Battlers or Bottlers?

April 24, 2019

Big night for AFC and Gooners are concerned, my guess is that you are too. Yet it all looked so good just a week ago …

It doesn’t take much to burst the bubble of Gooner’s confidence, does it? I don’t understand why this should be – we are not the Nearly Men of N17. We have a trophy cabinet which provides evidence of Arsenal’s ability to grind out results and win trophies. Until just 2 years ago we had been in the CL for 19 successive years, this is not evidence of a team of bottlers.

In other words – we can win tonight.

The Great Dane

Battlers or Bottlers was part of yesterday’s comment discussion. One game will not give a true reflection but IMO we have finally got a team of battlers. Name two players who you think are not up for the fight (OK – I would have to agree – now name three 😀  ). Lack of effort was not the reason we lost on Sunday, it was poor team selection and individual errors.

What of Wolves? Nuno Wagnerito has done a fantastic job and must be in contention for Manager of the Year (Media Darling Klopp will win it). 7th in the table, in the FAC Final  with a team just promoted. Excellent. Expect to see him at Spurs when the Podgy One leaves. Midfield is their strength. They have a good home record, unbeaten in 9.

We, on the other hand, are crap away. This gives cause for concern. The footballing Gods smiled upon us at Watford, we must do all we can to attract good fortune. I will be sacrificing a virgin (if I can find on in Østerbro).

Losing Ramsey was horrible but The Big Greek chap is back and that could be a deciding factor. He has been immense alongside the rejuvenated Koscielny. Keep Mustafi in London, AMN on the right, Nacho on the left. Back 4. Kushti.

The pundits are convinced of a home win. Who do you trust – Lawrenson, Merson, or Unai Emery?

Win 7 games and Top of The World, Ma. Not asking much 🙂



Why is Ozil Out of Form?

May 3, 2016

Three moths ago Mesut Ozil was a serious contender for Player of the Season, today he is a shadow of that player. Why?

Let’s look at the evidence (?). Pre- February Mesut was scoring goals, playing with freedom, setting up assists in almost every game, always had time and was without question the best player on the pitch – he was remarkably consistent.

But it all seems to have come to a halt.


Today we see a Mesut who seems harried, he rarely smiles, rarely has time and space, his assists have plummeted – his last PL assist was back in February away at MU!

If you look at our poor run of form (unbeaten in 8 PL games) it starts when Mesut’s numbers dropped. This is no co-incidence because Ozil is essential to our method of attack. If we are to play the fast passing game then there has to be someone who can unlock the packed defences and it seems that Ozil is the only Gooner who has that ability. Stop Ozil and you stop Arsenal.

Is it that the opposition mark him more tightly? Are other teams more aware of his manner of play and instead of close marking him lay off and watch for the  off-ball runs Ozil is looking to pass to? I am no tactician nor do I look at how other teams are playing against, so cannot say.

Or perhaps Ozil is playing as well as ever but contributing in other ways.

What do you think?

written by Big Raddy


The Departed

October 31, 2013

On Tuesday there was an almost empty stadium at the 80th minute – apart from a few diehards and 9,000 jubilant mutants. We started to discuss this yesterday and with little time to prepare a needed post, here are my thoughts …..

If this just happened at Arsenal I would be more concerned. Sadly, it happens at many London grounds.


I thought Arshavin’s comment of “The atmosphere at the Emirates were mostly weird. It felt like the crowd was there to see the theatre.” was appropriate,  but he hasn’t had to sit in the stands of a ground in which one feels divorced from the game. (it also shows how poor his English is after 5 years of living in London!)

I usually sit front row, Clock End Upper Tier. You would think this is right in the middle of both the singing and the action on the pitch, but as Andre says for most of the game it feels like the theatre – no, not theatre, because a theatre audience doesn’t spend its time talking about work and texting.

