Thursday, 28 March 2013

ABOVE AVERAGE FC

 
Don’t let the media spin fool you; the Premier League is currently a poor league. A Manchester United team that features players such as Smalling, Evans, Jones, Carrick, Kagawa, Cleverley and Welbeck is going to walk the title (and fair play to them), possibly with a record number of points. The Carling Cup was played out between two clubs that are not part of the so called elite, The Premier League has no representatives in the Champions League, and West Brom, Norwich, Swansea, Fulham and Stoke are in the running for European places. Mancini’s Manchester side are most likely going to take second spot, given that Chelsea are mired in fixture congestion. Tottenham still have the points in the bank but look precarious in their fourth spot.

In this climate is it inconceivable that the Arsenal can’t compete for a place near the top of this tree of mediocrity? Certainly a home fixture against a team that are plummeting into the abyss is a fixture that cannot be lost and with a game in hand is third spot a pipe dream? It is quite literally ‘up for grabs now’, starting Saturday.

The frustration of the situation is that being less average than the rest is may have been good enough. Being less mediocre would have had merit. Being less profligate could have reaped rewards. Showing a jot more fortitude may have resulted in triumph.

Those are the imponderables. What is clear is that we have some games ahead of us that, all bar one, are winnable. I want us to put Reading to the sword. A game against a struggling team with a new manager; that’s something that seems to happen to us on a regular basis, but we have put 12 goals past them in our two previous meetings.

So come on the Arsenal, let’s be merciless and start grinding out results, applying pressure and any other clichés that can be conjured up. Let’s show that we are a bit less average than the rest.

Friday, 15 March 2013

GUNNER WORDS

 
“They (the press) are loving it because not much comes out of Highbury. But keep your self respect and remember who you play for and what that represents.”-George Graham

In these stressful times when all around us are rubbing their hands gleefully and internal turmoil rocks the ship with squall let us remember that players and managers come and go but, many that have served us and competed against us hold true to one immutable truth, and that truth is that The Arsenal prevails. Never, ever forget what a truly great club we all support and love.

“They were at their most dangerous when they didn't have the ball!”-Kenny Dalglish 1998

“We were blessed with a backbone of men with character who demanded excellence from others”-Don Howe

“Sometimes there is nothing better in life than being a Gooner” -Kevin Campbell
 
“I like to let my football do the talking, I'm respectful of other good teams such as Arsenal.”-Ryan Giggs

 
“The greatest one player over the years has to be Liam Brady. He is simply the best player I have ever seen in an Arsenal shirt” -Tom Watt

“I think without doubt that Dennis Bergkamp is the greatest player to have played for Arsenal in the last thirty years, for as long as I can remember” -Liam Brady

“Arsenal have got as much chance of being handed the title by Spurs as I have of being given the crown jewels”-Alan Mullery 1971
 
 
“I would not normally say this as a family man, but I am going to ask you for the sake of this football club to put your family second for the next month. You have the chance to put your names in the record books for all time”-Bertie Mee 1971

"What’s it like being in Bethlehem, the place where Christmas began? I suppose it’s like seeing Ian Wright at Arsenal” -Bruce Rioch

“I have not a single bad word to say for The Arsenal – it is a great club to play for”-Charlie Nicholas
 
 


“Arsenal have won that advantage, nobody gave it to them. By playing fantastic football and by winning matches and by winning trophies, they won that respect that the opponent has for them”-Jose Mourinho
 
“I told my son John that Howard Wilkinson wanted Daddy to play for England. He told my daughter Olivia and they had tears in their eyes as they asked me, ‘does that mean you’re not going to play for Arsenal anymore?” –Lee Dixon


 
“They talk about Bobby Moore and Dave Mackay as great captains, but for my money McLintock is more inspiring than either of them”-Don Howe
"I happen to agree with the bookmakers that Liverpool's progression to their tenth league title in 13 years is as sure as the sunrise."-James Lawton 1989
 
"Thomas, charging through the midfield, Thomas, it's up for grabs now..." -Brian Moore 1989
 
 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

SADNESS AND STEAK KNIVES

 
“As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize?
Second prize is a set of steak knives.”
 
