I bumped into Warren on Thursday, I was haggling in a camera shop, he was mooching about town with his daughter. We haven’t seen much of each other lately so we pressed pause in our respective schedules and brought one another up to date. As with most people in these circumstances it wasn’t long before the conversation strayed to that mutually agreeable safe ground of football. I suggested that the next time his team were playing and it was on one of the channels I have available on the old flat screen I should negotiate with she who must be grovelled to and fawned upon for the use of the front room, and he might care to join me.
Taking me by the elbow, he pointed out gently, with the solicitude usually reserved for guiding an elderly psychiatric patient back into the grounds of the home, that the next time his team was playing was in fact on Monday night. Against my team. Warren is, you see, a Liverpool supporter and I hadn’t looked to see when our next fixture was nor who we would be playing. I’ve never been particularly good at keeping up with current events and in my present befuddled state I confess this particular penny had entirely failed to drop.
A silence, gravid with unspoken meaning passed slowly and of course silently between us. Perhaps, we agreed, Monday might not be the best night. Could either of us really enjoy the game knowing the other was fervently determined that our side must fail? Could I glance upon my house guest with a benevolent eye knowing he wished disaster upon the Arsenal defence? Would he not struggle to maintain his own sangfroid in the face of my similarly hostile attitude towards his team? We parted best of friends as ever we were, him debonair and elegant, me shambling and dishevelled, but the brief encounter had set me thinking.
Was it ever thus? Before the days of the internet and especially blogs like this and social media like twitter, were we quite so fractured so determinedly tribal? I don’t think so. I used to go to the boozer to watch the match whether it be against Man U, Spurs, Chelsea or whoever and mingle freely with supporters from those clubs both friends and complete strangers. There were good humoured exchanges, legs were pulled, piss was taken and we all had a few bevvies after the game, no harm no foul.
Nowadays I wouldn’t dream of watching a match in public for fear of meeting the wrong kind of Arsenal fans never mind supporters of the opposition. How people sit in The Emirates with morons abusing our players and booing the team is entirely beyond my failing imagination. Please don’t conclude for a moment that I didn’t care back in those halcyon days, that defeat didn’t eat my insides and that the sight of Man United beating us didn’t make me want to eat glass. If anything I was even worse after a defeat then than now. But this particular divisive factionalism didn’t exist. I recall going to a flat shared by two Spurs supporting mates to watch a league cup match between our two teams and we all had a great night. Even them. And of course they lost. But not any more. It seems we have become so split, so utterly divided and so closed to the naysayers or those we deem antithetical to our way of supporting that we’ve lost the genuine community which once held football fans together.
Or perhaps it’s just me.
I don’t think so though. When I look at all the different blogs and their varied viewpoints, and I’m restricting this to just Arsenal fan sites, I am reminded powerfully of the Monty Python film The Life Of Brian.
Brian: Excuse me. Are you the Judean People’s Front?
Reg: Fuck off! ‘Judean People’s Front’. We’re the People’s Front of Judea! ‘Judean People’s Front’.
And so on. Before long I shouldn’t be surprised if I end up like the Popular Front, sat on my own with everyone else yelling ‘splitter’ at me as I write a blog to myself which only I read. But until that day comes I shall write it for both you and me and we can huddle together in the comment section looking suspiciously over our shoulders.
The blog has been late coming today in an effort to match the lateness of the kick off. About two days late if you ask me. Bloody silly time to play a football match but I dare say we’ll cope. A lunch time kick off for some of you depending on the time zone but a workday too so a mixed blessing – what you gain on the swings and all that. Anyway back to Warren.
When we left him he was outside Jessops contemplating tonight’s fixture. He proclaimed himself very nervous about the game, and that was about a hundred and three hours before kick off. We’re a bloody strange bunch us football fans aren’t we? Why the apprehension? I enquired. Liverpool are a pretty good team, they’ve enjoyed a winning start to the season and haven’t conceded a goal in their first two games. I’d have thought he would be brimming with confidence. When I put this to him he just smiled and pointed out that he was nervous because Liverpool would be facing, in his words, a very good team.
