Arsenal: We’ve Got Our Bottle Back?

August 17, 2018

On the eve of our Saturday tea time visit to Stamford Bridge, perhaps it would be enjoyable to remember a fine performance away at the bus stop in Fulham. Victories when they come at unexpected moments are often the most pleasurable. With our new manager and signings already showing hints of more steel and determination, could we start to believe The Arsenal have begun to rediscover our bottle. Cheers, Rocky.

How are you feeling this morning?

Still glowing?

Yeah, me too.

We have kind of forgotten what it’s like to enjoy a BIG win; a meaningful win; a surprise win against the odds.

Most of our surprises in the last six months have been nasty ones – the kind Mrs Gary Neville has every morning when she wakes up and sees who’s beside her.

But Saturday was different. We went to one of the bookies’ favourites for the title and gave them a spanking in their own back yard. And just because it’s a Chav back yard full of old piss-stained mattresses and wrecked cars, that doesn’t make the win any less sweet.

Make no mistake, Chelsea were seen by many as the real dark horses (whoops, sorry JT, I meant pale horses) in the championship race. Even in defeat to QPR last week they earned plaudits for almost nicking a result with only nine men.

But in the second half of Saturday’s fine win we completely dominated them, winning the half 4-1, taking a stranglehold on midfield and defending well (we only conceded because the ref missed a blatant foul on Santos).

The first half was a different story, with both teams attacking like panthers and defending like pandas, but enough has been said about that in all the match reports.

The point is, we found ourselves in a game that, several times, could have gone away from us – at 2-1 and at 3-3 in particular. But we refused to allow it to do so.

Having hauled ourselves level at 1-1, then gone in one down at half time thanks to another soft goal conceded from a set piece, heads could easily have dropped.

If this had been last year’s Arsenal team, with the homesick Spaniard and the fat French trouble-maker, I think that’s exactly what would have happened. Our heads would have gone down faster than Dani Alves on ice.

But this is a different group of players with a much better mix of vim and experience. It’s interesting that our best performers on the day (with the exception of Prince Robin) were the younger ones: Koscielny, Ramsey, Gervinho and Walcott.

But I have no doubt that they felt enabled to play their best game by the presence of older heads like Arteta, Mertesacker and Santos (as well as Rosicky when he came on), all of whom added an air of stability to the team.

We now have players who do not panic when we’re leading with 10 minutes to go. Indeed, against a dangerous Chavski side we looked very solid in the final stages (the BFG making up for a poor first half by dominating the box in the closing minutes).

We were calm enough and confident enough to see the game out – and bold enough to take our chance to really kill it off when it arrived.

Someone has clearly been to Lost and Found and reclaimed something we mislaid about two years ago: our bottle.

No-one really knew where it had gone. Pat Rice went all up and down the Holloway Road stapling little notices to trees and lamp posts saying “Missing: Our Bottle: Answers to the name Vieira or Adams. Reward if found.”

There were no takers, but now it has turned up of its own accord, just when we needed it most after the most disastrous start to a season for 58 years.

There is still everything to play for this season. The Mancunian lottery winners may be streets ahead at the top of the table but there is a long way to go and anything can happen.

Next up for us in the league are West Brom (H), Norwich (A) and Fulham (H). With the players we have, and with the fact that we now have our bottle again after such a long time, everything is possible.

Keep believing fellow Gunners.

Written by RockyLives

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Welcome to a state of the art Cockspur Up

August 16, 2018

So it looks like the crews of Arsenal supporting contractors are doing a fine job at the new Sh*thole. 🙂

Spuds fans are revolting (fuming), travel plans are in disarray and the tawdry N17 club is at the mercy of the FA and UEFA in terms of being allowed to rearrange fixture venues – possibly right up until the end of the year!

It would seem that the aforementioned ‘safety certificate concerns’ are doublespeak for ‘half-finished’.

Apparently Twickenham was in the running for hosting the spuds home game against Man City at the end of October, but Twickers refused as they said that the bill for post-match fumigation was likely to be prohibitively large.

Oh well, let’s hope it all gets sorted really soon!

 


How Did you Rate our Debutants?

August 15, 2018

How would you rate our summer signings in their first appearance?
This is meant to be a bit of fun; mainly for Eddie who loves a poll!
It’s obviously too early to make any decisions about our new signings but first impressions often linger.

 

Sokratis Papastathopolous – looked a wee bit slow in pre-season but seemed more commanding in his first competitive game – Cretan rock face.

 

Stephan Lichtsteiner – adapted well (as the seasoned pro he is) to making his debut at left back rather than in his natural position – not short of cojones.

 

Matteo Guendouzi – a little shaky to start and then he seemed to realise he could play at Prem level – “I am not calling another man Matteo. Ever.”.

 

Lucas Torreira – only had 20 minutes or so but seemed to have an immediate impact on our midfield shape – terrier or pit bull.

