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Monday 20 October 2014

To Hull And Back

Hi folks,

I've already been pulled up for knocking Monreal and Bellerin below. I've watched Hector play for the U21s and the twinkletoed French youngster appears to be an extremely promising product off of the Arsenal production line. In fact I got the distinct impression that he was somewhat starved of the opportunity to show what he can do against Hull, with his team mates perhaps not yet having enough trust in his talents to feed him the ball regularly. It seemed to me that they persistently ignored him out on the flank, preferring to cut back inside. Which for me was part of the problem on Saturday, with the Gunners perennial instinct to try to pick the most intricate path through the massed ranks of the Tigers defence in the middle of the park, instead of attempting to spread the play wide and to try and stretch the opposition.

Then again, our lack of height is always apparent against most Premiership opposition and as evidenced from our inability to get our head on the ball from an endless succession of corners, this suggests that there would be little point in whipping crosses in from out wide, other than the hope that the "meat and drink" headed clearances of the likes of Dawson and Davies might fall to the feet of someone in red and white.

Additionally Nacho comes across as an honest enough player and I'm always loathe to criticise anyone in Arsenal colours, so long as they are willing to put themselves on the line and work their socks off for the Gunners' cause. I've heard others say that the two of them didn't do a lot wrong on Saturday, but that is hardly the point, as with Hull's extremely limited attacking ambitions, it wasn't as if this was much of a work out for any of them!

I've also heard Gooners question why the BFG doesn't have more success at corners, but IMHO for someone as tall as Per, he really doesn't manage to achieve much vertical lift and we often see him being outjumped by far smaller opponents. Moreover, Monreal is definitely no Bakari Sagna, who used to be one of the best headers of the ball in the team and who could therefore be more relied upon to get the job done on the rare occasion he was obliged to play at the heart of our defence.

Frankly, as far as I'm concerned, while somewhat of a liability, Monreal is just about adequate as a left-back but against stiffer opposition, his limited abilities are bound to be exposed playing in the centre and with so many diminutive players in our midfield, it's inevitable that we're likely to end up being bullied by bigger opposition who demonstrate more attacking intent than we witnessed from Hull on Saturday.

Misogynist, who me!
Watching AW's post-match interview with Jacqui Oatley, where le Gaffer has hardly covered himself in glory with his somewhat patronising and arrogant comments, it seems evident to me from Arsène's tetchy replies that these are the remarks of a manager who knows he has got it wrong, in as much as having tried and failed to secure his desired defensive option, it would appear that he has gambled on Koscielny's fitness and we've ended up coming a cropper as a result.

Even if Kos is able to play in the weeks ahead, it's highly unlikely that his Achilles problem is going to settle down completely without a long period of rest or surgery even and if I was in the opposition dugout, I might be inclined to remind my players of this potential weakness, as a rake down the back of Kos' heel is likely to prove increasingly painful.

With this in mind, I really can't understand why Arsène didn't react in the last couple of weeks of the transfer window to bring in some emergency cover at centre-back, whether this be a loan deal or whatever, just to ensure that we didn't end up in the position we found ourselves on Saturday. What's more having publicly announced his intention to address the problem in January, with every selling club now aware of our predicament, we're bound to end up being that much more shafted and paying well over the odds for a solution.

Meanwhile, Southampton really didn't do us any favours at the weekend as we'll be travelling to Wearside with Gus Poyet's team absolutely desperate to try and redeem themselves in front of their home fans and unless we manage to break the deadlock and get on top early on, I fancy Sunderland could prove a far more testing proposition than the form book suggests!

Finally (phew!), a shout out to Mezut Özil, as on the face of it, I wouldn't have assumed he'd be the sort of player willing to risk all for the Gunners' cause but according to AW's remarks, he wanted to play on in the second half at Stamford Bridge, despite the niggle in his knee that has subsequently resulted in him being left on the sidelines for several weeks. This does perhaps explain Mezut's lack of contribution in the game, but in an age where we're constantly bemoaning players who take to their sick beds at the slightest injury, any evidence of a more selfless approach must be commended.

Keep the faith

PS. After the AGM last week, I took advantage of the opportunity for a free tour of the stadium (having invested so much in the club over the years, I'm never one to refuse a chance to get anything back!). I've included some of my pics, including the obligatory photo with some long awaited silverware and the noticeboard from the dressing room, just because I thought it interesting

To Hull And Back

Best Seat In The House
             It’s either feast or famine with the footie nowadays. Either we’ve the sort of wall-to-wall coverage almost every night of the week of club football that leaves me forsaking my missus and the soaps on the box in the living room, to slip off to watch yet another big game in the bedroom, to the point when it’s almost a relief to be able to spend a rare evening together. Or I end up so starved after a fortnight of the sort of tofu for the tastebuds, anodyne International dross that I’m left positively salivating for some proper round-ball nourishment.

