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Arsenal’s British Core Is Alive And Well

british-core

Aaron Ramsey’s Man-of-the-Match performance vs Chelsea last Sunday had me thinking. Despite the numerous “doubting Thomases”, some of whom have made every effort to slander and malign the Welshman especially after any bad team performance, he demonstrated a majestic show of technical prowess, maturity and boldness that to some degree repaid the faith Wenger had invested in him after he became the cornerstone of the British Core in 2012-13.

Let me explain why I think Aaron’s performance was specifically a victory for the British core. In 2012 Wenger and the club made a huge deal of the fact that five young Britishers (Jenkinson, Ramsey, Wilshere, Gibbs and Oxlade-Chamberlain) had signed long-term contracts making them the foundation for the footballing future of the club. According to the boss at the time:

“I believe when you have a core of British players, it’s always easier to keep them together,

“We are delighted that these five young players have all signed new long-term contracts. The plan is to build a team around a strong basis of young players in order to get them to develop their talent at the club.”

But during the last transfer window, with the sale of Chamberlain and Gibbs as well as the loan of Jenkinson, the usual suspects were quick to conclude the policy had been a failure and to heap scorn on Wenger in particular. This was done with the usual emotive, sensationalist language with not a shred of factual analysis to back it up.

This is the headline from one of the typical click-baiting, whoremongering blogs:

Is the “British Core” Wenger’s biggest failure?

USA Today:

British ‘core’ broken up at Arsenal

Not only did the American paper recount those who were gone but the writer, via the Associated Press, came to the remarkable conclusion:

“As for Ramsey, he can no longer be labeled a first-team regular. He was in the team for Arsenal’s last match, a humiliating 4-0 loss at Liverpool, but was substituted at halftime.”

In all my research there was one blogger who disputed USA Today but even then he still had it partially wrong:

“…everyone seems to be missing is that the British core is not over. Not even close. In fact, I’d argue that it’s still going pretty strong in just one man – Aaron Ramsey.”

While Aaron is the bright and shining star of the class of 2012, the British core is alive and well. It simply needs so-called professional journalists, pundits and bloggers to focus on presenting facts to the public rather than alarming headlines.

First of all the British core has brought infinitely more success to the club than the foreign-imports of the post-Invincible era could ever dream. Three FA cups over four years can be directly attributable to domestic talent. Take the FA Cup final in 2014, two goals down and it took a goal line clearance by Kieran Gibbs to prevent a certainly impossible to recover-from three goal deficit. As it seemed ordained only in retrospect, it took Ramsey who, up till then had experienced a golden season until it was interrupted by injury, to return from his muscular “horribilis” to score the winning goal in extra time. Again in the 2017 final Aaron was on hand to score the winner. Don’t get me wrong, these were all great team efforts, but unlike the past, when the chips were on the line, there was a certain Welshman brave and bold enough to embrace, not shrink from, the opportunity fate had presented. To my mind, for that alone the British core spells SUCCESS.

Secondly, the British core was never presented as and neither could it be considered as fixed and frozen in time. According to the same brain-dead, sneering pundits and bloggers, who can never avoid a cliché even if it was lying in the sewer, a week in football is a long time. By that same token five years in football is an eternity. Who would expect the same talent to progress or even regress at the same rate. Only a fool would take the usual churn in football as a sign of failure. Take the following changes in the British core since 2012:

2014: Englishman Calum Chambers was signed from Southampton and was instantly promoted as a member of the British core. How quickly people forget. He is back at the club after a year on loan.

2016: Wishere and Jenkinson went out on loan. Based on media reports, that did not herald the end of the British core.

2016: Rob Holding was signed from Bolton on a long term deal and according to ESPNFC “is seen as one of England’s most promising defenders” and “could potentially form an all-English pairing with Chambers at centre-back in the future.”  By any definition this was a strengthening, not a weakening of the core.

My third and final point is, as it currently stands, Wenger and Arsenal continue to recruit and grow the pool of domestic talent in the first team, not merely via transfers but by gradually promoting them via the Academy.

