Vote for Flamini

September 30, 2014

In the summer of 2013 we were despairing of signing a defensive midfielder. Arteta was over 30 and not really attuned to defensive work, we had been Diaby-ed once too often and we had sold Denilson, Eastmond, Frimpong and a host of other defenders (remember Andre Santos?). The mega-signings of Özil and Sanogo were exciting but didn’t fulfil the long-term demands for a DM.


We read that Flamini was training with the team in an attempt to get match fit prior to trying to get a contract somewhere …. anywhere. He had been binned by a dodgy AC Milan side after a season in which he halved his wage demands.

Stoke beckoned.

But No! Our charitable French manager saw a bargain and a cheap solution, a sticking plaster for the gaping DM hole which had been evident to us fans since the days of the Invisible Wall.

At the time I wrote that signing Flamini was a backward step and one which would have a detrimental effect upon the squad. Then Mr Wenger signed Kallstrõm! Both, in my opinion, acts of desperation.

Perhaps Arsene was waiting for Carvalho (or someone else, maybe Matic?). Maybe he thought Diaby would survive a season in the first team, perhaps he saw Ramsey as his DM cover for Arteta. Whatever it was he signed Flamini in the summer window.

It must be said that the first games Flamini played were a revelation; he was better than when he left. Milan had taught him to be more defensively aware and less like the Mathieu we allowed to leave – perhaps he had matured. A few fine performances, a number of yellow cards, some crunching tackles, the black boots, the cut-off sleeves and a number of all-action 90 minutes allowed us to forget the acrimony of his departure.

But, and here is the rub, Flamini is not good enough to help us to silverware. He just isn’t. He hasn’t the pace or the tactical awareness. Sure he can make a tackle and certainly leave “a reminder” but so can Joey Barton and I wouldn’t want him anywhere near the Emirates.

In my opinion we bought Flamini because Mr. Wenger wouldn’t spend the money needed to bring a world class DM into the club.

What do you think, Is Mathieu good enough for The Arsenal?


written by Big Raddy


To Sanogo or Not to Sanogo?

August 27, 2014

Much is made of today’s game being a Cup Final. It is. A one off game which will determine who goes into the CL group stages.

Unusually the away side are slight favourites given the away goals rule but first they have to score. Can they? Well, we have conceded 3 in our last 2 games and were hardly secure in Turkey where Ba missed a couple of easy chances (or TPIG made a couple of excellent saves). And this Arsenal team have yet to show us that they have developed the fluency we have come to expect.

Then there are the injuries. We have played 3 games and lost a player a game; Arteta, Gibbs and Giroud and given that Koscielny, BFG, Ozil, Podolski and Wilshere look less than 100% we are struggling. I have no doubts we will come good later in the year but right now there is cause for concern.

Much is made of CL qualification as the carrot to ensnare new signing, I don’t completely agree. MU, Spurs, Everton and L’pool have shown this is not true. What attracts players is money (or in Balotelli’s case a team which will accept his “difficulties”). Did Di Maria move for CL games and the resultant profile? That said, qualification allows us to earn the bug bucks which attract the best players and as I have repeatedly written – I want Cavani, Carvalho (or at least an agreement that he will sign next summer when Arteta and Flamini leave) and a CB, all of whom will be expensive.

The loss of Giroud must be seen as an opportunity for the players who will take his place yet Sanogo looks way off the required quality  to win anything (though he has an FAC medal 🙂 ), and Campbell has yet to start a PL game. Sanchez is likely to get the chance tonight, he scored 39 in 88 games for Barca so knows his way to goal.

Just as interesting to me is how Wilshere will play without the need to look for Ramsey. We have discussed at length whether the two can play together and tonight we will see if JW can influence the game in the way we hope. He will need to – Ramsey has scored in 5 of his last 6 games and will be sorely missed tonight.

Mr. Wenger is “bigging up” Oxlade-Chamberlain, I wonder why. Does he think O-C needs a confidence boost? He appears to be a man brimful of self-belief. Or perhaps he wanted someone who is comfortable talking to the media so he could take a rest. Either way it gave us another insight into what a lovely man Ox is – Southampton must be the best place to develop well-balanced, intelligent young players.


We know how good Besiktas are. We were fortunate to escape with a draw, thanks to fine work from TPIG and strikers who couldn’t find the target even when one on one with our keeper. They work hard in midfield, defend well and are pacy on the counter. I can only recall Ox’s shot which was well saved by their keeper as good chances created by the Arsenal. We could blame the dreadful pitch but it was the same for both teams.

As we are without the experience of Arteta and Ramsey I would like to see Chambers on the bench and a return to the security of BFG/Kos, though given the total lack of pace from Mertesacker in the Everton game perhaps Chambers and Koscielny will be our centre back partnership this season!

Flamini’s role will be vital in a clogged midfield. He is playing in his normal style so far – two games, two yellows. Hopefully Arteta will return before he picks up his first ban.

My Team:

Beskitas home

So … no Sanogo. I just do not think we can go into such an important game with Sanogo leading the line. Mr Wenger is likely to disagree but I would put my faith in experienced battle-hardened players who have performed at the highest level. All the above team have done so and experience counts.

In the highly unlikely event that we are in trouble he can come off the bench and perhaps have a similar effect to Giroud at Everton, though I hope he only comes on for the final 15 when we are coasting.

History shows that we do well in these games, A good defensive display and some luck in front of goal should see us through but please Arsenal score early, otherwise the tension will be unbearable.

