At Odds With The Odds; Gunners Have Always Been Title Long Shots

Today a guest post from @poonaloon

two dice

Chances are Arsene’s unfancied eleven could cause a third title-winning upset …

I haven’t done this for a while.  I am a bit out of practice, so be gentle.  I used to blog regularly, but stopped five or six years ago.  The lines of debate became so fixed that people stopped listening, you were just lumped under an acronym and your views were taken for granted.  Denilson’s forward pass statistics ended it for me.  Kudos to anyone who has stuck around being a gobshite or passionately enjoying The Arsenal and saying so online since then; it must have taken some stamina.  I don’t need trophies to enjoy Arsenal, but they would be nice.  As we enter the home straight of this season though there seems very little reason not to be excited on many levels.

In Europe we get another crack at a Pep Guardiola team, one who are again the standard for world football.  Getting to see that live will be wonderful.  Unlike the previous pops at his teams, I think we have a genuine chance this time. (We came damn close but for a dodgy red card already.)  If we do get through, then we have as good a chance as anyone left and no one will want to draw us.  Absolutely no one.  It will be interesting to see how Arsene approaches the tie and sets the team up.  Do we go for a guns-blazing home win, taking something away to defend, or try and play it close over two legs and pick our moments?  The Dortmund games, where we played far better at home and lost before winning away in a scrap, shows how variable things can be at this level.  That we even have a choice of tactics or style is something worth savouring, it hasn’t always been this way.

With the financial burden of the new stadium finally easing, we have quietly gone about building the deepest squad in years, possibly ever,in terms of numbers. We could add another defender and a quality striker, but otherwise we are loaded. (Adding Draxler would be divine and make me smile for several weeks on end.)  Depending on what you think of Jenkinson, we have two quality players at each position, money to continue adding, exciting young talent coming through, and the club appears proactive on all levels that we can challenge the depth of talent our oil-rich rivals have tried to accumulate.

This means that the exciting run of fixtures we face needn’t be seen as a burden.  As we start to focus on the run-in, a home draw in the FA Cup appears favourable and rotation would mean games for players of the calibre of Podolski, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Ramsey and Rosicky.  After that, there is only one side left we would not be short favourites to qualify against. The FA Cup may be the least glamorous option, but it is a great chance for silverware and the joys of a cup final.  It is a shame that Theo Walcott will miss out on all this.  Whilst a run of games for Serge Gnabry has been a delight – I’m a huge fan – Theo is one of the best attackers in European football.  His pace gives us a unique dimension and his end product can win games – just check his goals and assists stats.  The Premier League is so tight that any further big injuries could be the difference, for any of the title-chasing trio.

Since the cup draw this Sunday evening, there has been a lot of talk about fixtures, but things are no easier for our rivals.  In fact, there is an immediate opportunity to maybe get some relief, with City playing 5pur2 and then Chavski back-to-back.  They also have games with Barca to distract and an away Manc derby rescheduled for the business end of proceedings,and also the CoCup final.  The Chavs have the easiest run as it looks now, but serene passage past Galatasary – does it exist? – will offer up an almost guaranteed humdinger somewhere, so that can change.  The next two away games will be crucial for us.  If we can take 6 points from Southampton and Liverpool we may just give ourselves a buffer before the bigger tests to follow.  We did just this already, building leads that nullified the impact of losing twice in Manchester – both games leaving a huge sense of ‘what if’ and Arsenal still top of the league.

We might be able to keep our lead if we can continue to be ruthless against the fourteen or fifteen weaker sides in the division.  We did this last year, turning around what had been a series of disasters through February into a convincing run-in, but one that involved home draws with a hung-over Man U and Everton, the only teams of any reputation we faced domestically in that period.  (The year before we were nowhere near as good, winning only 1 of our last 5 league games, drawing 3 and getting beaten at home by Wigan.  ‘Arry really did gift that to us and so goes the history of that shit mob, again and again.)  Last year we ground out clean-sheets. This year, the depth of our midfield options may carry us.  Even without Walcott, we can name Ramsey, Flamini, Rosicky, Podolski, and Chamberlain on our bench at the moment.  Four of those players are recently returning refreshed from injury-enforced rest.  We can always put 5 in a midfield that very few sides can control.

This season may end up being a thriller win or lose, it may be a collapse, or it may be history.  My outlook is such that I am thinking back to Arsene’s first two titles.  We were not favourites either year and in we got through both times on the back of spirit as much as talent at times.  They were great teams, but Chris Wreh scored vital goals in that first double, with a 17 year old firing in others amongst Ray Parlour’s most prolific campaign.  Stephen Hughes and Gilles Grimandi also proved match winners to start our winning run to the title.  It can be a funny old game. (Imagine playing Chris Wreh now, let alone a raw teenager, there would be a riot… Where can I back Sonogo’s goals?)

