When did your love for Arsenal start?

August 20, 2015

Well mine started when I was as an infant; I was one of the few who happened to be born within the sound of Highbury roars and with my entire family steeped in Arsenal tradition it seemed as natural as drinking milk made from Cow and Gates milk powder.

Arsenal in WW11

The war years of the 30’s and 40’s were bleak times and most of the men in the family were away at war, the Arsenal players and club were also deeply involved in WW11. In fact during WW11 42 of Arsenal’s 44 full time players were drafted into service, along with most of the administration staff. Arsenal stadium itself was turned into an ARP “Air Raid Precautions) facility. Arsenal played its war time home fixtures at White Hart Lane; Tottenham had used Highbury for some of its home games during WW1.

The Arsenal stadium also paid the price when it was bombed in 1941. The North Bank was wrecked after a fire broke out and the roof collapsed and much of the terracing on the South Stand was damaged too and these had to be repaired before Arsenal could return home after the war. Another bomb, weighing 1,000lb, had fallen near the stadium in October 1940. Meanwhile tonnes of concrete that had been blown over the Clock End terraces needed to be removed.

Seven Sister Road WW11

Arsenal was one of the leading sides during the Second World War, having dominated English football for much of the 1930s. They won the League South ‘A’ title in 1939/40 but lost the League War Cup Final the following season. Leslie Compton missed a penalty in a 1-1 draw with Preston at Wembley and Arsenal lost the replay 2-1 at Blackburn. Arsenal followed the example of other clubs and used “guest players” most notably Bill Shankly, Stan Mortensen and Stanley Matthews. In 1941/42 a number of London clubs formed a breakaway London League and Arsenal romped to the title with 108 goals in 30 matches.

They returned to the Football League South a season later and, in 1942/43, won the championship and the League South Cup. Reg Lewis netted four times in that 7-1 Cup Final win over Charlton. He would of course go on to become an even more significant Wembley winner seven years later, grabbing both goals as Arsenal beat Liverpool in the 1950 FA Cup Final.

Underground during WW11

During air raids my family used to take shelter in the Arsenal Underground Station or in the Caledonian Road Underground if we were visiting family in N7.

Bombs droppd on Highbury Oct 1940 to June 1941

Even though these were very bleak years in most peoples lives to us kids it was our reality, we were poor, hungry, scruffy and always grubby; but kids being kids we made our own fun and games. Kicking our rag footballs against the chalk goalpost we drew on the Avenell Road entrance to Highbury and imaging we were Arsenal players was to us a joy and it, along with my family’s tales about the clubs history and its players made me an Arsenal fan for life……

Tell us when your love for Arsenal started?


Arsenal Are The Best Club In The World – Right?

August 19, 2015

Controversy is the life blood of football, from the shenanigans of the governing bodies FIFA and UEFA who are no strangers to dubious practices, which are nonetheless seen as acceptable by half the world, and as reprehensible by the other half, as well as the all powerful clique of clubs and the cabal of managers noted for their self serving behaviour, often to the detriment of the fans, and then the football tribalism of the same passionate and committed fans warring among themselves.

As passionate, knowledgeable Gooners we would not find it at all strange or contentious to wholeheartedly agree with the question posed in the Post headline because, with certain reservations about the transfer policy of the manager and the Board, or the exorbitant cost of seat tickets, and similar concerns raised by one faction, or the other, we do believe that Arsenal are indeed the best club in the world, and that is why we support them, and many have done so for the whole of their sentient lives, and will continue to do so until the grim reaper taps them on the shoulder.

It does rather beg the question though as to why the supporters of rival clubs will vehemently disagree, if told by Gooners that Arsenal are the best club in the world, and will enthusiastically, if rudely, respond that their own club is the best in the world.

Why is this? Can’t they see they are wrong? 🙂

Perhaps it is the human condition of tribalism that is at play here, and the urge or need to conform to community norms albeit in the differing environs of North London, the Midlands or Oop North to share a ‘belonging’ with those we have grown up with or, in footballing terms, the sense of belonging to the community of fans who support a particular club. Not that this necessarily speaks to the many fans throughout the world who are equally supportive of their chosen club.

