Thursday, 12 June 2014

Aaron Ramsey - An Apology

I was reminded today of something I said about the new "Welsh Jesus" Aaron Ramsey back in the times when he was struggling at Arsenal and being farmed out to Nottingham Forest on loan....

"He's just a Welsh James Milner"

I would like to go on record and apologise for that statement because quite frankly I'm an idiot, although in my defence I have also said that if he ever did regain his form and confidence, the sky is the limit for that kid because he never went missing, never hid and was always looking for ways to change his fortunes around and nothing gives me more joy than to see this happen.

Whether Arsenal would have won the league with Ramsey having a fully fit season is still debatable in my eyes, I don't think the squad depth is necessarily there and no-one would have predicted Liverpool's late season run either, but safe to say we would have been a lot closer to the league.

The real test for Ramsey next season to cement his standing is how he deals with the extra pressure, the pressure that Arsenal and more importantly Arsene trust him so much now that they can just pass on Cesc Fabregas, and the pressure put on him by opposition defenders who will now look for him just as much as they look for Mesut Ozil. Weighing all the evidence up, it wouldn't surprise me if he takes all that on and thrives, he has the mental attitude to do whatever he wants to and he's backed that up with his form this season.

So in short - I'm sorry Aaron.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


It's that time of year where you can start to look back at where things went right and things went wrong. I was at The Emirates on Sunday and I literally cannot remember a single thing that happened apart from the goal. It may of well been Bacary Sagna's testimonial for the pace it was played at.

So my mind has turned to where has it gone wrong this season? Why aren't we fighting it out? The easy answer is injuries, Ramsey, Ozil & Walcott missing large portions of the season etc but what about the numbers?

I've split the league in half and bear in mind I'm also accounting for the fact that we'll take 3 points at Carrow Road on Sunday......

11th - 20th Place

There is an argument for saying the main theme running through our season is that we're "flat-track bullies", devil's advocate says Arsenal have finally learnt how to win the scrappy points and the games we should win...

Total: 53 points out of 60, 45 goals scored, 14 goals conceded

Home: 25 points out of 30, 23 goals scored, 8 conceded

Away: 28 points out of 30, 22 goals scored, 6 conceded

Pretty bloody impressive, especially the away results, only a 1-1 draw against West Brom (And providing a win on Sunday) will mean that we would have a 100% per cent away from home against 11-20th place teams. The opening day defeat against Villa is a blight on the home form against these sides, the only other dropped points was a 2-2 draw against Swansea, otherwise 7 doubles over 10 sides.

10th Place - 1st Place

Now obviously you can see where the problem lies, and boy there is a contrast....

Total: 26 points out of 54, 21 goals scored, 27 goals conceded 

Home: 19 points from 27, 13 goals scored, 3 conceded

Away: 7 points from 27, 8 goals scored, 24 conceded.

If you consider the near perfect away form this season against the second half of the Premiership, the away form against the top 10 is shocking, only the form against the bottom half brings Arsenal's total away form up to 5th best in the country, compared to 3rd in home form. You obviously have to consider that we can't play ourselves twice so the totals are out of 54. 6 out of the 7 entire defeats came at the homes of sides inside the top 10 and only Spurs, Southampton and Newcastle haven't won against us at all in that section. The home form suggests nervous games, only 13 goals scored, 8 of those against 8th,9th and 10th, but only Geoff Cameron, Gerard Deulofeu & David Silva have scored for Top 10 sides at The Emirates this season.

Now all we have to do is address that away form against the big sides, is it Mentality? Is it tactics? You tell me.


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Hull 0 London 3

Happy Hour arrived for the travelling fans today as three goals inside an hour and six within a weeks seems to have made us Get Back Up Off Our Knees and on a roll again. Hull won't be too disappointed with this result if on May 17th, their Flag Day they can reverse the result but bar a few scary moments and the wind, this was pretty comfortable for Arsenal.

