Gervinho: The New Thierry Henry

April 30, 2012

One of the commonest complaints levelled at Arsene Wenger by his critics is that he hangs on to sub-standard players for too long.

He is accused of having ‘favourites’ and of continuing to select them long after we supporters have decided that they are not up to it.

‘Fawlty’ Manuel Almunia, ‘Sideways’ Den Denilson and Emmanuel “the Grinning Kamikaze” Eboue all spring to mind.

Now the critics are drawing up new lists. Some are comically long, leaving us with a squad containing just Szczesny, Vermaelen, Wilshere and van Persie, who in addition to their playing duties will also have to wash the kit, mow the grass and make the tea.

Others are more considered. The names most regularly seen on these lists are Diaby (too injury prone), Almunia (too error prone), Chamakh (too goal shy) and Park (too invisible).

But as our season approaches an anxious climax, I have seen Gervinho’s name bandied about as another player who should be packed in a cardboard box and deposited in ‘Goods Out’.

Is this fair?

Certainly he has been a frustrating player in his first year at Arsenal.

Against Stoke at the weekend he actually did a lot of good things – taking on his fullback and often beating him with a combination of skill and pace. But whenever he got free, he seemed incapable of making the right decision.

As for his finishing, well, let’s just say that he appears to have been getting tips from Jon Jenson.

But if you cast your mind back to the start of the season he was a promising addition to the squad. He was exciting on the ball and very, very direct. His first touch was (and still is) excellent and he can dribble past opposition defenders at will.

So far this season he has played 27 games, including nine as a substitute. He has scored four goals and made eight assists. It’s not a startling return, but nor is it awful.

My theory, for what it’s worth, is that Arsene Wenger had a notion that Gervinho could (I stress, could) turn into a new Thierry Henry.

Don’t laugh – I’m serious.

He came to us as a fast and skillful winger/forward with a French background. I’m sure it must have crossed Le Boss’s mind that there was a possibility he could blossom the way Henry did into a devastating attacker. Perhaps Wenger even thought it unlikely that van Persie would stay fit for an entire season and that there would be opportunities for Gervinho to play as a central striker.

Right now that idea seems ludicrous because we have come to think of the Ivorian as a player who lacks composure in front of goal (and, in fairness, his recent efforts have done nothing to counter that view). That puts him at the opposite end of the spectrum to Henry, who is arguably the most composed goal scorer ever to wear an Arsenal shirt.

But what many don’t realize is that Gervinho’s scoring record in France was better than Henry’s before he joined us.

Thierry bagged 20 goals in 105 games for Monaco (less than a goal every five games). In his short spell at Juventus just before Wenger scooped him up he got three in 16 (again, less than one in five).

Gervinho, by contrast, scored 28 in 67 appearances for Lille – the club from whom he joined Arsenal last summer. That’s a goal every 2.4 games – or twice as deadly as TH14 was before arriving at Highbury. Both were playing as wide attackers while in France.

It gives the lie to the suggestion that the dome-headed flyer does not have the ability to score goals. I don’t know why he’s not bagging more for the Gunners. He scored a peach at the ACN (in fact, it was quite an Henry-like finish) but in the red and white it has not really been happening.

I don’t watch French football so I have no idea whether he was played in a different role at Lille or whether it’s just a confidence thing at the moment.

Like most players who go to the ACN, he has suffered a dip in form since returning, but I really think it’s too early to give up on this young man.

Many people had doubts about Laurent Koscielny after his first season with us. Like Gervinho he had been good in parts; but, also like The Gerv, he had frustrated too. The Godawful cock-up that gifted the Carling Cup to the McLeish Relegation Team #1 seemed to be evidence of an underlying problem with the defender.

Fast forward to now and I suspect that, were it not for Robin van Persie’s ability to pop the egg in the basket at moments of personal convenience, young Kozzer would be Arsenal’s player of the season.

I am hopeful that Gervinho’s Arsenal career will follow a similarly upward trajectory and that next season will be a big year for him

Do I think he can become a new Thierry? Probably not, because players like Henry are very rare indeed. But if he can become 50% of what TH was it will still make him one of the best players in the league.

