Thank You Arsenal 1st Team, We’re Moving On Up



Arsenal 1st Team
Arsenal Football Club
Highbury House
75 Drayton Park

 Hi Guys,

I won’t be presumptuous. In the unlikely event any of you saw my open letter last week, either through the Arsenal media office or through your PR person, you may be aware that many of us Gooners have not given up on the season and are anxious to convey this to you. With 17 games to go, despite the usual nonsense from journos in mainstream media and the self-appointed experts in blogs and on twitter, an eight (8) point gap with Chelsea is not insurmountable.

I spent a lot of time in my last letter showing in the 1997/98 season, after New Year’s Day, Arsenal was dead and buried, in 5th place, 12 points behind Manchester United:

Club P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Man United 20 14 4 2 47 13 34 46
Blackburn Rovers 21 11 8 2 38 21 17 41
Chelsea 21 12 3 6 46 21 25 39
Liverpool 20 11 4 5 36 19 17 37
Leeds United 21 10 5 6 30 23 7 35
Arsenal 20 9 7 4 35 23 12 34

By the end of the season Arsenal had made up the difference to beat United to the title by one solitary point:

Club P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Arsenal 38 23 9 6 68 33 35 78
Man United 38 23 8 7 73 26 47 77
Liverpool 38 18 11 9 68 42 26 65
Chelsea 38 20 3 15 71 43 28 63

A win against Leicester in late December 1997 was to be the start of a remarkable 48 points from 18 league games. You should take hope that yesterday’s win against Swansea is the start of a similar run by the class of 2017.

I would suggest that you face an equal if not slightly less of a challenge than the class of 1998. As of the completion of round 20 on January 4, the table read as follows:

Club P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Chelsea 20 16 1 3 42 15 27 49
Liverpool 20 13 5 2 48 23 25 44
Tottenham 20 12 6 2 39 14 25 42
Man City 20 13 3 4 41 22 19 42
Arsenal 20 12 5 3 44 22 22 41

That is only eight (8) points, compared to 12. Some people will try to convince you that things have changed; this time it is different because Chelsea have spent so much money on quality players. Bollocks. Let’s rely on the words of the Boss, when he described the competitive environment of 1997-98:

“I soon realized when I came to Arsenal that teams raise their levels when they play against us. I would watch opponents on video tape and then see a completely different performance when we played them because Arsenal is such a big club and other sides badly want to beat us.”

This was the exact scenario in Saturday’s match vs Swansea. In the first half they came at you with guns blazing, similar to Bournemouth in the previous PL game. But you guys reacted beautifully. Soaked up the pressure, limited their chances, gradually took control of the game, hit them on the counter and score goals repeatedly. Four (4) goals on the road and a clean sheet to boot. As the Boss said you were “relentless” to the end.

As most of you guys know from experience, things can change very quickly in football. In one round of matches, after 21 games, Arsenal has moved from 4th to 5th, snapping at the heels of  both Liverpool and Tottenham who at 45 are only one point ahead. Trust me, none of those two teams immediately above us have the depth in quality players as the Gunners and sooner or later the cream will rise to the top.

Despite the margin of that victory over Swansea, the usual infantile, barely literate gaggle of ex-pros who pose as unbiased pundits in mainstream media were doing their best to belittle your chances. Now most of them, you think, having played and suffered against the Arsenal, would be intimately knowledgeable of recent 20-year history under Arsene Wenger.

  • Arsenal has finished an average of 3rd; no other club except Manchester United has a better average.
  • No other team has a better absolute deviation from their average league position than Arsenal at 0.985, meaning that on the average the club’s position will deviate by less than 1. United is the next best at 1.28.
  • All other big -6 team have in 20 years finished lower than Arsenal; City fell away to as low as 47th, way down into the 3rd
  • Arsenal has never finished less than 4th.
  • Arsenal has never finished below Tottenham

Yet last Saturday, after you guys hammered Swansea, Paul Scholes, Owen Hargreaves and Robbie Savage came up with the lame trope that the top-six is more competitive than ever and Arsenal will fall out of the top-four. From the mouth of Scholes on BT Sport:

“I’ll go for Tottenham and Arsenal, fifth and sixth,

“Because I think the other teams are better than them.

“Simple as that, yeah.”

Knowing as we do the unbiased data of the past 20-years, this is truly the opinion of a simpleton, yeah.

Savage is no better:

“I’m going to say Man City because Man City fans absolutely love me and I’m going to go with Scholesy, Arsenal.”

Equally a part of the blind, stupid herd was Hargreaves:

“Yeah I don’t think Arsenal are going to make it this year,”

Those of us on the western side of the pond are similarly afflicted by this mindless punditry by, of course, ex-pros from the English game. We had to put up with the two Robbies of NBC-Soccer (Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe) who discounted your demolition of Swansea and kept bigging up Spurs as title contenders. These are guys who played for clubs which in their day were regularly thrashed by Arsenal. Uhm. Do you see a pattern here?

(A friend of mine on twitter (The Big Apple@lagrossepomme) described this as “Pret-a-Porter” analysis, meaning ready to consume, standardized opinions-analyses that follow the same narrative.)

Like us fans, you guys must be wondering how silly these guys feel when, less than 24-hours later, their favorite team Manchester City is routed 4-nil by Everton, giving another shambolic display of defending. How bad was it? The Toffees had 4 shots on target; all of them scored. As for league position, the only team that moved up and into the top-four  over the weekend was The Arsenal. Ouch!

