Arsenal Draw Again – But That’s Not The Half Of It!

So Arsenal drop yet more points in games they should be winning.

This, aside from transfer matters, was the message for many observers, of the whole weekend.

And yet time and again, when Arsenal results are said to disappoint, my personal disappointment, (aside from the points that have been dropped), tends to rest heavily on the shoulders of two groups of people not actually involved in the loss of those points. And that combines with irritation with two other groups which, all in all, means that anything less than victory is going to be far more painful than really should be the case.

So what – or who – are the disappointments and what are the irritants?

First and foremost are groups – noisy ones, at that – of the club’s own fans, too many of whom anticipate cricket scores in our favour against supposedly ‘lesser’ opposition. By now, they really should know better.

One of the key features of a league such as the PL awash with money successfully shared (compared with, say, it’s Spanish equivalent) throughout the division is that there are now rarely any whipping boys or ‘rollover’ matches. And this is not a recent development – all games now have to be won; it’s no longer sufficient to merely turn up as was once the case. This is true for all clubs as conveniently demonstrated by both Manchester outfits already this season.

Given that this is not a new thing, the tendency for our own fans to erupt on social networks at the first hint of a setback, especially DURING games, is particularly disappointing. Whilst you might reasonably expect the fans of other clubs to talk nonsense about our club, when it’s our own fans doing it, it’s particularly regrettable.

The second group to disappoint – and this seems to be the case for most games these days including those not involving Arsenal – are the performances of the men in black.

Many accept they (the refs, the linesman/assistants and the ‘fourth’ official) are no longer fit for purpose and some of us are only waiting for the inevitable introduction of video technology to ride into town to save us all from the lottery that plays too big role in the outcome of far too many of today’s games. But it is not their inability to keep up with the play, to see through blatant (let alone thinly disguised) player gamesmanship or even the ill-advised current fashion to ‘manage’ as opposed to ‘referee’ games (ie, apply the rules) that generates disappointment in these game-weary eyes.

My fundamental problem with the officials is their failure to perform consistently.

Yesterday in two games we had the perfect illustration of this with Liverpool benefitting from the softest penalty award we are likely to see this side of Xmas (or, as some wag will inevitably suggest, until Liverpool next play again). Meanwhile, down in the Midlands, Cazorla is illegally ‘displaced’ in the penalty area, goes flying immediately in front of the ref as the game is allowed to continue ‘to flow’.

So one game is allowed to flow, thus benefitting the lesser talented side needing to take a more ‘muscular’ approach to the match, and the other game is governed – at least at one critical moment – with an iron-fist, to the benefit in an up-to-that-point even game, of a Liverpool side still working to achieve dominance. That Liverpool should benefit in this way is particularly galling for any observer familiar with the thuggish defensive practises of their own defensive lunatic Skrtel who is routinely permitted penalty box assaults without penalty (let alone free-kick, booking etc) for any and all set-plays – but maybe that’s another story, albeit a closely related one, in truth.

I understand that offside is hard to call correctly.

I get that throw-ins and corner decisions go wayward on an all too frequent basis.

At a stretch, I understand that to some referees, certain players get sent off thanks to embarrassing cases of mistaken identity.

But it is unacceptable on any level in the same competition for one ref to ‘let the game flow’ and for another to apply the rules to within an inch of the game’s life. That continental referees veer towards the latter suggests ours should follow suit if only to prepare players for life playing in European cup competitions/international games. Either way, standards need to be agreed and applied. Consistently.

So those are the disappointments, what of the irritations?

My primary irritation lies with those clubs who consistently turn with cup final-level performances one week against Arsenal, only to roll over a week later against the next scheduled opposition. We can reliably guess that Leicester will not prove as obdurate again this season unless they make it to a cup final. Or play Arsenal again. It must be said that Man u had to overcome this many times in years gone by when they were still a giant of a club – the phenomena of teams playing out of their skin in the full knowledge the eyes of the majority of the footballing world would be on them. So yes, Arsenal have to deal with this but I do wonder why those sides, capable of virtuoso performances one week, let it all slide the next. I genuinely feel sorry for their short-changed fans and, regardless, find this whole syndrome incredibly annoying. Especially when, as they usually seem to, their goalies turn into Gordon Banks for the day.

