Disgrace at the Liberty – Player ratings

January 31, 2018

A few comments from AA bloggers to summarise that rock-bottom performance.

Big Raddy says at 7:54
Looks as though there has been a touch of rain in Swansea

(Ed…This is always bad news when we play – we perform badly in the rain – the only time it’s an advantage is when we play a team that’s poncier than us, like Chelsea)

and at 8:08
20 minutes gone and Fabianski has yet to touch the ball.
Playing across the back is fine but can’t we just try and attack?

and at 8:19
What a brilliant pass from Mesut and a terrific finish.
Get in.

Rasp says at 8:21
How typical, we score and then concede within 2 minutes … will our training staff ever pick up on these repeated patterns …. we switch off after we score!!!

Eddie says at 8:30
lucky it is not 4 nil

FGG says at 8:37
Defensively dreadful from Xhaka. He looks at Clucas and just stands still whilst he runs past him into our box. I don’t care what anyone tells me, there is no way he has ever been a HM player. He just doesn’t see danger at all.

Big Raddy says at 8:38
We are being outplayed by the bottom team in the PL. They are faster to the second ball, more dynamic, more organised in defence and overall comfortable. We have been crap.

FGG says at 9:08
May as well not have a manager or strikers if we are going to do stuff like that. Terrible.

Rasp says at 9:41
9 shots, 1 goal

25% possession,
12 shots, 3 goals

No hiding, our style of football is not effective

Match assessment

Possession football – what is the point of it exactly? Arsenal sides in the past few years have always tended to have excellent numbers in terms of possession. This has also been reflected in the number of chances we’ve created. The worrying trend this season, and away from home especially, has been that our possesion stats have stayed high but the number of chances to score have been plummeting.

What is the point of continually holding on to the ball in non-threatening positons and then losing it immediately you get anywhere near the opposition’s 10 man defence? Players are scared to lose the ball by making potentially chance-creating passes. Our football is stale and how to play against us has been worked out, polished and then perfected by the poorest of teams.


Cech – Back to work – hmm, yeah right ….4

Monreal – Great goal, one of the few dangerous runs forward of the night. Poor throw to Mustafi in the build up to the second goal. Slipped for the third goal ….5

Mustafi – If you’re put into a difficult situation, put it in row Z ….4

Koscielny – Still our best defender but too quiet to be captain ….5

Bellerin – Tried hard, crossing still poor ….5

Xhaka – Track midfielders running into the area, ffs …3

Ramsey – Not even playing against his old enemy could inspire Rambo to much on his full return to the Premiership ….4

Elneny – At least he committed himself for the cause ….6

Iwobi – Better going forward than last time out – possible should have had a rest in favour of the new boy ….5

Ozil – Quality assist with one of the few penetrating passes of the game – must be pleased he’s left his options open ….6

Lacazette – Poor service and the lad almost seems to have given up hoping this nightmare will turn around (much like the rest of us) ….4

Giroud looked as sad as the Arsenal Away Boys.


Clement to improve ailing Swansea?

January 14, 2017

Swansea. What a shame. Lovely small club, promoted to PL. Get big name manager. Do exceedingly well considering budget. Sell best players. Don’t re-invest. Manager wants better players, owners want profits, manager resigns.

Then it is all downhill. Managers come and go, results don’t improve. Relegation highly likely.


So far this season Swansea have had 3 managers and are in dire straits (60 y.o. Mark Knopfler as their play maker). That’s what happens with crap owners. It could happen to any club.

Arsenal. What makes our club special? A history of careful stewardship. What would have happened had Usamov taken control? We will never know.

Today’s game is a potential banana skin. Swansea have some confidence after their win over CP. They also have a new, very good manager in Paul Clement, Quite why he left Bayern Munich where he was assistant manager to take over at Swansea is a mystery . At Derby, he only lost once in 19 games!

