Arsenal’s remaining season: what’s the point?

February 16, 2019

I’m writing this on the back of the Bate result with all the despondent reactions still ringing in my ears. Now I don’t want to sound like I’m high as a kite on false hopium, BUT, pre-season, and on the back of a new manager, most Arsenal fans were pretending to show a more mature and patient side with getting back to being a top four side as step one.

We are currently sitting in 5th, with just one point separating Utd in 4th and Chelsea just below us in 6th. Hardly a time to chuck in the towel.

Beyond the League (although this post is about the League), in the Europa most think we’ll get past Bate, and we recently beat the bookies favourite, Chelsea.

Ok, the remaining League fixtures:  much will be decided by how each of the 4th spot contenders perform against the lower sides as that’s the majority for each’s remaining games, however much will depend on encounters between us, so here they are:

ARSENAL
Totnum a
ManUtd h

CHELSEA
Totnum h
Liverpool a
Man Utd a

TOTNUM
Chelsea a
Arsenal h
Liverpool a
Man City a

MAN UTD
Liverpool h
Arsenal a
Man City h
Chelsea h

I haven’t included City or Pool because they are not in the race for 4th , although interestingly, City have only one fixture left against a top six side, while Pool have three.

I have included Totnum because they are more than capable of spectacular implosions.

Some of these could end up effectively being the classic six pointers.

Can we make it? Stranger things have happened.

mickydidit89

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What does the club you most dislike say about you?

February 5, 2019

Every supporter of every club has the local derby thing, so as Gunners, let’s remove the Totnum lot from the discussion.

In most people’s sights are the team that were our closest rivals during the few periods in our history that we were the dominant club.  Therefore I’m sure back 1934 there were a few Sunderland haters 🙂

We can probably pin you down by your age. Leeds Haters: you’re 60+ aren’t you? I could go on. Through to Pool, then on to the United lot, but you get my drift.

More recently, we have the oil money haters. I’m always a little uneasy about this group of two as you open an ethical can of worms that goes down the rabbit hole of sponsors/owners etc, and simply that we, The Arsenal, are a major part of the whole obscene money merry-go-round.

Ok, that’s about it for a quick conversation starter. What I’d love to unearth is an Arsenal fan who hates a Grimsby or Bolton with every fibre in their body 🙂

Mickydidit89

Arsenal’s Drama Queens Overreact

January 26, 2019

My macro view of the state of things:

  • We have the 6th best squad in England
  • We have the joint 3rd best 1st X1 (= with Utd, Totnum and Chelsea)
  • We lost 1-3 at home and that hurts
  • Our season’s priority (including another summer’s transfer window) is to rebuild, find a new identity and get back to being a top four side
How’s it going?
  • In his first window, Emery bought two defenders, two defensive midfielders and a goalie
  • Our defence is as bad as ever BUT….when was the last time Monreal, Kos, Sok and Bell had a run of games? Exactly
  • Holding was looking good 
  • Emery certainly got things right against Totnum and The Chavs in the league
Last night:
  • It is not a good way to start the weekend by losing 1-3 at home in The Cup, and I don’t care who that is against
  • We started the night with a back four of M-N, Kos, Sok and Kol. That lasted 29 minutes.
  • The opposition then scored in the 31st and 33rd, thus allowing them to sit back and counter against a defence that very soon went and lost its other CB.
Could it have been different?
  • Mmmm, maybe, but realistically we’re looking at the first half hour and our inability to score first 
  • I think we set up without enough in the middle ie against Chelsea we had Granit, Terry and Ouzi, with just Ramsey supplying a front two of Auba and Laca
  • Auba is not a bloody winger, he is an elite goal hanger 🙄
The Drama Queens
  • Post match I had a very rare sniff around other blogs. Dear God, I promise that will be the last time
  • Things were very bright post Spuds and Chavs, so surely a reasonable level of reaction to last night shouldn’t be too much to ask 
My feelings
  • Our attacking midfielders are Mesut, Ramsey, Iwobi, Danny and Mhki
  • Only one of those has top two teams level quality to set up Auba and Laca
  • Emery doesn’t like that player.  At all
  • I do get concerns over his work rate, and we also know Ramsey is off. While I’m just about ok with  Mesut being off loaded as well given the manager’s view, this presents a HUGE challenge. He needs to find two Terrier level age/price/quality players to fill the Ramsey/Mesut hole and that is a very, very big hole
  • We’re now left with just the League and Europa, which given my previously stated season’s objectives is not bad as we’re free from any distractions. Chelsea are the bookies Europa favourites and we can beat them.

