He’s Got No Hair.

May 31, 2019

I am still bruised and angry.

No point whatsoever looking at a one-off game and reaching conclusions about the future of certain players and whether they were responsible for that shitfest. Ozil was crap but he is one of 10 (Cech is excluded). It wasn’t lack of effort that cost us, it very rarely is, so what is it?

There is a simple answer …. look at our goals against record. I cannot recall a season when the defence was so porous. Goals conceded in the PL were 51!! Well over a goal a game. 13 conceded in the EL and we really only played 3 decent teams.

Is the personnel? I can’t say it is. Monreal may be a little slower but he remains a quality player. Kos and Sokratis are both experienced International defenders. Mustafi had a poor season but came good in the last couple of months. We have good young back-up in Mavro and Holding. AMN and Bellerin are both fine players with AMN doing well in a position which doesn’t suit his skills. Our GK’s made few mistakes.

Is this a new situation? Not really, we have been getting progressively more porous. 51 in the PL last season, 44 the year before and 36 the season before that.

Mr. Wenger was never a defensive minded coach and left a problem for Emery.  The problem seems to be that we do not have a viable defensive coach which considering who is our assistant manager is bizarre.

Steve Bould has been marvelous as a player and loyal as a member of the management team. One would expect him to be the man with the ability to create the defensive cohesion which is so clearly lacking. Why can’t he?  Is he not allowed to work on tactics? I cannot believe it. As a member of Arsenal best ever defence he has the knowledge and the experience, surely the defensive unity is his remit.

If we are to progress next season, the defence and especially the ability for the midfield to shield the CB’s has to improve. We may sign a defender or two but most of the players will still be at Arsenal in August …

Steve Bould may not.

written by BR

 

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Emery Knows

May 29, 2019

I woke up yesterday morning thinking I was remarkably calm considering we have a European Final on Wednesday. This morning I awoke with a nervous energy not felt for many a moon. The hours until kick off  going to be very long. I have bought a 9 pack of Tuborg Green (we Danes are hard drinkers and 6 packs are rare!) and a couple of bottles of a cheeky Italian Dolcetto to make the time go faster and numb my pre-match nerves.

Baku is awash with intrepid Gooners, people who have sacrificed much to support their team. Can the Arsenal give them the victory they deserve?

My first emotion when we made the Final against the Shed Boys was a cloud of negativity – “Chelsea are too good”, “Hazard’s last game”, Chavs have more experience and Big Game players” etc etc. I am sure many of you will have shared those thoughts. But I find today I am far more positive – this is a winnable game. All we need to do is perform as we did earlier in the season when we annihilated the Chavs at the Emirates. That’s all.

Can we? Of course we can.

Now I know there is many a slip twixt cup and lip and Arsenal have royally effed up many big games in recent time (Brighton/Palace etc etc) but Emery Knows 😀

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The media are expecting a Chelsea win and the betting odds are against us but how can anyone gamble against a side with our front two? They are special and above all they are winners.

Do you think Mr Emery will pick Mesut to start? I don’t know either. I dither, changing my mind on a hourly basis. Had Mhki been available then No, but given his absence Yes, I would start Ozil. However by the time I finish writing this PM, I may well have changed my opinion.

Cech or Leno? We had a poll and Leno won but we all know Cech will start. The man has been great for AFC. I recall when he signed how excited I was that we had a safe and secure GK after the two flaky Poles (both of whom have developed in top GK’s). I wish him well in his final game.

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And what of Iwobi? Will Mr E. choose a more defensive model and leave Alex on the bench?

Who is sure to start? Cech, Koscielny, Sokratis, Kolasinac,  Xhaka, PEA and Laca. The rest remain in doubt, even Nacho.

If we play 3 at the back then, given his recent form, I would trust Mustafi but Nacho is so reliable and so experienced.

Could AMN start? We will need pace to counter Hazard, Willian, Pedro etc.

And in midfield, will Douzi be picked ahead of Terrier? I hope not though a midfield of Xhaka, Terrier, Douzi and Kolasinac is quite likely.

Cech

Mustafi    Kos   Sokratis

AMN   Terrier   Xhaka   Kolasinac

Ozil

PEA    Laca

My concern with this side is the reliance upon AMN and Wardrobe to get forward thereby allowing space  behind for fast counter attack by the excellent Chelsea wide players. As always, midfield discipline must be maintained.

For Chelsea, well mostly I don’t care but I will be very upset if  OG scores. Very. Hopefully Kante will be injured as he is a wonderful player.

VAR will be used tonight; much discussed, I believe VAR assists the game though some decisions remain open to interpretation. Referee is Rocchi, an Italian with much experience, we must hope he hasn’t been gifted a house or two by Chelsea’s owner

Last night I was over in Malmo Sweden  alongside West Ham Bob watching another Malmo victory. He sat on the fence but hoped for an AFC win. Like many his head says Chelsea but his heart is Gooner. For us it is simple – Death or Glory. If we are to lose I do not want to look at any AFC player and think they could have worked harder – mistakes will be made, they are human, but to win tonight will require 100% effort and concentration.

