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Arsenal – Balance and Composure

 

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A few words from @MuppetGunner

The wheels have come off the bus. Our main focus should be to take a step back from the hysteria and vitriol and try to analyse what is going wrong. I didn’t see the Liverpool game, but saw the Chelsea, West Brom and Crystal Palace games. In between those, the Watford defeat at home on a somewhat unreliable stream.

In the past we were able to point to either injuries and absentees, usually causing an imbalance in an area of the team. If 5 or 6 key players were missing, it was understandable why there was a home or away defeat. Our best players would return, and consistency would be restored. Yes, in the last 13 years it was a top 4 kind of consistency, but I suspect that would be welcome now. What is happening now is difficult to fathom. The naysayers will say this was always on the cards. However, it is surprising to me that after bolstering the squad with the £84 million spend in the summer, we are currently in 7th. We have come 3rd or 4th with savagely derided players, including Bendtner, Denilson, Flamini. We add Mustafi, Xhaka and Lucas, and we appear to have gone backwards.

To consider the new players, it cannot be Lucas that is the problem, as he has hardly played. Xhaka and Mustafi? Could it be that these 2 have weakened the team significantly? It is interesting that when we had an 18 match unbeaten run before Xmas, the fans were purring – Xhaka was the next Petit or Vieira, depending on who you read, and Mustafi was a class acquisition. After the injury to Mustafi, the turning point was in the 1st game he was absent, the 2-1 defeat at Everton, which would seem to point to a need for the player. But in recent matches, there have been fingers pointed.

Could it be more down to the overall squad? It is worth pointing out that around Xmas time fans were generally positive. Usually, prior to the January transfer window, there are demands for new signings. Apart from one or two blogs, these calls were quiet. The 18 match unbeaten run and new players from the summer pointed to general optimism. We were well stocked in all positions, particularly in attack. One significant absentee though, was Santi Cazorla, his last game on October 19th. The absence of Cazorla since late January has been plain to see. A Wengerball continuity player, who excels in tight spaces, is effective in defence, and is able to link well to Ozil and Sanchez. In his absence, our midfield has suffered. Too slow at times, caught out at Watford and at Liverpool and Chelsea largely bypassed.

So given the optimism about the squad, in Cazorla’s absence we should have been able to turn to others – Ox, Ramsey, Xhaka, Coquelin and El Nenny. It is here that we have to pause for thought. How many of these players fit the traditional mould of a Wengerball midfielder, who is able to accelerate at defences and operate in tight spaces? I think maybe Ox, and maybe Ramsey, but Xhaka, Coquelin and El Nenny have different attributes.

Xhaka is a good distributor of the ball, but has suffered particularly in the absence of Cazorla. He has been partnered by Coquelin, Ramsey and El Nenny, but there is still uncertainty about who his regular partner should be.

Ramsey has a great engine, but has had injury problems this season and has been inconsistent.

El Nenny is a good continuity player, but seems to lack cutting edge at the highest level to be an attacking threat. But he offers reasonable defensive solidity.

Ox can take on players, but despite some good performances, has not been able to cement a place in centre midfield, as seen by the recent inclusion of Xhaka and El Nenny. Overall, none of these are yet to compensate for Cazorla, and we miss Wilshere and Rosicky as well, for these players would be more suitable replacements to partner Xhaka. Ox and Ramsey would probably be the best partners out of the previous crop, but it just hasn’t worked out so far. Ramsey has made just 7 starts, with 14 overall appearances. This is frustrating, as we could have done with the reprisal of his partnership with Arteta in 2014, this time with Xhaka.

The midfield imbalance leads us to a team that is largely unrecognisable to any of the great teams Wenger has created in the past. We have seen Ozil drop deeper, for example in the West Ham game, to make a 4-3-3, and some see this as a way of patching up the disparity of the no 6 and no 8.

Going back to Xhaka and Mustafi, if they are in transition, we can almost say the same of Welbeck. He hasn’t really looked sharp since his return, and it looks like he needs matches to achieve a cutting edge. Monreal looks to have waned, and Bellerin seems to be suffering from an ankle injury sustained in January.

