by Bulldog Drummond
This is one of those occasions where there is little agreement as to what team the manager should put out. My constant pleading for the classic forward line of the latter half of last season has made no odds – but maybe that was because the manager was picking a team for each match, recognising the strength of the opposition.
But West Ham are a different case, not least because like Arsenal they have not got any points yet.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is one of the first players to have responded to the ceaseless, endless barrage of negativity that the players have been getting one after the other – with the pundits and journalists and bloggers and computer programs run by FootLond and the rest all churning out their negativity.
Perhaps these “experts” have been feeling that a) it is too early to attack the manager – which has been the mainstay of their approach for the past 15 years, – and so lacking any concept of positive thoughts about Arsenal they have turned on the players. Henrikh is quoted as saying he ,”doesn’t know why people are criticising so much.” He added “I’m the worst critic in my football game and I don’t need extra criticism.
“We have a new manager and are trying to adapt to his philosophy and also his demands. It has been a tough start of course – we faced two good teams in Man City and Chelsea – but you don’t have any easy opponents in this league.
“We lost the first game and the second one as well. But that’s football. We just have to stay positive and continue working hard and the good results will come. We don’t feel any pressure. We are not thinking that something is going wrong because we are moving in the right way even if we lost two games. I don’t know why people are criticising so much. I’m not paying attention because I know if I’ve played bad or well.”
Well, Mick – if I may call you that – the central part of being a pundit writing about Arsenal is absolute total 100% negativity. That’s how it goes.
My guess is that Lucas Torreira will start, and at last we will see Mkhitaryan – Lacazette – Aubamayang as the strike force. Or at least that is what I want.
Mark Lawrenson writing on the BBC web site said, “I am almost thinking that for this season – as Unai Emery gets his feet under the table and imposes his style – Arsenal should not put pressure on themselves to finish in the top four.” I am not sure what “almost thinking” is, but I rather fancy having a go at it, although I know some of my friends would most certainly accuse me of that already.
Lawrenson who likes to be called Lauro, so I am almost thinking I shall call him Lawrenson added, “West Ham seriously worry me. They were hopeless defensively in defeat by both Liverpool and Bournemouth. You can sign as many players as you want, but ultimately if you can’t defend in the Premier League, you are going to be in trouble.”
He predicts a 2-0 victory for Arsenal.
Jonathan Pearce for the BBC however is in his famous hilariously inaccurate mode. On the BBC’s website Pearce says and I quote exactly, “Jonathan Pearce: No permanent Arsenal manager has ever lost his opening three games. It’s 54 years since the club lost its opening three. Unai Emery has to get a victory in this.”
Quite why these oddbod commentators don’t ask for help from the Arsenal History Society is beyond me. It is there, it publishes vast amounts of data, and could sort his out in a trice. But to help the dear old bodkins, here is the reality, rather than the fantasy. In 1954/5 which is I think 64 years ago Arsenal lost the first three league games, 1-3 to Newcastle, 0-1 to Everton and 1-3 to WBA.
The manager was Tom Whittaker who was manager from 1947 to 1956 which is pretty permanent. He is one of the four great managers who came together under Chapman: Chapman himself (2 league titles 1 FA Cup), Shaw (who took over when Chapman died, and won the league), Allison (2 league titles and 1 FA Cup) and Whittaker (2 league titles and 1 FA Cup). Tom Whittaker played for Arsenal, was injured playing for England, and then became the club’s physio, the most famous “healer” in the country, and then the manager.
54 years ago was 1964 when Billy Wright (also a permanent manager) won one, drew one and lost one of the first three.
And so a team, I hear you cry. Give me the team.
Well, given that I have been wrong in predicting both the first two matches I do so with much temerity and the writer’s equivalent of my hand over my mouth and try this…
Bellerin Mustafi Sokratis Monreal
Mkhitaryan Ozil Aubamayang
Lurking on the beach I would give you
Iwobi (certain to come on for a forward) Leno, Holding, Ramsey, Lichtsteiner, Xhaka, Mavropanos
My thinking is that West Ham have scored one and let in six. If we can blast them with that forward lineup and get a goal or two then they will shake rattle and roll over. And if it is not working we can bring on Iwobi. Or come to that if it is working we can bring on Iwobi.
But do remember, rather like Jonathan Pearce, I get it wrong. But I have the excuse that I don’t have one of the largest media corporations in the universe checking my work. In fact no one checks my work. And I don’t get paid for this.
We’re all off now to the Arsenal Stadium where a number of Untolders and our backroom staff (ha ha) will be meeting up prior to the game. Always great when that happens. Walter and co will have left home at 3am. Now that is support.
I think we’ll win 4-0.
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