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Arsenal Through The Ages

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Wiziwig suffered a DDOS attack the other night. There’s a sentence I couldn’t have predicted I’d be writing when, as a boy, I  used to wait up, yawning, for Match Of The Day to come on, wondering whether Arsenal would feature or not. In fact when I was much younger I didn’t wait up at all. If I wanted to watch the single most important programme of the week my Mum made me go to bed early and I was then  woken up to watch it before going back to bed. My parents were old school and believed firmly that children needed their sleep. Even though lying in bed staring at the ceiling an hour before my bedtime, excited like it was Christmas Eve, made sleep all but impossible, I usually did drift off. Eventually.

Mum would shake me awake at the appointed hour and I would wander in to the front room, wrapped in my dressing gown, hair awry, bewildered and blinking into the light of the television, a strange youthful alien creature materialised into the adult world of drawn curtains, hushed tones and night time TV. Dad would bring me a cup of sweet milky tea and I’d settle in next to his warmth on the settee in anticipation of the famous theme tune. Football for me has always been a place of cosiness, familiarity, excitement and expectation all commingled and stirred into a nostalgic emotional gumbo.

And now Wiziwig has suffered a DDOS attack. It’s difficult sometimes for my generation to maintain a grip on the childlike wonder with which we started our love affair with the most beautiful of games. With the explosion of technology which we have seen in recent years the way in which we consume football has altered beyond measure. Whereas I used to listen to a small transistor radio on a Saturday afternoon in the hope that the second half commentary (yes only the second half) would feature the Arsenal game, or try to decipher those strange encoded half time score cards that surrounded the touchline if I was at a Bristol Rovers match, nowadays I can watch via satellite or terrestrial television, listen to commentary provided by the club itself, wait and watch the whole match on the Arsenal Player the following day or select from a multitude of internet based players and watch every match live with a choice of commentaries from all around the world. If I wanted to discuss a match I had to have a couple of mates around listening at the same time and we could debate what we were hearing. Or if I was at a match I could discuss the half times with my fellow Gas Heads. The entire crowd was made up of Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal or Leeds fans. We were all supporting the Rovers but secretly almost the entire terrace was populated with people part of whose hearts were far far away. A couple of closet QPR fans would chat with a West Ham fan over their fags and flasks about how well Everton were doing. And all we knew we gleaned from the code in the programme and the alphabetized scores where nowadays scrolling advertising rolls relentlessly around the pitch side.

I vividly recall listening to a sixth round cup tie in which Arsenal were playing. Dave Bell, Wilb and Speed Bradley were all in my room with me and the commentators competed with the crowd noise to bring news of the match via my portable transistor. In those days, as the home side attacked, the sound of the roaring crowd drowned out Bryon Butler and Peter Jones, achieving a crackling distorted crescendo and leaving the listener in an agony of ignorance until the noise subsided and the comgreen-transistormentator could at last be heard telling us whether a goal had been scored or the target missed. On this occasion the game was on a knife edge, the team were attacking again and again, the scene painted for us from the genius of Butler or the poetry of Jones , I forget precisely which was on the microphone, and as the tension grew I gripped the radio in feverish excitement. The crowd roared, the commentators erudition was lost in a welter of north London voices, Dave Bell held my arm, Wilb and Speed exchanged nervous glances, nobody spoke as we all waited to see if the ball had finally gone in and when the noise subsided sufficiently for us to hear that it hadn’t I flung the radio across the room where it erupted into a sorry pile of mute plastic pieces and silence filled the room. I felt three incredulous faces turn slowly from the shattered transistor to stare at my own horrified disbelief, and we decided to go out and ride our bikes for a bit instead.