Ok, I’m bored of this now. We have free weekends. Enjoy.

Mickydidit89


A Friday Pre-match

January 25, 2019

Friday night kick off. Reminds me of 26/5/89. A similar result would be lovely.

OGS has walked into a perfect situation, any team relieved from the yoke of Merino-dom is certain to play better, especially one which contains so many highly-priced egoists. Dropping Pogba and Martial in order to inspire them was never going to work.

Will we see the blood and thunder of previous MU cup ties? I hope so but very much doubt it. Gone are the days when Arsenal had players who would “get stuck in” though we are better than under Mr. Wenger in the art of sh*thousery, Sokratis, in particular, is Lauren-esque in his attitude. As always, we will need a strong , unbiased, efficient referee

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I expect Mr. Emery to start with his strongest team because this is an important game for him. Having beaten a poor Chelsea team Arsenal will want to cement the growing confidence in the squad. After beating Spurs we lost our mojo, we do not want a repeat

Will Mr Emery continue with the midfield diamond which worked so effectively last weekend? MU have so much pace upfront, it would seem the best tactic but perhaps he will revert to a Back 3 given the injury to Hector.

The Corporal, AMN or Licht at right back? My choice would be AMN simply because of the pace on MU’s flanks; Martial, Rashford,  Ratface Lingard and the Dog Fancier.

Sanchez is an odd case – I expect him to get a frosty reception but why should he? He scored some wonderful goals for us and for a season or two carried the team, why the hostility? It is not as if Sanchez was a Gooner; he was just a hired hand who left to get more money. I don’t blame him. €400k a week is quite an incentive to leave the Arsenal.

Winning the F.A. Cup is part of the Arsenal tradition, it remains high on our priority list. United are our rivals for a CL place and our long-term rivals in terms of glory. We need to beat them.

Let it be So

COYRRG


Is the Arsenal Man United rivalry a thing of the past?

January 24, 2019

Yesterday’s post suggested that the aggressive, no holds barred Arsenal v Man U animosity originated in February 1988 when Nigel Winterburn castigated Brian McClair for blasting a penalty into the North Bank right at the end of a fifth round FA Cup tie with United 2-1 down. Funny as that was, did the seething dislike of one another begin then?

As far as supporters go, the Cockney Reds (London-based Man U supporters) have always been universally disliked by fans of London teams. Between 1967 and 1993, Man U did not win the League title. We won it three times but it was Liverpool who dominated the 70s and 80s.

Arsenal won the title in 1989 with the famous last game of the season triumph at Anfield. That McClair/Winterburn spat had occurred the season before so perhaps it had been that which sparked the mutual loathing. Certainly October 1990 at Old Trafford saw a 21 man brawl, when McClair started kicking Winterburn after a dodgy tackle on Irwin.

As David Rocastle said, “It was our team-mate, our little blood brother, in trouble. They were kicking Nigel like a nightclub brawl. That’s what got us upset. If it was just a bad tackle, you wouldn’t go in like that, no chance. But when I saw them kicking Nigel I ran over thinking, ‘You can’t have this!’ We went in there and we stuck up for each other. At Arsenal we never, ever started any brawls – we just finished them.”

Arsenal won the game 1-0 thanks to Anders Limpar but we were docked 2 points, the mancs docked only 1, even though they had instigated the violence. Arsenal ran away with the League losing only the 1 game all season and the fans enjoyed singing “you can stick your 2 points up your a*se” as the title win was confirmed.

