Would You Go To Arsenal ?

A post by @Swales1968

How many of the fifty five thousand Arsenal supporters that will be at the Emirates to watch the opening game of the season against Crystal Palace could be called “loyal supporters”? How many would turn up if Arsenal were in the position that West Ham or Aston Villa find themselves in season after season. Their main objective is to avoid relegation, a good cup run will treated as a second team try out and a hindrance at the expense of three points on a Saturday

So how many supporters would there be?

I started going to watch Arsenal in 1976. Attendances were good then at around thirty thousand, if memory serves me right. (If this figure is incorrect I am sorry)

In the early nineteen eighties regularly, there would be figures of sixteen to twenty thousand. On one snowy night just over fourteen thousand turned up. Yes the standard of football was poor, we were cheering when an Arsenal player had a shot, it didn’t matter that it missed, someone had a shot.

It was the period just after “Chippy Brady” went to Italy, and if you think the Dutch skunk RVP’s move to Manure was bad, it was no where near as bad as Frank Stapleton’s move in the same direction. This was the start of the bad feeling between the two clubs, reports at the time said that at the following Arsenal V Manure game at Highbury that the Arsenal board refused the normal hospitality given to opposition boards. I think this was just hearsay because the one thing that Arsenal have always been good at is to rise above such petty things (personally though, I would love to know it was true)

Anyway, I digress. Attendances?  How many of those fifty five thousand would have turned up thirty years ago. Nowhere near the fifty-five to sixty thousand Arsenal get today. Expectations were lower, could Arsenal have a good cup run, could Arsenal qualify for the EUFA cup?  Win the league; you’re having a laugh, not the league. It was the same level of expectation that a Spurs supporter has now.

Would the Arsenal fans standing on the old NorthBank and ClockEnd get at the players the way Eboue and Ramsey were got at by fans? NO, we laughed, please don’t get me wrong, we wanted to win, we wanted the best players. We were even happy for a game or two when Lee Chapman signed. (And for all those who think Wenger has signed the worst duds they really need to look up Mr Chapman’s career at Arsenal)

Of today’s supporters and their expectation from Arsenal, I think maybe ten to twenty thousand would be bothered to turn up if Arsenal were in the same situation as Aston Villa or West Ham. There would be more attending than fifteen thousand attending as younger fans that have no chance of getting tickets today would be able to attend.

The atmosphere would be better as these younger voices would get behind the team. The people attending would be going because they love “The Arsenal” and will go whatever position the club find themselves in.

The signs were there a couple of seasons back, attendance figures stopped being read out at the matches, people stopped attending matches even though they had already paid for their tickets and this was in a season when Arsenal finished forth(again)

This is what Arsene Wenger has done to the majority of the supporters, he has raised expectations. He has moved the club forward, a huge leap forward. And today’s supporters expect trophies, demand trophies, forth is seen as a failure without a trophy. That’s why I believe only around ten to fifteen thousand out of the fifty five thousand would be bothered to attend if Arsenal were in the same situation as Aston Villa. Fans only seem to be loyal if a trophy is on its way.

Yes, Yes, Yes, what about the eight seasons without a trophy, I can see the replies now. Look at my inbox hundreds of replies from fans saying “I stayed loyal during this period; I paid for my season ticket which went up when Arsenal wasn’t winning anything. It was a disgrace that it took that long to win something”.

During the eight seasons without winning a trophy, Arsenal have been playing Champions League Football, finished in the top four every season, they have not been relegated like West Ham they have not struggled season after season like Aston Villa have done on a very regular basis.

In the early eighties the fans’ expectations were a cup run and/or qualify for the lowest ranked European competition the EUFA cup. Clubs like Aston Villa or West Ham don’t even have these expectations in today’s league; their only aim is SURVIVAL

Under Wenger Arsenal have won trophies, qualified regularly for the Champions League and are now after a period of belt tightening and careful spending are spending again.

So the question I am asking is: –  



Arsenal’s Ambition

Last night I read this that Ivan Gazidis  had to say in America.

