38 Comments

Arsenal: Why the long face ?

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Good morning Positive AFC,

As we all anticipated our excellent home form carried us over the line against Toon. It was a little messy at the end and as we discussed last night by not slotting a second and ideally a third goal we left the chance available for the visitors to scuffle something from the game in the final few minutes. Despite a couple of misdirected efforts from Ayoze Perez in that phase we were ok.

There has been a bit of debate as to the quality, or lack of it, of Arsenal over the 90 minutes. As Arsene had suggested in the pre match press bash a little more speed and craft were required to score goals.

Mesut is always creative although first half he seemed to be playing further back than usual. His goal was a peach, the work of a world class footballer.  I’d say with Alex Iwobi and Jack starting that more creative spring was in place. Alex would pop up one moment on the left side dribbling into the Toon box, in the next move he’d be crossing from the left. We shot more and we shot accurately. I think therefore that ball carrying/crossing/using the full pitch was better. Newcastle were pulled about and opened up. As in the West Ham game all they could do for long periods was clear it them wait for our next attacking wave to arrive.

Where more work is needed is in the finishing as having opened the opposition up wide twice more (at least) we did not add to our goals tally. Laca’s chipped effort that sailed over Elliot and the bar by six feet was a shock – for the Frenchman as well as the 60,000 spectators. To be fair, and I’m always fair, I thought our Chilean did rather better yesterday than in recent matches and put in a couple of excellent crosses, one to Hector first half and a second to Larry, either of which could/should have been converted. Sanchez can cross a ball superbly – and that is what wingers do. Do more of it.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles ? That crazy slalom first half run! The finish that hit the side netting with Elliott flailing. A right footed midfielder at left back ?!? What is it all about son? In any event your first PL home debut and hardly a foot put wrong. You may therefore receive the MotM award from this fan. Please enjoy the day.

So on to the Ammers and the Cariboo on Tuesday, a very quick turnaround, before a big Friday night in prospect. B team to dispatch what I guess is likely to be the Claret and Blue B team. We have more than enough quality to put them away. Friday though …………… that is the game I am already looking forward to.

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Enjoy your Sunday.

 

 

 

64 Comments

Arsenal vs Newcastle , Time To Get Back On The Bike,

By  @LaboGoon

42 Comments

Arsenal: Drawing in Two Dimensions

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Good morning Positive Arsenal fans,

It is a morning after the night before that I admit I have struggled to put pen to paper in respect of the post match review. Some games have too much action and incident to condense into a 600 word piece, and the result of other matches, either good or bad, carries the narrative along on the creative wing. I can gush with the best of them.

Last night’s game in contrast had almost no incident, and while I have attended a few excellent 0-0 draws last night was not among them.

In line with our mission I was able to identify a number of positive aspects in our play over the 90 minutes. First among then I thought Jack was most impressive, always hungry for the ball, winning the ball regularly and taking the ‘Ammers on across a crowded midfield. He managed to get into a position that could have won the game, but blazed over. Nevertheless JW was the only man who all second half really got into that goal scoring position. The second positive was Ainsley Maitland-Niles and a very solid PL debut against Antonio who, if anyone watched the Ammers bash Chelsea at the weekend, is no footballing mug. Because he has been around while I had the impression he was a developer but he is just turned 20. While young Ainsley and has his backers and detractors among AFC fans that was a good, professional left back job. Finally, I thought the back four collectively put in a much better performance and the home side hardly had a sight of our goal. Only a prize Charlie like Hoddle to award Arnautovic the MotM. On the defence though WTF happened in the 91st minute when we gifted Chicarito a chance to rattle the bar I don’t know.

Of what was less satisfactory last night I think a few posters last night had the correct analysis of a timidity around the edge of the box and an inability to translate overwhelming possession into goal chances or, even better, GOALS! And overwhelming it was, with the Ammers over long periods in the second half totally unable to do anything else than kick it away for us to start again. For all that ball possession Adrian spent a fairly comfortable evening. I had no expectations of Moyes at the London Stadium in arresting West Ham’s decline but a narrow defeat at the Etihad, a win against Chelsea and last night suggest I may have been wrong. They really did put in a determined defensive performance.

Where do we go from here ? Well the lack of goals away from home is spoiling what has been our good home form and last night was simply another chapter in the Stoke, Watford, Saints series of games we have dominated possession but not been decisive in the box. I doubt very much we will see or require much of a tactical revision for Toon on Saturday but at Selhurst Park it may be Arsene ponders a 442 with Giroud and Lacazette in tandem against the lumbering Palace central defenders.

There we are then, Thursday to enjoy and just 48 hours until the Geordies are in town. Newcastle is always a game I associate with floodlights, Winter weather and goals.