Given all of these issues, the imbalance in the midfield, the lack of consistency and underperformance of certain players, the inevitable conclusion amongst a section of fans is to scream “Wenger Out”. They see him as being the man who made the signings, and therefore should take responsibility and go. We haven’t made a serious title challenge in 13 years they say, and this is the last straw, with the Leicester title win pouring fuel on to the fire. I think this is where perspective is needed. We look to finish out of the top 4 for the first time in 20 years. To me, there is a lack of appreciation in some quarters that top 4 was achieved every year, particularly when our transfer budget in the wake of the stadium move was limited. Wenger overachieved many times during those years; in terms of wages, Wenger has only been below par twice in 20 years. History will judge this as a fantastic achievement, and in terms of longevity, it will be peerless. So why is it, that the moment Wenger is below par, all of those fans have deserted him?

The reason is of course that the coveted prize is the Premiership. In 13 years we have not made a really serious challenge. Yes, we finished 2nd last year and in 2004/5, but we were not close to winning it then, or in the intervening years. We know the history, we moved to the Emirates in 2006 and we were severely restricted in budget until the 2011/12 season. The purse strings were then loosened, and we started to spend. Since the recruitment of Mesut Ozil and since the 2013-2014 our net spend has been £216.4m. As an aside, incredibly, Wenger’s net spend from 1996 to 2013 was just £26.6m. How is it that Wenger was able to win two doubles, 4 FA Cups and go unbeaten with such a meagre net spend? Yet, in the period of 2013-2016, we have not mounted a serious challenge, but have won 2 FA Cups. Could it be that other clubs have distorted the market? For example, since Sheikh Mansour took over Man City in 2008, the club have a total net spend of more than £800m. We have surpassed Chelsea when it comes to net spend since 2013, but one has to take into account that they sold players for almost £300m. Manchester United’s net spend since 2013 is £377m, City’s is £408.8m. By any rational analysis, it is hard to see how we are expected to win the title based on these numbers. Statistically, there could be an argument, that we could be among one of 3 or 4 clubs, who would expect a title every 4 to 5 years, but when two clubs outspend us in the transfer by market by 2 to 1, and other clubs are able to attract players who previously would have come to us, I would not even expect to win a title in 10 years. That is not me personally mitigating our ambition, it is just a back of a cigarette packet assessment of our chances. There are 3 other clubs who outspend us by almost 2 to 1 in the transfer market. There is one other who are on par with us in terms of ambition – Liverpool, despite spending £800m on players in 25 years, have no premiership title and have suffered a similar fate to us in 13 years.

 

The naysayers that scream “Wenger Out” assume that another manager will do significantly better, and we will challenge. In my view that is a laughable assessment, unless there are serious incursions in the transfer market. What those fans are saying in fact, is they want a manager to significantly overachieve. Recent appointments of Klopp, Mourinho and Guardiola are showing that even with huge transfer spending (the latter 2), their clubs are not overachieving. Yes, Conte is a recent appointment and Chelsea are winning the league; but in my view a donkey could stand in the changing room and they would still be winning the league. The argument that a management change precedes a title win is disproved heavily by Liverpool.

The focus among other fans is to criticise the board and accuse them of profit making. They may have a point, but I don’t have the numbers to hand. Is the argument that the board are pocketing money that that we should be using for transfers ? Our cash reserves in 2016 were £226.5m. So if we spend that money that would leave us matching half the net spend of City since 2008.

I personally hope that Wenger will sign a 2 year extension. I have faith that he is the person best placed to fix some of the problems mentioned above, and that there are reasons for optimism. We have a core of some very good young players that I still believe in, and we don’t have to sell them, and we know that the current bad run cannot last forever.

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51 comments on “Arsenal – Balance and Composure

  1. Agree with your overall assessment, but I have to point out that we made a very serious challenge in 2007/08, which was scuttled by the assault on Eduardo, and the subsequent decisions of the referees, meaning we ended up 4 points behind the chosen ones at ManU. (The last game of that season, them vs Wigan, with Steve Bennett the referee, is the first time I was forced to wake up to match fixing via the officials in England)

    Imagine if that young team had won the title then. The whole narrative of the decade, with number of years since trophy, lack of ambition etc would have had to change.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Shard,

    Thanks for your response.

    Yeah – I agree. Had it not been for the Eduardo assault, we could have won the title – it was a very good side. Similar woe in 2009/2010 as well – I can’t remember, but didn’t we suffer from injuries then as well ?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. its another weekend where we are well on our way to every result going against us, spurs, city and everton have all won so far. we can but hope that sunday and monday bring us better results.

