Perez, Ox, Alexis, Xhaka and top-Gunner Giroud Fight Back and Do us Proud

What a good night to be a Gooner.

Olivier Giroud scores Arsenal's equaliser against Bournemouth

I hear you say we dropped two points tonight in the title race and this may well be true, but to come back from (harshly) being 3-0 behind to take a point from this match is something special. In fact, this is the first time Arsenal have managed to come back from three goals down in the PL.

I will have to watch the game again to analyse it properly, which I may well do later this week. Bournemouth and Arsenal were both well up for this but the Cherries played a more disciplined first half and we paid handsomely for some  very bad defending.  In the second half, Arsenal were fabulous and saved our season.

Arsene opted for playing Coquelin and Xhaka in the DM positions and, as I have noticed and posted before, they are both prone to playing very deep, in front of the defence. As a result, we invite teams to come and enter our half too easily and we struggle to move from a defensive position into attacking mode, as Coq and Xhaka are both not natural B2B midfielders imo. Bournemouth were crowding us out in midfield and then used the space behind our midfield very well, resulting in a number of very dangerous ‘turnover’ attacks. We should have pushed the Cherries into their own half and dominate proceedings – something we did very, very well in the last third of the game – but were unable to do this in the first half. For games like these we need players who are very comfortable on the ball in tight spaces, like Ozil, Santi and also Elneny, and boy did we miss them in the first half tonight.

Bellerin did not have the best of games defensively, but I blame Aaron or Iwobi – not sure who was playing with the Spaniard on the right wing at that moment in time – just as much for the first goal we conceded. It really was the sort of goal we should no longer concede: very poor defending from the team. I thought the penalty was a bit harsh, even though Xhaka was to blame for the foul. By the letter of the law it was a penalty but how many times are these sorts of fouls not given inside the box? 2-0 down and the boys tried to get back into the game but there was little cohesion between the players, and the Cherries kept fighting for each other and giving our players a very hard time physically all over the pitch, which was very impressive.

A good team talk was required by Arsene and the captain, and I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at half time.

We played a lot better in the second half but before we could score the referee made a howler by allowing Bellerin to be blatantly pushed off the ball by Fraser, who, to be fair, then did well to beat Cech for a 3-0 lead. At that moment in time, with just 32 minutes to go, we needed character to get back into the game. It was highly unlikely that we would avoid defeat, but it was crucial for the rest of the season that we would fight back with all we had.

On nights like these we need players who know what it means to wear the red and white shirt and who will move mountains to get us back into the game. This is a matter of character and talent, but without the former the latter does not mean much. I reckon all of the players showed character but it was also clear that some just did not have the qualities to make a difference. This could be down to rustiness but it is during games like these when Wenger can really judge the quality of his players… and some did not make the grade. I am not going to mention names in this post but at one point I will come back to this.

Iwobi did his very best but this was a game too many in the nr10 role for him, which, given his age and lack of experience in the PL, is perfectly acceptable. Bringing on Perez for Alex, something I would have done at half time (if not start him in the first place), gave the team the impetus and shape to start the fight back. It freed up the Ox to add more focus to our attack, which he had failed to do until then. From a more central creative role, the Ox started to get our attackers more in the game, and I have to give him credit for this.

Perez is our new Freddie Ljunberg: his runs into space and ability to hold onto the ball are key and his ability to create  space, passing opportunities and chances for others, as well as getting himself in good positions, are all very Freddie-esque. He scored with a  very sweet left-footed volley from a well-placed Giroud lay-off to make it 3-2 and thus gave us hope that we could still get something from the game. But it was his running and drive that made the real difference in the second half: he lifted the total team performance significantly, making Ox, Giroud, Alexis and especially Xhaka, who had an awesome last third of the game, much more effective players.

Before that Alexis, another player we can always count on not to hide away, had scored from Giroud’s desperate flick-on header.

And then it was Giroud himself, after providing two hard fought for assists, who scored a technically perfect, classical header from a peach of a Xhaka cross to equalise in extra time. I know Ollie will always have his haters, and we can point out his fabulous stats – best goals per minute ratio in the PL this season for example – or his considerable team contributions, till the cows come home, but tonight he showed again how much he is a true Gunner and how valuable he is for us. Pound for pound, Ollie is one of the best Arsenal signings ever.

Had the game lasted five more minutes, I reckon we could have won but also lost it, as Bournemouth were as keen as us to win the match. In fact, Cech saved us very late on from defeat with a characteristic stop.

If the Chavs keep winning games the way they have done in the last few months, we will not win the league – and chapeau to them if this were to be the case. But the fight back by our boys tonight tells me that we have what it takes to make it very, very hard for them if they were to become human again, which, as we all know, will sooner or later happen.

Goodnight to you all from one proud Gooner.

By TotalArsenal.

 

 

One Day every Gooner Will Realise that Arsene Wenger is a Saint

So we gained a point in hard battle against the Foxes and also got our first clean sheet of the season. After a false start against Pool, I reckon an away point against the Champions is not a bad return. We all wanted more as we needed to bounce back straightaway, but we will have to wait for it. I can live with that – many fellow supporters, it seems, cannot.

It is a natural law that when Arsenal are not performing to expectations the fans will get out their personal theories, pet hates and simple solutions to solve all our problems once and for all. Furthermore, speak to any supporter of any club and they usually tell you that their team are two players short to become a super team, especially if they are not top of the league.

I have some of these theories, pet hates and simple solutions myself, but never do I believe that I actually know more than Wenger. Yet when you read the blogs and comments there are thousands of key board heroes who reckon Arsene is a fool and they could do much better.

Making suggestions on how to do things different and better for the purpose  of discussion is of course absolutely fine: where would blogs be without it? But the lack of humility and delusions of grandeur by so many fellow supporters is at best frustrating and at worst depressing…. especially if the comments and posts are full of derogatory terms about Wenger’s age, intentions, capabilities etc.

