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.

Unknown.jpeg

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

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Friday Night Football at the Emirates

August 9, 2017

For the first time in the Premier League history the season will kick off on Friday August 11th when Arsenal will host Leicester City at the Emirates with the game starting at 19:45.

We played our first game against Leicester 125 years ago on January 7th 1895 – back then the teams were known as Leicester Fosse and Woolwich Arsenal, we lost the game 3-1. Overall we have played 124 league games against each other with Arsenal having an overall record of – W58, D38, L28, GF247, GA169.

Woolwich Arsenal 1895 – courtesy Arsenal.com

We have not lost a league game against them for 23 years when Leicester beat us 2-1 at their ground on November 23rd 1994.

Our starting line up then was:

Goalkeeper David Seaman

Defender/Right back Lee Dixon

Defender Steve Bould

Centre back Martin Keown

Centre back Andy Linighan

Left back Nigel Winterburn

Midfielder Jimmy Carter

Midfielder Stefan Schwarz

Midfielder Ian Selley

Forward Paul Dickov

Forward Ian Wright

Ian Wright scored from a penalty in the 19th minute while Leicester’s goals came from Andy Linighan 16′ (og) and David Lowe 28′.

Here is our league record against Leicester for the past 40 seasons.

After our performance against Chelsea in the Community Shield I’m feeling very confident that we will win our opening game to set us on the right track for the season ahead.

Written by GunnerN5

(Ed – other notable Friday night Arsenal fixtures….)

Friday May 26th 1989

Friday April 16th 2004

 


Poetic Justice does exist – Leicester Player Ratings

April 27, 2017

My old man used to bang on about justice to me when I was a kid. By the time I’d reached my teens, I had categorically realised that it is an abstract notion which does not, in reality, exist in any tangible form.

How beautiful it is when rare moments in this cruel and random world actually make it appear that poetic justice, karma, poor behaviour getting its comeuppance etc do have some outward manifestation, however imaginary.

Leicester have certainly returned to their shape and structure of last season. Ten men behind the ball as often as possible, hoof the ball up to Steptoe to chase whenever the opportunity to swing a size 11 boot presents itself. Don’t get me wrong, they did have a few sniffs at goal, largely from Arsenal-inspired breakdowns of possession, referee-inspired dubious free kicks anywhere in our half and even from some revolting, Delap-like trebuchet missiles. However their negative anti-football in the second half, purely designed to win them a point, got them exactly what was deserved – sweet Fanny Adams.

The first half was pretty tedious it has to be said. The personnel changes to our new system took some bedding in. We attempted to give Crisp Advertisers FC some golden opportunities with dodgy back flicks, poor GK clearances and other examples of sloppy play.

Our two best chances I can remember came from a Gabs’ near post header which nearly fell to our new striker, Nacho and the outstanding moment of the half when Sanchez crashed the ball against the bar with Schmeichel floundering just before the break.

The second half was a procession towards the North Bank goal. The Leicester defence dropped deeper, their half-time talk was obviously about wasting even more time and killing any entertainment the fairly sparse crowd had bothered to turn up in the hope of seeing. Unwittingly they were just the stooges in their own downfall, building the platform for an epic final 10 minutes.

The strangest challenge of the whole game was when the Leicester defender with the incandescent bonce decided he’d use Giroud as a climbing frame. How on earth Mike Jones didn’t see that as a red card only Mike Riley knows.

The goal, when it finally came, was beautiful in its grotesque manifestation. My brother had spent large parts of the second half repeating the mantra, ‘we must clear Huth’ every time we had a free-kick, corner or cross. For Nacho to smash it wide of the goal but not wide of Huth’s massive gut and the ball to cannon into the back of the net, became such a glorious vindication of my old man’s belief in the idea that people should get what’s owed them.

Those who left early not only missed the beautiful post goal celebrations but also a Mike Jones Brian Rix-inspired farce of epic proportions. (When I commented after the game about it being like a Brian Rix farce at the end, Ant wondered why I was on about Graham Rix).

Previously Ulloa had left the pitch when substituted as if he had bound feet, each step moving him forward six inches at the most. Now the Leicester defender with the shiny head, Bennylooanus or something, was subbed and he sprinted off. Every person left in the ground with a red and white heart, howled with derision. So funny.

Then the farce reached new heights when Sanchez stood in front of Fooks readying to launch another long throw into the box. Mike Jones did not ask Sanchez to retreat but encouraged Fooks to get on with the throw. Eventually Fooks’ petulance got the better of him and he simply threw the ball directly at the Chilean. It was clearly intended to cause a few lost teeth and so we were astonished when the ref failed to send off the Leicester player but instead booked Alexis for deciding he needed to closely inspect the fine partly-artificial weave of the Emirates turf. The melee involved most of the players on the pitch including both keepers.

Yeah sure, we believe you

Leicester’s final chance also seemed scripted for Mack Sennett’s keystone cops, bodies flying everywhere followed by Schmeichel and several players in blue chasing the hapless referee.

The 4 minutes injury time morphed into 6 or 7 with all the mayhem, but justified victory was finally and beautifully achieved when the ref thought he’d better blow before someone grabbed his shorts and yanked them to his ankles.

Ratings

Cech – Poor kicking, magnificent save from Mahrez ……7

Gabriel – Silky skills on the ball and a fearsome warrior in defence ……7

Koscielny – Cool, calm, composed Captain. Seemed to recover from a knock in the 2nd half – we need him on Sunday ……8

Monreal – Looked fine as part of a back three and his half-volley against Huth’s belly a thing of rare beauty….8

Gibbs – Gibbo looked a little short of match practice understandably. Covered well for Nacho …..7

Bellerin – Cornrows gone, back to man bun. Wing back could suit him down to the ground. Crossing/delivery into the box needs to improve ….7

Coquelin – Fighting every step of the way. You just cannot fault his commitment …….8

Xhaka – The new formation suits him as he has more cover behind, so can look forward instead. Lovely to watch in possession…..8

Ozil – Struggled to break down a resolutely tedious defence but never let that stop him trying…..7

Walcott – Really weak, struggled to get out of Hector’s way for most of the game. If he doesn’t score, he’s pretty redundant …..5

 Sanchez – Gave away possession, smacked the bar with a beauty and then rivalled Rivaldo for a Bafta  …..7

chas


Two ‘L’ and Back

August 20, 2016

Could we lose twice in a week to teams beginning with L? Has it ever happened before?

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Going away to a team who are the current Champions is always going to be difficult – I know they are “only” Leicester and we smashed them twice last season. Let’s be honest – we are under pressure. A potential loss would see us in a Spurs position after just two games.

But we won’t lose, will we?

I was delighted that both Ranieri and LCFC won the title, it lifted the spirits as one of the nice guys and a humble team consistency overcame the odds. It was brilliant and no shame to finish second by a mere 10 points.

This season will  be different or will it. The same media morons who predicted the Foxes would collapse under the pressure of leading from the front are predicting them finishing mid-table. Why? It is the same team bar one MF who has been replaced. They are a bloody good side.

We both lost last w/e and both need to kickstart the season, Leicester will view this game as winnable. Our defensive frailties against Vardy and Mahrez (does anyone think we really tried to sign Mahrez? Really?) could once again cost us dear.

I rarely make a prediction because I invariably put a bok on the team – so I won’t today but I am hopeful. Why? Because Arsenal have fantastic players. The injury to Ramsey gives space for the little Spanish genius and as we are away Xhaka is likely to start. They make an excellent midfield. As you know, I am not a Coquelin fan and hope Elneny gets the DM role alongside Xhaka. That is one powerful midfield, full of attacking possibilities.

We scored three last weekend and the attack appeared potent. Theo’s goal will do his confidence wonders – he took it brilliantly as did the Ox.

And what of the elephant in the room, the centre of defence? Well …. they just have to do better. If players want to have a career at one of the top clubs in the world they HAVE to step up. No excuses. We need young players to develop into future stars, they get few opportunities and therefore must make the most of them. Chambers must improve and the experienced players around him HAVE to help. Monreal was rubbish for 20 minutes last w/e, so was Coquelin; they cost us the game. No point looking at an inexperienced 21 y.o to blame.

And what of Cech.? I like him but others have major concerns. I felt he should have saved at least one of Liverpool’s goals.

Sanchez is SO important. In the absence of the Pass Master Ozil, his quality is paramount to our success. He looked hungry last week but understandably  faded. If he hits 30 minutes of form this afternoon, we can win.


Kroenke and Wenger Out.

March 4, 2016

I have just read that Guardian article that basically says that Swansea exploited the frustration of the crowd and of course there is a picture of the little home made banner that read Kroenke and Wenger out.

wenger out

I don’t believe that the frustration of the crowd played any part of our loss whatsoever and one little banner does not represent the majority at all.