Why am I imagining they do this so much versus Arsenal? I can only guess that it’s something to do with our penchant for playing the game in the way it should be played – as a thrilling, attacking spectacle – that incentivises opponents to try to beat us by exploiting our gaps and by playing the heroic underdog card. They are entitled to, of course, but their fans must sometimes wonder …

My final irritation lies with, almost inevitably, the media and its reaction to any perceived Arsenal set back. Images on newspaper back pages of broken cannons, doom-laden studio analysis, apocalyptic radio phone-in debates are rarely truly matched when Citeh drop points, for example. Man u never seem to crash and burn in quite the same way as AFC in the eyes of the media and Liverpool are rarely hung out to dry, no matter how many times Steven ‘slippery’ Gerrard loses his footing, in quite the same way or with as much gusto as is reserved for Arsenal. There was a glee attached to the ramblings of Jamie Redknapp on yesterday’s Sky coverage that was fuelled rather than moderated by Ed Chamberlain, the Sky anchor, which just doesn’t happen in the wake of the unexpected defeats of other ‘big’ clubs.


Oh, that’s right, it was a draw yesterday, wasn’t it?

Who’d have known?


Arsenal In Leicester

Bergkamp. The Invincibles.
Special memories. 
It’s been a while since we have seen Leicester City and Emile Heskey. What can we expect to see?
Because I am a little bit ignorant I don’t really know. They dominated the second tier last year with what looked like a settled team. So, at a fair guess they’ll do better then most promoted teams in their first season.
How will they play?  Direct and with pace, that’s what I’ve been told! We shall see.
I don’t know any of their players, I expect to find out more in Sunday! Although they have only one point so far they’ve played well, and they should’ve taken a lead away to Gazprom-upon-Fulham which could’ve been interesting.
Arsenal’s entire pre-season training programme would have been structured around this initial run of games before the the upcoming international break, with the champions league games being the likely priority. Arsene said over the summer described the schedule as “mad” for players going to and returning from the WC. We’ve certainly seen examples of madness in the critique of players who are still in pre-season. A number of players who will be on the bench on Sunday played for the U21s on Thursday, simply because they needed the minutes no doubt.
This is why it was possible for a non-certified genius like little old me to anticipate some rotation for the trip to Everton. The decision to start Alexis in the middle was made slightly earlier in the season then we had expected because there was a desire to keep both Giroud and Alexis fresh for Wednesday, what with that game being a little bit important. Unfortunately Giroud picked up the late injury. The best made plans…
The same back five plus Flamini will most likely start on Sunday but there could be some rotation for this game too. For example, Wilshere may be due a rest, he’ll have to play for England so he might come out the team for Ramsey, who had a mid-week breather. And there could be other changes, because Chamberlain and Özil just played their first ninety minutes after having not been training for that long, and they were blowing. Chambo because he was injured, Özil because he was raving in Las Vegas two and a half weeks ago! This would’ve been a perfect game for Giroud. CF selection will be interesting, I wouldn’t cry if Sanogo was asked to soften and beat them up for sixty minutes. 
The true mark of the end of this staggered post WC pre-season will be the closing of the transfer window after this game. A transfer window in which ManIOU have spent £60M on three LBs? A completely unsettled Utd team, rebuilt too quickly and stupidly (the opposite to the wisdom of Arsenal after the F Word F’d off) drew at Burnley. Leicester will provide sterner opposition.  
We’ll have a better understanding of any changes or evolutions in this team after the break. Safe to say that all but the unwell are very happy with the performances of Chambers, Debuchy and Alexis since they began their pre-season in the Emirates cup (unlike Per and Özil who got their first minutes this week, three weeks later then their team mates). 
It would be remiss and ignore the official appointed for the game, given the unacceptable standards of refereeing for all football fans seen in the last two games. Even the Besiktas players looked fed up with the man from UEFA by the end of the last game, and who could blame them. Further information on the gentleman who sent off Gibbs for wearing the wrong shirt and having the wrong colour skin can be found over on Untold Arsenal. 
Hope you all enjoy the game, especially those lucky enough to be going (if you are going remember to serenade our old pal A.Taylor please, thanks). 
A guest post by Finsbury



In Defence Of Aaron Ramsey (does he need defending?)

