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

 


Will Arsenal make it 19 in a Row?

March 19, 2015

The race for the top four Premier League positions is on in full force. Twenty nine games played and just nine games left. Fourteen teams still have a mathematical chance of finishing in the top four but I will only concentrate on the battle involving the top seven.

Chelsea still appears to be Championship favourites although their form has dipped of late and as it’s dipped their tactics have become even cruder. So far this season their only slip ups against non top seven teams were draws with Burnley and Sunderland and a loss to Newcastle. They only have three remaining games against the top seven – United and Liverpool at home and Arsenal away. I fully expect them to play ultra defensive football, hoping for a breakaway goal but happily settling for a point in each of the three games, while winning all of their remaining games against the non top seven teams.

However they have only managed to gain 19 out of 30 points in their last 10 PL games so my prediction may be overly optimistic.

My predictions are –

Hull – away win, Stoke – home win, QPR – away win, Man U – home draw

Arsenal – away draw, Leicester – away win, Crystal P – home win

Liverpool – home draw, WBA – away win, Sunderland – home win

Last 10 games DLWWDWWDWD (Pts % 63.3)

Current points 64

Projected points 88

Manchester City is difficult to predict as their form is inconsistent at best and erratic at worst, which was highlighted by their loss to Burnley. Against the non top seven teams they have drawn with QPR, Burnley, Everton, and Hull and lost to Stoke, West Ham and Burnley. Against the top seven they have already dropped 12 points.

City has only managed to win just 50% of the points in their last 10 games so they will have to turn things around to hold on to second place.

My predictions are –

WBA – home win, Crystal P – away win, Man U – away win, West Ham – home win

Aston Villa – home win, Tottenham – away draw, QPR – home win

Swansea – away draw, Southampton – home win

Last 10 games WDLDDWWLWL (Pts % 50.0)

Current points 58

Projected points 81

Manchester United have really ridden their luck this season by winning games that they should have lost but they are now heading into a run of very difficult games. After their loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup ended their hopes of any trophy’s this season their consequent win against Tottenham will be a boost to their confidence.

My predictions are –

Liverpool – away draw, Aston Villa – home win, Man City – home loss

Chelsea – away draw, Everton – away win, WBA – home win

Crystal P – away win, Arsenal – home draw, Hull – away win

Last 10 games DLWWDWLWWW (Pts % 66.7)

Current points 56

Projected points 74

Liverpool is showing some impressive form and is undefeated in their last 13 PL games.

I only see Pool dropping points against Man U, Arsenal and Chelsea. In their last game against Swansea they rode their luck but in the end they won the game on a very fortunate deflection. I see them as legitimate contenders for a PL place.

My predictions are –

Man U – home draw, Arsenal – away draw, Newcastle – home win

Hull – away win, WBA – away win, QPR – home win

Chelsea – away draw, Crystal P – home win, Stoke – away win

Last 10 games WWWDWWWWW (Pts % 86.7)

Current points 54

Projected points 75

Tottenham have beaten both Arsenal and Chelsea in their last 10 games but have also lost to Man U and Liverpool so they are very unpredictable, in their  0-3 loss at Old Trafford they did not look like a team capable of finishing in the top four.

Our shadow over the North London midgets is getting bigger and darker by the year.

My predictions are –

Leicester – home win, Burnley – away win, Villa – home win

Newcastle – away win, Southampton – away draw

Man C – home draw, Stoke – away draw, Hull – home win

Everton – away draw

Last 10 games WLWWWLDWWL (Pts % 63.3)

Current points 50

Projected points 69

Southampton seems to have run out of steam and have dropped 13 points in their last 10 games. In their last game they gained a point at Stamford Bridge and looked good in the process. I only see them losing to Man C in their final 9 games but I cannot see them making the top four.

My predictions are –

Burnley – home win, Everton away draw, Hull – home win

Stoke – away draw, Tottenham – home draw, Sunderland – away win

Leicester – away win, Villa – home win, Man C – away loss

Last 10 games WWWLWDLLWD (Pts % 56.7)

Current points 50

Projected points 68

Arsenal has won eight of the last 10 PL games and our only losses were to Tottenham and Southampton. During this period only Liverpool gained more points winning 26 while we won 24. I cannot remember the last time our squad looked so strong with only 9 games left in the season.

Our key players are close to their top form with Cazorla, Ozil and Alexis just oozing class. Ramsey and Walcott still have a way to go but it’s great to see them both fit again – they will be needed. Ospina has been very steady in goal and shows a lot of confidence, which spreads to the team.  Coquelin has added some steel and tenacity to our midfield while Giroud proved his worth with his performances against West Ham and Monaco. My main concern is with our full back positions, we always seem to be exposed down the flanks – when they make their forays downfield our center backs are drawn out of position while they are covering for the absentee’s.

My predictions are –

Newcastle – away win, Liverpool – home draw, Burnley – away win

Sunderland – home win, Chelsea – home draw, Hull – away win

Swansea – home win, Man U – away draw, WBA – home win

Last 10 games LWWWLWWWWW (Pts % 80.0)

Current points 57

Projected points 78

The season will hinge on the following 10 games and will most likely be decided based on the outcome of the first seven of them.  To be honest they are the type of games that should decide the championship – the best against the best – I await them with nervous anticipation.

