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Arsenal Versus Barcelona : Oh No! They Killed Nigel

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I grew up listening to the Archers. No, that’s understating it. I probably heard Barwick Green while I was still in the womb. My mother, you see, is a lifelong devotee. The radio has always been an important part of my life from Listen With Mother (which I did, both ante and post natal) through radio dramas and book serialisations to timeless comedies like Hancock and ISIHAC. The Archers was the stitch that held the whole thing together. I can still vividly recall where I was when Mike Tucker lost an eye, Eddie took Clarrie to Norfolk for their anniversary and whenever I think of Mark Hebdon’s death I am transported back to the kitchen in my old house, the sense of shock which stopped me in my tracks as I prepared our supper, as palpable today as it was all those years ago.

When the internet arrived and grew into a feature of our daily lives I discovered to my joy that the BBC had set up what was then known as a message board for people like myself who’s real lives were hopelessly entangled with the radio soap. We could discuss our favourite characters, rage at the ones we disliked and argue with one another over how awful or dire the current episode was. I discovered that far from being a bland middle class woman with a penchant for horses and other people’s husbands, Shula was in fact a hate figure for many of the shows most ardent fans. Nigel was loved and David despised, everybody loathed the writers but nowhere near as much as the editor and were to a man and woman all mildly deranged. I loved it.

It was baffling but wonderful to be connected with a world wide network of similarly minded people and to realise just how much more they knew about the show than I did and how much more they cared and how many of them seemed to find listening to it little short of torture. The years passed and the message board became as important if not more so than the programme itself. Even if I missed an episode I knew what folk thought of the plot (ridiculous) the acting (lamentable) the producer (sack her!) and could weigh in with my own venomous or light hearted contributions.

Then they killed Nigel.

In a move more Albert Square than Ambridge the powers that be decided that the Archers sixtieth anniversary was such a big occasion it ought to be marked in some dramatic fashion. Not just with a documentary or a book release but within the story arc of the show itself. They broke the rules. They killed off a much loved character in a ridiculous fashion and without the merest passing thought of the history of the show and what made it great. It was a cheap shot and a needless one and many of us were so outraged we vowed never to listen again and I haven’t.

I realise now that had I not dived into the world of online dissection and over reaction I would probably never have known I should have been so cross about Nigel’s death. I would in all likelihood have continued with my curious, furtive addiction and still be enjoying the goings on at Brookfield to this day. As I looked through the swirling cesspool of anguish and over blown emotion on both sides of the internet debate in which the simple love of football has drowned since Sunday’s defeat, I can’t help wondering if I’ve been making the same mistake all over again.

Back in the day, when there were wolves in Radstock and hair on my head, I used to turn eagerly to the sports pages in the hope that there would be something – anything – about Arsenal. If there wasn’t it was a disappointment but I got over it. When the scientific revolution exploded into our homes I discovered people were blogging about the club. Some of them were doing a pretty good job too, more honest and earthy than the staid journalists, more partisan. I was cock a hoop. I could read about Arsenal every day, guaranteed, some times from two or three different perspectives. Once I plucked up the courage to add a comment or two I was suddenly swept along on a wave of conversation, commiseration, celebration and tactical analysis. I was through the back of the wardrobe and into a world I couldn’t have dreamed possible.

Nowadays the prospect of Arsenal taking a trip to Spain in the hope of conquering impossible odds in the European cup isn’t one of nervous anticipation. Instead it is an exercise in wading through despair, factionalism, hatred, argument for its own sake and a long drawn out game of playground one-upmanship. Trust me there won’t be any winners in this. I’ve been down this road before. If we football fans don’t find a way to just enjoy the matches as they come and shrug off the inevitable defeats as we once did, we might wake up one morning to find our love of the game suffocated by this artificial world of the armchair expert and the keyboard warrior.

Before you point out the irony of me using a football blog to make this statement, I’ve got that already. Also there’s no need to tell me that football is different from every other passion, is special in some way because I don’t believe it is. There could come a day, and it might come sooner than you think, when all of this garbage that sadly envelopes what could and should be a fun way to stay in touch with other supporters actually destroys our passion for the club. It may already be too late. We may already be in free fall, or we may just be teetering on the edge.

I am painfully aware that I ought to be excited at the prospect of an historic European night right now, and not concerned at the reaction if we don’t make it. If I feel like this, imagine what it must be like for the honourable, decent man who stands every day at the eye of the storm. He must feel like climbing to the roof of Lower Loxley.