During the early and mid 90s, United dominated the League once Ferguson found his feet. He had been within a cat’s whisker of being sacked (oh, how things might have been). Once a certain Monsieur Wenger transformed the dreadful George Graham mid-90s Arsenal into a team which could compete for the title again, his rivalry with Ferguson was set and became a feature of the late 90s right up to the 2005 FA Cup Final.

Other outfits complained that it had become a two team League with either Arsenal or Man U winning it every season. The biggest games every season were the blood and thunder London/red Manc showdowns. Overmars in 1998, the epic 1999 season (which sadly all went United’s way) and the battle of the midfield titans of Vieira and Keane were all hall marks of that time.

United hated Arsenal’s 2003/4 dominance and several times used tactics more suited to Gorbals street fighting to close the gap in class. Our 49 game unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of grievous bodily harm all over the pitch, a pathetically lame excuse for a referee in Mike Riley and a disgraceful Wayne Rooney dive. If Fergusion couldn’t win fair and square, it was obvious he would do anything in his power to conjure up an advantage.

These days he sits in the stands like a genial old uncle who commands respect and admiration by all those around him. However, Arsenal fans will never forget the beatings our players took, especially at Old Trafford, which were the work of one man alone.

Since 2005, Arsenal slipped and it was only the revolting Robin van Persie who revived the animosity with his ‘listened to the little boy inside’ nonsense.

Are there any players left who might still understand the depths of hatred which caused mild-mannered bloggers like Chary to lose their rag whenever Man U were mentioned? Herrera is a sh*thouser’s sh*thouser but he’d be like that whichever team he played for. Maybe the new, baby-faced United manager would know more about it than anyone else involved tomorrow.

Rooney knew the score, van Nistelrooy would do anything to turn us over, the Neville brothers were manc-versions of the Krays in some of those early noughties games at OT, Schmeichel and Wright squared up over allegations of racist taunts and corresponding two-footed tackles, Keown caused the Dutchman to soil his pants in 2003, Lauren cut Ronaldo in half at Highbury, Vieira made Gary Neville look like a schoolboy in the tunnel at Highbury.

Andy Hooper

Where has all this resentment gone? Swallowed up by Chelsea and Man City buying the League, maybe. Would we want it all back how it was, maybe not. Perhaps with both teams currently more likely to be fighting for the 4th CL slot or Europa football rather than Championships, it has taken some of the edge off it?

What do you think? Are we now looking back at an intense rivalry consigned to history?

One thing’s for certain, when the whistle blows for kick off tomorrow evening, I hope the Arsenal team show the passion and pride they’ve shown in the two big London derbies at the Emirates so far this season and go out to humiliate Solskjaer’s boys with the quality of their football.

chas


Arsenal FC – Our record against Man U in the FA Cup

January 23, 2019

Amazingly, out of the 14 times we’ve been drawn against Man U in the FA Cup (it’ll be 15 with Friday’s game), the record stands at 7 wins each. You’ll never guess how the goals for and against stand either – yep, 19 a-piece.

Of course our record is far superior because we’ve won 2 Finals (the less said about semi-finals, the better).

So in the FA Cup (and before Friday’s 4th Round tie) we’ve played the red mancs:

  •   at neutral venues in 2 Finals and 3 Semi-Finals (1 of those going to a replay);
  •   in 2 home games;
  •   and in 7 where we were drawn away.

Maybe just documenting the wins would seem a sensible option 🙂 – so here goes.

———————————————————————————–

10th March 1906 – Man U 2 Woolwich Arsenal  3 – Quarter Final

Venue – Bank Street, Clayton – attendance 26,500

Our first FA cup game against Manchester United was an away quarter-final fixture on March 10, 1906.

The attendance at the game was reported as just shy of 30,000 by The Manchester Courier. Gate receipts totalled £951- and admission was only three-and-a-half pence.

