A Serious Test of Mental Strength.

November 5, 2017

If, as so many pundits and even Gooners expect, we get creamed, will I be able to enjoy the excellence of Man City? This is what I woke up to think about, then I had a cup of Builder’s and reconsidered. What if we beat them?

Unlikely but not beyond the realms of imagination.

It has been both alarming and a guilty pleasure watching Guardiola prove the short-termist numbskulls wrong – he is a brilliant manager, the Arsene Wenger of recent years. Admittedly, Pep has the resources of an oil-rich country behind him as he develops a superb side. Sadly, this is the unpalatable future of football; money talks.

Unknown.jpeg

Given the vagaries of our defence have we any hope? Depends upon a few factors. Tactics, personnel, concentration, form and, dare I say it. luck.

Mr. Wenger says we are going to the Ethihad with the intention to attack and not PTB – good. With the current first team we do not have the defensive steel to last 90+ minutes against a team who have such a potent attack. We will see whether AW is telling the truth when we see his team selection; if Coquelin or Elneny start then we are looking to shore up our leaky defence.

If our attackers combine as they did at Goodison we can certainly score goals, especially if Ozil finds space. City’s frailties are on the flanks as their FB’s are very attacking (Walker will cause problems). Had OG played well mid-week I would have given him a start but he didn’t, did he?

Holding, BFG or, if fit, Mustafi? Has to be Holding as MC’s pace upfront could embarrass Mertesacker but as Rob played midweek, it will be our Captain.

My Team: As expected …

Cech

Kos   BFG    Monreal

Bellerin    Ramsey    Xhaka    Kolasinac

Ozil

Lacazette    Sanchez

Where we can match MC is on the bench. We have International players who cannot even ride the pine for AFC.

If both sides play to their potential this will be a terrific game. I would love to have seen the current MC team play the Invincibles – we would have thrashed them. The current team seriously lacks a PV4. It turns out he is irreplaceable.

Pre-game I am excited, let’s hope I am more excited post-game 😀

COYRRG

 

 

Advertisements

Arsène Wenger’s Greatest Sacrifice …..

January 7, 2016

Arsène Wenger is in his 20th year as manager of the Arsenal. In that time he has lived, breathed, and ‘been’ Arsenal.

His dedication has been total and unerring. He is the greatest manager the club has ever known and in common with Herbert Chapman, he has been the driving force behind massive change for the good of the club and football in general in this country.

His Arsenal obsession may even have cost him his marriage, but I’m sure if you asked him today, he would say that his passion and drive is as strong as when he first walked through the doors at Highbury in 1996. We have much to thank him for.

Arsène’s current contract expires at the end of the 2016/17 season. He is a rare commodity in the modern game – an honest, principled and dignified man. He has gone on record many times saying that he always respects his contracts.

We know his love for the club, we also know that one day he will want to hand the reins over to someone who will carry on his good work.

There are very few candidates who could zip up Arsène’s puffer jacket.

Two men, one vision

Two men …. one vision

The one name that has been repeatedly linked as a future incumbent is Pep Guardiola. For most of us he ticks all the boxes.

Pep will be leaving Bayern at the end of the season. He has stated that he would like to come to the EPL and Man City are the bookies favourites to secure his services. But if he is the principled man we believe, wouldn’t he prefer to join a club who do everything the right way, who back their manager through thick and thin, who have a rich history and who aspire to the style of football that Guardiola has championed throughout his managerial career?

Guardiola took a one year sabbatical after leaving Barca but this time it appears he wants to take on a new challenge straight away.

So Pep will be moving in the summer and Arsene, the man who respects contracts, will have another year of his current contract to fulfil.

It’s a travesty that The Invincibles fell short in Europe.  Our squad is probably a couple of years away from competing with Europe’s top three so to win the CL in the next two years is a tough call. Would Arsène deny himself one last chance to win the Champion’s League; the big one that has eluded him?

Arsène may well think he has unfinished business. He may wish to extend his contract before 2017. He owes us nothing, the choice will surely be down to him alone.

Pep may not wish to manage The Arsenal – if so, he isn’t the man we think he is ……. but what if his first choice would be to come to The Emirates?

