Tag Archives: leaving

Adios Santi Cazorla – The Smiling Spaniard

Santi Cazorla is set to rejoin his former club, Villareal – and the news is another departure that is hard to swallow.

The Spaniard has been fighting hard for over 18 months to return from a horror injury that nearly claimed his leg, and upon seeing the first images of the sunny Spaniard’s return to training, social media was awash with not only nostalgia – but genuine warmth.

Because Santi Cazorla unites our fans. He is one of those rare breeds that no matter what end of the fan spectrum you are, you cannot help but love the man.

It has helped inexorably that he is perhaps one of the most talented players we have ever had at the club – and his departure and injury that cost him 18 months of playing time will cast a shadow over his time as a Gunner.

The diminutive midfielder is also two-footed – so much so that it is hard to tell which is his natural side and which did he work on tirelessly on the training field at. This ability puts him above most, and also helped out in tight situations.

Santi Cazorla is often described as one of the most blessed his teammates have ever seen – even when compared to Mesut. He has been a source of joy when on the ball, and his talents should be held up to young players as a target to aim for. Should any kid make it and have Santi’s level of skill on his left and right foot? He’ll be destined for greatness -but he’ll need another of Santi’s attributes to succeed too – appetite.

This hunger formed the foundation for his transition from playmaker to a central role – and is probably the biggest testament to his worth.

His success in the middle of the park showed that he wasn’t a one-trick pony. He could create openings in tight games, but his desire saw him outmuscle players he had no right to, and his carrying of the ball forward at the tight times, smacked of tactical acumen and bags of skill.

The thing that us fans will remember above all though?

He played with a smile on his face. He loved the game, he genuinely enjoyed wearing our colours, and he gave everything to us when he was on the pitch.

Villareal will most likely be his last club before retirement, should he return to full fitness. The La Liga club have prior history with our talent – having taken Robert Pires from us when he departed.

We were robbed of what could have been the start of a budding partnership with Aaron Ramsey thanks to his troublesome achilles, and his subsequent recuperation was watched avidly by us all – for two reasons.

Firstly, we knew how much our team could benefit from having a fit Cazorla in our side.

Secondly, we all just missed seeing him.

He possesses the talent to change defence to attack, to grab the ball to stem a tide, to transform what is a tricky scenario into a promising one.

The end of his career is similar to Tomas Rosicky’s in a way.

Both were talented midfielders, blessed with a velvet touch. They also held the affection of all fans. Injury stole some of their time with us, but the ending will be the same too.

We will look at Cazorla the same way as we do at Tomas.

With misty-eyed nostalgia – and gratitude.

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.

Thank You, Vic Akers

It isn’t just Arsene Wenger that deserves a fitting send-off.

How’s about an Islington born boy who has been at the club in numerous capacities since 1986, making the newly formed Arsenal Ladies side the most successful English ladies side in history, winning thirty two honours, being awarded an OBE and now is the man responsible for ensuring our club are kitted out?

Step forward, Vic Akers, the true definition of an Arsenal hero.

Vic Akers, Arsenal icon

Vic is the embodiment of what us fans want from a player. True dedication, nothing but love for the cannon and puts everything into his work. Akers has not only served Arsenal well – he shone a light on the Women’s game that wasn’t illuminated previously.

His Arsenal Ladies team’s – and it is plural as he reinvented the side regularly in his tenure as Manager – highlighted the skills on show in the female game. His all-conquering Gunners side were also the first English team to lift the European Cup.

Thanks to his work, the WSL is now growing at an exponential rate, but from a humble seed do mighty oaks grow, and the bedrock for the success in today’s incarnation of the English Women’s game lies at the feet of Vic Aker’s Arsenal teams.

The man famous for sparking the ‘Postman’ fashion trend – perennially in shorts, no matter the weather – Akers has been a mainstay during the reins of both Graham and Wenger, and this season will be his last at the club.

His work will be continued by his son, but not much is known about Akers prior to joining Arsenal as part of the Community scheme the Gunners were running at the time and continue to do.

Vic, much like other successful managers, was a journeyman professional football player, playing as a full-back during the 70’s for the likes of Cambridge United and Watford. Upon hanging up his boots, he took the chance to join his boyhood club working behind the scenes and strengthening the link between the club and the locals. A job very much close to his heart being a local boy himself.

It will be his efforts as Arsenal Ladies Manager from 1987 through to 2009 that set him apart however. 22 years and 32 trophies is a record that sees him in illustrious company, and even in the last decade when competition for trophies became fiercer than ever, his tactical nous and training ground work saw his Gunners girls stay ahead of the competition, even winning the European Cup in 2007 – something the currently cash-rich Chelsea and Man City Ladies team’s have failed to do.

Vic Akers will no doubt say goodbye to the club with well-wishes from everyone at the club, but fan recognition for his service will be lower than he deserves, simply because he flew below the radar, letting his work do the talking rather than take the plaudits he so richly warrants.

Arsenal have been lucky to have had some bona fide legends in their time, but Vic Akers is without doubt one of the biggest. We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for what he has achieved and also – how much he loved the club when he did it.

Thank you Vic Akers.

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.

Wojicech Szczesny – Were We Right To Sell?

Posted originally on Arsenal Mania

Wojicech Szczesny spent 11 years at Arsenal. In that time, and growing as a player through the Gunners ranks, his attachment to the club unsurprisingly grew. Over a decade at the club he supported as a boy, the bond the Pole had with Arsenal only became stronger.


