Arsenal vs WBA: Player Ratings

December 27, 2016

This is what I think.

Cech: if you keep a clean sheet you must have done something right. Commanding, confident and his usual array of hoofing the ball upfield. 7

Bellerin: the curious thing about Hector is none of us know how good he is going to end up being; his upward curve of improvement continues at the same angle as China’s global trade output. I say this because although he is not putting away that many chances of those that come his way it suddenly dawned on me — what would happen if he did? 7

Easter: as I said above, you can’t knock a clean sheet but Mustafi he ain’t; still, playing against a Pulis mob is never an easy task and he did well. 7

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Koscielny: the doomsday scenario would be if Kos got injured; he has been playing so well he has become irreplaceable again another great Captain’s performance. 8

Gibbs: we are very lucky to have such quality back up for the LB position but that is what he is, back up; he is so one footed it gets a bit embarrassing; defenders show him inside which he takes and then realises that he is so out of his depth that he makes a meaningless pass to salvage something but yesterday he tried to run with his right foot; he inevitably lost control and then to compensate unnecessarily lunged to recover, the result being that he got injured – again. 6

Coquelin: Francis pretty much has to start as he is the only midfield ball winner we have; we may be chock full of midfielders but he is the only defender amongst them. This is, of course, a double edged sword; he is a defender so against teams that come to park the bus and time waste he is not as multi functional as we need; that’s to say, he is not about to join the list of goal scorers in the foreseeable future and that is exactly what we need from our midfield. 7

giroud

Xhaka: both he and Coquelin are the problem; they were the problem against Everton, against City and were five minutes away from being the problem yesterday. As a partnership they are incapable of augmenting the attack and without that you have the four in front of them being easily harnessed or more easily than they should. Ramsey may not be everyone’s favourite Welshman but he is capable of adding weight to the attack. As for Xhaka I don’t get it, his arrival confuses me. 7

Ozil: I have had a theory about this man for a while, there are in fact two Ozil’s the one that you see on telly and the one that you see when you go to the game. The problem with this is that it cannot be proved; I either have to watch the game live or watch it on telly. Every time I watch this man play at THOF he spends 90 minutes running his heart out, making me wonder how anyone could ever question his commitment to the cause. Not a bad game, not an outstanding game but he still did send in the superbly weighted cross for the lumbersexual to head home. 8

Giroud: and on the subject of the lumbersexual, I think I really should start by complimenting him on how well he took his goal which put a stop to a stadium erupting in booos just five minutes later and trust me, that is exactly what was about to happen. Giroud is OK; I would still have Perez playing for the ninety minutes but hay ho. 7

foster

Sanchez: a centre forward, hmmm, really, the fact that we still discuss this shows that he jury is still out. The red hot chili pepper was on the wing yesterday and mercifully he was feeling the need to beat two players, before he passed, far less and it helped — it helped a lot. 7

Iwobi: West Brom were predictably going to be extremely well organised so we needed the silky skills of everyone’s favourite Nigerian to try and twinkle toe his way past the lines of defence and break the dead lock. It didn’t really happen for him, he is a great prospect but he still wouldn’t make my starting eleven. 7

written by LB


Arsenal’s Redemption or Atonement?

December 26, 2016

Two losses are a sobering experience so I doubt our chaps will have piled into the beers and port over Yule. My guess is that they are really raring to go and make the end of the year a positive.

West Brom and Pulis are not exactly the opponents Mr Wenger would have chosen, my guess is that he would have liked to play a Top 4 side but instead we play a team who are punching above their weight, sitting in 8th.

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A few stats: We have only lost to WBA once in our last 11 meetings. They have only beaten us once at The Emirates (2010). The last time we played WBA on Boxing day was in 2002, we won 2-1.

The papers seem to be indicating that if we can stop Matt Phillips, we will be OK as he has been involved in 7 goals in 7 games.

Pulis. I have written extensively about this fellow over the years. I am too mellowed out to start again now 🙂  Suffice to say, I don’t like him, his tactics or his cap.

Arsenal: I expect to see the same team start which started at The Etihad. They have to show their poor second half was an isolated occurrence. I am sure there have been post-mortems aplenty.

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Given the number of games over the next days there is sure to be rotation but I expect this to happen vs Palace and beyond.

