95 Comments

Arsenal Versus ‘Boro: Simple Pleasures

07 04 09

I own one of those portable screens, you’ve probably seen them, they’re about the size of a slim hard backed book and are terrifically clever. One can watch television programmes, read electronic facsimiles of books and play simulated card games on them. As I say, quite extraordinarily impressive devices and I never fail to give a small, disbelieving shake of the head whenever I press the button and the thing begins to glow.

The various functions are controlled by fiendishly ingenious lines of computer code commonly referred to as applications. In order to choose which of these is most suited to one’s need previous users are often kind enough to write a brief summary of their experience, a review, if you like. Apart from being extremely public spirited these reviews are also very useful, but it is neither their utility nor the generosity of their authors which set the wheels turning and prompted these words.

It was rather the nature of one review in particular, a stylistic approach complimented by its content, the character of which caught my eye. The writer simply pointed out how enjoyable the application was, how easy she found it to use and how wonderful it was to be able to employ this particular programme. Concise, succinct, positive and cheery, the author told us nothing of herself but spoke with a simple eloquence of her pleasure at having her leisure time so enhanced.

As I cast my eye down (or rather moved the electronic type upwards – such is the modern world) I couldn’t help notice how different the majority of contributions from other users seemed to be. Self consciously acidic in tone, often little more than an opportunity to show off how much more they knew than than the people who had designed the application; how much better it could and indeed should be. There was an impatient arrogance and a burning desire to tell the world just how clever they were and how crucial it was that their opinions be shared.

There is, as you’ve doubtless already ascertained, a certain parallel to be seen here. An analogy with the world of the modern day football supporter. In truth the self same bombast and self important impatience with the experts is rife on any topic from climate change to cookery. The decline of the football fan isn’t the disease, merely another symptom.

I am these days firmly in the same camp as the lady who was simply delighted at being able to use something called Netflix on her shiny portable screen. I am happy to find the technology so helpful when I want to watch a football match. I’m glad to be given so much information on the players, to be treated to regular expert analysis on the club’s website by a certain Mr Clarke and to be able to cheer my chosen team along in the virtual company of many like minded folk.

I see absolutely no added value in attempting to understand why one season may be more successful than another, and nor do I want to convince hundreds of strangers that my opinion is more valid than theirs. I absolutely do not wish to involve myself in telling the experts at the club where they’ve gone wrong. Until someone can give me a convincing explanation as to how any of this would make an jot of difference to the fortunes of the players on the field or the running of the club I shall continue not to give a fig for such behaviour.

Today I am excited about football. I’m keen to get under way and watch the first match of the day as I travel to the Memorial Stadium for Bristol Rovers epic clash with Oldham. I should get home just in time to settle in front of my computer for the Arsenal versus Middlesbrough game. Whether Rovers have a realistic chance of a play off place or Arsenal a prayer of a top four finish is a matter of supreme indifference. There are two games of football to be enjoyed. Teams and managers lined up in a test of will, skill, tactics and fortune and all I have to do is first stand and then later sit back and watch. I can shout and cheer or groan and despair but I’m only a spectator, I’m not a part of either of the clubs I follow and they owe me absolutely nothing beyond a game of football.

It hurts me to see players or managers coming out with forced public relations statements alluding to them having ‘let down the fans’ as if they are performing solely for our benefit, striving only to please us. We are grown ups. We are able to deduce that their prime motivation is a powerful competitive urge present in all sports people. They want to win for their own pride, self respect and for their legacy in their chosen field of expertise. Pleasing the unwashed hordes in the cheap seats might add a certain spice to the occasion but unless we the supporters show ourselves to be an integral part of any success through unwavering and above all loud encouragement we forfeit any claim to even the slightest vicarious pleasure in the players’ triumphs.

So I shall enjoy the matches today and indeed for the rest of the season. I shall do so happy in the knowledge that whatever the temporary fortunes of my chosen club be they good or bad I am lucky to be living through a golden age where I am able to watch some of the greatest athletes the game has ever produced. I am able to do so with an ease I couldn’t have dreamed of as a child. Above all I shall do so as a happy amateur, a spectator and consumer, not an expert, not a critic and never, ever someone who thinks he knows better than Arsenal’s greatest ever manager.

