Arsenal v Brighton prematch

December 5, 2019

I’ve been waiting for three months for this day, my first game day in 2 years. Where shall I start, so much to say. Well for one I will be seeing Freddie’s first home game, which is a great privilege. One occasion that really stood out to me from Freddie’s playing was seeing him playing with his wrist banded up later to realise his hand was broken. Hopefully he can instill that fighting spirit into the players.

Thus far my record in watching Arsenal play live is 3-1, really hope at the end of the trip it is 5-1

I have to admit that I am really nervous. When you don’t get to see Arsenal play live much, what you really want is a great game from the team. Will I even get that? Sue jokingly told me that I will get tickets for the games but getting to see them win might be pushing it 😉 Well I guess now, what I took for a joke, she was being serious grr

Predicted line up …………..


Chambers   Mustafi   Luiz   Tierney

Willock   Xhaka   Guendouzi

Aubameyang   Lacazette   Ozil


So the only one change from the last team is Tierney in for Kolasinac.

Personally I would go all out attack with the following team ………..


Chambers   Holding   Luiz   Tierney

Willock   Torriera

Pepe  Ozil   Aubameyang



Hoping I bring my name sake some good luck for his first home game.



Come on Freddie, shake ‘em up! Pre-match …..

December 1, 2019

I’m excited, aren’t you? But I don’t want to be too excited because this is Arsenal after all and we all know where being over excited for a football match leads.

Still, it’s worth feeling a warm glow of ‘I wonder how this is going to turn out’ isn’t it? Singing ‘We love you Freddie’ at almost every opportunity.

Today, Freddie (we’re back on first name terms aren’t we) will sit in the dug out having sent the team out with some instructions on how to play this game. He’s had precisely one day of coaching the first team so we really shouldn’t expect too much to change ……. or should we?

I’m hoping he’s been just as frustrated as some supporters in how we’ve managed to throw games away in the last few weeks. I’m convinced we have a better team in there than the one that’s gone seven games without a win. So today is a new start, an away game so less pressure from the home fans, a chance to begin the process of looking like a football team that care what happens on the pitch.

I’m not going to pick a team (cop out, I know) but you can pick your own. All I can say is that we’d better see Ozil, Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang turning the Norwich defenders in knots with their trickery and Joe Willock powering through the midfield.

I’m excited for Freddie …… as if playing for Arsenal and being an Invincible isn’t enough he’s got the top job too.

Good luck Freddie, come on Arsenal, show us what you can really do.


So what now? …………….

November 29, 2019

Emery has finally been sacked…This reflects very poorly on a board that just backed him up two weeks ago, that said:

– the last 2 performances and the team’s form over the past few months,

– Tottenham’s decisiveness in changing their Head coach,

– the fans discontent,

– the pressure from former players and the media all kind of force their hand to go ahead with the chop.

The board says they are looking for a new Headcoach and that Freddie is in charge until the search for a new coach is over.

So what now? What will Freddie do and what are his options?

Luiz is out, Mustafi is out too and I don’t know how Freddie felt about Xhaka but we know he likes his young players, he likes pace, aggression and we also know that he likes to play in a 451 set up so what will he do?

I could see the following set up:


Bellerin, Holding, Sokratis, Tierney

Douzi, Chambers

Pepe, Laca, Saka


against Norwich but who knows…

Over to you fellow Gunners ………………….

I wish Freddie the best but also can’t wait to get our new headcoach appointed asap..



The 2019 Academy Rewards … “We love you Freddie ….”

June 25, 2019

The club have pretty much spelled out that they are putting a lot more emphasis on the development of academy players, and there has been a subsequent staff reshuffle in order to do so. On that basis, I’m going to take a leap of faith and say there will be more players promoted from the Academy than in previous years. It’s obvious that they must have some confidence in what we have currently, in order for them to highlight this approach in their recent PR campaign.

This quote from Raul Sanllehi was widely reported in the press last week.

