Courage, Cohesion and Confidence.

May 9, 2019

Our turn.

So far in the semi-finals the team which lost the first leg won the tie. These are not good omens nor is our away form.

No … stop this Raddy,. Get a Grip. Negativity breeds negativity. As Mr. Python says “Always look on the bright side of life.”

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If we score one Valencia have to score 5 to win (4 for pens), if we score two Valencia have to score 6. So, what should Emery do? In my opinion, he should stack the midfield and attack from the first whistle.

The Mestella is a hostile stadium for the away teams. Valencia’s home record is very good particularly in defence, they have conceded just 11 goals in 18 La Liga games. Not so dusty upfront with 21 goals scored (to compare, at home we have scored 42 and conceded 16 in the same number of matches – away from home we have conceded 34 😱)

Valencia were poor at the Emirates. We conceded a stupid set piece goal which puts the tie at risk but otherwise Arsenal were comprehensively the better team The Frenchman, Gameiro, looked quality and on both wings we looked vulnerable.

This week we have seen other fine sides collapse in the second half which should be a clear lesson. The best team does not always win, sometimes it is luck and strength of character. We need both.

Do we have strength of character? Looking at the last few weeks the answer has to be No but tonight is different. We are two games away from Glory and no-one will remember the pisspoor performances if we get to Baku.

If Ramsey, Hector, Holding and Welbz were available I would be mega-confident, they aren’t. So who gets to start?

Cech in goal – I wouldn’t pick him but Unai is loyal to his players. Kos and the Greek Bloke. Does he start Monreal or Mustafi to complete the Back 3 Mustafi has been better in the last few games – always the butt of the Gooner’s ire (usually well-deserved) one must also recognise when he plays well. Monreal always giving his all, I would play Mustafi

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Kola will surely start but would you pick AMN

The midfield is much harder to predict. I would not play Douzi but he is a favourite of UE and startedd in the home leg. Nor would I start either Ozil or Mhki who are not in good form, but if we don’t start one of them, who supplies the ammunition to our front two?

I don’t know and have to trust that UE does.

IMO if Xhaka and Terrier play well we will win.

And what of the bench? Do we have anyone riding the pine who gives you confidence that they can either shore up a crumbling defence or give us attacking impetus? You know the answer.

Courage, Cohesion and Confidence will get the Arsenal to Baku because we already have the skill and talent. It will be a battle and in the words of a true Englishman …

“The games afoot, Follow your spirit and upon this charge, Cry “God for Unai, England and Saint Charlie George.”

COYRRG

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Arsenal 3 Valencia 1 – Cojones found – Player Ratings

May 3, 2019

Three at the back, wing backs for width, narrow up front and no Terrier. We need to score goals so hopefully our two main strikers on the pitch can do the business, but they will need service.

First Half

Things looked bleak after an early set-piece setback. The lad who looked like he’d never walk again moments earlier rose at the far post to nod home.

Arsenal’s response was majestic. Lacazette with a brilliant turn set a sprinting Auba free through the middle. Pausing to take the keeper out of the game, he laid it off for the following up Laca to stroke the ball into an empty net.

Seven minutes later, yet another spin by Laca saw him beat the offside trap and be available for Xhaka to pop it beautifully right on to his forehead. The ref’s wrist piece told him the ball was miles over the line when the keeper tried to claw it out after it had come off the post. Laca knew it was in – cue delighted celebrations and suddenly we were in front. Wow.

Second Half

We were excellent in the first 20 of the 2nd period with a full on power play. Every single player snapped into challenges determined to be first to the ball. It was a shame we couldn’t capitalise and score a third and fourth during this purple patch.

As energies dwindled, Valencia began to come back into it and Cech made a brilliant save to keep the slender lead in tact.

Laca’s chances came and went. He really should have grabbed his third but made a dog’s breakfast of a simple header and then hit the keeper’s legs in a one on one.