“Think about this club. In 2002 and 2003, it’s really at the top of the world. And Arsene is at the top of the world. We have fantastic players. It’s us and Manchester United battling at the top of the Premier League. It all looks amazing for the Arsenal Football Club. But what does the club do? And what does Arsene do? And what do the board members do? They say we’re more ambitious than this.

Most people would have just sat back and said, ‘This is great. Everybody loves us.’ But what do they do? They throw all of that up in the air, a massive risk. They say, ‘We’re going to commit all the resources of this club to building a stadium that we think we are going to need 15 and 20 years from now if we want to be a really global football club.’

It’s an incredibly bold decision. They do it, they see it through, go through all the difficult times. Arsene continued to do an incredible job, threading the eye of the needle on the pitch. The board does an incredible job threading the eye of the needle off the pitch. We are now, just now, all these years later, beginning to come out of that. Arsene navigated us through that.

Yet it seems people just assume, at Arsenal, we’re going to be in the Champions League. They assume we’re going to be near the top of the Premier League. There’s nothing that really distinguishes us from the other clubs in England, other than this man.”

Of course “this man” was Arsene Wenger

For years I’ve been banging on about Arsenal being the most ambitious club in the country. For the very reasons Ivan mentioned.

It still staggers me that our ambition is questioned.

If we don’t sign Cavani( insert any expensive player you can think of )   it’s a lack of ambition.

When I ask Arsene’s detractors why they think we should ovecome clubs with far greater wealth, they seem reluctant to say its Arsene. But its really is.

To be quite honest I’m sick to the back teeth of the stupidity. I think Ivan said it all in these few words.

 ” There’s nothing that really distinguishes us from the other clubs in England, other than this man.”

French manager Arsene Wenger returns for his 19th season on the bench at Arsenal.

Every day we should thank some deity or other that we have him.

By me. pedantic george @Blackburngeorge


Arsenal, Corruption And Blah Blah

Yesterday I read this.

Manchester United’s troubled defence of the Premier League title is harming the English flight’s world wide brand, says competition’s chief executive Richard Scudamore ” he said “ It’s a double-edged sword.when your most popular club isn’t doing well, that costs you interest and audience in some places

Two or three years ago I suggested on ACLF that it was in the interests of the Premier League , that MUFC continued to win . I also suggested that with the huge sums of money at stake trough Sky and other broadcasters there is every possibility that they had been given a helping hand over the years.

Obviously I was attacked and accused of making up conspiracy theories and told to sit in the corner with some tin-foil on my head. I was “just making up excuses“.

The fact that penalties against MUFC were almost as rare as Chicken’s teeth was dismissed as mere coincidence.

That they were allowed to foul us at will , while a sideways glance at one of their players got our lads a booking was just incompetence by a nervous referee.

But it went on for 20 years. The same things over and over.

Remember Vidic tipping over the crossbar with the assistant Ref looking right at at ? It was a great save , but fucking hell !

But people assumed I was saying it because I was an Arsenal fan. When the reality was it happened to evey team they played.

Well I hate to say I told you so but I told you so

When you are selling a product, such as the Premier League, it helps to have a flagship club. That was United.

Just look at Golf. When Tiger Woods is out the viewing figures are down together with course attendances. Why? Because he is the PGA’s flagship player. And they will help him in any way they can, because its to their benefit.

The Premier League needed MUFC to be successful, I believe they made it so.

Where there is muck there is brass.

I cant for the life of me think of any massively rich institution where there has not been skullduggery ,illegality and corruption when there are large amounts of money to be made.

Governments all over the world- corrupt

Churches all over the world throughout the ages-corrupt

Big Business-corrupt

Local governments-corrupt

Time and again, we see the evidence of this

Sport then? You bet your life !

Cheating and corruption being exposed with monotonous regularity.

Just recently we have had Cycling, Swimming, Snooker, Horse racing, Cricket, Rugby, Boxing and on and on.

Football then?

Well hell yes.

Not on Hackney Marshes, but in Italy, one of the world super powers in the game.

Of course that could never happen in England though ? Eh? What with the English being so free of such greedy bastards?

Oh, it could you say?

But it doesnt. Or at least its yet to be proven. But seriously, what are the chances its not when everything else in this country seems to be ?

