Something different.

March 5, 2015

Seeing as it has been ages since I’ve posted anything football or Arsenal related, seems bizarre that I’m posting a poem here, but since it is an experiment of sorts, here goes:

 

Literature (or “literature, just kill me already”)

 Byan On

 

Literature is a tall building,

a high vantage point

to get a different perspective.

 

Literature is a knife,

that slices bread chops vegetables

and generally eases one’s life.

 

Literature is a gun,

that can be used for leisure or sustenance

and to defend in dire need.

 

Literature is a drug,

that should be only used for healing

never abused or misused.

 

It is highly addictive, but Literature never kills.

hi ho Silver

May 26, 2014

For obvious reasons I need to start the post today. I hope to finish it today as well, but hope is the operative word here.

Yes, it is the silver anniversary of the greatest football climax in the history of the English football championship. Very possibly as a match itself it is unlikely to be bettered in overall context and significance. As has been said many times, you couldn’t script a more dramatic final and sustain suspension of belief. Better and more eloquent writers have paid their tributes, so I suggest you read theirs.

It is also the silver anniversary of the upturn of our great club’s fortunes after 18 years without a league title. So 9 years without silver …, oops scratch that. So 11 years without a league title, suddenly doesn’t look so bad. But more on that latter, because we really want to prevent it stretching beyond a couple more years.

And it is also the silver anniversary of my love affair with Arsenal. And as such have been doing a little walk down memory lane of my old posts on this site. Hence the sporadic appearance of more words. I told you I HOPE to finish it today.

On a less cheery note, it is also upwards of 25 years since Liverpool were last English champions, though they came a Gerard slip away from crossing the line. Which gives you a more accurate picture on how hard winning the league actually is and has been.

All this gives you an idea of what has been swimming around in my head. Been meaning to write a few post earlier but just couldn’t kick off. Oh well, looks like I haven’t actually kicked off despite all this typing, so here goes.

It’s great being an Arsenal fan! Yes, the FA Cup win hasn’t quite worn off, but it will and it will still be great being a Gooner!

Even if Gibbsy hadn’t cleared that ball off the line, and we had lost to Hull’s 3 ‘centreback goals’, I still would have posted this, though probably not as cheerfully. This might end up being a mash of end-of-season, FA-Cup-Final, Arsene-assessment reviews, but who cares, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I jolly well please. Not that anyone is going to read it anyway.

Or more sensibly I should just stick to a more focused piece on one of the above and let the others be A.P.A.T.

So Arsene it is. I have to admit I didn’t quite expect to see him celebrate the FA Cup win with that much gusto and relief. And I was, along with many Gooners around the world, truly happy for him. I suppose after all his professions of 4th place being more of a priority it seemed a bit out of character. While we will never really know the truth of it all, I feel I need to speculate a little before I go on. He had forgotten something. Not surprising given the siege mentality that had built up.

While I agree in principle, and always will, about the greater importance of 4th, or rather qualifying for the Champions League, I think I had forgotten that same something too. Judging by Arsene and the team’s reaction, the celebrations, the fans’ posts and observations, I certainly wasn’t alone. I had forgotten how good it was to win something tangible. That’s the same ironic reason why a sixth-placed team can experience more joy than the runners-up in the league just below, the very tangible play-off trophy. It makes no sense, but then neither does supporting a football team. I could go on, but really it’s A.P.A.T.

More to the point, we need to capitalise on what this win has done for the collective psyche of the club and use it as a launch pad for greater success, particularly in the league. Yes, strictly speaking it was Georgie’s winning of the league Cup, against Liverpool, two years earlier in ’87 which ended a similar silverware drought, that got the ball rolling. But it was that famous night on a Friday, 25 years ago at Anfield, that truly ushered in the good times – ’91 League title (with a then record of only 1 loss and only 17 goals conceded), ’93 domestic Cup double (first ever in English football), ’94 Cup-Winners’ Cup (Arsenal’s greatest and only single-leg Euro-final triumph).