A European Final as the final game is way beyond my season expectation. Win or lose the team have had a successful campaign but how wonderful would it be to lift the trophy?

Come on boys, you can do it.

COYRRG

 

 

 


Courage, Cohesion and Confidence.

May 9, 2019

Our turn.

So far in the semi-finals the team which lost the first leg won the tie. These are not good omens nor is our away form.

No … stop this Raddy,. Get a Grip. Negativity breeds negativity. As Mr. Python says “Always look on the bright side of life.”

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If we score one Valencia have to score 5 to win (4 for pens), if we score two Valencia have to score 6. So, what should Emery do? In my opinion, he should stack the midfield and attack from the first whistle.

The Mestella is a hostile stadium for the away teams. Valencia’s home record is very good particularly in defence, they have conceded just 11 goals in 18 La Liga games. Not so dusty upfront with 21 goals scored (to compare, at home we have scored 42 and conceded 16 in the same number of matches – away from home we have conceded 34 😱)

Valencia were poor at the Emirates. We conceded a stupid set piece goal which puts the tie at risk but otherwise Arsenal were comprehensively the better team The Frenchman, Gameiro, looked quality and on both wings we looked vulnerable.

This week we have seen other fine sides collapse in the second half which should be a clear lesson. The best team does not always win, sometimes it is luck and strength of character. We need both.

Do we have strength of character? Looking at the last few weeks the answer has to be No but tonight is different. We are two games away from Glory and no-one will remember the pisspoor performances if we get to Baku.

If Ramsey, Hector, Holding and Welbz were available I would be mega-confident, they aren’t. So who gets to start?

Cech in goal – I wouldn’t pick him but Unai is loyal to his players. Kos and the Greek Bloke. Does he start Monreal or Mustafi to complete the Back 3 Mustafi has been better in the last few games – always the butt of the Gooner’s ire (usually well-deserved) one must also recognise when he plays well. Monreal always giving his all, I would play Mustafi

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Kola will surely start but would you pick AMN

The midfield is much harder to predict. I would not play Douzi but he is a favourite of UE and startedd in the home leg. Nor would I start either Ozil or Mhki who are not in good form, but if we don’t start one of them, who supplies the ammunition to our front two?

I don’t know and have to trust that UE does.

IMO if Xhaka and Terrier play well we will win.

And what of the bench? Do we have anyone riding the pine who gives you confidence that they can either shore up a crumbling defence or give us attacking impetus? You know the answer.

Courage, Cohesion and Confidence will get the Arsenal to Baku because we already have the skill and talent. It will be a battle and in the words of a true Englishman …

“The games afoot, Follow your spirit and upon this charge, Cry “God for Unai, England and Saint Charlie George.”

COYRRG


The Deadwood Stage

February 6, 2019

Whip-crack-away!!  You have to be seriously old or a Doris Day fan  (in which case you are gay) to get that reference.

We are desperate for a clean out.

No CGI here …

We were under Mr Wenger and I thought we had sorted out the problems with the departure of Gibbo, Little Jack, Santi, Perez, Chuka, Ospina, Campbell and Per, plus another couple of loan. It appeared that UE’s squad was packed with pure quality. I was wrong, we still have players who are simply not good enough.

We can all write our lists and I guess many will differ but there are some names which will feature for everyone

Mustafi, Elneny, Lichtenstein, Jenkinson are the most popular candidates for the Spanish Archer.. Welbz and Ramsey are already gone as is Petr. That makes 7. I would add Mhki and Ozil (it is criminal to waste his talent). So, 9 out, a massive reduction of our squad.

Some may add Xhaka but I think he is an excellent squad player and back up to a proper midfield lynchpin.

It will not be easy to sell players with long contracts and very high wages. Why should they leave and take a pay cut? Will AFC pay a percentage of their wages to get shot?

Or should Mr. Emery  allow for natural wastage through age and contract run-downs  moulding the remaining players to his masterplan? Given our financial situation this seems the most likely route. We have some potentially excellent players coming through the ranks – Nelson, AMN (Cons), Smith Rowe (Lab), Willock m Mavropanos (Young Greek Bloke henceforth known as YGB) etc and it is important to highlight just how young some of our regular starters are – Curly is 19, Terrier 22, Hector 23, Iwobi 22, Holding 23. These are the chaps to build the squad around.

I always thought that Mr Wenger was too loyal to his players, keeping them in the squad when they were past their best. By doing so he did not bring fresh blood into the club. As with Mr Emery, “he can only pick from the players he has available – get rid of the deadwood and they cannot be picked” (Homer Simpson)

I think we need an aggressive clearance sale. Then buy a proper CB, 2 LB’s, RB an attacking MF and a winger. Is this likely? Sadly not.

Make mine a Sasparilla.

written by BR


A Fond Farewell.

January 13, 2018

So, Mr Coquelin leaves the squad.

A player who resurrected a failing career in a manner which will inspire other players. He is proof that endeavour pays and his reward is a fat contract with a top Spanish club. Well done, Francis.

