So Long and Thanks for all the Fish – Huddersfield Ratings

May 14, 2018

So after over 1200 games in charge, we finally reached the point where M. Arsene Wenger would be Arsenal FC boss for the last time. A goalfest in the sun would be perfect but some sneaky first away points of the year, acceptable.

First Half

Huddersfield pressed like terriers in the first twenty minutes without really creating a chance, except from dead balls. One particular goalmouth scramble saw David Ospina make his first close range block.

Two planes flew banners over the beautiful arches of the Huddersfield stadium and the 22nd minute of appreciative applause was well observed.

The Beast wasn’t sharp enough to poke home a near post flick-on from a corner before the first quality piece of football in the match produced Aubameyang’s mini record-breaking goal. Laca and Mkhi exchanged passes before setting Rambo free on the left. His outside of the boot driven cross was superbly anticipated by Auba sliding in on his derriere at the far post.

Second Half

The second half saw even more huffing and puffing from Huddersfield but little quality. Twice as many ‘attempts’ on goal than us but with one fewer on target tells its own story.

Two glorious one on ones for the boys in charcoal grey and pink were both squandered by Laca and Welbz respectively. Laca chose to lob a keeper who carried on standing up and Danny really needed to stop and change the angle rather than continue on his weaker left.

Huddersfield had two last attempts at spoiling the Wenger party, one shot flicking off the top of the crossbar and Ospina keeping out a last gasp header at the second attempt.

Ratings

Ospina – Probably did more than anyone else to ensure Arsene left with a victory … 7

Bellerin – Looked great in the Yorkshire sunshine  … 6

Mustafi – Some decent challenges and blocks … 7

Holding – Will be interesting to see if the next manager can bring more out of Rob … 6

Kolasinac – Rampaging Berserker … 7

Ramsey – Flitted in and out like a delicate butterfly  … 6

Xhaka – Great end of season, looking forward to him doing it all year  … 7

Iwobi – Scampered around trying to find a crack … 7

Mkhitaryan – on the beach already  … 6

Aubameyang – Became the fastest Arsenal player to reach 10 Prem goals, ultimately the match winner   … 7

Lacazette – Will a new manager have Alexandre down the middle with PEA on the left? – hmmm … 7

Subs

Monreal – presumably came on to bolster the defence? … 6

Welbeck – created his one on one with a fine challenge but couldn’t find the coup de grace – 6

Maitland-Niles – came on, passed and tackled well … 6

Summary

So Arsene got the send off he deserves with the team finally winning three points away from home at last.

Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending demolition of Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind to the danger. But most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs, or whistle for titbits, so they eventually gave up and left the Earth by their own means – shortly before the Vogons arrived. The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double backwards somersault through a hoop, whilst whistling the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’. But, in fact, the message was this “So long and thanks for all the fish”.

chas

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This Glorious Arsenal– Burnley Ratings

May 7, 2018

BR’s pre-match predicted the day’s path with Burnley facing both a glorious tsunami of emotion and wave upon wave of breathtaking Arsenal attacks. Could the joint third meanest defence in the league stand up to the onslaught? Would the finger in the Dyche prove capable of holding back the torrent? The wonderful sunshine at the Emirates was the perfect backdrop to the guard of honour, a farewell befitting the great man.

First Half

Early on Alex Iwobi jinked his way through like a slalom skier and we knew we were in for a treat. Auba’s first goal looked similar to umpteen goals he scored for Dortmund. Someone who anticipates a driven cross has been something we’ve lacked for ages – we don’t anymore. The assist from Lacazette was superb.

The ball fizzed down Burnley’s left flank time and again, Micki firing over before a Bellerin cut-back was smartly dispatched by Laca’s left foot volley.

Second Half

At the start of the second period, Vokes tamely headed the ball straight at Cech – this was the only Burnley chance I can remember; though copious pre-match libation may have something to do with that.

A spanking left foot piledriver from The Beast after superb work from Jack, got the second half properly underway. Fred’s favourite, Iwobi, soon followed up with the 4th goal from an Auba cross. The rout was complete with my favourite finish of the day, Auba diverting Hector’s cross past the keeper with a delicious outside of the foot touch.

As BR said yesterday, the 90 minutes in between honouring Arsenal’s greatest ever manager were always destined to be a sideshow, but what a glorious sideshow it was, wholly befitting a man who helped to transform and revolutionise both Arsenal’s football and football in England in general.

A pre-booked train meant that we could not stay for the after match festivities. I’ll have the chance to savour AW’s final Emirates moments later on today.

Thanks for being such a massive part of my life for so many years, Arsene.

Merci beaucoup.

