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Arsenal Versus Burnley: Slow and Doubtful

Trainspotting

The problem with us football fans is that we will insist on taking sides. Maybe it isn’t just football fans. Perhaps it’s part of the human condition. I was musing on this during a frosty morning dog walk along the trackbed of a now sadly defunct rail line. Don’t get me started on Ernest Marples or we may never get back on topic.

The town of Radstock was built on coal and steam. Now that it has neither it is a strangely soulless place lost in a modern age for which it wasn’t designed. Once upon a time it boasted not one but two stations serving two separate rail companies. As I crossed from the trackbed of the S&DJR, the Somerset and Dorset or Slow and Dirty as it became known, to that of the old Great Western Railway I did so with my lip curled.

You see I decided some time ago I was an S&D man – the obvious truth plain to anyone who cared to consider the facts was that it was just a nicer railway, superior in every respect. Smarter livery, prettier scenery, more desirable destinations. As I waited for my three legged collie to catch up I couldn’t help wondering where this need to endlessly choose a camp and stick with it arises. It is, on sober reflection, utterly bonkers.

Having a favourite bygone railway and despising its closest rival, this is surely the product of a deranged psyche. Yet there it is. I will argue the superiority of the Serene and Delightful over God’s Wonderful Railway, as its deluded followers would have it known, and I won’t budge an inch. As football fans we too take this approach to the very limit and never doubt the sincerity of our beliefs.

Take Danny Rose. When you watch him play what do you see? The same as me I’ll wager. We see but two defining qualities. Violence and cheating. He will go out of his way to kick his opponent and will roll on the floor as if shot, clutching his face if anyone comes within two feet of him. These twin traits are not the product of a weak mind or a lack of self respect, or self control. These are two parts of a careful strategy, and of a long game. Injuring your opposite number has the obvious potential to make your life easier. Provoke him into retaliation and you have the perfect opportunity to try to get him sent off. The two dovetail beautifully.

Now, go out and find yourself a decent and honest Spurs fan, then ask what she sees and do you know what? She’ll tell you she sees the best left back in the league. Neither you nor she will be lying. How can these circles be squared? How does such an untenable paradox exist? I can only imagine it is dear old Nye Bevan‘s “This is my truth tell me yours” in action.

There is no reconciling two opposites. To those gymnastic centrists able to balance on a fence of their own self righteousness the people on either extreme seem so far distant that they are all but indistinguishable from one another. Hence the feeble minded old cliché of both extremes being as bad as one another. To them extremely good and extremely bad are somehow one and the same.

What happens when this polarisation becomes internecine? Civil war. Strife. Irreconcilable enemies no longer listening. Brother against brother. Friend against friend. Or The Arsenal Family, as we call it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that using this platform to fire my truths over no man’s land at an enemy trench filled with people wearing the same uniform as me hasn’t just become old it’s become pointless. As pointless as picking sides in an obsolete dispute over who runs the best local rail service. I’ve had enough of it. I’m never going to convince them of my truth and I sure as hell don’t want to hear any more of theirs.

So from now on I’ll just focus on the football if it’s all the same to you. It won’t be as spicy and those of you who just enjoy a fight will no doubt find it dull but you can always go score some points off your nemesis du jour to buck yourself up.

Today we host Burnley at the Emirates Stadium in a match which is the beginning of what Arsène described as a “moment of truth”. A pretty long drawn out moment as it lasts from now until May but I think we all know what he meant. With Chelsea in dominant form and the clubs around us dropping points we need to establish a long winning sequence if we want to be in the mix at the end of this ‘moment’.

Burnley will take heart from Swansea’s heroics at Anfield yesterday and will look to add weight to the ‘no easy games’ mantra to which I for one subscribe. I expect the visitors to provide obdurate opposition today. They’ll be looking for counter attacking goals and especially to force corners and free kicks around our area. I don’t expect them to time waste from the kick off but rather to follow the example set by Preston which Swansea attempted to emulate and get at us early.

Get a goal and then man the barricades is a fair approach when playing Arsenal but it does leave cracks through which we can slip. It isn’t a risk free strategy but a more capable side than Preston could have made it pay and Burnley are without doubt more capable.

Expect patient build up and a gradual tightening of the screw until the first goals come. It has become a pattern of late and not one I see changing against this level of opposition. Try not to panic if we have to defend occasionally and remember fast free flowing football is almost always played on the counter – you can’t play like that against two lines of five camped on or around the eighteen yard line.