It’s always interesting to discover how other people see us isn’t it? It’s why Bill Bryson’s Notes From A Small Island is such a compelling read for us Brits. Someone who has taken us to his bosom shines a light on our strange ways and makes us see ourselves from a different angle. Because my social circle has become so narrow in recent years and my football circle even narrower I didn’t realise that opposition teams and fans might not quite relish a trip to the Emirates. That sides as successful and free spending as Liverpool have been over the years might experience a frisson of self doubt when they see our name on the fixture list. It’s probably because there are so many defeatist, negative, weak willed, cowardly or just jaundiced Arsenal fans surrounding our little bastion of calm and common sense, all backed up and supported by an Arsenal hating media that I’ve come to assume the prevailing mood in the country is that we’re no good. Far from it.
I don’t know about you but I’m emboldened by the knowledge that, with the possible exception of Swansea, no one really looks forward to playing us and that’s probably because they know that on our day we can take anyone on and, potentially, take anyone apart. We just need to be on our day more often and that feeling will surely grow. When opposition teams tip over that invisible edge from knowing we’re a good side into assuming we’ll probably beat them then our work is half done. We’ve experienced this a few times in our past and I believe it’s time to get it back. Of course we will only do that by winning some games. We held on against Palace which is a start but it would be far more useful to end Liverpool’s solid start tonight, break poor Warren’s heart and enjoy the kind of solidarity across the Arsenal fan base which only a win against a top six rival can bring.
I think we can do it, heck, I know we can do it. Liverpool are a much better team than we often give them credit for and Brendan Rodgers has done a far better job than we like to admit, but we have a squad which blends invention and tenacity, youth and experience into what I believe can be the perfect balance. The engine didn’t start against West Ham and may not have run perfectly smoothly at Palace but it’s still a beautiful machine. In many ways it doesn’t feel as if the season has really started properly yet, tonight could be the perfect time to kick it off.
Amazing Gabriel and Chambers starting – according to Twitter Goonersauras is a better centre back.
Where is Arsene’s coat ?
“I trust Petr has spent the week studying the masterclass that Szcz gave at Wembley in neutralising Benteke. Get out there son and get your fists working.”
I thought the same thing, how much more secure we’d feel now with Szezzer between the sticks. Ah well, Arsene could not have predicted Cechs sudden and terrifying loss of form
If we insist on repeatedly losing the ball on the edge of our box then we are going to lose a goal.
Grim viewing I am afraid to say.
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Coquelin is having a blinder
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Some nail biting moments back there…legitimate concerns, anicoll5, as the scoreline so far has been maintained at very fine margins, specifically those of Cech’s fingertips. Other than that, I’m actually enjoying the spectacle…
Coquelin has put in a simply magnificent performance. But my God we’ve forced him to fight way behind the front line. They can count themselves unfortunate not to score we can count ourselves robbed having actually scored.
Cracking entertainment though.
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Ramsey had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside
Liverpool have hit the post a couple of times and Cech has made a couple of wonder saves
Cech and Coquelin are the only two of our players who have brought their A game, bloody awful performance from the other 9, although Ramsey has worked very hard. sloppy passing, lack of fight, and timid play all round. LFC best chances have come from poor passing from AFC
it looks like Chambers is afraid of Benteke.
“Cechs sudden and terrifying loss of form” didn’t last long, did it? He’s kept us in the game. Too many short passes by defenders on a rain-sodden pitch. Coquelin is indeed majestic.
The two linesmen are playing different interpretations of the offside law. We have the good guy in the second half. But we’ll need more penetration up front.
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I’ve seem em given Gary
Strictly speaking, Ramsey was level with the last player which makes him offside, I believe. But as I said, the other lino isn’t playing it that way.
no dkg if level its onside
Coquelin and Gabriel are keeping us in it. Not the atrocious home form thing again please. Although we should be 1 nil up.
And Cech obviously. That man can play
I shall say no more on the Cech thing. But I won’t be throwing out my Ospina pyjamas any time soon.
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45 minutes more than sufficient to put this right
I want to see ‘ decisive’
They have a weak link in Gomez – get after him
Monreal has been very very good tonight.
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I look forward to picking the bones out of that in the morning – intriguing!
Linesman the difference between the two sides. Such a shame.
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There you anicoll, nothing more to be said really.
Much better second half, we cut out the stupid giving away of the ball that led to so much of liverpools chances. Giroud really should have scored. Chambers had a good second half after having a mare in the first. Cech and Coquelin very good, Ramsey and Ozil stepped it up in the second half.
AFC have now failed to score in 5 of our last 6 BPL home games, really is a concern that we can not break down packed defenses
Quite right about offside eduardo – I stand corrected.
