Category Archives: Ramsey

Arsenal v Man City Preview

Afternoon all

A quick match preview today, we will discuss the result tomorrow with a more analytical eye.The Arse have no fresh injury concerns today so the Boss has the same squad of players to choose from last Weekend’s defeat to Perma-Permed Hughes’ QPR. Personally I would like to see either of The Ox or The Forehead come in to replace Ramsey.

I’m not a Ramsey basher by any means and I like to see him involved in the starting XI but not in the wide left berth. His tendency to drift into the middle throughout the game leaves us with a lack of width of the left as seen last week where the majority of our attacks were forced to be played down the right hand side. If the manager wants a more defensively responsible player out there than why not play Santos. We have all seen his natural attacking instincts on display this season but he would be more defensively aware than our other options.

On the Citeh side, Aguero has recovered from whatever foot fungus problem he has and is likely to start up front, although I think the pace of our two central defenders should allow them to cope with the talented Argie. Expect Emirates returns for Clichy and Na$ri today, I wonder which of them will get the better reception?

An interesting statistic courtesy of Sky Sports, Citeh have not won a league game away to Arsenal in their last 26 attempts. That is 18 losses and 8 draws. Here’s hoping today adds another digit into their loss column.

Till the next time, Same Bat-time, Same Bat-channel


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Filed under Arsenal, Ramsey

M’Vila to Arsenal – Do we need him?

Former Chelsea defender and French World Cup winner Marcel Desailly has been talking to the press recently about his fellow countryman Yann M’Vila. More specifically he has been talking about a move to either Arsenal or Manchester United urging the respective chairmen to do whatever it takes to sign the 22-year-old defensive midfielder.

We have to ask ourselves, however, if we really need to sign him?

At the current moment we play with a 3 man midfield with one player operating as the attacking and creative playmaker while the other two alternate between sitting deep for cover and supporting further forward.  In this post we will have a look at out various options and need for any further players. At the minute the Boss has a pool of 8 players to choose from when fit to play for 3 positions.

Jack Wilshere – Perhaps the only player  to start when fit. Whether he plays as one of the deeper lying two a lá last season or in the more attacking role of his youth team days remains to be seen.

Mikel Arteta – The experienced Spaniard has been a model of consistency so far this season. While not enjoying the free role as the main creative force of his days at Everton he has established himself as an essential part of the first choice 11 since his move.

Aaron Ramsey – Tasked with replacing Cesc at the start of the season. Started brightly but has looked tired since Xmas in what has essentially been his first full season in the Prem. Has played on the left side of the front three recently but doesn’t look comfortable on the wing and tends to drift infield.

Alex Song – often deployed as the as the main defensive player of the three although his assist statistics would suggest otherwise. Strong with an ability to pick a pass he provides the only real physicality in our midfield.

Tomas Rosicky – a player who many might have envisaged departing the club in the summer. His recent resurgence in displaying the ability we all knew he had when he first joined the club has been one of the highlights of our season. Deceptive turn of pace and excellent dribbling ability have seen him claim and retain Ramsey’s place in midfield in recent months.

Abou Diaby – highly talented but often injured Frenchman. Wenger is a huge fan along with French manger Laurent Blanc who has played him on the rare occasions this season he has been fit. For those who would perhaps write him off we must remember our current Dutch superstar had many injury problems in the first few years of his career with the Gooners but has stayed fit for the last 18 months.

Francis Coquelin – Le Coq has made his breakthrough this season after impressing on loan at Lorient last season. Comfortable on the ball and tough in the tackle he is a more than able replacement for either of the defensively responsible midfielders. Is also capable of filling in at full back which is a plus.

Emmanuel Frimpong – Mr Dench. Tough, tough tackling midfielder with a rugby player build, the young Ghanaian played at the start of the season before being sent to Wolves on loan to gain experience. Suffered his second cruciate injury of his young career while at the Molineux but will hopefully make a full recovery.

Alex Chamberlain – Although he has played predominantly as a winger in his first season at the Emirates the Boss has stated that he views his future as a central midfielder. Perhaps the most exciting attacker England have seen in recent years.

