Tag Archives: history

Recognising Tom Whittaker

We are blessed to support Arsenal.

Not many clubs can boast such a rich history as ours. This doesn’t just mean trophies and titles. It can mean the players we had, the difference we made to the game itself, and proud records that stand the test of time.

When you think of our rich tapestry, most recall Herbert Chapman, and rightly so. The visionary that joined from Huddersfield Town dragged Arsenal – and the game – up from its haunches and the amends he suggested are still part of the fabric of the game we know now.

Chapman deservedly dominates thought, but I am here to say that there is another who deserves the same level of adulation – and that while I was aware of his name previously, I had no scope of the measure of the man until I was told about it.

So here I am trying to make sure as many Gooners are aware of this extraordinary man, his feats and above all – how he put Arsenal above all. Just like I was made aware.

We may be blessed to be Gooners, but it is people like Tom Whittaker that have made it so.

Mr Whittaker devoted his entire working life to Arsenal, giving an entirely new definition to a ‘one-club man.’ From his playing days he moved into a physio role, then moving up to become a coach and finally, the manager. Such is the strength of his presence that Arsenal didn’t win a single trophy without him in some capacity until 1970. Seeing as he played for the club in the ‘20’s, that’s quite the stretch.

Whittaker began his coaching career under Chapman, while still younger than some of the players. His broken kneecap suffered during his playing career had forced his hand and Whittaker wanted to continue in the sport in some capacity, so studied to become a physio, and went on to make major changes in the way the club maintained the fitness of the squad.

He was at a forward thinking club under Chapman, and his methods were recognised by England, who appointed him to become one of their trainers. After George Allison – Chapman’s successor – retired in 1947, it would be Whittaker who would take the reins, completing a remarkable career transformation – all under the umbrella of one club.

Whittaker was overseeing the slow demise of Arsenal as the powerhouse of English football, so his title-winning triumphs of 1947/48 and 1952/53, as well as the FA Cup in 1950, were all the more remarkable and added to the lustre of Whittaker’s reputation.

Herbert Chapman’s reverence isn’t just down to the fact he made the club what it is today. He sacrificed his life for Arsenal – something that Tom Whittaker also gave us. Whittaker even referenced Chapman’s ultimate sacrifice when he took over as manager, saying “Herbert Chapman worked himself to death for this club and if that is my fate, then I am happy to accept it.

Weekly-Illustrated-1936-FA-Cup-Final.jpg

Image credit – Arsenal History

He passed away in 1956 while still in the role of Manager. He had worked for Arsenal for nearly four decades. This is not referenced enough. Before finding this info out (thanks to Tim Stillman), I had known of Whittaker, but not of the magnitude of his heroics.

Whittaker IS Arsenal, just as much as Herbert Chapman is Arsenal. It is  criminal how underappreciated he is, and I feel almost guilty for not recognising him for the cornerstone of Arsenal that he is.

This is why I hope even one person reads this and it sticks in their mind. I want Gooners to know that while the present day is pressing, the reason we can enjoy supporting Arsenal is down to Chapman AND Whittaker.

We were blessed to have two men who went above and beyond, and word needs to be spread.

Play With A Legend

They say never meet your heroes – but what about playing alongside them?

 

That was the unique opportunity I had. If you’ll forgive me for my honesty, I was like a giddy child. It was one of those slices of time when you need to take a step back and check that it was actually happening.

 

Thanks to Play with A Legend, it actually happened, and I’ve got memories that I can pass down to my kids and further. I can tell them all about the time I played football with a bona fide Arsenal legend.

 

This wonderful organisation have struck gold. Ahead of selected Arsenal home games, Play With A Legend, which was co-founded by former Gunner Perry Groves, have set up a match at The Arsenal Hub, next door The Emirates, offering fans the chance to play alongside their heroes. You can get the same chance I did – to play a match with a real, tangible Arsenal icon!

