What is your best midfield?

January 17, 2017

The choices are Elneny, Cazorla, Ramsey, Xhaka, Coquelin.

Let’s make it more difficult and add in the attacking MF. So now we have to include Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ozil.

If we have 3 attackers and 5 defenders (inc Gk) it leaves 3 or 4 places.

Ozil is a guaranteed starter but no-one else. So, it is 3 from 7

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Much as I love Santi, he requires a holding MF alongside him which has historically been Coquelin but I think both Elneny and Xhaka are better passing from deep.

This isn’t an exam so let’s not have any of that “it depends upon the game” lily-livered indecision.

And if we can’t make a concrete decision, imagine how hard it must be for Mr Wenger whose selection is scrutinísed by a million people a week.

written by Big Raddy


Ozil is better than Bergkamp. Match Report.

November 2, 2016

Character building, yes, character building is the way I would describe that win and probably the best preparation for Sunday we could have had. What, I hear you say; surely another six-nil win would have been better giving us the chance to rest Ozil and Sanchez after seventy minutes? Not necessarily, there is no way it is going to be a stroll in the park on Sunday and if we go a goal behind we will have had very recent experience in knowing how to put it right. The same goes for if we are two down but I don’t want to dwell on that possibility for too long. What I am saying is that we are in good shape and are now completely prepared to face the knuckle draggers.

Ludogorets looked pretty good in the first twenty minutes at the Emirates and if it wasn’t for a couple of fine saves from Ospina we could have just as easily have been two down inside the first twenty minutes then. Things didn’t fall inch perfect for them in that game but they did last night and they also had luck on their side: the ball was drilled at speed towards Xhaka who no more than turned away but the referee who was poor all night wrongly gave a free kick from which they scored; our defending wasn’t at its best, but it was one hell of a good cross. Shortly after, Gibbs was given a Brazilian by one of their nippy players who played a slide rule pass into our box for another one of their nippy players to slot home. Don’t ask me their names I don’t know and I don’t care.

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Two down, things weren’t going to plan and we were looking rattled which showed in our hurried passing and unnecessary loss of possession; still, we do not sing that “we are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen” for nothing.

The fight back was on.

Özil of course was involved it was his cross from the byline that was missed by several players in the penalty area before falling invitingly to Xhaka who guided it home and brought us back into the game. The goal steadied the nerves, confidence returned and with it the accuracy of the passing. We were the better team overall but they were still looking dangerous on the break.

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Enter our two returnees.

Ramsey was everywhere or so it seemed; a tireless engine, superb vision and my man of the match, it was his pinpoint cross that enabled Giroud to bring us back on terms: a well-taken header from the man who seems to push himself just that much more when he perceives his starting place is under threat. Do you remember the last time he was out for a while and Theo seemed to have taken his place? When the FFP did start again he scored something like four goals in four games. Two on Sunday, Ollie, and the world will be a wonderful place.

Chances fell to both teams in the second half and the game could have gone either way, I had resigned myself to a draw and had already persuaded myself that two-two was not a bad result away from home and all that. But Mesut Ozil had different ideas which leaves me in the really bad situation of having to try and put that goal into words; save from a long list of superlatives, I can’t.

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Goal of the season, yes, one of the best Arsenal goals I have ever seen, yes, I am trying to stop myself from gushing ahhhhh, I can’t, it was fantastic, brilliant, breathtaking, sheer class from the best player I have ever seen play for Arsenal. There I said it; forgive me Dennis, I couldn’t stop myself. lol

Nothing left now but to watch that goal over and over again and purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Written by LB

 


Arsenal 6 Ludogrets 0…………a few thoughts on the game.

October 20, 2016

Thracians thrashed and we have a better clock tower; well we do, the clock tower near the Highbury barn is much better than theirs by about six goals I would say.

Sanchez, Walcott’s twin brother, Oxlaide-Chamberlain all got on the score sheet but it was Mesut Ozil’s night with his first hat trick at THOF.

Arsenal cruised past the Bulgarian champions with the ease in which I think most anticipated; that’s to say, anticipated in the way that none of us knew what to expect from Ludogrets but most presumed, and rightly so as it turned out, that the champions of such a lowly league were hardly going to produce a team capable of beating us in the form we are in.

