Fear Or Respect ?

A guest post from @foreverheady



One of the comments that irritated Arsenal supporters after the four goal romp against Newcastle last Saturday was the one made by Richard Keys about Santi Cazorla not showing their 21 Year Old Goalkeeper, Jak Alnwick  any respect when he chipped in his Panenka penalty. The idea was put about that this was in some way bullying, and, because The Arsenal was involved, attracted more than its fair share of interest. It got me thinking, and reminded of a time when I was much younger, and similarly treated by an older and much respected pro. Different sport, but essentially the same.

Sussex were going well in the Championship and travelled to Coventry to play Warwickshire at the Courtaulds ground: winning the toss and batting first, runs came easily, courtesy of a Gehan Mendis century , and it was not until late afternoon that I went in to bat. Bob Willis was the bowler, and I was excited (and slightly apprehensive) to face such a Test star. I took my guard, looked round the field and settled into my stance to wait for his long, long run-up, that I had seen so many times before on the TV. Except he hadn’t walked back to his mark, but instead bowled immediately – almost from a standing start. I wasn’t ready at all, although technically I was, and didn’t have the experience or confidence to pull away. The ball clattered into the stumps before I knew it, and I trudged off, out for a Golden Duck, to the sniggers and derision of the Warwickshire team. I had been properly done, and felt humiliated and wretched. Bullied? Maybe, although it was perfectly within the rules. Taught a lesson? Yes, certainly, and also made aware that at that level no quarter is asked for or given. And that is the point about Santi’s penalty. He knew that the keeper was likely to dive too soon, and he also knew that if Alnwick was serious about being a first team player in the Premiership then he deserved the respect of being taken as an equal – and not as a young greenhorn for whom allowances should be made. But perhaps more importantly, Santi knew he was going to score, and I expect the keeper did too – and it is that type of one on one confrontation when sport ceases to be just about physical skill and becomes something far more psychological.

Much was made the following afternoon of David de Gea’s contribution to Manchester United’s ultimately facile dismissal of Liverpool, and it is certainly true that his early save from Sterling allowed Rooney the chance to score only moments later. As the plaudits rained down on de Gea, my Twitter timeline was full of indignation, claiming that he only made these saves because the ball was kicked straight at him, much as had been the case when he frustrated so many Arsenal efforts a few weeks before. But that slightly misses the point, and although Gary Neville talked about the excellence of his positioning, that is only half the story too. De Gea made the saves because he was mentally stronger than the attacker – he had won the psychological battle if you like – and that is why so many of the shots were weak and safely struck at the middle of the goal. I have seen decent first-class bowlers bowl absolute rubbish at top batsmen for the same reason: they momentarily become like rabbits in the headlights and freeze at just the moment that they need to be instinctive and fluid. Sterling’s weak effort in the second half when he had a far more obvious one on one with the keeper seems proof of that, and I suspect it will be a long time before he, or indeed anyone else, will go past De Gea when they have time to think about it. It will take a stronger player to do it, and I shall be interested to see who it is, although I’d wager it will be one of the world’s greats. Aguero or Alexis maybe, seeing as we won’t see United in stronger competition for a while.

Those one on one moments are most obviously in focus when it is striker v keeper, but in truth those little battles happen all over the pitch, and being better or stronger than your immediate counterpart is so important to the overall result of the game. But there are some players who are so much better that they impact a whole game just by their presence alone. It is not just their outrageous skill that does it, although that is obviously important, it is more their force of will. They take games by the scruff of the neck and bully it into submission. Suarez won games for Liverpool last season, just as Bale had done for Tottenham the year before, that they had no right to win, and you could literally see defenders quake when those two were anywhere near. George Best and Giggs did it in their pomp, and at times Rooney has it about him too.  Ronaldo and Messi do it on a regular basis, and it is always exciting to see them go up a gear and do something extraordinary, although often their presence alone means that they frequently get away with not having to do very much, so readily do the opposition wave the white flag. Thierry Henry was one such, and as people celebrate his retirement and use the excuse to spend happy hours replaying golden moments, I hope they will also remember his mental strength as well as his vast talent. Time alone will tell whether we will ever have one to match him, but although he is not yet a personal favourite of mine, I have a sneaky feeling that Alexis might be the one to assume his mantle of sublime game-changer, and a player whom even the greatest keepers respect and fear.


Thanks For The Memories Arsene, Thats Another Good One !

A guest post from   @double_canister



By Arsenal standards this season, a 4-1 home win against a team that was on the same points level as us in the morning is very much something to cheer about, especially as that team had deservedly seen off Chelsea the week before and were rested and prepared with a weeks training, whereas had to travel to Istanbul and back. Of course nouveau chateau were without several 1st team choices, but so were Arsenal in case anyone noticed.
The match itself was quite straight forward, so I won’t dwell on the details. 4 really good goals including a penalty, a sleepy soft free kick conceded as a consolation goal for the visitors, who never looked like bringing the game back to 3-2 and making Arsenal sweat a bit. Every Arsenal player on the piched preformed admirably – even the unpopular ones. There were no ‘get out while your can’ nonsense from the miserable mob before the match, and after 70 minutes into a very comfortably controlled game there was some rather joyful singing from right around the stadium chanting ‘there is only 1 Arsene Wenger’, it seems the silent majority aren’t going to remain silent when a few buffoons are trying to disgrace this club and it’s supports for the sake of their own over-privileged egos. I don’t know how they will explain what happened, surely 50,000 fake plastic tourist fans must have got a hold of all the tickets for yesterday’s match and have been brainwashed personally into chanting by Ivan Gazidis. The Eskimos and Massi herdsmen I was sitting beside had a long discussion about this after the match over a nice warm pint of yak’s blood.
In case anyone has missed it, Arsenal have been in decent form recently, if you take the 1st half aberration at Stoke out of the equation. We are heading into the busy Christmas holiday schedule with a decent head of steam, true we have a hospital ward full of injured players but many will be back soonish, the sight of Özil in training being a particular highlight to look forward to in the new year. We will know on Monday who we will be facing in Europe but we can probably guess – South Germany again in all likelihood.
A journalist recently told me that our club has been a ‘basket case’ for the last 5 years. What can we say in our clubs defence, I ask you? The squad rebuilding process has taken much longer than expected – we have had too many key players jump ship for bigger money and what appeared to them at the time as better prospects. We were a selling club up until two years ago, our sponsorship deals which were needed to settled the stadium finances at the start of that project were very much under powered in comparison to those of our rivals. And at the same time none of our rivals were carrying out a half a billion infrastructure project through a recession but were pumping vast quantities of dubiously sourced cash into their teams. Chelsea in particular having ran rings around the FFP process – we have to give them credit for their financial deviousness, being able to see their silo of spare players for huge cash deals just at the right time.
Back to Arsenal and it’s own future prospects, things do look rosy for the future, we can buy some star players every year and develop the youth we have into really capable players -Wilshere, Ramsey and Oxlaide Chamberlain are examples of our managers trust in youth and it now looks like a new batch will be showing that that was no fluke. The fact that many of us can contemplate that selling a player of the calibre of Lukas Podolski without it weakening the squad is a measure of our strength.
The main question right now amongst the fanbase is who do we want to lead us into this golden future, the man who built the foundations for this or some new guy with ‘fresher’ ideas? Well, if you suppose having the club with the biggest domestic home support languishing in the relegation places in the bundesliga is a fresh idea, you may be onto something.  Perhaps there is a jaded over-familiarity with our own ever present Alsatian, he’s an old dog alright, but can he learn new tricks? Our fans have seen him at our club for nearly a generation of their own lifetimes, we have even have parody video songs about him, his anorak is famous in its own right, his alleged dithering, his parsimony in the transfer market, his wiley ways….. You get the picture. We all think we know everything there is to know about le Professor.
So why would we support him? My trust is in Arsene Wenger, he has won many many things with Arsenal in the past when he has had the players and resources available to him, and he is getting those kind things right again now.
There are many of our supporters who have been using our club as more or less a vehicle for their own over inflated egos if you ask me, if the teams performances decline they feel it reflects badly on themselves. They boast of numbers of twitter followers, blogs and pod casts (yeah I know there may be an irony here, but work with me); we on positively arsenal are not here because of ourselves, we are here to support the club, the team and the man running the show.
Why do we we support Arsene Wenger? Because he is Arsene Wenger and is the best man for the job of developing our club and probably establishing AFC as one of the the best teams in Europe – and that does mean winning the Champions League sooner rather than later.
As the fans sang last night:  “there is only one Arsene Wenger”, and our fans are never wrong eh?



Pre Xmas Turkey.

A guest post from Seebs.


While lofty butt cheeks is getting all the press for making the squad for chelski in a game of no consequence our plethora of youngsters was taking on the turkish champions and giving them a good thanksgiving to be honest.

Bulat the turkish keeper started with a full head of hair and was clean shaven however after several Poldolski rockets, including one that broke the back of the net in the opening minutes, he was bald with the hair ending up round his chin giving him the appearance of a beard. Of course the ever increasing lunacy of Paul merson suggesting the keeper should of saved it even though it was measured at 473 MPH.

The youthful team had Bellerin starting at left back and Chambers in the middle and further infused with the young Sanogo, Campbell and the Ox. With the more experienced heads helping them along the gunners went further ahead through Aarons left foot after a clumsy Poldolski challenge wasn’t punished and the Ox carried the ball from the centre circle to the edge of the box before feeding Aaron. Although we didn’t know Aaron was only warming his weak foot up as from a Campbell corner after the ball was headed away from the area he scored a world class goal that even our biggest critics are creaming over.

We had other chances but at half time it was 3-0 and after the break both teams reappeared having made two changes. Aaron and Flamini both being taken off as a precaution after both complaining of minor knocks. Maitland -Niles and Zelalem coming on and performing well although galatasaray started to come back in it and in the end had about 30 attempts although I can’t remember Sczceney  having much to do and he was only beaten after an excellent Sneider free kick that sailed past him. Not to be outdone the ever youthful Lukas P. decided to dance around a few defenders play a one two with Yaya and finish with his weak foot just to match Aaron. The second half also saw the introduction of Stephan O’Conner for his debut after the returning Debuchy ran out of puff in an impressive display.

So 4-1 away from home in the ultra-competition qualifying for the knock out stages for the 103rd straight year that’s not bad thanks for the new memories Arsene because according to Bredon and Mancheni (and the wob brigades GG who failed against benfica) it’s not that easy. Yeah there were better results we could of hoped for to put us top but once again all the teams finishing top of their respective groups will not want to play us.

P.S. There may have been a few exaggerations in this post however I tend to do that when, in the words of the great JB, I feel good !!!



Arsenal Fans Disgrace The Club And Us All !


Confucius once said “Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?”

As I sit here and pen this post, I’m reminiscing the past grandeur our fan base once possessed. We were a joyous bunch renowned for getting behind the team and the manager. We were united as a Club.

But today, we’re a completely mess. Divided into two halves, dolling out vitriol at one another. But amidst all this, there is one man with his stoic persona, still carrying on, immune to the commotion and anarchy our fan base has created. I happened to stumble across a video on YouTube last night, in which Wenger was booed and abused by Gooners as he was on his way to his coach, post the Stoke City game. The first sense I was evoked by, was that of sheer disgust at the reaction from the bunch of classless cretins, which immediately turned into a feeling of guilt and embarrassment as I saw the expression on that man’s face. It was pretty obvious he was shocked by what he heard, but he carried on, like he always has. I’d like to make one thing very clear here. I’m not writing this post just to vouch for Arsene or why we need to believe in him. But rather, also to remind our fan base that one of the most important things in life is to respect one another.
It’s been 18 long years since Wenger’s been at the helm of this great football club. Given us moments of great joy that will be cherished forever and spoken in football folklore. I’m a grateful man, and I’d like to thank him for giving me some of the best moments of my life, right from that Wiltord night at Old Trafford, to that Ramsey moment at Wembley. From that Ray Parlour bomb against Chelsea to that Patrick Vieira sublimity against Leicester, in the club’s greatest ever season. Simply put, these are moments I’ll take with, to my grave. But, it is beyond the realms of my understanding as to how can you abuse a man of such measure? I understand, that people have opinions and we have to respect those opinions regardless of us agreeing to It or not. But why abuse? Let’s take out everything from this. Arsene Wenger just for his seniority of age deserves to be respected. I’m not even going to dwell into what this man has done for this football club. But I have one question!