The hypothetical question I would ask is ……. If (and it’s a big if) …. If we win the league title this season, and if Pep wanted to manage Arsenal, do you think that Arsène would/should step down a year early?

Arsène’s legacy is already cemented into the club’s history. Will his love for Arsenal extend to stepping down a year early for the natural heir apparent?

Give us your thoughts ……

Rasp

 

 


Plan A, Plan B, Plan C … A Plan For All Seasons?

October 22, 2015

The Bayern game and GIE’s comments, used as the third part of the triple post yesterday, got me to thinking. It left me with a question, that being should our holy grail be that we be aiming towards playing at the level of possession and passing football that Guardiola’s Bayern (and Barca before) do, or do we have a team that can adapt and play differently, according to the opposition, and still be equally effective and successful?

Two great sides with a reputation for attacking football both with world class dangerous attacking players met the other night. I do ask myself what would happen if we were to play Guardiola’s side 10 times in succession, them playing their game and us adapting to a solid defensive base counter-attacking game? Would it come out 50-50 over those games or is their style superior enough to limit us to 1-2 wins over those games and this just happened to be one of them?

Looking at Guardiola’s sides I get the feeling they don’t have a plan B, that they just play their same style of football regardless, and mostly to high effect it has to be said. Not having a plan B is a criticism that has been aimed at Arsenal and Wenger over many years. I would certainly say that in the recent past there have been games that cried out for a tactical change to our normal style, and failure to do so has cost us.

The tactical changes and adaptability that GIE highlighted over our last 3 games have been very refreshing. This is of course only relevant moving forwards if we continue to do this and don’t revert to a one size fits all playing style at all times. I do historically feel that Wenger has changed from what appeared to be working formulas before back to his utopian style of football, often to our detriment.

The bigger questions for me though is which option do we settle with?

Option1 :

Should we be aiming to emulate Guardiola’s type of football in the long run? To have such a prolific plan A style of football that tactical considerations need only be minimal. If the answer to this (in your opinion) is yes then it also begs the question of how does Arsene take us to this level, and is it actually attainable within the framework of the EPL?

Option2

If you feel the other option, the one we have seen recently, that we have a prolific attacking team that can adapt its type of play, at times even surrendering the possession and passing football stats to a team like Munich, but still remain as competitive and dangerous as them in head to head games, then are we where we need to be (albeit possibly with a couple of upgrades and additions in certain positions)?

Over to you erstwhile A.A’ers, what do you think?

GoonerB


What If Wenger Does A Guardiola And Walks Away?

April 27, 2012
La Liga (3): 2008–092009–102010–11
Copa del Rey (1): 2008–09
Supercopa de España (3): 200920102011
UEFA Champions League (2): 2008–092010–11
UEFA Super Cup (2): 20092011
FIFA Club World Cup (2): 20092011

So to tidy that up, that is four seasons in charge winning three League titles, two UEFA Champions Leagues, and one Copa del Rey – and yet, it seems, Pep Guardiola is likely to walk away from Barcelona after all but conceding the league to Real Madrid, and getting knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea’s bus. They now just have the Cup Final left to win some silverware.

“Coward! Coward!”

They are yelling it on Fleet Street and in their masses on the internet. But is he really? Apparently the going has gotten tough and Pep is doing a runner.

I suppose before I continue I better clear up a few things (these are my own personal thoughts and not those of AA as a blog)

  • Barcelona are over-rated. They are not “the best team ever” – Would the best team ever have a back five pretty incapable of defending? Valdes makes Almunia look good. Alves is a poor man’s Carlos, and while Puyol is a good defender, he is no Franco Baresi. Isn’t it funny how Lionel Messi didn’t perform over the two legs in the Champions League semi-final and they get knocked out? They are a great team, the best team CURRENTLY plying their trade, but the best ever? Surely I can’t be the only one that watched the AC Milan team of the late 80s and early 90s?
  • They have no Plan B.
  • Pep’s influence on the team has been over-rated. In 2008, he inherited a team that was largely been built up since the Academy days – the core being Xavi, Iniesta and of course, Messi. Gerard Piqué was also returned to the Nou Camp from Manchester United in the very first days of Pep’s reign, while the likes of Pedro and Busquets were been readied for the first team after coming through the youth ranks. All ripe and ready to form a winning machine – all coming neatly together after Frank Rijkaard had kept the ship steady over this period.
  • None of the above is not to say I don’t think Barcelona are a fantastic side and Guardiola a fantastic coach – he has embedded a work ethic in the side which is unparalleled – sadly it also extends to them largely diving as a team (Messi and one or two more gladly don’t take part) and to them waving imaginary cards and trying to get opponents sent off.