It would help if they didn’t change the bloody thing every season.
So that means that Liverpool have three points from an offside goal and 1 point because of a goal disallowed for offside.
There is punishment in store, mark my words.
Clean sheet whoop whoop!
First of the season in the league.
Could’ve done with the chance from Sanchez going in off the post and then the back of the keeper’s head, but otherwise content all things considered, such as this being the first time Chambers has played since the Ems Cup. A little heavy and nervous with his passing, which then made him more nervous in that at first half, but he survived. Heh. Would’ve liked to have seen more speed, as always, but there are plenty of games to come.
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the agent of Dinamo Moscow forward, Aleksandr Kokorin (24), suggesting that Arsenal are about to sign him, might just be trying to drum up interest in the lad or get him a new contract, but maybe its an out of no where signing for AFC. He is said to have a €19M buyout clause in his contract
I really think we need to move Ramsey to CM and bring either Theo or Ox to right wing, having Ozil and Alexis in there means we do not need Cazorla too, it leads to us taking too many passes, its all in out over and back, not enough drive.
Well one thing for sure – we’re not scoring enough goals so far. Slow starters again.
Kokorin? ManU and Spurs were after him 4 days ago according to his agent.
Drumming up interest is about right edu. His stats are awful. Not the quality Arsène is looking for.
Looks just right for Spuds though.
I missed quite a lot of the match, so I’m wondering if the ruled out goal was symptomatic of “whomevers” desire to see Arsenal’s continual “failures/SSFM”?
I’m eager to see the full match replay in order to judge the ref, performance, etc.
Good point about the clean sheet, Fins.
I know he isn’t fit but Danny W would’ve made a difference in a match like that, I’m sure.
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well Ranetta the lfc keeper got warned about time wasting early in the second half, continued to do so, and yet did not get booked for it till the 86th minute
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As the great and the good will be tilting their reviews towards the transfer gossip and away from the Football I’ll be looking forward to reading ‘coll’s thoughts on the game from the player who cost Liverpool about the same amount as it cost AFC to buy Sanchez.
I’ve noticed opposition goalies generally have many bites of that particular cherry before they’re even spoken to. And I remember WS1 getting a booking for supposed time wasting last season, when he’d barely taken the 6 seconds.
Hardly whores for cause, isn’t it!
Wenger’s after game comments — believe it or not he was actually asked if it is arrogant not to sign a DM, really some knob journo actually asked that
THE BOSS ON A POINT, LIVERPOOL AND CECH
Arsène Wenger faced the media after Arsenal’s goalless draw against Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on Monday. You can read a full transcript of his press conference below:
on a clean sheet being a positive…
Yes. You’ve summed it up well.
on Aaron Ramsey’s goal was incorrectly ruled out…
Yes. I cannot say the opposite. It was a regular goal. It was a period of the game where we maybe had the most problems defensively but it’s a regular goal. I can’t see why it was cancelled. It’s clear and on that front you cannot say that Liverpool can complain.
on whether he has spoken to the referee…
Yes. I didn’t ask for any explanation. What does it change? It’s about decision-making and he got it wrong. I could see live that he could not be offside. He started his run behind his man. I could see it from where I was but I thought maybe the angle on TV was different. It was not and I must say that Liverpool played well in the first half. We were insecure defensively and we gave them many balls. We created trouble for ourselves but even in the first half we had chances.
on Petr Cech…
During that period, yes he was outstanding.
on losing both centre backs before the game…
Chambers and Gabriel do not have the experience of playing together, they’ve come in from one day into the next, but overall we didn’t concede. Petr Cech saved us two or three times in the first half. In the second half I think we should’ve won the game. We were a bit unlucky, we lacked a bit physically and collectively to finish what we started. Our game is still not fluent enough in the final third, and that’s why we didn’t score. The West Ham game left a trace in our heads, and it was important tonight not to lose because you could see that was a shock for us and it was important for us to get that game out of our system.
on not scoring at home…
That will not last. It’s a fact, I agree, but I believe that we know we can score goals and that will come back.
on Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny…
Mertesacker is sick. How long will that sickness take? I don’t know. Koscielny has a back problem. Having said that, our two centre backs played well in the second half.