Quiz Question: How many consecutive seasons have we qualified for the Champions League proper?


written by Big Raddy

Déjà vu …….. (and a tribute to dandan)

April 7, 2014

This has to be one of the most difficult reviews that I have ever written. Hearing of the sudden death of one of our stalwarts, dandan, left me and several others numb before the game.

We are a diverse but close community on Arsenal Arsenal. We endeavour to show respect to one another regardless of our differing views and despite another dismal performance by the team yesterday, one realises that there  is more to life than football.

As to the game I think all has already been said, but the fact is that we have now dropped twenty points out of a possible thirty three in our last eleven league matches .

Yes we have had multiple injuries and going to Everton was never going to be an easy game, but the team whoever plays was flat, lacked pace and power and seem nervous and disjointed, but above all a lack of confidence and with a Cup semi Final a week away and what seems on paper a reasonable run in it is not a given that we will sweep all aside. The Ox and Rambo are a plus and surely must start games but the inevitable happened with Flamini getting carded – he will miss the next two games. Oh how we miss Kos, but most of all we lack real leadership maybe on and off the field.

The very thing we have been famous for in the past was our ability to counter attack and score and that is the very thing that is now happening to us far too regularly

I feel it is not appropriate to single out any one player on this occasion but I will leave you with the post match interview from our manager.

Arsene Wenger had this to say:

“Was there a lack of fight? You could say that. It is a massive worry to lose a game like that.

“We have to analyse it well and come back with a different attitude, with more personality and stronger challenges. We have to go back to basics.”

Make of that what you will.

The last words must pay tribute to our friend Dandan …..

Dandan (Cliff) was a brick to me and sometimes a lifeline. We had different views about the direction the club was heading but had a mutual respect for one another.

We recalled GN5’s article only a few days ago about the week we won the double in 1971 but what he didn’t tell us on the site was that he missed the Cup Final as his father was tragically killed a day or so before the game.

Despite his own health problems and that of his dear wife Anne, he always tried to cheer me up and we spoke at length about a multitude of things, other than football. His brother is in remission and I know how much Cliff loved and cared for him. He was a decent man who will be missed by so many. I am not ashamed to say that I wear my heart on my sleeve and can be at times very emotional but this sudden death has knocked me sideways.

Anne will let me know when the funeral will take place and I know if any of you can attend, she would appreciate it.

R.I.P. Dandan, you made many friends across the world with your generous and positive attitude to life and the Arsenal.  Our thoughts go out to your wonderful family at this difficult time …….. you will be missed but not forgotten, COYRRG…………


Old wine, or new bottle, or old wine in new bottle?

December 31, 2013

End of the year, and part of the ritual is to take stock, and look forward towards the future with glorious plans and renewed expectations. And what a fantastic year this has been for Arsenal fans! At the midway stage in the Premier League last year, Arsenal was lying 7th, well off the pace for Champions League qualification, and even off Spursday football places. Qualifying second in their group, Arsenal faced a tough round of 16 encounter against Bayern Munich, one of the best teams in Europe at that stage. With significant changes to the Board, a new owner in tow, there were uncertain times for the club management. The fans were up in arms, with substantial ammunition provided by a negative press, dubious pundits and even the Arsenal Supporters Trust. Difficult times indeed!

But Arsenal managed to make a fantastic turnaround. Attaining qualification for CL was nothing short of a miracle! Yes, Arsenal lost out in a two leg epic battle against eventual winners Bayern, but before that showed their mettle in an amazing 2-0 away victory. Despite all the negativity, good progress was made in the summer transfer window. The progress continued in the current season, and Arsenal is sitting at the Top of the Premier League at the halfway stage. Qualification to the Champions League was gained from the aptly termed “Group of Death”. Grudging acknowledgement of Arsenal’s strength and mettle is gently arising from beneath the rubble of disdain and the green fumes of envy. Indeed, if the league was played over the calendar year, Arsenal would have been Champions of 2013. Oh, what a year this has been!!!


per and kosser

All in all, a good year in prospect. There are plenty of challenges yet to be met. Plenty of time still before we even begin to celebrate the achievements of this team. But, also plenty of positive vibes and expectation in tow. So AA ers, looking towards the future, what did we learn new about Arsenal this year, and what were we reminded of afresh, that we did not know with so much certainty one year back? Let us discuss. Here are a few of my tentative suggestions. It was not all rosy, though. Injuries continued through the year. The squad seems a bit thin. Progression to the round of 16 in the Champions League was gained, but only in second place. Like last year, we have drawn Bayern Munich. Lovely games in prospect, but significant challenges as well. And if the vitriol from the fans is a bit subdued due to the sustained run of fine results and resilience in the field of play, the negativity from the press and pundits continues unabated. Perhaps most importantly, whether by luck or design, Arsenal continues to be at the receiving end of poor refereeing decisions. Alas, some things never seem to change!

First, same time last year we did not know what a fantastic central defensive partnership, together with a very competent goalkeeper, we were developing. Indeed a large part of our success this year owes itself to the fantastic defensive pairing of Per and Kos. What a duo!!! And what a great leader in our beloved BFG! When Verms got injured, who would have thought we would have such a strong defence where even a fit squad captain cannot find a place?

Per and kossser 2

Second, one of the best revelations of the year was the discovery that Ramsey had developed into such a fantastic player. He was the subject of much of the blame and vitriol during our indifferent showing in 2012. Perhaps somewhat undeservedly. But our beloved Rambo rubbed all these adversities off his shirt, returned in style from his long standing injury, and has grown to the stature of one of the best midfielders in the League, perhaps in Europe as well.


