Does Money Buy you the Premiership Title?

March 17, 2018

This was a reply to a GoonerB question which needed a wider audience

Everyone saw the recent Watford game in which we won 3-0. Was anyone really surprised? No. Why? Because Arsenal have a better team. Why do Arsenal have a better team? Because Arsenal have more money to buy better players. This is not rocket science. So I think it is fair to say that if Arsenal played Watford 100 times, Arsenal would win 95 of them.

It then naturally follows that if there were a league of just those two teams that Arsenal would win most of the time. However as the odds suggest Arsenal could have an off day as we did when Watford dumped us out of the FA cup. This is the equivalent of Leicester winning the league, they are the exception that proves the rule that the clubs with greater spending power are more likely to win the league.

Things should be clear now using the Arsenal – Watford example, where it gets complicated is when loyalty gets in the way because that can be the only excuse for not seeing that exactly the same applies to Arsenal and Man City. If they they played us for 100 consecutive games they are more likely than not to win 95 of them for the same reasons I give above.

Winning is quite simply all about money, it is not a case of Stan Kroenke loosening the purse strings; he is not competing against another rich man he is competing against an oil rich country. It cannot be won and should not be expected to be won.

So what does this mean? It means that yes we can still win the league but the odds are against us. What I want is a manager who understands this and accepts the challenge in order to increase the small chance of winning the league to the maximum that it can be. And who do I think is best placed to achieve this? Arsene Wenger and that is why I remain loyal.

That obviously needs explanation but I don’t want to turn this into a book.

Taken from a comment written by LB

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The Glamour Game

December 2, 2017

Throughout my Goonerdom there have been two fixtures which thrill – Spurs and United. There was a time when the arrival of Liverpool or City created a frisson but they are just not the same. United has always been the glamour tie of the season.

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Why?

George Best, Duncan Edwards, Bryan Robson, Cantona, Charlton, Ronaldo – the list is very long. Then there were the deeply unpleasant swine who played for them – Ince, Keane, the Nevilles, Hughes, Rooney, Sheringham ++ I have been to many hundreds of Arsenal games and in my highlight reel are many momentous moments playing United …

George Graham and Best being brilliant in a 2-2 draw at Highbury with GG scoring a superb scissor kick. Platty’s header in front of the North Bank, TH14’s brilliant turn and volley at the Clock End. Wiltord at OT. Plus plus plus.

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This afternoon will see two clubs in winning form. IMO if we beat United we will finish their tilt at the title (I know it is early). We win and we are just a point off second. Can we?

Much will depend upon our defensive concentration and rigidity. Against a forward line and midfield which cost an insane amount of money (just Lukaku & Pogba cost almost €200m!) we have to be aware. Since the return of Mustafi, we are doing much better at the back. My fear is that we will be as open as we were against Huddersfield – MU will punish those mistakes.

Upfront we will miss Laca, he is perfect to play against MU’s CB’s. I would play Snachez central and Welbeck on the left, as oppposed to Giroud playing as the target frontman.

My Team:

Cech

Koscielny    Mustafi    Monreal

Bellerin    Ramsey    Xhaka    Kolasinac

Ozil

Sanchez    Welbeck

Does anyone know where Walcott is? Is he injured? With Holding, Chambers and BFG as back up CB’s we are good. But, what happens if Bellerin gets injured?

It should be a football festival between two very good sides but there is a Portugese Fly in the ointment, Me-rinho and his PTB tactics. Will Jose give his players permission to play open, attacking football?

I would love it if we win.

COYRRG

 


Man Utd Preview.Where is the Glamour?

November 19, 2016

When the deeply unpleasant Me-rinho announced that he would be talking over from flaky LVG I was concerned; this was a chance for him to resurrect his career. Hopefully, he will continue the fine work done by his two predecessors.

Jose’s press conference yesterday told all we need to know about him; just watch his facial expressions, listen to his envy. If I were one of MU’s phalanx of spin doctors, I would be worried. The man is unspooling.

Long may it continue

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Onto the game.  As always there is the truism – points lost at OT are no more valuable than those lost at say, Vicarage Road. Nonetheless this is an important game, we need the points to stay with the front-runners and doing damage to MU is always good.