Do I think he can become a vital and effective part of the Arsenal attack? Yes I do.

He has now had a season of adjusting to the EPL. It would be crazy to jettison him at exactly the point where we can expect him to start showing why Arsene Wenger believed in him in the first place.


Brittania Revisited

April 29, 2012

A third trip to the Britannia in three seasons brought with it some mixed emotions. The 2009/10 game was played in February, a month after being beaten by the Stokies in the 4th round of the FA Cup. Ramsey’s leg snapped like a twig but the team responded magnificently to record a fine 3-1 victory.

2010/11 at the Britannia saw Arsenal in end of season free-fall and another defeat ensued. What would 2012 bring? Stoke always raise their game against us, refusing to lie down to superior footballing ability. The touchlines are narrowed, local aircraft given warnings of possible collisions with footballs and Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army gives the pre-match, rabble-rousing speech. Could Arsenal resist the bite of the cold steel? Anxious and expectant, the Arsenal away fans gathered in the Potteries.

(photo courtesy of Stuart MacFarlane)

After an easy drive along the A50 we arrived in plenty of time to find a parking spot at a local bowls club which would enable a smooth getaway at the end of the game. A brief chat with a couple of Stokies in the pub before the game elicited the information that they were pleased not to be in Europe again as it had ruined their season. Mid-table mediocrity seemed to be the height of their ambition…..oh, and beating Wenger’s Arsenal, of course. Arsenal are lacking a player who puts his foot in was their considered opinion whereas none of their players minded being kicked!

We had a fairly good view but were much too close to the inbred hoards and soon realised the aggression between the two sets of supporters was going to colour how we would remember the game.

The first half began and it soon became obvious that only one team had any desire to play any real football. The first booking came in the first couple of minutes as Whitehead fouled Song. The Gunners began the game at a canter and Benayoun should have done better, scuffing a left foot shot after clever interplay with Robin. Then it was the Dutchman himself who drew a fine save from Begovic with a glanced header at the near post.

Stoke scored from their first effort on goal with a pinpoint cross from Etherington which found the head of the Human Pylon. Even with Vermaelen and Koscielny leaping front and back of Crouch, they still stood little chance of stopping the goal. “One Nil to the Rugby team” sang the Stoke crowd. If I was a Rugby player, I would have been offended.

Arsenal quickly responded with another straightforward goal in its simplicity, van Persie slotting home after good work from Rosicky. “He scores when he want” and “By far the greatest team” followed.

The first half petered out from that point onwards. Gervinho had a chance to shoot after a lovely through ball from Sagna but put his effort way over the bar. Another chance nearly came to Gervinho who just failed to get his immense forehead onto a whipped-in cross.

My brother went for a half-time pie and heard the following conversation in the queue in front him. Arsenal supporter, ‘What flavour pies have you got?’ Girl behind the counter, ‘Chicken Balti, Steak and Ale…. Arsenal Supporter, ‘Have you got any Meat and Potato? ‘Yes’ came the reply. Arsenal fan, ‘I had one of those last year and it was farkin horrible’. Cue the laughter from the serving assistants behind the counter. The news that Newcastle were getting thumped certainly improved the atmosphere behind the goal during the half-time break.

The second half began with the boys kicking towards us. Surely things would improve and we would earn the crucial three points. As far as the football is concerned, I thought the second forty five was pretty poor. Arsenal probed and prodded. Shots were blocked. Robin slipped on a couple of occasions when he might have sneaked a shot on goal. There were a few decent looking free-kick opportunities for the good guys but none really troubled the Stoke keeper.

At the other end Szczesny made a fine blocking save from a vicious drive and a long throw header was cleared close to the Arsenal goal line. There was a brief rendition of ‘We can’t spell his name, we can’t spell his name, Wojciech Szczęsny, we can’t spell his name’.

The other dominant impression from standing behind the goal in the second half was how hideous the Stoke fans were. They finally found their voice after Shawcross lunged in on Benayoun. They sang ‘He breaks things when he wants, he breaks things when he wants, Ryan Shawcross, he breaks things when he wants’. (It could have been ‘legs’ rather than ‘things’, it was difficult to understand the accent). Looking across at their fans there were gestures of breaking a stick in two hands which I found quite sickening. Hideous miscreants.