It would be futile in a short article to try and look at this issue at every level, so in addressing only what makes fans tick, let’s have a look at some current-ish issues that have cropped up recently.

There has been a big hoo-hah over the very public admonishment and shameful questioning of the Chelsea club doctor’s professional competence which Mourinho lamely tried to disguise as a footballing knowledge requirement on when to run on the field of play to help an injured football player — in other words when Dr Maureen says so. Pissht.

Many fans, including most of us Gooners, thought this was a shabby display of dictatorial and sexist behaviour on the part of the manager even though he had in fact belatedly included a male employee in his tirade.

But that was not the view of the vast majority of the Chav fans, who were supportive of Maureen and gleefully told themselves this was an example of the manager’s winning mentality – even though they did not win that game – or the one against Man Citeh, where two Chelsea players went down simultaneously and the replacement Chelsea doctor had to be helped out by the Citeh medical team running on. Did they respect your medical/football knowledge wishes too, José?

This not a refection on the Chelsea fans who saw nothing wrong with Mourhino’s stance, because it is unquestionably the case that if this scenario had been played out at Old Trafford, instead of Chelsea, the ManUre fans, who for years were well versed in supporting Old Red Nose in some of his wildest rants, would have supported their manager in the same way – and conversely the Chav fans would then have joined the rest of us in pillorying the ridiculous attitude of the Manure manager in this hypothetical instance.

Was it the case that, in these instances, the outcome was the result of the tribal instinct to which, as fans, we are all prone?

Well, it has been said on here, and elsewhere, that the support Maureen got was borne out of misplaced loyalty, and that the Chav fans really did know he was in the wrong, but were more than happy to indulge in a little bit of cant and hypocrisy as part of the ‘defence’ of the Chelsea community and a manager who has been successful for them.

In human beings there is a complex and powerful desire to conform to the group mood or ethos, and those fans supporting their manager are not knowingly intending to lie or pretend. This human condition actually makes our brains rationalise the facts and to change the way they are perceived, which is different to how others see them.

Take the rationalising of penalty incidents, for example. This inevitably results in opposing sets of fans seeing the same incidents in very different and opposing ways too. “He deliberately chopped our player!” “No, he is a diving cheat!” and so on, and on.
The same incident, if reversed, would have the same fans crying out the opposite views, if it were the other team’s player involved.

There is a phenomenon that occurs on all blogs, and it is something that we are all aware of and it relates to the fact that we can quickly become aware of other people’s biases, whether it is towards certain players, or the behaviour of the managers, or the ethos of other teams, or, dare I say it – other bloggers – and yet at the same time we are completely detached or impervious to our own biases, which are obvious to others.

There is a formulaic phrase that is becoming common, and which some see as essential to protect good relations between bloggers with opposing views, after it has become all too obvious that further discussion has descended into being a pointless dialogue of the blind, and that is “we will have to agree to disagree” which is immensely useful when it becomes clear that no purpose is fulfilled by further debate.

So, Arsenal are the best club in the world, right? Umm – Yes —and no — it depends on who is being asked. 😀

Written by RA

Are we asking too much of Francis Coquelin?

August 18, 2015

There is no doubt that since his recall from loan at Charlton Athletic Francis Coquelin had a great impact on the team.


Playing as the long awaited defensive mid-fielder, he has helped stabilise the centre of our team. He is very good at breaking up opposition attacks, winning back the ball and playing simple but telling passes to our more offensively minded mid-fielders.

Having joined Arsenal in July 2008 he got a few games during that season and became a regular in the Reserves the following season 2009/10. He also played in the League and FA cups without really distinguishing himself. He then opted to go out on loan and played for Lorient, for the whole of the 2010/11 season before returning to Arsenal where he made his debut for the first team in the 8 – 2 defeat by Manchester United. At the end of the 2012/13 season he went out on loan again this time to Freiburg and then on to Charlton Athletic. At this stage it did not look as though he had much of a future at Arsenal.

Since his recall last in December 2014 he has been a revelation, playing in the most difficult position he has become an “ever present” and established himself as one of the top defensive mid-fielders in the Premiership.

Playing in the centre of the field as he does, there is a fine line between winning the ball with a clean tackle and being a fraction of a second late thereby “catching” the player and receiving a yellow card.

