Deep Breaths. Wigan Pre-Match

May 14, 2013

We all know what is at stake and tonight, we, and I mean those fans who are lucky enough to attend, have to push our lads to 3 points.

As a child I had an idea that if all the fans on the North Bank simultaneously sucked in air at a corner kick then the ball was sure to go into the net. It just had to be delivered into the right area and the ensuing suction would ensure another goal for my heroes. I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t recommended in the programme!

In later life I found that in times of stress and challenge a few deep breaths helped considerably, and I have a feeling many will be needed tonight because this is going to be a nervous 90+ minutes.

Let us begin by congratulating Wigan on a wonderful achievement on Saturday. To overcome the Northern Oilers with a team that cost less in total than any single player of the opposition was superb (and almost true!).



How the win will affect Wigan is anyone’s guess; they could be exhausted by the emotional strain or be running on adrenalin.

What excites me about tonight is that a draw is useless to both teams – like us, Wigan’s future is in their own hands, win two games and they stay up, and as such it should be an all-out attacking game.  This should (?) play into Arsenal’s hands as we are unquestionably the better attacking team, even without Giroud. In fact, we have better players in every single position – in my opinion, there isn’t one Wigan player who would be first choice at Arsenal.

As always, look elsewhere for tactics and statistics. Those that interest me are that Arsenal have won 9 out of 10 games at home to Wigan and Wigan have only lost once in May over 2 seasons. If Podolski is subbed tonight he will set a new AFC record of being subbed in the PL – 22 times!

Much has been made of the referee tonight, our record with the Dean is played 15 won one! This season Dean has been in control of our defeats to both Bradford and Blackburn and was referee at Wembley when we lost to Birmingham. Corruption? Bias? Who knows but whatever the reason it makes no difference tonight, we jut have to win despite Mr Dean. I said a few weeks ago that our season could depend upon luck and decent refereeing – I wish Mr Dean a successful and enjoyable evening.

Will we start with the same players who “thrilled” us in the opening 20 seconds at Loftus Rd and then bored us for the next 90 minutes, or will Mr Wenger make some changes? There is little alternative but to continue with Podolski at CF, though The Swerve may get a game in which we have to score.

Just for once and for Big Al here is the team I would like to see start but won’t:


Ramsey has been outstanding recently but adds no goal threat whatsoever, Rosicky has flattered but not been consistent and we need goals.  Gervinho, despite being infuriating can score, and tonight we have to not only be secure at the back but also clinical in front of goal (clinical and Gervinho in the same sentence!!).

I want to see Wilshire. He may not have played well in his last couple of games but he remains our best player (IMO). He has the power and the vision to be the fulcrum of Arsenal’s future and we need him in big games. Yes, Ramsey does a better job defensively but good as he is Ramsey just hasn’t got JW’s vision.

Just read that JW will start from the bench thanks to the need for a summer operation on his injured ankle .

Defensively we are much improved  with BFG and Koscielny  developing a partnership which bodes well for the future – always assuming Koscielny doesn’t leave in summer. I prefer Gibbs to Monreal because Wigan’s main threat comes from Macnanaman  and we must hope that whoever gets the shirt does better than Clichy did at Wembley.

Would you prefer an all-out attacking display for our final home game of the season or a classic 1-0 to The Arsenal? I would take either, but prefer the former.

Today’s English explorer: Just a couple left before season’s end and we have just scratched the surface of England’s brave chaps, yet the traditions of Captains Scott and Cook live on, so today we are going to look at a remarkable young man who was born after Charlie scored “that” goal at Wembley;  Tom Avery (1975- )


Still time to grow the “full set” and get Knighted

Born in London, Tom was given (as I was) the wonderful book of Captain Robert Scott’s attempt at the South Pole, it fired his interest in exploring. At Uni he led climbing expeditions to the Andes, New Zealand and the Alps. By the age of 20, he had scaled 9 unclimbed mountains up to 20,000 ft, yet his heart was set upon traveling to the Poles. In 2002 Avery became the youngest Briton to ski to the South Pole and broke the South Pole speed record in the process.

Inspired by Peary’s North Pole expedition he set off to replicate the American’s journey, attempting to ascertain whether Peary did in fact make the Pole. Using the same equipment and sleds as Peary, Avery reached the Pole in just 36 days, thus becoming just the 41st and youngest person to travel to both Poles. His next project is to sail solo around the world.

The Premiership table shows that we are 5th, Wigan are 18th and over 30 points behind. Arsenal are at home, we have the best record in the PL over the last 8 games, we are on a great run – our last 12 games are W9 D2 L1 –  PL winning form.

