Emery’s Bermuda Triangle

January 7, 2019

Prompted by my Bros to expand on my criticism of Dick’s current tactics evident at the Fulham game, I offer another controversial effort for the perusal of AAers the world over.

I qualify what I am going to say in advance with the facts that…….

  1. We have lost Holding for a long time.
  2. Have not had Kos (and may never have the old Kos) for  a long time.
  3. Have missed an Improved Hector and reliable Nacho in recent weeks.
  4. Let alone had no chance to see the other Greek God, Mav, who I think could prove in the future to be the solution, together with Holding, to Dick’s Bermuda Triangle.

To explain:- Dick has regularly opted recently for the following three players in the vital “central triangle of defence”, and it is here he is making his mistake. Mustafi and Sokratis as CBs, with Xhaka in the central holding/receiving slot.

I will start with the CBs (without really needing to for anyone with eyes).

Sokratis has got guts, is committed and occasionally is in the right place at the right time (See fourth goal against Fulham). But good enough for us as a CB? Nah!

Mustafi is dog’s poo (thought I’d do your job for you, ed). Positionally poor, rarely wins a header as he is a short arse, slide tackles late and nowhere near the ball. Good enough for us as a CB? Nah!

Now, given this criticism, Dick has doubled the problems in his triangle by allowing Xhaka to play at the top as holding/receiver of passes from these two! Xhaka is in my eyes massively overrated. Sure he can spray long balls, but only when the oppo back off, and these long balls are rarely “dynamic” in their effect. (He is no Alonso). Under pressure he shovels poop, and under real pressure, he makes potentially disastrous passes. (He is no Gilberto). He cannot tackle really, and is regularly booked for this (lack of) “skill”. (He is no Kante……or for that matter, Terrier). And much of this slaughtering criticism is because he is not quick enough of thought or limb.

Sorry, I seem to have been a little scathing!

Does he deserve a place in the starting eleven? Well, for the moment my answer is ‘yes’. But play him forward of Terrier and Ouzi (alongside each other and in front of the defence). Both of these two are better at the job required there and, will shore up some of the defensive frailty currently evident. “For the moment” for that is the position I advocate for A M-N in the future, and then it could be bye bye Xhaka for me.

My view, sorry if you think I am still drunk with joy from my recent Birthday.

Written by LBG
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Strolling down the Prom – Blackpool Ratings

January 6, 2019

Much of the build up to the game focused on the owner of Blackpool FC who appears to want to watch the club go under rather than cede to public opinion. Hopefully the large band of travelling Gooners were all aware that money spent in the ground was only going to benefit one person. The empty stands showed the depth of contempt there is for the man in Blackpool. Really sad.

The other big concern in the warm-up was Kos suffering with his back and having to be replaced by Jenks. Hopefully it was more of a precaution due to the ropey nature of the pitch, rather than anything long term.

First Half

An entertaining opening to the game should have seen Arsenal over the hill and far away but Blackpool did have the odd effort or two. Eddie didn’t read his script. First he tried a near post shot when going across the keeper was the obvious option. Then he was unluckier in that A.M-N’s ball across the face of goal was just at the limit of his stretch causing a miss that looked worse than it was.

Eventually we did take the lead when a Rambo free kick came off Shearing’s shoulder and flew against the post but fell nicely for Joe Willock to nod into an empty net. Jenks could have nodded for the net instead of back across goal from a delightful dink from Wobbly.

Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

That man Wobbly was again instrumental in the second goal. Controlling a nice forward pass superbly on his thigh, he laid the ball into the path of the oncoming Corporal who crossed for Eddie whose little nick at the near post fell nicely for Joe to add his second.

Eddie then missed the easiest of his chances, not fooling the keeper in a one-on-one.

Second Half

Didn’t see a lot of the second period but it sounded like I didn’t miss much. Wobbly popped up to seal the victory, tapping in after Laca had set up Rambo’s toe poke.

“We want you to stay”    Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

I was disappointed that Saka was given just a few worthless minutes at the tail end of the game whereas Laca was forced to play for a full half hour. Still what do I know, Saka for Eddie wouldn’t have made sense either.

Conclusion

Job done, no injuries hopefully if the rumour about Kos being cotton-woolled is correct. Fourth Round for us this year, unlike last, with the draw to be made after Monday night’s game at Molineux.

Good luck to the Blackpool fans in their quest to remove the offending excrescence from their club’s shoes.

