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Arsenal: Saturday Night Fever

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Good morning Positive Gooners,

What a phenomenal game of football ! 95 minutes of unrelenting battle, waged by 22, and later 21, warriors, the classic ‘end-to-end battle. Talking points – pivotal moments? There were at least dozen. The stadium absolutely rocking. What more could any fan want ?

Well…. I know , I know what we wanted. After all that effort, after dominating three quarters of possession, 33 shots, 14 (fourteen corners!) and drawing as good a goal-keeping display out of David De Gea as I have seen, we wanted a tangible reward. Three points, one point, half a bloody point would have done. But no. The goddess that is in charge of football smote us down.

Of the game itself I would guess that most of you reading this saw far more of the detail of the incidents than I did in the upper tier. We knew what to expect. Jose would defend in depth and hope to nick a breakaway. And we were absolutely correct.

The first two goals or the visitors looked to be individual errors from first Kosc and then Shkodran, inexplicable that early in the game when we knew that the United tactic would be. To make one error is careless, to make two very similar errors indicates a collective lack of concentration. I have no idea if the German was injured before his tussle with Lingard or after. His crest was definitely fallen. Fair play to the visitors. They took both chances faultlessly.

Nevertheless with just 11 minutes gone there was not the slightest doubt in my mind, nor I think anyone around me, that we would recover. The roar went up. We have far too many good players, as well as at least one world class player, to allow 80 minutes to pass without tearing at the Mancs with our sharp claws and monstrous jaws.

And so it transpired. We absolutely battered them. Time and time again, wave after wave, short sharp passing around the edge of he box and into the area, blocked shots, crosses whipped in, shots tricking juuuuuuust wide, even Lukaku had a go at beating De Gea (his only notable contribution all afternoon). Much as I Loathe Jose, and there is much to loathe, he set up his side to defend and by Gawd did they did that job well. Massed ranks of men in black shirts, always a boot in the way, or a head, and if all that failed there was still the man in shy blue/green to keep us out.

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How we went in at half time at 0-2 I shall never, ever know. There was however still no doubt hat tis game was not just the to recover and draw, but to win.

And then the breakthrough !!! What seemed to be a failed offside trap let us in – how bloody ironic that the Mancs let themselves down by trying to be too clever. 40+ minutes to go – we flooded forward – the result was surely in our hands now.

As so it proved – a sequence of small individual errors that started with losing possession, failing to intercept or put in a solid challenge, failing to pick up the single United attacker, led to Lingard tapping in a deadly third. Talk about popping our balloon. Mayhem broke out around me as the man in the row in front was hit with a coin thrown from a few rows back, just missed his eye but still a nasty cut. The perpetrator was hauled out by stewards with the victim in hot pursuit (I hope the idiot is banned for life).

After that we pressed again, we pushed, we flung on Danny and then Oli, but I don’t think we looked as likely to score as we had with just Laca as the tip of the spear. As we threw on attackers, Jose threw on defenders. Who would have guessed? The quality of our attacking in the last 20 minutes was just not as sharp as it had been.

Even the dismissal of Pogba, another idiot who deserves a lengthier ban than he will get, did not quite produce the midfield dividend that I hoped for. And errr yes Paul – it was a red card.

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How the 4th official came up with 5 minutes additional time I have no idea. Even had he put up the 10-12 I was expecting I don’t it would have been enough. We did not give up physically, mentally I think we ‘knew’ though.

A game that will stick long in the memory, and that is what good football is about.

So Bate Borisov next, and St Mary’s to follow. Enjoy your Sunday.

49 Comments

Arsenal : “Plenty of room on top”

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@LaboGoon chalks his cue this Saturday morning 

Arsenal host Manchester United at the Emirates, with the visitors 4 points better off than us after 14 games but trailing Man City by 8 points.

So you can imagine this as a game where both will be looking to underline their credentials as a team not ready to throw in any towels yet.

Both are coming off the back of good results, with Arsenal putting 5 goals past Huddersfield and Manutd 4 past Watford in their most recent. With Arsenal however unbeaten at the Emirates and conceding just 1 goal (at home) since opening day, Manutd keeping 9 clean sheets in their 14 PL games, it’s unlikely this will be a high scoring affair.

This of course is a blockbuster event, and after a comprehensive victory over Spurs in the NLD we answered the question on whether we have a squad capable of winning the big games. So I have a feeling José Mourinho may be a bit apprehensive, especially about Manutd returning to a ground where they were beaten 3-0 and 2-0 on their last two visits respectively.

With Manutd’s first choice Centre-Back pairing on the injury list, they will be extra vigilant to smother us in the final third. Meaning scoring opportunities will be few, of which we have to make the most of.

That said… I think it’s great that Arsène Wenger said he don’t expect Manutd to “park the bus”. Meaning there will be an awareness of their attacking quality that could hurt us if given any openings.
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Alexandre Lacazette is not available so I suspect Giroud to be leading the line, Alexis didn’t quite work out vs Mancity did he? Giroud will also give Manutd’s back-up CB’s quite the work out in those physical battles, for Welbeck to exploit later on (am I getting ahead of myself). Other than that all others from “the best 11” are available.

Good luck to all Gooners going to the Emirates and continue making both the visiting team and referees feel very unwelcome in our house, and good luck to all watching around the globe.

This promises to be a thorough gripping encounter. One with a very good chance where the opening goal may prove to be the winning goal.

 

38 Comments

Arsenal: Mentioned in Despatches

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@GoonerReverend puts his head above the parapet

We won’t be taking It to the Max

There is a lot of talk about the succession at Arsenal. Wenger has supposedly signed his last contract and will be departing the Arsenal shores in May 2019. The King is dead long live the King. Arsenal fans as with everything are divided on the subject of Wenger and a possible new manager. On one hand you have the loyalist a supposed band of deluded, out of touch and mentally backwards supporters desperate to see Wenger re-instated no matter what the cost. On the other side of the coin you have the self-titled ‘enlightened ones’ the intellegensia of the Arsenal fan base who have every answer to every question regarding the running of the Arsenal football club no matter what their true station is in life.

This of course makes for fascinating back copy on the ongoing saga that is the Arsenal football club. Like Jason and his Argonauts some believe that by simply vanquishing the old zipper failure and replacing him with either Massimiliano Allegri or Leonardo Jardim it will immediately cure all of Arsenal problems. In turn the ever-present fan dissatisfaction will be swept aside in big Moses style and we will instantly be in the mix to win the Premier League and Champions League titles. Other less devout outers maintain once the current dictator has been removed from power and the Arsenal board do the most un-Arsenal board thing ever and appoint a world class manager with a bottomless pit of check book moolah he will still need time to settle in to the demands of the Premier League and more importantly fix all of the major issues at the club caused by that destroyer of football clubs Arsene Wenger. Loyalists argue that if Wenger is in fact so inept and clueless then any manger should be able to come in and immediately improve Arsenal’s current position winning both the PL & CL at a canter. The truth is somewhat different to what some of the more radical fans on both sides believe. We have all seen the recent comings and goings in the backroom at Arsenal which many of the more astute observers believe is the start of the succession planning for when Arsenal’s greatest ever manager finally hangs up his sleeping bag coat & moves on to National team football. The PL is littered with the wreckage of former managerial flavours of the month who have one good season and then are sacked the next term without as much as a bye your leave only to try and resurrect their careers at a lesser club and in lesser league. The hardest thing to maintain in the PL is consistency, just ask Moyes, Van Gael, Koeman and Laudrup etc:

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Remember those halcyon days when Owen Coyle was the saviour of Burnley and then moved up to Bolton and some Arsenal fans were calling for him to take over from Wenger just before he got Bolton relegated and then disappeared from the scene as most favoured son. In fact, our wonderful fans switch from one flavour of the month to the next as easy as you might when choosing between a cappuccino or latte at your local coffee shop. Now I’m not accusing some of our more easily influenced fan base of being fickle but you have to laugh at some of the more recent suggestions regarding the type of new manager we should be looking for. I am of course referring to those 2 beacons of football enlightenment Mauricio Pochettino manager of Power shift Utd and Marco Silva manager of Cajones FC. These two managers are glorious examples of fan fickledom and if they could only live up to the hype then maybe they would be in with a shout but likely as not they might not be in their current positions next season such is the demand for stability in the PL these days. Now I know that we are a club in crisis and that our manager and board could not run a piss up in a brewery. There are far more intelligent and qualified people both in the press and on social media who could easily turn Arsenal’s current squad in to world beaters if only someone would listen to them. Just ask the Daily Mirror’s John Cross, he has all the answers as does that beacon of truth Piers Morgan. ‘Friends, countrymen & Arsenal fans lend me your ears’.