I can tell everyone that a manager who won the FA Cup twice and finished second last season in the last three years, deserves respect and support on its own. But for some reason, this does not seem enough for so many fellow supporters. With or without Wenger we may not win the league again for the next twenty years or so: this is a strong possibility as the PL has become so much more competitive over the last ten years – a period in which the BoD and Arsene invested in the long term future of the club  through building a big, modern stadium that will bring in the necessary revenue to compete with the national and European elite clubs for decades to come – and this is likely to become more challenging rather than easier. It makes the PL such an exciting league compared to the monopolies of Germany (Bayern), Italy (Juventus) and duopolies of Spain and the Netherlands.

I can live with the knowledge that it will be tough to win the league again, let alone regularly in the next ten to twenty years. The only thing I can hope for is that the club can fight for the title with a realistic chance of winning it, every season. And that we do/ will do without any doubt.

I hope that we will keep doing this through building the team with a long term philosophy and strategy, rather than trying to buy and let go lots of players every season. I like us to be great through a set of values and principles the Club, and all its 599 employees, will treat as holy.

I want us to continue to develop our own from the youth teams and from those bought around 16-20 years old from other clubs, home and abroad. I also like us to add experienced players to fill first team or back-up gaps, and I like us to add real, top-gem quality when possible. And that is exactly what the club is doing.

I have no doubt that we will bounce back soon and that Wenger will get the team to compete for the title once more this season, with or without adding the magic ‘two players’. This does not mean that I am convinced we will win the title, but we will have a decent chance to do so.

But what I also feel really, really good about is that the club is now well positioned to compete at the top year in year out, and as soon as Wenger decides enough is enough there is a good structure in place to continue our philosophy and strategy for years to come, which will be very attractive to whoever will succeed the great Arsene.

One day there will not be a single mentally well-functioning Gooner left who does not believe that Wenger was the best thing that ever happened to the club, and that him dedicating such a large part of his football management career to the club is why we are now always fighting for the top prizes. One day every Gooner will realise that Arsene was, and is, a Saint.

By TotalArsenal 

This post was inspired by Terry Mancini’s Hair Transplant’s superb post on ArsenalArsenal:

Transfers? Leave it to Arsene

Paulista HERO! | Move Ozil to left, Sanchez to right | Ramsey new # 10!

ugly football Chavs valuesPost game musings whilst my anger fades away….

I am an angry man. I am angry at Ref Mike Dean for allowing himself to be completely intimidated by the bully Diego Costa. And I am angry at Gabriel for being such a fall guy. Our team, absolutely lacking in street wisdom, make me angry. However, I can’t get myself to be angry with Diego Costa, I only despise him. In fairness to Gabriel, he stepped into the fray to separate Costa and Koscielny, but tipped over under that vicious scratch on his neck by Costa. Terribly handicapped in language, Gabriel couldn’t make his case. Shockingly, no Arsenal player rushed in to help him out. Not even Koscielny who should have tried to redirect Mike Dean’s attention to his own impeccable case. Neither did Santi, who was too busy being the nice guy next door. It irritates watching him in the tunnel before a match smiling and reacting obligingly to the opposing players. No, this should never be seen from the captain when hostility is about to begin. Two successive defeats, from two successive silly red cards, have left us reeling in confidence with precious grounds to make up. Our players must man up correctly, and think business and think smartly. I feel so much better after this little rant. So, back to football. With only 10 men, away to Chelsea, and at 0-0 I would have thought defence first. Chambers for injured Coquelin together with Debuchy in and Ozil out. Debuchy goes to right full back, with Bellerin playing in front of him. With our team forced to play deep, the pace of Bellerin is a much more valuable asset in any counter attack (or foot race) than Giroud’s, and maybe even Oxlade’s. Added to that is Bellerin’s greater defensive ability over both players. Ozil is sacrificed, not only because of his weak defensive output, but also because creative opportunities are minimal, playing deep and a man down. Our definite game plan should have been to try and keep the score at 0-0, and gamble on winning a foot race; courtesy of Walcott/Bellerin that might earn us a spectacular victory.

The infallibility of hindsight. From history to current affairs.

As I see it, what should be our biggest concern is Sanchez’s current form. I am afraid Premier League might have found him out, maybe not quite. Sanchez has such an impressive array of skills that it is difficult to accept that he is already pigeonholed. When Sanchez gets the ball wide left, everybody knows exactly what he is going to do. I mean everybody: friends, foes, neutrals, all alike. He will cut inside successfully. He will push the ball 5/6 meters and from outside the box usually, he takes his pot-shots. 8 chances out of 10 the shot is blocked. If the shot misses the bodies, then chances are it will go wide. It beats me why such a talented player does not put a variation to that pattern. Back-heel or turn and put the ball back into the space he vacated as he pulled men along with him, so his full-back can latch onto the ball in space. Or pass the ball to the right side of the field, which is usually vacated, his moves having drawn opposing players centrally. Or twist and twist and turn, to create openings for his mates to run in for a pass, or, at worst, pass the ball backwards for a fresh move to start. In this way he keeps everybody guessing, and keeps his move unpredictable, which his repertoire of skills can easily accommodate. Sanchez is naturally too demanding of himself, and this current drop in form would only heighten his determination to succeed trapped into doing the same thing. I feel the best way to rehabilitate him is by switching him to the wide- right position. This position will entice a different playing pattern from him, which he is also very equipped for (played in that position for Barcelona ahead of Pedro). Another area which I feel should be given some thought, is the #10 position. Everybody has accepted that it is a given that Ozil is our #10. This is because we can’t think beyond the link between #10 and creativity. But there is definitely more to #10 than only creativity. I was quite impressed with our ability to win the ball high up the field in our match against Newcastle. I believe it had a lot to do with Ramsey’s work rate at #10. That is an important factor which, when added to the fact that Ramsey is better able to make his crucial late runs into the box from the centre, should get us thinking. On top of this is the fact that our most creative player Ozil, is able to create from anywhere, not the least from the left-wide position. These tweaks are without prejudice to the habit of the players at interchanging positions. Who of Carzola and Ramsey should partner Coquelin in the double pivot position? This is coming back to the great debate. All I can say is that Ramsey lacks awareness to properly manage defensive space. He wants to be where the ball is: Songesque, and that creates gaps that can hurt us, which even his huge engine cannot nullify. Carzola is second only to Arteta in reading the game, both offensively and defensively. He is “ambidextrous ” in reading the field situation. His size notwithstanding, the argument is settled for me. To put it graphically, assuming all is well, I am saying the line-up against Leicester should be:

—————Cech—————

—–Bel——-Per——–Kos—–Mon ———

————–Coq———–Santi——

——-Alexis——–Ramsey——–Ozil —————

——————–Walcott————-

Before Leicester, we have a the Capital One Cup tie against Spurs, where we should expect extensive changes. However, with our injuries, options are getting limited.

