Southampton: MWG?

May 10, 2017

Just in case anyone is getting ahead of themselves and thinking this will be an easy win, may I point out that we have not won at St Mary’s in our last 5 visits plus we have lost 5 of our last 6 away matches. We need a win because if we draw or, heaven forbid, lose, the rest of the season is just filling in time until the Cup Final.

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Beating both Manchester clubs must give some confidence to our troops and given Liverpool’s odd form there are genuine chances for a top 4 finish (though Stoke will be difficult).

Southampton are a strange team, sometimes they play attacking positive football, at others they are just dour, evidenced by just 39 goals for (44 conceded). In a season which has seen the EPL split into two divisions S’to are just 4 places below us in 10th yet 21 points behind.

Tonight’s referee is John Moss and just to show that I never bear grudges may I ask you to recall the action below. Moss was refereeing that day and did not even give a free kick! IMO it was one of the most dangerous, deliberate fouls I have seen. Moss is known for “letting play flow”, I call it bottling major decisions. He was also the referee when we played Burnley at home earlier this season and Barton got away with grabbing Iwobi’s face.

I do not expect much change from Sunday’s team – Koscielny may be injured and being so important is likely to be rested. Hence …

My Team

Cech

Holding    Mustafi   Monreal

Ox   Ramsey   Xhaka   Gibbs

Ozil     Sanchez

Welbeck

Once again, I would prefer to play someone other than Gibbs though he did play well in the second half on Sunday. Gabriel may return in place of Holding.

Southampton were super dull against Liverpool and I can see no reason why they shouldn’t be so tonight. Puel’s job is apparently under threat, though what do S’ton’s BoD expect? Puel has done OK with limited resources. What he does have is a very good defence which is why we have to score in the first half to make an entertaining game otherwise we are in for another night of tension, possession, dilly-dallying and reluctance to shoot.

Bang one in early and we could be kushtie

Let it be So

COYRRG


What went wrong? …….. Was it just one of those nights?

February 3, 2016

These are the thoughts of some AA regulars ……

Kelsey ……

If I continue in the way I am known to express myself I am apparently a doomer but others who can be far more critical than me don’t even get a response.

I actually thought apart from the now familiar juttering start that we were very unlucky to not win and there is no doubt that their keeper was on top form.

I don’t have the technical knowledge of others such as GIE and there is no doubting our stamina but I feel every game we play we are getting more and more predictable that I can see the next move before it happens and therefore if I can see it so every team we play will have a plan to stop us which in recent weeks has led to no wins in four vital matches whilst the other contenders march on despite dropping the odd point here and there.

We really either don’t have a different way of playing or AW will not alter things dramatically.You decide.

We will know in the next month if we are still in with a shout of the title or (dread to think) in a battle for forth yet again.

The margins in so many games are getting finer as the seasons roll on.

I don’t usually get involved in a discussion about refs but in the first half he showed a definite bias against us.

I am not going to critisize any one player only to say the Kos/Gabriel partnership is not as good as I thought it would be.

It now becomes very much a mental thing for all of the top 5 either to sustain winning or getting back to winning, and we all know which category we fall into.

GoonerB ……..

I have a feeling that many will not want to discuss anything Arsenal or AW related his morning. I think a lot will run for cover which I wish didn’t happen because to get the Yin and Yang going we need all the regular contributors from those more negative to those more positive.

I am somewhere in betwixt most views. On one hand I recognise that we had a more difficult run of fixtures recently (say compared to Spuds). As such the league title is still on and there is till reason to feel hopeful. Have a look at GIE’s input and predictions from late yesterday.

On the other hand I would say that we don’t take care of our own business well enough. I get that the ref was awful and agreed. This would have influenced the balance of the game to some degree. Not enough though for me that we shouldn’t have been able to overcome Southampton at home with the team put out and the players available to us. The referee thing has now also been used too much to explain away poor results.

I get their keeper had a blinder and that it was just one of those games. The problem is that every season we, more so it seems than any other team, seem to drop points against teams whose keeper has his best game of the season. Now I would look at why this happens so often and wonder if there is something about the way we attack that is slightly different that gives a keeper a better chance to put in these performances.

Unfortunately we just don’t seem to take care of our own business and look at our own failings and weaknesses. That needs to be done first before we start portraying ourselves as some unlucky put upon club.

