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Arsenal Versus Sunderland: From The Mouths Of Babes

Cormac and I enjoy wide ranging conversations on our evening dog walks. He’s nineteen now and in common with most chaps in their late teens is a wealth of fascinating knowledge and dubious facts. Spending his life at the hi-tech coal face of information technology and being a ‘stuff’ magnet he has learned and read up on loads of stuff. Much of this he likes to share with me whether I want to hear it or not. Sometimes his subject matter is about as grounded as the flat earthers and evolution deniers with whom I entertain myself on Twitter, but just occasionally my ears prick up as he drops an intellectual stone into the pond of my thoughts and I stand momentarily entranced by the ripples as they spread and dissipate across the still waters.

Yesterday evening he was telling me about one of his favourite e-sports which he abbreviates to ‘League’. He was discussing the rapid growth in the game’s popularity and the financial rewards available to the world’s best players. What made me sit up and take notice were the parallels between his world and my own. So often these seem simply not to exist. The very best players enjoy only a short career at the top, he said, because the mental strain and sheer hours of work involved in getting good enough to compete are not sustainable. Most of the top players have to earn their corn on streaming websites after retirement – the e-sports version of the pundit. The difference being that these guys are widely loved and respected.

The biggest similarity between our two sports however turned out to be the fans. He was bemoaning the change that has come over followers of ‘League’ since the big money rewards began to flood in. Whereas folk used to be content to cheer and applaud, commiserate and admire they are now far more likely to deride their favourite teams and individuals if they fail to perform. E-fans have, it appears, gone from open mouthed astonishment at the skill of the professionals, recognising that no one not engaged in serious daily training and a dedication beyond the reach of most mortals could hope to reach such heights, to a snide, overly critical complaint driven appreciation of their efforts.

What galls Cormac most of all is the stay at home gamers who come up with nonsense like ‘Why did he try that move? Ridiculous, he should have done x, y or z instead’. These people have no clue what it feels like to play outside of their own bedroom, or to perform in front of an audience and with huge amounts of money and prestige at stake. No idea of the different pressures involved and no understanding of how much work goes into being where the professionals are. In short they are armchair managers yelling at their betters.

When I said how uncannily familiar his words were he asked about this strange three dimensional, tactile sport of mine. I outlined the civil war between fans and idiots and explained the terms AKB and WOB to him. He looked confused especially after I’d said that there was a third body sitting painfully on a fence of their own making imagining the slight elevation in some way equated to the moral high ground. These people like to shout ‘A pox on both your houses’ and suggest that the AKBs and the WOBs are as bad as each other.

How, he asked, can people who’s main argument is that a professional football manager knows more than they do about managing a professional football team be as bad as amateurs who think they know more than the professional? How can someone with no experience of management possibly presume to tell a top manager with years in the game how to do his  job? And how on earth can those two opposing views be ‘as bad as each other’?

How indeed my son, how indeed.

Well, I thanked him for his thoughts and especially for providing me with those first and most difficult 668 words of tomorrow’s blog and we went our separate ways. Today is a sad day for us on PA because today is the first match in a while where we shall be deprived of the company of Mike and Kelly who flew back in time or forwards or some weird Star Trek shit as they headed home to Alabama. The first team were unbeaten during their stay, two draws and a win not a bad return, hopefully when they come back next year it’ll be at least three wins.

I see Man City did their bit yesterday stuffing Stoke four none to keep the thrilling end to the season steaming forward. I don’t know about you but I love this pressure as three teams battle to secure that vital third place and avoid the play off rounds which so interrupt the flow of pre-season. It lends a real tension to final few fixtures and neither Manchester clubs show any signs of letting us stroll to that all important guaranteed qualifying spot. To continue the game of leapfrog we’ve been enjoying with the blue half of Manchester we need to bring three points home from an away trip to a northern club managed by ‘Fat’ Sam Allardyce.