Common sense and the history of decision making by the Arsenal powers that be should tell us all that Arsenal will not be appointing an Allegri, Simeone or Jardim as the next Arsenal manager because that is simply not who we are or what we do. If we were playing managerial poker then I’ll raise you a Dyche or van Bronkhorst over your Allegri or Jardim and id win because we are a bigger chance of appointing a manager like Sean Dyche, Giovanni van Bronkhorst or Eddie Howe than we are some big-name coach from Juventus, Atletico or Monaco. I am certainly not saying that the trio of Dyche, van Bronkhorst and Howe are the only ones in the mix what I am saying is this is the type of manager Arsenal will look at as a replacement for Wenger. The structure at Arsenal throughout our history has been about stability. Ever since our 1st permanent manager Thomas Mitchel was appointed in 1897 we have only had 21 permanent managers in 120 years with one unknown taking charge for a few months in 1898, Steve Burtenshaw taking charge for a few months in 1986 and Stewart Houston and Pat Rice taking the reins for a couple of months in 1996. If you take out Wenger’s current tenure that’s an average of almost 5 years per manager in just under 100 years of football and not 1 big managerial name amongst them. Based on current statistics the PL manager lasts an average of 2 years and 7 days in the job so based on all of this data what makes Arsenal fans think that AFC PLC is suddenly going to change a 120 years of modus operandi just because a group of fans are screaming for it on their YouTube channel. ‘It isn’t going to happen’. The Arsenal board will select someone like a van Bronkhorst or Eddie Howe because they believe he will embody everything they believe in regarding the running of the football side of the club.

They will want a manager that is level headed and not over emotional or temperamental. In short, they won’t want someone who is hard to deal with like a Conte or Mourinho and who will not cause unnecessary chaos and trouble for the club and they certainly won’t be spending half a billion pounds on new players either. Whether you like or not or even believe it the traditions at Arsenal are set in stone and are the foundation of the running of the club. Even though the ownership and board have changed significantly over the years these founding principles have not and are not likely too either so you can run your social media campaigns and hold up your bits of A4 at the ground or even froth at the mouth in inarticulate rage on YouTube but I think you can take it to the bank that we won’t be taking it to the Max we will in fact be doing what we always do and that is playing it safe.

 

 

20 Comments

Arsenal: Goals, goals and goals

 

GettyImages-881967360_0.jpgGood Morning Positives,

A wintry morning up here in Norfolk with a swirl of snow across the grey sky.

I trust that those who did not attend last night’s game have, like me, had a chance to review the highlights of the game since.  Very enjoyable it was with our players finally cracking the Huddersfield defence and goals pouring in after the hour, with the visitors clinging onto the ropes. In truth the game could/should have finished about 8/9-2 but for some last ditch defending and a good goalkeeping performance. Huddersfield managed a couple of good quality strikes on Cech’s goal, so they were a little unlucky not to manage their first goal on the road for five games.

Stand out player in red for me was Aaron, a hand in all four of the opening goals and his back heel to set Lacazette on his way for the first was evidence of a player on top form. Sensible to take him off with a quarter of an hour to go and keep him fresh for Saturday against a team he generally does well against. Well done to Olivier too and he must have relished a full  45 minutes of hard running. The other laurel wreath this morning goes to Sead Kolasinac , for a ‘tank’ he showed some lovely touches.

I rather liked Huddersfield – they have a bit of quality and a good spirit – I hope they don’t go down.

As for those readers with an eye to the ethnic minority of referees I see the man  in black last night Graham Scott was born in Oxfordshire. In most people’s  atlas that is ‘Southern’. I thought it was an easy game to referee and I imagine we shall see more of him as he moves up the PL whistling hierarchy.

Not much else to say, busy Saturday coming up. Mr D.Cannister and I shall be indulging in a small libation before the Manchester United game at the Bank of Friendship so if any are passing drop in.

Enjoy your Thursday.

50 Comments

Arsenal: Terriers to Tame

 

 

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@LaboGoon on point this Wednesday morning 

Arsenal host Huddersfield tonight for the first time in the Arsène Wenger and also this generation.

This of course is a short turnaround, not only for us but our opponents as well. Burnley took a bit out of our players as we were made to work really hard for what was a well-deserved victory in the end, that saw us slip into top 4 for the first time this campaign. Which I don’t doubt thereabouts is where we want to remain going forward to keep pressure on the pack chasing Mancity, after few ‘unexpected’ results earlier this season.

