Arsenal’s most important player this season is _______?

January 10, 2019

This question was posed on twitter by @ltarsenal and some of the replies were quite surprising, so why not have a crack at it on here while we wait for the weekend?

Runners and Riders (in no particular order)

Rob Holding

Many were surprised when Calum C went out on loan before the season started and a certain lad we bought from Bolton for a £2m was chosen to stay and develop at his home club.  His play this season has been a revelation. Cool, composed, able to bring the ball forward and with an eye for a pass, too. Some might say our defence looking decidely ropey has coincided with his absence.

Lucas Torreira

Eased in slowly frustrating Arsenal fans at the start of the season, Lucas began by making top notch contributions from the bench before getting his starting berth. Perhaps, if LBG is correct and he’s been moved further forward in Unai’s recent formations, his effectiveness has been slightly lessened when not sat right in front of the back four receiving and destroying.

Alex Lacazette

Many replies on twitter mentioned Laca. He is a fans’ favourite and certainly brings an aggressiveness and work rate which often seem responsible for lifting the whole shooting match. Less goals than Auba from perhaps more chances but he’s often won back possession from his feisty closing down (and given away a few free kicks into the bargain!).

Granit Xhaka

To some, Granit’s inclusion in this list would be the biggest shock but he does seem Unai’s first name on the teamsheet in many respects. When we are playing well, he does seem the centre of the well-oiled machine. Countless accurate passes and an ability to switch play others lack. Detractors would say ‘yes, but how many of those passes actually achieve anything’.  Then again, all teams require water carriers, ask Gilberto.

Hector Bellerin

When he’s missing from the team, you do start to realise how important he is on the right side. Still not the finest defender in the world but such a talent on the ball. Arsenal’s right flank without the Catwalk king and, to a lesser extent Micki, has been a little lacking in punch, drive and creativity.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang

Goals from nowhere, some have suggested we’d be floating just below mid-table without Auba’s 14 goals. His strike record in October/November was simply stunning, scoring from virtually all of his shots on target. A fair few of his goals have come when he’s made an entrance off the bench. Some point out his lack of fire, Laca style, but maybe that isn’t the quality he was bought for.

I’m not sure if anyone else should be regarded as a contender.

What do you think? Could you make a case for someone not listed above.

Mesut anyone?

chas

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December starts well! – Unai pops his NLD cherry – Arsenal v spuds Player Ratings

December 3, 2018

Everything you want to happen in an NLD does happen – Christmas has come early.

Hark the Herald Arsenal Sing, Glory to our new born King.

Ratings

Leno – several decent saves from Son and Kane to counterbalance his near post calamity for the spuds equaliser… 8

Bellerin – quality throughout – his one small misdemeanour we can forgive – Hector knows what an NLD is all about … 8

Sokratis – Solid, indefatigable, rock-like, showed some pace tracking Kane … 8

Mustafi – demonstrated that he has got something to contribute – warrior-like for a derby which is exactly what’s required … 8

Holding – felt sorry for him – all that bollix about him lunging in for the pen, he was trying to block a potential shot, not making any kind of tackle – it was a dive pure and simple – Mike Dean hang your head in shame – Rob looked good in possession … 8

Kolasinac – stood like a fat sack of potatoes for the spud first goal, playing 3 players onside, but his cut backs were a feature of his play in the Bundesliga and playing in a back five relieves pressure on his defensive shortcomings … 8

Torreira – what a magnificent purchase – sets the tone of Arsenal’s performance with his energy, enthusiasm and will to win. Brings ‘La Garra Charrua’ to Islington. A glorious first goal, too … 9

Xhaka – Granit plays as if the captaincy really means something to him – love his left foot – crossfield balls opened up the spuds in the first half … 8

Mkhitaryan – gave it his all in the first half – sometimes appears a luxury player – perhaps not the blood and guts player for a derby but full of rich quality … 7