Chas ……

I don’t understand how those who like to constructively criticise can recognise:

that the ref was bent
that Forster had a brilliant game
we created more than enough chances to win by 2 or 3

But still want to have a pop at management for:

lack of tactics
lack of signings
thinking Giroud is a striker ( 🙂 – amazingly it didn’t seem to be him that was culpable last night).

Aren’t you simply

a) reacting to the result and the fact we didn’t score or
b) simply carrying on seeing things with your own confirmation bias?

Cage rattling? 🙂

Can you add anything to the debate? ……..


Coquelin and Sanchez the Difference?

February 2, 2016

4-0. Were we terrible or did Southampton get lucky or perform above their norm? We find out tonight.

It was typical Arsenal; there we were riding along on a wave of confidence and good form, the standard of play was at it’s pacy, intricate best, there was talk of title favourites then Wham (the noise not the wavy-haired boys from Essex) we get hammered by a team who were completely out of form. This is why I love the Arsenal 😀

The only additions to our squad which was beaten in December are Coquelin and Sanchez – will they make a difference? One would like to think so.

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St. Francis Returns

Sean Long played a huge role in their win thanks to some awful refereeing and some weak defending. Today we must be stronger especially as S’ton are likely to give Charlie Austin his first game and that fellow is a nuisance.

Wanyama always does well against us, perhaps because it is his dream to play for the Gunners. My hope is that Coquelin is back to his best and manages to win the vital midfield battle.

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin    BFG   Koscielny     Monreal

Ramsey    Coquelin    Sanchez

Ozil

Walcott   Giroud

Nothing controversial here though perhaps you would pick Campbell ahead of Walcott given Theo’s poor form of late. I cannot see Elneny getting more than 20 minutes, can you?

The bench is becoming very competitive. Ospina, Gabriel, Chambers, Gibbs, Arteta, Ox, Campbell. Iwobi deserves a place but who gives way?

S’ton are in a fine vein of form having won their last 3 games including beating MU at Old Trafford – a famous win. Can they continue this run? In my opinion … No. The above team is very nearly our first choice 11 (Welbeck?) and on paper should triumph.

I am saddened to read of Rosicky’s injury. Having lauded his return in my last PM he lasted 15 mins. Better than nothing and at least he got a heart warming reception from the fans. Something to remember in his retirement.

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And what of the transfer window? Some are disappointed, in which case, I suggest they look at our recent transfer policy. Mr Wenger is clearly satisfied with his squad and well he might be – we have a terrific squad with players coming through the ranks, players on loan getting experience prior to their promotion the the first team squad and purchases where necessary (Elneny & Cech). There are concerns about right back should Bellerin get crocked but in Flamini, Gabriel and especially Chambers we have adequate cover.

Or did some of you believe we would spend €80m on a striker? 😀

Sanchez looked hungry on Saturday. The chances he and Ozil can create, not just for themselves but for others, should propel us to victory, but in this topsy-turvy season  I hesitate to make a prediction.  Even so, I fancy us for three points.

COYRRG


A Year on from ShowerGate

December 26, 2015

How times have changed since we last visited The Saints. We lost 2-0 with Chesney making a couple of poor decisions which led to Marlboro-Gate and the young Pole being sent to Rome (I can think of worse punishments).

Can you imagine our current glovesman  behaving like TPIG? Cech started his Arsenal career with a poor game at home to WHU, 3 months later and the man is being spoken of in the same breath as David Seaman, who is without question the best AFC gloveman of my lifetime (sorry Bob Wilson).

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If we win the title – sorry – when we win the title Cech will have been a major contributor; Ozil and Sanchez may be the obvious choice for our most important player but Cech is hugely influential, just think how we did in the CL and COC without him.

Important match tonight; it is wonderful beating MC but the Xmas rush would be ruined if we drop points. A draw is barely the bare minimum.

Our lads must be rested, confident and relaxed – they have been out playing Santa at local hospitals and sitting playing Xbox on their plush leather settees; they should be ready for a battle today.

And it is sure to be a battle because S’ton are in trouble‚ playing poorly, losing regularly and unable to score. I expect Koeman to pack the midfield, fill out the flanks and sit his team very deep. Nothing new when teams play Arsenal but not what we expect from the usual free-flowing football he promotes.

