Arsenal Struggling at Ashburton Grove–Why Can’t We Win at Home?

Arsenal have played two matches this season on our home pitch and we’ve lost one and drawn one.  Going back further, to last season, we’ve only won once in our last six matches at the Emirates while losing twice and drawing three times.  What’s up with that!?!  Is there a mental block?  Is it a tactical issue?  What is going on here?

Stepping back from the myopia so typical of the Arsenal experience, we might take comfort in the fact that we are not alone.   Check out these amazing stats: of the 40 matches played thus far this season in the English Premier League only on nine occasions has the home team triumphed.  There have been 13 draws, but that means the remaining 18 matches have seen full points taken by the away team.  In other words, thus far this season, you are twice as likely to win if you are the visitors.

Home Teams: 40 played, 9 Wins, 13 Draws, 18 Losses.  This is madness; madness, I say.  What is going on here?

In my opinion, it IS a statistical aberration and one which will normalize as the season wears on.  Still, I believe it does tell a story.

My theory is that it is due to a combination of factors which add up to a change in culture, notably, that there is a stronger-than-ever disconnect between home supporters and the teams they support.  Fans are coming to stadiums–not just the Emirates, but those all over England (and Europe)–with a different set of expectations and demands, making it tougher than ever on their teams.

First off, players are better paid than ever, with fans often feeling as if they are footing the bill.  That, of course, would be in the form of ticket prices which seem to rise year upon year, often independent of success on the pitch or finishing position in the table.  Add in the transfer windows and the media hype surrounding them and, instead of a community (with little in the way of other entertainment options) supporting their own, players are now seen as aloof and foreign, as well as interchangeable.  All are overpaid, so perform they must.  Otherwise, it’s onto the slagheap and replaced by a bench sitter, or, even better, a new player brought in from elsewhere.  It’s a simple equation: If you’re already here (and playing) you’re subject to scrutiny and blame; if you’re elsewhere, you might be–nay, you ARE–the answer…

The 2nd factor is television, which has changed the game in massive ways.

Again, it starts with money and the incredible, 5.14 billion pound television contract recently negotiated.  In England, unlike in other leagues, that contract is shared between all 20 premier league teams which helps level the playing field, making the individual matches all the more unpredictable.  This factor, however, is rarely invoked in the media, especially when compared to the elements of division which are.  Player salaries are still quoted in pounds per week (so that working people can note their annual salaries in comparison) and ticket price rises are a strong secondary narrative to transfer spending (or lack thereof) between seasons.  Supporter devotion (often compared to an addiction) is a tough habit to kick and fans find a way to scrape together the extra money for another go-round.   If not, there are waiting lists of people happy to dispose of their excess income and take your place.

While television gives access and expands the global audience, it also changes what happens in the stadium.

Football is a low scoring game and one in which the (single) referee has limited (and very blunt) tools at his disposal.  Outcomes are heavily influenced by the man with the whistle and that man is only human.  Traditionally this meant that he was extremely subject to the views from the terraces and the invective thrown his way if he saw things differently.  Television has changed all that.

First off, with instant goal line technology, one subjective element is gone.  Second, for all other calls, the technology–even if not used to correct the immediate incident–outs the truth and referees are held accountable. Pundits and fans and, ultimately, the referees association, will put refs feet to the fire if too many calls are blundered. In fact, the biggest thing a ref can do to enhance his reputation is to stand up to hostile crowds and make correct calls against home teams.

Finally, in a more subtle way, fans are now watching–and dissecting in excruciating detail or with heavy hand and broad strokes–matches from the video record so players have nowhere to hide.  To be sure, positive elements–goals and great moves–are celebrated and compiled into eye-candy.  Make a mistake, however–even away from the home ground–and it does not go unnoticed.  Play that mistake over and over and over on a pundit’s diagrammatic big screen (or on the youtube or in a gif) and it becomes a scar for a player to carry for a lifetime.

For the record, this is in no way original thinking on my part, here’s a fine article about the trend for those wanting numbers better than just those first four weeks of league matches.  http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/home-field-advantage-english-premier-league/

So, it’s a trend.  So, we’re not alone.  So what?  Why hasn’t it happened up on the blue side of Manchester?  What can we do about it?  Do we need an(other) Elvis song to make the Emirates a fortress?  Maybe so, and this one would be my choice (pardon the ads)… Note the opening lyric: “Wise men say, Only fools rush in…” 😀

If an Elvis song isn’t the answer, then what is?

Awareness, perhaps, could be a first step…

My thought is that paying fans CAN make a difference.  Instead of being on the lookout for every mistake, why not laud the moments you like?  Instead of seeing every choice of the manager as an arrow for your quiver (of arguments) if the result goes awry, why not celebrate the ones (perhaps most) that seem about as you would choose?  In the greater Goonersphere, that world of video evidence and commentary, why not lean towards appreciation and affection rather than finger pointing and hate?  It’s just a thought, of course, and not to everybody’s taste.  Still, maybe the Elvis song we should be singing is one of support.  😀

Unfortunately, these sorts of mass behavioral changes are unlikely to happen and I wouldn’t want to believe too highly in my potential to influence matters.  I will try to do my part, but I’m only a single voice.  What say you, fine fellow (but frequently fickle…) Gooners?  Can we help our team with our voices (and our keyboard fingers), or are we just shouting (or pissing) into the breeze?

Maybe there are other factors at play.  Are there players and tactics we could use in our home stadium which would help us against the teams set out to stop us?  (Are some players or combinations or formations better against the tactics we typically experience at the Emirates?)  Are some players better on the home pitch simply because they have endeared themselves to the home crowd and can feed off that energy?  Have some allowed a loss of (collective) confidence to affect their play?

I don’t know the answer, but, for the moment at least, I’m not overly concerned–and again, I’d look elsewhere to realize it’s not just happening in our stadium.  Our team has learned to perform in hostile environments.  Already we’ve won at Crystal Palace and Newcastle this season and we had some great wins in both halves of Manchester last spring.  Matches played in Monaco and Munich have netted 2-nil victories in recent CL campaigns, even if they weren’t quite enough to get us through (due to miserable showings in first legs on our home pitch).