2015:Alex Iwobi, who started off at Arsenal as schoolboy, rose through the age-groups and was promoted to the first team where he has remained. By the way, he represented England at youth level but chose to be Nigerian, via his parents, for purposes of international football. A rose by another name or an English bull.

2016 : Ainsley Maitland-Niles who is also another academy product is promoted to the first team. He had sparing EPL opportunities in his first year but based on the 2017-18 pre-season he is set to get more games in his sophomore year.

2017-18: Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock, both young Englishmen, are promoted to the first team. Both showed talent in pre-season and despite their teenage years seem set to be gradually involved with the veterans. Nelson was already given minutes in the one Europa League game so far.

As I always emphasize, MSM journos, pundits and bloggers are simply engaged in “trying to fool some people all the time,” but doing any elementary research shows them as deceitful con-men and women. A good look at Arsenal’s 2018 squad shows despite losing the years of invested in Oxlade Chamberlain and Gibbs, the British core remains strong and growing.

The following is based on the publicly available EPL data from whoscored.com which only goes back as far as the 2009-10 season. (Alex Iwobi is excluded simply because of his FIFA representation but he is English by any other legal definition.)

British Players

Apps

Mins

Goals

Assists

Ramsey

206

     13,634

30

32

Walcott

203

     12,492

59

35

Wilshere

104

       6,979

6

11

Welbeck

59

       3,394

13

8

Chambers

36

1,976

2

1

Holding

5

967

0

0

Maitland-Niles

2

2

0

0

Reiss-Nelson

0

0

0

0

Willock

0

0

0

0

Total

615

     39,444

110

87

I will end as started. Aaron Ramsey is simply the shining star of the British core. He shone brightly at Chelsea at Sunday. As is evident by the data, he is almost always relied on by Arsene Wenger. As he he has demonstrated consistently over the past four years, once he is at his best Arsenal will always have a chance against any club in any competition.

45 Comments

Arsenal: defensive drills and Luis blows

Good evening Positive fans,

I watched the best performance of the season we put together over 90 minutes. Very few clubs put together such a thorough defensive performance at the Bridge and our game without the ball was excellent today. Mustafi did not put a foot wrong all day and left Morata a petulant heap, Kosc was tidy and rarely under pressure and Nacho cleaned up whatever crumbs his partners dropped. A well deserved and hard earned point – more satisfying because the scarfists and the ‘experts’ had marked us down for a Good thrashing – idiots one and all.

Looking slightly forward and across Hector’s return to his position as the best young full back/ wing back in the PL takes  another step. It was at this ground his progress was derailed. And the Bosnian eh ? First name on the team sheet at the moment.

Congratulation to Alan Smith for the most inane comment I have ever heard, to the effect that he hoped “someone had had a word” with Aaron and Xhaka After the Anfield game because if no one had “it’s criminal”.

No Alan the players and the coaches and the manager sat round in total silence for 3 weeks. Very energetic from both, controlled the midfield after the first 20 minutes.

Up front two first half chances, Danny’s header and Laca’s rebound,  both difficult but on another day …..?

For a manager who I think is very good at his job Conte allows his players to plead insanity for too often. Luis is a f******* liability.

No complaints with Oliver – always a tricky game to control and at times the home side tested his good nature.

Overall a point was a fair result.

 

 

92 Comments

Arsenal vs Chelsea – A Bridge Too Far?

