Mesut Özil …… Sprezzatura.

November 16, 2013

Now, I don’t know many long words, and even fewer in Italian. However, a few years ago I stumbled upon this word Sprezzatura. No other language has a word encapsulating the same qualities. It means “Effortless Grace”.

If you want to be able to sound clever, then read the bracketed bit below, otherwise, skip it.

(Castiglione wrote The Book of the Courtier as a portrayal of an idealized courtier. This ideal courtier was supposed to be skilled in arms and in athletic events but be equally skilled in music and dancing. However, the courtier who had sprezzatura managed to make difficult tasks look easy. Concerning sprezzatura, Castiglione said that: “to practice in all things a certain sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”. In short, Sprezzatura means Effortless Grace.)

When I first discovered this word, my first thoughts were one Dennis Bergkamp. I decided the word was simply too good to waste, so I thought I’d bide my time and wait.

Enter Mesut Özil.

I believe he may become Arsenal’s Greatest Ever Signing. The Man oozes Sprezzatura.

I have heard that “He’ll take time to settle into the PL”. I say: “Bollocks he will. I have never seen someone so clearly settled”.

Look at his assists so far. On the whole they are fairly simple balls. Pinpoint accurate, yes, but fairly obvious balls. I remember Chas posting some of The Arsenal Gentleman’s genius cards, and Mesut’s “Special Move was: The Mesmertron, a hypnotic through ball”.

How many of these hypnotic balls have we seen? Very few, and the reason is that Mesut knows the players are not quite ready for him to unleash his full dazzling array of ball skills.

So, what’s going on? Quite simply, every player around Mesut is out of their depth, and he knows it, which is why he’s still playing it simple. I reckon that soon, through a combination of pitch time, as well as work on the training ground, the movement from those around him will improve.

Think back to Thierry Henry, and the impact DB10 had on his game. This is the reason I understand why some people are asking for a different type of striker. Someone who speaks the same football language as Mesut. I suspect we may see the Mesmetron deployed if either Theo or Podolski take up the central striker role.

I think we are going to witness Arsenal’s Greatest Ever Signing. He will elevate and educate those around him into superior players. Watch, savour, and enjoy. Exceptional things are about to happen in the Red and White of Arsenal.

Written by MickyDidIt89


The Curse of the Left

September 11, 2013

Mrs. Raddy was very impressed the other day when I stared at her with what she believed was loving tenderness , though what I was actually doing was thinking about our left side. *

My reasoning was this …… Gibbs, Monreal, Podolski, Ox, all crocked whilst playing out there. Would I be wrong in thinking that both Santi and Mozart also suffered injuries whilst playing on our port side?

images“Please don’t make me play out there, Boss”

Not only that but players who have been shipped out to larboard have suffered dramatic falls from grace. I refer to Arshavin, Gervinho, Santos, Chamakh  and Bendtner (yes, I know the last two are CF’s but they were forced to play out there).

And looking back to recent history, what of Reyes, Hleb, Nasri and Clichy?  All moved on to lesser clubs – OK, Real Madrid, Barcelona and MC may not be exactly lesser but they didn’t succeed at The Home of Football, did they?

What is going on? We haven’t had a happy leftside since  Bobby and Terry. Many talk about Mr Wenger’s blindness to our defence but i it is remarkable that our attacks from the left have come from FB’s or MF’s for a number of seasons.

Will our shiny new German improve matters? From what I read, he is a traditional inside forward with a licence to roam, much like our other three AM’s (Ramsey, Santi, TR). So, is Mr Wenger’s plan to play Cazorla on the left and restrict his movement? I sincerely hope not because Santi, as we all know, is a genius and should be allowed to do whatever he wants (apart from canoodling with Mrs. Raddy).

Podolski is not a left-winger –  pace is not one of his talents . Nor is The Ox, who is yet another attacking MF. We have one coming through in Myaichi, but he is well down the pecking order. Given that Mr Wenger likes to play 4-3-3, why can’t we have an attacking threat like Theo on the left?

*Looking doe-eyed at one’s partner can have a very positive effect upon one’s relationship (unless you start to dribble)

written by Big Raddy

Fulham 1 Arsenal 3 “A thoroughly professional performance.”

August 25, 2013

You have got to love Martin Jol; he sets out his teams in the same attacking formation every time he plays against Arsenal and every time they lose, ok there was the one exception but that, as far as I am concerned, only proves the rule; he certainly was never able to beat an Arsene Wenger team while manager of Tottenham and he was no where near doing so yesterday.