I'm always Anxious for any Arsenal games these days, but seeing the inclusion of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey in the starting line-up makes you feel a lot more confident. The talking point this season will be "What If Ramsey had stayed fit" and although I've been Sitting On The Fence for a while, Ramsey can achieve anything he wants to, even when he was struggling and was being dismissed as not good enough by people like me, I was in no doubt that if he ever turned it around, he could achieve great things as he never goes missing, he has a great attitude and desire for football. As for Ozil, the Sheep will tell you he's not been great this season but if you Think For A Minute, his absence was during the period where it looked like we'd never score again. Coincidence?

We're Not Deep as football fans but if Ramsey had stayed fit and Ozil and Walcott had played more, we'd probably still be in with a shout of the title, we didn't lead the league for most of the season for nothing, but the age old problem of training methods comes about again. The defence looks back to something like normal, it's harsh on Vermaelen who had played well but with Koscielny and Mertesacker and their "Lean On Me" when it's going wrong for the other rappour, they simply have to be first choice.

Ramsey also means that Santi Cazorla has more Freedom, and also Giroud to some extent as Ramsey makes the runs beyond Giroud which enables the striker to be more than a spare part, his link-up play which has been generally good comes into play, and we look a better team for it.

So People Get Ready, 4 more cup finals (1 is actually a cup final) - 2 home games that we should be winning and Norwich away, it's in our hands, we've got the experience, what a good place to be.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Paralysis by Analysis

The morning after the carnage of the evening before and however bad we were yesterday, Arsenal are in the FA Cup final for the first time in nearly 10 years. It seems as if the rules are changed and the common theory that "winning ugly" is a sign of strength and mental fortitude....unless it's Arsenal and in that case we were just lucky. The game was as most people expected, Wigan defending deep and well and trying to exploit on the counter and Arsenal's flat, insipid passing trying to break them down, but don't let the narrative confuse you, there was only one team who deserved to win that game, and it wasn't Wigan, 95% of the clear cut chances were Arsenals, we had more of the ball (as you think a Premier League team should against a Championship one).

And then you have the furore of the celebrations, this is a team going through the wringer, nearly a decade trophyless having just won a penalty shootout in a a game they were 8 minutes away from losing, if you can't celebrate that then you might as well stop watching Sport. You had Roy Keane and some Liverpool chiding Arsenal for celebrating "only beating Wigan", well did Roy Keane celebrate when Manchester United beat Millwall? Did Liverpool celebrate beating Cardiff (on pens)? Of course they did and have every right to. (The Caveat being that they were finals, we could still balls this up)

But we're there, 90 mins away from ending the drought, shutting many people up in the process although knowing the law of sod, we'll finish 5th so the cup win will largely be forgotten.

West Ham on Tuesday, if you're going to The Emirates, take a pair of boots, you might get a game.

Until then.

Relieved of Warwickshire.

Friday, 21 March 2014


The man's effect on the football club we like to call ours is immeasurable. You can debate Arsene in or Arsene Out until the cows finally do come home but there is one thing that is just a fact....You won't half miss him when he's gone.

I was fully prepared and even a little bit willing for him to move to the exit door in the summer, that maybe the grass is greener on the other side and it was probably best we should start rebuilding sooner rather than later with a new man but you know what? I was wrong, Arsene deserves one more chance to end his legacy in the way that he started it, on top.

One of the other pub football debates we lose endless hours to is "Who is the greatest manager of all time?" and while people like Ferguson, Stein, Shankly are the ones who've smashed through the glass ceiling, I don't think there's been a manager that has had an effect on a country's football like Arsene, it has been an honour and priviledge to watch his sides over 1,000 games and being a life-long supporter has just made it that little more special. I had always been a bit ambivalent over the FA Cup as long as Champions League football was secured because that was the key, that was what kept us ticking over until the new era of money was available but I am desperate to win it this season, not for me, not for the players, not to silence the mocking of other fans and parody websites but for him, to see him lifting one more trophy even if it is his last game in charge would be it for me.

He arrived in this country as a total unknown to most, but you soon knew who he was, out when the old binge-drinking culture and in came the Sports Science era that most, if not all use now. Playing careers were prolonged and new leases of life were given to great Arsenal servants, Bould, Keown, Dixon, Winterburn looked like totally different players, then there was Tony, isn't the first Tony memory that springs to mind that wonderful Sunday Afternoon when he was on the end of a Steve Bould throughball? It literally sums it all up to me.