“Promoting young players from within has always been a key part of Arsenal and what we represent,” Sanllehí says. “We want to continue that tradition for a number of reasons but you could boil it down to two main ones. Firstly, these players grow up with the club and we think having players with this natural bond around what it means to play for Arsenal is good in the dressing room and for the connection with our fans.

“Secondly, despite the huge investment we make into our academy, with rapid inflation in transfer fees it is financially efficient. It’s not about cutting costs or being ‘cheap’, it just means we can then focus funds to make the biggest impact, to get better players when we need to go to the external market.”


Freddie Ljungberg has moved from the Academy into the first team coaching team. He will no doubt continue to have a close bond with some of the stars from last seasons 2nd place finishing U23 squad (pipped by Everton). Along with some returning loan players, we should be able to add serious numbers to the first team.

Personally, I love this. These players coming through are well versed in Emery’s style and the Arsenal way in general. You can pretty much rule out settling issues with these recruits and for the most part they will have a really good understanding of what to expect in the league. I say this with Torreira in mind. It would be a massive shame for him to leave as, judging by the pats on their own backs, the club were quite pleased with the acquisition last summer.

Add the fact that a typical Academy graduate will probably have a lot more loyalty to the club that raised them. Think Bellerin, Wilshire, Ramsey all of whom declared a lot of love for the squad. I believe that we should be looking to embrace this new system as fans, rather than mourn the lack of expensive signings. After all, where has that gotten us of late.

We dipped into the transfer market for ‘Star’ players with the likes of Ozil and Sanchez towards the end of Wenger’s reign and we are still dealing with the financial fall out of that now. I think it’s safe to say we rolled the dice on these guys securing us Champions League football and came up snake eyes. Sanchez moving on and causing issues amongst the squad, and the financial burden of Ozil’s contract forcing us to say goodbye to players such as Ramsey who (probably fairly) believed they should be on a similar wage.

So we have taken a safer route. A path that when things go wrong you have a situation like losing Serge Gnabry. I’d take that over the loss of an established cup winning maestro like Aaron Ramsey. By creating an obvious and realsitic path for young players to make it into a premiership 11 that challenge for champions league football we will surely become a desired destination for elite youth players once again.

For me this is the right time to do it. There are teams in Europe that have provided first team players from their academies. Athletico Bilbao and Ajax on a consistent basis. Ajax have had some serious success that have raised their profile. If we follow in their footsteps and look to actually promote players and give them game time, the baying mob that is our fan base may be open to the prospect.

For me the fact that we played Elneny only a handful of times last season creates a bar for players to reach. Surely having his space taken up by a Chris Willock or Reiss Nelson would be preferable?

I am hoping to see a good few of our loaned out players make up vacant places next season, with a lower wage bill and less transfer activity needed from this point forwards. Hopefully the transfer money we do spend, can go on established winners that will provide guidance on and off the pitch.

Which academy players do you think deserve their chance next season?

Written by Els

This is a 24 minute interview with Vinai Venkatesham & Raul Sanllehi if you’ve got the stamina to watch it …


Did Arsene and Arsenal waste the Club’s footballing talent of 1998-2006, coaching-wise?

March 12, 2019

My brothers will tell you I am a glutton for punishment. All my life I have been sports mad (I taught it in schools for 23 years!). I read anything and everything on almost every sport imaginable – good, bad and indifferent material.

Although football, rugby and cricket are the very top of my interest, I will find myself studying the intricacies of free climbing, or bias in curling, the mechanics of the sand wedge or transference of force in a boxing jab. (I say “almost every” – I have little regard for F1 and American Football).

Jimmy Chin – National Geographic

In addition to reading much, I listen to sport, live commentary, and the opinions of ex sportsmen, “pundits”, and those somehow (unbelievably)  provided with money to talk bowlocks about sport with little or no significant experience to justify their existence in the role.

And so (eventually) to the point of my post…….

Listening to Georgie Bingham and the fake Irishman Cascarino recently, I heard, following copious praise for how well the wonderful Man Utd had used so many of its ” golden generation” in Club coaching and managing roles, with Solskjaer being the crowning glory, that ARSENAL and WENGER had not only wasted theirs from the 1998-2006 period, but, in the case of Arsene, had a definite policy to NOT involve them in Club.