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin    Gabriel    Koscielny    Monreal

Xhaka    Coquelin    Iwobi

Walcott    Sanchez    Ozil

We have to win. Not just because we need the points. Such is the Arsenal fanbase that any faltering in our title bid is greeted with angst and opprobrium. Goodness knows how the “supporters” will react to losing at The Emirates. No doubt a chorus of booing and Wenger Outs.

But that won’t happen because we are going to win.

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy

 

 


BFG to Return?

April 21, 2016

Under normal circumstances the prospect of WBA arriving at The Ems when we are in desperate need of three points would bring a smile especially as despite the furore we are unbeaten in 4 games and have 8 points from 12.

But ….. if you are reading this then you know how the fans and media are turning on the team, particularly at Fortress Arsenal, and to a long-in-the-tooth Gooner that hurts. Our 12th man is already on the beach – worse, our 12th man has become toxic or as Mr Wenger puts it “we play in a negative atmosphere”

It is sad to say that we would be more likely to beat our opposition when playing away from home, Of course this is purely an opinion and an opinion based upon the evidence seen on a television 1000 miles from the Emirates.

Putting this subject aside for a full post, let us return to tonight.

If we are to continue  our run of playing each season in the CL – a run unsurpassed by any other team in Europe ( a little exaggeration because RM are equal with us at 19), then a win tonight is vital.

Will Mr Pulis allow his team to roll over like Chelsea did to MC or Stoke vs Spurs? Probably not. Does any manager whose team are on a poor run of form?

Will Rondon and Berahinho score for a team that averages one goal a game?

I don’t do stats but I know that WBA have lost 7 of their last games at The Emirates and have won just one of their last 11 away games in the PL.

Arsenal: Is it time for rotation? If so, who gets dropped?

My guess is that Iwobi will be given a rest. Apart from him, only Mr Wenger knows. If it were me I would play Walcott against WBA’s less than sprightly FB’s and give OG a start upfront. If we are to throw crosses into the box (which seems to have become de rigueur) the we have to have someone who can muscle his way past defenders; as much as I like Welbeck this is not his forte.

Ramsey has to return. He has become a marmite player in the team but I am huge fan of his (whilst hating marmite).  Giving Ramsey the freedom to play that is given to young Iwobi may lead to a resurrection of his form.

A regular fans complaint is that Arsenal are lacking a leader, if so BFG has to start. Paul Easter has potential but I miss the Big Man.

We need to win, not just for the points but for the atmosphere around the club. If Arsenal walk off the pitch with less than 3 points they will leave the pitch to a chorus of boos from three-quarter empty stands.

It is a well-known fact that Her Majesty, QE 2 is a dyed-in-the-wool Gooner. She has a poster of Tony Adams scoring vs Everton on her mantlepiece at Windsor Castle and another of Micky’s somersault in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace. On her 90th birthday it is up to the players to bring a smile to her much wrinkled face.

Let it be So.

COYRRG


Monday Morning Blues

November 23, 2015

I think we were all looking forward to taking three points from the game and putting pressure on City at the top of the Premiership. Sadly that was not to be.

There were sufficient omens before the game to dampen our expectations. We had half a team in the treatment room, we were playing a Pulis side which is morphing into his old Stoke City just as they are throwing off their Orc reputation and starting to play football.  Our players had barely time to catch their breath after the Internationals and we have a Champions League game to follow.

Having said that, we started with our first choice ’keeper and back four, our mid-field pairing of Cazorla and Coquelin were in place only Gibbs, playing on the left with Alexis wide right, has not been a regular starter while Giroud has taken over as central striker since Walcott’s unfortunate injury.

It was when things started to go wrong, with Le Coq forced off by injury, that the threadbare nature of our squad became horribly evident. A rusty Arteta was making heavy weather of his role alongside Cazorla and despite Giroud’s headed goal two errors by Arteta meant we went in at half-time 2 – 1 down.

The second half quickly saw Arteta off with a calf injury with Flamini replacing him and then Gibbs giving way to the uninspiring Joel Campbell, further evidence of the weakness of  the bench.

So just what was it that induced the Monday morning blues?

Well, for me it is the realisation that over  the many games played against Pulis’ teams we still haven’t learnt how to deal with that particular style of play.