For me it was not frustration that Swansea exploited it was expectation. It is expected that Arsenal should win the league and has been that way for some time, this is the burden that Arsenal have been having trouble with which has lead to them, for example, rushing simple passes, leading to loss of possession which of course levels the playing field against lesser lights such as Swansea. By contrast an unburdened Arsenal starting eleven would always find their man with such passes and nine times out of ten go on to win the game.

Tottenham and Leicester have been able to avoid the burden of expectation for longer than they should have been allowed but look what happened the first time that it really became apparent that Tottenham could go top and push on to win the league, I never thought that I would find a Donald Trump comment apt but here we are — Chokers. (Just in case the use of the name Tottenham attract some of the knuckle draggers I will say it for you — Pots and Kettles)

To a similar extent the same thing happened to Leicester against West Brom. Claudio Ranieri has been doing a fine job of taking the pressure of winning the title off of them but it was creeping in as they started to find that doing the things they have been doing effortlessly all season started to get just a bit more difficult in their mid week clash. Man City have been suffering from the burden of exploitation for even longer than we have and by the looks of their thumping from Liverpool they still are doing so.

bergenUnfortunately, I do not share Rocky’s confidence as to the out come of Saturday’s North London Derby as I feel that Tottenham will be able to play without pressure again where as we will be playing with the equivalent expectation of a 50 kilo army bergen on our backs.

It goes without saying that I hope I am wrong.

COYRRG

Written by LB


The Run In.

February 16, 2016

It’s difficult but certainly not impossible, is it?

Leicester Home: Average League Position 12.71

Norwich 17
West Brom 14
Newcastle 18
SOUTHAMPTON 6
WEST HAM 7
Swansea 16
Everton 11

Leicester Away: 11.6

Watford 9
Crystal Palace 13
Sunderland 19
MAN UTD 5
CHELSEA 12

Tottenham Home: 9.83

Swansea 16
ARSENAL 3
Bournemouth 15
MAN UTD 5
West Brom 14
SOUTHAMPTON 6

Tottenham Away: 12.5

WEST HAM 7
Aston Villa 20
LIVERPOOL 8
STOKE 10
CHELSEA 12
Newcastle 18

Arsenal Home: 14.83

Swansea 16
West Brom 14
Watford 9
Crystal Palace 13
Norwich 17
Aston Villa 20

Arsenal Away: 8

MAN UTD 5
TOTTENHAM 2
EVERTON 11
WEST HAM 7
Sunderland 19
MAN CITY 4

Man City Home: 10.4

Aston Villa 20
MAN UTD 5
West Brom 14
Stoke 10
ARSENAL 3

Man City Away: 13.14

Newcastle 18
LIVERPOOL 8
Norwich 17
Bournemouth 15
CHELSEA 12
SOUTHAMPTON 6
Swansea 16

Here’s the remaining fixtures and the average positions. I’ve also highlighted what I would consider the tougher looking fixtures. Looking at the fixtures you can’t really write Leicester off. They have some very winnable games and they play once a week, so a lot of it is going to come down to how they react to today’s defeat. Spurs have probably the toughest run of fixtures and are still in EL and FA Cup, so it will be interesting to see the teams they put out in those. We have very good home fixtures but very tough away ones.

We should be looking to win 6/6 of our home matches and then if we can sneak a few away results we have a great chance. City have some tough fixtures too and are still in other comps, but they are not looking good at the moment and their home form is starting to drop which is not a good sign for them.

It’s going to be an interesting end to the season though and we are definitely in with a chance if we can keep a run going.

written by FatGingerGooner


A Fine Day’s Foxhunting

February 15, 2016

Well, that was something, wasn’t it?

It feels like a VERY long time since we’ve had an injury time winner at home in a game of real importance (no doubt someone will correct me in the comments, but hey ho – I’m talking about feelings, not facts).

We started the day five points behind Leicester City, which inevitably had us all reaching for that most common of clichés… it’s a Must Win Game.

But yesterday it really did feel like a MWG. Lose, and we would be eight points behind the leaders. Win and the gap would be just two.

Arsene recalled the BFG into central defence alongside Koscielny. Coquelin started in central midfield in place of Flamini and The Ox, perhaps as a reward for his goal against Bournemouth, got the starting berth on the right. The rest of the team was as expected.

The referee was Martin Atkinson, under whom we have not had the best of luck in recent fixtures.

We started very brightly, controlling possession and making several good chances. As early as the third minute we almost scored: Alexis leapt like a salmon on a trampoline to head just wide from a corner.

In the 10th minute we should have had a penalty. The ball was kicked into the Leicester penalty area. Kante, who had an otherwise excellent game for the Foxes, tried to block it with his midriff. The ball was going too far to his left so he leaned over and controlled it between body and arm. It was a blatant arm-to-ball movement and should have been given, but Atkinson was giving very little to Arsenal in the first half.

