The Great Uncertainty.

December 18, 2016

How is this season going? In some ways very well and yet there are big question marks remaining about the team. On paper we all agreed this is the best squad for some time, we felt there is the depth of quality to get a few more points than last season and win the title instead of being runners-up.

Somehow this confidence is slipping away; not amongst the team but in the stands. Losing at Everton whilst every one of our rivals won was painful, yesterday’s results didn’t help. Going to a very strong Man City will be a litmus test.

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Don’t be fooled by MC lacking 3 big players, Fernando (or it that a Madonna song) may be out but his replacement is Yaya Toure. City have a fine squad, which they should have given the ridiculous amount of money they spend.

Guardiola: Given the man’s pedigree how can anyone question his ability? I guess it is the short-termism of modern life that anything other than immediate success is looked upon as failure. What happened to working towards success?

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin    Gabriel    Koscielny    Monreal

Xhaka     Coquelin    Iwobi

Walcott    Sanchez    Ozil

I may be tempted to play Perez in place of Theo given his anonymous performance midweek. In his defence the ball has to be passed to Theo for him to be effective! The same can be said for Ox.

Our record at The Etihad is OK. We have a good team. We need a win. Mr. Wenger has been talking about attacking intent. It should be a good game.

COYRRG


Ramsey’s Day?

December 21, 2015

The build up to this game has been lengthy  – it is 9 days since our last victory. Sky Sports have been building tonight up in their usual manner telling us that it is almost a title decider which is quite frankly nonsense.

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What is true in a season when no team has been able to put together a run of wins (apart from Leicester) is that the title is open and beating City will be important. Must Win Game? No. Important game? Definitely. More important than beating Southampton away on Boxing Day? You decide!

The team picks itself apart from a question mark over Sanchez. Should he be played if 90% fit? Will he or Campbell start and be subbed on the hour? I would risk him, he is too valuable and we have been doing well with Campbell in the team.

LB wrote  an interesting post pointing out our different playing style with Sanchez in the team, which can only be a positive as the more variety we can offer the more difficult it is to combat.

The Northern Oilers are proof that an open wallet does not guarantee trophies. They spent €70m on defenders in summer and yet look fragile when the ageing and increasingly injury-prone Kompany is absent. Neither Mangala nor Otamendi have impressed so far.

Unfortunately most of their injured players are returning tonight – Silva, Aguero, Toure are likely to start and when one looks at MC’s team it is quite frankly, frightening, especially as an attacking force; De Bruyne, Aguero, Sterling, Navas, Toure, and Silva are all wonderful players .

But we have wonderful players as well. We have a team which on its day can beat Bayern Munich (and will beat Barcelona). Pellegrini will be worried, especially as MC have lost their last 4 away games.

Given the MC full backs are the ageing Sagna and Kolarov, Theo and Campbell could be in for a fruitful afternoon and it is certainly an area which Mr Wenger will focus upon.

In midfield Ramsey’s energy will be a constant problem for City. Toure is a great player but he can no longer compete with the non-stop running of Ramsey and will be looking to Fernandinho for cover. It is our pace and energy which will concern Pellegrini.

Who would you prefer, Ozil or Silva? Both great players. Ask any City fan who is their favourite player and the answer is invariably David Silva, yet to supporters of other clubs he seems just a very good player and not at the same level as Ozil. Mesut is The Man this season and against a team like City who will use skill as opposed to muscle to combat him, Ozil may well flourish.

Cech is likely to have a busy evening and so (I hope) will Joe Hart because these are two teams committed to attack. It should be a terrific match.

COYRRG


Milner to Arsenal?

April 15, 2015

My first thought was “really?” I am sure yours was along the lines of “The Sun journalists are doing their usual” that is working to the agenda of a rapacious player agent, but could there be anything in this rumour?

