Arsenal: Friends and Enemies Within

So I finally made it to the Emirates nearly two weeks ago. Those of us who work for a living have to plan meticulously; identifying the appropriate home game, getting time-off, booking flights at the right prices, securing tickets. Damn, I felt like an event planner. Call it my English safari.

Obviously I am testifying on behalf of the “foreign-fan” who is so casually and frequently criticized as being a plastic with no vested interest in the club’s success or failure. Those of us who are privileged to afford the trip are usually making significant sacrifices to share in the match-day experience which some of our domestic-based fans seemingly take for granted. This is not counting the revenue foreign fans generate for the club in the form of expensive subscriptions to cable or satellite tv providers who usually put their PL games on premium channels. Then there are some of us who make significant outlays on replica jerseys and accessories. Guilty on all counts, your honor.

So what were my takeaways.

The Emirates may not be a fortress but the enemy is still outside

April 30th at the Emirates was fraught with portents of doom for the future of Arsene Wenger. One week prior the club had essentially lost any mathematical chance of competing for a title after a disappointing nil-all draw with Sunderland. Concurrently the Neighbors were still flying, seemingly immune to their annual cock-up in, making the annual celebration of Saint Totteringham’s Day a waning possibility. Taking advantage of the inevitable fan disappointment, the usual malcontents, Scarfists and Bin-baggers, decided a League game where the club vitally needed to secure its champions league place was appropriate to conduct a protest aimed at the manager.

As has already been well reported their pathetic demonstration with A-4 or letter-sized papers, was drowned out by chants of One Arsene Wenger and Arsenal We Love You, We Truly Do by the vast majority of the approximately 55,000 fans in attendance. I came to the Emirates under the apprehension that it was a cauldron of bile and dissent, only to leave with a more positive nuanced view.

Obviously it is naive to gloss over the fact that supporters’ feelings were ultimately shaped by the results insofar as the team eventually overcame Norwich by a slim one-goal margin. But long before Danny Welbeck inflicted the crucial blow, the vast majority of my peers within the Emirates gave the Scarfists, Piers Morgan and their enablers inside and outside the mainstream media (bloggers and podcasters included) one hell of a beating.

This is despite 12 years without a title, the consistent attempts to diminish Wenger’s consistency in keeping us among the top-four and to also denigrate the significance of two successive FA Cup titles in recent years added to five previously won. Contrast this to the moaning and handwringing by the media when Liverpool, United and Chelsea fall out of the top-four or the bigging-up of United for getting to this year’s Cup-Final. In spite of this relentlessly negative narrative, it was clear to me the fans aren’t buying it and their resounding rejection of the protests is cause for optimism.

The stadium is certainly no cauldron of rabid support for the team. To the contrary there was ample booing and whistling when Iwobi was substituted by Welbeck with audible demands that Giroud should have been the one to give way. But too many of us make the same mistake as the Scarfists, a desire for a goal-scoring Giroud is not the same as a demand to get shot of the manager. In fact it is the wisdom of the manger in persisting with the likes of Giroud or Walcott in his belief that they will come good, as did Van Persie (or Adebayor for one-season), that have sown deep seeds of goodwill for the manager even though he has been unable to pluck another phenomenon like Henry from obscurity. The fact that our travelling-fans at Man City were loud and boisterous in singing One Arsene Wenger while they were subject to the usual post-game segregation and detention was another kick to the gonads of those who foolishly think the greatest manager ever in the history of the club is somehow unwilling or unable to lead us to another title as was done thrice in his illustrious career.

On the importance of being positive

Nothing impressed me more from this trip, apart from actually attending the game, than uniting for the first time with the Positively Arsenal posse, those of us on the Sunshine Bus as Andrew Nicholl so aptly described. Having a good old piss-up at the appropriately named Bank of Friendship was like a reunification of old partisans who had been in the wars together.

It got me into thinking how important it has been over the past twelve or so years to be positively in support of the club rather than the repeated cycles of despair and negativity because the club was limited to winning the Top-4 or Top-3 title. The mainstream media now acknowledges the importance of either title apparently because it is being contested by United and City.

A quick overview. Twelve or so years ago, in the post Invincible year, I was introduced to Wengerball and decided then and there this was the type of technical, fast-paced football I would not merely support but give allegiance. Inevitably, once you adopt a club, there is need to find the proverbial “water cooler” on Monday for a post-game chin-wag with fellow fans. Living as I do in a barren desert when it comes to football in general and Arsenal in particular, I was drawn to the internet at a time when message boards were on the wane and the explosion in blogs and blogging had begun.

