Turned over by The Toon – Newcastle Ratings

April 16, 2018

The only people looking forward to this one were some Geordies hoping to finally take some points from Arsenal and Joe Willock making his debut. My mate, Nick had a tenner on 2-1 so at least some good came of it.

First Half

A beautiful sunny scene at St James’ was brightened further by an excellent volleyed goal from Laca with the assist coming from our new Gabonese left winger.

Then came the inevitable. Mustafi should have been trying to block Perez’ near post effort by getting his whole body in the way between ball and goal, not poking a hopeful foot out. Cech would have only saved it if it had hit him.

Unfortunately our best chances during the first half fell to Calum Chambers.

Second half

Nothing happened worthy of note except for the usual déjà-vu.


Cech – Beaten by two good finishes … 6

Chambers – Hector had a prior engagement at Brent Cross, so we were left with more proof that Calum isn’t really a full back (p.s. he ain’t no striker either)  … 5

Mustafi – without Kos there to mop up, Shkodran looked a little limited. Beautiful pass to Auba for the goal  …6

Holding – Tried as hard as anyone else  … 6

Monreal – Missed Mesut and Rambo when looking for a pass  … 6

Elneny – Couldn’t recreate the heights of Moscow in a team lacking movement and creativity … 6

Xhaka – Should have stayed in bed with the flu  … 6

Willock – Didn’t look out of place, comfortable on the ball (as you always expect from an Academy player). Unfortunately got in the way of a pass to Auba in our best first half breakaway   … 6

Iwobi – Best of a poor bunch, enjoying his freer role and taking some responsibilty … 7

Aubameyang – Looked to have initiated a perfect partnership with his striking buddy early on with a beautiful left footed assist, but sank into relative anonymity – 6

Lacazette – Cracking finish for his goal, but ultimately drifted off to sleep like the rest of us  – 6




Newcastle away …. any answers … or more questions?

August 30, 2015

We got 3 points away from home at a ground that I am not sure will be that easy for many of our rivals this season. On the general positive front our passing and movement was excellent and only lacked that last little itty weeny bit….the placement of the ball between the white thingy’s with the mesh behind it. Ok we did place it there once but at the end you did feel we should have been far more comfortable. Also, yes, we should have had a penalty, so the officials once again conspire to undermine our season. We should be 2 points and 2 goals better off right now.

I mention the officials because the toon fans obviously felt very hard done by yesterday. However in the cold light of day and viewing these incidents again I would challenge any of them to disagree with the decisions. If anything the non penalty penalty kept them in it. With that as well as the other goal I think we would have gone on to score 2 more.

So with general all round excellent play why didn’t we put them to the sword a bit more? Does this have implications for the season? Are we lacking a world class cutting edge up front or could it be more simply that we are not quite in full gear yet? Could it also be that McClaren has them far more organised now and that Newcastle didn’t come out to play enough football and got so many men behind the ball that breaking them down was always going to be tough. If anything it possibly got tougher once they were a back’s to the walls 10 man outfit.

My stance has softened on yesterday once I stepped back and reviewed it. I actually think we looked so fluid and sharp that we forced them into a bus parking exercise.

Someone may come before the transfer window closes, to provide that extra cutting edge up front, but let’s say they don’t, and there is a very real chance of that. I still feel we have quite a bit at our disposal. Many are now looking to Welbeck to save us, because to many Giroud and Walcott can’t cut it, and I am looking forward to him getting his opportunity. However, even having been a critic of Giroud I still feel that both he and Walcott have something to offer as number 9’s, if we play them in the right way. I would also say that where Walcott is concerned he could be a number 9 option and still play as a wide player when needed.

Many will use yesterday as hard “EVIDENCE” that Walcott can’t do it. Well as already said Newcastle firstly made it difficult. Secondly from my point of view none of Walcott’s chances were gimmes yesterday. If you watch them again in most of the cases Walcott is actually latching on to balls at high speed. That automatically makes it more difficult to control any shot on target than at a slower pace. It is of course easier if the ball is on the ground as you run onto it.

He had a one on one with Krul in this situation and there is an argument that Theo could have done a bit better by chipping the keeper. Fair enough but not an easy skill at that pace and in reality it was Krul that did very well here in reading the game and coming out.

His second big chance is the one that many are referring to as almost an open goal. The one on the rebound from Sanchez shot. Look at it again peoples. Again Theo is arriving at high speed…more difficult. Secondly the ball is bouncing….adds extra difficulty. Thirdly he is not directly in front of an open goal, but is at an angle with the keeper getting up from the ground to narrow his options….again adds to the difficulty. This was no gimme. Alright it didn’t happen for him or Ollie when he came on but the great Ronaldo and the great Aguero missed easier chances yesterday!!! 

