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

The Return of the Dancing Fool

December 29, 2012

Today the Arsenal resume footballing hostilities with our first home game for three weeks against Alan Pardew’s Newcastle United in the 5.30pm kick off.

Mr Pardew is remembered less than fondly by Gooners for his jig of celebration in Wenger’s face during his spell as West Ham manager.

wenger pardew

Our opponent’s were on the rough end of yet another referee inspired victory for the denizens of Old Toilet with our former skipper VanJudas (or should I say “Lazarus” in view of his near death experience in the previous game?) scoring the equaliser that paved the way for the usual Fergie time winner we have witnessed all too often at the home of the Glazer’s loan security vehicle.

It is worth noting that referee on this occasion was Mike Dean, who saw fit to send our manager to the stands, full of rabid, uncouth ManUre fans, for the heinous crime of kicking a water bottle yet failed to mention “Sir” Alex’s repeated hostile verbal abuse of him and the match officials over a disputed off side goal in his match report.

Surprising ?

Not if you assume Dean didn’t want to be demoted to a League Two game for this weekend’s fixtures, as happened to Chris Foy when he allowed the Spuds to win at Old Toilet in October. That was clearly a because Foy hadn’t read the latest edition of the referees handbook which states: “play must continue until Manchester United equalise.”

Anyway, I digress.

Having scored three goals away from home and still losing it could be said that it would have some sort of psychological impact on most teams but I don’t believe we should believe that will necessarily apply to the Toon.

That being said United have only won one of their last four league games, and that was a win against Harry Redknapp’s bottom placed QPR(wouldn’t it be funny if he took another team down out of the Premiership?), so their current form is less than impressive.

Injuries to their midfield, exacerbated by another unpunished, reckless tackle by a home player on an away player at Old Toilet mean that our opponents will be fielding a much depleted midfield.

This is because Perch will have to go into defence as Williamson, one of their regular centre halves, was yellow carded against ManUre and is suspended for today. Other absentees include Ben Arfa, Cabaye and Gutierrez.

Up front the Toon have a choice of two Ameobis (Shola or Sammy) and as well their main danger man Demba Ba, the subject of much continued, and annoying, transfer speculation.

While we tend to lose games in clutches there is the possibility that Newcastle will use the injustice of the loss to ManUre as a motivation to increase their efforts as they are a team that have goals aplenty in them and for that reason our defence has to be on tip-top form; particularly cutting out any lazy cross field passes in our own third.

Therefore I would pick our current first choice centre back pairing of the BFG and Vermaelen, with fullbacks Gibbs and Sagna, although our right back’s form has been a tad patchy and I would not be too surprised to see Jenko get the nod.

For the middle three I would go for our form players, namely Arteta, Wilshire and Santi although I wish we could rest one or two of those as I fear they may hit the “red zone” soon. As Rosicky is available today perhaps he could start or at least be subbed on to give Santi/Mikel a rest.

Up top I would start the Ox with the Pod and Giroud, with Theo coming on later as an impact sub, although this may not help too much in respect of Theo’s long running contract negotiations.

Injury wise we are without Fabianski and Santos as well as the ever absent/present(in the injury room) Diaby which leads to today’s “Fun fact”, namely that it is exactly three MONTHS to the day since our fragile number two last played for us, after it was reported here by that Diaby would be out for three WEEKS.

In keeping with this year’s theme as established by Big Randy today’s explorer comes from Gateshead appropriately enough and goes by the suitably genteel name of Harold Crichton-Browne.

His pen and ink caricature, which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, is shown below in which he sports a lavish handlebar ‘stache that befits a man who in later life served as a Lieutenant Colonel in Africa.

NPG 6251(12); Harold Crichton-Browne by Harry Furniss

He accompanied the more well known James Thompson on an expedition to the Atlas mountains of Morocco in the late 1880’s – anything other than a win against the Toon today and we’ll face an uphill struggle (to keep in the running for a top four finish) as difficult as that faced by Joseph and Harry in Morocco.


Charybdis1966 (on Twitter and youtube)

Rivals: Can Arsenal win the League?

September 8, 2012

Given the evidence of the first 3 games, where do you think we will finish in the league this season?

Today’s post is a look at our rivals, starting with the current Champions.

Manchester City

Man City have strengthened in areas which Mancini identified as weak – Garcia, Rodwell, Sinclair and Maicon arriving with the very average Savic, Johnson, De Jong and a few others leaving. Maicon, despite being 31, is a top quality player and will definitely be an asset, but did they need to sign anyone? MC’s first team  improved steadily over last season and with the return of Tevez to the fold they continue to look formidable. My guess is all the new arrivals will be spending most of the season sitting down.