We have the usual injury list but welcome back some faces. Hector and Kos return having put pen to paper. I would play Gibbs and give Monreal a rest

My Team:


Bellerin    Mustafi    Koscielny    Gibbs

Ramsey    Xhaka     Coquelin

Perez    Sanchez    Ozil

Why drop Iwobi? I don’t know, just so Ramsey can get a mother game under his belt. There is likely to be a midfield battle and we are away so I would pack the midfield, hence Coq/Xhaka.

We need to win today (as always) but it will be no easy victory.


Hoodoo? Swansea? Surely not.

October 15, 2016

These interlulls seem interminable but at last we get some proper football back at THOF as we welcome our nemesis, Swansea City.

We have not beaten Swansea at The Emirates in our last 4 meetings (3L, 1D).  How can it be that we have such a poor record against one of the PL minnows? It is not as if they are a brutal team like Stoke or even a top quality side. No, it has to be one of three reasons:

  1. Arsenal have anticipated an easy victory and do not give 100% until it is too late.
  2.  Arsenal are in poor form and Swansea rise to the occasion of playing in a world class stadium.
  3. Welsh Luck.

Or  most probably a combination of the above. Whatever the reason it has to stop and it has to stop this afternoon.


Will Bob Bradley start his PL career with a positive result? Is it a fact or an urban myth that a new manager always starts with a win (Warnock did so last night for Cardiff)? Swansea certainly need a boost as they have lost 5 of their last 6 games and have “garnered”(outside of football when do we use this word?) just 4 points from 7 games.

Swansea’s main attacking threat will come from set pieces (no surprise there!) and this is an area which has traditionally been a weakness for AFC. Much has been written about the lack of height in our defence yet we go into the game on the back of 4 clean sheets.

Our season is going well apart from a mad 20 minutes vs Liverpool in a game which we not only dominated but should have been out of sight by 40 minutes . We were average against Burnley which can be excused after an exhausting week.

Is OG knacked or on the naughty step? Either way he is not playing today. Nor is Ramsey who may well be out for another week.

My Team:


Bellerin     Mustafi    Koscielny    Monreal

Cazorla   Xhaka    Iwobi

Walcott   Sanchez    Ozil

Why change a winning team? The only reason to do so would be exhaustion following the Internationals. Perhaps Sanchez will be rested for The Ox.

The bench gets stronger and stronger as players return from injury though we are lacking (as always) a striker – Akpom, OG, Perez and Welbeck are all missing. Where is Sanogo when we need him?

Win today, win midweek and we are kushtie, drop points today and a cold winter looms, but we won’t, will we?





Coquelin: World Class?

March 2, 2016

There seems to be an assumption that tonight is an automatic 3 points to the good guys (well, there is here in Copenhagen!). Given our current form this is optimistic.

It feels an age ago but it was only last season that Swansea beat us home and away plus they have not lost in their last 3 visits to the Emirates (W2 D1)

Right, time to get positive …

Mr Wenger is angered by the negative response from the fans to our recent defeats, he believes the team and the fans should show “togetherness and solidarity”. I agree with him and will join his cause.


Swansea  were unlucky not to get a point at WHL. Our old friend, Flapianski is in terrific form and will be looking to show, once again, that his sale was a mistake. However, they have lost their last two games.

The Icelandic chap (can’t be bothered to find out how to spell his name but it must have a sson at the end of it) is very good at free-kicks so we must be wary of conceding within striking distance of our goal. Ayew is pacy, other than that we have little to fear and much too prove.

Midfield is our main concern; any team would suffer having so many injuries in one area of the pitch – Wilshire, Rosicky, Cazorla, Arteta and Oxlade Chamberlain –  all good enough for a regular first team place. Their injuries have put excessive pressure on those who remain and it is having a negative effect.

Ramsey is a shadow of the player he can be, Flamini looks Kerry’d, and then there is Coquelin.

