Arsenal v Foxes: Starting 11 for a potentially Season Definining Game

The Foxes under Rodgers are easy on the eye these days and we are in for a great game of football. Tielemans and Maddison are a joy to watch and can score a goal from any angle. Of course there is also that much feared senior citizen called Vardy; a better personification of a fox on the pitch you cannot get. Oh how I would love for our CBs to have that wily fox in their back pockets tomorrow afternoon.

Their defence is breach able and will nder pressure it will buckle.

It is fair to say that this game will give us a good indication of where we are right now. They will not fear us and aim to win; and Arsenal will do just the same. There is the fourth spot to go for this season and a win for us tomorrow would be a big claim for that much coveted ‘price’. Oh this will be a battle and sparks will fly as both teams will play with a high tempo and focus on attack. Yet, I reckon we will absorb pressure regularly and play on the break more than them. We have the players to really hurt them and if we take our chances we could win with a margin.

Sickness may scupper our best starting 11,but all will want to play and I expect starts for Tierney and White.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Leeds 8 Observations: Chapeau to Mikel, Midfielder MOTM, Eddie Stay or Go?

Arsenal 2 – 0 Leeds

Eight Observations from a mature game of football by our nr2s in the squad:

  1. The boys were up for this one, and yet they didn’t all go all out on attack whilst ignoring their defensive duties as we have seen so many times in the past. It didn’t make for the most exciting League Cup game we have ever watched but it was the right approach against a strong opponent who also love to attack.
  2. Our defence was solid with White clearly the leader and all other players working disciplined and hard. They were helped by a solid double DM-pivot that shielded them well and quietly contained the strong Leeds’ midfield.
  3. I really liked Ainsley’s performance last night, my MotM. He worked hard to help our attack by bridging the gap between defence/Midfield and attack regularly. I also loved his tackles and general tenacity in his one to one battles. Elneny worked hard too but was less effective and more rusty on the night.
  4. Our wing play was below par and neither Martinelli or Pepe impressed. Kola and Soares tried to add depth there but with mixed success. Our triangles on the wings did not work and both Pepe and Martinelli did not get much support; they also lack the ability to make something happening by their own on the wing. For the Brazilian this is a work in progress, which cannot be said for the other one unfortunately.
  5. Emile played an efficient game and I was impressed by his maturity. He had too much to do in providing the thrust and creativity in attack, so he just focused on where he could add value without running himself into an injury.
  6. Eddie is always good in preserving his energy for when it’s needed most. Nketiah is more of an (former?) Auba than a Laca type of an attacker but he still worked hard enough for the team (just as Auba did on Friday). He stole/took his goal well and with that he sealed the game. The big question is does Eddie fit into Arteta-ball….. Mikel rates him and wants him to stay. But I am still undecided.
  7. Leno was up for it and he made a fine safe at a crucial moment. His control in the box and distribution were okay but not more than that. A shot stopper he is, though, and a great nr2 goal keeper to have for Mikel…… But surely that will not be enough for the ambitious German?!!
  8. Other than the maturity of the team I really appreciate the workrate and tenacity of the players on the pitch. Mikel has them all working hard and that’s not an easy achievement given the dissatisfaction some will be feeling. So chapeau to our manager.

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Leeds: 9/11 changes in lineup for the Gunners?

Arsenal v Leeds – League Cup

Arsenal were lucky to have drawn Leeds at home for this round, and it will be the third home game in a row. We want to do well in all Cup competitions and Arteta has the sort of squad to mix it up and rest players for the big match in Leicester on Saturday. But had this been an away game, Mikel would probably be tempted to use more of his first team players.

I have a feeling there will be a lot of changes, maybe even 11/11?! I am going for 9/11 with only Tavares and Saka keeping their place. Leeds probably will make changes too, so many first team players are not needed.

This is my preferred lineup:

Al these players bar Saka need a start and they are all very good. If Kieran is fit he will play, but I don’t think he is. Key for me is that Sambi and Thomas get a rest and avoid getting injured tonight. However, one of them may be needed to get the balance right in midfield. Still, this should be a good game for Ainsley and Mo to show us all how good they are.

