Two Arsenal problems solved

November 11, 2016

 

“One can’t judge Wagner’s opera Lohengrin after a first hearing, and I certainly don’t intend hearing it a second time” –Rossini.

Just two problems, you may ask. Well yes, at the moment, because I’m not including the possibility that Sanchez plays against Uruguay and will therefore be fit to face Utd.

Right then, my two problems. Hector is out of action, and we have no position for Ramsey.

The solution is to go 3-5-2. Chelsea have a new continental manager with sensitive hair, and lo, he has transformed their season since going all Juve on them. For us, Monreal could snuggle up to Kos and Must at the back. Gibbs can charge up and down the left, which brings us to the right.

Some say Aaron is a Santi stand in. No he isn’t. Just not cultured enough as a footballer. Some say he is a Mesut stand in. No he isn’t. We’d be better off changing the system altogether and doing away with a No 10. You need Godlike skill to make that role work. Some say Aaron played well there for Wales. Wales?? Really?? They are a second division team who play in tournaments where the quality is so appallingly low that only third rate managers submit job applications. Any top flight club would win a Euros without breaking sweat.

Now the good news. I do have an excellent role for Aaron. Right side in the mid 5. Great engine, good crosser.

Soooo, we have our back three, our two flankers, Coq with Mesut and Santi either side and a front two of Sanchez and Theo.

 

…………Sanchez    Theo

Gibbs  Santi  Coq  Mesut    Aaron

……….Mon  Kos  Must

…………..Petr

 

It is possible you are still wondering about the relevance of the opening quotation. The answer is none whatsoever. Read it last night. Liked it.

written by MickyDidit


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.

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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.

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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.

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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


Arsenal’s Most Valuable

September 30, 2016

A couple of seasons ago, I penned a post making the case for Theo being our most valuable player.

It stated that I didn’t think he was our best player in any particular position, rather that he was the most irreplaceable because of the threat he posed an opposition defence, and hence the value.

This summer saw us make some great signings right the way down the spine of the team. Of course we haven’t seen too much of Lucas Perez, but that is more to do with Arsene’s juggling of the pack across the front.

Right now, Arsenal are playing the best football we have witnessed in many years, however, one thing is for certain, both injuries and fatigue will come, and then we’ll see the real strength of the squad.

We have been watching what many would consider our best starting XI, and equally, many will be nervously thinking about where it will go wrong. Therefore, I’d love to hear your thoughts on where you see our Achilles heel.

The little I saw of Holding fills me with enormous confidence, and I also have a sneaky suspicion Gabriel might come good in the same way Laurent did, meanwhile the defensive side of midfield looks to me our strongest area.

My own view on Aaron differs to some regulars on here in that I don’t see him as a specialist in any role of our current system, however, he is a superb multi-functional stand in for a number of roles. I remember how last season we played arguably our best two games with Aaron on the right.

Strangely, and here you’ll think I’m being wildly optimistic, I fear injury to Mesut less than before as I believe Iwobi would do a more than adequate job standing in for an unreplaceable.

If I had to pick one player to represent that bit of Achilles, then it would be Bellerin.

What do you think?

Written by mickydidit89


Gunners sting Hornets and Xhaka can!!!

August 28, 2016

A confident Arsenal performance was too much for Watford as Granit Xhaka put in a man of the match performance on a warm afternoon in Hertfortshire.

Much of the talk en route to the game was of incoming transfers as Arsenal have raided La Liga with the signings of Lucas Perez and World Cup Winner Shkodran Mustafi. Fans were then delighted to hear of the news that Mustafi’s compatriot Mesut Ozil was named to make his first start of the season.
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The Arsenal away fans were in full voice yet again showing their fantastic support despite the negativity around the around the club in recent weeks.

The game kicked off and Arsenal came flying out of the blocks with Alexis looking lively and the Gunners using the flanks to exploit Watford’s weaknesses. Granit Xhaka was starting to impose himself on the game and fans were purring at his range of passing. One fan commented that the boy is “different gravy.” The talk in the stands was that the fans were pleased to see Granit put his foot in and stamp his authority in midfield.

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Arsenal’s fast paced start was rewarded as Alexis was clattered and Santi Cazorla stepped up to take a penalty. He sent Gomes the wrong way and 1-0 to The Arsenal as the fans were singing Cazorla’s name.

Arsenal then controlled the game with Xhaka’s passing combined with the movement of the Arsenal attacking players causing all sorts of problems. Walcott was then denied by Gomes with a low effort assisted by the the impressive Cazorla. The noisy away support were then shouting obscenities at referee Kevin Friend and when he booked Prodl it was greeted with sarcastic applause.

