What does January hold in store for The Gunners?

January 3, 2019

Three home games in the Prem plus a little trip down to the Olympic Stadium in East London. There is also the small matter of an FA Cup trip to Blackpool (which is nearly in Scotland).

So, New Years Day and Fulham at home. Writing this before the game, it is absolutely imperative that the manager plus his team (however patched up it may be), get the supporters back on side after the disgrace of that Anfield performance. (4-1, not to be sniffed at)

The first weekend in January we have a trip to the Lancashire Riviera in the FA Cup and a tea time kick off.  Blackpool are a club in turmoil at the moment with fans boycotting matches to protest against the current owner’s lack of financial investment and regard for the club in general. Read more here.

https://atthematch.com/article/how-the-oystons-destroyed-blackpool

Maybe the visit of the mighty Arsenal will stir the locals. If not, there could well be more Gooners than home fans in Bloomfield Road.

West Ham away the weekend after is a lunchtime kick off. We’ve done pretty well at the London Stadium so far with one thumping victory which Ant and me saw sat in with the home fans. We were virtually the only ones left in our row by the time the ref blew the final whistle. Last season saw a tedious 0-0.

The chavs at home on the 19th Jan is back to a tea time kick off. (Arsenal are always good box office – shame it’s not always for the right reasons these days). Chelsea have been on the slide in recent weeks but now seem to be turning things around.

The last weekend in Jan is for FA Cup 4th Round fixtures. Our participation will depend on how well we do up the Tower this weekend.

Our fixtures for January 2019 are capped off with a home game against Cardiff on Tuesday 29th and will be our third chance of doing the double over a Prem team after Fulham and West Ham.

chas 

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Arsenal 4 Fulham 1- Player Ratings – Convincing or Flattering?

January 2, 2019

After that disgrace at Anfield against the country’s best team, a decent result was essential heading into a New Year against a Fulham side also struggling for confidence.

First Half

Both sides showed some nerves early on and it was a bit scrappy. Thankfully Sessegnon left his shooting boots at home. Suddenly Granit decided to risk a nosebleed by moving into the rarefied heights of the penalty area. Wobbly’s pass was cleverly left by Laca and the big Swiss had a fairly simple toe poke finish.

Courtesy of David Price @priceyd101

Arsenal’s play picked up from there and we should have added to the lead before half time.

Second Half

The second goal was a thing of beauty with incisive work filleting Fulham’s left flank. Auba’s clever pass to the Wardrobe put him in the ideal position to lay one on a plate for Laca.

After a couple of chances to extend our lead the Tinkerman brought on two forwards with a gambler’s throw of the dice. A sloppy pass out to the Terrier and a barge in the back won Fulham the ball and the inevitable, ‘brown trousers watching The Arsenal’ period of the game came as the lead was halved by a sub. Fulham scented a wounded animal, so the next goal would be crucial.

Thankfully Rambo came on as sub and almost immediately followed up an Auba pinger against the post and we could breathe easy once again. Auba then missed a little dink finish over the keeper before finally getting his goal via a deflection and a Papa assist.

4-1 and game over for a Fulham team which probably expected no less.

Reuters

Conclusion

A fine result considering the less than perfect performance, though why we can’t see out winning positions without giving everyone kittens will, seemingly, forever be a weakness.

Ratings

Leno – competent, making crucial stops when the game threatened to slip away from us … 7

Maitland-N – right wing back or right back, equally adept – starting to get some confidence back … 7

Papa – far happier playing lesser strikers and his first assist for twenty years … 6

Kos – our captain is slowly beginning to find his feet again … 7

Shkod – Injured or another half-time tactical admission that we got things wrong in the first half? … 6

Wardrobe – majestic at wing back – like a runaway train on the burst, setting up chances with its front wheels … 8

Guendouzi – heart of a lion – more to come from the young man … 7

Xhaka – his goal should have been the cue for a landslide – he himself could have had another – excellent through ball in the second half to set Laca free … 7

