Arnautovic. Sell, Sell, Sell.

January 12, 2019

No West Ham Bob post today, the chap has gone underground (or to the Caribbean!).

I have never been to the London Olympic stadium, I understand it is a soulless bowl unless inhabited by the Great Gooner, Mo Farah. Our record at the ground is good, with only one loss, a draw and a few wins. WHU have only won one out of the last 21 fixtures with AFC. This may explain why they keep buying our ex-players – Little Jack, $amir Nasri, Flapianski etc

Do you recall the days when if Wrighty didn’t score we were screwed? It is much the same at WHU.  Take out that unpleasant devil, Arnautovic and they are toothless. That said, on the rare occasion Andy Carroll plays they can lump the ball into the Big Man and WHU have another attacking weapon.

I like the look of Anderson, who could do well at a better club, one which isn’t being ruined by rapacious owners. He is a more direct Iwobi.

The Hammers manager, Manuel Pellegrini, is doing a good job after the club was damaged by the tactics of Fat Sam and Moyes. He seems a likeable chap and at least is trying to get WH back to playing decent football.

Back to Arnautovic. I can never forgive the swine for his cowardly attack on Debuchy which effectively ended his Arsenal career (allowing Catwalk  to take his place). West Ham understandably are refusing to sell him. The bloke is highly likely to score this afternoon against our porous defence.

Awful Music Alert. Turn off Sound

Of which … Could Hector start this afternoon? Please, pretty please.

And Mesut. No more of this knee knack, back pain, headache, flu, dog’s eaten my homework bolleaux. Let him play, and let him dazzle.

And Catwalk. Stop him looking like a bright red blimp up int the stands and get him up that wing in order to give the team some balance.

Getting the injured back into the team will make a huge difference.

I expect this afternoon to be frustrating, we are not playing particularly well, even when winning, and the Hammers are very inconsistent. And we know Fabianski will have one his best performances.

We need 3 points.

Let it be So.

COYRRG

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Arsenal 3 Burnley 1 – Player Ratings

December 23, 2018

Before the game

Superb fun on the 8:45 from Nottingham. A complimentary full English included in the price of a first class ticket. Our only dilemma was how to fit in the three accompanying beers. Once in London, beers in the World’s End, Finsbury Park with LBG and two hip flasks of surgical spirit, plus a lovely discussion about a match photo on the pub wall, all preceded meeting up with the ticket fairy outside entrance F.

We all knew how Dyche would set up his team to maximise the chance of sneaking something with the bang average players he has at his disposal – kick the opposition and hope for a goal at a set-piece.

First half

Harum scarum start to the game. Could have been goals at either end in the first couple of minutes. Eventually the footballing side shone through and deservedly took the lead when Auba scored. Mesut’s through ball to Kola was mind-bending; such vision in a crowded penalty area. No-one else in the Premier could have played that pass. One nil to the Arsenal. Burnley’s 354 away fans were distraught.

Second half

Arsenal should have been sailing gently down the three points river after Auba doubled his tally with a classy pile-driver high into the net at Hart’s near post.

Instead we let the Neanderthals back into the game with a series of dreadful attempts at clearances from a dead ball. A Dyche team scoring from a dead ball – who would have thought it?

At this point I could see two eventualities 4-1 or 2-2. Luckily Wobbly popped up with the winner when played onside by the Burnley right back. His goal-bound effort was close enough to the goal not to sail over the bar!

get your head over it, lad

The fourth was not forthcoming, so we had to be content with just 3-1 and three lovely points. 🙂

Conclusion

A worthy three points against a team of cloggers. Shame Mesut didn’t play as defensive midfielder! 😊

Ratings

Leno – Sound performance … 7

Maitland-Niles – lackadaisical and no threat going forward … 5

Sokratis – MOTM – a Greek Tony Adams – stood up to Barnes who could have been sent off twice – Auba calls him ‘Papa’, sounds good to me … 9

Monreal – solid but bandy legs caused another injury … 6

Kolasinac – not much to do defensively which played to his strong suit – some majestic power challenges … 7

Xhaka – where was he playing? – was he good or bad? You decide … 7

Elneny – Bang average – Animal from the Muppets – how bad is it when you only get picked when the Terrier needs a rest and even then you can’t last 90 mins without being subbed?… 5

