2017. How was it for You?

December 31, 2017

It’s been an odd 2017, hasn’t it?

Will he stay/should he go being one of the main talking points (AW/AS/MO/JW/HB etc). Team played some great football, some lamentable football, some boring football and some football which got you out of your seat marvelling at the sheer ingenuity of the interplay. Probably not enough of the latter.

We have seen Guardiola transform an average team into one of the best ever (but not THE Best ever). Pocchettino take the Miscreants to un-imagined heights, coaching The Plumber (Harry Kane) into one of the world’s top strikers. Merinho reducing United into an expensive Stoke. Klopp making Liverpool the best viewing in the PL. Chavs winning the PL by a huge margin yet remaining unconvincing.

Add in the fairytale seasons for Brighton and Huddersfield and we have a fine year of football.

Unknown.jpeg

My highlight of 2017? Unquestionably Per Mertesacker’s performance in the FA Cup Final. Magnificent doesn’t do him justice.

Giroud’s wondergoal came a distant second.

What was yours?

Like countless others I am a regular listener to the Arseblog podcast (the man deserves to be knighted for his services to Arsenal). Arseblog talked recently about how he is not sure that he “likes” the current Arsenal team.  This got me thinking and I have to say I agree with him. Individually I enjoy watching Ozil, Ramsey, Sanchez etc but as a team? Do they compare in terms of enjoyable watching with other teams from the last few decades? Not in my opinion.

Why?

Where is the swagger, the humour or the spirit of other teams, whether it be Merson’s insanity, Adams determination, Wrighty’s enthusiasm, Thierry’s brilliance, PV4’s domination, Pires’ elegance or Santi’s humour which were the essence of those teams? There is none of that. We have become industrial; yes, Ozil is a wonderful player but will be remembered as a true Gooner in 15 years?  I want someone to make me smile.  I want goals, and Yes, I want us to win, but above all I want to be entertained.

Perhaps this is why we have such high ambitions for Wilshere.

This being my final PM of the year please give me some licence – I am not going to write about how we should beat the team rooted to the bottom of the table who haven’t scored twice at home since March, Nor will I do the team etc etc. You can fill in the gaps …

From an AA point of view it has also been a hard year. Fewer visitors, fewer bloggers, fewer people prepared to write posts and add flavour/variety to the opinions on the site. Will AA survive to see NYE in 2018? Who knows but we are here today and in my capacity as a long-term AA’er we wish all who read the blog a very Happy New Year.

And Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners

 

 

Advertisements

Academy of Football. Moyes?

December 13, 2017

The Hammers. Blowing bubbles. The Academy. Bobby, Geoff and Martin. Trevor’s header at Wembley.

All a long time ago. Nothing remains of that West Ham. Now they are just another industrious, unimaginative team. Allardyce and Moyes. Pragmatism. Andy Carroll.

Unknown-2.jpeg

This doesn’t mean they cannot beat us, as they showed at the weekend such tactics can work. Any team under the harsh stare of Hawkeye Moyes will be difficult to beat especially if the opposition is not capable of winning a physical battle.

WHU have a player in their midst whom I detest. as does Debuchy – Arnautovic, who was the miscreant whose cowardly attack put Debuchy onto the treatment bench for months. Unfortunately this miscreant has talent and will be a threat to our defence.

They also have a fine GK in Adrian, and it is a mystery why WHU bought Hart. I expect him to be busy tonight.

Thinking of which, will BFG get another game? He was poor at S’ton, though not deserving of the insults from Goonerdom. Have they forgotten that this is our  Club Captain, a proper Arsenal man and a likely future manager? Or that BFG, only 6 months ago, led his team to the FAC victory? I detest the short-termism of some of our fans.

My Team

Cech

Holding    Koscielny    Monreal

Bellerin    Wilshire    Xhaka     Kolasinac

Ozil

Lacazette    Sanchez

I have picked Wilshire but, given this is away fixture, would not be surprised to see wither Coquelin or Elneny with Xhaka pushed further forward into his natural position.

Our away form has been awful, it needs to change. We have to beat teams in the lower half of the table in order to maintain our challenge. A win a home and a draw is no longer good enough.