If Arsenal and Arsene can bring home the league title in the next couple of years, I believe good times will truly be ushered in again. Not that it can’t be done if it is achieved later, but we risk losing crucial momentum. So here’s to hoping the club has a busy summer preparing for just that, and then let the really good times truly begin once again!

I have plenty more to write, but as always I suppose it’s best left for A.P.A.T. So with that, all that’s left for me to say to all Gooners is …

 

Happy Silver Anniversary!

 

This is a first. I’m starting a second post before I’ve finished the first. Well nobody is going to read these anyway, and I honestly think I will finish this sooner, because I think I can keep it short. Hah!

Back to the title of this post.

You can argue there are 3 of them, and none of them is called Alex Ferguson, sir. I need to get this off my chest. Because he has established himself as the greatest British manager by what he did at Aberdeen, and how he did it, and then what he achieved at ManU. He has achieved almost everything the game has to offer as a manger and coach. But there is one thing he repeatedly claims credit for that he has no business getting his grubby paws on.

To say that he was the one to unseat Liverpool from their throne is frankly a bold-faced lie and he knows it if he is absolutely honest with himself. I’m not gonna bother getting into any arguments here, just gonna present the facts as they are.

After he became manager of ManU on 06 Nov ’86, these are his stats: number of trophies won in direct opposition with Liverpool – none; number of league titles won at Liverpool’s expense – none; number of years immediately after Liverpool last won title before winning it – 2; number of other teams to win the title after Liverpool before winning it – 2. I could go on, but it is pointless.

Here are another Scotman’s stats after he became manager at a much less famous and much more under-achieving English side on 14 May ’86, barely 6 months before Fergie: number of trophies won in direct opposition with Liverpool – 3; number of league titles won at Liverpool’s expense – 2; number of years immediately after Liverpool last won title before winning it – none, twice; number of other teams to win the title after Liverpool before winning it – none. I could go on, but ’nuff said.

Real Gooners will know exactly who I’m talking about, our very own George Graham. So if we gonna look on the outside for who wrecked that mighty empire, the only Scotsman who fits the bill is Georgie.

But as we all know, great empires are destroyed from within as much as without. I’m getting into murky waters here so not gonna dwell too long other than to give my two pence worth.

It’s interesting that Kenny Dalglish just got the sack. Being only one of three teams to win a trophy this year. A very sad way to end that once beautiful and special relationship he had with the club. It can be argued he sowed the seeds for the club’s internal demise way back in 1991 when he resigned. He obviously still had it in him, as he proved with Blackburn just 4 years later. Begs the question why he left? Maybe he felt it needed new blood. Maybe he thought he had brought them as far as he could. We will never know.

But we do know that the Scot most responsible for the internal collapse, one Graeme Souness. Again, I’m entering even murkier water here so I will be very brief. A look at the table for the years he was in charge shows just how low they dropped in the table under him, compared to before and after. He completely ripped the spine out of a pretty decent side that was never to be replaced by title-winners again. The fact that many of the stars he got rid off then went on to have very successful careers at other clubs says a lot.

So there you have it. As I said, it really isn’t my cup of tea to stir up painful memories of the fall of a truly great team, so I have been very brief. But I think the facts need to laid out. George Graham from without, Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness from within can all claim some part in the proceedings.

Alex Ferguson most certainly cannot. He did a great job filling the huge void, but played no part in creating it.

Firstly, sorry, but couldn’t think of any clever name for this post, so it is what it is.

Chelsea have just won the Champions League, and that sums up this season and the state of football in the Premier League. What do I mean?

Ashley Cole said at the end that this was the reasons he joined Chelsea from Arsenal. And I am so glad he left. Arguably this makes Chelsea this most succesful English club this season, won 2 of 4 possible trophies. One domestic and the biggest European one of all.

These echo Samir Nasri’s comments not that long ago after they won the title. And I am glad he left too. But this really says something about the state of football.

