Archive for April, 2011

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Saturday guff.

April 30, 2011

‘On a lazy Saturday morning when you’re lying in bed, drifting in and out of sleep, there is a space where fantasy and reality become one. Are you awake, or are you dreaming? You see people and things; some are familiar; some are strange. You talk, you feel, but you move without walking; you fly without wings. Your mind and your body exist, but on separate planes. Time stands still. For me, this is the feeling I have when ideas come.’

Lynn Johnston

The author of the above quote is a Canadian cartoonist behind the For Better or for Worse cartoon that ran for the impressive 30 years. It has to be said that one can only envy this kind of consequence and wish for the same. Quite frankly, I am really struggling to think about something interesting to write about, so I guess I will do a bit of a press and blog run to see what the others have come up with on the lazy bank holiday weekend Saturday.

Thinking that it may be the best idea to get the worst out of the way first, I have gone onto the website of a popular red top to see that Alchy is already thinking of his team being crowned champions in a week after they beat us and Chelsea. If you needed any more encouragement to cheer on the latter today, look no further – say what you want, but since we have no chance in hell to win the thing (despite of what LeGrove’s genius chief statistician RayGooner has managed to come up with – see here), I would absolutely love for them to trump the Jocko’s lot. Oh well, that will teach me not to touch the tabloids with a barge pole, eh?

Lazy? Moi?

Bang, there goes my press overview! Having done a quick screening of the other blogs I read, it seems like the others had the same idea, so instead of being repetitive, I will just quickly summarise what they had to say. LeGrove’s Pedro talks about the images of the new kit which is to be introduced next season to celebrate the club’s 125th birthday. Has to be said that it does not differ from this season’s one a whole lot and I am not too sure whether I like the idea of the away kit being white with the shorts presumably coming in navy, since we had the redcurrant ones this season. You know what team it resembles, don’t you? We had the white third kit last season and I can’t think of a single good game when we donned it. If you look like Sp*ds, you play like Sp*ds, let’s hope for our sake that it’s not some kind of curse. Pedro also mentions the Guardian’s interview with Djourou, which  makes  interesting reading, you can have a look here.

ACLF’s Yogi Warrior also wrote a piece on the latter subject, although he chose it to be the core subject of his today’s post. The slant is obviously a little different, but that is the beauty of the Gooner blogosphere, you can find something to suit your personal stance whether you are the of ever-the-optimistic lot (commonly referred to as AKB) or one of the realists, who the former like to think of as DooM™ raiders. YW also touches on the subject of the team captaincy, following the words from OGL about how the armband burdened our favourite Spaniard at such a young age. Dear Arsene, I hate to say that but we told you so the very moment he was given the footballing equivalent of Tolkien’s ring to bear. If this is your token time to figure out the bleeding obvious, well…

Just to continue with the chain of thought in the same manner, it’s time to mention Arseblog’s today’s post saying a bit more of the issue YW just slightly touched – funny how all this falls into place if you keep the correct order, one blogger gives you a little teaser at the end of his post  just for another to make it the main point of the article. Arseblogger is his usual boilky self, but hey, it’s Saturday peeps! His article also mentions the interview with Verminator who claims to be ready for the first team action. Thomas, we love you, but I say you may want to sit this one out and come back stronger next season, hopefully with another shiny new monster of a centreback to partner you. We hardly have anything to play for, so I don’t think there is any need to take unnecessary risks.

Last, but certainly not least: just to wrap things up, let me mention today’s tongue-in-cheek post by RockyLives you can read on the ArsenalArsenal site. The author is mocking the idea of the march due to take place before the Villa game in a few weeks, it’s pretty well written and funny in a way, but you know my take on the subject, don’t you? I don’t think it’s clever to dismiss the points behind the WHOAG’s initiative without giving them a thought. But hey, let’s hope these humorous pieces will go some way towards releasing the tension amongst those who want to oppose the peaceful demo in the less-than-peaceful manner.

Anyway, thank you for reading this belated post and let’s hope the blue scum will give the lilywhite scum a good hiding!