We have the players, we have the depth of squad, there can be no excuses. That said, away at WHU is always a difficult game, should be an interesting night

COYRRG


BFG to Return?

April 21, 2016

Under normal circumstances the prospect of WBA arriving at The Ems when we are in desperate need of three points would bring a smile especially as despite the furore we are unbeaten in 4 games and have 8 points from 12.

But ….. if you are reading this then you know how the fans and media are turning on the team, particularly at Fortress Arsenal, and to a long-in-the-tooth Gooner that hurts. Our 12th man is already on the beach – worse, our 12th man has become toxic or as Mr Wenger puts it “we play in a negative atmosphere”

It is sad to say that we would be more likely to beat our opposition when playing away from home, Of course this is purely an opinion and an opinion based upon the evidence seen on a television 1000 miles from the Emirates.

Putting this subject aside for a full post, let us return to tonight.

If we are to continue  our run of playing each season in the CL – a run unsurpassed by any other team in Europe ( a little exaggeration because RM are equal with us at 19), then a win tonight is vital.

Will Mr Pulis allow his team to roll over like Chelsea did to MC or Stoke vs Spurs? Probably not. Does any manager whose team are on a poor run of form?

Will Rondon and Berahinho score for a team that averages one goal a game?

I don’t do stats but I know that WBA have lost 7 of their last games at The Emirates and have won just one of their last 11 away games in the PL.

Arsenal: Is it time for rotation? If so, who gets dropped?

My guess is that Iwobi will be given a rest. Apart from him, only Mr Wenger knows. If it were me I would play Walcott against WBA’s less than sprightly FB’s and give OG a start upfront. If we are to throw crosses into the box (which seems to have become de rigueur) the we have to have someone who can muscle his way past defenders; as much as I like Welbeck this is not his forte.

Ramsey has to return. He has become a marmite player in the team but I am huge fan of his (whilst hating marmite).  Giving Ramsey the freedom to play that is given to young Iwobi may lead to a resurrection of his form.

A regular fans complaint is that Arsenal are lacking a leader, if so BFG has to start. Paul Easter has potential but I miss the Big Man.

We need to win, not just for the points but for the atmosphere around the club. If Arsenal walk off the pitch with less than 3 points they will leave the pitch to a chorus of boos from three-quarter empty stands.

It is a well-known fact that Her Majesty, QE 2 is a dyed-in-the-wool Gooner. She has a poster of Tony Adams scoring vs Everton on her mantlepiece at Windsor Castle and another of Micky’s somersault in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace. On her 90th birthday it is up to the players to bring a smile to her much wrinkled face.

Let it be So.

COYRRG


Grow up! … Arsenal Don’t Need To Sign Any More Players …

January 28, 2016

With the end of the transfer window looming and many supporters calling for Arsene to reinforce the squad with new additions, I thought I’d look at the age range of Arsenal’s current EPL squad including some on loan. Obviously age isn’t the prime criterion when assessing a player, but it is the significant indicator in terms of longevity and therefore team development.

When Arsene was asked recently about the signing of Elneny, he praised his attributes and added in characteristic fashion that he was 23 and that 23 to 30 was an ‘interesting’ age for a footballer. We all know what he meant by this.  For all but one position, 23-30 would be considered the peak years of a player’s career. The exception is the keeper, where experience is crucial and the toll on the body is less, meaning that they can remain at the top of their game into their late thirties … and guess what ….. we’ve got one of those!

In the past, it was the case that centre backs could still be at their peak into their early thirties, but I would argue that the pace and physical demands of the modern game mean this is seldom the case nowadays. Hopefully Koscielny will prove to be the exception to that rule, sadly it is becoming apparent that Mertesacker is not.

I don’t expect us to sign another ‘first team ready’ player before the deadline on Monday, and maybe the stats below will convince you that we don’t need to.

The area marked in yellow in the chart below represents the age group of those who are considered to be in their peak years (Bellerin is the exception to that rule) . The names in red are unlikely to be with us next season, and those in green are currently out on loan but a good prospect for the future.

I have divided the midfielders into 3 categories just so the pedants among you can tell me I’m wrong 🙂

X7

In an ideal world, the first choice players in every position would be in their peak years – in fact it would be perfect if the second choice option was also in the 23-30 zone.

