Tag Archives: arsene

The Anti-Arsenal Agenda

The media agenda has never been clearer.

We should have seen it before, cried out at the injustice of the journalists and experts who have continuously hitched a ride on the Arsenal train to boost their flagging numbers.

Let us look at recent attempts to discolour the truth.

Never happier than during our trophy drought – repeated focus on our nine years without silverware, despite their darlings Liverpool being without a trophy since 2012, and tottenham bereft of anything to put inside their dusty cabinet since 2008 – the League Cup – writers held up our barren run as something that was not acceptable.

When we did hold aloft the FA Cup in 2014 to end the terrible run, newspapers, radio hosts et al then switched their gaze upon our lack of a Premier League since 2004. Like the FA Cup was an insignificant piece of history, as if it didn’t register in the annals of footballing history. This switch even though Liverpool and tottenham have NEVER won a Premier League trophy.

When Manchester United won the FA Cup in 2016, it was lauded as a significant step in the recovery of the Red Devils. Yet we had won it two years on the spin before United achieved their win at Wembley.

The Wenger era was faltering, there could be no doubt, but we had won silverware. It mattered little though, as our failings rather than our success that fed the media machine. When we did stumble? Manna from heaven for the journalists.

When we eventually fell out of the Champions League reckoning? It was only  a matter of time. Every year, every publication, every show, they all predicted the final positions of each coming season. For five years prior to us finishing fifth in 2016, the lions share of experts would predict that we would finish well out of the top4. When it did happen many years later, it wasn’t seen as an epic fail or egg on the face of those that are supposed to know – it was used as vindication.

Of course Arsenal finished outside of the top4 – look, we’ve been saying it for years!!!

Now we have a new man at the helm. After more than two decades at Arsenal, Wenger had left the club and we had Unai Emery who was tasked with returning the Gunners to the top table of English and European football. Change after such a long time is difficult, and the level-headed ones amongst us recognised this and were optimistic, yet guarded. It would take time to instill Emery’s values, tactics and framework. The Spaniard’s processes would differ from Wenger’s inevitably, and a period of adjustment would be needed.

Emery-team-talk

After the first two games of the season we were pointless, and the stories surrounding us all were loving every minute. Emery stuck gamely to his principles though, and even though we still have plenty to work on, Emery oversaw a fantastic run that helped us up the table and progress in the Europa League.

The blemish-free run was in the face of a squad that were adapting to new measures and ways that would hamper any attempt to hit top gear – and yet we were winning.

The focus in the news?

Our shaky defence. The amount of chances we were presenting. All genuine causes for concern but the actual main thread?

All the while, Liverpool and tottenham struggled in the Champions League.

How were their efforts described?

Unlucky. Brave. Heroic. Full of effort.

It shows that no matter what we do, unless Emery masterminds a blitz toward the title,the external opinions surrounding our club from outsiders will always be tainted. It also highlights that both the Reds and spurs enjoy a certain leeway from writers and presenters who are meant to be delivering honest assessments.

What has overtaken real news is attention. Clicks and hits.

What gets clicks and hits? Disgruntled Arsenal fans.

During my research for my book about the title-winning team of 1990/91, I found that George Graham commented on this even back then, saying that the anti-Arsenal bias existed even in the days of pre-internet.

This isn’t a new thing, yet it is getting worse.

Match Of The Day never highlight our excellent passages of play, yet always remember to showcase other clubs.

When Stewart Robson comes out with another pearl regarding how poor Arsenal are, pay him no heed.

The next time Neil Ashton or Adrian Durham spew forth some bile regarding Arsenal’s bleak future or lowering targets? Ignorance is bliss.

Courting controversy is what they are doing, and we are playing our part too, by feeling the need to vent our spleens at such idiotic content.

Let us just enjoy the Emery revolution and constantly remind ourselves that impartiality is predominantly dead, and if you do find a writer whose opinion you respect?

Those are the clicks we should be giving away. Rewarding those who present us with agenda-free content.