    Like

  4. Muppet is on the money or, should I say, cigarette pack. One of my constant themes recently, here and elsewhere, is how the market has changed since Wenger took over. Normally he has had 1st dibs at the best talent in the French league. Earlier today I wrote “when Arsenal did well it had at at least three world class players in its ranks; Henry, Bergkamp, Viera and arguably Pires. Can we say that we have the same level of talent available?” Btw, three of the four are French. To demonstrate how inflated is today’s market, even journeymen like Sissoko are going for £30 million. Arsenal had very little chance of getting Martial from Monaco, who is far from the finished product, when United was willing to splurge £60 million. Next year they went even more manic stumping £90 million on Pogba, the nearest equivalent to Bambi on Ice.

    We all know such spending is unsustainable but so long as corporates and money launderers feed the beast it will keep going. Rumors are that Wenger had his eye on Mbappe last summer. Now he has accelerated into a celebrity striker at 19 yo, who thinks we have any chance with Milan and City circling? There are many who will say if Arsenal can’t beat em, they should join em; i.e. the Board should sell out to the Chinese. History is replete with the demise of English clubs who decided to compete in the money race (Forest and Villa I am looking at you). Alternatively AFC can take the Monaco road with a focus on picking and choosing hidden gems in the transfer market while developing and selling-off young talent. Who is best at this strategy? Which ambitious young manager can manage the pressures from the slavering, baying hound who thing we are entitled to titles in this inflated market? Arsene who?

    Liked by 6 people

  5. GL

    Not sure about injuries, but even though we weren’t as good as two years prior, I have a definite recollection of refs playing a part in our failed title bid.

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  6. shotta

    Our sheer valuation would prevent anybody – company, conglomerate, country, from buying us for their ‘ambitious’ project. There are other clubs in London who would be cheaper to buy. I mean if you are going to keep up with Abu Dhabi, you better be prepared to spend a lot of money. But first you have to pay Stan Kroenke and Usmanov, two very wealthy men, enough to get them to sell.

    The price of the last share sold made our valuation something like 1.2 billion pounds? I’m guessing 2 billion would be at least what is needed to get them to sell up. Now wouldn’t you rather just buy …Spurs..or Crystal Palace, or Watford, or even, moving out of London, Newcastle Utd, and use the leftover billion plus to buy players instead?

    I realise that there are LBOs possible that would allow a Glazer like takeover, but that doesn’t help us in our aims does it? Quite the opposite.

    We’re going to have to stay the course on this. No forced sale is going to materialise, and we’re not going to win the lottery again. (We won it when we signed Wenger)

    Liked by 4 people

  7. its been reported that Jack Wilshere left shite hart lane on crutches today.

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  8. Well. That’s everything I was going to say in my column on Monday. Except far better expressed. Thank you for a much needed dose of sanity Muppet.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good point Shard. £2 Billion to go between Kroenke and Usmanov and its likely to keep increasing despite a 1 out of 20 year blip. Plus the new owner will have to spend anywhere in the order of £500 million in transfers over 2 years to catch up with the big three. Not gonna happen.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Good analysis of the situation. I too hope Wenger stays, but confess to being far from as sure as most that he will.
    This has been a very poor season…..a statistical blip …..Cazorla….or a decline, or worse, players not responding to the manager. I am sure most of us on here would assume the former, but the board , and manager will have to analyse things more deeply. Will the board set conditions that the manager may not favour? Will Wenger decide enough is enough, or, hopefully, they will come to the conclusion that things can be put right, players will improve next season as they settle For their second season
    Of course, the season can still end well, but as Eduardo points out, rivals are not exactly doing us many favours these days.
    I accept we cannot constantly compete with the rich kids, but it seems we are falling behind some with less resources. Ref assisted Leicester last year, this year, another ref assisted team, and looking at their fitness and running levels, I wonder if they may be assisted by something else.
    Just going to back the team, maybe in my mind treat this season as the great mans last with the club, and hopefully, wake up in June with things looking much more optimistic, and Wenger and the board set for the summer to do whatever he feels he has to do to improve things

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Never mind the Eduardo assault, what about the non penalty called by Dean? and other decisions following that. I suspect Ferguson still has a direct line to PIGMOB headquarters

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Arsenal’s ismael bennacer’s first senior goal, on loan at tours, great freekick

    Like

  13. Great piece there Muppet, bit of real politique….

    So, we hope we become a statistical blip next season?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. the Arsenal u17 squad taking part in the future cup tournament in Amsterdam

    first-year scholars: Zech Medley, Emile Smith-Rowe, Dominic Thompson

    U16s: Daniel Barden, Tyreece John-Jules, Vontae Daley-Campbell, Matthew Smith, James Olayinka, Mark McGuinness, Xavier Amaechi, Bayli Spencer-Adams, Folarin Balogun, Zach Swanson

