50 Comments

On to the next one

A guest post by Varun Shukla (@WengerArmy)

I am in possession of a very unique fragment of knowledge. It’s so unique that they put it under top of the line surveillance in a secret underground complex 6000 feet under Highbury Square. Electric fences, sabretooth tigers and a few TX-1000 Terminators are just a portion of the security apparatus surrounding the place. This complex is believed to be under the aegis of Pat Rice (who else?)

Obviously, Arsenal Football Club will deny any knowledge of such a place, or what it protects. When asked why electronic devices go bonkers near the old Clock End, a polite, apologetic smile is all that is offered and Per Mertesacker appears out of nowhere to escort you from the premises. I persisted, called up the guys from Inception, and a PHW dream later, here we are. Just in case you’re wondering, that dream did NOT involve Mr. Hill-Wood bonking Dim Payton over the head with a diamond encrusted cane. Not even close.

So what is this big secret?

*Obligatory drumroll*

The world shall soon know why Arsene Wenger is the terror of plastic water bottles all over the world

Before we get there though, there are a couple of interesting subplots I’d like to discuss.

The Playoff Final

On the 27th of May, a Championship playoff final was held between Watford and Zaha  Crystal Palace. It was a crunch game, deciding who got to play in the Premier League the following season. It was also (by and large) a very dull game- all they did was lump the ball all over the place. The standout moment for me wasn’t even about the game. At the 74th minute, the camera cut to show the two managers standing in their respective technical areas. The angle of the Sun was such that there was a line halfway from either manager. Ian Holloway fell in the shadow and Zola stood in the light. It was the sort of moment about which Wordsworth would write a poem. I am not Wordsworth. However, that moment did seem to suggest that the light of the English top flight (see what I did there?) would be shining on Watford while Palace were to be consigned to the darkness of the Championship again. It has become apparent to me now that I was horribly wrong. Palace won, their fans went through the roof, and probably still haven’t come back.

A Relegation Battle

In a completely different universe, I started my first season on FIFA Manager 13. Now, before you hang me from the rafters, hear me out. Admitted, game programming has a long, long way to go before it can come anywhere near to simulating the real thing, but this is the closest one can get. It is far more realistic as it encompasses almost all aspects of managerial life from team line ups to strategy, Club Staff, merchandising…almost the whole deal.

In my first season, Southampton offer me a 3 year contract with the aim of avoiding the drop in the 1st season. Easy, I thought. Wrong on the 3nd count as well. It couldn’t have been more difficult. What with some player getting injured out of nowhere, some throwing tantrums for ‘preferred positions’, some losing interest in playing, it was a tough ride. And this is without mention of the agents buggering you, the board making constant demands (in some cases restricting finances) and the fans breathing down your neck. I was soon involved in a 4 way relegation battle with Stoke, Reading and West Brom. The top, or even the middle half of the table were mythical places to me. That 17th spot became my Holy Grail. I actually felt a sense of loss when the relegation was confirmed, and all the emotions and pressure during the course of the ‘season’.

A couple of points to consider:
1. This was just a simulation- nowhere close to the real stuff
2. I am not a closet Saints fan

The question then is why did it matter to me so much?
Answer: Football is nothing without the emotion and memories attached to it. A few become so entrenched that it becomes a way of life. One example of this is- almost any manager. And since ‘we all follow the Arsenal’, it is Arsene Wenger. That might explain why the Palace fans and staff celebrated like they’d won the Champions League- it was a great moment for the Club. Similarly, Arsenal getting 4th isn’t a small achievement, especially in the modern competitive environment. Credit to the manager that CL qualification is now considered the ‘bare minimum’ of our season objectives.

Another realization that hit me square on the noggin was this. No matter how tactically brilliant you are, how much money you have or how many ‘star’ players grace your roster, it’s all worth a donkey’s arse if the players don’t apply themselves on the field. And the worst part? You can only stare in horror as it all falls apart. No wonder Arsene is so jumpy during a game- flapping hands, doing 360’s, decimating bottle upon bottle of water. Overcoat zippers must tremble at the mention of his name. Arsenal waterboys would rather put on a Spurs shirt than face the wrath of Wenger. I wouldn’t want to be the 4th official either.

How much of your patience would it take to put so much effort into preparing the team for a game, only to see them unable to deliver because of a few mistakes? A shot taken too early or too late, a failure to mark your man, a forward run where there should be tracking back etc. All you have is to rein it in, be patient to the media, keep your players happy and try to get them to deliver a performance next time. Now imagine the pride you’d feel on seeing everything come off perfectly, to know that the players having given their best, to know that each one of them is willing to give even more?