And yet  …..  Why am I so worried about tonight???

Given where we were at Xmas the team have done brilliantly to get so close to CL qualification. Let’s continue the work tonight


Written by Big Raddy

Tangled up in Blue: Match Preview

April 16, 2012

Apart from supporters of the doomed bottom 3 is there a football fan who doesn’t want Wigan to escape relegation?  Their PL survival is a mystery given the small ground, low attendances and limited finances – they are the (Leyton) Orient of Manchester. And yet they survive without resorting to hoof ball and dull physical football, maintaining an admirable allegiance to playing attractive football. Their Chairman backs his manager and rightly so, Martinez is a top bloke – calm under pressure, always urbane and intelligent, a man who stayed at Wigan despite the attractive  job offer from Aston Villa. Wigan are a fine traditional club who deserve to stay up at the expense of Blackburn, Wolves and QPR but …….

We need the points, so sorry Wigan, tonight you are the enemy.

You all know the maths (to our American readers, there is an “s”  in Maths), another win and we go 8 points ahead of the chasing pack. True, they will have a game in hand but 8 points with so few games to go is a considerable margin.

More of the same, please

I am afraid I am going to be controversial. This run of wins is surprising because we are not a good team yet. It is my belief that the root causes of our improvement are luck, confidence and a fit squad. We have yet to see a full game of quality . Certainly the team has grown since being 2 down to the hapless crew who got humiliated at Wembley yesterday 🙂 but I still do not feel confident we can compete for the League next season without  surgery.  If we win tonight we will be 15 points behind an ordinary Man Utd  – do you really believe we can be at least 15 points better next season?

Yes, I know the counter-arguments. The dreadful start, the awful summer transfer window, the injuries to FB’s, the loss of JW etc but to counter this, we have found Arteta;  Song has been immense, so has Koscielny. and what can one say about  RvP?  Can anyone guarantee another season like this for our Captain? On past evidence, sadly no. He was not known as Chocolate Legs for nothing.

But enough of this rational thinking BR, which I must point out is purely my opinion and not representative of Arsenal Arsenal website. The bottom line is  – do we have enough to beat Wigan tonight? and the answer is an emphatic Yes.

Beating United last week was a major scalp for Wigan and they will come into tonight’s game full of confidence.  The Latics have tightened in defence and started to score goals. 2 months ago they were doomed but now there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, Wigan have only beaten us once in the last 13 meetings.(we threw the away game in a shameful  2-3 in 2010).

My team:

If fit, I would replace Bennie with Gervinho who is back in the squad. I hope AW sticks to giving O -C cameo appearances. I fear he will be picked for the Euro’s should he make a big impact over the coming month. Better The Ox stays at AFC and gets a full pre-seaso, much like JW. Club over country for me.  Ramsey to come on after 60 mins and score.

Today’s Gooner: Being the Titanic centenary it is only fitting I find a connection and of course there is one. According to Hollywood Kate Winslett was a survivor of the tragedy and she is a Gooner. Although born into the Man Utd stronghold of Reading, Berkshire, she discovered the wonders of Goonerdom through a friendship with TH14 and has remained a fan ever since.

Kate and some fellow sing “Let’s all Laugh at Tottenham”

A big night for both clubs but the footballing Gods are shiny on The Emirates at the moment. We have enough to beat them and beat them we will.

Written by Big Raddy

Up for the Cup

November 30, 2010

Tonight we have a chance to improve our ailing home record against Wigan. It may only be the Carling Cup and I for one believe we shouldn’t be bothering but 3 wins and we have a trophy on the Shelf.

Wigan were just the type of team we were looking to draw to draw for this round – they are in poor form and play open football. With what is surely a relegation threatened season ahead of Wigan perhaps Martinez will play a weakened team thinking the CC is unlikely to be won and is a hindrance to his plans. I like Wigan and wish both Martinez (who is just the type of young manager the PL needs) good fortune, but not this evening.

Mr Wenger has already shown he is serious about the Carling this season. He will continue to make wholesale changes but with our depth of squad can afford to do so with confidence.

I expect the following:


Hoyte  Nordveldt JD Gibbs

Nasri  Eastmond  Denilson  TR

Walcott  Bendtner

We need to give Sagna a rest and with the injury to Eboue could play Hoyte (if he isn’t on loan). Thankfully Sagna is one of our strongest players and never appears to run out of steam, so perhaps he will start.

A semi-final awaits the winners of this tie and I am fully confident of a win, but the again, I was confident this time last week prior to losing in Braga who are a much poorer team than Wigan.  Tonight we will see a reversal of that result and hopefully more.