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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Kozza's Gonna Get Ya (And If He Doesn't Mustafi Will)!

If revenge is indeed a dish that's best served cold, then after five agonisingly long years, Saturday's thrashing of the Blues came straight out of the freezer!

After having endured Chelsea's piss-taking humiliation of Arsène's previous two big anniversary celebrations, there was plenty of anxiety in advance of the commencement of the stubborn old bugger's third decade in the box seat.

Tweets to the Sweet
Moreover, after hearing the line-up, I don't think you'd have found many Gooners wandering around the concourse prior to Saturday's game who'd agree with the sentiment that "Arsène knows", since pretty much everyone was moaning about his team selection.

With the cracks that had been exposed in Conté's team in the past couple of weeks, myself I was praying AW would capitalise on Chelsea's current frailty, with a "nothing to fear" statement of intent, by putting out our most positive XI, pairing Santi and Xhaka in the middle of the park. And with my nephew, Shane and his girfriend over on a rare trip from Dublin (and with her being a Gooner virgin), I definitely didn't want to see us struggle for goals, playing without a recognised centre forward.

Nevertheless, with all the brouhaha about the managerial merry-go-round, I'm guessing it's top of Arsène's agenda to avoid having his pants pulled down, by any of the limelight hugging Premiership newbies. As a result, I was certain le Gaffer would be more conservative, not wanting to risk playing without the proven protective instincts of the likes of Coquelin.

With me not being sufficiently match fit for the trips to Hull or Nottingham and with a tally of eight goals in our last two awaydays, I've been wondering if I should avoid travelling more often!! Knowing quite how frequently the comments of those who've watched the Gunners play on the box have contradicted the opinions of those who've seen the game live, I tend to avoid passing judgment from the comfort of my armchair (although I'd be a liar if I didn't admit to my laziness being a contributing factor in my failure to post these past couple of weeks!)

Still I could understand the logic in not wanting to tinker with the team that trounced Hull's paper Tigers and with the infuriating consequences of our red card history against Chelsea, I could appreciate Arsène choosing his players from those who were least likely to cost us victory by losing their cool in a tetchy contest.

Yet while I chuntered about the absence of Xhaka and Giroud, others were whinging about Walcott's inclusion and absolutely everyone seemed to be walking into the ground irate. It was some contrast to the ecstatic mood fifteen minutes in, when much like London buses, you wait three and a half years for a derby goal against Chelsea and then two come along at once!

No sooner had I commented to my neighbour that Ivanovic was past his "sell by" date than he played Cahill into trouble, to have his pocket well and truly picked by Alexis. But if we were dancing in the aisles after our first, we were left tripping over our own open-mouthed jaws, with the gobsmacking gorgeousness of our second.
No stopping Hector!

Then just as Chelsea were beginning to recover some composure and threatened to spoil the party by pulling the goal back just before the break that might've changed the course of this match completely, our German playmaker entered stage left. We were right in line with Mesut's effort and he seemed to have an eternity to think about his volley, as Sanchez set it up on a plate.

I thought he'd missed the target and many seem to think he fluffed it. Yet after his glaring miss at Hull, I reckon Özil was concentrating so hard on making contact and keeping his head over the ball to keep it down that this was how he ended up striking it into the deck. It was one of those "car crash" moments, where I was convinced the ball was about to bounce harmlessly off the post, which only heightened the euphoria as it bobbled into the back of the net, knowing this was pretty much "game over".

I've been plagued by neck pain the past few weeks and having been prescribed some different meds by the doc on Friday, I made the mistake of taking them for the first time, only an hour or so before KO. While they didn't seem to do much to alleviate the pain, I didn't really care because they left me so gaga that I struggled to make it over the south bridge to the turnstiles. Moreover, after suffering so many years of "men against boys" misery against Chelsea, with Mesut making it 3-0 up before the break, I really needed to pinch myself to make sure this wasn't some fantastic imaginary trip.

It was hilarious seeing Alex Iwobi getting a mouthful from Nacho in one ear, presumably for failing to assist Monreal with William's advances down our left flank and more "agida" in his other shell-like from Mesut, for not offering an outlet at the other end of the pitch, when all the while, young Alex was having one of his best ever games in an Arsenal shirt.

I guess it was inevitable that we would take our foot off the gas after the break. In the absence of John Terry's determination, you sensed that so long as we remained solid and didn't offer our guests a glimmer of hope and a route back into the match with a goal in the opening period of the second half, the three points were in the bag.

