The Saints are Coming – Southampton preview

April 8, 2018

Southampton come to the Emirates sitting in the bottom three of the Premier League and in desperate need of some points. For Arsenal the fixture comes as the filling in a Moscovian, Europa sandwich. Momentum and confidence are again at stake with League points a bit of an irrelevance.

The Saints’ squad is a bit of a mystery to me (like most of the PL teams, I’m afraid). They still have Shane Long who only ever plays well against us. I also recognise the names of Tadic and Charlie Austin and the ex-chavs player Romeu, but the rest are a roll call of unknowns. Let’s hope it stays that way.

We know all about the Saints ‘new’ manager, the loathsome Mark Hughes. I really don’t understand the home-grown manager merry-go-round. Pardew, Poolis, Fat Sam, Hughes – what is the point of continually employing managers you know will probably let you down in the near future? At least Hughes did play on the South coast when his playing career was in decline, so there is a little history there.

Enough of the opposition, how are we fixed? Mkhitaryan caught a nasty bang on the knee against CSKA and is out for a period. Aubameyang will be keen to build on his recent League form. Aside from those two, it might be a case of shuffling the pack a little to save the more fragile for next Thursday. Chambers will relish playing his old team and Kos needs to rest his dodgy Achilles. Mesut is rarely rested, though the more delicate Rambo may want to continue his recent good run.  Maybe a few others will be rested with Holding, Iwobi, Elneny and Welbeck keen to get some game time. Jack had a really poor night in Europe, but might get another chance in the hope he plays himself into some decent form.

Team  

With less pressure on the team we usually perform well, finishing past seasons strongly after all hope of the title has vanished. Some decent finishing to match Thursday’s would be rather nice, though it’s doubtful the Saints will allow us as much space down their flanks.

An Auba hat trick will get the enormous crowd off their feet; though if he scores late on, many will miss it in their rush to get home for Songs of Praise.

Apols for the lacklustre PM (BR is on manoeuvres), though I’d imagine its general CBA-feeling sort of captures the unbridled enthusiasm for this particular fixture. 🙂

COYRRG

chas

Advertisements

Stoke, no longer The Orcs?

August 19, 2017

I admit it – they don’t play hoofball any more, they have players who can pass a ball and others who are highly skilled, but they are still Stoke and the stands at The Britannia are still packed with Neanderthals and Orcs.

Unknown.jpeg

Even the obnoxious Sparky Hughes has mellowed, though not to the extent where one would want him to meet the family. There is a cockney saying …. “you can’t polish a Richard (the Third)”.

Stoke, on paper, look a decent team; the addition of Zouma, on loan from Chelsea, will tighten an already good defence. They have got rid of the appallingly violent Bardsley,  Whelan and Walters and replaced them with ball-players from abroad. Though they have signed Darren Fletcher who loves a tackle from behind.

Given the size of the Stoke team allied to our vulnerability to the high ball it will be no shock to see Stoke rely on set plays to score. This will be recurrent theme this season. For this reason I would start Giroud ahead of Welbeck (though the return of BFG and Mustafi is a major positive). Or we take the  preferred Micky route and just score more than Stoke.

Our Team:

Cech

   Mustafi     BFG     Monreal

Bellerin    Ramsey    Xhaka     Kolasinac

Ozil

Giroud    Lacazette

I expect AW to play Welbz but IMO it would be a mistake.

Where do we find a place for Ox? Does he replace Bellerin in home games? Or Monreal? No wonder the young chap is restless and concerned about his future at AFC.

Last weekend saw us win a very exciting and error-strewn game. More of the same could be fun but I would prefer a copy of last season’s game – a 4-1 victory to the Arsenal.

Let it be So …

COYRRG


Stoke Pre-Match. Lee Mason?

December 10, 2016

To say I dislike Mark Hughes would be like describing  the size of the planet Jupiter as being bigger than a dog. I don’t like the cut of his jib. You can tell much about the man by his football philosophy – this is a chap who can take the wonderful artistry of Shaqiri and turn him into yet another water carrier. Stoke are a club where the manager’s personality reflects the club itself (as does ours, of course).

Just in case you forget, ask Ramsey and Debuchy what they think about Stoke’s physical approach.