Sometimes, I think, our boys might hope for an easy ride on the home pitch.  After the season opener vs West Ham United, I think, that notion has been laid to rest.  For better or worse, there are no easy matches and no easy venues.  Moreover, the comforts of home might be an antiquated notion.  Perhaps we need to turn down the heat in the luxurious dressing room at the Emirates.

At the very least, maybe those cushy red pads need to be gone.  Perhaps a splinter or two in the backside will remind the players of other, less literal things, supporters might want to shove up their rears.

I believe supporters can do more and that getting behind the team is better than the team always feeling they are under massive pressure and thus playing to avoid errors or negative outcomes.  On the other hand, perhaps it forces our players into a “siege mentality” and helps bring out their best.  Maybe knowing that they must earn the love of the fans forces players to focus on their own game and the challenge of the opponent at hand and keeps them aware that no match is a gimme.

What do you think?  Where do you come down on this issue?

by 17highburyterrace

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72 Responses to Arsenal Struggling at Ashburton Grove–Why Can’t We Win at Home?

  1. Ibk says:

    Things need to b change this time around, europe are over paid and this player earn thousand of pounce each weeks are performing below expectation. As an home fans i find it so painful to watch afc bcos the team lack quality, they play as if thr not paid at al.

  2. JNel says:

    Interesting state when it comes to money- of the 40 richest clubs in the top 5 leagues, 20 are from the EPL.

    I think it is somewhat tactical. The home team has more pressure to create offense and can get caught on the counter. Last season we did have more possession at home than on the road, but not by much. A very good stat engine.
    http://www.squawka.com/teams/arsenal/stats#possession#english-barclays-premier-league#season-2014/2015#126#home-matches-only#1-19#

  3. njk84sg says:

    17ht,

    Should someone sneak in and put thumbtacks on the cushions before the game?

    The players will run really fast if they get something up their ***.

    I myself do not think that it is due to the lack of knowing the pitch. If the pitch has been changed drastically, making it bigger or even rougher or something, we might show it from the emirates cup.

    It is due to the mental pressure, and the mentality, as i have pointed out so often, that we need a good start in the epl, and the pressure of needing to do a good job in front if the home fans. If the pressure is less, like the away games, we perform so much better off the blocks.

    So, with the internet age allowing the players to post their thoughts on twitter and the like, there has bound to be some fans that go against them saying choice words or unpleasant stuff. Do they read them? Or do their PR rep filter comments before they read?

    To have a positive mentality in a negative society where most of the feedback from bad games are unpleasant stuff is really hard to begin with.

    So my take is that the players adopt a better mentality and hope the goals start flowing again.

    Cheers,
    JK

  4. sobin says:

    we have 2 make our emirates fortress…I think we r nt gtng enough suprt (game day atmosphere) frm d crowd.. We shud make an incredible atmosphere inside the stadium..n itz sad 2 see d fans leave d stadium bfr the game finishes…coyg

  5. njstone9 says:

    I think it’s tactical. The away teams are hitting on the break and it’s working. Arsenal have long found it difficult to break through teams parking the bus due to the lack of a clinical goalscorer.

    There is also pressure on the home team to attack, and versus West Ham and Liverpool we were way too open and it is a wonder we only conceded twice in those games.

  6. Gerry says:

    17HT – I do not know how you do it, but you seem to be able to write a post that I do not agree with in a fundamental way, but you do it so well?

    Don’t get me wrong, you have gone through all the external factors thoroughly, and explained them in great detail. Well written, and everything you could want from a blog ….
    Except, what about the factors on the pitch, and the way the game is played.?

    If the truth is the post above is to be believed, fans arrive at the Emirates unhappy, ready to be disappointed and show their anger before a ball is kicked. Surely, people go to the match in the ‘hope’ if not convinced, of being entertained? They do not boo from the kick-off.

    You ask the questions at the beginning, about not winning home games: ‘What’s up with that!?! Is there a mental block? Is it a tactical issue? What is going on here?

    My thought on those questions is simple. If you look how games are played for the starting point, where repeated lack of wins can result in players not finding their natural fluidity in their play, and that can create ‘mental blocks’. That in turn will lead to fans being disappointed, and all the overflow that you have described in the post.
    But the starting point is the game itself.
    I have said it before, virtually all the teams in the EPL know that if you can get your defense lines in place, then they can make it difficult for the opposing teams to score. There are no more teams that now go into a game ‘cavalier fashion’, using the motto ‘attack is the best form of defence’, unless they have a weak defence and a strong attack. As an away side they expect to see the home do the attacking, so marshaling their defenses in an organised way is the first priority. Using swift counter attacks to try and nick a goal, without committing too many players forward is the second. But ultimately, an away draw is an acceptable bottom line?

    That is why this is not just an Arsenal problem, other than the very vocal divisions among the fans.

    Will it even out over the season? Is it a blip that will linger longer at the Emirates? Who knows. The point is that, as the season goes on, the smaller clubs may find it more difficult to maintain their commitment for the full 90 minutes. Therefore, the stronger sides who can maintain long periods of possession, will start to come out on top. The very strong will be the ones who come out on top among those top clashes.

    Alternatively, another way will be a tactical one. Where quick passing and clinical finishing will rule the day. This will be the TV producer’s dream. It in turn will excite, unite the fans. Winning after all is the name of the game. Winning well is what the fans really want?

    The Arsenal conclusion to how this will turn out is yet to be written, but be generous and assume the majority of fans want us to do well ….

  7. teams are parking defence against us. and since we play thru the middle when giroud is on, and since in our last 2 home games we were narrow, we become easy to stop. my preference would be to play sanchez at CF at home. leave giroud on bench. ox at LW, walcott at RW, ozil in the hole. i believe sanchez can become as good as aguero or suarez. he’s canny and fast. we dont need the ponderous slow giroud in the middle.

  8. RA says:

    Well, [close your eyes, Gerry] I think that was a very well constructed Post and clever Post, 17ht. 🙂

    You have made a case for some unusual seeming results as regards home team, and then pursued an ‘outside the box’ brain storming session tools at all possible reasons for this statistical anomaly of so many teams unexpectedly losing home games.

    It may just be a statistical blip, and no more than that, but I think home teams are indeed expected to ‘boss’ games, and are roared on by many fans to attack, attack, attack at every opportunity.

