With Aston Villa’s relegation now confirmed there is a whiff of the end of term about the place. The last rites have been read to Bolton and Dagenham & Redbridge and people are anointing probable winners in each of the divisions except for the fourth where Northampton are already champions. Mrs Black is making noises about airing out the Elddis with a view to dragging the old girl to the seaside for a fortnight and all over the country people are wrestling with big decisions concerning new flip flops and the location of last year’s sun lotion.
Our good friends Mike and Kelly Wood are already on vacation, not waiting for the bell at the end of the last class, and certainly not concerned about the factor 40 after a week freezing their haggises off in bonnie Scotland. They, along I suspect with you and the rest of the PA faithful, are not interested in this end of season ennui – not one bit of it. They’ve braved the howling cold and sleet of Britain in spring time partly to catch up with friends and family but also for the opportunity to cheer Arsenal towards the finish line, both this afternoon and on Thursday evening.
They aren’t buying into refrain that it’s all over now, and not just because Mike prefers the Beatles to the Stones. As long as there are enough points on the buffet table we must hope that Arsène and the boys have the appetite to go and grab them and that Leicester and Spurs can still spectacularly drop their plates and end up with devilled eggs on their faces. Okay, so the food metaphors may be a little stretched, but I’m writing this before breakfast so you’ll have to forgive me.
The realists tell us optimists that third is the best we can hope for and that settling for fourth might be the more probable outcome. I’m less comfortable predicting the future especially in this most unpredictable of seasons, but if we are in a dog fight with the giant spenders of City and United for that third spot, we need to scrap for every point from now until the final final whistle.
I know it feels wrong to be approaching May and not looking forward to an FA Cup final. That’s the price we pay for supporting a club which has been so successful in recent seasons; it seems a let down to ‘only’ be battling it out with super rich clubs for third place. Can you imagine how fans of almost every other team look at the whining hordes who claim to support Arsenal moaning about only getting a top four finish?
Having said that I know that it isn’t only Arsenal has to carry the baggage of malcontents and attention seeking children. Look at Newcastle’s wobs. Their vitriolic campaign to oust Pardew turned out really well didn’t it? In fact just look at society in general never mind football in isolation. The culture of objectifying individuals in dumb imitation of the tabloid press, whether they be football managers, actors, politicians, or whatever, is, and has been for some time now, endemic and lamentable.
From the booing in the stadium to the on-line vilification and abuse there are people out there who treat others not as fellow human beings but as mere objects, playthings for their own corrosive amusement. I thought of players like Aaron Ramsey when I read Jon Ronson’s interview with Monica Lewinsky in the Guardian yesterday. They were discussing another figure of public hate and ridicule, Mike Daisey, who said ‘I’d never had the opportunity to be the object of hate before. The hard part isn’t the hate. It’s the object.’. Lewinsky herself talked about how surprised people were that she didn’t just ‘crawl under a rock and die’ after being hounded and humiliated and becoming just a human butt for the jokes of television’s sarcastic and spiteful.
When Stoke fans boo Aaron their most fervent hope (in as much as they think at all) is to drive him and his talent under that very same rock. To inhibit him and his expression of his art to the detriment of Arsenal and the benefit of their own. When Arsenal fans join in and heap abuse on him too, the thing becomes horribly cannibalistic. Salvador Dali’s painting at the top of the page is symbolic of a nation eating itself alive and all the banner waving, abuse throwing, objectifying of our manager and players from our own fans is much the same.
A self defeating, self loathing, masochistic mess of anti support through which the manager and players must wade every week and somehow still perform at their best. Don’t believe they don’t know about either. As Ronson’s excellent article says “Some people think on-line harassment is no big deal because only idiots read the negative comments, whereas sensible people simply ignore them. It’s even considered somewhat shameful to search your name and seek out the negative comments. The truth is that it may be idiotic, but it’s human.”
Perhaps we have something else to learn from Monica Lewinsky. Maybe we should actually pity the sad attention seeking, self defeating narcissists who seem to fill every waking moment with finding new ways to vilify our most successful manager and some of our players. Maybe they are trying to tear down the thing they love because, quite simply they aren’t very well. Lewinsky’s life is in large part dedicated to combating on-line bullying and her words ring true when seen through the prism of our experience with the agents of abuse among our own support, “Don’t bully the bully. It doesn’t move the conversation forward. I see bullying as similar to cutting. People who cut are trying to localise their pain. I think with bullying, people are suffering for myriad reasons and are projecting it. Instead of cutting themselves, they’re cutting someone else.”
