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No Goblin Nor Foul Fiend

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From the moment Theo shoulder barged some geezer three times his size right off the pitch and into the advertising hoardings you received the impression that we were in for a treat last night.  Even when the inevitable Twitter meltdown greeted Mike Dean’s goal there was never really any reason to panic. You see, like  Theo, this squad has come of age. Our number fourteen won’t be pushed around and knocked over, his double shoulder injury is behind him, and I believe his change in fortune is neatly analogous to the development of this Arsenal team. A team that has learned not to expect anything from the authorities, the football establishment, the media and even a sizeable minority of it’s own support. This is a team which goes on proving that if they have to beat not just the opposition but the corrupt and/or incompetent officials trying their best to help the other side, then so be it. I’ve felt for a little while now that once partnerships and understandings are built between the players and a balance exists then the raw courage and determination to overcome apparently insuperable odds are there in abundance.  Would it be immodest of me to suggest that the events of last night indicate I might have been on to something?

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If Theo out muscling his man in defence was a portent then the performance of Aaron Ramsay was little short of a revelation. I know we all have our favourites. Tomáš Rosický is mine. This favouritism makes us biased towards certain players and  yet simultaneously raises our expectations of them. I thought TR7 was relatively quiet last night but then he was playing high up the pitch and faced a wall of Wigan players fighting for their lives. Aaron who is fast becoming my favourite player (we are talking full  on man crush here, believe me) was, on the other hand, starting deeper with some big green spaces to run into. Apart from a couple of wayward passes I thought he was sensational. I put the first goal down to him. He harried Wigan in possession, he tackled fiercely and instigated the counter which led directly to the corner from which Lukas stooped to score.

Surely it is Arsène who should  take a bow for his careful handling of the former Welsh captain. He clearly knows which players become stronger when forged in the fire of competitive matches and which need to be eased back into the fray. Aaron has grown harder, seemingly taller, and more confident with every game. When he scored, a goal of which any striker in the league would have been proud, he did more than simply usher in the demise of a celebrity. Think about it. Think about the near misses from him lately. There was one in this match, also a toe poke that went tantalisingly wide a few weeks ago. But nothing fazes the boy. He shrugs off his mistakes and gets on with it. The cool, unhurried calm with which he put that ball away was for me the final piece in his jigsaw of recovery.

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I didn’t want to single out any individual player from last night’s performance. Honestly this isn’t supposed to be the Aaron Ramsay show,  I genuinely thought everyone fought hard from start to finish. I apologise – but I am an emotional guy and after the hell that young man has been through I think he deserves every bit of credit I and everyone else can give him. Having said all that, indulge me while I single out one other moment and one other player. I’m referring to Laurent Koscielny’s ridiculous acrobatics with the score still at 1 – 0. Would you call it a tackle? Interception? He picked the ball out of the air at about seven feet off the ground whilst seemingly sandwiched between centre forward and out rushing goalkeeper. And he did it not with his head but with a deft flick of his size twelves.  He plucked the ball from the sky with the apparent ease of a boy scrumping an apple from a low branch, he made it vanish like a conjurer. It was part martial art, part ballet and all genius. Again I pick out these players and these moments as metaphors for the development and growth of the team as a whole.

Compare Kos and Szezzer’s decisive, no nonsense intervention in that instant with the hesitant, disastrous league cup final moment. Just as those two have come of age, just as Theo looks like a man and no longer the unsure little boy of yore, and just as no demonic referee can dent our determination to overcome all odds, so has the team grown, hardened and learned the habit of not getting beaten. Make no mistake these are the qualities we shall need next season. We need a settled summer, we need niggling injuries sorted out and first and foremost we need to win our last game on Sunday. Then this set of players will know how it feels to put a long run together. That’s what wins you titles. Consistency and belief. It gives you the edge and conversely seeps into the other team’s psyche acting like a goal head start. Remember how Tony Adams used to say he could see the other side’s shoulders droop if Arsenal scored first in a match, because they seemed to know they would never get back into the game? You can’t teach that feeling on the training pitch. It comes from doing it week in week out whether at your best or not. That is what the team have been doing ever since we went to Bayern and bearded them in their lair.

john-bunyan

OK that’s enough from me, how about we end with a song? When I was a boy I was sent to a religious primary school and there was necessarily a whole lot of  hymn singing. There is one anthem that came back to me when I thought of Aaron’s courage and Arsene’s single minded determination not to be ground down by the naysayers. If you’ll allow me, I shall share John Bunyan’s words with you now. For twas he who penned the lines which came unbidden to me from the long lost days of my callow choristry.  If it helps substitute the word pilgrim. Think winner gooner instead and it kind of works. In fact I’ll go further it should be the club hymn. Wait, clubs don’t have hymns do they? OK strike that. Anyway most of my early my religious education left little impression on me but these words hit the spot right now.

Like I said , I’m an emotional guy.

Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather;
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.

Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories,
Do but themselves confound:
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright;
He’ll with a giant fight,
But he will have the right
To be a pilgrim.

No goblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then, fancies, fly away;
He’ll not fear what men say;
He’ll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.

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.

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78 comments on “No Goblin Nor Foul Fiend

  1. I’ll read anything about Arsenal that isn’t written by a tw*t.
    My thoughs are slightly different to some above, and we’ve been told that doesn’t happen here! Oooo Er.
    *ducks and runs for cover*

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  2. I suppose it depends on who you consider a twat Finsbury

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  3. Thats kool, Finsbury. Nothing wrong with enjoying what you enjoy. I read some of that stuff some of the times, but as you say, humility is key.