    Times change and over the last few years there has been more money percolating down through the league, and there are no ‘bad’ teams anymore – look at Crystal Palace who were on the verge of bankruptcy not so long ago – now every team can buy a gem of a player, and appoint really decent managers so that tactics and organisation are also now de rigueur, so that any team can beat any other team on their day.
    Foolhardy indeed is the team who go all out on attack leaving themselves open to the counter, something they may have got away with in the past – but not anymore.

    Fans do need to adjust to the new realité, and realise that patience not cavalry charges are the key to success.

    [Disclaimer: not that I want to appear schizophrenic – but there is a part of me who can, if requested, put ‘not’ in front of anything Gerry does not like.] 😀

  9. RA says:

    Error correction:

    an ‘outside the box’ brain storming session tools at all possible reasons should be an ‘outside the box’ brain storming session looking at all possible reasons

    Auto-correct trying to outsmart me. 🙂

  10. FLO8 says:

    A very interesting and enjoyable read 17. It does seem that the average Arsenal supporter is much more pessimistic, critical and extremist in their views than yesteryear (stemming from a variety of reasons). That doesn’t foster a great environment for the players to connect with their supporters (as Ox has alluded to recently).

    That said for me, the reason I think we are struggling to win at home is purely tactical.

    Opposition teams who come to the Emirates are setting up to defend deep and in numbers (particularly centrally) and aim to hit on Arsenal on the break. It’s working because Arsenal are not complimenting their possession hoarding attacking approach with off the ball runs. As Pony Eye eloquently described in his previous post ‘the passing triangles we create are just there as the preamble, a prelude to the final pass. The final pass needs runners. Exquisite runners. If there is no runner to see, then there is nothing to execute…’.

    A lack of off ball runners is the single biggest problem with Arsenal’s current cohort of creative midfielders and attackers. Only two players regularly make such runs – Walcott and Ramsey. The rest (Ozil, Rosicky, Wilshere, Santi, Ox, Giroud, Welbeck and even Alexis) focus too much on the possession hoarding triangles.

    In my view those players need to be willing to engage in more risk by making more frequent off the ball penetrative runs into the opposition’s box and the possession hoarders need to be more willing to try their luck at passing the ball to find those runners. That is likely to lead to more goals.

    That subsequently forces the opposition to adopt a more attacking approach and provides Arsenal with more opportunities to play a counter attacking style of football or simply choke the life out of the game through low risk possession hoarding football.

    For me we just need to play a bit smarter and the goals and victories at home will come.

  11. Gerry says:

    It is allowed RA – But I still think it is a bit of ‘cart before the horse’, but well written!

  12. RA says:

    Hi Gerry, 🙂

  13. RA says:

    Well said, FL08,

    I tend to agree with you about runners, or the lack of them, and my view in this as in all matters relating to the team, is that if those we have do not have the mental attributes or physical ability to see an opportunity or to time their runs or to even bother making them to enable the playmakers to deliver – then they should go, and AW should bring in those who can and will.

    Trouble is we have a surfeit of ‘playmakers’ — and AW never listens to me! 🙂

    Just as well, I suppose! 😀

  14. 17highburyterrace says:

    Soooo…. Nobody liked the Elvis?…. 😀

    In truth, I just wanted to get the stats (which, IMO, are truly amazing…) during this Int’l break (before they start to normalize)… Really, IMO again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with fans having high expectations these days. (And Gerry, I agree, the vast majority arrive in a hopeful, expectant mood, but one which can easily be turned…) As fans, I just think we need to guard against actually believing in the (various and sundry) easy answers we propose…

    In other words, it’s a difficult situation and the home stadiums are becoming pressure cookers, but not just for us…a perspective that is very valuable if we can achieve it… Big matches are coming up, and if we can do the business vs Stoke, work out things and maybe get a few extra players involved away in Croatia and then get a result (and play with a measure of freedom) at Chavs, things might start looking up…. Perhaps we’re a bit lucky that that match is in their stadium, same with the CoC match which is in the following midweek. All the pressure is on the home teams…

    Except that it isn’t because the dominant narrative is all about Arsenal, Money and Win the League. One’s support for the club (often embodied in support or lack thereof for our long serving manager) hinges on these expectations. I think we’ll be in it, but I also think it’s healthiest to see our natural level (based on finances) as 4th in England.

    How do we inch up from there? Defense first–Cech, our helmet wearing keeper, goes for a hat trick of clean sheets vs Stoke–and patience, with good movement, is the way. The debate about runners, I think, has a measure of truth in it, but I also think players like Alexis and Giroud can do a bit of it (running) too, as can Ozil… Just keep moving, interchanging positions (to make defenders wonder if they should follow…) and take those chances when they come. Yes, Ramsey, Theo and the Ox do ‘more’ running–and prefer to run onto the ball or carry it forward. If there’s no space due to a collapsed opposition defense, however, it’s less of a weapon…

    To conclude, I think we (as fans) should embrace the difficulty of the challenge and get behind our (very good) team, worrying less about who plays (they all will get their chances now that the matches are coming faster and thicker). In a certain way, both players and supporters need to ‘let it happen’ rather than forcing the issue. At that point, if good things happen, I’ll be singing “I can’t help falling in love with you.” If not, “That’s all right (Mama)…” as I’ll try to forget it and get excited about the next match… But that’s just me and YMMV…

    😀

  15. Pony Eye says:

    Yes, combination of reasons
    1) Statistical blip (RA).
    2) Defensive/counter attacking strategy of away teams.
    3) Fickleness of the 12th man of the home team.

    With respect to our team on the 3rd reason, we have a huge, huge demand on the team. Not only on the long term (winning the cup), short term (wining the next match), but also on the immediacy (being on top of the game from the 1st whistle). As they say, expectation minus achievement is equal to frustration. Therefore the conditions have been laid, ab ignitio, to trigger early frustration at the Emirate. A negative force field builds up quickly if expectations are not being met. Psychologically a negative field is positive food for our opponent. Instead of playing 12 against 11, at the Emirate we play 11against 12. Technically speaking a 38 potential away games in a season!

    We must learn how to manage our fears and our pains more positively.

  16. JM says:

    A lack of players with spatial awareness on the football pitch.

