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Heroes and Villans

paulistaarse_3181057bAndrew alerted me to a piece in the Independent last week. For those of you from outside of the UK the Indie is that rarest of beasts; a quality tabloid newspaper. It has featured some of my favourite ever journalists including Fergal Keane and the utterly peerless Robert Fisk who not only understand their subject but carry out proper research and present intelligent balanced findings in a coherent and well written manner. On this occasion Andrew didn’t link to an analysis of Rwandan genocide or one hundred years of armed imperial folly in Afghanistan, the piece he drew to my attention concerned Arsenal and their new defensive acquisition Gabriel Paulista. The headline read “Talented Brazilian could grow into world-class defender at Arsenal” and frankly, if looking a bit like Martin Raymond Keown counts in any way towards that then the accompanying picture suggested the lad is well on the way.

I wish I’d stopped reading then and there and returned to Twitter where I could have gone back to browsing photographs of Mike Wood’s latest beer du jour or read more of George’s attempts to reconcile the Israeli’s and the Palestinians and bring peace to the world. That man really is the Henry Kissinger of Twitter, the Ghandi between the goalposts isn’t he? Where there is discord let George bring harmony as St Francis famously said. I wish he could bring me closer to a loving understanding with sports journalists in the same way he brought Spurs and Arsenal fans together on Positively Arsenal the other day.

The Independent article was the usual tame journalistic froth in which sports writers excel. We didn’t learn anything much about the player or the transfer but right in the middle was this little nugget of nonsense, like a lexiconic landmine in a mundane path through an unremarkable paragraph it went off in my face causing me to spill soup into my moustache

“Villarreal’s scouting record in South America is as good as Arsène Wenger’s record for signing defenders is bad.”

Now there are two things happening here. Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, the journalist is deflecting attention away from Arsène’s role in spotting young talent by suggesting the real work was done by Villareal. As my children would doubtlessly say, meh. It’s the kind of lazy rubbish we all filter out when reading about Arsenal, but the other thing, the huge blatant lie that Arsène is crap at buying defenders stuck so deep in my craw that I barely finished reading and had to push my bowl of cauliflower and yellow split pea to one side – croutons and all. I know, I know these idiots have an agenda to feed Arsène haters as much red meat as possible until the lie becomes a cliché and the cliché ends up presented as a fact and the great man’s name gets dragged through ever more deeper mud; it’s their job, it’s sad, I hate it but I need to grow up and learn to live with it.

Before we play ‘Arsene’s great defensive signings down through the ages’ and ask which one is your favourite (and we shall, oh yes we shall play just that game) let us consider the crowning turd in the swimming pool which came at the end of the item and which we all know will be parroted by the anti Arsene brigade in various forms if for no other reason than it serves to deride our current defensive players.

“Arsenal may have found the defender for whom they have been looking for so long. One who loves defending, who rarely gets injured, whose leap gets him to most headers, whose stride carries him confidently out of defence”

In a nutshell the twerp writing this piece perfectly described both Lauren Koscielny and Tommy Vermaelen among many others. Obviously I am overlooking the nonsense about rarely getting injured, not only because it suits me so to do but because numbers of injuries cannot be predicted nor controlled and are usually caused by cowardly or corrupt officials allowing thuggish opponents free reign while they go about attacking our players.

All of which leads me back to the lesson which I should have learned a long time ago. Do not get involved in any transfer talk even after the signing has been made as we know nothing about any player and will not know anything of worth until they’ve had a run in the side, and for God’s sake do not ever under any circumstances read any published sports journalist. In fact, thinking about it, we don’t even necessarily know anything after their first or second runs in the side do we? Look at Francis Coquelin; his development so perfectly managed that when recalled he was in a position to astonish even those of us who already liked the lad. Cut out the off the ground, two footed challenges and I would even say I love him just a little bit. We didn’t know how good he could be, but now we’ve had a hint. The new signings we know nothing about.

