A fine day to be a Gooner

May 31, 2015

The game

There were a few surprises from the manager, in Walcott out Giroud, in Monreal out Gibbs, in Szczesny out Ospina . Reasons for those changes, was it tactical, or was it just to stop the moaning?

Theo who scored a hat trick in the last game, was really a no brainer. He showed form, he scored goals and he also made Aston Villa’s defence back away from a high line.

Theo, was of course, the reason that Villa couldn’t get going, He was caught offside a few times playing off their last man. But with them knowing his pace, he held them back and they dare not give him a yard. Giroud would have allowed them forward. Shrewd move by Arsene.

As for Gibbs and Monreal, Gibbs injured his shoulder in the last game so a natural change there.

The strange one was the goal keepers, everybody picked Ospina to be Wengers choice, He has done very well, but he is short in height. And you know what Wenger feels about a player who is short 🙂 I believe Wenger wanted to combat the threat of Benteki’s dominance in the air, he of course had Mertsacker’s height but Per is usually a bit slow, and for high crosses Szczesny looked the obvious choice.

Where the Manager usually makes changes around the sixty minute mark, he left it later, I felt he wanted a bigger lead so if he made a tactical mistake a cushion would be in place so we would still win,

Arsenal to a man. played exceptionally well, Theo and Alexis were electric, Bellerin and Monreal played their role as wingbacks superbly for the whole game Merts and Kos were solid, often doubling up to stiffle the threat of Benteke, he didn’t get a chance. Szczesny, after a public row with his Father, complemented the defence but did rush out a few times.

Santi Cazorla, who was voted MOTM, played superbly and ran the show. Mesut Ozil has often been accused of not doing enough but not today he was outstanding Coquelin again showed the strength we have needed in front of the back four, his workrate and determination again has shown why he has a great future. Aaron Ramsey worked very hard he pressed when he could and also worked back as well he is improving with every game.

Alexis Sanchez boought from Barcelona for £35 million, what were they thinking, has proved in his goalscoring and his workrate that he was worth every penny, utterly brilliant, in fact they all were.

Goal scorers were Theo Walcott a fine opportunist left foot volley that opened the scoring. Alexis Sanchez scored number two with an exquisite outside the box swerving shot, which will go down as one of the finest goals ever to be scored in an Arsenal cup final. Per Mertesacker’s  shoulder scored the third and to round up the evenings play substitute Oliver Giroud scored with a magnificent side foot flick past a flailing keeper.

Arsene Wenger got the tactics right, he also got the players right, but most importantly he sent the supporters into ecstasy, and sent them home happy.

Arsenal turned up to day, from the start they were superb, by the end of ninety they had been magnificent, The engraver etched the name of Arsenal for the twelfth time on the sought after FA cup, no other team have ever been on more, but now it sits at The Emirates for the second year running.

A fine day to be a Gooner

Written by Steve Palmer


Poll: Ospina or Szczesny to play in the Final.

May 28, 2015

Who would you pick?

The case for Ospina:

The current incumbent and clearly Mr. Wenger’s first choice keeper. His record is outstanding –  in 18 matches Ospina has conceded just 11 goals. He has made 48 saves and kept 8 clean sheets. Statistically Ospina is far ahead of the Pole.

A fine shot stopper who came to us following an excellent World Cup for Columbia with a reputation as a future champion, he replaced Hugo Lloris at Nice whose President considered him as good as the excellent keeper who is about to leave the N17 knuckle-draggers.

Ospina is the brother-in-law of James Rodriguez of Barcelona and is married with one child.


Mr & Mrs Ospina 

Ospina is just 26 and already has over 50 International caps, he chose Arsenal over Athletico Madrid when he signed in summer. Clearly a confident man who believed he would soon take the shirt from Wojciech – he was right..