It is only then that that one gets an idea of how important the words ‘belief’ ‘character’ and ‘spirit’ are- the very words for which some choose to call our manager senile and weak. I’d bet anything that Wenger would be itching to play himself when a chance is missed or a goal conceded. He must be thinking “Curses, you blasted piece of plywood, I told you to go THAT WAY”  But he can’t play. All he can do is hope for the best.

And the best is what looks like happening this time. For the  first time in many seasons, we have with us a group of players who are willing to apply themselves on the pitch- to work as one towards winning stuff. Case in point- Vermaelen gets benched. He could have made noises wanting to leave, but he didn’t. He’s willing to fight for his place. Walcott could so easily have left us for more money and crap, but no, he stays.

There is, refreshingly, no protracted outgoing transfer saga that could negatively affect us, nor any inflated egos to endure. Ironically, Spurs and Liverpool are the victims this time, as Bale and Suarez seek a transfer.
Added to that the new commercial deals, and the way we finished the season, gives me enough reason to hope.

50 comments on “On to the next one

  1. Spot on!
    “Added to that the new commercial deals, and the way we finished the season, gives me enough reason to hope.”
    Even the players are optimistic about next season and that all the more fills me with confidence! It’s gunner happen! Arsene is still scheming.

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  2. Wow! I’m first! I’m getting good at this.

    Good read here. This is what I’m talking about

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/giroud-i-have-improved-so-much-here

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  3. I just watched Santi’s goal v West Ham at Ems. Who said Wengerball has been sacrificed for “gritty performance” (whatever that means). From the pass to Poldi by Wilshere, to the outside foot tease of a pass by Poldi to Giroud, to the delicious chip by Giroud to Poldi, to Poldi’s tee up for Santi, to Santi’s deceptive back heel.
    How many times last season did we see Ollie G chip a ball over a static defence and as they stood there in rapture staring at the ball, an arsenal player sneaks in behind and violate their goal with a thumping volley?

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  4. Ok! I have to stop now!

    I’m going dark!

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  5. I really enjoyed this piece. It kinda captures my rambling, reflective state of mind as the off-season slowly wanders, Varun simply personalized it with a dash of humor and 21st century whiz bangery. As the clock ticks towards pre-season.

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  6. brilliant article congratulations for grasping the basics…players play ..managers manage.

    the last 10 years ive seen fans of ours blaming the manager when a striker misses a sitter or when a defender slips up or when a player doenst have the mentality to beat refs and world class opponents at the age of 21.

    today i started reading f365 and they are trying to cause anger to the arsenal fan because wenger doesnt like fellaini’s release clause and fees…..

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  7. I enjoyed that Varun – pacey !

    Mind you it just shows how far this club has declined when the likes of Spurs and Liverpool are shoving us out of the limelight when it comes to having their top players stolen. It is the result of eight years of decline orchestrated by Stan, Ivan his henchman and that so called manager of ours

    How can I hold my head up when we are in such a pitiful state that the top clubs in global football are squeezing the melons on Tottenham High Road and fondling the fruit on the Mersey ?

    A shameful day indeed

    I can only hope that 12 months forward we are back in our usual top spot of fighting of hordes of agents and rival managers desperate for our players

    Now that is success

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  8. Arsenal are D**Med. I tell you. D**Med.
    Only the dream team of Robson & Pearce* could roll back the years and get the players playing proper football again.

    * “Haven’t got the players?” Aw. Tears arise. Who can forget the D**M of Mancienne (against Spain U21s no less, please don’t start to blubber and tremble at the memory. Those were the days.)

    “Today i started reading f365” : Stop! : )

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  9. Emmanual,

    It wasn’t just the awesomeness of Santi’s cheeky little backheel that heralded the return of Wengerball as we know it (we’d seen Gr*tty unbeaten runs for fourth before, though I have heard from self declared experts and authorities that Arsenal haven’t been able to defend for many a year. Ah well).

    It was Giroud’s tribute to Santi’s goal later on in the same game that left me rubbing my eyes in disbelief for a little longer.

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  10. Varun, you’ve taken that emotional point by the balls and squeezed it hard.
    I always think if your standing on edge of a prescipise and you manage not to fall your joy is measured by the depth of the drop.
    The same way, are we celebrating coming fourth or avoiding all the ramifications of coming fifth.

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  11. @h13

    Some fans are incapable of holding anyone other than Arsene accountable for anything that goes wrong. It’s comical, really. Vermaelen falls on his arse and the debate is whether it was Arsene’s tactics, Arsene’s coaching, or Arsene’s motivational techniques that caused the poor innocent player to lose his battle with grass and gravity.