Yossi had a good shout for a penalty ignored by Foy who looked across at his linesman to see a totally blank expression and so he waved play on. The last twenty minutes were a pantomime starring Arsene Wenger. He began waving his arms in the air at the injustice of the penalty decision and other decisions which followed. The Stoke crowd began to imitate him by waving their arms in the air at every opportunity while singing, ‘ Let’s all do the Wenger’ and if an Arsenal player committed a foul singing, ‘He didn’t see a thing, he didn’t see a thing , Arsene Wenger, he didn’t see a thing.’

Arsène needed someone to tell him to sit down as he may as well have been the Stoke cheerleader, such was his influence in stirring the Stoke crowd to generate more noise.

At the final whistle, I felt disappointed that we hadn’t been able to rise above the overall poor quality of the game and produce a few moments of real class to win us the three points. A hard-fought point would have to suffice, a point which looks better in the light of Newcastle’s zero points. Whether it’ll look so good after Sunday’s fixtures, only time will tell.


I don’t really do ratings but I’d say that Benayoun and Rosicky seemed to have decent first halves. The defence were resolute throughout, Sagna looking dangerous assisting the attack in the first half, too. Szczesny couldn’t do much about the goal. Sometimes I wish he would catch instead of punch, especially in the second half when the aerial bombardment was in full force. I’d probably give them all a 7, with Tomas, Yossi and Bacary 7.5.

P.S. The Man of the Match was announced over the tannoy as Dean Whitehead. Sums it all up really!

Written by chas

Nike Mercurial Vapor VI Football Boots

April 29, 2012

The ‘Fastest’ Selling Boots on the Planet

The Nike Mercurial Vapor Football boots are not only desired by budding footballers around the world, the most elite player’s on the planet insist on wearing them. Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, Theo Walcott, and Robinho are all amongst an exciting list that showcases these boots. So why are they so popular?

Firstly, Nike has chosen a quite shocking and particularly eye catching design and colour scheme. Nevertheless, Nike insists this is not simply for marketing purposes. According to researchers, the high contrast flamboyant design allows team mates to spot you even faster.

The upper has a synthetic lace cover which allows a cleaner contact with the ball, whilst also making them easier to keep clean (a huge bonus). Tipping the scales at just 220grams, the Nike Vapors will make even the slowest of players feel instantly quicker. A glass fibre chassis has been incorporated for ultimate agility, traction and responsiveness. The lightweight design makes these boots ideal for pacey, attacking players with plenty of skill to show off. However, the ‘new and improved sole plate’ is not all good. It is very stiff to break in and due to the rigid structure doesn’t allow the player to complete a full range of movements.

The Nike Mercurial Vapors are at the cutting edge of modern day football boot technology. Even the blades have been designed to ensure maximum grip yet remain lightweight. After wearing the boots for a short period, it is clear that this new technology works, and makes the player feel confident and agile.

Well the Nike Mercurial Vapor boots certainly live up to expectation. The sleek modern design and eye catching chassis may not be appropriate for all players, nonetheless if you are looking for a boot which compliments you’re attacking, pacey style, look no further. However, the latest football boots do come at a cost. With a price tag of £100 + these boots may not appeal to your average Sunday centre back, but for me they are the best boots around.

If the Kid’s are United: Stoke Preview

April 28, 2012

Some time ago I made a decision to stop belittling our opponents. This was due to a rash of defeats to lesser team following an abusive prematch (yes, I have that much power). But sometimes needs must, plus I have to be realistic and accept my  posts have no impact whatsoever of the result of the game.

So let’s get down to business.

Stoke: If there is a more miserable, wearisome, beetle-headed bunch of bum-baileys walking the planet then my name is Luther Blisset. Managed by a man who in the words of Oscar Wilde “has no enemies but is intensely disliked by his friends.” Stoke are the reason why the PL has slipped behind La Liga and the Bundesliga in world football. You do not find teams in La Liga who cannot play the ball on the ground or rely on set pieces in order to score.