The case for Szczesny:

Two seasons ago TPIG had the football world at his feet. He was the coming man, the man who would be the AFC keeper for the next 15 years – the next Seaman. Szczesny has the talent, the physique,  the technical and tactical nous to be a great goalkeeper. He has already played 130+ games for Arsenal. Last season he shared the Golden Glove with Petr Cech – Wojciech is no mug.

TPIG’s saves per game ratio is the same as Ospina’s and let us not forget he was the GK at the start of the season when the team was so lethargic.

Mr Wenger has shown his preference to play his second choice GK in the FA Cup and last season played Fabianski, which many believe indicates TPIG will start on Saturday.

But …. Szczesny is on the Naughty Step. After some difficult games in which his concentration wavered his mental state came into question following a “smoking” incident. Yet this is a chap with enormous confidence – some might say too much and perhaps it was his mistakes at Southampton in January which have sealed his Arsenal fate.


Mr and (the soon to be) Mrs. Szczesny

Raddy’s Opinion:

I have no real reason for saying this but I don’t trust Ospina. His silly errors vs WBA worry me – he just doesn’t seem to have control over his area. His lack of height could be costly against the aerial power of Benteke etc and Ospina will need to be a damned sight better with his punching from corners and crosses, TPIG is better in the air than Ospina as he has shown many times. He seems to be a good shot-stopper and his distribution is certainly better than Szczesny.

The problem is that I don’t trust Szczesny either. He has the potential to be a world class GK but seems to be undone by a flaky head.  If AW was going to play him at Wembley then he would surely have started vs WBA ( Fabianski played the final game of last season pre-Wembley).

The scale just about tips towards the Pole – he is due to play a solid game, he is better in the air than Ospina, he missed out last season and this could be his final appearance in an Arsenal shirt if (please, please, pretty please) Cech comes in summer. And sentiment rules – so my vote goes to Szczesny.

This is not an easy decision. What do you think?


written by Big Raddy


The Wobblers at Arsenal

April 20, 2015

Six games left in the league, and then the Big One at Wembley.

It would be very nice to beat Chelsea, but simply securing 2nd or 3rd would be good as far as I’m concerned. Therefore, some players will be looking at selection for the game on May 30. If Arsene were to announce his side today for that game, not many would be surprised were he to announce this lot:

Ospina, Monreal, Kos, Mert, Bell, Coq, Santi, Mesut, Sanchez, Rambo and Ollie.

Thing is, he needs to keep things fresh and buzzing for the important league games, and no better way than giving one or two the wobbles with selective rotation.

I’d say The Wobblers would be Monreal, Bell, Mert and Aaron. The obvious candidates of Gibbs, Easter, Debs and Danny could give them the jitters, but how about a late surge in form from Theo or Jack.

How would you play the run-in if you were Le Boss?


FA Cup – The Freddie Final

February 15, 2014

Friday Afternoon 3rd May 2002.

At last the arrangements were sorted with me picking up JC from North London, Jon to travel on his own after a long shift and Ant taking my nephew, Matt via Loughborough (where Matt was at college). I’d persuaded my old man not to go to this Final, he’d been to the Scouse daylight robbery Final in 2001 and not really enjoyed himself due to all of the walking. His feet were not good by this stage. It meant we all had tickets (I’d luckily played the martyr and dropped out of the 2001 final).

1 (1)

I popped in to see him before picking JC up, armed with a bottle of rum to “assuage the guilt” (he only really liked Pussers Royal Navy rum but it was hard to get hold of). My old man had given JC £25 to buy us all a drink with the proviso that he’d have any change that was left. As Ant commented later, ‘Rest assured, Dad, there wasn’t any’! JC was full of beans on the journey, only pausing for breath on the journey from Brimsdown to Bristol at the M4/M5 junction. (Due to a shortage of rooms, we’d arranged to spend the Friday night at Cribbs Causeway just outside Bristol and then transfer to the Innkeepers Lodge in Cardiff on Saturday morning)


I never know why all of our football photos have pints of beer in them

Friday Evening 3rd May 2002.

By 7pm JC was convinced he’d had 5 pints already, not a good sign for things to come. We decided on some Gooner Survey type questions for entertainment. Most hated player meant that the spuds got a mention. I think it was a unanimous vote for a certain Mr Edward Sheringham. JC couldn’t understand why no-one seemed interested in his amazing fact that Ronnie Rooke had bow legs like Malcolm McDonald. Favourite game of the season featured the 3-1 versus Juventus at Highbury (bearing in mind a certain game at the Old Cowshed was still to come). Matt had feasted on two meals already, one on arrival and an early evening Early Bird meal, still he was a growing lad. His requests to have a southern comfort and lemonade because he was feeling a little bloated were greeted with, ‘he’s not having a f*ckin chocky drink’ from Ant. Matt didn’t look happy when a suggested departure time before midday was mentioned….so 8am it was.

Saturday Morning 4th May 2002.

All was well in the family room overnight containing Ant, Matt and me. Poor Jon had shared with JC who had been talking to Ralph for much of the night. He was decidedly white and shivering and we all felt a little guilty at allowing him to partake of so much refreshment. Anyway, Ant, Matt and Jon emerged from the hotel sporting Freddie’s red hair. Freddie had been superb in the run-in of the League, scoring virtually every game (with compulsory Dennis assists) and his song had become everybody’s favourite.


I remember JC looking paler than this!

The transfer to the Innkeepers was simple as the traffic hadn’t started to build yet. The car journey to Cardiff was one of the worst parts of going to the Millennium apparently, so we did well to avoid it. We got a taxi to the city centre and then had a healthy double sausage and egg McMuffin to raise blood sugar levels before indulging in a few take-outs as the pub we had in mind wasn’t open until 11. Preposterous!


An astonishing likeness

Finally installed in the pub we settled down to watch Soccer AM (these were the days when it was quite good). Jon left the pub on a pastie run as had become tradition. JC had at least 6 separate efforts at eating his pastie but still didn’t finish it. A little later he seemed to have perked up somewhat when telling the assembled toilet goers a joke about a bloke found dead in an expensive toilet who’d left a suicide note, ‘Here I sat broken-hearted, paid a pound and only…..’ He still thinks that one is funny!

We left the pub at 1.40 and took some photos of Jon’s magnificent Freddie banner outside the ground. The top of the capital ‘F’ even had the red hair quiff.


Jon’s magnificent banner which got on the telly

Saturday Afternoon 4th May 2002.

The seats were absolutely top notch in row 4 of Glanmor’s Gap in the North Stand (look it up) which effectively meant we were in the most expensive centre band of the stadium right behind the goal Arsenal attacked in the second half. The first half was fairly unmemorable, the second up there as one of the best 45 minutes of my life. Ooo Ahh Ray Parlour scored a 30 yard curler on 70 minutes. Edu warming up behind the goal, celebrated as the ball grazed Cudicini’s fingertips and then smacked the back of the net. Freddie scored ten minutes later with a 30 yard run and curling lob of exquisite beauty, having left John Terry on the deck munching grass. We saw the Freddie banner three times on the stadium big screen during the presentations and celebrations, later finding out it was on our TV recordings too!


When Tone goes up, to lift the FA Cup, we’ll be there

Saturday After the Game 4th May 2002.

Leaving the stadium, we gave the old man a call and JC pretended to be David Dein. We decided to hang about near to the VIP car entrance with some tinnies and fried chicken. Ant stood in the middle of the road directing cars the wrong way out of the car park. We saw several famous people, Sepp Blatter (or was it Lennart Johannson?, who cares) Ainsley Harriot and Graeme Le Saux, who was greeted by the assembled Arsenal fans with, ‘Do you take it up the a*se?’. Those sort of homophobic songs really have no place in modern football.


Great Trophy

We also saw Lineker, Lawrenson and Schmeichel before ambushing the Arsenal coach complete with FA Cup installed on the front dash. JC was definitely feeling better, even finding time to chat up a couple of local girls and have a photo taken (I’m not sure this one got back to his wife).


Smooth operator

Saturday Evening 4th May 2002.

Back to the Innkeeper’s and JC sensibly declined the evening’s festivities in Cardiff town Centre. The ‘boys’ had pizza, several more beers and then were refused entry to a club because I was wearing an England polo shirt. Not very tactful, I know. Some local girls started singing the Freddie song when they saw Ant’s hair, but they didn’t know any more of the song except for the ‘We love you Freddie, we do’ line. We decided to call it a night and headed back to the hotel to watch as many re-runs of the goals as we could find.


It truly was a great weekend and wonderful result.

Celebrating the Club’s third double the following Wednesday, meant that we were floating on air for weeks to come. Wiltoooooooooooooooooooooooord!

Everton at home the Saturday following saw the presentation of the Premier League trophy and capped a pearler of a week to be an Arsenal supporter.


Champions Too

Written by chas.

An Arsenal Blast from the Past ……. No. 1

January 8, 2014

Let’s all take a sad walk back down memory lane.

The year is 1925 and Arsenal were looking for a replacement for the sacked manager Leslie Knighton, Arsenal chairman Sir Henry Norris placed this advertisement in the Athletic News:

“Arsenal football club is open to receive applications for the position of TEAM MANAGER. He must be experienced and possess the highest qualifications for the post, both as to ability and personal character. Gentlemen whose sole ability to build up a good side depends on the payment of heavy and exorbitant transfer fees need not apply”

In response to this advertisement along came Herbert Chapman – who was to know that almost a century later he would be the manager responsible for our very own “TMHT” reminding us all that the “Ghosts of the Thirties were Stirring”

So let’s find out just a little bit about one of those “Ghosts”
Did you know that on April 23rd 1927 it was Herbert Chapman that led us out at Wembley Stadium for our first ever FA Cup Final?

The 1927 final was also the very first time that community singing was introduced in a final and it produced one of the biggest (91,206) organised choirs of the time. There was some doubt as to whether the crowd would join in but the response was so enthusiastic that it immediately became part of the FA Cup Final’s ritual. T.P. Ratcliff, who became famous as”The Man in White” was the song leader and the Northern Command Tattoos were conducted by Aldershot Tidworth. The tradition of signing “Abide with me” continues to this day but supporters also sign their own clubs war songs. The song sheet in 1927 included, Pack up Your Troubles, All Through the Night, Tipperary and Drink to Me Only.
Chapman led out the Arsenal to play Cardiff City, his team that day consisted of – Dan Lewis, Tom Parker, Andy Kennedy, Alf Baker, Jack Butler, Bob John, Joe Hulme, Charlie Buchan, Jimmy Brain, Billy Blyth and Sid Hoar.

Ratcliff 001

Unfortunately Arsenal became the first and only club to let England’s most celebrated trophy to be spirited away to another country. Hugh Freguson Cardiff’s centre-forward scored the only goal of the game in the seventy third minute – in a game that was largely dominated by Arsenal – huh! does that have a familiar ring to it?

In was a sad moment for our goalkeeper Dan Lewis (who was also a Welsh international) as the shot by Hughie Ferguson was straight at him – he dived down to make what should have been a comfortable save, however he fumbled the ball as he gathered it, and it slipped between his body and the crook of his elbow. He turned around and tried in vain to reclaim the ball but only succeeded in knocking it with his elbow into the back of the net.

On receiving his losers’ medal from King George V, a disgusted Lewis reportedly cried “This is not for me,” before flinging it as far as he could into the Wembley crowd.

Lewis blamed his brand new jersey for the error, saying the wool was too greasy for him to grip the ball properly; since then, according to club legend, no Arsenal goalkeeper has played in a new jersey before it is washed first.

Breaking News!!

Fast forward 91 years it’s now January 2014 and we have just chased the “Tiny Totts” back down the Seven Sisters Road to their very own “Chicken Coop” where they were greeted by a mute cockerel.