Emery, the master carpenter.

February 17, 2019

Unfortunately we are getting closer to the Emery in or Emery out debate, I feel reassured that this site has risen above the playground name-calling on other sites to date from the usual suspects.

I have been trying to put into words by way of comparison how I feel about Unai Emery right now. I know in the past I was one of the most loyal of Arsene Wenger supporters, the reason for bringing that up is that I just want to make clear that I am nowhere near reaching that level of devotion; AW had a bank of great Arsenal memories to refer to and as such people like me probably carried the torch a tad longer than was good for all concerned. Unai Emery has no such bank of Arsenal memories………..yet?

The comparison I came up with to describe our Basque is that of a master carpenter having been invited to work on a prestigious London project only to find on his arrival that the project managers expect him to do his job without making available a saw, a hammer or a chisel.

Did you ever wonder what is going through his mind during a game when the camera cuts to him standing in front of the dug out with that pained expression on his face? I do, and the caption I see coming from his mouth is – What did you expect?

The recent Chelsea game seems to be frequently reappearing with both ends of the spectrum being debated: Chelsea are poor so that reduces the significance of the win or that the win shows that we really are not far off where we want to be.
The truth, as is often said, lies somewhere in the middle and that certainly seems to be the case with this game.

It is correct, of course, to say that Chelsea do not offer the same threat that they have in recent seasons but they offer more of a threat than Bate for example so why the difference, why doesn’t Emery set his team up in such a way that replicates that winning formula?

The answer in my opinion is personnel, or in this example, the lack of them because as much as he might want to play the same line up or the same system, he can’t and that is through no fault of his own.

This was the line up against Chelsea.

———————-Leno

Bellerin, Sokratis, Koscielny, Kolasinac

—–Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi

——————Ramsey

—–Aubameyang——–Lacazette

I know I have said this before but I am going to say it again, the biggest loss has been Bellerin; he gave us goal scoring options from the right; he also enabled Kolasinac to do his magic on the left, this is subtle – no Bellerin = no Kolasinac magic. It is now too easy to crowd the Bosnian out and nullify his threat.
I know that GN5 justifiably points to the earlier part of the season when Bellerin’s sorties into the opponent’s half left gaps behind, but look above and notice how Torreira is set up to cover such gaps.

I don’t really need to explain the loss of calibre to the team having Sokratis replaced by Mustafi but the loss of Ramsey is underestimated. If you look at that team above again you will notice that there is a connection with London buses, we have been crying out for a defensive midfielder and now we have three, how else would you describe Xhaka, he may not be a very effective DM but he certainly isn’t a AM.

Ramsey is the only person from that midfield who could augment the front two; he is the only one who is capable of getting a goal from midfield. Unfortunately I don’t expect to see him play at THOF again, we got a flurry of determination for what looked like a final push to secure his lucrative Juve contract but from now on his foot will be off the pedal as I suspect he worries more about injury than our success.

What of Ozil? I see no reason why Ozil simply couldn’t be swapped for Ramsey in the above set up, there certainly is enough defensive cover to give Mesut a free rein; the problem is as I see it is that is like a house of cards.

No Bellerin, no effective AMN, no effective AMN, no effective Kolasinac, No effective Kolasinac, no effective Ozil all of which equates to: Arsenal 0 Bate 1

Personally I have very little hope of coming 4th, I don’t think we have the personnel to achieve that goal, I would be happy of course but I am not holding my breath. However, I do not think the responsibility for that misfire sits squarely on Emery’s shoulders; although that said, I might not be quite so sympathetic if we are in the same position this time next season after Emery has had an opportunity to buy his own saw, hammer and chisel.

LB

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Arsenal FC – Our home record against the Bluebirds

January 28, 2019

Cardiff City was founded in 1899 as Riverside A.F.C. In 1905, Cardiff was granted city status by King Edward VII, and as a result the club put in a request to the South Wales and Monmouthshire Football Association to change their name to Cardiff City, but the request was turned down as they were deemed to be not playing at a high enough level. To combat this they arranged to join the South Wales Amateur League in 1907.

In 1908 the club changed their name and in 1910 they entered the Southern Football League – in 1920 they joined the English Football League. Since 1908, the club’s home colours have been blue and white, leading to a nickname of The Bluebirds, with the exception of a period between 2012 and 2015 when the club’s owner, Vincent Tan, changed the home colours to red.

