Battlers or Bottlers?

April 24, 2019

Big night for AFC and Gooners are concerned, my guess is that you are too. Yet it all looked so good just a week ago …

It doesn’t take much to burst the bubble of Gooner’s confidence, does it? I don’t understand why this should be – we are not the Nearly Men of N17. We have a trophy cabinet which provides evidence of Arsenal’s ability to grind out results and win trophies. Until just 2 years ago we had been in the CL for 19 successive years, this is not evidence of a team of bottlers.

In other words – we can win tonight.

The Great Dane

Battlers or Bottlers was part of yesterday’s comment discussion. One game will not give a true reflection but IMO we have finally got a team of battlers. Name two players who you think are not up for the fight (OK – I would have to agree – now name three 😀  ). Lack of effort was not the reason we lost on Sunday, it was poor team selection and individual errors.

What of Wolves? Nuno Wagnerito has done a fantastic job and must be in contention for Manager of the Year (Media Darling Klopp will win it). 7th in the table, in the FAC Final  with a team just promoted. Excellent. Expect to see him at Spurs when the Podgy One leaves. Midfield is their strength. They have a good home record, unbeaten in 9.

We, on the other hand, are crap away. This gives cause for concern. The footballing Gods smiled upon us at Watford, we must do all we can to attract good fortune. I will be sacrificing a virgin (if I can find on in Østerbro).

Losing Ramsey was horrible but The Big Greek chap is back and that could be a deciding factor. He has been immense alongside the rejuvenated Koscielny. Keep Mustafi in London, AMN on the right, Nacho on the left. Back 4. Kushti.

The pundits are convinced of a home win. Who do you trust – Lawrenson, Merson, or Unai Emery?

Win 7 games and Top of The World, Ma. Not asking much 🙂

COYRRG

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Kostatis

March 5, 2019

I have been thinking about age. Not mine –  the team, and in particular, the defence.

It seems that, at last, we have found a central defence which works – Koscatis or Sokrielny. 63 (almost 64)  years between them. In other words a short shelf life, or is it?

If a CB loses his pace and agility is it so important? BFG was magnificent at 32 and crap at 34 when he retired but then he never had pace or agility. But what of Sol or Kolo or Keown?

images.jpegUnknown-1.jpeg

We can survive with these two whilst the young Guns of Holding, Mavro and Chambers come up to speeds

I will not write of the younger Mustafi as my fervent wish is that we get shot ASAP.

So the age demographic at CB appears to function but what of the FB’s. It is here that we need major surgery. On the right we have the wonderful, but crocked, Hector, who at 23 y-o. will surely (should he stay) become an Arsenal stalwart.

Lichtsteiner is close to the bus-pass, which leaves … who? AMN is clearly not a full-back. It must be a great disappointment to both Ainsley and Emery that he hasn’t grasped his opportunity, just as Hector did when Debuchy got injured. Will he, Can he? I sincerely hope so. But unless we have a young tiro coming through the youth teams we need to buy.

On the left is an even worse picture with Monreal, 33 and unlikely to maintain his excellent form of the past few years. We don’t know if the Wardrobe (25 y.o) is a full back or a midfielder. Let’s assume Kolasinac can develop the discipline required to augment the defence, though it seems Emery sees him as a vital attacking cog.  So … reinforcements, please.

How could this come to pass? Surely if I can see the imbalance in the age demographic then the experts at AFC can? Which loonie signed Lichsteiner and not a young developing RB?  Are Arsenal going to continue to buy older players for a supposed short term gain? Be honest, as fine a player as PEA is, don’t you think he saw his best days at BD? We needed a rock at the back and signed a Sokratis with at most 3 seasons in him – actually, this one I can accept because we have fine young CB’s coming through.

Reading this through it strikes me that this is an Old Man’s gripe. Poorly thought through and without purpose – but it is raining hard and I have to go to Sweden for a tooth implant – you can allow me to be grumpy!

written by Big Raddy


Arsenal 3 Burnley 1 – Player Ratings

December 23, 2018

Before the game

Superb fun on the 8:45 from Nottingham. A complimentary full English included in the price of a first class ticket. Our only dilemma was how to fit in the three accompanying beers. Once in London, beers in the World’s End, Finsbury Park with LBG and two hip flasks of surgical spirit, plus a lovely discussion about a match photo on the pub wall, all preceded meeting up with the ticket fairy outside entrance F.

We all knew how Dyche would set up his team to maximise the chance of sneaking something with the bang average players he has at his disposal – kick the opposition and hope for a goal at a set-piece.