This is not a “defence of Theo” post. More I am trying to rationalise why we didn’t quite make it easier and why our striking department individually and as a whole didn’t quite pull it off as well as they could have. Theo and Ollie might not be quite good enough to push us to the title. Then again they might be and my point is that yesterday is not enough for me personally to say they can’t.

If anything I really wanted Wenger to play Theo to Giroud’s right when Ollie came on. With Ollie and no Theo teams play a higher line. With Theo and no Ollie teams play a deeper line. With Theo and Ollie they are in trouble either way. It looked a potent combination a couple of seasons back and would have meant that we had our next 3 most clinical goal-scorers (Sanchez, Rambo and Theo) all playing off Giroud. As said I don’t see any reason why they can’t rotate as striker or also play together.

Arsene got his subs right because we won the game. Fair point. I do however feel the subs were a bit negative and he could have put them to the sword with something more similar to what I mentioned above. AOC could have gone in to the heart of midfield where all those pesky Newcastle players on yellows would have been shedding a load when he started to run through the centre at pace. We have in recent times been too gung-ho, but weirdly I also feel Arsene goes with too much caution and still needs to find that balance at times.

Anway, discuss A.A’ers.



Written by GoonerB




Ozil to win it for Arsenal?

August 29, 2015

Newcastle. What do you think of when hearing that name?

I have a mental image of SuperMac, Keegan arriving by helicopter, Dirty Shearer with one arm raised, Dire Straits, Bryan Ferry, that TV series with Jimmy Nail and the bloke who became Inspector Morse’s assistant, unintelligible accents, dreadful beer, Gazza, Sir Bobby Robson, Ugly Beardsley, Fat Football fans and much more (add a few if you have the inclination!)


And in recent years a total road wreck of a football club. Managers sacked, dreadful players bought and sold, fan unrest, an owner who is hated by the fans and a top quality, traditional institution  which could attract the very best becoming a selling club.

Newcastle have spent 5 times as much money as AFC in this window (so far)!  IMO this is a dreadful state of affairs and questions must be asked. I do not accept that players are not available – if they chose other clubs one must question the negotiating skills of our buying team. It is claimed that Thauvin chose Newcastle having been approached by AFC, if this is true our boys really do a crap job.

McClaren is a good manager and will bring discipline into a difficult club who were lucky to escape relegation, he has bought young, pacy players who he hopes can change the atmosphere in both the changing room and the stands. Their start is worse than ours which brings some degree of hope.


Her Maj in Her Home Kit

But we need points and we need them NOW.

How do we get them?

The usual …… hard work, team play, concentration, fast attacks, clinical finishing. A little bit of intricate passing and a sprinkling of magic.

Could Chambers play worse than his first half on Monday? It would be difficult. There is a fair chance he will start alongside Paul Easter and if he does then AW has to instruct his midfield to give better protection.

Theo to start? Would be good but who gets dropped? Giroud is the obvious choice though he is our only goal scorer this season (how rubbish is that?)

Dare AW drop Cazorla and play the Ox thereby adding some pace and width down the right? Or Ramsey? Or both and play Theo and Ox.

I don’t know and I am not paid millions to make such a decision. What I do know is that at present things are not as they should be. There is imbalance in the team both vertically and laterally. We need more cohesion in front of goal, better understanding between the defence and the midfield, and less reliance upon left-sided attack. It has to be said (and it was by LB!) that if you have Ozil and Sanchez on the left then we are likely to use them. I really fancy Ozil to score today and will bet a fish that he will.

The season start has shown that we have no idea how the team will perform today – who knows today could be the launch pad for a run of wins or it could signify the start of a difficult season.

I will be watching from behind the sofa.

I am 54% confident


Cazorla or Rosicky to start?

March 21, 2015

St. James Park. Not been the same since the days of Keegan and Shearer. Why?

From the outside it is Sports Direct and Mike Ashley. A Londoner buying the North-East’s premier club and running it without recognition of it’s past history. I have no idea whether Mr. Ashley has profited financially form his purchase but he must have regretted the effect his decision has had upon his family and reputation. Can there be a more disliked owner in the PL?

How can the Newcastle fans be happy when every season they sell their best players. In 2014 they sold Debuchy, Remy and Cabaye – the core of their French based burgeoning team? Is it any wonder that Pardew struggled to reach the level of success demanded by the owner and the fans?