Nowadays I don’t have anyone in the room. I don’t love the commentary as I used to. I don’t have to be woken up to watch the very abbreviated highlights. The whole thing is at my hi-tech fingertips. I never miss a match, I watch particularly well executed moves repeatedly on youtube or Arsenal player and mention anyone from Arsenal’s past and I can summon up some kind of footage of them in action. Has this diluted or increased my enjoyment? Well I have to say one thing has remained constant. I’m still that feverish little boy, muscles knotted, nerves taught, ready to smash the radio when we don’t quite score. I don’t think that will ever change. Now I have a whole world of fellow travellers typing away and transmitting their thoughts directly into my room with whom I can cheer, share consolation, argue, unfollow, favourite or applaud and with the passing of this country’s finest ever commentators I can choose to listen to Dutch or French or (and this is often the case) Russian voices thrilling to the fast flowing football of my favourite side which means I don’t have to hear Butler and Jones’ sacred memories sullied by the irredeemably despicable  gibbering of their modern day successors.

Unless of course Wiziwig suffers a DDOS attack. Well on Tuesday night it did. In the absence of suitable safe links I tried for a while to listen to Arsenal Player while watching ITV but the perfect sync seemed to slip and the voices anticipated the action in a way that leant them a curious prescience so I was compelled to switch to Messrs Townsend and Tyldesley, more for the stadium noise than their wisdom you understand. How I long for the days when the crowd would simply overwhelm the commentary. It wasn’t all irritating though. In fact in a strange way Arsenal’s hypnotic stroll through the motions on Tuesday night brought with it a revelation of sorts. I don’t follow fools gladly on Twitter and not at all in the comment section of blogs but a few retweeters and a couple of good folk keep me abreast of the prevailing mood. On Tuesday it seemed many must have been watching a very different game to the one I was enjoying. There were rumblings, discontent at individual players performances and that of the team overall. When you consider the laughable ease with which we controlled the game this was something of a shock to me. But then I began to pay attention to Townsend and his pal. It dawned on me that if you are being drip fed a continuous diet of half truths, fantasy and over arching negativity about the match you are watching the chances are you might just start to feel that maybe things are not after all going too well. Is this maybe why the world beyond the barricade seems so unhappy even when we are enjoying our best season for years? They are constantly being told things are not right, performances are below par, the squad is too weak, Arsenal are having a nightmare, can’t pass, need to step it up. By never listening to the British media I don’t receive these messages and so I make up my own mind based on what is actually happening.

Townsend of course blew his cover with his involuntary cry of ‘Get in’ as a Marseilles player shot low to Szczęsny’s left compounding his embarrassing error with “I was applauding the fact that I thought he’d got himself a lovely goal”. No Andy, no you weren’t. You were caught up in the moment like any fan and you showed your true colours. The feeble attempt to make a really pitiful excuse moments later, like the rambling and painfully inept way I attempted to explain away the broken radio to my Dad all those years ago, merely served to make you sound even more guilty. It was a schoolboy error, but it at least proved beyond doubt how horribly biased against us the man actually is.

So my advice to enjoy your football is find an alternative to Wiziwig in case of DDOS attacks, get to bed early if it’s a late kick off, and don’t stand too close to me if I’m holding anything small enough to throw.

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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147 comments on “Arsenal Through The Ages

  1. The only time we beat them during that era was when we had Jack, Nasri and van Persie in the team.

    id say that result had more to do with wenger taking pep to the cleaners playign a high line with DJOUROU and laurent in second half and with a very compact midfield, combined with pep’s error to remove macherano, wenger’s tactics and foxy thinking in the second half is what gave us the win imo …maybe you think djourou is better than per as well since he was in the team in that memorable victory…in general do not forget that cesc would play his arse off for arsenal to get the results needed only for almunia to destroy it all in multiple momments of madness….and eboue had it for sure, technically speaking, but he was a bit of a kitten in the heart/soul department….granted our fans made it difficult for him but i never saw aaron cry …..