James Milner is 29, an England International and a man coming to the end of his lucrative contract at City. It is reported that his intention is to move to London with Arsenal being his chosen destination. He has 53 caps, scoring only one goal. Milner has been at City for 5 years winning the PL title twice, and both the domestic cups. City paid €32m for him in 2010, the year he won the PL Young Player of the Season award.

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What does Milner offer? He can play on both sides of the pitch, has played full back, midfield and on the wings for MC, he has enormous energy, is a fine crosser, can tackle and is an intelligent, tactically aware player. Not the fastest but has adequate pace.

Why buy him? A multi-purpose player with a wealth of experience and above all English.

Probability? Mr Wenger is a long-term admirer. Milner reminds me of Ray Parlour –  a player whom Mr Wenger set much store by and one he has tried to replace many times. Arteta is creaking, Flamini likely to be sold, Diaby  – who knows? – so we could use another mature presence.

If (huge if) Wilshire leaves in summer we have a space in the squad, though  The Ox is a younger more dynamic version of Milner. Gnabry is coming through the ranks and is already an established German U-21 international; he will want first team action.

Theo may be sold which would reduce the number of English players in the squad.

However, we already have Ramsey, The Ox, Alexis, Gnabry, Rosicky, Arteta, Wilshire and the upcoming Crowley who can play in Milner’s chosen position.

BR’s Opinion.? More Sun bolleaux

written by Big Raddy

 


Roadhouse Blues?

January 18, 2015

Feeling confident? No? Neither am I.

I am always interested in the media narrative for the Arsenal and today’s will undoubtedly be our record against the Big Boys. No need to tell you … it is pants, make that worse than pants, it is double pants.

And yet there are reasons to be positive – nearly all of them wrapped up in a 5’6″ Chilean. He scored a cracker against City at the Emirates in a game which we dominated for 75 minutes. We were the better team that day which augurs well for today. And we have many of the injured returning for selection. Mesut, Theo, Aaron, and Matthieu are all available for selection.

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Worryingly Gibbs may be missing and with Chambers likely to play RB Pellegrini is sure to attack down the flanks. Monreal had a nightmare against Navas in the 6-3 at The Etihad and Chambers for all his quality is no speedster, expect much of the same today. Perhaps Mr Wenger will surprise us and play Bellerin who is improving game by game.

We have seen Arsenal go away to big clubs and allow them to dominate possession, perhaps this is as a result of going to MC and Chelsea with very attacking tactics and getting hammered. Does pragmatism work? I prefer us to play to our strengths and not the opposition but AW may well play with two defensive shields in from to the back five i.e. both Flamini and Coquelin …. I hope I am wrong.

We have signed a new Pole! Happy Days! A white Vieira? Let’s hope so. As to the other Pole – it appears he is still on the naughty step. Ospina has done enough to keep his place and expect him to get a good run of games should he maintain his performance level.

Given Coquelin’s recent work he deserves to keep his place ahead of the more experienced Flamini.

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To Theo or not? To Ozil or not? To Ramsey or not? What do you think? I would like to see us play exactly the same team that did so well against Stoke. The midfield of Santi playing deeper with Ox and Alexis in front worked very well. With MC sans Yaya (but with the very strong Fernand**  chaps) we can play through them.

At last we have formidable attacking options on the bench; men who can turn a game in 15 minutes. When was the last time we could say that?

I don’t want to spotlight the attacking power of City. To win today our defence will have to concentrate from kick-off to the final whistle with no lapses and as always we have to defend as a team.

The media are setting this game up as Aguero vs Alexis. In my opinion it is a question of which team defends best. And of course, how well Mike Dean performs, we all know the man is an anti-Arsenal imbecile but perhaps  – just for once – he will have a good game. How exciting.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy

 


The Champions come to Town

September 13, 2014

Super fixture this afternoon. Last season’s Champions come to the home of this season’s.

Added to that we have the chance to assess how our new signings are bedding into the team, plus the possibility of a sighting of our shiny new Centre Forward. But first let’s look at the opposition.