Newcastle are struggling for personnel with Cisse and Coloccini banned and Taylor, Tiote, De Jong and Aarons missing through injury. These are difficult times for a rookie manager. I feel sorry for John Craver who is surely  a caretaker until summer. Having won only one of their last six PL games confidence must be low.

That said, they remain a good mid-division side. dangerous on the attack and resolute in defence. Furthermore they will be expecting to succeed at home against an Arsenal who will be feeling the physical effect s of the efforts midweek in Monaco.

We are on a fine run of form, our squad is strong and in the main healthy, Mr Wenger has choices he has not had for many seasons – if ever. Even without 3 important midfielders (plus Diaby) he can choose between Le Coq, Ramsey, Cazorla, Flamini, Rosicky, Ozil and Alexis. Rosicky or Cazorla? Santi has been excellent the past couple of months – his best spell in the shirt but perhaps this is a game for Rosicky to stat. He plays a similar game but is probably a little better defensively. Upon reflection, I would start the Spaniard and exchange them on 70 minutes.

Many have said they would rest Alexis today but my thoughts are why? Our next game is not until April 4 as we enter an International break. Alexis is certainly not as potent as he was early in the season but he remains enormously entertaining to watch and an important cog in the team. As this is an way fixture I expect Mr Wenger to play another midfielder – probably Ramsey.

My team:


Bellerin    BFG     Koscielny      Monreal

Ramsey   Coquelin   Cazorla


Giroud    Welbeck

There is a temptation to play Walcott and Chambers. Walcott’s pace is a potent weapon when playing away as Newcastle will look to attack and be more open to the counter-attack. Chambers was isolated against West Ham primarily because Walcott does not give him enough protection, he deserves another chance. Discuss.

As always, for tactics, stats etc look elsewhere.

In a tight competition for top 4 every point is vital and under normal circumstances I would be satisfied with a point, but second is possible and we need 3 points from this game.

I am 54% confident.


written by Big Raddy

Bring Me Sunshine

December 13, 2014


Chambers   Koscielny  Hayden  Monreal

Ramsey  Wilshire   Arteta

Gnabry   Walcott Ozil

That is some team and one capable of winning this afternoon, unfortunately it is plucked from our lengthy injury list. 4 weeks out for Ramsey!

Why did I start with this? Two reasons – firstly that injuries will stop Arsenal having any chance of winning the PL this season, and I do believe we were in with a good chance; secondly, Mr Wenger said yesterday regarding the January transfer window ““If everybody is fit then we don’t need to go into the transfer market.” 

This worries me. Arsenal have consistently been top of the injuries league for many years, doesn’t Mr Wenger know this? Doesn’t he know that we never, repeat never, have an injury free squad. We have to buy or loan at least two players in the window if we are to challenge for Top 4. (update: Chas has pointed out that this was just part of AW’s speech and he has not written off the possibility of signings – Mr Wenger, not Chas 🙂 )

Newcastle: On a run of wins and arriving having “battered” the Chavs. They too have injuries but nothing like ours. They have pacy forwards who are in form, a solid defence  – Taylor is out but Coloccini could be fit. Alnwick starts who is  3rd choice GK but when we were forced to do so Martinez performed very well, I expect the same of Alnwick. Sissoko is suspended and that is good news.


Greenwich-born Steven Taylor. Ideal signing for AFC

Arsenal: So what do we have to win? It seems obvious to me that Newcastle will score so we must outscore them. Having so few defenders means we have a space for an extra attacker – so my tactic would be to play an extremely attacking side. A 3-4-3 would do it but Mr Wenger is likely to start young Bellerin on the right with Debuchy next to him. This sends Per to the left of defence which don’t work very well against Stoke, did it? Any team which kicks-off with Ox, Santi, Alexis, Welbz and OG has a chance of scoring heavily.

A little extra: Have you ever heard of Elisabeth Fry? You should have – she is on the back of the £5 note! She was a prison reformer during the early 19th century. Born in Norwich  to a wealthy banking family Elisabeth became a Quaker and heavily involved in humanitarian work. Horrified by the conditions of women at Newgate prison in London she resolved to make the prisoners brutal conditions easier and set up a charity to give food and medical care.

This was a time when a woman’s role in society was ornamental yet Fry became the first woman to present evidence to the House of Commons. In 1840 she opened a nurses school  – one of her pupils was Florence Nightingale who took a team of Fry’s nurses out to  the Crimean War. She then opened a large hostel for ladies who had fallen on hard times in Manor House and later a much larger one in Highbury, just around the corner from The Emirates .  She died in Ramsgate in 1845.


Have you seen this woman?