Then there were the flair players, Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Henry, Reyes, Van Persie, Ozil etc. In a matter of years we became one of the sides to watch and out went the days of "Boring, Boring Arsenal" and in came the days of not knowing what you get, but you'd know it'd be exciting. We had two of the best players in their era at Highbury with Bergkamp and Henry, people would pay money whether you supported Arsenal or not, just to see what they would do next.

The scouting as well, Pires was hoiked from Marseille, Vieira from AC Milan reserves, Ljungberg from Halmstad but Arsene could also revitalise careers that had stagnated one way or another. Theirry Henry was rescued from the wing at Juventus, Dennis Bergkamp from purgatory at Inter, Marc Overmars from injury hell at Ajax, these were all big game players supplemented by a great supporting cast, one of the noticeable absents in the last few years has been the lack of fight in big games.

I've probably tried for years to narrow down my favourite game and I can't, how do you pick from the Spurs 5-2's and the 5-4 or the 3-0 where we scored and the camera's didn't see it because it was so soon after the first goal, the wins at Anfield, the San Siro, Kanu's hat-trick, the 7-0's, do you see how hard it is?

Whatever happens with Arsene after this summer, he's left the club in a far better state that when he arrived, his everlasting legacy will be the stadium we play out football in, how many clubs are able to maintain Champions League football when you have to curb spending against oil clubs whilst making profit every season? The next 5 years will be interesting for Spurs and Liverpool if they choose to go down the same route. It'd be sad for him to jack it in now because our time is coming, the plans are nearly complete, I want him to have one last chance at greatness because on the surface his last 500 games will be seen as a failure to many, but history will show him as our ultimate gatekeeper and make the next 1000 games whoever their under a lot easier

A bit gushy I know and there are numerous occasions of rage directed at him that are very well deserved, but the next statue should be him next to Herbery Chapman, looking at the stadium he helped build, he's been a massive part of a very happy time in all our lives.

Thank you Arsene. Thanks for the memories but I don't think it's time to say goodbye just yet. The work isn't done.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Guns Don't Kill People, Selfies Do

A lot of things annoy me, the latest one is the name of this blog title, been drafting it for a day and now I see @Good2BAGooner has tweeted it, rendering the originality of it useless. Balls. But Gaz is a good follow so do it.

Another thing that annoys me is that Adrian Durham & Darren Gough's analysis on the NLD Derby was spot on. Arsenal weren't that good, but we didn't have to be because Tottenham were so inept, it also pleased me to hear Gough in particular rave about Per Mertesacker, you don't just have to have pace to play in the Premier League, Mertesacker has speed of thought, he knows where to stand, he gives Koscielny the green-light to be the swash-buckling defender who captures all the headlines, he is the Lawrenson, Bruce and Bould of the defensive world.

I've called the first result of the run-in correctly and the win leaves us 9 points ahead of 5th with a game in hand, the most important thing is to make sure 4th is secured before we think about the next objective.

Now bless em' - Spurs fans have had to endure a hell of a season, best player sold just after losing to us, enabling us to buy Mesut Ozil, we've put them out of the FA Cup and now beaten them for the first time in ages at WHL, and they have Tim Sherwood as boss. Nothing has tickled me more than Micky Hazard's Twitter campaign to get Szczesny banned for taking a picture with Gibbs and Poldi in front of the Arsenal fans. HELLO MICKY, WERE YOU THERE WHEN WE WON THE LEAGUE THERE AND DANCED IN FRONT OF YOU LOT? Jesus wept, it seems like a deflection tactic from the fact Spurs have wasted the Bale money and then some.

Tomas Rosicky only seems to play from March-May. A very useful clutch player to have in these times and what a well taken goal.

These are short blogs because I'm writing a long piece on the manager which I hope to share with you soon.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Bayern, Tottenham & Mike Dean

Bayern tonight. It's pie in the sky stuff to think we'll progress or even win the tie so a lot of people are looking for a morale-boositng performance to carry us through for the rest of the season. Bayern were simply awesome last season and to think they've added Pep Guardiola to the ranks, the stats are simply mindblowing, although I think the last two defeats in the Allianz have been against English teams in the Champions League so maybe there is a crumb of comfort in that. Probably not though.

My thoughts are already turning to Sunday and Tottenham, it's a pivotal game you feel, win and extend the gap to make the top 4 seem that little more locked in, Sherwood's full Keegan on Saturday could affect them in two ways, utter capitulation of the Chelsea variety or spur them on (Bad Pun). Hopefully the former. A loss is unthinkable at this stage of the season anyway.

The referee for the North London Derby is almost grabbing more attention than the game itself. One Michael Dean will be officiating. Arsenal fans love Mike Dean. Google "Mike Dean Arsenal".

Paolo Vernazza scored Arsenal's 1st goal under Mike Dean's reffing, that shows you how long he's been around and back in the early to mid 00's he was actually a good luck charm, Arsenal won their first 10/11 games with him in charge, I know there is a witch-hunt for him now but look at how it could've been spun differently had Twitter been around then.

I'll be back with post-Bayern, pre-Tottenham spiel on Friday.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The Run In.

Another setback this weekend and to be quite honest, the less we talk about the game the better. We've been very good after losses in the league this season but now the worry is they are starting to happen more frequently now. I've just scared myself shitless by looking at the fixtures from now until the end of the season. Jesus wept. I think we'll definitely know our fate at full-time on the 6th April. It's one month and three days to save the world and although I think the league is Chelsea's we just need to keep in touch so we don't have our annual 4th place cup final on the last day of the season. I think I speak for all of us when saying we could all do without 90 minutes where you age 20 years.

So how will we fare? Let's take a piss poor look into my crystal ball.

Spurs (A) - They'll be up for it, they'll sing their shit songs at 4mph as usual but I'm feeling this one.

Spurs 1-2 Arsenal

Chelsea (A) - Not feeling this one. No one goes into the land of A4 signs and wins. At best a draw but probably a narrow defeat all of our own making

Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

Manchester City (H) - We'll win this one. Don't ask me how. We just will.

Arsenal 3-1 Manchester City

Everton (A) - Goodison is a nightmare to go to. I'd take a draw. With beating Spurs and Man City we can afford this.

Everton 1-1 Arsenal 

West Ham (H)

Routine home win. Ozil to score 2. 

Arsenal 4-1 West Ham

Hull City (A)

Two late goals win this one. On a roll now. 

Hull 1-3 Arsenal

Newcastle United (H)

One of those nervy home 1-0 wins.

Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle United

West Brom (H)

Hard to predict. West Brom could be down and Mel-less, could be safe and with Mel, could be fighting for survival with him or without him. Last home game should provide an atmosphere.

Arsenal 3-0 West Brom

Norwich (A)

See above. 1-0. Kosicelny.

Norwich 0-1 Arsenal

Still to crowbar in is Swansea (H) - They've played better of late but we should win this one 2-0.

84 points. Think I'm being too optimistic here. But we'll see. What do you think? You know what to do.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Why I Think It's Cool Arsene Is Staying.

I actually wasn't that cool with the idea in the summer. I thought he was past it and shared many a private conversation saying that it was probably the end of his time here and no contract should be offered and we'll part way next summer. I'm very cool with it now.

I discarded David Moyes from my list of potential Arsenal managers way before he joined Manchester United. I watched Everton enough in his final season and those previous to know he just wouldn't suit, or give us anything we need. The same for Michael Laudrup, his ability to throw tantrums at the slightest objection plagued his time at Swansea and, look what ultimately happened.

This is in no way an 100% approval of Arsene, you may call it a case of "Better the Devil you know" and there is an element of truth to that, I just don't see a realistic contender to take the reigns and one of the most important points in the clubs history. Guardiola won't leave Bayern, Klopp won't leave Dortmund and could you really see Maureen crossing the divide? Cor, imagine the outrage!

This summer is the first where I'm putting Arsene and the board on the clock. Commercially everything they said would be done, has been done. The years of frugality should be a thing of the past as Arsenal wave goodbye to the restrictive deals signed in order to fund The Emirates, there is now simply no excuse for the squad to be short in areas and the Ozil signing as relieved one money from our backs in regards to big signings.

To summarise, Arsene is the right man at this time, but this is his final deal and his final chance at glory. He has the finances, he has the backing. He needs to step it up one more time. Can he?

Sunday, 16 February 2014


The title suggest some form of deep inquisition into Arsenal doesn't it? Will I talk about ticket prices, subsidies, redzones, money in the bank, Queensway Road sales?.................No.

These things are all worth mentioning and I think it's honourable that so many people devote a lot of free time to serving the club they love but...I'm just bored of it. And that's probably a bad thing but when you have the same people ramming the same information down your throats (And in some cases incorrect information) it tends to lose it's meaning and authority the 456th time. And I'm not sure how many more times I can stomach hearing the fact we ballsed up the summer transfer window. I know we did. We were there. It's not summer anymore.

Twitter on Matchdays is just bad when Arsenal are playing. Just so wrong. And this brings up more questions such as "Do some Arsenal fans tweet more when Arsenal are losing than they do when they are winning? If so, why? Can you really have an agenda if you're an Arsenal fan which is seeing them underperform? I think the answers are "Probably", "No idea" and "Hopefully not"

So my questions to you are:-

1. Should we have sold Lukas Podolski in January seeing as Wenger seems to have no intention of playing him?

Could he have been bait for Draxler? There obviously seems to be an issue with his workrate, but Podolski is one of those people who can turn a game (West Ham) and with Giroud being driven into the ground at the speed of a Red Rum inspired workhorse, isn't he a better option that Bendtner?

2. With Bacary Sagna's contract running down, does the idea of Carl Jenkinson being Arsenal's #1 RB give you the fear as much as it gives me?

I like Carl. A lot. But there's only so far "An Arsenal fan" gets you. I want him to succeed as much as possible because the fan aspect does give it a proper old romantic look. But he's not been good. I'm musing as to whether his purple patch in form was similar as to when Johan Djourou suddenly became the rock of the back four in 2011 (Cor, do you remember those times?)

and finally....

3. Would you rather win a cup and finish outside the top 4 or win no silverware but guarantee Champions League Football?

I know what I think but be interesting to hear from a few people.

You can tweet me @JamieDalton82 or leave messages in the comments I think.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Mesut Ozil is priceless.

Lot of talk past ten days about Ozil (I can't be arsed to umlaut every time, or anytime so forgive me)

"He's overrated"

"He's not lit up the league"

"He doesn't look like he's interested, he's made a mistake coming to Arsenal"

These are the views and quotes of people who haven't watched Mesut Ozil at all, whilst he might not be scoring 4 every game and assisting 11, he gives Arsenal intangible qualities.

1. He Creates Uncertainty in the Opposition & Fans

Perfect example was away at West Brom, after he had started the move and effortlessly skipped 70 yards to play a part in the equaliser, I vividly remember with about five minutes to go with Arsenal pressing and West Brom faffing clearances, he picked up a loose ball and evaded a challenge, there was an audible gasp from the home support and they were worried about what he would do. That's a rare quality.

2. Makes the Opposition think about Double Teaming him

The analogy to use here is NFL, if you have someone with a star reciever or tight end then the common plan is to stick 2 defensive backs on him, or if you have a star pass-rusher, you stick 2 offensive linemen on him, this frees up other players to make plays they wouldn't normally make. You maybe could pin some of Jack Wilshere's form or Aaron Ramsey's form on the fact they can fly under the radar a bit more.

3. He (Inadvertently) reduces my blood pressure thinking about Transfer Windows

The money is there. If the player is right, it'll happen. I probably am being a bit blasé about it as I'm still on a Ozil shaped cloud. I no longer fret or get angry about the media drawing attention to the fact we won't spend. It's one narrative gone. Imagine we win a trophy, people punditting on Arsenal will have to do actual research next season.

4. Wait Until he has a full season..

And realises he's better than 97% of the Premier League. That'll be fun.

There are some great Football Statistic accounts on Twitter and some utterly fucking horrendous ones but I'd much rather judge a player on what I see, not a heat map.

What is that famous quote about Statistics? ;-)

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal - Comfort

When all the "title challenge" stuff was being bandied around in November and I was playing everything down (I still am) and just taking it game by game all with the knowledge that I would start to change expectations slightly if we rocked up at Anfield still top. That is 2 home games and a trip to Southampton away. Quite unnerving, as was the last 20 minutes last night....

After Benteke scored was the proper Arsenal I've come to know and love. Palpable relief at the final whistle coupled with the sensation that you're not quite sure how you got through it. We probably dicked around too much and were trying to be too fancy, we also should have had a couple more goals to make the Benteke effort worthless. Cazorla was a bit out of sorts but at the end of the day and I'll say it....That was a performance of champions.

One thing that does get my arse is Giroud. Not the player but the reaction to him, both positive and negative, it's mainly the pro-pro Giroud stuff (With it being January) that's getting on my pips at the minute so I'll try and put this as succinctly as possible....


We clear? Cool.

I also think it'll be near on impossible to get a striker this January but you live in hope, how much will Sociopath Jose playing silly fuckers with Demba Ba on deadline day actually be worth come May?

I was on the Per Mertesacker bandwagon before it was cool.

On we roll to Fulham on Saturday, a team nearly as bad as Villa so we can be assured of another bum-clencher for the ages, I would give Podolski another start (I haven't touched on the Twitter "Body Language" experts as I really don't care) - Be more pissed if Poldi was happy to sit on his arse and do a Bogarde.

Southampton...Crystal Palace......then who knows.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Half Time

20 games in then, and we're in the unique position of playing everybody but actually we haven't played anyone yet. I am actually surprised to be in this position at this stage of the season and now I'm dreaming of a title run instead of threading the eye of a needle for 4th. The season started in a malaise with all the Villa shenangians, got slightly better with the Fenerbache result and the first of 2 wins over Tottenham.....And then.....OZIL. That kind of changed everything we thought we knew about this club. We had spent £42m on 1 player, not 7, one. And he was world class. I think I'm still basking in the glow of it all happening which is why I'm not fretting so much about January. The ethos seems to have changed. If Wenger decided we need a £32m striker, then it shalt be done. It probably won't but we have the money if the player is available.

My Arsenal player of 2013 and especially this season is de facto captain and nominee for the Nobel Prize of "Best Human" - Per Mertesacker.

I've tried explaining why Per is so great to my father ever since he joined Arsenal, so maybe it'll look better in print than spoken. He knows where to stand. He makes Koscielny a better player because he can play in front of Per and not worry, Per organises, and although Vermaelen is technically a better player, Mertesacker is Lawrenson to Koscielny's Hansen. It just works. He gets the club. He gets this team and his Facebook posts of recent just seem to show how well he thinks of others and the "BFG" nickname. Also there's the small record of Arsenal's defence stats (Which I won't bore you with) with those two in.

Yes, Yes I know about Ramsey and I have a confession to make which will confuse you...I never thought he'd make it back after his injury but I was confident that if he ever proved me wrong, he'd be as good as he is know because he has one quality that is rare in players these days and that is he never goes missing.

I remember a couple of seasons ago losing at QPR 2-1 and Ramsey playing on the right and I think eventually right-back. It was one of the worst performances I'd seen from a player but he never shied away and retreated, he still wanted the ball even though he was terrible. That takes a special kind of player so I'm so glad he's proved me wrong, but I'm not surprised.

The Second Half

Can we win it? Yes! Will We? Probably not but I'm having the most fun finding out. I still think City and Chelsea are the ones to beat for the title and would probably give the nod to Chelsea considering how average they've been correlated to how close they are to the top of the league, City's away form is a concern and they have a lot of the big teams to visit. We also need to strengthen in light of the fact everyone is injured and Giroud has been run into the ground. Two strikers and probably a central defender (Vermaelen can't like being sub in a WC year) and then we can talk. I think I'd be happy with 2nd but the hope is starting to kill me. If we arrive at Anfield top then I think we may be on to something. That's my indicator.

Hope to be writing more in '14. Thanks for reading in '13.