A guest post by Kelly Woods  @kmwoods02


Aaron Ramsey had his worst game in 12 months against Everton. He tried too hard. He forced things. Yes, he scored a goal, but don’t miss the fact that his performance was poor. And speaking of goals, I’m worried that he’s publicly admitted that he set himself a target of 20 goals this season. Whoa, there, son. Remember, it’s not about you. I know you want to start taking games by the scruff of the neck, but remember to just play your game.


These are all things that have come across my Twitter timeline since Saturday’s game. And I follow positive, considered people, who really do support our players. I know they do. And I respect and value all of them and their opinions – at least I do since I cleaned up who I follow. I cannot imagine what the rest of Twitter is saying, and I really don’t want to try.  But if you will, let me articulate how I disagree with almost everything in that first paragraph. And to ask that we consider what it is that we really want from players.


First let me get this out of the way – Aaron was not at his effervescent best against Everton. I support, but I’m not blind. The whole team was out of sorts, and most of what he tried didn’t come off. Also true of other players as well. But let me point out a few things, courtesy of the stats-tastic 7amKickoff and his By the Numbers column for Arseblog:


Out of 69 passes attempted (the most for the team), 12 were misplaced. All but 2 of those misplaced were attacking passes, trying to create a chance. 5 of them were in prime areas, where goal conversion rates are high. One of the aforementioned 2 was just horrible – it went straight to an Everton player and almost gave me a heart attack. Only 4 tackles attempted, 2 of which were successful, and no dribbles. And no chances created. Also, there was that goal.


Ok, so what do stats show? Not the whole story, I’m well aware of that. Aaron’s defensive game was a bit weak and his attacking game was ineffectual on the whole. I think that had a lot to do with not having Arteta next to him, and trying to compete with Jack and Alex for space in the middle. But the question remains – what was he supposed to be doing in this game, and did he do it?


I think we should all come to grips with this fact: Aaron is a flair player. He will always try the Hollywood pass. Some seem to think that he’s changed somehow, that he doesn’t do that anymore. And they see yesterday’s performance as a reversion to a previous flawed way of playing. Nonsense. He has always been this player. By all accounts it’s been so since he was 8 years old. Stories of him demanding the ball from older teammates abound. “Let me do it” has always been his way. His off-pitch personality belies this fact, perhaps, as some don’t expect shy, quiet, introverts to behave this way. But it’s been said of him forever that he “expresses himself on the pitch”.


But, Kelly, I hear you say. Arsene said he told him to simplify his game. To go back to basics. True. But Aaron said this in an interview when asked about that:


“It was a difficult period for me where things weren’t happening the way I would like them to, and he called me in and just told me to simplify my game and get my confidence back that way…I did that for a few games, and then obviously you get more confident as every game goes on, and, yeah, I’m thankful for that.” (emphasis added)


That says to me that simplifying his game was not intended to be a permanent change. At least he didn’t interpret it that way. And Arsene had this to say Saturday:


“He has the engine and he gambles on getting in the box a lot and he has that timing to get where you need to be. He got rewarded like these kind of players do.”


“Gambles.” He gambles. He takes risks. He gets rewarded. He has a “can’t win if you don’t enter” mentality. He has said that he wants to improve his ability to take big games by the scruff of the neck and change them. He has goal targets that he has set for himself. But somehow, all that is now being seen as a potential liability, some sort of indication that he is putting himself above the team. Don’t we want a player that is ambitious? That tries to change games? That wants to score? What do we want, if not that? One of the biggest complaints I hear in games like yesterday is “Somebody DO something! Move, or something!” Yet Aaron tries to do just that, and he has a “poor” game, because it doesn’t come off.


I know I am really preaching to the choir here. This is a supporting group of people, many of whom told me yesterday not to worry, that he just had an off day. But here’s the thing. I’m not worried about him. I’m worried about us. This is exactly what I was afraid would happen. His miraculous exploits last season were a joy to watch. But they won’t continue – at least not like that. He is a marked man now. Teams have found out he is good, he will be given much less room to operate. And he is, by his own admission, still trying to improve his game. I’m confident he will continue scoring us goals. But all this means mistakes will happen. Do we really want to start down the road about how badly he’s played, how he’s struggling for form? Why do we do this? “Uh oh, the old Ramsey is rearing his head. Hope this doesn’t mean last season was a fluke.”  It’s like we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the bad thing to happen to us. Optimism reigns, until it doesn’t.