Arsenal carried on from where they left off on Wednesday against Fenerbahce beating Fulham at Craven Cottage in what turned out to be a convincing style. 3-1 to the good guys was just what we needed to get the media off our backs, to stop rogue Arsenal supporters taking swipes at the club and to set us up nicely for the coming game against Tottenham.

poldi v fulham

Wenger rotated his squad (lol) leaving Wilshere on the bench, moving Rosicky further back and adding Podolski to the front. This was a very attacking move that had the much desired effect, in my view, of helping Giroud avoid being isolated which he appeared to for the best part of the game against the Turks.

The tactics seemed to be to play our way past Fulham’s onward rushing attack and pick our way round their defence. This required accurate, pin-ball passing which as the game went on Arsenal were doing with more and more fluency and speed.

The break through came after a long range shot from Ramsey was deftly, yes deftly, controlled by Giroud before poking it past the keeper for his now customary goal per game. I have noticed that since the Frenchman has been scoring so regularly that the priority signing to some is shifting from wanting a striker to wanting a centre back, well not for me; I still feel that Suarez would score twice as many of those kind of goals if he were to come to the home of football. That said, I don’t want to appear to be ungrateful to Ollie, the man works like a Trojan, always putting in a shift; he really is the perfect example of what a team player should be.

Being a goal up forced Fulham to come onto us and that in turn forced the focus onto our back line which I must say I thought put in their best performance to date, there was a real understanding between them: Mertasacker oozed confidence, Sagna got better and better as the game went on, Gibbs was simply very good once again and Jenkinson never seemed to be caught out of position, as he is sometimes prone to doing, with Sagna there watching his back.

During the game I was trying to work out, if I were to write the report, who I would award the MOTM to? For ages I couldn’t see anyone who stood out as every player seemed to be doing his job very well; Ramsey may have been given it by the BT sports and indeed he did play well but no better than Cazorla who seems to have finally digested that massive paella he consumed during the close season; the magic in those boots is back, the twists and turns that takes him past opponents are one of the vital skills that makes us a better than the likes of Fulham. I toyed for ages with the MOTM going to the team but then it became clear, there was one player who produced something over and above what I think we have come to expect – Lucas Podolski is my MOTM, scorer of two goals that gave us the points and put smiles on our faces this Sunday morning.

When we are one up space appears and Theo usually starts to shine, yesterday was no exception and it was one of his runs, combined with a Cazorla shot, parried by the Fulham keeper that fell for our Johnny on the spot, Lucas Pololski to side foot in from 18 yards, no easy task, the man did well and gave us a two goal cushion to go into half time with.

If Theo starts to shine at one-nil up he becomes lethal when we go two up, it was his charging run and the quick feet of Cazorla that brought about the third goal for Pololski who rifled home, low and true.

Wilshere came on and added a bit more steel to the defence, Nacho got a run out and Sanogo got a few minutes, I can see him going on loan when the real deal arrives.

Anyway, we took our foot off the gas a bit and this allowed Fulham to score but that only had the effect of focusing the team again, enough to see the game out and bring the points home.

Happy, happy.

Be afraid spuds; be very afraid, the mighty Arsenal are hitting their stride.

Written by LB

Gervinho: Gooner or Goner?

June 2, 2013

There are persistent rumours in the media that Gervinho is close to the exit door at The Emirates. Should he be sold?

Can you remember a more infuriating player than our spindly Ivorian? Here we have a player with truly consummate skills – he has great pace, can beat 3 players with a shrug, can create space for himself in seemingly impossible situations, can play on both wings and given chances, he scores. So why isn’t The Mekon a first choice player, and why hasn’t he flourished in a team where his talents appear to fit?


Seems like a Nice Boy

I should start with this statement. I really like Gervinho, he has a wonderful smile, he makes me laugh and he appears proud to wear the shirt. There was excitement when he signed for us at what seemed a reasonable price of £11m; he had just gone through a fine season with Lille, scoring 18 goals in a season where Lille surprisingly won Ligue 1. Gervinho , who scored  28 goals in 68 appearances for Lille was much in demand with Athletico Madrid , PSG and others seeking his talents, but he chose Arsenal – probably thanks to the Mr Wenger attraction in France (and PL money!)

Sent off in his first game for trying to take  a swipe at the hideous Joey Barton (you should have decked him).  His first season was interrupted by a trip to the African CoN but a return of just 4 goals from 26 starts and 11 subs apps was sub-standard. It appeared that if you put Gervinho 3 yards from goal and asked him to shoot he would either miss the ball or miss the target -…… cow’s arse/banjo.

2012/13 was better. His confidence was raised by getting some lucky strikes but the ACoN once again deprived Arsenal of his services. At season’s end Gerv had made 18 starts (+8 subs) scoring 7 goals. An improvement but still unsatisfactory.

