48 Comments

Life In The Pressure Cooker

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A few of weeks ago I was talking about Arsène’s contention that we had ten cup finals ahead of us and that he intended to do his darndest to see that we win every last one of them. I loved that he said that because it shows how clever and brave he is as a manager and what chumps some others are by comparison.  Think about Villas-Boas’ comment “They are now in a negative spiral in terms of results — it will be extremely difficult for them to get out of it.”  Thanks Andre; I hope Steve Bould stuck that one on the wall of the changing room. Of course if we had gone on to lose the next two games he would have looked like some kind of visionary genius and the insufferable pretenders from the Lane would have had reason to sink to even greater depths of self delusion. But of course we didn’t. The poor man has been been scraping the foo-yung from his ginger beard ever since and no doubt regretting those rash words. You don’t inspire your own players nor your own supporters by snide denigration of your rivals. Especially when they have either overhauled you or left you behind consistently for many many years. Oh and if they are managed by a man with enormous footballing nous and huge experience, you’d have been wiser to  just smile sweetly , clench your cheeks together and shut up. I actually know that some Spud fans were shaking their heads when he said it and I can guess why, after all  it made me think – ‘Oh yeah? You fucking think so do you?’ and I’m sure our players and coaching staff had a similar reaction.

Compare if you will, the rashness of AVB’s downhill spinning top baloney with Arsène’s ten cup finals remark. It gave me a little shiver down my spine. Made me really realise that we are here at the sharp end of the season and we have to fight for every single scrap that each opponent may let fall our way. That we need to dig deep for ten games. Either deep into our mental resources and sheer bloody mindedness as in our last 20 minutes of competitive footy or dig deeply into our glittering pirate’s chest of shiny passing and shooting skills as we did in the 250 minutes before Per’s telescopic leg failed him at the Hawthorns. Because that’s where we are right now. Three cup finals down.  270 must win minutes played. Eight wonderful, glorious, lovely goals scored and a miserly two conceded. Two away wins, one home win. So far so good. Now look, before you all gang up on me please understand that there is no hubris here, no AVB style chicken counting from me at all. I know full well that we have a very long way to go and seven cup finals still to play. But there does seem to be a little bit of strain , a few cracks beginning to show in the pretenders to our throne. Both Chelsea and AVB’s downward spiralling Spuds have looked somewhat shaky of late and I have to believe that is in part down to us piling on the points and pouring on the pressure.

Arsene’s remark certainly put his own players under pressure, but what did it say to them and to us? I think it said ‘here it is, a really big ask. Ten cup finals in the toughest league out there. And I’m laying on the line . Not talking about what our rivals might or might not do, not trying some feeble ‘mind game’ on anybody else.  I’m saying that we have a massive job ahead of us and by saying it I am telling you publicly that I believe you can do it. One final at a time.’

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And by God the team has come out looking like they’re ready for a fight in each match.  And for us supporters he’s given a real meaning and edge to what some denigrate as another failed season. Let’s be honest we all want to win every trophy and every August I hope and believe that we will. It’s the joy of following football as a sport, you get reborn every summer and each close season sees all your hope and belief entirely rekindled and fired up in readiness for the next go around. OK so this time there is only one thing left to fight for. A top four finish is for me more than the league cup and just shades the FA cup – you may see things differently, if so feel free to disagree with me,  I can take it. European qualification is third choice on my list of five targets when August comes around. But here’s the thing, there’s a whole lot of clubs dream of a top four finish in the Prem and we are one of the few capable of getting there. We have seven finals left and while we would like our rivals to do that vertical downhill spinny thing a few more times just to ease our way (it adds spice after all), whether they help us or not this season looks like going all the way to the wire and as a football fan you simply cannot ask for any more than that.

Imagine having secured mid table tedium a few weeks back and just playing out the remaining fixtures. Of course the matches themselves might be exciting but the season would be effectively over for you. We are one of a very few clubs at the absolute pinnacle of the English league system who have a big old prize still to aim at and the way Arsène laid that out for us has really whetted my appetite for the home straight. And I’ll tell you what, the players look like they’re up for it too. We’re so lucky to have experienced campaigners like the incomparable Tomáš Rosický and the unruffleable Vice Captain Fantastic Mikel Arteta to help steer the ship through the rocks and rapids which will no doubt try to sink us, but more than that all the new faces that so disrupted our progress way back in the autumn of last year now look like a team. A special mention for Nacho Monreal here who has had literally no time to settle but looks like he was born in the red and white. What a buy he turned out to be and be honest not one anybody saw coming. The squad is in pretty good shape, obvious and tragic injuries aside, and we have some pretty phenomenal experience and young talent on the bench these days.