 

Arsenal in the Community, who are housed in the Arsenal Hub will benefit from every Play With A Legend event held and the facilities at The Hub are perfect with the synthetic pitch providing the perfect setting to see your hero strut their stuff.

 

Back to my experience, and I was on a team, facing off against none other than Nigel Winterburn!

 

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Yep. The Arsenal left-back who was instrumental in us winning at Anfield in 1989, a flawless title win in 1991, Two cups in 1993, the Cup Winners Cup in 1994, and a Double in 1998. A heavily decorated legend.

 

I played in goal and it was the ideal window to watch the master at work. Some may think that age may have robbed Winterburn of the professional touch, but after mere minutes, everyone could see who the pro was. A fine touch and excellent positioning, perhaps the most surprising thing was his fitness. Nigel disclosed that he was still in training, and was stepping up the pace due to the Arsenal Legends matches, and it had obviously paid dividends.

 

After the game, we all got changed and headed upstairs, where ice-cold refreshments were laid on and guzzled mercilessly. Nigel came in and we had a revealing Q&A session, and we all were given the opportunity to get his autograph, a signed photograph and a few selfies, to commemorate the occasion.

 

Head over to the site to find out more and to book your place and make your childhood dreams come true – if you’re an unashamed fanboy, this is nirvana. Click here:

www.playwithalegend.com/arsenalhub

 

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Forget about never meeting your heroes, it’s something you won’t regret!

The Arsenal Shirt – Part of the Fabric of our Club

Some things go hand in hand with a football club.

It can be their rickety stadium, their vociferous fans or it could be one of their luminaries that changed the sport. Whatever it is, there are things that embody a football club. It is their brand and they should cherish it.

Probably the most iconic thing about a football club is their jersey, and Arsenal’s red and white combo is instantly recognisable the world over. No matter the manufacturer of the kit, the white sleeves and red torso on the Gunners shirts are part of the fabric of the club.

Never has this been clearer, than recently when pictures of next seasons kit were leaked – reportedly.

Arsenal's reported new kit from 2018/19

The outcry on social media was fierce, and it propelled a legend or two to comment on the travesty that is our projected home kit for 2018/19. Ian Wright tweeted and posted on Instagram to decry this planned jersey, and rightfully so.

While it maintains the red and white we so hold dear, the manner in which the design is welded together leaves many to think that a lack of care was put into the process that Puma implemented when they gathered round the table to discuss the Gunners shirt.

The relationship with Puma has been a rocky one to say the least. The designs which have been thrust upon us have split the crowd, and for every hit (this seasons black and pink number is quite fetching) there has been a glaring miss (the abomination that is this seasons away kit).

It has led to many of us musing on whether the kit is actually cursed, the ugly piece of kit may well be doing all it can to put its own bad juju on proceedings.

Stories of parts of the kit coming away in the wash and fading of colours have done nothing to inspire confidence in Puma’s wares, and we have all harked back to more recent successes that our players have worn – the yellow kit from Nike’s last season with us was classic, and faithfully upheld our values in the most fitting way.

Arsenal's away kit from 2013/14 - a beautiful design faithfully upholding our values

Then we see teams like Newcastle United sporting the very same designs that we are now wearing – it gives off a fair whiff of laziness coming from Puma’s direction. We are The Arsenal, and we shouldn’t be sharing designs with anyone.

The shirt should be a form of muse for our players. It should inspire new heights for our men, and instill a sense of awe and fear in our opponents. It should also be aesthetically pleasing enough to push us into forking out the copious amounts of dough to purchase them – it would be very insightful to find out sales figures for our blue kit this season in comparison to others.

The book – The Arsenal Shirt – by James Elkin and Simon Shakeshaft did a fantastic job of highlighting what the shirt means to us all. There were a few amid the outcry recently that questioned the level of response toward what is essentially only a shirt, but if you read this wonderful book, it tells you with every glorious page turn, why our shirt is so important.