 

chas


Same Old Arsenal, Always Cheating

August 14, 2018

An interesting discussion between Rasp and Aaron about Man City’s use of  persistent foul tackles to disrupt counter attacks and their use as part of the high press tactic, highlights how this original piece from Rocky is still relevant. The high press fails, someone get a boot in quick before the counter exposes the inevitable lack of numbers behind. Does Unai already know this?

After a fine win and an excellent performance on Saturday you would have to be of a churlish disposition to find any negatives.

So here I am, Churl-in-chief, primed and ready for a bit of top churling.

It amounts to this: I have one complaint about our lads.

It’s not the wayward finishing (although if some of our forwards were tasked with clubbing baby seals, my money would be on the cuddly little blubber-buckets to emerge injury-free).

Nor is it the tendency to always look like we might give the opposition a chance to get back in the game no matter how much we’re battering them.

No, my beef is with our players’ behaviour when they foul and are fouled.

We’re all familiar with the moronic baying of ‘same old Arsenal, always cheating’ whenever one of our team goes down under an attempted leg-breaker or, conversely, whenever an opponent is left on the floor after an Arsenal tackle.

Make no mistake, the label has stuck.

From the Mensa-dodging nouveaux-riches of West London to the barcoded disappointment-junkies of the far North East; from the Unconvincibles of Old Toilet to the Inconsequentials of N17 there is a veritable chavscape of received opinion that Arsenal players really do cheat.

But it’s clear from recent games that the problem with our team is that THEY DO NOT CHEAT ENOUGH.

That is the great irony: the team reviled the length and breadth of the land as cheats is actually more honest than just about any of its opponents.

There was a classic example in the Wolves game. The Mighty Zubar (I’m sure he used to be a character in Dan Dare when I was a kid) executed a studs-up challenge into Robin van Persie’s knee. I happen to think it wasn’t particularly malicious but was, rather, a cack-handed attempt to get the ball. However, it was rash and dangerous and certainly deserving of a yellow.

On impact, Robin was spun in the air and crumpled to the ground. And here’s where Zubar was clever. Knowing that he had just made a cert yellow card tackle (and possibly even a red card one) he crumpled to the ground too, mysteriously clutching his shoulder. It was enough to confuse the referee, Chris Foy, who did not penalise Zubar.

We saw the same thing the week before at Newcastle. Joey Barton, one of the modern game’s most noted thugs, turned out to have a brilliant line in rolling around on the floor whenever he went in for tackle with one of our players. From macho man to milkshake man in a heartbeat.

In that game the truly awful Phil Dowd bought it every time. Probably the worst example was the free kick given against Rosicky that led (indirectly) to Newcastle’s fourth goal. He and Barton jumped together half-heartedly, neither really touching the other. Rosicky stayed on his feet but Barton went to ground. Cue the man from Dowd Cuckoo Land: free kick, goal, two points lost.

Similar examples were littered throughout that entire game, particularly in the second half.

And during Saturday’s Wolves game there were several occasions where we were penalised for fairly winning tackles, just because the opponent went to ground and feigned injury.

Foy’s criterion for giving a free kick seemed to be no more sophisticated than “he fell over, must have been a foul.”

At the same time there were other moments where our players took whacks to the head or boots to the calf but did not collapse in agony. Our lot seldom do that – if anything they simply tend to stay on their feet and look a bit affronted.

Many people observed that against Newcastle, if Diaby had rolled around in agony after the Barton challenge he would probably have got the little toe-rag a yellow. But Abou didn’t do that because, although he knew the tackle had been a potential leg breaker, he wasn’t actually that badly hurt. He was too honest to pretend he was in severe pain. Instead he got up, tickled Barton’s neck and the rest is history.

Earlier in the same game, Arshavin also hopped straight up after another appalling Barton challenge from behind. (Mind you, Arshavin never shows he’s hurt: that tiny frame carries all the suffering of Mother Russia in its soul, so the odd smack in the mouth or boot up the arse is neither here nor there).

On one level I applaud our players for their honesty. One demented Ivorian aside, I can’t think of any Arsenal player who regularly feigns injury, whereas our opponents are doing it in every game and are winning free kicks for it, as well as getting our players carded.

Maybe it’s time we dished out a bit of their own medicine to them. I don’t mean we should pretend to be fouled when there’s been no contact, but when there is a bad challenge we should stay down and make it clear to the ref that it was dangerous. It won’t always work (Robin was clearly hurt by Zubar but Foy missed it) but if it works half the time that’s more free kicks for us and fewer for whomever we’re playing.

And when our players mistime their challenges and catch the opponent instead, let’s take a leaf out of Zubar’s book and go down as well.

The sad truth is that, with the standard of officiating in the EPL today, playing fair just gets you shafted.

That’s it. Churling over.

Now let’s go and win the League (and if, to do so, we have to sometimes be less than angels, that’s OK with me).

