Thrashing the Thracians?

October 19, 2016

To be quite honest I had absolutely no idea which country PFC Ludogorets Razgrad came from until I started writing this. Bulgaria is the answer and I sincerely hope my appalling ignorance and downright lack of awareness is not matched by the manager and team of Arsenal Football Club.

Looking at Ludogorets’ record in the Champions League, their biggest home win was 1-0 v Basel in 2014 and their biggest away defeats were both 4-0 to Basel (again) and Real Madrid (both in 2014). At present their biggest away win is …… non-existent. A continuation of that record for another few days would be great. (n.b. they’ve only been in the group stage once before) .


Razgrad itself is in north-east of the country and a couple of Bulgaria’s famous landmarks have parallels with landmarks in England.

First there is the Bulgarian Icarus statue.


According to legend, the man known as the “Bulgarian Icarus” was also a builder. Apparently a Turkish Sultan survived a terrible disaster, so he decided to build a mosque in Edirne in gratitude to God. At that time, Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire. So, the Sultan summoned the most famous builder and this was Bulgarian, Manol. He worked for seven years and constructed a miraculous temple. After it was completed, the Sultan asked him: “Can you build a more beautiful mosque than this one?” and Master Manol replied: “One always has more to learn. Maybe I made some mistakes here that I will avoid in the future and I will be able to build an even more majestic temple.” Hearing this, the ruler ordered that Manol be shut in one of the mosque minarets until his last breath. The inventive craftsman, however, managed to create another miracle – he designed himself wings made of wood. And one day, the people in Edirne saw a huge flying creature soaring in the sky and heading home to Thrace. In this way, Master Manol managed to save his life and turned into a favourite hero in Bulgarian folk tales and songs.

This tale reminded me of the Angel of the North statue when some Geordies launched an enormous Alan Shearer shirt over its shoulders.


Whilst the statues have similarities, Master Manol and Mr Shearer are almost polar opposites, one an educated and erudite craftsman builder and the other a football pundit.

The second parallel is between the beautiful Razgrad clock tower and our own clock tower at Highbury Barn.


Team News

It would appear Rambo and Ollie G. are continuing to train alone. I’d imagine Granit will start due to a soon-to-be enforced absence from the Prem and EFL Cup (cheers, J. Moss).

It appears we emerged unscathed from the Swansea game so perhaps the team isn’t likely to be changed to any significant degree. Perhaps Kieran Gibbs could get a game after Nacho’s run around on Saturday. Oh, and Oooooooooooo-spiiiiiiiii-naaaaa may get the goalkeeper jersey.

‘Complacency’ seems to be the watchword for everyone with regards to this game. Theo and Shkodran have both issued warnings to their teammates to be on their guard against assuming it will be an easy and straightforward 3 points. Each and every player has to be thinking the same, especially after escaping by the skin of our teeth against Swansea.

Note…. Big Raddy is currently on manoeuvres in Ireland and without pre-match writing facilities. Thankfully this hiatus from normality will only be fleeting.

P.S. we need a nickname or shortened version of Shkodran. Any suggestions?

Written by chas

Who is Arsenal’s Top Scorer in the Champions League?

September 13, 2016

Lovely warm Autumn night, great stadium, very good opponents, a night to look forward to. Win or draw (I never mention a loss) I will enjoy our return to the Champions League, our 19th season in succession.



Can we get further than the last 16? We haven’t since 2010; if Arsenal are to be taken seriously as a top team then we must reach at least the quarter-final. Can we? Much will depend upon tonight’s result because if we leave Paris with at least a point we are in the box-seat to win the group.

PSG are in poor form (for them) and having lost both Luiz and the Big-Nosed Swede during the summer (how could my favourite player sign for those Northern swine?), they are definitely weakened, especially upfront where Cavan has struggled though PSG have recently spent well over €20m on ex-Barca forward Jese´

But let us not feel too relaxed – PSG remain an Oiler team who have so much money that they paid €22m to get rid of a manager – that is a Perez! PSG have only lost one of their last twenty home games in the CL and have reached the quarter finals in the last 5 seasons.

Here’s a question. Without googling, do you know who is Arsenal’s top scorer in the Champions League? Have a guess but no cheating.

As to Arsenal, the knowledge that Kos is recovered and will start is a huge fillip – the man has developed into a cornerstone of the team; who would have thought so when Vermælen was our defensive pivot?

The defence picks itself but in midfield we have so many combinations – given that Santi played 90 minutes on Saturday I expect him to be riding the pine. My guess is that Xhaka and Elneny will start with the intention of protecting the back 4 in an away fixture.

Giroud is certain to return but a poor performance could see him behind Perez as our main striker. Many are concerned about OG’s inability to become a clinical finisher but he is the best we have. Perez may well prove to be the player we need but on the evidence of Saturday he has a settling-in period to go through.

My Team: (BTW I know we do not play 4-3-3)


Bellerin    Mustafa    Koscielny     Monreal

Xhaka     Elneny    Sanchez

Walcott   Giroud    Ozil

This team may be a little too attack-miinded for AW, we may see Theo dropped to make way for Ox or Iwobi who are better defensively.

Can we win? As always my answer is, Why not? Arsene has pointed to the mix of age and experience in the squad. Almost all our players are used to high pressure CL games and this must have a positive effect. Let’s hope so.



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

June 16, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Get The Cheque Book Out. Now.

January 19, 2016

We desperately need another striker and we need him by January’s end. He doesn’t have to be a Higuain or a Cavani (though either would be dreamy), we just need someone to allow Giroud some time in the sun.

The injury to Welbeck is very bad news as he was signed with this very position in mind. Will he ever recover to become a reliable squad player? Who knows but what I do know is that whilst he is at AFC he distracts Mr Wenger’s focus from buying a CF. Understandably, given the 16 mill and 100k a week..


Theo as CF? Really???  A few fleeting glimpses of his aptitude to playing through the middle is not enough to suggest he is capable of taking us to the title. I would rather see a goal-hanging finisher than the fleet-footed flyer. And the man is at a low point in his playing career at Arsenal, his last few games have been dreadful – my dead Grandma could have done as well.

Sanchez is a possible but his best work for both country and AFC is done cutting in from the wings. He is not a back to goal striker (IMO).

Campbell? There is no evidence he can be a CF. As far as I know he has always played on the flanks.

Iwobi/Sanogo? No.

What happens if Giroud gets injured? I will tell you. We are royally ****ed.

So stop being a spendthrift Mr Wenger. Go out and find us a boy who has the priceless ability to score a goal. There must be someone somewhere who wants to earn a few million a year, living in one of the most exciting cities in the world, playing in a creative team in a magnificent stadium. It can’t be that hard, can it?

written by Big Raddy


A Message From Arsenal Arsenal

December 24, 2015


Mesut/Theo ….. Mesut/Ollie ….. Mes-merising Arsenal

December 22, 2015

It was clear right from the off that the crowd were fully tinselled up, had taken aboard one or two extra pre-matchers, all swallowed down by a festive Crème de Menthe chaser.

Perfect scene for the final game before Christmas, featuring the Bookies’ two favourites for the title.

A bit of cat and mouse from both sides during the opening gambits, and perhaps the casual observer may have sensed a long evening ahead. Theo changed all that with an absolute cracker.


Two chances, two goals, and Arsenal into the break at 2-0 following a clinical strike from Ollie. Both terrific finishes. Both created by the sublime Mesut Ozil.

ollie 2

Two behind at the 45, and City had no option but to attack throughout the second half, ensuring a pulsating game. City began with three strikers. This didn’t work, so they tried three other strikers, but it was Toure with a magical strike that proved the old adage.
Errr, what is the old adage. Goals win games?

Anyhow, a few fatigued Arsenal players were replaced by fresher ones, and being 2nd XI’ers, we looked shaky, but still managed to see out a memorable victory.

A week or so ago on here, our own LB asked who, with all our injuries, may step up to be the surprising find of the season, in much the same way as we witnessed with young Francis Coquelin last term. The answer is Joel Campbell, who at no point looked out of place last night. What a terrific attitude he has. Well played, Sir.


• Is Theo better playing from the left?
• Are the Team more effective with Aaron or Santi alongside Coquelin/Flamini?
• When, if ever, is Paulista a better option than Per?
• The Fans were superb, and few left before the final bell. Were the trains running later than usual?
• The Title is in our own hands. Does this victory convince you we are now favourites?
• Why can’t it be Christmas every week?


The two Arsenal players Barcelona fear most

December 15, 2015

I was  on my way to work this morning listening to an interview with Philippe Auclair on the radio discussing the CL draw. It was suggested to him that Barca would be very happy to have drawn Arsenal again.

On the contrary he said, there are 2 players that Barcelona fear. Immediately the names of Ozil and Sanchez sprang to mind … but no, he was referring to a different two players …. Can you guess who?

They know about Ozil, he plays with the ball on the ground in a style they understand and equally, they don’t fear Sanchez’s all action high pressing style – it’s what they do.

No, the players Barca are wary of are the in-form Olivier Giroud (he is the kind of striker they hate to play against) and Petr Cech who has put them out of the CL almost single handedly before. He is their ‘bogey keeper’, they seldom beat him. Apparently Messi has never managed to put one past Cech.

When I thought about it, this all makes perfect sense.

They should also be aware that in Koscielny we have one of the best CBs in the world and as I have said before, our wing back pairing of Monreal and Bellerin is unrivalled in the EPL.

We are a better team than when they played us last time. With the steadying influence of Cech in goal and the quality of our defence, Barcelona will not find it easy to score against us even with their unparalleled front three.

Add the fact that the FP (little joke betwee AA regulars :) ) is in fine form and all of a sudden, Arsenal v Barcelona is the draw we should all welcome. If we manage to beat them, we can begin to dream…….