In those days there was a virtual land grab on the internet to become an Arsenal blogger. They literally sprang up daily like weeds. It was then some of us learnt that most blogs and bloggers do a piss-poor job of educating fans into truly supporting AFC. Apart from either lacking originality or suffering from a massive deficiency in writing skills, they either parroted what the mainstream media fed the public or engaged in wild speculation mostly without a shred of supporting evidence. As it was then and now, we discovered that too many bloggers had massive egos and would not countenance any serious questioning of their viewpoints.

After the euphoria of the Invincibles era had waned, the club had moved from Highbury to Islington and it became evident that winning titles was going to take second place to paying for the new stadium, there evolved 3 distinct market segments in the goonersphere: (1) the doom-mongers who see the club going to hell on a hand basket because it is unable and unwilling to match the biggest spenders, (2) a middle-of-the-road that supports the club in good times but able and willing to slag the club, manager and players for perceived shortcomings when the going is rough, and (3) a minority of fans who emphasize support for the club, manager and team whether in good or bad times.

Well over a decade later I have concluded that, while the context and circumstances have changed, the basic differences still remain despite naive, platitudinous calls for unity. It is like a biologist demanding uniformity in nature when in fact it is the diversity that is important for natures’s survival.

Most of us at PA initially gravitated to another blog where it seemed priority was given to supporting AFC as a club that played, attractive technically-oriented football while pursuing a self-sustaining strategy that could eventually challenge the big spenders like United, Chelsea and City. Apparently the setbacks and defeats over the years took their toll; i.e. the selling-off some of our best players after 2004, the loss of Fabregas and Van Persie derailing project youth, the smashing of Eduardo in 2008 which destroyed our title challenge with five games to go, that ignominious loss in the 2011 Capital One Cup final come to mind.

All these disappointments evidently loosened and eroded the conviction of some fans. No surprise disputes broke out within and outside some blogs about whether the club had the right strategy and whether Wenger was the right man to manage the footballing side of things. Eventually our old blog took the editorial position that Wenger had reached the End of An Era. Rejecting this throwing-in of the towel, our Blackburn George took the initiative to establish Positively Arsenal as a home for those of us who support the strategy of the club and the vision of the manager despite the setbacks.

My trip to the Emirates confirmed, despite the Cassandras of Doom, annually predicting the demise of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, the club continues to succeed where other traditional top-4 clubs are failing. Once again securing a top-4 champions league place, a 19-year uninterrupted run, and at writing 3rd place is imminently possible. Two successive FA cup wins are in the bag. A new stadium is almost paid off. The youth teams are attracting some of the best and brightest talent at home and abroad with the U21s winning their way back to the Top Division. Thousands of new fans worldwide are becoming supporters of the club. Arsenal is financially secure with revamped sponsorship deals and eligible for a huge slice of the PL money coming in.

No wonder the Sunshine Bus was rocking at the Bank of Friendship. Those who remained positive have all the reasons to be smiling and optimistic while the negative nervous nellies have failed to enjoy what has been the most wonderful footballing ride in the past 12-years.

We love you Arsenal, We truly Do!

126 comments on “Arsenal: Friends and Enemies Within

  1. d_c @11:48 am – Thanks for the link. Unfortunately the Swiss Ramble has lost any semblance of objectivity having admitted that he wants Arsenal to join the arms race and join the big spenders. Note to readers, the USSR no longer exists. In my professional experience in finance, like statistics, the analysts can and do slant the numbers to suit the user. So be wary of those bloggers who trot out the Swiss Ramble in their desire to justify the unjustifiable; i.e. Arsenal can match the spending of Chelsea, City, United, Bayern, Madrid, Barca and PSG. Beneath that level the talent pool gets vey shallow.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Get French Football ‏@GFFN 1h1 hour ago
    Breaking | Layvin Kurzawa, Samir Nasri & Jérémy Menez have illegally bought their driving licences without doing a test, per Le Parisien.



    Arsène Wenger says that the departure of Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini would leave Arsenal without “three big personalities”.
    The triumvirate are set to end their Gunners careers this summer after a combined total of 641 appearances for the club.
    “Mikel Arteta is the captain of the club and has been a great leader,” said Wenger. “Tomas Rosicky has been with us for 10 years and I think everybody loves him as well. Mathieu Flamini has been an extremely strong leader on the pitch and off the pitch. We lose three big personalities.
    “All of these players will have to decide if they go on in their careers as a football player or a coach.
    “I don’t know yet [if they will be involved against Aston Villa],” added Wenger.