Yet while my head knew this was sensible football, my heart wanted the Gunners to return some of the humiliation we've endured, with interest, by turning the choke-hold we had on this encounter, into a psychologically damaging strangulation, with the sort of scoreline that would truly put the West London "no history" wannabees back in their rightful place.

Not that I wanted to see Franny limp off, straight down the tunnel for treatment, but I'm sure I wasn't alone in welcoming Granit's arrival into the fray, with us already two goals to the good. To my mind Xhaka's stunning long-range strikes in successive games are symptomatic of the way in which he only plays in forward gear.

From what I've seen of Man City's extremely impressive start to the season, the most noticeable difference has been the scintillating tempo of City's play, compared to our more deliberate advances. Yet with Xhaka's reluctance to dawdle on the ball, we appear to make the transition from front to back so much faster, denying the opposition the opportunity to get bodies behind the ball.

It occurs to me that this might be why he's not started a Premiership game because his refusal to play sideways or backwards risks losing possession more often and our statistics obsessed leader prefers more caution? Or perhaps Xhaka didn’t rate consideration merely because AW feared his tendency to incur the official’s wrath? It also occurred to me that Granit's had success with his long-range efforts because of the surprise element and with 55,000 shouting "shoot" every time he receives the ball, he's hardly going to catch anyone on the hop.

Meanwhile football is all about chemistry and le Prof’s struggled in recent years to chance upon a recipe that might result in the perfect feast. It would be foolhardy to go overboard based solely on a single result, especially when you consider that up until Saturday’s game we were all whining about assorted missing ingredients. Nevertheless, it’s hard to keep a lid on the cascade of optimism that’s sprung since Saturday’s magical victory.

I’m sure I wasn’t alone in relishing the opportunity to return home and savour the highlights again (and again!) on MOTD, Goals on Sunday and every other review of the weekend’s games and frankly I was flabbergasted by the limited attention given to our result, by all the pundits and the media in general. I agree with those who said to me that it’s better for us to remain “under the wire”, out of the limelight. Yet to my mind, compared with Man U scoring a few set-piece goals against a Leicester side that’s a shadow of the team that won the title, or the Scousers rolling over Hull at home, much as we did on the Tigers own turf, our supremely dominant defeat of a team that many assumed would be title challengers was far more momentous and deserving of much more recognition.

Then again, if our own fans can’t be bothered to demonstrate due appreciation for such a sensational result, why should we expect it from others? Just how long have we been waiting to be able to stick two-fingers up at Abramovich and all the dodgy millions he’s thrown at his plaything? When I reflect upon quite how deliciously satisfying Saturday’s result was, it absolutely baffles me that there were so many Gooners departing their seats before the final whistle, as if this was just any old game!

I sat there on Saturday wondering what sort of hot date, or precisely what sort of exciting event would be more enticing than the pleasure of lingering to relish such a rare occasion. Exactly what sort of Gooners dash off merely to beat the traffic, the queue for the tube, or to seek any such mundane advantage, rather than savour such a marvellous moment?

Perhaps the same Gooners heading for the exits before full-time were those crass folk giving Fabregas the bird. I'm all for absolutely anything that adds a little atmosphere to the overly sedate environs of our theatre-like surroundings at home games (and have never understood how the same fans who sing their hearts out at away games, sit on their hands at home matches?) and I was coating off Costa as loud as anyone. 

Yet I can't forget that Cesc pretty much carried our team on his young shoulders for a couple of seasons and if it wasn't for his desire to fulfil a boyhood ambition of playing for his home team, in front of his Catalan countrymen, I can't help but think that he might have become a one-team Arsenal legend. And so while I might've momentarily, instinctively joined in with the booing, on account of my dodgy eyesight, I'd much rather we applauded a player who gave so much of himself to the Gunners and who, as far as I'm aware, has never said a bad word about his former home.

The significance of chemistry is patently evident in the difference seen in Kanté’s influence in Chelsea's midfield, compared to his crucial contribution to the Fox’s success last season and more importantly, although it’s still early days and I’m only ever one disastrous performance away from contradicting myself, there appears to be a very promising chemistry between our new centre-back partnership.

Is this our "shall not pass" partnership?
After enduring all those years of first Drogba and then Costa making monkey’s out of our defence, perhaps the most pleasurable aspect to Saturday’s display was the way in which Koscielny and Mustafi completely nullified Chelsea’s goal threat. In fact I was almost as satisfied with the clean sheet, as I was with our three goals. Personally I feel that if these two can fulfil the promise of their burgeoning relationship to the point where we no longer have to fret about conceding sloppy goals, we might at long last have the capacity to mount a genuine title challenge.

