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Kelly’s Heroes

Gabriel-training-Jan-31

I’m not much of a one for a post mortem. I’ll watch Adrian Clarke’s breakdown on the official site and that’s usually enough picking over the bones for me. I did however enjoy a chat with our Kelly, PA’s very own representative in Alabama, after the Everton match. It wasn’t so much a discussion about the match itself as a reflection on matters arising. Specifically the fickle nature of football supporters in general and Arsenal supporters in particular. I like Kelly, I like the way she supports. Whereas I specialize in a sort of lugubrious stoicism, Kelly is fierce and tigerish in defence of our players. Neither friend nor foe is safe if they are foolish enough to step over the line into unfair or ill conceived criticism. Many of us have felt the heat, smelt the scorched cloth of our smouldering collars after a poorly constructed comment to the detriment of one of Arsenal’s finest.

She was holding forth Sunday evening on the way people like to write off a player one minute then laud them as the second coming of Ferenc Puskás the next. Take Per. We all know what a wonderful assured presence he has been for us, what a huge part of our success last season. After being rested for the Everton match, and following that über tackle by our new Brazilian beauty people were suddenly consigning the master of the interception to the nearest skip along with the old mattress and bags of dog shit. As Kelly was quick to point out one costly error from the wonder kid and of course it’ll be about face everybody, all is forgiven, please come back Per and save us from Wenger’s latest defensive flop.

SONY DSC

What occurred to me after this exchange was first and foremost that Kelly had it exactly right. We’ve seen it with so many players over the years, just look at the way Santi was written off earlier this season and now is indispensable, first name on the sheet, player of the season material. Aaron went through hell a couple of years ago and truth be told when he isn’t banging in the goals every week people often still fail to see how much his ball retention, intelligent positional play, energy and passing bring to the team. Until we lose an important game without him, then the pendulum swings back the other way again.

My second response to our conversation concerned Gabriel. Now don’t misunderstand me, I think he had a very good game. Overall. He wasn’t my man of the match, that was Ospina. Everyone else contributed to a solid team performance while our keeper had a game of individual brilliance. But Gabriel had a shaky start and grew in confidence and really looked the part by the end. However. Just think what would have happened if Ospina hadn’t displayed such phenomenally quick thinking after Lukaku nicked the ball off the boy from Brazil. People would have rushed to judgement it’s as simple as that. In parenthesis, while we’re talking about Lukaku I have to say that there is a player not wearing an Arsenal shirt who I genuinely admire, and you know how seldom I say that. Not only could he have ruined our new boy’s league début in the seventeenth minute by choosing to tangle with Ospina he had another opportunity later when Gabriel produced that fabulous tackle to go to ground and maybe con a penalty or two out of the ref. I admire him for doing neither and felt his all round play deserved a goal on Sunday.

Which brings us back to the thrust of this post. Gabriel’s involvement in both incidents would have been identical and yet a different outcome, through other people’s actions, would have seen him hung drawn and quartered for conceding either goals or penalties or perhaps both. Football matches and our perceptions of players often hinge on the outcomes of events regardless of what the player actually does right or wrong. Look at Mesut’s superb run in the eighty first minute. He controls Ox’s pass and chips the keeper for the consummate finish to make it two nil and earn the adulation of all Arsenal fans everywhere. Except that, through no fault of our Deutscher Maestro, Phil Jaglieka’s despairing lunge somehow puts his knee into the path of the ball with just sufficient impact to send it spinning out of play. So instead it goes down as a miss or a poor finish.

This attitude often translates to our perception of the whole team. I loathe the mentality that suggests the score determines the quality of the performance. I cannot understand how people can be so gormless as to subscribe to it. Teams often win when they should have lost and vice versa. Players have goal bound shots stopped by bad luck, inspired defending or keeping without suddenly becoming poor finishers. How Olivier Giroud even got his head on the ball when Jagielka’s left boot was swinging up towards his beautiful Roman hooter is beyond me, never mind that he actually managed to head it towards Tim Howard’s goal but he put his life (or at least his smouldering good looks) on the line to do it and yet the immediate response wasn’t respect for his courage but abuse at another missed chance.