He has shown a very mature head as well, leading for his country at a very young age. In tow, Jack Wilshere is developing into a fine player, if somewhat idiosyncratic on occasions. Together with Theo, the Ox, Gibbs and Jenks, they also form a British core to the team which had been somewhat deficient for a while. Who would have thought a year back that Rambo would develop into such a fantastic and dependable player, and Jack’s game will be coming along so nicely as well?

The English players

Third, one of the most encouraging developments of the year, at least for me, was the maturity with which the owner Kroenke, Gazidis and the Board conducted themselves. Perhaps the best development was that the Board did not interfere in footballing matters, leaving team and signing decisions to the people who know best, led by one Arsene Wenger. If you think that this is not a surprise, look around at other clubs. Several clubs have met with significant disasters as a result of owner power, such as the Spuds, Cardiff and even the Chavs, and in some others the environment is not very nice even if the performance has not been equally devastating.

The principles of the club, that a fantastic team can be developed without wasting money on the wasteful purchase of overpriced bench idols, was not compromised by a new owner and a new look Board. Surely, this was not a given at the start of the year, after the club had gone through a rather aggressive ownership contest and change of hands.

Fourth, amid the mantra of financial fairplay and traditional hesitancy to spend big money, and the recovery from an expensive move to the Emirates, who would have thought that Arsenal would spend their money where it mattered most?


In the procurement of one Mesut Ozil, who despite his tentative adjustment to English football and the Arsenal way of playing the game, has given the team something really special, Arsenal showed purpose and ambition, and real ability to deliver trophies. This came together with the free transfer of one Mathieu Flamini – ah, what a fantastic transfer move!


Fifth, against the backdrop of significant unrest and disquiet among good-weather fans, ably supported by the press and pundits, who would have thought that the positive outlook of a sane fan-base would shine through? The struggle against the doubters and doomday-usherers still continues in earnest, in ArsenalArsenal and elsewhere, but The Home of Football still reverberates with the positive chants and outlook towards the new dawn awaiting in the New Year!!!!

AA ers, what do you think? My final thoughts are:

COYG! Onwards and Upwards!! A fantastic year 2014 awaits!!!!

Written by arnie

Arsenal Record 2013 Calendar Year

P W D L F A GD Pts
38 25 7 6 70 34 36 82

Where would 82 points put us in seasons past?

SEASON Winners P W D L F A GD Pts AFC on 82 points
2008-09 Utd 38 28 6 4 68 24 44 90 4th
2009-10 Chavs 38 27 5 6 103 32 71 86 3rd
2010-11 Utd 38 23 11 4 78 37 41 80 1st
2011-12 Oilers 38 28 5 5 94 29 65 89 3rd
2012-13 Utd 38 28 5 5 86 43 43 89 2nd

Chart by MickyDidIt

2013 Calendar Year League Table

P W D L F A GD Points vs Top 7 Total Home Total Away
Arsenal 38 25 7 6 70 33 37 82 10 19 19
Shitty 38 25 5 8 86 39 47 80 10 19 19
Chavs 38 23 8 7 71 40 31 77 10 20 18
ManUre 38 23 8 7 70 37 33 77 11 19 19
Spuds 38 21 10 7 55 46 9 73 10 19 19
Dippers 38 21 9 8 87 39 48 72 9 18 20
Everton 38 18 13 7 54 35 19 67 11 20 18
Toon 38 16 6 16 51 62 -11 54 13 19 19
Southampton 38 12 15 11 49 43 6 51 13 19 19
Villa 38 11 10 17 50 58 -8 43 11 20 18
Swansea 38 10 12 16 44 54 -10 42 12 18 20
Norwich 38 9 11 18 37 62 -25 38 12 20 18
Fulham 38 11 5 22 39 67 -28 38 12 19 19
West Ham 38 9 11 18 41 57 -16 38 12 19 19
Stokies 38 8 11 19 34 60 -26 35 11 19 19
WBA 38 7 13 18 45 61 -16 34 12 18 20
Sunderland 38 7 10 21 36 62 -26 31 12 19 19

Stat Overkill by GiE

Like it or lump it – Tradition rules

November 28, 2013

Tradition matters to British people, we’re serial sentimentalists when it comes to keeping things going. We wear our poppies in November, a week after we burn rag effigies of a radical Catholic who lived and died four hundred years ago; we set fire to our Christmas puddings; and our ludicrously complicated flag can be upside down without most people realising it. We have the Boat Race, Ascot Ladies’ Day, The Ashes (less said, the better at the moment….), Cowes Week, the Chelsea Flower Show, Pancake Day, Trooping the Colour, the Queen’s Birthday (which isn’t her birthday) and the Last Night at the Proms. We have black taxis and red buses. We like tea with milk, chips dosed with malt vinegar, bubble-and-squeak, toad-in-the-hole and warmish, unfizzy beer. Tradition? We’re built for it.

And amongst British football fans, tradition matters to no-one more than the Arsenal fan. “The Arsenal” is the club of history. We revel in something called “the Arsenal Way”, we speak of class and the correct manner of doing things. When we played that title-deciding fixture at Anfield in May 1989, it was important that we acknowledged Liverpool’s tragic bereavement from the weeks before, so our players each laid a wreath in front of the Liverpool fans. And when we knocked Sheffield United out of the FA Cup with a legitimate but unethical goal, the club immediately gave the Blades an unprecedented and unilateral replay.