GK and defence should be straightforward and in attack Eddie and Martinelli should be itching for a start. Maybe Pepe starts instead of Saka but I feel we need the Englishman for better balance in attack.

Looking forward to this one.

By TotalArsenal

Do the Gunners need Oiling Up for Success?

What sort of club do you want Arsenal to be? What sort of business model would suit us best?

With another club getting oiled up to the eye balls now, and there always being a chance that Arsenal will be bought by a sheikh or two themselves, I am wondering how fellow BKers (and other, silent readers of the blog) think our club should be owned and run.

Football clubs have huge turnovers now and with that come big financial risks. Barcelona just decided to take on a €1.5b loan to get themselves out of – or even more into, depending on how you look at it – a financial mess. They could not keep hold of their big stars and let them go to their rivals for free. The club has imploded over the summer and it will take a long time for them to get back to the top. Running a football club is risky business.

Ajax have a great youth academy but (have to??) sell their gems at an increasingly younger age, after which they have to build all over again.

Citeh and the Southern Oilers have shown that success can be bought if one just keeps pumping extraordinary amounts of money into the club. But it is not just that: Abramovich is ruthless when it comes to hiring and firing managers and has a good eye for who will bring him instant success/return on investment. Citeh made one of the management appointments of the new millennium by getting Guardiola instead of him going to the Red part of that post-industrial city.

Big money with (loyal) top quality managers is a strong recipe for silverware. But how much fun is it to win this way?

Pool have of course made the other big manager signing of the modern era. Klopp was a great managerial call by the Pool BoD, and with relatively modest investment they have found a formula for success with attractive, winning football. I am much more jealous of them.

Man United and Arsenal, the power houses of the first 15 years or so of the PL, have lost out to superior oil money and wrong managerial appointments.

I don’t really want to look at what went wrong, though. All good eras in the PL come to an end and then we have to hope for a new one. The question is, do we have the right structure and ownership model in place to be successful again?

For me this is a question of sound and ambitious financial management and top level football management knowhow at Board level. It’s also about vision and values as foundation to the long term running and success of the club.

Furthermore, it is about holding on to our best players long enough to reach the summit again. It is also about listening to the fans and good comms; about being aligned and having trust in the longterm direction of the club.

There is room for improvement at Arsenal regarding the above, but we are not in a bad place. The club have made a strategic decision to invest in youth and young quality players to build a team from scratch. They have trust in Arteta and his vision of beautiful, winning football; but if he doesn’t work out there will be a solid base and squad for the next manager to build on. This is vitally important.

I have high hopes for Mikel but this season will need to bring a step improvement and the jury remains out. I think he will deliver.

A vision and long term strategy, excellent management knowhow, using youth where possible, spending between £50-100m every season, holding on to our best players sensibly and managing the club in a financially sound way, is all I am asking for. I don’t want us to buy success by simply outspending others through unlimited funds. Really, what is the fun in that? If Pool can do it, Arsenal can do it.

I would like more passionate involvement from the Kroenkes and am not sure we have the required knowhow at Board level now, but the decision to stick with Arteta (‘s vision and direction) and investment in quality young players has made me very excited for Arsenal’s journey ahead.

Or is this not enough? Is the only way to success to be oiled up to the eye balls?

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal Player Reviews: Two Almost MotMs but Mr Motivator Deserves it Most

Arsenal 3 – 1 Aston Villa

Player Reviews:

