Na na na na – Giroud!

The season is almost upon us. A tour of Asia, has come and gone. Transfer sagas have, like a lingering parp, failed to dissipate quickly, and the worriers are readying their woe.

But while there’s been some bad news in regards to Jack Wilshere, and some trepidation in regards to the return of Abou Diaby (he’s 26…wow), let us not forget we’ve signed two very capable players.

And you know, every good player deserves a good chant or song. So while I ruminate on a Podolski-based version of Agadoo, there’s been some tuneful suggestions doing the rounds on twitter with regards to Olivier Giroud.

So I thought I’d share a Frankenstein’s monster of a version of that ditty with you. After all, what better way to carry on into the new season than with a spring in our collective Gooner steps and a song in our hearts?

Ladies and gentlemen then, here are two verses and the chorus of a much-improved* McCartney classic (also serving to soothe the pain of never being able to give life to my Wings-inspired JET chant).

Kudos to Briggsy (@AFCHymnSheet) for the first verse, and @KeithTheGooner for constant tweet-based renditions. Let’s hear it! Sing, tweet and RT. You know you like it.

Giroud, don’t be afraid. We take a good player and make ’em better. Remember to let uns into your heart, and then we can start to get better!

Na, na na nana na na. Na na na na Giroud!
Na, na na nana na na. Na na na na Giroud!

Giroud, don’t pass the ball. Have a shot and score a cracker. Remember, if you get into the box, you can outfox, ’cause you’re an attacker.

tacker, tacker, tacker, tacker…

Na, na na nana na na. Na na na na Giroud!

Na, na na nana na na. Na na na na Giroud!

COYG!

P.S: For those you of you following me on @alltheskill, thank you. This account will be made defunct in the new season though, and this the last post to tweeted there. To keep following me, you’ll need to head over to @KevinPocock

(*Arsenalising things makes them better).

Vindication?

I genuinely wonder what those who want/ed Wenger gone thought about yesterday. Because wasn’t the Frenchman vindicated in a fair amount of ways? I watched the game in S.London and it was surely one of the greatest games of football I’ve ever watched. It’s certainly one of the best starring The Arsenal, and it was probably one of the greatest shows of belief I’ve witnessed.

Twice we went behind, and twice we equalised. Gary Neville was having kittens at half time such was the quality of defence on show, but I cared about one thing only: Winning. That we conceded three goals highlights the issues we know are there. We struggled against crosses and corners, and until we can sing “Guess who’s Bac, Bac again”, Djourou will have to sharpen up at RB to keep young Jenks waiting in the wings. Likewise, ‘The Saint’ needs more of yesterday’s second half than the first if he’s to similarly frustrate a fit Kieran Gibbs. We battled, we pushed, we looked dangerous, and we found a team willing to prove we’ve got more than just a flying Dutchman to hold on tight to.

Ramsey, Arteta and Song grew as the game went on and Koscielny had another stormer, essentially nullifying Fernando Torres. In fact, Kos has such confidence at the moment that at one point he was tracking a player to our byline, got to the free ball first, slid, backheeled the ball against the chasing player, and deflected it out for a throw-in to us. Take note John Terry, that’s how you go to ground.

Theo – although needing to be far more alert to possibilities  in the final third – prowled the right and showed his fleet-footedness in the best way, while Szczesny is a keeper who has confidence enough to physically move our defenders to his preferred positions for set piece defence. Whether the Pole was lucky to be on the pitch after taking down Cashley Cole (not a red for me) is debatable.

But we won. We scored five against Chelsea at their place,  and this was not a considerably weak Chelsea side. Thankfully Drogba’s suspension prevented him from taking his usual delight in rippling our net, but with the Chelsea players on show it was still a fearful test. Our boys never shied away from it, and the jubilation that followed the final whistle was surely echoed millions. In S. London we jumped around like goons to the goals, and when the end of the game arrived a contentedness that has been lacking from supporting the Gunners of late was simply overflowing.

It might have been just one game in the season, but it was our eighth win in nine, puts us back in the hunt for the top four, and surely fills this squad with much needed belief that we can move forward with the players we have, and really make an impact on the season.

But most importantly, it gives us all belief that this squad of players, and this manager, after a poor start to the season, are capable of producing those special moments that we live for as fans. It’s a glorious memory. One provided by a new squad under the watchful eye of the old master. And one that I hope proves that it’s far from time for Mr Wenger to say goodbye.

 

The New Reality

First, a quick apology for my absence of late. Work, sleep and illness have all conspired against me. But I’m back, and I’m…<smart comment here>. Anyway to business, and it really does feel business-like such is the enormity of the matters in hand for a follower of The Arsenal these days.

You see during the mauling at Old Trafford (apologies for the memory), a good gooner mate said, although I thought it a little reactionary after, that “this is the new reality”. Having just witnessed and taken scant pleasure from a dominant City team beating Spurs, we ourselves got one hell of a shoeing. The sentiment was easily agreeable at the time. We’d be fighting for the top four if we were lucky, and we had an interlull and, hopefully, new players to come.