Giroud header

Inconstant, judgemental, unfair and fickle. Never mind, let’s put it behind us and look forward to this evening’s entertainment. The boys make the short coach journey across town to Loftus Road to face Queens Park Rangers. We are at that point in the season where it doesn’t really matter who we play home or away, the points at the top of the table are so tight that we have simply got to keep winning and trust Man City to keep slipping up. Some people are getting excited at the battle taking place between us Liverpool and Man United for third place. Not me. Those other riff raff are below us in the table. I only look at the team directly in front of Arsenal and hope we can catch and overtake them. That is it and all about it. How else do you climb higher up the table? By staying ahead of the team beneath you? Nope. Bad maths that.

Having just said it doesn’t matter who the opposition is, it happens to be QPR so I suppose I ought to give you my usual in depth analysis. We are still second in the current form table and Rangers are eighteenth. So that’s that then. No need to worry about tonight’s result. Foregone conclusion. Move on nothing more to read here. Except of course for one rather significant fly in that particularly over confident ointment. QPR are in the mire of a relegation dog fight, an unseemly scrap with several other teams all convinced they can escape the noose. Their survival in the hallowed money sea of top flight English footy is at stake and they can’t be expected to go quietly. Some sides may fold with resigned despair when their season looks like it’s headed down the toilet but others rage against the dying of the light. Recent results may suggest that QPR already have one foot in the slough of despond but it may not be so, they might start their fightback at any moment, and as such we must be prepared for dogged resistance. Human nature dictates that people often strive their hardest when they’re backed into a corner.

I do believe we have enough spirit and bloody mindedness in our own squad to match anyone in the guts and determination department and of course our players possess skill and invention by the bucket load, so I remain as cautiously optimistic as ever. We saw the boys playing it a little bit safe on Sunday, the manager being experienced enough to know how to set up his team after a setback. Tonight I expect them to build on the blocks laid against Everton and go at QPR with a little more verve. Having said that if the men in blue and white elect to defend in depth then we may have to be patient. Patient, consistent, sensible and fair. Now that’s four better words for Arsenal fans, right?

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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177 comments on “Kelly’s Heroes

  1. Thanks NOTH I’ll have a butchers when I get a chance.
    From my brief glance at the video I suppose that I could groan and say that it doesn’t look like a top top quality building. The type that such a prestigious institution would deserve (e.g.: McLaren factory) but it’ll do the job – they need those new facilities up and running as soon as possible in order to keep up with the petro-clubs.

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  2. Working with someone who grew a few miles from Udinese at the moment.

    I told him of my dream, the dream that AFC aft their austerity seasons would possible find some Wonga for the likes of Vidal, Sanchez (might have mentioned that one previously), a clone of a younger di Natale…one out of three isn’t bad, and Vidal is currently carrying more niggles then Rambo and getting no younger so I think the Arsenal are alright there! Yup watching that finish from Sanchez I certainly felt like I was in dreamland. Passes? Who. Needs passes!

    Random thought for the day:

    You all recall how earlier on in the season some were worrying their creased brows over the future of Cazorla. Some even convinced themselves because they read it in a funny paper that the player was going to take his talents to Simeone’s Madrid. Incredible, I know. I guess they had ever watched Simeone’s teams play? On top of which I don’t believe that the player from Northern Spain who turned down Real will be moving to Madrid anytime soon. Just a hunch!
    But back to the point, it’s the same old gibberish with Walcott at the moment. Granted, there’s a possible haggle over his contract. But more obvious then that, by some degree, is the genteel reintroduction to competitive football for an athlete who suffered a career threatening injury. For contrast we can look towards the poor bedraggled mule Falcao. When he scored the header in pre-season I thought he’d managed to survive Mendez’ mendacious manhandling. But he is only human, and there’s only so much abuse a body can take. The quack surgery to get him “fit” for the summer transfer window probably didn’t help.

    So no. I’m not writing off Walcott just yet! Hehe.