Back to football. Should be a cracking game today and one full of attacking play. Given the paucity of defenders and the excellent form of the visitors we cannot be too optimistic but with Alexis in the team anything is possible. A win would make my weekend.

written by Big Raddy

We Did the Double and Missed the Train

November 21, 2013

Inspired by DidIt and BR’s Dortmund travelogue, I thought I might have a crack at writing a post about a day out at Wembley in 1998. Ant wrote a summary at the time so it shouldn’t be too difficult. I hope you enjoy it.

The day begins early for my old man and his ex-work colleague, JC, as they leave Edmonton, North London for Wembley at 8.30am for the 3.00pm kick-off. Whereas my brother, Ant and I leave Nottingham (100 miles further away) at 8.00am, still there’s nothing like being prepared.


Nottingham station still being built

We arrive at The Century at 11am to find Dad, JC and our nephew Matt already installed. (The Century on Forty Avenue, up from Wembley Park had become a bit of a family tradition with trips to Wembley in the late 1970s and 1987 versus Liverpool. It’s now a Texaco garage I believe).


Lovely Escort

The day is a bit of a scorcher and JC has decided early on to dispense with any sartorial elegance and protect his pate with a knotted handkerchief.


Nice hankie!

I’d made a whole loaf of mushroom and garlic pate sandwiches to soak up the early beers but there were a few noses turned up at the prospect of them at first. After the 3rd pint kicked in, they all disappeared in the blink of an eye.

Ant decides a few fan photos might be in order, including a group of Terry McDermotts in full kit.


Charming FKWs

Dad looks quite red by midday and confronts Ant in the toilets with, ‘At my age, you have to hunt around for a while to find it and it drops off!’ This comment was later explained, ‘Well you have to remember that I was in the Navy and all the nice girls love a sailor and I’ve been married twice as well’. Both the beer and the sun were having an effect! N.b. if you ever wonder why Ant and me occasionally indulge in strange behaviour; well the answer is, ‘It’s genetic’!

I’d made some red cardboard fez hats and once on, my old man doesn’t take his off the whole day along with a shirt, cardigan and coat in 80 degrees of heat. The old boys decide the sandwiches aren’t sufficient and depart for the local cafe. It later transpires that my Dad refused to have any of JC’s fresh hot chips despite being offered them on several occasions but then proceeded to finish off someone else’s stone cold chips from another table. Filthy hound.

Ant, Matt and me enjoy the pre-match build-up with more beer, some rousing singing and a cavalcade of stretch limos, jags and an Arsenal open topped bus.


Nice crest

We get in the ground early, as was the tradition in those days, Ant and me in separate seats from Dad, JC and Matt (poor Matt). Having blown up dozens of red and white balloons, we realise we have no idea of the team line-ups, who’s fit or anything. I suppose 1998 was almost pre-internet days, certainly pre-blogs and 24 hour sports news coverage. Things seemed so much simpler even 15 short years back. The chap behind us was very complimentary about Mr Durkin, the referee and the whole Newcastle team, ‘ginger midget…..homosexual fish-face’ etc etc. Homophobia, what’s that?

Meanwhile, Matt and the old codgers are having a terrific time in their seats. After the game my Dad said ‘People kept jumping up anticipating a goal and I didn’t see either of ours’. Matt said, ‘Grandad nearly had a fight with the bloke in front when he was singing, ‘Stand up if you hate Man U’.


The match passes in a blur. Overmars scores in the first half. The half time chat seems to centre around how far out Marc was when he scored. Wembley at that time had no big screen. Blink and you missed it. It’s so different now at the Emirates, where you immediately see a reply from three different angles. Super Nic Anelka gets the second, but was he offside?, we’ll have to find out when we watch the highlights later. ‘We’ve Got that Double feeling’ and ‘Arsene Wenger’s Magic Hat’ are sung over and over again, joy abounds.

We meet up with Matt and the scrotes after the game and my old man has now added a Champions T shirt to his other 6 layers of clothing.


Those twin towers- ahhhhhhhhhhh.

The plan was to go back to The Century but the queues for the tube make this impossible. We decide to walk to The Greyhound on Wembley High Road. My Dad doesn’t like the idea of walking, especially as he’s going to have to walk back to the tube later. Even Arsenal’s second double can’t cheer the old bugger up! Eventually we arrive and the beer flows. The Geordies are excellent in defeat, determined to enjoy their day out at Wembley regardless of the result. A fire Engine in Newcastle livery turns up outside the boozer and a photo opportunity ensues.