So back to the main point – Is Guardiola walking away?

Yes, yes he is. But he’s not walking away from the hard work ahead, or the cries of some greedy fans who want trophies every year, he’s walking away from a possible heart-attack. Pep has just turned 41, has a young family, and has aged considerably in the last season or two.

But Barcelona are a winning club you say, where is the heart attack waiting to come from?

I’ll tell you – the pressure. The pressure of being expected to win every game at a canter, to win every trophy available every season. The pressure of having a mad President that comes part and parcel of a top Spanish club who buys a player at a mad expense and tells you to play him whether he fits or not into your puzzle.

Pep Guardiola is taking a break from football for the sake of his health – both physically and mentally. And who could blame him? He has achieved so much in so little time, and at 41, will still be such hot property when, and if, he returns to football after a season long break. Besides, it’s not as if he might not have done this anyway, regardless of Barcelona’s “failed” season. He has only ever accepted rolling one year contracts and has always hinted he would take time out of the game after a few seasons.

So what has all this to do with Arsenal and Wenger? Quite a lot actually.

The pressure Guardiola is under is very similar to that Wenger is under: managing a big club whose fans expect to win every season playing perfect football. However, unlike Pep, Wenger can’t walk away from football for a while and then pop back into it again. At 62, he may feel that the time is slowing, closing in on his time as a manager, time closing in on his dream to win the Champions League.

So what if he decides to walk from Arsenal to achieve that? What if he thought to hell with the financial pressure he is under and trots off to PSG, Madrid or Barcelona? Sure, he’ll be under the same pressure as at Arsenal, but he’ll have more financial muscle. If anything, walking into Barcelona would be easier for Wenger, he will inherit the same problems there as he has here – dodgy back five, strike force that weighs heavily on the shoulders of one man, pressure to play proper football, pressure to win, but he’ll have the ££££ at Barcelona.

So just imagine if he said “sod it” and off he went. Where would that leave Arsenal? Would Pep Guardiola come over here and give it a punt – or the mouthy Jose Mourinho who knows best when it comes to all matters Arsenal? Yeah lads, we want all that Real Madrid and Barcelona have, but we want it without spending any more money than we make. Ha, that last one makes you think doesn’t it? Makes me think “We want everything that Barcelona and Madrid have – the Galacticos, the va va voom football, the trophies, the giant stadiums … but do it while making more money than you spend Mr. Wenger.”

Pressure?! Pressure, Mr. Guardiola, Mr. Mourinho? Pressure to win because they spend so much on their squads say Fleet Street, but Mr. Wenger is “under none” because we have a board with an ounce of cop on when Portsmouth and Glasgow Rangers are dying. Pressure?! Come to an angry Emirates Stadium of a cold Saturday afternoon Pep, I’ll show you pressure.

Written by the lovely Irishgunner


Arsenal – testing your loyalty

April 7, 2012

I’m hoping the long gap between games isn’t causing the players to lose focus as badly as it has me – although it is a concern after our last performance!

This is just a bit of interactive fun to fill the time before we take on city tomorrow.

One object of the exercise is to test whether your loyalty to Arsenal might just possibly cloud your judgement in matters concerning by far the greatest team the world has ever seen……..

Try to answer the following questions honestly. It may be that your choices would be the same either way – but I doubt it.

So are you a dyed in the wool Arsenal supporter (in which case you lied in some answers) or are you one of the new breed of fan who prefers to stay seated, doesn’t sing and thinks the ref is a jolly good chap 😕

Feel free to debate the questions and your choices in Comments, or maybe you can suggest similar questions that could have had you battling with your Arsenal conscience.

Written by Rasp