    U15s: Arthur Okonkwo, Bukayo Saka, Matthew Dennis, Ben Cottrell, Samuel Okoye-Ahaneka

    Info via @AFCFixtureNews

    two games played today, lost 3-1 to Anderlecht, and beat psg 2-1. AFC need to beat Bayern Munich tomorrow to progress to the semi finals

    Like

  15. I love the meltdown of the malcontents over the rumors that Oxlade-Chamberlain will be signing for Liverpool this summer for £35M, I especially love their idiotic attacks on Theo Walcott with nonsense like – “why wouldn’t aoc leave when theo is in the team instead of him” – ignoring the fact that in the six years aoc has been with us, Theo has only played 15 more games than him, and of course they ignore that theo has out scored ox by 73 goals to 20 in that six seasons, and in the EPL its 47 goals to 9. This season ox has played 39 games and scored 6 goals(25 epl, 2 goals), and theo has played 33 games and scored 19 goals (24 epl, 10 goals).
    Also the notion that of course ox is right to go to lfc to play more games, ignores the reality that this season he has played more games than lfc have.

    of course theo is a boo boys target and ox is a favorite so reality is skewed somewhat.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great post

    Like

  17. eddy, as I recall, they were calling for Ox to be sold at the start of the season. Fickle?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Great post Muppet, and follow up comments.

    As others have said this season is just one of those things that happens once every 2 decades, so no reason to be gloomy.

    I dont see us spending excessively over at least the next 2 seasons, at least nowhere near as the ‘big 3′. So just like the players us as fans too have to keep our heads down and dig deep. If anyone can get Arsenal back to strengthening the foundations and compete with the best in the PL it would be Arsène Wenger, so I too hope he signs an extension. I do however concur with others in saying something got to give, be it a change in defensive coaches or Gazidis being more vocal in how refs just dont have a set standard in how they officiate one game to the next – make that his agenda and take the heat off AW.

    If we do go to Europa next season, perhaps we can take a leaf out of Spurs’ book [insert banned eye roll yellow blob] and disrespect that competition and put all our energies in the PL, as even Mourinho and his boys looked a bit spent competing in both. We’ve seen how concentrating on only that has been the proverbial reboot.

    To end I’ll echo Stew’s words on yesterdays post: “this may feel like a disaster but it isn’t”.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I just feel it was inevitable that eventually the relentless assault on our team by refs, media, thug life (in the form of the Shawcrosses of this world), thug life (in the form of planed so-called fans to undermine from inside) and (with apologies to Mills) the capricious whims of Lady Luck was going to finally do us down. And deep down too many of our team no longer have the stomach to fight against these terrible odds. There are only so many battles you can win after all.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. So much sense in one article.

    If you agree with the crux of it, and everyone should because it’s bloody true, it should inform every opinion about the club- recent past, present, future.

    Even I am guilty of not obeying that principle 100% of the time. My excuse would be that I have gone over it all literally hundreds of times, and can’t write it all out for every last comment I make; but the truth is when you don’t write it all out, there’s always that danger of downplaying the truth about our finances and how they compare to others.

    If you downplay the financial reality, let alone if you ignore it and choose fantasy instead, then any analysis, any conclusions, are bound to be commensurately flawed.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Bit late to read your mature, thoughtful and non-controversial Post, Mr Anicoll, but regardless of that it was a pleasure to read — and you even left an opportunity for my fiend Shard to have a small protest about referees. lol

    I meant ‘friend’ not ‘fiend’ — but you know …….. lol

    Your indirect comment about our Tone, and his ambitions to become a manager in Spain, was undoubtedly true, but a bit unkind; “in my view a donkey could stand in the changing room [of Chelsea] and they would still be winning the league.”

    There has been talk of recent disappointing results being a ‘catalyst for change’ but in my opinion, the real catalyst has been the impending decision by Arsene to extend his contract, or not. [I know it is held, by some, that the decision is just Arsene’s because he is all powerful at the Arsenal, but seriously, if the owner did not want him, there would not be a contract for AW to sign – hence, it is not just Arsene’s decision.]

    This whole episode reminds me of the little boy who saved Holland, by sticking his finger in the dyke – I hope that is the correct word – implying that the whole structure was sound but could have been destroyed for the lack of a plug for 3mm whole — or for those who with for another down home homily – a stitch in time saves nine.