    But point out how ludicrous it is, and that, you know, players fall over sometimes or do a stupid thing, and back comes “yeah, but who bought him and picked him?”

    The blame (Wenger) culture is deeply ingrained in these folks, it’s actually a little impressive how well practiced they have become at massaging every circumstance into one that has an Arsene ‘error’ at the end of it. And vice-versa, anything done well must carefully circumvent any influence from the manager. Like how how our defensive form is deemed to be directly proportionate to how much work Bould is ‘allowed’ to do with the defenders.

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  12. Great article, good point and very entertaining writing as well. A failure of execution is not a failure of planning. Another reason why the players’ assumption of responsibility after the infamous Sp*ds match was so welcome. We are all in the hands of the players. Not to mention having no control over the opposition or the officials.

    ****
    I make you exactly right, LeoS.

    @ a_or_b
    ha ha

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  13. whoops, sorry – my “ha ha” should have gone to anicoll5.

    @ arse or brain, please have a boiled sweet in lieu.

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  14. LeoS June 13, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    lol exactly…vermaelen falls on his arse and wenger takes the blame. in many forms too. as if wenger should have known back in july 2011 that vermaelen will slip on the saturday of 3rd november 2013 in front of van persie who will have moved by then to manchester united.

    madness

    to those i say that look buddy ..when this guy had the quality of players he wanted and when that group was united ..the team broke records. Therefore the tactics, the set up , the preparation everything with regards to methodology is at title winning levels. very high level of athleticism and professionalism. the work they do is the work done in teams that go for championships. 70 game seasons and all. games every 3 -4 days. 3 -4 different competitions. the only thing that changes is the material you work with. the recipe is a success. well tough luck…we cant have henrys vieiras and bergkamps all the time… such players come once in a lifetime.

    between 2005- and today it was impossible to have the right material to beat chelsea united real barca and whoever else spent 20m per position for a world class player. we had to mix and match. thankfully we had a manager who limited the loss factor to such minimal levels. in fact he made a profit all these years.haha…

    then we have to factor in the following : Could cesc robin gael samir etc etc and the rest of that age (19-23) have the balls/guts and menatlity or fortitude to psychologically beat drogba and giggs at their peak? the answer is NO. they will get close ( as they did) but when its time to TALK the big players will TALK not the young ones..the young ones are wipping their butts when pressure is at such levels. Could we have kept our invincibles? Again massive NO. We arent manchester united ..to keep a 30 y.o vieira and henry at 150k per week or whatever they would demand and then also pay cesc fabregas and robin 100k per week or theo.

    its all so simple..yet the arsenal fan drowns in a table spoon of water. the number one thing to rememnber is that with wenger there is SECURITY. He fucking knows. And he is also not a cunt to screw us over. That for me is enough.

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  15. and the most important one…could a team of young foreign kids have the kind of psychology to fuck the system too ? ( hostile refs, hostile public, media etc)

    it was too much for our young players……and thats when the FANS shoudl have come out and march all the way to F.A demanding they respect our right to a fair and equal competition on the pitch and not face diabolical cunts every week who came out with one intention. to break legs.

    they even turned that against us…calling us poofs and soft and telling us that the break of a leg is an occupational hazzard..it happens. hmmmmmmmmm….

    remember how people were giving arsenal and wenger shit about discipline records cause vieira had like 50 red cards or something…48 of them were because he talked back to refs….and i dont remember patrick ever going with his studs showing on someones shin…he was a scientist he knew how to do it like italians..not like them donkey who throws themselves with all their force at that speeds ..thats lethal assault outside of a pitch…

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  16. i remember so many times …the situations in some games when would get totally screwed by a cheating opponent or by officials how our young players would look to wenger as if saying ” Dad what do we do now..they are kicking us”

    poor wenger tried to reason with media and refs but they all saw him as a figure to be mocked.

    Intention he talked about…….he never said anything about taking tackling out of the game.

    you can tackle like maldini or like shawcross. its the latter type of tackle he didnt approve and rightly so, but for some unknown reason english fotball permits and allows such hositle behaviours on the pitch.. they call it passion…. i think that they are jealous cause they werent taught football properly and simply vent out theri frustrations on the better foreigners. and the media cover their own.

    eduardo was branded a cheat..rooney “clever”
    suarez a racist …terry was nearly given the armband again
    rehagel wins the euro with 343 and 442 and its the death of football, mourinho wins the champions league with a 200m budget and a system with 7 goalkeepers and 4 defenders and is hailed as special…muahahaha ..

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  17. now i have seen rio ferdinand talk back to officials like a swearing lunatic with veins pumping and all but ive never seen rio get a second yellow for it. Never.

