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Arsenal Versus Olympiacos: Sweet Surrender

One Charmin Pig

Bloody football. Sometimes I wonder if we wouldn’t be better off without it. Sorry, getting a little ahead of myself. Let me rewind. Steve Coaches was round my drum for a cuppa and a catch up yesterday afternoon. Since getting out of the rat race I don’t see much of him or anyone else for that matter. He used to drive his fifty two seater into my car park every morning and we would pass the time engaged in pleasant badinage and all the usual meaningless conversational fripperies with which everyone attempts to season the tasteless fare that is working for a living.

So yesterday was going well. We’d covered marriage, the state of the nation and had slid inexorably towards the beautiful game. Steve was reminiscing about the good old days, and I, nostalgia never being far below my surface, was a willing ear. He recalled how on a Saturday lunchtime he might open the paper and on reaching the back pages notice that Bury were at home. From there it would be the work of an instant to phone a mate and suggest popping over to Gigg Lane. As easy as that, they would find themselves half an hour later with the newspapers blowing about their ankles, breathing Bovril fumes and complaining about the pies. Nowadays he drives coach loads of West Country Manc fans to the Old T and he couldn’t afford to watch Bury even he hadn’t moved two hundred miles south. Things change, the game is global now, not many support their local team and those that do still prefer the Premier League on the telly to a windy and overpriced terrace.

If only we’d left it there. Sadly my old pal went on to bemoan the state of the English game and trotted out the tired old line about how it was all the foreign players had caused the demise of the national team. I tried to counter but he became hot under the collar. I tried to point out how shit England was before the money came and changed the landscape, I tried to suggest that growing up among the world’s best must have made Jack Wilshere better and not worse, I tried to suggest that shit managers, shit tactics, a backward football culture encouraged by an idiot press had far more effect than foreign stars, but all to no avail. He was adamant. He was furious. He was boggly eyed in his passion.

Surrounded by a select few of the very best Twitter has to offer and coming here where the closest we get to an argument is over whether a player is actually great or just nearly great I hadn’t realised how cocooned my existence had become. Not going to the office or factory to be exposed to the full ferocity of ill informed opinion every day has left me bewildered by the zealous conviction with which people can regurgitate the lies and nonsense with which they are constantly bombarded. I was, to put it mildly, taken aback.

I read Eduardo’s excellent piece on PA yesterday and thought how helpless we are to turn this tide. The ‘Arsène Wenger doesn’t do tactics’ mantra he so adroitly exposed for the flim-flam it is nonetheless has such deep roots beyond our walls that we have not a snowball in hell’s chance of changing anyone’s mind. I had simply failed to realise the extent that the misinformation had gotten right into people. Until you sit face to face with someone ignoring facts and parroting nonsense when in all other respects they appear to be a reasonable human being you can’t comprehend how absolutely the battle has been lost. I felt like Hirō Onoda, stumbling down from the mountain thirty years after the end of the WW2 blinking, bewildered and barely able to believe that no matter how many Phillipino fishermen and farmers I shoot, the truth is I’m never going to return home as part of a winning army.

So what can we do? Not much to be honest. Watch the Arsenal and try to enjoy the football is all I’ve come up with. Although, put like that it doesn’t sound so bad does it? All football clubs have better and worse times, at the moment we as Arsenal fans have plenty to be happy about. Tonight for instance we host Olympiacos in the Champion’s League. That’s more than a good enough reason to cancel our radio shows, get in a bumper bag of midget gems and break open the cranberry and mango tea surely? So what if people are saying Arteta is past it, Arsène can’t manage and Ramsey is out of position? So what if thousands all over the world believe it to be true and repeat these and a hundred other specious facts and bits of meretricious wisdom?

Rather than waste our time trying to fight, not a losing battle but one that was lost a long time ago, why don’t we just get on with watching our team, celebrating the victories and commiserating with one another after a defeat? No one has ever succeeded, to the best of my knowledge, in teaching a pig to sing, indeed as Heinlein observed ‘…it wastes your time and annoys the pig’ so for goodness sake let’s put the sheet music away and give it a rest. I’m not talking football with anyone outside of a certain demographic from now on.