How can the club change the potential toxicity of the fans? It can’t. To me this is a social problem and nothing to do with the Arsenal. It is another facet of the Me Generation – ” I have spent all this money and travelled all this way, and used my leisure time (etc) and you (Bendtner, Ramsey, Eboue, Arsene, the team +++) are not giving Me what I want and what I spent my hard earned cash on”

“I have paid my money and therefore have the right to boo a player.” No arguing with this sentiment BUT, if and it is a big IF, you are an Arsenal supporter then it is fair to assume you want the Arsenal to do well, so how does booing help the team? What would you do in front of 60+k people who you knew were examining your every move. hoping you will fail so it confirms their narrative that you are rubbish? To say that you would ignore it is naive – you wouldn’t. You may re-double your efforts and improve for sometime but then you will make a mistake and all that good work is forgotten, after which you would do everything you could to avoid the ball.

A perfect case in point is Gervinho. Talented lad who is tearing up Serie 1 and has instantly proved what approval and love can do to a player. It is hardly rocket science, and is the reason why Mr Wenger tries to protect some players by playing them away from home – how terrible a reflection is that upon our support?

A reflection of this negativity is that blogs (ours included) get far more hits when the club are in trouble than when we are Top of the League (can I write that again …. We are Top of the League).

Tourists: To castigate fans who travel the world to come to The Home of Football is downright insulting. It isn’t them who leave early. Yes, they take pictures of the inside and outside of the ground because to them it is special – very special and attending the Emirates is one of the highlights of their lives. And they know almost all the songs – check out Youtube.


To be even-handed Mr. Wenger has stated that it is up to the players to ignite and engage the crowd and he is right but we seem to be a damp squib unless we are beating high class opposition. We played some great football in the loss to Chelsea, football that the Chavs could never achieve, brilliant close passing and link up play and the team never stopped trying to win the game – they just did it to an empty-ish stadium for the final few minutes.

A potential solution is to have random (not pre-booked) seating behind the goals, something I highly approve of. The fact I cannot sit with my AA friends when attending a game is a sadness and groups of friends are more likely to sing together. Another solution is to have trained singing leaders. It works in may foreign clubs who have one chap who starts the songs – unfortunately he is usually a fat, bald bloke covered in tattoos with his shirt off! But it would be something to try as most people who would like to sing are afraid of starting a chant for fear of looking stupid when no-one joins in (I know – I have tried it!)

If the stadium was full of singing fans enjoying themselves despite the team losing there would be less desire to leave early. I assume that once there is a flow of people leaving then it spreads like winter flu and everyone gets antsy. Rasp’s idea of not standing up to let people pass until the final whistle is a fine one but I fear he will get sorely kicked legs!

We all know the arguments as to why some people leave early, especially at night games, but if you are one of those folk, please tell me how it helps the team you say you love?

N:B: This is purely a discussion starter and as full of holes as my very expensive moth-eaten cashmere sweater (I bloody hate moths).

written by Big Raddy

Simply the Best: Georgie Boy and Watson. Two Authentic Heroes. MU Pre-Match

January 22, 2012

For today’s introduction we are going back into the mists of time, when men were men and not floppy overcooked strings of spaghetti like Busquets, Nani and Pepe.

England were World Champions and Man Utd had recently won the European Cup. For the younger reader who has grown up in the Sky era, there can be no understanding of the excitement and national pride that both events stirred. Unlike today, all English football fans wanted MU to beat a brilliant Benfica team at Wembley, the scene of our only WC triumph just 2 years before. The following year (Sept ’69) when MU came to Highbury the side had already changed following the retirement of Sir Matt Busby, with younger blood joining Bobby Charlton etc.

At that time George Best was 23 years old, he had already played 300 games for MU and was the most famous footballer in the World. Moore, Charlton and Stiles may have been the faces of England’s WC victory but George was The Man. At a time when football was confined to newspaper  back pages, Best was front page headline news, top 10 songs were written about him, kids aped his clothes, copied his hair style, he was a friend of the Beatles, always had a super-model on his arm etc etc. But above all, he was a complete footballer, he was coming to Highbury and so was I.