After that period we sort of regrouped, sort of got some results and a little bit of Russian luck, and were then unceremoniously body-slammed by a combination of poor refereeing, a lack of belief, and…well, Blackburn. Three wins on the spin were a welcome change, and then there was Spurs. I’ve not posted since the Spurs game for no other reason than I almost resorted to A Clockwork Orange-style eye tactics to actually watch the game. And because the week previously I was barely with it enough to feed myself (exaggerated for sympathy), the work I had to do after the result left me little time to post.

Still, now I am. And now I can say that it wasn’t very good. I suppose we knew that, but I can’t state otherwise. It’s a bit late for a full dissection of a disappointing result (although it’s arguably no worse a result than last season’s home fixture), but when you’re 2-1 down with 20 minutes left you expect far more than we saw. Mertesacker goes up top, and no balls are lofted to him, while a more experienced player going forward in Song, who let’s not forget set up the goal, sits back. It doesn’t make much sense. Injuries and all don’t help in such situations, and neither do decisions that go against you, but at WHL the players’ decisions seem wrong, the spirit seems lacking, the concentration looks absent and fight had gone AWOL. In short, it’s hard to argue we deserved the win.

But it’s bad isn’t it? It’s actually at the point where I look at our next three home games, in cup an league, around an away trip to Marseille and wonder whether we can win them all. Can we even get six points from Sunderland and Stoke? And if not from Sunderland, struggling with a poor start to the season, where does that leave us?

16 Sun Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League H Sunderland 13:30 SS1
19 Wed Add to Calendar UEFA Champions League A Marseille 19:45 Player
23 Sun Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League H Stoke City 13:30 Player
25 Tue Add to Calendar Carling Cup H Bolton Wanderers 19:45

The answer is with an away trip to Chelsea on the 29th Oct, and right now that’s scaring the hell out of me. And yet another answer seems to be doing the rounds on Twitter, coming to my attention via @DarrenArsenal1.

Blimey, eh?

I don’t think I can correctly construct any sentences to match my thoughts on this. No doubt it will be noddingly approved by some, and sicken furious others should it be unfurled at a game (I would sit solemnly fidgeting), but everyone is entitled to opinions on the club they love. I’ve mentioned before that I can’t think that refereeing decisions or injuries can really be the fault of Wenger. Yet he himself has agreed in the past that football is a results business, and it is managers who need to produce those results. If a decision goes against the team, you need to get them back up and going. If your team goes down you need to keep them believing. I think Wenger is still the man to do this, but clearly some do not.

So I don’t know where we are the moment. It’s like I’ve finally gotten some sleep and awoken from a rolling nightmare, only to find myself adrift upon the good ship Arsenal, which has mistakenly sunk a tribal village’s kayaks and has run out of both the necessary fuel to power out of a hostile situation, or the required dialectical knowledge to charm away the danger. Ah, talking ships. I think it’s time for me to call it a day. But not before I reveal my secret weeping over the Arsenal injury list at PhysioRoom. Hang on, Szczesny’s injured?

Well at least there’s the rugb…oh.

AllTheBest.

A Reactionary Error

I think I made an error over the weekend. Not in going to the Gooner friend’s flat from which I am now – hopefully jokingly – barred from watching those games I cannot get to at – and barred because we normally lose or occasionally draw.

My error wasn’t even the optimistic amounts of wine I ‘tasted’ on Saturday night, leading to a terrible headache combined with the recollection of a 4-3 defeat, both of which steadfastly accompanied me throughout  Sunday. The error wasn’t then going to a local bar to watch the Sp*rs vs Liverpool and then ManU vs Chelsea games, and to then wonder how The Arsenal will fare in the reckoning this season.

No, my error was in not keeping my head, my sense of footballing rationality, and bending under the weight of negativity experienced in the wake of a defeat.

I’ve mentioned before that I count myself fortunate to have been supporting Arsenal since a time before it was the norm to assume that we would challenge for anything. Indeed, one year in the not too distant memory we actually finished 10th. TENTH. To steal a line from an Arsenal glory day:

WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT?

Who remembers that first season in the Premier League? Here it is courtesy of ArseWeb:

                              P   W  D  L   F   A   W  D  L   F   A   Pt
Season 1992-93
 1. MANCHESTER UNITED        42  14  5  2  39  14  10  7  4  28  17   84
10. Arsenal                  42   8  6  7  25  20   7  5  9  15  18   56

No doubt the very thought of us finishing 10th this season would send shivers down some Gooner spines, but then there we’d ago again with the psychology of deserving fans, and it wouldn’t be the first time that happened for many of us. Of course we can raise questions as to how our beloved club has fallen in form in the last two, few, or several seasons – indeed as a football fan it is our place to question as well as support our clubs.

But we shouldn’t fail to forget that “Arsenal’s present lack of success is scarcely a drop in the ocean”, as mentioned in an excellent piece by Sam Wallace today for The Independent. Indeed, in terms of Wenger’s record, our current ‘success’ (and we might define that more by fourteen successive Champions League qualifications than the odds-against acquisition of four trophies we consider ourselves as having a shot at) isn’t suffering too badly either.