————–Ospina————–

Deb——Per——-Chamb——-Gibbs

Camp——–Ramsey ———Oxlade

—————-Giroud——————-

I am not yet sure who should play in the double-DM pivot…

This is spectacular! Between this short time of starting to write this piece and now, I have made a 180 degrees turn. Gabriel Paulista is my new hero. Somebody needed to stand up to that brute called Diego Costa, and our man did it. It was the referee that goofed. Stories emanating from Brazil say that G. Paulista is the new national hero, because as you all know, Diego Costa is the most hated man in that country! By the way don’t begin to draw similarities between Costa and Suarez. Suarez remains a likable chap, loved by all his team mates. Diego Costa is loved by only one man, his manager. Come on You Gunners!!!

By Pony Eye

No Jack, Santi/Nacho/Ramsey to start, Alexis in hole? Swansea Preview & Line-up

Swansea City – Arsenal  Match Preview: Response Required, Right or (w)Rong

swansea-city

Tuesday’s twenty ticks of terrible tame tripe must be eradicated, erased and eased into the rear-view with a resolute, rampant and resounding response Sunday at Swansea City (Sity).  If not, the alliterative alternates for this assemblage of Arsenal acolytes cannot help but turn into a wild wall of wailing wassails against one (won), Arsene Wenger.

As I said, in the comments of the previous thread…Apologies in advance…

At least we have a match to play.  If this one goes wrong it’s a LONG two weeks off until Man United (and then Dortmund) in front of the (most-expensive in all of Europe) ticket-buying crowd.  Where’s that emoticon that can shudder at the thought?…

Let’s get to it then…

Swansea away has actually been a good fixture for us in recent times.  Last season, goals from Serge Gnabry and Aaron Ramsey–well booed for being a Cardiff lad–were enough to secure the full points and make a late goal from Ben Davies a mere consolation.  The previous season we won there (2-nil) at the front end of our Spring run, which saw us make up a 7 point deficit on Tottenham to secure (another season of) Champions League football.

The most interesting element of that match, however, might have been the man between the sticks who kept the clean sheet.  Lukas Fabianski will play again on Sunday, but not for Arsenal.  Instead, it will be the man for whom he stepped in, Wojciech Szczesny, who will have to marshal a makeshift defence against a team who has been one of the surprise packages in the early part of the English season.

Of course, it will be more than a battle of keepers, even if we probably should expect an open match with both of them well tested.  Swansea, under new manager Gary Monk, have been steadily testing the “bigger” English clubs, and even bested Man United at Old Trafford to ruin Louis Van Gaal’s managerial debut.  Given the relative state of the two teams, this will not be an easy match by any stretch of the most optimistic Gooner’s imagination.

Fabianski, solid at the back, has been one reason.  Another has been Wilfried Bony using all his muscle to soften defences while Gylfi Sigurdsson, back after an unhappy season with Spurs, has been the main man in the midfield.   Bafetimbi Gomis, a fine pickup from Lyon, Ki Sung-Yueng, Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge have also contributed to a well-balanced attack.  A consistent back four in front of Fabianski–Angel Rangel, Federico Fernandez, Neil Taylor and Ashley Williams–are distinctly at odds with our ad-hoc group.  Unlike the poor start the Swans had early on a year ago, they currently sit a mere two points behind us.  If they watched us in midweek (while they rested), surely they must be salivating at the chance to play us and jump above us in the table.  We may, however, have caught a break with the sending off of their most physically imposing midfielder.  Jonjo Shelvey will sit this one out having picked up a pair of yellows during their nil-nil draw at Everton.

Unfortunately, in addition to playing a good Swansea side, we must also contend with what happened on Tuesday night…  

As complete as our comprehensive capitulation (might) come to be characterized, we have a chance to clean the charts with a couple of chancers of our choosing.  (OK, I should probably let this go…but…) Chamberlain, Calum Chambers,  could continue to contribute.  Cazorla could (finally) can a chance.   Constant calls for Campbell (might) catch the (curiously) closed columns aimed at Arsene’s aural avenues.  If they aren’t, there’s always Atlas, er, Alexis, who appears able to alleviate an amount of the angst anchoring the average angry (and aching) Arsenalista…

Enough…This is NOT a joke, even if many a Gooner believes what we saw on Tuesday was…

In truth, the collapse was (very) bad and the manager must use this opportunity to right the ship.  With all the injuries–key first teamers Ozil, Giroud, Koscielny and Debuchy are all long term absentees, while Arteta is a recent addition– we still must gather the remaining group and get a result.  Additionally, there seems to be some confusion about how to do so.