Here’s my fear. Suppose it doesn’t change? Suppose the next game is the same as Everton – he does a few things brilliantly, but at the same time lots of things don’t come off? What will we say then? Because the haters and naysayers will start in – they’ve already started I would imagine. Despair that we thought we had a “world-class” player, but of course we can’t have nice things, so look, he’s being shit again. I’m steeling myself for that, and I’m ready to defend him. I hope you are, too.




How Bad Were Arsenal At Everton, Really ?

I have left it a day before musing on the Everton game for the same reason I don’t tweet during matches, I find immediate appraisals tend to be knee jerk reaction and leave you looking like a right miserable Charlie.

The general consensus is that we were poor, but how poor were we really?

People say we were dire in the first half, but were we really ?

For the first 20 minutes there was zero danger that I could see. Ok, we didn’t create much ourselves, but we were away from home and playing ourselves into the game. We did look brighter than them and got into some dangerous forward positions.

Then the goal, against the run of play, had an effect on both Arsenal and Everton.

The goal itself could have been avoided, but what goal cant be? If we are going to blame Ozil for not defending like Tony Adams ,then thats harsh.

We were put on the back foot and Everton buoyed by being ahead when if anything they had been second best. For the next 10 minutes it was all Everton. Understandable? I think so !

The second Everton goal was a catalog of officiating errors. So to go in at half time 2 goals to the bad must have been a bitter pill to swallow.

The fans that had been screaming for Alexis to play in the middle were now screaming for a change.

Arsene made the change at half time (odd for a man who people say never makes tactical changes and always waits until 70 minutes) Giroud’s impact was immediate .He hit a volley that ended up in row Z but was  only inches over the bar.

We know what happened, 2 late goals and a really good point was salvaged.

Everton we were told were great and we were lucky.


We had 55% possession and the same territorial advantage.

They had 2 shots on target(one of which was a clear offside) we had 3.

We also had more than twice the shots off target.

The reality is we were not that bad. We deserved at least a point.

Giroud once again showed how important to the team he is.

Monreal was good . He provided the assist for the winner and looked solid. Another good player proving detractors wrong.

Carzola, another scapegoat, came on and assisted for the first goal.

We had players coming back into the team and others clearly not fully fit.

We had played an extremely physical European game mid week.

We were playing a very good team away from home.

I’m not sure what people expected, but an easy win should not have been it.


Thanks for reading,  pedantic george  @Blackburngeorge.


Right, now some in house matters.

As you all know we have a very tight door policy in the comments section. Its supportive opinions only.

We set this blog up for like minded people to have a safe haven , away from the misery of other places you might visit. Once in you are free to use any language that pleases you. However, at the risk of being accused of “poacher turned gamekeeper” I will not tolerate  aggressive posting towards others on the blog. Its not on and anyone doing it will be history. No matter who they are or how much I like them.



Metal Giroud

larry v wham

Elan. I like things to be done with it. I enjoy it when a certain flair, a superfluous decoration lifts an otherwise mundane event. Only this morning as I stumbled, eyes half closed with all too recent sleep, to buy my morning loaf (not, I’m sorry to report, from a ancient rustic baker up at four thirty am grinding the grains and proving the dough in his age old way, but rather from L & F Jones Convenience Store. It is that at least. Convenient, I mean) I passed a woman, disheveled of aspect looking as if she may have spent a cold and uncomfortable night on a park bench or indeed in the doorway of L & F Jones’ small and conveniently situated retail outlet. This is a sartorial effect affected by many of the good folk of Radstock and the surrounded motley of desirable hamlets and disreputable villages so I wasn’t in any way put out by her frankly startling appearance. Instead I threw back the gate through which I had recently passed and, with exaggerated politeness, a beaming smile and – was that the merest hint of a bow? – gestured her through in a manner more commonly associated with those Italian policemen one sees on travel programmes performing an elaborately serene white gloved ballet while precariously positioned at the centre of an apparently terrifying twenty four lane traffic intersection.