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The rant? Nah…

April 29, 2011

I know I promised one, but why would I do such a thing? It’s Friday, the work week was short, another long weekend has just begun, most people are happy to see the Royal Wedding and coming out today spitting feathers about things that can hardly be changed at this point in time and getting all emotional would be just, well, out of place and probably a bit rude as well. Her Maj is a Gooner, hence it’s like a family wedding and I could never forgive myself if I was to stink out the place or even contribute towards anybody’s mood being less than jolly on the big family occasion. Dear Wills and Kate, all the best!

Worry not, I will keep the fuse lit and it’s only up to the players if it ignites the fireworks of praise or a salvo of criticism at the beginning of the next week, even though all we have left to play for is to deliver the very belated St Totteringham’s Day from the evil Twitchy Grinch. It’s no laughing matter, theoretically we may still miss out on that little joy as well! Needless to say, I will be watching the game tomorrow with great interest and given that like every Arsenal fan worth his salt I only support two clubs (us and whoever plays Sp*ds), I will be a Chav for a day. I will stop short of saying something to the tune of blue being the new red tomorrow, but only just. Call me a blasphemer, but even Churchill once said that he would ally with the horned one himself to defeat that dude with a funny ‘tache, no? Enemy of my enemy, end justifying the means and all that.

Another reason why I’ve decided against letting Our Glorious Leader as well as the underperforming team have both barrels is simply that following the announcement of the protest march due to take place before the Villa game, we have seen enough aggro in the Arsenal blogosphere this week as it is. What saddened me was that there seem to be numbers of people who are prepared to act as praetorians of the ancien régime and how all this is going to end up is anybody’s guess. I mean, what exactly is wrong with a peaceful march? And I wonder how many people lining up to ‘defend the club’ against their own have actually read what the dissidents’ beef is before hitting out at the supposed ‘infidels’? Whilst I am not necessarily fully supporting ALL the points they are raising, they have a few valid ones and they are worth at least listening to without dismissing them outright as ‘silly’ PHW-stylee. Some of you may recall that I am not exactly a fan of picket and demo style protests myself, but if there are people who think that it is a valid form of ‘collective expression’, no one should berate them or stop them from doing their thing. You think it’s silly? Let them make complete tits out of themselves then! A few hundred strong march is not enough to harm the colossus of a club that is Arsenal, surely? I say let them through without causing them any grief, all they want is to be heard by the rest of the family, not too much to ask, is it?

Someone said to me ‘To you football is a matter of life or death!’ and I said ‘Listen, it’s more important than that’.

Bill Shankly

Ironically, both the ‘dissidents’ and the ‘praetorians’ are willing to do their bit simply because they all agree with the above quote. Why else would the former march on the stadium to make the ‘elders’ listen and why do you the latter are so much up in arms at the very thought of anyone daring to contest the status quo? Make no mistake, they are all doing it out of their love for the club, the only difference between them is their respective concepts of what the best way forward for the AFC is. This kind of Armageddon of views will either prove be the catalyst for change or will leave the fanbase divided into the equivalents of Republicans and Democrats, which will sadly mark the end of the fans’  influence, however minimal it may be. One can’t win if there is no harmony, there is even some Latin phrase that says something to that effect, anyone remembers what it is? Once the fanbase is irrevocably and irreparably split, we may as well introduce another known Latin slogan as the club’s motto: Divide et impera.

Just to wrap things up, watch this short video, which should remind you not to take yourself, your next man or OGL too seriously:

Q: Can you spot a fellow Gooner in this one?

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The interview. Like father, like son?