They are the only club from outside England to have won the FA Cup, doing so in 1927. They have also reached three other cup finals in English competitions, the 1925 FA Cup Final against Sheffield United, the 2008 FA Cup Final against Portsmouth and the 2012 Football League Cup Final against Liverpool, suffering defeat on each occasion, and have won the Welsh Cup on 22 occasions.

Ninian Park – 57,893 fans crammed in to watch the League clash with Arsenal in 1953.

The team’s longest period in the top-tier of English football came between 1921 and 1929 and they have spent nine seasons in the top-flight since this period, the most recent being in 2018–19.

Cardiff’s main achievements

FA Cup Winners:  1927     Finalists:  1925,  2008

FA Charity Shield Winners:  1927

Football League Cup:   Finalists:  2012

Welsh Cup

Winners: 1912, 1920, 1922, 1923, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1956, 1959, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1988, 1992, 1993

I’ve written about their 1927 FA Cup win on several occasions; suffice to say they beat Arsenal 1-0.

This clip is from 8th January 1955 the next time we played Cardiff in the FA Cup. The Cardiff kit was exactly the same layout as the Arsenal kit but in blue. Thank Dennis real life wasn’t in black and white!

Here is our home record in the League.

 

 

Arsenal 2 Cardiff City 0 – 1st January 2014

The last time Cardiff were in the Premier League, we sneaked past them with two goals in the last 3 minutes of the 90, courtesy of Lord Bendtner and Theo Walcott. Solskjaer was watching from the stands and took over as the Bluebirds’ manager shortly after. He couldn’t save them from relegation though and was sacked after a poor start to their following season Championship campaign.

Another home victory for Arsenal is the most likely result. GunnerN5


Arsenal need a CB. Really?

January 11, 2019

The scene:

  • we’re in a transfer window
  • Mid-term of a new manager’s first season
  • Lying in 5th (very Kloppy/Peppy for a new boy)
  • GF column ok. GA column not good
  • Transfer budget: outlook bleak
  • Recent poll here showed overwhelming support for a CB in Jan

First up, the bleeding obvious. Real Madrid and Juventus are always looking to strengthen/upgrade. All teams, from Barcelona to Bognor are always two players short. We will never be any different.

The CB? If talk of limited budget and only loan deals is to be believed, where’s the benefit of signing some short-term aged colossus? One of the essential ingredients of a good defence is understanding between the back three/four. I reckon we’re better off with what we have until a sensible budget is available. Also, we may get some top level experience for the promising Mavro and therefore have a clearer understanding of CB requirements for the summer after the return of Holding. We may well need a quality CB, but I don’t believe a stop gap loan is going to make any significant difference this season and I ‘d rather we wait.

Oh, and by the way,  in that poll, I voted (twice) for an attacking midfielder.

Throughout this first half of the season, we’ve been plagued with the repeating pattern of a game of two halves. As I said earlier, our Goals For column is ok, unlike the Goals Against and the temptation for many is to assume that automatically implies the need to strengthen at the back.

BUT, throw in the fact that our defence has been ravaged by injuries, and I come up with another explanation.

Bloggers have mentioned our rope-a-dope sixty odd minutes of containment before invariably only landing the knock-out blows late in the game. This means the defence are under pressure for too long in every game. To be expected when playing the better sides, but we’re subjecting our defence to this every game, and this may explain the high casualty rate.

This brings me back to the Goals For column, which I described as Ok. Of course you can never score enough, however, we lie joint third in this column, but here’s the problem. We don’t score a higher enough percentage of these in the first forty five against the lower calibre sides. We don’t finish ‘em off before oranges. The problem this side has is not how many we score, but when.

In short, the attacking midfielders are not performing.

Unai is clearly still evaluating his largely inherited squad, and I’d expect a cull before significant quality replacements are brought in to compliment HIS ideas and vision.

I’d be ok with no arrivals this window, unless of course, Stan unearths a stash to……nah.

(Apologies. Chaotic thoughts. Rushed)

Written by Mickydidit89

Man Utd Pre-Match. Confident? Don’t look at the Stats.

December 5, 2018

A two part post today. Big R’s pre-match followed by GN5’s statistics for the game

Pt 1:

IMO next to our trophy-less neighbours the biggest game of the season is the Red Devils especially now they are managed by The Miserable One.

As you will read below, we have a poor record at OT but Mr Emery is a new brush, could he bring us our first victory since 2006? If so, how?

images-1.jpeg

Would you choose the Back 3 which has been so successful  or revert to a Back 4? Will Ozil return? Should Wobbly start or Lacazette? Ramsey or Mhiki?

