Monday, 10 August 2015

Fundemental flaws or a bad day at the office?

Morning all,

Due to the inconceivable amount of vitriol being spouted from the mouths (or keyboards) of many "fans" yesterday, I felt the need to post, what I hope to be a slightly more rational response to yesterday. I completely get, that as fans, we have the right to make our opinions heard but some of the insanity that has been uttered in the last day is perplexing, even in this new world of over reaction.

As I mentioned yesterday, there was a sense of hope that hasn't been quite so prevalent in years gone by; perhaps that is why the reaction was quite so passionate (trying to put a favourable spin on things). But does yesterday's performance indicate fundamental flaws that need to be addressed immediately or was yesterday just a bad performance, which every team is capable of from time to time?

I would tend to go with the latter but the argument of fundamental flaws must be addressed if we are to avoid bad days, for I strongly believe insufficiencies within our game make us susceptible to this kind of performance. In short, regardless of personnel, there are flaws we need to iron out to ensure that this kind of result/performance does not happen so frequently.

This is something that keeps returning to the debating table so must certainly be addressed; defending set-pieces. Yes the decision made by Petr Cech was poor (to be fair if it was Szczesny or Ospina that made that call, the pitchforks, carving knifes and whatever other medium of torture immediately available would be well and truly out and brandished) but surely the fault was in the high defensive line as opposed to a poor decision to somehow save the situation. It looked bad and was certainly not the start he wanted. If he had stayed put, they would have still had a open header, one which they would most likely score. Would we then chastise Cech for not trying to come out or would we instead vent out anger towards the defence? It was a mistake, but certainly not just from him. Wenger perhaps summed it up best:

It was a collective one. I think there are many things to say about that. I knew that if the delivery was good, we would be in trouble before the free-kick was taken. The concentration and the organisation was not perfect. Positionally we were too far from our goal and gave them too much distance to run into. We killed ourselves.
Similarly with the second goal we can bemoan a Coquelin slip, the failure of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who otherwise had a fairly decent game, to clear ball effectively and chose to dribble it out basically assisting the West Ham player. Yes in the end, you would hope Cech may have done better, but there were, in both cases, a catalogue of errors in the build up.

Whilst I understand dismay at some of the decision making by Cech, to suggest he is a mole sent by Mourinho is pretty absurd even by some of the standards set by modern day twitter users. Though some of these comments are meant to be witty and some did mean it as a joke, others didn't, and they are completely moronic. That is all.

The wink was probably ill advised, but some of the responses to this are beyond comprehension.

Work needs to be done on the training ground to avoid these mistakes. They just shouldn't happen. There are no excuses. We were apparently well prepared. Confidence was high  by all accounts. This was the year we were ready to challenge. No World Cup hangovers. No more excuses. Every player needs to stand up and be counted. This is our time. I still believe this group of players can achieve. They have shown enough in the past to confirm that. But they have also showed enough in the past to suggest these shambolic performances are within the core of their being and can surface from time to time.

Onwards and upwards.


Sunday, 9 August 2015

New season: Arsenal vs West Ham Preview & Team News

Afternoon all,

A new season is upon us. Whilst the appetite is whetted slightly after yesterday, the real excitement starts today.

There is something special about the first game of the season that is difficult to quantify. A sense of hope, for all fans, no matter the club that they choose to align themselves with. The butterflies in that begin to take flight beneath the belly are shared by all fans, young and old.

Today though, I feel a sense of hope and nervousness perhaps unsurpassed in terms of intensity. I genuinely believe we are on the brink of something special. Although I am ever the optimist, I sense this feeling if far more prevalent in fans then it has been in recent years.

We have a squad which, barring one area (anyone hazard a guess?!), is full of options, all being of the highest caliber. We have some of the most exciting and pacey players in the league and like many others feel this is the year that the supremely talented Oxlade-Chamberlain is really going to push on. It seems Wenger shares this belief:

We have to develop our collective game. I think we have to depend less on one guy who comes in and then scores all the goals, and continue to develop our players and the collective aspect.
I don’t see why a guy like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should not aim to score 10 or more goals. Alexis can score goals and Ozil has to fix himself a target of at least 10. Five for a guy who plays behind a striker, you want more goals from him. We can share that a bit.

So whilst rumblings of a potential Benzema deal continue to permeate all forms of social media, the Boss expects that we have enough within the squad to challenge as it is.