Invincibles Vs Almost Invincibles

Featured in The Gooner Fanzine

Comparing things is pretty big business. It harnesses our compelling need to put different versions alongside each other and gauge each and every characteristic – despite the flaws in the method.

We can’t help but do it, but comparing things has far too many variables to reach a conclusive answer.

Especially when it comes to football – and yet we are all guilty of it.

Ronaldo and Messi compared to Maradona and Pele or any other titan of the game is one that is often bandied around, but the nuances of time and the different permutations surrounding each generation render any result reached a moot one.

We do it with different teams too – even ones that wore the same jersey.

As Gooners, we are pretty spoiled when we visit the annals of our past, as we have a multitude of teams, players and seasons when success was reached and memories were encased in a gold-tinted amber. We can hark back to these slices of time and wonder how they would have fared in today’s game – and if they would have emulated some of our more recent successes.

George Graham helped us achieve a few of our brightest moments, but will always be remembered for probably the most dramatic title win in history. The Miracle of Anfield 89 has been converted into film twice and is never far away from any self-respecting Gooner’s recollection – and for very good reason – but was that his finest team?

Probably not.

Two years later, his Arsenal side reclaimed the title ahead of rivals Liverpool, conceded just 18 goals in the process over 38 games, and scored a hatful of goals to dispel any notions that his men were mere defence merchants.

They won the title with games to spare too – and perhaps the most compelling argument to sway anyone who thought the 89 team was better? The team of 90/91 did all this even with their skipper being sent to prison, being deducted points for the infamous brawl at Old Trafford – still the only case before or since where a team has been deducted points – and having a squad that was light in terms of numbers.

They played every three days for over a third of the season, and lost just one game. One. That sole ‘L’ in the league table came at Stamford Bridge where an offside goal and a tackle that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an MMA Octagon took out our sole recognised centre-back combined to thieve points from GG’s team.

It is quite the story, and there was much more too. How did the squad keep the good ship Arsenal on a steady course despite missing such an inspirational figure in Tony Adams? How did the team cope despite being lambasted by the press for their part in the mass melee at Old Trafford? Above all, could they have gone ‘Invincible’ before Wenger’s fabulous side achieved it thirteen years after?

This amazing and inspirational side are one of the finest that Arsenal have ever had, but they get a paltry amount of limelight compared to the 03/04, 89 and even the 97/98 sides.

Never mind about were they as good as the hero’s of 89 – we should be asking whether they stand shoulder to shoulder with the Invincibles – arguably our greatest ever eleven.

You see? We can’t help but compare.

My book, Almost Invincible, does this extensively, and uses library newspaper records and the accounts of David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn, Bob Wilson, David Hillier and Alan Smith to illustrate how they did what they did. It also features expert opinion from Guardian journalist Amy Lawrence.

Undecided? Let my book show you how good the side of 90/91 truly were, the side that was ‘Almost Invincible.’

Just go to the ‘My Books’ section above, or go to my Twitter bio, my handle is @JokAFC.

Merci and Adieu Arsene

You are responsible for the brightest of lights and the darkest shadows.

When we were first introduced to you, we worried for the future. How could you uphold all that is precious about our club when you have no idea about what it is that makes us so special?

If we could go back in time and tell our past selves that we needn’t have worried – we wouldn’t. It was the worry, the uncertainty, that made your impact resonate so much.

We were treated to football from the gods, we got to witness first-hand how the game is meant to be played. We had the privilege to have in our ranks some of the greatest players in the world at the time.

We were also gifted memories that we would clasp onto when the rough times rolled in.

Yes, the environment changed and it called for a different approach, but you didn’t make it easier with your stubbornness. The good times made the dark seem less fearful, and it gave us all hope.

Hope that we would pull through and get back to what made our glory years so special.

It’s inevitable that every relationship hits a rocky patch, and mistakes started to grate on us a little more each time. As the past shrunk behind us, when we looked forward, we could see less on the horizon.