The Terriers pushed a very determined Mancity to their limits and if I’m being honest, I do suspect them, still coming to terms with life in the Premier League, to be worse for wear going into this fixture.

Hudders also do not exactly inspire much confidence when travelling outside West Yorkshire. In their last five PL away games they picked up just 1 point without finding the back of the net. Whereas Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 13 games at the Emirates and kept 9 clean sheets. That is a record we will look to build on.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not for one moment suggesting our mere presence should entitle us to the 3 points, even if that is the general gist from most, our opponents won’t just simply roll over and we still need to put the work in.

With Manutd just three days away and the Boss expressing that securing 3 points as more important than getting ahead of ourselves, there will be rotation but I don’t expect more than 2 or 3 from the team that did duty last outing. The last thing we want to do is tempt fate.

Özil and Theo are back in training, one of them could play part, and if I’m gonna stick my neck out, we could see Giroud and Jack making the PL matchday 11 for the first time season.

Good luck to all going to the Emirates tonight and thumbs up for doing such a great job carrying this team at home. And good luck all others watching from around the globe and to the team.
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Hopefully we’ll find a way taking the points with little fuss. This tight schedule need us pacing ourselves.

 

And @GoonerReverend has a thing or two to say too 

I’m alright Jack

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The Arsenal fan base is a never-ending source of amazement, wonder, amusement and disbelief. We beat Burnley with a 92nd minute penalty snatched all 3 points and was out the door and on the team bus before you could say Bob’s your uncle yet some fans are still not happy. Apparently, we did not do two things which up set a number of our more precious fan base of which that verminous dishrag the Daily Mail picked up on. Firstly, we did not play with the style required and demanded by The Arsenal elite support and secondly, we failed to keep Lacazette on the pitch for the full 90 minutes which really upset a group of our younger fans to the point of distraction.

Last time I checked the rule book there was no requirement to play the game with swashbuckling verve and style in the manner of Errol Flynn nor was there any mention about having a specific player on the field for the duration of the game just to appease the FIFA17 fan boys and those of whom have him in their fantasy football team. There was a brief mention about putting the ball in the back of the net and the team who has the most goals wins the game but that’s probably not that important so I won’t bang on about it. Not being one of the FIFA17 experts having never ever played the game because its not compatible with my abacus I don’t really have much to offer in that area of tactical football expertise. I must admit I have never ever got involved with the fantasy football either., this is mainly due to the fact that I’m a gym junky workaholic as well as the fact that I am tied up with other things and just can be bothered.

Does it really matter if Lacazette only plays 70 minutes per match as long as we win the game and get the points. From my untrained and inexperienced eye, he usually looks absolutely done around the 70 mark and even though he’s keen to continue because let’s face it no player likes being subbed off he’s about run his course for the game. Yes, I know Wenger is a doddering old fool who can barely zip up the front of his coat on a cold day at Turf Moore let alone work out who he needs to bring on at the right time to impact the game but hey at least he didn’t have to phone a friend and he’s managed to get us back into the top four with his ineptness. Come to think of it I’m as happy as Larry to let the manager run the team and make the decisions while I sit comfortably in the pub sipping on a glass of something and eating posh nosh because I’m just a fan not a football manager & I’m pretty certain Wenger knows more than I do. The other interesting point of note is the continued call for one Jack Wilshire to be give the keys of The Arsenal and ensconced back in to the centre of mid-field. Yep lets just kick whoever is currently in the position he wants out the team and let him have ago because he will make a big difference in winning even though we are winning. I for one think that Jack knows he has to continue to work hard, prove his fitness or moreover prove that his body is not made of eggshell china and wait for his opportunity to present itself.

I know many Arsenal fans want him to get into the England side but hey that’s not really Arsenal’s issue is it. Winning games so we are in position to win trophies is what it’s all about

And if that means that Jack has to play a bit part season playing understudy to Herr Ozil then so be it. To be honest if you look at the side that beat Spurs I don’t see Jack replacing anyone in the starting 11 and nor do the people that matter which is why he’s on the bench and the fan boys ranting on twitter isn’t going to change a thing. One of the interesting things about the Burnley game was the Burnley fans themselves. They are a hardy bunch of soles and all their mocking songs and chants as the clock wound down was relegated to absolute desperation and disbelief when Sanchez slotted the penalty in the bottom left corner to nick the 3 pts. I am not going to get into whether it was a penalty or not because once the ref has blown the whistle all the debate means absolutely nothing but I did allow myself a little chuckle because the young Burnley supporter I was verbally jousting with throughout the game called me a cheating see you next Tuesday which really made my day because I’m alright Jack we won the game.