Manchester City deservedly won the title last season- they had the most expensive team, the best dressed manager and outside of The Arsenal possibly the best kit. City are a club that (from the outside) appear to be well run within strict guidelines,; unlike the Southern Oilers they have class and this is why so many were happy to see the Chavs and Liverpool fall away as City relentlessly won the points at season’s end – at least that is my impression sitting here isolated in my tepee.

Having once again, bought one of our stalwarts, they should by rights be detested by all Gooners yet surprisingly they are not. Nasri, Toure, Adebayor ,Gael Clichy, and now Bacary, who will be next?  I don’t blame these traitors – they have won silverware and have at least doubled their weekly wage packet. Hopefully, Sagna will not get booed today, he gave many great years to AFC and we have now signed a better and younger player. My main sadness with his departure is the loss of chas’s pics of Mrs Sagna 😢

City come with injury problems – Fernando (do they sing “there was something in the air that night, the stars were bright… ?) and Jovetic but if any team can cope with injuries it is  City. Can you imagine allowing a goal machine like Negredo to leave on a loan? Poor old City, forced to play Dzeko and Aguero upfront and Fernandinho in the middle.

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Both teams have yet to hit their straps, Yaya looks a shadow of the fearsome competitor we are used to seeing, the defence is vulnerable as Kompany struggles for form and the ageing Dimichelis continues  arouse suspicions that he has some saucy information about Pellegrini (why else is he picked?)

I could write extensively about City and their individual players but thankfully for you time and length of post restrict, so let’s get onto what really interests us

The Arsenal:  Big question first. Whether to Welbeck? I believe Danny will have such a stellar career that “to Welbeck” will become a verb much used in the coming years meaning to excel and to overcome any opposition with style and brio. But is he ready after less than a week on the training ground? Given the alternative of Sanogo I say a massive Yes but would not be surprised to see him enter the fray in the 70th minute.

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As everyone returns to fitness the choices available to Mr Wenger becoming mind numbingly difficult. Flamini or Arteta? Santi, Mesut, Jack and Aaron or drop one or two? 4-4-3 , 4-1-4-1, 3-5-3 or another combo? Gibbs or Monreal? I do not even know how I would pick the bench let alone the team!

Here is my stab at it …..

Manc 2014

which means leaving out Cazorla and the Ox. I have written before about how I cannot see how we work with both Cazorla and Ozil vying for the central space and think if we are to get the best from Mesut then he has to play there. I know he plays out wide for Germany but we do not have the quality of players of the World Champions.

And what of Podolski? When does the excellent fellow get a run in the first team? Is he to be relegated to the Carling Cup team? Why not sell him having secured Welbeck or was it purely a question of timing and he will go in January?

Chamberlain is much to good to be used purely as an impact sub but I cannot see how he fits into this team. If anyone does can you write a post about it because it is a subject which requires more than a couple of sentences?

We are unbeaten at The Emirates since Ozil arrived (can that be correct?). We have signed real quality in the summer. We have tremendous strength on the bench. We have determination, unbelievable belief, strength of character and a developing team ethic.

What can go wrong?

written by Big Raddy


A Commendable draw but if only we had a Striker

March 30, 2014

Many of us feared as we approached this match with trepidation could the team pick themselves up after a pretty poor week but more importantly would there be a commitment and desire to silence the growing number of critics.

What was to unfold literally was a game of two halves.

City were quicker to the ball and had us mostly pinned in our own half with most of their attacks aimed at our left side  and  at eighteen minutes the ineviatable happened when Silva bundled the ball over the line after a ricochet off our post and thoughts turned to another drubbing on the cards.

The second half was a completely different story and credit to the lads as they slowly regained composure and possession and it was no surprise when Flamini out of all people slammed in the equaliser with the best part of forty minutes to go. His first league goal since 2008 and didn’t he just enjoy it 🙂

The Home crowd were fantastic. Rosicky ran his socks off and even Podolski put in a shift but defending doesn’t come naturally to him – he could have won the game but at the end of the day we drew with honour but IMO it’s a game we could have won.