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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137 comments on “Arsenal Versus Barcelona : Oh No! They Killed Nigel

  1. is any making plans for him?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We’re only making plans for Nigel

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We only want what’s best for him

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  4. are his senses working over time?

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  5. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 18m18 minutes ago
    Arsenal since Leicester win:
    0-0 Hull D
    0-2 Barcelona L
    2-3 Man Utd L
    1-2 Swansea L
    2-2 Spurs D
    4-0 Hull W
    1-2 Watford L
    1-3 Barcelona L

    Arsenal’s next 6 fixtures:
    Everton A
    Watford H
    West Ham A
    Crystal Palace H
    West Brom H
    Sunderland A

    Like

  6. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 32m32 minutes ago
    Photo: Mathieu Flamini, who was subbed off in the first half, watches the game in the press room. [@NoticiasFCB1899]

    Like

  7. Now Juve have lost the plot

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  8. Jay-Jay Okocha ‏@IAmOkocha 26m26 minutes ago
    So happy watching Alex Iwobi (nephew) on the big stage.. I’m very much impressed with his performance.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Bayern now 4-2 up, (6-4), about 5 minutes left.

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  10. Positivistas: We were defeated by better quality players who executed in the moments that matter. Our chances to peg them back were ruined not by our tactics, not by lack of effort but by failure to execute, to score goals when the opportunity presented themselves. A simple diagnosis I know but facts are facts.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Wenger says we did not have the “killer” needed to get the goals required tonight. Lots of chances created, but not taken. On to Everton which is a big big game and its 9 massive games to go this season.

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  12. so shotta, basically not good enough, been the story of our season, chances, chances, and more chances, but not good enough to score them, and not solid enough at the back to lessen the effect of our missed chances.

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  13. Not good enough Eddy !

    Do you mean the finishing of our strikers was not up there with Messi, Neymar and Suarez in the tie ?

    Yeah I would would agree there

    Do you think it would be a good idea if we signed one of them, or better still all of them ?

    Great idea – I shall send a £

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I’m watching the highlights of the Bayern Juve game – how did the Italians lose that ? Jesus

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  15. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 3m3 minutes ago
    The Premier League will keep four Champions League places for the 2017-18 season following Juventus’ exit from the competition tonight.

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  16. Good news about the four places…..assuming nothing happens at our club that would present a significant risk of us not being one of them.

    Know we are told Wenger should fill his team with players that cost the earth, early days and not wanting to add pressure, but Elneny and Iwobi seem to have something about them……

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  17. anicol its got nothing to do with MSN, what I mean by not being good enough, is that its not just tonight, its been most of the season, how many bloody games this season have we had 20, 25, 30 shots and we are scoring one goal, some games not scoring at all with 25 shots, when we are missing 19 out of 20 chances like tonight, and 25 out of 25 as in other games this season, then basically we are not good enough. As Wenger put it tonight, we did not have a killer to finish our chances.

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  18. The tussle – such as it is – for the 4th CL place is between English and Italian clubs as I understand it with the EPL still ahead in the coefficient table. Conceivably Lazio might tick the Italian box a little further forward but intend to get right behind ManYoo or LFC and Spurs tomorrow night

    And if you believe that …….

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  19. Juve had a little bit of Arsenal in them tonight, in injury time leading 2-1, they tried to play out from the back on the edge of their area, lost the ball cheaply, putting the defense out of position and Muller gets a free header to level the game.

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  20. Elneny covered the most distance of any player in the game tonight

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  21. Mandy – I was really impressed with both Elnenny and Iwobi. Their technical ability was up there with the best on both sides with energy to burn as well. Those were positives. We could do with Suarezz or Messi though. All those fan groups protesting ticket prices should demand a 20% surcharge on ticket prices to help sign one of the three. Knowing how desperate for Arsenal to sign a clinical striker.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. image: http://www.arsenal.com/assets/_files/scaled/696×392/mar_16/gun__1457520718_Unknown-4.jpeg
    Mohamed Elneny v Hull City Mohamed Elneny
    ELNENY – I’M PLEASED WITH MY DISPLAY

    Mohamed Elneny spoke to the media after Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Barcelona. This is what he had to say:

    on the performance…
    We did what we could today. Sure, we lost, but we tried our best. We were playing against a big team.

    on recovering quickly…
    We’re still up for the league. We need to focus. We still have nine games to go and God willing we can do it.

    on playing at the Nou Camp…
    We know it’s a big stadium and a great stadium too but I’m happy with my performance today, but not that happy about the result. I knew it’d be hard, but there is no ‘hard’ in football.”

