Tag Archives: rivals

Arsenal Board Must Act

Arsenal’s ownership is an oxymoron.

The Premier League is awash with money, in fact, it has never been more affluent. Thanks to the TV rights deal that dwarves the other big domestic leagues, all Premier League clubs have larger fiscal muscles than their European brethren.

Our club are part-owned by Alisher Usmanov – an oligarch who is ranked amongst the richest people in the world, and Stan Kroenke – an American whose portfolio is amongst the largest in terms of sports teams. We also have Ivan Gazidis who was awarded a bonus for a season which is the worst placing in over two decades. 

On their own, Kroenke and Usmanov could financially back any team to the zenith of sporting achievement. They could completely transform the outlook of the league should they choose to.

Instead, with a backdrop of torrents of currency, they both choose to stand idly by as other clubs push on.

It is ironic that these ridiculously rich men who spent ludicrous amounts to garner our shares, now do nothing more than lasciviously eye each others stash of our club.

Perhaps our current problems in the Boardroom are magnified in part due to our past ownership?

The setup was always led by Arsenal-DNA. Although the loyal Ken Friars is still part of the makeup, decisions are now not made with Arsenal at heart.

Our club no longer have a hand on the tiller that is primarily concerned with the progress of our club, and it has now come to a point where it is harmful.

The good work that was put in during the late 90’s and early 2000’s gave us a headstart, one which was vital to capitalise on. The chasing pack was closing in, but we didn’t stretch our gap, we simply treaded water.

Now we stand on the precipice, caught between the ignominy of being just another member of the flock that grasp towards the top, and rekindling our groove and making ground on the distance we lost.

Manchester united may be saddled with debt, but they have crucially continued investment in recruitment. They have also shown little patience for mediocrity.

Manchester City have embraced the funds of their owners and player purchases continue unabated.

Chelsea too have dug deep in their pockets and regular silverware has been the produce from their spending.

Then there is tottenham and Everton.

Our North London neighbours have spent well and have a new stadium to look forward to. This new home has the capacity to propel them to regular contention for honours. They have not had the income of their more illustrious rivals but it has not stopped them. Of course there are many variables that may yet take them off course, but they are primed to continue their rise from where they were a decade ago.

Everton are under the stewardship of new owners. They now have the resources necessary to take them higher than erstwhile European place challengers. Ronald Koeman lost his way, but their spending spree in the summer is just a signal of what they are now capable of.

This is now the time for us to act. We have the potential in our sponsorship deals and our gate receipts to muscle in on the show that is seemingly going on without us of late. We could also overtake all and sundry if our owners acted like owners should.

At this moment we are merely a trophy on a wall, a conversation starter in auspicious surroundings whilst swilling brandy amongst the hoi-polloi.

Our previous Board members who are long since departed from the club showed how it should be done. Hell, even the dubious roubles of Roman Abramovich are evidence that not all takeovers have to be negative.

We need Usmanov and especially Kroenke to put their pennies into their new shiny piggy bank. The trouble is, they have not invested a brass farthing since becoming involved.

And it has worked in a business sense. Share prices have nearly doubled since 2007.

Maybe it is a nostalgia that blinds us. Football is a business now, but surely owners want their toys to be bigger and better than everyone else’s?

Right now, Kroenke has left his new plaything out in the rain to gather rust. We have a Chief Executive that received a bonus for a fifth placed finish so there is no incentive for improvement, which only adds to our woes.

Competition should see the strongest survive, and we are now limping behind. 

Arsenal Vs Man Utd – Match Preview

Kickoff – 1600GMT

Before our humbling at the hands of our North London neighbours last weekend, the situation was clear;

Win the rest of our games or the lucrative and vital Top4 slot is out of our grasp.

Now, our team stand on the precipice of our worst season under Arsene Wenger. To make matters worse, he next faces a manager who he has never defeated in the Premier League.

Tomorrow’s match versus Manchester United now leaves us with the daunting reality that we could win the rest of our games and still be barred from entering the VIP section that is Champions League qualification. 

Five games remain in our league campaign, and all five must be victories. We then must sit on the edge of our seats and wait for Liverpool, City and United to slip up. The way things are right now, this is quite easily our worst season. 

So, how do we defeat United and salvage any semblance of hope?