Before I go any further, I want to congratulate the real long-suffering Chelsea and Man City fans who have waited such a long time for success. I know some who have kind of had their interest killed by the way their teams have achieved their success, but I say to them, it is not your fault that footballers and their teams have sold out to money. Enjoy the success for what it’s worth.

And herein lies the dilemma for real Gooners. Do we want our club to go down that route just to win trophies? Do we want players who profess an undying love for the club and claim to be childhood fans playing for this team, then jump ship and bad-mouth their beloved club “to win trophies”?

Because if we do, Usmanov is waiting in the wings and I’m pretty sure he’ll jump at the chance to do the same. I for one rather we never come anywhere close to what the Blues and the Sky Blues have become. This is something all real Gooners have to think carefully about.

Oh, and incidently, I would argue that we had a better season than ManU who humilated us 8-2. And Bayern too, if you ask me. I’ll share more later. Suffice it to say if I could only choose between their season and ours without ever the hope of first, I would choose ours, every season.

After two and a half years, I make a return to the world of Gooner blogging. But I believe the occasion merits it.

The occasion being the stepping down of Pat Rice as Arsenal’s number 2 after 44 years of service, in various capacities to our beloved club. I’ll probably go into a lot more, and might use this as a platform to kickstart my blogging, but first things first.

Not that he will ever read this blog, or that its contents will ever get to him, but it still needs to be said. Someone who has given 44 years of his life to the Gunners the way he has deserves nothing but praise from all true Gooners. On top of all his records and achievements for the club, very few remember one small stat – he is still Arsenal’s MOST successful league manager of all time, statistically at least. Played 3 league games, WON 3 – 100%.

Some might knock that as saying it was only as caretaker manager, and only 3 games (there was a fourth, a cup tie that I believe was a loss/draw, can remember can’t be asked to check), but you can only work with what you have for as long as you have it.

Btw, this was in the interim when Bruce Rioch was very unceremoniously sacked. Stewart Houston had taken over for a short time, but then left because of a vacancy at QPR, and (I strongly suspect) unhappiness at the way the club mismanaged Rioch’s departure. Both these men resurfaced at QPR with Houston as no.1 and Rioch as no.2, and for that reason alone, my interest in and well-wishes for QPR then.

Anyway, this is about Pat Rice and Arsenal. I don’t need to go into his career, his attributes or his accolades. They are listed far more accurately, comprehensively and eloquently on numerous official and unofficial sites. So then why bother with this post? Well to say thank you in a slightly different way.

Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate Steve Bould. It’s an appointment I’ve been waiting for for a long time. I wish it could have come without the need for Rice’s departure, but long gone are the days that Arsenal bosses leave the club  “when death do them part”. And to be honest, in this day and age, it is probably better that such faithful servants have some real peace and calm before they leave.

So before I go on any further, let’s raise whatever glass we can, proverbial or otherwise, to Pat Rice!

Go read some of the many many tributes from Gunners and Gooners alike to get an idea of how much he has done for the club.

Now to my tribute, of sorts. Having said all that, I’m also glad Pat Rice has stepped aside to let someone younger, but more importantly, someone fresher but who is also Arsenal true and true take over. This is by no means an echoing of the vastly disrespectful view that Pat never challenged Arsene, or was too much of a yes man. Such views don’t deserve any credibility or dignifying whatsoever. But sadly many gooners have espoused as much lately.

Go listen to what Arsene has to say about Pat in on Arsenal.com. I would like to highlight one statement:

“He was one who always gave me his honest feelings, and when I made different decisions he was completely behind me. That is a privilege when you are in my position.”

So without a doubt you can assume they clashed on many occasions, but ever the faithful servant of the club Arsenal’s no.2 gave his honest opinion and then fully supported the final decision that Arsenal’s no.1 had to make.

But, many have argued, that is the job of the no.2, to challenge the no.1. Yes, but in what capacity, I ask? To give honest open disagreement, sure. And without doubt Pat has done that, on numerous occasions. To defy the no.1 when there is disagreement, never. Not in a million years. Pat Rice had far too much class and Arsenal in his blood to do that.