But, their recent results are good, since September Stoke’s results would have them in 4th place in the PL, above the Mighty Totts. They have won 5 of the last 7 games.

We are on  quite a good run ourselves, unbeaten in the league since the opening day blip and scoring 9 goals in our last 2 games.

This is our third game in 8 days so we can expect rotation.

My Team.

Cech

Gabriel     Mustafi    Koscielny     Monreal

Xhaka    Coquelin     Ox

Theo    Alexis     Mesut

Not easy to get the midfield correct. AW loves Coquelin and he is rested after missing the midweek victory, so I expect to see him start. Xhaka is the sort of chap we need to fight the Orcs but I fear he may retaliate – perhaps he is better coming off the bench, but what the heck, let’s see if he can show grace under fire.

Unknown.jpeg

Warning. Today’s referee is Lee Mason. A man who is so stupid he cannot see the continuous rotational fouling Stoke use against AFC. This is a chap whom Alan Green (who knows a thing or two about football) calls “the worst referee in the PL”. A man who gives our players a yellow card for every 2 fouls and every 9 fouls for the opposition. I suppose it adds to the spectacle 😀

Stoke have yet to win at The Emirates. The run needs to continue.


Thug Tactics

January 12, 2015

After yesterdays game, and also from our last game against Stoke, it’s got me thinking about the dynamics of certain types of tactics. Intimidation and violent play now seem to be a part of the English game. We all talk about the English game being a physical one, but there is physical and there is violent. There is a distinction. Arnautovics push on Debuchy yesterday was violent, Charlie Adams strangle hold on Sanchez in our last meeting with Stoke was violent. Crouch uses his elbow as an offensive weapon against players when jumping for a ball. This is not physical play, but acts of violence.

This is how the BBC described the push against Debushy:

“The Frenchman, 29, landed heavily after colliding with Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic and was replaced by Hector Bellerin in the 13th minute at Emirates Stadium.”

After colliding, ffs, are they blind? The referees have to take some blame as well, they clearly failed to act on a couple of violent fouls yesterday and in our previous game against Stoke. So who is to blame? Does the manager instil a Thug mentality into his players during training and the pre match team talk? Or is it already a part of the players mentality? There are players who have that type of DNA, Joey Barton springs to mind, Shawcross as well. I can imagine managers like Mark Hughes capitalising on the aggressive nature of some players, telling them to target certain players, but do they actually incite violent play in their team? This is my question?

written by Northbank 1969


From Orcs to Swans?

September 22, 2013

Stoke City, 9 letters . Mark Hughes, 9 letters. One would think a match made in heaven. What is the significance of the number 9? According to Chinese belief the number 9 represents attainment and success; on a personal level it signifies leadership.

Only …. as the eagle eyed geniuses who read AA will have spotted Mark Hughes has 10 letters and the number 10 signifies a cheating, spiteful, ignorant, charmless man (thank you, Morrissey)

Those who regularly read my posts will know my feeling towards both these entities – I have written many Stoke PM’s and all have the same theme. Why? Because whereas I dislike Tottenham due to an accident of geography, my dislike of Stoke has developed thanks to it being an execrable club and town.

My first visit to the Potteries scarred me for life – a 5-0 loss.  A horrible town, a horrible game and a depressing drive South.  All in all, enough to elevate Stoke into the heady realms of the Premier League of my most detested teams, where they have stayed ever since.

Eventually Pulis arrived and they became Orcs. Now, the marriage with the odious Sparky Hughes – it could only get worse.

Or can it?

The rumours are that Stoke are playing football!! Can this possibly be true? Can a man whose football philosophy is entrenched in kick-the-man-not-the-ball really encourage the Beautiful Game? The stats suggest that this is so – an average of almost 400 passes per game, a massive reduction in crosses and long balls and a 79% passing accuracy . A footballing victory at WHU and a draw vs Man City show this is a team in form.

But are they really turning from ugly ducklings into swans? (source: Hans Christian Anderson 1861).  Is this the Shawcross Redemption? (too corny for a headline 🙂 )

A  positive stat is that The Odious One (henceforth TOO) has visited the Emirates as a manager of 5 different teams and has yet to win. Some record. How the hell does this bloke get a job? He has destroyed every team he has managed and been sacked on all but one occasion – the other being when he left a team in the lurch to go in search of “success” prior to being binned from City. TOO was sacked by relegated QPR last season and yet picked up another PL job!  And he has an OBE – certainly not for services to football!!