There is still a long way to go in this season but there are hopeful signs. As someone noted on twitter:

” Xhaka/Ramsey pivot have played 312 minutes together we’ve scored 13 (one every 24 min.) 2 against.”

In my opinion, while this is a small sample size it is a good omen. I am sure you guys will build on that. With Santi looking set to once again go under the knife, Elneny at the AFCON until late January and Coquelin recovering from injury, Rambo and Xhaka will simply have to grow up in the heat of battle. You all know they can’t do it alone in central midfield. Teamwork is essential to overcome any weaknesses in our set-up. Fortunately you are a stronger group than last year. At the same time last January you had to depend on good old Flamini (god bless his pointy-shouty efforts) while Elneny was feeling his way into the league.

Have no fear, Chelsea is due their run of bad games. Every club has a dip in this Premier League marathon of a season.  Based on the data, if the injury gods can rein peace on us, you the class of 2017 will make this a real title-race. I am convinced of this, especially because you are under the leadership of the greatest manager in the league, whose been there, done that.

Up The Arsenal!

Positively yours

@shotta_gooner, The Contrarian

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162 comments on “Thank You Arsenal 1st Team, We’re Moving On Up

  1. One way of explaining it


  2. The Tottingham dilemma

    1. They are a shockingly poor club, the paradigm of footballing failure, for whom no self respecting Arsenal fan can feel anything but pity.

    2. A decent and improving football club of considerable potential that we should maintain a respect for and celebrate 20 years+ superiority over.

    3. Fuck Spurs – I hate them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I suppose I veer between the three

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Ode to a Spursy Urn

    Spurs are shit, shit Spurs, that is all you need to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I seen an interview with former gooner Issac Hayden, where he says when at 18, just when he was set for his AFC debut, v Hull, he got injured in training, and was out for 8 months, and by the time he came back from injury he had more players ahead of him, so he know when loaned out to Hull last season that his time at AFC was over.

    I do remember that at the time of his injury, he had tweeted something along the lines of “all set for my big day”
    and Wenger had given interviews talking about his potential, etc. And then the lad was not in the match day squad. Only for it to be revealed a week or two later that he was out with a bad injury.

    It does go to show how quickly things can change, and how injuries can destroy a players chances. Hayden is not the first, and I’m sure he won’t be the last promising prospect who will see his chances at Arsenal be destroyed by injury. I would say many of us could name a long list of players whose Arsenal career prospects where ruined by injury.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. spurs official twitter site today before the game were boasting about how better their current run of form is compared to man city’s, and they noted that they had 6 wins in a row and that a 7th win would set a new BPL record for them. So of course the only result that could possibly happen was for the biggest bottlers in the history of the BPL to bottle it. No new spurs record for this, the latest set of bottling spurs players.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Eduardo, it’s often a matter of timing – being in the right place at the right time. Look at Iwobi. He has taken his chance with both hands, but he was not one of the players expected to make it big at AFC. I also think of Henri Lansbury – big things were expected of him and then he got some glandular illness at the wrong time and never really got back in contention. However, he seems to be making his way back to the top as there were rumours recently that he might be going to Aston Villa.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I see a very odd line being taken by many Arsenal blogs in their preview of the Burnley game tomorrow.

    Its not that we will win.

    or even that we should win.

    No its that we should win —

    EASILY, (by five, six, seven, even more)

    and that anything other than a massive by a big margin is just not good enough.

    What the fuck is that about, it took a late late goal by Koscielny for us to beat them earlier in the season, and they drew 0-0 at old trafford, and only lost 2-1 away to both spurs and man city. So why are Arsenal blogs setting the tone that only a real easy win is enough for Arsenal.

    I expect many on here know the reasons, and might even describes said blogs as nothing more than fifth columnists

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Passenal, you will find that Henri Lansbury joined Aston Villa yesterday. And yes, HL is an example of the sort of thing I mentioned. Ryan Garry, Ryan Smith, the late Niccolo Galli, and even Alex Manninger who never recovered his form at Arsenal after he broke his wrist, are just a few more that spring to mind. Walcott and OX and of course Ramsey, Diaby, and Eduardo were to a point destroyed by injury.

    By the way, I have seen some say, like you just did, that Iwobi was not expected to make it at Arsenal, I would say that this is a big exaggeration, its true that at maybe u12 or u14 there were some doubts about him,(and its my understanding that the doubt about him was that he was a very quiet and shy lad and it was wondered if he would be able to cope with playing for Arsenal), he played for England at U16, U17 and U18, and he was called up to the first team squad as a 17 year old(something that is still not all that common), he was made captain of our u18’s and u19’s, before making his first team debut. It also has to be said that Wenger refused loan offers for him, at the time he loaned out the much more vaunted Chuba Akpom, AW wanted him to train with our first team squad.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. passenal now that you mentioned how Lansbury had his progress hampered by an illness, it reminded me of Graham Barrett, who after winning, and being captain and man of the match in both legs of the FA Youth cup final win in 2000 had his Arsenal career stall when he was diagnosed with glandular fever, losing a stone in weight and spending six-months on the sidelines. And when he did make a comeback he had been weakened and suffered lots of little injuries, which in truth, was the recurring theme of his career. I seen an interview by him, where he stated that medics had told him that his bout of glandular fever was a major contributing factor to his injury record.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sane must want to leave Man City, and have lost faith in the manager

    or those that just apply to Alexis and Arsenal

    Liked by 1 person

  12. so is Klopp now one of those antiquated managers, seeing as he, with his team losing 2-3 at home to bottom of the league swansea, waited till injury time to bring on 2 subs, one of which was a CB who he put up front.

    Liked by 1 person

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