Onto the negatives. We are not as solid defensively when Gervinho plays. He does work hard to track back but tackles like a wet paper bag; his crossing is poor – actually worse than poor, his passing is fine at close quarters but not so dusty over distance and his finishing is as clinical as a blind dentist. Mr Wenger seems to have decided that his attacking left sided player is Podolski.

Mr Wenger has tried to play Gervinho on the right, on the left, given him the centre forward role, played him as shadow striker, tried to teach him to defend, tried to teach him to cross – nothing has really succeeded. Gervinho remains an anomaly – good at many trades, master of none.

However, Gervinho has improved; as a substitute remains a positive force giving defenders problems whenever he comes on but is that enough to keep him at Arsenal? In the likely event of Mr Wenger buying a striker what happens to Gerv? Would Arsenal be better off selling him and giving opportunities to O-C, Gnabry,  Myachi etc

For me a Goner and not a Gooner.

Big Raddy

Time For The Pod To Shine At Number 9?

May 1, 2013

This is a topic I have had on my mind for some time now and stems from Arsène Wengers apparent reluctance to try Podolski in the number 9 role. I believe he played this role once at the start of the season, (perhaps against Sunderland?), and since then, when he has played, he has been utilised from the attacking left, which often leaves him playing more like an orthodox winger. I personally feel that Podolski is “ok” from this position but I don’t feel he is what I would qualify as world class. He does, however, seem to have some excellent attributes that could see him progress into the world class bracket as a central striker.

The assertion by many that he is our most natural finisher is something that I would find hard to disagree with, and his statistics before coming to us at both club and international level seem to support this. I have questioned, like many, why Arsene has not played him in the number 9 role. One must assume that having tried him in that role earlier on this season, and then looking at him closer in training, that Arsene recognised certain deficiencies that would not allow him, at that point, to perform the number 9 role at the very highest level. I would certainly bow my head in this matter to the man that discovered Anelka, developed Robin Van Persie into a world class striker, and way and above everything else, gave us the great Thierry Henry. That is evidence enough that our esteemed manager knows a world class striker, or potential world class striker, when he sees one.


When the ball lands at Podolski’s left foot in dangerous areas he looks as good a finisher as any other world class forward you could care to name at the moment, so what is stopping him from claiming this role as first choice for the club. Podolski’s shortcomings for this role we can maybe only hypothesise upon. Speculating, I would consider that maybe he is too one footed and needs to develop his finishing ability more with the right foot as we saw with a certain traitorous Dutchman over the last few years. Maybe Arsene doesn’t feel he yet has the instinct in the runs he makes and the positions he takes up in the box, so that rather than create the opportunity with a well timed run, he is still overly reliant on the ball arriving at his feet without having to move too much. It could be that in our system, that would see him lead the line without a recognised central number 10 partner, that Arsene doesn’t feel he yet has the ability to hold the ball up when required and therefore link his team-mates into the attacking play.

The recent reports, allegedly directly from Arsenes own mouth, that he is working hard with Podolski in training to convert him into that prolific number 9 seems to indicate that Arsene both sees and believes that Podolski can fulfil this role in the long run. The big problem in my mind is that I feel we are in a time sensitive situation with regard to our forward department. I don’t believe we can enter next season without a ready made world class forward line, and for me the number 9 position is a key area where we are behind our top club rivals at present.

I think that more than at any other time in our recent history this is the critical summer where we shouldn’t enter the campaign with such an important area of the team still being a work in progress. I personally like Giroud, who I think has had a decent first season and feel he will still improve further, but I don’t see him being able to become a world class number 9. In direct comparison to Cavani, Falcao, Lewandowski and the great TH14 can anyone actually hand on heart say that Giroud will achieve that level? I can’t, and I view Giroud’s long term future with us as a second choice number 9 or impact sub.

We are heavily linked with Jovetic. Now this is a player I like and hope we get. I feel he will bring an extra dimension to our attacking department, but once again I don’t see him as a number 9. He looks to me to be an attacking central or attacking wide player. If anything he is likely to take up the

attacking left sided role that Podolski currently plays, which would leave Lukas somewhat redundant with regard to this position. That leaves the question of whether we have the answer within our own squad for the world class number 9 role in Podolski, or is it an area where we need to dip into the transfer market for this summer.

