Palace: Player Ratings

January 2, 2017

A bread and butter win against a poor Palace, with Özil out, presumably to flu, it gave us a chance to see what life would be like with a proper Mesut injury and to my surprise it didn’t look as bad as I feared. His absence seemed to embolden some; freed from having to pass it to the German Genius whenever he is available; players started to express themselves more than usual and it worked well. The Good Guys moved the ball around crisply and seemed to advance with a greater sense of urgency on the break. I will take those kind of wins all day long.

Cech: more confidence oozing from between the sticks; he had a chance to show off his skills three quarters of the way through the second half, making a series of impressive saves in the space of thirty seconds. 8

Bellerin: Hector, I am on first name terms, was even better than he normally is adding more to the attacking cause than usual while always doing the right thing in defence. 8

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Easter: with Mustafi on the bench the competition for places is hotting up in the back line and this fact wasn’t lost on our Brazilian; he upped his game accordingly and made it harder for the Boss to consider making a change. 7

Koscielny: this really should be a weekly copy and paste. Another game another captain’s performance, calm, thoughtful and well organised. 8

Monreal: I scoffed when RC78 made the comment at the end of last season that Nacho was the weakest link, I thought it a bit unfair but in view that there always has to be one weaker area than all the others, I feel confident in saying that the first new signing in the summer will be a left back. 7

Elneny: I really enjoyed his performance today, he seemed to add a bit of zip to things, the ball seemed to be moving around a lot quicker, compared to Coquelin there is less lunge and more thought. 7

Xhaka: a few people on here have said that they can see Vieira in him; it happened again, someone sitting behind me at the game said the same thing. For the life of me I cannot see it and I cannot tell you how much I want it to be true. Palace may have been poor but he was impressive, he is starting to take control and his passing was as accurate as Arteta on a good day. 7

Iwobi: my MOTM, with Ozil out Alex had a chance to play more centrally and wow was he good, I know like everyone else that he is a great prospect but I didn’t realise until today just how big a prospect he is. The man ran the show. 9

Sanchez: so what do you think: is he more effective on the wing or in the middle; full of beans as ever and a joy to watch. 8

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Giroud: in the first half Arsenal were playing some super quick pin ball machine football the only one unable to keep up is Ollie, but if you can score goals like that you are likely to keep your place. 7

Perez: “I believe that Perez really adds fluid movement and quick passing in the Arsenal school of thought” (Aaron) .  After spending the best part of the game surrounded by people criticising him it really made me feel good to read this when I got back onto the blog. Whereas Giroud will never be part of Arsenal’s quick interplay this guy could and the more of those the better things are in my humble opinion. 7

Written by LB


Ozil is better than Bergkamp. Match Report.

November 2, 2016

Character building, yes, character building is the way I would describe that win and probably the best preparation for Sunday we could have had. What, I hear you say; surely another six-nil win would have been better giving us the chance to rest Ozil and Sanchez after seventy minutes? Not necessarily, there is no way it is going to be a stroll in the park on Sunday and if we go a goal behind we will have had very recent experience in knowing how to put it right. The same goes for if we are two down but I don’t want to dwell on that possibility for too long. What I am saying is that we are in good shape and are now completely prepared to face the knuckle draggers.

Ludogorets looked pretty good in the first twenty minutes at the Emirates and if it wasn’t for a couple of fine saves from Ospina we could have just as easily have been two down inside the first twenty minutes then. Things didn’t fall inch perfect for them in that game but they did last night and they also had luck on their side: the ball was drilled at speed towards Xhaka who no more than turned away but the referee who was poor all night wrongly gave a free kick from which they scored; our defending wasn’t at its best, but it was one hell of a good cross. Shortly after, Gibbs was given a Brazilian by one of their nippy players who played a slide rule pass into our box for another one of their nippy players to slot home. Don’t ask me their names I don’t know and I don’t care.

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Two down, things weren’t going to plan and we were looking rattled which showed in our hurried passing and unnecessary loss of possession; still, we do not sing that “we are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen” for nothing.

The fight back was on.

Özil of course was involved it was his cross from the byline that was missed by several players in the penalty area before falling invitingly to Xhaka who guided it home and brought us back into the game. The goal steadied the nerves, confidence returned and with it the accuracy of the passing. We were the better team overall but they were still looking dangerous on the break.

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Enter our two returnees.

Ramsey was everywhere or so it seemed; a tireless engine, superb vision and my man of the match, it was his pinpoint cross that enabled Giroud to bring us back on terms: a well-taken header from the man who seems to push himself just that much more when he perceives his starting place is under threat. Do you remember the last time he was out for a while and Theo seemed to have taken his place? When the FFP did start again he scored something like four goals in four games. Two on Sunday, Ollie, and the world will be a wonderful place.

Chances fell to both teams in the second half and the game could have gone either way, I had resigned myself to a draw and had already persuaded myself that two-two was not a bad result away from home and all that. But Mesut Ozil had different ideas which leaves me in the really bad situation of having to try and put that goal into words; save from a long list of superlatives, I can’t.

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Goal of the season, yes, one of the best Arsenal goals I have ever seen, yes, I am trying to stop myself from gushing ahhhhh, I can’t, it was fantastic, brilliant, breathtaking, sheer class from the best player I have ever seen play for Arsenal. There I said it; forgive me Dennis, I couldn’t stop myself. lol

Nothing left now but to watch that goal over and over again and purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Written by LB

 


Another Goal-Fest?

October 25, 2016

Strange how the EFL Cup has become such so much fun. A few years ago it was just anther fixture to be got through in a busy PL/CL season and one we hoped would not result injuries; today it is  (IMO) more interesting than Boro last w/e.

Why? Because:

A.  It doesn’t really matter if we win or lose.

B. We get to see the depth of our squad and in particular the young stars of the future.

C. It is potential Silverware (though not open-bus through Islington silverware).

Tonight we entertain Reading. A Reading who not so long ago were a PL team with good players and Steve Coppell as manager. Not so any longer and one must wonder why. Reading is a rich town, has a fine ground with a good fanbase evidenced by an expected 5,000 travelling fans tonight.

They have a good man at the helm, Jap Stam is a proper bloke, anyone who stands up to the Whisky Sodden SAF is OK in my eyes; whether he is a good manager is another thing altogether but I wish him well.

Players? No idea. I only know Paul McShane, who plays FB for ROI, and Steven Quinn who played for Hull when we smashed 😀 them at Wembley in 2014.

Our team is just a guess. I am delighted that Corporal Jenkinson makes his Emirates return tonight and hope he has a brilliant game. Hector is just magic but we need a proper back up.

Anther player returning is Didit’s favourite player Mr Giroud. I look forward hearing that Beatles dirge at least once tonight.

My Team:

Martinez

Jenks    Gabriel   Holding    Gibbs

Maitland-Niles    Ox    Elneney   Iwobi

     Riene-Adelaide        Perez

This team has two chaps with double barrelled surnames. I like it. Could this be a marketing plan to increase the costs of replica shirts? If so, AW is a genius and expect more such signings.

I expect a tough but open game and hope for a win.

Actually what I really, really hope for is a repeat of the 7-5  of which I am sure Chas will find a video for our entertainment.

COYRRG


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) .

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

Cech

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.

COYRRG

 


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.

Rasp

Codicil…

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..

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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