My prediction is that we’ll win but it will be hard going at first. I particularly want to see Aaron on the score sheet but it would be a brave punter who bet against either Olivier or Alexis getting the goals again today. Why Aaron? Quite simply when he finds his groove and starts scoring he is a force of nature and can be the kind of player to push us up that extra gear we need if we are to win something this year.

Enjoy the match I’ll see you here at two fifteen.

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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77 comments on “Arsenal Versus Burnley: Slow and Doubtful

  1. Good morning Steww

    It’s beautiful, cold and frosty morning. I intend getting out for an hour or two before the game.

    Arsenal are going to win with ease, I feel it in my bones.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nicely done Stew, and it’s interesting that you highlight the loathsome antics of Daniel Rose who will only remain useful to Spurs until the precise moment his reputation catches up with him. He really is an odious, injury-inflicting fraudulent little cheat. And just as Leicester’s penalty-garnering approach to last season has screwed this season’s championship defence for them, so too will the little shit’s prospects become marked, forever tainted by the countless preceding attempts to con the nation’s referees.

    Tough game ahead – but aren’t they all?

    Wonder which way the referee will blow?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Morning Stew,

    A beautiful morning and a genuinely good football game in prospect. Burnley, Claret and blue, Sean Dyche, meat and potato pies and Thwaites bitter, the lost weekend. If our opponents ever find the knack of transforming their excellent home form on the road they would be a top six club.

    It won’t happen today but I fancy a few goals, at both ends

    Liked by 2 people

  4. @Anicoll ” a few goals, at both ends”…Indeed; three for us at the clock end in the first half and another two for the North Bank in the second. Much as I like Sean Dyche (not to mention Thwaites) a 5-0 Burnley walloping will do us all good. Not to mention pissing off the Arsenal non-positives!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I like Sean Dyche he seems down to earth and although he has few resources as Fat Sam and pullis had before him he doesn’t seem to stoop to their level. Although with joey numnuts in the side you never know.
    It will be a hard game but if we are warned from yesterdays results we should have enough to collect three points. I looking forward to some Warming Wengerball COYG.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. An early goal, and probably decent win. If not, lots of rotational time wasting, could be a frustrating afternoon.
    Danny Rose is a cheat, and dirty with it, like quite a few of his teammates. I know one or two Spuds fans who would agree on that, with pride. I would like to think his rep will catch up with him, but it seems his team are a protected species, this season at least. I am not sure why, I wonder if the medias fondness for them might put pressure on the refs, who knows. But as posted yesterday, but unverified, over sixty games for the Spuds without a red card (obviously not including retrospectives) watching them play and the tactics they use, there is no part in at least my logic that can explain this. Add the fact the a,punt of pens they get, can only conclude they are getting a very easy time from officials.
    Still, more importantly, hope for a good day today.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Excellent Stuff, Stew.

    Slow & Dirty. I should have asked before, rather than imagined, where you got the name for the show. My imaginings were sod all to do with a railway line… UTA

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Blimey
    We may have lost Obama as a speech maker, but Stew is just an adequate replacement.
    Good call for a Rambo goal from the edge of the box.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. One obvious point to note about Danny Rose, and also Kyle Walker: look back at video clips of them in the 5-2 games, and compare them to now. They are twice the physical size they used to be, protein shakes? Or something more PED like??

    Liked by 1 person

  10. DC
    Possibly so, but it hasn’t helped either to be able to play football!
    Please refer to: Iceland, the stellar rise in the career of the Zagreb player(s?) since last season. etc.!

    A collection of diving clogging snorting gr*t horses.

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  11. Thanks Steww, a bright sunny day here in London, wishing you all well.

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  12. I don’t know why the British Broadcasting Corporation has chosen to be so supportive and partisan towards the betting cheat J.Barton over recent years, but it’s a choice that they have made.

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  13. My bredrin Stew,
    Another excellent blog that is football oriented but gives food for thought on so many levels. All week I have been mulling over some of the issues you raise as I contemplate my next blog. It will definitely be something about the intersection of football and real life. Two quotations in particular struck me:

    “I will argue the superiority of *******, as its deluded followers would have it known, and I won’t budge an inch. As football fans we too take this approach to the very limit and never doubt the sincerity of our beliefs.”
    And this:
    “I’ve come to the conclusion that using this platform to fire my truths over no man’s land at an enemy trench filled with people wearing the same uniform as me hasn’t just become old it’s become pointless. As pointless as picking sides in an obsolete dispute over who runs the best local rail service. I’ve had enough of it. I’m never going to convince them of my truth and I sure as hell don’t want to hear any more of theirs.”