    Those with good spacial awareness will always appear to have time on the ball as they are intelligent and know where they need to take the ball to create space, they also will appear to have options whenever they receive the ball, this is the case purely due to their ability to think a step ahead due to once again having good spatial awareness of what is around them.

    Deficiencies in spatial awareness can keep players back from maximizing their true potential. This is what separates average-to-good players from the real top quality “world-class” players.

  17. 17highburyterrace says:

    Another quick comment… The debates around members of our first 11–a group which seems to have become more predictable recently–worries me. It used to be about Ramsey (only a squad player…) and then it switched to Ozil (too expensive, a lady part, etc.). Santi, of course, had been “found out” (until he found a new home deeper in MF)… More recently it’s about Giroud and his (lack of?) world classiness. Some sing his song, others can barely watch him… Alexis seems to escape (any) criticism (but could be having a “second season”….) while sitting on the bench enhances the reputations of (mostly) Theo and (sometimes) the Ox. Even Joel Campbell gets a shout, now and again (and soon enough, those playing in the reserves)… To paraphrase Gerry (from a few days back)…They ALL play some great football, except (of course) when they don’t… 😀 The same (of course) would go for all those players we didn’t buy… More smileys…

    All told, the entire scene would seem to beg for either a shortened transfer window or a shortened season or some kind of change which would be more conducive for players and fans being more settled with each other. The games needs more in the way of salary caps or other forms of financial fair play so that more of the best players actually get to play (rather than just banking salaries as back-ups on the silly money teams). Overall, somehow, structural changes need to happen so there can be greater focus on the matches and less on the chess-playing to win things (guarantee superiority) ahead of time…

    In my opinion, of course…

  18. 17highburyterrace says:

    Agreed with both PE and JM (whose comments I maybe buried), except that fans seem to prefer pace and power (and fancy moves) to that spatial awareness (which I associate with Ozil and Santi the most)…but then again, since you mention no players maybe you’re thinking differently…

    PE, I’m not familiar with that adage (expectations – achievements = frustrations) but I like it…

  19. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oops, didn’t mean to kill the discussion…

    Still, reading back, I think we’re getting somewhere… The debate seems centered on how we break down the parked buses. Is it hold-up and possession oriented play (Pony Eyes ‘preamble’ work) or is it off the ball running? And then there’s JM’s spatial awareness bit…

    On the home pitch (and away from home plenty of times…) we face teams who allow us to have the ball and play in their half. This compresses the space and leads to frustration. I think we need Giroud in there using his body to fend off CBs and dish some short balls off to the others. Other folks would prefer we do our possession work nearer the center circle but then play to balls ahead (in space) to our runners (Theo and Ramsey) to create the chances. Easier said than done, I fear. And our basic possession play has not been very good–esp. on the home pitch–thus far this season… What about giving (nuestro capitan) Mikel Arteta a chance? He’s got a hammer of a right foot and defenders might forget about him trying to cover everybody else…

    Stoke should be a good test. I only glanced at the England-Switzerland match but Shaquiri can make things happen and Diouf is a handful and not at all a poor finisher. That Jon Walters guy (who maybe did OK for Ireland over the break) seems to bring plenty of graft, as will the goons (Shawcross, et al.) at the back. Butland, is the future of English goalkeeping, or so I’ve been told… We might be hitting them at a good time what with their injuries and suspensions…

    But that’s for the match preview… C’mon folks, more re: tactics, players, etc on the home pitch or…we could always talk favorite Elvis songs… 😀

  20. The Cockie Monster says:

    Thanks 17 .
    Although It`s sounds as complicated as trying to figure out why a Dutchman cant get an erection with a naked frozen Turkey in an Iceland Store !……….maybe all the tactical chat bollox and psychology of a simple game needs a simple answer !……………..at the moment at home we are simply shit !. 😆

    Of course we are as you say not alone in being shit at home, but I defy anyone who can come up with a better zero goals in 5 of our last 6 games form !……….our shit takes some beating (or any other culinary way of dressing up shit on a plate !) hahaha

  21. The Cockie Monster says:

    Hey 17 !………………..have you or any of our American cousins been into Cricket ?…………..people think that is a complicated ( when you`re out you`re are in and when you are in you`re out etc` ) but it can be simple as well !…….here in just one photo it can all be made clear and simple !.

  22. proudgooner says:

    I must say this is all a bit to complicated for me too.
    If we don’t score then we can’t win simple as that.

    With Wenger scoring goals has never really been our problem so i am not to worried.
    Cockie LOL

  23. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey Cockie… Nice visual there…

    The Ashes was on (down under) when we were living at my screen-name back in ’06 and I tried to follow it a bit… My friend from the pub (and it was a “cricket pub…”) told me she liked to fall asleep to the radio commentary. It seemed like there were some interesting stories around the extreme psychological pressures on the players… Watching a bit of it also made me want to upgrade my sun-protection schemes… Most of all I loved the photos of those guys weeping in celebration over that tiny trophy…

    In terms of psychological pressures on the home pitch, yes, I think ours are a little more extreme (at the moment)…That’s why beating the crap out of Stoke this weekend holds real appeal for me…

    May it be so, and thus a happy couple of hours for the Cockie when he crawls out from behind the sofa… 😀

  24. proudgooner says:

    17,
    That is a tiny stupid cup.lol
    Though i am English i dont really follow cricket
    In fact i prefered softball or baseball myself

  25. The Cockie Monster says:

    Yeah !…I`m not really into Cricket, but it has given us some of the best commentary funnies ( as well as the photo above ), the most famous probably being…………” the bowlers Holding, the batsman`s Willey ! ” (they being Michael Holding and Peter Willey of West Indies and England respectably !.)

  26. proudgooner says:

    My Favourite cricket moment was while watching with my dad when the ref i cant spell ump so il call him a fer got hit in the head with a ball. The commentator said he hit his staright in the coconut.
    my 1 was a west indian commentator., dont know his name, but then they dont know ours either.

