66 Comments

Will We See Some Swagger vs Burnley?

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during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and West Ham United at Emirates Stadium on August 25, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.

Good day and all.
Arsenal got their Premier League campaign underway with a winning start against Newcastle last Sunday. This afternoon we are going at it again… hosting Burnley at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners weren’t at their best up Upon Tyne eh; had a hairy moment or two but being the first game and all the Magpies just couldn’t find the back of the net. Likewise we could’ve scored one or two more but for unfamiliarity within a matchday XI, blended with youth and experience, and an initial touch in the attacking third not quite there yet.
My point is I don’t think we ought to read too much into the performance of a side missing quite a few expected to be the backbone of this seasons campaign, but rather take comforts of an away clean sheet and not showing the defensive underbelly so often derided for.
Burnley endured a run of poor results on the back of a European jaunt at the start of their PL campaign last season. However, this time they got off to a perfect start with an impressive 3-0 victory against Southampton at Turf Moor. A win they will take great confidence from building up to today, if one takes into account they scored 15 goals in a five game pre-season winning run prior to that. While they would like to maintain that momentum, Sean Dyche wouldn’t mistake them for Brazil 1970 as he is well aware that the Clarets doesn’t have a pretty head-to-head record against the Gunners.
Since bringing his side up to the PL he is yet to win a single point against us – in fact the last time Burnley beat Arsenal was over four decades ago. They also got a recurring trend of shipping goals at the Emirates; while conceding on average one goal/game at Turf Moor, they leak three on average at the Ems. One player that would be licking his chops for this fixture is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Since signing for the Gunners he has faced them three times, scoring a brace in each match.
With that in mind it’s unlikely that the Clarets will “have a go”, but rather opt to be well organised wanting to make things difficult for us with two banks of four, while patiently waiting to play it long or over the top whenever possible.
One of our drawbacks last term was that too often we allowed the opposition to play in our half, which in turn let them grow into games. This is something we need to minimise because the Clarets are a side that if you give them a bit, they can turn it into imposing bursts that will make you doubt yourselves. Ergo we should try put them on the backfoot from the onset and not leave things too late.
Unai Emery got himself a headache this week with Lacazette, David Luiz, Ceballos, Torreira, Pépé and even Özil and Kolasinac all reported to be available for selection, while there’s concerns over the fitness of Xhaka who suffers with back pains.
Whomever gets the nod, all eyes will be on our shimmering attack to see if give a good account of themselves ahead of tougher opponents in our next two league games.
Both sides will want to maintain their winning starts so this could be a tricky encounter, considering Arsenal will make quite a few changes and Burnley, well, Sean Dyche must be thinking “they have to crack some time”.
With the cheer that followed our transfer window starting to simmer down the Emirates faithful are anticipating a good campaign with better football compared to last season. So fingers crossed to Gunners give us all much to happy about.
@LaboGoon
98 Comments

Poor Game, Great Start!

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A hard fought 1-0 win has us leaving our first away game with all 3 points and a clean sheet. I know, A CLEAN SHEET, imagine that?

Given how many of our better players were unavailable ,for one reason or another, and given our poor away form in recent years, that was a very good result.

I have watched the game twice now and I have to say that no one had a bad game, and some had quite a good game. Of course the usual suspects (at least in Mustafi’s absence) Xhaka and Mkhitaryan came in for their customary stick on twitter, but I thought that although Xhaka looked a little loose in the initial 20 minutes, he was top notch in the rest of the game. Also Mkhitaryan did some really good stuff, but having done it he mostly messed up the final ball. For me this indicates that he is either short on confidence,or he is trying to hard, perhaps fearing for his place in the team,or at the club even.It’s a shame, because he is a very talented player.

The problem is, that given no one had bad games, and the opposition were poor, why were we not much better as a team.? Normally it’s a struggle because some of the players are having an off day, but no one did, and our team play was turgid.

I think the young lads all did ok, none of them did enough to make me think they will force their way into our best 11, but they don’t have to do that, all they have to do is let no one down when they come in, and they didn’t let themselves or anyone else down.

The team will look altogether different when Lacazette, Ozil, Pepe and Luiz are in it, so there is much to look forward to.

It would be rude to not acknowledge that Emery got a result with a much depleted squad, so well done him.

 

54 Comments

A New Start in Newcastle.

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Good day one and all…
Following a three-month furlough the wait for the 2019/20 Premier League campaign is finally over, with the mandatory promise of being better than the year before. Some of the usual suspects has already been in action as we saw both Man City and Liverpool picking up where they left off, and what can I say about our neighbours… Meh!
The headline act of the weekend of course is at the Tyneside’s St James’ Park where Newcastle United are hosting Arsenal for our season opener.
This the start to Unai Emery’s second season with the Gunners, expectations will be raised following an initial campaign that promised much but ended in a flurry. The lack of pleasing enterprise gave cause for concern but the club had a busy summer to try shake things up. We said goodbye to a few favourites and welcomed a fair share of new players.
Amongst the fresh faces many are excited to see is the 24 year-old Ivorian Nicolas Pépé. His 22 Ligue 1 goals last season, only Kylian Mbappe scored more, helped Lille OSC to second place, their best finish since winning the title back in 2010/11. If he can come close to hitting half that number in his debut season, it would help greatly to ease the scoring burden off Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Another player many are eager to see is the youngster Dani Ceballos, it is hoped that he will inject some much-needed nous into our midfield.
Over at the Tyneside things hasn’t exactly been quiet eh. Steve Bruce is now standing in the spot of Toon favourite Rafael Benitez, whose departure was met with impending gloom. And he wasn’t the only high-profile exit as Ayoze Pérez and Salomón Rondón, who between them scored 23 of the Magpies’ 42 league goals last season, followed him out the SJP’s gates. These players were replaced by a 22 year-old Brazilian who scored 7 goals in the Bundesliga last season, he will be partnered by an aging and usually-crocked Andy Carroll. Who wants to be a Geordie?
It’s tricky to gauge what to expect today. The atmosphere at St. James’ Park is likely to be cold with large sections of their crowd not very pleased with their owner letting go of Rafa. Bruce will have his work cut out trying to win over the Toon army, while walking a tightrope.
Arsenal didn’t had an easy preparation building up to the start of the campaign. Few of those expected to play starring roles arrived quite late in window, some had to shake off knocks this past week while others have a cloud of uncertainty hanging over their futures with the club, and of course we don’t know how the safety concerns of both Mesut Özil and Sead Kolasinac , who were central in our pre-season’s prep, are effecting our squad who seem to be very close to them.
I guess today will just be about getting the first match out of way and of course taking all 3 points back with us to London.
Positivistas… the slate is clean, the canvas is blank and I think we can all agree that at the least we had a decent transfer window. I for am always looking forward to see how things shape up because going into any new campaign with pessimism just wouldn’t be helpful. So let’s get behind the boys, especially those youngsters who came up from the academy because god knows they will need it.
LET’S GO GUNNERS!
@LaboGoon
92 Comments

The Greatest Transfer Window Ever !

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At 5 P.M. yesterday I was quite pleased with our transfer window, Despite the upsetting news that Iwobi had been sold to Everton, I thought we had mad a decent fist of slightly improving the squad. Then the more twitter posts and blogs I read, the more confused I became. People were celebrating like we had won the Champions League. Claiming it was a 10/10 window ,the best window ever, Raul “the Don Raul” (ffs) had done madness.

I wondered what I had missed. As far as I could see, the only real improvement over last years squad would be if Pepe proves to be greater than the sum of Danny and Iwobi. We have lost Ramsey, the best box to box midfielder in the league, and lost our captain,the best center back we’ve had since Sol.

Let me stress, I think it was a decent window, I think it gives us enough to get top 4, but great window? The best ever? Madness? Have a word with yourselves.

Then I saw a post from Eddy and I realised that people were looking at the window with no balance whatsoever.

 

“Nicolas Pépé from LOSC Lille, Outstanding Winger with goals and assists or is it the guy who flopped at the ACON

William Saliba from AS Saint-Étienne, best young CB in Europe or is it the guy who is not yet ready for the BPL as he hasn’t 20 games in France under his belt

Kieran Tierney from Celtic FC, the rightful heir to Cole, Winterburn and Sansom, or is it an injury plagued guy from a one horse league that is about the level of League 1.

David Luiz from Chelsea FC, the experienced ball playing central defender we’ve needed for a decade, or is it sideshow bob, the cheating, diving disruption that CFC were only too glad to get rid of despite being under a transfer ban

Gabriel Martinelli from Ituano Futebol Clube the hottest young property in Brazil, or is it an untried callow youth from the 4th tier of Brazilian football

Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid, the star of the wonderful Spain U21 team, or is it the 23 year old who has failed totally to hold down a place in the worst Real Madrid side for a decade.”

God help these new players if they are not the world beaters they have been built up to be by fans desperate to justify their fascination with winning the transfer window.

We love a new player, right up until the gloss wears off and he becomes deadwood.

92 Comments

Super Fans or Super Chumps?

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In the last few years we have seen the rise of what’s know seen as the super fan but I think really they should be called a“pseudo superfan”. The whole notion of a super fan seems a total fallacy.

These people aren’t superfans, relativity shows us that they are a cog in the workings like anyone else. The idea of the superfan means (in their minds false identity) that they know the club the best, they love it more than anyone else, their opinion on the workings of the club is the most accurate and valid as to its direction and embodiment of values. They think they are the only ones who can dictate its policy and Politik, they think they are the Arsenal, and because they go to more games and spend money on replica kits that they could never wear any other way, means they are “the one”. Well sorry pseudo Leos, the Matrix was wrong about that too. Everyone is/be The Arsenal. To think you are the ‘one’ is a psychotic state and misunderstanding life, and how the whole interplay in sport (and life) works .

These people in one sense are the biggest parasites: Arsenal can survive without them, but they cant survive without Arsenal. They think they are the first, or the real thing but others came before them, travelling up and down and over seas and back again. Others stood on the North bank when there was no cover and at the clock end, when it really was the clock end, and stood in the west stand and stood in the side embankments ( always a top view of the game I thought). Others were at the Manor Ground, others at the Sportsman ground at Plumstead common, others at the Invicta Ground, and the terraces still exist in peoples back yards of that stadium as a testament, years before any idea of Invincibility (which is an odd one as they were eventually) and the social media enabling of the pseudo superfan.
And then the ghosts of the old boys who booted the ball around in the yards down at the Arsenal itself. Seemingly gone, but its not so.

All is just an experiment of what can be, all is just and opinion, that doesn’t ever cover the whole phenomena of what anything can be, how can it? How can it ever incorporate ever nuance or element of what makes the whole. Arsenal is now a global brand of entertainment, that cant be ignored, but screaming out loud, demanding from the club something back ( what kind of attitude is it that thinks a football fan its a customer???) because they think they hold some kind of authority is misplaced in its understanding of the game, and the relationship between club and supporter. Yes its more than that, but only because we attach our emotions and lives into it but there is no clause that says we get dividends.Surely we have to take emotional responsibility for this?
Some supporters don’t want to shout and scream and have a melt down because we’ve lost, although we’ve all been there, but to do it professionally stinks of more insincerity.What next, awards? Best fan? Best meltdown? Most money spent? Best transfer elaboration?
I like to think that social media started off as some kind of nice idea that could bring people together (how quaint and naive of me), now its a politikal tool for manipulation, perhaps its the same with the pseudo superfan? Seems that way to me. Those who have the way do not have the way?

What frightens me though is the power these people can wield to manipulate other people, vulnerable people- and as we have seen, and see daily, its easy to bullshit and lie and get away with it. Its bad enough with the established media outlets doing it.

The greater the sensation, the more pretending to be in the know, the more clicks. More clicks the more money and pseudo authority, and on it goes (fins concise statement sums it up the best for me, see his other posts).What right do any of these people have to Diktate? None. Fascism (authoritarianism) stinks and is really tedious and insane. Yes, they have the right of democracy and being in a liberal society to express themselves, I agree, but what about the ethics that enable democracy and liberty to survive? These are being exploited and ab-used everyday. They would deny this, but they don’t seem aware of their actions and the outcomes or what they are even doing. Theres a real lack of responsibility, all lost in “me me me me me”. And I want. Well you cant always get what you want.

So this leads us back to the ethical questions of the superfan selling their own merchandise. Is this valid or not? What if its directly undermining the players or club? Of course it can seem cool (sick) or on the spot but all things have a consequence, even if that seems uncool or old fashioned. Plus what if certain blogs & vlogs have adopted a tabloid and WR Hearst ideal: ” when in doubt ,make it up”? Seems then they are more use to the opposition fans/teams than us? What kind of supporter undermines the club? I don’t think anyone’s holy, but deliberately leading people up the garden path is something else, what place does it have in football?

And don’t forget this, for one to be on the idea of top, this needs others to be on the idea of bottom, otherwise all this doesn’t ever hang together. That’s why sportsman(person)ship is so important.

But all that comes spouting forth from the pseudo superfan are just opinions, not absolute statements. Opinions caught up in flux, lost in tomorrows winds, but we are always dealing with a legacy of some sort…what will be the legacy that has to be cleared up from the pseudo superfan?

Mills

For gf60.

151 Comments

In Defence of the Arsenal Defence

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Last season following the opening 2 games Arsenal went on that unbeaten incredible. Yet it always seems as if we were there for the taking as our defense was all over the place, but thankfully Auba and Lacazette were in good nick and truly spared our blushes. This was also the time where Özil and Ramsey were being “used sparingly”.

In the middle part of the season, following a few poor results Özil and Ramsey got drafted back in. We immediately got our season back on track, beating both Valencia and Napoli handsomely in Europa. For a time there we went 7 or 8 games conceding just one goal. Then after we lost Ramsey old habits crept back in with our defense once again having to carry more of the workload.

Now I know it’s fancy to say our defense are poor and that Mustafi is the cause of all that. If you point out his high defensive numbers, they say it’s because he’s “a busy player”.

Now when Özil and Ramsey was together in midfield our defense weren’t that busy. Which brings me to this.

Didn’t the high turnover of possession in midfield contribute to to us constantly playing on the back foot… and there’s only so much our defense can do. I mean, do we really expect Mustafi to put in 10 successful tackles per game, 10 interceptions per game or 10 blocks per game when the likes of VVD, Laporte or English treasure Harry Maguire averages around 6 or 7?

So for me, if we fix the problems in midfield and make possession a priority, jealously protecting the ball to not needlessly giving it away, it will take a lot of the burden off our defense and maybe then we could see what an attack boasting Auba, Lacazette and Pépé can do if we keep them on the front foot.

I know our defense are not the best in the world but I also don’t agree that they are rubbish. Last season they were over burdened and that needs to end.

 

ΜċGεε
@LaboGoon
90 Comments

Thank You Laurent Koscielny.

Koscielny and Giroud’s careers for me have echoes of players whose careers bloomed in their mid-twenties taking them belatedly from the lower leagues to the top level.

And the stories of the two Frenchmen shine in the comparisons, Koscielny only denied that WC winners medal by injury as he hobbled and winced his way through 2017/18.

Rising to prominence with the Arsenal after his late bloom Koscielny’s story with France encapsulates his story, his quality and standing in the sport.
That aggressive style targeting the ball and not the man (almost always) and the infamous red card as the red mist descended against a hacking and diving opponent in the World Cup qualifier away in Ukraine was a proud tribute to Diaby though his teammates that day had better luck in comparison with the officials for the rest of the contest then the Arsenal. France eventually went through and after spell out the team Deschamps who had no choice but to punish him for such a high profile incident (much less provocation then, say, Diaby!) eventually brought the Arsenal man back to lead his defence.
Deschamps is an admirable coach for me and being blessed by France’s relentless football production line he had the quality and by 2018 experience in Varane to cope with the loss of his senior CB at that time, clearly the Arsenal man was his senior CB from about 2014-18.

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There was to my eyes a first high level partnership for Koscielny at Arsenal with Vermaelan before his skipper was struck low by injuries from which he wouldn’t recover. Some never felt Vermaelan played as a top level CB. I have no idea about Vermaelan’s qualities as a CB, but I’m happy to confess I thought he was good. By my measure he didn’t get an instant song like the BFG but did get a very popular and corny nickname, t-shirts and all. Pretty good at least! Objectively after his move to Barcelona he continued as a squad player (given the ongoing injuries!) at the highest level for club and country for a long time after he left. understandably given the appreciation that AFC can’t and couldn’t afford to bench top players on high wages (unless their names are Ramsey and Özil?).I’d like to have seen more of that combination, before Vermaelan was struck down by the football gods.

Fortunately we didn’t have to wait too long for the next exciting chapter: Mertesacker.

In transfer terms, a Cazorla at CB. A worldie for literal peanuts. And a pre-season friendly.
Arsene Vulture soaring at his best but you might have missed it due to shrieking hungry hyenas left scavenging in the wind of that mighty swoop upon the Bundesliga. But I don’t think the Arsenal fans missed it. Given the songs etc. given his continuing story at the club. A different universe to one where the club spends £30M on a rookie teenage playing in France never mind Bolton (please ask Sven, George Graham, Paul Davis or John Jenson what I mean, if you find my meaning too cryptic – Fa Cup winner and top level prospect pre-injury Holding only cost £2M!).