Orcs in their natural habitat

Then there are their fans. Amplified to make the armchair viewer believe they can create an atmosphere, they reflect their team. Aggressive and hard to like. And, they hate us. Pulis thinks Wenger is impolite (!), their fans think Gooners are soft southern pansies and delight in calling our team wimps and cheats. We are the positive to their negative.

But can we beat them in what is an important game for us? One thing is certain, Stoke will give 100% and we will have to be at the top of our game to win. I think patience will be vital. Add in the Ramsey/Shawcross factor and there will be some genuine needle at the Britannia. We cannot respond to Stoke’s provocation – the early season stupidity of Gervinho and Song will cost us dear if they retaliate in what is sure to be a physical game; the Orcs (Huth, Whelan ,Whitehead, Shawcross + +)  will ensure it.  A strong referee is essential because it isn’t the stupid rash tackle that Stoke employ, it is the constant physical battle.

Crouch has scored his wonder goal for the season (and a brilliant goal it was), he has a good record against us  as have Stoke. They have won 3 out of our previous 4 visits to the Britannia. Pulis believes he knows how to beat Wenger and our games are never less than highly competitive.  Should we win, it will not be an easy ride – it never is up there.

My Team:

You may look at my team and say “Chamakh?  You’re having a Turkish” but I think we have to try something different. I would play RvP behind Chamakh, give Bennie the run of the left wing and swamp the midfield. The defence picks itself, as does the midfield (in light of the fragility of Diaby), though Coquelin is likely to get some pitch-time, if fit.

The obvious solution is to play O-C or Gervinho on the wing but given the loss of our speedster and Arteta, we could start the above team which would allow some flexibility.  That said, we are most likely to start with a forward line of O-C, RvP and Bennie.

Stoke Inventor? There are a few as you would expect in any industrial area. Oliver Lodge invented the wireless telegraph, the electric spark plug and moving coil loudspeakers (according to Wiki). Whether he did or not is lost in the mists of time.

Surely, we have more than the long throw in?

Against opposition whose main ethic is unrelenting industry and teamwork, Arsenal have to respond in kind. We have yet to win in the PL without Arteta and today is the day to remedy this. Arsenal can win but it will be through endeavor, inspiration, unity  and harmony.


Written by Big Raddy

What If Wenger Does A Guardiola And Walks Away?

April 27, 2012
La Liga (3): 2008–092009–102010–11
Copa del Rey (1): 2008–09
Supercopa de España (3): 200920102011
UEFA Champions League (2): 2008–092010–11
UEFA Super Cup (2): 20092011
FIFA Club World Cup (2): 20092011

So to tidy that up, that is four seasons in charge winning three League titles, two UEFA Champions Leagues, and one Copa del Rey – and yet, it seems, Pep Guardiola is likely to walk away from Barcelona after all but conceding the league to Real Madrid, and getting knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea’s bus. They now just have the Cup Final left to win some silverware.

“Coward! Coward!”

They are yelling it on Fleet Street and in their masses on the internet. But is he really? Apparently the going has gotten tough and Pep is doing a runner.

I suppose before I continue I better clear up a few things (these are my own personal thoughts and not those of AA as a blog)

  • Barcelona are over-rated. They are not “the best team ever” – Would the best team ever have a back five pretty incapable of defending? Valdes makes Almunia look good. Alves is a poor man’s Carlos, and while Puyol is a good defender, he is no Franco Baresi. Isn’t it funny how Lionel Messi didn’t perform over the two legs in the Champions League semi-final and they get knocked out? They are a great team, the best team CURRENTLY plying their trade, but the best ever? Surely I can’t be the only one that watched the AC Milan team of the late 80s and early 90s?
  • They have no Plan B.
  • Pep’s influence on the team has been over-rated. In 2008, he inherited a team that was largely been built up since the Academy days – the core being Xavi, Iniesta and of course, Messi. Gerard Piqué was also returned to the Nou Camp from Manchester United in the very first days of Pep’s reign, while the likes of Pedro and Busquets were been readied for the first team after coming through the youth ranks. All ripe and ready to form a winning machine – all coming neatly together after Frank Rijkaard had kept the ship steady over this period.
  • None of the above is not to say I don’t think Barcelona are a fantastic side and Guardiola a fantastic coach – he has embedded a work ethic in the side which is unparalleled – sadly it also extends to them largely diving as a team (Messi and one or two more gladly don’t take part) and to them waving imaginary cards and trying to get opponents sent off.