Guendouzi – not one of his best – needs a haircut … 6

Ozil – masterminded Burnley’s downfall, pass for the first goal was world class – run for the third mesmeric … 8

Aubameyang – does what it says on the tin … 8

Lacazette – sparky and full of spunk, needs a goal but instrumental in the crucial second … 7

Subs

Lichtsteiner – not the best passer but he wasn’t signed for his sweet passing – a great squad player … 7

Iwobi – did very little – apart from seal the victory … 6

Torreira – shouldn’t have been needed for Burnley … 6

Managers

Emery – tricky day for him with so many out, but did a fair job at juggling his resources … 7

Dyche – like some hideous reincarnation of all of Alex Ferguson’s worst traits. Comments after the game ridiculously laughable … 2

chas


Alternative Qarabag – exciting prospects give us a glimpse of the future?

December 15, 2018

As things stand we have very few options on the right: Ramsey and Ozil have been deployed out there with very little success; I mean what’s the point in tasking Ozil with tracking back and worse, what a waste? Ramsey is slightly better in the sense that he is more naturally aware of what is expected from someone playing in that position but with all the best will in the world, his main drawback is that he is very slow over the ground and when tracking back with pace is one of the principal yardsticks in which a player is gauged on the flank, the Welshman will always be seen as being lacking. Aubameyang and Lacazette drift out there from time to time but obviously offer no defensive cover or token at best.

Then there is Mkhitaryan, I have read on a few occasions how Henrich seems to be one of Emery’s favourites and is the reason why, on occasions, when it seems to make no sense, he gets the nod ahead of Ozil. I don’t see this at all. In fairness, on the flank, Mkhitaryan does offer something going forward, he does have good close control and does try to track back, certainly does better than any other player that Emery has used in that position, but that is not saying much. And this is where I bring you back to the match you are trying to forget or more than likely had forgotten: Qarabag.

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

The most interesting point for me was how Emery deployed AM-N; he started as predicted at LB which, as we know, he can play but as we equally all know, there is so much more in his locker but second half Emery put him wide right and he almost created a goal with his first very exciting foray into the 18 yard box.

I think a lot can be read into this. What is becoming apparent is that Emery loves a mobile player with good close control; the ability to push forward but, above all, the player must be able to defend (did I just describe Torreira?)

You see where I am coming from. If you think about it, AM-N has all of those qualities plus one further special gift: he is fast and when he gets going he is very fast. I expect Emery to play him out there far more in the near future.

A couple of other thoughts: I like the way that Saka is being fast-tracked, yes he is the latest hot young prospect that we are all getting excited about but, hey, what is wrong with that? Cynics point to a long line of players that people like me have got excited about but have fallen short of what was hoped for (I thought Jack Wilshere was the next Maradonna but hey ho we can’t get them all right) However, I would argue that to not to get excited about the next hot thing is to miss out on an incredibly important and uplifting part of supporting a football team.

Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Young Bukayo, only seventeen, started the game naturally nervous, he may have trained with Ozil and Lacazette but playing along side them is understandably going to take some time to get used to. It was noticeable that he got better and better as the game went on and having drunk some of Unai Emery’s half time magic drink he, like every other player at the club, came out in the second half a changed man. It also helped when Lacazette went off and then finally Ozil; the young man was then surrounded by players up front that he is used to playing with on a weekly basis and the reason for him being fast tracked became apparent. The man possesses superb close control and can seemingly go past players at will; he was in the right place at the right time to receive AM-N’s deft cross on the break to leave Saka one on one with the keeper but unfortunately he fluffed his lines and missed. As for when he is likely to break into the first team, hmmm, I wonder if he can defend. If so, then fast tracked really will mean fast tracked.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

The last player I want to give a bit of attention to is Zech Medley, still only 18 but as nervous as Saka started, Medley was the absolute opposite; he came on and immediately went to take up his natural central defensive position only to be told by Koscielny to go out to the left, did this make him nervous? Not at all, what we have here is a left footed, tall central defender who can obviously play LB with close control skills that are so good I can’t even think of a comparison. Ohh, and the other reason that he gets a mention above others is that he is one of us, a boyhood Arsenal fan and that will always count for an awful lot in my household. COYRRG.