LB made a fine case that Emery is using the Back 3 to accommodate Kolasinac whose defensive discipline is uncertain. It appears to work as this frees the Wardrobe to play with more invention thus he had his best game on Sunday.  If Mesut is still suffering from “back spasms” then I see us lining up with the same team but rewarding Ramsey for his impressive 45 mins..

My Team:

Bent

Mustafi      Sokratis    Holding

Catwalk   Terrier   Xhaka    Wardrobe

Ramsey    Wobbly

Auba

As we know, Mr Emery is likely to make changes should it not be working.

Enough of that … time for some vitriol. Anyone who has read my comments over the years knows how I detest  Moaninho. Since his first press conference in London, his cowardly eye-gouging, the destruction of Inter Milan, his playing style, his conceit and arrogance. And now the beleaguered act. To read the farcical statement that Everton have spent more money than MU said it all, He is the Donald Trump of the PL.

As to the MU team … expect a rough game. Lukaku is a battering ram who creates the space for the lightning fast raids by Rashford and Martial. In midfield they are aggressive but have flair.

And then there is Fellaini.

We need a strong referee. Dean was appalling on Sunday, tonight we have Andre Marriner and we can only hope for better.

Arsenal must be on a high after 3 wins in a week. It should be an exciting but cagey, tense game.

Unknown-1.jpeg

 

Pt 2:

Perhaps our least impressive away record is against Man U, the last game we won at Old Trafford was September 17, 2006 and we have only won a total of three games in the Premier League era. This particular game is special as it’s the 100th away game.

Here is our overall away record.

Our away record by game – in the Premier League.

Memorable victories at the Old Cowshed

14th March 1998 – Man U 0 Arsenal 1

A fair few points behind in the League but with games in hand, this game was pivotal in Arsene’s first League title. Marc Overmars scored in the 79th minute after Arsenal had dominated throughout. Bergkamp, Anelka, Parlour and Petit were imperious and Alex Manninger made a crucial stop when a linesman failed to flag an offside Andy Cole in the first half.

Photo by Rui Vieira/PA.

8th May 2002 – Man U 0 Arsenal 1

With Henry injured and Dennis on the bench, Paddy V, Edu and Parlour bossed the midfield allowing Wiltord and Kanu to score whenever they wanted. They chose the 55th minute (with Freddie’s help) and Arsenal went on to clinch the Double at the home of their nearest rivals (The FA Cup had already been won a few days earlier with goals from the Romford Pele and Freddie).

This is a new era with a new Manager and a renewed level of energy which may introduce a new flavour to our results at Salford.

We are unbeaten in the last 19 games in all competitions – will we make it 20?

GunnerN5


Spurs Pre-Match. Slightly biased.

December 2, 2018

Let us start here. This is an Arsenal blog,

if you expect a balanced view go elsewhere. If you expect me to be anything less than scathing towards our trophy-less neighbours from Wembley you will be disappointed. If you think I am going to write about Harry Kane being the best striker since Jimmy (not good enough for  the ’66 WC team) Greaves, think again.

Why? Because where I went to school you had a choice, you were either a Gooner or a Spud, and once you made that decision it was for LIFE. This was the beginning of my understanding of Yin and Yang, of the balance between good and evil, right and wrong. And for me and millions of others Spurs have always been wrong’uns.

images.jpeg

When I was blessed with Goonerdom it was a time of total THFC dominance (I know … to you younger chaps it is inconceivable!). Spurs were the best there had ever been and I can still recount the entire Spurs team of the early ’60’s. Sadly, but inevitably, a long slide into obscurity followed.

Do you know the last time Spurs won a proper trophy (not the Carabao/MilkToblerone/Disney Cup)? It was in 1991 – 27 years ago. And the one before that? In the early 80’s!!

And they think they are as big a club as the Mighty Arsenal 😀 😀

Their fans are so short of ammunition that they resort to 100+ year old history and complaints about our elevation to the top rank, from which, unlike Spurs, we have never fallen.

Enough of the past, how about today? It should be an enthralling encounter. Spurs on the back of 6 wins including two against decent opposition, us on a run of 18 unbeaten.

We go into a home game as underdogs, a rarity against the Miscreants, especially as we have lost just 2 of the last 14 (thank you GN5).