So in the words of PG Wodehouse, perhaps these people are to be pitied and not censured. Certainly I feel sorry for anyone who can’t enjoy the thrilling denouement to what has been a fascinating season. We begin today three points ahead of Man United and one behind their neighbours. Lose ground on those two and we are staring into the abyss that is fifth place. Today’s battle with Crystal Palace is far from an end of term dead rubber. We may not be fighting for our lives at the bottom nor for the main prize at the very top but there is still an enormous amount at stake today, on Thursday, and in the subsequent four matches.
Crystal Palace sit eight points outside the relegation zone and with fifteen points still on the table will not be turning up just to make up the numbers and entertain our transatlantic visitors. We face teams either battling for a European place, fighting to avoid relegation or with the liberating knowledge that it’s all over and every single match will be a tough one, starting today. The players have to contend with the baying of the psychophysically damaged as they enter the fray and so it is vital that the rest of us, you and I included, make as much noise in their defence and in positive support as we possibly can between now and the fifteenth of May. There might not be a trophy waiting for us, we may be a little spoiled by recent success, but we still have plenty to play for. Let’s see if we can’t cheer the boys over the line.
Excellent start to the day.
Breakfast then off to do my bit. (Well, after walking the dog)
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It’s matchday!! Wonderful stuff this morning, Stew, to start off my day. I’m drinking hotel coffee (I gotta get myself one of these super fast electric kettles!), while Mike, in characteristic not-a-morning-person fashion, grabs a few more z’s.
I also read that Monica Lewinsky interview, and found it most enlightening. PhD dissertations can be written on we find it so easy to be hateful to people we don’t have to meet face to face. I suppose the flip side of that coin is interesting as well: how is it that I can feel so compelled to defend someone I have never met, and who doesn’t even know I’m alive, from abuse? I don’t know…but I do feel it, and I have to be careful that I don’t let it drag me down. Aaron’s tweet of a picture from training yesterday was met with abuse mere seconds after he posted it. Seconds. Which means that these folks are just sitting there, waiting for him to post something, so they can fire off an ugly reply. That’s sad, attention-seeking behavior, that really should be pitied.
Big game today, and there is a lot still on the line. We’re meeting some of the PA gang for lunch pre-match, and I can’t wait. So far my IRL meetings have been A-plus. I don’t expect this one to be any different! COYG!
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Thank you for a positive post, makes a great change from the negativity on many of the Arsenal blogs these days. I’m not at the first team game this afternoon, my son going instead. I will be supporting the Ladies in their FA Cup semi final against Sunderland and will be back at Borehamwood tomorrow when, hopefully, the U21s will clinch their promotion back to the first division for that age group. So yes doing my bit!
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Another terrific read and educational as well; I now know what an Elddis is.
Alabama, your comment about defending someone you have never met was spot on. I have wasted so many hours defending Ramsey from our own fan’s criticism, perhaps I should question why it is so important to me!
We need a win. Let’s get one.
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Wise words as usual Steww, thanks!
So, the real event of the day is meeting The Alabamagooners today for a pre-match lunch. We are meeting at the Coronet Pub on the Holloway Road, (enter from that side and to the right side), then off for lunch as soon as possible up the road (toward Archway) for some Kurdish fare. The name of the establishment escapes me so you are all reliant on me. Only fans with a Positively Arsenal perspective are welcome…COYG!
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I largely ignore the Spuds in Arsenal colours; whatever they are or are not, they are certainly not Arsenal supporters and are therefore irrelevant to my enjoyment and appreciation of the game. Occasionally one or two of them surpass themselves and provide some entertainment as their inevitably self-defeating logic blows up in their faces on Twitter but it’s not essential reading.
Looking forward to catching up with our transatlantic friends and over breakfast my better half asks:
MBH: “Is Stew Black going today”
ME: “No; he lives in Somerset.”
MBH: “Oh. But if your friends from Alabama can make it …?”
ME: “I know but It’s a more direct route from Alabama. Plus he’s got an ad lib packed radio show to rehearse.”
Can’t quite believe yet another season is drawing to a close – enjoy the game everyone!
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Hear hear Stew.
Being consumed by hatred can make ppl say/do stupid things. Stupid things they believe are self-evident rather than deeply insulting. We should pity them.
On to the game and the pride of London: I hope we kick ass today.
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A great start to matchday as usual Stew and the 10.24 is about to roll down the tracks Southwards – I shall be in Coronet at 1
Regarding abuse I feel genuine sympathy (in contrast to my usual manunfactured/disingenuous type) for those who are essentially civilians in the public spotlight. For those who stand up and put their names to things for money though it is part of the game.
