Östersunds – Skating on Thin Ice – Player Ratings

February 23, 2018

Well we can take heart from the knowledge that we are still capable of beating a fourth division team from the north of Sweden. (Over two legs, that is)

There was quite a bit of moaning on the blog, I have no sympathy for you lucky few watching it in front of your warm tellies, being there was a far worse torture, the only crumb of comfort I took from the first half was that at least I didn’t have to watch Walcott anymore.

We are through, job done, this game will be forgotten in a nano second.

Ratings

Ospina: seemed good enough, better than Cech? Well yes I suppose so. 5

Bellerin: I guess he played because he has no back up, did ok. 6

Chambers: dumb 2

Holding: dumber. 3

Kolasinac: the thing about Sead is that when scoring needs to be done, he scores, that’s it, simple as. 5

Maitland-Niles: well there have been people like me chomping at the bit for him to start in the EPL ahead of Xhaka, well I was put in my place tonight, still a lot to learn but obviously very young, gets a pass. 4

Wilshere: the thing about Jack is that when scoring needs to be done he scores, no he doesn’t, he is all over the place. And you lot are gagging for him to sign an extension? I don’t get it, another average performance. 3

Elneny: you get what it says on the tin, a lot of running but not too much shine. 4

Iwobi: I am trying to work out who the Forrest Gump award should go to for tonight’s performance. 3

Welbeck: who is the other contender for the Forrest Gump award.
Run Forrest, Run. 2

Mkhitaryan: this is the first time that I have seen him play in the flesh so it is all still new and exciting, there is a lot a class there, working with the rest of that shower must be difficult. 6

Written by LB

 


Ready for a Viking Invasion?

February 22, 2018

It was a strange game in Sweden and evidence that Mr. Potter’s unusual coaching style had little effect in the first 30 minutes. Rarely have I seen such a poorly organised team.

What of tonight?

Ostersunds players must be excited. A couple of days in London with it’s bright lights, shopping, theatre, museums and gay bars. An eye-opener after the frozen wasteland of central Sweden.

We saw in the second half that Ostersunds can play and I expect them to give a good account of themselves. They played against a very strong Arsenal team in their home leg and the opposition is likely to give them more encouragement tonight.

Given this is the biggest game in Ostersunds history, we can expect to see Viking hordes  full of mead and schnapps sail up the Thames, rampage though Holloway Road, occupy the terraces, primed to take on allcomers and abuse our womenfolk. If approached take the only sensible action …. Run Away.

As to Arsenal, it is a chance for the reserves to get a kick about. Maybe for Welbeck to show why he deserves a contract extension. Another opportunity for the sparse crowd to give the “Eddie” chant another rendition.

It would be risky for Mr Wenger to play anyone whom he wants to start at Wembley and, in recent years, Mr Wenger is not a risk-taker. As such he could select a very unusual 11.

My Team:

Ospina

Chambers    Holding    Kolasinac

Nelson   Elneny   Willock   M-N

Miki   Welbz   Eddie

This may be a little too risky for AW! JW could start especially if Ramsey is likely to be fit for Sunday.

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I am finding it hard to be enthusiastic about tonight. The opposition are poor, we have already won the tie, The Emirates will be half empty, no stars playing. Will I watch? Of course I will but most probably with my mind elsewhere.

We should win this tie whichever Arsenal players are on the pitch.

COYRRG

 

 


The Skater’s Waltz in Östersund – Player ratings

February 16, 2018

First Half

Instead of coming out all reindeer blazing as many home teams do, Östersunds went immediately into contain mode. This tactic backfired as Arsenal quickly gained confidence, possession and shots on goal. The artificial pitch, so different from those monstrosities at Luton and QPR, proved to be a fine playing surface, perfectly flat but with a realistic bounce. It suited the Arsenal far more than we might have expected.

When the Spanish Messi chipped in with yet another goal, it seemed only to be expected. Well, judging by Paul Parker’s reaction on Sky Sports anyway.

A second goal soon followed – as Terry said “Poor Papagianopolous. Bullied at Greek school for having a short surname, he now scores an own goal” – though Micki’s driven cross was difficult to defend and I’m sure Welbz would have scored if the Greek backside hadn’t.

Two up and cruising, so back into Arsenal mode, complacent and dozing. Maybe that’s a little harsh and it was just that Östersunds decided they had nothing to lose, so stepped up a gear.

Terry again, “They have had their chances? Honestly, if I turned up with my old gran and the rest of the chicken admiration society, we would get beat but still create chances against this current Arsenal team”. Seems about right. 🙂

Second half

I must admit to losing a bit of interest in the second half, much like the players and spectators.

Though that is understandable as when Arctic winds, nordvästan, are blowing through your Helags, it’s difficult to concentrate on anything other than your chattering teeth.