But that’s not how it works, the top players are in the zone and the back up is either younger hoping to break into the team, or older and with lower expectation. This theory is backed up by the fact that both Ospina and Debuchy are in their peak years, neither are first choice and both want to leave – and who can blame them?

By my estimation, 8 out of 10 of our first choice outfield players are at their peak in terms of age. That’s pretty good and I suspect compares favourably with the other top EPL sides.

So which areas should we be looking to reinforce in the summer?

Martinez is currently gaining experience on loan at Wolves and may be the man to take over from Cech in a few years. We  have a wealth of talented young attacking midfielders waiting for their chance to make an impact on the first eleven. Unluckily for them, most of the current incumbents are at the perfect age.

Arguably centre back and striker are the two areas where we could be vulnerable. With Mertesacker coming to the end of his career, and only Chambers as back-up I can see procuring another CB as a priority. As far as strikers are concerned, we will only be able to assess that situation once we have seen Welbeck stay injury free and get a run of games. If he can replicate the form he showed before he was injured then Arsene may well believe we don’t need another striker. Personally, I’d be happy to blow £50-60m if the right striker became available in the summer.

Your challenge for today ……. convince me we need to buy another player this January!

Rasp

 

 


Get off Mertesacker’s back

March 6, 2015

I am fed up with people looking at Mertesacker as the man responsible for all Arsenal’s defensive woes. I am also bored by the continual moaning about BFG’s lack of leadership on the pitch.

Let’s start with his defensive ability. Someone recently wrote on the blog that BFG may have over 100 caps for Germany and is a World Cup winner but that does not make him a quality centre back. What complete and utter tosh. He has pedigree, a pedigree that few players in the world have.

Perhaps it is his age which has turned some fans against him,  BFG is just 30, Tony Adams was 35 when he captained us to the 2002 double. This season Koscielny has been a shadow of the player we know he can be, he has made many mistakes both is judgement and in ball-play. No-one suggests that he is over the hill yet he is only 12 months younger than BFG.

Some talk about his lack of pace and let’s be honest he is hardly a speedster but neither was TA nor Steve Bould or David O’Leary or for that matter the man who is considered the best CB in the PL, John Terry. What all these men had/have in common was an ability to see and assess danger then act accordingly, BFG has that skill, though it must be said he does make the occasional error as witnessed last Weds.

Unknown-2

To have a secure defence requires a settled and regular back line – we haven’t had that for some time. All our defenders have succumbed to long-term injury since BFG signed so there has not been the chance to establish an automatic understanding. This season BFG has had to settle Bellerin and Debuchy into the team as well as Chambers and Gabriel. Plus he has been forced to “enjoy” a CB partnership with Monreal.  Is it any wonder the man is tired?

Leadership: What is that? Is it screaming at players to keep in position? Is it inspiring by one’s own performance? I think it is a natural quality – either you have it or you don’t. BFG doesn’t – very few do. Why blame him for lacking something no-one in the squad seems to have AND he is only captain because Arteta is out.

Should Gabriel take his place this season? Of course not. Gabriel has had less than 2 games for us against poor opposition and has been fortunate not to concede goals to stupid mistakes. I am sure he will become a fine CB at Arsenal but right now he is a fine back up, nothing more.

I see Mertesacker’s difficulties in recent weeks as exhaustion. Unlike Ozil and the other WC players BFG has had no rest, he has carried the defence without pause. He deserves plaudits not criticism.

Leave our Big Friendly German alone. (Peaches Mother Rule!)

written by Big Raddy

 


Monaco: Match report and Player Ratings

February 26, 2015

When the draw was made someone  (no names mentioned but it was MickyDidit), told me that he would not go to Monaco because the away leg would be a dead rubber – he was right 😦

Essentially we were rubbish all over the pitch. It is all well and good Mr Wenger being furious at the lack of professionalism evidenced by having 10 players in the opposition half in the 93rd minute just after scoring what could have been a tie-saving goal, but who trains these blokes?  If blame is to be apportioned then an equal measure sits on his shoulders.