Nice post Stew, bit I have to disagree…..
Bullies should get the absolute living shit kicked out of them, but sadly that often does not happen as they usually end up working behind a counter at a fast food restaurant or holding up a golf sale sign on a highstreet for a living.
Oh, and welcome to our Alabama friends.
May their visits to the Emirates turn out to be a mini-Invincible season.
A glimpse of Aaron Ramsey would be a bonus, surely?
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the team i’d pick,
Bellerin Gabriel Koscielny Monreal
Alexis Ozil Iwobi
subs: Ospina, Chambers, Gibbs, Coquelin, Campbell, Walcott, Giroud
now if Wenger picks a different team/squad, and we don’t totally dominate the game and win easily, I reserve the right to claim I was right and he was wrong, as its a “fact” that the team I suggest would win easily.
brilliant again Steww, while I can respect the opinion of those who believe Arsene is not good enough, those who say he is not good are lunatics pure and simples.
We do need good performances in all the remaining games to get as high a finish as possible, in recent seasons we have finished the season strongly with many wins in April and May, may it be even bettered this season. COYG
What a fantastic start to the day and interesting in oh so many ways. When the history of the world comes to be written it is currently evens each of two whether TBL is saint or sinner. What worries me is what happens when we no longer have to go online to access the disturbed rantings of any deranged hate mob. Heston may have made a name out of thrice cooked chips but I fear the day they are implanted.
Having said that I never understood the allure of pen friends but now find I have more in common with my NIRL chums than many with whom I share the daily grind.
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At least its peaceful here.
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Such are the benefits of a firm door policy
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a message from the AAA/WOB
As usual a wonderful, thoughtful piece by Steww. He has a nice way of linking the football to the current corrosive dehumanizing social environment we live in. What strikes me the most is how so many of our middle of the road bloggers and tweeters enable this bullying and negative attitude with their often subtle vilification of the manager manager and owner for having the gall of sensibly running a club that is consistently competitive despite financial doping of other clubs and a hostile refereeing cabal which has granted us almost no penalties at home all season. For example, the sage of Dublin in both his blogs and podcasts has been doing everything to suggest that our season is over despite our top-four position far from being secure. In contrast Steww has done a good job emphasizing that we still have a lot to play for and our fans need to be fully on board. Adding my two cents to the cause I wrote on Twitter yesterday:
Come On You Gunners. Make this a memorable day for Kelly and Mike in particular.
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No sign of the PA crew in the Coronet, which is a pity.
I see the AAA/WOB are now, one after another, spouting the same line, that Wenger is not Arsenal’s most successful manager, and in fact is not even our second most successful manger, and that its debatable if he is even our third most successful manager.
so just going on trophies won and years in the job here are the stats for Chapman, Graham, Wenger, Mee and Allinson.
Chapman 2 league titles and 1 FA Cup from 1925 till his death on 6th Jan 1934
Graham 2 league titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 CWC, 2 League Cups, from 1986 till his sacking after being banned for a year by the FA for taking a transfer bung 1994
Wenger 3 League Titles(including an unbeaten season), 6 FA Cups from 1996 to present
Mee 1 league title, 1 FA Cup, 1 Fairs Cup, from 1966 to 1976
Allison 2 league titles, 1 FA Cup from 1934 to 1939
most of the AAA/WOB use Chapman and Graham as the yardstick to beat Wenger with, the odd thing is that they don’t include Allinson, some do include Mee, I’m not sure what criteria they use, trophies won, average time for a trophy, games won, or anyone but wenger.
latest BPL scores after 25 minutes
Bournemouth 0-0 Liverpool
Leicester City 1-0 West Ham
That’s a shame Andrew. You sure you have the right pub?
BPL half times
Bournemouth 0-2 Liverpool
Leicester 1-0 West Ham
as things stand LCFC would be going 16pts ahead of AFC, with the Gooners having a max of 18pts to play for.
Thanks for Steww & Aa’s post’s re a West Ham. Both were brilliant (though I’ll have to read them again just for the joy of reading them again).
I’m so unutterably busy I feel like one of you normal people whose days are Full.
My godson married yesterday. I was there to celebrate of course, but it wasn’t that simple, given that the parents split up 10 years ago, and the consistency Arsène desires has been in full flow through the powers of Acrimony. My chosen job was essentially to support the grooms dad, my friend for decades. I may have done a good job on that front but I didn’t fully enjoy the wedding due to the cold-ness enacted by the bullies. Funny enough, another friend came to London to watch his beloved Chelsea. I’d left keys with my neighbour whose wife had passed, and when I returned at 03:30 (to find someone had blocked my garage, but that’s a whole other story), my friend was still in my home. He’d brought another gift for me, in wrapping paper so luxurious I’ll have to iron and keep it. (A retro Arsenal shirt. See, I’ll make my musings ‘relevant’)
He told me his Chelsea supporting mates had berated him for not stamping on the shirt before giving it to me!