From the moment the team is announced I will be excited, anticipating how the players will line up, wondering who might be the hero on the night. Instead of bemoaning the hand wringing and predictions of disaster, which these days accompany the release of every team sheet, I’m just going to savour being part of this wonderful club competition. To relish the great good fortune that led me to support Arsenal and not any one of the lesser teams, teams that simply do not get to experience this every season. I’ll find a foreign stream or I’ll mute the commentary and I’ll envy those who can afford to go to the match in person but apart from the inevitable exasperation with the referee that envy will be the only ill feeling in which I will indulge.

This supporting lark is from now on going to be about thrills and spills and not about the bellyaches. I’ve simply had enough of the tedious arguments between people who will never change their views. The name calling, the finger wagging, it’s all so pointless and it only serves to detract from the simple pleasure of watching my team pitting its wits against the best that the opposition can throw at it.

So in a way I’m glad Steve came round and cast all this into such clarity for me. The simple pleasures of strolling through the cobbled streets of his home town, whippet at heel, sparks flying from his clogs as he headed to a cold, crumbling concrete stadium to shout abuse at his local team contrasted so sharply with the spouting gibberish he has learned from the modern day anti experts and helped me to reach this minor Damascene moment. Why not give it a try? Why not join me and just enjoy the football and leave the porcine singing lessons to somebody else? You never know, we might just like it.

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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99 comments on “Arsenal Versus Olympiacos: Sweet Surrender

  1. 59 minutes Ramsey on for Coquelin

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  2. somehow we did not score, defenders and keeper blocking the ball

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  3. Hilarious stuff. How we didn’t score there I’ll never know. Great ball from Ramsey

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  4. keeper finally booked for time wasting

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  5. Alexis nods home 2 all. Get in!

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  6. brilliant move, walcott to Alexis goal, fine header 2-2

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  7. holy fuck, one minute later and more poor defending and we are behind 3-2

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  8. Instantly cough it up. 3-2 Olympiakos sickening stuff.

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  9. Ozil with a good freekick, Ox needed to do better on the follow up, then ozil booked for an opponent diving

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  10. comedy booking for Urzel

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  11. 10 minutes left for AFC to pull this out of the fire.

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  12. home support is way too quiet imo…

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  13. 85 minutes, Campbell on for Bellerin

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  14. for fuck sake Ospina races out of his goal, lots of time to pick out a team mate and he panics and kicks the ball out of play

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  15. 4 minutes of stoppage time to be played

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  16. FT: 2-3

    just not good enough from Arsenal, too many silly stupid mistakes

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  17. I believe that is the first time Arsenal have lost game two of the CL groups

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  18. seriously, this was not good enough! What was all that sluggishness in the beginning about?

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  19. Chelsea lost too, not good so far from English clubs in CL, 5 defeats from 6 games

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  20. I thought it was Greeks that came bearing gifts.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. the roller-coaster seasons continues…look out Manure.

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  22. Arsenal tried really hard. 2 good goals, shame about the clangers at the back.
    What is it about our concentration levels at the back just after scoring?

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  23. What a joke of a performance. Arrogant naive uninspired take your pick. Maybe I’m missing something here but we really struggle to create good chances against ultra defensive teams. Add a couple howlers on top and its a recipe for disaster.

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  24. Thierry may be right. English teams keep this shite up and we are going to lose a spot in this comp.

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  25. Right then – that was a bit of a surprise – i shall endeavour to make sense of the random cruelty of the Universe at 10 tomorrow

    Bugger

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  26. Oh well, that was unexpected. A shocking performance. The players will certainly feel ashamed. Not much more I can write. Just need to let off some steam. THAT WAS FUCKING SHIT……..

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  27. Hey at least Chavski lost….

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  28. Well done Olympiakos, but we were defensively off key and plain unlucky today. I feel ill. Gonna go lie down now. Tomorrow’ll be a better day.

