second highest in our PL history. Our goals against after 27 games in the last two seasons are in 2nd and 3rd highest in our PL history.

To win the Premier League has taken an average of 2.24 points per game, goals for of 2.07 and goals against of .85. Arsenal’s average has been 1.87 points, 1.75 goals for, and .96 goals against.

After the first 27 games of 2017/18 the average for Manchester City (who look like run away champions) is 2.67 points per game, 2.93 goals for and .74 for goals against. While Arsenal’s averages are 1.67 points, 1.89 goals for and 1.33 goals against – which is a startling difference?

Manchester City is in the midst of creating a new and vastly improved set of standards for the Premier League and it shows just how high a hill we have to climb!

Is it insurmountable?

Written by GunnerN5

 

 

 


Wembley – First Half Ok – Second Woeful – Player Ratings

February 11, 2018

First Half

Arsenal defended pretty well, restricting the spuds to minor chances. Early on it didn’t seem very likely to be our day when the lino flagged Auba offside when put through brilliantly by Jack. ( I was so looking forward to him bamboozling Lloris).

Note how the linesman is meant to be on the line of the last defender but is in line with Mkhitaryan instead, which means he would see more of Auba

On the break we were poor. The team had been set up with quick, talented players at the sharp end, ideal for effective counter attacking. Misplaced passes were to prove very costly when we had clear overloads.

Second Half

We appeared to come out half asleep (as usual). A goal down in the first five minutes to a hopeful punt into the penalty area. Confidence drained, we could have been 2, 3 or 4 down in the next 25 minutes.

Tottenham sat back, alarmed they hadn’t gone further ahead, and we finally created some chances, the best falling to Lacazette almost on the bell.

LB says:

Things we learnt and thoughts on players.

Forget fourth place.

Mkhitaryan is much better playing on the right, evidence Everton.

Wilshere is not good enough when top level tested.

FGG says:

We just didn’t come out with enough intensity second half and it cost us. Then we fell apart for 20 minutes where we could’ve easily been 3 or 4 down, before finally creating something in the last 5 minutes. Not good enough.

What I learnt today is that whilst we all know we have defensive issues, these last 2 games have shown us how our attacking play is just as much to blame for those defensive frailties. I would argue that we defended much better as a team in the Spurs game (certainly first half) than we did against Everton, but our inability to keep the ball or sustain pressure meant that Spurs had loads of the ball and were able to pin us back in our half. It’s too much to expect our defence to hold out for 90 minutes against the likes of Kane if we are constantly on the back foot. The Everton game showed that when our attack clicks (it’s bound to be inconsistent given how new it is, so I’m not overly worried about the attacking performance) then it’s good enough to cover over defensive frailties.

GIE says :

 The defence did well for the majority of the game but were guilty of giving very poor ball to the midfield.

The midfield were pretty good at holding shape and not letting runners go, but were not making most of the ball when at feet.

The attack, when they did get the ball didn’t do enough with it.

Nearly all the above compound each other, and I found it pretty much the reverse of when we played them at the emirates where we were the ones picking up loose balls off their back line and putting them back under pressure, don’t think we did that enough today although they had a plan to go longer from defence to attack so bypassed those passing channels into midfield where we punished them at home.

Player Ratings 

Cech: kept us in the game but wow has his footwork become embarrassing. 6

Bellerin: tough job dealing with Son although he did it quite well, my beef is that there were too many cheap give away passes which after losing possession forced the pressure back onto Arsenal. Spuds simply didn’t do that. 5

Mustafi: probably one of his best games, very pleased with him. 8

Koscielny: jump man for goodness sake. 6

Monreal: had to stay further back than he normally likes due to out of place Mkhitaryan, did ok. 6

Elneny: used every ounce of his limited talent and was well deployed. 7

Xhaka: never going to be a constant goal threat and never going to offer enough of a defensive shield. 6

Wilshere: ran into blind alleys, made poor passing decisions added very little to the defensive cause, being so slow and short and all. Just not top level materiel. 5

Ozil: the telly Ozil that I saw looked as though he was struggling to get into the game, maybe it was different if you were there. 5

Mkhitaryan: look at the difference when played on the right as per the Everton game with his pin point accurate passing compared to his wayward display today. Easy to get this right after the event but I hope we learn from it. Offered nothing defensively and there was me fearing Iwobi on the left, goodness the left is the Nigerian’s best position and again when he came on he was sent out to the right — why? Both players. 4

Aubameyang: still in his honeymoon period, he gets a pass today, mah. 6

Ratings from LB (written just after the game had ended)