A big chunk of our season is on the line today – Bate preview

February 21, 2019

First and foremost, please remember that kick off is 17:55pm UK time today. We wouldn’t want Micky rolling up at 7.30pm wondering what the team news is. 🙂

Last week in Belarus was dire, there’s no getting around it. A shapeless, ineffective Arsenal team, admittedly hampered by an appalling pitch surface, delivered a performance of virtually zero quality.

That game has been and gone – nothing can be done about it. If we play to our strengths tonight and score enough goals to get us through to the Round of 16, it will be consigned to the past as a deep and distant memory. Simple, isn’t it?

Invoking the spirit of Big Raddy in 1970

Team News

There has been a bit of a Mugabe media lockdown at Arsenal over the last week. Probably best, since any attempt to appease supporters with ‘we’ll strive to put it right’ platitudes would only be met with abuse. The only place to make amends is on the pitch.

The team news made public so far is that Aaron is fit and in full training. Big Sok is also nearing a return – whether it’s in the Europa or for Sunday’s Prem game against Southampton, we shall see.

Maybe Unai’s press  conference will tell us more.

Press conference update – Mesut has been training well this week (?) and Ainsley M-N missed Wednesday training with sickness. 

Rambo’s return will definitely help to cover that creative shortfall we saw in the away leg. Could Mesut find favour again and both of them play? Doubtful perhaps, but could work as long as both don’t attempt to play in the same position..

One thing is for certain, Lacazette will not be featuring due to the Bate lad running into his elbow, which leaves Aubameyang  as our main threat.

Possible team

………………………………. Cech

Licht (if no A.M-N) … Shirley … Kos … Nacho

……………………..Terrier ………….Granit

………………………………..Rambo

…………….. Micki ……… Auba …….. Wobbly

As far as possible game scenarios go, the only way extra time and penalties will happen is if we are 1-0 up at 90 minutes. If Bate score first, we will have to score three times to counter their away goal.

In fact, a Bate goal at any point in the match might give cause for concern (unless we’re over the hill and faraway by that stage). Perhaps dead balls are the most likely source for the Belarusians.

Having said that, this game isn’t really about how Bate play but more about the level of performance Arsenal can produce. As LBG said, three up at half-time and we’ll be laughing.

Your score predictions in the comments, please.

chas 

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Arsenal FC – Our away record against Huddersfield Town

February 7, 2019

Huddersfield entered the Football League in 1910, three years after they were founded. To stave off a proposed merger with Leeds in 1919 citizens of Huddersfield were asked to buy shares in the club for £1 each. They went on to reach the 1920 FA Cup Final and win promotion to Division One.

Under the leadership of Herbert Chapman and Cecil Potter they became the first English team to win three successive league titles 1924, 1925 & 1926 – a feat that only three other clubs (Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United) have achieved. Their largest home attendance was 67,037 against Arsenal in a FA Cup game on 27 February 1932.

Leeds Road, Huddersfield, Town v Arsenal FA cup 1/4 final 1932. 67,037 fans!

Honours

First Division (top tier)
Champions (3): 1923–24, 1924–25, 1925–26

Second Division (second tier)
Champions (1): 1969–70

Third Division (third tier)
Promoted: 1982–83
Play-offs Winners: 1995, 2012

Fourth Division (fourth tier)
Champions (1): 1979–80
Play-offs Winners: 2004

FA Cup
Winners (1): 1922

FA Charity Shield
Winners (1): 1922

The last time we lost away to Huddersfield was on January 16th, 1971. In fact since 1938, we have only lost two away games.

Huddersfield 0 Arsenal 1 in April 1955 at Leeds Road. Derek Tapscott shoots for goal

 

Our only away game against the Terriers in the Premier League just so happened to be Arsene’s final game in charge. Rather shamefully it was to be our first away win of 2018. Auba scored the only goal after some fine interplay between Lacazette and Ramsey.

Without Dr. Wagner to worry about, I expect nothing less than a resounding victory, but I’m often wrong.