Hackles up, I started to analyse this comment.

Firstly there is Steve Bould. (Although given his “staticness” on the bench during the Wenger era, perhaps he’s more evidence for Ms Bingham’s case than anyone else!) I am fairly certain that Keown, Dixon, and Winterburn, play some part in the daily running of the Club, if not as much in the coaching of defenders role that I would like to see!

Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Freddie and the BFG are now in charge of the Academy and U23s, and at that point I asked myself a question. How many of those missing do I think COULD have been usefully involved. My answer was reduced to two! I have always believed Patrick V. should have been incorporated into our set-up. ( I would still like him to be an Arsenal manager someday). And I would now have to add Marc Overmars for what seems to have been a silent but excellent role behind the scenes at Ajax.

Of the rest, TA has always been clueless to me in terms of coaching, and I believe the same might (perhaps unfairly) be said of Thierry. Sol might prove me wrong, but I doubt it. DB10 never really wanted a coaching role, and has now fallen out even with his Dutch love. Ray Parlour, Gilberto, Lauren, Manu P, Merson, Smith, Ian Wright…….COULD any of them have made it in coaching/managing at our Club? Doubtful IMO.

So have we wasted talent? Have I forgotten anyone important? What do you think?


An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 14 Arsenal’s FA Cup Final History

May 16, 2014

Original FA Cup 001

Tomorrow Arsenal plays Hull City in their record eighteenth FA Cup Final appearance; they are tied with Manchester United. Hull City will be making their first appearance.

Here is a brief accounting of our Cup Final appearances.


1926-1927 – Arsenal vs Cardiff City

Arsenal’s first final, but sadly we lost 0-1 and it’s the only time the FA Cup left England.

This was also the first time that there was community signing at a FA Cup Final.

The tradition of signing “Abide with Me” which was written in 1847 by a vicar from Devon also had its debut performance.

FA Cup Song Sheet 1927 001


1929-1930 – Arsenal vs Huddersfield Town

Our first FA Cup victory, and first ever trophy, we won 2-0 on goals by Alex James and Jack Lambert. This was the start of one on our most successful decades, we were led by Herbert Chapman undoubtedly the greatest Manger of his time and arguably Arsenal’s best ever Manager. The Final was interrupted by a fly over of the German airship Graf Zeppelin.


1931-1932 – Arsenal vs Newcastle United

Our second loss we were beaten 1-2 with Bob John scoring our only goal.

In the thirty eighth minute with Arsenal winning 1-0 Newcastle attacked down the right wing, a long pass appeared to go over the line but it was hooked into the middle and they scored an easy equaliser. The linesman was ninety feet away and the referee sixty feet but the referee still gave Newcastle the goal. Newsreel confirmed that the ball had crossed the line.


1935-1936 – Arsenal vs Sheffield United

Our second victory we won 1-0 with Ted Drake scoring our goal.

Having won the League Championship three seasons in a row we now added our second FA Cup to our trophy collection. Herbert Chapman had died suddenly two years earlier and George Allison was now our manager. It was our sixth success in League and Cup in seven seasons.


1949-1950 – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Our third victory we won 2-0 with Reg Lewis scoring both goals.

This was the era of the Compton brothers, Denis and Leslie, both were famous footballers and cricketers. They played in both sports for England with Leslie not making his football debut for England until he was thirty eight years old.


1951-1952 – Arsenal vs Newcastle United

Our third loss we were beaten 0-1.

Newcastle became the second club to win the Cup in successive years after Blackburn Rovers in 1890 and 1891. Arsenal was down to ten men in the thirty fifth minute after Wally Barnes was injured, Newcastle scored the only goal of the game six minutes from time. Winston Churchill made the Cup presentation to Newcastle; he is the only Prime Minster to have made the presentation at Wembley.