So it was with an undoubtedly heavy heart that he bade farewell to North London recently, when he was offered the chance to play for Juventus and work alongside Gianluigi Buffon – the keeper that most consider to be this generation’s finest exponent between the sticks.


The prospect for his career was simply too good to turn down, but was it the right decision for Arsenal?












With last season’s miasma of horrors still so hard to erase from our mind’s eye, many of us fans looked to Szczesny’s efforts on loan at Roma, and with Petr Cech letting his high standards slip – it appeared as though we had the perfect remedy to clam up our porous team.


There are many other facets to this transfer though, that have not risen to the surface as prominently as the above though.


Szczesny performed way above expectation in Serie A last campaign, but the level of competition between the two league’s is still different. A perfect example of this is Gervinho – the Ivorian was an abject failure in an Arsenal shirt, but when playing for Roma only a few seasons ago, he looked like an accomplished professional. It is especially easier to grab clean sheets in the attritional playing styles of Italy too.


True, it looked as if the Polish keeper with a penchant for selfies at White Hart Lane had indeed acquired the one thing that stopped him being a great keeper at Arsenal – consistency. We can give him the benefit of the doubt, but can we forget?


Twice, the Number1 shirt was in his grasp in his time in London, and twice, continued erratic displays meant that Wenger had no choice but to drop him – once for Lukasz Fabainski and once for David Ospina. Five seasons was spent trying to establish himself and firmly rebuff all other goalkeeping competitors, but he never quite managed it. Whether it be silly mistakes on the pitch, like when he fouled Gabby Agbonlahor in the 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa, or when he was caught smoking in the showers, Szczesny couldn’t quite leave the doubts behind.


Now, after two excellent seasons in Rome, he was given an opportunity to work at Juventus. It would have been impossible to turn down, but what really rankles is that, why did Arsenal not hold out for more money?


Considering the experience that Szczesny has, and his still relatively young age, his transfer worth must have been higher than the reported meagre fee that we have received. When a young English keeper plays one season of top-flight football, gets relegated and then commands a £30m fee – that should have correlated into a higher fee for Wojicech too.


The fanbase, when poring over tweets and posts on social media, seems to be undecided on whether Wojicech Szczesny was the long-term answer in goal for our club, but we can all agree that he is worth far more than Juventus are scantily paying us. 

The Ox Looking for New Pastures?

Originally published on Arsenal Mania

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been at Arsenal now for over six years. In that time, the man known as ‘The Ox’ by fans, has accrued 122 appearances in the Premiership.

He has also earned international recognition during his time at the club. From the raw but exciting winger the Gunners purchased all those seasons ago, The Ox has firmly established himself and has been reaping the rewards of a higher echelon player.


Oxlade-Chamberlain has also suffered a raft of injuries in his time at The Emirates, disrupting his progress and hampering his opportunities in the first team. Looking back at his career sees a series of peaks and troughs, where he injures himself, has a lengthy layoff and then has sporadic gametime in an effort to reestablish himself on Arsene Wenger’s plans.


That is not to say the versatile midfielder hasn’t been given adequate chances however. There have been ample opportunities dished out to the England man, but until this season, The Ox had a severe case of butterfingers, as chance after chance fell through his grasp thanks to his weaknesses on the field.


Poor decision making, a tendency to hold the ball for too long, gifting possession to the opposition repeatedly. The Ox has been exciting to watch, but careless. It is his ability to successfully take on his markers though, that has affirmed his status as a fan favourite amongst a large percentage of Gooners. His fearlessness, especially when the chips are down, means he raises bums from seats. He raises the emotional level of the fans in the stands when he is on the ball.


Although the source is unconfirmed, there has been smoke billowing around the player’s future. Stories of The Ox looking to pastures new where so plentiful recently, that it was presented to Arsene Wenger in a recent Press conference. Of course Wenger reaffirmed his wish for the Ox to stay, and with so much faith and time invested in the young man, this is certainly no surprise to hear.


The whole thing smacks of the dark arts engineered by an agent keen to up his client’s market value so a new contract will be as juicy and lucrative as possible. A wanted commodity is always a more valuable commodity after all. If some transfer furore can be whipped up and Arsenal can be reminded of what they could lose, then they will be keener to tie up The Ox to a long-term deal.


If there is substance to the story though, then The Ox is showing his true colours.


Much like Robin Van Persie, Oxlade-Chamberlain has suffered many injuries, and has also received a ludicrous amount of faith placed in them by a manager who chooses to see the promise in a player above their flaws. Wenger believed they would come good and he resisted all overtures to drop them from the team when fit.


Now, if the rumours are to be believed, The Ox is looking to betray that faith by leaving the club, after finally fulfilling that promise he has always failed to deliver. This campaign has seen The Ox rise to the fore in a central role, getting the all-important numbers in the goals and assists column and showing everyone just what he can do.


Wenger always knew this was the player he signed, but if The Ox wants to go, then he should be allowed to. We cannot want a player who is willing to sever ties with our club so easily. Apparently he believes that he has been taken for granted. All this sounds like is a player who has been given much and is not willing to return the favour with loyalty.


We shan’t miss him. We have had far better than him and coped just fine. More than likely, The Ox is just angling for an extension, but if there is the slightest hint of truth, then we should leave the gate open for The Ox to depart from his comfortable pen.


I am more than sure he will find that wherever he goes, he won’t find circumstances so forgiving anywhere else.