Worryingly for me, and obviously also for Podolski, is that aside from Giroud AW seems to prefer Gervinho in the role. Despite scoring a couple of goals more recently I don’t see Gervinho as becoming a world class number 9. Podolski conversely, I feel, has the natural attributes that Gervinho doesn’t, that would allow him to be a 25 a season striker. I think Arsene’s deployment of Podolski over the last four games will tell us much. If he continues to use Giroud, and Gervinho in his absence, in that role rather than Podolski I feel the writing could be somewhat on the wall.

If we don’t see Podolski play the role before the end of the season I would surmise that it means Arsene doesn’t feel he is ready. If he is not ready now then I don’t see him being ready for the start of next season because I don’t personally feel that the pre-season period would see a seismic shift in his development. Securing players like Cavani, Falcao, and Lewandowski will neither be cheap nor easy. Many of the other top clubs seem to be circling for these 3. Maybe more realistic alternatives would be one of either Benzema or Higuain from Madrid. If Jovetic does arrive I can only really see it meaning one of two things for Lukas, and that is that he either becomes the clubs first choice number 9 or………

I can see one possible way that we could bring in Jovetic and still keep Podolski even if he is still a season away from being ready to be first choice number 9 on a permanent basis. That would be by bringing in an over 30 ready made world class forward that could still do the job at this level over the next couple of seasons. Only one name springs to mind for me and that is David Villa. If Arsene truly believes that Podolski has what it takes but just not quite yet, then this is an option that I would not turn my nose up at.

Written by GoonerB

A Fair Result or One We Got Away With?

April 14, 2013

I think the answer to that is a bit of both. Across 90 minutes on the balance of play, possession and opportunities carved out I don’t think that 3-1 over-flattered us. That we were still 1-0 down going into the 84th minute does leave a certain feeling of having got away with this one though. I will, however, look at the positives that we kept fighting and pressing and that this is a very important trait that I see increasingly in this squad, which should hold us in good stead for the future.

Pod v norwich

Early on we dominated possession and carved out a couple of decent openings. I thought some of our old failings of overplaying it and taking one too many passes rather than taking the shot at the right time was in evidence. The pitch was becoming slick from the rain and seemed to be begging players to hit hard low shots that could spin up off the pitch and cause their keeper problems. When we did shoot it seemed to be 2-3 passes too late and the shot became predictable.

Giroud headed onto the bar from a Sagna cross early on but our best chance of the first half was when Gervinho was put through one on one with their keeper courtesy of a slide rule pass from Santi. As their keeper came out Gervinho, rightly in my opinion, opted to go round the keeper but took far too heavy a touch which took him too wide and narrowed the angle. He still came close to finding the net but the ball went just wide of the far post. It would have been a tap in for any player following up and I thought Giroud was slightly guilty of ball watching. If you look at it again he jogs along watching Gervinho and suddenly realises too late he ought to be sprinting into the box. I think he could have got there had he instinctively set off at full pace the moment Gervinho was put through.

The second half seemed to continue where the first left off and we weren’t capitalising on our dominance in possession and territory and you just had a feeling what was coming next. Norwich had hardly troubled our goal but once again the old set piece goal against the run of play undid us on the 56th minute. I was seated behind the goal and remember looking at Turner and thinking I hope one of our bigger lads gets tight to him because he is a big chap and has a history of scoring from set pieces. The fact that arguably their most dangerous player at set pieces ended up getting a free unchallenged header reopens the debate about the merits of zonal marking.

I had to watch MOTD to get an extra feel for the game as it is easy to miss a lot when you sit directly behind the goal. I wanted to have a look at the lead up to the free kick and on initial evidence it looked like their player tripped over his own feet so I waited for the replay and the better camera angle to get a better idea but do you think MOTD were interested in looking at a potential injustice against Arsenal that resulted in a goal?

Gervinho and Jack hadn’t really been at the races in this game and Arsene waited another 4 minutes before subbing them for Walcott and Podolski. I felt it gave us a boost with Walcott causing immediate problems down the right and arguably our most natural finisher sniffing around their box. It didn’t take too long before a decent passing move saw Podolski clear and he smashed his shot against the bar. The equalising goal was still eluding us however and Arsene replaced Sagna with the Ox on the 80th minute for an all out assault on their goal. His introduction in addition to the other 2 subs did the trick and we all of a sudden looked far more direct and penetrative.

The equaliser came from a slightly controversial penalty decision. This time MOTD decided to make a real song and dance about it and funnily enough the pro Spurs Lineker, the just behind us in the league and soon to be playing us Everton manager, and the perennially Arsenal disliking Hanson all shouted injustice against Norwich. Keown showed in a close up that although they both grappled a bit the defender did indeed initiate the grabbing of Girouds shirt and clearly pulled him down. The ref should have seen it but didn’t and the linesman correctly spotted it from a greater distance. Well done to him I said as David Moyes, possibly with some ulterior psychological motive, intimated we had been thrown an incorrect decision. Anyway Arteta coolly slotted home and it was 1-1.