Wobbly – big chances galore came from his feet in the first half – much improved … 8

Laca – Fine goal and perhaps didn’t moan quite as much when he was subbed …. 7

Auba – a goal machine – he’s going to run away with the golden boot if he can sharpen his finishing even further … 7

Subs

Terrier – clearly he needs a rest as he’s been carrying some of the team on his tiny shoulders earlier in the season … 6

Rambo – instant impact at exactly the right moment – thanks for all the goals Aaron … 7

Saka – debut boy got a brief taste of the high life … 6

chas (who largely saw the game through BBC goal flashes and Arsenalist clips on Twitter)

 

How lucky are you? Double Bubble and a rather more sombre reflection on the day’s proceedings from LBG, your man at the stadium……

At the start of the day Chas asked for a “game to be proud of”. I will include the word proud for as long as is possible, but I’m afraid readers may see it disappearing into the ether quite quickly in my assessment of the game.

Be proud AAers of the result and three points, of some evidence of determination to rectify the travesty of a performance that was Anfield.

Be pleased with another goal from Aubang ( even thought he should have had an easy hat-trick) and Laca being given enough time on the pitch to score his goal before being (ridiculously) substituted. (Be pleased that he thought about kicking up a right fuss on seeing his number, but refrained when he heard the whole ground boo the decision, and instead went off graciously).

Be pleased with the short period of time AM-N was able to influence the game further forward before being dragged back in the rearranged defence.

Be pleased Fulham were useless in front of goal and Leno had little to do. (Two x Sessegnon chances put away early on and we could have lost!)

Be pleased that Kos is back, even if puzzled by the couple of pub defenders playing alongside him, which makes him more nervous than usual.

Be pleased Ramsey mishit a shot and scored.

Sorry, that’s the best I can do on the “proud”ish front.

I have an opinion, on why much is not right currently and will share when others have disagreed with everything I’ve said!

LBG Ratings

Leno – What he had to do was fine. Goal was up the other end and, although looked somewhat chaotic, didn’t seem he had added to that … 7

AM-N – Some good things going forward, breaking inside. Shame dragged back, where he is wasted, but still kept his end up defensively … 7

Mustafi – No pace, poor positioning, no sense of danger. Always tackles to the ground. Rarely gets the ball … 3/4 

Sokratis – Didn’t win anything in the air. Always tackles to the ground. Sometimes gets the ball … 4

Kos – Some good work. Unlike the other two, does find his own players mostly with passes going forward … 5/6

Wardrobe – Some good work going forward. Not a very good defender … 6

Ouzi – A good game generally. Looking to play “dynamic” passes and succeeds generally. Makes some mistakes (He’s young), but positive, which is what I want from him … 7

Xhaka –  Slows everything down, shovels poop, passed back more often than forward. Is simply not good enough, not quick of thought and action enough to be “the Controller ” in the deep-lying central position. And because he is (trying) to do this job, displaces Terrier to the right, which wastes him through lack of contact with the ball … 3 (for his goal)

Wobbly  – End product, passing, shooting, dribbling generally poor. Knocked off the ball several times easily. Dribbles round and round and round and up his own backside … 4 ( for his pass for Xhaka’s goal, and probably something else that I’ve forgotten)

Aubang – Goal. Missed goals, closes down occasionally. Would like to see more heart … 6/7

Laca – Goal. Works hard, makes runs, rarely found due to people like Xhaka not looking up unless opposition back off and then Laca’s runs are marked … 7

Subs

Ramsey – Goal … 6

Terrier – ( couple of poor tackles on him. Lucky not to be injured …. again) … 6

And the winger Did he touch the ball?

Graham Scott? more like Terry Scott                                                            Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Referee – Absolute pants (original choice of description didn’t pass the censors – ed). One penalty waved away. Tackles from behind allowed throughout the second half … 1

Written by a slightly miffed (it would seem) LBG


New Year Wishes

January 1, 2019

In this first post of 2019 I would like to thank you. Thank you for reading AA, thank you to those who commented and an especial thank you to those who wrote a post.