Unknown.jpeg

I could spend the next few minutes writing about their players, but where is the fun (for me) in that? We know – their fans tell us often enough. Of all of their players the only ones I would want at AFC are Eriksen and maybe a CB to replace Mustafi. The others are all too ugly.

I could also write about their manager, David Wagner, who as an Argentinian is well versed in the dark arts.

As to their fans … they are the only visitors to our ground who regularly damage the stadium, one has to question why they smash a toilet or rip up a seat in the away end – it is not as if a Gooner uses them!

Of course many Spurs fans are reasonable people, and I count many amongst my friends but they have a rotten core, they have been misguided into an awful decision to follow the skinny cock. It has affected them – generations of “almost” would affect anyone.

I think it would be remiss of me not to remind them that “4th is not a trophy and nor is 2nd or 3rd”. A refrain we heard every season for almost 20 years.

So, in a big game who starts for us? Ozil is straight in, as is Terrier and Xhaka. As always we have problems at the back and I would not be surprised to see us line up with the back 3 which won at Bournemouth.

My Team:

Bent

Catwalk    Mustafi   Greek Bloke     Wardrobe

Terrier   Xhaka    Iwobi

   Mesut

Laca   PEA

Emery has a choice and it will be very interesting which direction he takes with the team; will he be pragmatic and look to control the midfield, including an extra MF/CB or will he attack?

I hope he gives it the beans.

As I am sure you know, we start slow, not leading at half-time at all this season, a strange stat. Could we please score early, pretty please?

As always this is a game between Good and Evil, sometimes twice out of 14). Given Spurs excellent form we have cause for concern but we have the tools to win. No place for feint hearts. For Harry, England & St. George etc

A tense afternoon ahead and we can win this.

Let it Be So.

COYRRG


Farewell Andrei

November 22, 2018

I remember it so clearly, we had seen a small genius at work at the Euro’s in the summer of 2008 then there was much in the media that we may sign him. I

Barca had offered €15m for Arshavin, then Spurs came in with a €16m bid but he refused to downgrade from Zenit St. Petersborg to either club. Then on a snowy final day of the TW he signed for us.

I was excited.

But let’s be honest, he never really fitted in, did he? 143 games, a few outstanding performances but not the Boy Wonder we were hoping for. Andrei was 27 when he signed and really should have had a bigger impact because he certainly had the talent.

Highlights: Of course the 4 at Anfield and his brilliant celebration but for most of us it is the winning goal at THOF against Barca. What a night that was ,and what a celebration; taking off his shirt to reveal a T-shirt with an image of his celebration at Liverpool. Do Russians do self-irony?

A loan period at Zenit was Wenger’s response to Arshavin’s weight issues and lack of consistency, followed by a return to Arsenal where he spent much of the 2012/13 riding the pine. A free transfer back to Zenit for a couple of seasons. After that it was all downhill.

Andrei has spent the last 3 seasons in the Kazakhstan PL (sounds a bit Harry Potter) where he was Player of the Season in 2016.

My memories are of a player who never fitted into the system Wenger developed. Arshavin was neither a speedy winger, an Ozil style creator or a Ramsey-like box to box MF. Why did Wenger buy him? Surely not on the strength of one excellent International tournament?

He retires aged 37 with a bundle of cash and a long, fairly successful career behind him, but for me it is a question of “what could have been”? In my opinion he should have signed for Barca and we could have signed Iniesta. Imagine Iniesta alongside a young Fabregas … dreamy.

written by Big Raddy


Could Pep one day coach Arsenal’s First Team?

November 19, 2018

Joseph (Joe) “Pep” Montemurro, the Australian of Italian descent on course to make Arsenal Women winners again. Could he do the same for the men’s team?

This is what Joe had to say to Katie Whyatt of the Telegraph about Arsenal Women who last won the league title in 2012 and the all-conquering side that won it all in 2007 as the other big clubs started investing and winning (does that sound familiar?)..

“It was a big transition with other teams investing. The Man Citys and the Chelseas challenged the status quo of Arsenal being the dominant team. I think it needed to find its level of confidence, find its level of belief, find its level of enjoyment and what Arsenal stood for.”

“Arsenal’s always been synonymous with an attractive, proactive brand of football. It’s a football that excites, a football that entices. I think there’s also a level of integrity and respect that typifies Arsenal worldwide, as a club and as an identity.”