Written by LB


Arsenal’s winning run ended by Atkinson – Palace ratings

October 29, 2018

If you had to run 100 metres it would take you a certain amount of time, yes? With a bit of training you might improve slightly but it wouldn’t take long before you reached maximum capability. This is what yesterday’s game felt like to me; there was no more to give, the team that Emery fielded reached the peak of their collective talent and it wasn’t enough to beat Palace.

The defence didn’t play badly but I don’t think they could have played better. Naturally, we desperately missed the attacking qualities that Monreal brings to bear down the left flank but, with him missing, it was easy for Palace to work out that all our threat would come down the right and so they simply increased the number of bodies in that part of the field, pretty much nullifying our ability to dominate the opposition within our usual game plan. When Bellerin went off we became even more pedestrian; we were forced to play solely through the middle and that made us even easier to control. This was not helped by the link-up play from Torreira and Guendouzi; again neither played badly, in fact, I would have made Torreira my man of the match but neither one of them played a single pass that put an attacker into a goal scoring opportunity. To repeat myself, they had reached the peak of their talents.

And so we get to Ozil and, of course, this is where my little theory falls flat on its face. Ozil did not have his best day at the office and certainly did not play to the peak of his ability but I thought we saw the first chink in Emery’s armour today; it was a bad decision to take him off. Ozil is the only player who is capable of pulling a rabbit out of a hat; that’s to say, no matter how ineffective he is looking, he is always the one most likely to create the little bit of magic needed to win a game like that.

This frustration is compounded in my mind by leaving Iwobi on; this is the equivalent of saying that Iwobi is likely to be more effective than Ozil in the closing stages. Wenger tried taking Ozil off early and it always went wrong, you bring Ozil off when you are three up with ten minutes to go in order for him to get a standing ovation, apart from that, you leave him damn well out there.

Do I need to cover how poor Atkinson was? I think that one has been done; do I need to say that Zaha dived? I think that one has also been done but what I would say is that I thought Zaha was the best player on the park and I wish we had him at THOF.

All in all, a frustrating day. I thought we were going to get away with it again after the team had taken Emery’s half time magic potion as we came out and dominated, scoring two quick goals in succession but alas, no. It was irritating to lose our winning run but I suppose the reason for my sombre tone is a sign of just how high Emery has lifted us in the recent past. I suppose the only way we are going to get that euphoric feeling back is to beat Liverpool next week but if we are to, we are going to need Bellerin and Monreal fighting fit and raring to go.

Quick player ratings

Leno: clean sheet from open play, top keeper. 8

Bellerin: too much asked of him today. 7

Mustafi: someone must be coaching him as he is getting better every week. 7

Holding: I am not sure we can ask any more of him. 8

Xhaka: playing out of position and unsurprisingly got suckered into giving a penalty away. Excellent goal. 6

Torreira: held the fort, if it wasn’t for him it could have been worse. 9

Guendouzi: I really want to say that from here on it was pedestrian, it is all very well looking busy but you have got to be effective as well. 7

Ozil: ineffective but should have stayed on. 6

Iwobi: is he really going to be Emery’s pet project, heaven help us if it is. Ran around a lot and very fast at that but was totally ineffective. 5

Lacazette: not his best day, poor service. 5

Aubameyang: another game another goal. Mah. 7

Subs.

Lichtsteiner: it made me laugh watching how he dealt with Zaha, the Palace forward had the run of that flank in the first half but that all stopped in the second. Lichtsteiner gave him such a hard time that he was forced onto the other flank, maybe that wasn’t such a good thing as, of course, that is where he was able to con Atkinson.

Welbeck and Ramsey: not enough time for them to influence the game.

LB


Wow, that was a hell of a half time talk! – Leicester ratings

October 23, 2018

We were so poor in the first 30 minutes I was starting to wonder why I’d made the trip down from Notts. By the end of the second half I was ecstatic and delighted to clap my team off the pitch.