For every Bergkamp, there was a Bischoff. For every Campbell, there was a Stepanovs. For every Bernabeu win there was an 8-2 vs United. Were your methods outdated? Did your belligerent nature begin to cost us? It’s true to a degree, but it wasn’t just you that is responsible for the slide we’ve been on.

It’s been said by many, that your faith in your players and staff is absolute, and it inspires great things. It makes people want to jump through fire for you, to repay the backing by doing what they do best.

It has also been your greatest weakness. When you’ve been let down repeatedly, you never seem able to say goodbye, to cut the cord. So you keep getting burned. At times, it has left us screaming in the stands, at our TV’s. Players shirking their duties, staff failing to meet the standards they once met. Yet you never let them go.

You expected them to do what you would have done – but not everyone is a gentleman like you Arsene. Not everyone stays true to their word.

Goodbye and Thank You Arsene

Now your seat in the dugout is cold, and it will be filled with someone that isn’t you. We got what we wanted, we wanted change. Criticism can stop and we can take a step back and appreciate what you did for us.

You didn’t just bring us trophies and titans on the pitch.

You gave us bragging rights, you gave us memories, you gave us an identity of purveyors of the beautiful game.

You also held dear the values of the club. Even when pressure seemed too heavy and demanded a drastic change, you never forgot what makes Arsenal, Arsenal.

You were lashed by some of us because you were paid an astronomical wage, but you did everything in your power to justify that. Every minute was spent at London Colney. Dedication is one of your strongest suits.

We are a huge club now, with the opportunity to play at the highest level, thanks to you. We have high expectations, thanks to you. We have a barometer of comparison, thanks to you.

It is no surprise that players and staff have come forward since your announcement to depart, to speak highly of you. Of your managerial nous, but most importantly – what made you beloved by them. Ken Friar, Pat Rice, Pires, Henry, Wright. Former players on social media have all come forward to tell us about the times you helped them become what they are, or in their darkest days how you went above and beyond to make sure they knew they weren’t alone.

Opposition teams have chanted your name in appreciation. Commemorative photos and mementoes have been gifted. The reason is that even though results have slipped, they can see how you changed the footballing landscape, how you pushed the Premier League forward.

We are lower in the league than at any time in your Arsenal career, but it seems far less palatable because of what you gave us before.

You couldn’t let go, but now you’re gone, we know how that must have felt, because after so long together, we felt it too. The bottom line is that we both needed to move on. We’re stronger because of what we’ve done, and we can move on.

We will never forget though.

When we see you at a different club, we know that once you take off their unzippable jacket, you will go home and watch our latest match. The bond between us is unbreakable.

You can take Arsene out of The Arsenal, but you can’t take The Arsenal out of Arsene.

Merci Arsene, and adieu.

Arsenal Vs Atletico Madrid Europa Lge Semi Preview

Arsene Wenger placed this season’s emphasis on the Europa League well before he declared his intention to leave at the end of the season.

And now it is the only chance we have of silverware that is available, and it’s also the only chance we’ve got left to give Wenger a fitting au revoir.

We line up against Atletico Madrid in this Semi-Final first leg at The Emirates with a severe defensive problem. It isn’t through injury though, it’s simply that we can’t keep a clean sheet.

Arsenal Vs Atletico Madrid in the Europa League Semi-Finals

In a tie where away goals are worth their weight in gold, this means that Diego Simeone’s side will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing Shkodran Mustafi and co – and maybe just putting one foot into the final in the process.

Our defence at least has no injury woes to deal with, so Mustafi, Hector Bellerin, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal should be the four that lines up to face Diego Costa, Griezmann and the rest of Atleti. Petr Cech is still injured and David Ospina will most likely take the gloves should Cech fail to prove his fitness.

Arsene Wenger named the side most likely to play Atletico against West Ham, in order to gain fluency and battle-readiness. So that would mean starts for Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi, but there are a few variables that might shift the side.

Firstly, there is the injury to Mohamed Elneny. The Egyptian could well be out for a few weeks and this means that Granit Xhaka will have no defensive cover compared to when he partners Elneny, so the Swiss midfielder will have to be at his very best to combat the runs of Saul Niguez.