To see that something is wrong with this Arsenal team, and has been for many years, doesn’t take a genius. But there is far too much that is right that musn’t get overlooked. Arsene’s “worst team” supposedly in his entire time here is still very likely gonna finish 3rd. With one game left I don’t care if I jinx it, because to be honest, if this lot of players can’t seize this oppurtunity that has been handed to them countless times, they simply DO NOT deserve to be in the Champions league. The Club does, the Fans do, I would argue the manager does, Pat Rice cetainly does.

And therein, I believe, lies the problem. In these last few years, more than ever when we’ve needed Arsene to be challenged with regard to the mentality of the team, I believe Pat has, but has always come down squarely behind him because the opposition, especially from supposedly friendly quarters has been particularly and unreasonably vehement.

I confess I was really upset with Wenger when he persuaded Rice to stay another year. I believed at the time it was because he wanted someone who wouldn’t disagree with him. But the way the season has played out, the current appointment of Bould and the rather quick signing of Podolski has persuaded me otherwise.

Wenger seems to be trying to change something at the club, and he needed Rice’s trusted years of loyalty and service to give him that valuble honest opinion to ensure the change was the right one, in the right way. I’m very excited by the coming season EVEN if we only finish 5th. I believe we have a squad, with the right mentality, that can win the league, and the UEFA Cup (I will not call it the Europa League, ever) if it c0mes to that, and both domestic cups. Or at least one of the above.

Now to backtrack a bit. Try telling someone who has been at the club from 1964, not seen the club win ANYTHING for 6 years (17 years running), is part of the team that wins the league for the first time in 18 years, and only the second team to do THE double that century, only a decade after our bitter rivals (and they were real RIVALS then – they haven’t been anywhere near in recent times, this year has categorically and convincingly proven that) and then see that double team disassembled, and win NOTHING for a further 8 years; till he himself personally captains an FA Cup winning team; then see that team lose some of its best players, himself included, and then win nothing again for 7 years; till he is back again at the club, but as backroom staff – try telling him that Arsene’s consistently finishing in the top 4 EVERY year, setting countless records, seeing a brand of football that’s is acknowledged the world over as being 2nd only to this amazing Barca team (who incidently won nothing this season – sorry Cesc), qualified 15 consecutive years for the Champions league (ManU are the ONLY team in Europe that have a better record), and not to mention winning stuff – try telling him we are a club in crisis and you’ll see where the problem lies.

In fact, I’m now convinced if some of the glory hunters we picked up in Arsene’s glory years hadn’t been so vociferous, if some of the home support hadn’t been so unjustly unforgiving, if some of the supposed fans hadn’t been so quickly fickle and forgetful (not to mention the Johnny-come-lately “internet Joes” – to borrow Arseblogger’s term) and forced him to come down on one side or the other, I’m sure he would have probably persuaded Arsene to act differently, and for the better, in some of those many instances when we all know something different was needed.

But as it stood he was forced, and rightly did, come down every single time behind the club and arguably its best ever manager, every single time. And then to have that thrown at him as being a yes man. The height of ingratitude. I’m surprised he stayed at the club this long. Then again, I’m not. That’s what real servants of the club do. That’s what real Arsenal men do, Gunners or Gooners.

Oh, and did I mention Pat Rice in that same time has seen us move to a new stadium, turn a signficant profit, become a world brand and world club, having seen team-mate George Graham promise so much as manager and then, well we won’t go there.

If ever there was a time that we the fans need to be reminded of getting behind the team, it is now. Not just so we finish 3rd, but all the more if we finish 5th. Our club truly stands on the verge of something great. As Manchester Utd did when they poached Cantona from champions Leeds Utd (having not won a league title for 26 years and been relegated in that time -Man U, that is, granted with lots of money from Sky), as Chelsea did with Mourinho (granted with lots money from Roman) and as Man City do (granted with lots of money from … you get the picture).