    Copyright 2016 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/20160316/elneny-i-m-pleased-with-my-display#HX0TTivdzXlJjEFr.99

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  23. Shotta, could certainly do with better finishing over the last few weeks.
    Theo is a good …..if perhaps not clinical finisher in certain positions, but seems to have lost his confidence….ditto giroud and Alexis. Think Danny is a very good player who can be made better of he gets a run of games.
    Not many of the clinical type around. Maybe we let Podolski go a bit early….yes he had his flaws….but the boy could finish….tho his stats may contradict that.
    We need Caz , Jack or Ramsey to unlock defences, make chances earlier and build confidence……just wonder if any will play much of a part of this season though.

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  24. Mandy – I was being facetious about Messi and Suarez. I suspect Wenger thinks he can make Welbeck something special. He has all the tools IMO. Just a little more composure and killer instinct would make the difference.

    We are not going to chuck foolish money away just to secure the finished article unless an apple falls into our lap, like Welbeck.

    Like

  25. Iwobi is the new Ramsey. El Neny wahat a fucking goal for your first Arsenal goal.

    Fuck Barca. If Iwobi would have gotten that penalty things would have been completely different. And Fuck Mascherano’s dirty ass. I hope he goes to jail for being a tax evading prick and for ruining the Ox’s knee with that dirty tackle.

    And fuck eduardo for his pessimism. We don’t talk shit about our team here, player.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. WELBECK – FINISHING MADE THE DIFFERENCE

    Danny Welbeck spoke to the media after Arsenal’s last-16 defeat against Barcelona in the Champions League. Below is a transcription of what he said:

    on trying to turn it around…
    It is difficult to come here but we had to try and get through to next round. Like I said, it was difficult for us here.

    on not taking chances…
    I think we could have had a penalty. We should have done better with [the ball]. With the talent they have got, when they got the opportunity, they were clinical.

    on controlling Messi, Neymar and Suarez…
    It is difficult. They are the best players in the world but as I said, to come here and play it is great opportunity and we didn’t give up. We would have liked to have done better but it might have been different in certain situations.

    on deserving more…
    I think we had the opportunities. It is difficult to come here against such a great team with the talent they have. We came and did the best we could but it is disappointing.

    on having good chances…
    They were clinical with their finishing. I think that was the difference.

    on the Premier League…
    We want to play and go into every game and win it. We have to concentrate on preparing right physically and we will see how it goes.

    Copyright 2016 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/20160316/welbeck-finishing-made-the-difference?#P2UdfGjEeMVclRm9.99

    Like

  27. WENGER ON THE DEFEAT, CHANCES AND BARCA

    Arsène Wenger spoke to the media after Arsenal’s defeat at Barcelona in the Champions League last-16. Below is a transcript of what he said:

    on the performance…
    It was a team performance and the quality was good. I’m disappointed with the result but we played against a team with the best strikers I have seen play together. It is exceptional, they can make chances from nothing. We could not take our chances to [find] a second goal that would put us in a strong position tonight but after they scored and it was 2-1, our belief was less than when it was 1-1. We had chances and Barcelona are an exceptional side.

    on competing with Europe’s elite…
    I could give you all the stats if you are dramatic enough to read the stats. They showed that we suffered but that should not be considered game by game. In football, you look the last game and you look at the positives. We have gone out in the last six years to top sides who won the Champions League after. On one occasion we lost to Monaco but the others are always against Bayern Munich or Barcelona.

    on if he has any regrets…
    We could have taken the dangerous situations we created. Barcelona, going forward in the final third with the quality of passing and creativity, Messi was absolutely exceptional. He went for 90 minutes and came out of the game without missing a first touch, no matter where the ball came from. Barcelona have two or three players who can transform normal life into art.

    on Flamini coming off…
    He was injured. He had treatment, then after I don’t know.