  1. Ramsdale: superb game with both passion and confidence. Made a superb one handed safe at vital moment and his distribution was awesome. Loved the way he moved play on urgently in the 47th minute after a Villa freekick, which ultimately led to the penalty call four seconds before the end of extra time.
  2. Tavares: a very driven performance with real presence on the pitch and great wing penetration. Final ball needs finessing but what an understudy for the tiger of Wishaw!
  3. Big Gab: great presence in and outside the box and a few fine passes through the Villa press. Played with real focus, intelligence and commitment.
  4. Big Ben: unbelievable performance with Beckenbauer runs, committed blocks and great passing. What a CB!
  5. Takehiro: awesome forward drive with a rolls Royce engine and fearless hardness. Good positioning defensively and constant support to our attackers.
  6. Partey: left it all out on the pitch and bossed the midfield with Sambi. Great threat during set pieces. Covered so much ground and one or two mistakes are then inevitable, but his performance and role were pivotal to the team. Very close to MotM.
  7. Sambi: I am so happy with Lokonga’s performance and partnership with Thomas. His positioning was excellent and his physicality was just what we needed. Such presence and fearlessness and forward drive. Will score soon.
  8. Emile: was all over the pitch and conducted our play with joy and excellent forward drive. He oozed quality and was rewarded with a goal albeit with a lucky deflection. Emile made the stadium purr. Close to MotM.
  9. Auba: did a lot of the dirty work with real determination and always provided a threat in front of goal. Took his penalty with a bit of fortune (Martinez did look immense in goal). This was one of my favourite Auba performances. Welcome back, Captain!
  10. Saka: such drive and fearlessness to get stuck in against Mings and Co. Always a threat and secure passing option and good support for Takehiro. Should have scored from a great Tavares pass.
  11. Laca: my MOTM as he took the game to the Villa defence from the first whistle and was infectious with his drive and enthusiasm for the whole team. Mr Motivator put his body on the line and won us the vital penalty. Alex embodied the collective soul of the supporters onto the pitch. Flipping loved him.

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Villa Lineup: Four key selection choices for Mikel

Arsenal v Aston Villa

These days every PL game is a big test such is the standard of the PL. Villa under Dean are re-establishing themselves gradually in the PL and are a team that can surprise a top team any day. We know that Arsenal are a work in progress and that tonight’s game is a must win, ‘cup game’.

After Monday’s dropping of two valuable points v Palace, there is even more pressure on the team to win tonight.

Who is going to do this? Everyone is fit except GX and there are a few selection challenges for Mikel:

  1. Who to play in midfield, and one or two midfielders in the pivot?
  2. Auba alone or with Laca?
  3. ESR and Ode or just one of them?
  4. Pepe another start or not?

My preferred lineup looks like this:

Time for Elneny?
We need balance in midfield and Mo offers Partey to play in the Xhaka/Conductor role

The hard choices here are whether to leave out one of ESR and Ode, and then who it should be. I feel we need the added energy and goal threat of Laca, and by playing Elneny we will see more creative impact by Partey.

Arteta is unlikely to go with my preferred lineup but let’s she who he’ll pick and how it goes.

CoyrrGs 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋

By TotalArsenal

Dreaming of Ajax and why Arsenal need to Stick with Arteta

On Tuesday night I watched a veritable feast of football. I have always had a soft spot for Ajax because of their footballing philosophy and youth academy that’s second to none.

Borussia Dortmund were pulverised in a game that could have gone on all night if you were not a Dortmund supporter. It was fast and furious but with the ball on the ground and movement all over the pitch. I have seldom seen such organised frenzy leading to such devastating football. It was like an alien team from a superior civilisation had come to play a game on our earth.

To play such football it needs to be in your DNA. It needs to be trained at youth level and it is about understanding roles and positions, about sensing the bigger picture and playing machine like football based around individual expression. This may sound like an oxymoron and for most managers it will always be an incompatible combination, but some managers get it right. And when they get it right they reach the Apex of football. Cruijff, Van Gaal, Klopp and Guardiola are blessed with it, and Ten Hag is showing very promising signs to be another master of total football

The absolute basic is that all players on the pitch are comfortable with the ball in tight spaces, are great passers and have a superb first touch. These are the sort of players Arteta is buying and growing, and we are not there yet.

Wenger transformed our club and how we have celebrated his football. The game moved on and under Arsene in the last decade there was too much individual expression and too little system based football. Klopp and Guardiola out-systemed him.

We now have Mikel Arteta: our hope is invested in him. He is transforming our entire approach to football – it’s a difficult and almost impossible task as the PL standards are so high now with all the best managers in the world and such a spoiled and impatient supporter base.

Mikel is getting there but it will take a lot of time and he may not be able to get us there all the way. But he will give his all for this grand project and he will need our support.