Spot the Cockney


Spot the Muppets

Matt and the old boys call it a day at 7.15pm. Ant and me have until 10pm before our train is due to leave St Pancras. Several more beers ensue. We manage to find the highlights in one of the pubs and finally get to see how far out Overmars was and whether Nic was offside. We finally set off for the tube station at 9pm but Ant finds needing the toilet a problem, so we dive into an Irish pub. It’s full of Geordies singing away so we decide to have a swift one. The Geordies invite the ‘Cockneys’ to sing a song, so we bellow out ‘Arsene Wenger’s magic, he wears a magic hat’. Leaving the pub, we feel peckish again and decide to dambust a large doner kebab.

Getting to the train on time suddenly becomes an issue and we look to be doing ok until I get stuck at an automatic ticket barrier and am in too much of a state to leap it with the grace of a gazelle. Safe to say, getting on the platform to see the last train to Nottingham pulling out of the station wasn’t one of my highlights of the day!

We phone my Dad’s house and speak to my sister to arrange an overnight stop in North London. Apparently my sister struggled to explain to my old man what had happened. He apparently said, ‘Well, that takes the edge off it’ and ‘…but how did they miss the train, we left them at a quarter past seven? I really didn’t expect the day to end like this’…………………..and neither did we!

Written by chas

I Say a Little Prayer …

May 19, 2013

This time last year BR was up a mountain in Italy getting SMS’s from Peaches. It was in the middle of a huge thunderstorm when I received her final celebratory text. Today I will be watching from a joyous and hung-over Denmark.

I have stated often my belief that luck and referees will decide our fate – whether it be a dodgy penalty given to Spurs or a vicious deflected goal for Sunderland (I cannot put a bok on our team).  It is in this regard that I have been pondering these last few days …. How is it that the normally clueless miscreants have been consistently picking up points instead of  falling apart as per normal? Well, BR has reached his conclusion ……. I blame the new Pope.

It is well known to the right-minded supporters of all football teams that in previous times The ***** Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope – and this is what he said etc etc.  One can only conclude that this new fellow (Francis) hasn’t read the Vatican Rulebook (sorry if that is blasphemous 😀 ). May I recommend to the Arsenal Secretary that he  get an email off to St. Peter’s, sharpish.


If we had to choose a final game for this season’s fate to be decided it would not be away and it would not be at St James Park ….or would it? Our away record is almost as good as our home and Newcastle have only drawn once at St James – W9 L8.

We have had a week to prepare for this afternoon, there is nothing we haven’t discussed. We know the permutations, the choices available to Mr. Wenger etc etc so there is no need to repeat them here. We can share our nervous tension on the blog.

Tim Krul is out and Newcastle will give a final game to Steve Harper – let us wish him “a Fulop”. With Taylor, M’bia and Tiote in the side we can expect a midfield battle and I hope we don’t get sucked into a physical battle with cards aplenty.

Much depends upon the fitness of Arteta, he is so important to the tempo of our play and we do not know how the team will function should JW replace him.

My Team:


I am looking to The Little Mozart for a goal today. A hard working display with no players hiding during what will be a nervous game. 100% endeavour is all we can ask – after that it is the hands of the Gods

Today’s British Explorer. There just hasn’t been enough games for me to do justice to the hundreds of remarkable chaps who have traipsed around the globe under the Union Jack. I have just taken some random fellows to give a picture of the  amazing impact a tiny nation like England has had upon the world.

This being the last in the series (perhaps) I would like to write once more about one of England’s Superheroes, a man who helped make Great Britain Great – Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922).


Shackleton is in the same echelon of Britons as Churchill, Nelson and Tommy Cooper. His story belies belief and BR can only recommend you investigate further to be inspired by his remarkable life. Ernie was the Tony Adams of explorers – nothing could conquer his indomitable spirit. Lose your ship on the ice? Winter under the upturned lifeboats. Thousands of miles from safety? Take a small open boat across freezing seas seeking help. Land upon an island with no-one around? Cross a mountain range never attempted before. Worried about your men left behind on the ice? Go back and save them.

Shackleton died on his way back to Antarctica from a heart attack, he is buried on South Georgia, there followed a memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral which was attended by the entire Royal Family.

Today I will be burning incense and floating lotus leaves at my TA6 altar and praying to the Deity of DB10. I will be avoiding ladders, looking for 4 leaf clovers, using my lucky toothbrush, wearing lucky socks, shirt, pants, eating the lucky cake and drinking the lucky beverage.

If we don’t win today don’t blame me ….. Blame it on Eboue.

We beat the odds at Anfield 24 years ago, Let’s do it again today!


written by Big Raddy