What about today’s game. What, specifically, about our opponents, Aston Villa? Do we know anything of substance about them? Not much I’m afraid. I mentioned Brian Clough last week and like Clough’s Forest, Villa once did the impossible and won the European cup by defeating Bayern Munich in the final. Not many people know it but they also beat Barcelona in the Super Cup in the following season. Even less people know that Villa’s first ever match was played against a local rugby union team and they had to play the first half under rugby rules and the secoCharlie-Adam-Alexis-Sancheznd half under football rules. Which is a bit like when we play Stoke or Chelsea except we have to play both halves under one set of rules while the opposition are allowed to pretty much choose which sport they’re playing depending upon whether they want to garotte our players or just break their legs.

Villa have had a few good seasons here and there recently, but then many teams do. There is often one pretender to the top four but they seldom mount a sustained challenge over more than one season. It takes an extraordinary manager to keep a team dining at that particular table year in year out, especially when you look at the prices on the menu and the money available to the stinking rich diners with their fat arses permanently ensconced in most of the chairs. This go around, though,  Mr Lambert’s chaps are finding things a little tough. Three points outside the bottom three they are in an interestingly symmetrical relationship with our club. Their negative goal difference of minus fourteen mirroring perfectly our plus fourteen. They sit two places outside the relegation zone we sit two places outside the Champions League zone. Their name ends with an A ours starts with an A. The list is endless. Well OK so I was reaching a little at the end there but if the league placings mean anything then we should be winning this. Of course we all know anyone can beat anyone and it’s current form that matters not current league position. A glance at their recent form shows DWLLW which is as inconclusive as you can get but compare and contrast with our rather nicer looking LWWWW and I know which side I’d rather support. In fact the only thing bar an exceptional Villa performance which might mar our Sunday roasties and curdle the custard is a dramatic exhibition from the most influential man on the pitch when last they won at the Emirates.

anthony taylor demonI speak of none other than the diabolical and by now infamous Arsenal nemesis, the man aiming to dethrone Asmodeus Dean as the pretender to Beelzebub Riley none other than Berith Anthony Taylor, Prince of The Cherubim. In a breathtaking move that defies my feeble verbal attempts to encapsulate its myopic brainlessness, the man who proved himself beyond incapable on the opening game of last season gets the chance to destroy another good footballing contest this afternoon. It is an indictment of the standard of officiating in the premier league that we often worry more about the referee than the opposition players in the build up to a match but I’ll let you decide if it’s corruption or incompetence which steers so many officials to have such a disproportionately negative impact on so many of our games.

All I can say is take heart Positivistas! Look at who wielded the whistle and cards at the Etihad. If we can come through such an encounter with one of the worst referees in the history of the game they we can overcome both Villa and their twelfth man Taylor.

Now about that game I mentioned earlier. The man, who we are told is incapable of buying or spotting a decent defender, bought or raised, among others, the following. Can you pick a favourite?

Sol-Campbell-001 Sylvinho-001 Per_Mertesacker_2662132b monreral lauren_203 koscielny1 jenks gibbo gael BAC Ashley Cole William-Gallas-001 verm toure-02_1840086i

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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173 comments on “Heroes and Villans

  1. Eduardo, we don’t need finishers, we need team players who contribute to our overall game. Podolski was a finisher, but he offered very little more off the ball. I see Cavani in the same mould so I don’t see him working in the Arsenal team at all. I stand to be corrected if the great man thinks he is what we need.

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  2. Cavani is a far harder worker for the team than Podolski has ever been, but as I said, Giroud brings an awful lot to the Arsenal game, sadly for a lot of fans they just refuse to admit it, just cos he is not the fleet footed sort of striker they want, its typical of many Arsenal fans to only see what our players are not good at, while totally ignoring what they do for the team, Ozil, Ramsey and Giroud are prime examples of this

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  3. We are 24 hours from the end of the transfer window and its telling that most Arsenal fans are not whinging and shouting for signings, maybe they are finally seeing the strength of squad we actually have.

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  4. “We are 24 hours from the end of the transfer window and its telling that most Arsenal fans are not whinging and shouting for signings, maybe they are finally seeing the strength of squad we actually have.”

