43 Comments

Happy Days Are Here Again

 

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That was fun, what a great result, performance and effort. Players that only yesterday were deadwood, left by Wenger, put on a show of great attacking skill, commitment and heart. Odd that?

Until Lacazette and Aubameyang teamed up to score a sensational goal, we were very much under the cosh, one nil down and it could easily have been worse. But that goal turned the tide. The opposition took a body blow and we had a surge of confidence. The rest of the game was a different story. Valencia continued to play well, but we also were playing well now. Then Lacazette, in  a tight space, deftly moved the ball two paces to his left ,turned and curled it into the keepers left. Another fine goal.

That put us comfortable and left them needing 3 more ,without repy, to win. It never looked like happening. Even when they got their second, we looked unflustered and AMN flashed a ball into Aubameyang to turn in. The final goal was also a good effort when Aubameyang played a one two with his old hunting partner, the much maligned Mikhitaryan, who’s perfectly weighted deft touch allowed Aubameyang to run onto it and smash it in top bins.

This was the football we crave. Our best players playing in their best positions.

There were of course some problems, AMN struggled defensively most of the night. I felt he was left exposed ( mainly by Torreira) and it was Aubameyang with is relentless effort that helped him out the most.

And then there was Ozil, substituted on 60 minutes and he didn’t look best pleased to be hooked. Now this is interesting because I went back and watched the game again, and concentrated on Ozil. Now what I saw doesn’t mean is what happened, because I am far from an expert on the game, but here is my opinion.

When he was on the ball he was very tidy and effective. But he wasn’t on the ball that much. Most of the time he was doing exactly what makes him a special player, drifting into space. He finds and creates time and space like no one else. His genius(like Dennis before him) is delivering a ball that opens up the game. That ball might not be a goal, an assist or even a pre-assist, but it is the ball that opens up the game, But to do this, when he himself has found his own space and time, he needs to be given the ball. If he is standing in space and does not receive the ball, he becomes a passenger. He isn’t occupying any opposition players and so they are free to make life more difficult for our other players on the ball.

Of course in and around the box it’s different. He does make runs, pulls players out of position, the opposition surround him and that opens up space for others, who he frequently find despite being swarmed all over.  But in the area before we get into the box he has to be given the ball in the space he has found. If we can’t do that, it becomes a problem for the team. There are two simple answers, don’t play him if we can’t get the ball to him, or find a way of getting it to him more often and utilizing the space and time he has found. He is the most creative in the league, we pay him £350k per week, so we should use him to his best advantage.

Ok, that’s it from me for today.

What a great end to the season we might still have. GET IN.

84 Comments

Can Arsenal Cling On To The Last Hope?

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The past two days has been absolute mental as we saw a change in European football’s landscape. With focus now shifting to the lesser continental competition I think there may be added pressure on both London sides to make it an all English affair in Baku.
Good day one and all.
Arsenal is in Spain this evening to take on Valencia at the Mestalla, with high hopes of booking themselves a place in this season’s Europa League final, to potentially be one win away from Europe’s promised land of Champions League football next season.
The Gunners hold a 3-1 lead from the 1st leg but whether that is “healthy” remains to be seen, given that the Spanish side come into this game on the back of six goals scored in their La Liga game over the weekend. That, along with the CL events, will give them a measure of confidence that they can overturn this tie to progress through to the final.
Recent weeks… mehn, joyless for Arsenal. Despite wins away to Napoli and Valencia at the Emirates, we were winless in five of our last six Premier League matches, looking tired as Brighton came back from a goal down to drew at the Ems. Not exactly to sort of momentum to carry into such a crucial encounter.
But this right here tonight, offers us a chance at getting our one shot at silverware as well as redemption following a miserable domestic season that had so much promise. Ergo it’s vital we throw caution to the wind on top of staying switched on throughout to defend our 2-goal cushion.
It was at this stage of the competition last season that we fell away; losing to Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano after drawing 1-1 in the 1st leg at the Emirates. So for Unai Emery to ensure we get the job done he has to draw from his own Europa experiences, having won it three times on the bounce with Sevilla.
We shouldn’t turn up expecting to defend a 2-goal lead. Part of our struggles in recent weeks has been our defense, even in games we didn’t lose the opposition weren’t short of goal scoring chances. Making our best hope at advancing our strike force. At the start of the season when we were dopey at the back it was them that got us out of tricky situations and tonight we need them on the frontfoot.
Do it Emery. Take off the trailer!
These two sides met three times before at the Mestalla and all three meetings ended in wins for the home side. So no doubt they will give it ‘a go’ tonight hoping to repeat history in front of their home crowd, but…
Would it be enough if the Gunners get an away goal?
@LaboGoon
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10 Comments

