March 9, 2017

Once upon a time on AA we had Rant Friday, well today is Rant Thursday.

Last night’s game at Camp Nou may have been exciting and the denouement exceptional but what about the rest of it? And what of our game the night before? My focus here is on Respect.

The cheating exhibited by Suarez, Lewandowski etc is a disgrace. It shows no respect for the referee, the opposition and much more importantly, the game. These people benefit from deceit. Their prime purpose is to gain benefit and kudos by blatant diving. Cavani got shown a yellow card  for waving an imaginary card (fully justified), yet Suarez who spent most of the evening diving and feigning injury picked up just one card when he should have been sent off at least twice.

It is wrong and could be so easily remedied. Post game analysis (of which there are endless re-runs) allows the authorities to retrospectively ban players. They have too do so if the game has any merit or morality.

FIFA and the FA show little respect for the spirit of the game. Tuesday night saw a referee completely out of his depth. His sending off of Koscielny , the penalty thus rewarding Lewandowski’s blatant cheating  clearly affected the game. So too did hthe referee’s rebuttal of our penalty claim when Theo was felled. It could so easily been sorted out  by the 4th official using video technology. It works ion almost every other sport and in both cricket and rugby adds to the entertainment. Why not football? The argument that it cannot be used at grass roots level is quite frankly ludicrous.

In the absence of true heroes current society makes heroes of sportsmen; they have to be role models and with that comes responsibility. That players are rewarded for cheating has a knock-on effect. Why be honest when deception pays?

The current authorities have to start to bring morality and honesty back to the game we love. There are simple solutions, I could do it and so could you, so why can’t they?

What happened to Fair Play?

Rant Over (for now)

written by Big Raddy


Should only nice guys play for The Arsenal?

June 16, 2015

If recent reports are to be believed, it seems increasingly likely that Petr Cech will sign for Arsenal.

My first thoughts were … good keeper, nice guy, yes I’d be more than happy to see him at The Arsenal.

Most of the Chelsea players are tainted in my eyes, infected by the retro Mourinho virus that manifests itself in a cynical brand of pragmatic football, but whenever I’ve heard Cech speak in interviews he’s always come across as a good guy.

Good guys bring harmony to the dressing room and that can only be a good thing. I get the impression that we currently have a happy squad that enjoys not only playing together but also being together … and hopefully winning together.

So the question is, should personality be taken into consideration when signing new players?

Suarez is an interesting case. Great footballer, not a nice guy. We failed to sign him but got Alexis – great footballer, nice guy. I’d take Alexis every day of the week.


Arsenal Have Max’d Out With Giroud

April 2, 2014

I think it is incredible just how much we have been able to achieve this season with a striker like Giroud.

1I remember describing him as a French Andy Carroll without a pony tail: good in the air, slow on the ground and a poor first touch, then Carroll got the pony tail cut off…..hmmmmmm.

Ok perhaps a bit cruel especially when you consider that there is a genuine difference (sic) in the fact that Carroll is always injured and Giroud looks like he is going to go the whole season without a major injury.

I think it is this fact above all that has allowed us to punch above our weight in the striker department this season, although, to be a tad more fair to Giroud he has used his limited talents very well.

But there is an obvious difference between us and Liverpool, the team that is looking most likely to win the league, which is that Brenda purposely got rid of Andy Carroll ensuring that they couldn’t play the long ball game with all its limiting consequences that we are so often shackled to; the sale forced them to use the quick passing interplay that their present forwards do so well.

This is not a subtle dig at Wenger; I am convinced that he, above all, would have liked to have changed things, best demonstrated by the attempt to buy Suarez. And on that note don’t you find it irritatingly childish when Arsenal supporters say: well, why didn’t he go and buy someone else when it became clear that Liverpool were not going to sell, as though you can go into Tescos and just pick up one or two strikers at you convenience!

There has been a lot of talk recently about the aborted Suarez purchase attempt so I might as well add my tuppence worth.

Was there a buy out clause?

Of course we will never know the truth but on balance the chances are surely high. This is very common practice in Spain and so I am guessing that this also applies throughout the Hispanic world of football. I think the other significant reason it that there is no way that when Suarez arrived at Liverpool that he saw it as his last stop up football’s slippery ladder. His ultimate goal is Real Madrid and that being the case a buy out clause was even more likely.