I believe we need a fast start, one which this group of players is capable of. We cannot take anything for granted and I expect Coquelin to be vital as will most of the team. The addition of Cech adds both quality but huge experience and mental strength as well. The young players have an additional years experience and improvement.

We should be optimistic.

Team news:

Sanchez remains a doubt given his recent return from holidays following Chile's Copa America victory. But even this isn't certain. Sanchez is a unique beast, one that defies the laws of physics and as such may make the bench as he returned in phenomenal condition. Wilshere has had another unfortunate injury and will be sidelined for a number of weeks.The team to start will be:

Full team: Cech, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Cazorla, Giroud
Subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Gabriel, Chambers, Arteta, Walcott, Alexis

Come on Arsenal!


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Homage to a legend: Thierry Henry

Evening Gooners,

Today is a sad day for Arsenal fans around the world but a day where we can look back at the best years in a career, of one of the greatest footballers of all time. What a LEGEND.

Without further ado here are the Thierry Henry top 10 goals by Goonerverse:

Honarary mention: Perhaps my favourite goal of the lot. I don't think I have actually been happier than when this goal went in. To return to the club and still have such an impact just sums up this great man.

10) While nowhere near the quality of the others this one made me as happy as any other he scored. Left us, then Barcelona, apparently past it but still manages to score his first goal against the old enemy. Classic.

9) This goal has to be in here due to the importance to the team, how he took the goal and the opposition he scored against. The way he took the goal was as exciting to me when I first saw it as it winning us the match. Great goal.

8) Any 40 yard+ strike must get props but to do it on the big occasion against what became our fiercest rivals is why he was a complete legend. Great goal, which looks even better when it is slowed down so you can appreciate it.

7) Another goal against a top club. A scintillating finish from the greatest front man the league has ever seen.

6) The first touch to free himself of the defender is the stuff legends are made of. I watch these goals and get even more depressed about our current state of affairs.

5) I remember the build up to this match… “The galacticos vs one Gunner… can he beat them”. It was one thing being underdogs but the pre match segments were truly awful and infuriating. However, the man that “choked in the big games” delivered another superb goal, in another huge game. Great run, strength, skill and finish.

4) Another HUGE goal. Great skill, control and finish. And putting that Carragher cunt on his arse was awesome. He really could make something out of nothing.

3) The true definition of an individual effort. He picked the ball way up in his own half and makes them all look like the tits they are. What an absolutely special goal.

2) Here is one to rival the best of best from Bergkamp. The control and skill are unbelievable. I could literally watch it all day and it would have undoubtedly taken top spot if it wasn’t in this fixture. This goal really is a wonder to watch and I find myself mesmerised by it each and every time. Certainly technically the best goal.

1) This is my number one goal. Not least because of the unbelievable vision and technique but the fact it was again against United. A lot of people at the time questioned whether it was intentional or not but believe me it was. The way he shapes his body as he flicks it up and the awareness to know where the goal was are all to be marvelled at. The best goal by Thierry Henry and arguably in Premier League history. Thierry we love you and miss you. The greatest number 14 that ever lived.

This is of course very subjective so please feel free to add your thoughts below. Hope you enjoyed them.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Team News: Arsenal vs Leicester - Ramsey returns but who is sacrificed?


After a well earned victory against resilient opponents midweek, we find ourselves up against tough opposition in the form of newly promoted Leicester City.

In what was a crucial tie, Arsenal managed to improve on previous performances and approached something resembling the form they are known for. Although much of the post match analysis centred around the last fifteen minutes and an apparent struggle, I saw the game far more positively and saw a wealth of opportunities created as well as relationships improving in the attacking third too.

Sanchez got off the mark and this clearly lifted him and the team as well. This is vital considering the injury to Giroud but also because it is becoming more apparent that a new striker will not be signed this transfer window. A lot of people are angry about this fact and the world of the internet has exploded in the usual preposterous way with calls for Wenger to be fired. The world is becoming more and more crazy and what seemed like a minority of people is slowly feeling like it is taking over. The same fans that have been clamouring for us to sign Balotelli are probably at this time lambasting his performance following a series of misses in the first half. Fickle doesn't even begin to describe some people. I think the media perpetuates this and for that I hate them.