    But maybe im dumb and have way too much hopes…after all he didnt even see yellow when he did the kung fu appendix operation on sagna three years ago at o.t as last defender…

    ” the lights ref..is was the lights and i couldnt see”

    yeah right rio piss off now…lol

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  18. just like you would laugh your arse off watching paris hilton giving advice to F16 airforce pilots likewise you can laugh when you watch bill and joe from down the street advising wenger what to do with transfers and how to run football clubs

    its the same thing.

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  19. Really good post. It’s easy to judge from the sidelines or couch or pub or wherever but the players aren’t robots and even with the best training in the world, they still make mistakes from time to time. Or the ball takes a funny bounce. It’s frustrating, of course, and I’ve certainly uttered my fair share of profanities while watching a game (and undoubtedly will again) but there’s nothing to do but keep cheering the Gunners on.

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  20. excellent excellent stuff!

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  21. Fungunner @5
    I wondered why you laughed I thought I had made a serious point,

    H13 and Leos, I could listen to you all day

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  22. I don’t know Hunter – when I spot anything RAF pilots in my neck of the woods I always give them the benefit of my opinion on their flying abilities and tactics generally

    After all I have paid my taxes, I have a right to my opinion

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  23. A very nice write up and again nice comments. Many times I hear fellow gooners exclaim that we lost our players due to greed . For me it is apparent that many left due to other factors. The main one being the fact that at ARSENAL they felt the world was against them. Even at such tender age the teams AW assembled were able for the most part to play their opponents of the pitch with superior technical ability and ARSENE’S strategies. Even with the the one sided calls by the ” incompetent” officials and the policies of the FA and the tainted materials written about them in the ” media “. even with the poaching at its higher. Many staying loyal to the club and AW through the toughest financial times when we were building the NEW HIGHBURY. even when the financially doped made it next to impossible to bring in fresh blood when we needed it. They stayed and played their hearts out. It is when our players were being butchered on the field time and again with impunity and immunity that the young shoulders started to buckle under the tremendous weight and many ,even some of their on fans, instead of coming out and asking for a fairness and even handedness on and of the pitch, turned their backs on them and to their shame abandoned the crew and AW. These were horrendous and career ending tackles being perpetrated on these young men least we forget. Even their loyalty and love for AW could not change the fact that they were facing a no win situation and WENGER could not protect them from being crippled and the FA would stand silent and let the situation fester to a point where even the most most loyal of our players had to make the choice. Except for maybe four I don’t begrudge them at all for making the choice to prolong their careers. I would not want to have them back at the club since the team has moved on and is changed tactically and some would not fit the new setup but I wish them well in their futures. All except for a few who either were not here long enough to be called GUNNERS or for those who’s loyalties were to the almighty euro from day one and ARSENAL ,for them, was just a stepping stone to their next club and the big play day. As for the rest I believe many would still be with us if our supporting crowd hadn’t lost faith and abused these young men sacraficeing everything they had for the cause.
    I am still baffeled and disappointed and the vocal minority of AFC supporting fans for their action. How could they be so blind. They fell straight into the trap the media had set up and with their own hands pushed our most talented most loyal servents right the door. IMHO they truly did drop the ball. Big time.

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  24. oh my dear anicol funny you should say that…just last night i was at a gala party with the civil engineers of the euro-tunnel and in between the champagne and ferrero roches i outlined to them the wrongs of their plannings. i saw the documentary on sky and knew the difference between copper and tin based antifouling systems for the underwater metal structures

    fsssssssjjjoing

    tomorrow im invited for a seminar at silverstone to teach briatore and dennis about aerodynamics

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  25. Apologize for a few typos. You know what I mean. Anywho I get super emotional thinking back to those inhumane treatment our gunners had to go through and still face the ungrateful bunch booing and abusing them.

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  26. goonerkam…agree with every word there . where/when the team needed its fans the most they went awol.

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  27. inhumane…yes…the savages and the illinformed attacking the educated and cultured.. thats what did it for me….when i saw urangotangs assaulting the gentleman wenger and his team…and the saddest part is that many of those urangotags are fellow fans…yikes…

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  28. since they feel that their freedom to undermine wenger is part of the principle of freedom of expression, likewise they should be reminded that out of PRINCIPLE you simply can not disrespect or undermine THIS manager after all he has done for this football club.

    i believe that the principle to respect wenger ranks higher than any moron’s “principle” to freely castigate the manager on matters which have to do with his profession. a profession in which this manager is considered as one of the best in the world.