2018 was a tumultuous year at Arsenal, I expect the same for 2019. Hopefully no managerial change but equally hopefully, a change of on-field personnel. Arsenal have created an entirely new management set-up, brought in the very best chaps to change the club from Arsenal Wenger. They have in Emery a man who will not be concerned about damaging egos and will bring AFC into the modern era.

My targets for AFC up to summer will be a Top 6 finish, a good run in the Europa and most importantly an indication of an Emery team; one which is based upon organisation and a solid defence. He must be massively frustrated by the goals against column.

In summer I would like to see us loan/sell at least 5 players with a similar number coming in.

By Xmas I would like to see us less than 16 points below the PL leaders and playing the Arsenal way. with a cohesive defensive policy, creative MF’s and the same two excellent strikers.

Let’s start with a win this afternoon.

Unknown.jpeg

A Proper Arsenal Goal

Many a slip twixt lip and cup, and we know Arsenal can slip up but Fulham have to be good opposition after the recent humiliation. Despite the mounting injury list, AFC should not lose in the manner of L’pool. A player of Sokratis experience should not be conceding 2 penalties (yes, I know they were both bogus).

GN5 gave us the stats which indicate a positive result. We need it.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and a fine victory this afternoon.

Let it be So.

 


Brighton v Arsenal – Match Ratings

December 27, 2018

No expectations going into this game. We don’t generally fare very well over the Christmas rush. Too much Xmas pud and brandy leaves a stodgy feeling on Boxing Day. Then again, maybe Emery had them all eating healthy pasta and fruit, so they’d have plenty of carbs to burn.

First Half

I didn’t see much of the game at all but from what I did see, it seems our predilection for giving poor opposition a chance was clearly manifest in a half we should have been far away and sailing over the horizon before gifting them a goal. Perhaps this tendency wasn’t anything to do with Arsene but, somehow in the genes of the Club?

In our long unbeaten run we were often defying the expected goals with lethal finishing. That run has come to an end at the same time that relatively straightforward chances are not being snapped up.

1-1, you’re kidding, aren’t ya?

Second Half

Didn’t see any of the second half, but the full time score tells me everything. From the stats it appears we created almost nothing of note. Thank Dennis, I had something better to do with my Boxing Day.

Conclusion

We came, we saw, we capitulated to mediocre opposition. Thank the lord I didn’t have to suffer watching that garbage. Half time subs seemed necessary and effective in previous games but are now starting to look a bit clueless and desperate.

Ratings

Leno – Made the finish easy for the Brighton player but he had been exposed … 6

Licht –  Glorious assist for the Brighton equaliser    … 4

Kos –   Rusty … 5

Papa – Adequate but without a huge amount to do … 6

Kola – Not as effective from left back … 6

Terrier – looks knackered after being given the early part of the season to acclimatise … 6

Xhaka – magnificent passing stats but how many did any damage to the opposition? … 6

Guendouzi – heart of a lion but needs some help from his more experienced colleagues – can’t drag the team up by the bootstraps on his own … 6

Mesut – subbed? – back spasm or more dissention within the ranks? … 6

Laca – Huff ‘n puff – his substitution took away something … 6

Auba – lost his strike rate – had to score that second … 6

Subs

Iwobi – sometimes you get the impression he’s a bit pants …  5

Rambo – sometimes you get the impression he hides … 6

Maitland-Niles – his injury has knocked him back somewhat … 5

chas

Here’s FGG’s assessment of the situation which gives far more sense than you’ll ever get from me……..

At the beginning of the season I said this year is about improving and regaining some sort of football identity within the team and I didn’t really care where we finished in the PL just as long as we could see the club has a vision and is moving forward. At no point did I think ‘it’ll be sorted by xmas’ and at no point during the long elunbeaten run did I think ‘we’ve done it. This is the new Arsenal’.