Then there is Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere. Both missed the hammering of the Hammers in the weekend – Ozil through illness and Jack via a knock – and with Mkhitaryan still not fit – it means that if Ozil is still not recovered, we could have a playmaker shortage. If Jack can’t prove his fitness, then our midfield could be short too.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles proved that he is an able stand-in when he came on to replace the injured Elneny, and the youngster could well get the nod to give our side that much-needed cover at the back. Wenger will know a single away goal could rule out any dreams of a final shot, so he could keep it tight and pack the midfield.

Atletico were going to be bereft of Diego Costa, but the former Chelsea man has miraculously recovered to take his place back in the side. Juan is definitely out though so at least if we spread the play to the flanks we could get some joy.

This game could be decided in the first leg. If we have one of our games where we concentrate on our attack and our press – you know the games where we pull a result out of the bag and get a win when we’re very much expected to lose – then we could take a very favourable scoreline into the tie at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

If we concede though, we could crumble.

There is at least an air of excitement in the fanbase though, with a last four Euro tie being somewhat of a novelty of late. Let’s hope we can continue our adventure and pull one of our famous results out of the bag.

Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Welbeck, Ozil, Iwobi, Lacazette

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

In Sickness and Health, We’re Still All Gooners

Supporting a club is intrinsically linked to matters of the heart.

We take joy from victory, and we mire ourselves in misery when things take a turn for the worst on the pitch.

This season has been a particularly tough one for us Gooners, as our Premier League campaign has hit the skids as soon as it started – we’ve never been further away from bidding for a first title since 2004.

This season is by far the worst under Arsene Wenger, and has seemingly been the watershed moment for the majority as it is unavoidably clear that in order to move forward, we require a change in direction to shake us from the reverie we seem to be in. That change is now happening this summer.

Another change this season though, has seen another alarming rise in negativity.

There seems to be far more people who take what appears to be glee from defeat, as each demoralising defeat pushes Wenger one step closer to a corner he cannot escape. We have a large portion of so-called fans, that rear their heads whenever we lose, and use it as a catalyst to push their hate-filled agenda against Wenger.

The bottom line is clear – and always has been for Gooners.

A defeat is not to be sought, and anyone who enjoys the opportunities that come from us losing, is surely supporting the wrong club.

We enjoy it when our rivals lose, especially now that tottenham seem to be enjoying their moment in the sun. When they, United, Chelsea and Liverpool lose, it is always a positive, and normally allows us to either catch up, or in recent seasons, overhaul them for a superior position. So for one of our own to what can only be described as ‘revelling in’ it when we are beaten?

That is not supporting your club.

The vitriol aimed at Wenger has been disgraceful at times. Yes, the Frenchman seemed too stubborn to recognise that this is the time to go, and his enduring stay could well end up being a detriment to our season, and beyond. But the names and words involved have been horrible, and have no place directed at our own manager.

The very reason you are so disappointed, is the high standards you now expect. Those same standards have been instilled by Wenger. Without him, then you wouldn’t be as hurt, or angry.

Criticism is just, and some of the fare served up thus far has been dire, and deserved booing, as well as calling Wenger out on some decisions. His failure to address certain long-term issues have been a massive reason why we’re playing catch-up with the rest.

He doesn’t deserve hatred though.

Anger? Of course, and if you can’t separate the two, then you may have missed a year or two of education. It is quite easy to express displeasure without wishing harm on someone, or calling them hateful names.

Wenger has had his chips at Arsenal, and a better suited man is being lined up to come in, but Arsene should always have our respect. Even the most outspoken of our critics can see that. Lee Dixon and Ian Wright have spoken of our malaise and how Wenger needs to go, but notice the omissions of shocking language, and the need to pour scorn on the man himself.

Wenger’s results haven’t been good enough, but the man himself doesn’t warrant anyone destroying him. His capacity to do the job, perhaps, but not of himself. He has always carried himself with the utmost dignity, such is the Arsenal Way, and even in the face of some terrible results and fierce questions from the press, he has always done everything with class.