 
Yes we all want and dream of victory this evening but today is feeling like a tipping point for many Arsenal supporters. There are all sorts of opinions and statements coming out on the old Internet/Twitterverse, many views on team selection, ethos, goals of the club, competitiveness, resting players, mental issues, fatigue and basically the kitchen sink of critique. Yes there is the now usual in-fighting and "I've been supporting Arsenal longer than you therefore etc etc" going on but the general feeling is one of sorrow.

What comes across from the majority of comments I have read is not so much anger, nor in fact frustration, more a sense of deep sadness. Sadness at the poverty of the current Arsenal squad. A good squad gives supporters a sense of relief when key players are missing; as an example The invincibles preffered lineup was supplemented by Kanu, Wiltord, Keown, Parlour, Edu, Reyes and Fabregas.

Our goalkeeping squad is frankly not of the required standard and therefore when Szcezny is not playing well, injured or dropped for whatever reason there is little alternative. That also seems to be the case with our most reliable (or less unreliable to be honest)players.

A club and a team has to live and die by the players on the pitch and the players in the squad. If any player employed to play for the Arsenal is not good enough to be in a starting XI then there are serious questions to be answered.

A club can't compete without the correct tools to do so. An inferior squad equates to a reduced competitive edge and that once cutting edge has seriously been blunted.

Competing for the Champions League each year as the raison d'etre of the club's season seems to have been superceded by merely participating in the Champions League



"A.B.C, A-always, B-be, C-Competing. Always be competing, always...be...competing"
 
 

 

Friday, 8 March 2013

SEE YOU NEXT WEDNESDAY

This is the first time that I can remember not having a game because our opponents are still in the FA Cup. Teams like Bolton, Wigan and West Brom are usually in limbo due to a fixture against one of the big boys who are otherwise engaged in pursuit of the grand old trophy designed by Frattorini's of Bradford. In the past it's generally been those interminable International breaks; the sort of a break in proceedings that I used to get annoyed about, but now I feel something of a sense of relief that we don't have a game until Wednesday.


At the moment a break means a weekend free of the current default of supporting our beloved Arsenal, ie: agitated exasperation at the very real possibility of unforced errors and tepid performances, baffling substitutions and gutter press reactions.

Of course the world and it's wife have written of Arsenal's return leg at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday as a complete waste of time. After all when has any team ever in the history of football ever overturned a 3-1 scoreline in the second half of proceedings? I mean that sort of thing has never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever taken place has it? I mean why bother turning up? At least if we don't show i think it means we give them a 2-0 victory making a 5-1 scoreline, which I think is reasonable given the fact we would be conceding at least seven on the night.

Until then let's hope we have pleasant weather for this Arsenal free weekend. In a way a break from the Premier League and all its bombast(albeit for a week)gives us all time to gird our loins for the final ten games of what is proving to be a defining season.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

THE BIG TIME


The game tonight between Manchester United and Real Madrid is a fixture which symbolises what the Champion’s League is all about. Looking at it dispassionately it is a clash of the very best. Both teams, and indeed clubs, have an expectation that they can win the Champions League each year. Both sets of supporters believe that they have a good chance of a trip to Wembley come 25th May.
Our club had a taste of that feeling for a while; we went into games in Europe’s premier competition with optimism and faith. That belief was rewarded with the scintillating 0-0 at Highbury against Real Madrid, the demolition of Inter Milan, the humbling of Juventus and the famous victory in the Bernabeu. Unfortunately those moments all seem like distant memories and occasions that may be a long way from being repeated.
 
Comparisons are always erroneous and Arsenal are a different club to Real and United; history and statistics tell their own story but it felt, for a while, that we had gatecrashed the big time and were going to build on our base camp over consecutive seasons of qualification.
 
 
When a player joins Manchester United or Real Madrid it is in part for these sort of matches, and any club that can offer this (and of course the top wages that go hand in hand with the status) to a player has a hand that is Aces high.
 
It's not any idea of divine rights it's about a big London club in a big stadium, with big revenue not being able, or possibly willing, to step over the velvet rope.
 
It is not envy that I feel about the game at Old Trafford, it is a sense of sadness that the Arsenal held their own in this company and that I find it hard to envisage when that will again be the case. 
 
One day perhaps, one day.
 
 
 


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