Fun in the Sun – West Ham Ratings

April 23, 2018

The first in a series of goodbye games for the great man brought some glorious sunshine to North London. Hopes were high for exceptional entertainment, though the news that Auba wasn’t starting brought the mood down a notch. I suppose the hope was to further cement some combinations for Thursday’s semi, so it was understandable in that sense.

 First Half

West Ham supposedly dominated the first half according to some of the media. Apart from a ball bouncing off a Hammers’ player’s shoulder on to the top of the bar and a fairly routine save from Ospina from a shot on the break, West Ham barely had an effort on goal.

For the boys in red and white, Kos saw his decent header go just wide and Danny had two efforts showing the full spectrum of his abilities, one top quality and the other an awful scuffer. Elneny rolled his ankle (hopefully with no serious damage) but not much happened apart from that and our hopes were high that the second period would see an improvement.

           Not a day for fair-skinned celtic chaps

Second half

The second period burst into life with Nacho’s sweet volley off his shin from Granit’s corner five minutes after the break. Failing to build on this lead, Ospina then punched out a crossed ball South American style straight back to the Hammers and with the defence in complete disarray, the hideous Arnautovic crashed in a well-struck drive. 1-1, quelle surprise.

Time for the cavalry, Auba for Alex Iwobi and the world suddenly seemed an even brighter place. Hart made fine saves from Xhaka and from a peach of a curler from Welbz, before a beautifully floated cross from Rambo sneaked past a hesitant Hammers defender and into the far corner for the goal that finally broke United’s flagging resistance.

The third came after a fine passing sequence and ricocheted off the underside of a West Ham defender’s legs, fooling Hart at the near post. Effective strikers often seem to get that sort of break and Laca is proving to be very effective indeed. Get your shot off and things happen.

My favourite goal of the four was the last one because of Ramsey’s exquisite feet in rounding a bemused Zabaleta which had followed a jinking turn from Auba. Hart got a hand to Lacazette’s shot on the way in, which sort of summed up his day.

Ratings

Ospina – Fairly untroubled, had little chance with the equaliser … 6

Bellerin – Appalling effort ballooned over the bar in the first half, defended ok  … 6

Mustafi – A little more composed with his old buddy alongside him   …6

Kos – Hopefully now match sharp for Thursday, led from the front as usual  … 7

Monreal – Never gives less than 100%, so always going to be a fan favourite  … 7

Elneny – Hopefully Mo’s injury isn’t serious – I doubt he would have played Thursday anyway … 6

Xhaka – Granit always oozes class against opposition of this standard, perhaps he can kick on and raise himself up to this level in all games next season  … 7

Ramsey – Class personified, always trying something to remove the wheel clamp from the bus   … 7

Iwobi – Sometimes Alex’s pitter patter feet seem to be an outward manifestation of his agitated, hesitant mind – this was one of those days  … 5

Welbeck – Still improving and you never quite know if you’re about to see a world-class finish or something decidedly spursy … 6

Lacazette – 2 more goals added to his impressive tally for a first season  … 7

Subs

Maitland-Niles – Time for a bit of canvassing in the acres of space in midfield, but difficult to recognise with his new trim … 6

Aubameyang – His entry to the field with a tiring West Ham changed the game … 7

On to Thursday with that last ten minutes giving us a welcome boost of confidence and optimism.

chas

 

 

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Wembley – First Half Ok – Second Woeful – Player Ratings

February 11, 2018

First Half

Arsenal defended pretty well, restricting the spuds to minor chances. Early on it didn’t seem very likely to be our day when the lino flagged Auba offside when put through brilliantly by Jack. ( I was so looking forward to him bamboozling Lloris).

Note how the linesman is meant to be on the line of the last defender but is in line with Mkhitaryan instead, which means he would see more of Auba

On the break we were poor. The team had been set up with quick, talented players at the sharp end, ideal for effective counter attacking. Misplaced passes were to prove very costly when we had clear overloads.

Second Half

We appeared to come out half asleep (as usual). A goal down in the first five minutes to a hopeful punt into the penalty area. Confidence drained, we could have been 2, 3 or 4 down in the next 25 minutes.

Tottenham sat back, alarmed they hadn’t gone further ahead, and we finally created some chances, the best falling to Lacazette almost on the bell.

LB says:

Things we learnt and thoughts on players.

Forget fourth place.

Mkhitaryan is much better playing on the right, evidence Everton.

Wilshere is not good enough when top level tested.

FGG says:

We just didn’t come out with enough intensity second half and it cost us. Then we fell apart for 20 minutes where we could’ve easily been 3 or 4 down, before finally creating something in the last 5 minutes. Not good enough.

What I learnt today is that whilst we all know we have defensive issues, these last 2 games have shown us how our attacking play is just as much to blame for those defensive frailties. I would argue that we defended much better as a team in the Spurs game (certainly first half) than we did against Everton, but our inability to keep the ball or sustain pressure meant that Spurs had loads of the ball and were able to pin us back in our half. It’s too much to expect our defence to hold out for 90 minutes against the likes of Kane if we are constantly on the back foot. The Everton game showed that when our attack clicks (it’s bound to be inconsistent given how new it is, so I’m not overly worried about the attacking performance) then it’s good enough to cover over defensive frailties.