Arsenal team: J Ashcroft; A Cross, J Sharp; J Bigden, P Sands, R McEachrane; B Templeton, B Garbutt, B Freeman; T Coleman, T Fitchie

Hosts United, were third in the Second Division at the time, while Arsenal were in the midst of a relegation battle in the top tier.

Charlie Sager opened the scoring for the hosts within one minute of referee J.B. Brodie’s first whistle. But the United supporters had barely captured their breath before the Gunners were on equal terms. From the re-start, Arsenal advanced and Billy Garbutt forced United keeper Harry Moger to parry into the path of the prolific Bert Freeman, who tucked away the rebound. Around the half-hour mark, Peddie restored United’s lead with a neat, high finish but the visitors went into the break level after Tim Coleman netted from close range.

The second half was all about one man: Arsenal’s first England international, goalkeeper Jimmy Ashcroft. United looked threatening throughout the second half but the brilliance of Ashcroft proved to be decisive. United’s Charlie Roberts was man-marking Tom Fitchie but that gave speedy Freeman space to run and the forward tucked in his second after a splendid dribble, handing Arsenal the lead for the first time in the match.

Despite United’s best efforts to force a replay there was no way past Ashcroft and, at the final whistle, the 28-year-old was carried off the field on the shoulders of his jubilant peers.

 

30th January 1937 – Arsenal 5 Man U 0 – 4th Round

Venue – Highbury – attendance 45,637

Arsenal were cruising through the Thirties, Cliff Bastin, Ted Drake and Alex James regularly trampling over other teams. We were the FA Cup holders, they were second in Division One, and the following season the Gunners would win our fifth title of the decade.

United, on the other hand, had been bouncing between the bottom of the First Division and top of the second since the end of the first World War. Promoted in 1936, they were bottom of the table when 1937 was ushered in.

A cup shock might have been on the cards but the home team went three goals up in seven minutes.

This result still stands as Arsenal’s largest home victory over United. Bastin opened the scoring from distance before Jimmy Brown put the ball into his own net under pressure from Ted Drake. The third went to Alf Kirchen, and before half-time the rampant home team added a fourth when Robert Trimming Davidson (Con) sent a cross-shot past Thomas Breen.

With regard to the spirit of the competition, United attempted to attack in the second half, but were unable to dig out anything remotely resembling a goal. Drake nodded home a deserved fifth, and the Times had this to say:

The ground was an unpleasant mixture of melting snow and mud, and its surface was very treacherous. The accuracy and speed with which Arsenal carried out their movements was therefore all the more remarkable.

As for United? A journalistic ‘well played’.

Manchester United were outplayed from the start of the game, but they must be given every credit for the way in which they stuck to a hopeless task, and for the spectators and players alike the game was made all the more enjoyable by the fact that never once did the Manchester players attempt to stoop to the employment of questionable tactics. (This was to change in the Ferguson era….ed)

 

12th May 1979 – Arsenal 3 Man U 2 – FINAL

Venue – Wembley – attendance 100,000

Between the two of them, United and Arsenal have played in 34 of the 133 FA Cup finals. But have only run into each other twice.  For 85 minutes of the 1979 final, Arsenal strolled around, Liam Brady purring like a majestic, ball-playing panther. Brian Talbot scored the first goal after 12 minutes, Frank Stapleton added the second just before half time, and as the clock ticked around to five o’clock, the contest looked done.

Then everything went mammaries up. In the 86th minute Steve Coppell slung a free-kick across the Arsenal penalty area, Joe Jordan sent it back into the middle, and Gordon McQueen poked the ball home. And just two minutes later, Sammy McIlroy danced past two stumbling defenders and slipped the ball underneath Pat Jennings.

Supporters heads went down. From the restart, Brady (who later claimed that he was just trying to get the ball out of the Arsenal half and away from his shell-shocked defenders) bustled his way to the edge of the United penalty area, then poked the ball wide to Graham Rix. He chipped the ball to the far post; United’s keeper Gary Bailey, perhaps anticipating a low cross, flapped and arriving at the far post, Alan Sunderland tucked the ball home before running off screaming and clenching his fists.