April 27, 2011

Welcome back after the one day pause, it’s time to deliver the goods! Two days ago, I promised a rant and an interview before the weekend, when it will be all about the game against Yoonited – I am sure there will be plenty to write about with the fans, players and the managers talking about it or even not saying much or anything for that matter. In Poland they say that lack of occasion is also an occasion to down a bottle or two in celebration, so just to get you in that Polish celebratory-no-matter-what mood, I give you a nice piece of journalism which originates from my homeland.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you Messrs. Arkadiusz Bartosiak and Łukasz Klinke, the men behind the ‘Wywiadowcy’ (The Interviewers) website. Quite a read, worth learning my mother tongue in its own right! I don’t think I can introduce them any better than they already have themselves:

‘We are a rather quirky duo. Always together but also always apart at the same time. We differ in pretty much every aspect:  from the hair, through the women, the sizes, the ways, right to the everyday preferences. We can’t write about the similarities as these are boring and they don’t sell. We don’t know how to brag, even though it’s common knowledge that we are absolutely one of a kind. But if there is one thing that is definitely one of the kind, it’s our interviews we have been doing for a few years. Enjoy the read, but remember, these are not to be commented on. We don’t like the critique. And that’s what we have in common.’

Polish is fun, but not for the faint hearted...

Don’t you just love these fellas? Anyway, they were kind enough to allow me to translate and post the piece they did with our current goalkeeper Wojtek Szczesny and his dad, former Polish international, Maciej. For those who don’t know it yet, he used to play in goal as well, won a few trophies in his career and is generally a top bloke. Like father, like son? One can only hope…

The interview itself was published in the Polish edition of ‘PLAYBOY’ about a year ago, which should allow you some benefit of the hindsight. Enjoy!

‘He’s a horribly cheeky bugger, but a witty one at that, so he tends to get away with stuff’. Who said that and about whom?

W (with the look of mild terror in his eyes): Me? About dad?

M: If you even consider this, it means you have got cocky very quickly. I said that. About you.

W: When?

M: Six years ago in the ‘PLAYBOY’ interview. The ‘bugger’ bit was tongue-in-cheek and the ‘cheeky’ was more in the ‘clever’ sense. Being cheeky is a sign of intelligence, so it was a compliment afterall.

Has anything changed through the last six years?

M: He still is a cheeky bugger. And he seems to think that he CAN get away with stuff.

W: I gather you still like my jokes then?

M: I do, but I reckon you could be a touch less of a joker, especially towards your relatives like your father. You are twenty already.

And who were you when you were twenty?

M: A jolly dad. Not for long, as my daughter died in an accident. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to once again become a father. As far as my professional career is concerned, I would absolutely and wholeheartedly worship football. First thing I learned the hard way was that it was just a business. The fact that it is sometimes a well dodgy business in Poland made it even more painful. When I lost my little girl, it just got to me that it was the worst that could ever happen to me, hence I would not bow to any given schmuck. Only thanks to that I was able to keep my hands clean, despite having played in the Polish league all these years.

Did you dream of playing abroad?

M: For a long time I would think that playing for Widzew or Legia was my ceiling. However, once I managed a fairly decent game in the cup against Barcelona on their turf, I got this idea that it might be a good thing to leave. The problem is that back in those days in Poland it normally took about one year after the enquiries were made to find out about the interest lodged by a foreign outfit.

Continue reading

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Thank God for Chelsea.

April 25, 2011

Greetings, Gooners and Goonerettes alike! On the subject of the headline, a word of explanation for these who did not read my yesterday’s post: in the match preview I made a calculation where it was possible for ManIOU to win the league at our ground. I can’t quite remember where I got it wrong, pretty sure it had something to do with the number of games Chelsea had left to play, but since all those presumptions led to writing that funny paragraph about getting  the stay of execution, I have just decided to add a little post scriptum to calm some nerves. Instead of taking it out altogether, I have opted for a  little explanation with regards to why I preferred to keep it there. Someone said that once a good hypothesis is made and the facts won’t fit in, so much the worse it is for the facts. But hey, at least I am transparent about the small error I made and to be honest, it was not that much far off. It’s the LITTLE lapses that make us human and all that…

The title of today’s article is referring to the only reason why the darkest of scenarios is certain not to unfold before the very eyes of the fans gathered inside the ES on the May Day. Yes dear readers, this season just does not stop giving: we have been handed countless chances to catch up with the dire Mancs, but since we would just choke each and every time, there could be only one winner and that is Chelsea. And ironically, their gain is also ours, as if it was not for them being just six points off the pace, we would be running a serious risk of seeing a Yoonited player lifting the first ever Premiership trophy at the Ems in a week’s time if we were to fail to deny them a win. So, once again, thank you Chelsea for sparing us blushes as even this team can’t conspire to cock this up, save for some point deduction from your tally.