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Arsenal were bamboozling their opponents  but Watford did try to get rewarded by floating in crosses for Deeney and the dangerous Ighalo. Arsenal fans at this point were seething especially at Bellerin and Monreal claiming they were not going out to stop crosses. Cech had to be alert saving from a defected effort. Arsenal then looked to  ramp up the pressure and on 40 minutes a lovely cross from Theo Walcott was met by Alexis whose effort was over the line to send the Arsenal fans in raptures.

Then on the stroke of half time Alexis turned provider and fan favourite Mesut Ozil headed home a lovely move and Arsenal supporters were jumping for joy and the deafening chant broker out- “We got Ozil! Mesut Ozil! I just don’t think you understand!” Half time and Arsenal were cruising to their first win of the season. Arsenal were brilliant but the name on everyones lips was Granit Xhaka. My friend came to me from the lower row to tell me that Granit was running the show  and at 23 years of age he was showing so much maturity.
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The second half began and Watford were trying to restore some pride. Arsenal though took their foot off the gas and Watford then scored through Pereya with a close effort. Arsenal fans were complaining about the players failing to clear their lines and that if they got another one then it would be squeaky bum time. Some fans to the right had some toilet roll which was taken from the toilets and wanted to throw in the air at the right moment with a young fan claiming “this used to happen in the seventies!”

Arsenal were then hanging on as Cech made a save from Holebas and later made a fantastic double save showing his goalkeeping prowess. Troy Deeney looked like he was still on his holidays with a fan next to me eluding to the fact that he was 55 and not as fat as Troy Deeney. He commented that “he looked like a Sunday league player!” The same fan was enjoying himself and amusing the other Arsenal supporters around him as he then mocked Isaac Success who came on for Watford stating players have funny names now and that he has not joined the right club if he wants “success!”

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Mohammed Elneny, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs then came on to shore things up but Ighalo had a chance late on when his spectacular bicycle kick was over the bar. Arsenal saw the game out and secured their first win of the season.

The away support was unbelievable yet again and as fans were leaving the stands Granit Xhaka was being praised for a masterclass performance. The passing was sublime and he made some snapping tackles which made the supporters happy and feeling we have a player who will give us the bite in midfield.

Still work to be done but a big win and we look forward to the home match against Southampton after the international break.

If anyone can, Xhaka can! Up the Arsenal!!!

Written by Sir A

 


Two ‘L’ and Back

August 20, 2016

Could we lose twice in a week to teams beginning with L? Has it ever happened before?

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Going away to a team who are the current Champions is always going to be difficult – I know they are “only” Leicester and we smashed them twice last season. Let’s be honest – we are under pressure. A potential loss would see us in a Spurs position after just two games.

But we won’t lose, will we?

I was delighted that both Ranieri and LCFC won the title, it lifted the spirits as one of the nice guys and a humble team consistency overcame the odds. It was brilliant and no shame to finish second by a mere 10 points.

This season will  be different or will it. The same media morons who predicted the Foxes would collapse under the pressure of leading from the front are predicting them finishing mid-table. Why? It is the same team bar one MF who has been replaced. They are a bloody good side.

We both lost last w/e and both need to kickstart the season, Leicester will view this game as winnable. Our defensive frailties against Vardy and Mahrez (does anyone think we really tried to sign Mahrez? Really?) could once again cost us dear.

I rarely make a prediction because I invariably put a bok on the team – so I won’t today but I am hopeful. Why? Because Arsenal have fantastic players. The injury to Ramsey gives space for the little Spanish genius and as we are away Xhaka is likely to start. They make an excellent midfield. As you know, I am not a Coquelin fan and hope Elneny gets the DM role alongside Xhaka. That is one powerful midfield, full of attacking possibilities.

We scored three last weekend and the attack appeared potent. Theo’s goal will do his confidence wonders – he took it brilliantly as did the Ox.

And what of the elephant in the room, the centre of defence? Well …. they just have to do better. If players want to have a career at one of the top clubs in the world they HAVE to step up. No excuses. We need young players to develop into future stars, they get few opportunities and therefore must make the most of them. Chambers must improve and the experienced players around him HAVE to help. Monreal was rubbish for 20 minutes last w/e, so was Coquelin; they cost us the game. No point looking at an inexperienced 21 y.o to blame.

And what of Cech.? I like him but others have major concerns. I felt he should have saved at least one of Liverpool’s goals.

Sanchez is SO important. In the absence of the Pass Master Ozil, his quality is paramount to our success. He looked hungry last week but understandably  faded. If he hits 30 minutes of form this afternoon, we can win.


Ramsey to join Mourinho?

May 25, 2016

We are at approaching the time of year when the Deadwood express drives at Arsenal station to pick up a few passengers. Early at the station were Flamini, Rosicky and Arteta but who else will be shipped out?

Today I will focus upon the midfield.

Given that we have signed Elneny and also (potentially) Granit Xhaka, some  midfield players must be going. Ramsey, Wilshere, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ox, Ozil, Iwobi, Gnabry, plus the returning  Toral is perhaps excessive and it is in midfield that we find the biggest puzzle……. What is going on with Coquelin?