No, but, that is not to say that we didn’t have a few scares; it took two fine saves from the outstanding Ospina to keep us ahead: Sanchez having scored from what is fast becoming his trade mark “Scoop”. I am not sure what else to call it; it was as inch perfect as the “Scoop” he sent over for Ozil to score one of the best goals I have ever seen against Swansea on Saturday.

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The Chilean’s goal settled the nerves and gave a moment to reflect on what a clever team selection Wenger had made. For twenty years I have been trying to guess the team he is going to select and although there have been a couple of times when I have been really annoyed usually following a sound thrashing; that said, I am not daft enough to realise that my criticism was made with the use of hindsight. Anyway once again I couldn’t guess and once again I was really impressed with the way Wenger deployed the troops: Monreal needed time to cool down from his weekend roasting which gave Gibbs a chance and the Ox for Iwobi was smart.

It is all very well going on as we do about how much depth we have to the squad but it is easy to forget that they are human beings with feelings and they need be kept on side and motivated and that was exactly what Wenger was able to do to two key players in the very important Gibbs and Oxlaide-Chamberlain. Oops I almost forgot, that is three key players with Ospina.

Theo’s twin brother continued to impress with a superb long range effort from way outside the box just before half time which allowed us to go into the break having doubled our lead and a whole lot more relaxed. I say Theo’s twin brother of course because there is no way anyone is going to persuade me that this is the same Theo that we have had at the club for what, ten years now? No way. Theo’s twin seems to have worked out his best position in no time and even more important he has been given provisional membership into the elite Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla club. Yes a very exclusive club that very few get invited into, Ramsey has a provisional membership, Giroud by contrast doesn’t.

What this membership gets you is — the ball, it means that Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla will pass to you; they wouldn’t have passed to Theo of last season, no point he would have just lost possession but his twin this season is able to control it and make some telling passes and score some very important goals. I am not sure that Giroud will ever be in the club, have you noticed how those three will try a really complicated pass to one another rather than make a simple short easy pass to the Frenchman.

In Arsenal world tonight was a resounding win but it will still go almost unnoticed. I am not sure whether to be pleased or annoyed. I suppose it is useful that all the media continue to kneel in front of Pep, lip gloss applied, while we go on winning almost unnoticed, it certainly keeps the pressure on Man City and off of us. It is a two horse race, no doubt in my mind about it.

But we were good tonight, we are very good, who would have expected Ozil to start scoring the way he is and before I go any further I want make sure Perez’s two assists do not go unnoticed. Do you remember when we bought him and we were all excited about how finally we might have someone who can play with Ozil and Sanchez up front, someone who has the same close control as those two titans of our team, well you saw it tonight. Perez was outstanding which of course leaves me with a bit of a problem choosing my superlative for Ozil but before I do a thought crossed my mind as he completed his hat trick.

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What would Ozil have to do to be regarded as the best player we have ever had at Arsenal? I will leave that one to you to discuss.

Back to the game, no actually I am done, Ozil’s three goals were magnificent and boy what a pleasure it was to be there and witness them. One last very personal point that gave me goose bumps. It is always a sign that we are on top and cruising when the you hear We’re the North bank, we’re the North Bank followed by we’re the Clock end, we’re the clock end, nothing new here but the difference last night was that like phoenix from the ashes the sound of we’re the East Stand, we’re the East Stand, we’re the East Stand Highbury came ringing out for the first time ever at THOF, I have goose bumps just writing it. Oh how lucky I am to support this football club, thanks Dad.

Written by LB


Swansea hoodoo broken

October 16, 2016

Yesterday’s game had everything: excitement, drama and sex, yes sex, the third goal from Mesut was sex. One of the best games, excitement wise, I have seen at THOF in a while.

Here are some player ratings……….

Cech: will you stop hoofing the ball up field, almost always we lose possession, just roll it out, simples. 6

Bellerin: Hector can do no wrong. 8

Mustafi: Everyone’s favourite new player looks more and more like a bargain after every game he plays. 8

Koscielny: Captain Fantastic. 8

Monreal: OK, but got roasted a few too many times in the second half and was responsible for Swansea’s second goal. 5

Xhaka: did start off quietly commanding but he gave the ball away badly for Swansea’s first goal and it should be noted that that is the second time that he has done that. The red card should have been a yellow, just rugby tackle him if you want to make sure the player doesn’t go any further. 5

Cazorla: passing was a bit off today, not the best game but with his smile how can you not love him. 6

Ozil: this man is getting near to being the best player we have ever had, his winner was worthy of the great Dutchman himself; one of the great Arsenal goals of all time. 9

Iwobi: it is impressive that someone so young can hold his own in the ball control stakes with Ozil and Sanchez, in many ways he looks more comfortable playing with those two than Walcott does but the hyperbole has advanced quicker than the reality of where Alex is in his career. I am not suggesting that there isn’t an awful lot more to come from the player but right now Welbeck would and should walk straight back into that team. With maturity you get a confident selfishness as a striker, a determination and a self belief that you can always score. Welbeck has this Iwobi hasn’t — yet.