Iwobi – looked dangerous – but rightly sacrificed for the second period … 7

Aubameyang – that second goal was so pivotal to the outcome of the match – Lloris didn’t have time to move – a real peach – two goals, great celebrations, back to smiling his tits off … 9

Subs

Ramsey – Aaron is really contributing even with his contract disputes – two assists made a big difference to the game’s outcome … 8

Lacazette – the way he skimmed the ball in of Dier’s shin was magnificent … 8

Guendouzi – he loves Arsenal – I love Guendouzi … 8

Other ratings

Unai Emery – masterful half time subs – what a way to pop your NLD cherry … 10

Mike Dean – awful, egocentric performance – thank Dennis it didn’t cost us in the end … -2

chas


Arsenal’s Interlull – Who’s involved and when?

November 13, 2018

It’s getting more difficult to find words to describe how horrendously tedious these regular international breaks actually are.

There will be 9 games for Arsenal in December – just imagine how much easier December could be if we dropped two of the international breaks, enabling fixtures to be more evenly spread. Injuries will inevitably mount as fatigue sets in. Clubs with the biggest squads and those teams which contain less international players will benefit.

Pros for the November break

Aside from Mesut still giving Die Mannschaft the finger, Terrier won’t have to travel halfway around the world this time around as he’s playing at the home of North London’s finest Club on Friday and then in Paris.

Cons (not A.M-N)

Two manc players have withdrawn from the French squad, so Laca has been called up.

Micki is playing away with Armenia, which means less travelling as the games are in Gibraltar and Liechtenstein

There are another 256 cons but I can’t be bothered to list them.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

Mikhi – Armenia

Friday 16th Nov Gibraltar (A) Uefa Nations League (UNL)

Monday 19th Nov Liechtenstein (A) UNL

 

Auba – Gabon

Saturday 17th Nov Mali (H) AFCON

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Terrier – Uruguay

Friday 16th Nov Brazil (Emirates Stadium) Friendly

Tuesday 20th Nov France (A) Friendly

 

Granit – Switzerland

Wednesday 14th Nov – Qatar (H) Friendly attempting to pretend Qatar are part of football

Sunday 18th Nov Belgium (H) UNL

 

Wobbly – Nigeria

Saturday 17th Nov South Africa (A) AFCON

Tuesday 20 Nov Uganda (H) Friendly

 

Big Sok – Greece

Thursday 15th Nov – Finland (H) UNL

Sunday 18th Nov – Estonia (H) UNL

Rambo – Wales

Friday 16th Nov – Denmark (H) UNL

Tuesday 20th Nov – Albania (A) Friendly

 

Mo Elneny

Friday 16th Nov – Tunisia (H) AFCON

Tuesday 20th Nov – United Arab Emirates (A) Friendly

 

Bernd Leno

Thursday 15th Nov – Russia (H) Friendly

Monday 19th Nov – Netherlands (H) UNL

Getty Images

Bournemouth away will be our first fixture when we get back to proper football on November 25th, hopefully with no more casualties.

Apologies for any inaccuracies/omissions.

chas


Wow, that was a hell of a half time talk! – Leicester ratings

October 23, 2018

We were so poor in the first 30 minutes I was starting to wonder why I’d made the trip down from Notts. By the end of the second half I was ecstatic and delighted to clap my team off the pitch.

