The November Curse – Real or Imaginary?

November 4, 2016

It now seems to be accepted fact that November is always a bogey month for Arsenal.

A calamitous November last season is still fresh in the memory. In the League we started with a drab 1-1 with the N17 miscreants. This was followed by a 2-1 away defeat to the Baggies (they had 1 shot on target); Le Coq was injured early on and Arteta, his replacement, put the ball in his own net before being replaced himself. Santi missed a penalty after some spot-tampering by Olsson. What could go wrong, did go wrong.

The final League game of November 2015 was a 1-1 draw with Norwich in which Santi was injured early in the 2nd half but played the whole game for some strange reason (causing him to miss most of the season) and Alexis was withdrawn with a hamstring after being shoved into a camera dug-out!

In the Champions League, the month had started with a 5-1 battering from Bayern with the only consolation, a 3-0 win over a poor Zagreb side.

alexis-dugout

On the basis of that evidence, it certainly seems as though November is cursed for us, but I wondered just how bad it had been over the past 10 years, so decided to take a gander.

The snapshot below shows both Prem and CL games won, lost and drawn and also details of any fixtures played against our next two League opponents. The bottom row shows our win, draw and loss percentages over the last 10 Novembers.

november

Arsene Wenger’s overall percentages are 57.5% wins, 23.2% draws and 19.3% losses. (Based on 1,136 total games including 653 victories, 264 draws and 219 defeats)

It immediately becomes clear that, in the League particularly, there is an 18% increase in defeats compared to the average. That is huge. In the Champions League the defeat percentage is about average and an increase in draws maybe due to the nature of the CL group stages.

What could be the cause of such a large anomaly in the League?

Injuries? Possibly.

An increase in snood and glove–wearing nambypambyism caused by colder weather? Doubtful.

Excrement happens? Maybe so, but why always in the same period of the season?

Has anyone got any theories?

On a more positive note, November has had some highlights and in some seasons has even been pretty good.

November 2008 saw us beating our November nemesis, the mancs, 2-1. This victory was easier than it sounds. Two goals by the FFBW, one a belter from a snake-like pass from Fabregas, were followed by the mancs getting a late consolation.

November 2012 included the second glorious 5-2 (in one calendar year) against the spuddies. Adebayor, both put them in the lead and then, in true secret agent style, revealed his Arsenal roots and deliberately got sent off a few minutes later.

November 2013 saw us win 3 of our 4 Prem games. A 2-0 win over Liverpool, including a stonker from Rambo, one of the highlights. We also won 2 out of 2 Champions League games that month; one of which, a 1-0 away win in Dortmund, is fondly remembered by two of our AAers and their Ford Focus.

rambodippers

November 2016 started with a fine, hard-fought CL win on Tuesday capped with a goal of rare beauty from our German maestro. Hopefully we can continue to build a head of steam with the NLD on Sunday and our visit to the Old Cowshed the following weekend.

The next two fixtures probably won’t make or break Arsenal’s season, but they could certainly go a long way to breaking the ‘bogey November’ idea and launch us forward into a successful winter.

We’ve recently broken the Swansea hoodoo, let’s continue with this theme and banish another skeleton from our closet.

Written by chas


Are you ready for the 25th edition of the Premier League?

August 13, 2016

Looking ahead to our 25th season in the Premier League I’m filled with both anticipation and apprehension of what lies ahead for our team. In just a short few days our players will step on the field at the Emirates to play our 925th game in the PL to date our record is won 502, drawn 241 and lost 181 – which is the 2nd best all time PL record, shown below.

