Arsenal vs Chelsea: Unai’s rites of passage tour goes on the road


@LaboGoon initiates the faithful

Maybe all new managers of top Premier League teams going through some sort of initiation ritual wouldn’t be such a bad thing at all:

Big game to the League’s most expensive team – check
Big game away from home – check
Having Tony Adams, Sam Allardyce and Tim Sherwood doing their best impression of the “Britain’s Got Talent” judging panel – check

“Go out into the woods son, go out into the woods”

Good day one and all…

The PL roller-coaster returned with a bang last weekend and has already been a source of despair as we saw our top 6 rivals all won their opening games and we, well, you know – so we can ill afford giving them a 6 point head start at the end of this weekend. While on the flip-side we will have played two of our toughest opponents, it still will not make things less stressful going forward.

Arsenal take the short trip to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea in another of these high profile fixtures that we always have circled on our calendars. With both clubs having new coaches Unai Emery could not have asked for a more difficult start than playing the juggernaut that is Man City, whilst Maurizio Sarri’s side strolled to a 3-0 win in what clearly looked like mismatch vs relegation candidates Huddersfield.

There certainly was a lot to like about us in defeat last Sunday, but what Arsenal also need is for Unai to channel his Sevilla self not just the PSG version, because we are nowhere near being the league’s wealthiest side.

We had 3 shots on target while on the other end of the pitch Man City had 8 out of 17 shots on target, and with Chelsea another of the usually high scoring teams we need a bit more caution, stability and sensibility in defense if we want to answer Unai’s call of putting in an improved performance:

“Our players need to improve in the biggest games.”

With Sarriball in full effect last weekend and Eden Hazard back, the Blues will look to seize control of midfield, but I think we will be better prepared by not taking the quality in their ranks for granted.

Up front I wouldn’t mind seeing Lacazette given the nod as I feel him and Auba partnering up in attack will be fruitful. 🍎 When he came onto the field last Sunday we immediately had the Man City defense on the back foot.

Team news: Nacho Monreal and Lucas Torreira is available for selection so we can expect changes to the line-up.

Good luck to our boys, coach and all Gooners for today. Given the varying fortunes of these two sides last weekend…… I feel we could see a classic here today.


Arsenal: Small steps, right direction



Good Evening Positive AFC fans,

The first game of the 2018/2019 season under the belt, so to speak, and I feel a lot better with that opening obstacle concluded. A real thumping would have cast a pall over my week and I could not have that. Not the result we hoped for but a team performance that I thought was good overall.

Of the parts that impressed me most our teenage debutante Guendouzi stood out, and he earns his first MoTM award. Matteo was able to cope with the physical demands of the game, tackle cleanly, and showed himself able to control the ball with no time or space. There was some pre-match discussion on SKY about the speed/pace of the English PL game troubling foreign players. He had no obvious problem I saw. For the young Frenchman  to put in the full 94 minutes with no obvious slacking toward the end also suggests good stamina. Lichtsteiner’s introduction at left back, although the circumstances of it were unfortunate, showed us what the highly experienced Swiss can do. He reads the game well and has that edge of cunning that we need in a cruel, cruel football world. In Michel Oliver’s face, pointing, shouting, even tearing a strip off Mesut at one point. On another day his goading of Aymeric would have seen the opponent on his way back to the dressing room with a red card for his cranial lunge. I like him.

I thought Petr pulled off a string of good saves today, and for a period in the First Half kept us in the game.. The notion that he should have done better on the Sterling goal is bollocks. The kicking out or passing out from the back though between Cech/Matteo/Sokratis/Skhodran ? THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES!! Sort it out Mr Emery.

Of things we could have done better ? We created a number of half chances and potentially useful positions on the Citeh final third that we did not exploit. We looked rusty. At the key moment the pass to an Arsenal attacker went astray, too long, too short, Auba went left as the ball went right et cetera.At 0-1 we all know a goal for us would have left Pep’s boys reeling. Against good teams like Citeh we can expect only limited possessions around the opposition box and I felt today it was not used as it could/should have been. Scoring goals eh ? That is a thing.

I would also like to see more of Mkhi on the ball and challenging in midfield and  that it was Aaron who got the hook first and the Armenian playing the full match was a surprise. He did OK but in the first 35  minutes he did not provide AMN with enough support. He worked better with Hector after the changeover but even then he had a air of Theo at times, always available but never involved.