Never a prospect for the weak of knee nor trembly of tummy it is nonetheless an achievable one. The form table does, however, provide interesting reading. While we have only lost one of our previous six away from home, we have drawn half of those six games. A draw really doesn’t feel like enough today. Which is of course why hard facts are so much better than feelings. A draw would put us level with City and we still have to play them, so wouldn’t be a disaster at all. Like you though I am more human than Vulcan and cannot operate on cold facts alone. I experience football viscerally and a win would make me very much happier.

Sunderland are in a real scrap to save their premiership skins. They’ve only lost one of their previous six and that to champions elect Leicester City. Say what you like about the tactical approach of their manager he has been around the block a few times and anyone who thinks this will be a walk in the park needs a serious word with themselves. This promises to be just as tough a game as any we’ve faced recently.

West Brom may have provided the perfect warm up but thanks to the malcontents staying away the atmosphere was far better on Thursday night and that must have helped the players. The home fans today will create a cauldron of noise. A ref baiting cacophony in which our boys will need to keep their heads, their belief and their composure. I don’t anticipate a fast paced thriller. We will need to keep the ball and kill the atmosphere. They will press and harass and look for the quick counter punch to which fools think only Arsenal are vulnerable.

I wonder if Per was picked to give Gabby a break on Thursday. Maybe it was to restore some much needed calm and nous to our rearguard. I’d love to see him play again today because calmness is the kind of quality the very best bring to a game whatever the sport. Winning or losing, they keep their heads and keep doing the right thing. We as fans can lose our shit, scream at the telly and hide behind the sofa, because nothing we say or do ever has to stand up to scrutiny. The professionals do not have such luxury. Whatever team Arsène chooses today, whatever the result you and I shall remain resolutely behind the manager and players. This season may still have a few surprises in store and I for one am looking forward to them all.

 

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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149 comments on “Arsenal Versus Sunderland: From The Mouths Of Babes

  1. Clinging on here

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  2. 4 minutes of added time to be played

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  3. 92 minutes – kos booked, the 4th afc player booked today

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  4. FT: 0-0

    we still have not found the solution to packed defenses

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  5. I’m down to 5.5/6 – fair play to Sunlun who matched us all over the pitch for 90 minutes

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  6. thought it was one of our poorer performances, certainly our poorest in recent weeks, the longer the game went on the less likely we looked to break them down, lacked tempo and crispness in our passing, and a real lack of anyone able to beat a man or two and make something happen. looked like a few players lacking in confidence.

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  7. Elneny our best outfield performer and Cech had one of his “15 points a season” contributions. As Citeh found on Tuesday the NE can be tricky when the locals are desperate.

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  8. Poor game ,truth be told.

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  9. I am a genius; goal scoring or the lack of is killing us. We created enough chances but none of Giroud, Sanchez, Iwobi and Ozil were able to put them in the back of the net. The enemies of Arsene are incensed because he emphasizes possession oblivious to the fact if we keep losing the ball teams are fully capable of hitting us on the break. But without clinical goal-scoring technically inferior teams will always stand a chance. Sunderland and Manone played well but even without Santi’s through-balls we created enough chances to win. Yes I know I am such an effen genius.

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  10. Eelneny continues to impress.

    I know many suggest what we need most is a top striker, but I would say its a wide man who can beat a couple of men, create or score, an overmars or pires type. when we face packed defenses, as we so often do, our lack of a quality wide man leads to all this over and back, in and out passing, going nowhere.

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  11. Lacked tempo and crispness? Did you miss the first half? Did I watch a different game?

    Look, I’m disappointed, too, but for chrisssakes, we did not “suck”, as I am reading all over Twitter. Yes, we wobbled and had some really iffy minutes in there. And I’m damned if I know why we can’t get the ball over the line. But Sunderland were well organized and had no intentions of rolling over. It wasn’t as bad as people are making it out to be. Perception is very results focused, and I get that, I suppose.

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  12. PG: I don’t think it was a poor game. Arsenal needed to score to force Sun-lund to be more open and ambitious. The longer we failed to score the more content they would be to sit back and counter-attack. Playing at home didn’t change their negative mindset; they and their fans are well aware they can’t go toe to toe with us.

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  13. shotta did we create any real clear cut scoring chances, we had half chances, edge of the box shots were our best efforts, I don’t think it would have mattered who was up front for us when we failed to create good chances for whoever was in the box.

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  14. alabama after our initial opening burst where we started very brightly, we slowed down, and did indeed lack tempo and crispness of passing. I asked the question earlier, was the pitch kept dry, so as to hinder our crisp passing, as the passing was somewhat off the pace. there was a lot of our players taking the extra touch or two, this led to a lot of sideways and backways passing.

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  15. I didn’t see a poor game – both teams were trying to win it and created plenty of chances – that is always worth watching.

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  16. That was a very frustrating game……Özil and Sanchez seem to be on the beach already….not good for by heart…..

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  17. Cor Theo is popular this afternoon – he might as well as broken Jack’s other leg the abuse he is drawing

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  18. Having played the number of games Mesut has and with another busy Summer in the Euros I would not blame him GP – he was off his usual standard today – maybe due for a rest against NCFC

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  19. theo put in two of our best crosses of the day, but both he and Welbeck were too far from goal too often in our attacks

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  20. Abuse at theo? Nothing new there then!

    Koscielny, he’s not bad is he? Would’ve been a crime to have partnered him with Williams as desired by some.

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  21. Plenty of empty seats at Wembley – and not just in the posh sections

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  22. LCFC leading 1-0 after 20 minutes

    and in the FA Cup crystal palace 1 up on watford with 35 minutes played

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  23. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 40m40 minutes ago
    Arsenal’s longest winning run of the season will stand at 4 games (October). The worst of any season under Wenger.

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  24. lcfc 2-0 up after 33 minutes

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  25. My son went to game. He had little good to say about Ramsey.

    Security had to separate some Arsenal supporters who were exchanging blows….

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  26. Oh come on, George. He wasn’t that bad. That early yellow was an issue.

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  27. The problem with football opinions is they are shaped by results, i.e. goal scoring. Fail to score goals and the team or the players are shit. No wonder goal-scorers enjoy such a high premium. No wonder a technically inferior team will spend hours on set pieces to look like geniuses when they score a goal from their only shot on target.That is why journos as well as their echo-chamber in Arsenal blogs and podcasts appear to be such effen geniuses when we don’t get the results our technical ability “deserve”. No wonder they went bonkers over United taking Falcao on loan for a king’s ransom or Torres moving to Chelsea for a record xfer fee but suddenly go silent when these xfers go bust. Being such geniuses ask them which world class striker is on the market for a reasonable fee and they obfuscate and direct fan abuse at Arsene, Ivan and Stan. No wonder the club owner and board simply ignore their impotent rage and trust Wenger to get it right.

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  28. I must have much lower expectations. Disappointed not to win but no shame in an away draw and I was entertained for an hour and a half. What, if you’ll excuse me, the fuck more do people expect?

    Liked by 4 people

  29. Steww

    I expected a victory….

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  30. palace 2-1 up in the fa cup

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  31. ‘WE SHOULD HAVE SCORED BEFORE THE BREAK’

    Arsène Wenger spoke to the media after his side were held to a goalless draw at Sunderland on Sunday.
    Here’s a full transcript of what the Arsenal manager said.

    on the game…
    We had good cohesion and movement off the ball in the first half. In the second half we dropped physically and the game became a bit more tight because both teams had chances. In the first half, we should have run into the dressing room with the lead. Overall, that is the story of the game.

    on Sunderland making things difficult…
    They did. I felt a team like Sunderland is ready to fight for their lives. They never give up during the 90 minutes and they started with a bit of anxiety. We should have taken advantage of their level of anxiety at the start of the game, but we couldn’t do it. The fact that we played Sunday, Thursday and then today, we suffered a little bit physically in the second half and then the game was much more difficult for us.

    on the penalty shouts…
    I wouldn’t have given any of them because the players were very close to the guy who took the shot. There was an intention to play the ball. Overall, I would say they did well on that.