Pos- Team P W D L Pts
1- Man U- 924 586 194 144 1952
2- Arsenal – 924 502 241 181 1747
3- Chelsea – 924 486 238 200 1696
4- Pool – 924 456 233 235 1601
5- Spurs – 924 374 239 311 1361
6- Everton – 924 332 267 325 1263
7- Villa – 924 316 275 333 1223
8- Newcastle- 844 326 216 302 1194
9- Man C- 734 304 181 249 1093
10- Blackburn- 696 262 184 250 970
11- West Ham- 768 253 200 315 959
12- Saints- 658 210 177 271 807
13- Leeds- 468 189 125 154 692
14- Boro – 536 156 157 223 625
15- Sund’land- 570 147 153 270 594
16- Fulham- 494 150 136 208 586
17- Bolton- 494 149 128 217 575
18- Leicester- 384 118 110 156 464
19- Coventry- 354 99 112 143 409
20- Sheff W- 316 101 89 126 392
21- Dons – 316 99 94 123 391
22- WBA – 380 94 106 180 388
23- Stoke – 304 98 86 120 380
24- Charlton- 304 93 82 129 361
25- Norwich – 316 89 92 135 359
26- Wigan- 304 85 76 143 331
27- QPR – 278 81 65 132 308
28- Pompey- 266 79 65 122 302
29- B’ham- 266 73 82 111 301
30- CPR – 274 74 73 127 295
31- Derby – 266 68 70 128 274
32- Nottm F- 198 60 59 79 239
33- Swansea- 190 62 52 76 238
34- Ipswich- 202 57 53 92 224
35- Hull – 152 32 41 79 137
36- Wolves- 152 32 40 80 136
37- Sheff U- 122 32 36 54 132
38- Reading- 114 32 23 59 119
39- Watford- 114 23 28 63 97
40- Oldham- 84 22 23 39 89
41- Burnley- 76 15 18 43 63
42- Bradford- 76 14 20 42 62
43- B’mouth – 38 11 9 18 42
44- B’pool  – 38 10 9 19 39
45- Barnsley- 38 10 5 23 35
46- Swindon- 42 5 15 22 30
47- Cardiff – 38 7 9 22 30

 

We play Liverpool in what will be our 49th game against them in the PL where our home record is W9, D9, L6 and our away record is W6, D8, L10. Personally I am very nervous about our chances as with our makeshift defence Liverpool could easily turn us over.

My apprehension also surrounds our lack of a proven goal scorer; if we do not significantly improve in this area and are forced to compete with the same attacking force, I have strong doubts about our ability to win major trophies. We still have until the end of August to add a striker and another centre back but leaving it so late causes me great angst and reduces our chances of success.

My anticipation comes from the excitement of another season of watching the team I have grown old with; as odd as it may sound, I’m still like a young child waiting for the season to start (my 70th) and as usual I will be behind them 100%.

With the improvements in both management and players for Liverpool, Man U, Man C, Chelsea and Spurs, not to mention Leicester I feel that this will be one of the most exciting and competitive Premier League seasons on record.

Are you ready?  I am.

GunnerN5


It was 20 years ago today ……..

May 4, 2014

Firstly let’s honour the boss and the team for avoiding Spursday for yet another season and allowing Didit and I an opportunity to continue our gastronomic tour of Europe.

I know all the arguments about 4th not being a trophy etc etc, we have done them to death in the blogs. I just ask this – would Everton, Spurs, MU etc like to swap with us? Would Moyes have been sacked had MU finished 4th?

Which brings us onto today and our final home game of the season against a West Brom side who need the points much more than we do. If WBA survive will Pepe Mel keep his job? I hope so. Yesterday’s results must have boosted WBA’s chances.

Who would you like to see relegated?

I am afraid I have never taken to WBA, don’t like their kit, don’t like their ground or their nickname – the Baggies – reminds me of Australians (cricket lovers will understand). In fact since their halcyon days of Big Ron and the 3 Degrees (look it up!) they have become just another Midlands club – sorry WBA fans but that is how it is. That said, I love that the Three Degrees are to honoured with a statue outside the Hawthorns

Then there is Jeff Astle. Let me explain. The year was 1970 and I was football obsessed. England were World Champions having won the Cup in ’66. We had a formidable team but had to travel to Mexico to defend our cup. England were drawn in a group with the favourites and eventual winners Brazil. This is the famous Brazil ’70 side which included Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino and Carlos Alberto and is known as probably the finest football team ever assembled. Anyway ….. had we won that tie we would have avoided West Germany in the next round and probably gone on to win the thing again. Instead despite Gordon Banks worldie to save from Pele’s header and Bobby Moore’s unforgettable tackle on the great man, we were losing to a Jairzinho goal. As the game entered it’s final phase Astle came on as sub for Franny Lee. We were pushing for an equaliser and then Astle got his chance to become a hero; Terry Cooper knocked in a cross, the ball fell to Astle 5 yards out from an empty net and he scuffed it. The nation wept. We went on to lose to West Germany.

images

Jeff remains a hero at West Brom; there are the Astle gates into the Hawthorns and the fans still sing his name, but to millions of England football fans his miss heralded the end of England as an International force.