We could learn a thing or two from that approach.

It is his time to go, and at the end of the season we will face the decision to replace him. Until he goes, we judge what happens on the pitch. So let him know if things weren’t good enough, but refrain from verbally attacking him, either with keyboard or voice. It isn’t how Arsenal conducts itself.

It is hard to avoid how bad we’ve been, and he knows more than anyone how bad we’ve been. Just because he stops short of laying into his players, doesn’t mean he is oblivious to it. Picking out positives where he can is his way of maintaining what semblance of confidence he can for his players, who need that in order to play better.

Plus, if fans are stopping short of doing the same, it doesn’t mean we are crazy Wenger fanboys. We all pretty much recognise this is the end, it doesn’t mean we aren’t a little nostalgic, and even a little sad.

We want better just like the outspoken people do.

Let us unite behind the team until the time comes. Heaven knows, our team could do with the support.

Arsenal Vs West Ham PL Preview

With the news of Wenger finally declaring the end of his two decade stay at Arsenal, it’d be easy to forget we’ve got a Premier League match against West Ham to hurdle.

Arsene Wenger’s final games will rightfully hog the headlines, but the man himself will make sure that our team keeps their heads. Hopefully the players will rally behind his cause and end this season on a high.

That starts versus the Hammers.

Arsenal at The Emirates take on West Ham in the PL

It’s a home game, and our form at The Emirates is far removed from our away form – which is the worst in the top four divisions in England in 2018.

Not only that, but opposition boss David Moyes doesn’t have the greatest of records against Wenger.

In terms of team news, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back in action but the Armenian will most likely be restricted to a role on the bench, in anticipation for our real priority – Thursday’s Europa League Semi-Final first leg against Atletico.

A pattern has emerged in recent league fixtures, where several members of our team have been rested to save their legs for our European adventures. This may mean that Mesut Ozil is kept wrapped up, and that opens the door for Jack Wilshere, who has been in poor form of late.The England midfielder is in the last few games of his contract, and with a new manager inbound and the World Cup coming, Wilshere needs to step up.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started with Alexandre Lacazette in our last game – the abysmal 2-1 loss to Newcastle – but our goal came as a direct consequence of both of these strikers linking up. They both could feature in the same way in this game. Danny Welbeck has been in decent nick of late, and with the likelihood of rotation being pretty high, Welbeck could get the nod, as well as Alex Iwobi.

Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey are both fit, but one at least will most likely be left out for resting purposes. Mohamed Elneny has been in rude form lately and the Egyptian should be playing this match.

Our defence pretty much picks itself, but Shkodran Mustafi has been pretty dire in terms of high profile errors. The German could well be left out if Wenger were picking simply on form, and Calum Chambers would the probable replacement.

West Ham have drawn their last two games, versus Chelsea and Stoke – and Andy Carroll was the man that rescued a point against the Potters. The big striker has a history of scoring against us and whoever lines up against him will have their hands full.

West Ham have other threats too, but David Moyes has rotated his dangermen recently, and the one in favour right now is Joao Mario, with Lanzini on the bench. Marko arnautovic is another who is capable of producing game changing performances – in short, this game could be a toughie.

West Ham have shown real battling qualities to rescue points in their last two games, and with the side now six points away from the relegation zone, Moyes’s main task when he took over is so nearly achieved – avoiding relegation.

Still, they’ve got a really tough run-in and they’ll be looking to wrap things up as they come to The Emirates. We need to send them packing and get our winning habit back on track. For Wenger and our season.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Welbeck, Wilshere, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 to The Arsenal

Wenger to leave Arsenal at end of current season

Arsene Wenger will part ways with Arsenal at the end of the season, the club and Wenger have confirmed today.

Wenger has been under increasing scrutiny this season as results have disappointed and our league placing has sunk lower than expectations. Fans have expressed their displeasure during this campaign by staying away and leaving the stands empty, and the overall feeling surrounding the fanbase is one of pessimism.