Suarez may have a genuine chance of getting his dream move at the end of this season but he certainly didn’t at the end of last. We are talking about a man whose press was so bad that he was making Joey Barton look likable. Having bitten a chunk out of a chav’s arm, being banned for umpteen games, it is fair bet that the man thought long and hard about moving on.

Enter the enterprising Arsenal waving Champions League football around. I am sure that the club knew about the buy out clause and made their intentions known to Suarez by triggering it – 40mil and one pound, that is not exactly a shabby opening bid.

This was the point when Liverpool had to decide whether they wanted to sell him or not. If they did they could have named their price – but I am convinced they didn’t. Liverpool went into overdrive to try and keep him, excluding CL football they were in a position to be able to offer him any deal that Arsenal put forward and more, indeed Liverpool renewed his contract a few weeks after it become clear that we were not going to be successful.

It was not a lack of trying, it was not a reluctance to offer more money, the reality was that Liverpool didn’t want to sell and they could offer him as much if not more wages than we could.

So we were forced to start the season with Giroud, Sanogo and Bendtner. We could have brought some sub standard striker but if the purchase of Ozil has shown us anything is that we have moved on from that way of doing things. We are a club that will push the boat out if a player wants to come to THOF. There is nothing wrong in picking up a cheap filler here and there à la Flamini and Kallstrom when the Real McCoy is not available but when it is we will act.

I have read recently people making comparisons with RvP and Suarez in as much that it appeared that manu were able to force us to sell but we were not able to do the same. I don’t agree with this at all. Without having our whole future balanced on one man’s shoulders, namely a Sugar Daddy, we have to operate within sensible commercial constraints. A five year deal for RvP, at his age was an offer he couldn’t refuse and as we all know when that deal was tabled he did everything he could to get away. The club tried its hardest to sign Suarez but what could we have offered that would have made him want to come to us rather than stay where he was? Never mind about offering Liverpool more money they didn’t want to sell, I am talking about getting the Uruguayan on side first.

This brings me back to Giroud, I see nothing wrong with Kelsey’s cries that we need a new striker, I feel the same and the higher the calibre the better. The Suarez ship has sailed but with Ancelotti’s feet more securely under the table at Real Madrid he could decide to offload Benzema and buy the Uruguayan, I would be disappointed if we brought their Frenchman, for me he is too close to the one we already have but if this huge piece of wishful thinking does come about I would be content to pick up Morata.

Written by LB

Suarez, Sturridge, Robben. Do AFC need a Cheat?

March 18, 2014

Bear with me ….

Over the past week we have seen and been on the wrong end of some dreadful cheats. A quick think brings me to Sturridge’s appalling dive to get Vidic sent off, Robben’s dive to earn BM a penalty, Suarez theatrics (nothing new there) and the world renowned Gerrard Flop.

Furtherrmore, this season we have had Lewandowski at Dortmund flapping around like a beached trout and Ashley Young perfecting his double somersault with twist and pike.

Over at Stamford Bridge we have some wonderful diving talent – Hazard, Oscar and Torres trying successfully to do The Drogba (a master of the art). Man City rely on the collapsing talents of Silva, Dzeko and Nasri.

Spurs have lost Monkeyboy who is world class at cheating but he has joined a whole team well versed in the Dark Arts – Marcelo, Ronaldo and Pepe etc – all love a dive.

Barca have Busquets, Pique, the obnoxious Alves, Neymar and Adriano.

So, who are Arsenal’s divers and if we don’t have them  …. why not?

Diving pays. It may offend your finer sensibility but it works – time and time again. What is the cost if a dive gets spotted by the referee? A yellow card, hardly enough of a deterrent to stop a clever forward, after all the profit is a penalty and probably a goal. Yellow card or goal? Ask a defender whether they would take one for the team when an attacker is advancing on goal – we fans get angry when the defender prefers to allow the game to flow!! So why not use such a cost-free tactic?

The antics of Robben last week infuriated me but had Giroud the nous to cheat his way to a penalty in a similar manner would I really protest? Would you?

What the first few para’s show is that all the top sides have players who dive and do so on a regular basis. A dive can get your team not just a penalty but also in the case of Sturridge a valuable defender sent off.