The job is hard as Arsenal got so far behind, but what a great journey we are experiencing. One day we will play Ajax-like football and it will all have been worth it. Arteta is getting us on the way and he may take us all the way. Key is to see the bigger picture and support the cause. We have some way to go.

By TotalArsenal

Eight Arsenal Observations: Time for Elneny, Disgraceful Dean, Need more from OES

Arsenal 2 – 2 Crystal Patrick

Eight oobservations from an intriguing game:

  1. Our formation and lineup were very attack minded but we did not dare to push up much after the first goal and Arteta’s plan to dominate CP in their own half therefore failed and we paid the price for it.
  2. Partey as the sole DM remains clearly a work in progress. We need our young advanced midfielders to be much more dynamic and ball tight for this. Ode, ESR and Saka as a trio were disappointing on the night as they were roughed out of the game, and we need more from OES.
  3. Arteta did the right thing to bring on Sambi as we needed to reestablish dominance in midfield but he had a poor showing IMHO with limited positional awareness and movement into the key spaces to make things happen. This were Granit excells. I would not play him on the left for a while. In fact, more assimilation needs to be done and Elneny next to Partey seems required now. The midfield balance is the big issue and needs resolving quickly.
  4. Auba was inspirational and he was rewarded with a goal for his focus and determination. And Laca’s entrance to the arena was well needed and saved us from a loss. Arteta will need to incorporate both more regularly, especially against deep sitting teams.
  5. Tomiyasu was awesome and so was Tierney. They had to defend a lot of space around them due to the lineup but they did it very well. Our central defenders were left far too exposed and I don’t blame them for the goals. Both central midfielders made mistakes that cost us but the whole team will learn from this.
  6. It was great to see Vieira at the home of football and his team set up and tactics did impress me. He knew where to hurt us and would have deserved to beat us, and many a team will struggle against them.
  7. The kick against Saka and Dean’s and VAR’s responses were a disgrace to the game. Honestly, what is going on?! Dean’s leniency towards our opposition roughing us up and kicking our players left, right and centre was of course no surprise, but it remains disgraceful that such an incompetent referee is allowed to officiate PL games. He would have no chance in any other key European competition.
  8. I will finish with the obvious big positive: Arsenal’s fighting spirit and never say die attitude were a joy to watch. Get the midfield balance back and Arsenal will go places. It’s time for Elneny.

By TotalArsenal

Adventures from a Gooner Abroad

An Arsenal fans adventures in Northern Ontario.


Here are some key facts about Ontario:  In summer, temperatures can soar above 30°C (86°F), while in winter they can
drop below -40°C (-40°F)  Ontario is Canada’s second largest province, covering more than 1 million square
kilometres (415,000 square miles) – an area larger than France and Spain
combined. Ontario is bounded by Quebec to the east, Manitoba to the west,
Hudson Bay and James Bay to the north, and the St. Lawrence River and the
Great Lakes to the south.  Ontario is home to 2 time zones: the boundary line between the Central Time
Zone and Eastern Time Zone is just west of Thunder Bay, running north from the
United States border to Hudson Bay.  Ontario’s more than 250,000 lakes contain about one-fifth of the world’s fresh
water. The Great Lakes include Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake
Erie and Lake Ontario.  The combined shoreline of the Great Lakes is equal to about 45% of the earth’s
circumference.  The 5 Great Lakes are the world’s biggest continuous body of fresh water.  The Great Lakes Basin covers an area of 750,000 square kilometres – this basin
includes 8 US states, most of southern Ontario and extends into northern Ontario.  Ontario’s varied climate and geography support habitat for more than 3,600
species of plants, 154 species of fish, 50 species of amphibians and reptiles, 483
species of birds, and more than 81 species of mammals. In Ontario’s southernmost
regions, you will find prickly pear cactus and sassafras trees, while polar bears
roam our northern tundra.  Common fish in Ontario include yellow perch, bluegill, northern pike, salmon,
walleye, brook trout, brown trout, speckled trout, lake trout and rainbow trout.
The mammals that call Ontario home include beavers, black bears, muskrats, gray
wolves, white-tailed deer and walrus. Familiar birds include blue jays, northern
cardinals, great blue herons, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls and pileated
woodpeckers. Look carefully and you might see some reptiles and amphibians,
including eastern garter snakes, northern leopard frogs, eastern massasauga
rattlesnakes, midland painted turtles or one of 11 types of salamanders and newts.
Leaving England behind to move to Canada was not an easy choice but leaving
my beloved Arsenal was far worse; but that’s another story. My wife and I docked in
Quebec City on the first day of June after 8 glorious and somewhat riotous days abroad
the Empress of Canada (yet another story). We had arranged to temporarily stay in
Toronto with my sister Gloria and her husband Barry. Ontario’s 250,000 lakes and
100,000 miles of rivers created endless opportunities for Barry who was an avid
outdoorsman and he was passionate about fresh water fishing while I’d never cast a line
in my life – after all there weren’t too many fishing spots to find in Highbury.