Some may see it as trivial, but every part of our club’s history is what makes us The Arsenal. Every strand is woven intricately into what comprises us, what makes us unique. We need to hold our values dear and protect them, otherwise the current hunger for business will engulf the character of each and every club.

The new shirt may well be used next season, and it will still sell, but hopefully, Puma’s social media presence will pick up on our displeasure and go back to the drawing board.

If not, then we can cross our fingers that from the season after, our new kit manufacturers ensure they are well versed in Arsenal lore before they put pen to paper.

It isn’t just a shirt, it never is.

It’s part of who we are.

​Giroud Haunted By Arsenal Ghosts

Published on The Arsenal Review

Every club has its heroes, and invariably, those that live longer in the memory are those that grabbed goals.

Lots of them.


Strikers are the glory-getters. The successful ones will forever live on with a golden hue tinging every montage that is on a reel in supporters minds. Strikers always hold a special place amongst fans.


Arsenal in the last three decades have enjoyed a glittering blessing from deities that have bestowed a shedload of goals upon Gooners. The rollcall is not only a who’s-who of top flight attacking – it is the equivalent of the Hollywood Boulevard paved with stars.


Alan Smith. Ian Wright. Nicolas Anelka. Thierry Henry. Robin Van Persie.


The names above make the boots of whomever is chosen to wear them, a little harder to wear.


We as fans, have been spoiled. We now want our strikers to continue this miraculous tradition, and any who fall short are immediately resigned to a lesser status. We are still able to recognise their strengths, but they will never measure up unless their exploits match up to our heroes of old.


So Olivier Giroud had one hell of a job when he joined from Ligue Un winning Montpellier in 2013.


The hirsute Frenchman has been castigated by pundits, journalists and even our own fans for his unique brand of histrionics on the pitch and sometimes, for being just too damn handsome – like it makes his game a little weaker because he takes time on his appearance.


Numbers do not lie though, so let us see how Giroud measures up.











In total goals for the club, the bearded one falls short of course. Olivier has grabbed 69 goals thus far in 164 outings in a Gunners shirt.  Alan Smith had a haul of 86 goals in 264 apps, Robin Van Persie had 96 goals in 194 outings, Ian Wright smashed 128 goals in 221 games and King Thierry a breathtaking 174 goals in just 254 games. Only Nicolas Anelka scored less, with 23 goals in 65 games.


All of these players had differing durations at the club though. Of course their goal total will be affected by longevity, so the real stat worth poring over is goals per game, right?


A goal every 2.37 games for Giroud so far, compared to 3.07 for Smudge, 2.82 for Anelka, 2.02 for RVP, 1.72 for Wrighty and 1.46 for Titi.


So Giroud’s exploits so far hold up well against the strikers who helped forge the club in its current image.


Giroud still falls short though. Despite his higher amount of substitute appearances than the rest, despite the fact he had the best efficiency rating in the Premier League last season – Giroud is still found to be craning his neck up to the heavens when he looks at the strikers who came before him.


Giroud is hampered by the fact he has never broken the 20-goal barrier in a PL season as well. That level is the unspoken barometer when gauging what makes a complete striker, and as Olivier has never breached it, he has often been maligned. 


What is often overlooked though, is his hold-up play, his awareness for his teammates, his front-post prowess. Giroud in many respects is one of the best in what he does.


Until Giroud manages to be a major part of a side that wins the league though, or a side that challenges seriously at the very least, he will forever be in the bracket that lies below the true greats. It is only in the deepest heat that diamonds are created, and the ones who came before Giroud either lifted trophies regularly or their goals held the rest of the team up a la RVP.


Giroud is a fine striker, and one that we should attempt to retain the services of. He can get to 100 goals for the club in the near future and that will push him a few inches nearer to Gunners immortality – but he still has some way to go to stand alongside Smudge, Wrighty and Thierry.


Win a title, keep doing what he has done since he joined. He will always be fondly remembered, but the word ‘legend’ is bandied around far too liberally and has lost its impact a little.