 

20th February 1988 – Arsenal 2 Man U 1 – 5th Round

Venue – Highbury – attendance 54,161

The following is the match report from an SBNation article on memorable Arsenal v Man U FA Cup matches

There is, on the face of it, no logical reason why Brian McClair shouldn’t have taken this penalty. He was a decent footballer, he wasn’t likely to lose his bottle or his legs in the course of his run up and, by the time he stepped up in the last minute of this fifth round tie, he’d already scored four from the spot that season.

It was 2-1 to Arsenal when he did. United came into the game in good spirits; they’d beaten Arsenal at Highbury a couple of weeks previously, and were in good away form generally. Arsenal, for their part, were slumping a touch in the league: apart from two cup games against lower-league opposition, they’d won just twice since the beginning of December.

So naturally, Arsenal started like a proper football team and United started like a rabble. The first goal is remarkable for the defensive chaos in the visitor’s ranks: each desperate hack clear only created a greater hole, and by the time Nigel Winterburn clipped a cross onto Alan Smith’s head, there were more attacking players in the six-yard box than there were defenders. This was followed by a perfect corner routine: Mike Duxbury rose and flicked the ball on, then his teammate Gordon Strachan crashed the ball into the roof of the net. His own net.

We can, perhaps, assume that the half-time break brought an early deployment of the Alex Ferguson hairdryer, for United steamed into their opponents after the break. McClair nicked one back with a sweet left-footed volley, and a couple of other efforts were hacked from the line. Then, with three minutes left, Norman Whiteside was tripped in the area by Michael Thomas, and up stepped McClair.

“This defeat amounted to a kind of funeral for Manchester United’s season,” wrote Hugh McIlvanney in the Observer, “and Brian McClair will be remembered as the undertaker.” But as United’s season died, something else was born: in the aftermath of the missed penalty, Winterburn took the opportunity to share some feelings with his dejected opponent. Winterburn has claimed not to remember what  he said precisely, though The Sledger’s Handbook by Liam McCann records that he delivered the positively Wildean dismissal: “You’re shit, you are”.

Whatever was said, it stung. Two years later, up at Old Trafford, Winterburn dived into a tackle, McClair dived into Winterburn, and one of English football’s most notable 21-man brawls unfolded. (Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman was the conscientious objector.) Both teams were docked points, and a glorious rivalry was born — one that would rumble through much of the 1990s and 2000s, taking in Martin Keown and Ruud van Nistelrooy, Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira, before reaching a farcical nadir (or zenith, if you’re that way inclined) when Cesc Fabregas allegedly lobbed a slice of pizza at Alex Ferguson.

 

15th February 2003 – Man U 0 Arsenal 2 – 5th Round

Venue – Old Trafford – attendance 67,209

Being able to rest Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp and still stroll to a comfortable 2-0 victory was the curious tale of this fifth round tie.

Goals from Edu Gaspar and Sylvain Wiltord either side of half time sealed the victory but not before Bryan Giggs had missed an open goal after rounding Spunky. This game will be remembered for a fiery start and fairly typical of what became Ferguson’s gruesome attempts to kick Arsenal off the pitch. Jeff Winter had to call the captains together to calm the situation. It’s a shame that other referees since haven’t had the necessary cojones to stamp on Fergie’s bully boy tactics in a similar manner.

 

21st May 2005 – Man U 0 Arsenal 0  (5-4 on penalties to the good guys) – FINAL

Venue – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff – attendance 71,876

We beat United 0-0. Or rather they should have romped the match but somehow it finished goalless. 9 penalties out of 10 were scored including the decisive last one which turned out to be Patrick Vieira’s final kick in an Arsenal shirt. Paul (Mr Charisma) Scholes succumbed to the baying of the Arsenal fans to miss the only spotkick of the ten taken.

