Can Leaky Arsenal subdue Lethal Lukaku?

March 19, 2016

Goodson Park, not the best place to go given our form and the coming International break. In the unlikely event of a loss for the Arsenal the fans will have at least a week to ferment (or should that be foment?).

Have we reason to hope for victory? I would say that there are the green shoots of a return to The Arsenal that we know and love. On the other hand, we have won once in our last 8 games and that to Hull reserves.

Supporting Arsenal is not for the soft-hearted, it requires fortitude and an ability to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (see Rasp – even Shakespeare believed in luck 😀 ). This season has tested us to the full, however a win today would be a major fillip.

Lukaku: We should have shouldn’t we? He appears to be an expensive bargain but before berating the  Arsenal Purchasing Dept. I would also have had a punt on Benteke! Chelsea Directors must be shaking their heads at how The Unemployed One could have chosen to sell Lukaku yet keep Costa, Remy, and Falcao. I would break the bank to sign him.

article-0-19F6335B00000578-144_634x458.jpg

Barry and Mirallas are missing – is that a positive?

Everton are having a strange season, beating Chelsea with a superb performance last week yet throwing away a 2 goal advantage at home to West Ham the week before. If they are on form we will struggle.

Martinez is a man I thought could succeed Mr Wenger. I no longer believe he has the necessary vision. That said he has made some fine signings – Lukaku, Delafeu, etc

Enough of Everton. We need BFG to marshall what has become a leaky defence. Gone are the days of 1-0 TTA which given the quality of the individual defenders it is perplexing but that is also true of the other end of the pitch. We have to score more goals.

Is Welbeck strong enough to start twice in 5 days? I doubt Mr Wenger will start him.

My Team:

Ospina

Bellerin   BFG    Koscielny    Monreal

Elneny    Coquelin    Sanchez

Campbell    Giroud    Ozil

We will have a strong bench despite the succession of injuries to midfielders.

Does anyone know when we can celebrate the return of Wilshire? Mr Wenger has told Roy Hodgson to keep a place for Jack so it must be soon.

As always we must hope for a decent performance from the officials because Everton have a slew of divers and enforcers. Mark Clattenburg referees fresh from his CL trip to Madrid – could be worse.

I like Everton, like Arsenal they have history; when they play Liverpool I am a Toffee (why isn’t it a mint). This afternoon I hope Everton are three down at halftime.

COYRRG

 


Turn Turn Turn

March 1, 2015

“To everything –  Turn, Turn Turn,

There is a season – Turn Turn, Turn

And a time for every purpose under heaven.

A time to build up, A time to break down,

A time to dance, a time to mourn,

A time to cast away stones

A time to gather stones together.”

Book of Ecclesiastes (with a re-write by Pete Seeger)

know what you are thinking – “what the hell has that got to do with Everton at home?”  Not much but I have had it in mind since Black Wednesday and of course, today is the first day of Spring – a time of growth and the rising of sap.

Will our sap rise today? Who knows? This season has been like few others insomuch as the team is so unpredictable, and not just game to game but within a game. Last Sunday we were two up and coasting then had 10 minutes of complete panic, and it has happened repeatedly over the season. Why?

“Leadership” I hear you say. Do we miss Arteta so much, is BFG lacking,? More to the point – how do we get one?

Can we beat Everton this afternoon and get back to winning ways?

Everton have stuttered badly this season and the golden boy Roberto Martinez has started to lose his lustre.

Here’s a brilliant stat – last season Everton won more games between March 1st and April 12th than they have won this entire season!   The massive expenditure on Lukaku has yet to bring full returns though 5 goals in his last 3 games is worrying. I wanted us to sign Eto’o who is one of my favourite players but Mr Wenger proved once again that he “knows best”.

As usual midfield will hold the key. Aaron Lemon is likely to be dropped for the return of the potent Mirallas. In Gibson, McCarthy and Barry Everton have battlers, they also have one of my most hated players, Stephen Naismith.