Arsenal: Do we finish the season on a high by sending out a first choice team and playing some risky full out attacking football or give some reserves a run out? Given 17 years of watching Mr Wenger, I will hazard a guess – the former 😀

Confidence must be high, Ozil and Ramsey are fit and firing, we are as injury free as an AFC squad can be, and it should be sunny. WBA have reason for concern.

Bacary must start in what could be his final game at The Emirates. It would be very sad to see him leave as I have a long standing man-love for our braided Frenchman, hopefully he will see the light and signdating. To those lucky enough to attend please sing him name loud and proud – he deserves it after a fine season.

The team almost picks itself. Podolski is playing his best football since his arrival – could it be he is playing for a move or showing AW he doesn’t need to sign another left-sided attacker?

My Team:

a v wb

It would be a surprise to see anyone replacing the above but perhaps Rosicky will be included – he is such a wonderful player and too good to ride the pine.

Sad that Ox and JW are not fit enough to stake a claim for the WC squad but being Arsenal-centric I am delighted. A long beach holiday followed by an uninterrupted pre-seasonshould set them up nicely for our tilt at the title.

20 years ago today a much younger Big Raddy began his day with a pint of lager in an airport pub. It was the start of one the most memorable days of my life. A pre-match drink up in bars all over central Copenhagen, followed by an unforgettable noisy walk to the Parken which is just 400m from where I sit to write these posts. An astonishing defensive display which could have been the pinnacle of the Famous 5’s achievements, and a rare as hen’s teeth Alan Smith goal from outside the area in front of 25,000 very nervous fans led to the lifting of a Euro Cup. It was a magical evening – my first magical Copenhagen evening of many.

Unknown

 

Here’s to the Winners of 1994 ….. could the current Arsenal team emulate their predecessors and win a Cup 20 years later?

Written by Big Raddy

 

 


Is it time for a reality check?

March 4, 2014

We may not be experts but we all naturally follow our own team extremely closely and to me the top three is already done and dusted,with Spurs, Arsenal and United playing it out for forth.

I read that Arsenal’s total overall wage bill for players and employees will be nearer to 190 million in this current financial year which is over 20% more than two years ago and considerably more than Spurs.

IMO the real reason that we can’t sign really top class players is that Wenger has overall control and the directive from Kroenke is just to finish top 4. None of Kroenke’s USA investments win trophies. He is just in it for the long haul.

There is a growing unrest among fans as we have considerable funds and as van Persie said “the club lack real ambition”.

We are proud of our heritage, have a wonderful stadium, have the highest ticket prices in the league, yet the waiting list for season tickets is still in the tens of thousands.

We have become a business and a money machine for the club.

Take nothing away from what AW did in the first half of his tenure but I am absolutely sure we have seen the best of him.

The scouting network that at one time was second to none has been supereceded by many clubs and our play of pass and move only works against the lesser teams generally.

However the status quo will remain regardless were we finish this season. That is the reality.

This has nothing to do with my support for the club, but just listen to the away fans being interviewed at Stoke, they are all saying the same thing.

Many point out the loss of Walcott has been a major blow and one can’t argue against that but it’s the same old story,we don’t have consistent quality of squad depth when needed.

To have to play Sanogo against Bayern was unbelievable. He may turn out to be a wonderful purchase and to get Kit Kallstrom on loan was to say in the nicest possible way ….strange.

We are going to lose Fabianski, which IMO opinion is wrong as competition for Szczesny won’t come from the third choice, never played, Italian keeper. Vermaelen, our current club captain had one iffy season and in all likelyhood will leave and there is the likely prospect of Sagna leaving too.