Whatever happened to “Remember who you are, what you are and who you represent”?
Is it that, our fan base has forgotten about it or are completely oblivious to it?

I take immense pride in supporting the Arsenal, and every Arsenal fan should, and, the basic obligation for a supporter, is to get behind the team. You can raise questions, be critical and disagree with the calls taken by the manager, but at the end of it all, the most important thing is to support and respect. To quote Wenger;
We’re are at our strongest, when we are together”.

At this moment, we’re not, and, it looks like we will be divided for some time to come. But, all I ask of our supporters is to not stoop to the levels of mediocrity with your support. Football is supposed to be a game that unites, not divide. I plead with you, let’s not do this to ourselves.let’s not treat the club’s greatest signing with such odious character assassination.  There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and I see us being led into that light by the great man. But please, he doesn’t deserve this. He deserves better. To quote him once again, before I end this;

“If you do not believe you can do it, then you have no chance at all”

‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’




What Are Referees Up To ?

From yesterday’s game we can see that officials have two different interpretations of the laws of the game, how can one team compete if they are playing to a different interpretation of the rules to the other team. 

The officials are now making more and more match defining decisions per game, they are not just officiating the game to the rules they are changing the game.
Yes you can call me paranoid if you want but when Chambers was sent off my timeline exploded with criticism of the ref the same happened when Sanchez was wrestled to the floor by his neck by Adam.
How can teams compete with ref’s having such fluctuating interpretations of the laws of the game. This problem isn’t a new one it has been going on for a while but it has become more obvious this season, clear penalties not given, bad fouls let go, soft fouls (Gibbs today in the 1st half) given for almost breathing on a player.
Managers like Wenger are playing with one hand tied behind his back, he doesn’t know and you can bet the players don’t know what they can and can’t do on the pitch. If the foul Gibbs was pulled up for was a foul how did Stokes 1st goal stand when Crouch jumped for the ball wasn’t that a slight push and so a free kick .
This isn’t a defend Wenger post because he has to take the blame for the 1st half but come on unless you are totally blind and hate Wenger so much you must see the problems Arsenal and in truth other teams are having with officials. There is no consistency in their officiating today, it is almost like they are trying to even games up with decisions to make it a competitive game.
We have no knowledge or understanding of what the refs report after games, the PMOGL are a secretive organisation who give very little information out. They run the PL officials like their own little mafia organisation.
The thing that really annoys me more than that is that I can see it, you can see these odd decisions, there are blogs who dedicate themselves to this debate (the excellent www.untoldarsenal.com) etc but the media, the all knowing media do not say a word.
Where is the investigation into why we have so few refs in the PL, why no questioning of the PGMOL and why ref’s can’t speak to the media. Why are ref reports not published to the outside world, why can with unerring correctness untold Arsenal predict which refs will get which games and how that ref will act. Why are there no refs in the PL from the south of England, the area of the country with the highest population but no PL refs?
How can in eight months of football the team with the most touches of the ball in the penalty box only have received only 2 penalties in the PL. A foul is a foul it doesn’t matter if you do not go to ground in the penalty area it is a foul and so a penalty.
This has moved on from my rather glib and sarcastic post earlier, this is now more than about Wenger this is affecting all clubs to one extent or another either positively or negatively.
Too many clubs are receiving or not as the case maybe the points they deserve because of strange decisions from officials

Wenger Out.