First half

Harum scarum start to the game. Could have been goals at either end in the first couple of minutes. Eventually the footballing side shone through and deservedly took the lead when Auba scored. Mesut’s through ball to Kola was mind-bending; such vision in a crowded penalty area. No-one else in the Premier could have played that pass. One nil to the Arsenal. Burnley’s 354 away fans were distraught.

Second half

Arsenal should have been sailing gently down the three points river after Auba doubled his tally with a classy pile-driver high into the net at Hart’s near post.

Instead we let the Neanderthals back into the game with a series of dreadful attempts at clearances from a dead ball. A Dyche team scoring from a dead ball – who would have thought it?

At this point I could see two eventualities 4-1 or 2-2. Luckily Wobbly popped up with the winner when played onside by the Burnley right back. His goal-bound effort was close enough to the goal not to sail over the bar!

get your head over it, lad

The fourth was not forthcoming, so we had to be content with just 3-1 and three lovely points. 🙂

Conclusion

A worthy three points against a team of cloggers. Shame Mesut didn’t play as defensive midfielder! 😊

Ratings

Leno – Sound performance … 7

Maitland-Niles – lackadaisical and no threat going forward … 5

Sokratis – MOTM – a Greek Tony Adams – stood up to Barnes who could have been sent off twice – Auba calls him ‘Papa’, sounds good to me … 9

Monreal – solid but bandy legs caused another injury … 6

Kolasinac – not much to do defensively which played to his strong suit – some majestic power challenges … 7

Xhaka – where was he playing? – was he good or bad? You decide … 7

Elneny – Bang average – Animal from the Muppets – how bad is it when you only get picked when the Terrier needs a rest and even then you can’t last 90 mins without being subbed?… 5

Guendouzi – not one of his best – needs a haircut … 6

Ozil – masterminded Burnley’s downfall, pass for the first goal was world class – run for the third mesmeric … 8

Aubameyang – does what it says on the tin … 8

Lacazette – sparky and full of spunk, needs a goal but instrumental in the crucial second … 7

Subs

Lichtsteiner – not the best passer but he wasn’t signed for his sweet passing – a great squad player … 7

Iwobi – did very little – apart from seal the victory … 6

Torreira – shouldn’t have been needed for Burnley … 6

Managers

Emery – tricky day for him with so many out, but did a fair job at juggling his resources … 7

Dyche – like some hideous reincarnation of all of Alex Ferguson’s worst traits. Comments after the game ridiculously laughable … 2

chas


Arsenal’s Interlull – Who’s involved and when?

November 13, 2018

It’s getting more difficult to find words to describe how horrendously tedious these regular international breaks actually are.

There will be 9 games for Arsenal in December – just imagine how much easier December could be if we dropped two of the international breaks, enabling fixtures to be more evenly spread. Injuries will inevitably mount as fatigue sets in. Clubs with the biggest squads and those teams which contain less international players will benefit.

Pros for the November break

Aside from Mesut still giving Die Mannschaft the finger, Terrier won’t have to travel halfway around the world this time around as he’s playing at the home of North London’s finest Club on Friday and then in Paris.

Cons (not A.M-N)

Two manc players have withdrawn from the French squad, so Laca has been called up.

Micki is playing away with Armenia, which means less travelling as the games are in Gibraltar and Liechtenstein

There are another 256 cons but I can’t be bothered to list them.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

Mikhi – Armenia

Friday 16th Nov Gibraltar (A) Uefa Nations League (UNL)

Monday 19th Nov Liechtenstein (A) UNL

 

Auba – Gabon

Saturday 17th Nov Mali (H) AFCON

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Terrier – Uruguay

Friday 16th Nov Brazil (Emirates Stadium) Friendly

Tuesday 20th Nov France (A) Friendly

 

Granit – Switzerland

Wednesday 14th Nov – Qatar (H) Friendly attempting to pretend Qatar are part of football

Sunday 18th Nov Belgium (H) UNL

 

Wobbly – Nigeria

Saturday 17th Nov South Africa (A) AFCON

Tuesday 20 Nov Uganda (H) Friendly

 

Big Sok – Greece

Thursday 15th Nov – Finland (H) UNL

Sunday 18th Nov – Estonia (H) UNL

Rambo – Wales

Friday 16th Nov – Denmark (H) UNL

Tuesday 20th Nov – Albania (A) Friendly

 

Mo Elneny

Friday 16th Nov – Tunisia (H) AFCON

Tuesday 20th Nov – United Arab Emirates (A) Friendly

 

Bernd Leno

Thursday 15th Nov – Russia (H) Friendly

Monday 19th Nov – Netherlands (H) UNL

Getty Images

Bournemouth away will be our first fixture when we get back to proper football on November 25th, hopefully with no more casualties.