Anyway I digress. Point being; Sanchez is likely to feature up front in the majority of games and I personally feel that this is why Sanchez was bought in the first place. There is going to be an acclimatisation period both for Sanchez himself but also the players around him. Giroud, for all his faults of which there are many, became the focal point of our attacks. We became reliant on him at times to hold the ball up, something he does very well. *UPDATE - NOPE SANOGO IS GOING TO START UP FRONT*

The players need to change their style now to suit a very different type of forward. I do think this will actually benefit our attacking play in the long run this season but in the interim we may need to be patient. The attack could look very exciting and extremely quick when things settle down and the teething problems are resolved. The thought of an attack containing the pace of Walcott and Sanchez is truly mouth watering especially when complimented by the passing and creativity of Ozil and Cazorla.

However with all these players fast becoming available, the manager has quite the challenge on his hands to pick the best team. Already you can see there are some issues in terms of fitting in all the players we have.

For this afternoon we have Ramsey returning after his suspension midweek. This in itself is great news but will surely mean that either Wilshere or Cazorla will have to be sacrificed to facilitate him despite both these players having their best individual performances in quite some time. Also there is the question of where to play Ozil? It is obvious that his best position is the number 10 role but some of the criticism for his performances on the left have been (surprise, surprise) ridiculously over the top. He created the goal for Sanchez and was tidy in possession throughout. He is still finding match fitness which could explain the position he is being played in at the moment.

I think it will be Wilshere that gets rested/dropped today which is a shame as this could be a game where perhaps Flamini will not be needed as we are likely to keep the ball for longer periods. It would also be good for both Ramsey and Wilshere to practice adapting their game in deeper positions.

Starting lineup:

This game will be another test for a team still finding full fitness and rhythm but it is one any Arsenal fan would expect to win.

Prediction: Leicester 0 - 2 Arsenal

Come on The Arsenal.


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Confirmed Team News - Arsenal vs Besiktas Preview

Evening all,

The beginning of our crucial Champions League campaign is upon us but in truth, we could be in better shape.

After overcoming a resilient Crystal Palace with a fairly thin defence, injury to Kieran Gibbs has now left us comparable to Nicole Ritchie and a stick man's love child. With Mertesacker still absent due to lack of match fitness and Koscienly making it through a late fitness test, our options are most certainly limited in this part of the pitch.

This isn't the only area that we are affected in; Yaya Sanogo is another casualty from the weekend which, if you ask me, is a blessing in disguise. He really struggled on Saturday and whilst his potential is something Le Boss strongly believes in, we looked a far better team with Giroud leading the line.

I would personally be tempted giving Sanchez a go up front alone and bringing in Chamberlain but that is my obsession with pace and the way I think we should play. If only life was football manager. *Looks longingly into the distance.*

Anyway, digression aside, here is all the team news according to

Theo Walcott - 3 weeks
Kieran Gibbs - 3 weeks
David  Ospina - 3 weeks
Serge Gnabry - No return date

Starting today will be:

I expect this team to get a result and am touching wood (get your mind out of the gutter) that nobody, especially in defence, sustains an injury.

Come on Arsenal.

Prediction: Besiktas 0 - 2 Arsenal

Let me know your predictions below.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Top of the league: Start as you mean to go on - well sort of

Afternoon all,

Having recovered from a day of drinking and nail biting I am finally in a position to give my thoughts on our season opener yesterday.

First and foremost a victory is a victory regardless of how it comes. We have got three points on the board which is three points better off than this time last season. In fact it finally bucks an unwelcome trend of dropping points on the opening day, so that in itself must be applauded.

The performance however wasn't great. Nor was it enjoyable to watch. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It was as pleasant as getting a cheese grater to the balls whilst listening to the noise voice of Michael Owen attempt to construct a coherent sentence. I have decided that this year my post match reports will be set out slightly differently to how I have written them in the past. Partly to cut out the guff as most people tend to watch the match but mostly to provide actual analysis as opposed to provide narrative. It will now follow a simple format and should hopefully add to the debate with any comments welcome.


Calum Chambers - Before we scored the winner in injury time I felt the only player that could really walk down the tunnel having enhanced his reputation was Chambers. In many ways that still holds true but Ramsey stole the headlines to some extent which is understandable having scored the winner. I was very impressed with him. He was composed, good on the ball, had great positional sense and was brave in the challenge. He is clearly still very much work in progress, especially when nobody seems to know what his best position is, but one thing is clear: this kid has bags of talent. He has gone from an exciting prospect at Southampton to a reliable squad player at a top club. With a Champions League debut imminent and the faith of a manager known to give young players a chance he has a great future ahead of him. It really is hard not to get excited.