It takes a hell of a lot to gain that status. 

The 5 Worst Arsene Wenger Transfers

Originally published on Goonersphere.

Buying a player isn’t as easy as popping to the supermarket and choosing between different brands of peanut butter. There are many variables to consider before you take the plunge and deposit the jar into your basket/trolley.

The country from whence they hail, the language barrier, their respective strengths and weaknesses in accordance to the current teams setup, disciplinary record, private life, international commitments, and probably a few more as well. 

It turns into somewhat of a crap shoot, as with so many different reasons why a purchase can go awry it is impossible to reconcile all of the potential pitfalls. 

A grain of luck is often the key ingredient when considering whether a player will make a positive or negative impact, so when a player arrives at the club and his time on the pitch stinks out the whole stadium, the manager can be occasionally forgiven for unleashing such a sight upon us all.

Ultimately though, the responsibility falls on the manager. Their hypothetical success, and career at the club, hinge on whether the new recruits sink or swim. 

Arsene Wenger’s tenure is long, and the amount of signings he has brought to the club is just as lengthy, so in amongst the precious stones he has unearthed, there is bound to be a few nuggets of fecal matter.

Who has been the worst though? The player who should never have darkened our doorway with his foulness? What player gets the unwanted accolade of ‘Worst Arsene Wenger purchase?’

The next five players mentioned are, in my humble opinion, the worst that has worn the shirt in Wenger’s time at Arsenal. I have taken into consideration the money they cost, and their output on the field, and eventually I have come to this decision. 


5 – Nelson Vivas
















This modestly framed Argentinean had been part of the Argentina squad, so surely his credntials could not be in doubt? Bought from Swiss side Lugano, he was meant to provide adequate cover to Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn, but each time he took to the pitch, he seemed unable to get to grips with the frenetic pace and physicality of the English game. Bought for £1.6m, which back in 1998 represented a far bigger outlay than it does today, and making 69 League appearances, means that Vivas gets the Number5 spot. Shaky, unreliable, and fading into obscurity for all the right reasons.

4 – Richard Wright
































Wright also came with a large reputation. He was part of the Ipswich side which came through the Division One Play-offs and then went on to finish 5th in the Premier League. He looked dependable, and with Alex Manninger having departed, Wright looked a great bet for back up keeper to David Seaman.

The trouble was, that in all of his 12 games for Arsenal, it seemed as if we had signed another Richard Wright. His capacity for claiming crosses was non-existent, and his presence at the near post can only be described as catastrophic. He was subbed at half time in game with Deportivo La Coruna, and he made Manuel Almunia look like Lev Yashin’s heir apparent. We got all of this for £2m. 

3 – Andre Santos



































A Brazilian international, purchased from Fenerbahce, Santos cost Arsenal £7m. A wing-back (reportedly) with an eye for goal, the smiling Brazilian played 25 games spread over 2 seasons for the Gunners, and every one of them – bar his goal Vs Chelsea – was utter rubbish.

He started off playing in his signature position, but seeing as he had no defensive skills whatsoever, he soon was pushed onto the wing. Where we discovered he had very little attacking skills either. His fitness was a concern, he looked laboured and out of his depth on many occasions. There aren’t many Brazilian internationals who seem more at home as a character on Takeshi’s Castle. Andre Santos was one of them.

2 – Francis Jeffers



















The phrase ‘fox in the box’ is stuck to Francis Jeffers. Our play apparently needed a player who was at home in the opposition box. A player who could finish off moves with aplomb, an opportunistic man who could snaffle chances like a pig with truffles.

Jeffers was that fox – or at least he was until donning an Arsenal shirt. He cost a gargantuan £8m, and played 22 games in his time with us, ‘snaffling’ just four goals. 

Jeffers had pedigree before his move to Arsenal. He still holds the record for the most England Under21 goals, and his finishing for Everton the season prior to joining us showed he had the potential to be an England regular.