1970-1971 – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Our fourth victory we won 2-0 with goals by Eddie Kelly and Charlie George.

Bertie Mee Double 001

This was indeed Red Letter day for Arsenal, having won the League Championship at White Hart Lane the victory secured our first League and Cup double. We were drawn away in every round of the competition and needed a replay to beat Leeds United in the semi-final. Charlie George scored his unforgettable winning goal from twenty five yards out in the twenty first minute of extra time.


1971-1972 – Arsenal vs Leeds United

Our fourth loss we were beaten 0-1.

This was a disappointing day for Arsenal but it set up the first stage of the “Double” for Leeds. They went to Wolverhampton just forty eight hours later needing only a draw to clinch the League Championship but to their disappointment they lost 2-1.


1977-1978 – Arsenal vs Ipswich Town

Our fifth loss we were beaten 0-1.

This was the fiftieth Cup Final and Arsenal was the odds on favourites to win their fifth FA Cup but Ipswich, managed by Bobby Robson, had other thoughts. They reduced Arsenal to nothing more than a supporting role and won the game with a goal in the seventy sixth minute but they also hit the post or bar on three other occasions.


1978-1979 – Arsenal vs Manchester United

Our fifth victory we won 3-2 with goals by Brian Talbot, Frank Stapleton and Alan Sunderland.

The game was described as the “Five Minute Final” a routine heavy weight bout with a finish that matched the “Matthews Final” in raw excitement. Arsenal led 2-0 with less than five minutes remaining when Manchester United scored two goals in 115 seconds. Extra-time appeared inevitable until Liam Brady, who was the architect of Arsenal’s first two goals picked up the ball straight from the re-start. He passed to Graham Rix, on the left, who centered to Alan Sunderland and he slid the ball into the net for the winning goal.


1979-1980 – Arsenal vs West Ham United

Our sixth loss we were beaten 0-1.

One of the most disappointed Arsenal fans on this day was GunnerN5 – I drove, on my own, four hundred miles through the mountains from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho to Cranbook, British Columbia. I had booked a hotel room in Cranbrook as the game was not being shown in the USA. Even a bottle of Macallan could not mask my disappointment and the return journey, the next day, was one of the longest and loneliest drives of my life.


1992-1993 – Arsenal vs Sheffield Wednesday

Our sixth victory we won 2-1 with goals by Ian Wright, Wright, Wright and Andy Linighan.

Arsenal became the first club to win both the FA Cup and the League Cup in one season but Sheffield United would prefer not to talk about that as they were the team that lost to Arsenal in both Finals. Andy Lineghan headed home the winning goal from a Paul Merson corner kick in the last minute of extra time


1997-1998 – Arsenal vs Newcastle United

Our seventh victory we won 2-0 with goals by Marc Overmars and Nicolas Anelka.


Arsenal finally beat Newcastle in a FA Cup Final having lost to them in both 1932 and 1952. This was Arsene Wengers first full season as Arsenal manager and he ended the season with a fist full of silver after winning both the FA Cup and The League Championship to secure Arsenals second “Double” season.


2000-2001 – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Our seventh loss we were beaten 1-2 with Freddie Ljungberg scoring our only goal.

Arsenal dominated the game but Liverpool came from behind to win 2-1, thus winning the FA Cup for the sixth time. It was the second trophy of their treble-winning season of 2000–01: they had won the Football League Cup in late February and would win the UEFA Cup four days later. As well as being the first FA Cup Final to be staged outside of England, it was also the first in which the managers of both teams were from outside the British Isles – Liverpool’s Gérard Houllier and Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger both coming from France.


2001-2002 – Arsenal vs Chelsea

Our eighth victory we won 2-0 with goals by Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg.

Ljungberg, having also scored in the 2001 final, became the first man to score goals in successive FA Cup Finals since Tottenham Hotspur’s Bobby Smith, who scored in 1961 and 1962. The match took place with one week remaining in the Premier League calendar for the 2001–02 season. Arsenal were in first position, but still needed a point from their final two games to secure the championship, which they achieved in their next match with victory over second-placed Manchester United. It was Arsene Wengers second and Arsenals third League and Cup double.