Jack needs a long rest but we can’t afford that luxury.

Podolski appears to be out of favour so rarely gets game time.

Arteta has maybe one good season left so the rebuilding may start again.

Realistically we have one good chance of a trophy this season and that is the FA Cup and I hope AW realises this and isn’t tempted to not play our strongest team , which he has done in the past, as his directive is to finish top 4.

The irony is that if Wenger did leave would things change if the directive from the owner remains the same?

Written by kelsey


Gunners to Ruin Graham’s Home Debut?

February 9, 2013

Time to move away from the Young Jack eulogising and onto some proper English PL football, and there are few grounds more suited to a return to earth than the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland is a fine town with a fine history. It has one of the lowest incomes per head in the UK and yet almost 40,000 people go to watch their home games (5k more than Spurs!) They love their team and their football.

Martin O’Neill has had problems getting the Black Cats to gel. Rarely have I seen a more frustrated figure on the sidelines because whatever one thinks of MoN, he is a passionate man and gives his all to his clubs. Many moons ago Gooners were calling for him to replace Mr Wenger – insanity runs deep amongst our fans.

Sadly, Sunderland fans are not getting to see much artistry on the pitch (apart from the opposition). They are struggling for goals and rely more on sweat than inspiration. The huge fee paid for Fletcher  and the signing of Danny Graham is an indication of their need for some fire power and gumption ,though I have long admired both Sessegnon and Larsson. It is always good to see an ex-Gunner who has been Wengered succeed and Larsson has had a fine career – shame he likes to score against us!

After a short injury-free period we have players queuing for the treatment table. Late fitness tests on much of the defence means Raddy’s line-up could be drastically affected. There is also a fear that Theo was limping after the Brazil game.

Runners & Riders:

sunderland v arse

Given the amount of time our Internationals were on the pitch midweek, we may well see some changes.

Diaby could start as his stature is important defensively, but who gets dropped? Dare we play without Pod and have a 4 man midfield with Santi taking the left side attacking berth?

It will be interesting to see how Monreal copes with Adam Johnson who is finally showing some form.

Todays explorer: Sir James Clark Ross (1800 – 1862). You may think it is cold outside, particularly if you are going to the game but today is almost tropical compared to the norm for Sir Ross; an Arctic and Antarctic explorer in the days of wooden ships. As a young man Ross went North with his Uncle, Sir William Parry to search for the fabled North-West Passage and here he fell in love with polar exploration. Upon promotion to Captain he took his ship, the Erebus, to the Antarctic which he surveyed extensively becoming, at that time, the furthest South man had travelled.

Unknown

I name this picture The Ross Icon

Sir James discovered Ross Bay,  James Ross Island, the Ross Sea, the Ross Ice Shelf, Victoria Island, Mount Erebus & Mt. Terror. He returned to England a hero, dying in Blackheath at the age of 61.

On paper we should win this game. Should the defence stay focussed and disciplined we will be fine, but they will not get the easy game they had vs Stoke. With Danny Graham playing his first game at the SoL, Sunderland will be looking for 3 points. But so will we….


Respect!

December 10, 2011

125 years! Hell of a long time, so long ago that Spurs title win was in the future and even Kelsey hadn’t been born :-).

And what a tradition our wonderful club has, what history, and always  (apart from Mr. Norris) a club with honour and class. To those lucky enough to be going today the opportunity to share in the celebrations is one not to be missed. Get there early (and smuggle in a Peroni or two)

Would you trust this man? (Henry Norris)

Henry Norris is an interesting man. He appears to have been something of a Harry Redknapp type character. As Arsenal Chairman he was accused of bribing Charlie Buchan (the Messi of his day) to come to Arsenal, he was also known to use the club’s money for a private chauffeur and car. In 1929  an FA investigation found that he had sold the Arsenal team bus for £125 and pocketed the money. He sued the FA and lost, subsequently to be banned for life from football (according to Wikipedia). But he was the man who bought Highbury and the man who kept us in the First Division. Sadly, no statue of Henry nor of George Graham!