ozilwinking
The last time Arsenal beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was over 5 years
ago. That was a looong time ago.
So it’s no surprise that this, along with Arsenal rather dismal record
vs top 6 opposition last season, is the leading narrative used in the
media space building up to the game, while adding a bit of a twist to
the David and Goliath story, where David, who ran out of gummyberry
juice, is now left in total  “shambles”… at Goliath’s mercy.
Fair enough! Going to the Bridge, or rather, leaving the Bridge hasn’t
exactly been a joyous exercise these last few years, not even with the
world-class talents of Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez in our ranks. But
then again, the Chelsea teams of then have been bus parkers
extraordinaire, their primary form of attack being the counter, and
with great success compared to the low-budget forces from elsewhere.
This Antonio Conte outfit however is different, he wants his team
playing the good stuff, and that suits our style better.
So last season vs top 6 opposition aside and looking at Chelsea in
isolation; the last 12 months we played them 4 times, beating them on
3 of those occasions. Granted none of those games won were at
Chelsea’s spiritual home, but it was recent and it should tell us that
there’s no need to be apprehensive about these pricks.
Arsenal players know they can beat Chelsea, Chelsea players are aware
our players know they can beat them. Stamford Bridge? Meh! We just
need to play to our potential.
We now also have Saed Kolašinac, an absolute beast that just wanna run
through players and with a left boot Podolski would be proud of, and
Alexandre Lacazette that looks extremely calm in front of goal.
With me touching on the last 5 years, and a little bit on the last 12
months, what does the last month tell me leading up to today’s
fixture:
Chelsea started their PL campaign in embarrassing fashion vs Burnley,
since then it look like they have pulled themselves together. Our
moment of embarrassment came at Anfield, so hopefully that was when
our lightbulb went on.
Following the international break Chelsea beat Leicester 2-1 in a
close contest, of cause with the help of a ref and lino, allowing a
Morata off-side goal, then their first team (scared much) wiped out
Azerbaijani giants, Qarabag. We beat Bournemouth pretty convincingly,
with a wonderful display of Wenger-ball, then comfortably in the end
dispose of Köln with an experimental team short of match fitness. So
we go into this game fairly even, the one advantage Chelsea could have
though is that they, well, have home advantage. But as I said; meh!
Make no mistake though, Chelsea might be suffering a fall from grace
in punditry circles as they are now only seen as the team-elect to
“put pressure on” – ahem, Spurs busy with some voodoo or whatever –
after they sold Matic to a rival to finance a replacement for a player
that is still part of their squad… they can be very destructive on
their day.
Team selection: I think with Oxlade now gone, and hopefully putting a
curse on Liverpool, selecting a matchday 11 became a bit easier for
Arsène Wenger, as it’s one less of those pamper type players. Leaving
Bellerín and Kolašinac first choice wing backs on their respective
sides and the rest pretty much selecting themselves if available.
A spot of bother could be Mesut Özil. Unconfirmed news going around is
that he could sit out today due to injury. I would like to think that
the manager will leave the decision up the last minutes with fixture
difficulty easing a bit over the next 4 weeks. If he can’t play, Mo
Elneny look very sharp on Thursday and had a near perfect successful
pass rate. He’s not a flamboyant player, but he does do the basics
right, even in games we seem to struggle. So he could have dibs coming
in for the German, with either Ramsey or Xhaka possibly making a
positional switch to compensate.
Here’s the selection conundrum…
Arsène’s one headache though could be whether to Alexis Sánchez or not
to Alexis Sánchez.
Welbeck might not be everybody’s cup of tea but he is a team player
first and thus vital in the application of the manager’s tactics. This
is the one area I feel a tough decision need to be made, because
Chelsea will exploit a not fully match fit yet Alexis Sánchez’s
weakness. It’s one thing carelessly giving away possession when we are
on the front foot vs sub-standard opposition, another doing so vs a
team filled with truly world-class attacking players.
In media circles they say Arsenal is only one defeat away from a
“crisis”, I say Arsenal is always one big victory away from going on
good run. Playing as “a team” today will be key.
“Alles van die beste” to all going to the Bridge and those watching
the game at home/pub today.
Let’s keep hope alive, because it’s the hope man, it’s the hope…
A guest post form @Labo_Goon
56 Comments

That Was A Riot.