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  29. Looks like we’ll need to get in the top three to make it into the CL next season.

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  30. Wrighty talking shite, again….it’s all hindsight….

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  31. As Dk pointed out it was just a stroll around the park for the first 30 minutes, TS. That’s just not good enough in this tournament.

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  32. Olympiakos are no great shakes but they had a game plan and followed it to the letter. All credit to them. Looks like they watched Zagreb’s performance against us and borrowed their idea. Unfortunately, with big OG suspended, there wasn’t much Arsene could do up front to change it.
    Still, if we win our remining 4 games, that should be enough. Hope springs eternal.

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  33. Hat-trick for Lewandowski. Oo er. A man in form. Let’s hope he’s got it out of his system before Bayern come to the Emirates.

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  34. The only plus points from tonight were theo and alexis scoring again, and the performance of Ramsey when he came on, some delightful defense splitting passes from him.
    Major downers apart from the obvious disaster from Ospina and the awful defending overall, was Ox once again failed to show why so many want him in our starting 11, also Gibbs did not look like a guy hell bent on ousting Monreal from the starting 11.

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  35. I have noticed that the difficulty to create chances against defensive sides seems to always relate to the difficulty of the referee to punish those said defensive sides for fouls. Tonight I saw the same from the first few minutes. Actually, alot like the match in Zagreb.

    Oh well, at least they should be focused for the Utd match.

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  36. Anybody going on about selection tonight is just clutching a straws, the team was good enough to win at a canter but massively underperformed.
    The crowd was poor tonight and then only roared in small bursts. Ironically at 2-2 the crowd came alive and were baying for blood only to see us commit suicide how right Steww was.

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  37. nothing at all wrong with the selection including the keeper…

    maybe ox needs a break to clear his head, then again, maybe that would affect confidence… he is at the stage where kos seemed to go from one mistake to another….he eventually survived it

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  38. Very poor. Keep conceding first, shooting ourselves in the foot…then all the OGs? Cannot make a lot of sense of it, but it is not just us, seems a few English teams. At times, we are very very naive , we have been for years, just wish it could be coached out. Yes, we were unlucky, they scored with three out of four shots on target, but ultimately , the team were the authors of their own misfortune, seems the way of this CL campaign.

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  39. WENGER ON DEFEAT, OSPINA AND KOSCIELNY
    Read a transcript from Arsène Wenger’s press conference following the 3-2 defeat against Olympiacos:

    on if that was his worst night in Europe…
    Sit on a bench in a European final and I will ask you the question after.

    on if that was how he expected the game to go…
    Some aspects of our game were quite good but I thought we lacked quality defensive concentration and we played against Olympiacos who defended very well. I believe we had a bit of bad luck as well because they had four shots on target and scored three goals and that happens once in 100 Champions League games. The turning point was 2-2 and after a difficult start at 2-2 we gave them a goal and that was the turning point of the game. We gave a lot and had 65 per cent possession. We feel guilty because we gave easy goals away.

    on the Ospina decision…
    That is a simple thing. David Ospina played 19 games last season and kept 14 clean sheets and last week he had a fantastic game. No keeper is mistake free, it could have happened to Petr Cech as well.
    It puts us in a bad position but we are still in it. We have to think we can deal with Zagreb and Olympiacos and we need a result in our next game away from home against Bayern Munich

    on if Cech was fit…
    He had a slight alert before the game at Leicester and I did not want to take take a gamble but it is not because of that we lost the game.

    on if fans will be frustrated not playing Cech…
    I make the decisions and selections for the team and I’m responsible for it. I know many things that you don’t know and that you ignore. You cannot select a team by using a poll and getting everyone’s opinion before the game.

    on where that leaves Arsenal in the group…
    It puts us in a bad position but we are still in it. We have to think we can deal with Zagreb and Olympiacos and we need a result in our next game away from home against Bayern Munich.

    on Koscielny…
    It is a hamstring. This is why I rotate as we play many games. The other teams do it as well. You look at the other teams in Europe’s benches and you will see them rotate. You cannot play every three days without rotating your players That is a fact and you have to accept that.