    I have come to a slightly different judgment. After many years of observing the majority, myself included, manipulated by fear and despair, I discovered from the investment world that the only viable alternative is to research and publish the unbiased data so as to make the right decisions at the right time. There is a reason why the professional Wall Street investors always make money at the expense of millions.

    Human nature being what it is I am under no illusion that data by itself changes minds. But sooner or later we as human beings have to acknowledge reality often on the basis harsh personal experience. My favorite metaphor is the fact that up to the 16th century, at least, most people believed the world was flat. Even more recent, up to the 20th century most of the world believed slavery was a good thing or that the sun would never set on the British Empire.

    Never stop speaking the truth.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Gabby still in for Bellerin.
    The extra height requirement and Gabby’s defensive quality balanced off against the CM pair it all looks good to me. Of course Bellerin is a special player (if you count him as a first team player…) but there’s still a long way to go yet!

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  15. A fairly conservative line up from the Boss.

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  16. Van Diek appears injured for Southampton, came off at 55m minutes.

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  17. Saints 3-0 Leicester
    This calamitous Leicester defence of its title is a searing indictment of the PL & its referees who decided to pick PL “winners and losers”.

    Should be 4-0 if the officials didn’t decide to be generous and rule out one goal which was marginally offside at best.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Arsene is being careful with Hector, there is no way Gabriel is “preferred”

    Liked by 1 person

  19. That set-up by the boss shows he will go for a conservative, controlled game without Santi, Bellerin and Walcott. (Edited upon 2nd thoughts.)

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  20. Kante is a big loss to Leicester but they used to get from the refs generous penalties and their defenders allowed blatant shirt-pulling and manhandling of attackers.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Yup, was trying to consider that the loss of Bellerin attacking down the right will be hopefully offset with the extra height that could be helpful against Burnley

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Or pushing players in the back in the pelanty area when they are through on goal

    COYG

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  23. Afternoon Positivistas. Some speculation as to the motivation for today’s post. The idea came on a dog walk two days ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. watching Jason Roberts on Final Score yesterday talk about Man City and Pep, it struck me that Pundits like him(dozens of them), journos, commentators, bloggers, twitteratti, fans in general, time and again highlight time and again, over and over, year after year, what is the biggest problem in the English game, sadly like Roberts yesterday, almost none of them actually acknowledge the point they have highlighted as a problem, no they pass it off as a merit, something to be cherished, to be admired, nay embraced.

    So what was the point JR highlighted, well simply put he said the problem city were having is that

    “refs in england do not give the protection to skilled players, opponents are allowed be over physical”

    as you can see, he highlighted what we all know, refs everywhere else, working to the same rule book as the english refs, actually enforce the rules, but in england the refs “manage” the games in such a way as to legitimize kicking skillful players.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. disgraceful that no foul given for that on giroud – “old fashioned clean out tackle” says the commentator, someone needs to tell him those sort of tackles are against the rules.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. HT: Arsenal 0-0 Burnley

    close but no cigar.

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  27. Some absolutely wonderful football in that half. Loads of chances created, a joy to watch. More please.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. elbow to mustafi’s face, no booking

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  29. Burnley getting away with a lot of time wasting in this game.

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  30. think that should have been a penalty for Mustafi.

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  31. lowton booked for an off the ball foul on alexis

    Mustafi heads home the corner 1-0 to the Arsenal

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  32. Mustafi’s first goal for the Arsenal

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Moss for the second time this season sends off Xhaka, odd that similar tackle on Giroud in first half was not even given as a foul, let alone a card.

    we have 30 minutes or so to play with 10 v 12. come on the Arsenal

    Liked by 1 person

  34. 68 minutes – Iwobi off, Coquelin on.

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  35. 72 minutes – Barton on for hendrick

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  36. marney only booked for a knee high tackle on ozil

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  37. Xhaka! Oh Xhaka!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. marney injured himself with that tackle, and is off on a stretcher

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  39. koscielny has been a bit off his best today

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  40. second elbow to the face of mustafi

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  41. kos and giroud both limping

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  42. 86 minutes – Giroud off, Welbeck on

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  43. how many ramseys are playing today btw?

    what a player.

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  44. 88 minutes – Ozil off, Bellerin on

    Ozil had a fine game today

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  45. going to be 7 minutes of stoppage time added

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  46. we are into the 7 minutes

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  47. Moss was very chummy with the Burnley Goalie in particular before the game. He is so eminently punchable.

    Liked by 1 person

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