Before his injury Coquelin  was statistically  the best DM in Europe, which once again proves that stats can be used to prove anything. The problem is that Coq is a good player but not good enough to carry a team to the Title (IMO). He needs assistance and he is not getting it. The injuries to the MF’s have resulted in the wingers taking defensive duties – wouldn’t it be great if they could be freed from that task like the Barca front 3?

Making the reasonable assumption that the N15 fools will roll over WHU this becomes a must win game (aren’t they all?).

I would certainly revert to our best front 3 – Sanchez, OG and Welbeck. How they work as a unit is not my concern. They are our three most talented front players.

I expect Swansea to sit deep (PTB) and look to score from set pieces or breakaways. BFG or Paul Easter? BFG for me in every home game. Ramsey could use a rest but he has to find his form if we are to push on to the title. I would like to see El Nino get a start in what will be a clogged midfield.

Can we win? Of course.

Let it be so …





Is it legal to kill a Swan?

March 25, 2014

Given our home form we should and probably will beat Swansea. Does this make us “flat-track bullies” (where the hell did that ridiculous expression come from)? Who cares? Whether we lose to Stoke or Chelsea it is still 3 points lost, same goes for when we win.

We beat Swansea away thanks to goals from Ramsey and Gnabry. Would that Aaron was fit tonight, but Serge is and I would love to see him start the game.


Pace & Power

Swansea:  Small but fine club who are holding their own in the PL by playing attractive passing football. The Laudrup dismissal was odd but I have a sneaky feeling that Mr Laudrup is a difficult man to work with, like many Danes (by that I mean all) he is wilful and values his own opinion above that of anyone else; his sacking was inevitable as it would be if he ever got the job at AFC.

Gary Monk seems to be doing a good job continuing  to play the Laudrup way but they have won just once under his management. Michu is fit, Bony is a handful. Swansea press hard all over the pitch and when in possession are comfortable on the ball.  The Swans were unlucky not to win at Everton and with a record of not having won away for 9 games will look to improve tonight, given that they beat us at THOF last season we must be alert BUT they are 15th in the PL and 33 points below us – we should win.

Arsenal: No need to re-hash the last few days, the only recompense the players can give to the fans has to be on the pitch. There is a rumour that Szczesny could be dropped; now I know Fabianski has done extremely well in his few games but blaming TPIG for the awful defending in from of him seems harsh. OG needs a rest – he has been carrying the attack and yet has hardly created a chance for himself. give him 30 minutes at the end,

My team:

a v sw

Would you trust a front line of Gnabry and Sanogo? Seems foolhardy but why not? Then it comes down to whether we use Podolski or Cazorla and I love Cazorla! The bench still shows the effect of our horrible injury list. It is here that the injuries have hurt us so badly, we do not have to opportunity to rotate the injury free players with players of similar quality.

Swansea: The town’s origins date back to the Vikings when it was known as Swein’s Ø (meaning Swein’s Island), this probably refers to the Viking King Swein Forkbeard who was the father of King Canute, of whom I could write a lot more but you would get bored!  It became a borough in 1158. For 200 years (1700-1900) the town was the centre of the copper industry.

Mr Wenger must approach this game with trepidation – a defeat and the fine atmosphere which has built throughout the season at The Emirates will return to the bile and spite of 2012. Draw at half-time and the boys will be booed off the pitch so it is imperative for the players to be alert from the kick-off and show that they hurt as much as the fans. And if you are going – for goodness sake get behind your club and make some noise.

We have to win and win well.


Big Raddy

A challenging evening ahead ……..

September 28, 2013

Big game for both teams. Swansea need to push ahead with their recent run of results – beating Palace, Valencia, WBA and drawing with Liverpool is proof that last season’s surprise package are still a very good team. They have had a very difficult opening fixture list already played MU, ‘Pool and Spurs.

There is a growing belief that this Arsenal team have potential to do very well and a win at the Liberty Stadium would heighten expectation even further.

Swansea: I watched the draw with Liverpool and it was a very entertaining game which Swansea would have won but for some inexplicable play from Jonjo Shelvey. Hard to believe but Shelvey is a decent player away from the Anfield hell-hole.