    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/20160513/-they-are-three-big-personalities-#JOcJRb5oEJbVyFGd.99

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Our very own NOTH debunked the gibberish of the tax exile some time ago. With our gratitude.

    The moral of the story?
    Don’t mess with an accountant!


  5. Arsenal set to open first academy in Turkey
    Posted by Emre Sarigul May 13, 2016
    Arsenal set to open first academy in Turkey
    Arsenal Football Club are on the verge of opening their first academy in Turkey according to Eurosport Turkey.

    The Gunners have taken over the grounds of the Beyoglu stadium in Sutluce on the Asian side of Istanbul and the Futbol park grounds in the nearby area of Umraniye.

    The academy will train 1000 youngsters according to the Arsenal youth system and also teach them English.

    Players wishing to enrol to the academy can do so from 28 May and the opening ceremony will be attended by Germany international Mesut Ozil.

    The academy will offer the most promising youngsters the option of joining the London based Arsenal football school.

    The north London based outfit have a total of 24 academies around the world and will become the first Premier League side to found a professional football school in the country.

    The Gunners have a large following among the Turkish community in London and in Turkey as well as Turkish Cyprus.


  6. The Arseblogger appears to be ‘losing the plot’
    A discussion of the Times article by that fraudulent goose stepping bigot entails no consideration that the article may have been made up.
    And it’s the perfect example of someone who over invested in negativity (*coughs ‘hits and clicks’ coughs*) being incapable of admitting such. The kind of brave podcastateers who spend their time denying that an athlete who has an injury, has an injury ( Welbeck ). Strange behaviour no? Of being wedded to a narrative. How else could an avowed Arsenal fan give credence to the same prized plum who penned an article praising Tottenham’s squad over the Arsenal’s just before they got spanked 5-2.

    Utterly uncredible. if it wasn’t so predictable I’d be amused.

    Friends and enemies within indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. with Wenger as good as confirming that Arteta, Rosicky and Flamini will be leaving Arsenal this summer, I’ve seen it suggested that all 3 (well Arteta and Rosicky), should get game time tomorrow v Aston Villa. Now as much as I like them and have supported them, for me its a crazy idea that they should get game time purely cos they are leaving us.
    there is still a chance we can get 2nd, and the fact remains that we have not secured 3rd yet, so anything other than our best team and subs would be wrong.

    Also if we are to award places in our 18 man match day squad to anyone other than our best available players, then I would much rather it be to the likes of Willock, Bielik, Mavadidi, Gnabry or some other youth that might have a big future as Arsenal players, and not guys who are being deemed surplus to requirements like Arteta, Rosicky and Flamini.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Goose stepping bigot may be strong language to describe a hack who has written three autobiographies of Liverpool FC players (what kind of LFC fan writes for the Times? One that is an expert on AFC’s accounts?) a hack who is taking Arsenal fans for a ride, but it seems fair enough to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. yes fins I have no doubt that many bloggers realized that there are far more clicks in a negative stance, the negative and or sensational template, to growing an Arsenal site was clearly shown to all by ANR(Pyles admits he is not and never has been an Arsenal fan, yet Gooners lap up his bullshit) and LeGrove, and it is so sad to see the rush to emulate them by a whole host of sites that started out with no such notions


  10. the mavadidi lad looks all Thierry in that vid… who knows… some man on lien to step up… even akpom out on loan and gnabry back from loan,,,,

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I stand corrected. Says here that Hack Winter supports Gazprom-upon-Fulham.

    In which case ‘Goose stepping bigot’ would be a reasonable and fair description.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. isn’t it odd that there is so little coverage(in the media or even in Arsenal blogs) of Wenger’s advice to the journos yesterday (regarding the new contract story and in fact all things Arsenal),

    basically Wenger told the assembled journos
    check your facts, ask me(Arsene Wenger), or ask the Club, we will put you straight, and don’t make shit up just to cause a stir

    Liked by 2 people

  13. If Arteta and Rozza came on with five minutes to go and the Arsenal three up who wouldn’t shed a tear?

    Whilst the experts were tearing themselves up over the End Of An Era Arteta was rebuilding and re-arming an Arsenal dressing room which went onto retain two successive FA cups and almost more too.

    So let us acknowledge the end of his era (it ended with an uncalled and unpunished foot stomp – an easy to spot yet another uncalled impact foul that negatively impacted an AFC players career to quite a large degree, yet again) of this great captain and leader of this club. A player and individual that we can all be proud of, for what he did on behalf of Arsenal Football Club. Even if he doesn’t take the field on Sunday (it is unlikely).