Media will create a froth over this for weeks to come, but we should now ensure we as Gooners create an atmosphere that is befitting for our departing boss, and one that says ‘thank you for the memories Arsene.’

What is abundantly clear is that our Board have a huge decision to make. We have seen with the fiasco of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, that getting the right man to head the transition is a difficult task indeed.

Josh Kroenke and his father Stan have the last say on who will come in, but the focus right now should not be who is the frontrunner for our managerial vacancy, it should be to make sure our current campaign ends in some semblance of of glory for Wenger, and we pay tribute in the best way – with our support.

The news of our long-standing manager departing breathes new life into the club, one of fresh promise and that of renewed optimism. Arsene Wenger is the reason for our high expectations, and the last few seasons we are well aware that we have fallen below them.

Finishing below spurs last season and now this season, we have fallen further, but now Wenger has declared the end is nigh, we can all unite to send this great man off with the respect, honour and dignity he deserves.

This declaration has come at the right time for the club, but perhaps a couple of seasons too late for Wenger. Still, now we know he’s leaving, can we focus on saying goodbye instead of looking at who is coming in?

We can all discuss who will take the helm next season, but what we should concentrate on now is making the stands roar for the last games of Wenger’s reign.

News of Raul Sanllehi and Sven Mislintat putting forward candidates to replace Wenger were the first seeds of this news, and this particular strand is sure to run on until the club finally declare who has the task of replacing a man who will forever be remembered at our club.

When Arsene took over the club, we were an outfit that was on the outskirts of
challenging for European places. Thanks to the Frenchman, we now expect to compete in the Champions League and challenge for honours.

If it weren’t for the changes he devised and implemented, then we all wouldn’t be so disappointed with our showings of late. Wenger placed the bar so high that over 22 years, he simply couldn’t maintain.

Plus, let’s not forget the halcyon moments he is responsible for. Two Double’s, an Invincible campaign. Players like Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira who lit up games with their talents. Our famous Back Five having their careers extended with the intervention of Wenger. Countless occasions we were enthralled by the play unfolding on the pitch. Surviving with a defence that comprised Johan Djourou, Philippe Senderos and Sebastien Squillacci. Our fantastic stadium. WengerBall.

Perhaps one of the brighter lights in his glittering career? Keeping our side in the Champions League with mere pennies to spend. Keeping a squad that had no right to compete at the highest level, dining at the top table.

wenger_22

We have a lot to thank him for – and that is what we should do in every game
from now until the end of the season.

Arsenal, Wenger and his Legacy

Arsene Wenger will be the manager of another team from next season most likely.

Wenger, the man who helmed our club for over two decades, through thick and thin, will invest himself into another outfit, wear another set of colours, rebuff a different set of questions from troublesome journalists instead of fending off questions about our club.

Wherever you currently sit on the fence of opinion regarding the Frenchman, this will be an unsettling experience.

Arsene Wenger has Arsenal DNA, and whatever new venture he chooses, it will only be a facade for what is underneath.

Wenger leaves his mark on Arsenal

His time at Arsenal is nearly over, and the majority of us knew that the end was nigh, but at this moment in time it is unclear whether he jumped or was pushed. The movements behind the scenes surrounding Josh Kroenke could infer that Wenger was given a nod that his time had come, and the empty seats and the hit in the coinpurse could well have been the push that Stan needed to make the move.

Then again, reliable source David Ornstein from the BBC stated that Arsene was moved to depart after we had defeated Chelsea in the FA Cup Final last season, but as there were no hard plans for a replacement, he felt he needed to stay to plug the gap.

Who knows if the truth will out. What we must make sure is that it doesn’t overshadow a fitting send-off for the man who has created all of our high expectations.

Wenger arrived looking very much like a Geography supply teacher. His appearance went very much against the grain of a British tracksuit manager, and his approach matched this incongruent nature.

We all know his novel ideas to diet, training and recruitment, and the success that followed was a testament to his novel approach.