So back to the main point – Is Guardiola walking away?

Yes, yes he is. But he’s not walking away from the hard work ahead, or the cries of some greedy fans who want trophies every year, he’s walking away from a possible heart-attack. Pep has just turned 41, has a young family, and has aged considerably in the last season or two.

But Barcelona are a winning club you say, where is the heart attack waiting to come from?

I’ll tell you – the pressure. The pressure of being expected to win every game at a canter, to win every trophy available every season. The pressure of having a mad President that comes part and parcel of a top Spanish club who buys a player at a mad expense and tells you to play him whether he fits or not into your puzzle.

Pep Guardiola is taking a break from football for the sake of his health – both physically and mentally. And who could blame him? He has achieved so much in so little time, and at 41, will still be such hot property when, and if, he returns to football after a season long break. Besides, it’s not as if he might not have done this anyway, regardless of Barcelona’s “failed” season. He has only ever accepted rolling one year contracts and has always hinted he would take time out of the game after a few seasons.

So what has all this to do with Arsenal and Wenger? Quite a lot actually.

The pressure Guardiola is under is very similar to that Wenger is under: managing a big club whose fans expect to win every season playing perfect football. However, unlike Pep, Wenger can’t walk away from football for a while and then pop back into it again. At 62, he may feel that the time is slowing, closing in on his time as a manager, time closing in on his dream to win the Champions League.

So what if he decides to walk from Arsenal to achieve that? What if he thought to hell with the financial pressure he is under and trots off to PSG, Madrid or Barcelona? Sure, he’ll be under the same pressure as at Arsenal, but he’ll have more financial muscle. If anything, walking into Barcelona would be easier for Wenger, he will inherit the same problems there as he has here – dodgy back five, strike force that weighs heavily on the shoulders of one man, pressure to play proper football, pressure to win, but he’ll have the ££££ at Barcelona.

So just imagine if he said “sod it” and off he went. Where would that leave Arsenal? Would Pep Guardiola come over here and give it a punt – or the mouthy Jose Mourinho who knows best when it comes to all matters Arsenal? Yeah lads, we want all that Real Madrid and Barcelona have, but we want it without spending any more money than we make. Ha, that last one makes you think doesn’t it? Makes me think “We want everything that Barcelona and Madrid have – the Galacticos, the va va voom football, the trophies, the giant stadiums … but do it while making more money than you spend Mr. Wenger.”

Pressure?! Pressure, Mr. Guardiola, Mr. Mourinho? Pressure to win because they spend so much on their squads say Fleet Street, but Mr. Wenger is “under none” because we have a board with an ounce of cop on when Portsmouth and Glasgow Rangers are dying. Pressure?! Come to an angry Emirates Stadium of a cold Saturday afternoon Pep, I’ll show you pressure.

Written by the lovely Irishgunner

Choose your favourite Arsenal partnership this season: vote now!

April 26, 2012

Arsenal has benefited from a strong increase of togetherness and collective purposefulness this season, and without any doubt this has been one of the main reasons for our recent super-recovery that led us into the top-three again.

In this blog, I zoom in on a number of partnerships within our team, as they have been big contributing components of Arsenal’s collective togetherness this season. During this transitional season, I have really enjoyed seeing partnerships develop all over the pitch. The most obvious ones are those between the five in defence, the three in midfield (the wall of ARS) and three upfront, but in this blog I would like to zoom in a bit deeper towards the mini-partnerships within AND between the lines: those between two players.

Today’s blog is an interactive one, and it would be great if you could score the partnerships at the end of the blog.

This is my main selection of partnerships, but feel free to comment on other partnerships you feel have also worked well this season.