Apologies for any inaccuracies/omissions.

chas


Mustafi or Holding – who partners the Greek Colossus – Poll?

October 16, 2018

Morning all, fellow suffering Gunners.

Back to me poll do-da to help fill the gap.

Pretty sure we’d all be pretty close now after 8 league games to picking Unai’s starting XI.

I’m by far and away the most knowledgeable on this site when it comes to attacking football, but beyond useless when it comes to defenders, so although it appalls me to admit this, I need your help.

My interest in defenders goes no further than Tony Adams, although I’m aware that when it comes to the overall defence, continuity is vital as it’s the misunderstandings that lead to more let-ins than anything else.

Sadly, and hopefully only for now, I’m having to leave Laurent out of the equation and just hope he makes a full and speedy return. He would make the poll irrelevant.

So, here we go. Same as before,  4-2-3-1. Difference today is that I’m insisting Sokratis is a starter, so you’re picking the other CB. Does Holding have a real future? If so, and it’s a close call between him and Mustafi, would that swing it? I have no idea.

mickydidit89


Bog Snorkelling in Baku – Qarabag Ratings

October 5, 2018

Another game, another clean sheet, eight wins on the trot; ouch, it is going to hurt when we fall. Or maybe we won’t?

In trying to understand the team selection, it struck me that much of what was going on had more to do with November the 3rd than with a second tier team from Azerbaijan. As the more astute would have realised, we play Liverpool on that day and as much as we should win our two games before, we all know that will be our next real test.

And how does this all link into last night’s win? Answer – the choice of defence. Emery set the team up for the best part of the first half with five at the back:

Lichtsteiner, Holding, Sokratis, Monreal, Kolasinac

Yes, Lichtsteiner and Kolasinac got forward as demonstrated by the first goal but they spent the best part of the first half in the above formation, which against a team of lowly calibre, was belt and braces and unnecessary in my opinion.

Anyway it is just a hunch but if Kolasinac and Monreal start against Liverpool, I can say I was right. Bellerin will obviously replace Lichsteiner.

Once Emery had had a chance to air this experiment, Torriera replaced Monreal at half time and everything calmed down in the way it should have been from the start. I say that as though I know how he does it, but as close as I look, I still don’t understand how the Uruguayan effortlessly seems to be able to have such a huge influence on every game he plays in.

The rest of the team selection was clear that it was designed to give more of the squad a run out. The Guendouzi/Elneny combo is obvious as is Welbeck, Smith-Rowe (Lab) and Iwobi.

courtesy David Price

So enough of that tactics drivel, let’s get onto the serious stuff: Red Shorts? What is that about? The opposition were wearing black shorts so I see no good reason why we should not have been wearing the normal time honoured white shorts. Pink sleeves? Don’t get me started.

It turned out to be a pretty comfortable win, with probably the three players on the pitch that we would most have wanted to have scored the goals, (all in the knowledge that each one of them would benefit confidence-wise from doing so), and so they did.

courtesy David Price

Leno: what a fine goal keeper we have and seamlessly slotting in? Some more great saves…. 8

Lichsteiner: an excellent stand in and proof that the powers that be in the club’s new buying system are working very well, naturally that also applies to Leno…. 7

Holding: why did we loan Chambers to Fulham? Don’t know and don’t care…. 7

Sokratis: it is going to be fascinating to see if Emery sticks with these two on Sunday — he should, they are far from perfect but it made a nice change not to have mop up Mustafi’s usual clangers…. 7

Monreal: Nacho is the most improved player of the squad; he has become authoritative, something that I would never have thought last season; he is clearly benefitting from clearer instruction, the language must help. He tucked in well last tonight as he usually does…. 8

Kolasinac: I loved the way he bulldozed down the wing early on in the game, pushing his opposing defender away like a skittle, pretty good game really…. 7

Guendouzi: getting better and better and now adding goals, it looks like he has a long future at the club…. 8

Elneny: things are moving on and Mo does not seem to be able to keep up, did ok last night but can’t see him being around for too much longer…. 6

Smith Rowe (Lab): the goal obviously did his confidence the world of good, it struck me that he is a striker rather than a midfielder, interesting to see how this one develops…. 7

Iwobi: last season Alex had plateaued; he was going nowhere fast, it is testament to Emery’s man management that he has been given new drive, direction and self belief. I am not sure where it will all end up but at least it is going somewhere…. 8

Welbeck: Danny, Danny, you know I am a fan but you have got to take those chances that come your way…. 6

LB


Arsenal’s new template taking shape – FC Vorskla ratings

September 21, 2018

So, exactly what did we expect from a game against Vorskla Poltava Who?