Toure and Kompany had been booked in the first half which may have played on their mind but we didn’t have the know how to try and make them commit a second foul, as they are undoubtedly the drive and defensive rock of man city.

Santi always plays better at Home and being two footed is wasted on the wing.

Szczesny concerns me. In the first few minutes he cleared a ball which was inches away of being met by a City player and that could have been one nil down. He flapped again in the second half and in the melee we may have conceded an own goal. He needs competition for his place.

I watched Giroud carefully and apart from one lay off he was completely useless. He can’t control a ball, beat a man, head on target, has no pace, and his long punt from the halfway line was embarrassing. He is the worst striker I have seen in an Arsenal shirt for years, despite his stats. I stress the point about him because at 1-1 a top quality striker would have got that vital goal and most probably won us the game. I know many will say he often gets no support but then I say change the system, or buy a clinical striker not an average hold up player.

All in all a great game to watch and in all reality we could definitely win the FA Cup and it’s a straight fight for forth between us and Everton.

I don’t expect you to agree with me with my observations, but if only a few of our walking wounded especially Ramsey and Koscielny could feature in our last three or four games that would bolster the team enormously and give us CL football yet again.

kelsey


Play Safe or Attack?

March 29, 2014

There are 3 ugly blots on this season’s landscape (4 if you count a ref-assisted loss at The Orcs). Things didn’t go according to plan, some may say there wasn’t a plan. In each game our full backs went on the attack from the kick-off – over-confidence, planning or plain stupidity?

Let’s start by looking at the players. Sagna is perhaps the most experienced right back in the PL, despite two broken legs he has played approaching 300 games for Arsenal. Gibbs has been at Arsenal since he was 14  (he is 24) and despite losing almost a season to injury has already played almost 150 first team games. It is inconceivable that their attacking actions were not tactical, as such it must be under Mr Wenger’s instruction.

Why would he go to Liverpool, City and Chelsea intending to attack from the first whistle? It is all supposition but this smacks of Didit’s famous reverse psychology – let’s attack from kick-off, score early and then settle into the game.  Or could it be that he feared the wing play of the opposition and wanted them to concentrate on their own defensive duties? I have no idea but I sincerely hope he continues his policy today.

Some believe we should get to 15 minutes at 0-0 and then become more expansive. I don’t agree but then I am a shit or bust type of man. Better to fight fire with fire and go down in flames or in the words of the great Neil Young, “it’s better to burn out than it is to rust.”

Over the season almost every blogger on AA has called for the team to come out the starting blocks fast and we are delighted (and surprised) when we score early. Should we tailor our tactics to the opposition and defend from the off against high quality teams?

What do you think?

I like Man City, they have been my second team since the days of Colin Bell and Mike Summerbee but seeing Arteta score at the Emirates in 2012 was a highlight of that season. Wouldn’t it be great to see him do the same today?

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Thinking of which – do we play the Flamini/Arteta or will our new Swede get a start? My hope is that if he does, we will continue to play The Ox and not play 3 over 30 midfielders.

Oh, here’s an unexpected stat – our below par centre forward has scored 5 times in his last 3 home games. Two more today please OG.

My team:

arse v city

There is little chance Mr Wenger will opt for my attacking line-up, he is more likely to drop Podolski and play Flamini – as would most of you 😀

Manchester: The name derives from a combination of Roman “mammanian” meaning  fort or breast shaped hill (mamma = breast) (easy, Cockle) added to Ceaster from the Old English for town. There was an early Celtic settlement on the hill where Manchester cathedral now stands which was taken by the Roman’s in the 1st C. It has been settled ever since

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It would take a minor miracle for us to win the title but we can certainly affect the result, a win for Arsenal today would bring joy to Scousers and a supercilious smile to the face of Mourinho which is such an appalling idea it makes me almost wish for an Arsenal loss, but that would force me to change the habits of a lifetime ……

I would be happy with a draw.

Big Raddy