Arsenal:  Not much to write as the team almost picks itself. The injury list will ease over the next couple of weeks and we will finally see who Mr Wenger has in mind for his starting 11 –  I have no idea, but it is a luxury problem. We have quality throughout the squad.

My Team:

arse v orcs

How will TWOO (The Wizard of Ozil) cope with the kicking he will undoubtedly receive this afternoon? We have no Stevie Bould or TA6 to “remind” Stoke to behave. As such a strong referee is essential and today we have Mike Dean – not my favourite but highly experienced and fully aware of Stoke’s intimidating tactics. Let us hope he has a good game.

What I would like to see this afternoon is TWOO score his first Emirates goals (on his home debut)  and for TOO to spend the game cursing his players, cursing the referee, cursing Mr Wenger, cursing the very handsome Arsenal centre forward, cursing the gods and driving back on the coach cursing his own players. and in particular cursing the chief Orc, Ryan Shacwross.

Now that would go some way to redeeming Stoke City.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Join Together: Match Preview

March 31, 2012

Tough assignment writing about QPR.  Why? Because I have a real soft spot for Rangers, but and this is such a huge but, there is hardly a bigger but in the Western World  – not even J-Lo has a but this big. You know what I am referring to …. yes ….. two of the most unpleasant men ever to grace a football field,  Mark Hughes and Joey Barton. A match made in the deepest fires of perdition.

How can a fan of a proper club, a real family club accept the arrival of such odious men?

Imagine them arriving at Arsenal;  it would be enough to stop supporting the Gunners and return to watching park football. How many thousands of season tickets would be returned? Thankfully, it is a situation we will never have to face.

I really feel for QPR fans. End of last season they are deliriously happy with their return to the top flight after a long gap  (15 years ??).   New signings are made – big names, Wright Phillips, Armand Traore (good bit of business Arsene) , DJ Campbell, Anton Ferdinand . As a fan you think “OK, decent signings, nothing special but could be good”, then Barton is signed., and you think , “No, not to my club – we have values, we have principles”, but you also think Barton will add the fire needed to get mid-table (you are going to be sorely disappointed).

An OK start but Warnock is sacked despite winning over 40% of his games, could it get worse? Yes, the idiots sign Mark Hughes who left Fulham stating the Cottagers (now there’s a nickname ) were not capable of matching Sparky’s ambitions! The Fulham Chairman must be laughing loudest as Hughes sits in his sinking ship.

How does Hughes respond to QPR’s lowly postion? He keeps Barton as Club Captain, and signs Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse! Does this man have no shame? Or is he trying to be funny? Or could it be that he is one of the worst managers ever to litter the sidelines of the Premier League?

I have stated my opinion of this Welshman before, his record speaks for itself: 4 seasons at Blackburn –  4 times PL’s dirtiest team. Man City – 2 seasons. Spent over £150m on Robinho, Santa Cruz, Adebayor, Wayne Bridge, Wright Phillips,  Ben Haim and Jo ++  – finishes 10th and then loses 9 out of 11 games before getting sacked. Fulham – ruins a decent footballing team. And yet this hate filled, spiteful man keeps getting work!

We need a strong referee today because  judging from previous games against Hughes’s teams, our boys are in a for a physical battle, QPR cannot beat us with skill and Sparky knows that. My guess is he will tell Barton to concentrate on Song and Gervinho …. hopefully they have learned from their meeting with the little scrote at THOF.

OK …. enough of that. As I said I have a soft spot for QPR who will almost certainly get relegated thanks to investing in players and management who have no feeling whatsoever for the club.

Arsenal on the other hand have discovered a sense of unity.; the old fashioned “one for all, all for one” which is essential for our future success. We have superb individuals all over the pitch but Arsenal can be so much more than the sum of their parts – and we have started to show it. In my opinion the man to spark this remarkable turnaround is the most surprising – the ageing and crocked Tomacz Rosicky.  He has been magnificent over the past few weeks and reminded us of what we lost with his recurrent injuries.

My team:

I have a sneaky feeling Gervinho will score today; he needs a goal. Recently, Mr Wenger has opted for a more defensive left sided attacker (Benayoun/OC) when playing away from home but I hope he takes the game to QPR and attacks from the off. An early goal for the good guys will surely lead to 3 points.