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So as far as my flu addled brain can make out we have made an impressive start to climbing this particular hill, there is a long way to go but every week brings more excitement and more drama and every week the results around us become harder to predict. If I still drank I’d raise a glass to you all and say what a joy it is to have you along for this crazy ride, and if you’ll allow me, I’ll make just one small prediction. If we do pull off the unlikely but not impossible ten cup finals, we will have laid the perfect foundation for the next campaign. The self belief that every squad needs will be in place and the bond forged between the artists on the pitch will make 2013/14 a truly mouth watering prospect.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. One day at a time as we say in AA. Or one final at a time as we say at The Arsenal.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

48 comments on “Life In The Pressure Cooker

  1. Spot on, Stew. Couldn’t have said it better myself, though wish I had. 😉

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  2. Invinciblog April 11, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Too kind sir.

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  3. Very brilliant, Steww.

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  4. Excellent Stew – and his beard is ginger you’re right – as if they don’t have enough to contend with

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  5. Frank!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Good stuff Stew.
    And you are right not to count our Cockerels.

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  6. A great post Stew. A real “call to arms” if ever there was one. “scraping the foo-yung from his ginger beard” was a personal highlight.

    I’m confident we can and will do this.

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  7. Thanks for your email, George. I picked it up this morning. I have been disconnected this last two weeks….and I have been in Venice, Italy visiting the original Arsenal(e). Together with the burgeoning Chinese Middle Classes. They were there too. All of em. I managed to upset an entire vaporetti full of people of all nationalities with an…

    Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal…Arsenal, Arsenal, Arseanaaallll….Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal….Arsenal, ARSENAL.

    At the top of my voice as we docked at the Arsenale stop.

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  8. Right up there at your usual high standard, Stew. Excellent writing as ever.

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  9. Well put sir. What I’m seeing from these cup finals, is a bunch of fantastic players becoming a fantastic team. And with no disruptive dismantling of the team insight at the end of the season, The stubborn idiot that is Wenger has build another team in one season and has the vital members of the team tied down for the foreseeable future. I can’t help but enjoy the remain cup finals and salivate at the prospect of what’s to come next season.

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  10. Some big decisions again coming up for Arsene Saturday.With Everton coming 3 days latter.
    I think Giroud and Rosicky might be kept fresh

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  11. Steww – What a read! Long may you be caught in this feverish spell.

    Unlike the drivel from the hardened doomers decrying our fight to be among the top-four (actually Top-Three), since Arsene’s cup-finals war cry, I cannot wait for each weekend to come around for the fight to recommence. The anxiety before and during the game is taking its toll on my ticker, adding grey hairs and shortening my longevity but perversely, I love every minute. My neighbors must think I am crazy with the whooping and hollering after every goal and at the full-time whistle.

    After this magnificent main course, the best dessert is yet to come; the growing despair of the Spuddies after every one of our victories gnashing their teeth as the cockerel spirals downwards under the weight of AVB’s stupidity and hubris.

    Come on Arsenal! Come on!

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  12. That’s a great post Shotta! And I know what you mean, the whole cup final thing has increased the pressure. What a manager to realise that’s what his side needed; more pressure.

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  13. Inspiring stuff Steww, thanks.

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  14. Whats up my PA family.

    I have not been on for on here for a while. I was away at a Church retreat and my daughter was in the hospital for two days..she is good now.

    Great stuff, Steww. I have never thought about how Arsene stays above the mind games folly. You are so right, he only mentions Arsenal. I have a read a few recents comments from some of the players and they behave likewise. They all say something like “it is about what we do, we are not focussing on other teams”…exactly!

    The team has really come on of late and are taking and are up for each cup final, it seems the supporters are getting on board also. The win against Bayern (at a very low point in the season) was huge. All we have to do is look at how Bayern demoralized Juve and that puts it all into perspective. Juve, who are at the top of the Seria A, did not score a single goal while Bayern only beat us on the away goals rule.

    This Arsenal team is getting there and will be something special next season.

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  15. One game at a time. Come on Arsenal!

    I too dont let myself start counting the chickens. We can count them later. Right now, it is Norwich and nothing else.

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  16. With our recent injuries, what is evident is that we have great sqaud depth. Even without Diaby, Walcott and JW, the club has been doing well and we still have options on the bench. What is obvious is that getting an injnury in this squad can be detrimental to your starting position. I can see no reason for Walcott or JW to simply walk back into the team. Take Gibbs for example, he was playing very well prior to his injury and now has to be patient.