Their first two games showed some weaknesses, particularly at Anfield where they were a defensive mistake away from defeat. they trailed at home to Southampton before getting a squeaky win and walloped QPR.  City travel to Stoke for their next game afar which we can compare our game to theirs.

In my opinion the title will be City’s to lose; they have a powerful and high quality squad which is well prepared for inevitable losses of form and injuries. Plus they have a manager who knows how to win titles

Manchester United

Essentially the question is “Can RvP deliver the title to MU”? The lack of investment into an ageing and non-creative midfield would be a cause for concern in any other team,but Ol’ Bacon Face has won the PL so many times with what to outsiders were average teams we cannot dismiss them. So far RvP has saved them humiliation at Southampton and scored the first in a fortunate win v Fulham and they have lost at Everton – hardly the stuff of champions. Yet despite having a thin squad, particularly at the back where Carrick has played CB, they must be considered a threat – MU always are. Kagawa looks quality, a player in the Giggs mould and SAF has looked to the future with the signings of the highly rated Powell and Buttner.

But have they got enough?. Are 3 world class players (RvP, Rooney, Vidic) enough to compete with the other challengers? Can they continue to rely upon the ancient legs of Scholes to give them impetus? Not in my opinion. There is a fragility in defence which teams will expose, though it has to be said, the Old Red Nose knows a hell of a lot more about football than I do!


A very impressive start to the season for the history lacking Southern Oilers. The new signings look superb – the combination of Mata, Hazard and Oscar is frightening (though this must be tempered by the very average Obi One Mikel). Hazard will light up the season as Silva did when he arrived at MC, he has deceptive strength, vision and pace – what a pity AW couldn’t persuade him to sign a few years back.But as good as they are in midfield where Fatboy Lampard will struggle to get a game, there are problems at The Bridge. An over-reliance upon the questionable gifts of the PL’s most expensive player will prove costly, and there is not much else. How do you replace a player like Drogba? Sturridge isn’t the answer, Victor Moses despite being quality will not score the missing goals. So if teams can stifle the midfield threat, then Chelsea will struggle.

In defence there are also problems. JT is a  …., we all know it, he is thankfully at the end of a career which has disgraced English football but in Cahill they have a decent replacement. Add in the “mercurial” (read unreliable/nuts) talents of Luiz, the ageing legs of Cashley  to the quirkiness of Ivanovic and we can see cracks.

Then there is the manager. An incredibly lucky CL win (has there ever been a more fortunate win in the history of football?) led to his appointment. One can only assume RdM is a stop-gap appointment prior to Guardiola. But what happens if it all goes TU? Will Abra give him time?  We all know the answer.


Yes, laughable as it may seem the knuckle draggers are rivals. Can they win the title? Of course not – they haven’t won it since Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister and he was born in 1894!!! (love that fact) but they finished 4th last season and must have chances of a repeat performance. One can only assume that Monkey Boy has no ambition as he remains at  Sh*te Hart Lane; whilst Ratboy and FanderFart have had enough of the lack of light in the caves. As usual the Totts have made some decent signings – Dempsey was an AFC target as were Vertoghen and Loris; Dembele should have been. Ade will continue to score goals and infuriate with equal measure, and Defoe will sit on the bench.

Their problems lie in defence where Gallas’s pace is constricted by his Zimmer frame. Dawson was out the door until someone realised Kaboul was too fragile and King has retired. They do have some very good youngsters coming through and I guess they will blood them this season should Vertoghen struggle.

Then there is their new manager. I like AVB and expected him to be a huge success at Chelsea. Will the fans (gimps) and the board give him breathing space? I hope not because he will improve them given time.


Two thoughts come to mind: You’re having a Turkish and Calm Down.


Did well last season and definitely punched above their weight. Again the defence has to be their weak point. They have managed to retain their best players despite the attempts of AW to sign Cabaye. Newcastle have beaten the Totts (easily) lost to the Chavs (easily) and fortunately drawn with AV. A difficult start but 4 points is OK and about on par. My expectation is they will have a good home record but struggle away.


Everton have a decent first team and started better than normal, AV are dull in the extreme, but Top 4 ? No chance.


There can only be one outcome …… Arsenal will be crowned Champions in late April.

1. Arsenal

2. Chelsea

3. Man City

4. Man Utd

5. Newcastle

6. Stoke

7. Wigan

8. The Noisy Neighbours

What do you think?

