No Baked Spuds – A Point Gained or Two Lost?

November 7, 2016

15th of June – fixtures for the new season released and I scroll down the list looking for the Arsenal v Tottenham game.

6th November, yuk, 5 more months to go, but never mind, it will be worth it. Or will it?

Yep, sad old me was really looking forward to that game. Both teams were in good form, both have strong attacking abilities, mutual hatred going back 103 years and counting, it was going to be a game to remember. We were off to a good start, several chances to score, good tempo, looked promising. But……all the chances were wasted and with each ball going to row Z, I started to think that this could be costly. Fortunately, Spurs gave us an opening own goal and the team perked up a bit.

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A silly mistake from Koscielny cost us a penalty, well executed by the not-exactly-Pierce-Brosnan look alike, Harry Kane. One all and I’m sitting deeper and deeper on the sofa, showing signs of resignation. The penalty was game changing, as it always is, and Spurs attacked with new belief and energy.

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There were no more goals, hardly the goals galore I expected, but all in all, I think it was a good result for us. We played beautifully, technically beating Spuds hands down, but that is not a recipe for success.

I’ve said it time and time again – any team that allows us to play beautiful football will be punished. Any manager worth his salt knows by now that you can get a result against Arsenal by playing a disruptive game – don’t let the Gunners dominate the game and you can match them on their own turf. And that is exactly what Tottenham did yesterday.

The second glaring reason for yesterday’s poor result was, in my opinion, the absence of Santi. He is the player who can deal with the kind of pressure Spurs inflicted; he will cherish and distribute the ball and make sure it stays with us. He was missed, both yesterday, and in the previous 2 games. When is he back?

I am not angry, I am deflated, which is probably worse. We will not win the league, 13 years on the trot. That is really poor from a club that claims to be one of the best in the country.

Player Ratings

Everyone gets a 6 to match my feelings about an average performance.

Maybe Cech a 7, because of that save from Eriksen

nld3

Written by Eddie

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Mighty Mustafi

October 6, 2016

 

Is it possible to assess the effect of a player upon the future of Arsenal FC after just a few games? Normally No, but every so often a player just ….. fits.

Think back to April 1996. We were playing Sheffield Wednesday (what happened to them?) and losing 1-0 when Ray Parlour got injured. Onto the pitch came a lanky French kid as his replacement and by half time, just 17 minutes, we knew we were witnessing the arrival of Wenger’s Arsenal. Despite Wrighty scoring a hatrick PV4 was named MotM.

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It would be hyperbole to say that Mustafi will make a similar impact at AFC but he has done all we could ask so far. As I wrote above – he fits. In just a few weeks he has  meshed with Kos into a fine CB partnership. BFG, Gabriel and Holding will struggle to get pitch time as a CB pairing are rarely rotated.

There have been concerns about our lack of height at set pieces and we do appear to be vulnerable;  at Burnley, Vokes could and should have scored plus some blob hit the bar. Kos and Xhaka are both 6´1″ and Mustafi just 6´0″. Santi, Sanchez, Theo, Bellerin, Monreal etc are all under 5´10″. I guess we will have to rely on our massive GK who stands at 6´5″!

€35m makes Mustafi the 4th most expensive defender in world football, today it appears to be money well spent. Who would you prefer – David Luiz, John Stones, Mangala, Ottamendi or Mustafi? BTW Mangala is out on a season’s loan at Valencia which is why we haven’t seen much of the oaf.

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What do I like about Mustafi? His positional awareness is excellent, his passing conversion averages over 85%, he is not afraid to carry the ball, he is vocal and already bosses the defence, his tackling is powerful and the man will not be bullied- will he Mr Costa?

What I do not like is his first name …. Shkodran. What kind of a parent names their kid Shkodran? What is wrong with Peter or Michael or Brian? And yes, I know his parents are Albanian – it doesn’t excuse them.

I rarely make predictions but here is one – Mustafi will be the next Captain of Arsenal. He is that good.

written by Big Raddy


Your choice of first names on the Arsenal team sheet ….. Poll

March 18, 2016

 

We have been underperforming as a team for some time. Few if any of our players could be described as being in top form. The signs against Barcelona were encouraging and we certainly didn’t disgrace ourselves – but two of the best performers (Elneny and Iwobi) weren’t what you might consider to be first team regulars yet.

Is the problem more to do with the team than the individuals, or is it that the players aren’t taking enough individual responsibility? A player can only be his best when others around him are also on top of their game, so clearly the two are interdependent. A team that is performing well can carry a couple of players who are below par, but a single player cannot carry a whole team unless he is a truly exceptional leader – and I don’t think we have anyone of that character in the squad. The team ethic is paramount.

One mark of a good side is actually knowing what your strongest eleven is and getting the best blend of players to gel into an effective team.

So I got to wondering how many of the currently available players would be categorised as ‘first names on the team sheet’.

Not enough is my answer!