We are a work in progress and probably will be for another 12 months. There have been some really good signs of improvement in the side, espescially when we don’t have the ball, but there are still lots of things for Emery to sort out which will take time. Of course Lichtsteiner is average, but we can’t forget that Wenger left us without a sub RB. The lad has been brought in on the cheap as a stop gap and I’ve no doubt a more long term replacement will be found very soon.

One thing I am struggling with a little is Emery changing things constantly throughout the game. We’ve gone one extreme to the other! Seeing a half time sub now and again is good to see, but sometimes you have to give the players a chance to grow into the game and trust that they can find weaknesses in the opposition themselves. Bringing Lacazette and Özil off every game just seems to be angering the players and I don’t think it helped the side at all today. As soon as we lost them we seemed incapable of getting the ball to feet in between the lines, something that both of those players are very good at.

fatgingergooner


Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy

December 21, 2018

No, we’re not talking The Who compilation albums but the effects of both removing managers and of installing new ones.

Thought AAers might be interested in the fascinating discussion on radio by a sports psychologist of two “effects” relevant to the Moaninho story and, I thought, relevant to us.

First effect is called the “false kick”. He was suggesting the problems at Manure are higher up and throughout the Club rather than at the managers door. The false kick believes all the problems will be removed by getting rid of him, and he was doubtful.

The comparison with the Arse was interesting to me. Did we get rid of the main problem by ousting AW? (Much more complicated, of course because we have changed the structure dramatically at the same time).

The second effect he talked about is the “bounce”, one we are very familiar with, even recently (don’t mention St Mary’s). The result of a new man coming in and the change in “motivation” from the same players who were seemingly not performing for the last manager, suddenly start playing like men possessed.

Again, surely we have witnessed a bounce from Dick’s arrival!?

I liked his comparison with teaching.

When a new teacher arrives, all the kids don’t know how to react (including the baddies, in my experience). How should we react, what will he/she be like, what are the rules?

This is the strongest moment in a teacher’s reign. Doesn’t last long though, folks.

LBG


Alternative Qarabag – exciting prospects give us a glimpse of the future?

December 15, 2018

As things stand we have very few options on the right: Ramsey and Ozil have been deployed out there with very little success; I mean what’s the point in tasking Ozil with tracking back and worse, what a waste? Ramsey is slightly better in the sense that he is more naturally aware of what is expected from someone playing in that position but with all the best will in the world, his main drawback is that he is very slow over the ground and when tracking back with pace is one of the principal yardsticks in which a player is gauged on the flank, the Welshman will always be seen as being lacking. Aubameyang and Lacazette drift out there from time to time but obviously offer no defensive cover or token at best.

Then there is Mkhitaryan, I have read on a few occasions how Henrich seems to be one of Emery’s favourites and is the reason why, on occasions, when it seems to make no sense, he gets the nod ahead of Ozil. I don’t see this at all. In fairness, on the flank, Mkhitaryan does offer something going forward, he does have good close control and does try to track back, certainly does better than any other player that Emery has used in that position, but that is not saying much. And this is where I bring you back to the match you are trying to forget or more than likely had forgotten: Qarabag.

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

The most interesting point for me was how Emery deployed AM-N; he started as predicted at LB which, as we know, he can play but as we equally all know, there is so much more in his locker but second half Emery put him wide right and he almost created a goal with his first very exciting foray into the 18 yard box.

I think a lot can be read into this. What is becoming apparent is that Emery loves a mobile player with good close control; the ability to push forward but, above all, the player must be able to defend (did I just describe Torreira?)

You see where I am coming from. If you think about it, AM-N has all of those qualities plus one further special gift: he is fast and when he gets going he is very fast. I expect Emery to play him out there far more in the near future.