To us the past, from which our traditions come, matters. We wear history like a badge of honour. The fact that the directors’ boardroom (which none of us is ever likely to see) is oak-panelled matters; the old art deco masterpiece that is our spiritual home on Avenell Road matters; our Clock matters.

And, however illogical it may be, the requirement that our outfield players all turn out in the same length of shirt sleeve matters. The captain chooses the length of sleeve for each match, and that should be the end of it.

And yet a returning hero, Mathieu Flamini, has snubbed that tradition, not once but twice, by raggedly cutting off the long sleeves on his shirt in the recent games against Manchester United and Marseille. His boss has reacted robustly, openly criticising an otherwise golden boy. But Flamini has defended his decision, saying he’s been playing at the top level for ten years and he chooses to wear short sleeves, regardless of the captain’s choice.

Should we be bothered by that?

In the big scheme of things, even in the self-regarding world of professional football, Flamini’s amateur tailoring seems the most trifling affair. He’s a grown man and a professional, surely he should be able to make the choice, whatever “tradition” dictates?

Well, no, he shouldn’t. However silly this tradition may be, it is part of our identity. It’s like the baggy green cap that Australian cricketers wear, or the haka that the All Blacks perform before their matches, or the jacket presented to the winner of the US Masters in Augusta. Like all of those artefacts, the tradition is an innovation, a creation, but it is nonetheless an acknowledged and accepted facet of the club itself.

These little myths and habits are important, they are glue linking the fans to the club and the players. It’s not just about one player in the team right now, it’s about the hundreds of players over decades who have worn the red and white on our behalf, all subject to the same rules. This silly tradition reaches back into yesterday, it places Mathieu Flamini and his contemporaries alongside all their predecessors, from great, ordinary and bad Arsenal sides. The tradition emphasises the club over any particular player.

That’s why Flamini should literally and metaphorically just roll up his sleeves, accept the rule and get on with doing what he does best.

Written by 26May

We are top of the league…….

October 20, 2013

So I got collared by our A.A matriarch for the match report, so unlucky for you lot, I hope you all have a few hours to spare on Sunday. Any complaints should be directed to Mrs Peaches of the Arsenal Tavern, Blackstock Road, London, N4.

Throughout the match I kept changing my mind as to how the general tone of this report would be presented. The end scoreline somewhat belies that it was a bit nervy at times and that Norwich were firmly in this match for large periods. I had visions of having to talk about being too casual and allowing them back into a game we should have comfortably won much earlier, but fortunately I now don’t need to because, 4 goals to 1 later, and a quick glimpse at the EPL table should bring a smile to any of the faithful this Sunday morning. To be fair Ruddy did have a bit of a blinder so was largely responsible for allowing them to have a foothold in the game for longer than I would have liked.

There were times when things, in an attacking sense, weren’t quite coming off for us in this game, but when they did come off boy was it a thing of beauty. The opening goal was straight out of the Wengerball archives of total football, and I can just picture Arsene at home on the sofa hitting rewind and play continuously with a big smile on his face.

On 18 minutes Jack received the ball deep and skipped past a challenge before laying it off and heading up-field. The ball was worked down the left eventually finding its way to Santi who angled infield and played a lovely 1-2 with Jack before sliding it into Giroud who played an even better 1-2 with Jack, complete with brilliant flicks off the outside of the boot from both players. Ollies last flick split the defence and found Jack who had continued his run bursting in behind their defence to basically just pass it into the net. Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, GOOAAL. I may have even short-changed us by one ping there, but for lovers of the beautiful game it was somewhat utopian. I don’t know why we don’t just try and pass it into the net more often….All this shooting business that some people go on about is rather distasteful.

Jack and Olly v norwich

Shortly after this our Franco-Italian midfield warrior suffered a nasty head clash, and despite trying to soldier on was soon after replaced by the Welsh Wizard. I am sure that Matty will be fine and will stop seeing double after a good days rest and some of Mama Flamini’s homemade Spag Bol. Ruddy then pulled off the first of a few fine saves denying Giroud, before we somewhat started to sit back a bit too much for my liking, and Norwich showed they still had a bit about them by finishing the first half in the ascendency. Szczesny had to make one fine save in particular low down to his right.

This should have been the warning and catalyst for a renewed siege on their goal at the start of the second half, but it started a bit like the first finished, and I was left with a craving for a second goal to settle my slight feelings of nervousness. On 58 minutes I was duly obliged and an interception from deep led to a swift counter-attack with Santi carrying the ball down the centre, before finding Giroud out to the right, who lifted the ball into the box where £42.4m of Vorsprung Durch Technique had continued a surging run to nod Giroud’s cross home. I thought it was the other way around initially, and had to be corrected by my match buddies for the day. All this total football and interchanging positions between the players is making writing up match reports a nightmare…. sort it out Arsene.

Ozil header v norwich

So now we could relax and control the game and watch the flood-gates open…. Well not quite. On 70 minutes a bit of sloppy defending, more being too casual really by not clearing our lines or closing down, saw their lad Howson run from midfield and pick up a half cleared ball before slamming it past Szczesny low down to his left. Back to nervousness it was then. I still had a little bit of nail left to chew on the corner of my left little pinky. Fortunately just as I had finished that last bit, and was eyeing up the nails of the chap to my right, we finally got our act together properly.