Conservative formations have been the way forward in the league but are now (perhaps) unavailable with the latest injuries.  Fortunately Jack Wilshere is back in the squad and (maybe) can fill in for the captain, even if Ramsey appears the man Wenger wants in the role.  Theo Walcott, who looked very sharp late on vs Burnley, must be eager for a longer outing even if Tomas Rosicky and Lucas Poldolski were favoured as subs in the debacle on Tuesday.  Some may call for changes at the back, but surely if Wenger didn’t choose them for that one, I can’t see him making them here.  Most will argue for a bit of a shake-up, but dropping Cazorla or Welbeck when they need confidence is not Wenger’s way.  Oxlade-Chamberlain shouldn’t be the one to make room just because he actually scored.  Here’s my best guess:

Arsenal v Swansea Nov 14

Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Wilshere, Rosicky, Walcott, Podolski,  Sanogo

Have at it with your own choices, of course, though, in my opinion, it really doesn’t matter who plays.  Football is a team game and we, as a team, need to put our ghosts to bed.  No matter what happens, we must respond.  Referee Phil Dowd brings a measure of experience to the proceedings and generally is unmoved by crowd pressure.  Still, if he blows against us, we must come back.  If he whistles for us (and we’re able to take advantage), we must not become complacent.  If their Pole in goal makes saves, we must continue to test him until he cannot.  If ours makes a pig’s ear of things, the outfielders must pick him up and do what they can.  And on and on… (Isn’t a pig’s ear something an East-ender would cry into?…) That’s what we (as Gooners) really need to avoid… more tears.

Go on then…

Written by: 17HighburyTerrace

We ARE The Arsenal And That Was Unacceptable

Soft Underbelly Allows Three Costly Wobbles

We have known and been talking about it forever: Arsenal have a soft underbelly, and it is right in the heart of our defence and midfield. We strapped it over recently with the veterans of Flamini and Arteta playing in front of the vulnerable CB pairing of BFG and Nacho, and it somehow did a job against the lesser teams of Sunderland and Burnley.

But last night our swinging undercarriage was laid bare by a team the equivalent in Europe to the likes of Burnley and Sunderland in the PL. It was embarrassing and painful to watch, and with Arteta possibly injured for a while again and Le Coq on loan (WTF!?), and Koz out till at least after the break, we can only dream of a solid six-pack for quite a while.

The question is will Wenger ever accept this and buy properly, or will we continue with patching over the continuous softness? The answer my friends, is blowing in the window (which will not open till the new year, of course).

It is true that we seemed to fall apart as soon as Arteta left the field, but we should also not forget that we had looked vulnerable at the start of the game, when he was  actually on the pitch; and we could have easily conceded a goal if the Belgians had been a bit more lucky/deadly. I also witnessed defensive weaknesses against Burnley during the first half, for which we were not punished.

The lack of organisational leadership with players like BFG, Flamini and Nacho on the pitch, which resulted in giving away a three nil lead at home, was simply unacceptable. Now I don’t think these players are at all lazy or careless; I am sad to say they probably just lack the qualities (physical and tactical), although I would love to be proven wrong on this. Or maybe, it is just a lack of tactical organisation and preparation, for which training sessions and trainers are to blame… You tell me…

We gave away a three nil lead at home, against CL minnows Anderlecht. We can analyse it to bits, we can find all sorts of excuses, but we still gave away a three nil lead against Anderlecht in twenty minutes of football, at the home of football. How does it make us feel? Like somebody just buried, with full force, their hairy-knuckled fat fist in our underbelly.

What do you do when that happens? You fecking fight back. Swansea should be scared, very scared. Or should they?

The one big positive (other than another master-class by Alexis and good performances by the FBs):

I was delighted to see the Ox score a goal he has been threatening to produce for quite a while. I loved the venom and precision in his bended shot, and it was great to see the master Alexis giving the young Englishman his approval of the finish.

Unfortunately for him, this will not be the one big thing we will remember from this game.

Bring on The Jacks on Sunday and let our players show why they are still worthy of wearing the shirt. We are The Arsenal!

Written by: TotalArsenal.

 

 

No Debuchy, Giroud, or Ozil, 9 Points Behind Chelsea: Season Over?

Bollox! 🙂

cropped-images-3.jpg

The season is underway for two months now and, to use a cliché, it has been a roller-coaster of a ride. It is always hard to predict how a season will go, but it is made even more difficult when the summer preparation period is cut short as a result of our stars’ world cup endeavours and a number of key signings have to be assimilated into the team. We are in October now, and to be fair, I have not got much more of a clue how it all will end for Arsenal come May.

It all started well with beating MC convincingly – and in style – in the Charity Shield and qualifying once again for the CL group stage (by huffing and puffing though). CL qualification proved to be an energy-sapping, nervy exercise for players and manager, which has had an impact on our results in the PL. We did not lose any of our games during that time, but we dropped valuable points in Leicester and Liverpool. Drawing at Goodison Park is of course nothing to be ashamed about, and so is drawing against MC and Spuds at home. However, losing against the Chavs is always painful; but again, in a competition of 38 games, this is not a disaster as yet.

The one thing that will be constant, however, is the high level of expectations across the Gooner-family. Winning the FA-cup and finishing in the top four once again last season,  and not selling our key players (well except Mr Reliable who now heats up the thighs of Les autres former Gunner benchwarmers) and buying a number of good quality players during the summer, have raised our expectations to a very high level.

We all know that having high expectations for almost anything in life is usually a recipe for disappointment, sadness and anger, but most of us just cannot help ourselves. Having high hopes is still very different from high expectations, but so is the impact on our state of happiness during the season.

The problem is of course that Maureen and his expensively assembled troops are flying at the moment, having created a gap of nine points between us and them already. This hurts and makes us feel that we can forget about this year’s PL title after just seven PL games. And yes, if the Chavs keep this up then nobody will catch them, including us. But let’s not give up till the very end: karma might settle the bill sooner or later with the Southern Oilers and their self-adoring manager. We will need a mini-miracle, though.

On top of that, our injury voodoo continues to plague us (what have Arsenal done to deserve this?). The loss of OG was massive. Love him or hate him, he is the first player on the team sheet in attack in Arsene’s current version of Wenger-ball. I reckon we missed him tremendously from a systemic point of view. Welbeck has done a very good job, though. He is a different sort of player than OG; and especially against the top teams we have missed the French Lighthouse and ‘Midfield Enabler’ a lot.

