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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.

West Brom Vs Arsenal Match Preview

Our 3-2 midweek win over Crystal Palace was only our third away win of our Premier League campaign. Now we have another away game hot on the heels of this victory, as we go to The Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion.

Our recent record at the Baggies is a poor one. We’ve lost the last two visits there, and we’re sure to find the same tactics this time around, despite the change in manager. Alan Pardew doesn’t normally rely on constricting formations to get results, but he is also aware of how to frustrate Arsenal, so we can expect two rigid banks of four standing in front of our attack for the majority.

In terms of our attack, with Olivier Giroud out until at least January, Alexandre Lacazette will most likely lead the line again. Perhaps though, rotation may come into play with another midweek game on the horizon in the shape of a crunch match against Chelsea. If that is the case, then Danny Welbeck may get the nod to play against the baggies and former teammate, Kieran Gibbs.

Midfield shouldn’t see too many changes, but again with the Chelsea game looming, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny could relieve either Jack Wilshere or Granit Xhaka so they remain fresh for the blues game.

In defence, we’ll again be missing Nacho Monreal. We have a few choices to fill the gap, and Calum Chambers did his chances no harm with his performance in the win over Crystal Palace. He may have been caught out a couple of times by the trickery of Wilfried Zaha, but on the whole he performed well facing the threat.

Alan Pardew has been experimenting in recent games with his attack and has played two up top on occasion, with Jay Rodriguez and Salomon Rondon starting together. This game will see them play on the counter and rely on set plays to trouble us. After all, why mess with a winning formula? That would most likely mean that Rondon will get the nod. Matt Phillips gives them pace on the break, and they will employ either Claudio Yacob, Grzegorz Krychowiak or a combination of both to sit in front of the backline. Craig Dawson has also recently returned to give them an added threat in the air.

Chelsea and Liverpool both won yesterday, keeping the gap between us and them a healthy one. We need to stay primed for when they do stumble, and the only way to do that is to keep winning. The win over Palace midweek was deserved, despite the close scoreline. If we’re honest though, if we failed to pick up maximum points from Crystal Palace and West Brom, do we really deserve a higher spot in the league?

We need to show we are worthy of a top four spot. Just because it was ours for so long, doesn’t mean we automatically qualify for it or we deserve it. The league level has definitely risen this season, and we need to show we have improved with it.

We do have the return to form of Alexis to help us, although how long this particular service is available to us is unknown. I think we should sell him if an offer comes in, but only if a player of the ilk of Riyad Mahrez or Julian Draxler were to come in to fill the gap left by the departing Chilean. We need to use Alexis while we have him, so he should be playing all the games we have in the league. Let’s put him in the shop window, if he can win us some games in the meantime, then fantastic.

West Brom will be a tough cookie, and the result will most likely come down to one goal. We need to stay patient and keep playing the game we normally do. Spread the play, pass fast and our form players will do the rest.

Let’s pick up the points and then we can move onto the Chelsea game. If we lose this game, then the match against Conte’s Blues won’t matter so much anyway. We need to win them all.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Chambers, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Wilshere, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck.

Predicted scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Burnley Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

If last week was anything to go on, we should hold no fear of a visit to Burnley.


Last week saw a return to our best. We used our muscle when needed but the most important muscle of all, the brain, was the key to our victory over spurs. We were clever in possession and found the chinks in their armour, and we exploited them wonderfully. It was a masterful display that restored some faith in the players and their capabilities.


If we play like that against Burnley, then we will win. We all know though, that we often fail to rise to those heights with any consistency.


Then, our away form leaves us with more doubts. One sole win away from The Emirates in the league is just dire, and far removed from what we need to harbour any hopes of any concerted challenge for the top4. Yes, we are merely a point away currently, but we can plainly see that our away form is reason for concern.


Lastly, there is our opponent. Burnley are a real force this season, and they are just goal difference below us in the table. Sean Dyche has created a wonderfully optimised team that really make the most from their men, individually and collectively. They have a fantastic record at Turf Moor, and they will be ready for us as their last game was a week ago, and it was a comfortable 2-0 win over Swansea.