Its not just MUFC that I feel there has been a dark hand in, oh no !

The Premier league is watched(and paid for by subscriptions to Sky and all) by millions of people world wide. That’s  of  £billions of income. Its sold as an exciting and close league. Where any team can beat any other team. Thats why its the most sold League worldwide. That image must be maintained to keep sales up. It has to be competitive and blood and thunder. Thats the “hot spot” selling point.

I believe if Referees applied the rules as they should it would be far less competitive. It would become like La Liga where the big clubs routinely dispatch the lesser teams without breaking sweat.

This would have a terrible effect on their ability to sell games.

The English game is about “power and pace” (thanks for that Mr. Hansen) because they make sure it is. Not because its good (the England team has proven that for almost 50 years now) but because it sells. Nothing can be allowed to damage that selling point, especially some intellectual French bloke and his team of sissies .

Play blood and thunder football or play at a disadvantage. That’s my opinion.

Of course City and Chelsea did go some way to altering the landscape. They started introducing new selling points ,like Galacticos . They greased the wheels and have also benefited. Again the huge sums of cash they injected helped the League sell itself.

I know we don’t like to believe it but City got into the Champions League that first year by benefiting hugely from Referees being lenient and generous toward them and the opposite with their treatment of Spurs. Spurs were the better team and the Refs effected about a 12 point swing in City’s favour. Coincidence ? Yeah right !

In short, I cant prove it , but I’d bet my life the game in England is bent.


Written by pedantic george  @Blackburngeorge.




Rotation, Jack And Silly Twits .

If The Arsenal make it through the Champions League qualifying matches they are guaranteed to play 48 matches of competitive football this season. Reasonable form and a bit of luck with Cup draws would see that up to about 54 games. That’s a lot of football – and when every game matters and is keenly contested it puts a lot of pressure on the squad.

At times matches come thick and fast: August alone is pretty congested.

Charity Shield against City.

Crystal Palace (h).

CL Qualifier.

Everton (A).

CL Qualifier.

Leicester (A).

Six games in three weeks, all of them important and one involving a trip overseas.

There will be time enough to analyse each of those games, but for now  I think it’s fair to suggest it’s unlikely the same players will feature each time, as tactical requirements, injuries, possible suspensions and simple rotation will all play their part in selection, as indeed will be the current form of each player. Substitutions, both tactical and forced will also come into play, so as we are constantly reminded (when pundits want to put us down) squad depth is as important as the starting XI if realistic title challenges are to be considered.  If you were setting the spread on the amount of players who’d kick a ball in anger in those August matches you’d probably set it 15 to 17 -and I think I’d be a buyer in that market.

Which is why all the talk about who’ll make the best XI, while a great topic over a couple of pints, ever so slightly misses the point.

There is more than a hint of hypocrisy in the air too, as many who spent last season saying that Arsenal had no chance of winning the title because of lack of depth and the unwillingness of the manager to rotate are now only too ready to consign Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla to the scrap heap.

Jack interests me because his situation can be used both ways by the Arsenal haters outside the club and the Arsene haters among the fan base. This is how it goes: “when we sign (let’s say Khedira for argument’s sake) Jack won’t make the team, and this proves he isn’t really top quality and this is because he was over-rated by AW, or not developed by AW, or AW has caused him to have so many injuries.” Or, alternatively, “when we sign Khedira Jack won’t make the team and this is a classic example of a foreign manager acting against the interests of the national side.” Either way, it is Arsenal and Arsene’s fault and the disappointing  thing to me is that I don’t hear this comment: “When we sign Khedira, it will be excellent because at various times during the season (and perhaps even at various times during the same match) Khedira will play alongside Jack, and he will play alongside Ramsey, and this will take the pressure of all three of them and they will benefit and learn from each other. “  How many games is it realistic to hope a player starts in – 30, 35, 40? Not much more than that I think, and there will be plenty of opportunity for Jack and Aaron whoever else is signed.