GIE says :

 The defence did well for the majority of the game but were guilty of giving very poor ball to the midfield.

The midfield were pretty good at holding shape and not letting runners go, but were not making most of the ball when at feet.

The attack, when they did get the ball didn’t do enough with it.

Nearly all the above compound each other, and I found it pretty much the reverse of when we played them at the emirates where we were the ones picking up loose balls off their back line and putting them back under pressure, don’t think we did that enough today although they had a plan to go longer from defence to attack so bypassed those passing channels into midfield where we punished them at home.

Player Ratings 

Cech: kept us in the game but wow has his footwork become embarrassing. 6

Bellerin: tough job dealing with Son although he did it quite well, my beef is that there were too many cheap give away passes which after losing possession forced the pressure back onto Arsenal. Spuds simply didn’t do that. 5

Mustafi: probably one of his best games, very pleased with him. 8

Koscielny: jump man for goodness sake. 6

Monreal: had to stay further back than he normally likes due to out of place Mkhitaryan, did ok. 6

Elneny: used every ounce of his limited talent and was well deployed. 7

Xhaka: never going to be a constant goal threat and never going to offer enough of a defensive shield. 6

Wilshere: ran into blind alleys, made poor passing decisions added very little to the defensive cause, being so slow and short and all. Just not top level materiel. 5

Ozil: the telly Ozil that I saw looked as though he was struggling to get into the game, maybe it was different if you were there. 5

Mkhitaryan: look at the difference when played on the right as per the Everton game with his pin point accurate passing compared to his wayward display today. Easy to get this right after the event but I hope we learn from it. Offered nothing defensively and there was me fearing Iwobi on the left, goodness the left is the Nigerian’s best position and again when he came on he was sent out to the right — why? Both players. 4

Aubameyang: still in his honeymoon period, he gets a pass today, mah. 6

Ratings from LB (written just after the game had ended)


Lacazette to Score?

January 3, 2018

Hopefully we will be playing against 11 and not 12 tonight. Another points-robbing refereeing decision could see me give up watching.

For a decade Chelsea have been a team studded with A-holes. Lampard, Terry, Costa, etc there were loads of them. Today only Luiz really approaches the awfulness of the past. Instead they have pleasant folk like Hazard, Kante, Cahill and Courtois.

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Can we beat The Champions?

To be quite honest, I am doubtful unless we find some form. Chelsea will hopefully not PTB and allow some space for our forwards; if they do we can beat them but unlike Arsenal they have a full squad to pick from.

Chelsea also have a clever, charming manager with very good hair. Abramovich seems to like a good haircut.

With Ramsey, Giroud, Monreal and possibly Kos and Kol out, we have selection problems.

Win tonight and it will be a decent Xmas, lose and we fall behind.

My Team:

Cech

Chambers    BFG    Koscielny

Bellerin    Xhaka    Wilshere    M-N

Ozil

Lacazette    Sanchez

Given Chelsea use pace to attack it may be wise to start Holding rather than our Club Captain in the middle of defence and perhaps Elneny, or Coquelin, in place of M-N to add a touch of security.

This is an important night for Arsenal can we beat or even compete with a very good team in form? Can we get our potent front-line to fire. Lacazette needs to score and go on a run of scoring if we are to compete for the CL places. Trouble is, I am not sure he or AFC are capable.

That said, we beat Chelsea last time they came to The Emirates and at Wembley 😀, we can again.

COYRRG

 


What we learned from the Weekend.

September 11, 2017
  1. Lacazette is worth the money.
  2. We can win without Sanchez.
  3. Mr Wenger’s experiment of playing Bellerin on the left is over.
  4. Kolasinac needs PL experience but looks a fine addition.
  5. Welbeck can finish!
  6. Mustafi central with pacy CB’s outside him works against teams who have no attack
  7. Our midfield excel against teams lacking confidence and ability
  8. We are better without The Ox (but good luck to the chap).
  9. In Xhaka and Ozil we have two wonderful creative players who will propel Lacazette towards 25 goals this season
  10. Arsene will struggle to find game time for Walcott

And from elsewhere:

  1. MU are flat-track bullies and will struggle against better, more organised sides.
  2. Chelsea remain a quality team
  3. De Bruyne is a marvellous player and should be sold to Real Madrid – immediately.
  4. The same can be said for Harry Kane
  5. Liverpool played exceptionally well when beating us and were rubbish on Saturday
  6. West Ham are doomed.
  7. And this hurts to write …. Spurs are serious title contenders.

I also learned that it is not a good idea to go walking in torrential rain

written by Big Raddy


Tally Ho. Leicester Preview.

August 11, 2017

Kicking off the PL on a Friday night, Thursday night football and a season full of Sunday p.m. games – could this be the recipe for a successful campaign?

Let’s hope so.

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I wrote yesterday that I believe we have the squad, the experience and the talent to win the title (I wasn’t joking) and believe if we can get through the very difficult opening fixtures with confidence intact, we will be top at Xmas.