Ratings

Cech – Almost a spectator he saw so little of the ball … 8

Bellerin – Loved the sunshine and provided two fine assists  … 9

Mavropanos – Another fine game, looks a big old unit with skill, class and composure … 8

Chambers – Looks to have found the quality that Arsenal shelled out for in the first place … 8

Kolasinac – Spanking goal, looked comfortable … 8

Wilshere – A vast improvement on recent form  … 9

Xhaka – In a game like this Granit looks perfectly at home to orchestrate the midfield  … 8

Iwobi – Revelled in the sunshine, corking goal too … 8

Mkhitaryan – great skill, passing and passion to drive forward, part of a new attacking golden triangle  … 9

Aubameyang – Two excellent goals, great wing play  … 9

Lacazette – Left footed peach and right footed assist, next season should be good … 9

Subs

Ramsey/Welbeck – both enjoyed their late arrival to the party – 8

Mertesacker – even in his short time at the club he’s proved to be a true Arsenal man and got the send off as a player he deserves – 9

Big Weng – Thanks man – 10

Summary

Just the most perfect day up The Arsenal.

chas

 


Truly, Ugly, Deeney – Watford Ratings

March 12, 2018

Troy Deeney being fit to play (when I say fit, I mean breathing and able to walk as long as it’s not uphill and too fast) was the best news this game could have had. With Watford in the relative safety of mid-table obscurity and ourselves being so far off the title pace, meant that there was little to play for except a few points and some comparisons of testes size. Deeney was the vital ingredient in the latter and he didn’t disappoint.

 First Half

Shkodran scoring a carbon copy of his goal against the spuds after 8 minutes calmed any supporter fears that Watford might spawn a couple of early goals as they did at the Emirates last season. It was a perfect delivery from Mesut with which he smashed Cantona’s first to 50 assists record. How the first half finished 1-0 is anybody’s guess. There really were some great chances. 4-2 was Ant and mine’s assessment of the possible goal score.

Amongst our better chances, Auba missed a one on one right at the start of the game, The Beast battered one across the penalty area so quickly that Auba could only get a toe on it and then Mesut got into a magnificent position with a glorious first touch only to lose his composure with the keeper floundering on the deck. Pereyra missed Watford’s best chance skying over after Petr had ended up behind his goal line blocking a free kick.

Second half

The cones did not do their job at the start of the second half. The Arsenal crowd and players all looked as though they wished they could be at home (along with the many who didn’t bother attend). Watford, on the other hand, had their best spell, pressing Arsenal back towards the Clock but without giving us too many heart flutters.

Our first attack of note in the second period resulted in the BVB connection putting us two up. Micki slipped the ball through to Auba with perfect weight, stranding the keeper in no man’s land.

Then came the moments everyone had come to see. A Watford striker went over Maitland-Niles’ knee (in live time it looked to me as if our young Tory had got himself in a position to field a cricket ball rather than make a tackle) and the ref had no option but to give a pen. The pantomime villain stepped up to take the kick, only to allow Cech to make a one handed block which went away from the goal rather than back towards fatty. Cue wild celebrations – it was just like scoring a goal. Two one and things could have gone tits up quickly, but with a two goal lead we were still cruising. Great fun.

Conceding and then saving the penalty woke up both the crowd and the team. We looked comfortable from that moment onward, even with Calum having to deputise for Shkod. The third goal came with a quarter of an hour to go when Micki and Auba reversed roles allowing the Armenian to notch another Arsenal goal so quickly after his crucial effort against Milan. The Emirates crowd even produced a little volume, asking Mr Deeney if he knew what the score was. To his credit, he did seem to be smiling, the hideous gargoyle.

Ratings

(Ratings are always subjective and always likely to be swayed by confirmation bias. Some like them, others don’t – perhaps it’s worth remembering that they’re there to give you something to bounce off.)

Cech – A save from a penalty against our Troy, no flapping and 200 clean sheets, lovely … 9

Maitland-Niles – a few sloppy passes didn’t detract from a quality performance, defended well with both interceptions and tackles, while looking smooth with the ball at his feet  … 7

Mustafi – Excellent early header, drove the defence and looked more like the leader he could be. Hope his groin isn’t too sore this morning  …7

Holding – All of our defenders struggle against the high press when the rest of the team do not give enough options for a pass, Rob was no exception. Made some fine tackles and blocks, and was even making better decisions about when to just get rid, TA6 style as the game progressed  … 7

Kolasinac – Improving as an Arsenal player, whether that’s partly down to the standard of opposition or down to eating less fish and chips, we’ll find out later  … 7

Elneny – Had a fine game in the centre. Chosen to start alongside Xhaka we might have thought that the midfield would look a bit static and lacking forward drive, but Mo provided plenty of thrust and no small measure of forward attacking passes, too … 8

Xhaka – Granit’s form is improving game by game, his defensive positioning is better and I still love his left foot  … 7