It was only as I made my way back clutching my wholemeal sliced that it occurred to me just how delighted the lady had seemed at either the minor kindness I had done her or the extravagant nature with which I had carried it off. I prefer to dwell upon the latter. Sometimes in life my silliness, my exaggeration, my deliberate unnecessary show-boating has brought me nothing but frowning incomprehension, and sadly has occasioned more than a furrowed brow, indeed I have even experienced naked aggression from those creatures (and we have all met them) for whom evolution has remained nothing more than a theory. These people seem to pass through life leaving knuckle trails of discontent as they glower and snarl at perceived threats and challenges to their dreary status quo. They rhyme arty with farty, believe what they read, judge books by their covers and mistake  honesty for  rudeness. I have little time for these folks for whom leaving the oceans was mistake, never mind coming down from the trees. I prefer the spontaneous passing pleasure exhibited by the discomposed and very possibly still inebriated lady as she lurched through a gate held open for her by a mildly insane and extravagantly overweight balding middle aged buffoon in a Yosemite Sam T-shirt. In these brief moments can we sprinkle the glitter of human happiness.

Which is of course why I am such a huge fan of Olivier Giroud. I know there is a whole heap of chatter about which player people would rather see leading the line today from the diminutive and untried Joel Campbell to the non existent striker who we haven’t even bought yet with honourable mentions for just about everyone else in between. However, once Olivier, or Larry if you prefer, has regained his match fitness there is only one man for me. Even in his current out of condition condition he has still managed to prove his worth. Look at the towering, muscular header in the dying moments of the opening fixture, special not only because he won the ball by the application of brutal athletic determination by out jumping some huge defenders but then to have the wit and ability to ensure the ball dropped perfectly to Mathieu Debuchy (who was extremely unlucky not to grab the winner and his first goal for Arsenal) displayed great calm, perfect footballistic instincts.

My love for Larry has nothing to do with injury time knock downs against a tiring team no matter how much I can appreciate their worth. My love for Larry comes into full fruit in moments like that in the game against West Ham on January the twenty third of last year. He stands in the D on the edge of the West Ham area facing away from the goal, receives a square pass from Podolski who lopes into the box. Larry, takes no controlling touch, doesn’t think about making room for a shot, instead, with a deft chopping action of his left foot lifts an instant and perfectly measured pass over three defenders and into the path of the on-rushing Podolski who, despite possessing a shot that could pass through a Soviet T34 Model 1942 medium battle tank and being clean through on goal elects to pass to Santi who is in a position to pull off a much more difficult but wonderfully improvised finish, this is after all the Arsenal way.

Then there was the game against the same opponents in April of this year. Fifty four minutes gone and the scores are level. West Ham have cleared a corner. Vermaelen picks up the ball near the half way line and lofts a huge high one diagonally into the area to where our man Larry is lurking near the apex of the six yard box. Does he control it on his chest – by far the safest, most reliable technique – or does he stick his head on it as you’d expect any centre forward to do? Not a bit of it. In an audacious piece of skill that made me laugh out loud when first I saw it he elects to catch the ball on his left foot as it descends at about a hundred and fifty five mph from the edges of deep space and then crash it into the net with his right. It was quite simply as good as anything you’d expect from Dennis Bergkamp and that tells you everything you need to know. I was going to mention his part in the best team goal ever scored in competitive football on this and any other planet – yes that one against Norwich – but I assumed that particular feast of one touch skill and audacity ought really to go without saying.

These are the things I like about footballers and they are the options instinctively taken by Olivier and other players like him. To do the thing with élan, with flair, grace, deftness and invention. Not to settle for the prosaic, the ordinary. In a world sometimes blighted by the mundane we turn to our showmen to ignite the powder of creative genius so that in those brief explosive moments of joy we are lifted up, we experience the transcendent vicarious thrill that is the holy grail of all football fans. This is why I hope we see our number twelve take his rightful place in the starting line up against Everton this afternoon. Not because we have no other options or I don’t think others can do the job but because if Arsène starts him it means he is ready, he has gained the fitness he lost during the long hot summer and will once again become that vital cog in our free flowing beautifully polished machine.

We have apparently been grinding out results of late, winning and drawing ugly is the mantra du jour and if there is some truth in this (and even I must reluctantly admit this is somewhat the case in the last two matches) then part of the reason for it is our fulcrum, the man who’s one touch passes and flicks and lays off provide the vital fluidity which sets us apart as a footballing side, has lacked his usual sharpness. He huffs and puffs where we need him to glide. Play him I say. Play Larry until he gets back to his imperious best and then you’ll really see something. I’m not a betting man but I’d happily wager that Sanchez and Ramsey will both start scoring freely once the main man is back on his game.