On top of that we are most certainly being bitten in the bum by the failure to recruit a decent back-up for Le Coq, as well as a distinct lack of an alternative striker.

Finally, with City losing at home to Liverpuddle we wasted a wonderful opportunity to move to the top of the table.

Oh, those Monday morning blues!

Written by Norfolk Gooner


Remember your Shinpads

November 21, 2015

Much to look forward to today – a possible Merinho breakdown, Klopp’s second defeat in a row, the Classico, MU downed by the rampant Hornets. What I am not looking forward to is the physicality of a game at the Hawthorns.

I have nothing against WBA, I admired them during the Big Ron era for their support of black footballers, also that they would routinely gift us 3 points at home and away, but things are different today; today they are managed by Tony Pulis.

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Imagine how you would feel if it was announced that Mr Wenger was to be replaced by Pulis? First out of the door would be Ozil – Pulis would never have an artist in his team. Theo Walcott? No chance – the man is a wimp. Cazorla? A holding midfielder who can’t kick indiscriminately  and physically oppress the opposition. Going through our team how many would get picked by Pulis? I would hazard a guess at Alexis, Coquelin, BFG and Gabriel.

Having said that, it is one of the pleasures of football that there are many ways to win 3 points and perhaps it would be boring if only fluent, attacking, exciting, skilful, intelligent football was the only style on offer. (a little BR joke for those who are too literal)

In 12 PL games WBA have scored 10 times, have collected 26 yellow and one red card (we have the lowest in the PL with 12/2). They have 4 points from 6 home games and are without question the dullest team to watch in Europe, if not the world, universe, galaxy, etc.

I wonder what Pulis makes of Mr. Wenger. What must he think when reading of AW wanting to bring out the beauty in his footballers? Of his eloquence following a match and his humour at press conferences?

This is not to say that Pulis is thick – he clearly isn’t but I hate his football philosophy. I hated his violent Stoke team. I hated his defence of Shawcross. I hate his idea that if you cannot win by playing with the ball then play the man. It is offensive.

We celebrate the return of Bellerin. I understand Debuchy’s frustration regarding his relegation to the bench which may affect his Euro place but Bellerin is fantastic – perhaps the best AFC debut season since that bloke who is on the bench at Stamford Bridge.

Unfortunately Ramsey is not available until mid-week and IMO he is the lynchpin of the side. We have struggled in his absence especially in the Spurs game.

Santi is fit again and played well for Spain, scoring a fantastic goal which may initiate his Arsenal goal scoring. It is a mystery that such a talented player cannot hit the target.

Alexis played two full competitive games for Chile and will surely be rested for much of the game. Who takes his place? I guess Campbell will continue out right and Arteta or Flamini alongside Coquelin allowing Cazorla to play further forward.

The bookies have us as 8/15 favourites. I am less confident.

But beating a Pulis team makes for a happy Big Raddy household and I am sure the Arsenal squad and backroom staff are all in favour of that.

Let it be so.

COYRRG

 


The Boys are Back in Town

November 29, 2014

Is a very enjoyable victory over an un-inspired, un-motivated and injury ravaged team languishing just 2 points off the bottom of the Bundesliga the fillip our team need to start a good run in the PL? We shall see today.

Let’s be clear, Weds night’s win was a joyous event; we played well in all departments and saw some fine individual performances plus the return to form of some of our most important players but it was not a performance the Dortmund players will be happy about. Where was the pressing? Where was the pace and defensive cohesion? Let’s hope WBA play as badly today.

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West Bromwich are an odd club. One of the original founding clubs of the Football League, they won the title in 1920 and last won the FA Cup in ’68 with a goal from the mighty Jeff Astle (whom I will never forgive for missing a sitter for England in the ’70 World Cup vs Brazil). Yet they have never reached the heights of their Midland neighbours. That said, WBA have a strong fan base with an average gate of  25+k which means they sell out the Hawthorns almost every match.

If we are to judge the result of a game on finances we should steamroller them. Their biggest signing is Sessegnon at £6m  less than some of our reserves. The player who is attracting all the headlines is Berahino – a product of the WBA youth system and the type of player to cause BFG nightmares, a small, pacy, cool finisher and a player I could easily see at Arsenal.