    Copyright 2016 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/20160316/wenger-on-the-defeat-chances-and-barca?#16jmUpdiMbpwbCby.99

    Like

  28. Yes, we were not good enough to beat the best team in the world. How awful

    Like

  29. Shotta, Well….nearly got a couple of them by all accounts, Messi as a kid….and Suarez….depending on what you believe did or didn’t happen there….
    But look forward to Danny’s progress, just hope he doesn’t fall foul of the Arsenal injury curse again any time soon

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  30. no PG, we are not good enough to beat West Ham, Liverpool x 2, Chelsea x 2, Olympiacos, Dynamo Zagreb, Sheffield Wednesday, West Brom, Southampton x 2, Norwich, Hull, Spurs x 2, Stoke, Swansea, Man Utd, Watford as well as Bayern Munich, and Barcelona x 2
    that is exactly 50% of our games this season that we have not been good enough to win.

    Like

  31. Well Eddy, moaning about the players not executing is not going to change reality. Its like a thirsty man complaining he doesn’t have bottled water while in front of a tap served by a clean municipal system. Madness would be our response.

    Like a seriously thirsty man, rather than moaning, the immediate answer to our goal drought is to coax that little extra juice out of the players we have. Wenger’s been doing that. As soon as Welbeck recovered from injury he has gradually reintegrated him into the first XI, been rotating Giroud and Walcott, moving Alexis out on the right, etc. In general tweaking and tinkering to get our regular scorers in a better position to to take their chances. I haven’t done a study but it doesn’t need a statistician to tell us that our conversion rate has fallen since January. I am convinced in due course it will revert to the three year mean but it could take 6-games or 6 months. In either scenario the title could be well and truly gone. While it is frustrating, moaning about it won’t help my state of mind nor yours.

    Now if I had a blog or a podcaster that needs traffic or a big twitter account to feed my ego, I would not be as sanguine. I would moan and whinge, blame Wenger for all the club’s ills and most of all Stan Kroenke for being a wimp, unwilling to blow the cash reserves on a marquee striker whose goals could make a difference in the short run. Damn the long term consequences and damn those like Randy Lerner of Aston Villa who have set such a bad example by up and losing half his net worth in 10 years pursuing such a short term strategy at Aston Villa.

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  32. Who do you want to blame Eddy? Feel free if it will make you feel better.

    Like

  33. Don’t know about Eddy , but I blame Gus Caesar

    Like

  34. stating the reality is not moaning, or whinging, Wenger himself has many times this season basically stated the same concerns I have on here, but me being concerned that we are on the wrong side of the small margins should not be cause for someone to say “fuck Eduardo”, or for others to claim I am whinging.
    I have said it many times, that all our players are clearly highly talented, but too many of them seem to be not handling the pressure of expectations and I don’t know if that is something that can or will change for experienced players. Young players often learn to overcome the pressure as they gain experience, but when its your more experienced players who seem inhibited then I would suggest that its far more difficult to sort out.
    As I stated earlier, its a fact we have failed to win exactly 50% of our games,(yes we’ve won exactly 50% of our games) and apart from Barcelona and bayern Munich, I don’ think it can be said our squad or team is weaker than any of the others we have failed to beat, and in fact in many cases, like with Bayern Munich, we have actually shown we can beat them, We beat Man Utd 3-0, with a sparkling display, when they were in good form, then we play against a utd team decimated by injuries we go down 3-2 with a very flat display, we beat Watford 3-0 away, then we go out of the cup at home to them, with a flat display, apart from the last ten minutes. We’ve had numerous games this season where we’ve actually been good, till we score, then switch off and draw or lose. We struggle badly once we go behind, often concede a second goal shortly after letting in one.

    We have not put together a run of top performances so far this season, nor along run of wins, our longest undefeated run is 5 games. I listed the teams we have failed to beat this season, and it has a lot of the lesser lights on it and teams who have been struggling badly,
    Yes we have had some awful ref decisions against us, we have had woeful injury problems, but we were still putting out a team full of experienced International players, winners of some of the games biggest prizes, all very talented, we have an assist king in Ozil, and yet we are seeing us fail to score from 10 shots on target and from 25 shots, and its not just a striker problem, our wide men, and our midfielder are not scoring, and the defense is not getting us some goals. Its as if it has got in the players heads. I’m not at all sure how it can be fixed this late in the season.

    I’m very concerned that if we don’t massively improve our win ratio for the last 9 games, not only will we not win the title, but we may very well struggle to finish ahead of spurs, and may even have top 4 concerns.

    Like

  35. New post up

    Like

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