The role of the substitute in the modern game is also interesting, and is worth a brief mention. I am guessing that statistics suggest that the optimum time for a tactical substitution is around 65 minutes on the basis that there is less time for injuries across the field to occur  (at least one player needs to be kept for emergency)  but enough time for the substitution to have an effect on the course of the game. If used efficiently it can either give a sense of the cavalry coming to relieve a beleaguered situation or of a coup de grace being delivered when the opposition has been softened up and just needs to be dispatched with a killer blow. Both of these scenarios were in evidence in the recent Cup Final, and it almost felt like bullying when Jack and Tomas injected match-winning pace in the closing stages.

I am not suggesting players be only used as substitutes because few would be happy with just that role, but do feel that any talk of squad composition should bear substitutions in mind. A clever manager will make his players very aware of why they are on the bench and will have rehearsed the various scenarios when they might be called upon to make a contribution.  I like the thought of a fully fit Podolski coming on with 20 minutes to go, scoring a goal, starting the next match and then perhaps making way for Campbell after 65 minutes.  It is never as simple as that of course but it illustrates a general point.


There was dismay among the Twitter ranks yesterday as various speculations became hard fact among the doubters.

First of all came the news that Thomas Eisfeld had left the club to join Fulham, and this was seen by many as an act of gross stupidity on behalf of the club. Despite not many having seen him play that much, he had become a something of a fan’s favourite, and he did have a magnificent match against Reading in the astonishing game two seasons ago. But he was older than many thought (21) and was increasingly unlikely to make a breakthrough into our first team. I suspect it will be a good move for him and for Fulham and I hope it works out.

Hot on the heels came an article by John Cross in which he speculated that both Wilshere and Diaby could play a holding role and that therefore the search for another midfielder was not absolutely essential. Of course any mention of Diaby is likely to get certain supporters incensed (I always see him as human litmus paper, there to reveal a fan’s true allegiance – the acid test, if you like), but I was a little disappointed to see so many come out so strongly against Jack, especially as some had been railing against the decision to transfer Eisfeld only hours earlier. And so mischievously I thought of the following scenario, which while unlikely has some logic behind it, and wondered what the reaction would be.

Liverpool are in the process of building a new side, and under Brendan Rodgers are very much a work in progress. It is no doubt heresy to say this on an Arsenal blog, but I think he is a good manager and it amuses me that my local club, Reading FC,  let him go because they simply didn’t understand what he was trying to do. Rodgers knows he will  need to replace Gerrard soon (and England need to replace him immediately). Fuelled by paper talk and awareness of fan disaffection expressed through social media he senses that Wilshere would be willing to leave Arsenal and take over that holding role at Anfield. And if that were to happen, would the Arsenal fans still be saying that Wilshere couldn’t play anymore, or that he needed to do this or that if he were ever to play the deeper role, or would they realise that they had yet again contributed to a great player deciding to leave The Emirates behind ?

You see, Jack is good enough to play in a variety of midfield roles, just as all of our players are: of course he could be a DM, or a B2B, or an AM, or a WM, or a faux 9, because he regularly takes up all of those positions, and several more besides that as yet haven’t been given names, in most of the games he plays. It is The Arsenal way for players to switch positions, and that is one of the joys of following the team.

So with regard to transfers I think we are in the privileged position of not needing to sign anyone new (apart from a reserve GK), because with even average luck with injuries we have enough players to rotate successfully throughout the whole 54 game season. But we also have the money (quite a lot of money, actually) to be able to add to that highly-talented squad should the right top quality players become available. And if we do add a Pogba or a Cavani, then who knows we might just be looking at a 60 game season, which would see all of our very best players more than happily occupied, and perhaps even bring a smile to those fans who apparently have already forgotten we have signed Alexis Sanchez.



Today’s piece was by @foreverheady .Thanks Tim.


Arsenal Transfer Thoughts

Some thoughts from @foreverheady.



All this transfer speculation is interesting. Find it hard to think what might happen. Feel that the forwards are all done for this year because of Sanchez and Campbell adding to what we already had. As ever, much will depend on Walcott and Oxlade returning fully fit, but if they do then I think we have all we need there. I can’t see Balotelli adding to what we have as feel he is too needy. Not having an encyclopaedic knowledge of world forwards I don’t know if there is anyone available who is better than Giroud. I suspect there isn’t, which is why we have bought Sanchez. He might be very good indeed so let’s hope he scores lots of goals.