Ratings

Cech – only flapped at the odd one, otherwise competent … 7

Jenks – looked lively and involved in the game throughout – great for him to get a full game playing for his beloved Arsenal … 7

Lichtsteiner – a bit iffy in places but he was expecting to be terrorising a winger not having the extra responsibility of playing centrally … 6

Papa – enjoyed his duel with Blackpool’s big lad up front … 7

Wardrobe – his defensive abilities weren’t really tested … 7

Elneny – busy and efficient – not sure if he played his way into the first team though … 7

Ramsey – a class apart and seems to be enjoying his role as senior spoke in the second string wheel … 8

Willock – two goals and looked excellent on the ball especially in the first part of the game (i.e. the bit that I saw) – extra point for the brace … 8

Maitland-Niles – (definitely need a nickname for him?) another who looked above the level of the game but then again, you’d hope he would since we all have such high hopes for him … 8

Wobbly – Enjoyed himself at the seaside – another fine performance from the Nigerian Messi … 8

Eddie – shame he couldn’t take one of his chances – his running, movement and ability on the ball were excellent though … 7

Subs

Laca – When Unai was giving him instructions about coming on, you could see he would have preferred to stay snuggly in his sleeping bag – didn’t really affect the course of the game apart from freeing Rambo for the third … 6

Medley – had a nasty bump on the hip when flipped by a challenge while he was in the air, looked composed … 6

Saka – poor lad goes all that way to touch the ball three times … 6

chas  


Oystons Out

January 5, 2019

Is there still any Magic in the Cup? Does the prospect of a day out at Wembley still set you in thrall? It does for me but I am traditionalist (in other words … old).

I still love the Cup and although there are less upsets than in previous years it remains one of the centre-pieces of the season with today’s tie up at Blackpool way more interesting than a Europa League game.

And, of course, we all know which club has won it the most, and which manager. The FA Cup has been good to us.

Will it be this afternoon?

It is distressing to read (and hear on the Arseblog podcast) of the current state of affairs at Blackpool. The Oyston saga is a warning to all and an indication of how impotent the PL and EFL are when facing a corrupt owner.

One must assume the B’pool fans want to lose today so no  more TV money goes into the club. Non-attendance is costing the owner as is the lack of money from the sales of shirts, burgers etc. A draw today and the resulting income of a game at the Emirates would be a huge boon to the Oystons.

What would happen at Arsenal if Kroenke starts to strip the club of its assets and refuse to buy players? He can. He owns the place. Would lifelong fans and the thousands of tourists who go to games refuse to attend? Even if they did, would it affect change when the owner is a billionaire and the club runs on TV money? Do you think, in this highly unlikely scenario, that the PL would do anything but issue platitude whilst jetting off to another meeting in a 5 star hotel in Dubai?

The action of the Blackpool supporters is a credit to all football fans. Oyston Out.

This is Mr. Emery’s first FA Cup game, how will he react? Will he send out a team of children with Grandad Cech at the back of them? Or will he persuade Mesut and Aaron that they need match sharpness?  We cannot risk PEA and Lacazette. Terrier, Wardrobe, Xhaka and Kos need a rest. I predict a start for AMN, Willock, Corporal Jenks, Elneny, Saka, Nketiah and Medley.

Blackpool’s most famous player is Sir Stanley Matthews, the Wizard of the Wing. The man was Ronaldo famous in his time, a worldwide icon. I actually saw him play at Highbury but for Stoke not the Tangerines. Arsenal could use a winger of his genius now, could Saka be the man?

We should win this game.

Let it Be So

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Happy Invincibles Day!

January 4, 2019

So, the achievement of Arsene’s squad of 2003/4 remains without equal for another season.

Liverpool succumbed at the 21st hurdle thanks to a determined Citeh side keen to make a decent fist of defending their title and to 11 millimetres of a football which refused to cross a goal line.

The tide swung towards Pep’s side when Aguero lashed in superbly at the near post but Firmino’s equaliser had us all wondering if last night wasn’t to be the night when Liverpool’s Lost column clicked round to ‘1’. Leroy Sané scraped one in off the far post and via a small deflection to give us what we wanted in the 72 minute.

Dejan Lovren’s ‘Liverpool can go unbeaten’ claim a day or two ago now seems faintly ridiculous with the Christmas decorations still up. I doubt he was too popular in the Liverpool camp putting the bock on it, big-style.

The red mancs managed 24 games at the start of the 2010/11 season before losing to Wolves which remains second to Arsenal’s full season unbeaten in the Premier League era.

To go the full 38 games seems unbelievable and is rightly up there as perhaps Arsene’s finest achievement.

Maybe some club will eventually emulate the achievement of Paddy, Thierry, Sol, Ralph, Jens, Kolo and Arsene (amongst others) in the modern era, but until they do, let’s celebrate the glory of that magnificent accomplishment in the 2003/4 season with all our hearts.

p.s. it was LBG’s birthday yesterday – quite a nice present I’d say.

chas


What does January hold in store for The Gunners?