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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95 comments on “Arsenal Versus ‘Boro: Simple Pleasures

  1. all over the place at the back

    Like

  2. I think I know why Alexis is so poor at passing, he can’t seethe color red, no other explanation as to why he keeps hitting boro players with attempted passes

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  3. traore on for boro, this lad caused us loads of problems in the game at the emirates

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  4. wonderful from Ramsey! And right foot Ozil!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. alexis in to ramsey, he chests the ball down to ozil who fires home first time 2-1 to the arsenal

    Like

  6. Sanchez in a nutshell. Amazing lung busting run to track the player pulls off an audacious pin point tackle, comes up with the ball then promptly hoofs it straight back to the opposition.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. What a gorgeous move from one end to the other. Deserved a goal.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Think Taylor has been way way better 2nd half. I might even say normal and decent. Odd

    Liked by 1 person

  9. would say alexis is setting a record tonight for giving away the ball the most

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  10. all over the place at the back again

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  11. You were saying Rich?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. 89th minute bellerin and coquelin on, alexis and ozil off

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  13. Thank fuck for that.

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  14. 4 minutes of added time to be played

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  15. anthony taylor still being anthony taylor

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  16. steww

    should save all my comments till end, I know. He had been much better tho. That last one on Coq- two even- was sort of thing he was giving Boro free kicks for every single time first half.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. that was typical ox, brilliant to beat his man then no end product

    Like

  18. Rich – it was just ironic, I read your comment and he immediately gave them a free kick after two of our players were fouled in quick succession.,

    Liked by 3 people

  19. FT: Middlesboro 1-2 Arsenal

    the 11 men beat the 12,

    alexis heavily involved in both our goals, scored one and pre assist for the second, and heavily involved in their goal too, giving away the ball cheaply, something he did all night long.
    the 3 or 5 at the back did not stop us being in a panic several times at the back, especially at set plays.
    the ref was a disgrace, but then taylor always is when it comes to arsenal.

    alexis and ox drive me mad, so many great things, then spoil it all with sloppy passing.

    xhaka very good again
    holding calm as we have come to expect, some nice bits from ramsey, especially his calm chest down to ozil for the winner.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Fair play Boro fans (least I fucking hope it’s them). Singing ‘champions league, you’re having a laugh’ and, earlier, ‘Wenger we want you to stay’ . Relegation, surely, for them and feels like they’ve barely given it a go thanks to their ultra defensive approach all year.

    Much more love for teams like Blackpool a few years back, Swans first few years and Bournemouth, who give it a real go, and their fans some football to enjoy, when they came up.

    Seems to me chances are not much different for promoted teams who try attack and those who go all out for defence

    Liked by 4 people

  21. I do not remember seeing Oxo playing a full game at right back before, but I think he was electric tonight. Terrific game from him.

    We were not always in control in that game, and gave the ball away too much, but we could have won by another 2 goals on another day if chances were taken.

    Excellent stuff.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. that win all but secures european football for arsenal next season

    we are 9 off 3rd placed lfc but have 2 games in hand, and we are 7 off 4th place man city with 1 game in hand.

    Like

  23. Steww

    Irony is my achilles heel. Honestly, I’m not dumb, I don’t think, but even after staring at that fucker in dictionary quite a few times I still struggle to understand irony very well.

    Had a clever girlfriend who insisted Alanis Morrisette’s song ,Ironic, was, ironically, she said, full of examples of Sod’s law instead of irony, but that still didn’t help me much

    Liked by 2 people

  24. weve played better and lost recently

    So I’m delighted

    Liked by 3 people

  25. What a horrible game. This is certainly a confidence issue. Sanchez was a liability. He could’ve lost us the game. That was as far away from Wengerball that I’ve ever seen them play.

    Any way three points are welcome. Fuck. I might still get a decent night’s sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. A win is a win. Some good determined performances by our players tonight. Alexis didn’t have a good game, but contributed to our goals and our result. But Motm? These experts seem worse than Jon Snow.

    Personally, my Motm was Xhaka. Such an assured performance from him, even under pressure. Ozil (what a finish!) and Monreal did well too. Cech with a few crucial saves, and another encouraging performance from Rob Holding.

    The players at the end, including Alexis Sanchez (who the camera focused on despite Ozil scoring the winner) all went and congratulated each other. They seemed pleased, so now alabamagooner can be pleased. I’d say we still have some fight in us. But I think maybe more set piece defending training this week.