I still haven’t slept cos of the car parking thingy, and I’ve had calls and requests for things to do for others, today, and I’ve only seen Norw-Sund highlights and I don’t know most of what happened yesterday, footy-wise. I see Norw pushed someone into the pit again. Eff off down to the 2nd division and take yr effing pit with ya, Norwich.myoure not forgiven for what you did to Alexis, and Bacary, and I know you’re coming to break more legs, as I’m sure CP will attempt this arvo.
And that’s why I love your reviews, AA. You don’t discount the violence meted out to Arsenal.
I’d normally lie about my availability when it comes to watching an Arsenal game live, so I’ve got a problem today: whether to give back a smidgen of the love I’ve received over these past weeks, or…
You know what, having written that – I’ll just have to watch the game on the Arsplaya tmrw “la la la-ing” with fingers in ears if anyone starts talking footy. Which is what happened at the wedding yesterday. Indeed, I thought I’d overheard someone saying the Chelsea score was 2-2. Imagine my horror when I heard that it didn’t go so, and that mikes deano was ref!
Steww, today’s offering is of the usual high quality.
You Do Consistency. Thank you.
(At some point I’m gonna crash out, innit?)
God, I wish I could see you all at Tolloington or wherever, esp the Mike/Kelly’s.
Have a great time all. (I’m getting emotional again).
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penalty shoot out in the Celtic v Rangers scottish cup game
Rangers FC @RangersFC 1m1 minute ago
SCORED: Gedion Zelalem passes it into the net to make it 4:3 to Rangers. Lustig to step up next.
Rangers beat Celtic 5-4 AET (2-2) on penalties and will play Hibs in the Scottish Cup Final.
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Gabriel, Monreal, Coquelin, Elneny, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck
subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Chambers, Ramsey, Campbell, Walcott, Giroud
PALACE: Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare; Puncheon, Jedinak, Cabaye, Ledley, Bolasie; Wickham.
Subs: Speroni, Mariappa, Kelly, Lee, Sako, Zaha, Adebayor
84 minutes LCFC 1-1 WHU
86 minutes LCFC 1-2 WHU
by the way Vardy was sent off for diving,(not before time)
Arsenal Ladies leading Sunderland Ladies 2-0 after 55 minutes, in the FA Womens Cup Semi Final
FT: LCFC 2-2 WHU
LCFC now 14pts ahead of AFC, but AFC play 3 games before LCFC play again
Ref conned at the end by LCFC, but whats new about that.
William @Colwell94 9m9 minutes ago
Imagine being a Leicester fan and having the fucking audacity to act like refereeing decisions go against you
Bit of a frantic last ten at the King Power – watching it in the ground was a killer – and sober too !!
jeez its a real laugh seeing all the journos outrage at Moss’s performance today, cos little old lcfc did not get every decision.
Not one of them have this season mentioned that AFC have been awarded only 2 penalties all season long.
arsenal ladies are 3-0 v sunderland with about 15 minutes to go.
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AFC_Andrew @PR_WhoRu 18m18 minutes ago
@stuarth79 Arsenal would have 10 pens a game the decisions that go in Leicester’s favour over the last few months.
5-0 for the ladies, with about 10 minutes to go
Danielle Donk gets her hattrick and its 6-0 with 5 minutes to go.
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Danielle Carter gets player of the match.
Shötta @shotta_gooner 1h1 hour ago
The worst thing on twitter is the apologists for Vardy who repeatedly wraps his legs round defenders and flings himself to ground. Cheat.
Carter makes it 7-0 in injury time.
Steve Gooner @Merse10 7m7 minutes ago
Everyone in and around football needs to stop saying players are clever when they are actually cheating.
Arsenal Ladies @ArsenalLadies 2m2 minutes ago
And that’s it’s the ref blows his whistle and @ArsenalLadies have booked their place at Wembley!!!! 7-0
Come on boys.
as things stand anyone of LCFC, THFC, AFC and MCFC can still win the league, everyone else can’t
looks like a disgracefully low attendance today
5 minutes – great pass from ozil but welbeck could not control it after making fine run in behind their defense
8 minutes – awful overhit pass by coquelin when ozil was in behind