Wanyama: Should we sign him in January? S’ton are saying that no-one is leaving but money talks. My opinion is that he is a fine destructive MF but hasn’t the passing skills to improve our team

Amazing to think of the talent sold by S’ton over the past few years. Theo, Ox, Chambers, MonkeyBoy, Lovgren, Schneiderlin, Clyne, Luke Shaw, Lallana etc etc

As to our Brave Lads, the team will surely be the same as beat MC, much has been talked about rotation and the need to rest players but with the  home games with Bournemouth and Newcastle to come  AW can afford to wait.

We are learning to win games with less possession, today we shall surely have the majority of the ball and need to find different solutions, with the Ozil/Ramsey axis we are more creative and not so reliant upon tricky/tacky when facing PTB tactics.

Really looking forward to tonight.

COYRRG

 

 


Is Theo Worth his Wages?

January 22, 2015

9 years ago yesterday,  a 16 year old born in Stanmore, North London was signed by Mr. Wenger. His arrival aroused much excitement because this kid was meant to be the best attacking prospect in the land. His name? Theo Walcott.

He was so good as a young boy that he was sponsored by Nike at the age of 14 and much to his credit refused an opportunity to join Chelsea. Joining Southampton Theo was the youngest player in S’ton’s long history to make a debut in the first team – he was just 16 and 3 months. Scoring a goal in his first starting game and playing with such verve that he became  one of the BBC Young Sports Personalities of 2005 (winning it in his first AFC season ).

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Walcott signed for us in Jan 2006 whilst still a 16. y.o for £9m. I was excited – I bet you were excited. He took the 14 shirt which shows just how confident a young man he is.

How do we assess his time at Arsenal? Do you think he is worth the hype and the huge wages?

Let us start with the number of games he has played – almost 200 in a 9 year spell = 22 a season. Not good. From the season out with the shoulder injuries to last years knee-knack Theo has spent much time in the massive AFC treatment mansion. Yet when fit he is a potent attacking weapon and a man whose defensive abilities are under-estimated.

Perhaps my impression of Walcott is through the rose coloured glasses of absence but he is one of my favourite players. I love how he skins the full back or scores by shooting across the keeper a’la TH14. I like his smile and his honesty, unlike most speedsters the man doesn’t dive  – he is a bloke I would love my daughter to marry (if I had one!),

But is my assessment skewed by my liking the fellow? Would we be better off selling him for a bucketload of money in summer rather than go through another tortuous contract negotiation?

A goal every 5 games is not a particularly good return for someone who creates and is given so many scoring opportunities, yet in my opinion his absence cost us the title last season – we had no-one who could scare the opposition; a situation AW recognised and remedied with the purchase of Alexis.

The fans love him as witnessed by the reaction when he warms up prior to coming on as sub. Which brings us to the nub of this post …. Is Theo still an automatic starter in our best first eleven?

Given the wealth of attacking talent we have and the development of The Ox where does Theo fit in? Do we drop the magical Santi or the mercurial Alexis? We have two target men which indicates that either Welbz or OG will always start centrally.

Rasp has been writing about a player having “their time” (re:Coq) and perhaps Walcott has missed his. I cannot see him as anything but a super-sub who will start perhaps one in three games. Is that enough for a man who is an automatic pick for England and has such a high media profile?

What to you think?

written by Big Raddy


New Years Day

January 1, 2015

Happy New Year to all Gooners. May your 2015 be filled with joy and silverware and may your enemies be smitten by a plague of locusts followed by an eruption of boils.

Not easy playing on NYD. I am sure Adams, Parlour and the other members of the Tuesday Club would have struggled – a night on the sauce followed by a chilly trip to Southampton would have a severe test but they would have overcome both the Saints and a long night of fags and ale.

However, the Saints of Adams day are a far cry from the excellent teams of Pocchetino and Koeman, I remember a trip down to St. Mary’s as one to savour and an easy 3 points – it won’t be so this afternoon. Even without Schneiderlin and (possibly) Clyne, the Saints are formidable opponents.

I am full of admiration for Southampton. They play good football, develop players, buy in cheap but quality replacements for their sold stars and run a tight ship.

