25 Comments

Arsenal Sign Off With Aplomb

A guest post from @foreverheady

So now it’s over. Another league season done and dusted, and one which after promising so much back in August, looked as if it was going to end with a bit of a tired whimper until Jack and Theo decided differently. Saturday, August 16th seems a long time ago now: a family camping holiday saw my pensionable transistor radio greeting Aaron’s late winner against Palace with barely audible crackles, the south-west peninsular apparently not one of 5 Live’s hotspots. But that seemed Ok – the win, not the reception – after the drubbing we had handed City in the Shield and with the promise of all those summer signings bedding in and taking us on from the glories of Wembley. I’d expected us to beat Palace more comfortably, but put it down to summer cobwebs. Little did I know or guess that we were in for a run of injuries almost unparalleled in recent history. No need to go over those again, but although we played well in patches, we just couldn’t build any momentum through the autumn and early winter. We scored some good goals, but let in some soft ones, and at times before Christmas it seemed as if Alexis alone was carrying the flag. We slipped down the table, criticism mounted and one way or another the Club didn’t seem that happy an idea. We were missing our captain terribly.

But gradually, gradually the players returned from injury and an unexpected stroke of serendipity saw the shape of the team finally morph into something to go to war with.  Coquelin came into the heart of the midfield and his arrival seemed to make all the difference, a master class of the defensive arts and a sparkling performance from Cazorla setting up an away win at City that seemed to herald a new seriousness that had seemed oh so far away on New Year’s Day. Despite a disappointing reversal at our near neighbours, the team then put together an impressive winning run that saw us climb inexorably up the table, and which briefly threatened to throw down a challenge to League Leaders Chelsea. It wasn’t that we couldn’t maintain our form in the end: rather that they didn’t lose theirs, but the way they celebrated the hard-won point at The Emirates suggested that they too saw us as their only real threat. And so it came down to the last few games, playing for second or third or fourth, and however hard the players seemed to try you sensed that their heart had slightly gone out of it as they rather unluckily lost to Swansea at home, and then huffed and puffed but couldn’t quite blow down the Sunderland door. One point out of a possible six at home, and a slightly fortunate point away at Old Trafford meant that second place slipped from our grasp, but Third and automatic entry into the Champions League draw was all but mathematically secure as we faced our last opponents of the League season.

Most will have seen the game now, so no need to go over it in detail, but Walcott, Ozil and Wilshere simply blew Sunderland away in a sparkling first half of irresistible pass and move, pass and move. The patterns were intricate, the execution deadly and Theo’s first was a thing of wonder: it was a very good goal indeed, struck with belief and power. His second and then third showed his pace and predatory instincts: they were real striker’s goals and unless he has a real desire to go and play for one of the top European clubs, I think we will be seeing plenty more of him in the seasons to come. There are few strikers in world football better than a fit and confident Walcott. Jack too was outstanding, and what I would call the Rosicky role seems to suit him. He hugged the line when he had to, probed and prompted, and took his goal with glee.  Nine times out of ten it would have ended in Row Z, but somehow that was never going to be the case yesterday, and let’s hope that his wonder strike gives him the confidence to add more goals to his game, for you won’t see many Englishmen play better, and it is good he is playing for The Arsenal. And Ozil tackled and ran, tackled and ran and doing well for this team seems to really matter to him. I had not seen him play before but it was a privilege to do so yesterday. They were all good in that first half, and although a strange May weather pattern saw grey skies and drizzle, they played as if they were bathed in gold.

It was good to see the team parade around the ground and show their human faces a little in the now traditional send off, but it must also have felt strange and a little premature to them. Their season is not yet done, and fairly or unfairly will not be defined by that excellent third place finish, however magnificent an achievement that was given the scale of injuries in the autumn.  They will want to do well at Wembley, for if they do it will set up a Community Shield encounter that I suspect will be far from charitable. If those players want to win next year’s league then they will know it is Chelsea they must be measured against – and for 45 glorious minutes yesterday they showed they are more than capable of doing just that. I am looking forward to next season already!