             Obviously, as an adopted son of Ireland, I was up out of my seat roaring in exultation with every other Fenian, after the Boys in Green took the “Welt Meisters” down another peg or two, with O’Shea’s glorious injury-time equalizer in Gelsenkirchen. But it’s a damning indictment of the paucity of the protracted Euro qualifiers product that this was about the only match amongst the sixteen Internationals available to view last week, which held sufficient intrigue to be worth sacrificing Coronation Street for.

             Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. It was only a few minutes into the enthralling coverage of Saturday’s comparative fillet steak of an appetizer, in the early KO at the Etihad that I was reminded quite how much I’d missed the real McCoy. Much like when Suarez was weaving his own enchanting spells for the Scousers, Aguero had me so engrossed that it was hard to drag myself away from the telly to wander around to the Arsenal, while listening to the denouement of Spurs demise on the radio.

             In the past I’d have watched the entire match, before charging around to our ground in time for KO. But much like the old bull, in that even more ancient joke, with the wisdom of my advancing years (and increasing decrepitude!), I prefer instead to stroll around and save sufficient energy to savour all the pleasures on offer. 

             So far this season we haven’t lost a home game and superstition decrees that I dare not alter my pre-match pie ritual. Piebury Corner came close to losing my custom with our premature Capital One Cup exit, until I came to the conclusion that it was all my mistake, after adding some mash to my regular order.

             I began to fret about having to forego a stop at my favourite eaterie in future as the final whistle beckoned on Saturday. I also cast a glance up at Kroenke, Gazides and co. in the directors’ box. With it looking as if we were about to lose at home to lowly Hull at that point, I imagined that they must’ve been feeling mightily relieved that the AGM had taken place prior to such an infuriating defeat.

AW promises us one more In Jan, let's hope it's not too little too late!
             For all the media’s effort to make a meal out of what has become a perfunctory and typically banal corporate affair in recent times, last Thursday’s AGM did at least witness the most welcome return of the shareholder’s ritual of having ones photo taken with our long overdue tin-pot. With Usmanov’s minions rumoured to be offering up to £20k per share, for the extremely limited number remaining in the hands of individual Gooners, I felt quite privileged to be able to attend courtesy of an Aussie pal, who somehow managed to resist the temptation to cash-in his small piece of the Arsenal to the billionaire usurpers.

             As Fabregas continues to rub salt in our “buy back option” wound so frequently with each fateful contribution to Chelsea’s goal tally and with what’s increasingly looking like outright negligence, not to have included a fail-safe option enabling us to terminate Jenkinson’s loan deal, I take no satisfaction in expressing my fears as far back as August, about the potential implications of Koscielny’s niggling Achilles injury only a couple of games in. Instead of making excuses and gambling on waiting until January when it’s likely to be too late, why didn’t Arsène react by squeezing any available experienced defensive cover through the transfer window before it slammed shut? 

             Sanchez would get the cold shoulder from the rest of the crew if he worked with me in the theatre. They wouldn’t countenance being constantly shown up by his incessant work rate. If it wasn’t for the Chilean setting up our last gasp equalizer with his “never say die” intensity, after suffering two goals from the only two times the Tigers managed to get the ball down our end, their well-crafted second completely catching us with our pants down while we were still sucking on our half-time oranges, the board might’ve endured a whole heap more dissent at an AGM scheduled for this week

Apparently our seats are "cheap as Chips"
             As it was our bumbling chairman, Sir Chips (you really couldn’t make it up!), Gazides and le Gaffer were all primed to play a customarily plausible straight bat to the inevitable complaints about ticket prices, assets in the bank instead of on the pitch and the millions seemingly being leeched from our coffers by the corporate legions of Silent Stan. 

Where did I put my "Gentlemen's Fun Crisis" paddle?

             With nearly as many hacks in the Woolwich Suite as shareholders, the only hint of dissonance came in a token gesture of rebellion from the few brave souls who raised their hands to contend the blatant nepotism of appointing Stan’s somewhat vacant-looking offspring to the board.  This followed Sir Chips feeble attempt to convince us of Josh Kroenke’s suitability with his experience in dad’s Septic sporting empire but which left many of us thinking the lad was about as fit to run a football club as our charmain’s three replacement hips.

             Never mind fit for purpose, if I was involved in the running of a club that could seriously send a team out to face Premiership opposition with Monreal at centre-back, I’d be cashing in my nachos out of downright embarrassment!

Dressing Room Noticeboard &Player Instructions

Objective Achieved

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