This game is a real test for us, make no bones about it. They have six clean sheets from 12 games, and will strangle our midfield so they can then overrun it. We need the Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey from last week, not the other side of them that we have seen too often so far. The midfield pair were everywhere last weekend, and we will need them to do the same thing against Jeff Hendrick, Gudmondssen, Cork and Defour.


The one weakness Burnley have is goals. They have 12 from 12 thus far, and their top scorer is Sam Vokes with just three. They will play aerially if they get no joy on the flanks, and with Robbie Brady willing to sling in crosses for fun, a switched on performance is required.


Burnley have never beaten us in the Premier League. Last season saw two incredibly tight games where we could count ourselves a little lucky to grab all the points. This current incarnation of the Clarets however, is different indeed – and better.


In terms of who will play, Arsene Wenger confirmed that we picked up no new injuries in our 1-0 loss to Cologne on Thursday. This means that only Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott will miss out, the England man is still suffering from illness. Danny Welbeck played 45 minutes but his subbing was merely a precaution, according to our Manager. He will probably get a spot on the bench.


The second string that turned out in Germany did nothing to say they should get a regular starting spot, so the team that won last week should be unchanged for this game. A winning team should never be changed, and this will most likely be the case at Turf Moor.


So, another chance to better our away record. Time to shine boys.


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


Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 to The Arsenal

The Junior Gunners Membership Warning

Posted originally on Goonersphere.

Young Freddie was six, and had one wish for his seventh birthday.

His dad had named him after a famous footballer, but Freddie had so far resisted all attempts to start following football. He was too busy playing with his friends and all that came with being a kid. Football was something some of his friends did, but it hadn’t grabbed him.

Until now.

Watching his dad, his hero, watching Arsenal on TV, had drawn him in, and he sat down to watch what the fuss was about, and that was it. He was hooked.

That was five months ago and since then, it was all about Arsenal. For his birthday, he wanted nothing more than to become a fully-fledged Junior Gunner. He wanted to be a part of the club and carry around his membership card to show his mates. 

On the morning of his birthday, he had excitedly ripped open all of his presents, but the last one, inconspicuous in its size, held his wish inside.

After he had frantically ripped the Arsenal wrapping paper, the membership box came into his view. Emblazoned on the front was an assembly of the current players, sprinkled with a few past greats that he had yet to become aware of. His dad would amend that soon enough. 

First things first though, he wanted to open the box. He wanted to see his name on the membership card. He wanted a Gunnersaurus to be his bedtime companion. Freddie opened the box and sitting on the top of the contents he so desired, was a sheet of A4 paper. It had words on and looked important, so his first reaction was to give it to his dad.

Freddie’s dad took the sheet and let his eyes skim over the words, and before Freddie could get his hands on the contents inside the box, his dad stopped him and said, “I’ve got to read this to you son. Before you get too attached.”

Dear Junior Gunner,

We at Arsenal Football Club are delighted that you have chosen this wonderful team to support. Arsenal have been entertaining their fans since 1886, and you are the next step in what promises to be an exciting and amazing step into the future.

Being a Gooner is not just a choice you make. It is a decision that stands with you for the rest of your life. It will define certain things you do and say, and will shape the relationships you build along the way. No matter where you go, you will carry the cannon with you.

This is why this warning is included in every Junior Gunners Membership pack. We have struggled to match the success of seasons past, and in spells in our history we have done so too. Football is not just trophies and glory. When you choose a club to support, you tie yourself to the good times and the bad.

You will have some days ruined when we lose. Your mood will darken and lighten at the kick of a ball. You will be at the mercy of your team and the results they earn.  There will be moments that you will never forget, and times when you wish you could forget. You must make this decision with all of this in mind.

You offer your support to this team even in the toughest of times, that is the nature of a supporter. This first step of becoming a member of the club means that you are a Gooner for life. This is a massive commitment.

Dear new supporter, you have some fantastic memories waiting for you in the future. We at Arsenal will be with you every step of the way. We value your support.

Freddie sat looking at his dad, with his new Arsenal scarf wrapped around his neck.

He had already made his choice.