In the 88th minute Valencia made a time wasting substitute, keen to hang on to the 2-1 and their precious away goal. I began to think about how a slim lead was better than nothing but was doubtful it might be enough.

Then Mkhitaryan, who had provided real thrust when coming on for Mesut, had a shot blocked. The ball ricocheted back to Laca who tested the keeper with a deflected effort but again the ball found its way to Kolasinac who floated his classiest ball of the season to the far post where Auba shinned it in. Perfect. From a squeaky 2-1 to a far more convincing 2 goal cushion. Well played, lads.

Conclusion

We’ll still probably require an away goal in the Mestalla but at least we’re in there with a great chance of the Final.

The first half was pretty even but our second half dominance merited the 3-1.

Another great thing about that late goal was that those who can’t be bothered to remain in their seats until the end of the match, all missed it.

Ratings (extra point for all for us winning the first leg of a semi by 2 goals)

Cech – looked a little shaky on high balls but his save at 2-1 could well be crucial … 8

Mustafi – a fine performance from the German – pre-match worries from Gooners were banished by Shkodran’s commitment , drive and effort … 8

Koscielny – looked to have pulled a hamstring early in the 2nd half but played on fighting for the cause – hope he’s ok, his experience is invaluable  … 8

Sokratis – enjoyed the rough and tumble of the game and even smiled on occasion – he’s so likeable … 8

Maitland-Niles – some good, some not so good, but his positive contributions were excellent after he settled down … 7

Kolasinac – not brilliant in the first half but his final ball got better and better, as did his passing and interplay on that left flank in 2nd half – gem of an assist … 8

Xhaka – excellent through the game – controlled the midfield in the second period and delivered a peach of a cross for Laca’s second … 8

Guendouzi – I was surprised to see him subbed as he seemed to be playing well at that time, intercepting and interchanging to great effect   … 7

Ozil – a little anonymous in the first period but put the after burners on after half time – had a lovely time pinging the ball to and from Xhaka … 8

Lacazette – ran his socks off, scored two goals – could have had two more … 9

Aubameyang – sprinting around with real purpose, it really seemed that Auba had saved himself for this one – instrumental in Laca’s first and got that vital 3rd at exactly the right time … 9

Subs

Torreira – found his early season form with great interceptions, tackles and distribution – Unai’s substitution of the tiring Matteo was completely justified by Lucas’s performance … 8

Mkhitaryan – added much more in 20 minutes than he has done in the last three or four games combined in this little cameo … 7

Monreal – little to do as a sub for Kos … 7

Managers

Emery – Unai’s magic Europa wand appears to still be in tact after his move to Arsenal – hopefully he can come up with a plan to see us over the line next week … 9

Rob Newell – Camerasport via Getty Images

Marcelino Garcia Wagner – it was perfect that he was satisfied with the 2-1, tried to waste time and then looked crestfallen when he found his side two goals behind … 5

Ref

Clement Turpin – any lame efforts at using ‘highway robbery’ in the assessment of Monsieur Turpin were not required as the Frenchman did his best to uphold the rules without wanting to dominate proceedings in a sickening Oliveresque way – loved that moment when he pointed to his wrist to confirm the 2nd goal … 8

chas


Our Rorke’s Drift

April 23, 2017

I was hesitant about writing a FAC SF post with the prospect of Spurs awaiting us in the Final. Amusingly, that is no longer the case as the Hotspurs take yet another sad drag home along the North Circular 🙂

So, it is with a lighter heart that I write this post.

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Let’s kick off with my belief that we can beat City. Yes, they have great players and a fine manager. Yes, they have a squad which cost the equivalent of a mid-sized nation’s Gross National Product but they still play the likeable, but ageing, Sagna, and sometimes even Gael Clichy!

Here’s how we beat them. … solidity at the back, full backs being less adventurous, midfield staying on their feet and harrying rather than tackling, Ozil continuing his return to form, wingmen tracking back and always finding a red shirt with their passes, the front men being efficient and potent. Oh, and Cech/Ospina has to be alert at crosses.