Firstly, United have a huge task in fielding a competitive team that isn’t suffering from fatigue or injury. After defeating Celta Vigo in Spain on Thursday, Jose Mourinho has intimated that he may rest some of his first teamers as the Europa League takes priority. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Ashley Young ruled out through a combination of injury and suspension, and Marcus Rashford looking to be in pain when he was substituted on Thursday, Mourinho will surely ring the changes. 

Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney may well be part of his plans and so too should be Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. The England pair were thought to be injured, but it has been revealed that they will be in the squad for the game. 

Arsene Wenger will also have his own players returning from injury, with David Ospina and Shkodran Mustafi both back in training. Will the German defender’s return to action see Wenger shift back to a back four? Or will we continue with the Back 3 experiment? The jury is out in regards to fan’s opinion, but no one can predict what Wenger will go with. 

A big dilemma is what our midfield will look like for this game. In his last press conference, Wenger said that Granit Xhaka only has a ‘little chance of playing.’ That leaves Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny to fight it out for the two spots, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has impressed since playing as a wing-back in our new formation. 

A lot will depend on Alexis. The Chilean has been responsible for keeping our slim hopes alive, but his record versus the big boys leaves a lot to be desired. He has just one goal in the last nine games against the teams above us, and Sanchez must finally show everyone what he can do against top class opposition – even if it is to entice another team.

United have won the last four games that have followed Europa League games, so they will be prepared. They will also come to the Emirates well drilled and hard to break down. We must utilise pace and movement and abandon the plodding, sedate passing of more recent seasons. We must find the Arsenal of old if Arsene Wenger is to finally vanquish Mourinho and Arsenal are to keep up the chase. 

Twenty four games it has been since United tasted defeat. It is going to take an almighty effort for that to be broken, but break it we must. The least we expect is effort. 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Ramsey, Gibbs, Theo, Ozil, Alexis

Predicted Scoreline – Screw it – 2-0 to The Arsenal #UTA

Arsenal’s Squad Depth

​We are just past the halfway mark through the season, and the front runners have started to ease away from the rest of the pack, establishing a peloton of sorts. 

A small herd of teams who see only the finish line and their bloody-mindedness to win at all costs has carved open a gap that the chasers will find exhausting to close.

It is simply a case of the cream rising to the top. The clubs who come to the fore when the business end of the season kicks in. Most telling though, is the effect that fixture congestion has on the Premier League.

During December and January, there were five games played in England’s top division. That is not counting the EFL Cup, the FA Cup and the Champions League to contend with. In April, there are a crazy six Premier League games to play. 

The slew of fixtures demands the finest training and preparation, lessening the impact that the wear and tear of frenetic minutes on the pitch brings. Some things cannot be avoided though, and the chance of injury blatantly increase with the more time played. 

This is when club rosters come into play. 

Rotation will occur at every club, but it is the quality of backup that will affect results. 

Clubs from the bottom of the table to the top can claim confidently that their first choice eleven can battle with any team and have a chance of snatching a result. 

The exorbitant money that comes from the TV deal has allowed previous minnows to swim upstream with their bigger brothers. 

Can they cope with losing their star players however? This is the hurdle that sees nearly every team struggle to cope.

Even those with genuine European aspirations cannot hope to deal with being bereft of their brightest players.

 If Everton lost Lukaku and Bolasie, would they still bring as much of a threat? If Southampton lost Virgil Van Dijk and Dusan Tadic for a few months, would they maintain their position in the league?

Only a small handful of clubs can battle through such bad luck – and coincidentally – it is those who currently reside in the leading pack.

Of course, if Manchester City were to lose Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne for a while, they would find it a hell of a lot tougher to sweep past opponents, but in their depth they have adequate players to lessen the blow of losing such talent.

Arsenal now – finally – are at this point. 

Although, we haven’t exactly maximised this so far.

In seasons past, if we were to see an injury to Fabregas, Nasri, Adebayor or Koscielny, then our results would capitulate along with our campaign. Fast forward to the present day, and not only can we cope better with injury, our star players are of a higher calibre than before – as well as the replacements.

The key players in our squad – Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny and Petr Cech – represent a strong spine. A spine that is on level terms with any in world football. It has been painful to watch, but we have painstakingly built a team to compete at the highest level. This is what we demanded and we have got our wish. 