Occasionally under Arsene it seemed as though a half time doobie had been partaken of, because of the sluggish way we came out for the second period. Under Unai it’s the complete opposite. (Mind you, Mesut’s deliberate cannon off the post just before half time must have given the boys a shot in the arm, as well.) 🙂

Leicester looked a yard faster and fillet steak with pepper sauce hungrier at the start of the game. Arsenal’s front 4 may as well not have been on the pitch. All of the micro-management directions on how to play Leicester either hadn’t been given or were completely ignored. Free kicks were given away in the final third (partly down to an appalling display from the ref), possession was conceded in our own half playing to their counter-attacking strengths and a lethargic work rate all contributed to the feeling that it was only a matter of time.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Bernd made a superb save from the unicorn rider before being finally beaten by a spawny deflection. One nil down and fully deserved. Finally we woke up and seemed to realise that another gear would have to be found. Wobbly cracked in a fine drive after good build up play which turned out to be the aubergine mezes before the superb Mesut inspired lamb tagine. Micki getting dragged over just as Hector returned Ozil’s pass seemed to distract the blue defence and our Mesut’s guiding of the ball sidefooted off the cushion has never been executed by Ronnie O’Sullivan with greater aplomb. Back in it right on the stroke of half time. Perfect.

The second half could not have been more different to the first. Leicester went from looking threatening to looking terrified with a red tsunami bearing down upon the North Bank goal.

Iwobi suddenly began to live up to his recent rave reviews. Mesut’s speed of thought overtook and then completely buried Leicester’s willingness to run their arses off. The substitutions were just sublime – like attaching a jet engine to a Golf GTI.

Goals two and three were just magical. As Micky said, words are a bit pointless. Rat tat tat, bish bash bosh. Mesut’s pass to Hector for the second, Terrier’s driven pass forward, Mesut’s dummy before Laca’s perfect lay off back for number three were all gems in the middle of such lush gorgeousness. Glorious team play a certain Frenchman would have been purring over. Just perfect. You could see in the celebrations of the players how much they realised they’d created a nigh on perfect team goal. We might have a few contenders in goal of the season at this rate.

Ratings (mostly second half apart from the keeper, but who cares?)

Leno – some excellent saves and many touches on the ground without ever looking too much in trouble…8

Hector – absolutely superb in the second half – two assists…8

Mustafi – pretty damn fine, especially with some intelligent covering in the second half…8

Holding – mature and accomplished – who’s Calum?…8

Lichtsteiner – out of position on the left and it showed…6

Torreira – like the central cog of a timepiece we’ve been missing for so long. Thank Dennis the nasty challenge from Albrighton didn’t cause more damage…9

Xhaka – was better at left back than Stephan…8

Ozil – a goal, an assist and a pre-assist – damaging the opposition where it hurts, what a feckin player…10

Mkhitaryan – seemed a little tired from his trip to Armenia but still contributed…7

Iwobi – looked class in the second half, protecting the ball in possession and always looking for a dangerous pass…8

Laca – appeared somewhat miffed when Auba emerged from the bench for two tap-ins and then proceeded to fluff two glorious chances of his own. His work rate was magnificent throughout and his contribution to the win not to be underestimated…8

Subs

Auba – everything went up a notch when he came on – the sexy half hour was a joy to watch…9

Guendouzi – showed his full range of passing in his half hour on the pitch. Instrumental in the shift up to warp factor ten…9

Rambo – seemed to revel in his small part of the Harlem Globetrotters half hour…8

chas


Internationals – when and where do Arsenal players feature?

October 10, 2018

So interlull dullness hits us like a big wet sock just as the season was beginning to look so bright after such magnificent goals at the Cottage.

I’ve learnt a few things looking into these fixtures…………..

Auba, Wobbly and Mo Elneny are involved in home and away fixtures against South Sudan, Libya and Eswatini respectively in the AFCON qualifiers. Seems sensible.

South Sudan is, well, south of the much larger Sudan.

Eswatini is the new name for Swaziland.

Stephan Lichtsteiner will not be called up by the Swiss under a pre-arranged agreement to give the old fella a breather.

Mkhitaryan has long flights to and from Armenia since we now know it’s alongside Azerbaijan.

Terrier has even longer flights buzzing around with Uruguay in the Far East. He’ll feel at home height-wise out there anyway!

