“Saka signs and a 4-0 win… what a day!”

July 2, 2020

It turned out a comfortable win with a score line that we would have expected before the start. It doesn’t always turn out that way of course but I think we deserved a bit of reminding that we are the pride of London and that is how I feel again – proud.



The fitness levels are pretty much back to where they should be; Arteta is enjoying watching his plans being played out effectively and things are looking up. Hard games to come of course but winning is always good preparation.

The game: we were dominant for the majority of the first half, Lacazette should have done better with his opportunities; we got a let off when Norwich hit the post with a forty yard screamer but then it was time for Auba to get that fifty goal monkey off his shoulder and Kruel kindly obliged by making a hash of a Cruff turn in his area which Auba pounced on and slotted home. Xhaka finished off the team goal of the game all before the break, outstanding long ball from Luiz to Tierney who played a precise short pass to Auba who deftly rolled it into the path of the oncoming Xhaka who fired it under Kruels body. Norwich tried to make a fist of things early in the second half before a sloppy back pass gifted Auba his second of the game. Now you may have been happy at this stage, I certainly was but the best was yet to come: who expected that screamer from Soares, it was hilarious when the camera cut to our executive team of Edu et al falling off their seats in shocked celebration. Welcome to the home of football Cedric Soares, that was one heck of a debut.

Martinez: some fine saves, right place right time, good distribution, clearly revelling in his opportunity, clean sheet. What’s not to like? 8

Mustafi: nothing rash, kept it simple, all the cables plugged into the right sockets, not sure why he went off, injury I suppose. 6

Luiz: I have tried not to like him, I tried really hard after the City game but as hard as I try I can’t, yeah, yeah, yeah, defence schmence, I loved the long pass out to Tierney which lead to Xhaka’s goal. 7

Kolasinac: a left footed player on the left of central defence clearly goes along way. I know it was only Norwich but he looked pretty good. 7

Bellerin: Hector who? I haven’t jumped up of the sofa for a long time when someone has scored but that is exactly what I did and shouted wow in excitement when Soares scored. 5

Xhaka: looked pretty happy and the first goal of the season to boot; his experience goes a long way. 7

Ceballos: superb, back up to speed and back to his creative best, his passes were opening up Norwich like a tin of sardines in the first half and he continued to be our most creative player in the second half, probably would have got my MOTM but you know where that is going. 8

Tierney: many people have commented on the intelligence and the accuracy of his crossing and it is true but them there crosses are still nowhere near as good as Saka’s. The young Scot is a defender the other plays eemmm, take your pick. 7

Nelson: there was a time not so long ago when that left wing spot was up for grabs – not anymore it has been claimed with both hands or by the left foot of Pepe. I don’t want to be too harsh here there is still a lot more to come. 6

Lacazette: he tries too hard and his frustration is palpable, deep breaths Laca, deep breaths. Not sure how the future of this one plays out, good to have Nketiah and Martinelli knocking at the door though. 5

Aubamayang: MOTM, of course, clinical finishing, fiftieth and fifty-first goals for the Arsenal Football Club. He looked really happy today, pleased for him. 9

Ooh to be (thanks Sue)

LB


After match feelings …….. I missed the football but not the feeling of dejection

June 18, 2020

Well, I sure haven’t missed this feeling of dejection too much. Didn’t really expect to win, foolishly allowed my hopes up after 10 minutes when chances began to come our way, naively thought that the addition of Ceballos and Luiz made for a better choice of first team and then got slapped round the face — missing only someone sarcastically saying: welcome back to supporting Arsenal.

We started by playing directly out from the back and my heart sang that we might have ditched the messing around in our 18 yard box, the best chances came from this directness but then we reverted to tippy tappy out from the back and my heart sank back.

In fairness there a few occasions when Tierney received the ball that we looked as though it was going to be productive, this was made all the better with Ceballos’ initial impetus but the problem we had as I saw it was that as we moved up the pitch Willock was unable to control the ball and play it through to Aubamayang etc.

Willock probably was the right choice to start as his running and recovering in that role is the best we have. Willock or Ozil? One gives you lots of energy but lacks composure and the other is, on his day, capable of cutting the opposition open with a slide rule pass but has the ball recovery skills of a blind dog. Who knows?

The writing was on the wall as we moved towards half time and we saw how important it is to have a natural left footed player in central defence when David Luiz made a hash of (whatever he did that allowed Sterling to score)

The initial positive flow had all but gone made all the worse by Luiz being turned on his left side again. Benfica? See ya later….. From this point I started watching the game in the back ground and changed from having crowd noise being piped throughto silence, it somehow seemed more solemn and therefore appropriate.