25 comments on “Arsenal Sign Off With Aplomb

  1. Wonderful summary Tim. My thanks.

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  2. Brilliant Tim, passion and energy – just like AFC yesterday.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks Tim. To put the injuries into perspective:
    Just compare our bench with that of the Newcastle game back on Dec 13:

    Bench v WBA May 24 2015 Szczesny, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud

    Bench v Newcastle Dec 13 2014 Martinez ,Podolski , Sanogo , Campbell, Ajayi, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin

    Though we won the Newcastle game as easily as we did against WBA, you can see the vast difference that all our early season injuries had on the squad. There’s the difference between third place and first explained in one easy lesson.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Really lovely post FH – you’ve really hit the nail on the head. Ozil is just a fantastic footballer – I don’t understand how some people can’t see it. I love the way he just seems to glide across the turf, so apparently effortless and serene. Every touch is like an artist painting a masterpiece. I’m so glad he plays for The Arsenal and I’ve got the feeling he is really going to explode next season.

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  5. For any that have not seen this, enjoy Jack’s goal again;

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  6. The original on Twitter is better quality if you want a proper look

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  7. Great piece Tm after a thoroughly enjoyable day. I was up early so started my drinking round the other side of the ground (click end)from usual and then walked passed the ground back to the kings head. The atmosphere all round the ground was buzzing with a brilliant last day anticipation. I had said beforehand the first 20 minutes was important and if we couldn’t score in that time it could be difficult. As it turned out theteam exploded into life and the game was done in 19 minutes.
    We are lethal at our best and frustrating at
    our worst. So I could see the final going either way but the league season from a bad start had in the most part been a uphill curve of improvement stand the 12 pt gap doesn’t seem insurmountable next season.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hopefully next seasons last game review will read ARSENAL finish with Akpom after Chuba has scored the goal to win us the league.
    Couple of things about the lap of appreciation. Firstly how fast can Le Coqs daughter run? I think she must be up there with Hector and Theo.
    Secondly how fantastic was our our big fucking German when he stopped faced the north bank and clapped us enthusiastically.
    Also was anyone else a little concerned that Arsene was waving rather than just walking round like he normally does. Maybe the Guiness has just been playing with my mind.
    Great to hear the stadium sing one Arsene Wenger at the end, maybe the wobs didn’t stay to clap the team.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Superb Tim thanks

    Some astounding football in the first half…..close ball control only seen elsewhere in Barcelona…….

    Liked by 1 person

  10. In spite of his early selection in an England squad, his astounding hat-trick in Croatia Walcott’s never had the sly sports hack dwarves and associated hangers on dribbling and drooling their gibberish and praise such as seen for the likes of Zaha, Januzaj etc.

    Which is why people ignoring his previous performances at CF (such as during the game when he got injured) might be shooting themselves in the football if they choose not to consider him alongside Welbeck, Giroud and also Alexis as a striker in this squad. Alas I don’t think hunter was capable of accepting that some of those in that list have potential and also time on their side. All you have to do is compare Costa at 23 with Welbeck (Welbz with one or two PL medals already etc.)

    When a manager of AW’s reputation describes a player as a “goal machine” and as having a “special destiny” he’s not trying to flatter egos or haggle he’s just being honest with his opinion. The timing of the comments made in public might be cheeky, but remembering the ‘banter’ through or via the press with Henry during similar negotiations I guess the players and coaches can enjoy that process. Sometimes.

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  11. Thanks Tim for that bright, breezy summary of the game and the season. All the main points nailed, much to be debated I am sure, particularly after the FA cup final, when speculation and conjecture will take pre-eminence over facts. Its the nature of the beast, I suppose.

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  12. Fuck you Paul Merson – never was a favourite of mine.

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  13. Strikers:
    Giroud, Theo, Welbeck, Gnabry, Alexis.

    Midfielders:
    Ozil, Ramsey, Jack, Santi, Coq, The Ox, Joel Campbell, Rosicky, Arteta, Bielik, Zelalem, Jon Toral.