Mikhi – Armenia

13th Oct Gibraltar (H) Uefa Nations League (UNL)

16th Oct FYR Macedonia (H) UNL

 

Auba – Gabon

12th Oct South Sudan (H) AFCON

16th Oct South Sudan (A) AFCON

 

Terrier – Uruguay (only five foot five)

12th Oct S. Korea (A) Friendly

16th Oct Japan (A) Friendly

 

Granit – Switzerland

12th Oct – Belgium (A) UNL

15th Oct Iceland (A) UNL

 

Wobbly – Nigeria

12th Oct Libya (A) AFCON

15th Oct Libya (H) AFCON

Sticking it to Bamidele

 

Big Sok – Greece

12th Oct – Hungary (H) UNL

15th Oct – Finaland (A) UNL

 

Rambo – Wales (impending arrivals permitting)

11 Oct – Spain (H) Friendly

16 Oct – Ireland (A) UNL

 

Welbz – England

12th Oct – Croatia (A) UNL

15th Oct – Spain (A) UNL

 

Mo Elneny

12th Oct Eswatini (H) AFCON

16th Oct Eswatini (A) AFCON

 

Hot off the press……..

Bernd Leno has been called up by Germany.

13th Oct – Holland (A) UNL

16th Oct – France (A) UNL

 

Let’s say a prayer to Dennis that all the boys come through unscathed.

chas


Arsenal’s Balancing Act

October 3, 2018

Many things in life are cyclical, and as Arsenal are life, I went looking for some cycles (calm down LB  🙂 )

courtesy Getty Images

Cycles are recurring patterns, and while the most important pattern is the recent winning run, there are deeper more subtle ones. Like the fact that we perform better after oranges.

I’m getting bored of repeating the same old mantra during the first half. That being, our play is lopsided. Towards the left. A couple of tweaks usually take place at the break, as we saw against Watford when Auba came out on the right, however it’s not until the substitutions that balance is fully restored.

Both goals on Saturday came from the right, and both substitutes (Danny and Alex) played parts.

Now I don’t want to labour the Ramsey imbalance thing as I’ve been doing it for years, but, whether Mesut is shunted out right, or on occasion Ramsey, the result is the same. Both drift central, pushing the one who should be central further over to the left resulting in the aforementioned left side congestion and imbalance.

The obvious question is whether this is part of some clever containment strategy, to somehow drain the opposition of the will to live before thumping them with fresh, fast feet to wallop their left flank late on.

I don’t think it is, and it is time we set off from the whistle with this issue addressed. We are winning, but it’s only just, and we need these next fixtures to settle team selection and strategy that sorts this out. The last gasp winning is fun but it will come a cropper as we’re leaving the opposition with way too much hope for way too long. 2-0 by half time is the goal, not at 80 minutes.

Inevitably this leads to questions about selection and formations.

However good Watford were, and I was impressed, we gave them far too many good chances. I know, heck we all know, the central defensive pairing still wobbles, but it will get sorted out I’m sure, and we know Unai will stick with four at the back

Ahead, I think we can now all agree Torreira starts. This now becomes an exercise in filling in the blanks. Before discussing the midfield, I will base my suggestions around my belief that Auba and Laca need to play closer together and that Mesut needs to provide the ammo from just behind. Bingo, the answer therefore has to be a midfield three (3-5-2 can achieve the same thing at the sharp end, but I feel we would have seen Unai play this card at some point by now).

Sooo, in short, with the front three, and Torreira, Unai can alter both his offensive/defensive strategy as well as addressing the right/left balance issue, through the selection of the players either side of Torreira, and he has some great options:

Stay solid: Xhaka and Guendouzi

5-0 by half time: Mhki and Iwobi

Their jobs are to connect midfield to attack, create width on occasion while assisting Lucas in his defensive duties. Both must possess speed as will have to cover back when the wingfenders make their forward surges.

Funnily enough, one of the players richest in all these attributes is Maitland-Niles.

mickydidit89


Let’s get stuck into the Toffees

September 23, 2018

First off a tribute to Everton’s Dixie Dean the holder of the all time English top flight scoring record.