    Either way, it is possible, indeed probable, that a very straightforward tweak to the backroom coaching and or playing staff would put things to rights. Rather than the demands for the sacking of Rome/Arsenal because there wasn’t enough bread.

    Anyway, it’s Easter Sunday, and I cannot get overexcited by some of the downright unpleasant comments made by certain fans — and that is true even if it was not Easter. lol

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Foreverheady

    I don’t think I’m contradicting my last comment (about financial realism) if I agree with you there.

    I watched a few minutes of City yesterday and saw Aguero win a free kick of the kind Ozil has only won a handful of times in four years- hand on the shoulder, lets go, player falls or looks to ref.

    Throughout the rest of the game earning free kicks like that is extremely common. Messi and Ronaldo for instance get them 80 or 90% of the time. Ozil, here, must be under 10%.

    Soon after, Mcmanaman lamented a couple of times that this- ‘touch, fall, free kick’- is the way of football now.

    The ref was the bastard who did our West Brom game a few weeks back.

    Once on Monday, the commentator even mentioned it directly, with great scorn : defender had been grabbing Ozil, as they do any time they’re close enough; Mesut forlornly looked to ref and lost ball; commentator, Smith I think, said something like ‘look at him; he wants the free kick but he’s never ever going to get it for that’.

    I’ve no idea how the players heads aren’t even more messed up by it, especially when considering the normal reaction in football when a team is fouling you and a ref is permissive is to try fight back directly in kind. That option is denied us, and where the hell does that leave you? Of late, the answer seems to be incredibly demoralised should we have gone behind

    Liked by 4 people

  23. Not me Henry – Muppet – though I agree a formidable piece reflecting on the AFC landscape this day.

    Like

  24. Apologies to Muppet — not sure I have had the pleasure, so to speak.

    Thank you Muppet – you are in good company with Anicoll and Steww. lol

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Great point Henry B, think we need tweaks more than mass change.
    Think your point about backroom staff is interesting, and one I would agree with …..so far, this has not been a good season, and purely from a PR if not sporting reason, Wenger might have to give something to ease his signing on, should it happen. Backroom staff may be decent starting point.. …many have have been here a long time, and of course without knowing their day to day running a of the club, I am sure it is not beyond the bounds of possibility at least a freshen up may help us along. From the outside looking in, it seems to me at least there are grounds for improvement with our defending, injuries, and maybe even, the goal keeping dept. maybe bring in a few heroes of the past, stir things up a little, appease some fans, maybe even players for all we know. And, surely a decent DOF, maybe an Arsenal man could really help our transition when the manager does leave.
    Yes, could work, the problem is, would the man himself be willing to accept what he may regard as outside interference from non footballing types on loyal staff? Personally, I have my doubts, and that is why I am less optimistic on Mr Wenger staying than some, but we shall see.
    But, the fact remains, unless the club use its powerful, influential CEO to rein in the PGMOL and get the team a level playing field, changes in staff at any level may prove useless. The club could do with being a lot less accepting on the standard of refereeing, i doubt we have seen the last of it …. just how bad does it have to get?

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Mandy

    You gotta try laugh at it sometimes though. Just watched Moss deliver what can only be described as a loving talking to for Lucas after a pretty wild lunge.

    Seen it so many times from him where he talks to player’s with that ‘like me, love me’ placatory look on his face, full of hand gestures to players who only give a shit about whether you book them or not; whereas I’d bet if you watched him against us (a) he’s never given us a talking to when he can book and (b) his face when dealing with us rarely if ever carries a trace of that obsequious friendliness.

    He had the grimmest face imaginable when he had to give us that pen against Burnley.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Liverpool should be 3 up against a feeble Baggies – hopefully the curse of Pulis will fall upon them.

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  28. Even Mignolet has looked decent so far – ridiculous I know

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  29. Are any results going to go our way….ever…again?

    Liked by 3 people

  30. An annoyingly routine win for Liverpool in a game I expected them to find difficult. Very little quality on show but enough to fend of the Baggies. I could just about live with a similar scruffy win at Boro tomorrow night.

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  31. Neville making a big thing of Cahill helping up Lingaard during Utd attack just before 2nd goal. Managing to miss obvious fact Cahill was initially angry with player for his latest wimpy dive and then appeared to abruptly stop himself.

    Strange incident but very typical of Neville to appear to be commenting on game in a forthright way while actually leaving out things he can clearly see.