November. Bellerin. Santi. Sanchez. We know the problems.

Team selection will be very interesting. Will AW go with a defensive midfield pivot of Xhaka & Coquelin alongside Elneny? Will Ramsey start? Or Sanchez?

And what of right back? Peaches put out the rumour that Coquelin could start rather than Jenks, I can’t see it. Jenkinson has experience and is likely to start. Or could AW play Gabriel at RB and allow us to play with 3 at the back, pushing Monreal into midfield and thus giving space for an  attacking MF (Ramsey?).

A little about MU. They seem a club without an identity. In times of yore there was always a glimmer about them, some glamour. This is why Pogba and Ibra are so important to United, Pogba in particular, will be the man to base the team around. They have young talent in Rashford, Martial (I would love him to work with AW at AFC), Shaw and Bailly. Keeping De Gea was huge – he earns them at least 6 points a season. Someone will make them into a Top 4 side – I pray it is not the obnoxious Jose´.

My Team:

Ospina

Jenkinson    Mustafi    Koscielny     Monreal

Xhaka     Coquelin     Iwobi

Walcott   Sanchez   Ozil

Given Iwobi’s midweek travelling from Nigeria it may be that Ramsey will take his place, but let us not forget The Ox whose energy would do well in a more defensive performance.

The pundits are predicting Me-rinho will PTB, it is his way when facing attacking quality. Without Ibrahimovic I expect him to play on the counter and defend deep. Mata always plays well against us so I would not be surprised to him man marked.

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This will be a test for us, the portents are not good – the Mourinho jinx, November, our recent record at OT, injuries but this is the time when all good men come to the aid of the party.

COYRRG

 


Must Do Better.

February 29, 2016

That was the worst performance for a long time. And just to rub salt in the wounds, they scored two goals.

I’ve exhausted most of my anger already, but I thought our lack of intensity/focus was disgraceful. Our finishing got a bit better, but our application was gone. Look at Ramsey stroll around for their third goal. Time and again Coquelin and Ramsey simply let players run off them. Our midfield was so non existent all ManU had to do was pick up the ball and run and suddenly they’d be in our box.

Is Mertesacker so important to us? Gabriel was terrible and for a while now Kos hasn’t been as good as we’re used to seeing. Despite having the potential to be caught out perhaps Per’s organisation and passing is important to us. Without Santi in there, and with Ramsey only focused on getting on the end of things rather than making them happen, we need someone to be able to pick out the right pass, and Gabriel just looks lost with the ball at his feet.

Theo Walcott needs to be benched. Play Jeff and at least it’ll be like playing with 11 men.

Alexis isn’t contributing anything positive, but maybe it’s time to play him at CF with Welbeck and Campbell on the flanks to support him. Keeps him from having to track back, and I think a lot of the problem with him comes from tiredness.

The title is not gone, but maybe it’s better we think it is. We’ve been playing with such a burden on our shoulders, perhaps it’s better we just concede the title and go out and play football the way we want to. Win, lose or draw, at least entertain us Arsenal. Usually, the results will follow the performance.

The refereeing was very good yesterday. Including the decision to not send off Aaron Ramsey who only pushed Herrera’s (?) hands away, and he decided to go down like he was shot. Good call to book them both.

This performance should really draw a sharp reaction from the manager. Drop Ramsey for doing the Denilson jog, drop Walcott for being a liability, and take Gabriel off and bring in Chambers if Per was dropped for the Chelsea red card. Play the kids if you have to. At least they’ll bring some enthusiasm. Though Iwobi looked shockingly unprepared yesterday in the short time he was on. Which is weird because he’s looked good before.

written (as a comment) by Shard


Welbeck to Start.

February 28, 2016

Any trip to Old Trafford is cause for trepidation and despite MU’s poor recent form, this afternoon is no exception. It is 10 years since we won at their miserable, ugly, prawn-ridden stadium.

True, United no longer get sent out to kick two-colours out of our lads by the inspirational red-nosed alkie – instead they are inspired by Oliver & Hardy (LVG & Giggsy).