More importantly though, we have a squad that can fill cracks and gaps as they appear. It is common knowledge that the Premier League is the most gruelling in Europe. Coupled with the lack of a winter break – the winter is when the fixtures are practically every three days – then you have a burning need for players who can do a job without building up rhythm and playing every game.

The Arsenal midfield has been without Santi Cazorla recently, and the players that have come in to shore up his aperture have been international class. Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey have all had stints in the centre, and with Jack Wilshere on loan, it shows a healthy amount of options.

Of course our hopes would be damaged if Mesut Ozil and Alexis were to be lost through injury. What team in the world wouldn’t be stunted by such a loss? We can now say though, that we have adequate backup. 

If Alexis were to sit out a few games, we have Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Lucas and Danny Welbeck who can play through the centre. If Mesut Ozil were to be sidelined, then our playmaker options are Santi Cazorla, or even Aaron Ramsey who can play just off the main striker as he sometimes does for Wales with aplomb.

Can Liverpool say they could cope with losing Coutinho and Firmino? They still lack a first class keeper! Could Chelsea deal with losing Costa and Hazard? 

Any player that is missing in our team, we have enough to say we can bandage the wound and carry on. This in turn inspires competition for places that dispels any lack of motivation.

In terms of playing staff, we are stronger than we ever have been but we have not had the results to match.

The squad is exactly where it needs to be. This means that there are no logical excuses left for Wenger. Time to deliver now that you have the men at your disposal. 

Arsenal Odds On For Success In May?

Predicting the future is pretty much impossible – no matter what that lady in the tent in Blackpool told you. 

Predicting the Premier League though, is as difficult as gravel-throated Sean Dyche singing falsetto. 

Fear not though, there are certain pointers and clues between the lines that can shorten the odds and ease your mental anguish.

Fourteen games into the thirty eight that consist of a Premier League season, it is as typically tight as ever. Can Arsenal finally break their thirteen year hiatus from the title? The football odds suggest so.

The clues are there, but how much faith can we place in them when Leicester City won the title last year? The Foxes pretty much cantered the league and the season prior, they escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth. Can form really last over a whole season like it did with Ranieri’s men?

One thing Leicester did well was deal with the big teams. The clubs who begin every season with genuine title aspirations were undone by Vardy, Mahrez and company as their pragmatic style and switched-on defending were the rocks which Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and pretty much every other team crashed upon.

Everyone but Arsenal, that is. 

The Gunners – and Liverpool once – were the only teams to break down the equation that was Leicester’s gameplan and Arsenal did it both home and away. Yet Arsene Wenger’s team finished a distant ten points behind the Foxes in second place – and lost four more games than the eventual champions.

The fact remains though, that it is usually how you deal with the big games that keeps your ship on the correct course. Those that crumble on the big occasions can be found in a heap, crawling towards the Europa League.

On that front, approaching the halfway point, Arsenal are faring well. In four matches against their traditional rivals (United, tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool) hey have picked up five points from a possible twelve. Not exactly fanfare-inducing, but crucially, they have lost only once – the first game of the season against Liverpool with a makeshift backline.

Jose Mourinho has made a career from playing crunch fixtures with the mantra ‘Do not lose.’ He sends his troops into battle happy to play for a point, and they will get back to winning ways against the weaker swimmers. It has served him well and even with an unsettled team at United, his eleven are still a formidable test.

Arsene Wenger has assembled a far stronger unit that in previous seasons,  and possess one of the most lethal strikers in the league in Alexis Sanchez.

Last season the Chilean was out on the left which is his preferred position, but this campaign has seen a move to a central striking spot – and Alexis now sits atop the scoring charts. Every title challenger needs a prolific goalscorer and Arsene Wenger has once again worked his magic and made some subtle changes to create a goalscoring threat.

Just one of the reasons why Arsenal are vastly improved from last season, and one of the biggest lies with the Gunners annual malaise come each November.

Their yearly wobbles have seen them first clumsily stumble, then cruelly trip over their own feet in years gone by in the eleventh month of the year. This season, as well as their more stoic outlook in the bigger games, has seen that stiff upper lip affect their statistically weakest moments.

Three Premier League matches were played by Arsenal in November – and none were lost. They weren’t pretty, in fact they were the antithesis of what Arsenal represent, but they did not taste defeat. One win and two draws were bagged and if we were to count cup games as well, then there would be only one loss in six.

They kept pace with Chelsea at the top of the league, they present a much stiffer challenge to their title rivals, and their squad is well stocked in all positions. 

These are the pointers, the clues between the lines, that say that Arsenal are nearer than ever to holding aloft the trophy they haven’t touched in thirteen years. There are huge hurdles to overcome yet – at least twenty four of them – but Gooners everywhere can be filled with optimism that they are on the right track.

The bookies see Arsenal as one of the favourites as well as a few others. Perhaps they might be onto something. 

Arsenal Vs Chelsea – Match Preview

After two consecutive satisfactory but uninspiring away draws, Arsenal return to The Emirates for a match against last seasons champions but this seasons major disappointment – Chelsea.

Now that Arsene Wenger’s perennial thorn in his side – Jose Mourinho – has departed, the Gunners can look to stamp this seasons form into a positive result. With Leicester City and Manchester City hot on the heels of the Premier League frontrunners – Arsenal require three points.


Continue reading Arsenal Vs Chelsea – Match Preview

Tale Of The Tape – Premier League Contenders

The international break has once more snuck up on us, bringing with it boredom, a restless eye on matches only to make sure the players who play for your club stay clear of injury – and also a penchant for shuddering to a halt any rhythm the club you support had built up.

But fret not, as the lull in Premier League proceedings isn’t all bad. It does give you an opportunity to take a step back and take in all the events that come with a flurry of results. All the variables that either boost or hinder your team can be scrutinised and enable you to gauge whether it will be a season of pain or triumph.

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£49m for Sterling? Cash Gone Crazy.

Originally posted on Goonersphere.

It has finally happened.

With the news of oil-drenched Manchester City capturing long-term interest Raheem Sterling for the cut price figure of £49million – is this the final stepping stone on the path to football madness?

It is a truly breathtaking amount of money for a player who plundered a staggering seven goals in thirty four appearances in the League last season. It is absolutely nothing to do with the blue half of Manchester sporting a few beads of sweat at the prospect of being in breach of FFP regulations in terms of homegrown players.

Continue reading £49m for Sterling? Cash Gone Crazy.

New Season Predictions

Originally posted on Goonersphere.

Last season seems like an age ago.

The domestic football calendar ended with our glorious triumph and utter humiliation of our opponents at Wembley, which was completely at odds with how we started our campaign, which was mired in mediocrity and saw Gooners everywhere give their opinion on stale milk.

Given how the season progressed, how many of us could have predicted the final outcome of affairs? Could any of us say with any authority that they envisioned us reclaiming the silverware which we so valiantly fought for versus Hull? Did any plucky soul venture a guess as to our Jekyll and Hyde Premiership assault?

Whilst Arsenal remain elusive to the minds eye when attempting to predict their fate, other teams, players and managers plod along their well trodden path with such predictability that next season will see them once more trip, fall and proclaim that outside influences are the cause of their failure rather than their own meandering endeavours.

These happenings will continue to happen until change is forced upon them. Next season will be no different.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you, my predictions for next season.

Continue reading New Season Predictions

The 20th St Totteringham Day

Originally posted on Goonersphere.

Twenty years. A fifth of a century. Seven thousand, three hundred days. All of this time, our malformed neighbours have dwelled in the vast darkness caused by our shadow. This would normally be enough to snuff out what twisted day to day existence they have. but instead, the lack of vitamin D caused by insufficient light has led them to become increasingly obsessed with our actions rather than their own problems. Thus, they still toil away in the gloaming, driven by the hatred they have for us.

For twenty years, we have commemorated the day that marks the moment the shadow-dwellers are once more cast back into the darkness. It is a day of much merriment – dancing, drinking and singing – which all Gooners call St Totteringham’s Day.

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The Shifting Sands of the Enemy

Originally Posted on Goonersphere

Current Affairs is a wide and constantly evolving topic. I do enjoy a quick dip into the droves of stories that whizz by in this ever-changing genre. The main parameter that separates itself from its news peers is the fact it is time-dependent. As the title is CURRENT Affairs – this signifies it centres on what is currently doing the rounds during every lunch break.

On social networks regarding our beloved club, it has been rivalries.

What has stoked the fires of discussion is the fact that two of our rivals will be doing battle for the Capital One Cup on March the 1st. Chelsea and spurs will be duking it out for the first piece of silverware of the domestic season and it would seem suddenly we can’t unanimously decide who gets to receive the wonderful gift of our vociferous vilification.

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