Our Rorke’s Drift

April 23, 2017

I was hesitant about writing a FAC SF post with the prospect of Spurs awaiting us in the Final. Amusingly, that is no longer the case as the Hotspurs take yet another sad drag home along the North Circular ūüôā

So, it is with a lighter heart that I write this post.

Unknown-1.jpeg

Let’s kick off with my belief that we can beat City. Yes, they have great players and a fine manager. Yes, they have a squad which cost the equivalent of a mid-sized nation’s Gross National Product but they still play the likeable, but ageing, Sagna, and sometimes even Gael Clichy!

Here’s how we beat them. … solidity at the back, full backs being less adventurous, midfield staying on their feet and harrying rather than tackling, Ozil continuing his return to form, wingmen tracking back and always finding a red shirt with their passes, the front men being efficient and potent. Oh, and Cech/Ospina has to be alert at crosses.

Bosh.

We win.

Now how hard is that?

Will Mr. Wenger continue with his Back 3 experiment? I doubt it but it would be exciting. Sterling and Sane are much better widemen that Stewart Downing, who caused problems at ‘Boro. Can he trust the inexperienced Holding to stop such a quality attack?

On paper we are even in most areas of the pitch. Silva is not as good as an on-form Ozil. Aguero and Sanchez are both similar and wonderful players. Sterling and Theo are also similar, in fact all over the pitch there are likenesses between the squads.

The huge difference is De Bruyne, a marvellous talent and when on form, head and shoulders the best in his position, thankfully in recent weeks he has been struggling. We must hope for him to have an awful game this afternoon.

Guardiola will be looking for the FAC to save an ordinary season. I still think he was perfect for Arsenal but that ship has sailed.

As to Arsenal,  I just cannot see how we go into the game without Bellerin, it would be madness. Does he fit into a back 3? No, so we will revert to norm

My Team:

Cech (unless Ospina is fit)

Bellerin    Gabriel    Koscielny     Monreal

Ox   Ramsey    Xhaka

Walcott  Sanchez    Ozil

It is highly unlikely AW will play the above as it has no defensive “enforcer” but who gets dropped for Coquelin/Elneney? And who is left out if AW decides to play Giroud as a target man? Welbeck is not 100% fit, so Walcott starts.

This game is a huge opportunity to show that the current Arsenal are not as poor as some believe. Form is temporary. Class is permanent.

My main concern is the weather. We do not play as well when the temperature drops into single figures and the forecast is for chilly. If it gets over 15C, we win.

Let’s hope for a game as good as yesterday and an Arsenal win.

Let it be So.

COYRRG

p.s. Thank you to Chas for the headline’s inspiration

 


The Magic of the FA Cup returns on Sunday

April 21, 2017

On July 20th, 1871 at a Football Association meeting a discussion was held about ‚Äúbreathing life‚ÄĚ into its Challenge Cup. After the formal business was concluded,

  1. W. Alcock proposed: ‚ÄúThat it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association, for which all clubs belonging to the Association be, invited to compete.‚ÄĚ The idea was received at once with general favour, and at a subsequent meeting held on October 16th 1871 the rules were drafted, the entries were received and history took a deep breath and prepared for the plunge.

That was the day that the FA Cup was born and 146 years later the magic remains.

The first FA Cup semi finals were held in 1872:

The two fixtures were:

Crystal Palace v Royal Engineers & Queens Park v Wanderers with both games ending in 0-0 draws. Royal Engineers won their replay 3-0, but it was a different story for Queens Park; public donations had been used for their long trip down from Glasgow for the first semi final at Kennington Oval but unfortunately they were unable to arrange the funding for the journey back for the replay and were forced to withdraw from the competition. However the lack of funds had a silver lining as it allowed the Scottish pioneers to hold their heads high and retain their dignity as they returned to Scotland unbeaten.

Shirt numbers were not even imagined back then and knickerbockered players were distinguished by the colour of either their caps or stockings. The crossbar was a length of tape or rope. Inside the touchlines the field was unmarked, chuck ins were taken with one hand and the teams changed ends after every goal was scored. There was little or no heading of the ball and defence was rarely considered. The game was based on dribbling with most of the team backing up the man in possession, somewhat like a standing scrum.

A few Semi Final facts-

Most used stadium: Villa Park 55 occasions.

Highest attendance: 88,141 Everton v Manchester United in 2009

Biggest win: 6-0 Newcastle over Fulham in 1908

Biggest post war victory: 5-0 Stoke over Bolton in 2011

Most games needed for a result: 4 – Arsenal vs. Liverpool in 1980

Highest scoring game: 5-3 Hull over Sheffield United in 2014

Most semi final appearances: Arsenal 29

The semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989 at Hillsborough ended in tragedy when 96 spectators were killed in a crowd surge due to overcrowding. The cause of this tragedy was studied and the conclusions reached have helped in the design of new stadiums.

Our first semi final was in 1906 when we lost 2-0 to Newcastle United.

Arsenal are now appearing in their all time record 29th semi final, 11 of them under the management of Arsène Wenger. Arsène has also won the cup on a record 6 occasions along with George Ramsay who was the club secretary of Aston Villa from 1874 to 1926.