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Eddy don’t you know the club are liars who can’t be trusted?
    They say they had no money when they build anew house and sell off all their best china. They say there is no contract negotiation at the moment just like in 2013/14, after all were talking about someone who’s never broken a contract, so why would anyone belive that?

    Get with the programme! Henry Winter. The Times! That is who you can believe. Who you can trust.

    Fook me.


  15. Eds
    It will be intersting to see which of Gnabry or Campbell stay with the first team next season.

    I saw an interview with the manager where he inferred that Gnabbers insisted on the loan move this season, against the manager’s preference. And it didn’t work out too well for him.

    Fair to say with Welbeck out the club will retain Walcott. And it’s fair to assume that the club will be looking, as always, at strikers.


  16. Wenger said yesterday that Walcott is staying, and he said last week that we are not about to give up on Oxlade-Chamberlain, so with both of them and Ramsey, Wilshere, Welbeck and Jenkinson included our 25 man squad will still have these 6 players recovering from injury or with poor injury records, and so I am slightly concerned by Wenger comments yesterday

    Wenger’s said that he believes that 3 signings is the perfect number for him this summer. My reading of his comments is that he wants 3 first choice players, and proposed signings such as Holding and Chilwell would not count as part of the 3, they would be squad/up and coming, but that AW wants 3 top players, and he said one is certainly a top striker(although he said once again top strikers are in very short supply but added “we have our targets”). Wenger also hinted that there would be promotions from within, “stability, cohesion and having players who know and want to play the Arsenal way is important”

    I am always happy to see youths promoted but I would for once like to see the youths as the extra numbers they can be, and for Arsenal to, for the first time since the 25 man squad rule came into being, actually fill the 25 man squad with players over 21.


  17. as I’ve stated my view on giving any of the 3 a farewell game is just not on, I might have a slightly different view if the game was a dead rubber, but even then I think I’d prefer a young player who might have a future here than a guy leaving.
    Rosicky can be given a testimonial, the likes of Arteta and Flamini could play in that if they want to say goodbye.

    saying goodbye and thanking them and the rest of the players is what the lap of appreciation is for.


  18. Well: I’ve had Hayden down for first team promotion (Flamini’s replacement?) in 16/17 since last summer! He is or will be over 21 Hehe. Might never happen!
    Then there’s Akpom, he might get a slot if say Gnabry goes on loan again etc.

    Who knows!

    Holding onto Gibbs as Monreal hits 30 is important for the seasons ahead if possible, we could see a seamless transition from one experienced older LB to another. That’s the kind of squad depth I guess that Eddy is talking about.

    It’s safe to say me and Eddy won’t be the only ones worried about those players mentioned above on the return from big injuries. That’s one reason we might see some younger players retained and not sent on loan earlier on in the season. And one or two signings say upfront although I haven’t been the only one looking forward to seeing DW as AFCs leading striker since he scored that all roud hat trick. DW won over so many people with his performances, we were all so excited to see how he would get on. It’s a real shame, hopefully he can come back strong.

    In the meantime there’s a whole summer to enjoy, transfer meltdowns to ignore and laugh at and a summer tournament to maybe watch before next season begins.

    Not forgetting the football match tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 12h12 hours ago
    Francis Coquelin is the only current outfield first-team player yet to score a competitive goal for Arsenal. #afc


  20. Eds no need to worry I don’t think any of the three are fit enough to make the bench.


  21. yeah fins I think Chambers, Hayden and Toral would all count as over 21 players if included in the squad next season. Gnabry will still be an U21 player.


  22. well fins yesterday Wenger said he had not decided if any of them would be included, he did not mention that any were not fit.


  23. He said Flamini has a niggle. He’s out.
    The other two are not up to speed otherwise we’d have seen them on the bench before now. They might sneak onto the bench, they might not, not my call and I don’t mind either way.


  24. Womens FA Cup Final is today, kick off 2pm. Arsenal Ladies v Chelsea Ladies. Game is live on BBC 1


  25. It would be great to see Tomas and Mikel tomorrow and even the Flamster if he could somehow be got fit enough to last just a few minutes.

    The difficulty is that we really do have a game to win tomorrow, to ensure we stay 3rd and avoid the aggravation in August of CL qualification and maybe, just maybe, have a chance to poke the Totties in the eye.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. No2 daughter off to Wembley today – last time she watched Arsenal we thrashed Blackburn 6-1

    Liked by 2 people

  27. well if we do sign Wenger’s ideal number of additions – 3 – and assuming they are over 21, and we promote the likes of Toral and Hayden, and we don’t let anyone other than Arteta, Rosicky and Flamini as well as Debuchy leave, then we would for the first time fill our 25 man squad. We could even allow Ospina to leave if we promote Martinez as back up keeper.
    Of course there are rumors that some like Gibbs might leave, but very easily 3 senior signings and promotion of the older loanee’s would fill our squad.