Sanchez: passing astray, trying too hard and then he crosses the ball for Ozil to score our third with such accuracy I wonder why I even bother thinking about a negative side at all. 7

Walcott: New Theo and Old Theo were on display today, New Theo scored two vital goals, Old Theo missed two sitters. 7

Good subs by the way, the Ox was impressive.

Written by LB


Arsenal’s Most Valuable

September 30, 2016

A couple of seasons ago, I penned a post making the case for Theo being our most valuable player.

It stated that I didn’t think he was our best player in any particular position, rather that he was the most irreplaceable because of the threat he posed an opposition defence, and hence the value.

This summer saw us make some great signings right the way down the spine of the team. Of course we haven’t seen too much of Lucas Perez, but that is more to do with Arsene’s juggling of the pack across the front.

Right now, Arsenal are playing the best football we have witnessed in many years, however, one thing is for certain, both injuries and fatigue will come, and then we’ll see the real strength of the squad.

We have been watching what many would consider our best starting XI, and equally, many will be nervously thinking about where it will go wrong. Therefore, I’d love to hear your thoughts on where you see our Achilles heel.

The little I saw of Holding fills me with enormous confidence, and I also have a sneaky suspicion Gabriel might come good in the same way Laurent did, meanwhile the defensive side of midfield looks to me our strongest area.

My own view on Aaron differs to some regulars on here in that I don’t see him as a specialist in any role of our current system, however, he is a superb multi-functional stand in for a number of roles. I remember how last season we played arguably our best two games with Aaron on the right.

Strangely, and here you’ll think I’m being wildly optimistic, I fear injury to Mesut less than before as I believe Iwobi would do a more than adequate job standing in for an unreplaceable.

If I had to pick one player to represent that bit of Achilles, then it would be Bellerin.

What do you think?

Written by mickydidit89


Gunners sting Hornets and Xhaka can!!!

August 28, 2016

A confident Arsenal performance was too much for Watford as Granit Xhaka put in a man of the match performance on a warm afternoon in Hertfortshire.

Much of the talk en route to the game was of incoming transfers as Arsenal have raided La Liga with the signings of Lucas Perez and World Cup Winner Shkodran Mustafi. Fans were then delighted to hear of the news that Mustafi’s compatriot Mesut Ozil was named to make his first start of the season.
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The Arsenal away fans were in full voice yet again showing their fantastic support despite the negativity around the around the club in recent weeks.

The game kicked off and Arsenal came flying out of the blocks with Alexis looking lively and the Gunners using the flanks to exploit Watford’s weaknesses. Granit Xhaka was starting to impose himself on the game and fans were purring at his range of passing. One fan commented that the boy is “different gravy.” The talk in the stands was that the fans were pleased to see Granit put his foot in and stamp his authority in midfield.

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Arsenal’s fast paced start was rewarded as Alexis was clattered and Santi Cazorla stepped up to take a penalty. He sent Gomes the wrong way and 1-0 to The Arsenal as the fans were singing Cazorla’s name.

Arsenal then controlled the game with Xhaka’s passing combined with the movement of the Arsenal attacking players causing all sorts of problems. Walcott was then denied by Gomes with a low effort assisted by the the impressive Cazorla. The noisy away support were then shouting obscenities at referee Kevin Friend and when he booked Prodl it was greeted with sarcastic applause.

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Arsenal were bamboozling their opponents  but Watford did try to get rewarded by floating in crosses for Deeney and the dangerous Ighalo. Arsenal fans at this point were seething especially at Bellerin and Monreal claiming they were not going out to stop crosses. Cech had to be alert saving from a defected effort. Arsenal then looked to  ramp up the pressure and on 40 minutes a lovely cross from Theo Walcott was met by Alexis whose effort was over the line to send the Arsenal fans in raptures.