These are the outfield players I would categorise as ‘must play’ in the important game ahead against Everton – there are only 6!

Koscielny, Bellerin, Elneny, Monreal, Ozil and Welbeck

That leaves 4 positions where I can’t see a clear first choice – and apart from the one CB, they are all in midfield/attacking midfield. The emergence of Iwobi as a ‘proper Arsenal player’ is one of the highlights of the season and I’d also play him on Saturday although he features just below my ‘must play’ rating.

How many and who would be your ‘must start’ players against Everton?

You can choose up to 10 (goalkeepers are not included) in the poll below and then review the results later in the day to see whether others agree.

Rasp

 


Grow up! … Arsenal Don’t Need To Sign Any More Players …

January 28, 2016

With the end of the transfer window looming and many supporters calling for Arsene to reinforce the squad with new additions, I thought I’d look at the age range of Arsenal’s current EPL squad including some on loan. Obviously age isn’t the prime criterion when assessing a player, but it is the significant indicator in terms of longevity and therefore team development.

When Arsene was asked recently about the signing of Elneny, he praised his attributes and added in characteristic fashion that he was 23 and that 23 to 30 was an ‘interesting’ age for a footballer. We all know what he meant by this.  For all but one position, 23-30 would be considered the peak years of a player’s career. The exception is the keeper, where experience is crucial and the toll on the body is less, meaning that they can remain at the top of their game into their late thirties … and guess what ….. we’ve got one of those!

In the past, it was the case that centre backs could still be at their peak into their early thirties, but I would argue that the pace and physical demands of the modern game mean this is seldom the case nowadays. Hopefully Koscielny will prove to be the exception to that rule, sadly it is becoming apparent that Mertesacker is not.

I don’t expect us to sign another ‘first team ready’ player before the deadline on Monday, and maybe the stats below will convince you that we don’t need to.

The area marked in yellow in the chart below represents the age group of those who are considered to be in their peak years (Bellerin is the exception to that rule) . The names in red are unlikely to be with us next season, and those in green are currently out on loan but a good prospect for the future.

I have divided the midfielders into 3 categories just so the pedants among you can tell me I’m wrong 🙂

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In an ideal world, the first choice players in every position would be in their peak years – in fact it would be perfect if the second choice option was also in the 23-30 zone.

But that’s not how it works, the top players are in the zone and the back up is either younger hoping to break into the team, or older and with lower expectation. This theory is backed up by the fact that both Ospina and Debuchy are in their peak years, neither are first choice and both want to leave – and who can blame them?

By my estimation, 8 out of 10 of our first choice outfield players are at their peak in terms of age. That’s pretty good and I suspect compares favourably with the other top EPL sides.

So which areas should we be looking to reinforce in the summer?

Martinez is currently gaining experience on loan at Wolves and may be the man to take over from Cech in a few years. We  have a wealth of talented young attacking midfielders waiting for their chance to make an impact on the first eleven. Unluckily for them, most of the current incumbents are at the perfect age.

Arguably centre back and striker are the two areas where we could be vulnerable. With Mertesacker coming to the end of his career, and only Chambers as back-up I can see procuring another CB as a priority. As far as strikers are concerned, we will only be able to assess that situation once we have seen Welbeck stay injury free and get a run of games. If he can replicate the form he showed before he was injured then Arsene may well believe we don’t need another striker. Personally, I’d be happy to blow £50-60m if the right striker became available in the summer.

Your challenge for today ……. convince me we need to buy another player this January!

Rasp

 

 


The two Arsenal players Barcelona fear most

December 15, 2015

I was  on my way to work this morning listening to an interview with Philippe Auclair on the radio discussing the CL draw. It was suggested to him that Barca would be very happy to have drawn Arsenal again.

On the contrary he said, there are 2 players that Barcelona fear. Immediately the names of Ozil and Sanchez sprang to mind … but no, he was referring to a different two players …. Can you guess who?

They know about Ozil, he plays with the ball on the ground in a style they understand and equally, they don’t fear Sanchez’s all action high pressing style – it’s what they do.

No, the players Barca are wary of are the in-form Olivier Giroud (he is the kind of striker they hate to play against) and Petr Cech who has put them out of the CL almost single handedly before. He is their ‘bogey keeper’, they seldom beat him. Apparently Messi has never managed to put one past Cech.

When I thought about it, this all makes perfect sense.

They should also be aware that in Koscielny we have one of the best CBs in the world and as I have said before, our wing back pairing of Monreal and Bellerin is unrivalled in the EPL.

We are a better team than when they played us last time. With the steadying influence of Cech in goal and the quality of our defence, Barcelona will not find it easy to score against us even with their unparalleled front three.

Add the fact that the FP (little joke betwee AA regulars 🙂 ) is in fine form and all of a sudden, Arsenal v Barcelona is the draw we should all welcome. If we manage to beat them, we can begin to dream…….