What came next was one of those ends that just makes you smile and, if anything, leave the game even happier than if you had the game sewn up on the hour mark. The players obviously realised the importance of the 3 points and kept pressing and cue 2 excellent goals in the last 2 minutes. Podolski’s goal for me illustrated why we should play him more often as no other Arsenal player has his finishing ability.

Happy gooners

A critical 3 points and on to the tougher fixture of Everton on Tuesday. I think we will have to be more clinical in attack and more solid on the set pieces if we want to get the 3 points in that game. Had it been Everton today I am not so sure we would have got away with it. On to the ratings :-

Fabianski 7 No chance for the goal and didn’t have much to do but made a couple of critical stops when needed.

Sagna 6 Considering we had them mostly pinned back he didn’t seem to offer too much to our offence in this game.

Vermaelen 7 Had a solid game. Not too much defending to be done. Their goal seemed to be a tactical fault of the whole team rather than being down to one individual.

Koscielny 7 Ditto for Kos as with TV.

Gibbs 7.5 First game for a bit and looked good both in attack and defence.

Arteta 7.5 Kept us ticking over and put in a good shift. A cool head when needed for the penalty.

Ramsey 8 My MOTM I thought Rambo had a good game today. He seems to have matured recently and today, despite no individual brilliance, I thought he gave an all action display in the Steven Gerrard mode.

Cazorla 7.5 At times drifted out of the game but whenever we are dangerous or create chances he always seems to have some hand in it.

Wilshere 6 Struggled a bit today after his enforced absence. I am not troubled by this. It is nice that others take up the mantle when it is not happening for him and I think a fit Jack will be important to us for these last games.

Giroud 6.5 Scored a goal and as usual worked tirelessly but seemed a little off the pace of the game today.

Gervinho 6 After a couple of good games he was back to one of his more frustrating performances. It remains to be seen if this is just how it is with him or whether he can turn out the good performances more regularly.


Walcott 7 Caused immediate problems to them when he came on and all 3 subs seemed to turn the game back in our favour.

Podolski 7 Scored a good one and crashed another on to the bar. You feel we have a greater goal threat when he gets in and around the opposition box.

Oxlaide-Chamberlain 7 Good direct running and made the second goal with a bit of inspiration.

Written by GoonerB

How to get the Best out of Oxlade-Chamberlain?

March 22, 2013

Mickydidit sparked a conversation about The Ox with this opening ….

““The Ox…..Discuss”
Has he improved?
Best position?In what system?
Out on loan?


Oz Gunner replied thus …..

“Ox is another toughie Micky! Midfield,wing,AM, Henry like striker…I haven’t the slightest of ideas. I see him becoming a Jovetic type player where his best is playing just off the main striker (god we have a few of those don’t we?!)

Loan? Nah, too good for that now. I think the pressure got to him this season (along with a few niggling injuries). He’ll be better for it though, he’s going to be an absolute gem. Those supporters who have slated him and listed him as ‘deadwood’ should be taken out back and disposed off.”

Whilst Gooner in Exile  had this to say

“I’’m with you Oz, a little high on expectation after end of last season and summer trip to Euro’s which meant late back for pre season, plus those injuries you mention. Plus all change at the club which must be difficult for youngsters who aren’t established. Especially when those players signed are going to take your potential starting spot away.

For me he is similar to Rooney with ball at feet and in terms of power. And I’m not sure Ferguson or England have ever used Rooney to his full potential. Back to goal does not suit them, picking the ball up and running at defenders from the middle third I think both canbe devastating, hence why my suggestion about Wilshere’s ideal position also includes him playing alongside Ox and Santi, they could have an awful lot of fun and all possess different attributes that would complement each other.”

Big Raddy believes that the Ox will have to wait at least another season to become a starting player.The only place I can see him is as Santi cover or on the left wing/midfield, which assumes the relegation of both Gervinho and Podolski.

Quite frankly, I cannot see why Mr Wenger spent so much money buying him when we have such a glut of attacking midfield players. Even allowing for the removal from the squad of the “deadwood” there is no place for OC.

The Ox’s best position appears to be the one Hodgson gives him in the England team – behind the main striker and slightly to the left. but as has been said, this is Podolski or Cazorla’s position in the Arsenal set up.

A loan seems unlikely and as such I predict a long period of riding the pine (on the bench) for young OC. He has huge potential and he clearly loves it at Arsenal but his patience will be tested.

Written by Big Raddy