Wrong. One England appearance later, and a truckload of missed chances for Arsenal, a journeyman career was what followed. When on the pitch for Arsenal, it looked like the move had come too soon for him. Like a rabbit – or fox if you prefer – dazzled by an oncoming car’s headlights, Jeffers never got to grips with the pressure laden on his shoulders. His transfer fee and burgeoning reputation hung around his scrawny neck like a hundred Flavour Flav clock pendants.

1 – Sebastian Squillaci
































This French defender had enjoyed a marvellous career before signing for Arsenal. Plying his trade for Monaco, Lyon and Sevilla – all duking it out in European competitions – he forged a reputation as an astute defender, and he had amassed 21 caps for Les Bleus before signing in 2010.

A £4m fee was agreed, and he looked to be the experienced defender who would corral these young Arsenal whippersnappers into a defensive unit. He had everything we needed.

He played 23 games for us in his time at Arsenal, and he floundered like a drowning kitten in each one. There are no excuses as to why he struggled so badly for us, as his previous efforts before joining showed he was a skilled player. 

He just never played well. Not once. Who knows why he never quite adapted to the game, or nailed down a first team spot, but his confidence-robbed displays certainly didn’t assuage Gooners, nor his boss. 

Honourable mentions go to:

Igor Stepanovs, Pascal Cygan, Kaba Diawara, Mikael Silvestre, Manuel Almunia, Alberto Mendez, Amauri Bischoff, Stefan Malz, Fabian Caballero and David Grondin. 

Don’t agree? Think that someone else deserves the tag? The comments box is below. Have your say.

The Worst of Times?

A timely reminder to all fans sits innocuously around The Emirates stadium to whomever wishes to look at them.

It is a dose of smelling salts to all that no matter what befalls our club in these testing times – we have had it far worse in the past.


And our club is still here.


Circling the stands, we have placards detailing the trophies we have won since Arsenal began. If anyone pays attention to them, they will realise that there are some very large gaps in between the silverware we have held aloft. Far larger than we have suffered in the last two decades during Wenger’s reign.


This blog is not a ‘Wenger In’ statement. The majority of us are painfully aware of the tired tactics and the repetitive excuses that are on a cycle of late. We can see on the pitch that there is something amiss from the peak teams that Wenger has in the past masterminded.


What has gone missing in this ever-broiling debate is when fans declare that this is the worst team Wenger has ever produced and that he is a ‘cancer’ which is killing our club – which couldn’t be further from the truth.


If a healthy debate is to be triggered and maintained – and with both parties only looking for the best for Arsenal then this is the aim – then the truth is all that should matter. Anyone who actually supports this view has had their targets shifted by misinformation and vitriolic hyperbole.


As a club, we had a gap of seventeen years in which we did not win anything. Not a jot. From 1953 through till the Fairs Cup win in 1970, Arsenal football club not only won absolutely nothing, they struggled to stay in the top flight.


The squad was made up with mediocrity, with the odd sprinkle of talent which was just enough to keep Arsenal relevant.

We were then treated to a truly wonderful generation in the early ‘70’s which resurrected the Gunners.


Then, from 1971 through to 1979, there was again a dearth of shiny baubles which normally populate the trophy cabinet.


Then again from 1979 to 1987.


We have had some truly awful teams, players and seasons. Year after year of dire football. This struggle is not new, it is essentially the Arsenal Way.


We of course now enjoy a different set of circumstances which mean we should be challenging for honours. We have money rolling through the club and cash is the lifeblood of clubs the world over. We deserve it.


Whether we like it or not, the larger the bank balance, the larger the chance of success. It is a sign of the times. So expectation to challenge as a Gooner is a right, thanks to the influx of cash in our coffers.


It is Arsene Wenger that has given each fan these expectations through his efforts taking Arsenal through the squall of strict budgets into this land where we can buy the finest players available to us.