  27. The Cockie Monster says:

    You been on the turps, PG ? hahaha

  28. proudgooner says:

    lol of course Cockie 😉

  29. The Cockie Monster says:

    The Sofas in my Temple of Doom are very alluring and comfortable, 17…….the excitement and anticipation of knowing we have won but not knowing the score is heaven for a nervous wreck like myself….pure bliss !………….you should try it some day ! 😀

  30. proudgooner says:

    It’s all apart of “the wonderful tapestry of life” 17,Cockie temple of doom
    That included’s behind the sofa viewing.
    Nice that Jose’s home record is in taters so far this season by the way 🙂

  31. Gerry says:

    It is not just cricket where the commentator unwittingly put their foot in it. Take this example from the pre-match chat before the Villa v Man U game:

    It involves Rednapp, Souness, and Dwight Yorke … The anchorman talking about the Villa players
    ‘That Gestede has an enormous weapon, apart from his feet’ ….background sniggers quickly turned to outright ‘corpsing’. Anchorman ‘Come on children’. Souness forces out ‘Say something Jamie’ through the suppressed laughter. A slight pause, and Rednapp obliges, but quickly passes the buck back to Souness. He, manfully tries to continue … until he used the phase, ‘Yes he is fine when the ball’s played up to him’ ….. Another full bout of corpsing followed until Souness squeeze out, ‘Can I have an easier question?’
    Full blown laughter, amid which the anchorman could be heard ‘Perhaps we can have a more adult discussion after this short break’.

    Not what you expect from such a normally serious bunch?
    .

  32. proudgooner says:

    ttp://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20150909/koscielny-i-feel-like-a-young-man

  33. proudgooner says:

    Where is 007 ??
    I thought we may have heard more from are secret agent after we got Cech and replaced the pole inbetween the posts.

  34. Gerry says:

    Formation. Tactics. Players – The big three that we can all have a view upon, but the only one that gets on the field is AW’s select.

    If the team start well, and play a positive game, the 12th man will be with them. Play sloppy passes and the mood will change. Who plays is almost irrelevant, it is how they play that will be key.

    I am not so sure Stoke will sit back, in the opening stages at least. They will drop off if we look threatening. But they have enough quality to try and nick the ball mid park and run at us. Ideally we need an early goal, then we have a chance of controlling the game.
    Will it happen? Not long now before we find out?
    Prediction – MOTM … Alexis.

    Cheers

  35. Gerry says:

    PG – Like Steve, he was asked to depart, remember? Pity, I miss both, Bondy for his cricket interludes … even I was torn berween the ODI v Australia, and watching England!, And, if we are following the fortunes of WS1, he is doing rather well at Roma?
    Steve, probably the most authentic Arsenal supporter on here. Yes, he would vent his frustrations, sometimes with a myopic view. But his big passion was seeing Arsenal playing well. He had his faults, but then we can all do that. He will enjoy our seeing our loan prospect growing into proper players too……

  36. proudgooner says:

    Gerry,
    Oh i must have missed strangly enough both of them 2 being asked to leave.
    Shame as you said both very knowledgable and very very frequent commentators .
    As you said the fustraightions often get to much for some.
    Be back later i must pop down the range to warm my swing up.

  37. 17highburyterrace says:

    Gerry’s already thinking about Stoke as I am…And I could use some help with some info. Did Alexis (or anybody else) have to travel crazy distances?… Does the dot.com (or maybe some other site) compile such info? It sounds like Kos just got a rest over the break whereas we rested Ozil so Germany could use him… What’s up with that?…

    I need to e-mail my Icelandic friend (a footballer himself with a very promising son about 12 now) with congratulations… He must know most of the players on the qualifying team… You would think with 24 teams (this time around) the Euro qualifying would almost be like friendlies, at least for the traditionally strong countries… Speaking of, where’s our fearless clogging leader these days?

    Back to the topic… Yes, if the entertainment is good, the paying customers will enjoy it…Still, that just feels a bit off from my take on what “support” is all about… To each his own, of course… What I think we sometimes forget is just how tight the margins are, esp. now that the lesser teams can pick up some players who would slot right in at the biggest clubs. Little things, like fans urging on our boys (rather than giving them stick over loose balls–to follow on Gerry’s adult themes above…) might be the difference… That’s inside the stadium stuff, but the atmosphere can be poisoned by ideas which are in the air (on the back pages or interweb), I think, maybe? Nothing wrong with critique but a balanced (vs polemic) view and realizing that football is a game of (very) hard work and (very) little reward (at least in terms of goals) also seems a good perspective. In other words the tendency to BELIEVE that the answer is always something from the outside–rather than just a small tweak or improvement in the ingredients already in the pantry–seems misplaced to me. But maybe that’s why I do all the cooking and rarely splurge on a restaurant meal… 😀

  38. Gerry says:

    HT – A quick scroll down the bbc results page will give you an idea who played where.

    Alexis played(well) in Chile. Joel Campbell played in Costa Rica (got an assist for the only goal). Bellerin played in Spain. Giroo boo, you know about. Who else? I think Gabby made his debut, probably in S.America. Oh and Ozil played in Scotland, and Walcott and Ox in England.

    Best I can do off my the top of my head.

    I am off now ….

  39. RA says:

    Cocky Doodle,

    I am not sure your explanation is totally accurate on the rules governing cricket.

    Let a Yank explain it to you.

    There are two teams in cricket. One out in the field and one in.
    Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man in goes in until he’s out. When all the men in the team that is in is out, then the team that is out is in.

    Eventually when the team that was in gets out, the team that was out is in – until someone wins.

    that about right? 😀

  40. The Cockie Monster says:

    Commentators, pundits etc` are always making gaffs and they are (over here/UK) with affection referred to as Colemanballs after the late commentator David Coleman.
    If you have the time there are hundreds on this link .
    http://www.footballsite.co.uk/Statistics/Articles/Colemanballs01.htm

  41. 17highburyterrace says:

    Gerry, Cheers for the Int’l info (and perhaps too bad you are now off, same with PG, but at least the knee sounds better if you’re whacking balls…)

    I’m less happy that we’re back into misstatements regarding the politics and policies of this blog… I will waste some time to clarify things, but you might not like what I have to say…

    First off, NOBODY was asked to leave or at least I’m PRETTY SURE they weren’t. 😀 I can’t be arsed to check every last comment, but I think James Bond was taken to task for certain statements and may have gotten a suggestion to take a break. Personally, I miss him, even if some of his stuff seemed quite reactionary (in the heat of matches, usually) and over the top. C’mon back, 007, if you’re reading this, I say…