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  2. “Even our young players aren’t that young and inexperienced anymore. Szczesny has made 125 appearances for the club now, Wilshere 115, Ramsey 170, Gibbs 124. They’ve might have started in sides that didn’t quite have the mental fortitude of this one, but what better way to see the difference? With solid heads like Mertesacker, Arteta, Sagna and Flamini alongside them now, fully experienced men who clearly have a desire to win something and an understanding of how they need to do it, there’ll be nothing less than 100% in preparation and approach to every game.”

    ive copy pasted this from todays arsblog gains …what per sagna arteta and flamini provide now for jack and aaron and rest of the team is what cesc was asked to provide on his own to the rest of the team as the elders at teh time where either injured or had the mental fortitude of an eboue or almunia…..

    the huge amount of apps our youngsters have is wenger;s idea of transmitting the experience a footballer would normally gain entering his peak years ( 26-27) to be gained a year or two or even three sooner at ( 23 even-24-25) thus gaining more years out fo their careers in peak form in the long run…soemthing our fans failed to grasp and were complaining to 21 year olds for not being super champions

    jack also misses cesc most than any of the players who left….perhaps he rates him as someone he learned from…… (?)

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  3. Gains

    I also said I don’t forgive Cesc for going back to the diving cheating primadonnas in crassalona.
    Yes, his last season for us was not a good one, he was injured and then he went into a sulk at the prospect of Wenger forcing him to stick to his contract with Arsenal.
    He also stupidly insisted on playing with an injury against Barca when we had a real chance of killing them off.
    And that backpass.., WTF was that?

    But before that, as a 17 year old he really burst onto the scene in England in a big way.

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  4. Well
    the Cesc vs Jack & Aaron dilemma.
    Day 3.

    Thank God for Cardiff tomorrow.

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  5. Bootomee

    the 07/08 implosion was an injustice alright.

    A lot of people blame Gallas, blame the team, even blame Wenger.

    The finger should be pointed at a certain Brummie bastard.

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  6. Anicoll
    3 MORE weeks!?!
    No wonder we got Plodders a bit on the cheap.
    I am really hoping to see his combo play with Ozil soon.

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  7. I think we all would have in back in the team.

    Not exactly with open arms, but if we had no problems with Flambo coming back there should be nom problem for Cesc.

    I just don’t know who he would replace in the first XI at the moment. Maybe as Arteta’s understudy, or as a long term replacement for Rosicky.

    Wenger has been making some very oblique hints about Cesc’s options next summer.

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  8. Yippie today we celebrate the birthday of a serial adulterer who dedicatedly shagged his own brothers wife, for years and years. A good day on planet manure hurrah. And they call Suarez a cheat who should leave the country hahaha got to love the moral flexibility of the media.

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  9. Moral lesson for the young if you want to do something really really whack wear a manure shirt. And if you happen to wear an Arsenal shirt don’t even try to open a door.

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  10. Jack shouldn’t worry to much about missing fab. Just need to look around him, Ozil Rosicky Ramsey Cazorla Poldolski Walcott Arteta Oxlade chamberlain Flamini Gnabry Zelalem Diaby. I think he has enough competition.

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  11. 2008 was more down to Rosicky’s injury rather than the other horrible combination of events.

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  12. double canister
    November 29, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    and a lot of fucked up calls against us in the remaining games…

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  13. Bootome:

    “You need to forget about the pain of his Barcelona DNA nonsense and look at the man himself. God, Cesc is good. Let’s not bad-mouth him now that he doesn’t play for us anymore. I absolutely can’t stand RvP but I’ll always give the asshole his due: when fit, he is a phenomenal striker. I have to bite my tongue to say this but it is the truth.”

    I am not hurt by his Barca DNA nor am I bad mouthing him. I simply stated that Jack and Aaron were better than he is. The only reason we’re just seeing how truly good these two are is because they were both out for more than a year.

    ——

    “Some of the criteria that you have used to make your point are rather petty or revisionist in my opinion. The fact that Cesc did not receive the 2007/8 premier league medals is one of the gravest injustices I have ever witnessed in the beautiful game that we call football.”