When I posed the question as to who was my neighbour’s man of the match, he rightly pointed out that there were so many brilliant performances that it was far easier to pick the couple of players who weren’t worthy of this prize. For his last minute, last ditch tackle alone (not to mention the assist for Theo’s goal), I suggested Bellerin, but one could just as easily pick Nacho, Kos, Mustafi, Iwobi, Alexis, Mesut, even Theo and it was perhaps only Santi, or Xhaka who didn’t produce stand-out displays.

Aside from being far more irritated than usual by the early leavers, the only other disappointment on Saturday was the complete and utter lack of vocal appreciation shown to Wenger. No matter which side of the fence you happen to sit when it comes to our manager, surely everyone can agree that his twenty years of loyal service to the Arsenal cause merits our appreciation and respect?

Beating Basel Weds, The Tollington Thurs
I heard Chelsea’s Neanderthals singing their offensive ditty about our leader, but in his seat in the upper tier my nephew was most disappointed by the absolute lack of response to his attempts to lead a chant of “one Arsène Wenger”, which will only perpetuate our library like reputation upon his return to Dublin. His girlfriend had sprung a surprise birthday present of the trip over to the Chelsea game and all her pals had told her that she was bonkers because it was bound to be a miserable weekend with our customary defeat to the Blues. I’d joked with her that with it being her first ever game, we had better win, or it would be her last!

Mercifully Shane and Aoife departed beaming at their good fortune and with Aoife being instantly converted to the Gooner faith, I had to try to explain to her that it wasn’t quite this euphoric every week. But with them both being such lucky charms, if it was down to me, I would’ve paid to change their flights home to try and maintain Saturday’s spell against Basel tomorrow night.

COYG

Bernard

--
email to: londonN5@gmail.com

Kozza's Not Pleased To See You He's Just Got Costa Still Stuck In His Pocket


If revenge is indeed a dish that's best served cold, then after five agonisingly long years, Saturday's thrashing of the Blues came straight out of the freezer!

Tweets to the Sweet
After having endured Chelsea's piss-taking humiliation of Arsène's previous two big anniversary celebrations, there was plenty of anxiety in advance of the commencement of the stubborn old bugger's third decade in the box seat.

Moreover, after hearing the line-up, I don't think you'd have found many Gooners wandering around the concourse prior to Saturday's game who'd agree with the sentiment that "Arsène knows", since pretty much everyone was moaning about his team selection.

With the cracks that had been exposed in Conté's team in the past couple of weeks, myself I was praying AW would capitalise on Chelsea's current frailty, with a "nothing to fear" statement of intent, by putting out our most positive XI, pairing Santi and Xhaka in the middle of the park. And with my nephew, Shane and his girfriend over on a rare trip from Dublin (and with her being a Gooner virgin), I definitely didn't want to see us struggle for goals, playing without a recognised centre forward.

Nevertheless, with all the brouhaha about the managerial merry-go-round, I'm guessing it's top of Arsène's agenda to avoid having his pants pulled down, by any of the limelight hugging Premiership newbies. As a result, I was certain le Gaffer would be more conservative, not wanting to risk playing without the proven protective instincts of the likes of Coquelin.

With me not being sufficiently match fit for the trips to Hull or Nottingham and with a tally of eight goals in our last two awaydays, I've been wondering if I should avoid travelling more often!! Knowing quite how frequently the comments of those who've watched the Gunners play on the box have contradicted the opinions of those who've seen the game live, I tend to avoid passing judgment from the comfort of my armchair (although I'd be a liar if I didn't admit to my laziness being a contributing factor in my failure to post these past couple of weeks!)

Still I could understand the logic in not wanting to tinker with the team that trounced Hull's paper Tigers and with the infuriating consequences of our red card history against Chelsea, I could appreciate Arsène choosing his players from those who were least likely to cost us victory by losing their cool in a tetchy contest.

Yet while I chuntered about the absence of Xhaka and Giroud, others were whinging about Walcott's inclusion and absolutely everyone seemed to be walking into the ground irate. It was some contrast to the ecstatic mood fifteen minutes in, when much like London buses, you wait three and a half years for a derby goal against Chelsea and then two come along at once!

No sooner had I commented to my neighbour that Ivanovic was past his "sell by" date than he played Cahill into trouble, to have his pocket well and truly picked by Alexis. But if we were dancing in the aisles after our first, we were left tripping over our own open-mouthed jaws, with the gobsmacking gorgeousness of our second.
No stopping Hector!