The choice of statues was in my opinion controversial; does Thierry Henry mean more to the history of the Arsenal than Frank McLintock? Or David Jack or Wee Alex James or Ted Drake?  I could go on but I really think  that due to our  magnificent history there is a need to put more statues around the ground. Yes, TH is our top scorer and the best player I have seen in an Arsenal shirt, but Frank and his team are such an important part of our history. Still, today is not a day to be churlish, is it?

Onto today’s match, one we have to win to keep up our challenge and to enhance the festivities. The fallout of AW’s controversial decision to play first teamers in Athens is that we lack a left back, Vermaelen can play there but he is such a fantastic CB it is a waste of his talents, plus he lacks the game to be of assistance to Gervinho. We shall see how he fares as there is no obvious alternative.

My Team:

Big game for Arteta, who has been outstanding in recent games. He will want to impress his former colleagues.

Everton have selection problems with Rodwell out (thankfully) but expect a return for Saha. They are  not in a good run of form, nor do Everton have a good record at THOF. Nonetheless, they are a decent team and as Fulham showed, any team that is well organised can cause us problems.

Today’s Gooner: It is fitting to go back into the mists of time and find one of the original fans. One of our earliest fans was a chemist who worked at the Woolwich Arsenal and was involved in the Dial Square team, his name  – Frederick Augustus Abel (1827-1902). Frederick was football nuts but also found time to develop Cordite for which (amongst other inventions) he was rewarded with a Baronetcy. Top Man. Top Gooner.

Fred showing off his fine Facial Hair.

Like all fans of The Arsenal I am proud to be a Gooner, and proud that the club I support is By Far the Greatest Team the World Has Ever Seen.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy. Arsenalic.


Life in a Northern Town: Wigan Preview

December 3, 2011

Can Arsenal return to winning ways on the road? We have won away at last and once again should be playing in the red and white, so the portents are good. In fact, I have slaughtered, then disembowelled a rare, green resting frog and after studying it’s grizzly entrails I am delighted to tell you that the augurs are well placed (the wife isn’t too pleased about my using her best sabatier vegetable knife, but needs must).

“Are you sure it doesn’t hurt?”

Despite a little blip the atmosphere within the team and amongst the fans is full of confidence, the feeling is that a corner has been turned, and a trip to Wigan holds little to fear – but then so was a home game with Fulham and we only just scraped a draw. Let us hope the team are fully focussed.

Wigan will be delighted to have beaten Sunderland last w/e and gain their first away points. Everyone seems to like Martinez as he struggles to keep a team with limited resources in the PL. In my opinion they will go down this season (hopefully alongside Spurs and Stoke 🙂 ). In Al Habsi they have a fine GK and with the return to fitness of Di Santos are looking sharper up front, where Rodellaga (an AW target, apparently) has yet to repeat his fine form of last season (not today, please). Much is written of Victor Moses, he seems a bit lightweight to me but without a proper RB  he could cause trouble. Wigan have won only once at home this season – beating QPR in August, but I expect a hard fought game today.

Stats: Wigan’s home results this season DWLLLD. Top goalscorer: Di Santo with 4. They have scored 12 goals in 13 PL games (AFC: 26).  Only 24 yellows this season  (we have 23). Wigan have only scored one headed goal. We have lost and drawn on our last 2 visits to the JJB/DW.

My team: Usual suspects.

It would be wonderful to see Gervinho score, he desperately needs a goal to accompany his excellent buid up play. I like him very much; he is explosive, he works hard, takes up intelligent positions on the pitch and is lightning quick. A fine addition to the squad.  A top bloke and a lifelong Gooner  :-

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/dec/02/gervinho-arsenal-interview?

Inventor from Wigan? I bring you Thomas Highs (1718 – 1803), the genius who invented the Spinning Jenny which revolutionised the cotton industry and brought great wealth to the North of England. No pictures are available of the great man, instead we have a painting of domestic bliss in a Manchester home

“Get on with it woman – I’m waiting for my Tea” (said in gruff Northern accent)

An important three points on offer today. We all know how well our rivals for a CL place are playing and matches against relegation contenders have to be won.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy