Keeping an Eye on Unai …..

June 18, 2019

It seems we Gooners have had a series of so-called ‘marmite’ figures to disagree over in recent years. There was the long standing saga of Arsène Wenger’s latter years, more recently the Mesut Özil debate, and now, after one season in charge, Unai Emery is already dividing the fan base.

Here are some views from respected bloggers in recent days…..

First Don McMahon

We’ll have a better idea at this time next season once we see what Emery does with his lineup and new players, the upcoming youth and academy talent in the coming season. I, for one, am optimistic that he’ll sort out the poor away form we displayed this season and once he’s stabilized the team, we’ll see his tactical and strategic skills as a manager.

….. and now Aaron

He develops no one, does tactics and strategy, but not a true risk taker, and if Europa is the level everyone wants here, that is what we have. Put him under the nowhere land management, dirtbag owner, and the Arsenal will be a mid-tier time until he sells, or dies. (a tad harsh …ed)

….. and this from jjgsol

I am convinced that the board took on UE because they regarded him as the cheapest option. He will need to be exceptional if he is able to improve our position. I hope that he succeeds, but feel that he won’t.

Should we at least give the man a full transfer window and another season before we judge him, or is the writing on the wall … is he condemned by his past record?

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Valencia 2 Arsenal 4 – Player Ratings

May 10, 2019

A solid looking team on paper with three at the back plus wingbacks and the Xhaka-Torreira axis. The front three could get isolated if the wingbacks don’t push forward.

Ten men defence or all out attack – let’s hope Unai has got it bang on

First Half

After a slow first ten minutes we decided to spice things up a bit by losing the ball on the edge of Valencia’s penalty area and all of a sudden, 7 men were caught ahead of the ball. A simple goal on the break resulted.

Valencia had a few sniffs but nothing of any consequence and then with our first chance Laca and Auba combined, with the help of a backwards defensive header from our Gabriel, to create a beautifully executed finish from the Gabonese Gooner. Away goal cancelled and an equaliser completely out of the blue. Phew.

Our other two chances both came as we got into the game and even started to string a few passes together. First Auba drove straight at the keeper with his weaker left and then the best chance of the first half fell to Laca after Auba’s brilliant run down the right flank. Alex’s first time effort clipped the outside of the post with the keeper nowhere – oh so close to a second away goal.

Second Half

The second half began in magnificent style with a nicely worked goal finished with a great 360 from Laca and drive into the bottom corner. Two away goals and Valencia now needed 4 goals. Surely that would be enough?!!

from AFC twitter

When they got one back 8 minutes later there can’t have been many Gooners who were completely certain that the mayhem of the previous two nights might not start again in the Mestalla.

Mesut was replaced by Mkhitaryan and we started to control things once more. Ainsley’s assist for Auba’s second was just sublime. The trick to beat the full back and then the driven near post cross were just majestic. When did we last score at the near post? Auba’s finish sent the Gooners both in the stadium and around the world wild with joy. 3-2 away from home and Valencia were back needing 4.

Kolasinac replaced by Mustafi improved the defence as Nacho is so much better as a defending wing back.

Sergio Perez/REUTERS

Matteo for the Terrier was the last excellent substution. He controlled the game for the last ten against a demoralised Valencia team. The final goal was a thing of rare beauty with intricate passing, a stepover, superb return pass by Micki and blasted roof of the net finish for Auba to seal his hat trick. Just superb.

Conclusion

Where has this Arsenal side been hiding in the Premier League? Or is it just a case of English teams are that much more intense?

Unai excelled in the Europa again – it really does seem to be his speciality. The two top-class strikers again proved their worth with 4 goals of such high quality. Seven between them over the two legs – simply outstanding.

What a glorious and unexpected night after the two previous nights of despair! The team confounded most people’s expectations with a performance of real quality. Well Done!

The chavs in Baku and a one game shoot-out. Bring it on.

From AFC
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Ratings

Cech – not sure he had too many saves to make as Valencia’s shooting and crossing wasn’t much better than Napoli’s had been in the quarters … 7

Papa – loved him chest bumping with Kos right near the end – as a pair they were excellent … 8

Kos – magnificent captain’s performance putting his body on the line for the team …  8

Nacho – played his part in his usual whole-hearted way … 8

Ainsley – if he can remove the odd lapse in concentration from his game he’s going to develop into a superb Arsenal stalwart – his assist was so, so good … 8

Sead – still too happy to shovel the ball backwards and then disappear forward – we improved when he got cramp … 7

Granit – a little lumpen on occasion and his intricate short passing game needs work – he gave his all, mind you, which is all we can ask … 7

Lucas – the game seemed to be played around him a little in the first half – great assist for Laca’s goal – still not sure if he and Granit complement each other … 7

Mesut – was ok but when he went off he wasn’t really missed which is telling … 7

Pierre – a world class hat trick from a world class finisher on his day … 10

Alexandre – the second goal came at just the right time and Laca never stopped putting in 100% effort – such a good signing …. 9

Subs

Henrikh – away from the hustle and bustle of the EPL, Micki sometimes excels – his cameo was top drawer, topped off with a glorious assist for Auba’s hat trick goal – that old Dortmund combination in all its glory … 8

Shkodran – filled in nicely … 7

Matteo – looked brilliant in his ten minutes on the Mestalla pitch – instrumental in that final goal with his positive forward passing … 8

Manager

Unai Emery – everything right on the night – you cannot ask for more … 10

Baku here we come!

Ref

Danny Makkelie (NED) – wasn’t fooled by much on the night – excellent … 8

chas


Courage, Cohesion and Confidence.

May 9, 2019

Our turn.

So far in the semi-finals the team which lost the first leg won the tie. These are not good omens nor is our away form.

No … stop this Raddy,. Get a Grip. Negativity breeds negativity. As Mr. Python says “Always look on the bright side of life.”

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If we score one Valencia have to score 5 to win (4 for pens), if we score two Valencia have to score 6. So, what should Emery do? In my opinion, he should stack the midfield and attack from the first whistle.

The Mestella is a hostile stadium for the away teams. Valencia’s home record is very good particularly in defence, they have conceded just 11 goals in 18 La Liga games. Not so dusty upfront with 21 goals scored (to compare, at home we have scored 42 and conceded 16 in the same number of matches – away from home we have conceded 34 😱)

Valencia were poor at the Emirates. We conceded a stupid set piece goal which puts the tie at risk but otherwise Arsenal were comprehensively the better team The Frenchman, Gameiro, looked quality and on both wings we looked vulnerable.

This week we have seen other fine sides collapse in the second half which should be a clear lesson. The best team does not always win, sometimes it is luck and strength of character. We need both.

Do we have strength of character? Looking at the last few weeks the answer has to be No but tonight is different. We are two games away from Glory and no-one will remember the pisspoor performances if we get to Baku.

If Ramsey, Hector, Holding and Welbz were available I would be mega-confident, they aren’t. So who gets to start?

Cech in goal – I wouldn’t pick him but Unai is loyal to his players. Kos and the Greek Bloke. Does he start Monreal or Mustafi to complete the Back 3 Mustafi has been better in the last few games – always the butt of the Gooner’s ire (usually well-deserved) one must also recognise when he plays well. Monreal always giving his all, I would play Mustafi

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Kola will surely start but would you pick AMN

The midfield is much harder to predict. I would not play Douzi but he is a favourite of UE and startedd in the home leg. Nor would I start either Ozil or Mhki who are not in good form, but if we don’t start one of them, who supplies the ammunition to our front two?

I don’t know and have to trust that UE does.

IMO if Xhaka and Terrier play well we will win.

And what of the bench? Do we have anyone riding the pine who gives you confidence that they can either shore up a crumbling defence or give us attacking impetus? You know the answer.

Courage, Cohesion and Confidence will get the Arsenal to Baku because we already have the skill and talent. It will be a battle and in the words of a true Englishman …

“The games afoot, Follow your spirit and upon this charge, Cry “God for Unai, England and Saint Charlie George.”

COYRRG


Arsenal FC – Away to Valencia

May 7, 2019

Well this has turned into a real must win game.

Here are the odds from five betting sites and only one predicts an Arsenal loss.

We are leading 3-1 going into the second leg at Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium and must avoid losing by two clear goals in order to progress to the final; on the other hand Valencia’s task will become increasingly more difficult if they allow Arsenal to score.

The Mestalla will be intimidating

Valencia have lost just one of their last 21 games at home in all competitions and have lost just three times in total, twice in La Liga and once in Europe, which was a 2-0 loss to Juventus in the Champions League.

Arsenal have won just two of their last eight games on their travels between cup and league competition and have won just four out of 16 road matches since the start of December.

Valencia will be hoping to win a European trophy for the fist time since they beat Marseille 2-0 in the 2004 UEFA Cup Final.

Arsenal is looking to reach their first European final since they lost to Barcelona 2-1 in the 2006 Champions League final.

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, 4/5/94. Credit Colorsport/ Stuart Macfarlane

Here is a look at Valencia’s entire Europa League record, their home form is quite formidable W45, D12, L6, GF145, GA57 – on average they score 2.3 goals and concede .9 goals per game.

Will we march on to the Europa League Final on May 29th at the Olympic Stadium in Baku or will our poor away form be our Achilles heel?

My belief is in Unai Emery pushing our squad beyond its natural limits and on to Baku.

GunnerN5


Arsenal 1 Brighton 1 – Player Ratings

May 6, 2019

Team selection –  meh- does it really matter?

First Half

Mkhitaryan hit the post in the 2nd minute and things looked bright for a moment.

A fortuitous penalty put us in front but we singularly failed to capitalise on it.

Brighton had a few half chances on the break. It’s such a disgrace that we made a team which narrowly avoided relegation look our equal.

Ryan made a decent save from Auba just before the break. Can’t really remember much else on target

Second Half

At least we created a few more chances but the keeper, some courageous defending and Auba not being able to score an open goal meant that the crucial second was not forthcoming.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Taylor evened up the score with another ridiculously soft penalty. 1-1 and a reasonably fair reflection of the game.

The triple substitution seemed to destabilise the team rather than give it a boost.

Plan B is give it to Iwobi. Cosmic.

Conclusion

Brighton deserved their point and we don’t deserve to be in a top 4 which contains a poor spud side and a poor chav side.

I feel sorry for anyone who made the journey for an end of season celebration and witnessed that travesty of a performance.

I find it hard to agree with those who say we have made progress this season. As far as I can see, we are as poor as last season and much worse than 2016/7.

Man U drawing away to Huddersfield made me laugh. Us drawing at home to Brighton did not. We haven’t been any better this season than a shambolic Man United in Mourinho disarray.

The whole season rests on the Europa now and let’s hope Auba’s late goal helps get us to the Final where anything can happen in a one-off game.

Tara Rambo
Credit Epa-Efe/Neil Hall

It was unfortunate that Rambo, Danny and Petr had to say their goodbyes during the lap of dishonour.

Getty Images

Ratings

I can’t really be bothered with separating the players out from one another.

A rating of 4 for everyone including the subs? Maybe 3?

Leno made a great save to stop us losing 2-1. Where was Lucas Torreira meant to be playing in the first half? – I really had no idea. The strikers tried to score but didn’t have the quality of that early season purple patch when they defied the xG.

Managers

Emery – didn’t get his team playing well enough in the League for the 4th? 5th? 6th? game in a row. We’ve been garbage for weeks … 3

Chris Wagnerson – managed a team which had just escaped relegation, with nothing to play for but pride and made them the equal of a poor Arsenal team – I’d give him a higher rating but other managers have made their average teams look much better than us recently … 5

chas (written just after the match to give a true reflection – please disagree in the comments)


IMO A MWG

May 5, 2019

I always loved the final home game of the season, the opportunity to say goodbye to the players leaving, the joy of saying goodbye to some of the numbskull season ticket holders who sat around me,  a chance to thank the players for their season’s work and today, to give a noisy and grateful farewell to Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck, two of my favourite players

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Of course, the season’s work is hardly done. Given my expectations at the start of the campaign it is a wonderful surprise that we are still in contention for 2 major prizes. I thought we would struggle to finish 7th! Win today and our next 3 (hopefully) away fixtures and this has been a very successful year.

How will Brighton respond following the relief they must feel after Cardiff’s loss and subsequent relegation. Will they simply down tools and think of the beach or will the relief allow them to play with freedom? Given their driven manager, Chris Wagnerton, I expect the latter. They will be out to impress.

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Mr. Emery has a difficult decisions to make. Does he play his best available 11 or use second stringers ahead of the midweek Valencia game? Despite my lack of confidence in certain players – Elneny in particular – I would prioritise Valencia.

Given the long term injury to Welbz it is not possible to rest both our POTS and PEA, I expect PEA to start, though I am usually wrong.

Leno will start, so too Mustafi, and Monreal. Kos needs a rest so we could see Mavropanos start. Dare Mr Emery play the Elneny/Douzi  midfield axis again? Iwobi is a certain starter and perhaps Mhki. Ozil as well.

Lose and we finish 6th. Win and we have a chance of Top 4.

A MWG.

COYRRG

 

 


Wolves Arsenal – Player Ratings

April 25, 2019

Four at the back with Mustafi and Kolasinac moving to the bench. Our strongest double pivot and wing attackers who will be required to add to the midfield too. Mesut sat in behind Laca. Sounds a promising line up from Senor Emery.

First Half

We had three times the amount of possession and passes of Wolves but they scored the three goals.

Second Half

We had a couple of decent chances before Papa scored a close range header from a corner. The 4th goal from 4 efforts on target in the whole game.

AP

Conclusion

More garbage. Palace gave us a clue what to expect.

I blame Venga for instilling a culture of possession for its own sake. (This is meant to be irony)

Heaven knows how we can turn this around for the Europa semi?

Maybe beat Leicester on Sunday?

Ratings

Can’t be arsed – 5 for everyone including subs and manager?

OK, maybe too generous – all 4s or all 3s?

What do you think?

Maybe a 1 for the manager who has singularly failed to improve both the defence and our away form from last season.

p.s. an extra point or two for Nketiah who at least looked like he had some spark when he came on for the last twenty.

Ref

Stuart Attwell – can’t even blame that knobhead for this one.

chas