 

9th March 2015 – Man U 1 Arsenal 2 –  6th Round

Venue – Old Trafford – attendance 74,285

A game largely remembered for the winner scored by Danny Welbeck returning to his home town. 8,000 plus Gooners took over a corner of Old Trafford and had a wonderful evening. Nacho Monreal opened the scoring but his goal was cancelled out by Rooney’s header minutes later.

Danny’s goal was vigorously celebrated by him, the attending Arsenal faithful and millions of Gooners worldwide. Angel Di Maria was aggrieved to be cautioned for diving and was promptly sent off for petulantly grabbing at Michael Oliver’s shirt. (Michael Oliver has been getting his own back on us ever since).

We went on to smash Villa in the 2015 Final and win the Cup for the second year in succession.

Danny, Mesut and Santi, March 2015

This will be only our 3rd home game against United in the FA Cup and we won the first two – I have positive feelings about making it three in a row.

GunnerN5 plus some chas additions


Man Utd Pre-Match. Confident? Don’t look at the Stats.

December 5, 2018

A two part post today. Big R’s pre-match followed by GN5’s statistics for the game

Pt 1:

IMO next to our trophy-less neighbours the biggest game of the season is the Red Devils especially now they are managed by The Miserable One.

As you will read below, we have a poor record at OT but Mr Emery is a new brush, could he bring us our first victory since 2006? If so, how?

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Would you choose the Back 3 which has been so successful  or revert to a Back 4? Will Ozil return? Should Wobbly start or Lacazette? Ramsey or Mhiki?

LB made a fine case that Emery is using the Back 3 to accommodate Kolasinac whose defensive discipline is uncertain. It appears to work as this frees the Wardrobe to play with more invention thus he had his best game on Sunday.  If Mesut is still suffering from “back spasms” then I see us lining up with the same team but rewarding Ramsey for his impressive 45 mins..

My Team:

Bent

Mustafi      Sokratis    Holding

Catwalk   Terrier   Xhaka    Wardrobe

Ramsey    Wobbly

Auba

As we know, Mr Emery is likely to make changes should it not be working.

Enough of that … time for some vitriol. Anyone who has read my comments over the years knows how I detest  Moaninho. Since his first press conference in London, his cowardly eye-gouging, the destruction of Inter Milan, his playing style, his conceit and arrogance. And now the beleaguered act. To read the farcical statement that Everton have spent more money than MU said it all, He is the Donald Trump of the PL.

As to the MU team … expect a rough game. Lukaku is a battering ram who creates the space for the lightning fast raids by Rashford and Martial. In midfield they are aggressive but have flair.

And then there is Fellaini.

We need a strong referee. Dean was appalling on Sunday, tonight we have Andre Marriner and we can only hope for better.

Arsenal must be on a high after 3 wins in a week. It should be an exciting but cagey, tense game.

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Pt 2:

Perhaps our least impressive away record is against Man U, the last game we won at Old Trafford was September 17, 2006 and we have only won a total of three games in the Premier League era. This particular game is special as it’s the 100th away game.

Here is our overall away record.

Our away record by game – in the Premier League.

Memorable victories at the Old Cowshed

14th March 1998 – Man U 0 Arsenal 1

A fair few points behind in the League but with games in hand, this game was pivotal in Arsene’s first League title. Marc Overmars scored in the 79th minute after Arsenal had dominated throughout. Bergkamp, Anelka, Parlour and Petit were imperious and Alex Manninger made a crucial stop when a linesman failed to flag an offside Andy Cole in the first half.

Photo by Rui Vieira/PA.

8th May 2002 – Man U 0 Arsenal 1

With Henry injured and Dennis on the bench, Paddy V, Edu and Parlour bossed the midfield allowing Wiltord and Kanu to score whenever they wanted. They chose the 55th minute (with Freddie’s help) and Arsenal went on to clinch the Double at the home of their nearest rivals (The FA Cup had already been won a few days earlier with goals from the Romford Pele and Freddie).

This is a new era with a new Manager and a renewed level of energy which may introduce a new flavour to our results at Salford.

We are unbeaten in the last 19 games in all competitions – will we make it 20?

GunnerN5