Why Arsenal? Letter to a brand-new Junior Gunner after the West Ham fiasco


On Saturday I was speaking to my sister in Hawaii, and she told me that her boyfriend’s 13-year-old son, Blu, was now playing ‘soccer’ (football) and was interested in following the premier league. I told her it was perfect timing, since the season was about to kick off, and that NBC was streaming (and storing) every game online. For free! It was a perfect time to get him hooked: he could watch repeats of games at a decent time, and follow for a whole season.

So, of course, I insisted that he support Arsenal…


Here’s the email I found in my inbox when I woke up this morning. And my response to it.



On 10 Aug 2015, at 4:02 AM, Blu G wrote:

Hey, Paul!

It’s Blu. Just wanted to tell you how I felt about The Arsenal vs West ham game.

I like Arsenal as a team but they performed poorly, Petr Cech made poor decisions when they really mattered.

Don’t get me wrong I love Arsenal as a team but their performance was not a good way to start off a new season.

What did you think about the game?

What do you think they can improve on and what can I look for? Why Arsenal?


Hi Blu,

You are 100% correct. That was our worst opening game in years, and a horrible introduction to our style of play. We had beaten West Ham 9 games in a row, and only ever lost one opening day game at home since we moved into our new stadium.

We had won our second consecutive FA Cup in May. We had come off of a great pre-season. Won the Barclays Asia Cup and the Emirates Cup. We beat the league Champions Chelsea at Wembley last weekend. So believe me – for all Gunners it was a real shock and disappointment.

Last time it happened we won the next 8 games straight.

I believe there are a couple of reasons we lost yesterday.

  1. Our regular right back Bellerin was injured a couple of days ago. He is normally our attacking threat down the right. He is one of – if not the – fastest player(s) in the league. His replacement Debuchy didn’t offer much going forward. Without Bellerin we lacked width. He normally drags defenders out wide to cover him, which creates gaps in the middle for our attackers. That didn’t happen yesterday, so the middle was very congested, and it was hard for our players to break through.
    Debuchy was underwhelming. We needed width and pace down the right.

    Debuchy was underwhelming. We needed width and pace down the right.

  2. We normally play a defensive pivot of Coquelin and Cazorla in front of the back 4. Yesterday Wenger played Coquelin and Ramsey – and put Cazorla on the left so that he could put Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right. (The Ox is in brilliant form, and has recently come back from injury). Ramsey is often played on the right – but in the centre yesterday he was slow and selfish to distribute, so we were very sluggish going forward. Cazorla is much better in that role. But I think Wenger wanted to start them all, and that was part of the problem.
    Ramsey doesn't perform Cazorla's playmaker role very well.

    Ramsey doesn’t perform Cazorla’s playmaker role very well.

  3. Özil had a pretty quiet game – he and Monreal tried to stretch the pitch in the left, but they didn’t have as much effect; and Giroud hasn’t had as much preseason game time so he wasn’t as effective as he has been. Getting skull-crashed probably didn’t help much. Walcott came on to add some threat, but by then it was too late, and the centre was still too crowded.
    Giroud found the going pretty tough.

    Giroud found the going pretty tough.

  4. Petr Cech is our new goalie. We just bought him from Chelsea for £10m and he is supposed to have been the final piece in the puzzle for us. But he had a shocking game. Both goals were errors by him. Especially the first, where he came out to punch the ball and came horribly short. In the second, he seemed to misread the game, was going the wrong way, and let someone score from outside the box with a pretty mediocre effort. It’s hard to say for sure, but I think both of last season’s goalies would have done better! Cech is supposedly going to bring us an extra 12 points this season. Well, he is on -3 now! 😉
    Petr Cech was costly

    Petr Cech was costly

  5. The other thing is – West Ham have had 12 preseason games – they were playing Europa League qualifiers. So they were possibly more match fit and playing better together. They were lucky, but they made the most of their luck and deserved the win.
West Ham took their chances and deserved the win

West Ham took their chances and deserved the win

So – it was a bit of a nightmare.

I promise you though – stick with us! There are still 111 points to play for: 37 league games, plus the FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League. It’s a very long season. And we are in with a decent chance of winning the league, and perhaps a Cup or two!

Sometimes a shock loss like this is what a team needs to get their act together. We have a great squad. Wenger is trying to figure out the best combination of players. Unfortunately squeezing all the best players into a team isn’t always the answer. It’s about balance and fluidity.

Wenger was not impressed - but selecting the right team is going to give him lots of headaches...

Wenger was not impressed – but selecting the right team is going to give him lots of headaches…

Yesterday we had neither.

So, Blu – keep watching! Keep the faith. There are some highs and lows in every season. This year we started with a low.

The only way is up!

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6 Responses to Why Arsenal? Letter to a brand-new Junior Gunner after the West Ham fiasco

  1. Uwot? August 10, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    One thing to learn straight away about supporting the arsenal is that withoubt a doubt we are the only club in the universe that can bring you to the heights of ecstasy & depths of despair in a’s worth understanding that if you decide to continue & don’t want to end up suicidal….

  2. hammerchilly August 10, 2015 at 12:38 pm #


    what exactly was lucky? That you played badly? or your goalie made one error and your defense let him down on the second?

    We are not, and were not the better team, but that was not lucky! Tactically we got it spot on right and forced you down the middle where we were strong, and secondly we worked harder!!

    Have a little grace, you will go on to much bigger things this year than we will, but we weren’t lucky!

    • Dave Seager August 10, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

      Agree but you were the better team. I sit close to dugout and have never seen any manager coach so actively during a game. Hugely impressed.

      • hammerchilly August 10, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

        maybe second half…first half between 25 mins and the 1st goal, I actually thought it was a matter of time before you scored.
        You never really started the second half and then after the second goal and till Sanchez came on, you tried to walk the ball through the middle where we have found a “proper” spine of a team with Adrian, Reid, Ogbonna, Oxford, Noble.
        We will struggle when we lose a couple to injury, and as you know, it’s a different game when people defend against you and you are supposed to break them down!
        Best of luck though, given the expected top 6, most hammers would rather you win it!!!

    • Batmandela August 10, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

      Thanks for the response – and yes – I could see how you would think that my ‘lucky’ comment was somehow derisory. It wasn’t meant to be. Addressing this to a 13-year-old, it was simpler than saying that West Ham were opportunistic. Many teams are presented with moments where Arsenal fall asleep, or make silly mistakes. Not all of teams punish Arsenal as effectively as you did.

      I suppose I could have said ‘opportunistic’. That might have been more accurate…

      Point is – you proactively shut down our attack – but in a sense you were ‘gifted’ two golden opportunities to put us to the sword. That those opportunities presented themselves wasn’t something you manufactured. So in a sense they were ‘lucky’. Please note that I did say you made the most of your luck and deserved to win.

      As Gary Player says – “The more I practice, the luckier I get…” So there’s that, too! 🙂

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