His position is made harder by the fact that Arsene Wenger’s choice of Santi Cazorla as his partner leaves too much for him to do. Santi is a wonderful player but is not the most defensively minded of characters and too often drifts too far forward leaving Coquelin to fight the fires behind him alone.

We have an excellent array of gifted, attacking mid-fielders, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Oxlade-Chamberlain and, when fit, Wilshere. The temptation to fit in as many as possible seems to be too great for Wenger to resist. Consequently we see too often Coquelin fighting a lone battle in mid-field and picking up yellow cards on too many occasions. Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace being a case in point, only a surprisingly lenient referee allowed him to remain on the pitch to commit a further series of fouls even after being booked.

If the present situation is allowed to continue opposing players will start to look for opportunities to go down at the merest touch and Coquelin will become a card magnet.

Last season the manager introduced a slightly more pragmatic approach to defending, the result being a fine run into third position in the league and another FA Cup triumph. Perhaps it’s now time to take a step further and sacrifice one of the attacking mid-fielders in favour of, perhaps, Mikel Arteta to play alongside Coquelin.

Written by Norfolk Gooner.

Sanchez Return to Fire the Gunners

August 16, 2015

Now I don’t like Me-rinho but I do have a grudging admiration for him and one cannot deny that he knows his football;. Last week he gave an interview about his expectations for the season stating it would be the hardest league to win ever – his reasons? The huge revenues from the upcoming TV rights which have improved the ability of mid-to-low table PL clubs to sign international quality foreigners, thus making talent differentials between the Top 4 and the rest less apparent. For example, Ayew given a 5m signing on fee by Swansea, Shaqiri choosing Stoke instead of a host of clubs throughout Europe and worst for us today – Cabaye moving from the riches and attractions of PSG to ply his trade at Palace.

Just think – Crystal Palace – a club with a ground capacity of just 26k attracting Cabaye plus a front line of Zaha, Bolassie, Bamford, Wickham and our good friend Chamakh! That alone is a massive wage bill.

When asked if he had tried to sign Cabaye Mr Wenger said “No, we have enough in that area”. I don’t believe him. Cabaye is quality and certainly better than the players we had in midfield a few years ago. He will cause us problems this afternoon.


Pulls did wonders at Palace last season and will be looking to push forward this, a Top 10 finish must be his target.

And what about Arsenal? The less said about last Sunday the better and I would like to thank WH Bob for not getting in touch this week 🙂  Can we expect better this afternoon?

We have to. This is a very, very good squad and the best we have had for many a year, we all know they could and should beat teams like CP, but ……. sadly, football is not about should’s, is it?

Debuchy looked rusty last week and Bellerin’s pace added to that of The Ox will be important given the pace of CP’s wingers.  Our pace upfront will test the ageing CP centre backs and as such I hope for Theo to start in place of OG, the pointless crossing into a packed box creates nothing against a team defending in depth which is what we can expect this afternoon.

A fit and raring to go Sanchez is a major boon, I expect him to score our first goal of the season.

We won 2-1 twice last season a similar result would be very welcome today

p.s. There are two ex-Arsenal players in CP’s Best Ever Team. Who are they?


How safe is the Best Manager in the world‏

August 14, 2015

Morning all,

The career of a premier league Manager comes with lots of up’s and down’s, one minute a hero the next anything but. Not so long ago, supporters were filling the streets with banners and the wearing of a black scarf, signifying some Arsenal supporters views on the current Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. A few seasons of what they considered to be bad results, the lack of spending was also seen as bad management.

Today those same supporters seem quieter, we seldom see black scarves and banners expressing ‘Wenger Out’. It’s not impossible to understand how some supporters do not need too many bad results before turning against players or managers. On some occasion’s, even the owners are pointed out for ridicule, yes, even though they have spent many millions of their own money to buy the said club.

Arsenal is not the only  club out of the twenty Premier League clubs to have had similar problems from supposedly loyal supporter’s, Newcastle, Liverpool Manchester United and their neighbours City have all had problems. When you look at the numbers of managers these clubs have had over the years you wonder why anyone would want to be a Football Manager.