And a captain too. A huge presence at the Arsenal alongside Arteta. The Big Friendly German was never accepted by the media outside of Arsenaldom, an obvious result given the German and Arsenal mix, but he arrived having already played in two tournament finals, all the way to the final,I think,  for Germany. and left with a WC winners medal and over a hundred caps on the mantelpiece. A serious career, ending as an undeniable legend of German Football.

Like the hugely admired and equally legendary Cazorla, Mertesacker won his first club honours with The Arsenal.

Everyone knows this great player began to lose what little pace he had in 2014 and eventually he played on a season too long after that glorious performance against Champions Chelsea in the 2017 cup final after not having played for most of that season, but no one blamed the lack of funds back then. No big deal for me, it happens, but the comparison with Koscielny in his waning years is interesting and that’s why I’ve drifted into discussing Mertesacker.

The contrast with Koscielny’s speed, his agility, his aggression, the highlight performances especially against Barcelona and Munich that brought appreciation of this player to a wider audiences, an amazing defender to watch play, who played on the physical edge. Not at risk to others, not often, but his own stretching sinew.

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My simple belief is that one of the many reasons we all love football is that it pits people of different physiques against each other (one reason the laws on hacking are so ancient and easy to understand*coughs*).
Campbell had one style, Mertesacker another, older greats. And Koscielny had this intense physically demanding style, so demanding on stamina and strength, when I would watch him in his pomp I didn’t imagine he’d be able to play much at the top level past thirty. I was wrong, but for the tendon strife he has.The kind of CB most football fans like to see, hobbling, grimacing along even when past their best years giving their best, which last season was still the best in the squad! I have high hopes for Holding if he survives the hacking. And he had a knack for the odd important goal too.

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No doubt the combination of style and physique between Koscielny & Mertesacker helped make them such a successful and widely appreciated combination. Though I don’t feel that’s a requirement, we can also refer to Koscielny’s partnerships with Varane and others for France.I recall Remy whilst still at Marseille, at his quickest, being incapable of dribbling past the BFG except on one or at the most two occasions over two legs when Sagna dived in to clear the danger.

Between this fear of attempting a dribble past Mertesacker’s telescopic legs, staggering how often high level forwards gave up in games and looked for an easier option, or the fear of Koscielny snapping at their heels, most forwards did not look forward to the contest against this Arsenal pair. It was great to watch and it helped to bring about a great era to Arsenal Football Club.

Bar an attack of nightmares and demons from the upside down underworld upon the saintly calves of the blessed Santi Cazorla this pair might’ve had a league title to add to their triumphs. The most recent, previous Arsenal team had two Worldies at CB and three further up the field, not forgetting the world’s number one and most handsome target man, the man with literally the Midas touch. Or Rambo.

Laurent Koscielny was at the heart of a successful Arsenal post war spell. One of only a few. I have my ratings for these spells, I’m sure you all do too hehe! For those who have trouble trusting the numbers in a sport that pits eleven against eleven: the stats don’t lie. Ignoring the trophy haul data, focusing purely on the Football:
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Post Mertesacker.Given the disappointment at missing that WC winners medal, given the disappointment of missing out on a Europa cup with the Arsenal, the undoubted disappointment of experiencing his waning skills opposing his friend and colleague Giroud, not forgetting the disappointment from that fatigued last tackle in extra time of the Euro 2016 final as we all began to see this superman talent begin to wane, the disappointment at The Shambles (® Billy Big Blagger) at the Arsenal with his squad (he is the Captain!) last season, I can empathise with this player wanting a change, or just wanting to play at a lower less intense level.

I have no doubt Koscielny turned down one or two big offers from big clubs over the years. I had hoped he’d stay and play the role Mertesacker played so well from the bench and dressing room for a season. Again we all know about the additional season for Mertesacker and the lack of moolah but I don’t care about the monies. I hear that some do. I’m just a hopeless football romantic who was hoping the veteran Koscielny would stay and player-coach Holding and others for another season whilst playing the odd game etc., as the senior players do.

I, romantically, imagine that the public comments from his French colleagues about his love for the club might result in some expression of love. From somewhere. I mention no names. Perhaps the heat has melted my brain?

Whatever happens next in his career I wish club captain and world class defender during his time at the club Laurent Koscielny well and would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his efforts on behalf of The Arsenal.

Penny for the thoughts of Arsenal coach Per Mertescaker.

yours sincerely
Finsbury