2002-2003 – Arsenal vs Southampton

Our ninth victory we won 1-0 with Robert Pires scoring the only goal.

The Gunners won their second Cup in 2 years with a dominant performance over Southampton. The gulf in class between the 2 teams was not evident in the score line as Arsenal won by the single goal, a scrambled shot by Robert Pires. The last 7 minutes of the game saw Arsenal retain almost constant possession accompanied by a string of cheers from their supporters. Southampton had a mere 2 chances to score. the last of which came in the dying seconds as Ashley Cole saved the day with a goal line clearance.


2004-2005 – Arsenal vs Manchester United

Our tenth victory we won a penalty shootout 5-4 with Patrick Vieira scoring the decisive penalty.

The game was dominated by Manchester United who did everything but score a goal, Arsenals defence was stubborn to the end and forced the game into a penalty shootout.

Van Nistelrooy took the first penalty for Manchester United, in front of the United fans, and sent Lehmann the wrong way to give United the early advantage. Lauren then converted the next penalty for Arsenal, before Scholes stepped up to take United’s second, only to see it saved by Lehmann, diving low to his right. The next six penalties were all scored – Ljungberg, Van Persie and Cole for Arsenal, Ronaldo, Rooney and Keane for Manchester United – leaving Vieira with the opportunity to win the FA Cup for Arsenal in his last match for the club before moving to Juventus. Although Carroll guessed the correct way to dive, Vieira’s kick was just out of his reach, giving Arsenal their 10th FA Cup. Manchester felt aggrieved to have lost a game where they outplayed Arsenal – but frankly who gives a damn?


2013-2014 – Arsenal vs Hull City

The game is still to be played.

The Cup is still to be raised.

The story is still to be written.

FA Cup Trophy



FA Cup – The Freddie Final

February 15, 2014

Friday Afternoon 3rd May 2002.

At last the arrangements were sorted with me picking up JC from North London, Jon to travel on his own after a long shift and Ant taking my nephew, Matt via Loughborough (where Matt was at college). I’d persuaded my old man not to go to this Final, he’d been to the Scouse daylight robbery Final in 2001 and not really enjoyed himself due to all of the walking. His feet were not good by this stage. It meant we all had tickets (I’d luckily played the martyr and dropped out of the 2001 final).

1 (1)

I popped in to see him before picking JC up, armed with a bottle of rum to “assuage the guilt” (he only really liked Pussers Royal Navy rum but it was hard to get hold of). My old man had given JC £25 to buy us all a drink with the proviso that he’d have any change that was left. As Ant commented later, ‘Rest assured, Dad, there wasn’t any’! JC was full of beans on the journey, only pausing for breath on the journey from Brimsdown to Bristol at the M4/M5 junction. (Due to a shortage of rooms, we’d arranged to spend the Friday night at Cribbs Causeway just outside Bristol and then transfer to the Innkeepers Lodge in Cardiff on Saturday morning)


I never know why all of our football photos have pints of beer in them

Friday Evening 3rd May 2002.

By 7pm JC was convinced he’d had 5 pints already, not a good sign for things to come. We decided on some Gooner Survey type questions for entertainment. Most hated player meant that the spuds got a mention. I think it was a unanimous vote for a certain Mr Edward Sheringham. JC couldn’t understand why no-one seemed interested in his amazing fact that Ronnie Rooke had bow legs like Malcolm McDonald. Favourite game of the season featured the 3-1 versus Juventus at Highbury (bearing in mind a certain game at the Old Cowshed was still to come). Matt had feasted on two meals already, one on arrival and an early evening Early Bird meal, still he was a growing lad. His requests to have a southern comfort and lemonade because he was feeling a little bloated were greeted with, ‘he’s not having a f*ckin chocky drink’ from Ant. Matt didn’t look happy when a suggested departure time before midday was mentioned….so 8am it was.

Saturday Morning 4th May 2002.