 

105 Comments

Arsenal late strike spikes Dyche (again)

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Good afternoon Positive Arsenal fans,

I sprint down the tunnel from  the Turf Moor pitch to bring you this very early post, breathless from the contest, my muscles aching from the effort over the past 92 minutes, my face bright red, the sweat steaming in the early evening gloom. It is not a pretty sight I admit. And it was not a pretty sight, of that I suspect we agree.

Of the game itself ?I am told by the BBC we had just 64% possession. I must have been watching a different game. It was at least 75%. The visiting team that played all the football and tried to win the game ‘won’. The home team that parked their bus had its tyres slashed and the vehicle ruthlessly vandalised, having taken their eye off it just for that fatal spilt second ‘lost’. Tarkowski must have lost his mind. Our Chilean as cool as an Andean glacier at dawn. Bravo.

For our mighty club  I thought we had a good outing. It could have been ‘tricky’ but it was not. Sead was superb this afternoon, the man goes from strength to strength. After some rough treatment in the first half, Alex Iwobi was our most creative player, and Mustafi our best defender. There was great ‘purpose’ about our football today. Rock solid at the back, very few loose passes, good movement by players to open space amid the massed ranks of claret and blue. No real creative deficit with Mesut rested. I would like to see a little more accurate shooting, but I am nit picking.

Having overlooked a first penalty for the Brady foul on Hector Mr Mason redeemed himself late in the game. Have a look yourself, as cast iron as they come in my book,

Cast iron, as I say , and thoroughly deserved.

Of the home side they are difficult to beat and no wonder they have let in one goal in four PL games. If Burnley’s  attacking players had concentrated more on staying upright rather than trying to win free kicks and penalties then that may have secured the point. Is it me or is Robbie Brady the most irritating footballer in the PL ?  However if Dyche and his merry men carry on like this it may be the Europa League will  return  Continental teams to Turf Moor for the first time in 50 years.

I imagine we shall see more of the same on Wednesday agin Huddersfield. I think Jack will start. Let us hope we do not have to wait quite so late, nor rely on so foolish a foul to win the game.

 

And thank you to our friends at the Daily Mail for the top picture.

28 Comments

Arsenal: Turf or Surf ?

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@LaboGoon on the early programme today

Arsenal’s performance last weekend in the North London Derby was a show off of the amazing quality and the potential we possess. The challenge now and indeed the question on everybody’s lips is can we replicate that consistently.

Football doesn’t work that way though, there’s no exact science if you will.

Sometimes, at least twice a year, you play Burnley, who under Sean Dyche are really well organised defensively and them packing their midfield make them a very difficult team to break down. If you allow them going a goal up, they have the ability to shut you out almost completely.

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Being level on points with us is not down to luck either, and it would be foolish to even think otherwise.

We did however collect 6 points off of them last season, but they took us really deep both times as we only snatch those in the dying moments. So we can expect them again being focused throughout and very patient. And coming off of 3 successive PL victories… there will be little room for complacently as this could be another butt clenching affair.

Another challenge coming to the fore – we are playing at Turf Moor. While our form at the Emirates can rightly be described as amazing, somehow we struggle on the road. For us to keep pace with the rest of the top 6, we are going to have to start taking some of the Emirates intensity on our travels.

Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool all dropping points yesterday offer us a real opportunity to capitalize, which I think would add to the pressure – that hopefully won’t get to our boys.

That said, if we play anything close to like we did vs Spurs, there can only be one winner.

On team news: with no new injuries and to give ourselves the best chance to win, I suspect we will start the same match day 11 that did duty vs Spurs.

The schedule over the next 6 weeks will be very demanding dear friends, so we better brace ourselves as teams around us will drop even more points. All we can do is pace ourselves nicely to stay fresh and take it one game at a time. Let the Conte’s, José’s and Klopp’s that have so much to say about so-and-so teams having better festive fixtures get ahead of themselves, while we carpe diem.

Good luck to all watching the game around the globe. Don’t forget to scream and shout for Arsenal, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

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