    Did Gabriel suffer a hammy strain in what was probably the coldest ever game he’s played in (cup game against. Boro was in the late afternoon). Not a surprise. All a part of the adjusting I guess! Or maybe they have winter in Brazil too? Surely not cold as dear old blighty? That’s my tuppence worth.

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  3. Hands off santi. The guy delivers. Coochie coochie coo the little left foot right foot ball exchange ..ahhh santi… ok we knew him from villareal but never crossed my mind hed be playing for us. Sooo unlucky being born in the era of xavi iniesta silva etc… professional footballer. He even does that thing that i used to do…. practice both feet..heh..

    For theo now… important player … but ligament tear …if my english is correct …is a very normal football injury. From my understanding ligaments are those strings that connect thigh muscles ( bicep????) with the knee ? Please ignore me if ive got the medical terminology wrong. It is usually 5-6 months depending on the doctor.

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  4. Plus .. these strings …ligaments??? … are divided into inside knee and outside knee. If its the injury im thinking off…. it is very commom. I have three friends whove suffered it… all while playing football. It requires surgery and caution for thrombosis and youre basically in a sofa playing playstation and doing weight exercises to keep calf and biceps active. One friend had two times ( in-out) on his left and one his right… lol… 3 ops….. Second time was from snowboarding which again puts outrageous stress on the knee. Poor theo must have have ripped them completely, but knowing wenger’s technocratic approach, i trust our doctors. The lewins are solid. Wont comment on the type of fouls ref allow in this league….

    ‘ hey ref he is dying’

    ‘Play on!!!!

    ‘Wha…?… he is dying you arsehole. M.A.Y.D.A.Y. sos….sos…

    ‘ yellow card!

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  5. I agree with Fins

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  6. Just listened to one of those podcasts and some chap trying the Arsene doesn’t do tactics/Arsene can’t change things during play ended up using the line (well something like this anyway) “he should buy cleverer players”

    on this blog I need not expand my thinking further on that I believe

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  7. Fins is speaking too much sense.

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  8. ahhh ok it all makes sense now…and i was wondering what that short ginger cunt’s problem was….its cause wenger mentioned something about him being a dirty player ( shock..i know) that got fergie going some years ago …and now he is on the newspapers and tv spitting his anti-wenger venom..classless little ginger shit. patrick should have broken his legs ..plenty of opportunities.

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  9. Hunter,
    Micky Owen and now falcao both rushed themselves back from the same injury and in both cases were never at the same level again. Unfortunately it looks that way for Falcao though I never thought that he was top top draw after first watching him play in the 6-0 tonlking of Porto where unlike the other mule Hulk he didn’t have an excuse of returning from a big injury (in that match).

    As for Scholes, Arsenal are playing Utd, they are going to be allowed to hack and so he’s obviously been sent out there to saturate the airwaves with the old:

    “They don’t like it up ’em oooooohhh Matron” Carry On Gibberish.

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  10. yes i take the point about rushing them back but then you have guys like xavi ..he had same op in 2005 and came back better …lol…il phenomeno too..ripped them apart against lazio in copa italia ..came back and won the world cup in 02…. giorgos karagounis snapped one of the interior/exterior during champions league q/final against barca at camp nou on the 33rd minute…but he was so obsessed he kept going till he collapsed and doctors ordered him out on the 44th…crazy guy..

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  11. ligaments and miniskus…. i remember from my times in clairefontaine and turin where the most common football injuries…..have written books about it…seminars given…lives saved.. the children …etc

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  12. Cheers , glad you could interpret what i was trying to say through the awful typing and spelling.

    I’m not going to write all te off any player from this carefully assembled squad just yet! Now when I have a suspicion that an injury-proof squad is being assembled. We can’t forget Gnabbers and Akpom and even Joel Campbell.

    I’m not jealous of the loan/laundrette system that Gazprom have got going for their owners. apart from the keeper they’ve let the good ‘uns go! Sturridge, de bryne (can’t remember the spelling) and one or two others.
    The Arsenal are doing alright IMO.

    Imagine the bleating from the Groaners if AW had let Sturridge go for Costa:

    L.O.L!