Winning when not playing well - Not much in our build up play went right yesterday. Lots of misplaced passes from all members of our midfield. They just didn't click in the midfield. Despite this, Arsenal managed three points and won in a scrappy fashion not often associated with us. This is something we will have to continue all season if we are to have a chance to win the League.

Tenacity - Despite never looking like scoring we never gave up and kept on plugging away which in the end paid dividends. Ramsey atoned for a pretty abysmal display by grabbing a late winner. Some may say it was lucky but I would say he moved well and watched the line even better to be in the right place at the right time.


Passing - One could never guess from our performance yesterday that we are a team renowned for slick passing and combinations. We controlled possession in periods through sideways passing but always struggled passing forward. All the players in our midfield struggled to find each other regularly and this caused us to be very disjointed in the attacking third. This looked like a group of individuals rather than a team and this is something that needs to be worked on immediately. In fairness, I would venture a guess as this being a bad day at the office as opposed to a general problem within the team but with a crucial Champions League qualifier on the horizon we have got to shape up and fast.

Defending that corner - Much can be said about the merits of zonal or man marking systems but the truth is whichever system is deployed, everyone has to do their job. Alexis tried to contain Hangeland but after leaving his zone it was the job of a sleeping Koscienly to prevent Hangeland from making that header. He didn't attack the ball because he didn't even know he was coming. He needed to be more aware and get to that ball. Once Hangeland got his head to it a goal was always likely, especially when there was nobody on the far post. Why that was the case is beyond me but for a team who had the best defensive record when defending set pieces, this wasn't really reassuring.

Movement in the attacking third - This seems a bit general and I suppose it is because much of our play seemed pedestrian and lethargic. Sanogo was preferred up front to Giroud for that extra fitness and movement but he seemed to not contribute much at all. The rest of the team either ran too far beyond or held their runs which resulted in lots of misplaced passes as mentioned earlier. It was as though they were not on the same wavelength as each other. This was particularly true of Alexis, whilst cannot be faulted for effort, did find himself unable to effectively communicate with his new team mates. I suspect it may take a few weeks to develop those relationships but it was certainly a hindrance yesterday.

Gibbs injury - Gibbs seemed to have pulled up with a hamstring complaint which could see him out for three weeks. If that is the case then we are even lighter, number wise, defensively. Our need for a new signing at the back has just increased exponentially.


We won. We got three points. We know what needs to be improved. We can only get better. Hopefully the results stay the same though.

Also remember to join the Goonerverse Fantasy League.

The code is: 2125017-470489

Until next time.


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Team News: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace - Alexis, Debuchy and Chambers set to make competitive debut

Team News: Arsenal vs Crystal Palace Preview

A not so glorious afternoon, but one fit for football nonetheless. Today marks a strange one for me, the first opening fixture I haven’t gone to watch in what seems like an eternity. To compensate however, lots of beer is cooling, a BBQ is on the go and a nice big HD widescreen TV. Now all we need is a button to mute Michael Owen’s monotone, incredibly stupid drivel from proceedings and I’m all set. (I know he wont be commentating today, it's just the thought of him.)

There is nothing quite like the first day of the season for me. The excitement starts as early as Thursday for me when the team news begins to trickle in and you start getting an idea of how things will shape up. Well imagine my surprise when after team news started filtering through we had our first managerial casualty of the Premier League Season without a ball even being kicked.

Tony Pulis has left Crystal Palace for a reason that I guess he knows but it shows how ridiculous this sport can be. A club in dire situations when he took over has been allowed to leave just before the season kicks off. Not complaining from an Arsenal point of view as surely this helps us rather than hinders us but just strange nonetheless.

Onto the team news and the first piece seems promising. Laurent Koscienly is expected to be fit for the tie despite an Achilles knock sustained during the Community Shield last week. Wenger had this to say:

"Koscielny had a knock on his Achilles but he should be available for Saturday."

We also know that Walcott is a long term absentee who should hopefully be nearing a first team return. Wenger confirmed as much when he said:

"Theo is, as I always said, end of August or start of September. That is back into training of course."

Aside from that, the only other absentees are David Ospina and Serge Gnabry according to

With that in mind I expect the team to look like this today.

As you can see, three new signings in the starting XI which is very exciting but surely, all eyes will be on Sanchez. What a player he could prove to be. If you read my season preview you would know I expect him to have a really big impact this year, particularly with his goalscoring and as such I would love a nice early goal for him to get into the swing of things.

I expect a positive start and strongly believe we can win this match and start the right way for a change!

Come on The Arsenal!

Prediction: 3-0