Theo’s seemingly never-ending injury has hurt us a lot as well, and the initially out of form and now injured key midfielders, Ramsey and Arteta, have also left the team weaker. On top of all of that, our experienced signing for RB, Debuchy, is another long-term injured first team player; and Gibbs and Monreal seem to exchange the injury-bug between them constantly…. And now, yes would you fecking believe it, Mesut is also out for up to three months….

So to sum it all up, and I am not doing this to make us feel sorry for ourselves, we will not have available for a few weeks till a few months (and those that will return sooner will still need to settle back in and stay injury free): Ozil, Arteta, Ramsey, Giroud, Debuchy, Theo and a few others like Monreal, Sanogo etc.

Reason to despair or throw in the towel? Of course not!

Let’s look at it like this: those who are left behind will be able to play a lot and nail down a starting position for the time being, maybe even for the rest of the season. The likes of Chambers, Welbeck, Jack, Gibbs and even Santi, will all have a great opportunity to put their stamp on the team (again). Grab it boys, grab it!

On top of that, we can start a new phase all the way into January, with a series of winnable (but never to be underestimated) games in which the team can put their teeth and fight for every three points on the ‘OGAAT’ basis.

And that, my fine fellow Gooners, is what we need: a succession of winnable games, a passionate and highly skilled team with their backs against the wall, and a PL points gap that needs closing. Tick, Tick, Tick.

It was my plan to write a post about how we have to be able to fit in all three of Jack, Ozil and Alexis; but with the latest Ozil news, this has become more or less superfluous. The team almost picks itself now, which I reckon will be a good thing for the next phase of the season.

I am still disappointed that we lost marginally against the Chavs, even though the players and manager did us proud on the day imo. I wish we had drawn fewer games in the PL until now. I am simply flabbergasted at the number and duration of our first team injuries, and I remain disappointed that we did not buy a proper DM once again this summer.

But, no regrets, not false sentiments, no self-pity: instead, forwards and onwards!

I cannot wait till this inter-lull is over and we start anew. Take the bull by the horns and let the likes of Szczesny, BFG, Koz, Gibbs, Flamini, Chambers, Jack, Ox, Welbeck, Alexis, Santi, Rosicky, and whoever joins the core-team from the overpopulated sick-bay and youth ranks, to go on a run and do the shirt proud.

Forget about titles and silverware.

It is time to put our sleeves up: to plough, to sow and to plant – to find the inner-team animal and fight for every point. That is what football, and being a Gooner, is all about: the here, the now: the (bi-)weekly battles, the fight, the passion, the joy, the support, the beauty, the victories, the disappointments, and the hope rather than the expectations of winning something in the end.

‘Men talk about Bible miracles because there is no miracle in their lives. Cease to gnaw that crust. There is ripe fruit over your head.’ Thoreau

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Arsenal v Spuds and the art of happily supporting our team

Arsenal players wave to fans from the bus

We all live our lives as good as we can, and if we are lucky then large periods of it are lived relatively worry free (and many of us are not going through a nice period at the moment – maybe the injury of our very own nr.14 earlier this year was an omen of what was to come this calendar year?).

When I was thirteen, during a moment of contemplation (and realisation that classical education was not for me), I came up with the five ‘V’s’ of happiness and aims in my life:

  1. VriendschapFriendship
  2. Meisjes/Vrouwen –Girls/Females
  3. VrijheidFreedom
  4. VoedselFood
  5. Voetbal Football.

Voetbal has always been a great source of happiness and had a central place in my life from as long as I can remember. It still amazes me how so many people have made this sport so central to their lives.

I spoke to a colleague the other day about her dad who is fighting an unwinnable battle with cancer. He was taken to a hospice in December last year and she feared his life would be over soon; but he has an iron will, and his love for sport and football in particular, keeps him hanging on. When I spoke to her last week, she said he had lost so much weight and hardly ate any food any more, but he was in good spirits because the Rider Cup was on over the weekend and his beloved Man United were playing. That made me quiet, realising once more what deep power sports have over the happiness of people.

Football, and for us in particular, our club Arsenal bring so much joy and ‘hope for better’ and often, subconsciously, functions as a surrogate for our hopes and dreams in ‘real life’. And we all suffer disproportionately if and when our team does not live up to our (often unrealistic) expectations. I understand how a defeat, or even a hard-fought for draw against the Spuds, can make fellow Gooners feel down. I would be a liar if I said it did not affect me.

But we cannot let this happen. We played a League game and there are 32 more to come, and we have to take the rough with the smooth. In two months time this result will not look so bad any more and other teams will drop points against the Spuds too (whose manager will get them more and more to play his way).

There is not too much to say about the game, which I only saw on quite a bad stream. They set up to play us on the counter and we dominated them for most of the first half. Our midfield was trying to find the gaps and it only seemed a matter of time; and then came the injuries to the two more defence minded players, which put us out of our stride. It took us time to get back into the game in the second half, and then they scored a goal that could/should have been avoided. But that is football – it isn’t perfect all the time.

The crowd comes once again to life and the players find the inner-animal to fight back. We manage to put them under pressure but their defensive shape is impressive and they seem to hold out. But then comes the scrappy equaliser and we fight on for the three points. Ten more minutes and we might have done it. One more substitution and we might have done it (but they were all used up). So it ends in a draw and we feel disappointed because this Spuds team was there for the taking.

But this season, as every previous season, will have many twists and turns and key is to keep believing and supporting, whilst enjoying the ride as much as desperately wanting our expectations to be met.

Supporting Arsenal in a happy way is becoming more and more of an art these days. And we should all take a bow to Terry who buried his fine farther last Friday and still manages to cheer us up. Now there is a Man in Full. 🙂

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners! Let’s make The Canon roar and take on the Turks with passion, power and deadly precision in two days time.

This is The Arsenal – By Far the Greatest Team and we supporters support you. 

TA

Unleash the Beast: Perfect DM is Already a Gunner!

It’s time to unleash the beast or will the ‘Captains Curse’ strike again?