Then on the stroke of half time Alexis turned provider and fan favourite Mesut Ozil headed home a lovely move and Arsenal supporters were jumping for joy and the deafening chant broker out- “We got Ozil! Mesut Ozil! I just don’t think you understand!” Half time and Arsenal were cruising to their first win of the season. Arsenal were brilliant but the name on everyones lips was Granit Xhaka. My friend came to me from the lower row to tell me that Granit was running the show  and at 23 years of age he was showing so much maturity.
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The second half began and Watford were trying to restore some pride. Arsenal though took their foot off the gas and Watford then scored through Pereya with a close effort. Arsenal fans were complaining about the players failing to clear their lines and that if they got another one then it would be squeaky bum time. Some fans to the right had some toilet roll which was taken from the toilets and wanted to throw in the air at the right moment with a young fan claiming “this used to happen in the seventies!”

Arsenal were then hanging on as Cech made a save from Holebas and later made a fantastic double save showing his goalkeeping prowess. Troy Deeney looked like he was still on his holidays with a fan next to me eluding to the fact that he was 55 and not as fat as Troy Deeney. He commented that “he looked like a Sunday league player!” The same fan was enjoying himself and amusing the other Arsenal supporters around him as he then mocked Isaac Success who came on for Watford stating players have funny names now and that he has not joined the right club if he wants “success!”

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Mohammed Elneny, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs then came on to shore things up but Ighalo had a chance late on when his spectacular bicycle kick was over the bar. Arsenal saw the game out and secured their first win of the season.

The away support was unbelievable yet again and as fans were leaving the stands Granit Xhaka was being praised for a masterclass performance. The passing was sublime and he made some snapping tackles which made the supporters happy and feeling we have a player who will give us the bite in midfield.

Still work to be done but a big win and we look forward to the home match against Southampton after the international break.

If anyone can, Xhaka can! Up the Arsenal!!!

Written by Sir A

 


Giroud was always Wenger’s Plan B …. Vardy fits Plan A

June 16, 2016

Following on from LB’s post yesterday asking what we could expect from Vardy in an Arsenal shirt, I thought that I would delve a bit deeper into the factors that would affect that expectation and why he is the type of player we need.

Obviously all this is based on the assumption that Vardy will sign for North London’s Finest ….. so take that as the premise and run with it.

Olivier Giroud and Jamie Vardy are polar opposites in the spectrum of strikers. Both are very good at what they do but they have little in common in terms of the striker’s repertoire.

Arsene bought Ollie when we were still having to be careful financially. He was the best we could get with the money available and his goal tally since signing make him very good value for money.

We have seen from the first games at the Euros that Giroud is a much better hold up player in a 4:5:1 than that Kane bloke from some minor club down the road, but we also saw in France’s game yesterday that a striker of his type struggles when the pattern of play doesn’t suit …. he benefits from chances created for him but doesn’t create that many chances from his own play. Giroud won’t pick the ball up at the half way line, weave and trick his way through the defenders and tuck it away, he’s not built for that.

Let’s look at our style of football. Arsenal under Arsene Wenger have been compared to Barcelona. The Dutch model of total football is often quoted when describing our fluid style of play (when it’s working). OG can hold the ball up, he’s very good with his head, he makes clever lay offs …. but those aren’t the core attributes required for the aforementioned style of football. No, that requires pace, movement, good close control, mobility, a clinical finisher …. remind you of anyone?

We were actually heading down this road when Welbeck became first choice striker towards the end of last season. That version of Plan A had to be shelved due to Welby’s latest untimely injury. Vardy is just a more finished article than Welbeck. Morata fits the bill. None of the strikers we have been linked with have been ‘Girouds’.

Ask yourself this….who will benefit most from a sliderule pass from Ozil? Who will have the pace, movement and incisive runs to capitalize on the genius of the best ‘assister’ in the world?

So my conclusion is that Arsene has been pragmatic. OG was the best we had and we have tried to play to his strengths when he’s leading the line, but in reality, a player like Vardy is what the system really requires and that would have been Plan A all along. We won’t have to adapt our style that much to accommodate Vardy, we’ve been having to compromise it all this time to get the best out of Ollie.

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Codicil…

I should make reference to GoonerB’s continual evangelism last season on the need for a ‘fast fluid striker’ and  for Total Arsenal’s undying love for all things Ollie 🙂