    Those weren’t my criteria, they were Hunter’s. He’s the one who said Cesc did it all on his own while having to put up with chokers like Eboue. He also used our victory over Juve in 2006 as a means to make Cesc look great.

    ——–

    “Finally, while this may make me sound like a hypocrite (after having taken a side), may I suggest that we drop this whole debate as it is of no use. It seems to me that all sides involved have their minds made up. All that this argument will end up doing is create bad blood. In the end we all have the right to believe whatever we like.”

    Why? This is how friends discuss football. You say a player is good, I say he’s shit and we discuss it. There’s no need to go to war over something as irrelevant as this.

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  14. We.ll we have to talk about something.Just don’t fall out about it

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  15. Its the thing though isnt it George – bit like religion ?

    Get half a dozen devout rabbis together and you are guaranteed to have a barney break out about the finer points of Judaism and the interpretation on Talmudic law

    True believers always are ready for a scrap

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  16. Hunter: “what per sagna arteta and flamini provide now for jack and aaron and rest of the team is what cesc was asked to provide on his own to the rest of the team as the elders at teh time where either injured or had the mental fortitude of an eboue or almunia…..”

    How many years did Cesc play alongside Henry, Gilberto, Rosicky, Kolo, Hleb? Even when he was made captain, he had an invincible as co-captain. Stop making it seem as if it was Cesc vs the world because it wasn’t. He had Song, Denilson and a host of good, young midfielders around him which contributed loads to the team. Denilson in particular had an exceptional second half of the season in 07/08 which helped us secure fourth. So, no, I’m not buying this Cesc vs the world narrative. I’ll stick to what I said, Jack and Aaron are going to develop into better players than Cesc. There.

    Your digs on Eboue are completely uncalled for. Eboue was one of the best right backs in the league prior to Wenger pushing him up on the wing. A position he played without complaints and as best as he could. After he was hounded out of this club by people who had completely forgotten how good a RB he was, he went on to win a couple of league trophies in Turkey and played an African cup of nations final with the Ivory Coast. How’s that for a mentally weak player, huh?

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  17. Anicoll

    Oy Vey indeed.

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  18. Gainsbourg69 wrote:

    “Why? This is how friends discuss football. You say a player is good, I say he’s shit and we discuss it. There’s no need to go to war over something as irrelevant as this.”

    I saw the beginning of this debate. I was amused but chose to stay out of it even though I thought it was a no-brainer. But it’s been 3 days now and all that is now happening is the debaters maligning the abilities and contributions of Arsenal players (past and present) in order to win the argument. The vibe that I was sensing when I made my comment earlier today was not exactly friendly or warm. It’s beginning to look like “war” to me but I may be wrong. More importantly, other than the argument getting more heated, neither side is saying anything new or profound. We all know these players’ abilities having seen them play from their teens. All our minds are made up on their different talents so this debate isn’t leading to any kind of enlightenment.

    Here is to truce: they are all so great that it is impossible to say who is better 🙂

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  19. Victory Through Harmony,
    everybody.

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  20. The good thing is we are arguing over how great ARSENAL players are, an argument that a lot of clubs would not be able to debate to this degree and remember other gooner blogs debate how bad players are. Once again we are the dogs bollocks on here even in disagreement

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  21. Sorry, Bootome, but I didn’t malign anyone. I simply stated that Jack and Aaron are better than Cesc.

    I agree with Arse for Brain.

    Has anyone seen Cesc’s dive to earn a penalty against Spanish giants Granada?

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  22. John Cross saying some positive stuff
    http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/arsenal/id/2835?cc=5739

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  23. Is it better than Santi’s dive against the Baggies ?

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  24. I suspect John Cross has been kicked in the face by a horse DC

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  25. You soppy old sod, Steww

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  26. …and Nacho Monreal was my MOTM in the Marseille game

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  27. Why? This is how friends discuss football. You say a player is good, I say he’s shit and we discuss it. There’s no need to go to war over something as irrelevant as this.”

    absolutely , spot on!