Ozil – No subjective rating is ever possible for Mesut, he oozes class and the number of goals and great chances he creates is testament to that  … 8

Mkhitaryan – Looking more like an Arsenal player with each game, should have had a penalty which Atkinson (Fifa referee, yeah right) chose to ignore to add to his goal and assist … 8

Iwobi – Watching Alex from the upper tier, you can see that he’s seeing great passes all the time, it’s just that, at the moment, his execution is lacking somewhat. It’ll come, keep working hard BIG17  – 6

Aubameyang – Settling in nicely, once he gets his razor-sharp finishing back up to scratch, his partnerships with Mesut and Micky could be most productive  – 7

Subs – Chambers slotted in well, Danny produced a rasper and Jack came on for no good reason.

chas     

 


A Flock of Seagulls – Dodging Guano

March 4, 2018

Brighton away this season seems more about building a little confidence and momentum going into the Europa round of 16 tie against AC Milan, than about a desperate search for 3 points. However, the two go hand-in-hand – a victory seems essential to restore some pride in performance after two fairly predictable defeats this week to the country’s top side.

Currently 12th, Brighton have had a good season but their League position hides the fact that they are only 4 points above a relegation spot. They will be fighting tooth and nail to ensure their survival, thus consolidating a position in the Premier League.

The Seagulls’ squad is a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve been reading good things about their Australian keeper Maty Ryan, who is similar in build to David Ospina but makes up for his relative lack of height with speed, agility and great positioning. Propper, Dunk, Bong and Knockaert sounds more like a great Saturday night out to me, though I’m sure they’re all very fine professionals.

Manager Chris Hughton seems largely untainted by his seedy past association with the more excremental parts of North London. His stay at the Amex has seen a successful battle to avoid relegation in the latter half of the 2014/5 season, a creditable narrow miss for promotion the season after and last season’s march to an automatic promotion spot.

Enough of the opposition, how are we fixed? As far as I can tell, only Nacho and Laca are definitely out, with Jack available again after a slight knock (or temporary withdrawal from the frontline due to his disgust at his contract offer – you choose).

Let’s see a positive response from the reported ‘inquest’ after Thursday’s game. It really is time the players performed to their abilities and gave us all some hope rather than continually letting down both the fans and our beleaguered manager.

Team

I’m going for a couple of goals for Auba. It seems harsh and hasty to judge him in any way on his Arsenal career so far. Yes, he has missed chances against the spuds, in the Final last Sunday and Thursday’s pen but he really has come into a team running at an extremely low ebb. That whole feeling of drifting towards mid-table mediocrity needs to change today on the South coast with a quality team performance featuring solid defence, sparkling creation and cold-blooded finishing.

As BR would say, “Let it be so”.

chas


Top Six PL Teams Final Countdown

February 7, 2018

With only twelve games remaining Arsenal find themselves in sixth place, five points out of a Champions League position. Manchester City are run away leaders and are odds on favourites to win the championship with second place Manchester United a distant thirteen points behind. The only question that remains to be answered is the final positions of the next five teams, with this in mind here are the remaining games for each club.

With the recent additions of Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang, Arsenal appear to have improved our attacking options but will our suspect defence be good enough?

It’s important for us to keep up the momentum after the Everton game where our offence was superb and AW was able to field his preferred defensive partnerships.

Next up we play Tottenham at Wembley, the NLD is always a spirited game with an electric atmosphere that could easily spark a fire. Win this and we will enhance our top 4 possibilities – lose and it will look like a bridge too far.

Our goal is straight forward, we have to get 5 points more than Spurs and 6 points more than Chelsea – do you think it’s possible?

I do……………………..

GunnerN5

 


Toffees Trampled in North London – Player Ratings

February 4, 2018

How one feels about some event tends to say more about the individual doing the feeling than it does about the event itself.

Of course I am talking about one isolated game of football, and for me, the fluctuations in my range of feelings begin with anticipation, the team sheet, and finally the performance. The bigger picture stuff is completely forgotten about in the moment. It can wait.

The anticipation of this particular isolated event was naturally bolstered as it came on the back of a storming transfer window which brought the promise of a refreshing new era.

I don’t suppose anyone believed our new star, PEA, would be making the XI, but that is what happened. If you did not experience a surge of tingles shortly after the team was announced just after 4:30, then hope fades for you. Auba was starting, and better still, being re-united with the man with whom he shared such a devastating partnership in their heyday at Dortmund, Mikki.

The game was pure joy from start to finish, and with the exception of LB, we all saw it (I hope our own cyclist has access to internet replays). Stars shone and stars were born, but most importantly there was the old Arsenal swagger back in sharp focus. Confidence oozed and smiles on players faces returned, replacing the furrowed brows of our recent visit to Wales.