Premier League Management is a high profile job in which the pressure exists every week throughout the playing season. Managers are expected to face the press and answer questions that are often meant to embarrass the person in front of the camera. The Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, is flavour of the moment.  After a slow pre season and only a draw for their opening game, the press are looking for headline news. Selling goalkeeper Petr Cech to Arsenal was another story they could twist and turn.

It has to be said that most Premier Managers do not like to sell good players to their immediate rivals, why strengthen another club, but in certain circumstances it has to happen. Premier league players want to play for premier clubs, should they not be happy at a certain club then they have a right to move on, A bit like a skilled man in the engineering  business, who moves to another firm for more money or better opportunities, well within his rights to do so, the only difference is contracts, and whether that worker has fulfilled what he signed on for.

As for Mourinho, he has just publicly criticised his on field doctor for rushing on the pitch to treat an injured player.  Chelsea were already playing with ten men after their goalkeeper had been sent off, and Mourinho realised like most Managers would that when a player is treated on the field of play he has to leave the field before play starts again thus leaving his side with nine players against eleven. Mourinho had the hump, and he showed that on the pitch, the press have, of course, had a field day and now they are writing in their daily’s that Mourinho may not last the season.

Its only last week, that I heard Alan Shearer, a television pundit, ex England player asked to name the club prior to this seasons start who he felt would lift the League Title this season. Shearer stated that he felt any team with Mourinho as their manager, would win the league as he felt he was the best manager, I wonder what he feels about that statement now.

Lets have a look at another Manager, LVG at Manchester United. He had, what could be described as a bad season last season, I would expect that should he have a run of bad results this season he could also be gone before the seasons end. The Manchester City Manager Pelegrini has also stated that not winning the league this season will also end his City career.  Our own Arsene Wenger has not won the premier league in an age so what are his chances of finishing the season still in a job should the league not be won by us. I would be willing to bet that he is still here next season, but who knows, with many owners who demand success.

Premier league Managers can earn fortunes with the right club, is it right that they can be discarded, even with a contract, when 20 other clubs compete for just one premier league trophy, What’s your view?

Written by Steve Palmer

A look at Arsenal heroes – Charlie George

August 13, 2015

I thought I would take a look back at a few of our Arsenal Heroes and I’m starting off with a local player that you will all recognize and admire – Charles Frederick “Charlie” George

Charlie George 1

Charlie was born 10 October 1950 in Islington, North London.

Brought up deep in Arsenal territory, Charlie was just a nipper when he made his first trip to Highbury to see the Gunners play. His fiery nature showed up early in his life when he was expelled from a local school. As a young boy he played for Islington Schoolboys before he realised his dream when in May 1966 he signed as an apprentice at Arsenal and turned professional eighteen months later. In a short period of three to four years he had progressed from standing on the terraces watching his heroes to actually playing among them.

He made his debut against Everton in the opening game of the 1969/70 season and scored his first goal against West Bromwich Albion two games later. Unfortunately, ill-discipline marred his initial season and as a result he spent three months in the reserves. He was reinstated in the spring and as a19-year-old he helped the Gunners to European Fairs Cup glory. He brought a swagger previously unseen in a Bertie Mee side, and his impact meant he attracted much of the pre-season hype in the summer of 1970. It wasn’t a case of if he would be good but more a case of just how good he would become. Disaster lurked just around the corner when after scoring at Goodison Park on the opening day of the League season; Charlie suffered a broken ankle which kept him out until the New Year. During his absence he was replaced up front by Ray Kennedy. His skills and creativity allowed him to thrive in his new role as an attacking midfielder and from there he gave the team an added dimension that would prove to pay the ultimate dividend on a historic day at Wembley in May 1971.

Arsenal had wrapped up the league title at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane on the Monday when Ray Kennedy headed home a cross from George Armstrong – now just a short few days later they had to face Bill Shankley’s Liverpool in the FA Cup final. After 90 minutes the game was goalless but just two minutes into extra time Liverpool were ahead through Steve Heighway. Nine minutes later Eddie Kelly started what would be a remarkable Arsenal comeback. With eight minutes to go the game looked destined for a draw with both sets of players dead on their feet until George, Arsenal’s long-haired talisman, stepped up. John Radford squared the ball just outside the box and George took a touch to steady himself before lashing a thunderbolt of a shot past Ray Clemence into the Liverpool goal.