A player whom I haven’t mentioned is Conor Henderson. The young Republic of Ireland international has recently returned from an injury suffered in the pre-season game against Cologne. Was expected to feature in the first team plans this season but for his injury.

With all these options available would the money available to the manager be better spent elsewhere i.e defence? I will leave that up to the members of the republic.



Please check out my article featured on Arsenal Collective and follow me on twitter for Goonerrepublic updates.


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Filed under Arteta, Diaby, Frimpong, General Musings, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Rosicky, Song, Transfer Bollocks, Wilshere

QPR v. Arsenal Preview: Hoops on Toast? & Transfer Spin Speculation

Queens Park Rangers have always been one of those clubs I have found it difficult to dislike. Bowles had charisma and buckets of flair. They used to be sponsored by Guinness. I even had a soft spot for Paul Parker at one point – I was young. All that goodwill (or on the worst days, ambivalence) has been eroded recently, however. First their new owner throws his cash around in a most vulgar manner, and then he hires Mark Hughes.

You’d have to go a long way to find any Gooner with a nice thing to say about Sparky. ‘Gobshite’ would probably be one of the nicer descriptions. And although our recent form has been very good (to say the least), and he’s been talking us up in the run lead up to this game, you can be morally certain he’s looking forward to this game, because there’s nothing he likes more than trying to get under our skin.

His chances of bringing our winning streak to a halt will be hampered by the fact that Cissé is an idiot and is banned, and also by injuries to players like Helguson – who has outscored Zamora so far this season – and Campbell. Their recent form hasn’t been great, as you’d expect from a side in the relegation zone: they have one win and one draw in their last six games. But those points were picked up at home against Everton and Liverpool, and they’re making much of the latter in their build-up. I daresay Barton will start, however, as Hughes will send him out as agent provocateur (which is french for ‘irritating tosser’) in midfield, and I expect Mackie is champing at the bit to make an impact again.

It seems likely that Koscielny will start, though I would recommend that he sleeps in a cottonwool-lined sleeping bag wrapped in duct tape tonight, to ensure no twisting of the knees can occur. The rest of the team (almost) picks itself at the moment: Chesney, Sagna, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Song, Rosicky, Walcott and RVP. The only question should be: who do you pick from Gervinho, Ramsey and the Ox? For me it has to be either Gervinho or the Ox – both offer more width than Ramsey, and although Gervinho is less of an attacking threat at the moment his overall team play and defensive work against Villa last week should earn him the start. Not that I have anything against the other two, far from it.

I’m not going for a scoreline prediction for two prinicipal reasons: 1) I’m always wrong, and 2) I’m not particularly bothered about the scoreline, as long as we win. It’s all about points at the moment, so if we scrape by with another last minute winner from – well, from anyone – I’ll be happy. Mind you, my ulcer won’t be.

Mikel  Arteta has made an interesting observation in an interview with Sport magazine which I came across courtesy of Arseblog News (where would we be without it?). He’s reiterated his feeling that our best form would follow once we got over key injuries, and he clearly feels that this issue is of greater importance than the acquisition of new players.

Now, I’m not one to subscribe to conspiracy theories, but I can’t help wondering if this isn’t linked to Arsene’s recent repetition of the ‘Quality not Quantity’, ‘We will spend if we think it’s right’ and ‘Where would we be if everyone had been fit’ mantras. Are we being given a clear message, albeit in an obscure, murky, indirect, vaguely suggestive sort of way?

At the beginning of last summer we were told that there would be some players coming in and more leaving. At the moment the situation is quite different in the sense that there a some players out on loan who clearly do not have a role to play in our future, but are too expensive for other clubs to buy. At the moment we are faced with the need to persuade our best player to stay, as opposed to last year soul-destroying struggle to fight off the repeated attempts of a bunch of shabby Iberian motherfuckers to shame us into flogging our best player at a ridiculously low price. Then there were others who wanted out for oil money, whereas at the t moment the squad seems relatively settled.

Thus, I think it is highly unlikely that there will be several summer signings. Podolski, it seems clear, is on his way. Perhaps another defender might be added, but I would enormously surprised if we acquired more than two senior players who could step right into contention for a first team place. It seems to me that the noises coming from Arsene and now Arteta reflect this likelihood, and we are being gently prepared accordingly.

In the meantime, let’s hope for a jolly serving of Hoops on toast tomorrow. (Sorry, I couldn’t help using it again). And if Joey sees red again, well that would be just fine.

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Filed under Arteta, Friday Night Preview, Gervinho, Koscielny, Ramsey, Transfer Bollocks

Arsenal 3 – Villa 0: our winning form continues…

Arsenal secured a seventh consecutive victory yesterday with a 3-0 result against Aston Villa, and by doing so gained a three point cushion over fourth place Sp**s who were unable to score against the nouveau riche Chavs at the Bridge. It was a scoreline predicted by Nigel Winterburn on Arsenal Player just before kick off, and it turned out that his optimism was fully justified. Koscielny was unable to start having woken up on Saturday morning with a knee problem and he was replaced by Johan Djourou, who found himself at the receiving end of a non-malicious elbow from Emile Heskey moments after the game kicked off.

Thereafter Arsenal started to apply the pressure, and the first half was characterised by the sort of focus and urgency displayed by the team in the first twenty minutes against Everton in mid-week. Gervinho started in place of Ramsey and put in a very good performance, supporting Kieran Gibbs and tracking back to defend effectively whenever the left back made forward runs. It was such forward movement from Gibbs that brought him his first Premier League goal, as he surged between statuesque Villa defenders and fired off a shot from close range. It was an effort that Given should probably have stopped, but Gibbs couldn’t have cared less.

Arsenal’s second was tucked away expertly by Walcott, who showed superb control after Alex Song’s magnificent lofted pass picked him out behind the Villa defence. A powerful effort by Arteta from twenty yards might have put us up by three, and RVP was unlucky to have a close range chance denied by an excellent instinctive goalline header by Warnock.

Villa offered very little in reply; Albrighton looked to counter attack on a couple of occasions but was unable to keep a cool head when it mattered. Emile Heskey confined himself to giving Djourou a hard time, harassing him at every opportunity, which proved ultimately fruitless.

The second half saw us apply some of Arsene’s infamous handbrake. Concentration levels dropped and possession was conceded by a few soft passes and an annoying tendency to over-elaborate. Such were Villa’s limitations, however, that they failed to punish us. Heskey was replaced by Weimann, and the energetic young Austrian proved tricky in and around our penalty area. When Villa did work the ball into dangerous positions, however, no-one was able to get into position to make the seize the opportunity and in the main we defended with focus and efficiency.

The Ox came on for Walcott on the right hand side and demonstrated his searing pace by absolutely skinning the opposition defence with a couple of runs. Ramsey replaced Gervinho and got into shooting positions around the edge of their area, and Andre Santos returned to first team action, only to give the ball away with his first touch – if Villa had been clinical in attack they would have punished us immediately.

Stephen Ireland should have counted himself very lucky to have remained on the pitch – a two footed lunge at Song should have resulted in a straight red, and if referee Dowd had seen it from a different angle he may have acted appropriately. Only a few minutes later, Ireland tripped Rosicky (if I remember correctly) outside the Villa box, and if Dowd had already cautioned him, it would have earned him a yellow. But he’s an odd performer, Ireland, capable of rank stupidity and at other times great skill, and he then went on to make a superb tackle on the Ox in his own penalty area which drew loud appeals for a penalty, which Phil Dowd wisely ignored.

The final significant act of the game came in injury time, following a foul on Song about 25 yards out. Arteta lined up the free kick, and just to confound the expectations of all those Twittering Gooners who were bemoaning his previous effort, he smashed a perfect strike past Given into the corner of the net. It was a superb strike, but it almost seemed too good for the match situation, two goals to the good in injury time against limited opponents; it would have been sweeter if it had been a match winner against Stoke or City, but I’m being churlish. Arteta certainly deserved the goal, and the scoreline was a fair reflection of the game.

We’re off to Loftus Road next weekend, while Sp**s face Swansea at the Lane.  On their current form, Twitcher’s side might find that fixture a real struggle. We should be looking at another three points against Rangers, but as they showed against Liverpool the other night, we cannot afford to take anything for granted. We were greatly superior to Villa yesterday, but a more dangerous opponent might have taken advantage of our lack of focus and intensity in the second half.

In the meantime, however, I’m off to enjoy that free kick again…enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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Filed under Djourou, Gibbs, Match Day Postmortem, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Rosicky, Song, Van Persie, Walcott, Wenger

Arsenal v. Villa preview & other asstd. titbits

Alex McLeish brings his stuttering Villa team to the Grove tomorrow in what could prove to be a significant day in the battle for Champions League positions.  T*******m travel to the Bridge for the day’s Clash of the Arseholes, and with a bit of luck they’ll enter into bitter combat with each other for a debilitating no score draw. Failing that I’ll settle for the spuds being sent home with a point by a heartbreaking injury time own goal by The Best Player In The World Who Happens To Be Welsh.

Villa are currently in 15th position for the principal reason that they are not very good at scoring goals – they have found the net only 31 times in 28 league games. Surprisingly, though, their goal difference is only -4, and they have been pretty tight defensively over the last four games, conceding only three goals. So given their attacking limitations, which are compounded by the loss of Bent for the duration, it seems unlikely that they’ll be gung ho tomorrow and look to take us on. Instead, I daresay McLeish will be parking his pockmarked, ginger-roofed Caledonian bus at the edge of the area, and looking to use Agbonlahor’s pace for counter-attacks. N’Zogbia is doubtful with a knee ligament problem he picked up in training yesterday.

Fortunately we do not appear to have any significant injury problems following the win at Everton. Personally, I’d rather see Ramsey on the bench and Gervinho or the Ox starting on the left hand side. Hutton should be targeted in particular; he got himself sent off when we played them last December and either Gervinho or the Ox could give him a torrid time if they go at him.

If we play with the same level of urgency we showed in attack for the first 20 minutes on Wednesday we should profit – mental discipline will be crucial, and the players are going to have be utterly focussed and committed. We cannot take Villa for granted and on too many occasions in the past few seasons we have seen ineffectual performances follow a win. But there’s no reason why we shouldn’t claim all the points tomorrow.

Moving on, it has been very encouraging to see promising young players going out on loan over the past couple of days: Chuks Aneke has gone to Preston, Benik Afobe to Reading and today Yennaris joined Notts County. These are promising developments for each player and they can only benefit from the experience, provided they don’t end up being kicked from here ’til next Thursday by some lower league clogger and put out of action for the long term. The manager had some interesting points to make in todays press conference regarding the size of the squad and how this influences our involvement in the transfer market next summer. The mantra – as it was last year – is “quality not quantity”. Arsene pointed out:

“…don’t forget we have many players out on loan and we have not had Jack Wilshere or Abou Diaby for the whole season… These players will be back and it means that number and quality-wise we are strong because we are in the position we are in without these players.”

Observations like this lead pundits, journos, hacks and fans to subject them to the same kind of feverish analysis that resulted in the Engima decrypts 70-odd years ago, by sheds full of tweed-jacketed Oxbridge boffins at Bletchley Park. From where I’m sitting (in my navy blue 125th anniversary track top, by the way – no tweed here) it seems pretty obvious from his comments that he doesn’t intend to sign a midfielder. So assuming that the Podolski deal is pretty much sorted, that means – perhaps – one additional signing, and the obvious thing to do would be to get another centre half in place of poor old Squillaci. So that would mean two top quality signings in the summer, rather than the four suggested by Marco Van Basten. I think I could live with that, but will it be enough to sway Van Persie?

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Filed under Friday Night Preview, Gervinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Transfer Bollocks, Van Persie

Third Place – but this is no time for complacency

Ah, Everton – one of the quintessential English clubs. A proud club of tradition, heritage and achievement, though there hasn’t been too much of the latter in recent years. Apparently they’ve been playing at Goodison since 1892; I’ve never been there, but from my vantage point on the couch via the telly, it looks like a proper football ground. Even the advertising has an old-school feel: Rainham Steel, Draper Tools etc.

And of course, the very mention of Everton F.C. evokes some famous (or should that be haunting?) memories…

The beefy thighs of Bob Latchford.


The ill-advised ‘tache of Derek Mountfield.


Even the cutting-edge 80′s hairstyling of Adrian Heath.


In recent years, however, they have found it tough to beat us. In fact they haven’t taken three points off us since 18th March 2007, a 1-0 win at Goodison. As you are all aware, that trend continued last night as we came away from their place with three points and a clean sheet, on what turned out to be an excellent night for us overall.

It was an Arsenal performance characterised by grit and solid teamwork, particularly at the back. At the end of last season we were left to wonder what might have been had Vermaelen been fit. This season, apart from a recent dip in form and some uncharacteristic errors, we have seen how much he brings to the team. He scored the only game of the game last night by spinning away from the taller Fellaini, who was left bumping into his own player and unable to challenge for RVP’s inswinging corner. That was his fifth of the season. The thing I like most about Vermaelen is his attitude and intensity. Even if he isn’t playing to his full capability, he doesn’t stop working. He’s not the biggest central defender, but he is – to use his own word – a fighter.

There were certain aspects of our performance that were not particularly inspiring. We gave the ball away pretty cheaply at times, particularly during the second half. The team selection was curious. Ramsey and Rosicky both started and I got the impression that Ramsey’s inclusion somewhat cramped the Czech’s style a little, if you see what I mean. Rosicky’s recent performances ensured his inclusion, but for me the selection of Ramsey was somewhat counter-productive. He got into some very good positions and should have had at least one goal in the first twenty minutes of the game. But a consequence of his attacking role seemed to be that Rosicky was less inclined to push up in and around the box, which was unfortunate as his finishing has been good recently – and Ramsey’s hasn’t. But I suppose I’m splitting hairs, and the manager may have been mindful of the need for defensive cohesion in his decision to play Ramsey rather than the Ox or Gervinho down the left.

David Moyes left us with a decidedly blue-nosed rant about the inefficiency of the officials when interviewed after the game. There is no doubt whatsoever that Drenthe was onside and that his goal should have stood. Nor can there be any doubt that his attempt to demonstrate his pole-dancing skills (using Rosicky as the pole) should have resulted in a penalty. The referee was unimpressed, however – perhaps he is an authority on pole dancing, I don’t know. The only person who was energised by Drenthe’s demo (apart from the vociferous travelling Gooners) was Gary Birtles in the commentary box, who seemed highly excited: “He’s got his leg in his groin!!” Curiously, I didn’t hear either manager quizzed about the incident after the game.

In any event poor old David was left with a second consecutive loss to mark his ten years as manager at Goodison, and as a good footballing man, he clearly takes these setbacks to heart.


In the meantime the Chavs from the Bridge stuttered to another defeat and the spuds had to rely on a very late equaliser to rescue a point, leaving us in sole possession of third place.  Rumours of Twitcher’s omnipotence appear to have been somewhat exaggerated, particularly as he publicly admits to his own fuck ups. At half time at the Lane last night he tried to motivate his players by lying to them, telling them that both ourselves and Chelsea were winning. What is he going to do the next time his side are facing defeat? How does he expect his players to believe him when they reach their next crisis? His gamble didn’t pay off yesterday, and I’d like to think there may be repercussions for him as season draws to an end.

For the moment we have the momentum, but we cannot take the spuds lack of form for granted. I’d like to think that with players as focussed and committed as RVP and Vermaelen this is not going to happen, but we just have to wait and see.

Finally, a word of appreciation for the magnificent and awe-inspiring legend that is T. Henry, who flew from the U.S.  – having just played an MLS game against ‘Real Salt Lake’ – to London to visit Fabrice Muamba in hospital, and then headed straight back to the airport to return to the U.S.. I’m off  to raise a glass of O’Hara’s Irish Red in his honour, and to drink to the health of Fabrice while I’m at it.  Cheers!

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Filed under Henry, Ramsey, Rosicky, Van Persie, Vermaelen