Inventor from Shepherds Bush?  The stonemason George Wimpey who developed cheap house and road building methods resulting in ownership of the largest construction company in Britain.

Mr. Wimpey. Earned more a week than YaYa Toure.

And  …. 3 of the 4 members of The Who were born within a mile of Loftus Rd,( hence today’s song title)

We are in a great run of form, the atmosphere around the club is better than it has been for many a month, players other than Van Persie are scoring goals,  we have a dangerous frontline, we have a solid defence, at last we have 2 proper full backs, we have what could be the best midfielder in the country  in a midfield that is working superbly and we have a fine young keeper.

Worrying isn’t it?

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


Stand Up if you hate Mark Hughes

December 4, 2010

Two certainties this afternoon. Firstly, that Sparky will be telling his midfield to “let them know you’re there” and secondly, that Mark Schwarzer will have an outstanding game. In my opinion, it is upon these two personalities the game will hinge.

Hughes is man under pressure, having seen his team fall to one point above the relegation zone. However they are the draw Kings of the PL having won none of their away fixtures but drawing 5 out of 7.  In fact Fulham have only won twice this season and I remain sure they will not add that that tally today. Fulham have a nasty injury list, longer than ours (for once) and Bobby Zamora’s broken leg has seriously blunted their attacking threat.


This being a purely personal pre-match and not representing the ethos of the site, I can give vent to my dislike of Mark Hughes. He was a spiteful, dirty player who specialised in kicking the ankle tendons of the opposition and feigning innocence when challenged. He was all I hate in Man Utd (and then Barca where he sank ignominiously). A quiet assassin whose pretence of being a fair and honest player was pure sham. Then into management and  you will not be surprised to learn that his Blackburn team finished bottom of the Fairplay league the 4 seasons he stayed. Upon moving to Man City he proceeded to freely spend the Arab money – €25m for the totally erratic and troublesome Adebayor was great business for us, and the €32m he wasted on Robinho was another example of his poor purchases. At the same time he bought Ben-Haim, Kompany, De Jong, Bellamy and Barry to make sure the team had a violent edge to it. He had 2 wins from 11 before being sacked and has continued his good form with Fulham who have now won 2 out of 15. The man gets paid millions for results like that –  he must have the best interview technique and agent!!

And then there is Schwarzer. Hughes has openly stated that Mr.Wenger was trying to sign him right up to the point Schwarzer signed his contract this week. I do not blame Hughes for wanting to hold onto his player, and it is to the Aussies credit that he was not bitter about being held back from achieving his ambition to play CL football. What I don’t like is the glee with which Hughes thwarted both AW and his goalkeeper, it was the actions of a small, petty man.

Which brings us onto his spat with our beloved Captain. Hughes took umbrage at Cesc’s assertions that Blackburn’s football ethos had nothing whatsoever to do with what Sparky learned at Barca. Then he went public – not something that did him any good at all, after all everyone who saw the game had to agree with Cesc. Hughes demanded respect from Cesc who apologised (under pressure from AW), but if Hughes wants respect then he has to earn it – fans, players, and managers respect people who adhere to the traditions and artistry of the game, not a man who sends out teams with instructions to kick the lunch out of the opposition (apart from a few notable exceptions Fat Sam, Pulis etc)

Enough of my rant ….. onto the Arsenal.

Can we continue to scrape wins or will Fulham get the draw they will come for? If Fulham score first (and with our leaky defence it is a reasonable assumption), we could be in for a long, frustrating afternoon. But our midfield sans Cesc looked great at Villa and with AA and Chamakh on form, we have lots of firepower.

My team:

Bench. Chesney, JD, Gibbs, RvP, Theo, Denilson, NB

I see this game being a classic attack v defence, with many Arsenal attacks floundering on the head and feet of Hangelaand and Aaron Hughes, and Schwarzer desperate to show us what we missed. But we are on the verge of something special with this Arsenal team. Fewer and fewer people believe me but a poor half against S***s doesn’t preclude us from winning the League, and as we have already seen all the top sides have lost points to inferior opposition – let us hope today is not another example.

COYRRG

p.s. Sorry about the rant 😉