Those shots at trophies may have gotten longer of late, and our form in the here and now might suggest that some sort of disaster is occurring. Yet, if like me you find yourself uncharacteristically down in the dumps at the moment I’d urge you to re-assess things in terms of a longer perspective (and remember this and this for some light relief). Football seasons are long. Football histories are longer. We’re not in a good way, but let’s not forget that it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. That Arsenal is still here, and that it is so well regarded globally is something we should be thankful for.

We’ve survived and endured as a club, and recently shone thanks to the very man currently in control. If he does go in the not too distant future, and if that is what is ultimately needed to change our trajectory (although I don’t believe it is), let’s not make the error of forgetting the club’s past; the more recent as well as the almost forgotten. And some of the glory in between.

Blackburn 4 – 3 Arsenal – A Game of Moans

Highlights

Well that wasn’t very enjoyable was it? It’s easy to look back on yesterday and think that our club is embroiled in some sort of Shakesperian tragedy set in a tunnel of woe with few glimmers of hope. Rumours of Arsenal’s demise may well – to coin a phrase – be greatly exaggerated, but it’s not exactly happy-go-lucky right now.

When Gervinho scored in the tenth minute, I smelled goals. A smart pass in behind the Blackburn defence from Song saw Gervinho let the ball run behind him and swerve to get his angles right before rolling the ball beyond Robinson. We looked in the mood, we looked comfortable in possession and we (and he) looked a threat.

Yakubu popped up with a deft finish fifteen minutes later. He was certainly onside, with new boy Santos sitting too deep, and Koscielny appeared to flail an arm suggesting some defensive partner made of thin air should go with his man. The thin air cared not a jot, failed to listen, and it was 1-1.

A defensive lapse, but not disastrous. We went again, and with Rambo sent into the box a lovely cut-back found 94% pass accuracy man (working title), Mikel Arteta. BOOM! Chants of “Who are ya?” could be heard from the away end.

Except who Blackburn were yesterday were a team deservedly at the bottom of the table at the start of play, but who would then find themselves acquiring three goals without reply. Not before Gervinho had the chance to play in RVP for an odds-on goal, but opted to go himself and saw his effort blocked away for a corner. The captain’s glare said it all – 3-1 and you would have fancied we might go on from there.

Our chance of taking the game by the scruff of the neck gone, a combination of poor confidence, poor focus and an almost tangible otherworldly mischievous spirit decided to stick collective oars in and capsize us. Arshavin, having kicked last season’s habitual laziness actually chased back, covering for his left-back. But the game decided to play funny and punish him for such audacity. The free-kick he conceded was a clipped ball in that nobody attacked and got rid of and just bounced off a statuesque Song into the net.

Whether Song could do much about it is arguable, but from then on it was like watching a team familiarly bewitched. Sagna limped off struggling with an earlier curse/challenge, and Djourou came into RB and very quickly got himself booked. A second for Yakubu came as we failed to clear a deep corner, but he was plainly offside as he scored, something I’m stunned an official looking right across the line couldn’t see, but perhaps a decision made harder by Santos – again – being deeper than his defensive partners.

3-2 down, Walcott replaced Arshavin, and with Martin Olsson, a man actually capable of tripping over thin air (and once shamed by Sam Allardyce, such is his character) running down our left, you’d expect an in-form and confident Djourou to take everything into touch. If not, at least a passing ant could probably trip the Swede. But Djourou, whether anxious having already been booked, seemed to falter at the last and missed the ball completely. Once Olsson was in behind – miraculously mastering his centre of balance like a regular everyday person –  Song attempted a weak as you like flail of the leg, and it was the much-maligned Koscielny who then provided another OG, celebrated by Steve Kean like some part of his own master plan.

Horrible, horrible.

Chamakh was called upon, and with five minutes of normal time remaining the Moroccan scored a fine header from an RVP cross. A goal Chamakh and the team needed, and Kean decided not to celebrate this time. Mertesacker and Chamakh then both missed headed chances and RVP had a shot stopped by Robinson and a bizarre and painful game soon came to an end. And then more pain erupted. Twitter is a harsh place to be after a defeat like that.

Gooners claiming the club is now in “freefall”, or that they were “ashamed” to support Arsenal bewildered me. It’s not happy viewing at the moment granted, but yesterday I found myself somewhat taken aback by the outpouring and even more taken aback to be agreeing with Rio Ferdinand:

Talk of “Wenger Out” isn’t for me, but this morning even as someone who errs on the positive side of things I’ve staggered myself by thinking about Rio’s tweet. Some are so “eager to get rid of him…” but…but what?  “How do we change that?” is the question that comes to my mind, and it’s something that needs to be figured out by Wenger, by the players, by the coaching staff and – preferably – quickly. Whether we should separate the end of last season’s form from the start of this is debatable, and we might call this a transitional phase with the new players coming in, but however I package it to myself I have to admit that luck can only be blamed so much. Logically, luck alone won’t put us 15th with 4pts and a -8 goal difference after five games, and we have to admit some failings. Failure to not defend properly. Failure to not take chances to stretch leads. Failure to keep concentration.

Such failures will do more damage in the course of a season than occasional failings of luck, and so they’re failures we can’t afford to keep entertaining.

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