January 3, 2019

Three home games in the Prem plus a little trip down to the Olympic Stadium in East London. There is also the small matter of an FA Cup trip to Blackpool (which is nearly in Scotland).

So, New Years Day and Fulham at home. Writing this before the game, it is absolutely imperative that the manager plus his team (however patched up it may be), get the supporters back on side after the disgrace of that Anfield performance. (4-1, not to be sniffed at)

The first weekend in January we have a trip to the Lancashire Riviera in the FA Cup and a tea time kick off.  Blackpool are a club in turmoil at the moment with fans boycotting matches to protest against the current owner’s lack of financial investment and regard for the club in general. Read more here.

https://atthematch.com/article/how-the-oystons-destroyed-blackpool

Maybe the visit of the mighty Arsenal will stir the locals. If not, there could well be more Gooners than home fans in Bloomfield Road.

West Ham away the weekend after is a lunchtime kick off. We’ve done pretty well at the London Stadium so far with one thumping victory which Ant and me saw sat in with the home fans. We were virtually the only ones left in our row by the time the ref blew the final whistle. Last season saw a tedious 0-0.

The chavs at home on the 19th Jan is back to a tea time kick off. (Arsenal are always good box office – shame it’s not always for the right reasons these days). Chelsea have been on the slide in recent weeks but now seem to be turning things around.

The last weekend in Jan is for FA Cup 4th Round fixtures. Our participation will depend on how well we do up the Tower this weekend.

Our fixtures for January 2019 are capped off with a home game against Cardiff on Tuesday 29th and will be our third chance of doing the double over a Prem team after Fulham and West Ham.

chas 


Arsenal 4 Fulham 1- Player Ratings – Convincing or Flattering?

January 2, 2019

After that disgrace at Anfield against the country’s best team, a decent result was essential heading into a New Year against a Fulham side also struggling for confidence.

First Half

Both sides showed some nerves early on and it was a bit scrappy. Thankfully Sessegnon left his shooting boots at home. Suddenly Granit decided to risk a nosebleed by moving into the rarefied heights of the penalty area. Wobbly’s pass was cleverly left by Laca and the big Swiss had a fairly simple toe poke finish.

Courtesy of David Price @priceyd101

Arsenal’s play picked up from there and we should have added to the lead before half time.

Second Half

The second goal was a thing of beauty with incisive work filleting Fulham’s left flank. Auba’s clever pass to the Wardrobe put him in the ideal position to lay one on a plate for Laca.

After a couple of chances to extend our lead the Tinkerman brought on two forwards with a gambler’s throw of the dice. A sloppy pass out to the Terrier and a barge in the back won Fulham the ball and the inevitable, ‘brown trousers watching The Arsenal’ period of the game came as the lead was halved by a sub. Fulham scented a wounded animal, so the next goal would be crucial.

Thankfully Rambo came on as sub and almost immediately followed up an Auba pinger against the post and we could breathe easy once again. Auba then missed a little dink finish over the keeper before finally getting his goal via a deflection and a Papa assist.

4-1 and game over for a Fulham team which probably expected no less.

Reuters

Conclusion

A fine result considering the less than perfect performance, though why we can’t see out winning positions without giving everyone kittens will, seemingly, forever be a weakness.

Ratings

Leno – competent, making crucial stops when the game threatened to slip away from us … 7

Maitland-N – right wing back or right back, equally adept – starting to get some confidence back … 7

Papa – far happier playing lesser strikers and his first assist for twenty years … 6

Kos – our captain is slowly beginning to find his feet again … 7

Shkod – Injured or another half-time tactical admission that we got things wrong in the first half? … 6

Wardrobe – majestic at wing back – like a runaway train on the burst, setting up chances with its front wheels … 8

Guendouzi – heart of a lion – more to come from the young man … 7

Xhaka – his goal should have been the cue for a landslide – he himself could have had another – excellent through ball in the second half to set Laca free … 7

Wobbly – big chances galore came from his feet in the first half – much improved … 8

Laca – Fine goal and perhaps didn’t moan quite as much when he was subbed …. 7

Auba – a goal machine – he’s going to run away with the golden boot if he can sharpen his finishing even further … 7

Subs

Terrier – clearly he needs a rest as he’s been carrying some of the team on his tiny shoulders earlier in the season … 6

Rambo – instant impact at exactly the right moment – thanks for all the goals Aaron … 7

Saka – debut boy got a brief taste of the high life … 6

chas (who largely saw the game through BBC goal flashes and Arsenalist clips on Twitter)

 

How lucky are you? Double Bubble and a rather more sombre reflection on the day’s proceedings from LBG, your man at the stadium……

At the start of the day Chas asked for a “game to be proud of”. I will include the word proud for as long as is possible, but I’m afraid readers may see it disappearing into the ether quite quickly in my assessment of the game.