Onwards to the Bridge next week to meet the currently table-topping Chelsea. Probably a busy week at Colney, identifying the parts of the machine that need to be sharpened, tightened and oiled.

Enjoy your week.


Arsenal vs City: A New Era, Familiar Foes.

Good morning one and all…
So here we are, the page turning on a new chapter as the Arsenal kick-off their season at the Emirates against the Premier League Champions, Manchester City.
As the start to new seasons goes, unless you are from up the road, teams tend look a bit different to the one that started the preceding season. We had quite a few players that moved on since last August and were also met with new arrivals. The changes in personnel has added more depth and balance to the previous group.
Of course our highest-profile signing of the summer has seen the arrival of Unai Emery who replaced the legendary Arsène Wenger, to mark the dawning of a new era.
The questions most asked since then is what does this mean regarding playing philosophy? Will he do away with Wenger-ball and be pragmatic?
While answers to these are subjective as you can only do so much in pre-season games, there has been a prevailing theme in Emery’s pressers thus far that doesn’t appear to differ much from that of his Gallic predecessor; on the ball he wants attacking, possession-based football, and off it he want us to press our opponents “aggressively” for the purpose of winning the ball back as quickly as possible.
What does all this mean for today you ask?
As opening fixtures goes, results can go either way because players are still cold and looking to find their mojo, while new signings are still adapting to their new surroundings. So I guess for both teams all that matters is getting the first one out of the way, preferably with a positive result by fielding a team capable of outscoring the other.
In the PL young Unai won’t find more difficult opposition than the Citizens, so his first game as Arsenal boss will be, as the saying goes, a real baptism of fire.
That said, looking to the season ahead we have every reason to be hopeful and optimistic to put the disappointment of last season behind us, by looking no further than the attacking trinity of Özil, Aubameyang and Lacazette. Auba scored 10 and assisted 4 goals in 13 games, to give us a glance of what a special player he is. Lacazette in his first season, that went under the radar, scored 17 and assisted 5 goals in all competitions. Those are not numbers to scoff at. With the majestic Özil to provide the service we know he can, they have the potential to form quite a formidable partnership that can really terrorize PL defenses.
To think some twitters on twatter had the nerve to say Unai inherited an “awful squad” that would take “few windows to fix”? Ha! I’m so looking forward to be entertained.
To everybody watching the game from wherever… time to mark out the technical area as hopes and dreams are waiting to be consummated over the next nine months.

A Pod In A Blog

As I cant be bothered writing a load of rubbish about all things Arsenal, I’ve talked a load of rubbish instead.


Do We Have A Clue Who Starts vs City ?



A guest post from Seebs


Well the new season is only a few days away and the real stuff is truly upon us. Arsene has really gone and the new breed are bedding in. I’m not totally sure there are more differences than matches in the way things are set up now, of course apart from the set up which has evolved over the last couple of seasons and is now totally different if you know what I mean.

The preseason has ended, and the season starts with us, as are most other clubs, still looking like we are in preseason, its all very strange. We certainly look like we need another four games to gel the starting eleven as these half a half games really don’t give you a good idea of how the team will perform over ninety minutes and against sides that will perform over ninety minutes, the whole thing is one big anomaly.

Would anyone have said Unai’s reign would start with Ainsley as the only sure-fire starter in the whole squad? I know there are other players probably with their name already on the first team sheet, however, the strength of the squad that has been build up over the last few seasons  is such we really have different players for every position and again those players could interchange depending on the system we decide to adopt.

We know Cech is approaching his twilight years, but Leno is a top-quality keeper?  Although I think the more experienced man will get the nod the decision will be close. As time goes on Leno’s distribution above anything else will make him the clear winner as we play the ball out from the back more and more and just as happened at city the necessity to have a footballing keeper will determine the pick.

At right back its close again but Stephan’s lack of game time with us will see Hector get the nod. As for the CB’s I am a massive fan of the Rob and Callum partnership and I believe they are the best footballing pair we have however, I again think the more experienced duo of Shkodran and Sokratis will start the first game.

The Midfield becomes difficult to call as systems, fitness and cohesiveness all come into play here. I’m guessing that as were at home and judging by the friendlies the midfield three will be Aaron, if fit, Guendouzi and Granit although Elneny could cover anyone of these three if needed.