on Calum Chambers’ response…
He responded well. It was important for him. You sit there and you wonder how far he can go without losing competitive confidence. In the second half he did well. He’s a good footballer and he will come out of that stronger, with the belief that when he had difficult moments he can come out of it stronger.
on whether he was tempted to take Chambers off at half-time…
You’re always tempted. I wondered whether I needed offensive players on the pitch. I knew that the most important thing for us was to get to half-time at 0-0. We knew the second half would be different.
on whether it is arrogant to not sign a defensive midfielder…
I don’t know what that has to do with arrogance. You find all kinds of attributes from this. I’m here so I’m quite used to it and I try to do my job well, which is all I try to do. I’ve been doing that for 20 years in England. After that, I leave the judgement to everybody, for them to assess the quality of my work.
on whether Arsenal need more powerful midfielders…
Everybody has their opinion and everybody is entitled to have an opinion. I could prove to you that it’s not necessarily right, but let’s not go into that debate tonight. When you don’t win, you’re wrong and people always find reasons why. Are they the good reasons? I think I have enough experience and intelligence to know when it’s right and when it’s wrong.
on bringing Theo Walcott on for Olivier Giroud…
It was a purely tactical decision.
on lacking fluency in the final third…
The sharpness is missing a little bit in some players. I would like to give credit to Liverpool as well. They defended well, they were quick to close us down and we had problems getting out of position. With the domination we had in the second half, as long as you don’t score the first goal, the team doesn’t come out. We had the chances but we are still missing a little bit of a spontaneous attitude to finish what we start well.
on how frustrating it is to lack sharpness…
We have started very averagely, I must concede, because we have four points after two home games. Maybe we won the most difficult game away from home. At home at the moment we haven’t scored.
on transfer rumours…
That story [is dead] but it has always been created every week, again and again. We do not master that situation. When the player has a contract it’s the club who owns the contract who decides that and I have said that many times. We want to master the situation of the players who are under contract with us. We had Wilshere and Welbeck out tonight, Alexis is not completely at his best. We know that we can score goals and we will score goals again.
on Danny Welbeck…
After the international break, if all goes well, he can come back.
Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source
Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20150824/the-boss-on-a-point-liverpool-and-cech?#RxKRSFTMKfIP8dvy.99
Paddy @VieiraPaddy 2h2 hours ago
Ramsey was fantastic. You dickheads probably won’t appreciate that because of the stupid Ramsey/Wilshere/Cazorla rivalry you’ve created
Eduardo @ 8.48 pm, I think your assessment is a bit harsh. For my money Monreal and Gabriel were the standout performers for us tonight. Losing our two best defenders could have been disastrous, but I thought the team really stepped up and worked hard not to concede. Yes, there were some understandable nerves at the back, surprisingly so from such an experienced goal keeper to begin with, but less so from Chambers. I’m glad he got through it as that will be good for his confidence in the future. Sanchez is extremely rusty and the team as a whole is still trying to find its rhythm, but it’s only 3 games in, so no need to panic yet. It was an exciting game to watch and we did not lose, so it’s progress from the last home game.
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I love passenal and would like to propose.
Coquelin keeps growing into the DM position. Now we’re starting to see his passing range.
Gabriel was very, very good. He knocked off that waiting for the ball to bounce bullshit and looks like a beast of a defender. He’s probably stoked as fuck that Dunga called him up. Van Gaal would give his left testes for a player like him.
I love Hector Bellerin. Tonight he handled Coutinho and Firminio, no problem.
Cech was MOTM. That little period where he was possessed and kept everything out was worth his transfer fee.
Mesut was amazing as well.
Ramsey didn’t have his best night. I felt that he should have been our first sub.
Overall it was a good point.
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PG, over my dead body…..
i didnt watch the game. we have played 4 matches this season, i watch 2 and we won both but didnt win the 2 i didnt watch. so you know who to blame now! and if we ever fail to win any game this season, just dont blame the players.
i have a lot to grind today but i’ll wait till the post match post. henry and gary are my targets.
What a perfect shit-storm last night was.
I just love the agenda of ignoring our perfectly good goal disallowed.
The narrative of last night needs that as the basestone.
OK, I noticed that Chambers had a mare of a first half, as did Bellerin.
All those people who don’t rate Per need to look at themselves, but
fair dues to Wenger for keeping Chambers on the pitch, the young lad will learn a
huge amount from last night’s experience.
Now. as for out team’s shooting boots…….?
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New post up boys and girls !!