Please excuse this little bit of gallows humour as I am hurting as much as you are. Quite frankly, come to think of it, had the first ever title celebration at the shiny ‘new’ stadium not been such an important chapter in the club’s history, I would not mind seeing this travesty on the May Day a whole lot. Sure, we would have to endure ‘We won the league at Emirates’ for the foreseeable future, but hey, nothing less than earned, eh? Trust me, if I hear as much as one more word about bad luck from Our Glorious Leader’s mouth, I’ll just laugh. Because it’s all this nonsense deserves.

You won't like him when he's angry. Or something.

Since I am the ‘credit and criticism where it’s due’ kind of person, it’s credit time: what you see above is slightly altered image from this website. The man behind the ‘Arsenalisation’ of the Man of Steel is once again the pride of Ireland, Photoshop wizard world’s answer to Brendan Behan’s ‘drinker with a writing problem’, the person behind that nice banner on the top of the page, our dear friend and fellow blogger Tiarnan! I have emailed him the idea and it took him less time than it takes the current Arsenal team to lose a lead in a crucial game and that is saying something. The initial idea was to post the above picture in the next game’s preview article, but all the Kryptonite in the universe could not keep the Superdude under the wraps after the yesterday’s debacle. He looks mighty pissed off, you know? And he is wearing one of these white coats I told you about some days ago. Or is it a cape?

No points for guessing what my new avatar is!

I guess this is the moment where I should say a few words about yesterday’s game, but I’d rather not. Why, some will ask. The explanation is fairly simple: I could just take a few match reports I have posted until now, copy and paste some random stuff about no one closing down the opposition, overelaborate tippy tappy 5-a-side pursuit of happiness and FIFA Street style goals, Song playing shit, Theo being unable to beat his player in one-on-one situation and other same ol’ unaddressed shortcomings so clear for everyone to see  and it would still make sense. I could go on a rant about Wenger’s antics on the touchline, but I will just stop short of that as well, given that it’s not big and not clever to kick someone when he is down, and we Gooners have more class than that, don’t we? Think of what Seth Gecko said:

‘I may be a bastard, but I’m not a fucking bastard’.

I simply can’t be asked to write the same article over again, if it is the match report you seek, I am inclined to give you the best of both worlds (one at a time, that is) – LeGrove and A Cultured Left Foot. We don’t discriminate! For the masochists, there is also the Arsenalist with video highlights.

Thank you for reading! Due to other worldsaving duties, I may now go quiet for a few days, but I promise to drop by to write at least once this week! Realistically, one rant and one interview is scheduled before another weekend kicks in properly. Interview with whom? Now, now, that would be telling…

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All I want for Easter is…

April 24, 2011

…three points from the trip to Bolton. Not getting too greedy, am I, dear Easter Bunny? Despite once again hearing about the need to believe and how winning the last five games will yield us a major trophy, I can’t help thinking that all we can count on this season is that little bit of Schadenfreude when we celebrate the St Totteringham’s Day. Our loanee, Carlos Vela did his bit yesterday by the way of providing an assist for the first goal against the scum and almost scoring one just after the start of the game, but I guess we will still need to keep that cheap fizzy plonk on ice until we are properly out of their reach and we can take our solace in the Gooner universe’s answer to Xmas.

Vela’s exploits of yesterday as well as the other few games when he was given his limited chances put the Chicharito’s match winning goals and the widespread claims about us getting the ‘wrong Mexican’ (or a Mexican’t if you were to believe Johnny Depp) into perspective, wouldn’t you agree? Carlos is a player that has it all: pace, tricks and knowledge where the goal is, which can’t be overvalued when we are struggling for goals ourselves and there are seemingly not too many ‘triers’ in our team, unless the players decide to rise to the occasion like we saw it on Wednesday. Crazy thought, but the sudden emergence of his countryman may just give him the motivation required to prove that it is him who is The Fastest Mouse in all Mexico afterall!