Don’t know about Khedira but sense he has the look of someone who thought he would be joining us but has now been told that won’t be the case. Suspect his injury just before the world Cup final put AW off as there were already slight doubts about his injury record maybe. I think that Schneiderlin would be a very useful player, but again sense that we could have already made a decisive and successful move for him had we really wanted him.

I can understand why there might have been interest shown in Carvalho, who I understand prefers to be known as William. Just William. That will sound funny, especially against Chelsea. He is certainly the sort of player that the fans think we need, and I guess we just wait and see if AW thinks that way too. They will say he is the new Vieria if he does well, the new Diaby should he ever get injured. I haven’t seen him play so can’t comment.

I keep coming back to Pogba, and the reason I do is because AW is probably putting his final side together and I can’t imagine that he isn’t on the wish list and that he hasn’t been in serious contact with him. Actually, all that means is that he is on my wish list, but it is good to dream.

And I guess that the Vermaelen situation needs sorting, and it is a racing certainty that whatever happens there the manager will be blamed, either for not upgrading or for selling to a rival – or both those things come to think of it.

I think that we will have a very good season and will play some scintillating stuff at times. I do worry about our defence though, and will be interested to see how that is organised this year.


Searching for Cezanne: Heroes and villains Part 3.

Originally posted on GunnersoreArse:

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.

If you have not read them already, to understand the full context of this post, it may be good to read parts 1 and 2 here:       

Part 1  http://wp.me/p4FeF9-8g

Part 2  http://wp.me/p4FeF9-aa

Life journeys can be funny things, what fate brings can alter the future forever. The same could be said of football, a little twist of fate will change the future outcome. Take Arsenal last season, fate intervened with injuries in the team which could be said, stopped us winning the league and Cup double. But we’ll never know for sure, because once a path is taken due to the intervention of fate, the alternative will be lost forever. It is one of the wonders of life, organic and continually changing….. you can never really know what lies…

View original 2,086 more words


Jack Wilshere End Of Beginning Or Beginning Of The End ?

So what is going on with Jack?

His halo has slipped somewhat, in fact its fallen off and has been replaced by some little red horns. Well it has if you listen to many experts in the media and our own less than tolerant fickle fans.

He has been caught smoking, drinking and worse of all, keeping company with players from other clubs. The little scoundrel that he is.

He has gone from being

To ………….well , that’s the problem, where has he gone?

He was the darling of Arsenal fans in 2011. Being hailed “world class” by all and sundry, and the future of English football.

When he got injured people were moaning like drains , saying stuff like  “he’s our second best player” . It was a tragedy to his adoring fans.. I wonder where he would rate now in order of bestness?  Mid teens if would hazard a guess at.

Now, here is the thing. He was never that good. He was very good, but world class? Never even close.

People make mad statements like “he dominated  Barca when we beat then 2-1 at home” Well, he didn’t. He played very well that night and was as good as any of our players or indeed theirs. But dominate he didn’t. In fact, as I recall, for the most part our midfield was the  one being dominated.

Somehow during his unfortunate extended absence he managed to take on a sort of cult status. People seemed to remember him as being a lot better than he had actually been.

Personally I always though Aaron was a cut above him. I always thought we were expecting too much from him. But that’s just me.

The hope is that he can take a Ramsey like leap when he finally has a run of being full fit. His long term injury is blamed for his lack of progress (and rightly so ). But his injury doesn’t make his run into a pack of opponents with no chance of not losing the ball. It doesn’t  stop him from completing the simplest of passes. It doesn’t make him smoke, drink and behave like a bit of a yob. And it doesn’t give him a suspect temperament and make him think he can be a hard man enforcer like Roy Keane or Joey Barton.

He is at a crossroad and I’m just not sure he is smart enough to choose the right road to go down.

However, he has tremendous potential still

He is only twenty two and a half years old.

He loves Arsenal.

Arsene loves him. He gave him the number 10 shirt and told him he believes in him.

And look at this 44 seconds in, Andrey Ashavin has a little something to say about his ability and spirit.


My advise to Jack is – Ignore idiots like me, and listen to Arsene and Andrey.



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