    How many years did Cesc play alongside Henry, Gilberto, Rosicky, Kolo, Hleb?

    only he was putting henry through to score the goals to take us to the final of 06..gilberto signed for pana in 2008 …two years after our final. and not exactly first team in 07-08 season …

    Stop making it seem as if it was Cesc vs the world because it wasn’t.

    yes i do dramatise but what you said isnt far from the truth… he was our alpha and omega sadly, thats why he couldnt cope and opted to leave.

    i never had any issues with denilson but i think its fair to say they all look ed up to cesc for inspiration and many at times waited for him to put out the fire(s)… have jack and aaron been asked to do that ? no… do they seem to you capable even at the level they are now to be the MAIN strength of arsenal? perhaps later yes and i do wish so.

    i have no objection with your claim that aaron and jack could become more important in arsenal’s history, i do not object that the more they stay with wenger the closer they will be to reaching their true potential but the issue was what cesc was doing at their age ( which was carrying the hopes of a whole club and what they are doing at his age ( excellent uber-dynamic midfield dynamos/roles/cogs in a well oiled machine but not the catalyst,… yet). they may even win more than cesc in their careers, they might hit seasons that put cesc;s stats to shame, but no matter how good or how many trophies scholes won i would never place him in the same category as a pirlo and its quite a similar logic i follow for cesc….theo is exceptional the last two years , is he a ronaldo? because thats cesc’s category for midifelders….he is in that category…arsene wenger planned to build the arsenal of the next ten years around him and barca got him to replace xavi…paying close to 40 million when in reality we got mugged and could have sold him for double that.

    now as for eboue..just cause im dismissive of his mental fortitude dont mean i didnt appreciate what he did for us but when i think of right backs i think sagna lahm cafu and zambrotta….is eboue in that category…? nowhere close. why? does he lack the skill? no….. but in my eyes he lacked the attitude to ignore everything and get on with it. even before the fans turned on him he did act silly many a times…take eboue and take ramsey for instance..equally take arshavin and rosicky …do you not see a difference in character and fortitude? as for the turkish league i dont follow and dont know much about the strength of the league or if galata is the turkish chelsea and everyone else in the league at the level of hull, i dont know and i cant comment on that.

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  28. Tumbleweed…………..

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  29. 🙂 ..ok ok ok…party time

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  30. Anicoll: “Is it better than Santi’s dive against the Baggies.”

    That wasn’t a dive. Reid nailed the shit out of his shin. But since Santi is a diver I’m sure you can find plenty of other examples, right?

    If you want to count old incidents, then I can point you to Cesc’s dive which got Kanoute sent off. That one was especially cute since it was as disgraceful as anything Busquet has done.

    You were saying?

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  31. Cor you’re fierce Gains
    Personally I don’t think Reid’s foot was within 3 inches of Santi’s leg – he may have swung at him but pulled out – very plain

    It was an embarrassment to me and unworthy of an Arsenal player

    If Santi does it again I hope Wenger sells him

    Is that simple enough to understand Gains ?

    I loathe it – it makes us just as shit as them

    As for other examples a bloke whose name has cropped up on here for the past three days Eboue , for some fucking stupid reason, was a serial diver – did you not spot that – in, out the box, if there was any point or not over he would go

    Remember Eboue ?

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  32. Hunter: “yes i do dramatise but what you said isnt far from the truth… he was our alpha and omega sadly, thats why he couldnt cope and opted to leave.”

    No he was not. He was part of a very good team which included the likes of Henry, Gilberto, Edu, Rosicky, Hleb, Kolo, Flamini etc.. Come now, the guy didn’t become captain after most of these players left. And even then he had Kolo Toure as vice captain.

    ——–

    “never had any issues with denilson but i think its fair to say they all look ed up to cesc for inspiration and many at times waited for him to put out the fire(s)… have jack and aaron been asked to do that ? no… do they seem to you capable even at the level they are now to be the MAIN strength of arsenal? perhaps later yes and i do wish so.”