Both teams have porous defences but ours could be improved by the return of Koscielny – we have really missed him though Monreal is growing into the CB role.

Once again the fates have been less than kind to Mr Wenger’s plans, another game another long term injury, this time to the crucial Arteta. I had not realised how influential the steel coiffured Spaniard is – without him we are not as good and the idea of playing the journeyman Flamini for any length of time is worrying. Perhaps with the return of Koscielny and Debuchy we will see whether Chambers can be our much hoped for DM. Who knows?

Could be another big day for young Damian Martinez though there is a chance TPIG will be fit. He did well last week so his confidence must be high – let’s hope it remains so tomorrow.

The return of OG is well-timed as it allows Welbeck a little more time to recover from injury. Scoring on his return to the PL he will want to assert himself as Arsenal’s Number One striker. I see a future in which Welbz plays left, OG central and Theo on the right with Alexis in the DB10 role, though just where Ozil plays is open to discussion.

Enough of football. West Bromwich foodstuffs: They like a beer up in the Midlands, there are 116 breweries within 50 miles of West Bromwich!! Even Ant & Duck will struggle to try them all. Probably the most famous beer is Ansell’s but a pint of Banks Bitter is a thing of beauty. As to foods, curries and pies are the order of the day,

It is a few years since I highlighted famous musicians born close to football grounds but I cannot leave the Hawthorns without mentioning two of my heroes – Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin and  Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy were born in West Bromwich (he left for Ireland at the age of 4). Metal rules in the Midlands!

Lunch time kick off despite our playing on Weds evening seems a bit harsh but the FA don’t do AFC favours, do they? Add in the huge and worrying injury list and there must be cause for concern today; yet we start as favourites. We have two players in exceptional form in Ox and Alexis, some others are returning to their expected consistency and WBA have their own problems.

Should be an exciting game

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Reasons to be Cheerful

October 6, 2013

If we win today it will be our 9th away PL victory in a row – an Arsenal record. Given WBA’s last victory this is no given, they are clearly a decent side.

There is a cautious optimism around the club (= euphoria) the like of which we have not seen since the Highbury days. Could 7 PL and 4 CL games really have engendered this remarkable turn around? Well, if you choose to believe the red-top’s narrative. In fact we have been on a roll for most of the year; since the beginning of February our PL record is P22  W18 D2  L2. Read that again!!  56 points out of a possible 66 – we lost to THFC & AV, drew with Everton and MU.

56 out of 66! Astonishing, and almost certainly the reason why Big Raddy has been in such a good mood this year.

Can we keep it up today?

WBA have some decent players – none that would get in the AFC first 11, but in Sessegnon and Amlfitano they have players in form. However, WBA , like us, have serious injury problems in attack with Long, Anichebe, Sinclair and Anelka out (could change pre-game).

The CC game is no indicator to today’s match though some of the personnel will remain. Nor is Albion’s home form of two losses and just the one win. What is relevant is their win at Old Trafford last weekend – it shows this is a decent side who will cause us problems. They have scored just 6 goals so far which may be due to the injury problems.

Positives: There are many.  We have not lost in 6 visits to The Hawthorns. We are the only team to have scored in all our PL games. We have won our last 8 away games etc etc etc

and We are walking in an Ozil Wonderland

We seem to be pressing higher up the pitch aided by the tireless Giroud who is adding much more than a goal-scoring threat. It is helped by the arrival of the energetic rampaging style of The Flamster, we looked very solid when he teamed up with Arteta. This could be the answer in away fixtures where we will play more on the break. However, This means that Wilshere is once again on the bench – a luxury but surely one which needs to be sorted, he is too good to ride the pine. And what happens when Santi and Theo come back?

My Team:

hpm1

Of course we could play Jack in place of Tomas but AW (and I) love what Rosicky brings to the team – energy, pace of thought and action and huge determination. Expect to see Wilshere on the 70 minute mark. We have little attacking threat on the bench should Arsenal fall behind, the sooner Podolski and Walcott return the better.

The results were predictable yesterday – let it be so today (apart from a humiliating defeat for the Lillywhites) because, let’s be honest, given the spirit at Arsenal it would be surprising if we lost.

Come on Arsenal, make Big Raddy a happy man (and in turn he will make Mrs. Raddy equally joyful)

Written by Big Raddy