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


First vs Third

November 23, 2013

Firstly, I have to say how impressed I am with our feeder team’s current form, nothing less than wonderful. One of the problems with the advantages given to the CL clubs and those backed by billionaires is that the romance has gone out of the league table. Never again will Wolves or Portsmouth or Spurs win the title, those days disappeared with the advent of colour television.

So we are delighted when after a third (almost) of the season an unfancied club can be 3rd in the table playing attractive football. Given the furore following Adams sacking and the arrival of the unknown Pochettino, Southampton’s revival has been the stuff of fairy tales. Built upon a sold defence and a hard working midfield, they have embarrassed a few of the top clubs and will be looking to do the same this afternoon.

But is their style so advanced? Big strong centre backs, fast athletic full backs, hard workers in midfield with both destroyers (Schnitzel and Wagamamma) and craft (Lollipop), wingmen and a big centre forward who is excellent in the air. Seems to me a bit like our ’89 double team.

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An *80’s Ricky Lambert?

As usual you will be better served on other sites if you are after tactics or stats.

Instead let’s look at a couple of players.. Wanyama: After a poor start he has acclimatised to the PL and is looking a fine signing. It must be said that I expected him to be lining up on our side this afternoon but I guess the signing of Flamini negated the need for a DM. He was superb for Celtic and I think will do well  throughout the season, always assuming he doesn’t go the route of other “hard men” like Frimpers and Tiote who allow their reputations to affect their play – it is no good crunching into a tackle, winning the ball and then passing the ball straight back to the opposition!

Then there is Lovren. Brilliant signing – no other words for it. Who knew? And only 24 y.o. Expect to see a big money transfer in the next couple of seasons, especially as he will be going to Brazil with Croatia. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the movement of our forwards but alongside  Hooiveld he has created a mean defence.

Arsenal: Much has been made of the return of Theo and his potential link up with Ozil,but I expect our flyer will  get 20 mins at most. Instead we much “make do” with the team which has taken us to the Top of The League! It would be great if Rosicky is fit but there are doubts, so maybe Mr Wenger will be brave and play Wilshere in a very attack based midfield?

My team:

arse v saintsOur bench is getting stronger. Will Nik B still keep his seat? Fabianski, Monreal, Gnabry, Theo, Rosicky, Vermaelen, Jenks. Sorry Nik – it is back to the stiffs for you young man.

Would be lovely to see OG back amongst the goals but I fear that like all the other Southampton’s opponents we will struggle to score this afternoon. That said, if we can score early then the Saints will have to be more expansive.

Another disadvantage is that most of our chaps have been away on international duty – Santi and Monreal has been all over the Africa. Thankfully, Ramsey and Ozil, two players who are in the “red zone” have been rested, and Koscielny, due to another rush of blood, missed the Ukraine game, that victory will give added vava boom to our French contingent.

This should be an entertaining game with Arsenal having to find a solution to Southampton’s pressing game. If we really are to win the title this is an important game to win and I can see no reason why we cannot gain the three points. The loss to the Surrey Devils was painful but we left knowing the best team had lost, lose points today and there will be question marks.

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It is the duty of all you lucky people who are going today to lift the team. Say it loud and say it proud – “We are the Arsenal and we are the Best …..”

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


New signings to hurt the Saints.

September 15, 2012

Imagine you are the Southampton manager. You have taken an exciting young team into the PL – a huge achievement . You wait for the fixture list all summer. You get your first look and you see that your team will be playing the Top 3 clubs in your first 4 matches. What do you do? Do you think “Excellent, we will show them just how well we play ” or do you think “Bum, that is a swine of a start”?

Fair play to Nigel Adkins, he has stuck to his football ethics and played attacking entertaining football, giving both MC and MU problems and in both cases being unlucky not to take at least a point. But, and here is the rub, they have Nul Point, di nada, niente, ingen, zero, nothing, to show for their fine play. The defence has conceded 8 goals in just 3 games and the prospect of playing at the Emirates Stadium against a confident Arsenal must be a cause for concern.

What is my point? Well, given these circumstances would you tell your team to go out and express themselves or would you say, “keep it tight at the back and see if we can get through without conceding”? So ….Parkere Bussen eller Ikke?

What do you expect to happen if Southampton play an open attacking game? Be honest, you would expect a healthy Arsenal victory. I know we can point to Norwich etc from last season but this is a different AFC – one with defensive discipline. Can you see us conceding 2 goals today?  I can’t. (writes BR with fingers crossed). Other bloggers have predicted an end to end proper game of football but I have my doubts. On the open spaces of Ashburton Grove the burgeoning genius of Santi Cazorla and friends could run riot and Adkins will have noted how Sunderland’s negative tactics nullified our attacks.

Southampton’s Past, Our Future

Southampton: Adkins has made a fine signing in Ramirez, we can expect him to be a significant figure through this season. Lallana was called up to the England squad and at just 24 has made huge strides, he is an attacking midfielder with a deft touch. Ricky Lambert has scored against both MC and MU – let’s hope he doesn’t continue his fine form. Mr Wenger is a great admirer of Southampton’s Youth Project, he says of the club , “It is unbelievable. First of all, it is fantastic scouting and they have a good development and coaching programme with young players” Another supposed Arsenal target is Luke Shaw an exciting 17 y.o left back but with Gibbs just settling in I would be surprised to see Shaw bought.

Luke Shaw. Another Future Gunner?

As to our team. Not an easy call what with the CL trip to France on Tuesday. Will Mr Wenger risk the rejuvenated Diaby? Or the young but powerful Ox? I expect to see Ramsey start, though I would equally happy with Coquelin; Ramsey will be a top player but I thought he was too young and raw to take the weight of creative responsibility last season; rotation in midfield will greatly assist AR’s development and this is just his sort of game.

The biggest dilemma for AW is the return to fitness of Koscielny, a man who in my opinion was the most improved player at the PL last season. If he plays who will he replace? Both BFG and our Captain are in fine form and have yet to concede; what kind of reward would a bench seat be for such sterling work? The Corporal is settling into his position so it would make little sense to play Kos at RB. Furthermore, Santos is fit and ready to reclaim the LB slot; is he better than Gibbs who is developing into a decent defender even if his final ball is poor? Then there is the return to fitness of our first choice keeper. Mannone has done well but TPIG  should play when fit.

My team:

This team will change for the Montpelier trip with Kos returning and probably Santos and O-C, but surely it is too early to change a defence which functions so well. The prospect of a fit JW, Sagna and TR will further enhance what looks like an excellent squad. We have quality cover everywhere (except perhaps for Arteta).

I was at Highbury the last time Southampton beat us with a Danny Wallace goal – it was a salutary experience and not one to be repeated, but I was also there  the day we beat them 6-1 with Jermaine Pennant scoring a hatrick on his debut.

I would like to dedicate this post to the above mentioned Danny Wallace. A fine player whose career was ended at just 30 y.o. by the awful disease multiple sclerosis. Any man who can run the London Marathon suffering from MS and take 5 days to do so (which he did in 2008) deserves the utmost respect.

We need to score at home. We need to see Giroud open his account and I need Podolski to score to win my bet with Didit. Cazorla will score with a free-kick. All of which predicts a healthy victory secured by our new signings.

I wish Southampton well through the season and hope they can stay up keeping faithful to Adkins footballing philosophy, but just for today I wish them a humiliating defeat!

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy