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  1. Jesus, Martinelli Brazil World rank 1 Paddy Power 4/1 Saliba, France World rank 3 Paddy Power 6/1 Saka, White, Ramsdale England World rank 5 Paddy Power 8/1 Xhaka, Switzerland World rank 14 Paddy Power 90/1 Turner, USA World rank 15 Paddy Power 125/1 Tomiyasu, Japan World rank 23 Paddy Power 300/1 Partey, Ghana World rank 60 Paddy Power 300/1 No Saka in the picture? Why is that? Arsenal come out on top And so can Arsenal win the World Cup? Of course, I don’t mean the actual trophy but an Arsenal player or players get a winners medal? Judging by various metrics it is certainly possible. Above are the players going and their countries ratings according to 2 different metrics – World ranking and betting odds. By those guides we have a chance. I suspect it is fair to say that only the first 3 countries have a chance, for the others it would be as big a shock as if Arsenal win the Premiership. Ah, only joking, Arsenal are, however, a massive 11/2 to win despite being clear at the top. That figure would put us ahead of France and England winning the World Cup as possibilities, though. But we do have 3 teams rated in the top 5 by ranking, and in betting. Argentina at 11/2 are 2nd but 4th in world rankings and Spain at 7/1 are in 4th but 7th in rankings.. Amazingly Belgium are ranked 2nd but are way higher in the betting at 18/1. We don’t have any Belgian players at the World Cup unless an injury brings Lokonga in late. A new winner? I have to say one thing here now and that is we rarely get a new winner and that is reflected in the betting. Belgium have never won it and are banished to the outer regions but all of the winners at some time were new winners so do not let that put you off if you fancied them nor even the team I regard as our best Arsenal outsiders, Switzerland at 90/1. If Xhaka’s team come through their group, which I expect although Brazil, Serbia and Cameroon will provide strong opposition, they will then avoid Brazil in subsequent rounds. They could be a good each way bet although it is very hard to see them winning it. Croatia almost did last time out, though, and there is often a surprise team in the semi’s. There definitely was in the USA in 1994 but I can’t remember the name of the team. Just joking! Only 8 teams have won it and Italy are not here. Uruguay have been eclipsed by Brazil and Argentina and do not look likely to win but the other six are the top six in the betting – Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain, England and, perhaps surprisingly Germany are the final one at 10/1. Could be good value but we don’t have any Germans any more BFG or not. A non-playing medal? Jesus and Martinelli then are our best chance. Will they play? It is hard to say but it doesn’t look good. They would need to get a chance and take it. They may get a go as a sub if Brazil are struggling and if they come on and help them to win, well you never know. But the competition is strong and it doesn’t look very good. A non-playing medal is of course more likely. Saliba: Our top chance? France and Saliba have to have a great chance. Saliba has already played 7 times for them this season and I feel he will play. Their group looks winnable with Denmark, Tunisia and Australia and Mbappe, Griezman and Benzema always give you a chance. I reckon Saliba is our best chance of actually playing in the final and winning. England? Surely a big shocker if they fail to get out of their group with the USA, Wales and Iran. They have been stuttering, though, and it will definitely be the end of Southgate if that happens. Can they win it? I just don’t see it, to be honest, they have too many players with mistakes in them. However if they do, Saka will most likely play and possibly Ben White if he is given a chance and shines. Verdict – a maybe but I believe if they do, Saka will be on the pitch for the final. None of our players get a chance for the big teams? France are my tip to win it. Strangely enough, for the big teams, all our players are doubts, even Saka and Saliba. The competition is strong. This does not apply to the rest of our players as they will certainly play if fit. Can the lower players win it? The betting and their rankings say no. The lowest ranked team to ever win it was France in 1998 at 18 but look at that side, full to the brim of extraordinary players including several Arsenal legends. Their ranking was a joke as they often are. Many teams are in there now beyond 32 in the rankings with Ghana at 60 the lowest. Does not look good for Partey, does it? Still, Portugal might implode with Ronaldo, and Uruguay and South Korea look beatable. Get through the group and you never know. But a quarterfinal would be a surprise. Partey's Ghana could surprise As it would be for Tomiyasu’s Japan. Spain, Germany and Costa Rica stand in their way and it seems a mountain too high. We won’t see him lifting any medal. The USA could be dark horses Turner will play as he has cemented his spot with the USA and I think they have a good chance of getting out of their group as England could well stumble, Wales are unpredictable and Iran are well lower than them in the betting at 500/1 to the USA 125/1. Wales are also 125/1. The USA have often done well in World Cups and could be a surprise package. I feel that quarterfinals are their best hope, though. I don’t see Turner holding a medal but you never know. They do have players such as Pulisic of Chelsea who are playing at the highest level. Turner - Can the USA win in an airconditioned stadium? My conclusion is that Saliba represents our best chance of playing and winning. Jesus and Martinelli our best chance of winners medals and probably not playing. England probably won’t make it. Xhaka as our best outside chance. Brazil- always a great chance It would be great to see England or Brazil do it with all our boys playing, and World Cups always throw up players who shine though not going there as first choice, it could be Arsenal’s turn to have such players for Brazil or England. I really hope our 10 players play and show the world what it is to be Arsenal, to play with skill and abandon and that we have at least one player a winner in the final. Then Arsenal would be on top of the world. Let’s do it, Arsenal!
  2. Southampton -our bogey team? Are we on a slide? Is it fair to say we haven’t played well these past four matches? 4 teams below us in stature, and yet we struggled to put them away easily. Southampton, fast becoming our bogey team, scrambled a draw. A bit of bad luck in all four and we could have lost all of them. Cries of Arteta out, Edu out, Kroenke out, and cleaning ladies out would be ringing around the halls of the Emirates. Is it fair to say we were lucky, then, to have come out with 3 wins and a draw from these encounters? I say yes. I said in an earlier blog that beating teams below us is what matters and that is exactly what we have done here. Bodø/Glimt - our equals? Bodø/Glimt, Leeds Utd and Eindhoven all one nil to the Arsenal, our good old reliable score and then we got to sing it against Southampton but they didn’t let us finish with it. In the context of what we can achieve, these wins and the draw are the important ones. Lesser teams have to be put to the sword if you want to win trophies. Only City better than us? Arguably there is only one team better than us in fans and pundits minds, if Liverpool are indeed on a fall from grace, and that is Man City. Chelsea and the Spuds are bubbling around us and also last year there was little difference between us. Man Utd and Newcastle are the best of the rest. Liverpool are always capable of putting together a run. That leaves 7 teams chasing Champions league, if no one pops up from below. All with big squads and plenty of money. It now comes down to various factors, confidence, managers, team styles, the will to win, and luck. If it is fair to say we have had some luck so far in the past 4 matches, we will also need some again. So, against Southampton our goalmouth stats were only slightly better than the hosts, our 12 shots to their 10 and both 3 on target. We had 10 chances to their 8. We had a lot more possession. So we should have won, just. We didn’t, so that could be classified as bad luck. Or bad finishing. Bad finishing is the problem? For PSV Eindhoven it is very clear, we had lots of chances, 25 to their 4 and 18 chances to their 4. We had 8 on target to their 4. All other stats were in our favour so that could also be classified as bad luck. Or bad finishing. Unlucky Leeds? Against Leeds it was all a bit different. A team struggling near the bottom created more shots, 16 to 9, more chances, 11 to 7, and we both had the same shots on target at 4. Possession for us was a bit better then them. Surely good luck is clear here? Still worrying finishing from us, though. Against Bodø/Glimt the stats were remarkably similar. One shot on target apiece, our 7 shots to their 6, and our 6 chances to their 5. We were better with possession. We can’t say bad luck or particularly good luck. I feel we deserved to win, just. We have to beat lesser sides Worryingly, if we are talking about the luck factor, as I have said, bad luck could have seen us lose all four. To me, though, the biggest worry is conversion of chances. The figures are clear up above, we are creating chances, even on this bad run, and it is a bad run, as all teams are clearly below us in standings. What would Bodø/Glimt be the equivalent of? The Championship? PSV? At best a midtable Premiership side? And Leeds and Southampton looking like they will fight against relegation. So, let’s be clear, this is a bad run in which we have come out smelling of roses. We fought and we scrapped but didn’t play well for anything like 90 minutes for 4 matches in a row. And got 10 points! Xhaka - converting chances We do need to start playing well again, that is very clear. Even if my argument is that we were only truly lucky in the Leeds match and a touch unlucky in the Southampton one, we lost our goal scoring touch. 4 games and 4 goals is not going to win us the league unless we live up to the old one nil to the Arsenal trope. A bad spell to come? Should we be worried? Maybe. I don’t mind us having a bad spell but what I have suggested above is that it is not a bad spell at all. We deserved to win two of the 3 we did win and probably should have won the 4th. Which means the inevitable bad spell is still to come. Games we deserve to lose which we actually do. We had many such matches last term. This year we are much better. We seem to have found a solidity, a will to win, and a staunch defence to get us out of trouble. The Leeds second half was our worst so far. It happens all teams every season, they go to an unfancied side and fail to win. We won this time. Scored a wonder goal against Leeds I solve our problem So are we on a slide? The stats suggest otherwise. Are we looking tired? The stress of playing every week is hitting our big stars? If we discount being lucky as I have said, then it could be that factor. Do we have the strength in depth? A certain amount for sure. But I am sure of one thing, we need to score more goals. We need comfortable wins sometimes. If we are scrambling to get goals every game that will come back to bite us bigtime. Xhaka and Saka have been scoring wonder goals. My proposal is that all players get their names changed legally to an Aka ending to give us a big chance of winning everything. Gunnersaka Ramsdaka. Whaka Gaka Salibaka Tomiyaka Paka Xhaka (no change) Saka (no change) Martinaka Odegaka Jesuaka My problem is that no one at Arsenal ever listens to me. Please Artaka, our wonderful manager, listen to this Irishman and we will win everything, be Arsenal and send these teams home crying.
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