Saturday, 30 November 2013

ETM AFC


Another day at the office for the Arsenal; Three goals, three points and a nice seven point gap to see us through Saturday.
Dissenting voices now grudgingly suggesting that the arsenal can, in fact, win the league. Of course we 'can' that's the same for a couple of other clubs, it's more about 'will' we. I don't know but my mantra remains the same as it's been since the start of the season; Enjoy The Moment (ETM).
Our players seem to be enjoying the moment, possibly as a result of not  being viewed as genuine contenders by the pundits of this world. It's always good for team spirit to have a backs against the wall mentality and proving those given to bias against the Arsenal wrong must be a great motivator .
So on we go step by step, winning games, building a case for our title credentials, bouncing back from disappointments and growing stronger. These are the good times that have been a long time coming and who knows how things will pan out but one thin is for sure: all supporters of the Arsenal should be enjoying the moment.
 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

FAMILY AFFAIR


Didn't play great but won the game against the third placed team: that's the mark of a good team, particularly in the context of the second placed team dropping points earlier in the day. Everyone looked solid and when called upon Giroud stepped up. It was a bit like a business as usual result that we had grown unaccustomed to.
I attended with my brother in law and my two nephews and as a result I was in the family enclosure (well placed for goal number one). I found it a strange experience as a great deal of the families around me seemed almost to be attending a tourist event and many an eight year old child appeared to be rather blasé about the whole thing. I remember feeling a sense of awe when going over Highbury as a kid, and a sense of being in the adult world and therefore being a bit overwhelmed.
Times change though and maybe children being more confident in these scenarios is a good thing or maybe its another sign of innocence lost. I'm sure many a family go to the Emirates and enjoy the chance to sit together and watch the Arsenal and long may it continue but for me the whole family enclosure match day experience gave me pause for thought, pause to reflect on how things have changed, how things don't seem so special.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

THE SAINTS ARE COMING

International football breaks things up: momentum, loss, victory and controversy. Going into this break we lost a rather dull fixture at Old Trafford but still retained top spot in both Premier League and Champions League. Those pointing the finger at ex players and missing players were missing the point somewhat. Our season has been going alright: as alright as the other teams with whom we are competing only guess what? we are in the position that they would all love to be in. 

Bouncebackability is the attribute I think this model of the Arsenal has and the facts of the last 38 league games support that. Leading from the front can be viewed as a blessing or a curse depending on your mind set and often the talk is about handling the pressure. Well someone has to be in the lead and why not us. Young players, they say, can often deal with pressure in sport well as perhaps they tend to worry less and throb with ambition if that is the case it is to our advantage that we have a fundamentally young team but with that all important smattering of experience.

Southampton are a good side, let's be under no illusion on that score, but as challenges go its within our grasp to take three points from the fixture. The month of November has been a bit of a pain in the arse for us and the naysayers will be waiting with breath baited to see us stumble.

The games between the Southampton clash and the double header with Man City and Chelsea are all winnable which sets up these potential six pointers nicely and in reality I feel that these two sides are the ones with the most realistic chance of winning the league (coincidentally the two richest). These are the games that represent the real tests of the credentials of the Arsenal as serious contenders, when they arrive we should have a larger healthier squad to choose from so there will be no excuses But lets not get ahead of ourselves, the Saints await and this has been a good fixture for us over the years: let's hope it remains so on Saturday.


Sunday, 3 November 2013

ARSENAL ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS


For the first time in a long while I sat pitch side at the Emirates last night: row 2 to be exact, an interesting perspective on the game as I generally sit upstairs. What struck me was the pace and control of our midfield against a rather flatfooted Liverpool side. At times it was 5-a-side stuff out there as Rosicky, Carzola, Ramsey and Ozil, ably assisted by Arteta, bossed the middle of the park. This was a midfield with Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlaine, Flamini, Wilshere and the promising Gnabry absent and perhaps therein lays one of the keys to our excellent league form. A squad that is certainly on the thin side has an abundance of players in the centre of the park (I haven’t mentioned Diaby as unfortunately his career seems to be on permanent standby).
The back four look increasingly confident and our keeper, one aberration aside, looks to be a proper player now. Giroud may lack the clinical qualities of an Ageuro, Suarez or Van Persie but he gives us an out and has a work ethic that has been remarkably team based, he causes other teams problems and is growing in stature.
Come the final whistle you could see what the elusive clean sheet meant to the defence as they embraced in victory and a defence with belief is the foundation of a good team; these players seem to have a growing belief that they can shut out opponents now.
The atmosphere at the Emirates continues to improve and there were genuine rumblings of content as the stadium emptied at the final whistle.