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  4. Jeez, a comments section worthy of the perfectly brilliant main post.

    Wonderful reading from all around the world, from all of you – thanks for creating a truly great read.

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  5. Look at Dean in this vid. Doesn’t it look like he did a little hop and skip after the goal?

    http://www.feintzebra.co.uk/football/goal-gif-emmanuel-adebayor-chelsea-1-1-tottenha/

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  6. ramsey ramsey ramsey. ramsey the lionhearted is how he shall be henceforth known as.

    but without the heart he is just a good player..am I the only one who thinks he will grow into a player 10 times what he is currently.

    he will become a modern great..there is no doubting a mentality like that.

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  7. @ alabamagooner
    May 15, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    “Post of the day.”

    I second that!

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  8. I third that!

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  9. You guys. And here I almost didn’t post it for fear of “Good God, is she ever going to shut up about Ramsey?”

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  10. I trust we are all rooting for the plucky English side in Amsterdam tonight ?

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  11. COme on extra time. Come on extra time.

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  12. Jeez, what time does America go to bed?

    Ramsey this, Ramsey that! 😉

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  13. Everytime I think you’ve hit the pinnacle Stew, you surprise me yet again and top it. This post was outstanding! “He who would valiant be” indeed! Great comments all round too.

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  14. Chav scum

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  15. Apologies
    I was of course referring to the team soon to be in 4th place.

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  16. Chavs and City wining stuff by spending one and a half Billion pounds is proof positive that money talks.
    All this “we are Arsenal” counts for shit.
    Pundits and media who say its more than just spending money are full of shit

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  17. Steww
    A crowning moment of awesomeness from you today. Wow.

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  18. Money talks that’s for sure. Roman would be a fool to get rid of Rafa. But I hope does get rid of him.
    Well according to some Dean did a pretty decent and average job yesterday and in general when it comes to ARSENAL.
    so all these years my eye have been decieving me. Bad bad eyes. Shame.
    CHEAT,CHEAT, CHEAT….

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  19. Great Post Today Stew. Good comments from all thereafter!

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  20. Yes, its all about the money but they spend so much and have won so little in comparison. Worse of all is that instead of the Pundits pointing out how ridiculous it is, most will celebrate it. A joke to blouse and skirt.

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  21. Harry Flowers, as far as doubt, when it creeps up, I just look at what AW has done over the years and I know we will come good, inspite of our struggles. I was asked why I knew we would come good, my reply was that we always do under AW.

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  22. Just remember this for next season, fellow Positivistas:
    This is so much more OUR TEAM than for the rest of the gooners, we are the ones who have held fast, supported and backed up ALL of our players when it was not fashionable to do so.
    And of course kept the usual ‘unbelievable belief’ in Arsene Wenger. (welcome back on board Harry!).

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  23. Cheers Paul. You are right what you say.

    I had a little wobble back then I admit, a test of faith, for the first time ever, I think it was the accumulative effect of all that transfer saga in the summer, but I’m alright now. If ever do it again though, feel free to hit me upside the head. Mind you, you may have to get to the back of the queue….(insert banned smiley wink here)

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  24. The events of last summer made fools of many of us and in various different ways.

    I don’t recall you ever resorting to lies and half-truths, regardless of whatever doubts you may have had.

    It was that particular strand of ‘dooming’ I had – and have – the most trouble with; from it spouted all manner of nonsense not least the constant anti-Wenger, anti-club, anti-player diatribes that became so fashionable, in certain parts.

    Whatever happened to THOSE supporters? What WERE they thinking?

    Shame on them, Harry.

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  25. Many had agendas. If they are honorable they will come forth and have a slice of the humble pie with their name on it. But this won’t happen. All you will see is the goalposts being moved again. Such is their ways. Shameless. My good friend ANDREW is spot on.. And so is double canisters. THIS IS OUR TEAM AND OUR CREW. BE PROUD..

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  26. George @ 7.39
    As far as football is concerned, those who end up ‘resorting to lies and half-truths’ in order to express an opinion.

    Someone once said that football is a funny old game. I agree, it is. No need for making up rubbish. I mean look at Chelsea fans: desperate to get back a manager who has lost his current squad big time. The manager who lost players like Robben & Duff as he dismantled the uber squad he inherited when he first there! How can they not like Rafa, a manager who called out Sah Slurgus during a delusional and nonsensical rant (at least, that is what the funny papers told me it was).

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  27. Strangely for me, this hymn was my favorite at school, for the tune and the words; but we sung “to be a hobgoblin” as the last line at the very top of our voices (pilgrims were “Rhodesians” and it was then fascist colonial Rhodesia) and me and my friends wanted to be guerrillas, rebels of our country you see, (I got my wish) and somehow the made-up word “hobgoblin” conjured up the idea of “rebel” in our young hearts.

    And so Arsenal, yes, rebels, of another sort, one and all, a rebel team by nature that refused to conform to establishment football (buy its way into trophies) or admit defeat, personally (Aaron, Theo, Tomas for example) or admit failure as a team terminally labeled “in crisis” by every half-hearted supporter, stupid pundit and an insidious media, and its this line-up that has stamped a rebel character, led by a fearless rebel leader.

    And don’t they all look the part too.

    Well done lads!! It’s the team effort that did it. Now, one more battle to go. The is not yet over and we must summon all our courage and nerve one more time for one final push. Yes, Shotta, as Steww said, we are on the final straight, yards from the finish, legs and lungs exhausted, this final push is now 90% psychological, for ourselves. Go Arsenal.

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