    Cahill’s little moment feels typical of Chelsea not knowing how dirty to play it on day. Same player stood off Rashford a few times, once by corner flag, when you just know he’d be looking to fly in on Sanchez in same situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Just got back from the US, where I’ve been able to read but not comment for some reason (I blame Trump). So I like to say the quality of this blog remains very high with George, Steww, A5, Andrew, Shotta, and Muppet all doing brilliant pieces over the last couple of weeks ( I think I’ve missed someone so if you post while I’ve been away you’ve been brilliant too. The reliable quality of the discussions are great as well especially when so many are running around abandoning ship like we have just hit an iceberg.
    So although this could be an awful season compared to the last twenty as this is a positive site it’s worth remembering what is unlikely but possible.
    We could in theory still get to 78 points and a high goal difference and win the F.A. Cup. If we then factored in the spuds losing 3 games, drawing 1 and winning two there would still be a chance we could overhaul them on GD.
    We would then require pool to drop 3 pts, manure to drop 3 and city 4.
    So there you have it second place and an F.A. Cup not a bad season eh.

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  33. Sours or Chavs for the title? So what is the view of PA?

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I don’t care who wins it if we don’t. but the meltdown will be epic if its Spurs. So Spurs, for me, I love a good meltdown

    Liked by 2 people

  35. May the best team win – and in spite of the claims to the contrary the team that finishes top after 38 games is the best football team that season in England

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  36. Cech and Koscielny in full training today, but Welbeck missed out through injury, will be assessed tomorrow to see if he can be involved v boro

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  37. what’s this about spurs going to win the league, is there two league titles, as chelsea won the bpl months ago, did they not.

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  38. Chavs this time. There are enough sticks to beat Wenger with, without two teams in a row winning the league with lesser resources than Arsenal.
    But it seems that the powerful, athletic, thuggish,and cheating are ones succeeding…wengers game sadly is not.
    I am still hoping, but just want this horrible season to end, not sure it is in reality going to get a lot better either.
    In 2017, that everything that can go against Arsenal is doing just that.
    Sorry for the pessimism, there is still the FA Cup, but that will be against teams, and most likely referees who we are not doing so well against this year.

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  39. No! No ! Not the Chickens…calling St.Totteringham, calling St.Totteringham…

    “ST.TOTTERINGHAM’S confrontation with a ghostly apparition and the tragical historie of Dr.Faustus Chicken Spude” in 1 Act. Second folio.Non Inferiora Secutus.
    Dramatis persone:
    Anon, a ghostly Chicken, all froth and whine.

    St.Totteringham, a saint of excellent style and infinite skill.

    Actus Primus. A cold night in mid May (black-thorn winter).

    Enter the Chicken (moaning and frothing):

    “Ooohhhh woe is me! Ooohh poor me! Trapped in anger ever thus and crushed by memories six and fifty years past, few save the longe beards can recall such was the last, oh! my kingdom for a coop of wire and wood,of bird feed greene and goode! Yet my eye are but also green with anger and jealousies! Ooooohhh the winde mills of my mind!Usurped we can ever see by the Cannon! Our country lanes were infected, what art thou Fortuna? Fickle!Fickle!Fickle! Or non existent?We were here first! What foul perfum`d Wool-rich southern winds have blown these usurpers upon our country woods and by their folly erected theatres of beauty and others I can but only decry! Even a station was named after them thereby! Oh woe is me, woe woe!Hubble bubble boil and trouble!Ohhhhhhhh forced to wear the horns!Le corna capite!Ohhhhhh”.

    Enter St.Totteringham:

    Stay illusion!What? Art thou known to Mephistopheles?What kind of strappado is this,such taxation?Art thou free of self bounty or purely here to venew unbarbed?Or art thou a grobian of the pullum familias that cometh from the yonder forgotten corner of woods,that they call the Middle Sex Coop?For thou art not of the citie surely?I often thought a Cooper was a man that maketh barrels for fermented wine, not some frothing beaste of torment and whine.For by my leave, there are many a strange fire-side tale from such uncouthe regions,for it is often said that out there in the chlorophyll`d country the swing-buckler folk there doth worship from the Newe Worlde that tis often called Americae, an unnatural base worke; the potatae. Or Spude as tìs known by those who knoweth such things and by which they too are called such and such.Art thou what is named a Spude?
    What strange musings are these musings upon? Art thou the haunted strange creature from the country chicken lagoon? Or washed upon these Positive shores from the darkest vapours of night and cursed to perform as a Chas and Dave midnight masque until dayes first light or finally purged of thy sins?
    Of such Troubadours I have heard,uttering songs that sound like a fowl turd!I have heard of such apparitions indeed, seen upon country lanes well within the deep dark velvet hours by travellers lost and in need! Tis strange indeed to behold such an apparition, to consider such country matters!Repent oh torn spirit! Repent!Begone!He that weareth the statute cap of the chicken shall reek ever more of the odours of the Coop, cursed with blots and stains and breedeth only a stench hence, all noise and uppity.
    Good Sirrah, take my advice and change thy Lily livery to red and white,tis but only wise!
    Repent!Repent! Thy memorie is steeled with bygone days, memories abased in an alchemical black and white haze,and thence never to gold or silver find, thou art fogged and lost in the mercurial mists of time, when Helen of Troy had blesséd the earth with her beauteous gaze and set sail a thousand ships and cursed, the West Ham quite rightly to the lower depths. Hath thou still tears for salad days long hence gone,back in the year ’61? I see that it rankles in thy mind,he that you call Judas, but knoweth he could but retire to win our purpose,and tis often colic for thee I can but imagine, it plagues thy mind, so lust doth play! Think therefore not on such matters and knowe that while with us he was but very a happie winner of Cup and league and Invincibility!
    Farewell, thou lob of spirits,I’ll be gone! Repent! Repent! I, St.Totteringham and these Positively goodly souls,doth beg thee repent!- before its too late for thy soul and thou art for ever cursed to worship the Chicken,ever hoping for a new amphitheatre and pondering like Achilles the plough-man, that hath lost his sweat and the green corn, to dreamily wonder up at the very vastly canopy the earth and search by thi`stars of heaven and question whence the named of foregone years was never to be incorporated whence, and yet tis thine own thought that maketh torture hence!
    To temper these questions tis folly and a foolish ship to put to the winds of memorie, and tis but for the learn`d men that pour over fustian books forsaking the fires of winter to knowe, but foregone names shame us not, but tis more amusing and would take much more than verbal utterances to make such cut-works upon our guts!I have heard tis often winter in the land of chicken and affecteth the mind so beyond the help of any apothecary to be found here,there or anywhere.Tis true?
    Yet we urge thee while pondering this too, think on, one Dr.Faustus!Yes he of Wittenberg, a fool! He too followed the Chicken.A cock-a doodle do! Hark his cries as yet in the lower coops of Dantés Coop`d-hell!Hark! He too pondered the crowing cock,and twas tempted by the Coopers lust for power and footballe of the white- socke, and hath forever since suffered like a severed capon upon a fiery twiggen landscape of rocke,where hence candle and bell could no longer make haven! Repent!Think on Faustus trapped in a Coop of his own making, forced by day to read at no sovereign leisure again and again, certain tomes by writers of their empty histories and siege, tales of yore and bore, forevermore, too study only engravings of failings in the Europa League!
    Such folio’s that also conjure gladly,nylon- trouser flared,sideburn,tabbacco,stacked shoe,and greasy fare,not even to mention ye olde budgie hair, are but trophy-wise,wafer thin?!Not even fourth,as a look-in!
    Look ye not at such foul-belched ways of beak and feathers!Cast thy eye not upon such workes, tis folly!.Tis true, the master Doctor hath no idea what fowl thought were bak`d in the pie whence tempted by the strange ways of Haringey and lured by sweet lies of “shift and power” whispered in northern parts by many a nefarious towne crier.
    “Curséd am I” Faustus cried to the night sky, “for I should have followed the Cannon,Gun and dear old Holloway!”His mind thence was poison’d evermore, swimming in a torment of poor sporting,jealousies and rages and plagued by the lurid ways of the seven deadly sin sisters,forced to watch abased games day after day except where the pungent fumes of gunpowder put paid!”Look at that! Look at that!”said Les Mots, son!Repent I tell thee!

    Repent!Sirrah,I implore thee! O curséd spirit release thy self from the mad-bred ways of the Lane, the Spude and the chicken beaste,and forget thy pain, learn from Dr Faustus,and an Arsenal fan become,the way of the Cannon and the Gun! See him again before thee, cursed to a cooped up hell of torture!Behold his cries for clemency, as he is thus forced to recall Chrissey Waddles hair, all mullety!