Then just as Chelsea were beginning to recover some composure and threatened to spoil the party by pulling the goal back just before the break that might've changed the course of this match completely, our German playmaker entered stage left. We were right in line with Mesut's effort and he seemed to have an eternity to think about his volley, as Sanchez set it up on a plate.

I thought he'd missed the target and many seem to think he fluffed it. Yet after his glaring miss at Hull, I reckon Özil was concentrating so hard on making contact and keeping his head over the ball to keep it down that this was how he ended up striking it into the deck. It was one of those "car crash" moments, where I was convinced the ball was about to bounce harmlessly off the post, which only heightened the euphoria as it bobbled into the back of the net, knowing this was pretty much "game over".

I've been plagued by neck pain the past few weeks and having been prescribed some different meds by the doc on Friday, I made the mistake of taking them for the first time, only an hour or so before KO. While they didn't seem to do much to alleviate the pain, I didn't really care because they left me so gaga that I struggled to make it over the south bridge to the turnstiles. Moreover, after suffering so many years of "men against boys" misery against Chelsea, with Mesut making it 3-0 up before the break, I really needed to pinch myself to make sure this wasn't some fantastic imaginary trip.

It was hilarious seeing Alex Iwobi getting a mouthful from Nacho in one ear, presumably for failing to assist Monreal with William's advances down our left flank and more "agida" in his other shell-like from Mesut, for not offering an outlet at the other end of the pitch, when all the while, young Alex was having one of his best ever games in an Arsenal shirt.

I guess it was inevitable that we would take our foot off the gas after the break. In the absence of John Terry's determination, you sensed that so long as we remained solid and didn't offer our guests a glimmer of hope and a route back into the match with a goal in the opening period of the second half, the three points were in the bag.

Yet while my head knew this was sensible football, my heart wanted the Gunners to return some of the humiliation we've endured, with interest, by turning the choke-hold we had on this encounter, into a psychologically damaging strangulation, with the sort of scoreline that would truly put the West London "no history" wannabees back in their rightful place.

Not that I wanted to see Franny limp off, straight down the tunnel for treatment, but I'm sure I wasn't alone in welcoming Granit's arrival into the fray, with us already two goals to the good. To my mind Xhaka's stunning long-range strikes in successive games are symptomatic of the way in which he only plays in forward gear.

From what I've seen of Man City's extremely impressive start to the season, the most noticeable difference has been the scintillating tempo of City's play, compared to our more deliberate advances. Yet with Xhaka's reluctance to dawdle on the ball, we appear to make the transition from front to back so much faster, denying the opposition the opportunity to get bodies behind the ball.

It occurs to me that this might be why he's not started a Premiership game because his refusal to play sideways or backwards risks losing possession more often and our statistics obsessed leader prefers more caution? Or perhaps Xhaka didn’t rate consideration merely because AW feared his tendency to incur the official’s wrath? It also occurred to me that Granit's had success with his long-range efforts because of the surprise element and with 55,000 shouting "shoot" every time he receives the ball, he's hardly going to catch anyone on the hop.

Meanwhile football is all about chemistry and le Prof’s struggled in recent years to chance upon a recipe that might result in the perfect feast. It would be foolhardy to go overboard based solely on a single result, especially when you consider that up until Saturday’s game we were all whining about assorted missing ingredients. Nevertheless, it’s hard to keep a lid on the cascade of optimism that’s sprung since Saturday’s magical victory.

I’m sure I wasn’t alone in relishing the opportunity to return home and savour the highlights again (and again!) on MOTD, Goals on Sunday and every other review of the weekend’s games and frankly I was flabbergasted by the limited attention given to our result, by all the pundits and the media in general. I agree with those who said to me that it’s better for us to remain “under the wire”, out of the limelight. Yet to my mind, compared with Man U scoring a few set-piece goals against a Leicester side that’s a shadow of the team that won the title, or the Scousers rolling over Hull at home, much as we did on the Tigers own turf, our supremely dominant defeat of a team that many assumed would be title challengers was far more momentous and deserving of much more recognition.

Then again, if our own fans can’t be bothered to demonstrate due appreciation for such a sensational result, why should we expect it from others? Just how long have we been waiting to be able to stick two-fingers up at Abramovich and all the dodgy millions he’s thrown at his plaything? When I reflect upon quite how deliciously satisfying Saturday’s result was, it absolutely baffles me that there were so many Gooners departing their seats before the final whistle, as if this was just any old game!