Partnership 1 Mertesacker and Koz:

It seems a long time since these two players formed our regular CB pairing. It took Mertesacker some time to adjust to the PL, which is quite understandable given the fact he had to hit the ground running, due to his late arrival. What Mertesacker missed in mobility he made more than up in his reading of the game, his positional play and his ability to bring calmness and organisation to our defence. Koz has had a fine season and seemed to thrive next his German counterpart. Koz is good in the air and great on the ground, and his excellent reading of the game, high energy levels and tackling skills made him a fine match for Mertesacker. In a way, it is a shame this partnership was not able to complete the season, as undoubtedly, it would have grown even stronger.

Partnership 2 TV and Koz:

It took this partnership a few games to gel again, but once they did we have seen some very fine performances. TV and Koz are quite similar: very energetic, strong in the air and on the ground, relatively small but with a big jump, and good readers of the game. They are both fast and like to support the midfield with pressing and making forward runs. At times, I feel they lack calmness as their over-exuberance can get the better of them, but over time this could well grow into our regular CB pairing. In recent games against Milan (at home) and Citeh we have been able to see how strong this partnership can be.

Partnership 3 Sagna and Theo:

This partnership became so strong during the season that Arsenal became quite lob-sided towards the right. Arsenal really missed Sagna during his long lay-off, especially when his direct replacement, the very promising young talent of Jenkinson, also got injured. Theo and Sagna have a fine understanding of each other and are prepared to work hard for each other as well. Theo could sometimes provide better defensive cover for Bacary, but opposing teams have often opted to attack Arsenal on our left side, where we have been our weakest at times. Sagna’s support in attack is great, really working the available space well with Theo. His crossing has improved quite a bit too (remember his cross for RvP against Pool?!). Since the return of Sagna, Theo has had a number of fine games resulting both in goals and assists that have coincided with our good run of results.

Partnership 4 Theo and RvP

Theo and Robin have become an assist-making and goal-scoring super machine this season. RvP’s partnership with Theo has been significantly stronger and more effective than the one with our attacking midfielder. In previous years, Robin had a close and effective partnership with Cesc, but since the latter’s departure it has shifted towards the right winger. Theo, like most wingers, has had high and lows this season, but in the last few months he has shown what he is capable of again. Robin has been very appreciative of Theo’s assists and general play, and has mentored him successfully back to form. I hope we can cope with the loss of Theo in the remaining three games: it won’t be easy.

Partnership 5: Ramsey and RvP

Aaron has had a tough learning season. Arsene preferred him in the advanced AM role at the start of the season. Initially, Ramsey played close to Song and Arteta and he moved closer to RvP as the season progressed. I thought he had a good spell during the last two months of 2011, but overall he struggled to make this role work effectively. Although there have been moments of good cooperation between RvP and Ramsey, with the latter making good runs in the box on a regular basis, it is fair to say there has not been much partnership between them. It somehow just did not click enough, and it has become more and more clear that this is not the best role for Ramsey (although one or two AA-ers might disagree with this!).

Partnership 6 Rosicky and RvP

The big question here is: is there a partnership between Rosicky and RvP? It is definitely nowhere near as close as that between RvP and Cesc last season. When Rosicky plays for us, we seem to have a better shape to the team, as he is better equipped to play the advanced AM role. His return to form has coincided with the team’s good run of form, and he deserves a lot of credit for it.

However, he seems to prefer a free role all over the pitch in which he collects/wins balls with the aim to move them on quickly as to create an attacking move. He does not play very close to RvP in front of the ‘D’ a lot, which makes it much harder to form a close partnership. Rosicky scores seldom and also does not have many assists, but his drive and ability to speed things up are important assets, as are his abilities to support the midfield defensively.

Partnership 7 Arteta and Song

I am sure most of us will agree that Arteta has been our best new arrival this season. Wenger did not slot him into the attacking midfielder role, but partnered him with Alex Song for almost the entire season, instead. Slowly but steadily they have formed a very fine understanding of each other and together they posses all the midfield skills you could hope for. Alex is the better defender, but can also produce world-class assists. Mikel reads the game really well, links up defence with attack seamlessly, covers very effectively, and can score with long-distance shots and free-kicks. They have formed the axis, the centre of our team and have carried us through many difficult games with their skills, energy and work ethics.

Partnership 8 Song and RvP

I don’t think many of us would have anticipated at all a possible partnership between Alex and Robin at the start of the season. For a start, they are positioned too far away from each other to form an effective partnership. But then not many of us knew that Song was capable of such an incredible, long-distance lofted pass. RvP and Song have developed a telepathic understanding of each other and it is fair to say that most of our magic moments this season were a result of this very understanding of each other, combined with their phenomenal individual skills. Together they were able to break walls down in front of them and to win games between them for us.

Other Partnerships

There are other partnerships that I could have included, but these were the main ones for me this season. Arsenal had too many changes on the left hand side to include any of them, although I really liked the short one between Santos and Gervinho at the start of the season. I also could have focussed on the partnership (of 3) between Szczesny and the CB’s, but again there have been too many changes this season to do it justice.

So here we are. I am looking forward to find out how the various partnerships will score on a scale from 1 to 5 (one being the lowest and five being the highest) and which one will come out on top. Please elaborate on your scores as much as you like in a separate comment.

Many thanks for taking part.


Arsène, its time to say goodbye

April 25, 2012

These are words I never thought I would utter, if we qualify against all odds for the Champions League again this year I would like to see Arsène Wenger resign as Arsenal manager.

Those who know me, will think I have gone stark raving mad. This wish has nothing to do with whether I think he can take the team further, if he is too old, that he doesn’t want to spend money or any of the other criticisms aimed at our manager.

Its none of those reasons because I don’t think I am in a position to judge him, or his decisions, the man knows more about football, players, fitness, psychology, economics and probably just about everything else in his little finger than I will learn in a lifetime. In short he is a genius.

After we lost 8-2 at Old Toilet many pundits said it would be Arsène’s greatest achievement to get this side/squad into the Champions League, they were still saying it after the new (hastily rebuilt) squad lost away to Spuds, and Blackburn.

So with Champions League qualification in our hands and assuming we manage it what better time to leave the club? You will have just performed your greatest miracle. You have achieved again what so many say isn’t a trophy, yet use as a stick to beat you harder with when it looked like we were nowhere near getting it, remember some people said we would be lucky not to be relegated let alone qualify for Europe.

So why, why do I think Arsène should leave us at the end of the season? If its not football, if its not transfer dealings, if its not for a better chance of trophies why do I ask him to leave?

Well my mind was made up at the Wigan game, I know its not ideal to decide things in emotional circumstances, but my mind was made up after ten minutes of that game. I hadn’t been to the Emirates for a while, the first chance I had had to get down since Villa in the FA Cup. It wasn’t the performance that made me think he should leave, it wasn’t the fact that we had carelessly given a team fighting for their life a two goal head start. It was the reaction of those around me.

After 9 wins in 10 premier league games, after amazing comebacks against the cretins from N17, against the goal shy dippers, a spirited performance to beat City we found ourselves  2-0 down against a side at the wrong end of the table. Suddenly every fan around me in Clock End lower thought they could do a better job than Arsène again, “Bring on Ox”, “Theo’s useless why do you play him”, “Ramsey’s useless in centre midfield”, “Djourou you’re useless, why didn’t he buy a centre back” etc etc etc. Did I hear encouragement? Very little. And I hate watching football like that.

Some fans I guess just have a sense of entitlement, “We should beat Wigan”. Well yes we should, but sometimes shit happens. You’d think some fans had never been to a football game the way they wet themselves every time the opposition attack.

I fear now that it wouldn’t matter if we went on a 37 game winning streak and lost the 38th and the title to United on goal difference of 1 (it is possible) fans would blame it all on Wenger rather than luck, “if only he’d have bought Cahill/Schwarzer/Alonso/Hazard/Mata we would have won it”. There is discontent bubbling away under the surface waiting to boil over at the slightest hint of weakness. I am afraid it is here to stay, and no matter what has been achieved this season, or what is achieved in future this discontent will remain, and my enjoyment of going to watch my Arsenal play will be ruined by having to sit alongside these entitled few.

So sorry that this is rather a personal request and will not sit easy with regulars here, but Arsène, for the sanity of one of your most loyal supporters, its time to say goodbye. Thanks for the memories.

Written by Gooner in Exile