We started well enough, pinging the ball around with our normal Emirates pace and efficiency; the game was open and enjoyable with both teams attacking. OG missed a couple of sitters, Santi was magical, the full backs were competing with the pace of the excellent Monaco wingers, then suddenly out of nowhere a man in blue takes a shot from 30 yards which deflects off BFG and deceives Ospina. Just what Mr Wenger warned about in his pre-match conference.

Then we lost the plot.

All out attack; BFG setting a very high line which totally played into the speedy Monaco forwards. Our forwards all decide to play through the middle encouraging our full backs to take the space on the wings and thus leaving acres of space at the back. The midfielders had no space to weave their magic. It all went to hell in a handcart.

Halftime I expected to see changes. We became even more gung-ho. Berbatov scored on a breakaway! A man who is already in his dotage and spends his days in a dressing gown, smoking a pipe and watching Emmerdale outpaced our defence!

There followed a baffling section of play. OG taken off having missed three more chances , Welbeck smashed an easy opportunity against a fallen Theo. Alexis got mad and was unlucky with a couple of efforts. The Ox scored and immediately allowed Monaco to turn the knife in the wound.

It was painful viewing. Thankfully, it was just one game in a season and to be honest losing to a poor MU at the Emirates was worse.

Perhaps the worst thing about last night was I fully expected us to thrash them, so did almost all the Arsenal fans, and unfortunately so did the Arsenal team. Monaco taught us a lesson and fair play to them  – Monaco were excellent.

Player Ratings:

Ospina: Could have done better with the 3rd. IMO doesn’t inspire confidence    6

Bellerin: Seemed to play too far forward. Was he told to? As the junior player he needed guidance  and support but didn’t get it    5

BFG: Very poor night. Directly responsible for two goals (the first not his fault).  As Captain he should have controlled the defensive line and pace of the team – he didn’t     2

Koscielny:  Not his best nor worst performance . One excellent header in the 1st half . Passes too slow to the MF’s      5

Gibbs: Too attacking, again probably told to be. Worked hard      4

Coquelin. Lost his defensive discipline. Booked as usual. Showed why we need a world class DM.    4

Cazorla: Glimpses of his magic but Monaco didn’t give him any space. Ineffective closer to goal.     5

Ozil:  A passenger for over 90 minutes. His worst performance on an important night. Given his talent tit was simply not good enough     2

Alexis:  As always worked very hard. Well marshalled by Monaco defence who always had 3 around him. Skewed a good chance wide.    6

Welbeck: Lots of effort, little result.      5

Giroud:    Not his night but at least he was in a position to miss his chances.       4

Subs:    Walcott :  We looked more dangerous when he came on though Monaco were tiring      6

Rosicky:   Had little opportunity to impress     5

Ox:     Added verve when he came on. Scored a superb goal. Let himself down immediately after.    7

A hugely disappointing night to be a Gooner.  That said, Monaco played a marvellous game, probably their best in recent years and deserve all the credit for their performance.

Onwards and Upwards

written by Big Raddy

 


Paulista on his way?

January 24, 2015

Dredging through Newsnow and the newspapers it seems that there is a strong likelihood that the Brazilian is coming.

Paulista is not in the Villarreal squad which is a good sign.

Apparently so is Kevin Grosskreutz from Borussia Dortmund. A 26 y.o. defender who can play any position across the back-line and is available for €5m which in today’s insane transfer fees is just a pile of M & M’s.

Let’s assume both these chaps arrive, what then? What about the development of Calum Chambers who hasn’t played for months and needs games to fulfil his undoubted potential?

What of BFG? Is he to be a bench-warmer? I know the man is creaking but who wouldn’t after having played virtually every minute of the season. Merts is not ready for his free bus-pass – the man is only just 30 and has at least 3 good years in him.

My guess is that one of the stories is nonsense – probably the Grosskreutz transfer. After all BD are still in the CL so why sell him now? Plus, as I said, Chambers is going to be the nuts

And why haven’t we seen any rumours about our inevitable capture of Cavani? The man has Arsenal in his blood and is desperate to sign for us. The non-appearance of this story is another of the masterful Wenger smoke-screens 😀

written by Big Raddy