Giroud was leading the line manfully. He got through and scored but was fractionally offside; he should also have had a penalty when a Leicester defender tried to borrow his shirt during one of our attacks.

Leicester were content to soak up pressure and hit us on the break. They didn’t get many breakaways but when they did, it was definitely squeaky bum time.

In one attack Bellerin dozed off for a split second at the back post, Vardy got in behind him and forced a very good save out of Cech from a header.

In general, however, we were quite good at limiting chances to the visitors. For one thing it was obvious that Bellerin had been ordered to stay back for all our set pieces. With his lightning speed he was able to snuff out most of City’s counter attacks before they became dangerous.

Martin Atkinson’s first half stinker continued as he booked three Arsenal players for their first fouls, while letting Leicester get away with a lot of small offences including several off-the-ball blocks and trips.

And the ref topped off his abysmal efforts shortly before half time by allowing himself to be conned into awarding Vardy a penalty. The Leicester pace man had attacked into the left hand corner of our box. Monreal put a foot in, made no contact and then ostentatiously pulled out of the challenge. Vardy had other ideas. Having overhit the ball to his right, he turned left and crashed into Monreal.

vardy dive

It should have been a foul to Arsenal, but with Atkinson in this form there was little doubt what he would do.

Vardy took the pen – we went in 0-1 down at half time. The fact that there had been a colossally obvious foul on Ozil at the start of the Leicester move only compounded the sense of injustice.

But then something happened. I can only guess that Atkinson must have looked at some replays in the dressing room because he came out a chastened man. If he was all for Leicester in the first 45, he was suddenly all for Arsenal. Undoubtedly the crowd played their part in this too, having let Atkinson know exactly what they thought of his first 45.

Early in the second half Simpson was yellow carded for a not-too-serious foul. Then, 10 minutes into the half, the same player picked up a second yellow for tugging back Giroud. The second was definitely a yellow, but the two cards cumulatively and so close together seemed harsh. Not that I’m going to cry about it. We should have had a penalty for shirt tugging in the first half, so a red card for shirt tugging in the second was a form of poetic justice.

From then on the Foxes went to earth and it was just a question of whether Arsenal’s hounds could dig them out in time.

The manager immediately made a progressive substitution, replacing Coquelin with Walcott.

The big negative was that Koscielny had gone off at half time with a dead leg to be replaced by Chambers, which meant that our central defensive pairing was now Slow and Slower. Fortunately, with the visitors somewhat lacking in the personnel department, Vardy was forced to plough a lonely furrow and our CBs were not too threatened. In fact Chambers had an excellent half.

theo v leicester

At the other end it was a full on siege. We created numerous half chances but the breakthrough eventually came when, from a brilliant Giroud cushioned header, Walcott calmly finished to put us level. Still 20 minutes to go (plus stoppages). Could we do it?

The Arsenal onslaught continued. Ten man Leicester defended brilliantly at times, but we also made openings. One Giroud shot forced a stunning save from Schmeichel Junior.

The boss had brought on Danny Welbeck in the 84th – to a great reception from the crowd after such a long injury lay-off.

The 90 minutes ticked by. Every throw-in and goal kick for Leicester took an eternity. Surely it was too late?

But cometh the hour, cometh the returning hero.

A Leicester lump committed a stupid foul on Monreal outside the visitors’ area in the final minute of injury time. If you wanted one person in all the world to take a free kick in that situation, that person would be Mesut Ozil. And lo and behold, we happen to have Mesut Ozil.

Up he stepped, caressing the ball with a Valentine’s Day lover’s touch to send it whipping over the first couple of Leicester defenders straight onto the Holy Head of Welbz.

danny v leicester

Two-one to the Arsenal. The title race thrown wide open (again). The crowd went Radio Rental.

Is that 95th minute goal a turning point? Will it – and the players returning from injury – give us the boost we need to push on for the Title?

Don’t know, but I darn well hope so. It ain’t going to be easy. I don’t see Leicester slumping: they’ve gone too far and play too well in their preferred system. I think it will be between them, us and the noisy neighbours… meaning that our visit to the swamp on March 5th is beginning to take on epic proportions.

If yesterday was a Must Win Game, then March 5th is a MMMMMMMWG.

RockyLives

Ed ….. just drool over this once more ….. 🙂

http://arsenalist.com/f/2015-16/arsenal-vs-leicester/welbeck-goal-with-commentary-from-different-languages.html