Now that the dust has settled, and the sun rises over a new era, we get to do the bigger picture stuff. Well, to be more precise, you lot do.

I think  Eddie has already perfectly captured the new mood regarding the big picture when she said earlier: “the best aspect of yesterday’s display is our imminent trip to Wembley. Instead of being scared I am actually looking forward to watching some spuds being mashed.”

On a personal note, I never believed for one second we’d actually sign Auba. Damn it’s good to be wrong.

 

Ratings

Cech/Ospina – Where Did Our Love Go – It’s so much more fun being in the crowd when David is taking goal kicks ….8/8

Monreal/Kolasinac – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Nacho is important to the team – as the Beast proved in the second half…9/8

Mustafi – Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Committed, positive and forthright ….8

Koscielny – Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) –  Stooping header to finish off his centre back partner’s flick on – Bould and Adams?  ….8

Bellerin – Living For the City – Loved going forward, knowing he might actually receive the ball  ….8

Xhaka – Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today) – Much better from Granit – Fat Sam not playing any strikers until the second half helped ….8

Ramsey – Three Times a Lady –  Bang, bang, bang – enjoyed himself immensely – as did we all ….9

Mkhitaryan – Reach Out, I’ll Be There – Micki loves creating goals, works hard for the team and hits early pinpoint balls across the box – what’s not to love? ….9

Iwobi  – You Can’t Hurry Love – Didn’t look out of place playing in such esteemed company  ….8

Ozil – Let’s Get It On – Loves playing with his new teammates ….9

Aubameyang – Dancing In The Street – Majestic finish to equal Stevie Bould’s achievement of scoring on his debut ….8

Written by MickyDidIt89 

(except the ratings)

 


Aubameyang – Destined to Play for Arsenal

February 2, 2018

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, also known as PEA or ‘Auba’ has already mentioned that he would like to emulate Thierry Henry as an Arsenal great. They were both wingers at the start of their careers who developed a killer instinct in front of goal. While Thierry developed his art at Highbury under the guidance of Arsene Wenger, Auba comes to Arsenal Football Club in his prime and as the finished article. Anyone connected with the club will be hoping he can emulate his predecessor’s success while playing in the same number 14 shirt.

It’s a little known fact that Auba was an Arsenal supporter when younger 🙂

Auba was born in Laval, France in June 1989. His mother, Margarita Crespo Aubameyang has roots in Spain while his Gabonese father, Pierre (nicknamed ‘Yaya’), played professional football for a variety of clubs including Le Havre, Toulouse and Nice before ending his career at another French club, Rouen. He also made 80 appearances for the Gabon national team as solid defender and national captain.

His grandfather took Auba to his first serious training sessions at Laval aged 11. But it was not until his father took him into the first-team dressing room at Nice that the bug really bit. “Something changed in me. I had had the dream of being a pro. But it was a dream, lots of kids have that,” Aubameyang explained. “But when I breathed in the air of the dressing room, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.”

After finishing his playing career, Pierre Senior worked as a coach for AC Milan and Auba joined his two half-brothers, Catalina and Willy at The AC Milan academy. His early career spluttered and loans to Dijon, Lille and Monaco weren’t as successful as they might have been.

By 2011 AC Milan had decided the young winger could move on. St Etienne coach Christophe Galtier saw huge potential in the lightning speed of the young Gabonese player (reportedly clocked at AC Milan running 30m in 3.7 seconds – faster than a 2009 Usain Bolt) and after an initial loan period, the Ligue 1 side signed him on a permanent deal. Thirty-five league goals in just 73 league appearances over the next two seasons proved Galtier absolutely right.

Aubameyang’s love of sports cars, jewel-encrusted boots and outlandish clothing may take the headlines but he is a loving father to son Curtys and often dedicates goals to his son by wearing superhero masks in the celebration. According to his close friend Christophe Jallet, “Aubameyang is a quiet lad who doesn’t visit nightclubs, doesn’t drink alcohol and always dreams about football.”

Dortmund had come to notice that Auba had developed a cold-blooded goalscorer’s instinct in front of goal and signed him in July 2013. He made a dream debut a month later scoring a hattrick against FC Augsburg.

Auba’s Dortmund career has launched him into the world spotlight, scoring 141 goals in 213 appearances for the Bundesliga side. He won the German equivalent of the Golden Boot award in the 2016/7 season with his 31 league goals. Fittingly the trophy is a cannon and seems almost prescient of his Arsenal career to come.

Arsenal’s wantaway Chilean’s transfer to Manchester has led to Auba’s ex-Dortmund colleague Henrikh Mkhitaryan also being welcomed to the home of football. Let’s hope their previously successful partnership can be fruitful once again.

Welcome to Arsenal, Auba. We all hope your stay with us is both productive and joyful.