I am trying to recall an Arsenal player diving for a penalty. It must have happened in the last few seasons but I cannot recall it. Eduardo was called for diving – and goodness me the media went mad – even though he was just avoiding an Orc trashing his damaged leg. Perhaps this has had a knock-on effect on the way we play. Eboue liked a dive but he was so hopeless at “simulation” it became laughable and embarrassing.  Oh, I just remembered Santi diving vs West Brom in 2012 and Arteta burying the pen.Since then ….. ?

I know, I know … it isn’t The Arsenal Way, we always take the moral high ground and I am proud of Wenger’s honesty and his belief in The Beautiful Game but just once couldn’t we ape our opposition and go for the reverse dive with tuck?

What do you think?

written Tongue-in-Cheek by Big Raddy

Do Players Need To Like Each Other?

November 4, 2013

Bear with me… this is, indeed, a Post about the current Arsenal team (it will get there eventually).

Way back in the early 1990s an ex Arsenal lad who had moved to pastures new was tearing up the Premier League, scoring goals for fun.

I refer to one Andrew Cole, who had two great seasons at Newcastle from 1993 to 1995.

Such was his form and prowess at the Barcodes that he earned an England call-up under Terry Venables. He made his debut as a late substitute against Uruguay – replacing a certain Mr Edward Sheringham. As Sheringham left the pitch he offered nary a glance towards the debuant; not a handshake; nor even a quick word of encouragement, far less a pat on the back. He just acted as if Cole did not exist.

The perceived insult wounded the tender soul of young Andy and he vowed never to forget it.

Fast forward a year or so and Cole signed for Manchester United where, playing alongside Eric Cantona, he continued to thrive.

But in football, as in life, fate often has a way of putting chewing gum on your bus seat and, sure enough, in 1997 Eric Cantona left United and they replaced him with Mr Edward Sheringham.

As Cole put it some years later: “In the summer of 1997, after Eric Cantona left Manchester United, Sheringham arrived. We played together for years. We scored a lot of goals. I never spoke a single word to him.”

And during that period United were certainly successful.

So does it mean that relationships between players don’t matter? That team mates can hate each other with the sort of loathing that a Totteringham fan has for bathwater?

Well, there are certainly other examples beyond Cole and Sheringham (who, let’s not forget, went to Man United but was still a runt). The Bayern Munich and Germany midfielders Lothar Matthaus and Stefan Effenberg would each have happily seen the other fed slowly into a wood chipper; and in the days of the Wimbledon Crazy Gang (younger readers, be thankful you don’t know what I’m talking about) John “Fash the Bash” Fashanu shared mutual antipathy with Lawrie Sanchez.

In fact it got so bad that Fashanu and Sanchez decided to “sort it out” during a training session. As a black belt in karate, Fashanu was expecting to teach Sanchez a lesson – but I remember Tony Adams once described Sanchez as the hardest man in football (a bit like the Pope describing someone as the holiest person on earth).

Fash’s memoirs take up the story: “Sanch gave me a shot and, give him credit, it wasn’t a bad shot. But I thought, don’t hit Sanch, don’t mark his face, and my mind went back to when Muhammed Ali fought against the martial artist in New York, and the martial artist just kicked the back of his legs until it broke the tissues in his calves and he submitted. So I thought I’d teach Sanch a lesson and gave a sweep of the legs, but Sanch has calves like most people have thighs and he didn’t move. So I gave him another couple, but Sanch came back at me. So I thought, I’m gonna take this guy out, and I hit him with one of the best shots I’d been training with – BAM! Take that, Sanch! – right in the solar plexus, a shot that would supposedly knock a horse down. And still he stood there. Then Terry Burton came over to break us up.”

Happy days.

Anyway, this question of whether it’s better for players to like their team mates occurred to me while watching our game against Liverpool on Saturday.

You will remember the chance that Luis Suarez had towards the end of the match, as Liverpool were struggling to fight their way back from the firm slapping-down which we had been administering.

Suarez profited from a mistake by the BFG and bore down on goal from Liverpool’s left side. He tried a shot which went across the face of goal and wide, not troubling Szczesny. Daniel Sturridge had been racing into the right hand side of the box and felt that Suarez should have passed to him rather than shooting. Whether or not Suarez should have passed is neither here nor there. What happened next was fascinating: Sturridge threw his arms out and back, like a child trying to be a superhero; he jutted out his chin, his eyes bulged and he donned the time-honoured countenance of the mortally outraged (think Stephen Fry being told that – no thanks – no-one was interested in his latest anecdote).