    on Arsenal lacking goals…
    Maybe a little bit in front of goal because at the moment Olivier Giroud cannot score so you feel that he does not completely have the same confidence. You go through spells like that and I believe we have to support him and give him the needed confidence.

    on Giroud’s confidence…
    His performances are more about his confidence but I think he will come back. He has gone through spells like this before.

    on teams fighting…
    We care about that and we worry about it as well because it is a fight and there are two [different kinds of] teams at the moment in the league. There are teams that are taking it a little bit easier that you see some games and you think you would like to play them now – the teams that are safe and do not go for Europe. Then you have the teams that go for something at the front and the teams that fight not go down and they are different games.

    on not winning the title…
    It is disappointing, because we play to win the league and the fact that we have not won it is of course frustrating like it is for many other teams.

    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/20160424/-we-should-have-scored-before-the-break-#MitqxK4rOVBSgrx3.99

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  32. Leceister are romping it….as long as they win the league now.

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  33. afc have failed to score in 8 of 34 BPL games this season. and we have kept 16 clean sheets

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  34. lcfc 3-0 up with about half an hour to play

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  35. Giroud is having a very barren spell, one goal in his last 19 games(lots of them has been as a sub)

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  36. that about giroud should be he has scored in one of his last 19 apperances, he scored two in the game v LFC, confidence is a strange beast

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  37. Giroud nearly decapitated Ben Foster on Thursday. How i wish that had gone in…for our sake.

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  38. “Lacked tempo and crispness? Did you miss the first half? Did I watch a different game?” – Alabamagooner@4:12pm

    At this rate you won’t be a guest of any of our podcasters who so love an America gooner whom they treat like some exotic animal. Who wants an observer with a clinical, scientific mindset?

    Liked by 2 people

  39. It is either Newcastle or Sunderland to go down. Sunderdland will be hoping for 3 points against Stoke City. Another 0 – 4 loss for Mark Hughes?

    It would seem that both Ramsay and Walcott, have missed their modus operandi, this season. StatDNA should have the data, available, playing wise. Looking from the outside of London Colney, perhaps it is personal issues?

    Fabregas, with 3 assists this weekend excels Özil, who has 2 in 2016! Thanks to Opta, for that fact. That is the Arsenal problem, it is not?

    A good game of football, despite the Dean and his pick for yellow cards.

    COTG and kudos for Alabama!

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  40. Veritable torrent of tickets for the Villa game come on to the Exchange this afternoon – I think it may be my lucky day

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  41. rumors that Martinez is no longer manager of Everton

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  42. when anyone tries to beat arsenal with the suarez £40M+£1 thing just point them to this article – even the thickest of them should be able to understand it, well that is if they actually want to.

    http://dailycannon.com/2016/04/for-dummies-why-arsenal-didnt-sign-luis-suarez/?

    Liked by 1 person

  43. anyone know what is is all the hoo ho about the gooner talk podcast/site twitter account closing down, something to do with a link being broadcast that might even have been libelous to geoffarsenal. seemingly something done by the wob to geoff cos he is a big account that supports our manager.

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  44. Martinez no longer at Everton….some anti Wenger types should be happy…..think he has been on their list of Wenger replacements…..like Owen Coyle.
    Maybe Moyes going back there?

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  45. celtic are 9pts clear in scotland and are set to win their 5th league title in a row, and yet their was a major fans protest at their game today, condemning the players, the manager, the board, the owners, demanding change. Must also say it was announced earlier in the week that the manager would be leaving at the end of the season, so despite a likely 5th title in a row, and a new manager to come in, which is something the fans have demanded for a while now, they still protest. Its not only AFC fans who move the goalposts when it suits.

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  46. Tom Gordon ‏@GoonerGordo 1h1 hour ago
    There are certain Arsenal fans that care more about being famous on AFTV, than they do about the club. DT and Claude are perfect examples.

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  47. New post up

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  48. Muppet has appeared with a new post

    Like

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