    Later, the blog was shut down because it was being taken over by other comment writers in a way that was killing TA’s enjoyment. It reopened with this post https://bergkampesque.com/2015/08/08/were-back-new-season-new-hope-new-policy-predictions/ Please read it again…

    Steve is welcome to come back, too. His final couple of comments, in response to some of mine, were a classic bait & switch routine, and included some quite nasty and personal insults, I thought. This is what triggered the shut-down. Still (I’m quite sure on this one), nobody asked him to leave. If he wanted to participate (and follow the ideas suggested in the linked post) there would be no problem at all. To me, he seemed less interested in supporting the club and having back and forth with other supporters–where he and they might learn from one another or at least maintain a measure of respect–than in taking extreme views in order to take other comment writers down. That’s just my view, of course…

    Overall, I think there’s no harm in revisiting these issues–if it helps us move forward in a better way… Rewriting history (to suit personal agendas, perhaps), however, doesn’t sit well…with me, at least…

  42. The Cockie Monster says:

    Thanks Redders !………………….you made it sound so simple !. 😀

  43. 17highburyterrace says:

    Back to business…Or at least cricket… 😀 That’s about my understanding on that game except you missed, “I need another beer…”

    Where are you located these days, RA? I could use an accountant or, even better, somebody who is doing the Lawyer/CPA combo, you coming out to Lake Tahoe anytime soon? 😀

    In fact, I’m procrastinating on writing (sharply worded) letters and revising legalese (around my father’s retirement) which is maybe why I felt I needed a little warm up with my note for Gerry, above…) Only a few more days until this (stupid) Int’l break is over. Maybe if we can beat Stoke we could maybe get along…Then again if we lose (or draw or win but not in overwhelming style) we could get more people here “discussing” things… In Spanish–and I’ve made this mistake before… The cognate “discutir” is a false one. It doesn’t mean “to discuss,” instead it means, “to fight,” Inneresting, no?…

    Anybody watching the tennis?…

  44. proudgooner says:

    17,
    The knee is defo better thanks though still hurts, every single ball i just hit caused pain.
    I would not have been swinging at all if it was not for this comptetion i am in on Saturday. Which i will be missing the Stoke match for. sigh ..,.
    That said it is better and i can play , its not the end of the world.
    The Stoke game is no give me though, only 100% will do o=for this game if we are to get our 1st home win of the season, as we should.

  45. proudgooner says:

    Oh and no not been watching the tennis, as yet.

    007 & 11
    Drop a comment or 2 , let us know your still alive.

  46. proudgooner says:

    17,
    Here is all the info you will need.
    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20150901/international-watch-gunners-in-action

    Tells you who played and where

  47. 17highburyterrace says:

    Cheers PG for the link…

    I dunno, golf on a bad knee doesn’t sound good. Beg off and watch the match, maybe?… 😀

    I used to play a lot of golf and it’s a sport (not just a game…) so you need to be of both sound body (and mind), IMO… My advice, if you do play…is low expectations (like you say, nothing’s a gimme…) and plenty of Ibuprofen… 😀

  48. proudgooner says:

    Thank you 17,
    I forgot all about the ibuprofen, just took a couple and an ice pack.
    I have got a buggy booked so that will help.
    I am going to play, i was hitting the ball great pre injury and was so tonight, its just the pain, il battle though.
    I think you are right in all you said though.

  49. Gerry says:

    Sorry I dropped out just when you were rehearsing your anger at my statement on the pre-BK break stuff. I agree it was a tad more complicated than that.
    The fact that it has triggered a ‘welcome back – with conditions’ to the pair is a good thing.
    I got the feeling at the time, both you and TA were in a bad place, for your own personal situations, and it led to not always seeing when someone was having a wind up.
    Personally, I cannot remember 007 being that radical, with his serious hat on. Yes, he was constant with his outbursts on Szczezzer, but even I, as a staunch supporter of WS1, saw that much of it was a send up, and could comfortably ignore it … most of the time.

    Steve was similar, but different, and the argument between you two did get very ugly.
    Steve offered to quit the blog if it enabled it to stay open, but it closed anyway. It probably needed to in order have a fresh start with a new season looming.
    However, I think as much as you got upset with Steve’s comments in the ‘back and forth’ you had, you do kind of dismiss your input that would really wind Steve up. Namely, your elephantine memory for dragging up things said in the distant past? At this point I should note that you did it again in a comment earlier, eg @14:37 ‘ Ozil (too expensive, a lady part, etc.).’, and it may have been what prompted my reply to PG. You could have easily inserted ‘lazy’ in its place?

    I never got involved in the immediate match day comments, and Steve could sound off big time if we had a poor game – part of his passion for wanting Arsenal to play good football. But when he got angry he would say things that he regretted later. So when you reminded him of his ‘lady part’ comment it was a bit of a red rag to an already angry bull. He had apologised for using it at the time, not used the term again, that is to say, ‘not used once it since’, but you still held it against him? Not only that you are still referencing it, even though he is not blogging. Okay, other sites have been guilty, but it always seemed to be the weapon of choice you used to batter him with … like me with my typos?
    I am not defending Steve for any offensive things he said, I am just saying, it takes two to tango.

    This is just me and my need to speak out when I perceive an injustice. In this case I think there was a lack of respect on both sides, which is why the differences escalated so badly. Now you may not see it that way, but let’s not go down the childish route of who said what first. I believe Steve would readily come back on site, under ‘the being respectful to others’ condition, but no chance if the slate is not wiped clean on both sides?

    No! Before anyone asks, I had had no contact with Steve, off-site or on any other blog site. I am only giving my own view of things. For all I know he may have found a ‘home’ elsewhere. But like PG, I think the pair added something to the site, and could so again.

    Sorry if this re-opens old wounds ….

  50. Gerry says:

    PG – On medical matters. Not everybody can take ibruprofen for any length of time. I am one for a start. When I did my 180 degree twist of my knee, the doctor prescribed it for me. Within a few days of a regular recommended dosage I got really bad stomach cramps. It is listed in one of the side effects. I switched to the co-proxamol tablets and had no problem with that.

    You will know very soon, as the stomach cramps are quite crippling.