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LVG asking Giggs if he should sub Carrick

It has been an underwhelming season so far for MU, especially given their huge financial investment into the squad. 10 points behind us and 15 off the top is not what MU’s board would have hoped for.

BUT, the Mancs always raise their game against us. Just think back to the stand-out moments of recent seasons; the PV4/Keane battle, AW sent to the stands surrounded by bile-spewing muppets, Rooney’s dives, RvP’s goal off his shoulder (for MU), Fellaini. There always seems to be some misfortune which follows Arsenal at OT.

For example, De Gea returns from injury as does Smalling (wish AW had signed him), Martial and Rojo. This will not be the massively weakened MU we have seen over recent weeks.

There are concerns about our goal-scoring; almost 6 weeks since OG’s last goal, Sanchez playing way-below form, Theo ineffective, Ramsey not being able to hit a cow’s arse etc etc. However, in Ozil/Welbeck we have the keys to drive us to victory, not just today but in the title run-in.

I fervently wish for Welbeck to start today. Quite where he fits in I cannot fathom but we need his pace and strength. Where do you think he should play? He is naturally a left-sided attacker but that is where Sanchez plays and Alexis is undroppable.

We have succeeded in Manchester by parking the bus, playing a pressing game and attacking on the break. I think a similar plan would be effective this afternoon – it almost worked on Tuesday.

In an attempt not to repeat myself 🙂 I will not write of my admiration for Aaron Ramsey nor the need to remain vigilant for the excellent United wing play – Depay is starting to look like the world’s most expensive teenager again.

Nor will I mention Leicester or the need to keep pace with the excrement from N15. If we are to win the title a point today is the least we should hope for.

At this time in a post I often reflect upon my feelings about our opposition. For some reason I do not hate MU this season! Is it because of the humour and humanity of LVG, the awful run of injuries, the difficulty of changing from the SAF old guard to a new MU filled with exciting attacking intent (that is a joke) or just that it is an unpleasant trait to laugh at those who are going through tough times? Whatever the reason, I find I have some sympathy for our old rivals plight.

I still want to beat them though.

A repeat of the thrashing we gave United at the Emirates would be lovely

COYRRG

 

 

 


Time for Ozil to Step Up

October 4, 2015

Kelsey says one more injury and we are bollixed and Crystals is usually right.

Today we have Koscielny, Flamini, Wilshere, Arteta, Welbeck and Rosicky all crocked. Would any of these players be automatic starters apart from Kos? Probably not but it would be great to have them available especially Welbeck and Wilshire.

Why do I start the post with the above? Because I really do not know where to start today’s pre-match! The opponents are/were TOTL and in great form. We, however, are handily placed in 6th and could go up to 3rd with a win – but will we get the 3 points?

A poor MU took 4 points off us last season and as far as I can see we haven’t beaten them in the PL since 2010/11 – it is about time we did. However, and here is the rub, this Arsenal team is hugely inconsistent; a fine win over Stoke was followed by a dreadful loss to a poor Zagreb side,  a week which included super victories over Spurs and Leicester also saw us fall apart in the CL to Olympiakos.

We know our current squad is good enough to challenge for the PL (well, i know might be more realistic). Trouble is they need to do it on a game by game basis rather than the odd occurrence. If we can overcome the Mancs today it would be a huge fillip to both the players and the fans, and perhaps, kick-start our season.

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And what of the Mancs? The insanely expensive purchases appear to be successful for the moment. They are playing well and as usual getting the rub of the green. Referees adore them and continue to give favourable decisions to the Red Devils, the fans are on-side with LVG, injury-wise they are in good shape – it augurs well for them.

I hope Chary does not read this paragraph (wherever he is) but I believe English football needs a strong and successful United. They are the flag-bearers of the PL however much we may dislike them. Who would you rather see doing well in Europe – the financially doped Johnny-come-Lately’s or a club which has a proud and successful history?

In yesterday’s Telegraph, Gary Neville wrote a fine article about Arsenal’s preparation for games (thanks NG) highlighting the difference between what he sees as the classic MU/AFC winning teams and the current AFC. He believes we do not analyse our opponents in enough depth. Is he right? Is Steve Bould so inept that he doesn’t spend the days pre-game instructing his players how to close down dangers? Neville assumes Mr Wenger tells the players to play their own games without heed to the opposition in the knowledge that our better football and high possession will win the game. I cannot believe we are so naive.