Up front It would be Pierre, Henrikh and Mesut in quite an attacking line up and Laca unfairly missing out but that’s the quality we have at present.

That would leave the bench looking like Leno, Stephan, Callum, Lucas, Elneny, Alex and Lacazette. So, most of the new lads starting their ARSENAL careers from the bench and most the youngsters missing out for the first game.  I do think Eddie is very close and will get game time soon as will they all in Europe.

So, in conclusion, we’re not ready, but maybe readier than some of the unready we are playing early. There are things to be worked on and ironed out but in the main the preseason has gone well, and the integration of players has gelled quite nicely. Of course, I’m massively excited for next Sunday and will very nervous coming up to kick off.

Enjoy it everyone here we go again.


Is Stan Kroenke Now Arsenal’s Saviour ?

So the great new dawn is upon us. We have rid ourselves of Arsene Wenger and his gang of incompetents, and replaced them with high class people that can bring us the success we deserve.

It’s absolutely fantastic. The players are drinking water, smiling,training hard, young players are involved and the manager is hands on on the training ground. These things never happened before , now did they?

That there have been major changes in personnel is undeniable. That they are all top people in their fields of expertise appears to be the case, they are certainly experienced with good track records.  Its more people with more individual responsibility and a coach with much less. Modern football? Or should I not say that because “modern football” is frowned upon by the “we want our Arsenal back” hoards. But I digress.

The point is almost every fan is happy, us included, the future looks bright. But what has actually changed other than our perceptions?

We have spent about £70m up until now, I suspect there will be outgoing and our net spend will be considerably less. So are we spending more? Is the new regime spending the money Arsene refused to? Seems not ?

Have we dipped into the £250m in the bank that should be spent on making the team as good as it can be? Seems not ? Perhaps that’s not for spending then, or not anywhere like that figure?

Are we competing for the likes of Marhez ,with City, or are we still buying from the second shelf ? It seems we are not and we still are  ! So what’s the big change?

Have we tied Aaron Ramsey down to a new deal, or is it dragging on? Dithering?

Now here is the rub, the moment many readers start shifting uncomfortably on their seat, searching for an answer that doesn’t destroy all their hard earned narratives.

If you are happy with all things Arsenal now, you have a certain Stan Kroenke to thank.

Without spending any more of the clubs money, and of its reserves ,or dipping into his own pocket for a single silver dollar, he has given everyone what they wanted ? Without being a football man or spending time at the club he has granted the wishes of the permanently malcontent.

His useless puppet (Ivan) is now the dogs bollocks. We are Kroenke FC , being driven by Ivan, and he is the very image of a none football man.

So if everything is rosy in the garden, and I hope it is, then we should be very much KROENKE IN ? He has come through big time and perhaps all the hate was for nowt?





Arsenal’s Away Form Explained – Our Narrative.


I was reading through the comments and found this from Eduardo, it perfectly explains my own thoughts on the subject. For anyone calling bullshit on it , Shotta has given us data to back this up in several of his blogs.

“I would say that we did not approach away games any different than home games, but two things, three as the season went on, altered the results

1. The biggest one for me, the refs away from home really did give us an awful time, lack of clear cut penalties, phantom penalties against us, the non calling of fouls for us cos Arsenal don’t like it up them,

2. Simple mistakes by our players, we seen our players make some crazy decisions in away games that we just did not see at home, we also played with a little less tempo away, meaning our attack was blunted,

The third thing was as the season went on, and the away form struggled, the players’ confidence away from home fell apart, it might only have made a 10% drop in performance, maybe even less, but that was enough. Our players got to the point where it seemed they just expected the officials to not give us the penalty, to flag us offside, to hand a penalty to the opposition, or for one of our guys to fuck up royally, if you like a self fulfilling prophecy. At home we were winning, so they played expecting to win, away we were losing and so it continued.
Its a new season, a new dawn, it could very well be that we will go the season unbeaten away, and struggle at home. A lot of this can depend on how we start the season, get the early wins and things can flow, struggle either at home or away and not only can it get in the players’ heads, but the NARRATIVE will be set in the media, in the blogs, etc, and it will make it so much harder. Of course get on a run of wins and maybe, just maybe, the Narrative will be Emery to lead AFC to title in first season.”