We want Wenger out……..don’t we, yes we must for I am being told by every Tom, Dick and Harry that he is past it, he is a dinosaur and that he is a dictator.  So there we have it Wenger out now please I mean why would we want a manager who cant keep his players fit. Look at our injury record its disgusting that’s all Wenger’s fault, it has nothing to do with the officials not applying the same laws to Arsenal as they do to other teams. I mean it is all Wenger’s fault that Ozil receives a late challenge during the Spurs match that means he breaks down against Chelsea which the ref thought was okay. It is all Wenger’s fault that the ref thinks a late challenge on Wilshere from a Man u player is fine that means he is out for 4 months. I blame Wenger for allowing the officials not award Arsenal one of the nine penalties we could have been awarded this season and for not giving Arsenal a penalty in the PL since February. 

I lay the blame squarely at the feet of Wenger that he lets other teams practice the dark arts of rotational fouling on his players, just because officials blow for a foul if an Arsenal player breathes on the opposition doesn’t mean he should let it happen. Wenger should know by now that the offside laws are different for depending on who Arsenal are playing, so he should be able to set his team up to defend against this. It is all Wenger’s fault that because he allows all this to happen that he has to make substitutions because of injuries that leave us not being able to change the game late on no plan B.  

It is all Wenger’s fault because if he had not of won all those trophies we would not of moved to the new ground and so we would still be happy sitting in our nice little Highbury. We now play in a soulless bowl and that’s all Wenger’s fault he should be running up and down the touchline with a drum or something encouraging the singing section to sing. What else is Wenger’s fault ahhh yes ticket prices that’s all his fault, if he had spent the money better on players we could be winning lots of trophies and we know from our years at Highbury that when we are winning trophies we don’t care about price rises do we.  

And don’t give me all this rubbish about new money at Chelsea and Man city that shouldn’t matter Arsenal are a club that has won 18 trophies in the past two decades we deserve that to keep happening, we pay the highest ticket prices in the world that means we should be winning a trophy every 1.1 seasons. Oh and back to ticket prices I’ve seen some try to justify the cost by saying Chelsea’s tickets are comparable if evened out over 26 games and that some of that lots down the road would be higher. Well I don’t care about them who wants to be compared to Spurs and Chelsea anyway.  

It is all Wenger’s fault that the board are so inept at running the club, look at the deal with Puma that’s rubbish we should be on the same level as Manchester United. He brought in that Ivan bloke he’s rubbish we need Dein back, yes I know he tried to get Stan in behind the boards back and then sold his shares to the Russian but that doesn’t matter.  

You only have to look at Wenger’s dealings in the transfer market to see what a bad manager he is, letting all those players leave just because they wanted to go. I don’t believe for one moment these stories about Darren Dein’s players trying to unsettle the other players its just a coincidence that they have all left now. I mean why let TV5 leave we could of done with him this season with the injuries we have had, just because he has been injured all this season make no difference he still could have been in the squad. Wenger brought in Ozil when we didn’t need him, why go out and get a world class player when we didn’t need him, that’s just a waste of money (my money from my season ticket I have you know). 

I think Wenger should leave immediately, whoever we get in will do just as well, they will get us into the top 4 every season. They will be able to stop all this rotational fouling and non awarding of penalties, they will be able to stop all these injuries because the officials do not do their jobs properly. Thanks for the memories Wenger but you are past it mate, you’re a dinosaur, you have failed to move with the multi million pound teams.  



Arsenal Fan Should Understand,But They Dont !