keep-calm-and-get-on-the-sunshine-bus-2
Good afternoon Positive Arsenal fans,
I did not expect to be writing the post match commentary on the Cologne game as I was travelling to the US and, having taken off at 6.00 pm by 8.00ish I was very long way West of Ireland, quite a long way South east of Greenland. According to the polite chap from American Airlines we are at 34,000 feet (and he knows).
No1 son however was fiddling with the seatback entertainment console and lo and behold …. what pops up ? Lucky kick off was delayed.
Global game eh –  there is no escape, no release from the Arsenal – even when the air is thin outside the game will get through.
Admittedly I’d missed the first half hour and other than the gruesome replay of David’s little difficulty I saw nothing else. A decent line up, enough good players to do the job. Good to see Sanchez and Giroud starting.
That final fifteen first half minutes was ok, a little reminiscent of our Britannia trip. Good to the edge of the box but solid defence and a lack of sharpness/guile took us no further. Midfield of Elneny and Iwobi not used to working together produced a lot of effort but  not much creative output.
Second half kicking off so I will be back from time to time, optimistic we shall trouble the scorer…….
Get the F***  in you beautiful Bosnian – he really is very good.
This is more like it, let’s concentrate though lads – no silly second for the visitors. Enjoying Hector Bellerin tonight.
Cometh the hour cometh the Chilean assassin – super strike – and that is why I think he is a man to keep.
Just crossed the Newfoundland coast. Jack bright, surely the 3rd is within our grasp?
And Hector obliges, first to the block and a good finish,  intelligent dummy from Jack. I think that is the Germans done for.
A harder game than I expected but credit to Cologne. From the hour I saw Elneny can be pleased with himself and his push for first team action. Sanchez is looking fit and dynamic again( ed. I hope he was joking?)
99 Comments

Arsenal vs FC Köln .

Per_Mertesacker_2662132b

 

I’m here again with my deep insight into team selection and tactics. I hope you all appreciate it and learn.

Tonight we play the strongest German team in the Bundesliga. Its clear they are as they are holding up everyone else. In other words they are bottom of the league. On the face of it this should be a straightforward game. A sure recipe for disaster.

Its an impossible task to predict the team but none the less, I’ll have a go.

Ospina will play in goal.

Three centre backs will play, two of them won’t be Koscielny (rested) and Chambers (injured). I suspect Per will start, and I hope he does.

Goodness knows who will play at wingback, I suspect it might be our first choices of  Bellerin and Superman(sorry I mean Kolasinac)

Our midfield two will most likely be Elneny and perhaps Jack. Although I’m not convinced Arsene will want to start with Jack just yet, so perhaps Maitland-Niles. It certainly won’t be  Rambo, who is excused boots along with Ozil.

Of the front three the only one I’m confident will start is Giroud. Sanchez I think will and also Iwobi.

So that’s my best shot at being Mystic George.

Lets hope for a good game in a good atmosphere giving us a good win.

I’m looking forward to it, a little light relief before the trials of Chelsea come Sunday.

 

73 Comments

Arsenal vs Human Stupidity – The Bournemouth Experience

Einstein universe and stupidity

So two weeks after an embarrassing loss to Liverpool, Arsenal has a complete turnaround vs Bournemouth, demolishing them  3:0, toying with the Cherries for long periods. You would expect from mainstream media and Arsenal bloggers-tweeters-podcasters unreserved appreciation for the manager and the team for putting the ignominy of Liverpool behind them. After all prior to the game, they were universal in stressing the importance of this fixture:

Blogger #1:

It’s clear what we need to do: win. 

Blogger #2:

The reality is that today is a match we’re expected to win. Bournemouth, just two places below us, are sacrificial lambs, even though I’d expect them to be obdurate. Not agriculturally like a Pulis or Allardyce side but well-organised as they have been since joining the top flight.

Blogger #3:

Didn’t even do a pre-game review spending the days prior to in an orgy of self-congratulatory pieces stressing the importance of his opinion.

Not surprisingly, like Charlie Brown in the long running comic strip Peanuts, the manager and the players must have felt perplexed with little gratitude shown  for matching or exceeding expectations set for them by those so-called supporters.