The second double may have been driven more by names that are now legends, but it also hinged on moments of grit.  Liverpool away with a shocking red-card for Gio Van Bronckhorst barely 30 minutes in will forever be a treasured memory.  Kanu put in the shift of his life that game and we were able to win, finishing the season 7 points ahead of that Liverpool side in second.  It was Wiltord and Ljunberg who scored the crucial goals over the final 6 games of that season, with Lauren pea-rolling in one of history’s great penalties with 4 minutes left to beat the Scum at home.  Neither Henry or Bergkamp played the night we won the league in Manchester. Following cup final defeats to Galatasary and Liverpool in previous seasons, that title was far less obvious at the time than in hindsight.

I am quietly bullish about our chances of making 2014 a banner year.

I have no idea how we might get there and this may all be drivel within a month, although I doubt that, but it will be a ride.  I like our chances with Ramsey, Wilshere, Özil, Cazorla blending it about.  Arsene Wenger has taken the deepest pool of attacking and technical midfield players in the country and turned them into the most solid Arsenal side since Sol Campbell took the short route to Europe and had Vieira and Gilberto sitting in front of him.  This sounds good to me.  Plus all the other teams are total  detestable .

How can we not win, it is meant to be?  Right?

Even if we don’t, we have had a do. Right?

That is my take as very happy Arsenal fan that loves to watch his team play great football.

Can’t wait for Arsene to sign that new deal either.

Peace out.

#Draxler #WhereMeDraxler

25 comments on “At Odds With The Odds; Gunners Have Always Been Title Long Shots

  1. c/f shottagunna January 27, 2014 at 9:45 am Edit

    Now here is a post to kick-off a Monday morning in a positive mood. There is a lot for gooners to look forward to, with or without Draxler I may add.

    Thanks Poonaloon. There are 5 months to go. You must find time for some updates.


  2. c/f

    gf60 January 27, 2014 at 10:02 am Edit

    Nice start to Monday. Thanks Poonaloon. Hope there’s more.


  3. Thoroughly enjoyable read, what a pity you lost the appetite for it those years back – don’t blame you though, it’s been a long haul …


  4. What a damn fine piece of writing and if you are ‘out of practice’ you are showing no sign of rust. I agree. It is brilliant that I am lucky enough to support a club with the run of fixtures coming up that we have. What the fuck do I want if not my club taking on the best teams in football ?

    I especially liked your point about Denilson’s back pass statistics. In recent years the proliferation of footballing data, on pitch and off pitch, has expanded in almost direct proportion to the number of fans who believe the data is significant, PROOF !

    Figures are rounded up with an agenda in mind, they are there to be questioned and, unless they provide the correct answers, tortured until they do. Fucking nonsense most of the conclusions. And I know, I am an expert in the technique.


  5. Great stuff Poon,a trophy would be the icing on the cake but the improvement this season is there for all to see,I honestly think if Theo hadn’t got injured we’d have won the league as it is I think the team that finishes above City will win it and that might still be us depending on injurys,refereeing desicions and cup distractions,whatever rolls out we’re definetly stronger this season and will be even more so next season-if Per & Kos stay fit & together we’re in the fight that’s for sure.


  6. Whoa, another very enjoyable and erudite piece, thanks poonaloon!


  7. poonalon …it is ours ……2003-2004 = 2013 – 2014 ..we are already on 13 and
    hunter13 is at the stadium sitting in row 13 …three times the number 13.

    the above mathematical equation of LOGIC will see arsenal crowned champions of england and with a little bit of luck champions league winners and then the kids (zelalem gnabry eisfeld ryo) will win the f.a cup.

    if none of the above happens BUT flamini lands with his studs on mourinho’s face and mou is forced to retire to go for comsetic surgeries for life ? …..success story!!


  8. Good stuff, Mr. poon. Hopefully, whatever happens this season, the know-it-alls who think they can do a better job than Wenger will finally shut up. It’s so embarrassing having to hear Arsenal fans complaining even though the team is top of the league. All the doom and gloom they predicted would fall on Arsenal, never came to pass. And now, in order to feel dignified, they nit pick at the most in form side of the division.


  9. Poonaloon – great title and blog post. I love the hash tags!

    Just to back you up, people who do the metrics or whatever have concluded that Arsenal under AW has overperformed every year except for two – 2001/2 and another year, which I forget. They take into account the squad, resources available etc and do magic sums. (I do hope I’m not blinding you with mathematics.)