Equally, we are already 8 years down the same road that any fan, let alone Liverpool fans, never saw that mighty Reds team in 1990 going down. Wenger has shown with Bould’s appointment and other changes, that he wants to avoid that path and achieve continued success. I believe Bould will bring something different to the club that was difficult for Rice to do in that Stevie has had different sustained spells of success under two different, and two of the best, Arsenal managers. Let’s not turn him into a perceived yes man by forcing him into a corner in much the same way I believed Rice was pushed into one. Instead, let’s alway get behind OUR club. Let’s give him the fullest support, so he can always give Arsene that honest and different opinion that I’m sure he will give, especially when it needs to be different and it needs to be given and heeded.

The Club deserves it, the Fans deserve it, Arsene I would argue deserves it, Bouldy certainly deserves it, and Pat Rice most undoubtedly does, even if some of the present and future players don’t or ever will. That would be the best thank you anyone could give Pat Rice. As Arsene intimated:

 “I am convinced it will not be a complete separation. I am convinced until the last day of his life he will be at the Emirates.”

What better sight than to see Pat Rice back at the Emirates, enjoying as a Gooner some of the best football he has ever seen, real Gooners getting behind the team, not just when they’re winning but because they’re trying their darndest in every game, and Arsene and Stevie in their own ways giving them the right push to do so. Then, and of this I’m convinced, Trophies won’t be very far behind.

So thank you, farewell and God bless you, Pat Rice!

Happy Anniversary, Arsene!

October 1, 2009

I haven’t posted in ages, and probably will not do so for a while more. But today I have to post this short note to wish Arsene a happy 13. He officially becomes Arsenal’s longest serving manager. And if he can win ‘ol Big Ears and the Kids’ Cup, it will take a lot to unseat him as Arsenal’s greatest ever.

ARSENe weNGER = ARSENal maNaGER – he was born for the job!

For all the good years, and the hopefully many more to come…Merci Arsene!

Here is a copy of a letter I have sent to Arsene via the Arsenal.com “Submit Query” segment on their Contact Us page. I hope it gets to him:

 

I would really appreciate it if this message was passed on to Arsene Wenger.
 

 

 Dear M. Wenger,
As a gooner of 20+ years, I’m really excited by the coming season. I do believe the pre-season has justified what you have always said, that the talent at the club is over-flowing. As such I’m not writing to suggest purchasing this player or that name, nor even this tactic or that formation. I write merely with this humble request.

Could you field 3 teams this season please? Your first choice, as usual, for the League and Europe. The young ones and select reserves, as usual, for the League Cup. However, for the FA Cup can I propose an all-English team.

Gibbs, Walcott and Wilshere certainly have the quality. Watt, Frimpong and Randall are certainly not far off. Add to that the abundance of quality in the double winning youth team and those who returned from loan like Lansbury, Simpson, Hoyte and Gilbert and it is clear they’re of sufficient calabre and quality to certainly make the semi’s. I personally believe they can even go all the way if the draw is a little kind.

I understand that there will need to be rotation and substitutes as we don’t want to burn them out. But I make this request early so that should any English player be loaned out in the coming months, they go with the stipulation that they cannot be cup-tied for the FA Cup and the loan is only till the start of the FA Cup campaign. Thus there will be sufficient numbers for rotation and substitution.

This will kill the two lies that the press regularly throws out, that you do not develop English players, and that you are devaluing the FA Cup by fielding weak teams. In fact, if they were to use either one they would immediately contradict themselves in the other.

But more importantly, it would allow the young English players a legitimate platform to showcase their phenomenal talent and skills on the most prestigious English stage. It would also give their confidence a massive boost and help them along the way to first team progression. I also envisage that two feats of your predecessors would be emulated. Under Chapman seven Arsenal players played for England. I can see this number being surpassed, especially since Capello will pick the best and not be swayed by the blinkered English media. Similarly, Graham brought through the ranks some truly talented young English players together, you have brought through even more quality and quantity.

Now for the world, and the biased English press to sit up and take note!

Merci,

Ben Thomas

 

 

A is for Adebayor.