Firstly on 79 minutes the Welsh Wizard forced Ruddy into a fine save with a powerful shot from distance. At 83 minutes Bendtner played in Wilshere, who had switched to the left, and his ball into the box resulted in a strong shout for handball. Denied it was, but not to worry because we retained possession high up the pitch and Wilshere received the ball on the left again and pulled back a short pass to the Welsh Wizard who was inside the left half of the Norwich penalty area, still some 10 metres out, and with plenty of defenders in his way. Never fear though because Lionel Ramsey, or Aaron Messi, or whatever his name is did the old snake hips thing and shimmied this way and that, bamboozling all those in yellow shirts, leaving many on their backsides, before calmly lifting the ball over and to the side of Ruddy. Ricky Villa eat your heart out. Maybe that lot down the road can stop going on about that one now because this was even better.

Rambo scores v norwich

It was all capped off on 88 minutes when Rosicky got the ball on the left and lifted it over to the back post, where Ramsey played a lovely first time pull back, that left Ozil with the simple task of, again, passing the ball into the net.

A couple of thoughts for the day. Firstly what would Ramsey be worth on the open market now? Surely the consistency in his form is pointing towards a permanent shift in his level and ability, rather than just putting it down to a good run of form. Dare we start whispering the phrase “world class”?

The second is about Jack. Many will still point towards him losing possession at times but I would point towards the fact that he always tries to get us on the front foot driving forwards which inevitably comes with some loss of possession at times. He never hides and takes the safe sideways or backwards pass option. In many ways he mirrors how the team seems to be evolving which seems to be more loss of possession at times, but with far more regular attacking penetration during the game. I would take that all day long over greater possession stats but just moving the ball sideways and backwards around the pitch.

One final thing, a big thank-you to 26May who kindly allowed me to be at the game. Without that I would not have been able to compile this match report. So actually, on reflection, 26May is as equally complicit as Peaches if you are looking to apportion blame for losing half your Sunday reading this report. On to the ratings :

Szczesny 8

Not much chance with the goal but was safe and sure throughout and pulled out a couple of good stops. I really don’t feel the need to bring in another keeper with his current form.

Sagna 6

I thought he was a bit under par today. He was reasonably assured from a defensive aspect but his crossing was poor and he passed up the opportunity of the over-lap at times.

Mertesacker 8

One poor clearance aside he personified concentration allied with calmness all game. One lovely moment after the game when he was heading towards the tunnel and the West stand started to sing we’ve got a big f—–g German which you could visibly see him chuckling away to. He seems to be happy at THOF.

Koscielny 8

No dramas or rash challenges today just the normal speedy cover in our defence cutting out danger before it develops.

Gibbs 7

Without being outstanding today he was sound defensively and offered himself up in attack as well.

Flamini 7

His game was cut short so difficult to fully assess his impact but he gets a 7 just for being prepared to put his body where it hurts.

Arteta 8

Mr dependable. He is almost becoming the unseen contributor but if you watch carefully you will see how important he is to our control of the game.

Cazorla 8

Great to see our little Spaniard back. He definitely was a key contributor today before, as expected, he ran out of steam. Much more to come from him this season I am sure.

Ozil 9

He has such great balance and vision and seems to glide around the pitch like he is not actually making direct contact with the ground. The new Dennis? Quite possibly because as well as the sublime vision and passing he is increasingly scoring, as 2 goals today will testify to.

Wilshere 9

Yes he lost possession a couple of times, but as I said above he always tries to get us on the front foot and I feel he is one of the key players that dictates our tempo and forward penetration when we have possession.

Giroud 8

No goals today for Ollie but a big hand in 2 of them attests to the fact that he is far more than just a big typical battering ram number 9.

Ramsey (for Flamini 38mins) 9

One great solo goal and a great assist for the 4th. You now always feel that something will happen when he gets on the ball.

Rosicky (for Cazorla 59mins) 7

A bit like Arteta he is a very dependable player. I think he will be a key contributor to any success we may have this year.

Bendtner (for Giroud 78mins)

He actually looked much sharper and pretty decent. Am I allowed to say that? His touch and hold up play looked decent, he played a couple of good passes and tested their keeper with a good stinging shot. He looked like a good squad alternative today rather than the liability many may think he is. The system we seem to currently employ actually seems to play to his strengths.

My MOTM, I can’t choose. It would be one from Jack, Ozil or Ramsey. I will let you decide. Maybe I will give it to Arsene Wenger today for assembling and developing this fine group of players that entertains us all on Saturday afternoons.

Written by GoonerB

Arsenal…..Today: “You’re The Boss”.

October 15, 2013

Three Parter today, and it’s a case of “you show me yours, and I’ll show you mine”.

Picture this, we’re about to play Utd at home, it’s a must win game for both teams and everybody is fit as a fiddle and on top form, with one exception, Olivier Giroud is injured.

We are a few games into the season now, and have witnessed a few seismic changes. The form of Ramsey, the central Arteta/Flamini axis, and the inclusion of Mesut Ozil. How does your First XI line up now, and we can limit this to the midfield and attack, as I wouldn’t mind betting we’d all select the same back five.

This idea comes on the back of talk about False No 9’s, as well as chat about various striker back-up options. Also, to date, Arsene has not had the luxury/problem of selecting from a full squad. You do, well almost!

I am going to complicate things, and that is why this is a Three Parter. I am going to give you two further selection headaches. First, it’s 0-0 until the 70th minute, when The Arsenal score, and second, it’s 0-0 until the 70th when the unbelieveable happens, and Utd score. On 71 mins, you can make one substitution for each scenario.