Leno MOTM
Tierney 2nd MOTM
Guendouzi 3rd placed MOTM
Can’t think of anyone else to mention

LB.


Arteta’s the man

January 7, 2020

A win is a win is a win but boy that first half was hard to watch. From being a team that delighted us against Man U to a team that was cringe-worthy all over the pitch. No wonder Arteta shouted at them at half time, they’d gone back into their collective shell and decided that showing up was all that was required.

Luckily for us, Leeds didn’t manage to score in the first half when they were all over us. We couldn’t string any passes together or manage to win the ball back. Leeds were working like demons but that wasn’t a surprise. They play like that ………… as Arteta mentioned in his post match interview ‘they kill teams every three days’.

It’s well reported that Arteta was furious at half time. He’d told them what to expect and they hadn’t listened. Hopefully they’ll listen in the future. It’s one thing being up for a game against Premier League rivals but quite another being up for a game in general. Maybe Arteta knows a bit more now about where their heads are at.

Still, we are rewarded with an away tie against Bournemouth in the next round …… should be fun.

Here are some views of last night’s game from some of our bloggers.

Gooner B

Well, however this game ends up I think it bodes well for the future that we have a manager capable of changing the tactics and dynamic even before making subs and using the same players.

Martinelli is so exciting and portrays danger every time he gets on the ball.

Think we have been a bit lucky with Xhaka and Lacazette with the kick out.

RC78

A moment of brilliance from Pepe leading to a fluke goal by Nelson. A good second half after a horrible second half. A tale of two halves. Lucky we didn’t concede in the first half but in the end, we created chances in the second half and we put one in the back of the net – a small yet a big difference when the referee blows the end of the game.

Martinez – 7
Sok – 6
Holding – 3
Luiz – 5
Kola – 5
Douzi – 5
Xhaka – 5
Pepe – 6
Ozil – 4
Nelson – 6
LACA – 7, captain that led by example

Martinelli – 6
Willock, Saka – N/A

Gooner-in-Exile

Interesting that Laca said Arteta shouted a lot at half time. And Arteta didn’t look that happy in interview post match.

“I saw how they reacted after Chelsea, and then I saw how they reacted after a United and one win, I have to be on them”.

Got to love that comment. He told them, they didn’t listen, he told them a little more forcefully.

The biggest difference was how much further up the pitch we were at the start of the second half. Big difference.

Fatgingergooner

Regardless of any shouting or Mikel Miracles at half time, the fact is GiE is exactly right in that the shift of the back line 20 yards further up the field was all that was really needed for us to change the game in our favour. It congested the midfield area, put them under pressure, and allowed our talent to shine through in the tighter spaces (which is exactly what Pepe did for the goal). These last few games have shown that we are a far better side when we are compact and the defence, midfield and attack are close to each other. When we get strung out and there are gaps on the field we don’t seem to have the energy or intelligence to cover the ground both in attack and defence. Leeds made us look daft in the first half and it was like looking at an Emery team again. How refreshing it is though to have a manager who is capable of getting his message across to the players and who may finally make them understand that a compact team who work hard for each other is a difficult team to beat.

LBG

Mikel shouted because only one thing was required in this situation – more effort and determination than the opposition who had absolutely nothing to lose. If professional footballers don’t understand that about Cup games against lower league opponents they don’t have the brains to play at this level.

Enjoy your day ……… we go again on Saturday.

peachesgooner


Redemption Songs: Which Arsenal write-offs will be rescued by Arteta?

January 3, 2020

Hate to say I told you so, but during some of the darker days in recent times when many supporters were happy to write off most of our first team squad as not good enough, I repeatedly maintained that they weren’t as bad as they looked.

When a team is lacking in confidence and badly managed it’s easy for just about any player to look distinctly average.

Before Unai Emery was shown the door (and then invited to use it) I saw people on social media saying we should even get rid of Aubameyang and Lacazette.

And of course Luiz was a has-been, Xhaka a disaster, Torreira a lightweight, Mustafi a clown, Sokratis a liability etc etc.

So it’s interesting to see at least some of these players starting to find redemption under the new improved regime of Mikel Arteta.

Luiz looked like a world class centre half in our last two games against Chelsea and Manchester United. Torreira has been a mini man mountain. Xhaka suddenly looks like he belongs in an Arsenal shirt. Sokratis scored with a volley, for heaven’s sake.

So… which players who formerly failed to convince us fans do you think are most likely to be rehabilitated under Arteta and become fan favourites?

Cast your vote below and give your reasons in comments.

