Playing The Arsenal Way

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Not sure I have too much to say at our expected European exit on Thursday. Once Athleti dropped down into the competition I said we’d go as far until we met them. Sadly I was proved right. The tie was lost the minute we let in that goal at home. How were we to beat them at their own place when the worst of the Premier League beat us on their own patches?

So we move onto Sunday and the Arsene farewell. There was the obvious backlash after Thursday that everyone needs to go, Ozil is a passenger, terrible wing back play, etc. But I have seen/heard/read comments that Arsene is leaving Arsenal in a worse place than when he found us. Hardly.

Whilst George Graham sowed the seeds, it was Arsene who put Arsenal Football Club on the map. Until Arsene came we were a small provincial London based club, providing sporadic threats to the northern powerhouses of Liverpool and Utd on the pitch and off it too. Correct, Arsene took over after we finished 5th in 1995/1996 and now we will finish 6th (TBC), but Arsenal Football Club is a much better and bigger club now for sure.

Thanks to Arsene he brought a style of play revered globally and thanks to Arsene we’ve had players idolised by millions globally – Thierry, Robert Pires, Freddie, Cesc, Robin Van Persie, Alexis, Mesut, Auba to name just a few.

Yes, maybe we’ve ridden the global popular EPL wave, but I can guarantee that our cannon is a symbol worn and cheered on by many more thanks to Arsene. We play “The Arsenal Way” which is more popular than many others.

Yes we’ve lost our way a little on the pitch but Arsene arrived with Arsenal being a big club in the UK, he leaves us as a global one.

#merciArsene

Arsenal in Sydney

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The end of Arsenal 6.5

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As I sit waiting to go into the house that Arsene built, I begin reflecting on ushering a new era, Arsenal 7.0. This illustrious club has had a few eras:

  • The Arsenal 1.0 – from Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, The Arsenal and from Woolwich to Highbury.
  • Arsenal 2.0 – the Herbert Chapman era where Arsenal were arguably the best team in Europe and way ahead of its time
  • Arsenal 3.0 – the Fairs Cup and The Double 1970-1971
  • Arsenal 4.0 – the cup competitions era 1978-1980
  • Arsenal 5.0 – the George Graham titles and cup laiden years- 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1994
  • Arsenal 6.0 – Wenger’s Highbury Years ushering the new dawn of this club which of course brought titles and cups and the Invincibles
  • Arsenal 6.5 – Wenger’s Emirates Years, transitioning the club into a new stadium, balancing the books, CL qualification and just a few FA Cups
  • Arsenal 7.0 – ??

Today is going to be strange but I’m looking forward to a fan base re-united over the last few remaining games, win lose or draw.

What will Arsenal 7.0 bring? It will probably bring in a manager we least expect, just like George Graham and Arsene Wenger, who didn’t do too bad did they!

    1. ARSENE-AL

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      I’m not going to lie, I’ve been an “Arsene Out” for just over 4 years and as a Season Ticket holder I’ve was slowly voting with my feet during that time, and not just this season.

      I love Arsenal and loved Arsene at the helm. Since the announcement yesterday, the outpouring of tributes to the manager and man have been truly amazing, and they’ve come from all over the football world.

      Deep down the football community is sad. Arsene was the flag bearer of what is now surely extinct, the ‘longevity manager’.

      And I’m sad too. Over the last few seasons I prayed Arsenal would be “successful” again and realise the promise of the move to the Emirates which should have brought us. Not guaranteed PL titles, but guaranteed challenges for the PL title. And I wanted this with Arsene leading the charge.

      With the financial shackles off the game had moved on beyond his football managerial capabilities. In 1996/1997 his training methods, tactics and scouting were revolutionary in England. By 2006/2007 things had moved on and while trying to balance the books,Arsene couldn’t balance things on the pitch.