All was well in the family room overnight containing Ant, Matt and me. Poor Jon had shared with JC who had been talking to Ralph for much of the night. He was decidedly white and shivering and we all felt a little guilty at allowing him to partake of so much refreshment. Anyway, Ant, Matt and Jon emerged from the hotel sporting Freddie’s red hair. Freddie had been superb in the run-in of the League, scoring virtually every game (with compulsory Dennis assists) and his song had become everybody’s favourite.


I remember JC looking paler than this!

The transfer to the Innkeepers was simple as the traffic hadn’t started to build yet. The car journey to Cardiff was one of the worst parts of going to the Millennium apparently, so we did well to avoid it. We got a taxi to the city centre and then had a healthy double sausage and egg McMuffin to raise blood sugar levels before indulging in a few take-outs as the pub we had in mind wasn’t open until 11. Preposterous!


An astonishing likeness

Finally installed in the pub we settled down to watch Soccer AM (these were the days when it was quite good). Jon left the pub on a pastie run as had become tradition. JC had at least 6 separate efforts at eating his pastie but still didn’t finish it. A little later he seemed to have perked up somewhat when telling the assembled toilet goers a joke about a bloke found dead in an expensive toilet who’d left a suicide note, ‘Here I sat broken-hearted, paid a pound and only…..’ He still thinks that one is funny!

We left the pub at 1.40 and took some photos of Jon’s magnificent Freddie banner outside the ground. The top of the capital ‘F’ even had the red hair quiff.


Jon’s magnificent banner which got on the telly

Saturday Afternoon 4th May 2002.

The seats were absolutely top notch in row 4 of Glanmor’s Gap in the North Stand (look it up) which effectively meant we were in the most expensive centre band of the stadium right behind the goal Arsenal attacked in the second half. The first half was fairly unmemorable, the second up there as one of the best 45 minutes of my life. Ooo Ahh Ray Parlour scored a 30 yard curler on 70 minutes. Edu warming up behind the goal, celebrated as the ball grazed Cudicini’s fingertips and then smacked the back of the net. Freddie scored ten minutes later with a 30 yard run and curling lob of exquisite beauty, having left John Terry on the deck munching grass. We saw the Freddie banner three times on the stadium big screen during the presentations and celebrations, later finding out it was on our TV recordings too!


When Tone goes up, to lift the FA Cup, we’ll be there

Saturday After the Game 4th May 2002.

Leaving the stadium, we gave the old man a call and JC pretended to be David Dein. We decided to hang about near to the VIP car entrance with some tinnies and fried chicken. Ant stood in the middle of the road directing cars the wrong way out of the car park. We saw several famous people, Sepp Blatter (or was it Lennart Johannson?, who cares) Ainsley Harriot and Graeme Le Saux, who was greeted by the assembled Arsenal fans with, ‘Do you take it up the a*se?’. Those sort of homophobic songs really have no place in modern football.


Great Trophy

We also saw Lineker, Lawrenson and Schmeichel before ambushing the Arsenal coach complete with FA Cup installed on the front dash. JC was definitely feeling better, even finding time to chat up a couple of local girls and have a photo taken (I’m not sure this one got back to his wife).


Smooth operator

Saturday Evening 4th May 2002.

Back to the Innkeeper’s and JC sensibly declined the evening’s festivities in Cardiff town Centre. The ‘boys’ had pizza, several more beers and then were refused entry to a club because I was wearing an England polo shirt. Not very tactful, I know. Some local girls started singing the Freddie song when they saw Ant’s hair, but they didn’t know any more of the song except for the ‘We love you Freddie, we do’ line. We decided to call it a night and headed back to the hotel to watch as many re-runs of the goals as we could find.


It truly was a great weekend and wonderful result.

Celebrating the Club’s third double the following Wednesday, meant that we were floating on air for weeks to come. Wiltoooooooooooooooooooooooord!

Everton at home the Saturday following saw the presentation of the Premier League trophy and capped a pearler of a week to be an Arsenal supporter.


Champions Too

Written by chas.