Now, we all stand on a precipice. Wenger’s time is coming to an end, and his farewell could be either something glorious and fitting – or he leaves the club with negative memories that override his achievements.


We had the nine year drought, which common knowledge amongst us all tells us was caused by a choking requirement to save and even generate, money. Now, we have managed to escape those cloistering times and we now enjoy freedom to spend.


We have done, and yet that elusive first title at The Emirates seems further away than ever. Frustration burns like wildfire and is spread amongst even the most placid of us. Why haven’t we moved on? Why haven’t the promises of contention that Ivan Gazidis made, come to fruition?


We can all be unhappy, we can all want better. We may even be entitled to it, what with the obscene ticket prices we all pay.

What we cannot lose sight of though, is that our club is NOT dying. It is NOT suffering the worst time we have ever had. It is NOT the end of days.


Our owners seemingly could care less, our manager’s obstinate nature has cost us at times, but even in recent seasons, we have had worse than this.


We should be pushing Chelsea further in the Premiership. We should not be exiting the Champions League with a 10-2 aggregate deficit. Our club is most definitely at a standstill.


No club has ever progressed with a lack of support though – and no club has ever moved on when lies exacerbate the negativity surrounding some supporters.

Tony Adams Is 50 – Our Captain’s Finest Moments

Posted on Goonersphere

The 10th of October 1966 was a special day for Gooners of all ages. Not because of a significant victory or event that Arsenal had – but because it was the day that Tony Adams was born.

Who knew that on this joyous day, the child that was born in Romford would go on to become what many perceive as Arsenal’s finest leader in their illustrious history. 

Fired by his incredible will to win and defensive nous, Adams would break into the Arsenal first team in his late teens, and stay at the club which gave him his chance for his entire career. A one-club player is a rarity in the modern game, but the bonds which tied him to Highbury were unbreakable.

Making his first team bow in 1983, and then retiring in 2002, gave Adams 19 years at the club to forge a career which no one could possibly forget. His much-told battle with alcoholism intertwines with his first 15 years, but much like all the opponents he faced – he eventually defeated the demon drink too.

So, in all those years, and hundreds of games he played, what would be his finest moment? How can anyone possibly choose what is he brightest light amongst many? Adams played, and led, in many historic Arsenal matches, so to select a chosen few is beyond difficult. 

The glaring omissions are not an admission that they aren’t on a par with the ones I have selected. Just that there are far too many to mention. 

So, let me take you on a tour of Captain Fantastic’s amazing moments. Please buckle your seatbelt and keep your arms inside the ride at all times. The Mr Arsenal show is about to begin….

Anfield. 26th May 1989.





























Tony Adams skippered the Arsenal side which had no realistic hope of snatching the title away from dominant Liverpool. Arsenal had kept pace with the Scousers all season, however, Liverpool had a fine pedigree and the week previously had lifted the FA Cup. They were hoping to complete their second double, and the media and majority of fans thought that the Gunners didn’t have a hope of winning at Anfield  – never mind by two clear goals.

Someone never told George Graham and his boys though. The first half went according to plan for Graham- keep it tight, don’t concede. The second half saw Alan smith glance in a Nigel Winterburn set-piece and grab a precious goal, but they still had to snatch another to claim a ninth First Division title.

With mere minutes to go, the image of McMahon holding up a single digit to the rest of his teammates to signify that they had to hold out for one more minute to be champions again is burned into the memory of Gooners. Then, history was made.

Lukic throws out to Dixon. Dixon plays a ball to Smith, who heads onwards for an onrushing Thomas to ride a challenge into the box and slot past Grobbelaar. 

Sweet ecstasy. For some, it is a high that will never again be reached. What is clear though, is that for this titanic effort to have been made, the role of Skipper would never have been more important. Tony Adams led from the front, kept Aldridge, Rush and Beardsley quiet, and instilled in his men the belief that he held inside himself. 

Unforgettable.