Moving onto the subject of today’s game, it will be interesting to see which Arsenal we will see, team selection and mentality wise for a set of reasons: we have played two big games in the space of the last week, lost points from winning position in both, Chelsea leapfrogged us in the table on goal difference and – wait for it – if we SERIOUSLY turn it up and significantly better our goal difference, the title is still almost (with the Chavs beating Yoonited 1:0) in our hands. Don’t believe me? Look at the table and do the maths.

...yes it is!

It does not take a genius to figure out that if we see the Arsenal flying out of the blocks, trying to score as many goals as possible to do just that will be a sign of that belief we hear so much about and it will also go great lengths towards making a roaring statement of intent to take the fight to Yoonited and Chavs, striking the doubt and fear in the hearts of their players and supporters alike. Seeing this would definitely make a few doubting Thomases, including the author, sit down, shut up and take notice. Now, the big question is, does a positive strategy like this even figure in the OGL’s Little Red Book? And more importantly, will the players respond to his rallying cry?

To make things even more interesting, there is another twist to this story: anything less than three points today and with Chelsea failing to get a result against Sp*ds we are running the risk of the very first ‘helicopter Sunday’ at our shiny new ground happening for all the wrong reasons. A win today does not only makes that purely mathematically impossible, but also changes the chopper’s earliest next departure time to the next week and the destination to the Old Toilet, where they can celebrate all they want after beating Chavs to clinch the title. I will not care one iota then. Or maybe I will.

Today is the day when people of certain religions celebrate the belief that their Lord and Saviour rose from the grave, while others just await for the gifts rom the Easter Bunny whether they believe in the former or not. As far as my religious beliefs (CoA) are concerned, the believers will tell you that today is the day when our season is resurrected, whereas the egg hunting infidels will say that all we are getting is a week’s stay of the execution with the horror of public hanging, drawing and quartering being replaced ex gratia (following the emotional plea of the Gooner groom’s brother on the Royal Wedding weekend) by the quiet affair with the use of that fancy French invention called guillotine. I say let’s look on the bright side of things either way, just because the worst case scenario does not bear thinking about, if for nothing else?

Come on Arsenal!

P.S. I have just realised that Yoonited can’t win the title at our place! YAY! But hey, let’s not allow the facts get in the way of good journalism, eh? Besides, the only thing that makes this theory null & void is the sudden emergence of Chelsea…

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Out and about ;)

April 23, 2011

What am I to say? The weather outside is so sweet it would be criminal to stay indoors. My idea is to watch the lunchtime game to see them Toffees stuff Yoonited, then go out to the seaside to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. This is my first summer living by the seaside and man, I’m gonna enjoy every last minute of it!

Miami Beach this is not, but...

I could write a little rant about OGL’s newest quotes, ‘drawing mentality’ and all that, but you know what? Meh.

Of course he can’t publicly say the players are all pap and there will be blood, firesale and that the heads shall roll left, right and centre, I know he has to try squeezing every last bit of performance out of them, given that top four finish is still not a gimme, but for crying out loud, he should…

Hmmm…

Did that look like I was about to start one?

Go out, have a pint or whatever your poison is, enjoy the day, don’t worry about the things you can’t change and make sure you read the game preview tomorrow!

Goes without saying that I am not that dude from the blue box appearing at the beginning of the clip…

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How do you solve a problem like Arsene?

April 22, 2011

Three years ago, if I was to open an Arsenal related website and see this kind of headline, despite the first tiny cracks appearing  in the monolith with the ‘Arsene Knows’ sculpted into it, I would just dismiss this kind of question as madness. We have just moved to a shiny new stadium, we came close to winning the title on a shoestring budget with a bunch of kids just one season after our (arguably) best player in history left to the pastures new and I am still of the opinion that we should have won the damn thing, given that we missed out by mere four points, whereas we have been robbed of five points by the referees in the fashion so obvious it was disgusting. The team was an absolute joy to watch, having the correct balance of brawn and brains, our gameplay had it all and hardly anyone had any answer to that. I could not help but think ‘Blimey, the old bugger has pulled it off again, we are on our way, just watch’. And then something went horribly wrong.