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  29. It’s mind boggling stuff HUNTER. Some idiots are talking about putting performance minimum standards on the man.
    Oh hello BILL GATES. Microsoft hasn’t been making money like it used to old chap. We are going to have to put you on minimum performance standards, in afraid. If you can’t meet them , there is the door. It doesn’t matter that in the past 16 years you have been by far the most loyal of our servents and unselfishly said no to offer far in excess of what we can pay you. And doesn’t matter what you have done to the profile of this club in your tenure here. ITS WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY, BABY.
    I didn’t know you were an engineering man H13…

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  30. he is a saboteur,he destroys things, Kam

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  31. Excellent post Varun – really insightful.

    Good points H13 and GoonerKam – that was a brutal time in our history and sadly the fans failed.

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  32. This write paints a vivid picture of the difficulties of managing a top football club. Teams outspend us by much more and end up only with a CL place. City and Chelsea did not win anything this season (I don’t count the Euro thingy when you got dumped out of the CL…bogus). If these teams can spend these excessive amounts of money and end up with nothing, why is it that the hoards of “experts” in the stands believe it is such an easy task for Arsenal? Why do they believe Arsenal above all other clubs must win inspite of being outspent a few times over? There can only be one answer and that is AW. The absured expectations are due to his past accomplishements of winning things” and his ability to build a team on much less money.

    ‘Kam and Hunter…Good stuff. Had the support really stood behind the youngsters instead of demanding trophies and booing, that team would have been great. I do believe some flaked out but that does not dismiss how idiotic the support was. That team was special and would have been the team of this age, had they stayed together

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  33. PG @915
    ahhh, a demolition engineer..

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  34. Passenal & Paul.. Thanks . On my list of flakes first and formost rvp, nasri, adye and flammini. for all others I wish them well . Wish they had stayed but understand why they packed it. A world of respect to all others who are still with us and working for the cause.

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  35. Sorry people .it looks like there is no post for today.
    This might happen a few times in the next couple of months.My apologies.

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  36. No worries PG. we shall keep the conversation going no doubts. Have your self a fine off day and very well done for the work you have put into the blog. You and Steww and all the guest contrbuiters. Well done indeed.
    Can’t wait for a guest piece by ZIM and maybe FUNGUNNER or possibly PASSENAL. good times ahead..

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  37. PG

    Your silence is more eloquent than the cant which will appear on many Arsenal blogs today.

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  38. Positivistas,
    You really need to read this:
    AMBITIONS, VALUES, TRADITIONS AND THE BIRTH OF A SUPERCLUB – ARSENAL June 13, 2013 posted on “Gunners Town” by Amartey Armar, a Ghanian Gooner. It is the time of post that belongs here……

    http://is.gd/XDhuYk

    Enjoy…..

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  39. just popped over to link you boys and gals to a magnificent article I read yesterday, but the GP beat me to it.

    That’s the lads first article as well. truly inspiring read. felt my lungs filling as I was reading.

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  40. Sorry Adam…

    It’s a terrific piece and my lungs are also exploding after that….

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  41. GP, I think that piece should be published on every positive Arsenal blog.

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  42. That blog is epic

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  43. “GP, I think that piece should be published on every positive Arsenal blog.”
    Thats here .Untold and Mean Lean’s gaff.

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  44. What an extraordinary write up.

    wow!

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  45. Here is a nice little subliminal massage from our ” good friends” at the BBC to all you ” conspiracy theorists” out there..
    They got a story on how stats show the fouls have dropped by 22% percentage points from last year. Pretty harmless you say and good news too, you say. Check the photo and the basterds have the ARSENAL kit in the frame and JW mug in there. What’s the point you say. ?? Figure it out PALS.
    Keep on doing a fine job BBC, you jackasses..

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  46. PG
    Don’t forget Pozan! He’s done sterling service this season on the positive side.

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  47. georgaki,
    Many thanks for that link. A great post.
    ‘Kam, that stat probably means that EPL refs missed (or worse deliberately ignored/let go) even more fouls last season than normal. If the FA were really looking for the right scapegoat for poor England performances for the last few years a certain M Reilly c/o Salford should be hanging from a lamppost.’
    England lowest fouls per game in Europe? My arse! Worst effing refs is more likely.

    ‘Kam how does Jack have 3 legs in that photo? Hehe.

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  48. DC
    we have been using the top technology in fixing JACK up for the coming campaign. Haha. If you thought he was a nightmare to defend on two feet wait till you see him play on three. Hahaha.
    By the way ,I would pay to see Reilly hang from the lamp post by his you know whats. hahaha.

    That guy from GHANA wrote a very nice piece indeed. Makes you proud to have such passionate and knowledgeable GOONERS fan base worldwide.

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