We scraped past them at the Emirates (Sanchez tap in from a Ramsey pass) and a little One-Nil to the Arsenal would be a very pleasant way to start the year.

We have selection difficulties (as ever), particularly upfront but this also gives opportunities, Campbell may start today or perhaps we will finally see the return of Theo Walcott. IMO Walcott is a vital cog in this team  – we have missed him. Thankfully the defence are all available for selection. Midfield? No Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta, Ozil – surely Rosicky will start or will be see the Coq/Flamini axis?

No tactics today. No in-depth study of the opposition, no look at the referee bias. Sorry about that! But I will take a little peek at their food stuffs – unsurprisingly they eat a lot of ice cream – nothing to get too excited about – but in my research I discovered one of my childhood heroes was born here. See below.

Can we win? It will be tough and we are the underdogs. Given all the injuries and lack of firepower I would take a point.

written by a worse for wear Big Raddy


Draxler? Not as Good as Cazorla

January 28, 2014

What has the title got to do with this evenings trip to St. Mary’s I hear you ask? Read on …..

Arsenal go into this fixture on a superb run of results which have brought joy and good humour into every Arsenal home. Southampton have won their last two games as they look to rediscover their early season form. Injuries and boardroom problems have affected them but the return of players should see them climb the table again – starting next weekend!

Do you think players are affected by BoD strife? Can you imagine Rickie Lambert being concerned about the loss of  a chairman? Manager perhaps, coaches certainly, but a Chairman?

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“What’s a Chairman?”

Southampton welcome back Wanyama who has been a major loss but they are still without the “naughty” and suspended Osvaldo, Lovren and Ramirez. Lambert is a doubt. Pocchettino says he will send his team out to play “on the front foot”. Great, I hope he does because two attacking teams makes for an exciting game. Imagine having to suffer watching a Mourinho team through season.

We saw in the home tie that Southampton have some fine players and tonight will be a tough test.

Arsenal: Arteta, Ramsey, TV and Rosicky are back in the squad though I doubt they will start. Wilshere has another ankle-knock so my guess is that Oxlade-Chamberlain will start against his old club.

My team:

saints v arse

This may be too attacking in an away tie but what the heck. As long as we score more we take the points! Mr Wenger may disagree and play Arteta in place of Ox – we shall see. Ramsey is an automatic starter when fit but another few days R & R wouldn’t hurt.

Now – why is Santi better than Draxler? Because he is naturally two-footed, one of the best dribblers I have ever seen – his close control is exceptional – he has a wonderful spirit and he loves The Arsenal. This is not to say that Draxler will not develop into a marvellous player, he certainly has the physique which Cazorla lacks but ….. Let us assume Podolski comes good through to the end of the season and ends with 15+goals, why spend €35m to replace him? And if Drexler does come do you really think Santi will get to play centrally when the Wizard of Oz is in the team?

Nope. Get Theo fit and the squad is strong enough  in the opposition half. I would prefer we buy a top defensive shield. An Essien style player.

But what do I know – I am not paid squizillions to manage a football team, though I am available ……

Southampton: Founded in the stone age, the town really took off when the Anglo-Saxons (yet again)settled in the St. Mary’s area. Their town was called Hamwic, which gave rise to the name  Hampshire. By the end of the 9th C the settlement became known as South Hamtun. Those pesky Vikings raided throughout the next couple of centuries and South Hamtun floundered.  However, a fortified settlement  was established to keep out the scandinavian swine and by the time of Norman Conquest of 1066 the town had become important  as travellers moved between England and Normandy. By the 13th century fortifications were built including Southampton Castle (most of which still stands) and the town became a major port where French wine was exchanged for English cloth and wool.

Over the years the town became the major embarkation point for the British armies as they conquered the world, and later became the home port for cruise ships such as the Queen’s Mary and Elisabeth.

Back to the game: Another must win? Much has been said of the MU team which won the title but only won one game against a top 4 side, ( let us not presume we cannot win against strong opposition) and harvesting points against teams outside the top 5 is essential. We have done brilliantly so far and I see no reason why our run cannot continue.

Anyone think that Boruc will try to outsmart Giroud again?

Click here to relive the moment….

Hopefully the 3rd best Polish GK will gift us another tonight.

Big Raddy