The game commentator described the goal as follows –
Radford to George – George –


His celebration is almost as famous as the goal itself as he dropped to the floor in exhaustion and lay flat on his back as his team-mates celebrated. It remains one of the most rousing and lasting images in Arsenal’s history as well as the history of the FA Cup.


charlie george 4

With the FA Cup win Arsenal completed their first League and Cup double.

Charlie George 5
He played four more seasons at Highbury, however the latter stages of his career with Arsenal were hampered with injuries and his rebellious streak which created issues with the club’s management; during the 1971–72 season he was disciplined by the club twice, first after head butting Liverpool’s Kevin Keegan, and then for flicking a V-sign at Derby County’s fans after scoring away at the Baseball Ground. He scored eleven goals in both 1971–72 and 1972–73 but his form declined and he only scored five times in 28 matches in 1973–74 and once again ill discipline caused a problem and he was dropped from the first team in 1974–75 after falling out with manager Bertie Mee. By Christmas 1974 he had been transfer listed, and he moved to Derby County in July 1975 for £100,000.

He spent three and a half years at Derby but, predictably, he fell out with coach Don Revie after being substituted and he was never picked again. He also had a loan spell at St George’s Budapest in Australia. After Derby, he went on to play for the Minnesota Kicks in the North American Soccer League, where he made 18 appearances in the1978 season. He then returned to England with Southampton and then he had a short period on loan to Nottingham Forest in 1980, he could not agree an extension to his loan at Forest and returned to Southampton, playing his last league game for them on 14 March 1981. In the summer of 1981 he left the club to move to Bulova in Hong Kong. A year later he returned to England to have short spells with Bournemouth and Derby County for a second time, and had a short time with Scottish side Dundee United before retiring in 1983.

Always a controversial figure, Charlie had his run-ins with the game’s authorities, but his supporters loved him no less for it. Sadly for him he never got the chance to fulfil his potential on the international stage and the hour he played for England against the Republic of Ireland in 1976 was to be his only cap. A disagreement with then boss Don Revie led to his substitution and a falling out with the England set-up.
After retiring from football he moved to New Milton, Hampshire to run a pub. For some years he had joint ownership in a garage business now he is back at Arsenal where he conducts “Legends” tours, and also acts as a match day host.

charlie george 3


Do Arsenal REALLY need a star striker?

August 12, 2015

2 games, 2 goals, that’s the record of two Arsenal youngsters currently playing their football in the Championship. One of them is now an ex player in Benik Afobe, the other is very much an Arsenal player in the making in the shape of Chuba Akpom, but will either of these talented young players ever be given an opportunity to perform at a big club?

Over the last few years we have seen a massive shift in the way modern strikers play. Previously, they would work in tandem, usually with a big lump and a speedster seen as the ideal pair. Now, however, the striker position is one of the loneliest on the field, with many clubs, especially the big ones, preferring to play with a lone front man. I believe this is a massive reason as to why there are a lack of quality young strikers available on the market, and why someone like Benik Afobe didn’t get a chance at Arsenal.

If you look back at the debuts of some talented young strikers who went on to make it at big clubs, you will see an obvious pattern. The likes of Owen, Anelka and Rooney all started young, and all made their debuts playing as one of a pair alongside a more experienced striker. These days though it’s almost impossible for a young player to get an opportunity when there is only 1 striker position available.

What we see now are the likes of Sturridge, Welbeck and Morata having to play in a wider role to try and prove their worth. All these players were eventually moved on by their giant clubs as they opted for more experienced and trusted options to lead the line.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, such as Kane, Berahino and Ings, but these breakthroughs tend to be at smaller clubs like Tottenham and West Brom, and only after star signings such as Soldado, Adebayor and Ideye have failed.

With Arsenal constantly being linked to the likes of Benzema, Cavani and Lewandowski, my questions for you are how do you think the signing of one of these star strikers effects the chances of Akpom? Do you ever see a situation where a huge club, like Arsenal, can put their trust in a young player to lead the line when the demand for results is at an all time high?

Also, if it’s not formation, what do you think, if anything, is to blame for the lack of quality young striking talent in Europe?

Written by FatGingerGooner