A 60,000 crowd  in the same Highbury that was limited to under 40k a few years later. The North Bank was packed and swaying. An old man reminiscing is interminably dull so I will cut this short· Mclintock heads out a high ball to the edge of the area, Best leaps off the ground and sends a scissor kick volley flying past Bob Wilson. At first, there was stunned silence around Highbury followed by huge applause, we had witnessed a genius displaying his genius – what can be better on a football pitch? We drew 2-2 and I recall Stroller Graham scoring one for us.

George Best is the best player I have ever seen play live and I have seen Maradona, Cruyff, Van Basten, Gullit, TH, DB  (4 Dutchmen TA 🙂 ) etc etc  No-one could lift a crowd in the way he did, and he was a brilliant bloke to boot.

A young Best at what looks like Highbury (West Stand?)

Manchester United have always been a glamour club and their arrival at the Emirates guarantees tension and excitement, this fixture remains a highlight of  any season. Sadly, Ferguson’s MU are a pale shadow of the entertaining sides of their past; the cheating, spitting, vituperative Rooney being the emblem of their play. Yes, they thrashed a reserve AFC earlier in the season (a total freak result ), and today we could have problems due to our injury nightmare but the belief remains that a full strength Arsenal would beat this MU team with some ease.

However, we do NOT have a full strength team and are unlikely to see one for some time. Have we enough to win today? Certainly, if the players give their all and work as a team. There are fears about how our “FB’s” will cope with MU’s strength on the flanks;  the midfielders must concentrate and assist them.

My Team:

It would be brave to start with Oxlade-Chamberlain – his last outing at OT was hardly a success!

Famous Gooner: Today is all about courage, the ability to step forward when all you want to do is go home and play with the wife. One Gooner who has lived a life requiring a level of courage few of us can imagine is Michael Watson.

Having beaten Nigel Benn, Watson fought and lost to Chris Eubank for the WBO Middleweight title (1991, what great times for fans of British boxing), receiving a life-threatening injury which resulted in 6 brain operations and 40 days in a coma.  To go from being at the top of his profession with a healthy, immensely strong body to being  totally immobile must have been devastating. There followed a year in hospital during which time he couldn’t move, hear or speak, Watson spent the next 6 years in a wheelchair.  But Michael didn’t give up, he fought is disabilities and in 2003 even managed to complete the London Marathon (over the course of 6 days), being welcomed over the finish line by Eubanks and his neurosurgeon.

Not long out of hospital (1992) Michael was invited onto the hallowed grass at his beloved Highbury and at half-time was pushed in his wheel-chair to all sides of the ground – it was a highly emotional moment both for him and the fans who rose to greet him. I was there that day and am not ashamed to say shed a tear for an incredibly brave man and a true Gooner. In 2004, Watson was awarded an MBE for his charity work for Brain and Spinal Research.

Watson, wearing the Red & White he always wore in the Ring

Watson doesn’t find excuses when the odds are stacked against him. Can today’s Arsenal team win?  Ask Michael.


Written by Big Raddy

Gooner Day

September 9, 2011

Written by VCC

Before you read on, VCC wanted to include the following track in the post so please right click Gooner Day  to open in a new window and listen – unless you’re being naughty at work that is 🙂

Its 3 pm Saturday 10th September 2011. We welcome Swansea City to the Emirates for our second home fixture. Is this going to be a Gooner Day?

Well fellow Gooners, is this the trickiest start to a season in our lifetime?

It comes following an away draw against a mid table side, a home defeat against a top 6 side that has been resurrected and a simply humiliating experience away to maybe our biggest enemy.

Has Arsène recruited the necessary armoury to sustain a top four place, enabling our continued Champions League status?