Life, Love and Arsenal

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A comment worthy of exposure by Blogger 1886

 

“I say that I’ve got bags of years of supporting Arsenal. So, I am ‘all right’ for a supporter? However, there’s a truth: in what’s supposed to be this seventeen-year period, my footballing knowledge has been hardly ever improved.
I am often lazy in terms of trying to gain details of what or whom I already liked or chose to like. It’s a kind of “chose this, still feel right about it, so what’s the point?” approach. I heard Arsenal was pretty good in some aspects, seemed to play attacking football. That was all I vaguely knew of before my ‘support’ status was set. What about the reason for thinking of it in the first place? Well, those many French players at that time. Again, I partly randomly had chosen France, chosen Zidane as my first favourite ever years before; one day Arsène and those players appeared on my TV screen. They were training and all. The fate was then clear.
The way I support most of my favourite actors, singers has been being not following them at all! Their songs, their films have reached me, not the other way round. So have many facts about them. As a result, I am familiar with just a tiny number of their works. It’s odd that after years of neglecting them this way, if someone asks, I will still put the majority of them on my list, because it’s what I feel.
Arsenal was not much different, but hey, the football world’s got regular schedules, broadcasting and all; therefore, I became passive-aggressively obsessed with this club. Lucky me, I admit. I remember a time where I was able to memorise in the exact order every opponent, every of our goalscorers in every single PL match we played in one season. Fantastic on my part, and a miracle considering my memory in the last few years. The most and maybe only impressive knowledge I have when it comes to my beloved Arsenal.

The journey I’ve done with Arsenal is a heavily emotion-oriented one. What I saw, what I witnessed brought feelings into my observation experiences. I have been largely blind to the technical stuff, so much so that you would be easily stunned by my ignorance. Anyway, the obsession with that certain lack woke me up for almost every after-midnight game I could watch, always alone yet never lonely. I dreaded transfer windows, only wanted all of the then current players to stay. My beloved players, be it them being soft or whatever people called them, didn’t cheat, didn’t compromise. They fought with Arsène bravely despite tremendous hardship through the years.
How heartbroken I was the day that bloke called Theo was reported to be on the way to have medical at Everton. That news was followed by a three-day stayaway from Twitter.
How hurt I got seeing someone label Gibbs greedy (thus was still at Arsenal) days before his move to West Brom. It reminded me of the emotions I got years before–when some said Denilson could only ever play for us because he was “Arsène’s son”. And soon after that, he moved on too.
How confused and gloomy I felt when suddenly, rumours related Podolski’s future at Arsenal emerged in autumn 2014. He was for me a complete symbol that united my two loves back then–Arsenal and Germany.
Smiles of joy ‘meeting’ Eboue, Almunia, Reyes again in the red and white shirt last year. They are part of an Arsenal I so cherish.
Tears of joy seeing so many dear faces in a 2013 summer tour clip I rewatched last summer, especially when Mikel Arteta greeted that Running Man with his big smile and a ‘Thank you very much’ handshake. I felt his love for this club.

France started all of my three love affairs in football. The heart stopped beating for them in summer 2010… that infamous incident. No tears, no regret, never look back.
Germany and Arsenal continued to keep me appreciating football, being inspired by it. The heart stopped beating for the former last summer. Again, no tears, only a massive, silent disappointment. Then a huge fear of losing the latter–and last–some day.
As with all things in life, I count on the remainers to get over the loss of some certain leavers; when even those remainers desert me too, there will be no way back for me.
The Arsenal I’ve always known is a dignified team playing exciting football with whom I grew up and matured, who in Arsène’s most challenging years taught me how to truly love something in one’s life.

To hell with all clichés that my players were gutless and didn’t care, that my manager overstayed his welcome. To hell with them. Hoping against hope there’ll be rainbow.”

Above is what I wrote down in mid-January. No idea about anything at the present, honestly.
Without this inspirational source called football, I would still have fun as I’ve got my own dreams, friends and family. And because all these football people I cherish–many of them now far away from each other–are still here and there in this world. Except… a great thing may have died. A thing that would definitely be missed by me.
Although I’m sure I haven’t seen Fabregas the same since his departure, the words he’s recently replied to an Arsenal fans tweet got to me in a way: I LOVE YOU ALL. ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT. Whatever happens in the future, the Arsenal–with all it brought to me–remains like that in my memories.

37 Comments

Future Positives

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Rich has had a go at some positivity. Well done lad.