Blogger #1:

The players will know that it was bread and butter stuff though. If this was getting back on the horse after falling off at Anfield, it was a Shetland Pony.

Blogger #2:

It was half-decent preparation for next weekend’s trip to Chelsea but let’s not go overboard in proclaiming we’re on the rise again. That was one good performance in a match we were expected to win.

Blogger #3:

Don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely performance, but the big test is at Chelsea next week. For all the fun of our game today, it has to be said, Bournemouth were appalling.

The mainstream media were just as reluctant to shell out any praises.

ESPN:

The Gunners had lost to both Stoke and Liverpool heading into the international break but they were never in trouble here as Welbeck inspired them to a 3-0 win against a poor Cherries side.

BBC:

The home fans needed a performance and were treated to a clinical one as the Gunners cruised against a poor Bournemouth side.

Daily Mail:

At the moment Arsenal feel like one bad result away from chaos every match.

Now most of my readers would immediately dismiss this as the usual anti-Arsene, anti-Arsenal whingeing by mainstream and social media, trying as usual to make light of any Arsenal success. My aim in today’s blog is to argue there is more at play at here. What we are witnessing is a demonstration of stupidity as outlined by professor Carlo Cipolla, an Italian economist who while at the University Of California, Berkley identified The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity.

Before I progress, let me first get this out of the way; not all Arsenal fans are stupid. But, to be sure, there are a lot of stupid fans who “support” Arsenal Football Club.

In Cipolla’s analysis stupid people are seen as a group, more powerful by far than major organizations such as the Mafia and the military industrial complex, which without regulations, leaders or manifesto nonetheless manages to operate to great effect and with incredible coordination.

Are there any groups more uncoordinated than mainstream football journalists, pundits, Arsenal bloggers-podcasters-tweeters-and supporters group, many of whom claim to support Arsenal and who function at complete distance from each other but are completely united by the most outrageously stupid ideas?

Every quotation above is uniform in discounting how important it was to not only win, but win so comprehensively. Despite their diversity these groups act in total conformity with Cipolla’s model, i.e. they are uniform in their stupidity.

Contrast this with the very experienced Petr Cech who expressed in his post game presser, that this was an enormous result:

‘I’m happy with the response but I hope it’s the last time we have to do that because I hope from now on we actually play at this level in every game because in this league if you are a fraction off the level then you can get easily beaten like we were at Liverpool.’ 

Clearly the result was inconsistent with social and mainstream media’s ad nauseam dooming and gloom for the past 8-9 years and predictions of Wenger’s imminent Waterloo, which as Mark Twain would have observed is more than premature. So they continue to make stupid statements and promote stupid behavior which is clearly inimical to the success for the club they claim to desire.

They give truth to Cipolla’s five fundamental laws of stupidity:

  • Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

Some may argue the number of stupid Arsenal supporters are not that many based on the failure of the extremists to mount a decent-sized crowd in any of their demonstrations which up to now, at best, have seen a few score with bedsheets and A-4 paper. But if one notes the hundreds of thousands who support certain bloggers via Facebook and twitter showing their apparent sympathy for their consistently stupid point of view then Cipolla’s thesis runs true.

  • The probability that a certain person (will) be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

Most of these journos, pundits, Arsenal-bloggers, tweeters and podcasters are eminently “handshakeable” people. Some are from the professions, many have advanced degrees and diplomas from eminent institutions and others are self-made. Yet many are singularly united in their stupidity, at least when it comes to the football club.

  • A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

You have to wonder what these bloggers, podcaster and tweeters gain in doing everything to damage their club despite it being the 3rd most successful in the Premier League over the past 21 years while being massively outspent by three other clubs, two of whom enjoy almost limitless sources of external funding. You would think they have more to gain commercially and reputation-wise if the club overcomes the odds to win the PL. Even then 3 FA cups out of the last 4 would be something to brag about and a base for further success.

  • Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

When we closed the door to all and sundry at Positively Arsenal it was based on our experience of how stupid people can easily takeover a blog so long as the blogger is willing to deal and/or associate with stupid people. I would argue that Cipolla’s law completely vindicates our decision.

Cipolla concluded: A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

Consider for a moment if the Arsenal board, particularly the owner had given in to the uniform stupidity of the mainstream media and Arsenal’s uber bloggers-tweeters-podcasters. If the owner had given in to stupid people inside and outside the directorate, the club could have easily lost its most important asset of the past 21 years. Apparently it was touch and go right down to that fateful meeting last May between Kroenke and Wenger. Now we know Arsenal’s loss would have been PSG’s gain and Real Madrid’s before that and Bayern Munich at some point, all of them willing to snap up Wenger before the ink was dry on his goodbye letter.

Yet we have an eminent blogger declaring that as of August 31st:

“The current ‘team’, consisting of Wenger, Gazidis and Dick Law, is not big enough, decisive enough, or well-connected enough to cope with the modern transfer market.”

Well f*ck my old boots. Over 100 years combined experience at the top-top level, having outsmarted every greedy agent, selling club and 3rd party owner on the planet has been reduced to one outrageous sentence. Isn’t this the definition why stupid people are so dangerous?

This is the level of low denominator stupidity that our various media set itself as it guarantees revenue via buying of newspapers, clicks online and viewership on tv.  But don’t expect them to publicize Cipolla’s findings even though they have been around since 1956. Should his laws gain currency all of them would be out of business sooner or later.

44 Comments

Arsenal – Early Autumn Blossom

4413DBB600000578-4868088-image-a-32_1504970412079.jpgGood morning Positives,

A stylish victory brought fans, and it may be a few players, back to footballing life after the international break and the trough of our preceding result.

We played high speed football, with passing accurate and our players’ movement crisp. Our two Summer signings Lacazette and Sead stood out all afternoon. Ozil performed immaculately, Ramsey and Xhaka raced back and forth, all industry and nicking the ball first. And Danny Welbeck eh ? If ever a player deserved a wave of the wand of luck, as I’d say Danny had by being served a tricky but scoreable chance in the 6th minute. The stadium erupted. If Welbeck’s first strike had a whiff of fortune his second was a controlled finish, bottom corner, no chance for Begovic. And Alexandre’s goal in the 27th, or was it the 28th, minute ?

As AW on Danny said;

“Yep, I’m pleased with his performance, I kept faith in him and overall I think he is getting stronger and stronger and more confident. Confidence plays a big part in his game and I loved his finishing on his second goal.”

“Kept faith in him”. It was Welbeck’s day. Nice snap from the Daily Mail today at the top to celebrate.

Defensively ? Arsene stuck with his three formation, and my view for what it is worth is that Kosc, Musatfi and Nacho are our best 3. Kosc made just one tackle yesterday and Petr Cech just one save, just one.

And Giroud and Sanchez for that final 15 minutes – they looked HUNGRY.

No controversies, did anyone notice the referee ?

We were much too good for Bournemouth, simple as that.

Of our visitors they did not seem the same ‘together’ team that turned up last season and put up such a battle at the Ems, and then gave us an even worse fright with the 3-3 evening on the South coast. Third season syndrome ? Eddie Howe has spent a lot of cash but his probably more talented players do not have the same organisation as his earlier group. Swift action needed.

We have an interesting week ahead. Our first Europa League game ever and our first game in a second tier Euro completion since Galatasaray in May 2000. I see the stadium is sold out. It should be a good night. You will be pleased to know that Cologne suffered a sound 3-0 drubbing in the Bundesliga by Augsburg yesterday, the hat-trick of goals scored by a player well known to England fans Alfred Finnbogasson (shudders). Our German opponents sit firmly bottom of their league with 0 points from three games. I trust we’ll not take them lightly.   Even so …….

I shall not be with you on Thursday as during the game I shall be high over the Atlantic. The Chelsea game however I shall watch somewhere in NYC and, technology permitting, get straight back to you!

Enjoy your week.