From this...

As far as our fortunes and OGL’s approach are concerned, I believe that the summer of 2008 was the turning point: after saying our farewells to one of the very last Invincibles in Gilberto and the little Chav scum in Diarra (who left in the mid-season, to be precise) who both became frustrated with lack of first team opportunities, we have also lost Flamini and Hleb to AC Milan and Barcelona respectively, our ‘Little Mozart’ picked up that mysterious injury and the team had practically lost its spine. The mis-treatment of club’s loyal servant Gilberto captaincy wise, its effect on the mindset of players and the tin foil hat theories about the Italians and the Catalunyans tempting away the players the did not really need are topics for future posts which you may see shortly, but let’s stay on the subject for the time being, shall we?

Now, given that I think of it as the root of all evil (bear with me), let’s take a look at the Flamini situation in more detail: great utility player (remember CL run in 2006?), tons of pace to burn, tenacious and what is the most important of it all, a Ying to Cesc’s Yang, doing all the dirty work for the latter to pull strings in the midfield like there was no one around him. We all saw that in his last season at the club, the season after the summer when Wenger was not too sure what to do with him and tried to sell him to Brum (yes, Brum). Say what you want, but that is shocking man management and not giving him whatever he wanted mid-season or holding him over the barrel when we still had option of Diarra on our books is a case of shocking squad management as well, especially when seeing what he could do! Sure, he may not be the most beautiful player to watch and his passing stats are probably not a patch on D******n’s, but hey, if I was only interested in watching silky moves and no grit, I would just wait until the Bolshoi Ballet are in town. Ray Parlour was not the most technical player either, but it did not stop him from becoming the fans’ favourite and one of the Arsenal legends, did it? If you need proof, look no further than him being one of the players featured on the ‘Arsenalisation’ murals outside the ground…

...to this

All of that condemned us to watching the completely inept D******n and Song taking all the sting out of our play in the following season, the one when people started coining phrases like ‘crab football’ and the like. Yes, I know they were only young, but do I care? There are no trophies for the lowest average age, just entries in the record books that will serve as the sole evidence of that madness, as sure as hell not a single sane Gooner will want to remember that. This is the moment when we started hearing the pearls of wisdom about not killing players, mental strength and not seeing anyone better in the vast transfer market, which begs the question why do we maintain that mythical best scouting network in the world, unless its sole purpose is to find talented kids and buy them all like procreation was to go out of fashion all of a sudden.

So, how does Flamini come into all that, you will ask. It’s pretty simple: having lost a good player on a free, Our Glorious Leader started giving away new, improved contracts to D******ns and Diabys of this world without rhyme, reason and merit behind it. I know he was about to leave on a free, but giving the new two year deal to washed out Rosicky took the biscuit and I remember Le Grove asking whether the ink dried on that contract yet in the match report straight after that. All this reminds of a man who got dumped by a girl of his dreams for being a bit of a dick and then ending up with an ugly, mean hag, being her bitch just not to lose her. Mental? You bet your ass it is!

Now onto the question posed in the headline: it is my belief that someone has to put a stop to this poxy little project of his, there are players in this team that simply don’t deserve to play on this pitch, let alone wearing the Arsenal kit and they need to be cut out like cancer. Quite frankly, if he can’t stomach doing this, well, I say if he can’t live without them, he may as well leave with them, as it’s sad to see him tarnishing his undisputed legacy for the sake of the misplaced and unreciprocated loyalty towards the ‘Excusables’. Just to wrap things up, it’s over to the late Guru saying a few words on the subject:

Worth listening in its entirety, whether you are a hip hop fan or not, you will be surprised how accurate this is…

Thank you for reading!