So, I’m asking for:

Your starting front six, and how they line up.

Then, your Arsenal 1-0 up plus substitution.

Finally, your Arsenal 0-1 down plus substitution.

Remember, it is a Must Win game for both sides. I said “I’d show you mine”, but I’m going to have to think this through, so hopefully, see you in the comments with your suggestions.

Written by MickyDidIt

Match report …..Viva Ramsey!

September 23, 2013

I make no apologies for saying that I dislike Stoke City. Hardly an original view from an Arsenal fan, but about the only thing I can think that commends them is the time spent in the Potteries by the great Lee Dixon and Steve Bould, before they found their way to the home of football.

That is not nearly enough to outweigh my resentment for the wilfully reckless maiming of the then teenage Aaron Ramsey, and especially the way in which the Stoke fans revelled in that incident in the years since, even baiting the young victim. Stoke’s destructive fear of real football, shown up most effectively by Swansea’s success in combining financial caution with quality football, only underlines why Stoke are a club to wish bad things for. True, Mark Hughes has brought a reintroduction of football at Stoke, but I’m not one to forgive and forget.

Arsenal came to the game on an excellent run: one defeat and two draws in 18 competitive games, two defeats and three draws in 20 PL games, a defence that has got into the habit of almost never conceding more than one goal in a game etc etc. The game was always going to be significant for two things: the Ramsey factor, given the opposition and the Welshman’s form this year; and the home debut of the refined and expensive talent that is Mesut Özil. And on both counts, things went well.

Ramsey v stoke

In the fifth minute, Jack Wilshere’s run at the Stoke defence drew a foul from the busted flush that is Charlie Adam in a perfect area. Adam’s incompetence put Özil in a position to line up a good shot on goal, one that Begovic didn’t handle well, pushing it out in front of goal and into the path of the boy wonder, Aaron Ramsey. Watching him able to lord it over the Stoke fans in his celebrations was exquisite. And that was reflected in the chants of the Arsenal fans, who loved ramming it down the Stoke fans’ throats.

We continued to control the game pretty much throughout the first half, but against the run of play Stoke produced their one moment of quality when Gibbs ceded possession on the flank and the ball broke to Steven N’Zonzi. His floated diagonal ball was perfectly weighted and was despatched early enough to deny the defence a chance to set themselves properly. When Arnautović met the ball first time, he was unlucky to hit the post, but it ricocheted into the path of one of those hardworking American players, Geoff Cameron, whose shot was carefully placed beyond Szczesny’s reach.

Sanity was restored before halftime, once again from a dead ball. The Stoke centre backs, Robert Huth and lovely Ryan Shawcross, players unable to do their jobs without cheating, were so intent on manhandling Giroud and Koscielny in the build-up that Stoke neglected to cover Mertesacker. The BFG was easily able to evade the cover assigned to him, and looped Özil’s perfect corner to the back post. With Koscielny running interference to confuse Begovic, the ball dropped into the net. Hey presto, 2-1 up.

Mert celebrates with Rambo and Ozil

The tempo dropped in the second half, which was perhaps unsurprising after the team’s wonderful efforts in Marseille. But fortunately for us, we weren’t facing a side that had the ability to exploit that. Jones was largely isolated and when Hughes subbed him, for some reason he passed over Peter Crouch, and preferred to put Mark Walters up front, which was an odd decision. But, without another goal, we remained vulnerable. That goal arrived from yet another dead ball, a free kick that was once again won by Wilshere driving at the Stoke defence, who were only able to terminate Jack’s run by taking him out. This wasn’t shooting territory for Özil but he floated a ball across the penalty area, where the goal machine that is Bacary Sagna was able to outjump his two opponents and loop a header over Begovic and into the far corner.

Sagna celebrates

And so it was that we were returned to the top of the early season league table. With Man United’s embarrassing capitulation to City, we are already five points clear of van Persie’s team, but the other good sides are clustered together. It was a shame to see Spurs win in injury time, but I do enjoy seeing the two North London clubs at the top, with the good guys in poll position.

We will see much, much better performances from Mesut Özil than yesterday’s, but, even while he’s adapting to a new team and a new league, he was able to provide three assists. It was a quiet, efficient win yesterday, but, even beyond winning three points in a game against a disliked opponent, there were numerous positive aspects for us: Arteta’s return to the fray, Gnabry’s energetic and fearless performance (which meant we were able to cope without Walcott), the solidity of the defence (after the frayed edges shown against Sunderland), selfless hard-work from Giroud and Flamini and a good performance from Wilshere. But the greatest satisfaction came from seeing Ramsey score and play well against our bêtes noires. Viva Ramsey!