Thomas beast

So Vermaelen is reportedly  off to Manchester United. Away he goes to join good mate Robin Van Judas. I say stuff that, he isn’t going anywhere! For too long our captains have left our club when we’ve needed them most.  Cesc left because it was in his DNA; a little boy told Van Judas; Gallas was a big-mouthed mercenary;  Henry wanted trophies, and Viera wanted trophies/money.

Thomas’ favoured position is at centre back; problem is, it’s occupied by Kozzer and the BIG fecking German. Both have formed a formidable duo boasting perhaps the best partnership in the league. Unfortunately for Vermaelen, both are extremely durable and don’t look like being overtaken any time soon. Mertesacker has the composure and experience needed to partner Kozzer; Kozzer the speed and agility to compliment Mertesacker. If Vermaelen is to stay with our prestigious club then he needs to reinvent himself. But most notably, he needs to want to change.

How much does he want to succeed at Arsenal? He’s our captain and is very passionate, so I’d hope his own desires coupled with his will to win means he would do everything required. I’m suggesting a positional change to defensive midfield. It could be a risk, but it could also be a master stoke, so why not give it a chance. He has one year left on his contract…a situation similar to Flamini’s situation in the 07/08 season. Put your hand up and show Arsene what you are capable of.

Why will it work? Here are my reasons:

  • He has the technical ability in his passing and shooting to handle the position. Normally the role doesn’t require such at trait but at Arsenal it does. Is he any different to Song or Flamini in that aspect? Even Arteta has toned down his creativity and range of passing to fit in.
  • Thomas is an excellent tackler. His highlight reel is bursting at the seams with goal saving sliding tackles. A desired trait to break up opposition attacks before they begin. He’s without doubt not one to shy from a big tackle. Beautiful…it would lift the spirits of those around him and get the supporters out of their seats.
  • Versatility. He can play as a centre back and a left back. Our style of play can leave us prone to counter attacking. If Gibbs or Jenks/new RB are caught up the pitch, who better to clean up the mess?! If a defender picks up a red card Vermaelen can slot in to their position without upsetting our style of play.
  • If Kozzer or the BFG go down injured, Vermaelen can slot in an fill the void without bringing on a cold defender that isn’t up to speed with the game.
  • Long range shooting!!! Sometimes we can be a touch too predictable in the final third. With Vermaelen pushing up he can give the opposition another thing to worry about. In his first two seasons at Arsenal he scored some absolute rippers from long range.
  • Unrivalled aerial ability. The last time he lost an aerial duel Terry had hair. Not only is this added value in the midfield but it brings added safety to opposition set pieces, and makes us dangerous during ours.
  • He is a leader of men and the captain of our team! What better position to organise the troops.
  • In his first season (09) he was selected in the PFA Premier League Team of the Season. So we know he is a world class player when injury free. A lack of game time and continual battles with injury has robbed him during his peak years. He can be a force again!
  • It won’t cost us a dime! He becomes our first choice defensive midfielder with Arteta and Flamini as backup. It saves us from spending a large sum of money for a position that tends to be overly inflated market wise. It’s a lot cheaper to bring in a quality centre back.
  • Welsh Jesus and Ozil. Both can focus more on what they do best, attacking. Thomas is a team player and knows his role in the team. If he’s told to hold the fort you better believe he’ll give everything he’s got to do so. The more we see of Ozil in the opposition half the better.

If Thomas works hard on improving his fitness base during the pre-season, has the desire to make this position his and improves his positional sense with the coaches, I see no real disadvantages.

cup (1)

Don’t agree with me?! Well let’s see what Arsenal legend and midfield destroyer Patrick Viera has to say in regards to being a midfield general:

  • Put the team first

“The first step to playing as a defensive midfielder is understanding your role and accepting it. You’re there to work hard and to help everyone else, before yourself. The role of the defensive midfielder has changed. In the past it was just about protecting the back four, but now you are asked to do everything: score goals, make assists and defend. Your team-mates need to be able to count on you. And when you’re having a bad game you need to know they’ve got your back. This kind of trust gives you confidence.”

  • Use your football brain

“As a defensive midfielder you must be tactically aware. You’re at the heart of the team so you have to hold everything together and allow other players to express themselves. To do this you need to talk a lot and use your brain, because quite often you have to be in the right place at the right time. You have to cover the gap between the midfield and the back four, cover the left and right full-backs when they go forward and the central defenders when they push further up the pitch.”

  • Impose yourself early

“Physicality was a very important part of my game. I knew that the first contact in the battle was going to be really important. This is the moment when you impose yourself and win games. Being strong in the first tackle says, ‘I’m here and I’m going to try and make it hard for you’. Intimidation is part of the game, but as a defensive midfielder you also have to be really good technically. You have to have the ability to collect the ball from the back four and pass it on to the front players.”

(source: http://performance.fourfourtwo.com/au/pro-tips/patrick-vieira-how-to-be-a-midfield-destroyer)

Personally I think Thomas covers all three areas easily. He will burn opposition midfielders like a f*cking supernova

So…Manchester United…piss off. Vermaelen…stay. Supporters…rally around him, it’s time to unleash the BEAST!

o-THOMAS-VERMAELEN-570

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yvcl541r60U

Written by: OzGunner

Message from Bergkampesque

Although we have a lot of regulars on BK, we always welcome new bloggers. Just write a comment (sticking to the normal blog rules) and you will be welcomed.

Also, you can subscribe to our automatic email service: every time a new post comes out you will be sent an email to tell you so. Just see right hand side of blog:Follow Blog via Email’.

Cheers, TA. 🙂

Five Reasons for Keeping Bacary Sagna

Signing Sagna the Litmus test? Absolutely!

The ultimate warrior
The ultimate warrior

I don’t know the exact details with regards to the club’s attempts to signing up Sagna to a new contract. I also don’t know whether he is determined to leave or would love to stay if a good offer is made to him. All I know, is that we are a big club and Sagna is a super quality player who still has a lot to offer to Arsenal.