“I’ve always been a coach that loves teams to dominate with the ball. The most important thing is a level of fluidity, and I believe in what Arsenal stand for. It was a matter of me reiterating those messages, and allowing the players the freedom to start to enjoy their football again, to believe in what we’re trying to do. The reality is I put levels of clarity into what the ethos and the ethics of the team needed to be as a standard. It’s restoring those beliefs in your everyday work and your everyday language.”

How good were Arsenal Women of the past (pre 2013)

(from Wiki)

Arsenal have won the FA Women’s Cup fourteen times, and the Women’s League Cup ten times.[5] This includes eight League and FA Women’s Cup Doubles; in 1992–93, 1994–95, 2000–01, 2003–04, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08 and 2008–09, and four domestic Trebles, in 1992–93, 2000–01 and 2006–07, 2008–09. Arsenal have represented England a total of seven times in the UEFA Women’s Champions League (formerly the UEFA Women’s Cup), and had previously reached the semi-finals twice (in 2002–03 and 2004–05).

The 2006–07 season was Arsenal’s most successful ever, having won not just all three domestic trophies but also the 2006–07 UEFA Women’s Champions League (then called the UEFA Women’s Cup), beating Umeå IK in the final 1–0 on aggregate; this was the first time any British club won the competition. On top of that Arsenal won the FA Women’s Community Shield as well as the local London County FA Women’s Cup. The end result was that the team won every single competition available to them, earning a unique sextuple. The wins that year came against full-time professional players, whereas most of the Arsenal team had full-time jobs.[7] Additionally, Arsenal won all 22 games they played in the Premier League that season, scoring 119 goals and conceding just ten.[8] In recognition of the achievement, the team were honoured with The Committee Award by the Sports Journalists’ Association in the 2007 Sports Journalists’ Awards.

So how well is Pep doing in 2018 –

Played 7 games:

4 Home Wins 18 Goals For, 4 Goals Against

3 Away Wins 16 Goals For, 0 Goals Against (that’s right, zero goals scored against them whilst away)

Total 7 Wins, 34 Goals for, 4 Goals Against, Undefeated so far.

Some of the big wins this season –

Beating Liverpool Women 5:0 at home

Beating Chelsea Women 0:5 away

Other high scoring wins whilst away 0:7 (at Yeovil Ladies) and FA WSL Cup 0:9 (at Lewes Ladies)

Could Pep make the transition to the First Team?

Pep cut his teeth in the difficult youth and senior men’s teams of the old Australian NSL and Victorian State Leagues. An ethnic diverse bunch of clubs representing Italian, Greek, Maltese and Croatian communities in which expectations are high and it’s all about the results to get respect. He has saved clubs from relegation and he has taken clubs to promotion. He has taken mens and womens teams through the entire season undefeated. He is also well qualified –

(wiki) In 2010, he completed his UEFA A license at Coverciano Italy via the FIGC (Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio). He also completed his UEFA Pro License at Coverciano in July 2014 and is a member of the Italian Coaches Association (AIAC). He also holds an AFC/FFA A License and completed the Master of Sports Coaching degree at the University of Queensland.

In his own words https://www.arsenal.com/news/joe-montemurro-my-own-words

“To put it simply, I’m a project coach. I love everything about the journey.

I’m not a smash-and-grab manager who goes in there, saves a club from a tight spot and then leaves. It’s about building a group and developing a DNA. It’s really, really important that everyone’s on a journey and everyone’s involved in a process to build something very, very special. That’s what I feel we’re going to achieve at Arsenal. “

And the Aussie ABC had this to say – It is Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola, however, with whom comparisons have recently been drawn. And not just because friends and family back in Victoria know Montemurro by the same abbreviated first name.

It could be the Catalan speaking when Montemurro explains his playing philosophy. “We want the ball … with the ball you’ve got control,” he says.

“We work a lot on that. And on positional play. That creates the framework for players to be innovative and creative within it and express themselves.”

So can Pep make the transition? Don’t be surprised to see him on the bench next to Emery before the end of this season. Could the backroom boys already be grooming our very own Pep to take over?  Yes its a real possibility but I can also see him being tempted back home to his wonderful family, most likely as Australia’s new national Women’s coach in preparation for the Women’s World Cup to be played on Australian soil in 2023 (the Aussie WWC bid is already underway).

And the best thing is that Pep is living the dream. He has been a lifelong supporter of the Arsenal, let it be so…

So who has been to watch the transformation of the Arsenal Women’s team under the guidance of Pep?

Can you see Pep sitting alongside Emery in the not too distant future?

Could Pep become the new Pep at Arsenal?

Written by VP of Oz