Should Gooners support English Teams in the CL?

February 21, 2018

If an English team in the Champions League is facing oppostion from across the water, do you want them to do well and progress or see a defeat of momentous proportions?

Last night one of our illustrious commenters said this…

Anyone gutted Chelsea drew today, I was so rooting for OG?

Now the big Frenchman was a fine servant for the Arsenal, but wanting the chavs to do well so that you can see a big smile on Olly’s face – hmm, not sure about that.

Earlier in the day, I’d seen this tweet from Danny Baker and again I couldn’t quite see how it was a hard and fast rule that all football followers would think the same.

The Round of 16 draw meant that English teams couldn’t face one another. At present 2 are almost guaranteed progression to the quarters, one achieved a good draw away from home, one a knife-edge draw at home and the red mancs are still to play. Does the prospect of seeing 5 English clubs in the last eight fill you with dread or make you proud of the success of the Premier League?

I suppose the further English teams get in the competition the better our UEFA coefficient, but watching Champions League football has to be more interesting if you’re seeing teams that you don’t see play every week?

One benefit of having all-English quarter finals would be the opportunity to see two of the five clubs above us, kicking great lumps out of each other.

Personally my dislike of the spuds, chavs and red mancs is too strong to ever want to see them win any game in Europe. For some reason, Liverpool and Man City don’t stir the same feelings of loathing. Having said that, I’ll still smile when either get knocked out.

How is it even possible for anyone outside red Manchester to want this fella to win a game? Even if he took over at the Home of Football, I’d struggle. 🙂

Anyway, what do you think? Do you agree with Danny Baker that proper English football fans would never support other English clubs in Europe?

Or maybe you feel some pride in Tottenham and Chelsea beating top European opposition?

Then again, you may have the opinion that you want to see the best possible football, so it makes sense to want to see the best teams progress?

Alexander Pushkin 


Disgrace at the Liberty – Player ratings

January 31, 2018

A few comments from AA bloggers to summarise that rock-bottom performance.

Big Raddy says at 7:54
Looks as though there has been a touch of rain in Swansea

(Ed…This is always bad news when we play – we perform badly in the rain – the only time it’s an advantage is when we play a team that’s poncier than us, like Chelsea)

and at 8:08
20 minutes gone and Fabianski has yet to touch the ball.
Playing across the back is fine but can’t we just try and attack?

and at 8:19
What a brilliant pass from Mesut and a terrific finish.
Get in.

Rasp says at 8:21
How typical, we score and then concede within 2 minutes … will our training staff ever pick up on these repeated patterns …. we switch off after we score!!!

Eddie says at 8:30
lucky it is not 4 nil

FGG says at 8:37
Defensively dreadful from Xhaka. He looks at Clucas and just stands still whilst he runs past him into our box. I don’t care what anyone tells me, there is no way he has ever been a HM player. He just doesn’t see danger at all.

Big Raddy says at 8:38
We are being outplayed by the bottom team in the PL. They are faster to the second ball, more dynamic, more organised in defence and overall comfortable. We have been crap.

FGG says at 9:08
May as well not have a manager or strikers if we are going to do stuff like that. Terrible.

Rasp says at 9:41
9 shots, 1 goal

25% possession,
12 shots, 3 goals

No hiding, our style of football is not effective

Match assessment

Possession football – what is the point of it exactly? Arsenal sides in the past few years have always tended to have excellent numbers in terms of possession. This has also been reflected in the number of chances we’ve created. The worrying trend this season, and away from home especially, has been that our possesion stats have stayed high but the number of chances to score have been plummeting.

What is the point of continually holding on to the ball in non-threatening positons and then losing it immediately you get anywhere near the opposition’s 10 man defence? Players are scared to lose the ball by making potentially chance-creating passes. Our football is stale and how to play against us has been worked out, polished and then perfected by the poorest of teams.


Cech – Back to work – hmm, yeah right ….4

Monreal – Great goal, one of the few dangerous runs forward of the night. Poor throw to Mustafi in the build up to the second goal. Slipped for the third goal ….5

Mustafi – If you’re put into a difficult situation, put it in row Z ….4

Koscielny – Still our best defender but too quiet to be captain ….5

Bellerin – Tried hard, crossing still poor ….5

Xhaka – Track midfielders running into the area, ffs …3

Ramsey – Not even playing against his old enemy could inspire Rambo to much on his full return to the Premiership ….4

Elneny – At least he committed himself for the cause ….6

Iwobi – Better going forward than last time out – possible should have had a rest in favour of the new boy ….5

Ozil – Quality assist with one of the few penetrating passes of the game – must be pleased he’s left his options open ….6

Lacazette – Poor service and the lad almost seems to have given up hoping this nightmare will turn around (much like the rest of us) ….4

Giroud looked as sad as the Arsenal Away Boys.

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


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


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.


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.