Written by 26may

Player ratings by LB

Szezcney: I have never played goalkeeper and because of that I have never professed to know too much about that position but every part of me shouts that this keeper is the real deal; another good game. 8

Sagna: definitely one of his better games, back to where he plays best with the BFG next to him. Patrolled the line well and scored a goal to boot. 8

Mertasacker: Captain on the day, steered the ship from the back with calmness and authority. 8

Koscielny: these two CBs remind me of Adams and Bould, the BFG being the former. On the rare occasions that Adams didn’t play you got to see the actual ability of Bould and realised then just how good Adams made Bould look. Laurent had a perfectly good game but a BFG he is not. (yet) 7

Gibbs: Ramsey may rightfully be the player who has received all the accolades for being the most improved player this season but there is no doubt that the second most improved is Kieran Gibbs; that said, yesterday was not one of his better days. In the first half he was a bit too slack at times. 6

Ramsey: how is it possible to praise him anymore, he was by some distance the best player on the pitch for the first 45 minutes, scoring yet another goal, and celebrating in front of the Stoke fans. He faded a tad in the second half which is the reason I have not given him the MOTM but still another great day at the office. 8

Flamini: after watching him three times on TV I was close to concluding that our second most important signing was no more than a 2013 version of Giles Grimandi: a jobbing utility player; well, yesterday I saw him in the flesh for the first time and realised I was wrong. His passing, his positioning, his tackling were superb; none of them world class; but, a bit like his career path; he really knows how to make the most out of the limited ability that he has. A very impressive game and a worthy MOTM. 9

Wilshere: one step forward, two steps back; he was not at his best yesterday, I got the feeling that he was filling in because others were injured, had Rosicky or Cazorla been fit, Jack would have certainly been on the bench; still, what he lacked in fitness he made up for in a determination. 7

Gnabry: I was going to tear into the young German but having read a few comments from some of the more esteemed regulars on here, arguing that he is not a winger, maybe I should hold fire. Nevertheless, he was poor in the first half, he slowed the play down almost every time he got the ball, when a simple pass was possible he tried to show off. It is, of course, early days, but this is a match report on yesterday’s game and yesterday, in my opinion, he was not very good. 5

Giroud: his passing is improving, his control is improving and his positioning is improving, he always works like a Trojan and yesterday was no exception. 8

Ozil: Three assists on his home debut. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I went with my Mrs who asked when he ran close to us to take a corner: why are they all standing and clapping before he has even taken the kick, to which I replied — for just being. 8

Time to forgive, Arsenalistically

September 21, 2013

During the summer, before the last act twist of the transfer window, the sentiments in the picture below were in my mind, as they were in the minds of other gooners. I tweeted this with the question, was it time for me to move on from that view or not?

BTYqyybCEAE4RFp.jpg large

The answers I got were as polarised as you’d expect on twitter with the answers being either: ”of course it is, stop being negative and get behind the club” or “it’s only a one off bit of spending, the club will be soon back to its normal stingy ways in January”.

As ever how I felt falls somewhere between the two stools however it did occur to me that maybe my (not so) private slating of Wenger/the board/Gazidis was a bit unwarranted in hindsight. A bit of perspective between the events and when you look at their context will give you some chance of a less emotional valuation of a situation, even if following a team is, by it’s nature, full of emotive subjectivity. That and being relentlessly bombarded lame media’s need to cause outrage amongst a fanbase by being “less than truthful” with facts in its reporting.

Similarly my reaction to Flamini’s use of our training facilities to get fit a month ago seemed like being overly helpful to someone who left us in the lurch after promising to sign a new contract all season long.

Admittedly it is early days but he has done a job so far that, given Arteta’s absence, cannot be undervalued. Again, was I too quick to turn on the venom? By May next year we’ll know how useful an acquisition of this Marseille man with the Corsican ancestry will turn out to be.

In time I’ve learnt to forgive Cesc, to a degree, for how he left us as he hasn’t denigrated the club and always spoken well of it but his behaviour has seemed better in comparison to that Cutch Dunt who is now residing in Salford playing for a wrinkly faced Gollum who as shown below is out of his depth. Needless to say St Nick will be commuting to work on skis before I forgive that Dutchman.


So, how forgiving are you, who of our ex players will get the hate and who will get the adulation that you previously thought you wouldn’t give?

By ChärybdÏß1966

Yes, Arsenal Can Win The Title

September 3, 2013

Dontcha just hate those last minute panic buys :-D?

Now I don’t want to seem parochial, but it’s impossible to separate the closing moments of the transfer window from the North London Derby that took place barely 24 hours earlier.

Before the game against the Shadow People, the cacophony of premature triumphalism from N17 was deafening.

The Spuds’ fans were eager to tell us how they had spent more than £100m on new players while our outlay made Scrooge look profligate. Inevitably (according to their logic) we would be drowned by a tsunami of banknotes when they pitched up at The Emirates.

But character is never eclipsed by cash, nor class outshone by gaudy trinkets: Arsenal 1, Totteringham 0.

Imagine being a Spud this morning.

It’s like you’ve spent the past week going round to your next door neighbour, giving it large:

Spud: “I’ve got a new bicycle. Let’s have a race.”

You: “No thanks.”

Spud, the next day: “I’ve got a new bicycle and now I’ve got a new horse. Let’s have a race.”

You: “No thanks.”

Spud, the next day: “I’ve got a new bicycle and a new horse and a new moped. Let’s have a race.”

You: “No thanks.”

Spud, the next day: “I’ve got a new bicycle and a new horse and a new moped and a new Ford Fiesta. Let’s have a race.

You: “No thanks.”

Spud, the next day: “Er… hello.”

You: “I’ve got a Ferrari. Let’s do it.

Answer me this: would you swap the £109m of New Potatoes that have arrived in N17 this summer for Mesut Ozil?

I wouldn’t.

Ozil is a world class player of a calibre that has not been signed by Arsenal since the arrival of a certain Dutch deity back in 1995 (yes, nearly 20 years ago).

Other Arsenal players have turned into superstars after joining us (Henry, Vieira, Fabregas, Brave Sir Robin) but Ozil is the first player to join as a bona fide genius since Dennis walked across the Caledonian Canal and into the Marble Halls, pausing only to distribute loaves and fishes to the masses.