All this was directed at his team mate, Suarez. It was not a brief, understandable moment of frustration of the kind any player can be prone to: Sturridge held this tortured pose for many long seconds. His suffering began to take on Jesus-like dimensions. Poor old Suarez glanced his way but chose not to engage.

At the time I thought: “these are two players who don’t like each other: two selfish goal-grabbers who are in this only for personal glory.”  If you feel your colleague should have passed, you talk about it later – you don’t try to humiliate him in front of millions

And despite the examples mentioned above – of bitter feuds festering in successful teams – it cannot, as a general rule, be good to have disharmony within a team.

Look at Arsenal in recent years.

There is no question that we’ve had some troublesome individuals in the dressing room: Samir Nasri, who could probably make the Dalai Lama swear; Emmanuel “all about me” Adebayor; William “Slightly Deranged” Gallas.

And one of the factors in our gradual improvement has been the clearing out of the disputatious types and the forging of strong bonds between the players who remain.

There seems to be a good, mutually supportive vibe among the YBCs (the Young British Core), but experienced, level-headed foreigners like Arteta, Giroud and Mertesacker have also clearly been instrumental in creating unity and fellow-purpose.

It may be easier to say during the sort of successful period we are currently enjoying, but I really feel our squad of players like each other and are playing for each other rather than for their next big money move elsewhere. No-one exemplifies this selflessness better than Olivier Giroud, who seems as happy when he assists as when he scores.

So, to sum up, Sturridge and Suarez will continue to score goals, but football success is often down to fine margins – and not being united on the field is one of those things that can have a slight, but significant, negative impact.

Over the course of the season I would back our Harmonious Heroes to do better than ‘Pool’s Fractious Forwards. We will see.


Suarez to Arsenal In January Is 100% Certain

October 14, 2013

“Calm down, calm down,” as Ga, Ba and Te from Harry Enfield’s ‘The Scousers’ would say.

When I use the phrase “100% Certain” what I mean is 100% certain NOT to happen.

There may have been stories in the press and on the internet over the last couple of days suggesting that the Uruguayan masticator might be heading our way for a cool fifty million, but PUR-LEEESE…

Brendan Rodgers could not be more of a Muppet if he had Jim Henson’s arm up his arse, but even he is not that stupid.

I imagine that Liverpool’s strong start to the season will soon fall apart like a kid’s toy on Boxing Day. It looks all shiny and exciting on Christmas Day, but then the working parts stop working, bits start to break off, the wheels (literally) come off and finally it’s abandoned in the corner, never to be played with again.

But even if ‘Pool are well placed in the Premier League pace by January, this transfer could never happen.

For one thing, the long-suffering and perennially optimistic Liverpool supporters would be up in arms. Those poor fans have had to put up with so much manure, false promises and even falser dawns over the last 20 years that selling Suarez to a “rival” (I know, don’t laugh) could be the final straw.

Never mind our Black Scarf movement, Anfield could be brought to its knees by a black ‘tache-and-perm protest of the like not seen this side of Saddam Hussain’s personal bodyguard.

The facts just don’t add up.

For a start, the Liverpool hierarchy were clearly deeply offended at our attempt to land El Munchio for what we thought was his release fee plus a quid. Apparently, according to some observers, this was “disrespectful” and we should have bid a million pounds more than we thought we needed to just to be nice.

I don’t know what sort of world these observers live in, but clearly it’s one with diamond encrusted armchairs and champagne glasses made out of the frozen tears of nightingale chicks if they think so little of a million smackers.

Personally I think it’s good that our club is not so profligate as to p*ss away such a large amount of money to make a bunch of pseudo-Scouse American millionaires feel a bit better about themselves.

Nevertheless, the episode clearly left a nasty, Ivanovicy taste in the mouth and did nothing to foster good relations between the two clubs.

I’m sure our Board of Directors are still mulling over the unsubtle barbs that were sent flying their way by John Henry and his cronies (apparently, in response to Henry’s comment that “I don’t know what they’re smoking at the Emirates,” Sir Chips Keswick was heard to say: “Well obviously we’re smoking hand-made Cuban Ramon Allones Estupendos. What are they smoking in Lancashire? Marlborough Lights?”).

So, that’s hardly a propitious starting-point for us trying again in January, is it? If ‘Pool were to sell Suarez it would  more likely be to Real Madrid than to us.

But in fact it does not make sense for Liverpool to sell their best player to anyone in the mid season transfer window.

