Category Archives: Rosicky

The Formula for Success

Arsene Wenger has become renowned in the English and indeed world football for his methodical  and considered approach to training and team selection. Early in his tenure, experienced players were both bemused and intrigued by his dietary initiatives (steamed fish and room-temperature water) and coaching innovations (incessant stretching every five minutes). However, once they realised they were fitter than the opposition, and were likely to have longer careers if they had rubberised hamstrings and the ankles of a yoga expert, they bought in to these changes and embraced them. Arsene also justified the selection of individual players by recourse  to detailed statistical analysis, which although it may have strengthened his case in press conferences, had the effect of thoroughly confusing and irritating supporters on numerous occasions (e.g. Denilson).

Given our recent travails it is tempting to suggest that a calculated and scientific re-evaluation of our methods of preparation might be in order once again. It is an approach that has also worked elsewhere, at least in name. Younger readers may not remember the Everton “School of Science”, particularly as Fellaini’s recent attempt (as laudable as it was) at rearranging the face of Ryan Shawcross serves only to banish such a memory further into the mists of the distant past. It is time, I suggest, to expand on the notion of “Academies” and “Scholars” and focus the energies of both playing and coaching staff at the Grove on a more scientific approach.

It seems to me that our lack of success this season has had less to do with our form and more to do with the ability of opposition teams to prevent us from playing the game as we wish. It is one of the great clichés of the modern game that the really good sides can still be successful and pick up points even when they play badly. While watching The Arsenal this season I’ve often been left with the feeling that it matters less whether we play well or not – if the opposition play well to a certain plan they will defeat us, regardless of our form going in to the game, the attitude of individual players, or the level of preparation for the game.

What I propose, therefore, is the development and application of a highly sophisticated scientific formula for ensuring success. A suitable set of scientific parameters should be devised which can then be used to generate a range of formulae to apply to the preparation of the squad for individual matches. These parameters would include statistical, tactical, medical and meteorological data and values. Statistical values, for example, might be expressed as:

p = the value representing the efficiency of our passing game e.g. percentage of completed passes in key areas

g = the effectiveness of our goalkeeping e.g. % of shots saved, aerial balls claimed/cleared, long kicks to teammates and so on

a = the accuracy of attempts on goal

s = the total number of attempts on goal per game

d = the efficiency of defending e.g. success rate as a percentage of attempted tackles

e = the number of individual errors committed per game

Combining such values with certain other functions representing individual players, condition of the playing surface, home or away game, weather conditions etc. allows for the development of sophisticated predictive formulae which may be utilised for team selection, and the refinement of a suitable tactical approach.

Let us provide an example. A simple descriptive formula may look something like this:

3 = p(RA) + s(ÇΡ) x a + d – e

where = win, = Rosicky, A =Arteta, Ç = Cazorla, Ρ = Podolski, and W³ = an on-form Walcott who controls the ball properly with his first touch and doesn’t overtake it when trying to beat a defender.

Of course the formula may be inverted for predictive purposes, particularly when other variables are introduced:

p(RA) + s(ÇΡ) x a + d – e + ω 0

where ω = Chamakh and 0 = loss. In this instance ω could be substituted for λ (Arshavin) or ? (Park) with no difference in the outcome. 

As alluded to above, external factors can be included as in this example:

p(RxA) + s(ÇxΡx) x a + d + ≈ + Š = Ø

where  = the pitch at the Stadium of Light, Š = Martin O’Neill’s unpleasant shower of Mackems and Ø = a no score draw.

There is scope to broaden this approach by the inclusion of other formulae from different branches of scientific endeavour. Perhaps the most famous formula of them all –  e = mc² – could thus be interpreted in radically different terms:

errors = mental lapses x casual defending of a highly irresponsible nature (it follows that  would be of a heinously irresponsible nature, but c would merely be irresponsible).

I realise, of course, that this proposal is not going to put me on the shortlist for the Fields Medal, nor is it likely that Arsène and Bouldy will pay any heed to my suggestion. But if we don’t get a decent result against Martinez and Wigan this afternoon, I’ll compose a detailed paper on the subject and send it to Colney anyway.

Up the Arse.

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Filed under Arteta, Bould, Cazorla, Chamakh, Denilson, Fictional Bollocks, General Musings, gooner news, Podolski, Rosicky, Tactical Bollocks, Walcott

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

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

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

Newcastle 0 – Arsenal 0: picking up where we left off?

As I’m sure you’re aware, the season began today with a no-score draw at St James Park, an unsatisfying result from a game that appeared to follow a very familiar pattern. We dominated possession and passed the ball a great deal, but failed to create a lot of scoring opportunities. The opposition tried to keep their shape and close us down; when they did have possession they looked fairly impotent. It’s going to be a long, long season for Toon supporters, but that’s their problem.

There were some positives. Gervinho started and became the focus of much of our attacking play. He caused Newcastle problems on both flanks, and when he develops a better understanding with his teammates I should think he’ll get plenty of assists. Of course the first thing he’ll have to understand is that when he gets the ball into good wide positions he’s going to have find Van Persie, because there’s not likely to be many other attacking teammates in the box to aim at.

The downside – apart from our inability to score – was obviously Gervinho’s red card. If there was any clearer demonstration why Joey Barton should not be an Arsenal player, this was it. Having reacted aggressively to Gervinho’s fall  in the Newcastle area (by picking him up off the deck by his shirt), he then dropped as if he’d been shot when Gervinho stupidly slapped his cheek, and told the ref he’d been punched. I’m not defending Gervinho – if you put your hand into another players’ face you’re likely to be dismissed. But Barton showed the football world once again why he fully deserves his reputation as a cunt and I do not understand why anyone would to see him in an Arsenal shirt. Song was lucky to stay on the pitch after he deliberately trod on Barton’s ankle in the first half. Was this why Barton contrived to get Gervinho sent off in the second? I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Anyhow, Gervinho gets an automatic ban for a straight red. Ironically Newcastle didn’t look any more likely to score with the man advantage.

Defensively we looked pretty good, I felt – but as mentioned above, Newcastle didn’t create and didn’t really pressure us. But Chesney dealt with things pretty decisively – he didn’t get flustered and looked confident. Vermaelen and Koscielny played well as the preferred options at centre-half. Frimmers made his debut as a late sub and was fine. Arshavin was, I felt, largely ineffective and gave away possession too often, though he did provide an excellent chip to put RvP through on goal. Rosicky was industrious without being incisive. Song was both solid and lucky, as mentioned above. RvP didn’t get much to work with.

The other notable point from the game was the behaviour of the away fans. “Spend our fucking money” was the clear message from the travelling Gooners, and rightly so. AW is quoted on the club website as saying:

“Everybody looks for centre backs in the whole world…People with unlimited resources look for a centre back… We have specialised people to work everywhere but we are not in a supermarket where you go to a shelf and you ask where are the centre backs or the strikers.”

These are not the sort of observations that are likely to appease those Gooners who are already deeply frustrated by the club’s inability to address the weaknesses in our squad. He goes on to say:

“If a player is interesting the top clubs, he has a fantastic value. If there is no interest from these clubs he is £3-7million…The same player can be worth £30-50million and £3-7million. There is no logic in the market any more. In football it is very difficult to set the price for the players.”

It sounds to me as though he is addressing the Cesc issue indirectly here, by attempting to justify to supporters why Fabregas is being sold to Barca for less than his market value. I believe he’s also offering an explanation as to why he is seemingly unable to countenance buying a centre-half, being unable to match the valuations of the selling club/s. It’s worth noting, perhaps, that Gary Cahill scored for Bolton today, which will certainly not do anything to weaken Bolton’s bargaining position should Arsenal bid for him. Which we won’t, I daresay.

Not to worry, it’s only Udinese next in a crucial CL tie…

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Filed under Frimpong, Gervinho, Match Day Postmortem, Rosicky, Song, Szcesny, Vermaelen