GunnerN5


Arsenal’s most important player this season is _______?

January 10, 2019

This question was posed on twitter by @ltarsenal and some of the replies were quite surprising, so why not have a crack at it on here while we wait for the weekend?

Runners and Riders (in no particular order)

Rob Holding

Many were surprised when Calum C went out on loan before the season started and a certain lad we bought from Bolton for a £2m was chosen to stay and develop at his home club.  His play this season has been a revelation. Cool, composed, able to bring the ball forward and with an eye for a pass, too. Some might say our defence looking decidely ropey has coincided with his absence.

Lucas Torreira

Eased in slowly frustrating Arsenal fans at the start of the season, Lucas began by making top notch contributions from the bench before getting his starting berth. Perhaps, if LBG is correct and he’s been moved further forward in Unai’s recent formations, his effectiveness has been slightly lessened when not sat right in front of the back four receiving and destroying.

Alex Lacazette

Many replies on twitter mentioned Laca. He is a fans’ favourite and certainly brings an aggressiveness and work rate which often seem responsible for lifting the whole shooting match. Less goals than Auba from perhaps more chances but he’s often won back possession from his feisty closing down (and given away a few free kicks into the bargain!).

Granit Xhaka

To some, Granit’s inclusion in this list would be the biggest shock but he does seem Unai’s first name on the teamsheet in many respects. When we are playing well, he does seem the centre of the well-oiled machine. Countless accurate passes and an ability to switch play others lack. Detractors would say ‘yes, but how many of those passes actually achieve anything’.  Then again, all teams require water carriers, ask Gilberto.

Hector Bellerin

When he’s missing from the team, you do start to realise how important he is on the right side. Still not the finest defender in the world but such a talent on the ball. Arsenal’s right flank without the Catwalk king and, to a lesser extent Micki, has been a little lacking in punch, drive and creativity.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang

Goals from nowhere, some have suggested we’d be floating just below mid-table without Auba’s 14 goals. His strike record in October/November was simply stunning, scoring from virtually all of his shots on target. A fair few of his goals have come when he’s made an entrance off the bench. Some point out his lack of fire, Laca style, but maybe that isn’t the quality he was bought for.

I’m not sure if anyone else should be regarded as a contender.

What do you think? Could you make a case for someone not listed above.

Mesut anyone?

chas


December starts well! – Unai pops his NLD cherry – Arsenal v spuds Player Ratings

December 3, 2018

Everything you want to happen in an NLD does happen – Christmas has come early.

Hark the Herald Arsenal Sing, Glory to our new born King.

Ratings

Leno – several decent saves from Son and Kane to counterbalance his near post calamity for the spuds equaliser… 8

Bellerin – quality throughout – his one small misdemeanour we can forgive – Hector knows what an NLD is all about … 8

Sokratis – Solid, indefatigable, rock-like, showed some pace tracking Kane … 8

Mustafi – demonstrated that he has got something to contribute – warrior-like for a derby which is exactly what’s required … 8

Holding – felt sorry for him – all that bollix about him lunging in for the pen, he was trying to block a potential shot, not making any kind of tackle – it was a dive pure and simple – Mike Dean hang your head in shame – Rob looked good in possession … 8

Kolasinac – stood like a fat sack of potatoes for the spud first goal, playing 3 players onside, but his cut backs were a feature of his play in the Bundesliga and playing in a back five relieves pressure on his defensive shortcomings … 8

Torreira – what a magnificent purchase – sets the tone of Arsenal’s performance with his energy, enthusiasm and will to win. Brings ‘La Garra Charrua’ to Islington. A glorious first goal, too … 9

Xhaka – Granit plays as if the captaincy really means something to him – love his left foot – crossfield balls opened up the spuds in the first half … 8

Mkhitaryan – gave it his all in the first half – sometimes appears a luxury player – perhaps not the blood and guts player for a derby but full of rich quality … 7