RockyLives


Arteta or Lampard?

December 28, 2019

Tomorrow brings an intriguing clash not just between Arsenal and Chelsea, but between the two youngest managers in the Premier League.

Mikel Arteta, who will be in charge for only his second game, is 37 years old. Frank Lampard is 41 and will be sending out a Chelsea team for only the 29th time.

So here’s a question to get us in the mood for tomorrow’s fixture: which of these two young coaches do you feel in your gut is most likely to have a successful career in management?

Let’s have a very quick look at their CVs:

Frank Lampard

Lampard was born into a footballing family, the son of Frank Lampard Snr who played left back for West Ham from 1967-1985 and the nephew of Harry Redknapp, the well known former Tottenham manager and amateur accountant.

After starting his career at West Ham, Frank Jnr joined Chelsea in 2001 and went on to become a mainstay of the most successful Blues team in decades, winning three league championships, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League. Not a bad haul.

His style of play was as a hard-grafting box-to-box midfielder with a particular eye for goal. His knack for scoring from deflected shots was so effective that pundits began to wonder if he was doing it on purpose.

As a player Lampard worked under some very successful managers including Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafa Benitez.

After retiring as a player he started his coaching career as manager of Derby County in the Championship, where he guided them to a sixth place finish and a place in the play-offs in the 2018-19 season. They lost in the play-off final to Aston Villa and Lampard was snatched up by Chelsea in the close season.

In this, his first season in charge of the Blues, he has a record of Played 28, Won 14, Drawn 5, Lost 9, with a win rate of 50%.

Mikel Arteta

Born in San Sebastian, Spain, Arteta played with Barcelona’s youth set-up but never made the first team and signed for Rangers in the Scottish Premier League in 2003, winning the double in his first season. He moved to Everton in 2005 where he stayed for six years. He was a fan favourite at the Toffees and widely considered to be the classiest player in the team.

In 2011 he joined Arsenal where he stayed for five years, playing in a more withdrawn role in front of the defence than he had at Everton. As at Everton, he quickly became a highly valued player by the fans who especially loved his immovable Action Man hair.

His honours include the FA Cup with Arsenal, that Double in Scotland and an Intertoto Cup win while on loan from Barcelona at Paris St Germain.

After hanging up his boots Arteta was offered three career opportunities: to head up the Arsenal Academy, to join Mauricio Pochettino’s coaching set-up at Totteringham or to become assistant coach at Man City under Pep Guardiola. Obviously the first and third options were the only ones in play, since no Arsenal man would dream of heading to the N17 Toilet Bowl, and in the end Arteta plumped for Man City.

In his time at the Etihad he established himself as the right hand man of Guardiola and became highly valued by Pep and the senior team at City.

So there you have it.

Lampard had a more successful playing career than Arteta and already has quite a bit more managerial experience. However, Arteta has spent three years learning from the best and most innovative coach of the last decade.

There is one other aspect to take into account: call it “demeanour” or “the X factor”. It’s that special something that makes winners out of people. Arsene Wenger had it, so too Alex Ferguson. For all his faults Jose Mourinho has it, as does Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola has it in spades.

It can probably best be described as a kind of moral toughness and certainty: the refusal to accept anything but the best and the conviction to believe that you know how to achieve the best.

I’d say the jury is out on Lampard in that regard. My suspicion is that he might be too nice a guy to really be a top, top manager.

With Arteta, the jury hasn’t even been selected, never mind going out. But there is something about the way he has handled himself in his interviews since being appointed head coach at Arsenal that hints at a steely determination to succeed.

My gut instinct is that Arteta may have a bit more Ingredient X than Lampard, but that’s easily put down to my inherent bias as an Arsenal supporter.

Time will tell, starting tomorrow.

What do you think?

RockyLives


A Boxing Day trip to the seaside ……. Bournemouth pre-match

December 26, 2019

Football on Boxing Day is such an amazing tradition isn’t it. I can imagine, in the days before televised games, whole families striding through the streets of N5 towards Highbury. And because Amazon Prime have bought these games, they’re mostly on at 3pm today. Great if you can organise your Christmas around football, a bit of a pain if you can’t.

This is such a landmark game, the first under the stewardship of Mikel Arteta. I am thrilled with his appointment, I love how serious he is, how he sounds like he has a definite plan. We have been a rudderless ship for far too long.

I hope the players respond to him because he loves our club and we need to see our players playing like they love our club too. Playing like they’re proud to have pulled on the shirt.

What comes now is the future ……… no doubt there will be the usual rollercoaster because that is the nature of football. If the highs are high, I can cope with a few lows along the way.