 

So, Positively Arsenal. Positively, positively…Arsenal. Hmmm. It hasn’t been a great few weeks. In fact they have been stinkers, though interspersed with better news from the European front. For many here, it hasn’t been a good let alone great season, or rather it has been a really poor, really worrying one, and that following on from a previous one which was hard, even heartbreaking. Well, that’s not a good start for a positive piece , but lets hope it is just setting the scene and things pick up (no plan here yet, so, erm…I’m waiting to see what comes, too).

Right, things can change quickly in football. It doesn’t feel like it, of course, and because they can change does not mean they will change, but they can change quickly. Liverpool were apparently days from bankruptcy not so long ago, now they are near the top of the football world, and it happened sans oligarch or oil state. The end.

No, there has to be more. Try this. We have on our hands, a prime opportunity to re-evaluate our supporting selves. I can’t be alone in the feeling that ‘this isn’t working for me anymore’. By that I mean particularly the whole loathing rivals at least as much as I love my team business.

With the advent of so many more televised games, and the Internet which allows you to follow, discuss and imbibe all the action and reaction 24 hours per day, every day, among the plethora of changes is that you can end up ‘following’ rivals almost as much as your own team, or, in total, a lot more (because there are a lot of them, rivals).

The ‘following’ consists of tuning in wanting (needing) them to lose each time, or when against each other picking your poison for whatever reason . As they tend to be pretty good teams, it makes for a lot of disappointment. As there are normally at least a couple of teams better than us, and this might be the case more than ever at present, some acute misery- supposing you aren’t flying high because of our results- is guaranteed. Is this the lot of the football fan?

Is it betraying your club not to agonise over them, alone and in comparison to others, if performances and prospects merit such behaviour? Maybe, to a degree, but it’s also valid to come back to ‘this isn’t working for me anymore’; and if that’s the case, you surely have a big opportunity to look at how you are doing football, and see if there is anything you can change to make it better for you.

On a related note, anyone who began their Arsenal journey during Wenger’s tenure, or who has naturally forgotten much of before, is currently undergoing a broadening of their football experiences. Yep, we are getting to find out what it is like to play 6 shit matches on the bounce at the business end of a season, losing four of them,

Can you feel it, folks? That is us gaining new insight and perspective into the lot of the majority of supporters. For us, we can at least believe it will not become our norm, and we are a large enough club to imagine that at some point in the not too distant future it will be an interesting ingredient in the joy of a big success or successes again. Who has not looked at the fans or Barca or Madrid, crying over a terrible season and sacking their coach, when they have come 2nd or something, and won a league or something a year before. Who has not looked at that sort of thing and thought ‘you spoiled bastards’. Well, we are, potentially, a little further away from them today than we were a few years back. A little, but it’s something.

The academy. We have a bloody good academy. At the moment there are a large number of prospects with the potential to become good players with us, and a few who have huge potential. We will, fingers crossed, get to see more of a few of them next year. They appear to be in very good hands with Freddie. We surely need our academy to perform well at this juncture, and there are players there to encourage hope it can happen. We need some new heroes, and it is hard to beat a home-grown hero.

So, that might be about that from me. Revealing, perhaps, that I cannot pick out more or even any definites (feck off ,spellcheck; it stays) or certainties, and am mostly reliant on indirect, self-reflective and circuitous (potential) positives. Maybe I am wrong in assuming most people are even interested in anything like that, when it comes to football at least. It’s the best I can do and I don’t think it’s complete rubbish.

There are the traditional positives- the good academy, the hope which uncertainty naturally permits, the fact we do have some good footballers at the club, the fact things can change quickly in football- then there is the rest, this weird internal stuff; this great opportunity to recalibrate how you do football and see if you can find a better way for yourself. My own experiences suggest this is improbable, but I nonetheless feel some optimism today. Maybe I’ve hit rock bottom.

If fecking Spurs can get a pretty good team, after so much trial and so much error, why can’t I trial and error my way to improvements? And, if it comes to that, why can’t the club? Though hopefully a lot quicker than Spurs, with a higher high, and with some trophies to show for it. Speaking of which, we may just end this season with one of them. Now, that would be a positive, and no introspection required.

147 Comments

Oh Blimey,What Was That?

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Seriously, that was dross

The end.

79 Comments

Aaron Ramsey, The Last Legend

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Aaron Ramsey has played his last game for Arsenal after suffering a muscular injury during their Europa League quarter-final against Napoli. The midfielder pulled up feeling the back of his thigh in the 33rd minute and was replaced by Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

What a sad way for it to come to an end. After 11 years our top scoring Center midfielder of all time is literally limping out of the club. It’s a devastating blow for him and Arsenal. I saw a stat recently that we have averaged twice as many points per game with him this season, than without him. I’m not at all surprised.