I sat there on Saturday wondering what sort of hot date, or precisely what sort of exciting event would be more enticing than the pleasure of lingering to relish such a rare occasion. Exactly what sort of Gooners dash off merely to beat the traffic, the queue for the tube, or to seek any such mundane advantage, rather than savour such a marvellous moment?

Perhaps the same Gooners heading for the exits before full-time were those crass folk giving Fabregas the bird. I'm all for absolutely anything that adds a little atmosphere to the overly sedate environs of our theatre-like surroundings at home games (and have never understood how the same fans who sing their hearts out at away games, sit on their hands at home matches?) and I was coating off Costa as loud as anyone. 

Yet I can't forget that Cesc pretty much carried our team on his young shoulders for a couple of seasons and if it wasn't for his desire to fulfil a boyhood ambition of playing for his home team, in front of his Catalan countrymen, I can't help but think that he might have become a one-team Arsenal legend. And so while I might've momentarily, instinctively joined in with the booing, on account of my dodgy eyesight, I'd much rather we applauded a player who gave so much of himself to the Gunners and who, as far as I'm aware, has never said a bad word about his former home.

The significance of chemistry is patently evident in the difference seen in Kanté’s influence in Chelsea's midfield, compared to his crucial contribution to the Fox’s success last season and more importantly, although it’s still early days and I’m only ever one disastrous performance away from contradicting myself, there appears to be a very promising chemistry between our new centre-back partnership.

Is this our "shall not pass" partnership?
After enduring all those years of first Drogba and then Costa making monkey’s out of our defence, perhaps the most pleasurable aspect to Saturday’s display was the way in which Koscielny and Mustafi completely nullified Chelsea’s goal threat. In fact I was almost as satisfied with the clean sheet, as I was with our three goals. Personally I feel that if these two can fulfil the promise of their burgeoning relationship to the point where we no longer have to fret about conceding sloppy goals, we might at long last have the capacity to mount a genuine title challenge.

When I posed the question as to who was my neighbour’s man of the match, he rightly pointed out that there were so many brilliant performances that it was far easier to pick the couple of players who weren’t worthy of this prize. For his last minute, last ditch tackle alone (not to mention the assist for Theo’s goal), I suggested Bellerin, but one could just as easily pick Nacho, Kos, Mustafi, Iwobi, Alexis, Mesut, even Theo and it was perhaps only Santi, or Xhaka who didn’t produce stand-out displays.

Aside from being far more irritated than usual by the early leavers, the only other disappointment on Saturday was the complete and utter lack of vocal appreciation shown to Wenger. No matter which side of the fence you happen to sit when it comes to our manager, surely everyone can agree that his twenty years of loyal service to the Arsenal cause merits our appreciation and respect?

Beating Basel Weds, The Tollington Thurs
I heard Chelsea’s Neanderthals singing their offensive ditty about our leader, but in his seat in the upper tier my nephew was most disappointed by the absolute lack of response to his attempts to lead a chant of “one Arsène Wenger”, which will only perpetuate our library like reputation upon his return to Dublin. His girlfriend had sprung a surprise birthday present of the trip over to the Chelsea game and all her pals had told her that she was bonkers because it was bound to be a miserable weekend with our customary defeat to the Blues. I’d joked with her that with it being her first ever game, we had better win, or it would be her last!

Mercifully Shane and Aoife departed beaming at their good fortune and with Aoife being instantly converted to the Gooner faith, I had to try to explain to her that it wasn’t quite this euphoric every week. But with them both being such lucky charms, if it was down to me, I would’ve paid to change their flights home to try and maintain Saturday’s spell against Basel tomorrow night.


COYG

Bernard

--
email to: londonN5@gmail.com

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Bowler’s Holding The Batsman’s Willey

The home of the Champions, cudda, wudda, shudda.......!!

We shared a knowing look, sitting in the boozer before Saturday’s game in Leicester, as the Gooner tom-toms transmitted news of Burnley beating Liverpool, putting last Sunday’s opening day defeat into some proper perspective.

Personally, I was expecting the limitations of Klopp’s side to be exposed next weekend, with the Scousers getting schmeissed at White Hart Lane. Yet with them losing to the relegation favourites on Saturday, this surprising result only fuelled our frustration at having thrown these three points away.

And with Man U, City, Chelsea and Spurs all having banked a win, by the time we rocked up at the home of the current league champions (talk to us when you’ve won thirteen titles!), the pressure for the Gunners to get some points on the board had only intensified.

