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

 

 


Arsenal have five days to hate Leicester

February 9, 2016

I am so pleased the current Arsenal side has so many overseas players, and here’s why. The English like an underdog, and that is a real weakness. Fair Play, good manners, the rule of law, honour, glorious defeat and so on. Not great characteristics to ingrain deep within a sporting institution, other than, in England, that’s precisely what Sport means.

However, look around the globe, and you’ll see the word Sport has an entirely different meaning.

Americans like Winners, Latin Nations like, approve, and have developed an honourable art out of Cheating, East and Bribery, Over There performance enhancing drugs and so on. Yet here we English are stuck back in the Victorian era where it’s still it’s all “No, after you”. That was all fine back in the day when losing was ok, because we knew deep down we could have them shot later.

So, back to this weekend and Leicester. Are we ready?

Arsenal, more than any other Club, epitomize this national characteristic trait, and we have to snap out of it, and prontissimo, or we’re in for a very nasty shock. In short, we need to get nasty and develop some serious attitude issues, and we have five days to do it.

Over this short five day period, each and every Arsenal player needs to develop a deep and meaningful grudge, and it’s really hard to know where to start. They will simply not “get” how annoying Gary Lineker is, because that’s down to context. You see, had this been almost any other Minnow sitting top, the job of hating would have been made a whole lot easier, but I’m really struggling with Leicester City.

Our Boys aren’t the best at being motivated on any day, and the five we stuck past them earlier won’t help either as the old chestnut complacency could have crept past front door security.

If I was Ranieri, I’d be posting scented candles to our boys, birthday cards, Facebook Requests, free tanning sessions and so on. Really soften us up.

If I was Wenger, I don’t know what I’d do.

Written by MickyDidIt89


Gunners overcome the Foxes in the night!

February 11, 2015

A tense Premier League encounter between Arsenal and the basement team ended with Arsenal taking a valuable 3 points and propel them into the dizzy heights of 4th place.

Much of the pre-match talk revolved around how the Gunners would respond following a damaging defeat to bitter North London Rivals Spurs.

Staying at the in laws in Wembley for a few days meant I could make a comfortable journey to N5 and absorb some of that pre-match atmosphere with the Arsenal faithful still smarting following the derby day debacle 3 days earlier. After demolishing a delightful kebab in one of the many fabulous Turkish restaurants on Holloway Road, the walk to Ashburton Grove gave an opportunity to hear what the fans had to say as the crowds gathered. Fans were buoyed by the news that talisman Alexis Sanchez was in the starting line up along with Theo Walcott who was only a substitute on Saturday.

Sat 4 rows from the front the fans took to their seats as the teams came out looking to secure a vital result for different reasons. The game got underway and early on, an adventurous Hector Bellerin was making marauding runs down the right flank which was promising but later would leave gaps behind for Leicester to try and exploit. Then the first chance of note in the 13th minute.

As Bellerin was thrusting forward, the Foxes found space and Riyad Mahrez shot just wide much to the relief of the Arsenal supporters. Although the warning signs were evident some fans were more involved in a conversation about the new Sky deal to continue showing live coverage of Premier League matches than keeping their eyes on the action in front of them.

The Gunners then responded with a chance of their own on 16 minutes which should have rippled the Leicester net. A rejuvenated Mesut Ozil found Theo Walcott but he only found the palm of Mark Schwarzer’s hand when one on one with the time wasting Australian. Such was the goalkeepers time wasting the Arsenal supporters were howling at referee Mike Jones to brandish a yellow card some using very colourful language amusing some of the younger fans in the crowd.

Arsenal’s record signing then combined with another fan favourite, Thomas Rosicky, playing a delightful one-two and then the German forced yet another save from the Foxes keeper. It felt it was only a matter of time before the Arsenal would make an opportunity count and supporters in the stands could sense their team were beginning to turn the screw. Ozil had another attempt and then from the corner came the breakthrough.

Ozil swung the corner into the Leicester box and there was Laurent Koscielny to add the finishing touch and put the Gunners into the lead which their play merited. As the Gunners scored the opening goal, many Arsenal fans really believed the floodgates would now open and that there would be a goal glut.

They were mistaken and such predictions were wide of the mark much like Leicester’s shooting on the night. Left back Paul Koncheskey found acres of space in behind Bellerin and played a low and dangerous cross but Captain Per Mertesacker was on hand to stretch one of those long legs so the ball did not reach the Leicester player looking to capitalise. It was at this point where there was growing concern amongst fans about young Hector Bellerin’s performance as Leicester were finding a lot of joy on his side.

Some fans even used this opportunity to reflect on the Spaniard’s flaws in the North London derby earlier which was very harsh to say the least given the youngster’s fine displays this season. Leicester man Mahrez had another decent effort which missed Ospina’s goal by a fraction but then a rasping shot by Ozil was too hot to handle for veteran keeper Schwarzer and Theo Walcott was on hand to rifle the rebound. That was his third goal in 4 games.

During the opening minutes of the second half, the fans were fuming that Mike Jones did not award the home team a penalty after a pass from Alexis struck a Leicester defender on the hand and the countless fouls being committed. By now the fans were venting their fury at the officials which chants of “you don’t know what your doing”.