Bosh.

We win.

Now how hard is that?

Will Mr. Wenger continue with his Back 3 experiment? I doubt it but it would be exciting. Sterling and Sane are much better widemen that Stewart Downing, who caused problems at ‘Boro. Can he trust the inexperienced Holding to stop such a quality attack?

On paper we are even in most areas of the pitch. Silva is not as good as an on-form Ozil. Aguero and Sanchez are both similar and wonderful players. Sterling and Theo are also similar, in fact all over the pitch there are likenesses between the squads.

The huge difference is De Bruyne, a marvellous talent and when on form, head and shoulders the best in his position, thankfully in recent weeks he has been struggling. We must hope for him to have an awful game this afternoon.

Guardiola will be looking for the FAC to save an ordinary season. I still think he was perfect for Arsenal but that ship has sailed.

As to Arsenal,  I just cannot see how we go into the game without Bellerin, it would be madness. Does he fit into a back 3? No, so we will revert to norm

My Team:

Cech (unless Ospina is fit)

Bellerin    Gabriel    Koscielny     Monreal

Ox   Ramsey    Xhaka

Walcott  Sanchez    Ozil

It is highly unlikely AW will play the above as it has no defensive “enforcer” but who gets dropped for Coquelin/Elneney? And who is left out if AW decides to play Giroud as a target man? Welbeck is not 100% fit, so Walcott starts.

This game is a huge opportunity to show that the current Arsenal are not as poor as some believe. Form is temporary. Class is permanent.

My main concern is the weather. We do not play as well when the temperature drops into single figures and the forecast is for chilly. If it gets over 15C, we win.

Let’s hope for a game as good as yesterday and an Arsenal win.

Let it be So.

COYRRG

p.s. Thank you to Chas for the headline’s inspiration

 


Wembley Awaiting or Despair Descending?

January 25, 2011

Who would have thought that Ipswich at home would be our most important game of the season to date? Some may say that beating Chelsea and overcoming our Big 4 hoodoo was vital but a loss tonight is unthinkable, especially for Mr. Wenger.

Ipswich were superb at Portman Rd. They deserved to win and but for a fine Chesney save could have won by more. It wasn’t that Arsenal were poor, more that Ipswich came out with a gameplan which they applied with great determination and skill, and Arsenal didn’t have the cojones to deal with them. One would have thought that our midfield would be quite used to playing against less talented but very dogged opposition, and that AW would have sent out his team fully aware of the dangers of underestimating any opponents.

I highlighted Conor Wickham before the game and he showed why he is so highly rated. I am sure that if one were to check the statistics he would have run twice the distance of Nik B and with far more effectiveness. To see him  – a 17-y-o. – closing down Eboue in the corner and then tracking his run up the pitch was an object lesson to all our players. Hard work reaps benefits.

Ipswich’s central defence was never ruffled nor were their full backs given the grilling one would expect, though to be fair to Nik B and Theo, they didn’t get any decent service from the players around them. Even Cesc had an off day. The side that took the pitch at Portman Rd should have won; it was packed with Internationals (Chesney was the only player without caps) and every player had bags of PL experience – they just didn’t gel. Arshavin and Eboue had stinkers resulting in a very narrow attacking area and no cutting edge.

The old adage “form is temporary, class is permanent” is apt for Arshavin this season. He WILL come good and looked to be determined to work his way back to form last time out. This applies to Chamakh as well, what has happened to our star striker? Can he regain his blistering early season form? Will AW play them, particularly in light of the kicking Nasri got at the weekend and Van Persie’s notorious chocolate legs?  It should be pointed out that we have Huddersfield in the Cup on Sunday and can therefore choose when to rest players.

In view of the importance of this game I would start with the A team, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the famously stubborn AW stick to his principles of playing some members of his B squad.

 

Tonight Arsenal have to walk onto to the pitch with the correct attitude – losing is not an option.

COYRRG