Written by RockyLives


One Swallow does not a Season make

August 13, 2018

Well, the game has ended and too bad we lost. I am sad that we lost but I don’t share the sentiment of many that we are doomed and condemned to another inglorious season.

I am certain there’s no way we would have a repetition of the immediate past season. It was our worst under Arsene. Yes we struggled to cope with the frenetic pace of City, tell me how many teams in the league wouldn’t? The only ones that look capable have spent tons of money to play catch and still don’t look close enough. Some are already certain Emery could never beat Pep but how far from reality they are. City played some of the best football the premiership ever witnessed on their way to the title last season while we had our worst. So, it’s natural they were the sleeker side on the day while we struggled in transition?

Does this mean our season is doomed!? NO! Our laboured defending and flailing in attack showed that we are work in progress. We will be a different proposition within a month no doubt. Any fan that thought we were simply going to overrun City must have been living in the fantasy world. It will take a few weeks but surely the players will catch up with the hardwork Emery has been trying to impact on them.

Its not easy watching ones team lose but there were many positives in the game to a discerning eye. And the result could have been different had Ozil and Xhaka come up with their A game. All through Ozil exhibited the lethargic form he exhibited in Russia while Mkhitarayan just ran around aimlessly when he did tried to contribute. We’ve played one of our hardest game of the season and lost so there’s now time to restrategise.

We should not forget that even the high flying Pep ended his first season empty handed but look where he is now. Who says Emery if he can’t achieve same level come close to him?

If all else fails to cheer you up this morning, take a look at mickydidit’s view of the game. See. not so bad after all! (ed)

Ratings (ed)

Cech – made a couple of decent stops and had one howler which could have been of epic proportions ….. 6

Bellerin – a little flaky but had a rasping drive which unfortunately went straight down the keeper’s throat ….. 6

Mustafi – chasing his tail at times trying to keep pace with City’s movement, but didn’t disgrace himself ….. 6

Sokratis – the look on his face after his foul on Aguero for the booking, was classic ….. 6

Maitland-Niles (Lichtsteiner) – Ainsley’s coming into contact with the lardy Walker was always going to end in tears. Lichtsteiner stepped in on the left and added a real sense of urgency and purpose – I like him already ….. 6 (7)

Xhaka – Still looked to be searching for full fitness, so the game bypassed him somewhat ….. 5

Guendouzi – once he got over his early ‘what the hell am I doing playing at this level’ nerves he was fine and didn’t look out of place at all. Could have done more to stop Sterling for the first, maybe ….. 7

Ramsey – I still haven’t got much of an idea as to where Aaron was playing yesterday ….. 5

Ozil ….. a fairly anonymous performance by his own high standards ….. 6

Mkhitaryan – looked a little slow of foot and thought against City’s rattatttat style. Not his best performance in red and white ….. 5

Aubameyang – Not really given much to chew on the whole game ….. 6

Subs

Lacazette – if Alexandre had scored that golden chance on 55 minutes with the score at 0-1, I’m sure it would have been game on. Wasn’t to be though ….. 7

Mickydidit’s view of an azure blue sea …. 10

Written by Akinzo


How does the Arsenal squad 2018/9 shape up?

August 10, 2018

So, it looks as though the departure of Lucas Perez to the happy hammers was the only deadline day deal to get over the line.

Below is the Arsenal squad according to the Premier League website but, apparently, players can still be sold or loaned out until the end of August, so players such as David Ospina could still go.

Today is meant to be when 25 man squads are registered but changes to them will be made if players are sold or loaned before September 1st.

How are we looking?

 

 

 

Perhaps the midfield looks stronger with the addition of Torreira and  Guendouzi to replace the outgoing Jack. Emile Smith Rowe will be hoping to push on and get some first team action this year after impressing in pre-season.

Up front, we look mobile and pacy but with no plan B anymore. Thank Dennis for that, some will say! Maybe Ramsey will get more time further forward this season?

Kos not expected to be back in training until the end of the year at the earliest, looks to be the biggest hole in the squad at present. New signing from Dortmund, Sokratis wasn’t that convincing in pre-season, but presumably the new purchasing team have some idea as to what they’re doing, so I’m hoping he’s just taking time to settle in and will turn out to be a great buy.  Presumably Mustafi and Sokratis will be the first choice pairing.

The Beast out for a few months is a blow but Maitland-Niles is adequate cover for Nacho. Right back is looking stronger than it has done for ages, Hector can be rested safe in the knowledge that Lichtsteiner provides a wealth of experience.

What are your feelings? Are we good to go?

chas 

 


Deadline Day Surprises?

August 9, 2018

Are we short in defence with Calum Chambers on loan at Fulham and Kos out for most of the season?

Will some players who appear surplus to requirements be sold to fund the purchase of Livin La Loca?

Will Rambo either sign a new contract, or play the Club in the final year of his contract or seek to move elsewhere right at the death?

Will the spuds sign a new cleaner?