There is quality throughout the Swansea team. At the back there is the (supposed) AW target of Ashley Williams, and he is just the type of player we like; strong in the tackle, good in the air, a natural leader and the beating heart of the Swans. Upfront the much admired Michu and the record signing Bony, who has scored 6 goals in 7 starts.

There is pace down the flanks with the spoilt brat Dyer and Routledge. An enduring memory of last season was Dyer’s tantrum after not being allowed to take a penalty at Wembley – a perfect example of the Me generation. Hard workers in midfield and a quality keeper make Swansea a tough prospect, especially at home.

Michael Laudrup seems to be a spiky personality with there being press-talk of his problems with the Swansea BoD, but he certainly knows how to create a football team. Anyone (even Evonne) could go to Old Trafford and get into the top 4 but what makes a great manager is the ability to build a team. SAF did it many times as has AW., Laudrup appears to made of the same stuff. As he remains loved at both RM and Barca, his future is assured. Future Arsenal manager? Possibly.

Arsenal: We are so blighted with injury in the forward areas that Mr Wenger will be forced to play Mr Giroud upfront on his own. Yes – the Christmas tree formation, with Özil , Jack and Ramsey running hard to create a forward line. It has worked before and we have enough attacking talent in midfield for this to be a successful tactic.

Theo’s absence allows Arteta to come back into the team and The Flamster to stay rooted as DM. I look forward to seeing how Arteta performs further forward. Of course, this assumes that neither Gnabry nor Bendtner start the game and given they both played the full 120+ mins at WBA, it seems a reasonable assumption.. My hope is that both sit on the bench until required and we play a slightly defensive game. The surprising possession stats. against Stoke show that we can sit back and attack on the break.

My team:

swans v arse

Problems arise due to the absence of Rosicky and in particular Cazorla who could really make this formation work.

We are on a remarkable run of form. 8 winning away games on the bounce and just the one stupid referee induced loss in a very long time (can’t be bothered to check the stat). Can this Arsenal team really be this good or is it purely that we haven’t played any quality opposition? Today is yet another test.

With confidence high and both teams committed to attacking football the prospect of an exciting game lies ahead.


written by Big Raddy

Can England win Twice today in Wales?

March 16, 2013

Back to business. Enough of these holiday tours  – let’s get back to the norm and the good old Premier League. You know – that league which used to be the best in the world but has now , according to the meedja fallen behind France, Turkey, Germany and Spain.

Swansea have booked their place in Europe, our place remains in doubt. Will that mean that our Welsh friends will gift us the 3 points? I hope so. A couple of defensive mistakes caused by a boozy night out in Newport would be great (which assumes our heroes can capitalise on them!)

There has been talk of the confidence gained from the surprising win in Munich boosting our chances of 4th. What do you think? My fear is that the effort put into that win could be costly today; every Arsenal player ran himself into the ground on Wednesday and that must have an effect.

A major positive was the return of Fabianski. I have to be honest, I had written him of and expected him to leave quietly in summer. Instead we saw one of Fab’s best performances in an Arsenal shirt. He will surely keep his place today and perhaps, just perhaps, we have the competition for the Number One shirt within the club – who would have thought it?


A Star in the Making?

Jenkinson showed that Mr Wenger can still spot a a bargain – a million for him is a steal, we will see much of The Corporal in the future as he cements his place at Arsenal and also the England team.

Furthermore, Ramsey is becoming an important player. We didn’t miss JW as our Welsh Wizard plugged gaps all over the pitch. They are very different players and it will be interesting over the coming seasons to see how both can fit into the team.  Add in the refreshing cameo from Oxlade Chamberlain  – admittedly against a tiring defence – and we can see a young and highly talented New Arsenal developing.

