Having been in Budapest this time last week, I’m back and ready to throw at you some Gooner gibberish, after a rather life-expectancy shortening weekend. We shan’t go into details. Despite my antics, I still found enough time to dedicate to watching the Arsenal three times in just over the space of a week.
While I won’t dawn on old news such as the erection-worthy Jack Wilshere goal against Norwich City, nor the somewhat undeserved defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, I will be referring to those games at some point no doubt, so please bare with me.
Right now though, we barely have enough time to enjoy our hard-fought win at Crystal Palace on Saturday due to tomorrow’s huge clash in the Capital One Cup at the Emirates to the old enemy; Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.
Before I get into the main points of my article, I would just like to say that seeing pricks (who I respect as managers by the way) such as Mourinho, Harry Redknapp and Sir Alex Ferguson act in the way they have recently has just furthered my affection for our own manager. I personally adore the class exhibited by Arsene Wenger on a frequent basis. Yes he has his moments where he loses his shit, but even the nicest bosses do (Jurgen Klopp anyone?) and you do want to see that every now and then to show that they care. Yes sometimes his tactics and methods in the transfer window can frustrate you. But you cannot deny that he makes everyone decision with the club at the forefront of his mind and heart.
And as successful and popular as the previously mentioned trio have been, it’s clear to see that they are even more self-obsessed, bitter and nasty than many had first thought. Ferguson is arguably the best manager of all time and nobody can deny that, his record is staggering. But the way he slated Lord David Beckham, claimed that Roy Keane wasn’t “committed” to Manchester United, and that Steven Gerrard has never been a top, top player? Just fuck off.
Mourinho’s celebration against Manchester City before defending himself and then moaning that we had an unfair advantage against them in the League Cup? Fuck off.
Harry Redknapp’s…Just Harry Redknapp. Fuck off.
After seeing all of that, I really hope the Wenger Out Brigade can just realise what an absolute gent we have leading this club. The countries’ finest training facilities, stadium and style of football is down to this man and how he helped crown our most successful period ever in history. There is really only one Arsene Wenger. And hey, if he’s good enough for Mesut Ozil, then he’s good enough for us.
Right onto this week’s main course.
[heading size=”12″]Gunners Town Top 5: Talking Points of the Week[/heading]
1: Media Shocker
For those of you who know me or have read any of my pieces on here in the past (I have been the editor for 18 months now so you should have!), you will know that I don’t make passionate, temper-boiling reactions to news all too often without taking a step back to analyse the situation. I’ll admit, a number of Gooners are way too quick to play the ‘Anti-Arsenal’ card and that ‘everyone hates us’, the fact that some fans were claiming to be the victim of a media outburst over Adnan Januzaj the other week, when nobody even mentioned Arsenal immediately after his two-goal appearance over Sunderland was just woeful. Nobody was questioning our ability to produce talent, so why make a fight when there wasn’t one? It’s was Manchester United’s business, but some of the Arsenal faithful still tried to stick their nose in it.
However, I’m fully with the recent rage against the media following the weekend’s action. I’ve thought long and hard about what was said by the likes of Michael Owen and Alan Hansen etc to try to see and understand their comments from their viewpoint, but, while I can absorb their arguments to a degree, the vast majority of their claims are utter bollocks.
I don’t believe that everyone in the media hates us, but I do feel that some have their favourites. But, what was said by the former Liverpool men on Saturday was just shocking, not even appalling because it was just so unbelievable. Nobody seems to rate Monotone Michael at the best of times, but his sudden burst of life when he pleaded for Mikel Arteta to be sent off was just barmy. I won’t go over the incident because we know it wasn’t a red card, but the fact that Owen was almost seemingly a fan was startling.
The commentators and analysts during the match all seemed to agree that a yellow was the most the Spaniard deserved, but Owen was almost willing to tread over fire to back Chris Foy’s decision. He can’t speak at the best of times, but seeing him attempt to tackle a 100mph sentence to condemn Arteta was outrageous, if not a tad sad and amusing.
Hansen then followed this up by claiming that we have no chance of winning the Premier League title because…we weren’t great at defending one time three years ago. And he made these claims on the day of us keeping a clean sheet.
I’m not making any judgements about our surge for the title any time soon, not until January in fact, regardless of our upcoming tricky run, but to write off our chances when we’re top of the league heading into November is a bit silly.
2: Wonderful Woj
In a brilliant piece from the wonderful Michael Jeffares a few weeks back, I wrote this:
“For a man who has been slagged off left, right and centre by Gooners and rival fans alike, Wojciech Szczesny has gone some way to sticking two fingers up at his doubters. The Pole has improved dramatically this term following a disappointing previous campaign, has been a vital part of Arsenal’s rise to the Premier League summit. Starting with a thrilling performance at Fenerbahce, Szczesny has put in some superb displays and pulled off some match-defining stops along the way in all competitions. He deserves a huge amount of credit for the way he has responded despite being just 23-years-old. Szczesny has his mojo back, and looks to have nailed down the number one spot once more.”
My opinion hasn’t changed one bit following his outing at Selhurst Park. While we haven’t kept a huge amount of clean sheets this season, we have produced a number of match-saving incidents, no matter what position that player operates in. But on Saturday, Wojciech Szczesny literally saved our bacon.
Down to 10 men and with Palace on the attack with 25 minutes left at an intensifying Selhurst Park, you woudn’t have been alone if you had thought that an equaliser was coming. On many other days there could have been, but Szczesny wasn’t going to let Saturday be that day.