    Oh, and Anthony Taylor is a brilliant PGMO representative. Honourable to his federation, if not his profession.

    Liked by 6 people

  27. Mark Ramprakash‏Verified account @MarkRamprakash 17m17 minutes ago

    Sanchez as MoM is a joke! The Ox, Monreal, Ramsey, Xhaka, etc Looks like Arsenal are united/trying which will disappoint many!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. OptaJoe‏Verified account @OptaJoe 47m47 minutes ago

    4 – Mesut Ozil has been involved in four goals in his last four Premier League games (2 goals, 2 assists). Upturn.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Xhaka is going to be a very good and important player for us. Think we will start to see the best of him next season.
    The referees are a joke when it comes to Arsenal, hope we don’t see him again this season

    Liked by 2 people

  30. mandy did you notice how xhaka’s performance was totally ignored by the pundits today, it don’t fit with their waste of money soundbite for them to admit he played very well. he must wish he was at man utd and got the leeway pogba has got from the media

    Liked by 1 person

  31. afcstuff‏ @afcstuff 1m1 minute ago

    Wenger on changing formation to 3-4-3: “The first time in 20 years. That shows that even at my age you can change.” #afc

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Yes, Xhaka doesn’t get a lot of credit. But he strikes me as the sort who likes a challenge, especially one he is going to win. He could be a special player and future captain. Takes a while to settle into a Wenger MF, but he is getting there. It seems even the pgmol know he is a very decent player, and have been trying to halt his progress, including one of the most shameful, embarrassing red cards I have seen given. Would have given him Motm this evening.

    Liked by 3 people

  33. afcstuff‏ @afcstuff 20m20 minutes ago

    Oxlade-Chamberlain: “It’s a massive honour to play for a team like Arsenal, you have to give 100% & maybe that’s been slipping recently.”

    Like

  34. Fans were chanting hector bellerin’s name before he came on, almost as if they knew they should have felt some kind of self aware shame about being such cunts last Monday night.
    Good win tonight, sorely needed.
    Team work was good, bar Alexis with only 54% passing accuracy.
    Anthony Taylor deliberately imagining fouls for Boro right at the sweet spot for them to loft in high crosses into our box all night long.

    Liked by 5 people

  35. Wenger on Ozil, Alexis, confidence

    Alexis and Mesut Ozil both scored to give us an important 2-1 win at Middlesbrough on Monday night.

    Questions surrounding the pair have dominated many of Arsène Wenger’s recent press conferences – and he fielded more on the pair after the win on Teesside.

    on what the mood was like before the game in the dressing room – and whether the team were nervous…
    Of course, of course. The players care. When you don’t win your confidence goes quickly and comes back slowly, so of course you could feel even in the way we played that there was nervousness there.

    on whether tonight further proved the value of Mesut and Alexis…
    Of course. But their future, they have still one year of contract after [this season] so I don’t think there is an urgency about that. Anyway, I said that many times. You perform on the football pitch because you love to play football.

    on how big a win that was…
    It was a committed game that we needed to win. I thought in the first half it was tight because they defended very well and we were tested just after half-time because it came back to 1-1 and then we were tested mentally and we found the response we needed and that’s what we wanted. It was one of the last chances to stay in the league and that’s why we never gave up. We were a bit maybe riding our luck a little bit in one or two occasions on crosses, but overall we were a bit more solid defensively today.

    Copyright 2017 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/20170418/wenger-on-ozil-alexis-confidence#hH3FQAV6vwEUUFoT.99

    Like

  36. Wenger discusses back three and top four

    Arsène Wenger changed his system on Monday night, playing with a back three in our 2-1 win at Middlesbrough.

    After the match, the manager explained the change of formation:

    on going to three at the back…
    I felt that we were recently a bit vulnerable defensively and to give a bit more reassurance to the team. Recently we faced many direct games, I thought before the game maybe they’d play with Gestede and Negredo and go for a very direct game. Those are the reasons.

    on whether he felt it worked well…
    It worked well in the first half, we didn’t give any chances away and we were quite solid on set-pieces. In the second half on one or two occasions, I felt we could have been a bit more dominant in the air, but overall yes.

    on it being the first time in 20 years he has played three at the back…
    The first time in 20 years, that shows you that even in my age you can change. But sometimes when a team lacks confidence, just to add something new to believe helps to focus and overall the fact that we conceded three at West Brom, three at Crystal Palace, I felt it was needed.

