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.

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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

 

 

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Another Victory.

May 17, 2017

Are we going to talk football? Why not?

Strange game last night. First half a meandering dull affair enlivened only by speculation as to why the Emirates was a quarter empty.

Ozil playing beautifully but Giroud the opposite. Sanchez scoring two but losing the ball way too often. Gibbs having his best game for a few seasons.

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Referee, once again, crap. Two clear penalties declined, too many yellows for AFC whilst that thug, Cattermole escapes having crunched Ozil, Ramsey and Sanchez.

Ramsey. Finally finding some form following a run of games without injury. Sadly, it looked season ending damage for the Welsh Wizard. Hope not.

Defence. Another clean sheet but Cech exposed way too often, if Sunderland were not so poor in attack, we could have been in trouble. We miss Koscielny as Monreal is too concentrated upon attack. Mustafi improving as the season progresses and will be very good next season. Loved the no-look Monreal back pass to Cech, top entertainment.

Cech showed why he still has a few more years at the top. Faultless. I love his urgent distribution to get the team on the front foot.

We looked so much better with Welbeck and Iwobi on the pitch. More pace, more incisive, more problems for a tiring S’land defence.

Holding. Who didn’t love his run upfield? The man looks a future star and a huge bargain. Who said AFC can no longer scout talent from the lower leagues?

All in all, we played OK with some sublime work from Ozil and Xhaka. The headlines go to Sanchez but goals apart ( 😀 ) I thought he had a poor game. My MotM was definitely Ozil.

We had to win to keep our run going and put pressure on L’pool, we did. Just need to win the next two games and the season will look much better than a couple of months ago.

written by Big Raddy


A Sunny Day.

April 25, 2017

I guess we are still basking in the glory of a Wembley win, but it could have been so different.

Time for a reality check. We often complain about how a referee steals the game from us, that bad decisions have resulted in lost points, but Sunday we were blessed. Had the linesman made a correct call on  a cross going out of play, we would have legitimately been one down, Had the referee seen Ox’s ankle tap to bring down Aguero in the penalty area, it most probably would be two. City were all over us in the first half and anyone saying we were playing RopeaDope needs his/her bumps felt.  Added to their legitimate goal, we could have been 3-0 down.

But we weren’t 😃 😀

I said pre-game that we play better in the sun and so it proved, let us hope for the same the next time we go to Wembley.

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Ramsey has been quoted as saying “we have underperformed and now have 7 Cup Finals” left in the season. Ox says that the players have “let the club and the fans down”. Seems a bit obvious.  I know that football players have a mean IQ of below 50 but surely they know they have to give 100% in every game they play? It is an attitude I cannot understand. If I had an Aladdin’s lamp, my second wish would be to play for Arsenal First team – these lads have won life’s lottery.

Bellerin & the Back 3. He doesn’t fit in. Hector must know this, what will he and AW do? Ox has been excellent in his wingback role,  Holding, Gabriel and Monreal have also flourished (apart from losing Downing at ‘Boro).  Why change a winning formula?

written by Big Raddy


To Ozil or not to Ozil? That is the Question.

March 4, 2017

Hard to predict this one; we could win handsomely or get tanked. Neither team is playing well and yet both are capable of pulling out enough moments of quality to win the game. Should be interesting.

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We lost at home on the opening day of the season in a strange game – we dominated for 70 minutes – Liverpool had 5 shots all game yet we conceded 4.

Good news: No Henderson, no Sturridge. Bad news: Mane, Firmino and Coutinho are back and playing well.

Good news: Liverpool are struggling at the centre of defence. Bad news: We do not have a centre forward in form.

Good news: We play better away from home. Bad news: Liverpool are very good at home and just beat Spurs.

Good news:We have few injuries, OG, Ramsey and Koscielny are available. Bad News: Ozil has been off sick and is a doubt.

Once again, Mr Wenger has to find the midfield key. With Ramsey, Xhaka, Ox, Coquelin, Elneny, Iwobi and Ozil to choose from he has yet to find a combination that delivers security and creativity. I don’t know either!

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin      Mustafi      Koscielny     Monreal

Ramsey     Xhaka     Coquelin    Iwobi

Walcott    Sanchez

Theo gets an hour to prove he is still an important player at Arsenal. Seems unfair to drop Oxlade-Chamberlain as he has been playing well but IMO Ramsey is a more adaptable player.

There have been calls to rest Ozil as his performances in recent weeks have not reached his usual excellent standards, I tend to agree. Even Dennis got rested when he was out of form. We have so many attacking MF options that giving Ozil a reminder that every player has to fight for his place will do no harm. On the other hand it may convince the German Genius that his future lies away from the Emirates!

We have been crap away to the big clubs this season and Liverpool have been very good at home, the portents are not good, but if Arsenal are to stay in the Top 4 they cannot afford to keep losing against direct rivals, as such this is a huge game for us, and let’s be honest, we haven’t played well since before Xmas.

I would take a draw though a repeat of 26/6/1989 would be preferable.

COYRRG


Clement to improve ailing Swansea?

January 14, 2017

Swansea. What a shame. Lovely small club, promoted to PL. Get big name manager. Do exceedingly well considering budget. Sell best players. Don’t re-invest. Manager wants better players, owners want profits, manager resigns.

Then it is all downhill. Managers come and go, results don’t improve. Relegation highly likely.

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So far this season Swansea have had 3 managers and are in dire straits (60 y.o. Mark Knopfler as their play maker). That’s what happens with crap owners. It could happen to any club.