The happy memories of last season’s flattering 2-5 triumph ensured that Saturday’s game was a particularly hot ticket. With the Gunners “generously” gifting a further four quid discount off the flat-rate £30 price of all away match tickets this season, the demand for comparatively affordable £26 tickets has fast become far more intense, than for an astronomically priced pitch at our place.

            Mercifully the publicity-seeking “Time For A Change” banner wankers, were noticeable by their absence at Leicester. There was the odd individual displaying their own somewhat feeble, homemade A4 effort at the final whistle and the now customary cat-calls. Yet the fact remains (as evidenced by the attached video…if it is viewable?), away games are far more fun.

            Despite a minor fracas with the departing opposition fans and an embarrassing contretemps between our own opposing In/Out factions, for the most part, the fervent atmosphere in the Gooner corner of the King Power on Saturday was a gratifying contrast to the toxic undercurrent that is waiting to rain down the very instant anything goes awry at the Emirates.

Whilst setting our Arsenal world to rights, surrounded by genial Foxes’ fans in the rub-a-dub, it was a fairly constant theme to ponder on the motivation of the huge number of home fans who pay such extortionate prices, only to endure an afternoon in a state of such abject misery?

Whereas the mood of the travelling contingent improved on Saturday, with the realization that Koscielny, Santi and the Ox had been reintroduced to our starting XI. Yet this was tempered by the knowledge that our solitary recognized centre-forward had retained his watching brief, on our star-studded bench.

Ultimately, an engaging goalless game produced mixed emotions. There was a consensus that we’d enjoyed due reward for our effort, not with Mesut’s fifteen minute cameo, but with our World Cup winner’s single “tekkers” moment on the touchline in front of us late-on, which was worth at least double the cost of our reduced price admission.

It was interesting to hear Arsène once again refer to the fact that the Gunners continue to approach full-fitness. Although we immediately looked more threatening with the introduction of Özil and Wilshere, our subs' impact was compounded by the obvious evidence that it was the Foxes who were flagging. We might’ve taken more advantage, if only Wenger had sent Giroud on sooner, but then perhaps, like me, le Prof was overly fearful of the trademark Leicester sucker-punch, which might’ve left us heading back to London completely empty-handed and considerably more glum.

            With the familiar refrain of “spend some f#ckin’ money” ringing out at the final whistle, it was disconcerting to see Mesut and the irritatingly ineffective Alexis disappear straight down the tunnel, even before Clattenburg had finished blowing up. When we are all witnessing the positive impact of new arrivals amongst our competitors, I’m equally concerned about the psychological effect upon our two biggest stars of a perceived lack of ambition at the Arsenal, as I am about our prospects of competing with the current chasm in our existing roster.

Mercifully Rob Holding appeared to benefit from having the more experienced (man of the match?) Koscielny alongside him. Although on another, less charitable afternoon, Clattenburg might’ve given the home side the benefit of his doubt and awarded them the two contentious penalty claims and we might've been fortunate to finish the game with a full complement.

While the local radio commentator questioned whether Leicester were paying the price for the number of penalties they “earned” last season, in his post-match comments Arsène opined on whether the clamour for him to flash the cash would be quite so loud if he’d paid a humungous price-tag for our teenage centre-half..

Meanwhile, I suspect that as with our defeat to Liverpool, our hard-earned point at Leicester will only prove profitable should the Tinkerman prolong their home form with equally obdurate performances in the weeks to come. If the Foxes remarkable league triumph was only a flash in the pan and they begin to flounder against our competitors, this will feel like another two points lost?

--
email to: londonN5@gmail.com

Monday, 15 August 2016

Here We Go Yet Again!

   
"Where's Our Money"....in the bank, instead of on the pitch!!
They were giving away free matchday programmes at the Arsenal this afternoon, to celebrate ten years at our new home, but I'm sure that like me, most Gooners would've much rather that they took all of our £3.50s and put them in the pot for a new centre-half and a new striker!

Losing to Liverpool on the opening day was bad enough, but losing Iwobi, probably our most effective player on the day and Ramsey, an expected shadow of the influential player for Wales, was really adding insult to injury.

I joked at half-time that perhaps a 4-1 defeat would be the only thing that might convince Wenger that he can't get away with it this season and force him into some long-awaited transfer action. Yet I was only joking and really didn't expect us to be looking down the barrel of such a demoralising scoreline within the blink of an eye.

Credit to the Gunners for making a game of it by dragging themselves back into contention with two goals, but at the end of the day, while this might offer some psychological consolation, it still amounts to three points dropped, when, thus far, none of our competitors have slipped up, despite similarly unimpressive performances.