Of course I’m well aware that writing a piece about one particular player on the morning of match day is as good a way as any of guaranteeing that Arsène doesn’t even name him on the substitutes’ bench, but you see the difference between me and all the other bloggers out there is I don’t pretend to know the future. But I do know this, it’ll be brighter with Larry in the team than without him.


[ED]   Thanks for that Stew, It was a real  treat. 


Everton And Stuff

Away games a Everton have been good fun for us football fans in recent years. I’m sure you all remember the details. As the manager said, a good measure for the Arsenal squad.

Before Moysie went to OT in order to pick up his pension he would set his teams up to be less boring than usual at home. They had some decent players like some chap called Arteta.  Even though these were tough games the Arsenal fan could approach the fixture with confidence because until last season Arsenal had been unbeaten in all these entertaining encounters for a while.

Then to the relief of the Evertonian faithful they were gifted a proper football manager in Martinez and last season a stretched Arsenal squad (only through hacking and the resultant injuries) suffered a rare defeat at Goodison Park. As always in such games, as last year, the first goal could be the key. Still, with a stronger bench I’ll be less concerned this year if Arsenal concede first.

We should see what variations the Arsenal can make in their line up . With a crucial Champions League tie in the balance there could be some rotation. It would be nice to hear the away fans serenade  Diaby again.

Key concerns for Arsenal fans will be how the partnership in midfield between Ramsey and Wilshere develops.  It must be a long term programme, because that’s the only justification for not playing Rosicky I can think of !

On a mainstream podcast this week a disingenuous lying uncredible idiot hack tried to compare the two Arsenal players saying one was in decline whilst the other was improving, completely editing out the injury trials that Jack Wilshere has had to endure. Yet Wilshere was out of the game not playing football for almost as long as Ramsey,  the crucial difference being he is a year behind in this cycle. You’d hope that a professional football journalist who’d spent their lives following football would be aware of such things, but i guess they were either making a horrible attack on the Arsenal player which some fans will lap up, or this professional football hack knows sweet FA about football. One or the other. The choice, dear reader, is yours.

There are historical precedents, current ones too when thinking of Arteta, so we can reasonably conclude that as an Arsenal player Wilshere will be the target of such idiotic commentary. No Football brain etc. The Andy Townsend treatment: “Get In!”. Proper stinking bullshit droppings that will be sniffed up by the bitter malcontents and propagated through social media and back into the ground.

It might be just like with the insane and inexplicable abuse we saw directed towards England’s best young wide forward.Least we forget  Walcott’s stats in the PL  two years ago  were as impressive as Alexis’ last year in la Liga, and he was on course for better last year.

 Jack Wilshere needs to play five to ten games in quick succession  for us fans to have some idea of  where he is at.  Even that benchmark would be temporary, because he’ll improve over the year as his constitution improves with more minutes and less injuries, hopefully.  I’m no expert but after a quiet start I thought he grew into the game a little on Tuesday.

I would like to see some rotation for this game, simply because I’d like to see some Rosicky! And to keep some players fresh for Wednesday.

This’ll be a big game for the Flamster. Without Barkley and possibly Lukaku his less subtle tackling technique might  not be as exposed against the runners.  (Please refer to Flamini’s missed challenge on Barkley in the build up to an Everton goal last year).

The new signing for Everton,  Besic, looked quite good in the WC, so even without Barkley who is still very green in my eyes and not worthy of the excessive hype (he’s no Chambers!), the midfield will be fascinating to watch tomorrow.

My favourite midfield from last season when Ozil was not available was the combination of Ramsey, Rosicky and Cazorla. But it is a little risky, and if I wasn’t playing FM I’d probably have to think again.

Chamberlain and Campbell were a little behind in their pre-seasons, but they could also be inked in for more minutes this week.

Finally, I would say that Vincent Tan is no hero of mine, but, it has to be said: well played Cardiff City. The LMA have dug themselves into a nasty little hole.  I’m happy to back up the likes of Sol Campbell, even though he doesn’t always do things in the simplest way. Who can argue against given the evidence before us ?

But fortunately we can ignore all that gunk. Hope you all enjoy the Football.

A guest post from Finsbury.