I could write a whole post on the little blond aggressor. Like Leeds’ Alan Smith and the awful Robbie Savage, Naismith kicks the player before the ball as a matter of course, hiding a lack of talent behind naked aggression. How he stayed on the pitch in our 1-1 draw at Goodison is known only to the referee Michael Oliver who was awful that day.

I like the John Stones and can only think Mr Wenger wouldn’t spend the transfer fee preferring to buy Gabriel for half the price. Baines is fit, as is Coleman.

Arsenal: I would start the same team as Wednesday to allow them to prove their worth but Mr Wenger will ring the changes. Expect to see Monreal start and possibly Gabriel for BFG  or Koscielny. And it is time to take TPIG off the naughty step – in my opinion he is our best GK.

My Team:

Szczesny

Bellerin      Gabriel    Koscielny       Monreal

Coquelin     Cazorla

Alexis     Ozil

Walcott    Giroud

Unlike some, I like Santi playing deeper alongside Le Coq and until Ramsey, Arteta or Wilshere return it is a position he may well keep. (unless Rosicky takes that place!)

We have a strong bench with good coverage for any eventuality.

My main concern today lies within The Emirates crowd – the poisonous atmosphere which is created by a bias-led media is so close to the surface. If Arsenal are not at their fluent best and dominating from kick-off the disquiet will strengthen and the very chaps who booed our lads off the pitch will start complaining early. I hate it. Moan on the blogs, beat the dog, kick the cat, berate taxi drivers, do whatever you have to do but during the game SUPPORT your team.

What happens when the crowd groans at a misplaced pass which is made in the blink of the eye- a possibly defence splitting pass which carries risk? The player will take the secure option which is usually a short sideways or backwards pass. If we want to see a fast, intricate and beautiful display of passing football our players have to feel confident and supported – take that away and we become Stoke.

Live Long and Prosper

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy

 


Luck be a Lady tonight.

November 26, 2014

This is one of Frank Sinatra’s career highlights (just listen to the arrangement by Billy May and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra). The lyrics tell of a gambler and his relationship to luck and romance.

Last night City were being humiliated at home by a 10 man Bayern and yet with within 3 minutes two of the world’s most reliable defenders make elementary mistakes leading to a highly unlikely MC victory. True, the goals were well taken but the victory was as lucky as I have seen in many a year. Furthermore, MU’s win on Saturday was secured by a healthy dose of good fortune

Some people say “you make your own luck” which quite frankly is total bolleaux. Whilst accepting that hard work has an influence upon results there is such a thing as good fortune and in Arsenal’s case, bad fortune. How else can one explain the two long term injuries in the only area of the pitch we were inadequately covered? Or the shots to goals ratio or the increasing number of wrong refereeing decisions or the opposition scoring more goals than shots taken or two GK’s out or Giroud not in the squad as Welbz gets hurt or the Ozil and Theo situations or the  …..  you get the picture.

Mr Wenger says he is confident we will have a good season, for him to be correct tonight is a good starting point because we play a fine opponent. Borussia Dortmund are tonight’s victims and are having their worst start to a season under Klopp. They have a lengthy injury list yet have already qualified as winners of the group.   As I have written 3 times about Dortmund in the past 2 seasons – that’s your lot about them!

images

Proper Fans

They can be beaten. This is How: We attack with more menace, defend with greater cohesion And our Luck turns. With those three elements in place we can beat anyone.

No need to go through the team, if you bother to read an Arsenal blog you probably have as good an idea as I do! Instead let us look once again at the midfield …. to Flamini or Rosicky? Should Santi be dropped for Podolski?

If Welbeck is injured it must be better to play Podolski with Alexis central than to give another start to Sanogo.  Rosicky may be less defensively capable but Flamini brings nothing to the attack and Tomas always brings momentum from midfield. We are at home – we attack. Simple. But Mr Wenger will almost certainly disagree and start with the Arteta/Flamini axis.

What a night for young Martinez.  A first home start for the 22 y.o. Argentinian – please let the gods of good fortune shine upon him and give him an error free evening.

Ox to score tonight. You can do it for England now do it for those who pay your wages!