    On another note, I think Fabianski has nailed down the GK position. There is just something mature and composed about him. He along with the pairing of Kos and Per at the back has really seen the team look less nervous.

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  17. As soon as AVB starting talking ‘spirals’ I knew we were gonna be alright,it’s just a case of 3rd or 4th as far as I’m concerned,we’ll be just fine.Spirals my arse.

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  18. Paul – glad your little one is ok.
    Mel – there does seem to be a small problem with their wheels

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  19. Nice to have you back Stew (and Frank)!

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  20. Good to be back Mel. And Frank.

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  21. What has happened to Harry?
    Another MIA,and Aman.
    In fact just about everyone.Has North Korea scared them into underground bunkers?

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  22. Thanks Steww.

    I see us getting into 3rd, Chelsea will take the 4th place. I can see Benetez resting his better players for the Cup competitons, he sure knows how to win those.

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  23. “…I’d raise a glass to you all and say what a joy it is to have you along for this crazy ride…”

    Well said, Steww. For it is surely more fun to ride a roller coaster with all your friends along! Come on Arsenal!

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  24. great post again stew. its double pressure for the next three games as the spuds do not play until afterwards and we need to amass as many points as possible before they play. three games in a week all of which have proved banana skins in the past and the added dilemma of whether to bring in jack and Theo and also where to rest tr7(especially considering his latest niggle). amass seven points and the spuds will go into the city game depressed but with three games in hand we need to make sure they dont have to much to go for. while everyone’s right about taking each cup final one at a time, the obvious cannot be ignored that before the manure game these three games are massive and I’m scaring myself just writing this.

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  25. “…the obvious cannot be ignored that before the manure game these three games are massive and I’m scaring myself just writing this.” (arse_or_brain @ 6:52pm)

    Scared. Well have some mercy on those of us who have to live through the next three games, please.

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  26. Dearie me, arse or brain. Get a grip old chap……

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  27. a_or_b, 9 points prior to United then?

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  28. 10 points from the next 4 fixtures will do nicely.

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  29. hang on …. what happened to one at a time?

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  30. We have discarded that cowards policy ,
    Now when are those Cockerels that need counting?

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  31. I am conflicted .Cant decide whether I want Spurs to win or lose tonight

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  32. I will take a loss. They are not too confident now, I would prefer to keep that going.

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  33. you must always want them to lose however if they get through conceding goals by big mistakes, players arguing , injury and fatigue , and players and coaches falling out then that’s all good

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  34. steww
    Lovely writing. You are the Mikel Arteta of the blog – always calm, always classy, always keeping your head. I’d say “lovely hair” as well, but, well….you know. (insert banned smiley face)

    @ Mel April 11, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    “As soon as AVB starting talking ‘spirals’ I knew we were gonna be alright,”
    ha ha Mel – me, too! I think he’s a very good manager but really showed his lack of experience there.

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  35. I’m here PG, and hereabouts anyway. Lovely piece Steww.

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  36. 2-2, extra time, some injuries and a defeat on penalties will do.

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  37. Thanks FG. If I could find the plastics factory that makes Mikel’s hair I’d buy me some.

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  38. Hang on the tinies don’t have a game this weekend I think. Not too bothered with their result then, if they go through more games could be a bonus, a defeat is always good.

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  39. Well I know who I want to win tonight. I found out when Basel just scored and I started shouting!

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  40. That Basel is a good team.

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  41. Splendid article Stew, very enjoyable read, thanks.

    Here’s to the next game …

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  42. thanks mate

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  43. finsbury
    at 8:38 pm
    “2-2, extra time, some injuries and a defeat on penalties will do.”

    Not sure about the injuries but everything else was spot on.

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  44. You would have to be a cold hearted bastard to laugh at Ade and Spurs.
    Thats me told myself off then

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  45. Fantastic writing today, great comments and Sp*rs going out of their usual European competition with Adebayor faltering under pressure. This marks a perfect start to my weekend considering I’ve the day off tomorrow.

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  46. Oh and guys, please don’t talk about the game at the end of April. I am proper scared! If they win the league at our place, that just can’t happen! Just imagine our former striker deciding to use this game to rediscover his scoring form. Even if we end up 3rd, that would leave a permanent stain on this season.

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  47. Paul I fell asleep and missed the tinies tumble. That bribe to the Basle ‘keeper worked a treat : )
    I suppose I shouldn’t wish injuries upon the vastly superior Tottenham squad.

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