      I’m not a glory boy and would watch the grass grow at the Emirates if I could but the apathy that I had was down to one thing only, Arsene and the players over the last 5-6 years simply weren’t learning from their mistakes year in year out. We simply weren’t progressing on and off the pitch. One week wonderful, one week terrible, and in the CL I’m not sure we learnt a thing following the final defeat to Barca in 2006. I never expected Arsenal to beat Barca or Bayern Munich the umpteenth time we kept meeting them, but let’s get closer to challenging them in those ties. We never did and it got worse every season.

      For me it always boiled down to the defence. Some seasons we had the personnel to do well but not the system, and more recently we don’t have the personnel or the system. Whilst the focus was brining in some super offensive talent, Arsene simply couldn’t address the major spinal issues that haunted us season after season – a great commanding GK, a great commanding Centre Half, a great commanding Captain, and a great commanding DM. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t easy to find, but other teams did. Their scouting networks (and youth systems) were better than ours, and when others seemed to find them from deep into the French League, you know something was seriously up behind the scenes at Arsenal.

      His other main downfall was his loyalty to his players, many of them past and present have been so thankful in their honour of the man, but there were some who continuously let him and us down. Week in week out mistakes were being made, but through his amazing loyalty these players never felt their starting places were threatened. Either they were being complacent or simply not good enough. This year’s squad need to take a good look at themselves and feel guilty over the few remaining games and play their socks off.

      I’ll be there for the last 3 homes games after missing the last few. It was down to a mixture of personal reasons including work commitments, and that Thursdays and Sundays are generally just inconvenient for me. Being in the Family Enclosure also makes it a little trickier to sell on Ticket Exchange/give to others. I’m not making excuses, as apathy for me had really set in, and I wasn’t busting a gut to go see the likes of Ostersunds or Stoke as I used be, and for me going to Arsenal is a family thing and those around me felt the same, including my son who has been left really uninspired by what he has been seeing. I may have not been there more recently but I watched every minute on TV and have never ever wished for an Arsenal defeat to make change happen. We needed a new injection of excitement and I wanted Arsene to lead that injection, but with our defence, it was always going to be sporadic at best. I went to Forrest away and the League Cup Final, 2 games (+all away games) that seemingly broke the camel’s back for many fans.

      I’m sad he is going, he should have left on a greater high, but I truly believed he stayed because he believed he could turn it around. He loved Arsenal and we all (despite the banners and growing apathy) loved him too.

      The football we played, the titles and FA Cups we won and the roller-coaster CL campaigns will never be forgotten and we’ve seen some of the best football and best players the PL has ever seen. Arsene will always have a place in the hearts of all Arsenal fans. #merciArsene

      Up the Gunners.

      Where’s the learning?

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      As you will see, I haven’t written a blog for quite some time. Just like Arsenal, I’ve seem to have been happily drifting into an abyss. 

      What has caused me to blow off the blog cobwebs now? Well my Twitter feed is alive and well with all my current feelings about the team and manager, but I now have much more to say than I can get in a tirade of 140 characters in dozens of tweets.

      Let me be clear, I didn’t expect Arsenal to beat Bayern last night. But I did expect Arsenal to get closer to them. 

      True, they were magnificent at times, but we have faced them 3 out of the last 5 seasons and countless other top teams in this competition at this stage over the last 10 years and all I ask is, where is the learning? Where have the lessons of each humiliating experience year on year been stored and leant from and being used on at Conley?

      I will tell you where, they are sitting in a nice Arsenal bank account along with our cash surplus, £ms in revenue from every home game, my Season Ticket money, the EPL TV deal, Sponsorship money and CL revenue. Of course it is also shipping out £ms in wages for players and a manager who this season aren’t performing on a consistently and alarmingly regular basis now. 

      For 20mins in the 1st half we showed we could get a Bayern by applying pressure. Once again, what on earth did Arsene say at HT for the team to come out once again and simply not perform just like at City and Everton? In this 10 year groundhog cycle I could at least say that every season there were usually a collection of fine displays which ultimately would account for very little by the end. This season I think we’d all be hard stretched to pick great performances that would go beyond 2 digits on one of our hands. For me only the Chelsea(h) game springs to mind, and how much was that because Chelsea were all at sea at the back. Remember they went on a 12-odd game winning run while we slumped, and they now look odds on title winners.