    on where he thinks this leaves the rest of the season…
    I don’t know. For us the clarity is there. We have to win every game to have a chance to get into the top four and starting tonight. I think we give a bit more, made it seem a bit more serene, you could see that in some occasions we were a bit overcautious tonight and played with situation we are not used to, and hopefully that will give us a bit more confidence.

    on it putting the team in good shape for the semi-final…
    Let’s focus on that. You have a little break from the Premier League now and after the end of the season will come very quickly. Sunday, let’s prepare well for the game. We played City two weeks ago, we play them again on Sunday so it will be completely different because we are at Wembley and it will be interesting.

    on admitting that the top four was gone without a win tonight…
    Yes. Mathematically it is still possible even if it is difficult, but we have to give it a go.

    Copyright 2017 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

    Like

  37. afcstuff‏ @afcstuff 3h3 hours ago

    Arsenal’s record when Mesut Özil has scored this season:

    9 games
    9 wins

    #afc

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Let them big up Alexis. I fucking love it. Just add some extra zeros to his market value. I am sick to the teeth of us easily turning the ball over to the opposition and giving them a chance to put us under needless pressure.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. To Oxlade – Chamberlain: Dude, can you be less selfish please. You could have had at least two assists. It is not about the individual, its the team.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. What the fuck is all the whining at Alexis doing on here ?

    Sounds like a WOB coach trip

    Get a grip

    Liked by 1 person

  41. I didn’t see the game, but it sounds like typical Sanchez, give with one hand and take away with the other. Perhaps his low percentage passing figures are down to him trying riskier passes in an attempt to make something happen? He’s about the only Arsenal player with license to do so criticism free from the fans and media. As for increasing his market value, that is not much use to us if he goes to a PL rival because who will replace him if we have no CL and no AW to attract other quality players?

    Liked by 3 people

  42. anicoll5
    April 18, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Wait till you see the game, you’ll understand then.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Morning, Anicoll,

    Idly sitting here slurping a coffee, I was doing the ‘morning after the night before’ thing, and reviewing the overall performance [and in this instance I am strictly referring to the football] {lol} — and my enjoyment of the way the team were pulling together, and the goals from Alexis and Mesut, which lead to a very welcome win and three points, is still coursing through my veins.

    That said, I made the comment after the game that, despite our overwhelming possession, I felt we were not in as much control as perhaps we should have been given all the above, and I am trying to put a finger on the ‘why’.

    Looking at the broad picture, I thought the attacking players were fine – they got the goals and the points – [I appreciate Giro was away with the Fairies, but limited game time does that to you].

    So too the midfield, with Xhaka showing off his passing skill.

    I am really chuffed with Monreal who put in a lot of hard graft, and Oxo was close to being superb, and probably MoTM for me — how can anyone criticise him?

    Cech had little to do, but managed comfortably, even with hairy moments requiring clearing up central defensive errors.

    And there it is. That is why I felt we were not always in control.The central defense.
    Gabriel, Kozzer and Holding all played well dealing with the Boro forwards — until that is, the crosses came in.
    The missed headers, the confusion as to who was ‘taking’ specific forwards and uncertain marking caused ripples of unease thru the team.

    Why should simple crosses always appear to be our Achilles heel? To be fair these problems with crosses last night may have been partly because of unfamiliarity with the new set up, comprising 3 centre backs for the first time in 20 years. I understand that.

    But there is, perhaps, a much more prosaic aspect to this, [which at 6′ 7″ myself, I may have a personal axe to grind here], but compared with the majority of the CBs in the Premier League, our guys are bordering on being short-asses, with heights ranging from 6′ for Kozzer, to 6′ 2′ for the other two.
    Not small, but lacking in vertical amplitude when compared to the average 6′ 4″ to 6′ 7″ of other CBs and many centre forwards available to the other clubs.

    The solution to the problem, if indeed there is a problem, [I guess not all will agree with me] is for the acquisition of a younger Per Mertesacker/Tony Adams/Andy Linighan/Stevie Bould, all tall defenders around the 6′ 5″ or 6′ 6″ mark — a simple defensive tweak that might make all the difference to our concerns originating from crossed balls.
    Nothing so painful as having to cope with crossed balls in a game, I think you will agree. lol

    Liked by 2 people

  44. New post up

    Like

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