    And off topic, AW said in his presser that studies (commissioned by us) have shown that Arsenal have had the least rest between games over the season than any other club for the last five years. That, my friends, combined with the officials’ carte blanche to the oppo to kick us, is, I humbly submit, a more credible reason why we get so many more injuries than other sides. More credible than “brittle players” “not liking it up us” or “crap medical team”. The season is the same length for all of us, but eg having three games in six days followed by nine days off is worse than having three games in nine days with six days off. The body needs the time after exertion to repair and recover, 48 hours being the absolute minimum. But even after 48 hours you have not completely recovered. We very often have to play having had 48 hours rest.


  10. should have said – “less rest than any of our rivals”, not than any other team. D’oh.


  11. Refreshing piece there poonaloon.
    The roses are indeed very fresh in puma-laced red this 27th day of january.
    It feels like we will win something this year for sure.
    Like u I’m enjoying the season as always.

    special shout out to my favourite young gun, NICO YENNARIS, who’s opted to join Brentford for the neztchapter of his pro career.
    Good luck NICO, I’ll be rooting for you always!


  12. puahahah ivan confirms wenger contract extention

    ahahahaha AHHAHHAHAAHHA .

    trophies? lol …..

    nothing tops wenger’s contract extention

    yogi ..hey man whats up? … how is bill ? bo ?..jo… ?


    ahahahhahaha …..shut it down mate…shut it down…. 🙂

    and thats as polite as it can get, for this particular subject would justify a full assault on all things holy for them end of era arseclowns …


  13. And off topic, AW said in his presser that studies (commissioned by us) have shown that Arsenal have had the least rest between games over the season than any other club for the last five years.


    according to my study

    arsenal has been fucked by the refs the most in this country ….but thats ok….this will even out over the course of the ….next twenty years apparently….they are just waiting for wenger to retire before they give us penalties again …..

    oh no ..he is staying ….. i guess were screwed….

    hihhihihih ….. can someone do me a favour and go and “vomit” in the culturelessera.com please ? im downloading mask and hide ip programms…fuck work …thats over for today…


  14. Great read, and yes we have our deepest squad for many a year taking on possibly the hardest fixture list any pl team has ever faced. However sometimes this focuses the mind better than a so called easy run.
    Totally agree with Aman on Nico, we are saying goodbye to one of our best young professionals who thought hard work was a given and something to be enjoyed. There are hundreds of young lads with talent that would have got alot further in their careers had they taken a leaf out of Nico’s book


  15. We now have a fixture crisis looming because our stupid manager picked teams good enough to beat Spurs and Coventry in the 3rd and 4th Round of the FA Cup. Apparently we must play Liverpool home and away and Bayern at Home which will be beyond our threadbare squad (which actually looks to me a little more richly stocked than when we played Liverpool and Bayern last season ( 7 points out of 12) or back in November when Cazorla and Ramsey saw of the bindippers.
    What is even worse is that all these extra games mean that real fans will be ripped off by the club again who might insist on charging full whack for games that we weren’t sure to qualify for back in August. Again I put that all down to the manager, who is coearly not fit for purpose, and I also blame him for getting us to play so well that just about every game we play between now and the end of March will be on Sky, ITV or BT Sport. How awful that my children are having to grow up watching their heroes nearly every week (and sometimes more).

    And also what a truly fabulous post from the Poonster: thanks so much.


  16. @ foreverheady


  17. Thank God AST stepped in and sorted out the £150 million Puma deal, otherwise Ivan would have messed it up (yet again) – i have seen the letter.

    A noodle partner is the next thing we need Tim – attaboy


  18. good ol’ AST.
    Get rid of Gazidis already, you sloppy boardmembers!


  19. Yes, I wonder what the usual lot on the doomer bogs are complaining about now. AFC are not ambitious, the commercial team is useless even Sunderland were more successful than AFC at securing decent sponsorship deals….


  20. Well well well. I guess the end of an era they were predicting was their own .
    end of ” your credibility” era .com
    Congrats to AW on contract extension and the classy new puma kits.




  22. Nice one, poonaloon. Great news regarding Wengers new contract. So great to see us winning with the lads that want to be here and fight for shirt. Arsene’s management is really paying off and it seems like the whole club is finally on the same page top to bottom. Its a truly wonderful sight to behold.


  23. great result by the U21 s beating the mini mercenaries from chelski 1-0. Benike scoring in extra time after a brilliant through ball by Olssen. The result is even better when you consider the team was stripped on several players who have played in previous rounds due to loans, international appearances and the permanent sale of AJ and Nico. COYG


  24. ” I wonder what the usual lot on the doomer bogs are complaining about now.”

    Ticket prices GP! Now that we have some money, instead of spending it to improve the team, you know, new contracts, players etc. They feel they should be entitled to subsidized tickets. It doesn’t occur to them to make the choice not to go if they can’t afford it!


  25. Wenger: “I don’t argue opinion, I argue facts.”.

    Absolutely brilliant. He makes Jose Mourinho look like a carnival act.


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