Iwobi – looked dangerous – but rightly sacrificed for the second period … 7

Aubameyang – that second goal was so pivotal to the outcome of the match – Lloris didn’t have time to move – a real peach – two goals, great celebrations, back to smiling his tits off … 9

Subs

Ramsey – Aaron is really contributing even with his contract disputes – two assists made a big difference to the game’s outcome … 8

Lacazette – the way he skimmed the ball in of Dier’s shin was magnificent … 8

Guendouzi – he loves Arsenal – I love Guendouzi … 8

Other ratings

Unai Emery – masterful half time subs – what a way to pop your NLD cherry … 10

Mike Dean – awful, egocentric performance – thank Dennis it didn’t cost us in the end … -2

chas


Chaos at Dean Court – Arsenal FC ratings

November 26, 2018

First Half

We really looked poor in the first period of the game. Vulnerable on every Bournemouth attack without conceding that many shots on goal, but that ignores the balls across the box which just required a touch to be a goal. Terrier had our one moment of brightness, hitting the post with a decent effort from distance.

Gradually we took control and the magnificent OG was just reward for our domination. Everything was going smoothly up to half-time with a few half chances which might have made it 2-0.

1 minute signalled as injury time – just make sure you go in ahead at the break for the first time this season. Nah, let’s chuck 9 players forward to try to grab the second, tit about doing tricks in their area, lose the ball and concede on the stroke of half time. Wengeresque Arsenal – if that’s not being too unkind to Arsene.

Second Half

Helter skelter all the way. Shed loads of possession, some great chances especially on the break. Arsenal’s mastery over xG seems to have gone. Then bang! Auba finishes after the Wardrobe gets behind the Bournemouth full back.

All photos Stuart MacFarlane

Come one, lads, see the game out – just as a side aspiring to a top four finish would do. ‘No chance’, say the boys in peacoat mint or whatever hideous description of that colour Puma have us playing in. Chances are spurned and Bournemouth sense a way back in.

The substitutions will make us more secure, surely? Nope, far less secure. Ramsey playing in his ‘I’ll do whatever I like’ mode and Guendouzi effective but not as effective as Torreira.

Mustafi’s tackle right on the edge of the area just to give Bournemouth one last sniff was heart-attack inducing.

Summary

Written just after the game, I am struggling to understand how we made such hard work of it. Still, job done, a fine three points at a difficult place to go – what the hell am I complaining at?

Ratings

Leno – had the shot covered which hit the post from our first goalscorer – playing out from the back often became, hoofing it out and losing possession. Oh well … 7

Bellerin – seemed to enjoy the freedom of not having to cover his a*se so much with three at the back … 7

Mustafi – some good, some bad – a typical performance all round … 6

Sokratis – seemed a bit baffled by the pace of the Prem but struggled manfully … 6

Holding – Our most composed centre back again … 7

Kolasinac – good going forward in the second half especially – two vital assists, extra point for that … 6

Torreira – tidied up in his usual effective way. Subbed because he was knackered? … 8

Xhaka – some good, some bad, some sweet, some sour … 7

Iwobi – tried hard, made a few poor decisions, should practice getting his foot over the ball when shooting … 7

Mkhitaryan – my personal most frustrating player of the day – so many good positions wasted – almost non-existent in the first half … 5

Aubameyang – doesn’t really lead the line – a couple of decent half chances spurned before his tap in – 20 goals in 31 games can’t complain … 7

Subs

Guendouzi – good enough but why? … 7

Ramsey – why? … 6

Nketiah – brought on to waste time which almost gave Bournemouth enough time to equalise from a free kick … 6

chas


The Auba Laca Conundrum – Is there a solution?

November 23, 2018

What is the best way of using our twin strikers Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette? Can they both start games without upsetting the balance of the side?

At the beginning of the season, Unai Emery appeared to have settled on the fact that he needed Aubameyang to be in his starting eleven even if it meant leaving a rather unwilling Alexandre Lacazette on the bench.