COYG
Bernard
_____________________________

Here We Go Yet Again!

AW counting out another £8m from these mugs
The fragile truce that’s existed between the Arsenal’s factions lasted all of an hour into the new campaign. After the sort of dominant first-half display that suggested “project Klopp” is still a work in progress, it was disappointing enough to be pegged back, following award of a soft free-kick that resulted in Coutinho’s stunning set-piece equalizer, with almost the last kick of the half.

However the sun was shining, the footie was back and we still had another forty-five minutes to prove that our uninspiring attack was sufficiently more potent than the Scousers, to pocket the all-important three points.

Sadly, the transformation which took place immediately after the break would appear to have highlighted, yet again, the crucial significance of some vocal personalities in the dressing room. After the high press and focus of the first-half, the Gunners ambled out after the break with a tepid lack of intensity. Whereas our guests returned to the fray seemingly fired up for the devastating fifteen-minute, three goal spell, which left the more fickle ranks of the Gooner not-so-faithful marching out the exits in absolute disgust, bellowing “spend some f#ckin’ money” as they went!

Personally I don’t know how anyone can walk out in protest, with nearly half an hour still to play. When first the Ox and then Chambers restored some respectability to the scoreline soon after, I couldn’t help but feel that it served these disloyal dolts right that they missed out on the Gunners admirable fightback to 3-4.

Nevertheless, the acute air of frustration was perfectly understandable. From the moment we became aware of the starting line-up on Sunday, every Arsenal fan was resigned to the likelihood that an opening day victory was going to be dependent on a performance that wasn’t quite as poor as that of our opponents.

The walls of Arsène’s ivory tower remain disturbingly impermeable, with le Prof seemingly the only man on the planet who has yet to accept Alexis’ absolute ineffectiveness in the central striker’s role. And it amounts to nothing short of blatant incompetence that a club of the Arsenal’s stature should be left kicking off a new campaign with a completely untried and inexperienced centre-back pairing.

I’ve not given up on Calum Chambers and Rob Holding looks particularly promising, but it was a very big ask to throw these two in at the deep end. In truth, we were fortunate that they didn’t end up on the wrong end of the sort of embarrassing thrashing that could’ve done permanent psychological damage to both their careers.

When we are seeing the likes of Everton replacing Stones, with the battle-hardened Ashley Williams, for a relatively meagre £11m, or Spurs taking a £17m punt on Janssen adding to their goal tally, frankly I just do not buy the argument that the Gunners are doing their best to plug the glaringly obvious gaps in our squad.

Moreover, with every other club having recalled their Euro stars in good time for the kick-off, I just don’t understand how Wenger justifies leaving Giroud, Koscielny and Özil cooling their heels, knowing that this could and as it turns out has cost us points! They might well return that bit fresher, but this will be of little benefit if we are already out of the Premiership picture!

Only the day before, I was criticizing Pochettino for his negative selection of two defensive midfielders at Everton. Presumably Wenger’s chose to play Coquelin and El Neny, in an effort to protect our callow centre-backs, but sadly this was at the expense of leaving all our creativity on the bench.

Arsène spoke of the last two weeks of the transfer window as “a poker game” in a press conference during the US tour, but this is not the case for those clubs willing to put the money on the table necessary to secure their targets. In our efforts to save a couple of million quid, in a game of bluff that is fooling absolutely nobody, it seems to be a calamitous false economy, as Wenger perennially leaves himself shopping for the last few remaining turkeys on the shelves!
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email to: londonN5@gmail.com

Sunday, 15 May 2016

"It's Happened Again...."

After events at Wigan, West Brom etc. in similarly hilarious end of season shenanigans in recent years, one would've thought we'd have grown accustomed to Spurs falling on their face, to the extent that it should no longer come as a surprise when they do. 


Nevertheless, it seems I mistakenly assumed that this young Spurs squad no longer carries the sort of psychological baggage that's resulted in them bottling it in the past, to the extent that I was convinced that surely they weren't going to blow it at St James Park this afternoon. Myself I felt that at the very most, the Toon might manage an honours even draw, to appease the St James Park faithful.

I was taken to task a couple of weeks back, for suggesting that such would be the unexpected pleasure of pegging Spurs back at this late stage, that it would almost be as satisfying as winning the league. I had to agree that obviously I would much prefer to be in Leicester's exalted shoes right now. Yet after the incredibly euphoric events this afternoon, I feel sure that there are plenty of Gooners who will concur that this was indeed some consolation prize?