    Cheers

  51. Gerry says:

    The link below has some echoes with the first team. Almost ironic that the Under 18’s are struggling for a lack of a defensive midfielder, Bielik being pushed up to the Under 21 level, but summer signing, a striker, Yassin Fortune, has now found himslf an effective left winger.
    😀
    https://arsenalyouth.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/fortune-catches-the-eye-out-wide-in-arsenal-u18-victory-over-west-ham/?

  52. RA says:

    Good Morning fellow bloggeroonies, 🙂

    I have just had a read of the comments I had missed.

    Sheesh, it read like a publicity blurb promoting a new TV series.

    — Can James “Jimmy” Bond – Bondy – make a break from whatever deep dark dungeon Steve – Stevie Boy – has incarcerated him?

    — Can Steve escape from the sinking sub Bondy has incarcerated him and his white fluffy furred cat?

    — Will the evil Master Minder of TA, 17ht – “Highbury’ managed to rescue them?

    — Can agent Gerry – Code Name: Dogman – give the relaunched blog some bite?

    — Can the strong supporting cast of knowledgeable bloggers such as PG, Cockie and many others, ignore the lot of ’em and sail smoothly on?

    — Will the brilliant Double Dutchman – Total Arsenal (call me TA, darling) – manage to bring all the loose ends together again?

    Stay around folks – and all will be revealed!!! 😀

  53. proudgooner says:

    Gerry,
    Thanks for the advice , i seem to be ok on them but perhaps its worth swapping from ibuprofen and paracetamol ever other day or something il try that.

    RA,
    On the drama’s , for me i think like Gerry the 2 offered a lot.
    007 was the man who made the most comments for the first couple of years on this site from the start, on top of that we got to know them quite well on a personal level, when he was going though a really difficult time in his life.
    It seems a shame to lose such a big blogger(s), though his views on WS1 were strong i tended to agree with him on a lot of points. But i was not so much hating on him like 007, i think its fair to say

    I think Gerry is right when he says Skipper and 17 may have not been in a right place them selevs at the time and clashed.

    Il leave it there on these 2 ,
    Point is i would like to have them back, with everyone trying not to piss each other of, which is not always possible. But should be 90% of the time.?
    .
    COYG
    We could massively do with win this weekend., get us all back to enjoying total football.

    Time to start thinking about who i would pick for starting X1, who would you?

  54. proudgooner says:

    I have just had a thought on a player, his best position and how to get the best out of him .
    He carries big transfer fee, imo is a great talent but his confidence has taken a knock in 2 tough matched that stick in the memory. Though i would say it was not so much he played bad , it was that the players he faced played amazingly well.
    The player is Callum Chambers..
    He came to us a year ago for £16,000,000 ;/
    He started of in superb form , but has struggled to nail down a spot and as i saidthem 2 games are putting a shadow over this great talent.
    What i am thinking is a lot if us were crying out for a DM this summer , but has Wenger already got his man in Callum Chambers.
    I think it could (would) work.

  55. Gerry says:

    Very funny RA – At least you seemed to be on good form these days?

    I am sorry I keep popping in and out on here, just as you answer one comment I am gone again.
    It will be the same now. I am off to feed the dogs shortly, then a racing chat, possibly a kip, and back around 5-ish.

    PG – I am going to try and keep out of the team selection, as it seems to whip up a frenzy of comments about players left out. I can think we can be assured we will have a 4-5-1 set up. But that can morph into anything. The key point is there will be a back 5 and 1 striker up front. The midfield 5 is pick and mix.
    For example, Arteta is letting it be known he is a teenager reborn, and as such he can play a full 90 minutes. Whilst I think his experience is invaluable, particularly when the side is under pressure, he does not solve the midfield dilemma. He cannot, or imo, should not start as the solo DM. Therefore he will be partnered with the irreplaceable Coquelin? The Ramsey/Arteta double pivot may work better as a pair, but losing Santi’s passing skills? Alternatively, lose Santi and play Ramsey in the B2B role, ahead of Arteta/Coquelin. But if Ozil plays, then you only have one supporting player alongside Giroud/Walcott, presumably Alexis? Or some combination of the 2 from 3.
    If we stick with the better(for now) combination of Santi and Coquelin as the DM’s,, then either Ramsey is out wide, thus keeping 3 behind the striker, one being Ozil (again, for now), and make the choice between Alexis, Giroud, Ox and Walcott, and may be Campbell at some point?
    The only other way, and it is risky against dangerous opposition, is to leave Coquelin as the DM, and pick 2 from Cazorla, Ozil, Ramsey, and at some point Wilshere. That would open up the possibility of playing Ox and Walcott wide, and still keep Alexis and Giroud in the middle, as an example.
    The defensive version of that would be to play Bellerin in the right midfield/winger, with Debuchy at FB, and have Ox as the left midfielder/winger. Thus keeping both FB’s back as midfield support to the lone Coquelin, but keeping the same problem of one or two strikers in the middle which would be balanced against the one or two midfielders providing the creativity?

    Pick the bones out of that and see what you come up with? But remember the AW select is the one that counts.

    Cheers

  56. TotalArsenal says:

    Gerry, please refrain from discussing former individual bloggers on the site. I am busy right now but will delete all related comments tonight. Nobody has been blogged from BK in recent years and that is all you need to know. Move on.

  57. proudgooner says:

    Bring on the Orcs, them cross breed human – Orcs from Stoke .
    That is what i say. No Begovic not a good young keeper in Jack Butland.
    No Orcs prince Shawcross, but they have Bojan, Shaqiri and Ibraham Afellay, 2 strong players we need to be on our guard against

  58. proudgooner says:

    Skipper,
    I was the one who brought them 2 up. feel free to delete mine if you see fit.
    I did not know where they had gone, Gerry was just filling me in.

  59. Gerry says:

    Ooops – Sorry TA, I did not expect such a strong response from HT.

    Pity we if we lose RA’s too – More ‘Red card for Callan’ than a Champers ending, eh Redder?.

  60. Gerry says:

    I suggest a campaign ‘ Justice for the Hector One’

    Apparently he is not in EA sports top twenty of the ‘Fastest Footballers’
    And they have Walcott as No 1 …. ???

    They must be measuring on their Sat Nav thingy, and we know how reliable they can be? 😀

    PG – On the Stoke match, I was looking through the list of players they have missing, and I think Charlie Adam is the one we should be most happy about. Apart from being a fouling little git, he also is quite good in dead ball situations. Admittedly, the Swiss tub of lard is quite good too.