He’s gone. We’ve 25mil. That’s it. Was planning to write more, but I don’t think he’s worth the words. I’ve invested too much emotion in him already. Plus there have been some excellent post-mortems on the usual blogs. My take from it all is he wasted his chance to be one of the world’s greatest forwards through a combination of poor advice and poor attitude. More frustratingly he wasted another forward’s chance to progress last season while we stuck with him expecting him to be at least professional enough to earn his much improved keep. He’ll do better than Anelka when he first left, but will never reach the level that Anelka has. Same sense of wasted potential, but not as frustrating as Anelka’s departure.

B is for Barnet and Barazite.

The traditional curtain-raiser to our pre-season games and hence the herald of upcoming football. Some good reviews on the various sites. I didn’t catch the game so you’d be better off reading the thoughts of those that did. Nacer scored his third consecutive goal against them. He definitely has talent, but he has to make the step-up in consistency. Too often he’s flattered to deceive, but this may be his season. Good to see Tomas back. Thomas on the other hand was part of a defence that conceded two typically Arsenal sloppy goals. I hope it’s merely pre-season cobwebs and not the shape of things to come. Whether a case of old habits dying hard or hardly dying, it is worrying and all the more highlights we still need to find a way to incorporate Philippe and Johann.

C is for Citeh, Chelsea, City (Lincoln) and Columbia.

I wish Manchester City well. There are no dubious doubts over their owners’ wealth. Their fans deserve their chance of a return to the big-time for years of passionate loyalty. Remember when they dropped to the third tier not so long ago, Maine Rd was  still drawing crowds of 30,000. That is commitment. I don’t think the Emirates would witness such crowds if we, God forbid, went down even one division. Chelsea have had a decent team some 10 years prior to Abramovich, finishing consistently top six since 1997. The crowds were anything but. They have had some truly decent fans, but the rest were anything but. Still, I’ve never begrudged Chelsea their bought status. I certainly will not begrudge Citeh. In fact I quite welcome it. Many clubs have tried to buy success, and many have failed. I do hope they break the top four. It certainly will not be us if we play our cards right. We are comfortably placed for years to come, we just have to ensure we’re winning the league too. Which brings me to the final point. We played a team of teenagers against Lincoln City because the main team have gone off to play Columbia in Austria. This City finished 13th in the same league that Barnet finished 17th. Yet they were generally outplayed by our youngsters who were able to go one better and score the winning third goal. It seems that the young guns play better when completely devoid of first-teamers. Maybe it is pressure and nerves, who knows. But I really think it is time to give the youngsters a more prominent role this season. Every league game should have a couple on the bench at least. The first team’s win bonus should only be paid out if they achieve a three-goal lead to allow at least one youngster to come on for a quarter of an hour. These youngsters are our future and, to be honest, have hardly let the club down in the last five years, which can hardly be said of some of their more illustrious seniors. If we can find he right balance, this will be the start of a very good season.

I was going to wait till the end of the transfer window or at least till the start of the season to do this. But Tevez has moved to Man City and Alex Ferguson says that they are not adding anyone else. Hence I think, ceteris paribas, I might as well stick my head out. I’m assuming Man City will get Terry because Hughes knows they really need him to have a title-shot. Here goes:

1st – Arsenal

2nd – Man City (with Terry)

3rd – Liverpool (without Alonso but with Mascherano)

4th – Man U

5th – Chelsea

I know I have made a lot of assumptions, but if Terry stays, Chelsea will be third and Man City fifth. If Liverpool lose both those players, they will drop out of the top four. If they lose Mascherano, they’ll just about make fourth at best. If they keep him but lose Alonso, second is still possible depending who they sign.

Why do I think that Man U will drop out of the top three? One man. And No! It’s not the over-sized baby with the 80m pound ego, balletboy Ronaldo.

Carlos Tevez.