Questions keep being asked and at the moment we are responding in the league. Those same questions are still floating about in regard to Europe so the next game against Dortmund is another opportunity to take a step in the process of answering those questions with a hearty “yes, we can”


Saturday, 2 November 2013

DON'T GIIVE HATE A CHANCE


For some it’s difficult to talk about other clubs without recourse to cheap insult and slinging of mud. I always feel it far better to look to my own club first and view others with a detached logic. Where Liverpool are concerned there is often a fear that one may (for want of a better phrase) put ones foot in it and have to bear the brunt of outrage: the suggestion being that Liverpool fans, rightly or wrongly, can be touchy.

Lets be clear. As far as English football is concerned there are really only three clubs that have been the benchmark: Manchester United, Liverpool and The Arsenal: that may change in the future but without decrying any other clubs this is the case and has been for a century.

Manchester United, since Ferguson’s arrival have mostly had the upper hand and Liverpool have been in the doldrums for a while, as have we. This fact should not cloud judgement on the historical greatness of either club rather it should fan the flames of aspiration to return to the summit.

All the other stuff that surrounds Liverpool FC seems to have painted them into a corner somewhat and in that they have a uniqueness: which is probably hard for the average supporter who just wants to follow their club. I’m not saying it’s hard any harder being a Liverpool supporter but it certainly can’t be easy at times. Us Arsenal supporters have to put up with bias, ridicule and unsavoury comment aimed at our manager but not the level of cruel and disgusting chants and so called jokes that are sometimes aimed at the Koppites.

I like to think that Arsenal as a club have always been respectful and thoughtful towards Liverpool and that may create a mutual respect between fans, yet I see more and more of my fellow supporters talking about hating them.

My view is this: Love the Arsenal rather than hate the opponent, beat them on the pitch and silence them in the seats but don’t hate. We showed that in Anfield in 89 with flowers and dignity in victory and many a Liverpool supporter appreciated our gesture and conduct that fateful night.


To my mind there is no room for abstract hate generally and as a concept it brings a lot of bitterness. For ninety minutes today I want us to crush Liverpool and I want their fans to leave early and endure a long journey, sad eyed and pissed off. Then again that’s what I want for all visitors to the Emirates.

Friday, 1 November 2013

BACK IN THE BIG TIME?


On Saturday we see the first meaningful league clash between Arsenal and Liverpool for quite some time and it is very much a top of the table six pointer: and we haven’t had one of those for a while. Both clubs are looking to restore the glory years and this season is huge for both of us, possibly more so for Liverpool who, by their own admission, have drifted further from the standards that they once held.

The loss against Chelsea has been and gone and losing is not habit forming if you take losing in context. Losing in the League Cup to a poor lower division side last season is not like losing to the team below you in the league who have a deeper squad. Put simply Chelsea were better and they won because they were better and we made errors. It wasn’t a capitulation or a humiliation it was simply a loss in a competition that is fourth in the pecking order. Don’t get me wrong though, I wanted us to win the game and the trophy but a moment’s reflection would tell anyone that we don’t have the capacity to compete on all fronts at the moment.
Now there are three trophies to consider, two of which I consider reasonable targets and one that I think we are not yet ready to mount a serious challenge in.  

The two domestic honours are pretty much ‘up for grabs’ for the club that is able to sustain performances from the players that slot into gaps that will be made by inevitable injuries. Injury free the arsenal have as much chance as anyone else and looking back to midweek you begin to acknowledge the value of having players like Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlaine, Flamini and  Podolski  available as opposed to some of the contingent on show.


My contention is that this squad, although not as gifted as I would like, now have a resilience, and on Saturday I hope to see that resilience come to the fore. After all isn’t this what it’s all about?  high stakes top of the table clashes. Remember when we were in the big time?  Could this be the start of a return to those days?


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