Occasionally under Arsene it seemed as though a half time doobie had been partaken of, because of the sluggish way we came out for the second period. Under Unai it’s the complete opposite. (Mind you, Mesut’s deliberate cannon off the post just before half time must have given the boys a shot in the arm, as well.) 🙂

Leicester looked a yard faster and fillet steak with pepper sauce hungrier at the start of the game. Arsenal’s front 4 may as well not have been on the pitch. All of the micro-management directions on how to play Leicester either hadn’t been given or were completely ignored. Free kicks were given away in the final third (partly down to an appalling display from the ref), possession was conceded in our own half playing to their counter-attacking strengths and a lethargic work rate all contributed to the feeling that it was only a matter of time.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Bernd made a superb save from the unicorn rider before being finally beaten by a spawny deflection. One nil down and fully deserved. Finally we woke up and seemed to realise that another gear would have to be found. Wobbly cracked in a fine drive after good build up play which turned out to be the aubergine mezes before the superb Mesut inspired lamb tagine. Micki getting dragged over just as Hector returned Ozil’s pass seemed to distract the blue defence and our Mesut’s guiding of the ball sidefooted off the cushion has never been executed by Ronnie O’Sullivan with greater aplomb. Back in it right on the stroke of half time. Perfect.

The second half could not have been more different to the first. Leicester went from looking threatening to looking terrified with a red tsunami bearing down upon the North Bank goal.

Iwobi suddenly began to live up to his recent rave reviews. Mesut’s speed of thought overtook and then completely buried Leicester’s willingness to run their arses off. The substitutions were just sublime – like attaching a jet engine to a Golf GTI.

Goals two and three were just magical. As Micky said, words are a bit pointless. Rat tat tat, bish bash bosh. Mesut’s pass to Hector for the second, Terrier’s driven pass forward, Mesut’s dummy before Laca’s perfect lay off back for number three were all gems in the middle of such lush gorgeousness. Glorious team play a certain Frenchman would have been purring over. Just perfect. You could see in the celebrations of the players how much they realised they’d created a nigh on perfect team goal. We might have a few contenders in goal of the season at this rate.

Ratings (mostly second half apart from the keeper, but who cares?)

Leno – some excellent saves and many touches on the ground without ever looking too much in trouble…8

Hector – absolutely superb in the second half – two assists…8

Mustafi – pretty damn fine, especially with some intelligent covering in the second half…8

Holding – mature and accomplished – who’s Calum?…8

Lichtsteiner – out of position on the left and it showed…6

Torreira – like the central cog of a timepiece we’ve been missing for so long. Thank Dennis the nasty challenge from Albrighton didn’t cause more damage…9

Xhaka – was better at left back than Stephan…8

Ozil – a goal, an assist and a pre-assist – damaging the opposition where it hurts, what a feckin player…10

Mkhitaryan – seemed a little tired from his trip to Armenia but still contributed…7

Iwobi – looked class in the second half, protecting the ball in possession and always looking for a dangerous pass…8

Laca – appeared somewhat miffed when Auba emerged from the bench for two tap-ins and then proceeded to fluff two glorious chances of his own. His work rate was magnificent throughout and his contribution to the win not to be underestimated…8

Subs

Auba – everything went up a notch when he came on – the sexy half hour was a joy to watch…9

Guendouzi – showed his full range of passing in his half hour on the pitch. Instrumental in the shift up to warp factor ten…9

Rambo – seemed to revel in his small part of the Harlem Globetrotters half hour…8

chas


Are Arsenal handling the Ramsey situation well?

October 17, 2018

Just when we thought that the Aaron Ramsey story of ‘will he or won’t he leave the Club’ had been flogged to death, flickers of new life have appeared since he scored ‘that goal at Fulham’, leading me to believe that it needs a bit more flogging and that is exactly what I intend to do.

Ramsey’s contract ends in the summer and he will be a free agent to leave at that point but he can sign a pre-contract with another European team in January. (I think) Obviously if he leaves for free in the summer, the club will miss out on a lucrative transfer fee from any potential sale. Conversely, if he is sold in January, he may miss out on a hefty signing on fee.

There are people who have criticised both the player and the club over how things have been handled. In the player’s case the criticism has been levelled for not wanting to show more loyalty to the club that has nurtured him from a raw talent to the highly rated player that he is today and, as such, Ramsey should show more willing to sign an extension to his present contract. In the club’s case, of course, the criticism is for allowing Ramsey’s contract to have run down as far as it has.

As this has unfolded I have found myself asking what could or should the player or the club have done differently and I have struggled to find an alternative. In the case of Ramsey, I completely respect his right to stay at Arsenal for as long as his contract lasts and not a minute longer and as it draws to a close I also respect his right to seek the best offer that might be out there before committing to Arsenal, and that clearly is what he is doing right now.