As THMT would say “The Spirit of the Thirties is rising”

And what of Swansea? Who can not be delighted by their progress? No big names, no big signings, an untried (at PL) manager; they have had a wonderful trophy-winning season and could yet derail ours. At season’s start it would have been inconceivable that Swansea could take 6 points from us, and yet, they beat us at home and deserved to do so. No-one would be shocked by them winning today, such has been their improvement..

My Team:

swans v arse

I would not be surprised to see Gervinho start, nor Ox given the energy spent midweek.

BFG was our MoM in Munich and perhaps could use a break but something untoward is happening with Vermaelen. There is a story brewing …….

Our English Explorer: Rocky has suggested Richard Burton – so let’s take a look at the fellow. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) was born in Torquay. This is an extraordinary man, a truly extraordinary man. To begin with Burton could speak 29 languages! Yes, 29! He was an explorer, an author, a diplomat, a spy, a cartographer, a translator and an International fencer.

Let’s start here …… Burton disguised himself in order to go to Mecca  to translate the Arabian Nights story, the account of his trip made him famous. He also translated the Karma Sutra and published it for the first time in England – and to think this was during the Victorian age of strict attitudes to all things sexual. Burton’s published interest in sex and sexuality led to his being prosecuted by the Society for the Suppression of Vice (lovely ….they would be busy at Stamford Bridge!)


Full Set ….. Knighthood

As an explorer Burton undertook a Royal Geographical funded mission to Somalia and later to find the source of the Nile with fellow explorer (and an old BR subject) John Speke. They reached and named Lake Victoria (now Tanganyika) but quarrelled badly about the route and split up. The rancour between them led  to a very public spat in a London where they were both feted. Speke later died in a shooting accident whilst Burton joined the Foreign Office. He became Consul in West Africa, Brazil, Damascus and Trieste.

Burton was Knighted and died in Trieste at the age of 69. To those interested I recommend further investigation of a fascinating man.

Today we will play a team with a similar style to our own. Laudrup has continued Rodgers principals of attractive free-flowing passing football. Much has been made of the Dane becoming a target as Wenger’s successor – his contract extension does nothing to dampen the rumours.

Just after our game ends the England Rugby team will be down the road in Cardiff trying to win the Grand Slam, good luck to them.

We need the points more than they do, so let’s get busy and take them.


Written by Big Raddy

We Can All Learn Something From the Capital One Cup Final

February 25, 2013

Yesterday was a real treat, a cup final at Wembley contested by two proper football clubs and two proper football teams. There’s little needed to say more about Swansea and their wonderful style of play, but Bradford, still stuck in the bottom tier of English professional football, have been a revelation this season. That’s brought pain to us, of course, when we failed to muster enough of what mattered to overcome their well-drilled, energetic game. But what they’ve shown is that there is no need to be condescending, they have disposed of us as well as Wigan, Villa and Watford, and a couple of others – they are no mugs. It hurt, but if we’re honest, Bradford deserved to beat us, even if it was a victory borne of an appalling penalty shoot-out performance.

Living in northwest London, Wembley isn’t far away from my house, and it warmed my heart to see the streets filling up, not with cocky Chavs, Spuds, Reds, Oilers, Scousers or Gooners, but with the fans of two teams that haven’t come to take cup final appearances for granted, fans who really know the value of cup competitions, rather than treat them as consolation for failing to win the title or sideshow baubles. These were fans from less fashionable parts of the country (sorry Sheep!), and fans who love their football. Good on them.

Beyond the satisfaction of seeing two good footballing sides and two good sets of fans go to Wembley, there is a lesson in watching the success of Bradford and Swansea. These two clubs have spent years at the bottom of the football heap, laid low by years of short-sighted and incompetent management by their boards. Bradford had gone nuts when they got into the Premier League, splurging tomorrow’s money on stupid contracts for the likes of Benito Carbone. That stupidity saw them go into administration and go tumbling down the footballing pyramid. The Premier League glory days were long gone, but under Phil Parkinson, with no money to spend, they have found sufficient shape and confidence on the pitch to suggest the club has happier days ahead.