What This Arsenal Team Really Needs



It has been a tough few years: a steady stream of sales of the club’s best players, heartbreaking losses in three Cup Finals, even the occasional challenge in the League came to nought, seemingly scuppered by brittle bones and questionable ‘mental strength’.But, after all that, in May Arsenal finally ended the years of pain with a glorious, thrilling victory to win the FA Cup, the first trophy since the move to the Emirates. For a few days, maybe even weeks, all was well in the Arsenal universe. No more cringing every time someone mentioned “X years without a trophy”. Instead, as fans we could bask in the knowledge that as well as having the Cup, we had Ramsey, we had Ozil, we had Kos and Per, we had Jack, Santi, Theo and Ox-Gibbs, and with the new commercial deals starting to kick in, we had the prospect of more good players – and more glory – on the way.

That feeling of goodwill towards all (Arsenal) men mostly made it intact through the World Cup, but the warning signs were starting to appear. Even with our Germans triumphinguber alles, and with one of our loanees (Joel Campbell) thriving on the big stage, people were criticising Arsène Wenger for being present in Brazil, for playing on the beach, and for not having bought all the best players. As the negativity started to gain momentum, boom! – Arsenal bought Alexis Sanchez, a top, top quality forward just approaching his peak years. Wow! Then came Debuchy, Chambers and Ospina, a veritable spending spree to acquire a mix of players to help address the club’s most pressing needs. The warm glow returned… for a while.

The team’s quick visit to the US turned Manhattan red for a few days and delighted the many dedicated fans who came to see the Arsenal at a series of events in New York and New Jersey. The mood was good – and then Arsenal lost to the Red Bulls. It was hardly the end of the world – the Red Bulls are mid-way through their season, so it was no real surprise that they won – but then when Arsenal were robbed of the Emirates Cup trophy, the lustre of the victory over Benfica seemed to ebb away very quickly. There was less talk of Sanogo’s four goals and more talk about needing a defensive midfield ‘monster’ and a ‘world-class striker’.

Victory over Manchester City in the Community Shield ensured the team brought back another trophy from Wembley, but this was immediately devalued in the press and by many fans because City variously ‘didn’t want to win’ or ‘were not at full strength’. A week later, an injury-time win over Crystal Palace was not praised for Arsenal’s perseverance or finding a way to win; instead, it was, after a day or two, used as evidence that Arteta was ‘overrun’ and that our strikers ‘aren’t good enough’. Oh, and Jack and Santi are shit as well, apparently.

A good home win over a tough team was followed by a good away draw over a tough Beskitas side. Arsenal ‘fans’ chose to celebrate Mikel Arteta’s injury on the basis that ‘now Wenger will have to buy a DM’. Olivier Giroud bore the brunt of the fans anger for not scoring any of the chances that came his way; other players who similarly had an off night were spared. The dark clouds are returning.

Will this battle of negativity and positivity ever end? Sadly, no. The negativity can only be kept at bay by the success of the team. In the age of instant feedback, the urge to judge is too powerful for many to suppress. For them, a bad touch or a bad match equates to a bad player. Young Chambers has started his Arsenal career incredibly well, but we should beware what may happen when, inevitably, some of his mistakes are punished by the opposition.

Every one of the Arsenal players, staff and management havs flaws, sometimes very obvious, sometimes not; but they all deserve our support.  Any Arsenal supporter who hopes that an Arsenal player gets injured has lost sight of the big picture. The best team isn’t necessarily the team with the best eleven (or twenty-five) players. Effective teams need role-players just as much as they need stars. The Arsenal players who are less than ‘world class’ (whatever that means) are still important to the success of the team, because they do the jobs that need to be done. The team that plays most effectively TOGETHER is the team that is likely to win. Giroud won’t outsprint the defenders, but he will act as the hub of the attacking wheel, bringing the others into play and scoring a good number of goals himself. Arteta isn’t Yaya Toure or, the new flavour of the month, Nemanja Matic, but he will retain possession, pass accurately and help to manage the flow of the game.

People have the right to voice whatever opinion they want; my wish is only that they realise that tweeting ‘player X is shit’ or ‘I hope so and so plays so Wenger sees how rubbish he is’ contributes to negativity around the club, and that negativity is infectious. Ultimately, it hurts the club, the same club these people say they support. You want the team to play well? Be a good supporter. Pull for the team – all of them – and, if you go to a match, don’t forget to put pressure on the referee.

As fans, our job is not to manage the team and it is definitely not to run down our own players. Our job is not easy, but it is straightforward: our job is to support.

So, what this Arsenal team really needs is “Victoria Concordia Crescit”

A guest post from @OutforaCorner

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 10,035 other followers