    Defenders:
    Nacho, Gibbs, Koscielny, Per, Gabriel, Chambers, Bellerin, Debuchy, Jenkinson.

    GK:
    Ospina, Szczesny, Martinez.

    This team comes back from the off-season healthy and we start off as favorites.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Watching the Sky extended highlights. What a tool is Tony Gale…….he says Arsenal need to add players to their starting lineup to become title contenders. Unless of course, they are content with just a top four finish. What a TOOL. A tool is an inanimate object, a non-sentient being, incapable of thinking. Just recycling that dumbarse meme about fourth place being a trophy….I have a low tolerance level for human tools. They have no excuse for being lazy. He has demonstrated that there was no preparation for his well paid role of co-commentator. No, fucking excuse!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You forgot Diaby, Gains.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. That’s brilliant, Tim. Just brilliant. As you say, the perfect end of season send off, but the job isn’t yet done. I envy you seeing Ozil in the flesh. I get chills thinking of such a thing.

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  17. Nice one Tim, very good read.

    Tension already mounts ahead of the final which I anticipate we will win with a flourish. Our last game combined with the achievement of 3rd place from a very long way back contrasts with Villa’s final two game defeats which included a shell-shocking tonking from Southampton.

    Lucky enough to again have a ticket for Wembley, I again count my blessings that I am, and always will be, Arsenal through and through.

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  18. Gains at 4:55 pm – I am with you that the current squad has the potential to challenge for the title without any significant additions. Contrary to the propaganda by the mainstream media and echoed by our weak-willed fans, Chelsea did not sweep all before them on their way to the title, they merely improved by 8 points (turning 4 losses into 2 wins, 2 draws) to overhaul City. Surely our current squad can make a 12 -point improvement, another 3 wins and 3 draws from 9 losses and 7 draws last season? The he way we competed in the 2nd half of the season is proof we have the capacity.With the addition of a healthy Walcott, Ox and Wilshere we are even stronger.

    Don’t get me wrong, if a top quality signing is available then by all means go for it. But the existing talent at the club seems sufficient.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I get it George but the bullshit I read on Twitter and hear on these pods leaves me in a state of combustion. The temptation is too great.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Ok i cant read bollocks any more …..we are weak fans now ????? heh…..

    1. alabama..you patronised first telling me about support. laughable.

    2. fins you are crazy but thats fine, i am too. but i just sensed you more eager to describe me/ show me up as something than actually reading what i was writing.

    3. passenal if you cant underatand the descriptional use of the word gay-boy referring to softness on the pith then dont bother commenting on me or my character, you dont know me.

    4. clueless housewives and clueless twitter copycats are not the ones to say ‘if you cant see X then you are Y’ …..not even i turn and talk like that who buys you and sells you on football 100 times without you knowing. end of the day if you are so blind or stupid to not recognise how world class winners can help arsenal in various ways/forms then please at least dont be absolute towards those who can see it . and if your defiant stance is to show faith to the current bunch then say so, its admiral, but still remember that its not confirmed yet. we all wish for it.

    5. matt le tissier is a cult hero and one of my favourites folk personnas in the game. his words on penalties ‘ its a free shot from 11 yards you should score everytime’ have stayed with me for life. have also met him with the striker beattie when they both at soton and me as a student in ocean village los marinos tapas bar. a legend for those with deep interest in the game but realistically nowhere near the true greats of world football. barcelona said goodbye to xavi at the weeklend….

    6. i dont know football …so ill leave you all to switch/sell a player whose been with us for ten years and someone who looked up to henry. a player who before his injuries would provide us with 15-20 goals a season and 10-15 assists for two season running. a player who can offer the directness speed and movement a target-man can not. a player who is entering his best age in football. a palyer who playsed a sstriker in th egame he got injured against totnm and bossed them. a player who is already family and has been growing with jack aaron kieran etc …. after all wed chose/pick djourou over hummels and sturridge /giroud over suarez and robben ………. clearly…..

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  21. yeah baby!

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  22. perfect timing there !

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