Bacary+Sagna+u72N-G4ilk3m

We are supposed to have moved into a new era now: one of financial security and strength and, as a result, more control over player movements. After letting our best bunch of players go in recent years, we finally had a year in which all our remaining talents were kept at the home of football; and a SQ player was even added. So the signs are good, but keeping hold of Sagna will be the first proper test of the BoD’s competence in keeping hold of our very best players in the new era.

Now is the time to realise that not being able to keep hold of Sagna will reinforce the perception that we remain inferior to the other top clubs; or in fact, it would underline that we are no longer a top, but sub-top club.

I am sure that some will adopt a pragmatist approach: if he goes, we will replace him and all will be well again. But for me this would be wrong in more than one way.

Five reasons for keeping Bacary Sagna:

  1. Mr Reliable personifies all that Arsenal should be about: he offers 100% passionate commitment to the cause and is the total professional. Bacary is one of my favourite Arsenal players ever. He brings so much more than being a reliable right back, with his drive up and down the flank, fighting spirit, winning mentality, leadership skills and love for the club. Letting him go would leave a very big gap in our team: what Sagna has to offer is impossible to replace, at least in the short term.
  2. It is now important to build a culture of loyalty at the club; and we all know that loyalty needs to work both ways. If we look after our players, our players are far more likely to look after the club. There will always be mercenaries; in fact, they can be very useful for the club, but we need to show to our up and coming talents that they can have a full career at the club and will be looked after till the end of their careers, if they give their all to us. Bacary is such a player and keeping him would give out a strong signal that Arsenal is a good club to remain loyal to.
  3. Our defence is becoming a strong unit and now is the time to keep it together for a few more seasons. Sagna and Mertesacker are a strong defensive duo on our right side, and the former compensates for one or two weaknesses the latter possesses. On top of that, Sagna can play as the BFG’s replacement as he possesses similar organisational skills as the German. Nobody else can do this and letting Bacary go will leave us with more than one hole in our already thinly covered back four.
  4. Strong signal to this summer’s transfer prospects. Quality players have a choice to go anywhere they like and, other than money, they will be looking at the strength of the current squad and the club’s ability and willingness to keep hold of their best players. Keeping hold of Sagna would send out a strong signal that we are serious about moving the club to the next level.
  5. Ludivine should never wear another club shirt than Arsenal’s. 😉

 tumblr_mxp15jpDbH1r32mqoo1_1280

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Be Kind to Yourself. 😛

Time to end the drought! Arsenal vs Hull City FA Cup Final Pre-Match & Line- Up

Intro:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEINxpUf8MA#t=88

Big big game this one. Both teams know what’s at stake. Every Arsenal supporter will be on the verge of ecstasy…or complete rage depending on how this one ends up. I’m a nervous wreck, and I have been ever since we knocked Wigan out in the Semi. I’m certainly not getting ahead of myself, especially after our last cup final heartbreak (not to mention the Chelsea 06/07 League Cup and the 05/06 Champions League final). We have won our last 3 FA Cup finals so fingers crossed. I really hope we don’t take Hull too lightly and we are ready for battle. Podolski’s comment of “Who is he?” when asked about a Hull City player doesn’t comfort me. Then again he’s as frank as they come.

Let’s get in to it, shall we:

Missing in Action:

Diaby sick bay

Arsenal: Vermaelen (knee) and Oxlade-Chamberlain (Groin) both face fitness tests. Both are likely to make the bench. Walcott (knee) and Gnabry (knee) will miss this one.

Hull City: Pretty much have a full squad to choose from. Strikers Long and Jelavic are cup tied leaving them a touch short up front (pardon the pun). I’m glad Long isn’t playing, he’s a bit of a menace, plus he just has one of those faces that makes you want to punch him. People probably say the same about me but I don’t deliver cheap shots on the pitch like he does. Plus he makes a lot of money so he couldn’t give a shit. Long, if you’re reading this and want to sort me out, my name is Prince and I live in Sydney. I can be found at any local entertainment store purchasing a TV (sent a remote through my last 12) or at any worksite with my Hampton nailed to the floor. Chester will miss with a Hamstring injury.

Predicted Line-up:

starting line-up HULL

Some pretty big question marks over who starts, perhaps none bigger than which pole starts in goal? Fabianski deserves it because he got us to the final. However, it is more beneficial for the team if Szczesny starts. My reasoning is: Szczesny will be with us next season…Fabianski will not (unfortunately). The experience Szczesny would gain from such a big match would be very beneficial in the future. I also think Szczesny is a better keeper over all. Szczesny was rested against Norwich, so does that mean he’s finished off the season early? Or does Arsene want him fresh as a daisy for the final? Was Fabianski starting the final fixture his chance to dust off the cobwebs? I have no bloody clue, Martinez could start and I wouldn’t be that surprised given Arsene’s record in big matches (Sanogo – Bayern. Coquelin, Szczesney and Song – United). Vermaelen and the Ox face fitness tests, but I don’t think either will start. Santi or Rosicky is another. Both deserve to start but Santi will most likely get the gig. My preference would be Rosicky. Arteta, Ozil and the Welsh Jesus will man the midfield.

Previous Encounters:

Hull City v Arsenal 0-3

The Ramsey-Podolski show! A double by German gun Podolski and a tidy finish from Ramsey was enough to dismantle Hull. Ramsey showed just how much we had missed him as he played a part in all 3 goals. The home crowd moaned after the second goal but Jelavic clearly flopped on the ground looking for contact. It amazes me that so many supporters whinge about players diving on the pitch, yet when one of their own isn’t rewarded it’s the biggest injustice in the history of time.

You can see the highlights below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcHfojyFdV8

Arsenal  v Hull City 2-0

Goals from ‘The Greatest Player to Have EVER lived’ and Ozil were enough to keep Arsenal on top of the table. That cross from Corporal Jenks was delicious. You can see the highlights below:

Form Guide:               Arsenal:  : WWWWW        Hull: LLLDL

We’ve finished the season well after a bumpy run. The team was in danger of losing 4th place to a determined Everton outfit. Fortunately for us Arsenal has faced these pressures before and the team rallied. Arsenal should be in a confident mood for this one, but the players and Arsene will be under immense pressure.  The pole in goal and Koscielny will remember what transpired last time. It’s time to get this monkey off our back.