The lad has scored or assisted 129 times in his 369 appearances for Arsenal.that’s better than a 1 in 3 games,direct contributions to a goal, outstanding for a center midfielder. And a center midfielder is exactly what he is. At times he has covered as attacking Mid and even as a wide forward, that is testament to his general overall value to the team. Under Arsene Wenger, when fit, he played. He played no matter who else was fit, he played somewhere.

His work ethic, professionalism and heart are everything anyone could ask from a professional football player.

I won’t go into his history and injury record because everyone knows all about it but I will say that without the initial leg smashing attack and the subsequent muscular problems that have blighted him, he would likely have doubled his goals and assists total.

He is a quiet ,well spoken ,polite family man, that was shown loyalty by Arsene Wenger and returned that loyalty in spades. I have never seen him shy away from the ball or put in less than 100% effort in the 11 years he’s been at the club. He is brave and adventurous on the ball and is almost always the player that has covered the most distance at the end of each game. When in midfield with Arteta he regularly was in the mid 90s in % passing stats. He is the complete box to box player.

On top of all that he is staggeringly good looking, immaculately well dressed and campaigns for animal welfare and other green topics. Seriously, what is not to like about the lad?

Yet despite all this “opinion on him is divided”. Why? Well I would suggest it’s because many of our fans are as thick as mince.

Now he is heading off to Juventus on £400k per week, so we don’t have to feel sorry for him, oh no, but we should feel sorry for ourselves. Why? Well because we could be losing or last legend, that’s why.

Football has changed and support has also changed, and not for the better. It used to be that if a player was committed to the club for a few years and scored ,or just contributed, to the winning of silverware, his legendary status was assured. But not anymore! Oh no, a few perceived bad games, an injury or a transfer can all lead to his status being revoked by our over demanding fans.They turn on, and turn their back on, players as quickly as they can scurry to their twitter accounts. That and the tendency for players to maximise their wages by moving, or the clubs wanting to profit from player sales, mean the day of the one team man is dead, It’s very hard to become a legend if a player only has a short window to cement their status.

Well Ramsey has put in the years, the effort and conducted himself with the class that put him firmly in the legendary status, and that’s before we add the two FA Cup winning goals.  Add to this that he refused to shake Piers Morgan’s hand and allegedly sat RVP on his arse with a right hook and he is elevated to super legend.

So make no mistake Aaron Ramsey is an Arsenal legend, and perhaps the very last of them.

Goodbye, good luck and thanks for the memories sweet prince of Wales.

This is how I will always remember you.

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Or as Bob might say

“Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin”

And of the game tomorrow, here’s Labo

Thanks George for that fitting tribute to One Aaron James Ramsey.
Arsenal is hosting the low flying Seagulls at the Emirates who just secured their Premier League survival, courtesy of Cardiff losing to Crystal Palace. Seem like a good enough reason for them to be at the beach right?
However, we shouldn’t lose sight of the business of the day, getting three points to keep that sprinkling of hope alive should either Chelsea or Spurs drop any points in next week’s last round of league fixtures. And after treating the last three PL games like that chore they just can’t be bothered with, they can’t afford their minds being elsewhere.
We still wondering how we conceded nine goals in that three rather forgetful league games, we can take comfort that Brighton don’t seem to enjoy the attacking part of the game these last few months. Their goal vs Newcastle last weekend was their first in eight games.
So go out there Gunners, you know what you need to do. Let Aaron “Arsenal last legend” Ramsey and Petr Cech bow out in style as the Emirates faithful says their heartfelt farewell.
@LaboGoon
21 Comments

Arsenal with a Slow Start and a Fast Finish

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Well that was a funny old game.

We went one nil down after about twenty minutes and it was lucky it was just one. They were well on top and we looked like a team that’s been shipping goals for fun.

However, HOWEVER !!! I say, then we turned the tide. A beautifully constructed goal involving Ozil Aubameyang and finished by Lacazette seemed to give us a boost of confidence, we got on top and ran out 3-1 winners. It could,and should, have been more too. Aubameyang missed an easy chance and Lacazette missed 2 absolute sitters.

I was surprised when Ozil was subbed off for Mkhitaryan but I have to say that Henrikh did very well for his cameo.

Not wanting to point fingers, but I was happy to see the back of Mateo, to my eyes he had a poor game.

We go to Spain a week tonight full of hope. All in all it was a good night.