    Let’s hope so eduardo. But I suspect there is still time for transfer deadline day fever to take hold aided and abetted by imaginative ‘journalists’ linking us with every tom, dick or harry who is looking for a move or a more lucrative contract from his current employer!

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  5. Keown’s analysis of our game is not going to please the Ramsey haters

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  6. laughable that Kilbane chooses to highlight Ospina’s performance, when he himself said he could have chosen Ozil’s, of course he did not say picking Ozil would not feed into the “Ozil is a waste of money” theme that so many in the media are fond of

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  7. had not realized that on Bellerin’s goal that Hector himself had been the guy to actually win the ball to start the attack

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  8. The Mirror have a big transfer rumor you will all like

    Adebayor to Stoke

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Arsene FC @VieiraPaddy · 9m 9 minutes ago
    We won 5-0 and @BBCMOTD analysed our goalkeeper rather than our best player.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Missing stew on Sunday is going to make Monday mornings read sweet.

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  11. There was a key moment early in the second half, when Walcott was heavily challenged in the centre circle and went flying. I held my breath as it was just about the first time Theo had taken the ball at pace, but all was well. But it was as if it was the affirmation that he needed that a heavy challenge wasn’t going to signal the end of his recovery, and from then on he looked his old self. The pace he injected in scoring his goal was astonishing and it was really good to see. Santi’s penalty was interesting too. For the first time I can remember the keeper, instead of picking left or right to dive, stayed still for the shot down the middle – and his decision all but paid off. If keepers now adopt this model then adds extra pressure on the taker if the get out of jail card down the middle is no longer an automatic option. We were very good and it was as one sided a game as I have seen for a while. What was also most notable was the almost flawless performance from the referee.

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  12. eduardo @ 10:55 pm
    The kid has shown since his move to blighty and his time in the youth teams that he has the appetite for the all round game, there were several tackles and interceptions from both Bellerin and Coquelin that had me on my feet. They played with Gr*t.

    That’s not to belittle Flamini this seaosn in Arteta’s prolonged absence. His performance at Home against Besiktas was a flawless stand out game, I’d guess he covered the cost of his second spell at the club with that effort.

    Thanks to Ian and Andrew for the heads up in recent times since this blog was started on the likes of the Gnipper, Bellerin etc. and I think it’s safe to add Akpom to the list. Lots of football to look forward to and I had guessed that since we first saw him on tour in the Far East that Akpom was being protected from hacks and growing pains etc. not forgetting the stronger squad these days, and I think it’s fair to say that has been the case. The older bigger stronger sanogo who needed to play on his return from years out was given the minutes instead, which makes perfect sense. There are no guarantees. Hopefully he’ll sign up soon!

    Certainly since we arrived at PA it has been, as Timmy Stillman aknowledged on the old arsecast the other day, as we explained to him when we’d all told him that enough of the disingenious Usmanov/Jingoistic/Newscorp PR funded tripe was enough, that it has indeed been the start of a New Era. Not the change that some enlightned jingoistic and bitter souls were hoping for, they know who they are (the clue in is in the nationwide satire that followed the events at Stoke) but I suppose you can’t please everyone in this world of ours.

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  13. Coquelin plays like a younger 07/08 Flamini vintage? Different, becasue he can set the tempo, that’s what impressed me when I first saw him against lower league opponents in the League Cup. There’s more to come with his passing but I’m also impressed with his subtle yet skilled and simple passing technique on display. There were those long range fast and hard passes for Walcott the other game…yes. More to come.
    I didn’t see a huge amount of the Makélélé before he moved to Gazprom for his pension (in the pre-Roman era?), by which time both he and Gilberto were a little older and playing with a little less fizz but more cunning in their game. It was a great treat to see them on opposite teams…

    Could Coquelin break into the french team before the end of the season? Ahead of rivals, some from Monaco. He’ll be up for that game…

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  14. Fins: I’m fascinated by Akpom and how things work out for him. He is quick and he’s scored goals for fun at lower levels so there is no reason why he shouldn’t make the grade here. The other players seem to like him too: they were trying their best to play him in yesterday. But I am worried for his immediate future with Welbeck just signed and Giroud proving such a natural goal scorer and all-round asset to the team – injuries permitting these two aren’t going anywhere for a while. I can quite understand why he might be looking elsewhere. A three year contract with the chance of next season out properly on loan might be the answer.