    I am not even talking about leadership qualities, I am talking about ability and talent. That’s where I think you and I haven’t been able to see eye to eye. I am looking forward to having a discussion about the qualities which make these players different and why I think the two young ones have the quality to surpass Cesc. Let’s put aside the heroics and the myths and let us discuss performances on the pitch.

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  33. PG, Hunter13 is sleeping on the job! He is not on the trail of the “Gruesome Fivesome” that is currently managing (?) the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust!

    The “Gruesome Fivesome” have an agenda. SO, they pick on Sportingintelligence! We are told that:

    This paper was commissioned by the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust but beyond setting out a remit of examining Arsène Wenger’s reign from an economic point of view, the AST had no input, no editorial veto – and no influence on the conclusions.

    Arsène Wenger – what is he good for?

    Harris is a journalist, part employed by The Mail on Sunday, and thus, no economist. Therefore, he completely overlooks the fact that “he who pays the piper, calls the tune”..

    Phil Wall is a member of the “Gruesome Fivesome”, and is obviously clueless with nothing original to tell us about The Arsenal.

    The Arsenal did try to buy Wembley Stadium, but was refused. That left Highbury Stadium to be redeveloped to a 50,000 plus seated stadium OR build a new stadium.

    To try and stitch Mr Wenger up with a claim that he is culpable, for The Arsenal not winning a trophy for a few years – is ludicrous!

    There would have been even less transfer money available, if the Club had decided on staying at Highbury.

    Hunter13 leave Gains69 and concentrate on the malcontents.

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  34. Anicoll: “Personally I don’t think Reid’s foot was within 3 inches of Santi’s leg – he may have swung at him but pulled out – very plain”

    You tell me if Reid didn’t nail him. The onus is on you to prove Santi is a diver since he’s not known for taking a tumble in the box like some of his Spain colleagues do.

    I am not denying Eboue was a diver. It’s a part of his game I never liked.

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  35. The ‘onus’ is on me to prove Santi dived ?

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha

    You put the film up FFs

    Disgraceful dive – I hope Santi cringes every time he sees it

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  36. NOTH
    I had a long reply, but the internet ate it.
    To summarise: AST and Angry of Islington are wankers.

    AFC turnover in 2005 was £139m
    AFC turnover in 2012 was £280m and this is before a penny of the new sponsor deals or new TV money came in.

    If the plonkers think the board could have squeezed double the revenue out of Highbury, well they have even greater fate in their financial acumen that I have.

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  37. That camera angle is deceptive.

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  38. *faith.

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  39. Guys, just to put the facts out there, but I’ve seen the hotspot image of that Santi tackle, and there was negligible contact. Just putting it out there.

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  40. I think in the English game, players don’t get enough protection from the refs. The skillful ones look for the defender to go in for the ball and deftly move it out the way. They’re looking for that mistimed tackle. I don’t count that as cheating. I think it’s a rather clever way to go about it. Just my opinion.

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  41. Why would he have gone down in that situation when he’s known to pull the ball back and either shoot or pass it to a better placed teammate? He went down because Reid raked his shin.

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  42. matchday COYG

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  43. I’m agreeing with you Gains. There was a hotspot the size of a coin on his shin pad in the heat image I saw. The pundits replayed it post match. Can’t find an image online though. All I’m saying is, you’re inside the box, there’s a mistimed tackle, there’s contact, you bloody well fucking go down and take the penalty.

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  44. He’s not play acting, there was contact! And as a fan, teammate or the coach, I’d expect him to take advantage. We’re a fair team, I remember at least 2-3 occasions in the recent past where we’ve refused a refs decision in our favour. Last one comes to mind with Arshavins penalty against Blackburn.

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  45. We don’t cheat. But we shouldn’t be goddamn saints either. Football is a contact sport, a passionate sport with so much at stake for the team and the fans. Play fair, but play hard. And take advantage of every lapse.

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