I cannot say that I have been a fan of Mr Coquelin, in fact to me he represents all that has been wrong at Arsenal over the past decade – a reliance upon players who simply are not good enough to propel my club forward. Neither good enough in defence nor attack, his skills lie in hard work, hard tackling and playing simple balls to more creative players. This may be harsh as we have had the occasional glimpse of a player who has great skill and can distribute accurately from midfield to attack, sadly, it was a rare glimpse.

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Squad players are necessary. We have many of them. It must be galling to be either on the bench or not even there week after week. To spend all that energy in training trying to impress the manager but rarely having a first team appearance. Knowing that only if a couple of players are injured you will have a chance.

Of course €30+k a week is a decent recompense for such trials.

Coquelin is only 26 y.o., played over 100 games for us, won 2 FA Cups, a Charity shield and became a multi-millionaire. Not bad for a man who was on loan at Lorient, Freiburg and Charlton in a career that seemed to have stalled.

Upon his return from Charlton Le Coq was a revelation in his DM role resulting in Mr Wenger calling him “the long-term solution”, it wasn’t to be .

Will he play first team football at Valencia? I guess so though Valencia currently sit 3rd in La Liga, 5 points ahead of Real Madrid, which must mean they have a settled team.

Valencia must be happy with AFC,having sold us Mustafi for €40m and used just €12m to buy a decent midfielder.

Thank you Francis Coquelin, Goonerdom wishes you well in your future.

written by Big Raddy


Into the Hornet’s Nest

October 14, 2017

The Good: We are on a fine run of results having lost just one of our last 5 games. Watford have yet to win a game at home this season.

The Not So Good: Watford are on a fine run of results having lost just one of their last 5 games. We have yet to win a PL game away from home this season.

A draw seems the obvious result.

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The Interlull was costly in terms of injuries with Mustafi out for a number of games and Sanchez, Kolasinac, Xhaka and Ramsey unlikely to start this afternoon’s late kick-off thanks to exhaustion . Mustafi’s injury is unfortunate because Mr Wenger has yet to discover a consistently effective back 3, though our recent defensive record is good (none conceded in last 4 PL games). The injuries to Chambers, Kos and Mustafi must drive AW nuts.

Chambers is interesting. Rumours were that he would be sold in summer, instead it was Gabriel. Then fans said he was persona non grata with Mr Wenger and had no future at AFC, yet this week he signed a new contract until 2021!! I predict a big Arsenal future for the young man.

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Thanks to the Internationals our starting 11 is difficult to predict. Welbeck is back in the squad, so is Magic Mesut. Will Iwobi be rested after his Nigerian exploits? Will Theo get a start or Giroud? I have huge respect for Mr Giroud as he continues to score on a regular basis – is there a better attacking sub in the PL?

Watford: Sorry – you will have to look elsewhere to discover their strengths and weaknesses. For some reason I cannot raise the enthusiasm to do any research. I enjoyed the trips to Vicarage Road and always associated Watford with an excellent multi-racial policy (think Blisset and the wonderful John Barnes), bit today …

My Team:

Cech

Holding     Koscielny    Monreal

Bellerin   Elneny    Wilshere    Kolasinac

Ozil

Lacazette   Welbeck

I like this team, it has creativity and defensive security. Mr Wenger has been “bigging up” Wilshire as he returns to fitness and form, surely he will start this evening. With Theo and OG on the bench we have potent attackers on the bench should they be needed.

Today’s referee is Neil Swarbrick, surely not the violin wizard from Fairport Convention?

Can we open our Away wins account? Why not?

Let it be so ….

COYRRG


WBA Preview.

March 18, 2017

At last a PL game, no more of that fancy pants Cup football with silly score lines, just good old fashioned League action, and to cap it all we are going to the Midlands, the epicentre of dull.

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Think Stoke, B’ham. Villa, Wolves , Walsall and WBA.  Think Pulis.

WBA were a top club who were amongst the first to promote black players – Cyril Regis, Brendan Batson and Laurie Cunningham, all of whom played under Big Ron Atkinson. Today WBA are doing well, in fact they are only 7 points behind us!

And, Mr Wenger has won just one of seven away games vs Mr Pulis. Which by anyone’s standards is pretty p*** poor. Last season we lost 2-1 at the Hawthorns.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick, (not the leader of the magnificent folk combo Fairport Convention) averages 4 cards a game – I think we know which midfielder will be adding to his abominable record of a red and 5 yellows in his last 6 games.

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin    Mustafi    Koscielny    Monreal

Ramsey     Xhaka   Iwobi

Walcott    Sanchez    Ozil

This could be a little too attack-minded for a game which will be a battle and perhaps Coquelin will start ahead of either Ramsey or Iwobi.

Another concern is the lack of height in the team as WBA score a huge percentage of their goals from set pieces, perhaps we should give the BFG a start in place of Mustafi who has not looked so brilliant in recent weeks, perhaps he needs a break. Given the height issue we could see Giroud, though I expect the FFP to come on for the last 20 minutes, he has a good record against the Baggies.

If we win (big if) our two games in hand over Liverpool we go back into the Top 4. WeMr Wenger says we cannot afford to drop any points (that’s why he earns the Big Bucks :-D)