In the club’s case, the criticism has been for allowing Ramsey’s contract to run down to the last year, meaning that the club should have got him to sign an extension earlier. Now for the life of me I cannot see how anyone can force a footballer to sign a contract when the person does not want to do so. By way of solution, there have been two suggestions put forward as to how the club should have acted differently. The first is that the club should have offered much more, much earlier: rumours have it that Ramsey wanted his wages to match Özil, we have no proof of that but then again if it is true why shouldn’t he, or at least, why shouldn’t he try?

The second is that the club should have threatened to leave him on the bench for six months, or some such Draconian action, unless he made a decision. This suggestion is so impractical that it borders on infantile; the negative effect it would have on the other players not to mention steering other potential signings away would be profound to say the least. Most other players at the club, certainly the young ones will (or certainly would) like to envisage themselves in the same situation as Ramsey and that is, as their contracts near an end they will be in demand – having options as to where their career may take them. If that strongarm tactic of threatening to be sent to the stands is attempted on one player, it follows that other players would believe that it would be tried with them. Who in their right mind would want to work in that environment when you have other choices and how would that endear the world’s elite footballers to the Home of Football? There would only be one loser in this scenario and that would be the club. Or perhaps two losers – you and me, also, missing out on viewing the players that the club should be attracting.

The same people who criticise the club have pointed to other clubs’ success in stopping players run down their contracts. This to me is like comparing apples with oranges. In Man City’s case when a player nears the end of his contract he knows that no-one else out there can match the wages that City can pay and therefore there is no point in shopping around for a potential higher wage because it will never happen, the player is in the situation of take it or leave it and most of them take it.

Some of the same people point to Tottenham as being more comparable and sing their praises as how they have managed to tie their talent down long before they reach the dangerous area we are in with Ramsey right now. This is true up to a point; they have managed to get Kane and Alli to sign extensions and, at first sight it does looks like Tottenham have been more savvy.

But if we drill down a bit, other things appear. Firstly, there is only Kane and Alli that any other top club would fight over, so apart from increasing their wages the enticement/caveat that must have been explained to Kane (for example), is that if you leave for City (again for example) you will be fighting for your place and that might affect the upward trajectory that you’re currently enjoying at Tottenham. The same is true if you join United and even if you wanted to go back to the club you dreamed about playing for as a child, you will still have to vie for a starting berth with Aubameyang and Lacazette, whereas if you stay at Tottenham you will remain top dog. The opposite is the case with Ramsey; he is vying with Özil for prime pitch real estate.

In the last few months pretty much everything in the Ramsey case has followed the increasingly well-trodden path taken previously by Sanchez and Özil. Both refused to sign a new contract, this generated headlines that served as advertisement to the fact that they would listen to offers from other clubs. Sanchez and Ozil were pampered by Arsenal in an attempt to get them to stay; that’s to say, both players always played whenever and wherever they wanted; the same was true of Ramsey – until something totally different happened, Arsenal withdrew the offer of a four year contract – a brilliant piece of business in my opinion. Ramsey will continue as before following the usual path but, by withdrawing the contract offer, the Club are saying to other clubs that we are prepared to let him go and thereby letting potential suitors know that there will be no resistance from Arsenal if someone wants to buy him in January.

In brief, Arsenal have removed the obstacle of the four year contract and by doing so are making it easier for other clubs to believe that they can sign Ramsey which, in turn, increases the possibility of getting something from him, by way of a transfer fee, in January.

The other advantage of withdrawing the contract offer is that it frees up Emery to pick Ramsey as and when he wants rather than having to pander to him in an attempt to entice him to stay. A big part of me wants him to re-sign but another part of me really wants to hasten the time when Emery has all the players and the team that he sees in his mind’s eye. Is Ramsey part of that? I don’t know. It should be interesting to see how this one pans out.

Please feel free to disagree with anything up there, in fact, the more the better.

LB


Poll – Mesut or Miki – You Decide

October 9, 2018

Ahead for Gunners is a very long International break, so here’s an easy conversation starter.

I’m offering one formation and one positional player option.

It’s a 4-2-3-1 and today the option is Mesut or Mkhi. Obviously you vote for one, but can then elaborate in comments i.e. Mesut only starts when the sun shines and it’s a Full Moon……………

POLL – Mesut or Mkhi – You decide?

mickydidit89