Our Team:

Cech

Bellerin   Gabriel    BFG    Monreal

Ramsey  Coquelin    Cazorla

Ozil   Sanchez

Walcott

Expect to see OG make an appearance later in the game and possibly Chambers coming on to secure the defence should we be winning on 75 mins.

Ozil needs to convince the fans who continue to dismiss his superb skills that he really is worth his enormous transfer fee and wages. This afternoon would be a fine time to open his goal-scoring account.

I wish I could pick the Ox in our first choice eleven but despite non-stop effort and input he has disappointed. Could he benefit from a long run of games? Can Mr Wenger drop one of the above side to give him that chance? If so, who gets dropped?

Today’s referee is Anthony Taylor. He will be busy and I can guarantee that he will anger the Arsenal fans. The man is not so much biased against AFC, more that he is incompetent. Coquelin will be booked in the first half as will Gabriel. We must hope that our full-backs remain card free so they are allowed to tackle MU’s wingers upon whom they rely so much.

If Arsenal can remain disciplined in defence then we will win – we are better than them, but sadly that is a huge IF. Our players are good enough but the organisation and concentration has been poor this season – we have conceded 13 goals in 11 games which is not good enough. We must improve or find ways to score far more goals, especially from midfield (apart from Flamini  the others have scored a sum total of none).

I would love it if we beat them

COYRRG


Another 1- 0 to The Arsenal?

May 17, 2015

Can we continue the winning run at OT?  Though we are unbeaten at the Manchester Main Library in 2015 the portents are mixed.

The nine years without the glory of winning of both silverware and at what is the PL’s most prestigious and largest ground has finally been resigned to history; can Arsenal win both the FAC and at OT twice in a year? Why not?

Firstly, we have to re-discover the scoring form of earlier in the year and Giroud in particular could …..

I had better stop this now. Quite honestly I am not in possession of the facts nor the passion to write about this afternoon’s game in any depth – you will have to get the runners and riders elsewhere, instead let us look back in time (it is almost always the best place).

Weds May 8th 2002.  Jubilee year. We went up to the Toilet in fine form and the previous weekend had won the FA Cup at Cardiff thanks to goals from Ray and Freddie. The team was without the injured Pires, Adams and TH14 but was so good that Dennis was on the bench for this important fixture!

United were Champions and hurting. This was the team of Beckham, Van Nistelroy, Roy Keane, Scholes,the Neville Brothers and Laurent Blanc. They needed the points to ensure CL qualification and above all, Ferguson hated the idea of his nemesis Mr Wenger winning the title at his “fortress”.

These were the years of  the bitter rivalry between the Professor and the Rednosed Glaswegian. a time when on-field battles were a regular occurrence (remember the docked points?), the PV4/Keane feud, the heinous Neville assaults on our fleet-footed marvels, the Keown/Nistleroy contretemps was just a year away. It was the biggest fixture of the season and although I couldn’t attend I was excited with a serious E.

We needed just a point to win the title but from the off we attacked. Kanu passed to Wiltord who hit Blanc with a stinger which went for a corner. Freddie buzzed around causing havoc. Scholes picked up his customary yellow for a dreadful tackle on Edu (he shouldn’t have left AFC so early), Neville and Keane followed him into the book as MU realised they couldn’t compete trying to play football (expect the same today). Then on the hour Ray sent Freddie clear, his shot hit Barthez and rebounded to Sylvian who slotted it home. Cue bedlam in the away end. Our solid defence saw out the game without further trouble.

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We had won the title at our most hated rivals (OK, I know we also won the League at WHL – but give me some artistic licence!) and not just won the Premiership but the Double as well.

Happy Days.

There is no reason why we cannot win at OT this afternoon, MU will surely have to attack at home and the game should be a cracker (unlike Swansea).  We need to find a way past the wonderful De Gea which is not easy but can be done. OG has to occupy the CB’s and create space for our little fellows, the defence has to be resolute with Le Coq vital insurance as Ramsey/Wilshire venture forward.

I am 50% confident

COYRRG