Sadly, the rest of the playing field caught wind of these fresh thoughts, and the competition became altogether tougher – made even more so with the influx of cash.

While success dried up in terms of trophies, some of Arsene’s most glowing of references can be found involving no silverware whatsoever.

Our stadium is in place thanks to the direct involvement of Wenger. Our departing coach could see the tsunami of money that was about to wash over the game, and knew we couldn’t compete at the top level for a prolonged amount of time if we stayed at our magical – but limited – Highbury home.

The Emirates may be devoid of atmosphere at times, but in terms of scope and revenue, it is exactly what we need.

Then there was the financial limitations placed on our club after our stadium was built. Keeping our team involved at the keen edge of football when we regularly had to sell our top stars is nothing short of miraculous, and his masterplan of using the power of youth to create a team very nearly paid off. When all other around were making it rain, Wenger kept to his game plan.

When Wenger has stood in the dugout for the last time, we will be in a far better place than when he joined. We will have the framework necessary to plan for the future, and we have a lot to show gratitude for.

He was prepared to face the critics and tough spells for the greater good of the club, and his love for the club was the very reason why he felt it tough to leave. We should be in no doubt how much Arsenal runs through his veins.

Some have suggested that a stand or even the stadium should be named after him – and I wholeheartedly agree. Our legendary players are cast in bronze outside the stadium, but Wenger’s influence at our club is far bigger than a statue.

So, when we see Arsene in another team’s dugout, yes, it’ll be difficult. But his parting gifts will remain forever. He has changed Arsenal into a team that is expected to challenge at the top end, to a club with the financial muscle to compete. Most importantly though, we are now known the world over for playing football the right way. It’s our brand now.

Wenger told us all in his statement that we need to treasure the values that are the essence of our club. Sometimes it might make it difficult to compete at times, but what’s important is that Arsenal stay intrinsically Arsenal. Arsene knew that, and kept the cannon close to everything he did.

Merci Le Professeur.

Arsenal Vs Southampton PL Match Preview

Five wins on the bounce. Two months ago that seemed like a pipedream, but on the eve of our Premier League match against Southampton, we seem to have recovered from our slump.

And yet, the hard work has only just begun, and reports of our resurrection have been greatly embellished.

Of course, two wins against a strong Milan side, comprehensive victories over Watford and Stoke and now our thumping of CSKA are far better fare than our losses against Brighton, City and Ostersunds, but while we may have one foot in the Europa League Semi-Finals, our Premier League placing is still lower than we’d like. Far lower.

With just seven games left, we are a distant 13 points from fourth spot and our rivals spurs. Even fifth spot is five points away from us. We are closer to Burnley and Leicester than we are Liverpool, spurs and United. There is no escaping our poor domestic form, and while there is a chance of redemption – no matter how miniscule – then we must fight for it.

Our two League wins have helped to steady a ship that was in danger of capsizing, but we need to make haste now. A home match against lowly Southampton seems perfect to gain more momentum, but we should heed the warning signs.

Mark Hughes has been a thorn in our side before, and so have the Saints. Despite their relegation zone woes, they still have quality players that can hurt us and as we showed against CSKA on Thursday, a simple mistake can lead to a goal.

Our team will be switched up from the one that defeated Moscow midweek. Laurent Koscielny may be rested for the second leg next week, with Calum Chambers dropping into central defence most likely.

Mohamed Elneny is another who should come back into the side, with either Granit Xhaka or Aaron Ramsey rested.

Then we have our attack, and there’s a few things to ponder.

Firstly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan looks to be ruled out for the foreseeable, so who plays in his stead? Alex Iwobi came on for him after he was injured against CSKA, and we have the effervescence of Danny Welbeck who gives good value playing out wide. Jack Wilshere is another who can come into the attacking quartet, but now the Armenian is out, rotation will have to be limited.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will surely come into the side after being cup-tied for our European adventures, and Lacazette will most likely make way, unless Wenger acts on his recent comments and plays Auba out wide, with Lacazette retaining his central spot.