      I think it looks like the players know he is going and Ozil (another limp performance last night) and Sanchez are waiting till he’s gone before deciding what to do. Both have the right to look elsewhere if they want trophies of any stature.

      Arsene has built the modern Arsenal and we will all be thankful and as we are seeing this gratitude is increasingly, season on season, turning into venom. He needs to do the right thing and decide to quit/retire, tell the world asap and let us fans unite to be really behind you and the team till the end of the season and give you a send off in May v Everton at home in the stadium you built that you deserve. 

      Derby Draw

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      AFC v Spurs

      A North London Derby (NLD) is always special. It’s us vs them, when form goes out of the window and anything can happen. During recent years it is the twice (sometimes thrice) yearly ritualistic time of year when both sets of fans exhibit loud and proud their club’s history.

      For me, this North London Derby was extra special. it was the first one for my little boy. I wish I could remember my first NLD. As it was in the early 80’s there was a good chance we got beat! so I am probably better off forgetting it! But I,like many fans brought up in the 80’s,90’s and naughties, I can count on just about two hands how many times them lot got the better of us. I only need one hand to remember how many times they finished above since 1993. We have been very fortunate, and I wanted my son’s first NLD memory to be a positive one.

      I will repeat what I tweeted after the game – we could have won, we should have won, but when you are 0-1 down with 20 minutes to go, you take the draw.

      We didn’t lose is all I was saying to my son as we came out. He loved it – the singing, the taunts and The Ox’s goal. Once we scored I think he was more vocal than me and all I could envisage was Spurs coming down the other end and scoring a winner. Sorry, that is just my phsyche,

      derbies1

      Only seeing a few reports, seeing a few Spurs friends and reading a few tweets/Facebook posts from each side since the final whistle, the usual double sided views were on display:

      • Can’t believe you (AFC) couldn’t beat our (THFC) pony team
      • You (AFC) should be embarrassed
      • We (AFC) should have mashed them Spuds
      • They (THFC) are bang average, we (AFC) should have won
      • We’re (THFC) disappointed we didn’t win
      • They (AFC) were there for the taking, we (THFC) should have won

      I agree with some of the many comments but won’t get dragged into a verbal war of words – after a NLD everyone is right. I have spent years arguing with Spurs fans, neither ever wins. We are blinkered by our passion our team and not letting either get one up on each other.

      I’d like to think (like a few other of my AFC and THFC friends) that I am pretty down to earth when it comes to analysing The Arsenal and our opposition. So here is my view:

      • We (AFC) didn’t fire on all cylinders offensively – partly down to us but also because (for once) they (THFC) were pretty well organised
      • I’ve always said Lloris is their best player by a mile and he kept Spurs in the game
      • Spurs are average – and we should be disappointed we didn’t win – we probably did enough to do so
      • They (THFC) scored with the one real clear cut chance that was literally gifted to them
      • I am not going to rant about our DM position – but Flamini – dear oh dear
      • I also blame Chesney partly for their goal – why he and the Defence insisted to always play out from the back – we were looking for trouble and with their goal, we got it!
      • I am glad the Ox scored – of all the attacking players I thought he was the most consistent throughout the game and really wanted it
      • Ozil and Jack had pretty good games – shame Jack picked up a knock which inhibited him in latter stages
      • Alexis should have started
      • Danny huffed and puffed in the first half, in the second, I forgot he was still playing

      Overall, let’s take the draw and move on. Beating Spurs is always important, but we have bigger fish to fry this week (Galatasary and Chelsea). For Spurs, we are the cod of all cods and it is always fascinating to see that their three goals for each season remains by the way they celebrated:

      • We must not lose to Arsenal
      • We must not lose to Arsenal
      • There’s a third goal?

      Gap

       As for The Arsenal, there are currently two unbeaten teams in the Premier League.Come 6pm on Sunday, there will only be one and they won’t be wearing red and white. I hope I eat these words next Sunday, but with our naive defence, no defensive midelfield cover, and an average GK at best, we are asking for trouble. But I live in hope. Come on you Gunners!

