Auld Lang Syne: Match Preview.

December 31, 2011

With the warm glow of a trip to the Emirates still pervading the senses I am back at the pre-match keyboard though having read the excellent work done by my substitutes I have much to live up to.

Before discussing today’s Derby, I would like to look back to the Wolves game. I feel we dropped two points through a mixture of bad luck and poor management. The bad luck is symptomatic of this season (4 FB’s out for min. 3 months??), a deflected shot hits an unknowing Fletcher who diverts it into the only part of the goal not covered by Wn1; he couldn’t repeat that header in a month of Sundays. The poor management is another matter; it was a mistake to rest Ramsey because we were already missing Theo on the right which resulted in having no balance in the team. JD is no RB, a decent defender perhaps, but as an attacking force he is useless. Switching The Gerv from wing to wing just caused him to fade from the game. It was no co-incidence that we looked so much better once AA and AR came on.

Onto today: QPR are one of my favourite teams, always have been, BUT this season they have plummeted in my estimation because any team that employs Joey Barton deserves relegation at the very least. And to make him Captain –  The Lunatics have taken over the asylum! I know Evonne likes him (which is beyond understanding) and as such I shall stop here except to say I hope Gervinho tears him a new one.

On the plus side SWP is an exciting but hugely frustrating player who is a bullet dodged. I have to admit I was hopeful he would sign for us prior to his Chelsea stint and even when he went to The Oilers, in fact I was furious with his Dad who encouraged him to go up North. In retrospect I am deeply grateful Wrighty!

Islington lad and huge Gooner Jay Bothroyd should start upfront for Rangers, I was there the day he threw his shirt at Don Howe and was one of those who gave him serious abuse for such a disrespectful act, but fairplay to him, he has worked hard and created a fine career.

Another ex-Gunner is Armand Traore who is best remembered for taking a knuckle duster to WHL which is evidence of his intelligence – a yoyo career at AFC ended following our blip at OT. Had he stayed he would undoubtedly be playing in red and white this afternoon.

Managed by Warnock, QPR have done well. He is the right manager to get a team into the Prem and keep them up. Warnock’s tactics will be predictable and we can expect a very large bus to be brought onto the perfect Emirates bus for the duration of the game but he has some creative players capable of turning a game in seconds – they even have their own Nik Bendtner in Taraabt, a player who believes he is World Class and very (very) occasionally proves it. We will have to be on our guard this afternoon.

As to our lads. I was shocked to see both TR and Benayoun start against Wolves and would be surprised to see a repeat. The ARS has worked very well for us and unless there is an injury we should play them every time until the return of Wilshere. Theo is fit, The Gerv has at last scored, RvP is a cert and the defence, though creaky, picks itself. I would like to see everyone shift across one place to the left and play Kos at RB with TV back at CB and Miquel continue his development at LB, but I expect Mr Wenger to take no risks.

My team:

We have such an experienced bench and yet no-one who can really threaten in attack a problem solved with the arrival of Thierry. I have to say that unlike some of our bloggers I am very, very excited by his return – my man love for TH holds no bounds, to have him back at THOF is my  best Xmas gift.

In a year when Royalty has been so much to the fore it is fitting to end the year with a Royal Gooner. Not surprisingly there are many to choose from but I have chosen a man who started the Royal Gooner tradition, King George V. A fine man who regularly attended games between the wars.

KGV wearing the Home Kit @ 1930

This is the final Arsenal Arsenal post of the year. 2011 has brought us both joy and pain, from the beating of Barca to that awful Wembley afternoon but above all it has been a year of great banter, heated discussion, abundant laughter and heart-warming camaraderie on this the best blogsite on the web. Thank you all who have joined in the fun and thank you all for reading.

Big Raddy wishes you a very Happy New Year and a 2012 filled with adventure and silverware.