    Tis enough for anyone cursed or not think ye not of Lily white and all that froth!
    But come, lay down thy tattered and torn feathered shirt of white, and cast not thy beady greenéd- eye upon thy neighbours and singeth under the moon and stars with Saint Totteringham, for I am he!And come, let us sing a Friars canto mallimaufry :”chick, chick,chick, chicken, lay a little spude for me its happened again after Easter, and you’ll never catch Chelsea, oh chick, chick, chick chicken lay a little spude for me”…
    But Hark! The dawn cometh ! The drums must sound and the shall cannons roar, as we call Chelsea to stunt thy claim to the throne! Begone oh fowl apparition! Gramercy for the dawn! Begone to thy coop and darken these skies no more! For merry making must we and thou must from this place fly!Begone!
    But if I, and these here Positive Angels of Islington have offended,think but this and all is amended, that you have slumbered here while these words did appear,and I ask good folk do not reprehend, for if you pardon you will mend. And as I am honest Gun, if we have somehow unearnéd this here very sun, now to escape the chickens tongue,we will make amends long,else a liar the Gun you call, and goodnight unto chickens one and all!

    Adieu!

    Chicken: “Oooohhhhh, woe is me,oooohhh we were here first!Oohhhhhhhhhhhh woe is me curséd to thought of Perryman and former memorie”.

    Exeunt.

    Liked by 3 people

  40. Testing am I consigned to the bin

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  41. Tony Adams first game in charge of Granada ends in defeat

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  42. Apparently, we have Anthony Taylor for tomorrow’s game. Joy.
    Haven’t the PGMOL dished out enough ?
    Wonder if Wenger will swear at him again.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. good god, there are now AFTV t-shirts, you can get one with your favorite character on it, i kid you not. what kind of special needs would you need to be to buy one.

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  44. mandy its a disgrace the club accept this shit from the pgmol, what kind of whimps have we in power at the club. could you imagine jose or sir red nose before him, taking it lying down, Arsenal don’t just take it, they bend over and assume the position.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Eduardo…..have to say, I don’t get the clubs lack of action, at all. Our refereeing has been , for the most part, pretty shocking this year. Atkinson vs West Ham….the west Brom game….palace….FFS….Cannot see other teams putting up with it, don’t think execs from the past would have done either.
    Always had a theory that the club wouldn’t rock the boat for fear of costing them a top four place…well this year is going to put pay to that. Don’t think it is the manager either, he is not shy on expressing his disgust at some of the refereeing. Doubt if Stan really gives a shit……maybe unfair, but can only put this down to others……maybe the media are correct, there are closet WOBs on the board! …..ok I jest…hopefully…but baffled nonetheless.

    Liked by 2 people

  46. Amazing Ed…Troopz on a T-shirt. Brilliant. Used to have Led Zep, the Who, Specials , Che G…though I refute his politics, The Cure and those sort of people on my shirts…..great to see modern culture has evolved to worthy role models being immortalised on cloth.
    Can we mere mortals be superimposed on those AFTV shirts…..Man Like Ed……or even Man Like Mandy?

    Liked by 1 person

  47. mandy i don’t think wenger makes enough of a fuss over the refs, compare how wenger reacts to it in pressers to that of jose or sir red nose

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  48. Don’t think Wenger has the clout of either …..with the FA or EPL…..or clearly UEFA
    I think others in the club, with wider influence should do more……Wenger just gets fines or bans whenever he opens his mouth.
    We know the answer to better ref treatment…..bring in Eddie Howe… But will pass on that one
    Would love to know if it’s Wenger, the club, or both they have it in for .

    Liked by 2 people

  49. Muppet: I just learnt on twitter the Chinese have bought Milan for £0.5Billion but its doubtful they can afford spending big on new players. Btw Arsenal will cost at least £2Billion (thanks Shard). https://www.forbes.com/sites/bobbymcmahon/2017/04/16/the-new-owners-of-milan-promise-to-build-the-future-but-could-it-be-worse/#10dade2e6b47

    Interesting how Milan did what the WOBs advocate; overspend to win things (great teams, great players, 5 champions league titles) but it eventually went pear shaped and they had to sell their best players as the club went bust.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Does anyone realise the awkward fixture list Arsenal are imposed upon.
    We are the only team to have played 3 matches less and still get a monday night fixture while the other teams play on weekends putting undue pressure on the players and the manager.It seems that the Anti Arsenal agenda has its roots extending beyond FA FIFA PGMo Bbc sky etc.

    What a farce.

    Liked by 3 people

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