With Manchester United in freefall under the iron flipper of Gollum Moyes, Manchester City unable to decide whether they are world beaters or panel beaters, Chelsea struggling to convert their free-flowing skilful attackers into Mourinho robots and Totteringham providing the laughs for everyone, this may be Liverpool’s best ever chance of getting back into the top four.

I think they’re unlikely to do it, but without Suarez there is absolutely no chance.

It might even be a resigning issue for Rodgers if his Board insist on selling the Uruguayan without his support

So, I’m sorry to say, the little fellow will not be coming our way in January or ever.

We may buy a striker in January but it won’t be him and I even have my doubts as to whether we’ll buy anyone.

The signing of Ozil shows we have moved our shopping habits from Lidl to Harrods and I’m not sure how many strikers will be available in the January sales at Harrods. I happen to think that, barring injury to Giroud, we will not add to the squad at all.

What do you think?


A Big Name Signing – More Important to the Fans or Players?

August 13, 2013

After watching highlights of our recent performance in Finland and having seen the displays put in during our fundraising/goodwill tour of Asia I was left perplexed at the team that took the pitch during the Emirates Cup at home.

GunnerN5 has recently opined that the players are fearful of playing at home and that it translates into performances on the pitch. Ramsey’s display in Finland compared to his slightly misfiring performance at the Emirates, Walcott’s ease of finish, compared to lifting a very similar chance wide. Precise and purposeful forward play in Finland against turgid pass pass pass at the Emirates Cup.

Admittedly the squad is looking thin, so some signings are absolutely necessary before the season commences. And having seen the capability of our first choice players in Finland there is an argument to say that the team doesn’t need one big name, it just needs some padding to replace those recently departed, and maybe some different options in certain positions.

However it seems the signing of a “Superstar” is more important to the fans than the squad itself, the media and fans have made such an issue of the need for Arsenal to spend big that five squad players will not sate their appetite. They want a star, and if they don’t get one I think the mood in the Emirates will not change dramatically despite Saturday’s performance.

What do you think?

Gooner in Exile

Do You Really Want Suarez …. Do Ya? … Your Vote

August 8, 2013

If you believe the media, Arsenal has invested all its hopes in signing Luis Suarez. I’m not so sure and wouldn’t be at all surprised if there isn’t negotiation for another player going on quietly behind the scenes.

Luis_SuárezBut assuming Suarez is the man we want, wouldn’t it just be so ‘Arsenal’ to pick a player whose notoriety means he further divides an already polarised fanbase.

It’s ironic that when we decide to announce our arrival amongst the big spenders we target a player who certainly doesn’t embody the high principles for which our club is renowned.  Yes sure, Bobby may have gone down a little too easily once or twice, but Suarez has been the butt of criticism by many Arsenal supporters in his time at Liverpool.

This is what one respected Arsenal blogger, 26May1989, had to say about the Uruguayan only 2 days ago:

…….in the past I detested Suarez. That’s certainly true, his cheating and general behaviour really got to me, and the one and only time I’ve edited a page on Wikipedia came after Uruguay’s win over South Africa in the 2010 World Cup – he dived several times that night, once winning a penalty and getting the South African keeper sent off, prematurely ending the keeper’s home World Cup. And later in the tournament, there was the famous goal line save against Ghana, after which the crucial penalty was missed which was celebrated by the player after being sent off.

Yet he later concluded  …..

……. But I’ve changed my tune. My logic is that recruiting a top quality striker this summer is vital for Arsenal – with that one player a good side could become an excellent side, and the signing would also cause confidence to flow through the club, the players and the fans.

So it seems that even the most objective of us is torn. I certainly am in the same camp as 26May1989. I’d love his skill and the goals he is likely to bring, but would be extremely uncomfortable if he continued to dive at every opportunity or worse still indulge in the occasional amuse bouche of a cannibalistic nature.

Is it right that a club that is continually lambasted for not having won a trophy for 8 years, should compromise its principles and take a chance on a supremely gifted but ultimately flawed human being in pursuit of the highest honours? It’s time to have your say.

So I’m going to invite you to examine your conscience and vote in 2 ways; first a simple Yes or No, and secondly for those who voted ‘Yes’, in a more qualified way.

In this second poll you can tick as many boxes as represent your view.

If none of the above represent your view, please feel free to express that view in comments.

Written by Rasp