Rasp


Arsenal Peck Swans

November 1, 2015

Arsenal went to Swansea determined to keep their Premier League hopes alive, and yet filled with a certain tremulation at meeting a club who had outclassed and outplayed them twice last season.

As it turned out, one man who could not wait to get on to the pitch to show what he is made of was Joel ‘Gimme a chance ‘ Campbell, as he chomped at the bit to make his career at Arsenal lift off, rather than warm his ass on the bench.

Let us take a moment to consider the nature of the Arsenal, who are like a skilled electrician who on being called out to repair a complex machine with a fault can expertly disassemble the machine in a jiffy, and only to realise that, in a forgetful moment, he did not bring the  replacement part. Frustrating? Much!

Arsenal are undeniably capable of creating magic – and can ooze with class one moment, and in the next second carelessly give away the ball and allow the opposition the gift of an undeserved chance.

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Not yesterday! Giro scored the 2,000th goal of Wenger’s reign, by hiding behind Mert and then launching himself by using the captains’ elasticised shirt to deftly flick the ball into the net.

The second goal was an oddity, in that Flappy should have caught a high looping ball, but somehow managed to lose it and allowed Kozzer to shield it and cleverly toe-poke it into the net, leaving Swansea howling with rage. Boo-Hoo.

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And then our man Joel’s big moment came – a strong drive across the goal area by Özil reached him and controlling it smoothly he despatched the ball with aplomb into the net for the third, final and decisive goal.

03

Referring back to our mythical electrician above, Arsenal played well within themselves, and perhaps mindful of the results of their recent games against the Swans, who had pecked up the three points previously, sometimes played silly passes, but twisted the beaks of the home team when it mattered, and had not forgotten what they had come to do.

In truth, Gomis should have blasted the Swans ahead when receiving a clever ball from Shelvey he dithered and let Hector complete a lung bursting sprint back into defence and smack the ball from his toe into touch for a corner. Determination, skill, pace from the Arsenal lad, and quite the opposite from the Swan’s centre forward — all the difference in the world, and spoke to Arsenal’s qualities and made the result inevitable.

An important result achieved – a great game – three points – thank you very much!

Ratings:

Cech – 8

Bellerin – 7

Mert – 6

Kozzer – 8

Monreal – 7

Le Coq – 6

Cazzor – 7

Mesut – MoTM – 8

Joel – 7

Alexis – 6

Girroo – 8.

Red Arse


Alexis Sanchez baby! Alexis Sanchez ooooooooooooohhhhh!!!

September 27, 2015

Alexis Sanchez was in inspired form as he scored his first Premier League hatrick as Arsenal broke Leicester’s unbeaten record with a convincingly win.

The coach trip to Leicester was a very enjoyable experience with much debate about the midweek exploits at Tottnumb with discussion around the signs being ripped off at White Hart Lane. It was a glorious day and there was a real feel good factor amongst the travelling supporters who were in buoyant mood.

However the game started in the worst possible manner with Jamie Vardy being given time and space to slot past Petr Cech. Despite the team being 1-0 down the crowd did not press the self destruct button. There were a few moans about the goal and Flamini going off injured and being replaced by Mikel Arteta. This only served to fire up the team and the Arsenal fans. Before long Theo Walcott latched onto a pass and his pace and accurate finish put Arsenal level. The team were in their groove and once again the travelling support was amazing. A few supporters in the first row, including myself, vented anger at a steward who questioned some of us about whether we were in the correct row. This resulted in us missing Theo’s goal much to our fury.

Then the Alexis Sanchez show.. A low Hector Bellerin cross was not cleared by the Leicester defenders and there was the Chilean to tap home almost a carbon copy of the goal he scored at the same stadium last season. So 2-1 at the break and the half time entertainment was a brilliant new chant being echoed in the away section.. More of that a little later.

Alexis was causing Leicester havoc with his clever runs and then on 57 mins a lovely dinked ball was met by the man of the moment who headed in to make it 3-1. Then Alexis hit a rasping shot into the bottom left hand corner a welcome hatrick. The crowd were also left purring at Mesut Ozil’s performance who was in mesmerising form pulling all the strings and always two steps ahead.

The fans then were left frustrated as Giroud could not meet a fizzing low cross with the issue about his confidence being raised once again amongst supporters. Vardy scored a consolation before Giroud redeemed himself by placing a low shot into the corner from a Nacho Monreal cross.

So 3 points for the Arsenal and a happy journey home for the supporters back to London. And as for that chant.. It is to the tune of Chaka Khan and was being sung everytime one of our heroes, Laurent Koscielny touched the ball or made a vital interception.

“Ain’t nobody! Like Koscielny! Makes me happy! Makes me feel this way! Ain’t nobody! Like Koscielny! Makes me happy! Makes me feel this way! ”

Absolutley brilliant performance from both the players and the fans.. Bring on Man Utd next weekend.. UTA!

Written by Sir A Hussein