    I have just read that Wilshere may miss more than this game, along with Rosicky and Welbeck who are both out until 2016. Everybody else is okay.

  61. RA says:

    Hello, TA, my luverly, we seem to be like ships passing in the night – and you haven’t even given me a toot! 🙂

    As I thought I had made clear, I have no idea what has gone on, and I don’t want to, if I am honest, so reading the incomprehensible comments was like playing ‘blind man’s bluff’ [A game where one person puts on a blindfold and moves around a room full of other people, with arms outstretched, trying to find someone and identify who they are. A bit of an excuse for an ‘innocent’ fumble with the ladies. Sadly, there aren’t any female feminine women on here – unless someone is sailing under a false flag!] 😀 Maybe Cockie? Or Terry Telescope? 🙂

    Anyhoo, best let sleeping dogs lie, I guess — altho’ I would hate to be the first blogger on BK who is blogged blocked — hmm, sounds like constipation! 🙂

    As one cheeky monkey to another, my friend – ‘See you on the Xmas tree’. 😀

  62. RA says:

    Gerry,

    I perfectly understand that a man sometimes feels the need to feed himself, and then chat with the dog about racing. Some of the best conversations I have ever had have been with a dog – they never argue, altho they can bite you on the ass if you look at a cat. Green-eyed jealousy! 🙂

    Now it is my turn to hit and run. Gotta go – hope to be back later – or tomorrow, if I avoid the block! 🙂

    Sayonara.

  63. Admir says:

    Hello, people! 🙂

    17 managed to get us intrigued again with another strong piece. I share the same feeling as Gerry – I don’t agree with it but I like it. 🙂

    It’s indeed a trend these days that home venue doesn’t mean much in England. Maureen – who had lost his first game at home in fourth season at Chelsea (the one against Sunderland) – hasn’t won either of his home games this season. West Ham have lost both of their games at home but have won at Champions’ League candidates Arsenal and Liverpool respectively. Manchester United couldn’t break resilient Newcastle side. So far, only Manchester Oilers play equally well home and away.

    Arsenal… Well, it didn’t start in August. It has been around for a while, since the final two months of the last season. Remember, Arsenal have scored in just one game out of last six played at the Emirates (I count only official matches) – 4:1 victory against West Brom. Chelsea, Swansea, Sunderland, West Ham and Liverpool respectively have left Emirates undefeated and with a clean sheet. If you take a look at those five teams, they are hardly of the same type. Remember, we could have lost to Chelsea had Ospina been sent off for that tackle of Oscar as he should have been, the Colombian keeper saved us against Sunderland and the Czech Čech saved us a point against Liverpool with a string of brilliant saves. (Of course, we can add that we had a perfectly good goal from Ramsey disallowed and a penalty call against Chavs when Cahill handballed in the box.)

    Our form at the Emirates gets even worse when it gets compared with our form away from the Emirates (I include Wembley too even if it is a neutral ground – it’s not Emirates, which is a point of the article. 🙂 )

    We have won 12 out of last 13 matches away from the Emirates. We have won at each ground we have visited since the defeat against Spuds at least once. We have beaten Manchester United in FA Cup at the Old Trafford and Maureen in the Community Shield at Wembley.

    What the hell is the thing with the Emirates then? Should Wenger use my suggestions regarding width at home and do his regular stuff on the travels?

  64. Gerry says:

    Well as there is a New Post in the offing, and not much to report on the news front … other than AW urging supporters to get behind the team. He also added a little bit about finding solutions ‘internally’ for his striking options. Well he is the one that will make the decisions regarding that.

    As I intimated yesterday, the basic 4-5-1 looks to be the starting point, and as much as people might think it is a good time to try something different with the ‘1’ up front, I do not think it will happen in this game. For two reasons really: 1, The team has to play radically different without Giroud; 2, AW rarely knocks his players when they are down. Giroud suffered during the I’ntnl break, and will need a pick me up rather than another blow to his confidence.

    Therefore his task is simple, ha ha. He just has to sort out a functioning 5 behind the striker, and the same 5 in front of the defence. That is where I think there will be a shake up, but I will leave HT to explore those options in his preview.

    I am off to sort out my Fantasy teams, as well as make amendments to my Premier league predictions. I just hope my dogs are as good at football as they are at horse racing, eh RA?
    Cheers

  65. Gerry says:

    Mmmn, the Fantasy stuff proved interesting. For those involved, follow the links with ‘The Scout’, and look for the best creative players this season. You will be pleasantly surprised!
    Top:
    Santi Cazorla with 16 ‘key passes’ – no assists
    4th: Mesut Ozil with 12 ‘Key passes’
    5th: Aaron Ramsey with 11 ‘key passes’

    Note, Mesut did sit out the Newcastle game. Shelvey and Hazard are between Cazorla and Ozil. David Silva tops the ‘assists’ list, and Hazard is ahead of his last season’s average for ‘minutes per key passes’.

    Digest that going into tomorrow’s game?

  66. Gerry says:

    It is also interesting on the BBC site, where I am shocked to say that I left my predictions as they were, despite them revealing Lawrenson’s ones. He has a pretty good record, so opposing him can be risky.
    However, what caught my eye in the ‘Gossip’ column was how much attention they are giving Man Utd, in a very negate way. Several papers have come out with different stories on the discontent about LvG’s management style? Are they going to be the ‘new Arsenal’?

  67. RA says:

    Morning Gerry,

    You will get more sense discussing your football predictions with your dogs than you would from many a football fan!

    You may have noticed that I am a doggy man – tho I do like most other people!! 😀

  68. RA says:

    Hi TA, 🙂

    Where the Dickens are you? Am I on your blacklist? If so, get your lovely dog to give me a bark.
    Well, that would give 17ht paws for thought, innit? 😀

  69. Gerry says:

    Good Morning RA – I guess we might just miss out again, as I am back briefly after dog walking.
    From what I have seen of Henry, he looks far to polite to bark at strangers 😀

    It is still the working week for some, so I am sure TA will get around to you sooner or later.

    As for me, it is another Racing chat coming up shortly.

    Catch you some time perhaps ….?

  70. 17highburyterrace says:

    New Post

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