  28. unless I misread the 25 man squad rules, then with Arteta, Rosicky and Flamini leaving, Arsenal will have to sell/loan out several players if we are to sign new players over the age of 21 for next season, cos as things stand the following players will all still be contracted to Arsenal.

    1. Cech
    2. Ospina
    3. Szczesny
    4. Martinez
    5. Macey

    6. Debuchy
    7. Jenkinson
    8. Monreal
    9. Gibbs
    10. Mertesacker
    11. Koscielny
    12. Chambers
    13. Gabriel

    14. Coquelin
    15. Elneny
    16. Ramsey
    17. Wilshere
    18. Cazorla
    19. Toral
    20. Hayden

    22. Alexis
    23. Ozil
    24. Campbell
    25. Oxlade-Chamberlain

    26. Welbeck
    27. Giroud


  29. I can see the 3 signings Wenger wants being Benedikt Höwedes for CB, Granit Xhaka for midfield, Vincent Jannsen at striker, with some young lads like Ben Chillwell and Rob Holdings brought in too. Possible wild card being another wide attacker like Riyad Mahrez or Henrikh Mkhitaryan.


  30. Kosovo and Gibraltar becomes FIFA’S 210th and 211th members – both will be in World Cup qualifying now.

    Kosovo’s inclusion might see a raft of players being allowed to change their national team allegiance


  31. latest score Derby county 0-2 Hull city,

    Hayden is not in the match day squad, but Akpom is a sub


  32. That was some goal to score in a cup final.



  33. Oshoala has missed a lot of great chances, she seems to have all the skills in the world, except finishing, she has shown great pieces of skill and great movement, but has completely miskicked twice when one on one with the keeper.


  34. 32,912 at the Womens Cup final, record attendance for it.


  35. FT: Arsenal Ladies 1-0 Chelsea Ladies

    A well deserved win, dominated the game for nearly all of it. Missed lots of good chances, and Carter scored a top class goal for the winner

    Liked by 3 people

  36. tabs ‏@takeabowson1 4m4 minutes ago
    And somewhere in a Wembley toilet … John Terry disconsolately removes his earrings and puts his suit back on over his kit.

    talking of John Terry, it will be laughable if the BPL bend the rules to allow CFC’s request to let him lead the team out for their game tomorrow despite him being suspended.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. yesterday Arsenal’s Communications Directory Mark Gondella blocked any Xhaka related questions, the journos were told not to ask any questions about him. would indicate that there is substance to the rumors of Arsenal’s interest.


  38. final game day in la liga today, and as things stand Real are top, as they are ahead 1-0, while Barca are 0-0, but there is only about 15 minutes played so far.


  39. Borussia Moenchengladbach got 4th in Germany


  40. Gladbach ‏@borussia_en 20m20 minutes ago
    Now captain Granit Xhaka comes off to a standing ovation. He’s replaced by @tonyjantschke. (83′) #fohlenelf #D98BMG 0-2


  41. Well our former blog-meister had to do a convoluted spin of a spin to paint the boss in a negative light that not even Winter of the Times could match. How could so many of us be so fooled and trusting? Reminds me of that old saw:
    “You can fool the people sometimes but you can’t fool them all the time.”


  42. who do you refer to shotta


  43. Barcelona are spanish champions once again


  44. Positively Arsenal ‏@Blackburngeorge 52m52 minutes ago Blackburn, England
    N’Golo Kanté has what? a £20m release clause?
    So people will be bidding twice that? Right?

    well george I’ve seen one well known blogger suggest that “of course Arsenal should pay way more than the release clause, to keep Leicester happy”, as Kante’s value has risen since the clause was first inserted. Also should pay more in case we want to sign any other LCFC player, either this summer or in the future.
    I really wish guys like this were customers of mine, would make life much easier and of course profitable.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. A5, my youngest lad also at wembley today. He’s text me to say its a fantastic atmosphere and really positive (slightly different to when the first team play there).
    Brilliant result COYG.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. A release clause just means a player can leave a club, however if there are many clubs who want to buy a player then obviously the seller can continually rise the price. This is different to the Liverpool case and Kante will cost double the 20 mil people are talking about.


  47. Six times in eight seasons Barcelona have won the Spanish title – getting a bit like Scotland

    Liked by 1 person

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