Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal v. Man U


All my troubles seemed so far away…

In the land of the blind, the one one eyed man is king

All season long it seems like all of us have been looking back while Arsene Wenger, the iconoclast, refused to look into the past and instead steadily gazed into the future. In our obsession with the past, Wenger recons we got this season wrong and once again I find myself realizing that the teacher may have been right all along.

Arsenal started the season off by looking back to the famous win at Anfield in 1989. A win that so permeates Arsenal’s collective psyche that books have been written about the journey toward that one, glorious night. The club were gearing up for this year’s trip to 1989 as far back as last year by giving away copies of Nick Hornby’s book along with a bottle opener that played audio from the famous final moments of that game. Then, this season Arsenal ponied up and created a special away shirt in commemoration of that win, a special supporters pack with video of the game, a tie in product line, and then proceeded to nearly give them all away for free in a half-off effort that would assure people would be wearing the famous yellow and blue for years to come. It makes sense to look back at that game, I still get chills when I watch the final moments of that improbable 2-0 win that secured the title. Thomas, charging through the midfield indeed.

And during the summer as players jumped ship, we fans still refused to look into the future. Wringing our hands about the departure of Flamini and Gilberto and steadfastly holding out that players from the past, like Stephen Appiah, were the only way to right the listing ship. To paraphrase Wenger from yesterday’s press conference, if after the disastrous first 5 Premiership games of the season he’d have said that Alex Song would become a world class holding midfielder and that Arsenal would be on the cusp of another Champions League final berth “You would have called an ambulance.” Our belief was low because we were looking at the past, at players like Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira and teams like the invincibles, or even just at the season prior, while Arsene Wenger belief was seemingly irrationally high because he was looking forward, at the potential of players like Alex Song and Carlos Vela.

And even now, all the sports writers in the world are looking into Arsenal’s past in order to try to decipher what will happen today. Why not? After all, it’s comforting to look at Arsene Wenger’s record in Europe or his record against Man U and try to see a pattern there that will tell the story of today. Too bad no one told Arsene Wenger, he holds out that he’s never even watched a tape of their Champions League final loss at Barcelona.

In the midst of this orgy of nostalgia a funny thing happened to this Arsenal team; they started believing the stuff that Wenger is selling. They stopped looking at the past and they started believing in themselves, in the supporters, and in Wenger’s future. If you’ll permit me a bit of nostalgia about the season, once the belief took hold they have since gone on an improbable 21 match unbeaten streak, they won on penalties against Roma… at Roma… by hitting every penalty after an injured Eduardo missed the first, they overcame an horrific injury to Eduardo and an injury plagued season, and just 6 days ago they held on for an incredible 1-0 defeat against Man U despite missing half of their first team stars and relying on 19 year olds and written-off goalkeepers  for heroics.

Did Wenger see all that happening? Not specifically, but I think he believed in the team enough that he thought something like that might happen. Even that is pretty incredible if you think about it and makes me look at the way I criticized the team and the way I look at the future of this team in a whole new light.

You’ve heard me say how no matter what happens today I’m proud to be an Arsenal supporter. Arsenal have nothing to lose today: Man U are the defending champions, they have the 1-0 lead, they outplayed Arsenal on Wednesday last week, they spend irrationally big (supposedly offering £63m for Frank Ribery) and their prawn sandwich brigade have irrationally high expectations of their club. Win or lose, I just want to see a full blooded performance from Arsenal and I have no doubt that they will play their hearts out.

After all, they are not looking back, they’re all looking forward.

I’m home sick today, and my daughter is sick too so I’ll be watching Arsenal from the comfort of my couch and in High Definition on ESPN2. I could probably live blog but I doubt I’ll do it, just because I don’t want to spend my time chatting here and would rather just enjoy the game.

I encourage all of you to do the same: get a beer, get on the strip, and enjoy the day. What do you have to lose?


Oh God It’s Friday

I will fully admit that I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s match. With Adebayor and van Persie out Arsenal are missing any real strike force, with Theo out they lack any pace, and with Gallas and Almunia out they might just win, except both of them are supposedly healthy.

*le sigh*

Oh well, we don’t go to battle with the team we wish we had we go to battle with the team we got, right? Who said that, was it me? No, Donald Rumsfeld? I don’t remember, it must be all the champagne and caviar that I ate at the Obama Food re-Distribution Centre (he even spells it all European).

But seriously, no. I’m dreading this game for several reasons:

  1. Because it’s not on Fox Soccer Channel I have to go watch it at Doyle’s, which is great and all but the Arsenal supporters are going to be outnumbered by the fucking Man U supporters, probably 3-1.
  2. Did I mention that nearly half the squad is in the sick room?
  3. The bookies are betting on an Arsenal loss.
  4. If Arsenal lose I have to listen to people tell me that Arsene Wenger should have beefed up the squad, that Arsenal are not a top four team, that Wenger is a sore loser, etc etc. Basically, if they lose it will be a nightmare for the next two months.

So, first, all the Arsenal supporters who read this blog, go to your local pub on Saturday and cheer for Arsenal. Because nothing would be sadder than some lonely 40 year old man in a Flamini strip surrounded by hundreds of Ronaldos.

Second, erm, well, there’s not much else you and I can do. “Wenger knows best,” right? I’m sure he’s got a cunning plan.

Third, after the match, if they lose, and if someone comes up to you and says “my condolences, but your team should have spent £££ this summer, HAR HAR” and exhales a stinking breath of prawns all over your face. You look that big sucker square in the eye and say

“Yes, and you’d still be a Man U supporting cunt.”

Of all the games this season, Arsenal really need to come out and play with passion tomorrow. Get “stuck in” as they say, play hard, play fair, and play our flowing game. We also need to shut down their main attacks of Ronaldo and Rooney and put some steel on Nani.

Tomorrow is a true test of Arsene Wenger as a manager. This team is down right now, there’s no denying that. Injuries are certainly plaguing the squad but he said he didn’t need to buy a striker in the summer because Bendtner and Vela were going to be world beaters. He also didn’t buy in the midfield because he said he had enough players in Song, Denilson, and Eboue. He did buy in the back and he brought in Silvestre who, though he’s a bit of a risk for this game, I suspect the boss brought in for just these types of clashes. And he didn’t buy a keeper this summer because he saw Almunia reading that New Age Self-Drivel and thought “all this kid needs is confidence!” At least until January this is the team we got, Arsene got us into this mess and he needs to get us out.

Starting tomorrow, I want to see which way he’s leading the team. Already the boss is sending up flares that he probably won’t buy anyone in January, because the players we have “aren’t losers.” That means that no matter how cheap Owen is, no matter that The Times has outlined 11 men who would fit the bill in the midfield, I have grave concerns that Arsene won’t be buying. Whether it’s his hubris that’s preventing him from buying, whether it’s his blindness that makes him think that Song is as good as, say, Alonso, or whether there is some kind of financial bind that is preventing Arsenal from buying and the board is just lying to us about his transfer kitty we probably won’t know until May. So, this whole season is going squarely on the shoulders of Arsene Wenger. If we fall to 6th or 7th place then that will be Arsene Wenger’s failure. If we win the Champions League, that will be his success. Win or lose, this is the team he wanted and he will need to bear the burden of their success or failure.

This is, more than ever, Arsene’s team.

Russ hasn’t published the schedule yet for this weekend, but with games that have a kickoff scheduled for 4:45am PST he usually records them and replays them at 7am. I’ll call down there to verify and update the blog when I have more information.

OK, that’s it, except your poll.. which is a bit of an easy one but here it is none the less

Up the Arse!

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