Goals? Yes, sure, but there’s a bigger picture. We will try hard to win this Trophy for obvious reasons, and this journey will include a few more Who Teams before we get stuck into the tricky fixtures later on.

Historically, the early rounds of any tournament against Minnow Opposition are opportunities for yoof players to grab experience and shine, as well as the returning-from-injury sorts.

However, while all that was true for last night’s encounter, it was still very much in the context of a new Manager establishing his own footballing template.

Most obvious to me is the hugely positive impact the Club’s transfer policy has been over the last six odd months.

Mesut and Iwobi re-signed, Mhki and Auba brought in, and most recently the importing of Sokratis, Licht, Torreira and Guendouzi.

Last night we saw them all, and I believe the latter four will massively improve both our Europa campaign as well as in the league.

From the evidence of last night, I’m still not convinced Unai has got the balance quite right, although I do understand that when there are so many player changes, finding that fluent rhythm is not going to happen instantly.

While I wouldn’t describe either Elneny or Xhaka as offensive midfielders, neither are they true defensive midfielders in the sense of the DM sort. Both Torreira and Guendouzi are, but what I liked so much last night about their play was, having won the ball back, how quickly their heads are up and immediately looking to build/pass for forwards momentum.

When I mentioned balance earlier, I was referring to two things.  We were slightly lopsided in the first half towards the left, which, if exploiting a tactical weakness of the opposition’s right flank then fair enough, but I’m not convinced. The other concern if the balance between midfield and attack. Mhki was sent out as the link man last night, and I think given more games, it could work. He is strong and aggressive in possession and can drive forwards with the ball when the opportunity presents itself. He does also possess an intelligent final ball.

Way too early to judge, but young Smith Rowe does look to be capable of playing exactly this role in due course.  Another very exciting cameo from him.

I’m waffling, and I’m also out of time, so I’ll end with a comment and a question.

Laca looked pissed off. I would be too if I were him. Why? Because Auba looked far better central than out wide.

I’m still convinced 3-5-2 is the only way to optimise those two and Mesut. Unai doesn’t agree. What do you think about Auba being shunted back out left?

Written by mickydidit89

Ratings (chas)

Leno – did everything very well, tidy on the deck, looked to be heading for a clean sheet and then, bang, beaten by two beauties….6

Lichtsteiner – oozes experience and defensive know-how, though joined in the calamitous defending at the end….6

Holding – didn’t really do a huge amount of note but looked competent without being oustanding….6

Sokratis – growing in confidence by the day. Made some great tackles, my favourite being when he thumped the floor in celebration at a job well done – exactly what we want to see….8

Monreal – Arsenal’s left flank saw a lot of action last night and most of it was offensive. Nacho played his part as usual….7

Elneny – patrols the centre of the pitch effectively but sometimes lacks forward drive….6

Torreira – outstanding to begin with but then took a bit of a battering which lessened his impact. Let’s hope he is as indestructible as our last wee fellow, Arshavin….7

Mkhitaryan – took time for the motor to start purring but grew in confidence, contributing to most everything we did well going forward. Micky’s highlight was the commentator suggesting that in the build up to the first goal, Micki had called “my ball” in Ukrainian causing the Vorskla player to leave the ball as if dummying – as Micki played over a 100 games for Donetsk in the Ukraine, this is highly likely 🙂 ….7

Iwobi – sometimes his feet can’t keep pace with his brain but when he does get things in sync, he’s outstanding and a real attacking threat….8

Welbeck – scored with his first decent chance, looked a little confused as to where he was playing in the first half. He’s such an athlete, there seems to be a great striker in there somewhere….7

Aubameyang – two classy goals and one beauty curled against the foot of the post. The smile was back which was more than you could say for Laca on the bench….9

Subs

Guendouzi – gave Torreira a rest and proceeded to create with every touch, tackling, surging forward – the whole package….7

Ozil – bizarre substitution, didn’t need the game time but seemed to enjoy being on the pitch because he loves football so much. Enjoyed his improvised finish for the goal….6

Smith Rowe – first player born in the 21st century to make a full debut (well, I think that’s what they said). Surging runs, good on the ball, could be something extra special….7