      Blue Moan

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      AFCvMCFC

      I came out the game today feeling funny. I was disappointed, relieved and happy.

      Disappointed – being 2-1 up with about 10mins to go I think we could feel disappointed, especially at the goal we conceded. Once again our defensive set up at set pieces cost us.

      Relieved – once City got their second  goal, there seemed only one team going to win and they were wearing sky blue. No doubt the Debuchy injury took the wind out of our sales and I was glad to hear the final whistle after City came close twice to snatching the win (header off the post and a disallowed goal).

      – overall it was a great game and 2-2 was probably the right result. Our first 15 mins were played at a high tempo with our midfield closing City down all the time. Danny Welbeck was inches and post away from scoring a memorable debut goal with that sublime chip over Hart. Danny had a good game and was always a menace – exactly what we need. After that period however City stamped their authority on the game and took an expected lead once we stopped battling in midfield and left wide open gaps in defence.

      Aguero had a great game and took his goal well. Arsenal did well to ride out the rest of the half and come in 0-1 down.

      In the second half I think Jack answered many of his critics after a having a great came rounded off by a very well taken goal. I’ve said a few times that Jack is a great player but I’m not quite sure what he actually gives to the team in the way of end product. Today I saw it all – really drove us forward at all times. Ramsey tried to do the same but I’m worried what his wedding and honeymoon has done to him because this season his passing (to an Arsenal shirt) has gone very wayward.

      Jack Wilshere levels the score at 1-1. Photograph: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
      Jack Wilshere levels the score at 1-1. Photograph: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

      A special mention for Alexis and that second goal. What. a. finish. That is why you spend the big bucks. If we go on and have a good run in Europe and challenge for the league, so far his goals and energy have a made a big difference. Ozil, take note. I think we are all delighted with Alexis’ energy and now finishing. I was privileged to see that goal today live. And I enjoyed doing the Poznan!

      Alexis Sánchez puts Arsenal 2-1 up against Manchester City in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
      Alexis Sánchez puts Arsenal 2-1 up against Manchester City in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

      AFC Poznan

      But I can’t end all positive about today. We still struggle against the big boys and just can’t get the results we need. Our soft centre costs us against the very best and we know Wenger has simply not addressed this over the summer. I don’t expect him too in January, so unless the team really work hard getting tight in training, sadly, the battle for 4th will be on again come May.

      A Pane in the Window

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      AFC Defcon

       

      Look, I tweeted some pretty bad thoughts as our transfer window non-activity was apparent during the course of yesterday. This was probably a little unfair as we have done some good business.

      Welcome

       

      In Alexis we have World Class talent and the signs already look good. in Ospina we have the goalie backup we need. In Debuchy we seem to have the ready-made replacement for Sagna. In Chambers we have a young English talent to play across the back and at DM if needed. In Welbeck we have one of England’s leading men with potential.

      But for us Arsenal fans its the case of who we didn’t get, and more importantly, who we didn’t get in key positions:

       

      Arsenal #£$^$^^

       

      For me this was a Summer to show our true ambitions and flex our new financial muscle after 8 years in the transfer wilderness (Ozil apart). It doesn’t mean splashing all the cash on rubbish (a la Spurs 2013-2014) but getting key players in where we may need to pay a little over the odds. It also meant we could get World Class players in so they didn’t go to our rivals and make them better.

      When you see Cesc, Balotelli and Falcao within our reach and pass us by without so much of a whimper – it was disappointing. Now, you can’t buy them all. But Wenger falls on his own sword when he says he looks for quality that can improve our squad/better than the incumbents. To be fair Welbeck is better than Sanogo, surely.

      And despite any misgivings seeing him in an Arsenal shirt for his signing pictures has made me a little excited to see him in action

      IMG_0746.JPG

      Overall, I’m more worried about our performances and Leicester was extremely poor. The only way is up surely.