Road to the final:

Arsenal vs Wigan 1-1 (4-2 on penalties)

Arsenal vs Everton 4-1

Arsenal vs Liverpool 2-1

Arsenal vs Coventry 4-0

Arsenal vs Tottenham…Not sure. Can you help us out Theo?

walcott_2_0

Thanks Theo. See you soon mate.

Can’t say we didn’t earn our spot in the final. A very tough lot of fixtures.

Not the sort of form Hull would have liked going in to a final but form is largely irrelevant in this one. Anything can happen in a final…something we know well.

Road to the final:

Hull vs Sheffield United 5-3

Hull vs Sunderland 3-0

Hull vs Brighton 2-1 (replay after 1-1 draw)

Southend vs Hull 0-2

Middlesbrough vs Hull 0-2

Arsenal Archive (1)

This week I’ve dipped into the Arsenal Archive and pulled out this video clip. It’s the 1970-71 FA Cup final against Liverpool. The colours could be something of a good omen. Enjoy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6nO8hCbqG4

Key-Match up:

Ramsey and Ozil vs the Fat ex-spud Huddlestone

welsh jesus

On the outer at Spurs, Huddlestone moved over to Hull in search of more minutes. A move that has certainly payed off for both Hull and Huddlestone. Not only has he been a rock in their midfield this season, but he’s also offered them plenty going forward. He has a good range of passing, an eye for a goal and he’s not too bad with a dead ball. Expect him to play out of his skin in this one as I’m sure he’d love nothing more than to give his spud friends something to cheer about on Saturday. There is another spud out their too…he goes by the name of Livermore. Like rats the spuds appear to pop up everywhere.

Ramsey and Ozil…oh what could have been eh? Ramsey was on his way to winning player of the year until his injury. While the rest of us can sit here thinking “could we have won the title if he stayed fit?” Unfortunately we will never know. I’m just very happy for the kid. What a turn around. Many labelled him as deadwood. Now he’s the second coming. I know I can sit here smugly and say “yep. I had the faith and never bagged him once”. For shame the rest of you! If he and Ozil gel together…this one is in the bag!

Pre-Match Finger:

kid finger

 

This week’s finger goes to every bloody media outlet and opposition supporter. Yes, we haven’t won a trophy in a while. Yes, we know you like to rub it in our faces every bloody day. Hopefully a win in this one will result in you finding some new material…not likely but a man can dream. Up yours!

Pre-Match pat on the back:

pat on the back

This week’s pat on the back is going to Arsene Wenger and all the players that have been involved in this campaign. It has been another long season with many ups and downs. We’ve seen glimpses of what we have threatened to deliver for quite some time. On the other hand we’ve also witnessed some truly shocking moments (the Liverpool first half will haunt me for years to come). I guess upon reflection it’s been a typical Arsenal season.  We were decimated by injury. We had good victories. We had bad losses. We even sat on top of the table for quite some time. However, it’s all in the past and now we have a chance to end the season on a high. Well done to the players for getting us this far.

Ask the opposition (7)

‘Ask the opposition’ returns again this week. It is designed to get some friendly banter from our opposition fans and get their insight for the match ahead.  This week the answers were kindly provided by SM. A top notch Hull supporter from Oz. Let’s see what he’s written for us this week:

1)What got Hull this far in the FA Cup?

What got us this far was sheer determination. A couple of times now we’ve looked down and out and the players have dragged us across the line. And not just the regular starting players, but fringe players like Yannick Sagbo and Matty Fryatt.

2) What would winning the Cup do for Hull?

Winning the Cup would literally be the biggest moment in this club’s history. It would eclipse the first ever promotion to the Premier League, and the achievement of staying in the Premier League. Winning the Cup would etch forever this Hull City team into the city’s consciousness. It’s hard to explain in Aussie sporting terms, because there is no comparable situation. The closest is the 05 Swans team, and even that club had won a flag 72 years prior.

3) What player/position is your weakest?

The left side is definitely our weakest, with Figueroa horribly out of form and Brady injured. Rosenior is decent cover, but we’re still not strong in that position.

4) What tactics is Hull likely to employ against Arsenal

I would hope to see us play quite cagey early on, and try and keep the score 0-0 until about the half hour mark. If we can do so I think Arsenal supporters will get on the players’ backs, and it will work to our advantage, and we’ll then look to make pacey attacks on the counter.

5) Which Arsenal player would you like and why?

I think my most valuable Arsenal player would have to be Cazorla. Ozil has a great range of passing, but we have that with Huddlestone. Cazorla is that dynamic attacking threat from midfield that we don’t quite have; that links your strikers with your midfielders.

6) Which player/ position do you feel is Arsenal’s weakness?

I think your weakest position is your strikers, and if we can exploit that by giving our defence license to roam, then we may be able to exploit you on the counter.

7) What is your prediction for the match?

Honestly I keep to-ing and fro-ing about the match. I’ll have to say a gutsy 3-1 loss for us if I go with my head, because Arsenal will be too determined, but it would be the match of my lifetime if we were to get up.

Prediction:

It will be a nervous start. How could it not be after the Birmingham final etched in the players’ minds? After some early jitters we will settle in to our groove and prove too strong for a determined Hull outfit. I don’t think they have enough fire power up front to worry us. I predict a FA Cup 3-0victory to the good guys.If we lose…we’ll I can’t bear the thought of it. The world may implode!

What is your prediction?

Szczesny or Fabianski? (BJ…you don’t have to answer this one mate 🙂 )

What team line-up would you go with?

Who will be our best player on the day?

Will victory be enough to propel the team to a new era?

Enjoy the game Arsenal fans. Wherever you are around the world be sure to savour every moment of it.

2005 FA Cup win

Written by: Oz Gunner