Very Important. How do we influence a change of luck? I have tried changing lucky socks – didn’t work. I have moved my Ganesh to face the TV screen – nothing changed.  Stopped using my lucky toothpaste – nada. Changed my lucky Valpolicella to a so far unlucky Merlot. Stopped eating the lucky cake and am trying various crispy snacks. Stopped wearing my 49’er shirt and gone back to wearing the home shirt. All to no avail.

Have you got any ideas?

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy

 

 


Mesut to the Rescue

August 23, 2014

For a fanatical gooner this has been a difficult week. The results were acceptable but there has been disappointment in the manner of our play. And yet ….. today our Germans return.

Mr Wenger has stated that not all will play and I think he means Podolski. We miss a spark, we are too predictable, too slow on the counter as the final ball is ill-conceived. We need a will o’ the wisp and thankfully we have one.

By now you will have realised that I am putting my faith in our World Cup winner and most expensive signing. He must be rested, having spent the last few weeks bobbing about on a luxury yacht (or whatever young mega-rich chaps do). Am I being foolhardy to trust in Ozil? Can he step up to become the player around whom our forward line play? Is he as good as his reputation? This season will tell. Ozil must be hugely confident at present and desperate to get out on the pitch to enthral us and against Everton he will hopefully find the space to enjoy himself.

Everton gave us a lesson at Goodison last season and they were very good at The Emirates. They have maintained their squad and bought Lukaku (who could have foreseen Everton spending £28m on a player?). The long-term injury to Ross Barkley must have been a blow to Martinez –  though Naismith is a decent replacement he is hardly of the same quality.

We know what to expect from a Martinez team, a commitment to hard work in midfield and to attack. He has the players and in Lukaku a player to ruin Monreal’s day as he did when Martinez played him on the left last season. However, I believe that a defence of Distin and Jagielka is vulnerable to pace and ingenuity.

images

It is a shame Arteta will not play today, he retains much respect at Goodison where he spent so much of his career. We are ham-strung by ham-strings. Gibbs, Myachi and Sanogo are all out but otherwise we have a strong squad.

The most exciting thing about today will be to finally see how Sanchez can play with Ozil, and how Ramsey fits into this triumvirate of genius. Once Theo returns and possibly takes the central role he craves, we will be Kushti. Mark my word …. Kushti.

There is always the possibility that Mr Wenger will rest Sanchez who has played our last 3 games and could use a rest. I hope not but should he do so it opens the way for Rosicky.

It is a shame for young Chambers that he will be riding the pine for the foreseeable future (or until one of our CB’s gets crocked). I flag this up to herald the return of one of my very favourite players the BFG. I was delighted when Mertesacker signed a 2 year extension to his contract because this bloke is the fulcrum of the team. He may not be the best CB in the world but he is one of the best in the Premiership and his partnership with Koscielny is outstanding. Welcome back Big Man.

My Team;

Football Pitch 4

Hopefully Mr Wenger will be on better form than in Turkey where, in my opinion, he did not pick the best team nor react fast enough to enforce a win. We have such a strong bench that he can afford to tinker. Joel Campbell could well start on the left, it must be time to test him but I expect Joel to get his first appearance at the Emirates.

We have not beaten Everton for 4 games which is the longest run against any PL team (according to The Independent!) and to be honest I can see the run continuing. Everton played well but were held to draw at Leicester and will be looking to start their home campaign with a win over a direct rival. Martinez says the Top 4 is his target and one Everton could have achieved after the 3-0 win at Goodison had the Arsenal not won their last 5 games whilst the Toffees fell apart to finish 7 points behind.

An interesting game against one of my favourite opponents, I would take a point but prefer three 😀

As no-one (meaning Big Raddy) has come up with an interesting theme for the season (physicists was mooted but I know sweet FA about the sciences) I leave you with a picture of The Man…..

images-1

Written by Big Raddy

 


Martinez for Arsenal?

April 20, 2012

Is it possible to like someone who hurts you?

Of course it is, otherwise we would all be divorced.