In this first game will he stick with the talented young players that we have seen progress to the first team or will he give the experienced players (possibly) a chance to redeem themselves.

Some of our experienced players have looked so down in the dumps recently, can he work a bit of magic and inspire them? Over the last few weeks they’ve looked like they’ve forgotten how to play football.

I shall be pleased to see some good football from our team. I watched, with football envy, when Man City zipped the ball around us a couple of weeks ago. That used to be us. Chelsea played some great football against the totts at the weekend.

I’m not expecting a miracle but I’m hoping for a change of style. Something to cheer, even if we don’t win.

I like Bournemouth, they play good football. We should have smashed them when they came to The Emirates because they leave a lot of space for everyone to play. But smashing teams is not what we do these days.

I’m not going to pick a team, but you can all have a stab in the comments.

Enjoy your day.

peachesgooner

p.s. Rasp and I started out blogging, many years ago, on a site called Goonerholic and sadly the owner, Dave Faber, lost his battle with illness and passed away this Christmas. He was an excellent man, a true Gooner and, personally, I shall miss his Friday night music fests on Twitter.

RIP Dave


Arteta: A Thank You.

May 7, 2016

In yesterday’s press conference Mr Wenger confirmed that our Club Captain Mr. Arteta will be leaving this summer.

When we signed Mikel from Everton he was 29 y.o. with much PL experience – it seemed a decent but uninspiring squad signing; at the time we had a young squad who needed guidance and, if nothing else, Arteta is a cool- head when the pressure is on.

But …. I see the signing of Arteta as symptomatic of the lean years. He is a good player but he is not a great player. The usual epithet is that Mikel is a “model professional (MP)” which is just another term for journeyman – Mark Noble is a MP, Milner is a MP etc MP’s do not inspire, they are the water-carriers and every team needs one but the best teams have the best players and IMO Arsenal could have bought better. If a player is not good enough to earn a single cap for his country then they are not going to lead a team to the PL title.

Unknown-1.jpeg

Part of the problem was that Arteta did not really have a set role, he was neither a DM nor an AM. Lacking pace, aggression and trickery he did not inspire but he was reliable – a much under-rated asset.

Arteta seems a top bloke, he has wonderful hair, he appears unhurried on the pitch with an eye a pass. He takes a mean penalty. He captained the team to the FA Cup victory over Hull.

However, in the 5 seasons he has been at AFC he has played just over 100 games – slightly more than 20 a season. Why? Because since the start of the 2014/15 season he has played just 15 games.

How will Arteta’s time at AFC be remembered? For me, it probably won’t be. I have always been underwhelmed by Arteta’s signing thinking that as likeable as he is, Mikel is not Arsenal quality..

Mikel Arteta has been Arsenal Captain which is surely the pinnacle of any player’s career. He was Captain during a turbulent period in the club’s history and did so with good grace, intelligence and panache. Arteta appears to be ideal manager material and has been taking his coaching badges.

I wish him well and expect to see him back working at The Emirates sometime in the future.

written by Big Raddy


Are we asking too much of Francis Coquelin?

August 18, 2015

There is no doubt that since his recall from loan at Charlton Athletic Francis Coquelin had a great impact on the team.

Coquelin

Playing as the long awaited defensive mid-fielder, he has helped stabilise the centre of our team. He is very good at breaking up opposition attacks, winning back the ball and playing simple but telling passes to our more offensively minded mid-fielders.

Having joined Arsenal in July 2008 he got a few games during that season and became a regular in the Reserves the following season 2009/10. He also played in the League and FA cups without really distinguishing himself. He then opted to go out on loan and played for Lorient, for the whole of the 2010/11 season before returning to Arsenal where he made his debut for the first team in the 8 – 2 defeat by Manchester United. At the end of the 2012/13 season he went out on loan again this time to Freiburg and then on to Charlton Athletic. At this stage it did not look as though he had much of a future at Arsenal.

Since his recall last in December 2014 he has been a revelation, playing in the most difficult position he has become an “ever present” and established himself as one of the top defensive mid-fielders in the Premiership.

Playing in the centre of the field as he does, there is a fine line between winning the ball with a clean tackle and being a fraction of a second late thereby “catching” the player and receiving a yellow card.

His position is made harder by the fact that Arsene Wenger’s choice of Santi Cazorla as his partner leaves too much for him to do. Santi is a wonderful player but is not the most defensively minded of characters and too often drifts too far forward leaving Coquelin to fight the fires behind him alone.