A few weeks after our arrival Barry mentioned that he had saved up some vacation time
and wanted to go on a canoe trip in Northern Ontario, he asked if I would like to
accompany him on the trip and assured me that he was an experienced canoeist. I was
somewhat worried as I was a poor swimmer but he showed me the maps of the planned
route and assured me that he had selected calm rivers that had no rapids or stretches of
white water – so I reluctantly agreed to go. Over the next few weeks we put together the
equipment and supplies that we would need for my first outdoors adventure.
Our only means of transport was Barry’s MG Coupe, the canoe was strapped onto the
roof and our backpacks and minimal supplies were stuffed into the rear of the car which
completely blocked the view out of the rear window. On our 1,000 kilometre journey up
Route 101 to Groundhog River we got many strange sideways glances from other drivers.
Arriving at our destination we simply drove the MG into the bushes and covered it with
foliage – we were out in the middle of nowhere so it did not seem that illogical to Barry.
We had to make several reconnoitring trips back and forth to find the best route down to
the river and spot to launch from but finally we made our decision got all of our gear
down to the river; once the canoe was loaded we set off on our journey into parts
unknown.
It was now late afternoon and even though we were tired from the last part of our road
journey we had made up our minds to camp on a certain loop in the river. An hour or so
later we were approaching the spot where we had planned on camping when the sound of
rushing water caught our attention, as we turned the next bend we were confronted by a
very long stretch of fast moving white water. We made a valiant attempt to negotiate our
way around the rocks but to our dismay the canoe tipped; we were in the water and our
supplies were bobbing off down the river. Not being a strong swimmer I feared the worst
but you can imagine my relief when I discovered that the water was only thigh deep.
Even though Barry had misjudged the “calmness” of the river he had been smart enough
to insist on packing all of our supplies and provisions in air tight plastic bags – so we
hoped that we would be able to recover them once we got ourselves together, however
our birch-bark canoe was wedged between two very large rocks and it had a sizeable hole
in the side. Barry’s outdoors knowledge now came in very handy, he cut a strip of bark
from a Balsam fir tree which he whittled into shape then used that plus the tree’s natural
sap to patch up the hole; we then propped the canoe up get a good air flow and simply
waited for the sap to harden and seal the hole.
I stayed with the canoe and lit a fire for our overnight camp while Barry who was big,
strong and swam like a fish, set off down the river looking for our missing gear. He
returned about an hour later with the oar we were missing and one bag of supplies which
he found snagged up at the side of the river. Fortunately the bag contained our fishing
gear so we were able to catch some Pickerel (Walleye) which we cleaned and then
cooked by skewering them on sticks and grilling them over our camp fire – they tasted
absolutely delicious! The night was uneventful, other than the sound of wolves howlingno supplies we ate more fish for breakfast, it was to become our
in the distance. Having no supplies we ate more fish for breakfast, it was to become our main food source.