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  15. Had no time to read Stew’s post on match day but happy to catch up on a quiet Monday morning – and very well worth the wait it was too. No surprises there. Great comments throughout too, especially those conveying Passenal and Kelly’s wise insightfulness.

    I brought the article that triggered Stew’s ‘breakfast interrupted’ (and his ensuing piece to PA) to his attention via twitter as, alongside Bielik, it would appear Arsene has had another truly triumphant transfer window, especially given the reported contract renewals running alongside. Although the Indie article was marred by the nonsensically lazy line regarding AW’s supposed defensive blindspot, the background on the Keown-lookey-likey Gabriel was, I felt, worth sharing.

    The last few weeks have been a nightmare for the critics of the club, the detractors of Arsene and of anybody making the case for a defence of the club’s overall direction. That the usual suspects have had to scrape the barrel with a foolish and somewhat desperate attempt to malign PG’s honesty in regards his lack of the requisite hatred for Tottenham has been further highlighted by their near silence on transfer window deadline day.

    Today was always pencilled in as a day of hysteria regarding an eagerly anticipated lack of signings but the disastrous 5-0 home win yesterday put paid to that as a sans Sanchez destruction of the Midlanders was accompanied by the sound of pennies dropping – nay, cascading – at the widespread realisation that we now have a very, very good squad indeed.

    I’m convinced there’s more to come from this outrageously gifted group.

    I’d go as far to say that it’s easily the best squad since the one assembled by that clueless, tactic-lite buffoon of a manager since the turn of the century. How someone this inept, once he was done sorting out the state-of-the-art training ground and world class stadium, could have built a team so clearly ready for undisputed greatness is beyond me.

    I guess he just got lucky.

    That even Gary Linekar reports having been deafened by the silence of the wobs is as telling as anything else you are likely to read today.

    That George, with a little help from a few of his friends, set up PA two years ago in what history may now record as Arsene’s darkest hour, is in some ways fitting, given the subsequent dawning of what is now clearly a thrillingly bright future for the club.

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  16. I can see we are all on tenterhooks here as the window slowly begins to close !

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  17. While we are waiting and for anyone who has not seen it in the cLub site this is a rundown on our players and the 1999/2000 U17 FA Yoof Cup final against Crewe (who we play again in the competition later this afternoon KO 3.30 )
    http://www.arsenal.com/news/features/20150201/where-are-they-now-
    You will recognise a few names – but others though ????

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  18. Andrew – please don’t misunderstand my comments as a criticism of you for putting the link up on twitter – I know I over react to these things and the main thing is we got a PA piece out of it.

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  19. We could be in Man City’s face soon, If we win out next 2 games, which could happen the day before they have to go to Stoke on a Cold Wednesday Night.

    Arsenal play Leicester at home on Tuesday 10th.

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  20. Ha ha – no, I wasn’t offended in any way, it was valid criticism of lazy journalism.

    And the problem with lazy journalism?

    We have still not actually fully referred to the original article despite it sparking off a far better piece by your good self.

    ***
    I’ve always loved transfer window deadline day as aside from the closure of the bi-annual fans frenzy, Arsene often picks up players from left field that not a single ITK journalist, blogger or tweeter has flagged up and who goes on to become, in some cases, stellar signings.

    I don’t normally bother with the ‘big name’ speculation in the main although the closure of the German transfer window at 5 pm should put the Reus rumours to bed for the rest of the winter. A fascinating snippet is persistent talk of Schneiderlin’s agreement for a summer switch from Southampton.

    Quite where either of these two might fit into the current squad is likely to remain an ongoing mystery although I suppose they might get a run-out in either the FA Cup/Emirates Cup, such is the quality of our current squad.

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  21. “I suppose they might get a run-out in either the FA Cup/Emirates Cup, such is the quality of our current squad.”

    Excellent

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  22. I have to say our match review was a bit shit this morning.

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