And it starts tonight. Leicester were a pale shadow of the Champions last season, Mahrez was rubbish, Vardy the same, Kante walked, etc etc. They have managed to retain almost all of their highly talented squad but can they improve ? Well, they have spent 0ver 50 million of Her Majesty’s finest in the summer, bolstering the midfield and adding some Man City reject upfront.

Is it enough?

It depends upon expectations. LCFC will never win the title again, it is unlikely they will ever reach Top 4. Better than last season when Leicester so cruelly sacked The Tinkerman? Yes.

Enough of them …

We must be hyped about tonight. We have made two  (so far) excellent (so far) signings, maintained (so far) the squad, and have already won silverware. I am unhappy that we carry injuries into the start of the season with Wilshire, Ozil,  Ramsey, Mustafi, Sanchez, Coquelin, Cazorla, Gabriel and Mertesacker unlikely to start. Koscielny is suspended.This is very frustrating in a summer with no major International tournament.

My Team:

Cech

Holding   Monreal   Kolasinac

Bellerin    Elneny    Xhaka    Ox

Welbeck    Lacazette    Iwobi

Ozil may be fit enough to play as is Walcott. This is not a team Mr Wenger would choose if everyone was fit, perhaps only 4/5 would be first picks.

Are they good enough to beat Leicester? If they play as well as they did for most of the game at Wembley, then Yes.

Lacazette will be the media focus. I predict great things for the man.  He has all the attributes to succeed in a passing, fast-attacking team, but we have yet to see if he can become a target man.

Big game for Kolasinac. First impressions are very good but he will have to play alongside a very inexperienced CB partnership. Monreal will have to be at his best and most vocal.

Time for Welbz to score – he has been goal shy for some time and if he wishes to become an automatic starter Welbeck has to become an efficient finisher.

We need a good start to the season.

Let it be So

COYRRG


Life without Sanchez

July 6, 2017

So before talking about options for life without Sanchez lets just talk about what happens if he stays. Personally I think this is rather easy. He lines up as the left sided of our double number 10’s (with Ozil as 1st choice to the right of centre) behind our new boy Lacazette. That front 3 should have creativity and goals in it and would be exciting to watch. It could be a title defining front 3 in a formation where they all compliment each other. There is also excellent back up to each of the front 3 players.

In essence I hope Alexis stays but this is far from certain and the most recent rumours are of him demanding £400,000pw. This could just be paper talk of course with no basis whatsoever, but if it were true I am giving it the thumbs down. At that point I am looking to get us the best deal, but what is that?

Probably the worst deal would be a straight cash deal with an EPL rival. A straight cash deal would be better with an overseas club. Probably the best deal would be a swap with another big club. If it were Munich could we nab Lewandowski in return? One of our bloggers described Lacazette as a true 9 ½ so could he adopt the left sided 10 role behind a prolific 9 like Lewandowski? Ditto with Aguero. Could that happen?

Both of those latter mentioned deals would still leave us looking pretty strong with a lot of fire-power even without Alexis. Other possible considerations could be Sterling or De-Bruyne but for some reason they don’t appeal to me quite as much.

With all the Sanchez talk there is another player issue that, although receiving some media coverage, is flying slightly more under the radar. We are in danger of losing Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, a player I really like. It is hard to believe that he has been with us since 2011 yet is still only 23 years old.

In many senses he hasn’t had a dissimilar pathway to Sanchez had to their respective 23rd year. The stats for both are not hugely different, where Sanchez was with Udinese to 23. Sanchez has slightly more favourable stats but then I have always maintained that AOC has been a slight victim of covering a multitude of positions, so a significant amount of games would have been in less favourable positions that would allow him to boost his goal-scoring stats.

Sanchez really only started to thrive as a goal-scoring wing forward from his 23rd year when he moved to Barca. It is time to nail down a regular position for AOC or risk losing him. He was excellent at right wing back but I am still not certain this is the position where we will see the best of him. Similarly I don’t think it is the position he feels is really best for him. We have Bellerin, who is excellent there in our back 3 formation, and I am sure we can find other alternative cover there.

I say that if we lose Sanchez then it is time to unleash the Ox. Give him the opportunity that Sanchez had at that same age to show the world that there is a world class left inside forward in there waiting to burst through, one that as his confidence increases in the position is full of goals and pacey attacking intent.

Is it a risk? Some would say yes and that we need to get some big foreign player to replace someone like Sanchez. But there is a risk there as well. Even some celebrated names have historically struggled in the EPL. There is as much risk in any player coming in as there is in one of our own changing to a new role.

Back up would be required, but Welbeck is adept from the left attacking position. We may need to bring another in though. Perhaps a player that can cover this position but could also cover Ramseys more attacking of the central 2 role. I like the look of Lemar at Monaco but I also like the look of the lad Golovin from CSKA that we have been linked with. World of football describes his strengths as dribbling, acceleration, flair and passing. What is not to like? Even better when listing preferred foot their answer was both.

I wouldn’t be unhappy if AW released AOC and just see if at 23 he is primed to become our own English Sanchez. There are no guarantees in football and sometimes you just have to be brave enough to take a chance on a player and put your faith in them.

Written by GoonerB