A couple of other thoughts: I like the way that Saka is being fast-tracked, yes he is the latest hot young prospect that we are all getting excited about but, hey, what is wrong with that? Cynics point to a long line of players that people like me have got excited about but have fallen short of what was hoped for (I thought Jack Wilshere was the next Maradonna but hey ho we can’t get them all right) However, I would argue that to not to get excited about the next hot thing is to miss out on an incredibly important and uplifting part of supporting a football team.

Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Young Bukayo, only seventeen, started the game naturally nervous, he may have trained with Ozil and Lacazette but playing along side them is understandably going to take some time to get used to. It was noticeable that he got better and better as the game went on and having drunk some of Unai Emery’s half time magic drink he, like every other player at the club, came out in the second half a changed man. It also helped when Lacazette went off and then finally Ozil; the young man was then surrounded by players up front that he is used to playing with on a weekly basis and the reason for him being fast tracked became apparent. The man possesses superb close control and can seemingly go past players at will; he was in the right place at the right time to receive AM-N’s deft cross on the break to leave Saka one on one with the keeper but unfortunately he fluffed his lines and missed. As for when he is likely to break into the first team, hmmm, I wonder if he can defend. If so, then fast tracked really will mean fast tracked.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

The last player I want to give a bit of attention to is Zech Medley, still only 18 but as nervous as Saka started, Medley was the absolute opposite; he came on and immediately went to take up his natural central defensive position only to be told by Koscielny to go out to the left, did this make him nervous? Not at all, what we have here is a left footed, tall central defender who can obviously play LB with close control skills that are so good I can’t even think of a comparison. Ohh, and the other reason that he gets a mention above others is that he is one of us, a boyhood Arsenal fan and that will always count for an awful lot in my household. COYRRG.

Written by LB


Mesut Leaving? – you’re having a Turkish!

December 4, 2018

Ozil to leave the home of football?

What a load of hysterical nonsense, the man gets left out for two games and he is on his way to Inter, why Inter I don’t know but as the saying goes: never let a lie get in the way of a good story.
Why, oh why, would we let the most gifted player we have at the club leave, it make no sense and it is not going to happen.

Here is another way of looking at things and why they happened but first I want to show that there is a bit of substance to what I have to say. Look below and see that I predicted Emery’s team selection on Sunday.

LB says: December 2, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Great rallying cry BR.
I am sort of expecting Emery to do something very unusual and play the same team that started last week.

COYRRG

Chas says: December 2, 2018 at 1:08 pm

Leno
Bellerin
Mustafi
Holding
Sokratis
Kolasinac
Xhaka
Torreira
Iwobi
Aubameyang
Mkhitaryan

Chas says: December 2, 2018 at 1:12 pm
Good punt, LB.

This post is not about me singing my praises for finally predicting the correct team but why Ozil was left out. The reason is simple, as simple as it was logical why Emery had to play the team he did.
The Basque’s hands were tied by the inability of Kolasinac to defend. Come on we all saw what a mess we got ourselves in against Wolves with the Wardrobe as left back – a scary nightmare that we almost lost.
Further many of us saw how Spuds destroyed Chelsea, funny to think about that now, but they were impressive and would have murdered Kolasinac if left to defend that flank on his own.

All agree up to now? Good, so Emery had to go with a back three and two wing-backs; correct call because Bellerin and Kolasinac were impressive going forward. With that extra berth being taken, as was the case with Bournemouth, there simply isn’t space in the team for Ozil. Does that mean that we no longer need Mesut? Hell no, it means we need a better left wing back so we can revert to playing with four at the back which makes space for Ozil.

Getty Images

Is Ozil unhappy, of course not, there is no shadow of doubt that the ludicrously busy Christmas schedule has been explained to him and the need to keep as many players fit as possible and while that was happening it would have been explained that he had a back problem and should rest and spend time with his family ready for when needed which certainly will coincide with the return of Monreal, if not before, and with that people like me will have the chance, once again, to witness a genius at work.

Written by LB