We caught a glimpse against Villa of quite how much we've missed Santi's incisive promptings. Yet as I stood in the sunshine, soaking up the sort of celebratory post-match mood that's been sorely missed at home games for most of the season, I couldn't avoid one negative thought as I watched Arsène enjoying some rare plaudits.

In the absence of such an ecstatic ending, the pressure would've been ramped up for Arsène to flash the cash, but watching le Gaffer's satisfied face as he wandered around the pitch, it occurred to me that he might be contemplating the emerging likes of Chris Willock, Dan Crowley and Stephy Mavididi and thinking "I hardly need to break the bank after our highest finish in over a decade"!!

Have a good summer
COYG
Bernard
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"It's Happened Again...."

"We want him to stay....Pochettino, we want him to stay!"

Just how does one account for a season which was the source of so much anger and frustration amongst our fans and yet which has ended up with our highest league finish since we moved to our new stadium (over a decade back)? I think it was Napoleon who spoke about the benefits of a lucky general, over a competent one and Arsène certainly had “the force” on his side on Sunday!

Personally I felt that the game was up in midweek, as far as any possibility of quite such an ecstatic finish was concerned, when Everton condemned the Toon to relegation, by rolling over against Sunderland. After successive seasons of tangible FA Cup success, it seemed as if this campaign was destined to fall decidedly flat, with constantly maintaining our seat at Europe’s top table for two decades as scant consolation for the Gunners’ lamentable failure to take advantage of the bizarre domestic circumstances; especially when the rare opportunity of all our traditional competitors tripping up is unlikely to present itself again.

Nevertheless, hope springs eternal and after having pooh, poohed my pals customary “you never know” comments as we made our way to our seats on Sunday, it wasn’t long before I found myself focused more on the radio commentary from St. James Park, than the match taking place in front of me. With the only terrace tranny in our vicinity, I fast became the font of all knowledge, with a sea of faces turning with their jaws on the floor, agog at my incredulous announcement that the Toon had taken a two-goal lead.


Who'll replace Tommy
Arteta and Flamini?
         Much like a Mexican wave, the tide of jubilation washed over our crowd, injecting some much needed atmosphere into proceedings, which had turned increasingly perfunctory since Olly’s early goal. However, as has been the case far too frequently this season, the Gunners struggled to kill Villa off. Then when Spurs pulled a goal back on the hour mark and this was swiftly followed with my news that Mitrovic had been sent off, the whole stadium was enveloped in a stifling air of anxiety, where briefly we looked more in danger of gifting Villa an equaliser.

Mercifully there followed the sort of magical five-minute spell that is the barely credible essence of the beautiful game’s enduring fascination. First the 10-man Toon extended their lead from the penalty spot and then Giroud truly kicked the party off, by completing his hat-trick. The cherry on this “couldn’t make it up” script came, when in a moment akin to Tony Adams league-winning goal, Arteta appeared off the bench, to sign off on his Arsenal career, by scoring our fourth (aided and abetted by Villa’s hapless keeper).

News of Newcastle’s 4th and 5th goals was greeted with utter disbelief, as the afternoon turned even more delicious than the dodgy lasagna denouement of 2006. The rapturous chorus of “it’s happened again” must’ve had them burying their heads at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.

That we’ve not witnessed this sort of euphoria at a home game, since we walloped Man Utd back in October (not forgetting the brilliant victory over Bayern) speaks volumes as to why, ultimately, we’ve ended up empty-handed. Not that we knew it at the time, but it was only the weekend prior that we battered the Foxes 5-2, inflicting their only home defeat all season. Upon reflection, this is the most blatant evidence that we were the side that was most capable of winning the title. So as much as the Foxes deserve full credit for their momentous achievement, there’s no escaping the enormous disappointment at how badly we’ve blown it.

Meanwhile, no matter how infuriated I might feel at how different the outcome might’ve been, if only the Gunners had turned up at Southampton on Boxing Day and avoided a humiliating 0-4 disaster, fortunately all Gooner irritation paled into insignificance on Sunday.


Mikel signing off in style
Not many of our spoiled, far too entitled fans would’ve lingered for the post-match lap of appreciation, if Newcastle had failed to do us such a fabulous favour and doubtless the protestors banners’ will be back with next season’s first defeat. Yet even if it should’ve prove fleeting, it was great to be able to enjoy the emotion, as a blubbing Arteta, Rosicky and Flamini bid us a last farewell and for our inimical boss to disappear off to look for his cheque book this summer, with a hearty (full-house!) chorus of  “only one Arsène Wenger” ringing in his ears.
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email to: londonN5@gmail.com