Arsenal. What makes our club special? A history of careful stewardship. What would have happened had Usamov taken control? We will never know.

Today’s game is a potential banana skin. Swansea have some confidence after their win over CP. They also have a new, very good manager in Paul Clement, Quite why he left Bayern Munich where he was assistant manager to take over at Swansea is a mystery . At Derby, he only lost once in 19 games!

We have the usual injury list but welcome back some faces. Hector and Kos return having put pen to paper. I would play Gibbs and give Monreal a rest

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin    Mustafi    Koscielny    Gibbs

Ramsey    Xhaka     Coquelin

Perez    Sanchez    Ozil

Why drop Iwobi? I don’t know, just so Ramsey can get a mother game under his belt. There is likely to be a midfield battle and we are away so I would pack the midfield, hence Coq/Xhaka.

We need to win today (as always) but it will be no easy victory.

COYRRG


Happy Holidays?

January 3, 2017

Bournemouth is known as the English Riviera (or it is in my family!!).  We used to holiday there in the days before I was allowed to travel on my own. When I passed my driving test Bournemouth became a weekend destination because there were language schools full of Scandigirls who had weekend discos ( a portent for my future!) …. you can guess the rest!

As such Bournemouth raises happy memories in BR’s ageing head, let’s hope I feel the same way at game’s end today.

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Eddie Howe has done an amazing job . Not only keeping a small club in the PL but doing so by playing attacking football. They almost gave us a shock at the Emirates where a 90th minute goal from Sanchez sealed the points. We won 3-1 in an absorbing game with Bournemouth missing many chances. It was the game of Debuchy’s brief return.

Rotation will the keyword today. I expect AW to rest a few and perhaps finally experiment with the Ramsey/Xhaka combo.

My Team:

Cesc

Bellerin    Mustafi     Koscielny    Monreal

Ramsey    Xhaka      Coquelin

Perez       Giroud     Sanchez

Has AW the courage to rest Sanchez given that Ozil is out again? If so, it would be intersting to see Ox start on the right with Perez on the left. Or Iwobi.

I cannot recall a run of games when the whole of the top 6 win so consistently, Spurs, L’pool, MU and Chelsea have stepped up a gear and we need to do the same.  A win today is important, a draw is simply not enough. Winning under this kind of pressure is what makes Champions, and we will see how the team responds.

I still maintain that we were unfortunate in both losses in December and that it affected the fans more than the team – time will tell.

We are unbeaten in 2017, let’s keep it that way

COYRRG

 


The Righteous. Arsenal vs Them

November 6, 2016

What do you think when reading the following?

Sheringham,  Hoddle, Ginola, Berbatov, Robbie Keane,  Perryman,  Archibald, Graham Roberts, Paul Allen. I could go on.

I cannot say what you think, but I think ,what a bunch of execrable shitehawks. The very worst of footballing abominations.

And what links them all? They are in the Top 30 Spurs players of all time!!

What does this tell us? Plenty. Let’s start with the moral bankruptcy of a club steeped in the dark arts (Alan Sugar??). Then carry on by pointing out the total lack of a Title medal (Berbs had to leave to get one).

They are Pretenders. They exaggerate their abilities, exaggerate the size of their club, all we have to do to counter their pretensions is to point at their trophy cabinet in the last 25 years.

Arsenal remain the Premier Club in North London. Q.E.D.

And yet …

They have improved and in the past couple of season have almost but not quite achieved their main ambition which is to finish above Arsenal (LOL). And I like it. I prefer the frisson of a NLD which we could lose – for way too long it was so one sided it was like playing Islington Schools Second 11.

 

This afternoon (lunchtime) will be tense. Really tense. Because Spurs have finally got a team capable of challenging  – not for the PL, but to finish above us.To suggest they could be PL Champions is farcical and only truly considered after a night on the pop.

If Pochettino sends his team out to attack rather than PTB and play on the counter, we could be in for a terrific game. But he won’t. He will hope for an early goal and then we will see 80% AFC possession as usual.

Why will he do this? Because Spurs have a very good defence and defensive midfield but a weak attack. Eriksen is a terrific player and should be at a big club (not good enough for AFC though) but apart from him ….??

Enough of the Knuckle Draggers.

I wrote this on Nov 8 2015 : “Any NLD is exciting but this one is special. Spurs are unbeaten in 10 and we are joint TotL. A draw seems the obvious result but quite frankly the idea of the blue-bellied Scum leaving the Emirates with anything other than a damned good thrashing is unacceptable. Just think 5-2. This is a reasonable and just scoreline.” Uncanny that the situation is exactly the same.

Let us hope that Theo is recovered because he loves a goal against the Heathens.

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My Team:

Cech

Bellerin    Mustafi    Koscielny    Monreal

Xhaka     Coquelin      Iwobi

Walcott    Sanchez      Ozil

If Ramsey was at 100% I would start him ahead of Iwobi, but what if Santi is fit? Does he start ahead of Xhaka in what is likely to be a physical midfield battle against Wanyama and Dembele?

I would love to see a Spurs red card this afternoon. Clattenburg is our referee – could be worse. Any man who sends off Me-rinho is OK in my book.

Can we win against a very strong Spurs team with a likelihood of Kane returning? Of course we can – Just read the opening paragraphs!

If Arsenal can start fast – which we have struggled with in recent games – and maintain defensive solidity – which we have struggled with in recent game, then we will win. We are at home, we have better players, a better manager, better fans, better playing style, better history.

The path of the Righteous man is beset on all sides by inequities (in this case The Miscreants).  We are The Righteous.

COYRRG