Dixie Dean’s Record 60 League Goals in 1927/28

When George Camsell scored 59 Football League goals for Middlesbrough in 1926/27 he must have believed that his record would last for years. It lasted just one season being bettered by William Ralph Dean – Dixie Dean. Not that it was easy, with two matches remaining he needed seven goals to beat the record. Four of them came against Burnley in the penultimate match and on Saturday 5th May 1927, 48,715 Everton fans were at Goodison to welcome the newly-crowned League champions and to see Dean get a hat-trick to take the record from Camsell. Arsenal opened the scoring after two minutes – Dean equalised a minute later. In the 6th minute Dean was fouled in the box and converted the penalty. The record equalled and plenty of time to beat it but it wasn’t until 8 minutes from the end when Alec Troup sent in a corner for Dean to head home the record-breaking 60th goal. (It should be noted that this was achieved in a 42 game season)

Dixie Dean remained at Goodison until the 1937/38 season having scored an amazing 349 goals in 399 League appearances. He died on 1st March 1980 at Goodison while attending Everton’s match against Liverpool.

Here are some more memorable moments in our games against Everton.

Everton 2-1 Arsenal – 19th October 2002

Rooney’s first league goal was certainly one to remember. The spectacular long-range strike ended Arsenal’s 30-game unbeaten run in the league and confirmed the 16-year-old was one for the future.

Arsenal 4-0 Everton – 3rd May 1998

The Gunners picked up their first Premier League trophy after demolishing Everton with two games to spare. A Slaven Bilic own goal got the ball rolling for Arsenal, and after a Marc Overmars double, captain Adams smashed home the fourth in emphatic style. The game and league title was already secured when Adams raced forward in the 89th minute, but it was a seminal moment for the club captain in front of the Highbury faithful.

Arsenal 1-2 Everton – 20th Jan 1996

Everton’s first and only Premier League win at Arsenal came more than 22 years ago. Ian Wright had set the Gunners on their way to victory, but Graham Stuart levelled matters before Andrei Kanchelskis netted an 83rd-minute winner.

Arsenal 7-0 Everton – 11th May 2005

Dennis Bergkamp put on a magical display as the Gunners demolished Everton. The Dutchman assisted the first two for Robert Pires and Robin van Persie, while he got on the scoresheet himself with Arsenal’s sixth. It remains their biggest Premier League victory to date, having matched that scoreline one year later against Middlesbrough.

Arsenal 1-0 Everton – 10th December 2011

Van Persie is no stranger to scoring spectacular volleys. Efforts against Charlton Athletic, Liverpool and Aston Villa (the latter for Man Utd) come to mind, while this first-time strike against the Toffees sealed all three points for the Gunners following Alex Song’s delightful ball over the top.

Arsenal 4-1 – 21st April 2001

One of the more bizarre moments in the Premier League’s history occurred when an angry Everton fan ran onto the Highbury pitch and offered his shirt in exchange for Alex Nyarko’s royal blue jersey. Nyarko asked to be substituted immediately and went on to quit football, though the midfielder reversed his decision a few days later and joined Monaco on loan.

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

Everton are one of only 6 clubs who have remained in the Premier League since its inception in 1992/93 – the others being Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham.

After losing our opening 2 games of the season we have now won 4 on the trot, 3 EPL and 1 Europa League. Overall we scored an average of 2.33 goals per game, however our defence still leaves a lot to be desired as we have not kept a clean sheet this season and our goals against average is a poor 1.83.

Our EPL home record against Everton is very positive; in fact (without checking) it may be our best against any EPL club. Only staunch Everton supporters would put money on Arsenal getting anything other than 3 points on Sunday.

Team News

It would appear that Lucas Torreira and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are both doubts for the match.

Possible team

Written by GunnerN5