Then, after sneaking past West Ham fairly late on, came Cardiff away and both Auba and Laca started with Ramsey and Ozil making up the front 4. There seemed to be a chemistry between the pair, both scored and the Gunners just about ran out deserved winners. We then went on to also scrape wins against Newcastle, Everton and Watford with both playing, Aubameyang now becoming accustomed to being pushed into a wider left side position to accommodate the Frenchman.

Fulham away, just before the October interlull, was glorious. Laca scored two and Auba, coming off the bench, also got a brace. For the first hour, the team formation appeared to be a 4-4-2 with Danny Welbeck playing the role of Laca’s partner. This seemed to be a sign that, for the second time, Unai was still puzzling over the problem of squeezing both main goalscorers into a starting XI.

Leicester at home saw Auba come off the bench to score two instant tap-ins after some scintillating Arsenal team play, while Laca struggled to take the not so clear-cut chances which came his way.

Our last three matches have been distinctly odd, with our best performance of the season against the dippers sandwiched by probably our worst two performances against Palace away and Wolves at home. Both Auba and Laca started all three with PEA shoved out on to the left flank in each. Although he scrambled a goal at the far post at Palace, he has looked less than his usual happy self in those 3 games, especially against Wolves. Lacazette scored a brilliant individual goal against Liverpool, but also looked a little lost against Wolves (then again, it was a poor team performance).

It would be so good to see them happy to both assist and score alongside each other again as it was in September, but this will largely depend on Unai Emery finding the solution as to how to get them both on the pitch at the same time. One or other of them coming off the bench for the last 30 sexy minutes has worked well on several occasions so far, whereas starting both from the kick off has had decidely mixed results.

Perhaps a change of formation might be able to accommodate both without being detrimental to team balance.

Anyone got any ideas?

chas


Arsenal’s Interlull – Who’s involved and when?

November 13, 2018

It’s getting more difficult to find words to describe how horrendously tedious these regular international breaks actually are.

There will be 9 games for Arsenal in December – just imagine how much easier December could be if we dropped two of the international breaks, enabling fixtures to be more evenly spread. Injuries will inevitably mount as fatigue sets in. Clubs with the biggest squads and those teams which contain less international players will benefit.

Pros for the November break

Aside from Mesut still giving Die Mannschaft the finger, Terrier won’t have to travel halfway around the world this time around as he’s playing at the home of North London’s finest Club on Friday and then in Paris.

Cons (not A.M-N)

Two manc players have withdrawn from the French squad, so Laca has been called up.

Micki is playing away with Armenia, which means less travelling as the games are in Gibraltar and Liechtenstein

There are another 256 cons but I can’t be bothered to list them.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

Mikhi – Armenia

Friday 16th Nov Gibraltar (A) Uefa Nations League (UNL)

Monday 19th Nov Liechtenstein (A) UNL

 

Auba – Gabon

Saturday 17th Nov Mali (H) AFCON

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Terrier – Uruguay

Friday 16th Nov Brazil (Emirates Stadium) Friendly

Tuesday 20th Nov France (A) Friendly

 

Granit – Switzerland

Wednesday 14th Nov – Qatar (H) Friendly attempting to pretend Qatar are part of football

Sunday 18th Nov Belgium (H) UNL

 

Wobbly – Nigeria

Saturday 17th Nov South Africa (A) AFCON

Tuesday 20 Nov Uganda (H) Friendly

 

Big Sok – Greece

Thursday 15th Nov – Finland (H) UNL

Sunday 18th Nov – Estonia (H) UNL

Rambo – Wales

Friday 16th Nov – Denmark (H) UNL

Tuesday 20th Nov – Albania (A) Friendly

 

Mo Elneny

Friday 16th Nov – Tunisia (H) AFCON

Tuesday 20th Nov – United Arab Emirates (A) Friendly

 

Bernd Leno

Thursday 15th Nov – Russia (H) Friendly

Monday 19th Nov – Netherlands (H) UNL

Getty Images

Bournemouth away will be our first fixture when we get back to proper football on November 25th, hopefully with no more casualties.

Apologies for any inaccuracies/omissions.

chas