Written by Big Raddy

Another drop of Newcastle Brown …

November 7, 2010

Three vital points on offer tody, 3 points which have to won. Anyone imagining Newcastle will roll over as they did at St James Pk will be sorely mistaken, Newcastle’s first team have power, skill, and a brutal presence. Any team with Nolan, Barton and Carroll are not going to be lilly livered nor will they shirk the need to play football. We will have to be on top form today to get a result after ourmidweek disappointment.

Before carrying on with the post let us all take a moment to laugh at Tottenham ……

I have been impressed with Newcastle this season, their early displays have been a surprise. Any team coming into the PL needs adjustment time, yet all three sides are doing excellently and perhaps this year could be the first when all three stay up. Newcastle are full of confidence having absolutely demolished a strong Sunderland side last week, a feat that we couldn’t accomplish! I watched the game and Sunderland were fortunate to concede only 5. Barton was his usual snarling self but it has to be admitted he can play football as well as jump on people.

In Nolan they have a real leader. Strong, committed, passionate, occasionally dirty but above all else effective. Add in Alan Smith (a dirty little sod) and Steven Taylor and it is obvious that we have to be strong and expect a physical battle. It will be a day for cool heads and girded loins. But the Barcodes have creative talent, Guitierrez may not have the skills of Messi or Tevez but anyone picked to play for Argentina is a decent player, Carroll is a fine frontman who is bang in form and Amoebi has a wealth of experience.

It is a sadness that we will not be able to enjoy the talents of Ben Arfa whose season was so sadly curtailed by another player who was “just going for the ball”. Ben Arfa was on AW’s radar but he signed Samir and I believe we got the best player

As to our team, the return of the midfield four and Koscielny mean that  we almost have the pick of our squad. There will be changes from the team who travelled to Donetsk, Cesc is sure to start as will Song. It is a shame that Diaby is unfit because we are certain to have to endure an aerial bombardment – we will need Chamakh to defend well at set pieces.

My team:

Yes, I know …. no Arshavin. I am sure AW will play him but I believe he needs a rest. Nor young Jack – I am a great admirer of his but believe Denilson will be better suited to the rigour of today’s battle. The problem with this team is that it forces Nasri to play on the left which is not ideal.

Many of England’s finest musical talents hail from Newcastle – The Animals, The Shadows, Dire Straits, the Pet Shop Boys (big Gooners), Sting etc etc.  I wonder how many of those successful musicians still live within the “Toon”

Can we win? Definitely.  Will we win? It will be a hard fought victory.


A Striking Viking to Nik it.

October 27, 2010

Mr Wenger faces a dilemna tonight; does he keep his promise and target all 4 trophies or does he play the kids knowing there are more important games to come?

I believe the CC is a waste of time for the top teams, a number of games with the potential for injuries and a meaningless trophy at the end of it. I acknowledge  the need for silverware as does Mr. Wenger but the Carling Cup ranks lower than the Youth Cups in my opinion and we shouldn’t be bothering. Does anyone mention the winner’s after the day? No, only the fans of that particular club and they are embarrassed – without checking do you know who played in the Final last season?  The Final isn’t even shown on European TV.

But …… it does allow the fans to sing “We are on our way to Wembley” etc and Silverware is needed at the Emirates as proof that this team is maturing and capable of winning a trophy. We are on a roll (if 3 games can be considered a roll) and would like it to continue.

Newcastle away was as poor a draw as we could have got. A long trip up to the Frozen North, a rabid crowd expecting their team to knock over the fancy-dans from Down South, and a team who are in good form at present with some big units throughout the side (though the brutal Barton is diminuitive). If we play the kids (knowing that the best of them are out on loan) we could get hammered, but do we want to see Fabregas get a kicking from Barton ahead of WHU and Shaktar next week? Be honest  –  if we win both of those games who cares about tonight?  WHU is  a vital 3 points with our rivals having tough fixtures, and 3 points in Donetsk guarantees our place in the Final 16 allowing AW to play a reserve team for the remaining CL games.

We must play Chesney, he needs to feel part of the future. Should he not play AW can hardly expect anything else than a rejected contract offer at the end of the season.

My team:

The Vikings attacked and settled in Newcastle (Monkchester at the time) for a few hundred years. As a student of Danish I can tell you that many Geordie words derive from Danish. Mr Bendtner will feel completely at home; expect him and Arsenal to conquer the Geordie’s once more.


p.s. Sorry about the dreadful title ….