So now we know the squad we have for the season ahead (notwithstanding the potential for reinforcements in January).

I would not say I’m 100% happy with it. I would have preferred an extra centre back and another centre forward to provide cover for Ollie G. But on balance I feel we’re in a good place.

Here are our main options:

Goalkeeper: Szczesny, Viviano, Fabianski.

Fullback: Sagna, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Monreal (Flamini).

Centre Back: Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen (Sagna).

Midfield: Wilshere, Rosicky, Arteta, Ramsey, Cazorla, Flamini.

Attack: Giroud, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Walcott, (Sanogo/Bendtner).

Good enough to win the league?

You bet!

It doesn’t mean we WILL win the league: there are far too many variables for that to be said with any confidence. But I feel convinced that in this campaign, when it comes to the business end of things, we will be in the mix for top three, not for fourth/fifth.

Despite the angst of most Gunners, I would have been feeling modestly confident even if we had signed no-one yesterday.

Even before Ozil’s arrival our first 11 was becoming a match for anyone. The players are on an amazing run (only one defeat since March 3rd) and their belief is starting to become self-reinforcing: they work for one another and they trust one another. They have started to refuse the notion of being defeated. I’m sure our young British core (all re-upped in their contracts during last season) are central to this resurgence, supported by the experience and character of players like Arteta and Mertesacker (and now Flamini).

Of course, we can’t win the league if other teams are better than us. So how have our rivals fared in their summer transfer dealings and how are they shaping up for the challenge ahead?

Let’s consider them all, even the not-really-rivals like the Spuds and Liverpool.

Totteringham: they have lost their best player and replaced him with lots of half-decent players who will take a considerable time to adjust to the EPL and to playing alongside each other. I expect them to come good after Christmas, but by that time they will have dropped too many points to be anything other than outsiders for the Champions League positions. They are still crying out for a top creative central attacking midfielder or number 10.

Liverpuddle: whoop-de-doop! They have won their first three games of the season! This could be their year, right? Wrong. Their manager is a plank and their frailties will become apparent soon enough. Any team that thinks Kolo is the answer has clearly not been listening to the question.

ManUre: this could be a great year for the ManUre-haters (hello Chary). Their inept performance in the transfer window shows that the club has lost any remaining pull since the departure of the aubergine-hootered Jock. To be honest, United’s stock was already on the slide in Europe before Ferguson’s exit because, despite their domestic successes, it was obvious to everyone that they were no longer capable of competing with the top teams from Spain, Germany and Italy. There is nothing about Gollum that suggests he is any way suited to halting the slide. Fellaini is an OK signing – but he’s not what they need (indeed, as I said recently, he’s not as good as Ramsey). They needed Fabregas and he told them to eff off. They needed Ozil but he took a good look at the individuals alongside whom he would be playing and chose Arsenal instead. I expect United to fall out of the top four this year.

Chavski:  the Special Needs One is back and it would be a brave gambler who would bet against Chelsea having a decent season. They will definitely be in contention and will be one of our biggest rivals, even with Will-I-Am playing attacking midfield.

ManCiteh: they have a well respected coach, an embarrassment of riches on the playing side and gazillions of money. I happen to think that they will be neck and neck with Manchester United for the “who can fall out of the top four fastest” contest. As Arsenal showed against the Reprobates – money can’t buy you team spirit.

Conclusion: “It’s up for grabs now.”

And this is where the Mesut Ozil signing comes in: it’s not just about making a brilliant addition to our squad. It’s about providing a huge lift to those amazing Arsenal players who have been doing so well week in and week out for 15 matches.

Arsene Wenger has said to those players: “I trust you – but to enable you to reach the highest heights I am adding a true superstar.  I want to match the ambitions you have for yourselves and for our club.” Ozil will make the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey and Walcott even better.

I am glad there is no Cabaye. My faith is in Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta, Flamini et al.

I am sort-of glad there is no Benzema, whose presence (and no doubt insistence on playing time in a World Cup year) would relegate the ever-improving Giroud to the bench.

Meanwhile, Ozil’s signing also makes a statement to our rivals: no defender will feel comfortable when they see him lining up against them in the EPL. After all, who wants to be next in the Nutmeg Hall of Shame that makes up any Ozil YouTube compilation?

So, has Arsene played the transfer window in a masterful way?

I doubt it. With the thin-ness of our squad and the swathe of early season injuries it doesn’t take too much of a leap of the imagination to think we could have failed to qualify for the Champions League (in which case, no Ozil) and might have struggled against Fulham and the Spuds.

Next season I would be much happier if the major business was done before the start of the season, not before the end of the window.

But somehow our professorial leader has ended up the winner in this summer of frenzied speculation and occasional action.

His late, emphatic move for Ozil makes Villas Boas look like a spendthrift hoarder of cheap tat and makes Moyes look like a boy trying to sit at the men’s table while secretly weeing himself with fear.

I’m not a great one for “I told you so”, but after the general gloom that followed our opening day defeat to Aston Villa I wrote a Post urging people to keep things in perspective. All teams – even the greatest – occasionally lose games that they shouldn’t. I just felt people were reading too much into one defeat that was largely down to dodgy refereeing, and unnecessarily writing off our season before it had begun.

However, I did add: “I am also confident that good players will be brought in (if they are not, I will be singing a different tune).”

Since then, Flamini, Viviano and Ozil have arrived.

For me, the song remains the same.

The title is there to be won. Let’s do it.