Archive for January 12th, 2010


Globetrotters and bruisers.

January 12, 2010

‘…In every game, we gotta have the brains and the muscle, the game and the hustle…’

The above gangsta rap quote is all about balance. While we have enough brains, muscle is not something we have in abundance. Arsenal don’t like the physical confrontation on cold northern evening or, as a matter of fact, anywhere else – it’s a cliché, but has a whiff of truth about it. Yes, we are one of the best footballing sides in the world. Hell, I will go as far as saying that it is a very close competition for the top spot between us and Barcelona, but when the opposition team – no matter how much ‘lesser’ it is – tries to suffocate us by resorting to kicking us, then it is a common occurence that La Bella Macchina of the funny old game coughs, sputters and grinds to a halt. Sure, if only we lived in the ideal world where ability is all and mean streak is nothing, we would simply be flat track bullies, but unfortunately – or maybe fortunately – this is not the case, and that makes the pursuit of the ideal balance between the two all the more important.

I loved it when Cesc clattered Repka in the early stages of the Champions League back in 2007 after the latter tried to scare our young side with pre-match comments about how they will get in our faces. This was the beginning of the ‘nearly season’ of 07/08, where our magnificent run of form was cut short by the horrific injury sustained by Eduardo and, er, substandard officiating in both Premier League and Europe. Since then, we have lost a few of tough as nails players without replacing them and sacrificed the following season on the altar of development. Did it produce these few grit players, the enforcers who would be there to protect these who offer nothing but flair? Well, you could count Song as one at a stretch. Who else? As much as I wanted to give Evra a piece of my mind after the infamous ‘men against boys’ comments, if you leave that particular game aside, he was not too far from the truth, was he? Frankly, we were found wanting against the physical sides all too often, despite the massive gulf in class and the common opinion that we should wipe the floor with them. On top of that, these games often resulted in overcrowding problems in the physio room, seriously depleting our squad options.

If you look at the Invincibles, they were certainly not lacking anything in that department – in fact, it was commonly known that if you try to kick us, we will kick you back as much. Our captain was quite a hardman without being a common thug either, despite the fact that his impressive collection of bookings and numerous occasions when he had the shower room all for himself before the final whistle could lead to thinking otherwise if you only read the statistics. The battles between Paddy and Keane, ill-tempered as they got, were nothing short of epic. Maybe it’s just me, but I reckon we would seriously increase our chances of winning stuff if we could help ourselves to a few of these – sure, one hundred miles an hour football is pleasing on the eye, but sometimes one has to fight fire with fire and some explosives on top of that. The famous Big Al’s quote ‘You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone’ sounds all too accurate.

Presence. Power. Mean streak bordering on thuggery. If I was to reinforce our squad to mount serious challenge on all fronts, I would browse what the Monsters R Us of the footballing world has to offer. Again, we need to make ourselves immune to yet another type of hindrance. Now is the time to get these shitkickers to change the tune to a squeaky one. You know it makes sense, don’t you?