Be proud AAers of the result and three points, of some evidence of determination to rectify the travesty of a performance that was Anfield.

Be pleased with another goal from Aubang ( even thought he should have had an easy hat-trick) and Laca being given enough time on the pitch to score his goal before being (ridiculously) substituted. (Be pleased that he thought about kicking up a right fuss on seeing his number, but refrained when he heard the whole ground boo the decision, and instead went off graciously).

Be pleased with the short period of time AM-N was able to influence the game further forward before being dragged back in the rearranged defence.

Be pleased Fulham were useless in front of goal and Leno had little to do. (Two x Sessegnon chances put away early on and we could have lost!)

Be pleased that Kos is back, even if puzzled by the couple of pub defenders playing alongside him, which makes him more nervous than usual.

Be pleased Ramsey mishit a shot and scored.

Sorry, that’s the best I can do on the “proud”ish front.

I have an opinion, on why much is not right currently and will share when others have disagreed with everything I’ve said!

LBG Ratings

Leno – What he had to do was fine. Goal was up the other end and, although looked somewhat chaotic, didn’t seem he had added to that … 7

AM-N – Some good things going forward, breaking inside. Shame dragged back, where he is wasted, but still kept his end up defensively … 7

Mustafi – No pace, poor positioning, no sense of danger. Always tackles to the ground. Rarely gets the ball … 3/4 

Sokratis – Didn’t win anything in the air. Always tackles to the ground. Sometimes gets the ball … 4

Kos – Some good work. Unlike the other two, does find his own players mostly with passes going forward … 5/6

Wardrobe – Some good work going forward. Not a very good defender … 6

Ouzi – A good game generally. Looking to play “dynamic” passes and succeeds generally. Makes some mistakes (He’s young), but positive, which is what I want from him … 7

Xhaka –  Slows everything down, shovels poop, passed back more often than forward. Is simply not good enough, not quick of thought and action enough to be “the Controller ” in the deep-lying central position. And because he is (trying) to do this job, displaces Terrier to the right, which wastes him through lack of contact with the ball … 3 (for his goal)

Wobbly  – End product, passing, shooting, dribbling generally poor. Knocked off the ball several times easily. Dribbles round and round and round and up his own backside … 4 ( for his pass for Xhaka’s goal, and probably something else that I’ve forgotten)

Aubang – Goal. Missed goals, closes down occasionally. Would like to see more heart … 6/7

Laca – Goal. Works hard, makes runs, rarely found due to people like Xhaka not looking up unless opposition back off and then Laca’s runs are marked … 7

Subs

Ramsey – Goal … 6

Terrier – ( couple of poor tackles on him. Lucky not to be injured …. again) … 6

And the winger Did he touch the ball?

Graham Scott? more like Terry Scott                                                            Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Referee – Absolute pants (original choice of description didn’t pass the censors – ed). One penalty waved away. Tackles from behind allowed throughout the second half … 1

Written by a slightly miffed (it would seem) LBG


New Year Wishes

January 1, 2019

In this first post of 2019 I would like to thank you. Thank you for reading AA, thank you to those who commented and an especial thank you to those who wrote a post.

2018 was a tumultuous year at Arsenal, I expect the same for 2019. Hopefully no managerial change but equally hopefully, a change of on-field personnel. Arsenal have created an entirely new management set-up, brought in the very best chaps to change the club from Arsenal Wenger. They have in Emery a man who will not be concerned about damaging egos and will bring AFC into the modern era.

My targets for AFC up to summer will be a Top 6 finish, a good run in the Europa and most importantly an indication of an Emery team; one which is based upon organisation and a solid defence. He must be massively frustrated by the goals against column.

In summer I would like to see us loan/sell at least 5 players with a similar number coming in.

By Xmas I would like to see us less than 16 points below the PL leaders and playing the Arsenal way. with a cohesive defensive policy, creative MF’s and the same two excellent strikers.

Let’s start with a win this afternoon.

Unknown.jpeg

A Proper Arsenal Goal

Many a slip twixt lip and cup, and we know Arsenal can slip up but Fulham have to be good opposition after the recent humiliation. Despite the mounting injury list, AFC should not lose in the manner of L’pool. A player of Sokratis experience should not be conceding 2 penalties (yes, I know they were both bogus).

GN5 gave us the stats which indicate a positive result. We need it.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and a fine victory this afternoon.

Let it be So.