When Palace were at their peak, the Polish stopper pulled off two world-class saves, that were acknowledged by every manager, pundit and fan after the match. Palace must have twice thought that they had scored a stunning leveller, but Szczesny was just that bit better.
The whole back four were tremendous, but given what he has been put through, Szczesny deserves that slight warmer of an embrace from me.
3: From Bench to Dench?
Mathieu Flamini; OUT. Mikel Arteta; BANNED. Fuck.
What are the odds that we lose both our holding players during one match? Well, not actually that low given our injury record this season. But it looks as if we will be without Flamini for at least two weeks after suffering a groin strain, while Arteta will now serve a one-match ban (I believe, correct me if I’m wrong).
They’re both out of the Capital One Cup clash with Chelsea that’s for sure, and that has left me wondering who in the blue hell we are going to put there. While it really wouldn’t surprise me if Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey were paired there, I wonder how many fans would be against us playing Emmanuel Frimpong.
I don’t think Isaac Hayden is the answer. I know he played at West Bromwich Albion, but this is Chelsea we are talking about. Frimpong is out of contract at the end of the year, so he will be desperate to prove his worth to Wenger in order to increase his chances of a new deal which are, let’s be honest, pretty dead in the water at the moment.
He may lack a few common chromosomes, but there is a footballer behind all this whacky rapping, FIFA playing, Nando’s loving characteristics of a mad man. He is a passionate boy who will give his all, and I’m sure there aren’t many more scenes that Arsenal fans would love to see than Ashley Cole getting Frimponged.
It wasn’t too long ago either that Frimmy was regarded as the defensive equal of his buddy Wilshere, so he must have done something right up until now.
But in reality, it’s a situation of rotation vs. Strength, and I personally don’t think that he will start on Tuesday, but there you go, I’ve made a case for him.
4: Time to get a massive monkey off our back
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting sick and tired of the shit chat from other fans mocking us for our lack of trophies. If there is just one reason to go all out for the Capital One Cup then it is to silence these muppets. Having that dark cloud removed from over our head would be a massive weight off the shoulders at everyone at the club.
I mean, the final last year was Swansea vs. Bradford, not to mention Wigan winning the FA Cup, so why and how have we not ended up with one of those two bits of silverware. They are there for the taking, so let’s fucking clean up.
Winning the cup would also breed the confidence among our squad to go out and challenge for more. You can’t tell me that there would be any negatives to winning the cup. Even if it is regarded as the least prestigious of all four available cups to win, try telling yourself that winning at Wembley and lifting a piece of silverware in front of a stadium of Gooners amid copious amounts of fireworks and positivity wouldn’t bring a smile to your face. Didn’t think so.
Go for it. Win it. Win more.
5: Rotation, Rotation, Rotation
Now this final feature is more of a question to you rather than a point. In short, I want to know how much rotation is seen as warranted by the fans and for what causes. There were some people last week calling for Wenger to rest certain players for the Palace match so that they were fresh to battle Chelsea on Tuesday. Personally I would have gone for a few changes and given the likes of Olivier Giroud, Ozil and Laurent Koscielny a bit of a rest and sent out Wilshere, Nicklas Bendtner and Tomas Rosicky for the Premier League tussle, although it didn’t turn out to be the most straightforward of games, and imagine the backlash had we dropped points.
Our upcoming fixtures are as follows:
OCT 29: Chelsea (COC) – Home
NOV 2: Liverpool (PL) – Home
NOV 6: Borussia Dortmund (CL) – Away
NOV 10: Manchester United (PL) – Away
Now here comes the tough part, where the fuck do we rotate during that? I literally don’t think we can afford to lose in any of them. In all honesty, drawing at United and Dortmund wouldn’t be the worst, but then that puts us under a huge amount of pressure to win at Napoli. Plus if we didn’t beat Liverpool, then it wouldn’t look great either.
These four are all tremendously challenging fixtures, and is it really fair to expect Giroud to be notching comfortably at Old Trafford having gone through the first three matches? The injuries don’t help and yes our squad is too thin but there is nothing we can do about that now.
So let me know what teams you think we should put out and how we best rotate for this ultimate test of our character.
That’s all from me, feel free to get in touch via Twitter or by leaving a comment.
Never forget you’re a Gooner.
Matt has been the editor of the site since June 2012 and was born into a Gooner family 21 years ago. He recently graduated from Southampton Solent University with a degree in Sports Journalism and strives to work in the Sports Media industry. As well as currently working as a reporter for Sports Mole and TIBS News, Matt has been providing football commentary for the visually impaired since 2008 at Arsenal, Exeter City and Wembley.
His earliest Gunners memory is watching the ‘Boring, boring Arsenal’ VHS as a six-year-old on repeat, to the extent where he could recite most of the commentary from that season. Matt was lucky enough to witness Arsenal lift the Premier League in 2002 as well as being present during the last match at Highbury in 2006, and at Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial a few months later at the Emirates Stadium. Matt’s favourite players include Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Tony Adams, with the 5-3 comeback victory against Middlesbrough in 2004 the best match he has ever spectated.
Matt is an optimistic ’In Wenger we trust’, kind of guy and believes that the glory days are not too far away…
Apart from his editorial duties, Matt will also be bringing his Arsenal knowledge to a column called “Where Are They Now?” – which focuses on former Gunners.