The “Barry” patch had completely dried, no water was leaking into the canoe and it lasted
for the entire trip. We didn’t want to risk the rapids again so we portaged around them
and set off again once the river calmed down; it was to turn out to be a beautiful early
morning row along a very calm river – we had no idea of the time as we had neglected to
bring along a watch. Later in the day we found our other two bags of gear, snagged up at
the riverside, so all was going well – until we saw moose grazing in the shallows just
down the river, they are huge animals and a bull moose can stand 7 feet tall and weigh
900 lbs, so we made the only sensible choice we could and stopped right where we were
until they had eaten their fill. We found a clearing and set up camp for the night, our
“tent” was simply our canoe turned upside down and propped up with some sticks, Barry
slept with his head at one end and GN5 at the other end, we had each purchased a US
army surplus mummy type sleeping bag, which proved to be a very wise buy.
With our recovered bags we now had some provisions for a “slap up” meal – fresh
walleye and dried veggies; we had taken along two small tin saucepans, one frying pan,
and two knives and forks. Having no oil or grease we filled the frying pan with river
water and poached the fish, we boiled the dried vegetables in a saucepan and in the
second one we boiled water for our coffee. This was our diet until we ran out of
vegetables and from then on we just ate whatever species of fish we caught – so we had
to catch fish or go hungry!
Day 3 started off wet and windy which made for some very difficult canoeing; we passed
under a railway bridge; the only means of transportation for hundreds of square miles was
by rail, river or lake, there were no roads, we had noted on our maps that there was an
abandoned gold mine near the bridge – so we decided to see if we could locate the mine.
We could not get up to ground level on the mine side of the river as it was a sheer rock
face while the other side was an earth embankment. As we had canoed up we had heard a
train so we felt safe in walking across the trestle bridge but to our horror when we were
on the bridge we heard another train in the distance and had to get over to the other side
in a real hurry, we stood at the side as the train passed and incredibly it slowed down and
stopped. Shortly afterwards the engineer walked back, he had seen us and thought we
were waiting for a ride, he explained that it was normal for them to pick up random
people along the route. He inquired about our well being (most likely worried about our
sanity); this was to be typical of the friendly, concerned manner of the Northern Ontario
people that we met on the trip.
The train went on its way, we took a compass setting and trekked off in the direction of
the Joburg mine, we found an old overgrown trail which could only have been created by
the constant flow of people between the railway line and the mine so off we went down
the trail. Reality and fear crept in when we saw bear paw prints in the muddy trail and
then moose prints so we quickly turned tail and headed back to the bridge as our Bowie
knives would have been no defence at all. Our choices left us in a real quandary – bears
and moose behind or the bridge ahead, obviously we choose the bridge and lived to tell that take dozens, maybe hundreds, of times.

This is only up to day 3 of a 30 plus day trip – but for now I’ll stop right there and test
your interest for more tales.
Barry Stuart Harvey passed away December17th 2014 but his stories will live on……

RIP MY GOOD FRIEND.

By GunnerNr5

Arteta’s Biggest Challenge

It is a very long wait till our boys glide on the green carpet again, and although the international football is not without entertainment, the interlul period is one to be endured by us club football fans.

The good thing about the interlul interruptions is that it gives Arteta time to tweak and improve the tactical side of things. With this young team this is of course very important.

Taking 10/12 points from our last betwixt interluls run of games and beating the Spuds convincingly, is a great turnaround for Arteta.

Arteta won two of his games without Xhaka, but he will now have to do much longer without his conductor. This will be his biggest challenge during this interlul: how to get the balance right in midfield. We have discussed this during a previous post, so not much point to discuss it again.

The big question for this post is: how can we get more goals? We are not scoring enough goals as yet and I don’t have to tell you the stats.

Auba is improving but remains wasteful.

Laca and Pepe are underused and I feel Arteta cannot afford to bench them so much going forward.

Balogun and Nketiah may offer the spark in attack we desperately need. Or is Martinelli the answer?

The extra goals could also come from our young dogs Emile, Bukayo and Martin. I reckon this is Arteta’s biggest wish, but it may need more time. The Spuds goals showed us what they are capable of, but the Seagulls game showed us they remain a work in progress.

So I don’t really know the answer and would love to hear your preferred solutions in getting the ball more often in the net…

By TotalArsenal