Early in the season Coquelin would have been the first name on the team sheet, it was inconceivable that he wouldn’t start. It has to be said that I am not a big fan but reluctantly started to appreciate just how much he had improved, yet Francis is firmly on the naughty step as evidenced by the arrival (?) of Xhaka – you don’t spend €30m on a reserve.

The final unbeaten run of games saw Francis on the bench with AW not picking a sitting DM preferring to play Elneny alongside Ramsey as a double pivot (™️ TA).  I doubt anyone could have predicted Coquelin being dropped.

If we assume that Xhaka is signed and that Elneny has impressed Mr Wenger  tough to be considered a sin the starting X1, then a first team place is unlikely for Coquelin and he will become a squad player. Too good to sell? Probably and we will need him in case of injury/rotation.

That leaves 4 excellent players fighting for the single forward midfield role: Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla and Ox. All deserve to be starting PL players. All are committed to Arsenal but I expect one to be sold, the difficulty is who?

I really love watching them all. Ramsey is exceptional as his work for Wales displays. But … but. Other Gooners are not so impressed. It was not a great season for Aaron. Less goals, less assists, more mistakes; nonetheless he remains a seemingly integral part of Mr.Wenger’s plans.

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Cazorla? Brilliant player. Upon his return at season’s end we improved and once again looked like potential title winners. Had he stayed fit we would have won the title – maybe – but he is over 30, somewhat injury-prone and slowing down. Arsenal need his experience – I doubt he willl be sold.

Ox. Horrible season for him. Injuries destroyed what should have been his breakthrough season. Nonetheless, he has huge potential and most of his on-pitch problems are due to his determination to be better. He needs to relax. But can he do so at Arsenal?

Jack. Another who had his season ruined by injury and who separates fans. IMO he  cannot be allowed to leave. His energy, vision and eye for goal is exceptional but his injury history is such that we cannot rely upon JW to play 40+ games.

Can Arsenal afford to keep 11 midfield players? Can Mr Wenger keep them happy? More to the point – does he want to?

I would not be surprised to see Mr Wenger selling a big name player to finance his summer purchases. Man Utd were in the hunt to sign Aaron Ramsey prior to his making the obvious decision to join AFC; they are desperate for a Carrick replacement and Aaron is a similar player (but better). A goal-scoring midfielder with International experience and a mate of Monkeyboy (who must be a MU target) – he fits MU’s and Mourinho’s requirements exactly. Could/would AW sell him to MU?

written by BR

 


A Last Hurrah.

May 15, 2016

Final PM of the season and Your Foreign Correspondent is away on manoeuvres, but being a man with a sense of duty this post is being written before WHU (hopefully) beat MU .

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Villa come to the Emirates after what must be their worst season in living memory. 3 managers , 3 wins all season, the draw with N’castle gave them their first point in 10 games. An angry fanbase, an owner who lives 5 thousand miles away and doesn’t appear to give a damn, players who are equally dispassionate, It is a shambles.

Could Villa win today?

They better not!!

I have no doubt Villa will be looking for a battling performance after all these are professional men playing for their careers. Some who are at the end of their contracts will be desperate to show they have value, others, like Lescott and Abangymethingy are already multi-millionaires and perhaps not so committed but this afternoon will not be an easy victory – we will have to play well to win.

Pressure. Can this Arsenal team respond to pressure? Well, we are on a unbeaten 9 game PL run, have shown character to come back from losing positions against MC, WHU and Spurs, so the answer should be Yes.

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The Last time we played AV on our Final game of the Season

A huge fillip is the return of our midfield, any team would struggle without such vital players. That said, as soon as a few come back a couple of England Internationals get long-term injuries!

We all know the value of 3 points today especially if The Miscreants fail up at St. James Pk. How funny would that be?  😀

The team: I would start the same chaps who got the draw at City with Ozil replacing Welbz.

Cech

Bellerin     Gabriel      Koscielny     Monreal

Ramsey      Elneny     Iwobi/Wilshere

Sanchez     Giroux     Ozil

Given how important Mr Wenger views the Euro’s I would not be surprised to see Wilshere start in place of Iwobi allowing Ramsey to play further forward.

Coquelin: Is he on the naughty step? He is fit so why isn’t he starting? He has gone from being one of the first names on the team sheet to riding the pine without any discernible reason.

I am sure Santi will get some pitch time in order for the fans to show their love. Rumours are that he is off in summer though my hope is that he continues to entertain us for a couple more seasons.

No excuses – we have to win this afternoon. The tough work was done up in Manchester now the lads have to finish their season in style.

Let it be so …

p.s. This being my final pre-match of an exciting campaign may I take this opportunity to thank all those who have read my views and contributed to the discussions.

COYRRG