We have an excellent array of gifted, attacking mid-fielders, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Oxlade-Chamberlain and, when fit, Wilshere. The temptation to fit in as many as possible seems to be too great for Wenger to resist. Consequently we see too often Coquelin fighting a lone battle in mid-field and picking up yellow cards on too many occasions. Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace being a case in point, only a surprisingly lenient referee allowed him to remain on the pitch to commit a further series of fouls even after being booked.

If the present situation is allowed to continue opposing players will start to look for opportunities to go down at the merest touch and Coquelin will become a card magnet.

Last season the manager introduced a slightly more pragmatic approach to defending, the result being a fine run into third position in the league and another FA Cup triumph. Perhaps it’s now time to take a step further and sacrifice one of the attacking mid-fielders in favour of, perhaps, Mikel Arteta to play alongside Coquelin.

Written by Norfolk Gooner.


Is Coquelin the answer? Poll

February 12, 2015

Firstly, there has to be a question and that is probably – Is Coquelin the natural replacement for Arteta and/or Flamini?

I have said from when Mr Wenger re-signed Flamini that he wasn’t good enough to take The Arsenal to the title or the CL Final and these must be our targets. Nor is Arteta. Both fine players and experienced pro’s who have served the club with honour and pride but quite frankly they are both limited. We need better.

Coquelin has been a revelation – most interceptions, most tackles etc etc in his short run of games and importantly he appears to be tactically disciplined. Plus he seems to be a pitch leader, unafraid to guide the players around him through the game. His tackling is strong and he seems to have eradicated his tendency to jump into tackles. – less yellows per game than Flamini or Chambers.

However …. is he good enough? I mean can he be world-class? Can he be Ozil, Alexis, Koscielny class?

Any really great side has a world class spine – think Lehmann, Campbell, Vieira, Henry  or Seaman, Adams, Vieira, Wright. What do they have in common? Yes, even you can see it is PV4, and it is Patrick who must be the benchmark for the future Arsenal lynchpin. Can Coq be that good? You tell me, but I have serious doubts.

Doubts are not certainties and Coquelin has the perfect opportunity to cement his place in the Arsenal team. It would be marvellous if a lad who just 3 months ago looked Burnley quality can improve the team, it would be proof that hard work allied to ambition can overcome prejudice.

I wish him well but would like Mr Wenger to be saving his money for another transfer raid on Southampton or even better to spend huge and sign Pogba. We need a central player to build the team around and we haven’t had one since Gilberto.


Arsenal’s next Captain

July 15, 2014

The other day LB wrote an interesting post entitled “Is Thomas Vermaelen still needed? This led me to think about the player as a captain and conversely the captain as a player.

Before looking at individuals in those roles I got to thinking just what should we look for in a Club Captain, note the capital letters, in my opinion the Club Captain is equally as important as The Manager, The Chief Executive or The Owner.

So the candidate should be of sufficient stature, not just in a physical sense, but in the status he holds in the game as a whole. To attain the necessary status he must have been around a while, he must be a good enough player to command a starting place in the club’s first team and preferably in his National side as well. He should also have earned the respect of not only his own team but also opposing players and particularly the on pitch officials. Needless to say he must also be media savvy, articulate and able to offer rational answers to irrational questions at times of both elation and disappointment in post match interviews for example.

tony adams

Looking back, I can recall Frank McLintock, sleeves rolled up barking out orders to players, organising his defence at corners and free kicks and generally running things on the pitch. Similarly with Tony Adams and of course Patrick Vieira. Arguably the best Captain I ever saw was the incomparable Bobby Moore, calm authoritative and respected throughout football.

Latterly the armband has been a bit of a poisoned chalice, not only at Arsenal but also at international level with England. Fabregas and van Persie were appointed only to depart shortly after, Vermaelen suffered both a shocking loss of form and a series of injuries and could soon follow the other two out of the club and there are rumours that Arteta could also go if someone of the stature of Khedira or Bender are signed. In the England team the captaincy has, disgracefully, been swapped around more times than at a kid’s game of pass the parcel.

At the moment it appears to me that should Vermaelen leave, the only rational candidate would be Per Mertesacker, but for how much longer can he command that starting place in the team? Longer term we can all hope and expect the appointment of Jack Wilshire, but will it happen?

What are your views on both the Captain’s role as, should it be largely ceremonial, tossing the coin, handing over a little pennant and posing for a snap with the officials or, as the Manager’s voice on the pitch and the players representative off it. Surely there must come a time when a stop is put to the absurd situation of referees being mobbed by a group of angry players, then only the Captain should be allowed to approach the officials, and that will require a calm sensible approach, one more attribute needed for the job.

Who should our next Captain be?

Written by Norfolk Gooner