68 Comments

Arsenal vs WHU

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After scoring late to salvage a point in what was a very frustrating afternoon at St Mary’s, Arsenal travel cross town to the London Stadium tonight for what could be another tricky encounter.
This past Saturday West Ham caught Chelsea sleepwalking 5 minutes in, defended for their lives thereafter, reducing the Champions to a team taking potshots from distance, to give themselves a much needed victory and morale-boosting suppository after being win-less since September this PL campaign.
David Moyes’ team had a good practice run the week before that though, after scoring the opening goal they stretched Man City to the very end. So Moyzie can take a lot of heart from his last two matches, look at this one and tell his players, “let’s go out there and not get beat”.
However, this is a fixture Arsenal usually win, losing just one and drew one this past decade. It was seldom easy, so to pull this one over the line we will need to do much better in the opening stages, especially the first 10-20 minutes, than we did recently.
You can have the best attacking players man, but if there’s complacency at the back you’ll always be up against yourself.
Our opponents have defended well recently and for us to get any joy we will need to play through them, not around them, and with all forwards involved.
On team news: Ramsey and Mustafi are unavailable. One or two others may get a rest either tonight or this weekend vs Newcastle.
Alexis Sánchez’s form, or lack thereof has become bit of a talking point. the thing with him is that if he doesn’t score those goals that can come out of nowhere, he offers the team very little everywhere else and it impact negatively on our overall structure. Which could become an issue during this festive period. Brave decisions has to be made regarding his involvement.
Speaking of brave, good luck to those braving the freezing London temperatures and going to the game, make yourselves heard. We can expect West Ham fans to turn up the noise after the Chelsea victory lifted so much of their gloom.
Everyone else watching from home… stay warm and keep them fingers crossed.
Why does every game feel like “the most important game”?
By @LaboGoon
17 Comments

The Mou, The Doc & The Bottle

@GoonerReverend contemplates St Augustine’s advice to “Love the Sinner but Hate the Sin”- sort of.

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It seems to be that wherever there is Mourinho and a football match there is drama. I don’t know what it is but the man and the headline just seem to morph in to one big soap opera right in front of our very eyes. Outwardly he is a fantastic coach & that cannot be denied. Whatever you think of his methods or his style of football in a result based industry he has the results to back up that argument but there is just something about him that makes you want to lash out irrationally. His long-standing rivalry with Wenger the ‘Mr Nice Guy’ of football is well known and even more widely reported on by the Jose loving media. Who can forget the day they squared up on the touch line. Everyone remembers that October day at Stamford Bridge in 2014 when their absolute dislike for each other boiled over into a shoving match on the touch line. The normally civil & urbane Wenger was ready to give as good as he got & his actions seem to scream “Ill F%#@in Ave You Son”. Mourinho gets under people’s skin. He coaches his players to get under opposing players skin, its his way of deflecting any scrutiny away from him or his team. His career to date has been either trophies or the sack. Virtually every club he’s been at has been asked to leave because his methods are toxic and ends up causing his club unwanted attention for the wrong reasons and it has been proven that it really does affect the moral and performance of his players eventually. His most famous and regrettable ‘Cause Celebre’ was the events that took place involving him and his team doctor Eve Carneiro during a game against Swansea in 2015. Even by Mourinho’s standards this debacle was off the Richter scale as far as damaging to both Chelsea and his reputation not to mention the absolute misery and insult he inflicted on the poor doctor just for doing her job.

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This was Mourinho in full uncontrolled flight at his absolute worst. His team were playing poorly and had just conceded a penalty so he lashed out at the nearest person to come within his mounting rage. The poor team doctor.

Jose if only you had let it go at that & that being as bad as it gets when your Jose Mourinho but no he had to take it to the limit as a sign that he the ‘Special One’ whose authority was without question. He went on the offensive with even more diabolical behaviour against the good doctor turning the farce into a sexism row. This was in August and by December Chelsea had seen enough and the ‘Happy One’ was now the sacked one, Again. In 2016 Mourinho replaced Louis van Gael as the manager at Manchester Utd promising to bring back the Ferguson glory years while spending an obscene amount of money at the same time. To his credit he won the league Cup & the Europa League in his 1st season at the club but on the down side he finished 6th in the Premier League with the most expensive squad ever assembled. This season appears to be no different he has assembled a very expensive squad but the PL all but looks to be riding away over the hill to his noisy neighbour’s City.

He has publicly squared off with his City Rival Pep Guardiola a few times this season but yesterday’s incident outside the changing rooms after suffering a 1-2 loss at Old Trafford have Mourinho stamped all over it. Lukaku slinging a bottle at Guardiola’s deputy Arteta, Mourinho himself squaring up to City’s goalkeeper Everson and getting soaked in Milk and water for his trouble and a general melee was had by all if you believe the Press. It is Christmas folks so its pantomime season and there is no better panto villain than the MOU. What the FA will make of all this is anyone’s guess but the battle lines have clearly been drawn and you can be sure Pep won’t be on Jose’s Christmas card list anytime soon.