    on the dressing room’s reaction…
    We played four away games before tonight. We played Zagreb, Chelsea, Tottenham and then Leicester. Tonight is the first game at home. We are disappointed. Are you surprised? A disappointment is enough.

    on what wrong tonight…
    We played Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Francis Coquelin in midfield. They have played together for six months. On the right, we had Alex Oxlade-Chamberlian, on the left Alexis and up front Theo Walcott. That is the team that plays always. It is either Oxlade-Chamberlain or Ramsey or Cazorla or Ramsey. We were open because we attacked and went forward.

    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/20150929/wenger-on-defeat-ospina-and-koscielny#Z3SVbC3kseSs4m5i.99

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  40. With Bellerin, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis and Walcott all in the starting line-up, we had some serious pace, yet, especially for the first 30 minutes, we were so damn slow.
    Once again in a defeat so many players lacked the moral courage to take responsibility to make things happen, its all chuckle brothers to me to you, compounded by the marks brothers in the back 5

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  41. isn’t that 9 Own goals in Arsenal games this season, 2 for AFC and 7 against

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  42. Onward and upwards I say.
    No option but to keep the faith.

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  43. very hard to keep the faith when stupid mistakes and headless defending happens so often, thats 3 goals conceded at home to Anderlecht, Monaco, and Olympiakos, with similar type brain farts leading to goals in each of the games, and yes having £197M in the clubs accounts makes it all the more galling. Too many of the players are letting us down too often, the question is are they doing all they can, and if not why not, and whatever the answer is, it only leads to more serious questions.

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  44. Not hard at all Eddy. You just do. That’s the very definition of faith.

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  45. Who says we can’t win both games against Bayern Munich?

    I had to unfollow a lot of Arsenal supporters tonight. Even some people who I thought were not susceptible to negativity.

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  46. After all the elation and promise Saturday gave us.. To loose like this is numbing. I’d like to highlight a few things abt wat I’ve noticed 4 a while on days when we play teams dt defend in numbers and give away little space.

    1. I think it’d help if Sanchez tries to make off the ball runs instead of coming to receive the ball to dribble inside or looking for a pass when he is our most dangerous attacker. He needs to be in the box when we are faced with dis kind of challenge.
    2. Ozil can do better than he does. As our playmaker, I feel he has to take more responsibility in d sense that he can’t just keep doing the simple thing he does all the time like the one touch passes n coming to the left wing to look for a cross when d tallest person in our d box is Theo. Perhaps it would be better to try and playmake 4rm the right which I think will help him to penetrate better and have the option of a defense splitting pass of which Theo, Alexis, and bellerin can benefit from.
    3. Gibbs’ is a long way off of challenging Monreal for that leftback spot. Just like The Ox, He seems not to av conviction in both his attacking n defending. Both the Ox and Gibbs look way too predictable and soft mentally.
    4. They must cut out the habit of feeling sorry for themselves, embarrassed and downtrodden when it’s not going according to plan. That’s not wat men do. They need to look hard at themselves in situations like this, talk to themselves, readjust and step up their game instead of just trying to rush the ball inside the net. It seems we forget our game plan once we r in an awkward situation even with much time . It hasn’t bn a successful approach as far as I can tell. A game is not over until after 90 mins.
    5. I believe the boss has to be frank with the team. They put him in an uncomfortable position more often than not with their shallow performance and that’s considering the faith he has put in them. I hope they can respond and kick on from here.
    6. To positivistas, we cannot allow ourselves to be sucked into the negativity n irritating emotional rambling. The storm will pass. For me, I’ve av decided to ignore all the other social media outlets… Can’t live with the meltdown. There is already much to deal with in my life than letting myself made uncomfortable by some madmen’s incessant grumbling. There was a lot to learn about football yesterday and if we cannot see this even when we loose, y do we watch football games.

    Like George said, Nothing left but to keep the faith. Onwards and upwards people, onwards and upwards.

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  47. Lacking moral courage were they, Eddy?

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