A guest post from Finsbury
I’m not sure where to start with a review of this football game between Arsenal and Southampton on Wednesday. 
The post match comments here on PA were interesting and the match plunditry was very funny to read afterwards having been at the game myself. Thanks to all for that. Not sure I can add much, but for what it’s worth here are my thoughts. I’m going to focus on the booing of the substitution and I’ll explain why at the end. 
A friend had offered me a ticket to the game late on. Someone in his family were still recovering from an operation. And going to the football was a welcome distraction for me as a member of my own family had been in the Heart Hospital in London for an operation as well, earlier in the week. It’s a specialist NHS hospital located in an older building, not a “progressive” PFI construct. The quality of care and professionalism from all staff were of the highest order inside an institution that as far as I know (not very far!) is not yet crippled by this modern format of medieval debt peonage. A model that is contrary to the very concept of the Hospital itself considering that most of the earliest charitable hospital type institutions were as far as I know, crazy as it sounds, built on donated land for a reason. Not paying extortionate rents to third parties who had been gifted land. I’m drifting off on a tangent here. Again.
A hospital for the heart
Why did I want to reflect on the substitution? We’ve observed a pattern of some Arsenal fans choosing to repeat the drone from an extreme media (extremist in relation to the discredited and bizarre economic theories as above that they consistently propagate), words which can be observed to bare no relation to what is happening upon the football pitch. Lots of examples:
E.g. the tragic spectacle of people who invest a lot of time in football as Arsenal fans slagging off Mesut Özil, one of the most admired footballers on the planet (with flaws like all players!), on podcasts that were longer than a football match after his last game against Chelsea although anyone and everyone could see the player was injured and hobbling during that game. Strange behaviour. And then latterly the booing by the loud minority of Groaning Experts of Chamberlain’s substitution during last night’s game is unfortunately another example of this unflattering posture. Overall there was a good if slightly nervous atmosphere from the home fans to my ears last night. I had a good time and so did many many others. But back to the Ox.:
In his own words Chambo had only recently returned to top level fitness. For the first time since last August (when I had him down as my prospective nomination for player of the season. Another friend picked Ramsey last pre-season). He picked up a knock in the West Brum game and probably only started this game as it was against his old boyhood club. So with Giroud also having just returned for his first start and seventy minutes of top flight football on the weekend the swap between the two once the line ups were announced with another game coming up in three days was predictable before kick off.
We can see the impact of such heavy schedules, games every three days, upon players with the trauma experienced on the Southampton bench. Koeman taking a gamble or two that didn’t pay off. Arsene gambled on rotating the Ox with OG, and it worked. Tough luck Ronny.
The management of players’ fitness, of Khedira and Schweiny with their niggles, of Özil was the most impressive part of the German summer campaign for me. And it was central to their own planning too. With the Xmas fixture crunch coming up, with the Ox’s recent form, his own comments on his fitness, you’d imagine that decision would make sense to most football followers, or people that have played amateur sport at any level.
Of course people are entitled to an “opinion”. But we have observed that for a minority that their opinion is getting further and further away from the football pitch. An example of mass hysterical confirmation bias? Unfortunately so, that is what the booing by some of the Ox’s substitution was.  And it’s not a good look. I don’t recommend it.
People do enjoy being a part of mobs, always have always will. But you do need to be careful that you don’t get trapped within the herd. That’s when it can be dangerous, the predators might eat your soul alive leaving your body nothing more then a zombies carcass. No heart left.
I don’t expect every football fan to have played high level sport in their youth or to have some or any experience of sports physiotherapy etc. why should they? But I do expect people who write about football every day whether by choice or for pay (whether they admit that or not!) to understand the basic demands and requirements involved in any top level modern sport. So, I’m very glad for this blog considering the proven and undeniable scale of the trolling of AFC fans in the media and elsewhere whatever the reason and also the poverty of the overall plunditry when compared with other sports. Who out there is surprised at Adrian Clarkes sudden popularity with all these podcasters after he replaced that bigoted buffoon thanks to an online petition started by AFC fans? Against a groaning employee of the club no less! The irony is too beautiful. There’s a lesson there. For some. But they’ll probably ignore it and groan away over the next few weeks with festive cheer as Sanchez rotates with Walcott (hopefully!), as the coaches juggle their way through the Xmas Crunch.
I’ve heard that those who used go to football in order to have fights used to save their energy for the opposition. But in the main I understand that traditionally people went to football games to to see friends, family, to watch some football because, well, because they like football. To relax. Sometimes a temporary rest or balance to any troubles. Not to have someone troll them into acting like a troubled soul in front of others.
I’m not concerned with transparent and lame agendas. I don’t like to see any Arsenal fans make fools of themselves and the club. Who would?
“So long as they continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance…petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.”
In the late seventies Terry Gillian looked into the future (probably with some medicinal aid) and he saw the faces of Adrian Durham and those stupid enough to listen to him.

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