And Swansea’s renaissance is just remarkable. Little more than ten years ago, when being managed by ex-Arsenal player John Hollins, they were midway through a descent to the bottom, the club was sold for £1, players were being sacked, fans were protesting and the Football League was talking about punishing them. In 2002, they only narrowly avoided relegation out of the Football League. And then in 2004, they made the first of a series of managerial appointments that sent them climbing up the divisions. First there was Kenny Jackett, then Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup (with a Paulo Sousa interlude). Without being able to know quite how they organise things, it is obvious that the board there have established a superb way of working: the club’s resources (not a sugar-daddy’s) are used incredibly well, they keep on recruiting high quality managers and undervalued players and they have enough confidence in the coaches and players to allow creativity to flourish. None of your Pulis, O’Neill or Allardyce rubbish for them, they’ve created an environment where skill and talent rule. And now they’ve won a major trophy, with European football attached, and look like they’ll see their side finish in the top half of the division. Anyone who loves football must love Swansea these days. Perhaps not if you’re from Cardiff (they must hate life right now), but everyone else.

I might be gutted that we won’t have a pot again this season, but seeing two clubs like Swansea and Bradford at Wembley just goes to show the value of a well-run club, that doesn’t think it’s all about throwing money about but instead achieves success through hard work, planning and skill. That, in my opinion, is something to respect and savour, and it’s something some in the Arsenal community would do well to bear in mind, there are lessons in there for all football clubs.

Written by 26may

A gunner in the Valleys – how come sheep?

January 5, 2013

A little bit about me and how I ended up a Arsenal fan as no one supported Swansea in the 70s as they were in the old 3rd division.

I was born and bred in Wales to English parents who were working in Swansea. So most friends of mine supported Chelsea or Leeds united as they were the main clubs in the early 70s. But this man made me a gunner, a certain Mr Charlie George and this iconic picture.


I’m sure as you all know that was the winning goal against Liverpool in the 1971 cup final at Wembley. So, as I did not support a club at the time, it was Arsenal for me and I have been an Arsenal supporter ever since that day.

Arsenal will have to careful as Swansea play some good football and a neat passing game and they are expecting a full house down at the Liberty Stadium. The stadium doubles up as a rugby pitch for the Ospreys so the players will have to play on a not so perfect pitch.

The stadium is about 3 miles outside the city as the old Vetch field was in the middle of Swansea right behind the prison. You had better believe this, they are all thinking its game over before we turn up and the locals are ready to turn us over.  Lots of my mates are season ticket holders at Swansea and they have being give me a ribbing all week. And the ‘Jacks’ will sing to Arsenal fans in welsh.  The locals are called ‘Jacks’ after a pub call the Swansea Jack which is no longer in existence.

swansea jack

If we play like we did against Southampton this lot will turn us right over, but hopefully Mr Wenger will get it right for this one as I would love us to go on a cup run. A good cup run may motivate a few of the players. Will he play the younger generation in this match?  He may do as a few looked jaded and tired against The Saints.

I would give OG a run out as he needs a start here’s his chance and he has not had many starts. He can rest the Pod I think from this one and play Walcott up with OG. I would play this team against Swansea and I’d play 4-4-2. If we lose I may move to Cardiff. We are not going to win the EPL this is our only realistic chance of a trophy this year,so come on Arsenal, play the swans at their own game, pass and move .

We will see Big Raddy’s team selection tomorrow, this is my preference:

swans fa cup

Subs I’d use a few of the youngsters.

After the FA cup weekend we then have 3 hard EPL matches against City(h), Liverpool(h),Chelsea (a)
I would take 5 points from those games. Before that’s let’s knock these Jacks out of the cup so it can give us confidence.

I’ll round off by saying thank you all for accepting me onto this site and I feel very honoured to be asked to do one post. It is my first and I hope it’s ok.

Much love
Written by Sheep Hagger