1990/91

This could be perceived as Tony’s darkest season, as he missed eight games through his incarceration at HMP. His leadership was so unequivocal, so influential however, that even in his absence his teammates drew strength from him and his wishes. 

The team only lost once all season, and blew away the rest of their opposition as they won the title for the second time in three years. Not only this, but the rock-solid back5 was now complete and conceded only 18 goals. As a captain and as a defender, Adams was top of the pile.

Copenhagen, 1994. ECWC Vs Parma

Another game which Arsenal had no right to win, but this game was the archetypal performance from the famous Back5. Parma were studded with stars, and were widely expected to win back to back Cup Winners Cups. 

Arsenal’s back 5 though, were superb throughout, and nulified Zola, Brolin and Asprilla with tactics, physicality and anticipation. If there was one match to show someone who wanted to know about the finest defence that has ever existed in the UK, then this match would be what you show them. Absolute perfection from Seaman, Dixon, Adams, Bould and Winterburn.

Arsenal 4-0 Everton, 1998.

Still in recovery from alcoholism, and benefitting from Arsene Wenger’s new fangled nutrition tips and fitness aids, Adams was a new man. The team had overhauled a sizeable Manchester United lead at the top of the table and all that was left was to defeat Everton at Highbury to win their first title since 1991.

Adams was still captain, and the sight of him marauding forward to collect a lofted Bould pass still promotes goosebumps. He flicked the ball down with his chest, before depositing a thumping, left-footed volley past Thomas Myhre. 

Adams, whilst skilled in defending, was not known for such finesse, but as he celebrated in a beam of sinshine with his arms out wide, the goal signified a transformation. He had shed his demons, he was just bathing in the enjoyment of it all. My personal favourite.

There are many other memories that still resonate. His winner in the FA Cup in 1993 vs Spurs to exact revenge for the 1991 defeat. Holding the 2002 Premiership aloft.Winning the Cup double in 1993.

It isn’t only the silverware which makes his career a perfect example of how to beat adversity and achieve sporting immortality. Every game he played, every time he led his men, he gave everything to the cause. It showed in every tackle and airborne challenge he made. 

The fact he was so dedicated, and stayed with us for his entire career, means that we should never forget about our Captain. 

Happy Birthday Mr Arsenal. 

Robert Pires – True Artistry

A true icon of the modern day game officially retired on the twenty fifth of February 2016 at the age of forty two.

A glittering career full of impressive numbers and shiny trophies, but his professional path contains one blot, and it happened on the day when his talent was on one of the biggest stages.

Robert Pires effectively saw the most glorious period of his career end on the 17th of May 2006, in Paris, in the 18th minute of the Champions League Final.

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Continue reading Robert Pires – True Artistry

‘ITV7’ – An Arsenal Book Review

Sequels are usually a bad thing. The general rule of thumb is that when revisiting a good thing, you will either lose what you were chasing or you will fail to capture what was good about the original. Die Hard 2 was a great film, but did it come remotely close to the thrills of Nakatomi Plaza in the first Bruce Willis action-fest?  The same goes for most mediums. Super Mario Bros 2 was abysmal when compared with the first game with the squat Italian plumber. Ditto for the second series of Twin Peaks and the disappointing second series.

So, the lesson to be learned is that if you have a good idea, don’t be tempted to revisit, as it’s never the same.

Continue reading ‘ITV7’ – An Arsenal Book Review

Paul Davis – All Action, No Caps.

447 appearances spread over 17 years. If he had donned the Arsenal jersey just thirty more times, he would be in the top ten of most Arsenal appearances of all time. Part of the reason for the ‘Arsenal renaissance’ that began in 1987 with a Champagne Charlie inspired Gunners team wrestling some of the power away from Anfield, and culminated in two of the most sensational League winning campaigns in living memory.

Paul Davis was a catalyst on the pitch. So why was he criminally overlooked for Bobby Robson’s England?

Continue reading Paul Davis – All Action, No Caps.