Nasty old Roberto Martinez hurt us badly on Monday night. He got his Wigan team to play so well against us that – heaven forfend – they may have cost us the three points that guarantee Champions League football next season, depending on how our remaining fixtures go.

But we can’t bring ourselves to hate Roberto. Quite the opposite, in fact: most Arsenal supporters seem to like and respect him.

Teams who spend most of the season in the relegation zone usually try to fight their way out of trouble by, er, fighting. They kick and shove and hoof the ball up the field in the hope that their big lumpy players will get to the ball ahead of the opposition’s big lumpy players.

But not Martinez. Even though most of his career at Wigan has been spent trying to avoid relegation (when I visited the place a couple of years ago I was really surprised that the town sign said just “Wigan”. I thought the place was called “Struggling Wigan”) his teams have always tried to play proper football.

They do daring things like passing and moving, playing the ball on the ground, that sort of thing. They employ clever tactics to counter their opponents.

So Monday’s defeat (and the previous Wigan victories over Manchester United and Chelsea*) have led to speculation that Martinez could be exactly the sort of man to replace Arsene Wenger.

Apart from the way he gets his side to play, he shares with Wenger an ability to pick up talented players on the cheap and that’s not the only similarity. Like Wenger, Martinez had an unspectacular playing career and has found his real calling as a manager.

And, like Arsenal, Wigan are one of the few clubs in the EPL who can show a “credit” line in their transfer dealings. In the five years up to the end of 2011, the ‘Latics made a net profit on transfers of £3.5 million. (It should be noted that Martinez did not start managing the club until the 2009/10 season).

So far so good.

But are the “Martinez for Arsenal” promoters really seeing the full picture?

Is Martinez as good as they think he is?

Since joining Wigan his win-lose-draw statistics look like this:

P: 123 W: 31 D: 36 L: 56 WIN %:  25.2

I know that Wigan are a small club with small support and little money, but a 25% win ratio is not great by any standards.

Last season they avoided relegation, but were in danger of the drop until the very last day of the season. They finished on 42 points. The season before, they finished six points above the drop zone, but amassed a total of only 36 points.

Martinez is showing himself to be something of a magician when it comes to pulling an end-of-season rabbit out of the hat every year.

His teams struggle for most of the campaign, then get their mojo together for the run-in, just in time to narrowly avoid finishing in the bottom three. A sort of poor man’s Everton.

That survive-against-the-odds quality is not to be sniffed at, but isn’t it a little worrying that, across three full seasons, Martinez has not been able to get his teams performing on a more stable and consistent basis?

By that measure, you would have to say that the likes of Norwich, Swansea and West Brom have all done better – and none of those clubs is awash with financial resources.

There is one final area where Martinez does not live up to the high standards of Arsene Wenger. Arsene is famous for never breaking a contract. When Martinez was at Swansea (from February 2007 to June 2009) he repeatedly said he would only ever leave the Swans if he was forced out. He also criticised Swansea players who left for money or to move to bigger clubs.

But as his reputation grew and bigger clubs came calling for him (Celtic and Wigan), Martinez showed no hesitation in dumping the Swans and joining Wigan.

It’s not a particularly heinous crime (it happens all the time in football), but the element of hypocrisy involved does not reflect well on the Spaniard. If he were to join Arsenal, could we ever feel secure that he wouldn’t up and off the moment he was tapped up for a national team job or to run one of Spain’s Big Two?

In conclusion, Roberto Martinez is clearly a clever manager who has a football philosophy that would sit well with the traditions Arsene Wenger has established at Arsenal. He also seems articulate and personally likeable.

But on the down side, he needs (in my opinion) to do more than mount a spirited fight against relegation every season to prove he can manage a club like Arsenal. If he can turn Wigan into a successful mid table side over the next couple of seasons that would be a fine achievement with the resources available to him. Maybe then he would be worth considering.

But for now?  No gracias, Señor.

What do you think? And if we were to lose Arsene, who would you want to take his place?

RockyLives

* Officially Chelsea beat Wigan 2-1, but since both the Chelsea goals were offside, I count it as a moral victory for Wigan.