Mesut scored a third from another Micki assist and the return leg next week was looking more of a foregone conclusion. The excitement wasn’t over, oh no; in stoppage time David Ospina rescued a clean sheet for the Gunners with our first penalty save for donkey’s.

 

Mission accomplished, a healthy lead for the home leg, no digits missing from frostbite and hopefully no injuries apart from a few minor carpet burns.

Ratings

Ospina – A Catcher in the Rye – A couple of good stops and an excellent penalty save … 7

Bellerin – Vanity Fair – made some great runs down the right needs to up his end product  … 6

Mustafi – All Quiet on the Western Front – took everything in his stride and passing was better  ….6

Chambers – Brave New World – looking more comfortable with each game, but not really tested in Sweden … 6

Monreal – The Sun Also Rises – Nacho was born in Pamplona and probably used to train running with bulls  … 7

Elneny – The Kite Runner – MOTM, “Really liked Elneny’s workrate. This is a man who understands his limitations and plays like it. Good man” … 7

Maitland-Niles (Con) – First Among Equals – competent in centre midfield, though not an immediate solution at DM as yet  … 6

Ozil – The Great Gatsby – cruised through the game in second gear in which he still looked majestic … 7

Mkhitaryan – Far From The Madding Crowd – two more assists, his quality was apparent, still settling in … 6

Iwobi – Great Expectations – seemed to like the artificial surface, fluctuates between composed excellence and hasty mediocrity  … 6

Welbeck – Wuthering Heights – lacking in confidence in his abilities, will be so much better when he can find some  … 5


Life is a Cabaret – Östersunds FK

February 14, 2018

One thing that caught my eye when reading up on our opponents for the upcoming Europa League round of 32 tie, was that the club liked to employ unusual methods to get the best out of its players. So, let’s take a look at the club’s management and its leftfield ideas.

Since 2011 Östersunds FK have blasted their way to the top tier of Swedish football, having been promoted three times. In 2017 they won the Svenska Cupen which enabled them to participate in this season’s Europa League for the first time. Marching past Galatasary and PAOK in qualifying, Östersunds finished second in their group on the same points as Athletic Bilbao, leaving Hertha Berlin trailing in their wake. They are no mugs.

Graham Potter had a so-so career in English football playing for Stoke, Southampton and West Brom amongst others. With a strong desire to stretch himself academically, he studied for a degree in Social Sciences via the Open University and later followed that up with a Masters in Leadership and Emotional Intelligence from Leeds Metropolitan University.

As the man himself has said, “You need to know about football to coach, but you need to know about people, too. Sometimes that can be the difference. It’s about how you bring a team together. How you communicate as a team. How you understand each other. And, ultimately, how you unite the group for a common cause.”

Potter had worked as a football development manager for the University of Hull and Leeds Metropolitan University plus as assistant coach for the England Universities Squad, before being approached by Östersunds chairman, Daniel Kindberg, about a coaching job. After initial hesitation from Kindberg, Graham Potter was eventually employed as Östersunds head coach in December 2010.

Together they came up with the idea of a ‘Culture academy’ when former lieutenant colonel, Kindberg, realised he might have to take an unorthodox route to make the Swedish minnows successful.

As the Östersunds chairman has said about his playing staff, “Many of them were discarded by their clubs — leftovers that people perceived as not good enough, but when we put them together, in an environment like ours, they have become fantastic players in Europe.”

How to get the best out of individuals and the team as a whole has been the cornerstone of the club’s philosophy. An art exhibition, writing a book, dancing to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake plus various singing and theatre assignments have followed, all designed to bring the players together and make them ‘comfortable in uncomfortable situations’.  Scheduled rehearsals go on throughout the season, fostering a real sense of camaraderie and team spirit which extends to the football pitch.

Billy Reid, Potter’s Glaswegian No.2, used to manage Hamilton Accies but recently wrote and performed a rap about the Sami people, an indigenous minority of the Swedish Arctic known for reindeer herding.

To say it’s an unconventional approach is an understatement – take a look. This was the Östersunds players opening the 2016 Swedish Football Gala by dancing along to ‘There’s No Business Like Showbusiness’.

What do we think? Could a similar approach be successful at Arsenal?

Maybe Snow Wenger and the Seven Dwarfs, a rueful tale about the manager’s obsession with skillful, slight midfielders of limited stature?

Or The Wizard of Oz – starring Brave Sir Robin, Samir Nasri and Adebayor as the Tinman, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow alongside Cesc Fabregas’ Dorothy?

Can you think of any productions Arsene and the boys could have featured in, in the past?

However strange the approach taken by the Östersunds FK management might seem, it has certainly reaped dividends and Arsenal can be sure of a warm welcome on Thursday evening.

chas