I believe the reason Fergie was so willing to let balletboy go was he over-estimated his own persuavsive powers over Tevez. I’m really glad Tevez has left for a whole host of reasons that I might discuss some other time. But chiefly it dilutes the opposition, and that’s why I’m sure we’ll win it. Or should I say we are the best placed and strongest. Even if Adebayor goes and we don’t sign anyone else now. I’d like to think we can get Huntelaar, if only from preventing Man U signing him. But to be honest, Jan might be better when the price is more sensible for either him or Chamakh. Unless we can get Chamakh now for the original 7m pounds. I’d like to see a recognised establised midfielder, but Yaya Toure is staying and Felipe Melo prefers Juve. Paddy would fit the bill perfectly and a pay-as-you-play would be perfect for us and him. I can’t believe he is considering Spurs. But to be honest, I’m surprised Man U haven’t gone in like they did for Owen. I’d rather he go to Spurs than Man U.

Man U without Ronaldo but with Tevez would really have been favourites, especially if Tevez was starting every game. Berbatov will not raise his game and he doesn’t have balletboy and Carlos to make him look good. Rooney cannot do it on his own, so if they don’t sign Huntelaar or anyone else, they are screwed. I think Fergie is throwing a smokescreen about not signing anymore simply because he doesn’t want inflated prices, or anyone to snatch a potential signing. But they do need someone to stay in the top three.

It would be nice that Man U had strengthened, Chelsea and Man City had done so as well, and WE COULD STILL be favourites and contending for the title. Alas those days are gone. The silly money out there means Arsene’s model is the way forward and we have to wait for our chances to compete when the competition is diluted. We may never win back-to-back league titles ever again, but if we stay on this route we will win one league title every decade. This may not be enough for some, but I’d prefer this than a flash in the pan succes ala Blackburn and soon-to-be Chelsea. Man U may even go that way, but I think Fergie has clued on and is trying to do it the Wenger way.

Hence even if we don’t sign anyone, I’m confident about the next season and those to come. Eduardo up front with Andrei and Robin. Cesc, Tomas, Theo, Samir providing the creativity in the middle while Alex and Denilson provide the bite. I bet Vermaelen may be even be groomed to perform a dual Petit role as well. At the back Vermalen, Gallas, Johann, Kolo, Philipe, Gael, Bacary, Gibbsy and ‘Enigma’ Eboue give us plenty of cover. And there are others I haven’t even mentioned. Arsene’s biggest problem next season would be finding the right combi for each game and each competition without disrupting team dynamics and rhythm.

And by “others”, I’m not even talking about the “Young Guns“. Check this excellent page out. It has a great preview on our double winning youngsters. From that list alone I’m confident Bouldy could guarantee a mid-table premiership finish, but it would not be fair to their bodies to put them through such demanding rigour week-in-week-out till they fully mature physically. We could even field a regular all-English 11 without even including Gibbsy or Theo. I really hope Arsene does what I suggested in a previous post about playing 3 teams for next season. Youth for the league cup and all-English for the FA cup.

Anyway, I’m really excited by next season and the future. It’s bright and it’s Red!(…or is it blue with pinstripes?)

Come on you Gunners!

Good Reads

July 8, 2009

Never expected to write this much pre-season, but I suppose it isn’t such a bad thing. For those of you who are bored stiff without the football, here are two great reads I can recommend. The first is Arseblog’s exclusive interview with Ivan Gazidis. I don’t know how he does it. Good on you Arseblogger! The next is Myles Palmer’s ANR. Ok, ok, hear me out before you start swearing at me. The ANR archives have been uploaded on the ANR site and it is really a good read. They go all the way back to 1995, so lot’s to re-live. My favourite was the earliest available post by Ian Grant pre-season 1995. Bergkamp had just signed and, get this, Alan Sugar labels him a mercenary who wouldn’t stay long after he got a few kicks, and wouldn’t be as great as Klinsmann! Yes, it did make me laugh! Oh the joys of hindsight! Another was a match review of our first ever game against Mourinho’s Chelsea. We were missing key players but we still managed to outplay them and draw 2-2. I remember watching the game live in a small Karen village called Mae Lai. I remember thinking our stand-in midfield partnership had out-played theirs. It was Fab and Flam. Remember this was almost 5 years ago!