 Arsenal v Liverpool

Arsenal v Chelsea

Man U v Arsenal

Chelsea v Man U

Chelsea v Liverpool

Liverpool v Man U

Man U v Man C

Spurs v Man C

Man C v Saints

Spurs v Saints

I firmly believe that we are up for the task – how about you?

To arrive at my final conclusions I’ve predicted the outcome of 54 games so I’m bound to be wrong but how wrong do you think I am?

19th march

GunnerN5


Wembley! Wembley! We’re the famous Arsenal and we’re going to WEMBLEY!!!

March 10, 2015

Arsenal’s romance with the FA Cup continued last night after an epic quarter final win at Old Trafford to finally put an end to the hoodoo at the stadium which has cursed them in recent times.

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A journey with three friends and my nephew was very fun indeed and we were all in good spirits despite our concerns about our record at Old Trafford. I was also buoyed by Bangladesh’s win in the cricket World Cup! But football was the focal point now.

Little did I know at this point I would witness one of the best games and atmospheres (only the Arsenal end) I have attended. A quick mix grill and off we were to the “Theatre of back passes” a term used to malign the Manchester teams style of play this season.

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The game started with Arsenal giving away cheap possession and Fellaini putting his weight about much to the annoyance of the Arsenal supporters. In the East Stand where the Arsenal supporters were placed, there was a feeling of injustice when Hector Bellerin was booked for a foul on Ashley Young who seems to have been taking more diving lessons from British swimmer Tom Daley. This infuriated supporters with almost every Arsenal fan pondering why referee Michael Oliver booked the young Spaniard so early in the game for his first tackle.

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The fans though rallied behind the team and there was a feeling of togetherness between the travelling faithful constantly singing in tune. Then the other Spanish full back, Nacho Monreal, who has become an unsung hero, was played in by Alex Chamberlain after a fantastic run, and there was Nacho to finish emphatically beating De Gea at his near post.

The joy amongst the Arsenal fans was short lived. Only moments later Di Maria found Shrek with a cross whose header found the back of the net. The Arsenal fans were seething and the inquest began between supporters about why Shrek was left with so much room and venting their frustration at Koscielney and Mertesacker.

Chesney then kept out Di Maria’s effort saving with his legs and then half time came and Arsenal were able to re-group.

The Arsenal fans were in fantastic voice mocking the hosts and hurling constant abuse at Manchester United supporters. This stemmed from the rivalry between the clubs and supporters even took a trip down memory lane in the stands by talking about past encounters where Arsenal got stuck into the dirty Mancs, notably the infamous brawl in 1990 and Keown’s swipe at the cheating Ruud Van Nistelrooy in 2003.

Arsenal came out in the second half and stood firm and then in the 61st minute a moment which stunned the Manchester United supporters. A back pass by Valencia was seized upon by the tireless Danny Welbeck. The forward rounded the hapless De Gea and slotted home to send 9,000 Arsenal supporters into absolute raptures.

The fact Danny scored against his former employers made it so much sweeter for the Arsenal fans. A few supporters began the chant with everyone then taking part –

‘He left coz your sh*t! He left coz your sh******t! Danny Welbeck! He left coz your sh*t!’

Security officers and stewards were called into Block E233 by this point as a section of Arsenal fans were standing on seats and on top of walls, causing havoc, such was their delight. The stewards had a difficult job to contain them during this jamboree but who could blame them?

The Arsenal fans were really now enjoying themselves and constantly taunting the Manchester United supporters which would last until the final whistle and outside the ground. There was still over 30 mins left and Arsenal weathered the storm.

Di Maria was then sent off after putting his hands on the referee and then Arsenal absorbed many attacks, mainly long balls. Fellaini was up to his usual tricks of using hands and elbows and was finally booked, cue the sarcastic applause for Michael Oliver who finally brandished a yellow card to him. Arsenal then hit United on the break with Santi Cazorla drawing a fantastic save from compatriot De Gea, who then denied Alexis.

After 5 long minutes of injury time the final whistle came and the night belonged to the North Londoners. Arsenal booked another trip to Wembley but it was not over there..

Have that Fergie !

Have that Fergie !

This was one of the best results in recent years and despite there being a split fan base over the season there were no signs of it on this night. The Arsenal fans went mental, singing, mocking Manchester United fans, dancing in the stands and then outside the ground much to the anger of the police who could not usher the Arsenal fans away.

Nine thousand fans who made a long trip despite the fixture being on a Monday night causing chaos for people who had work, school and other commitments.  Miserable Manchester United fans walked past the dancing Arsenal fans singing “WEMBLEY” and the look on their face was priceless, knowing that Arsenal ended their season.

Maybe now these United fans were off to the supermarket to get those sour grapes before going home. Arsenal players, Manager and fans can be very proud after their performances on this night. Everyone associated with the club played their part.

Victoria, Concordia, Cresit.

Next stop.. WEMBLEY!

UTA!

by @SirAHussain