Mark Hughes has seen his side lose their last two games in the league to the tune of 3-0 scorelines. Their only win in the last five was an unconvincing win in the FA Cup over Wigan. They have the players to hurt us though.

Charlie Austin is a real threat aerially that Mustafi will do well to contain, and James Ward-Prowse can be deadly from set-pieces. Manolo Gabbiadini is a good foil for Austin and with Bertrand and Cedric at full-back, they have the capacity to stretch us. Mario Lemina faces a fitness test but him aside, they have a clean bill of health and in Nathon Redmond and Sofiane Boufal, some unpredictability that can change games.

We really can’t rest on our haunches, because one single loss can render our recent wins a moot point. We drastically need to improve our league placing, as having all of our eggs in a Europa League basket is risky, especially with Atletico Madrid being overwhelming cup favourites.

While we have a small chance, we need to keep plugging away. #UTA

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Chambers, Mustafi, Monreal, Elneny, Ramsey, Ozil, Wilshere, Welbeck, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Arsenal Vs Bournemouth Match Preview

Kickoff – 1500hrs, Saturday 09/09/17

Arsenal welcome Bournemouth to The Emirates tomorrow, and the return to our home is more than a welcome one.





Two consecutive defeats on the road – at Stoke and Liverpool – have resulted in questions and furore levelled at the players and Arsene Wenger. Team selection has been puzzling, the team’s motivations on the pitch has been seemingly bereft, and the bottom line is that three games into the season – we have been well below what is expected.


Arsene Wenger has said that he had questioned himself before signing his two year extension, but now that the ink has dried on his contract, the questions marks from Gooners still remains.


Wenger himself states that the only way to answer questions is by results on the pitch, so a good – and mandatory start – would be three points against the Cherries.


Us fans did have some good news to latch onto, as Arsene revealed that we have a fully fit squad – aside from Santi Cazorla – to pick from. The international break did not blight our players with injury, and team changes may well occur after the horror show of our 4-0 hammering at Liverpool.


Jack Wilshere may well be included in the squad for this game, and his return could not have been timed better. With Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey struggling for a dynamic, the diminutive England man could be offered a chance to come straight into the side in the near future, especially if the Swiss star and the Welshman continue to leave gaping holes in our setup.


Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez were obviously dominating questions levelled at Wenger during his Presser on Thursday. Alexis has taken to social media to offer cryptic messages regarding his state of mind since his broken-down transfer to Man City. The good news is that he has a chance to play in this game, but faces a fitness test.


Ozil was on fire for Germany during the international games, and it was yet another stick used to bash the German playmaker. why can’t he replicate his Die Mannschaft form for The Arsenal?


Maybe it could be that Joachim Low has a midfield that works in perfect harmony to the demands of the game, rather than abandoning their posts?


Either way, Ozil will be fit and could do with a performance that shows his critics what he is capable of.


Alexandre Lacazette will duke it out with Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud for the striking berth, but it would be great to see the running of our record signing combining with the vision of Ozil.


The Cherries will be a motivated opponent. Pointless so far, but far from toothless, Eddie Howe can count himself unlucky to not grab at least a point in their last game versus Man City. A ridiculously late goal saw all three points go to Guardiola’s men, but Bournemouth were worthy of a share of the spoils.


Goals look likely in this game. Both teams like to play open football, and if their last game against each other is anything to go by, spectators could be in for a show. Last season’s 3-3 draw was both dramatic and awful to watch, and our defence will have to be on their guard with the likes of Jermain Defoe, Josh King and Benik Afobe on the prowl.


Three points, no matter how we achieve it, is the cornerstone of our recovery. A Europa League game is up next at home against FC Koln, which is then followed by a tough game at The Bridge against Chelsea. Rotation will be obvious, and our kids will get a run out in midweek to protect our players for the battle against the Blues.


Already, every match is looking to have huge ramifications. A few wins on the trot could well see us go on a run.


Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Welbeck, Ozil, Lacazette.

Predicted Scoreline – a tight 2-0 win. I hope.