This season the semi final draw pits four of the Premier League’s best teams against each other.

Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur on April 22nd.

Arsenal vs. Manchester City on April 23rd.

At this point I cannot think of a better ending to the season than Arsenal beating Tottenham in the final.

GunnerN5


Arsenal. Player Ratings.

April 3, 2017

In the absence of both our post game analysts, I will try to fill in.

I have ambivalence – happy with a point given our current malaise but disappointed that having equalised we didn’t push on and attack a fragile defence.

How many clear cut chances did we created? Hopw many did we allow? Was it a penalty with the Monreal “handball”?

Perhaps it would be easier to do this by player assessments.

Ospina. Could have done better for the Aguero goal. Beaten with a cross shot. Cech may have saved it but Ospina made some good saves and was secure   6

Bellerin. One of his worst games. Where is the wonderful player of last season? Awful defending for the first goal. Poor passing throughout the game. He made Sane look a good player  4

Mustafi. Fine goal. Good in the middle of the area and made some good passes out of defence. He tried to lead the team after Kos’s substitution¬†¬† 7

Koscielny. Let’s hope his achilles is short-term. Quality player who is let down by his colleagues.¬†¬† 7

Monreal. Very good going forward and consistently gave Sanchez an outlet. Some decent crosses and stopped attacks down the right..  8

Xhaka.  Another yellow thanks to a dive fro a MC cheat. Combatative and won the midfield battle in the second half.   6

Coquelin. His best game for some time against a strong MC midfield.  7

Ozil. I expect more. He is world class and today had a chance to influence the game. He didn’t. Appears to to lacking in confidence¬† 5

Sanchez. Busy, as ever. City always double teamed him and reduced his effectiveness.    6

Welbeck. Anonymous. Worked hard but didn’t get any service.¬† 5

Walcott. Scored. Unhappy to be subbed which is not an issue. Worked hard but was a bit of a passenger. Extra point for the goal.  6

Subs:

Gabriel. A good half and one must wonder why he isn’t starting. 7

Giroud. Hardly touched the ball and didn’t receive a single cross.¬†¬† 5

Iwobi. We had more impetus when he came on. Could have scored.  7

Team: As a whole it was obvious the team lacked confidence. They worked hard but lacked the lovely intricate pass and move of earlier in the season. It was a workmanlike performance. Once again our defence looked porous.

I was concerned (as were others) about spirit of the team, they seemed very fragmented and this raises concerns about the common good. Walcott’s petulance, the lack of excitement when Walcott scored¬† but perhaps they just don’t like Theo!

Overall, a point against City was acceptable given the circumstances but if we were to achieve Top 4 a win was essential, and it is worrying that the team did not push on after Mustafi’s goal, if anything City looked more likely to take the 3 points.

written by Big Raddy


Sanchez or Aguero?

April 2, 2017

It is difficult to emphasise how important this afternoon is, for the club and the fans.

For the players, it is just another game and should they lose this and all the games to season’s end, they will still be millionaires and be in demand throughout the world. There is the rub.

Unknown.jpeg

In my youth Man City were my second team, Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee, Franny Lee etc were exciting to watch and won the title; the current MC team remind me of that fine team. Capable of wonderful flowing football but also able to grind out a result. And like that old team they have a colourful manager, though Malcolm Allison was more of a nutter than Guardiola!

Would you say that City are doing worse than us this season? I think so. They have spent hundreds of millions and brought in the most lauded manager in world football. Have they more chance of winning the title or the CL than us? Massive under-achievement for the investment.

Player for player I would say that we are not far apart. I wish we had bought De Bruyne but understand why we didn’t, given his absence this afternoon the player we have to marshal is the wonderful David Silva. I love the way this man plays. Close him out and we will win (make that Silva, Sterling and Aguero!)

Who would you prefer leading the line for Arsenal, Sanchez or Aguero? Both marvellously talented, hard workers. When I was young the idea that players of this standard would play in England was mind-boggling. Imagine Pele or Maradonna playing in the PL. Today we accept it as normal.

Arsenal: Where to start? We were just rubbish at WBA, yet are likely to start almost the same team. Hopefully Sanchez will play through the middle and change position with Welbeck. Our problems at set pieces are alarming but fairly easily solved (practice, concentration and application), and the defence will prefer the pace of MC’s attack.

Our Team:

Ospina

Bellerin    Mustafi     Koscielny     Monreal

Ox    Xhaka     Coquelin

Walcott    Sanchez     Welbeck

Ramsey or Coquelin? Sorry Aaron, you have struggled this season and we need the security of Coquelin with the threat of Silva.

The fans? It is so important  they back the side even if they struggle, it will be horrible to hear (or not) the Emirates return to the vitriol of recent times.

If we can score early I think we can win.

Can our boys halt the downward spiral of recent weeks? Let us hope so.

COYRRG


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.

Unknown.jpeg

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  Рit 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.

Unknown

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 ‚ā¨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 ‚ā¨32m for him in 2010, the year he won the PL Young Player of the Season award.

Unknown

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 Р 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  Рwho knows? Рso 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