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But if you take a closer look at yesterday’s events they bear a striking resemblance to his previous foibles* (steady on – there are children reading)  and his need to deflect any closer inspection of what could be going wrong at Utd. Its hard to see him taking down Barcelona, PSG, City or Bayern in the CL and with his loss the PL possibly bit the dust yesterday so where does that leave Mourinho this season after all the cash that has gone to fill his Christmas stocking this season. When you are at a club with the stature of Utd you have to win something or your rivals will start circling and then you’re no longer the shark in the goldfish bowl but rather just another one of the goldfish. In this new world of social media scrutiny and tall-poppy bashing we all want to see Mou get sat on his arse this season and go home with nothing because it makes for great drama. But every drama needs a bad guy and this soap opera that is the English Premier League needs its serial bad guy Jose Mourinho and we need him too because our Mondays mornings would be that little bit duller without him.

42 Comments

Arsenal: the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life

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Good Afternoon Positive ladies and gentlemen,

Well the positive  news is clearly that we gained a point on an afternoon when, I admit, I had my doubts that we would exit St Mary’s with anything other than a damn good jeering.

As matters turned out a fine headed finish from the old French master above. The best ball flighted in that we had all afternoon. An intelligent header from Oli and the decisive moment. Hard evidence that we must never give up, and a harder lesson for the home side that  in a game of professional football concentrating for 89 minutes and 45 seconds just won’t do.

Of the game itself an appalling opening, no other word for it. For the second weekend running a highly experienced German central defender under only slight pressure scuffed a clearance and gave the ball to an opposition player 40 yards from goal. The aforementioned highly experienced German defender then scampered after the Saints player who had bypassed him and then slipped  over!  His defensive comrades were too far away to the right, Kosc, and too far away to the left, Nacho, to offer any real challenge of barrier. The wing backs in the back five arrangement ? I have no idea where they were. Defensive cover or a hasty foot in from my man Granit ? No – not today.

Straightforward one-two, tidy finish, Austin – just three minutes on the clock.

There then followed another 5 minutes of three other similar almost disasters, with the lino intervening twice and Cech pulling off a good save to stop a second bulge in our netsack.

As I believe Mandy said earlier to be caught cold and punished once is slightly embarrassing, to be caught twice in a row, is FUCKING inexcusable.

Let us move swiftly on.

After we managed to wake up individually and collectively we dominated possession but, other than a tidy shot by Ramsey on 43 minutes we did not achieve much. There was loads of good approach work but no decisive ball to open the Saints’ defence. Unlike De Gea last Saturday Foster was under-employed. We just never seemed to have enough players in the box.

I was expecting a little more vim in the second half but, sadly, the pattern repeated itself with Saints firmly entrenched, with an occasional worrying breakaway, and AFC passing it back wards and forwards, forwards and backwards et cetera.  We have players of huge attacking ability, Mesut, Sanchez, Aaron, Lacca  but they seem reluctant to take an opponent on.

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Serious question as I may have missed it. Other than Sanchez’s free kick which Foster punched way did we have a shot on target in the second half ?

This week hurling Giroud, Jack and Danny into the contest just got us enough momentum to cause the home side to crack eventually, but it was close, damn close.

Enjoy your Sunday.

 

 

 

32 Comments

Arsenal: The Belles of St Mary’s

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@LaboGoon opens the programme on Arsenal vs Southampton

Arsenal travel to Southampton this afternoon looking to bounce back after shooting ourselves in both kneecaps last weekend.

In that game from 10 minutes in till the end whistle we put in quite a credible performance, but it was ultimately the “Oh FFS” moments in the initial 10 that did enough damage. And that’s the lesson in humility that should accompany us for not only today, but onwards.

Going to St Mary’s has never been an easy trip for Arsenal. Our victory there last season has been the only one in the PL this decade.

Mauricio Pellegrino have his boys well organised in recent weeks. In their last three matches they scored 4 goals vs Everton thanks to a good attacking display, turned Pep into a demented banshee after keeping his gunslingers at arms length defending in numbers, before coming from behind to draw vs a very spirited Bournemouth team. That they can take a lot of heart from that performances, varying tactics, should be enough to give us pause for concern.

In our four matches following the FIFA week we’d been in good form, playing with energy, confidence and togetherness, besides that 10 minute freak show of course.

With the PL so unforgiving it’s hard to gauge how hard you need to go one game to the next during these congested times. So as default we need to keep the intensity and tenacity up, without getting ahead of ourselves. The PL is a steeplechase we go one hurdle at a time.

Chelsea allowing West Ham to pin them back in the opening stages of their game gifted the Hammers an opportunity they didn’t look back from. That’s a risk we can’t afford to make (again). When the ref blow the whistle to signal the start of the game we switch on, and stay on till full time.

Being the “most important game of the season” I have no doubt Arsène Wenger will field his strongest team from the available players. Those are the same as last week beside Shkodran Mustafi who’s missing out with injury. We could see either Holding or Mertesacker taking his place. Might be too soon for Chambers who only just came back from injury.

Arsenal are going into hostile territory as the St Mary’s crowd will be on our players’ back from start to end. So let’s keep our fingers crossed they keep their wits about them.

Good luck to all watching the game wherever you find yourselves, and don’t quit speaking out against those who seek to divide the Arsenal fan base. COYG
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