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  13. Xavi’s game was never comparable to Wally or Owen, two players known for their running…

    At his peak Xavi would run around about the same amount and at similar speeds as your mates in game of top level football!

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  14. Slowly slowly softly softly.

    Last season the spell after he returned was essentially just rehab for Chamberlain. Then he had niggles, the type you get coming back from long periods out, and he went to the world cup. So not a proper pre-season and then had to play through nigggles during the Xmas Crunch. He said he was exhausted a few weeks into his return when the relative lack of conditioning caught up with him. I’d say he’s ponly now going to return to his best though there was a spell in the early winter where he was just awesome too:

    To repeat: there is no need to take risks and to rush Walcott back.

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  15. no of course not Slowly slowly softly softly. thats the way.

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  16. I just read one of the most stupid articles about Arsenal in a long time. Written or (ghost written) by Paul Scholes whom I admired as a player.

    http://tinyurl.com/mcpu8d8

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  17. ‘I still can’t let that 2005 Cup final go. We should have won it.’

    oh really? heh ….

    lets ask mattheus basler khan and sami coufour if they should have won in 99 ? you lucky cretinous scum

    zidanne was just being kind cause he is a classy fella who headbutts provocative arseholes ..what? last game in my career? world cup final? i dont give a shit…bang!

    he chipped buffon in penalty…in world cup final….. how much cojones do you need for that?

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  18. Paul Scholes is such a knob

    to paraphrase Liam Brady, in regards the perception that Scholes is intelligent

    Paul Scholes is one of those people who earns a reputation of being intelligent due to the fact he gave so few interviews in his playing days, but now when he speaks he proves the perception to be completely wrong and that he hasn’t got a clue.

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  19. i would also tap the que for his non celebrity profile as player but …lol…he is all over the media now…. that troglodyte bastard… cesc pisses all over him i mean our cesc..not that imposter at the bridge hagging terry…how sick is that….

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  20. I hope im wrong but I really dont rate Iliev or should I say out of all our youth keepers he gives me the least confidence. I know players and especially keepers develop at different rates and times so if he has got a new contract the goalkeeping coaches mujst rate him so what do I know.
    As for scholes its probably time for him to drift back into the silent world he once knew and was very good at. Maybe mime is his thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. P George

    I just listened to that podcast. I now hold you in even higher esteem (and it has been pretty high from the start).

    I’d given up on hearing you on the PA podcast cos you haven’t made one for so long.
    In general I’ve given up on podcasts about Arsenal because I’d found them to be mainly about slagging players off, and now that AFCTV exists, peeps can chose to drool over the gorgeous “fans” who’ve totally bought the narrative spewed by Arsenal’s detractors.

    I’ve not seen or heard anyone saying anything about other teams’ pitch “preparation” and how it affects Arsenal’s playing and passing. Certainly not on a podcast.
    Whilst answering a question you talked about Per’s injury at Sunderland and the state of the pitch in both the preceding and following matches. You talked about how fouls are awarded, or not, to home teams. And there was another thing you mentioned within a trio of significant things relating to Arsenal’s performances, which presently has escaped my mind. As someone who likes to watch live games, closely, I’m amazed that other watchers fail to see what’s happening on the pitch, and sometimes distraught at the resultant omissions.

    I’m in total agreement re the under-rated OG12. This whole thing of seeing players as useless if they have an unsuccessful game drives me up the wall. You gave me real food for thought in your thoughts about Theo.
    Your contribution was invaluable, measured, and perhaps a touch under-stated, I thought. Once you’d left, even Ava – in assessing our chances on Monday at OT, acknowledged her worries about that match were partly due to refereeing.

    Well played PedGeo! And thanks.

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  22. My perception is Scholes is thick as three short planks, an inarticulate mumbler looking for a cosy seat on the punditry couch and tipped off how to go about it by his mates, who feel a bit sorry for him.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. Arsenal Fixture News @AFCFixtureNews · 3h 3 hours ago
    This evening Robert Pires 7 year old son Théo, completed his first training session at the Arsenal Academies Hale End training ground.

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