Leicester were then given a lifeline on 61 minutes as Arsenal failed to clear their lines from a corner and Kramaric drilled the ball into the net to send the Leicester fans into raptures. The homes fans were now sitting on the edge of their seats and voicing their frustrations at the team. Santi Cazorla tried to restore the 2 goal cushion with an angled shot which the keeper parried away. In the other end that man Mahrez curling effort went agonisingly wide much to the relief of the home support.

The fans then turned their anger and frustration on Olivier Giroud, some repeatedly swearing at him, demanding more movement from him after Mesut Ozil played a delightful low cross which was begging for a predator to be on the end of it. Again this seemed very harsh on the player by the fans but may have been as a result of Arsenal’s below par second half performance. The Frenchman’s night was compounded with an undeserved booking as he turned his back and Schwarzer kicked the ball against him which the incompetent Mike Jones deemed as obstruction. This tipped the Arsenal fans over the edge as some hurled constant abuse at the referee whose performance must be assessed given the glaring mistakes he made.

The game then became scrappy as yellow cards were issued and substitute Aaron Ramsey limping off, a cause for more concern, but Arsenal held on to secure a crucial win in the battle to finish in the top 4. The fans were also cheering a late Liverpool winner which condemned Spurs to defeat. So despite the derby day debacle, normal order has been restored with Spurs being in their rightful place. Below Arsenal and forever in our shadow.

UTA! Written by @SirAHussain14image (2) image-1 (2) image-3 image-5 image-4


A disappointing 3 points …. an orchestra with 3 conductors

February 11, 2015

Before ….

I had a drink with 6 of the finest, most wholehearted Arsenal supporters you could hope to meet before arriving at The Emirates. Several had travelled great distance to attend the game. The good natured banter and camaraderie of kindred spirits is one of the great joys of being an Arsenal Supporter.

The game …..

After a disappointing performance in the NLD, we had high hopes that the team would bounce back and show its class. I will admit to being surprised at the team selection with Giroud and Welbeck consigned to the bench and a midfield 3 of Cazorla, Ozil and Rosicky.

The first half was a cautious affair with little quality on show from either side except for the finishes for the 2 goals which comprised an excellent striker’s finish from Koscielny from a corner and a trademark, reflex, low into the corner goal from Theo (how often do you see him blaze it over the bar?)

So at 2 goals up and the game seemingly secure, most were wondering how many we could add in the second half. Immediately it became obvious that the team had lapsed into that weird alternative Arsenal characterised by low energy, lack of penetration, pass it sideways rather than forward jaundiced football.

Leicester played with fight, pace on the counter and width. They looked determined and dangerous and were rewarded with a deserved goal after some typically poor defending by Arsenal. We could all see it coming. Would the team respond and up the tempo? ….. No. We held on for the rest of the game. Ospina once again made a couple of key saves that saved us points but all in all this was a tepid performance. The overwhelming feeling at the final whistle was relief, not joy at gaining 3 points.

Why …..

Before the game, GoonerB had been banging on about how we could not play 3 of our 5 or 6 attacking midfielders together at any one time. He argued that we needed pace and width and runners. The longer the game went on, the more I could see he had hit the nail on the head. I lost count of how many times one of our midfield 3 came out of defence with the ball only to stop once in the opponents half and pass backwards or sideways. Result … moment lost, opportunity wasted, the oppositions defence assembled to keep us out of the danger area.

The best team seldom comprises the best 11 players. If we call the attacking midfielders playmakers (last night that was Rosicky, Ozil and Cazorla) it becomes more obvious why we lose attacking edge. No orchestra plays to 3 conductors – that just causes confusion and yet we field 3 players all trying to do the same job and operate in the same area. This compresses our play in the centre of the pitch and means we are short of bodies and options when it comes to an attacking pass. We must hold the record for the number of times the ball is passed 5 yards and then straight back again.

GoonerB said before the game that he’d rather see players like The Ox, Welbeck or even Akpom who are direct and have pace, but more importantly make runs for a playmaker to exploit.

It’s been said before, we have too many identikit players trying to play in the same area. I thought Coquelin was our best player. He reminded me of Sol when he came back, trying to rouse those around him seemingly unable to understand why there was so little fight in them. You could see his frustration growing in the second half to the point where it was he (our DM) who was actually driving play forward.

What’s to do? ….

Arsene Wenger obviously doesn’t see it this way. He repeatedly puts out teams that lack balance and his options are restricted due to the type of player he signs and the inevitable injuries. Ozil was poor last night. Despite declaring that he had come back stronger, he was knocked off the ball too easily because he was looking for a pass, but the lack of runners meant he ended up in blind alleys. I love his talent and ability but in our current set up he is just not cutting the mustard.

Nothing will change whilst Arsene is manager …. so there’s nothing we can do.

Hats off to Leicester. They’d never complain after getting 3 points. I can and do complain, the guys I met before the game deserve better than this.  We have consistently underperformed. Our team is less than the sum of its parts and that is the opposite of what we should expect.