Will Mertesacker/Santos plug the gap in our frail defence?
Will Arteta/Benayoun be creative in our new mid field?
And….will Gervinho/Young provide the firepower we need to assist our top goalscorer?

Many questions yet to be answered. If these players do not hit the ground running and turn our start around to winning ways, will we see the unthought-of resignation of our beloved Arsène Wenger?

The speculation in some Sunday papers is that Mr.Wenger is disillusioned with the Arsenal Board and is/maybe contemplating calling it a day. Can we even contemplate life after Le Prof?

After a frustrating, long and stressful close season, have we acquired the quality/necessary personnel capable to compete with the big boys, still?

I, for one, feel uneasy at the thought of life after “He Who Knows”. If he has been unable to win any silverware for six years, then who could have?

I for one, believe it’s going to be a “GOONER DAY”


Written by VCC.

Musings of a true Gooner, banishes doom and gloom

November 12, 2010

Written by RedArse

I fell to musing, in a slough of despondency, after the desperately disappointing results of the recent past, and wondered; why do I feel so desolate, so full of despair?

What was the cause of this aching void in my mind, and in my body, where the act of breathing, of existing from minute to minute was such a struggle? How could simple adverse results; shattering defeats, for my beloved team, Arsenal, cause me such extreme anguish?

I suppose it had its origins many years ago, back in my childhood, when, and I can be precise here, I first heard the word, the fascinatingly military sounding name, “Arsenal”. It was while sitting on my father’s shoulders at my very first visit to watch a game.

He had told me he was going to a match, and asked if I would like to go? I knew nothing about football, indeed, I had never heard of such a thing, but I would go anywhere with my dad, just to be with him. Little did I know that would be the beginning of a lifelong love affair with a club, a team who were to so dominate my very existence?

Ironically, the match he took me to was not played at Highbury, but the pre-Bates Stamford Bridge, to see something called a derby between someone called Chelsea and his arsenal. Young, I may have been, but I knew that word, arsenal. It was a place where guns, ammunition, and weapons of all sorts were made and stored. Oh yes, I was going to like my dad’s arsenal; it was every boy’s dream come true.

The old Stamford Bridge was a huge sprawling, open aired amphitheatre which was desperately in need of renovation, and we seemed miles from what was known as a pitch. Puzzled, and a little confused, surrounded by legions of people, I asked my dad where the arsenal was. At that moment there erupted around us a crescendo of sound, and there in the distance, what seemed to be little men, poured out onto the pitch in a tumultuous wave of red and white, and my dad yelled to me, over the cacophony, “there they are”, and gesticulated delightedly towards them.

My eyes opened wide in amazed comprehension that these were, in fact, the Arsenal, so beloved of my father, and who in turn would become the delight of my life.

Over the many years since then, the increasingly glorious victories, and great feats of derring do were to become the stuff of my footballing dreams. None of the vainglorious nonsense spouted by fans of other clubs, following their empty, meaningless wins, could stop me strutting around as proud as a peacock that I was a gooner and a follower of the greatest team the world had ever seen! It says so in the song even!

What cannot be denied is that those dreams, as a child, were occasionally suffused by both pain and ecstasy almost beyond my ability to bear them. A catharsis so intense, that the experience of Arsenal losing a game left me hopeless, helpless and near to tears, whereas the sterling victories achieved an euphoria impossible to describe.

There then lay the roots of my current misery, the counterbalance to the exquisite sense of well being when we win. No amount of alcohol, in my later years, could ever quench the pain of Arsenal losing.

Many gooners, I am sure, can identify with these sentiments, which helps explain the gloom evident in the Arsenal blogs of late. So let me leave you with this crumb of comfort.

Over the years, every Arsenal setback has been more than matched by a thrilling win, and the emptiness of losing has swiftly been consigned to the dustbin of history.

I would love to hear your own stories of how you treat those two imposters, defeat and victory, because whichever of them are currently in the ascendancy, our love of Arsenal will over-ride all.

We will always be Gunners!