Rasp


Arsenal to play “…and Leicester”

February 10, 2015

Apologies to regular readers of this site, but our usual PM’er is a Hippy and today is incapable of doing his duty because he’s semi conscious on a remote Island off Sweden.

It will be brief for a number of reasons, one being that for the first time in my life, I don’t know what I’m talking about. We are playing Leicester tonight, and I’ve never heard of them other from the words of The North Bank Special number “We all follow The Arsenal” that ends “…..and Leicester”

Also, as I’ve never heard of any of their players, it will be a walk over, so should be an enjoyable evening for Gunners everywhere.

Happily the three points will come in very handy, because it’s getting a bit tense at the top of the table, although if other results go our way, we could end up third this evening assuming we score enough.

That brings me nicely on to exactly that, scoring goals. I don’t care who starts in goal, or who plays in defence. I’ve no idea how our injured superstars Sanchez and The Ox are feeling today, but either would bring welcome skill, thrust and entertainment to the side.

I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful, but I’ve been dragged off the subs bench at the last minute to get something written, and I expect a torrent of abuse towards The Hippy when he bothers to return.

What I do know about Leicester is that somewhere around there is the home of Pork Pies. Those I like.

mickydidit89


………. and Leicester

August 31, 2014

For those who are new to the Emirates or do not go to games the “and Leicester” refers to a terrace chant sung to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory

“We all follow the Arsenal,

Over land and sea ….. and Leicester

We all follow the Arsenal

onnnn tooooo vic-to-ry.”

Why Leicester? Well, in the old days Filbert Street was an awful experience on a wet Wednesday evening; muddy pitch, poor facilities at the ground and very physical opposition. The club moved to the Walkers stadium in 2002 which has been re-named the King Power stadium and this is Arsenal’s first visit to the King Power (as far as I can find out!)

Until a few years ago I liked Leicester. Decent club, well run, loyal and vocal fans  – then they signed Robbie Savage.

I have a mental top ten of the first people to be executed when the world finally sees sense and makes me World President. Savage has always been up there – not at the top, but always there or thereabouts.

Perhaps my affection for Leicester stems from my admiration for one of their stalwarts who became an Arsenal legend …. Mr Frank Mclintock who captained  LCFC to two losing FA Cup Finals before coming to Highbury and captaining our ’70/71 Double team.

Leicester had a fantastic season in 2013/14. Winners of the Championship with 102 points! The season could hardly have gone better but now they have to find out if they can survive with the Big Boys. What do you think? They haven’t spent big just adding experience to the squad and relying upon the abilities of the team which brought them promotion.

Unknown-1

I like the Schmeichel son. He may be a smaller version of his brilliant father but he is nonetheless an excellent keeper whose career path is interesting. I wish him well but hope he has a stinker today. We also have a chance to see another old boy in Matthew Upson (injury permitting). There were high hopes for him when he signed for AFC in 1997 (£2m at a time when a million was big money), he struggled and was sent out on loan until finally settling at B’ham and then West Ham. Given Upson is now 35 y.o. we must hope he plays 😃

The Arsenal:  A result today would see us go into the 2 week International break (FFS!) unbeaten. which for a team that has hardly got going is excellent.  It would be churlish to say we are not playing well as qualification for the CL, a home PL victory and a draw away at Everton is a very positive return, but let’s be honest, we have not exactly performed to the heights we know this team can achieve.

I see the problem like many others. How does Mr Wenger want this team to play? I love to see technical players passing intricately all over the pitch but sometimes I would like to see a player put his foot through the ball. Only Flamini seems capable of doing so and for that reason I am hoping to see Podolski’s name on the team sheet. To be fair, the Ox is also a man who can get “physical” with the ball.

Why? Because when going to the Midlands it is important to have “thrust” and we have been lacking in this department so far this season. Giroud sometimes gives us a bit of power and his loss could prove costly, we must hope Mr Wenger has a contingency plan (could be a forlorn hope).  Artistry is all well and good but it must lead to goals.

We have conceded three in 4 games – the defence looks solid., still a little suspect at set pieces but otherwise OK. The return of our CB pairing brings more security as Chambers, good as he is, is not at the level of Koscielny.

My Team:

31st august 14

Now this may be heresy but  when Ramsey is playing I would rather see Ox or Podolski than Cazorla. Santi may well be a wonderful player but especially away from home I would like to see us play a stronger left sided player who is less likely to venture inside. Let Santi come on as sub and provide the type of pass he gave Ramsey last saturday. Podolski adds some strength to a small side and he scores, something we need to do more of.

Big Raddy is going to try and find foods from the region of our away games, so let us start with the humble Pork Pie. Leicester is the birthplace of the pork pie and Melton Mowbray is the zenith of art of pork pie manufacture. Apparently there are 15 Indian food manufacturers in Leicester and  I could easily have chosen Red Leicester or Stilton cheese but there is something about the pork pie and the artisans of Leicester City F.C. It just fits.

Unknown

If I am honest I will be disappointed should we not get at least a point today but yesterday’s results show that nothing can be taken for granted. This much I know – Leicester would be cock-a-hoop should they beat us.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy