Stone Cold Friday: A Time For Rambo

Any of you boys want to shoot, now’s the time. There isn’t one of us that doesn’t want to be someplace else. But this is what we do, who we are…Well, that was Rambo on screen. And I bet that the scriptwriter had never visited Stoke yet it is so, well, appropriate. Here’s Darius to explain why…

As much as it’s exciting that the title challenge is literally going to the wire, a very bad taste worthy of industrial strength mouthwash is slowly taking shape. I’m still not decided which I hate more – United getting another title with the requisite sycophancy to follow us around all summer; or Chelsea waking up from the dead and shafting us on the way to grabbing the customary bragging rights and shoving them down our throats.

The fact that we’ve handed over the baton to that lot down the Kings road by our indifferent performance in the last 6 or so weeks isn’t forgotten in the sea of media hyperbole about what is being billed as the clash of the century. And no, they’re not talking about Aaron Ramsey’s return to Stoke City.

They should be talking about Rambo though, for the young man provided us with a glimpse of what the thug masquerading as the Stoke City captain attempted to deny us. Ramsey’s performance last week was imperious, and its great testament to the hard work he has put in to reclaim what was so nearly a shattered career.

As we close out the season, the joy of the unpressured environment for the team to express itself, particularly with the return of Ramsey and Vermaelen is laced with trepidation about the return to the crime scene of last year’s assault. In a lot of ways, overcoming this hurdle and getting a positive result with a good performance will do wonders in terms of confidence building for Ramsey, but truth be told, I wouldn’t put anything past Stoke.

There has been a collective failure of the footballing culture, match officiating, and leadership from the FA in creating an environment that has allowed a particular brand of risky football to be taken as the norm. A man’s game they call it. A culture where endangering the career of another professional is seen as acceptable if you actually get away with it.

I suppose at some stage, Ramsey would have had to go back to the crime scene, but you have to question whether it’s too soon. Some have started talking about Ramsey being the replacement for Cesc, a proposition which sounds premature at the moment. Cesc is an exceptional player – one of the best in the world – who still has a lot to offer Arsenal, and any team in the world will miss him. Lest we forget, he is still the Arsenal captain.

How long Cesc stays is another question altogether and despite the conventional wisdom out there about the return of Catalonia’s prodigal son – the fact of the matter is that Arsenal have the upper hand through Cesc’s contract. If Broke Back Barca want him that bad, they need to show us the money or shut their collective gob until they can afford him.

My take though is that Ramsey is not ready to assume the pressure of being seen as Cesc’s replacement. What he is definitely ready for is to be part of the team and to fight for a place and perform as effectively as he did with jack Wilshere and Alex Song. For us to challenge in the coming campaigns, he is essential. What Cesc offers is exceptional and we need to keep a hold of that until we’re good and ready for him to move on.

A friend was asking me yesterday whether Barca will beat United for sure in the Champions League final. You see, there’s a good price for United not winning anything this season and it was worth a visit to the bookmakers.

My take was that what distinguishes Barcelona from other teams is Lionel Messi. Without the Argentine, any top flight team has a very good chance against Barca. But let’s face it, it’s impossible to legislate against Messi and when his team are not playing well, he is capable in any split second to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and leave you pissing in the wind.

In our own way, Cesc has a little bit of that for us. The team can do well and hold its own without him as we showed against United, but with Cesc, the proposition is always different. We still need that in our team.

With Cesc still injured, it’s hard to see Ramsey not starting Sunday’s game, especially after his performance against United. You can only hope that the match officials will do their job and oversee the game with some competence. It will be naïve to expect any of the Stoke players to have any sympathy and for them, beating or drawing with Arsenal at home will be the perfect tonic to prepare for their adventure at Wembley next weekend.

What worries me most is the impact playing at Stoke might have on Ramsey if you consider that Eduardo was literally battered out of the Premier League. He has done well so far, but his rehabilitation is still very much in progress and we should remain cautiously optimistic.

The first time we went to Stoke, Van Persie got red carded and we lost the game, albeit, there was a rare gem with Clichy scoring his first arsenal goal. The second time – we literally lost Rambo, but fought back with courage and determination in the face of considerable adversity to bring the 3 points back home.

Let’s hope that playing without the pressure and the motivation to finish above United (you never know) will make the 3rd league trip to the Britannia a happy one.

’til Tomorrow

Posted on May 6, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 86 Comments.

  1. Reluctantly I’ve decided that I’d prefer Chelsea, rather than Maniou, to win the title this year, although I haven’t quite given up hope that we will sneak past both of them. I don’t want any team to get to the 19th championship before we do. If we go on a long title winning run from next season we could beat Liverpool and Chelsea to that 19th title. Also, it is much easier to dismiss Chelsea’s successes because they are backed by Abramovich’s billions.

  2. Fuck Stoke, fuck the FA and fuck the mancs and chavs.

    Up The Arsenal.

  3. ArsenalAndrew

    Excellent post. Yep, we DO need Cesc but we may not have that option; the interesting point will be how Wenger, Kronke etc respond to that. This could well set the tone for the next five years.

    Rambo will be fine, it’s Stoke who have to worry.

    Hideous thought though the prospect of Manure and the Chavs winning/sharing the spoils is – and very much at our expense – I suspect the various comings and goings this summer at the Emirates will leave us feeling full of confidence and desperate for the new season to start. Sure, we fell short this season and it’s been bitterly disappointing – even a tad embarrassing – but the margins are thin and it won’t take much to ramp up the squad to give us the edge against all-comers.

    An interesting summer beckons but I’d love to murder Stoke first ….

  4. My wife said to me the other day, who would you rather have win – Manchester United or Chelsea ? I looked at her perplexed. This is rather like – Stalin or Hitler ? Who is the lesser of 2 evils ? Dodging the question, I said, I want both to lose, us to win at Stoke, and then go on an knick it.

    That said, I’ll go along with Bernard.

    Good post Darius. Funny how the number of calls for Wenger’s head has dissipated since winning against Man U.

  5. If we can’t have it – let Chelsea have it. I know far less Chelsea supporters so my Summer will be more peaceful if they win!

  6. He will be fine. He didn’t bottle any challenges on Sunday, and I don’t think he will against Stoke. The best way for him to get “revenge” is to play them off the park.

  7. We only have 13 league turtles we are not getting there first

  8. 13 Turtles? Do the RSPCA know? Or are we keeping them in The Emirates trophy cabinet, lots of space apparently.

  9. That’s why we like Consolsbob’s posts – concise, accurate and leaving no room for misinterpretation…

  10. Some of us just aren’t as wordy as others Yogi….

  11. LimparAssist

    We’ve gone from ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ back to our very first motto – ‘Forward’, for next season’s shirt. I can’t help but feel though – in light of cbob’s suggestion – that we may have missed a trick.

  12. Fucking wordy people

  13. Just think about how much ManUre and the Chavs have “shelled” out for their Turtles.

  14. If Diaby is fit he’ll start ahead of Rambo. Although we might see both if Nasri’s hamstring isn’t right.

    I just dreamed up a brand new revolutionary formation for us to try at the weekend. I was all excited about it until I realised it was just 4-4-2. And also a bit shit.

  15. Good post Darius.
    Against Stoke this Sunday will be Ramsey’s final step in the recovery. We’ll know how well he has coped. If he starts, he has to shake Shawcross. Would he?
    If he comes on later, he’ll be a bit nervous, methinks.
    Let’s wait and see.

  16. turtles! lmfho.
    im a little scared for rambo 2moz, hope he doesnt read this but…..
    stoke brown nose manure, rambo chose us over the cowpats, alex gets on the blower etc etc. hope im just paro.
    i prefer the forward to victory through harmony.
    we are the arsenal after all. its like there implying it war from now on. like the team has finally completed training.
    even the kits themselves echo this starting from when we first moved to the ems. that kit was like the new era kit. then we got a subtle make over as the team evolved. then they got there A levels kit with the learning stripes around the arms. now its graduation. a proper arsenal kit. with the slogan FORWARDS. its war baby. bring it on.

  17. Until the Man U game i have to say i was worried we might not get Ramsey back. The Ramsey that showed such promise before Shawcross broke his leg. But i have to say my fears have been put to bed after that game.

    Read this pile of crap re this weekends game –

  18. As for the Cesc replacement question. Yes, he is still with us and I don’t see him going this summer, and I’m glad, yadda yadda. But where the hell does Rosicky feature in our plans? A run in the team and I think we’d see him back to his old best. Better even. Older and wiser.

    I’m not sure why he didn’t play against United actually, but I want to see him involved more next season, not just the odd appearance. At the very least he should be captaining our younger players in the FA and Carling Cup matches.

  19. Red Arse the Hypnotist

    Good Post, sums up the current situation nicely.

    Bit worried about all these turtles. Are they the new soup diet fad for our lads?

    Cesc is and has been a fantastic player for us. He has become more and more injury prone, and seems a bit down about the ever present Barca transfer crap.

    If he really wants to go, I think we owe it to him not to disrespect his wishes and to let him go.

  20. Cesc to Real……..

    I just cant see Cesc going to Real, simply cant see it whatsoever. Do you think Cesc would play for them after the latest shenanigans between Barca and Real? Play against all his Catalonia pals? Nope, wont happen. Its Barca or nothing and probably wont happen until Xavi hangs up his boots.

  21. I usually agree wholeheartedly with you darius but this line “…by our indifferent performance in the last 6 or so weeks…” sticks in my craw. It is giving in to the negative anti Arsenal hype and ignoring the facts. We battered teams we attacked sometimes with four strikers on the pitch. The results were indifferent but never the performances. How the fuck can we legislate for what happened against Liverpool – to name but one instance of the insanity which marked the end of our season?
    Go to ATVO and watch the games again with the commentators turned off and honestly tell me what more we could have done.

  22. Great post – as usual – Darius. We’ve got to beat Stoke. By Sunday Mancity maybe within two points of us, if – and that’s a big if – they beat Everton away. Such that when they beat the spuds on Tuesday we could fall to fourth.
    Also let’s hope that Chelsea beat the Manc’s. We could be within three points of both. Then pray like hell that they both lose one of two remaining matches. Miracles do happen!

  23. Kenyan, we also need to up our goal difference. COYG!

  24. realistic tony

    great post, personally i would prefer chelsea to win it, i like ancellotti, he is a cool guy not a bottle-thrower or a hairdrying red-nosed bully.
    In fact i was close to putting a few quid on them some months back…but they were shaky at the end of the blackpool away match and i lost my bottle on that one!.
    My hope for this sunday, is that rambo plays his part in a good win at stoke and that szeczney deals with all the ariel stuff there.If we get hammered at set pieces (again)then Wenger needs to buy a big centre-back ASAP, and not bargain hunt for a cheapo untested short defender from the french league….

  25. Tony, Really our CBs aren’t the problem. Look at any one of the many videos of their performances. Immense in the air.

    We conceede from set-pieces because opposition teams know they can’t score against us any other way. They spend all week rehearsing them and sometimes they are quite clever and score.

  26. @Steww – I suppose indifference in the results more than performance. Don’t want to suggest that the focus we had and the opportunity we had were intentionally thrown away.

    An Arsenal game is still the highlight of my week.

    @Consols – a man of a few words – not to be mistaken. Though I agree with Limpar, the club missed the trick in changing the motto – “Fuck ’em all” does have an attitude about it… Not like Forward….

  27. i agree with steww

  28. What an odd season, or perhaps not. It’s not over anyway. Oddities here, there and everywhere. Actually Arsenal has had a somewhat indifferent run in. The reasons are not so easy to fathom this time round, but failure to win in 8 or 9 outtings is by definition ‘indifferent’, in terms of results. The play has often been excellent and the defence rather good on the whole, despite some @#%.

    My disappointments: Diaby not quite rising to the challenges thrust his way, although on occasion very good; ditto Bendtner; Nasri’s form after showing why he will probably end up as one of the best in the world; Theo (injury) and Arshavin (form) not providing sufficiently. My accolades: both wing backs, Wilshere most of the time, RvP, Song, Chewie and Cesc.

    Observation: out of possession, when Arsenal press all over the field, we invariably win; players need to appreciate the merits of adventure tempered by caution and stealth. Aluta continua, victory is certain.

  29. Nice post, DS.

    If Clichy doesn’t make it this weekend and Djourou is fit, I’d consider playing Vermaelen at left-back. You need that extra height against this lot (Huth is their second top scorer).

  30. What on earth will the media do if Arsenal sneak this one? Our biggest enemy has been terrible refereering, and that includes the Liverpool debacle, but one could mention half a dozen really.

  31. Actually, let that sink in. Robert-fucking-Huth has scored more goals in the league than all of their midfielders and forward bar one, just by virtue of being tall and wide.

  32. Cesc Fabregas, Abou Diaby and Samir Nasri will all miss the trip to Stoke on Sunday. Nasri and Fabregas have a chance for Aston Villa. Djourou and Clichy a doubt but should be ok. Vermaelen most likely in the squad.

    We really need to get shot of Diaby now. I like him (most of the time) as a player but hes worse than RVP now! Cant be relied upon. At the very lease give his place to Lansbury.

  33. I kind of suspect Rosicky, perhaps Vela, maybe Bendtner are gonnas. I like them all, but unsure of their future. Arshavin might not be retained. I am certain Cesc will in fact stay. I think we will buy a central defender, and perhaps a striker. Frimpong will be in the mix. A few other youth will feature prominently, including JET. I would be surprised if we didn’t win it all next year. We have had, after all, our final lesson and we are ready.

  34. Kind of happy to see ACLF has remained sane and reasoned, passionate and funny, in just about the right proportions.

  35. Might we have been points clear had Vermaelen been playing all season (to which I would add Theo)? Objectively, honestly, without bias. Yes, probably, we might.

  36. I have been accused of withdrawing and hiding within my shell of late. Time to take a peek out at the world and hope for a miracle or two. If I start out now I could make the Emirates in time for our triumphant turtle winning season, next year.

  37. It also looks like Bendtner might just start – so here’s my one-off team for Stoke:



    Oh, one more thing – it appears that they’ve been slow starters in games this season. PL league for first 45 minutes has them in the relegation zone. They’ve also completed only 5960 passes (even Blackburn have managed 1000 more), which is a third of our total.

  38. LimparAssist

    Fucking hell… 1,000 less passes than Blackburn.

  39. LimparAssist

    I like it OOU, but I think Gibbs will get the nod if Clichy is out. I sort of hope you’re right, just because I’d love to see TV out there again… but I think even with his mobility, we’d lose too much shape.. balance… whatever you call it. Gibbs waits around for days like this. Bring the height in later if we’re up against it but attack from the off with the quicks on the flanks.

  40. na i wouldnt start with B52, surely AA23

    Clichy Kos Djourou Sagna

  41. LimparAssist

    Bendtner|RVP|Walcott is always exciting… cos noone quites knows what to expect. Least of all Bendtner. Walcott could start wide right and end up through the middle, RVP in the middle, could end up in the hole or drifting out either flank, probably both, and Nik B could start in the middle, or on the right, or on the left. Shawcross will be dribbling and scratching his skin’ead even more than usual.

    …Here’s hoping Andy Wilksinson doesn’t make it. He’s a doubt…. thank god.

  42. Yeah, you can’t your style too much , LA, but you do need to adapt a little; it’s like a different code up there.

    I also want to see Eboue warming up and getting in Delap’s way every time he take a run-up.

  43. +compromise

  44. For the sake of cementing our third place finish we should put Stoke to the Sword on Sunday. But more importantly if we are a club with ambitions to take the PL title next season then it is the visit to the Britannia, and games against similarly talentless but difficult opponents, we have to get into the habit of winning

    No need for nice football, no need for lots of goals – 1-0 will be just fine

  45. LimparAssist

    The Stoke fans remind me of those blank-eyed chanting islanders at the end of The Wickerman… the way they join hands when Delap the trebuchet is wheeled up and primed like a banjo… and whenever the stretcher bearers break cover. Fucking arseholes.
    …I actually think they’ll give a big reception for Aaron… and then they’ll start singing cuntface’s name.
    I think the atmosphere will be far less bloodthirsty than if Aaron wasn’t starting, put it that way. And I think we may even get a bit of protection. I certainly think the latent guilt hanging pungent as cloves in the air might make a few of the knuckle-draggers think twice this time.
    0-3 Arsenal.

  46. LimparAssist

    …We’re not Edward Woodward by the way, Football is Edward Woodward.

  47. LimparAssist

    …And their Britt Eckland can be that guy that keeps kicking himself in the head.

  48. Tony Pulis is the guy in the ass costume, Shawcross the fool.


  49. CBOB @ 7:42:

    Comment of the day.

    Another great post Darius. Hope we run a circles around the thugs on Sunday.

    I believe Ramsey will be a great player. He has an eye for goal and a fighting spirit to go along with his other talents. However, he is not even 21 yet and hopefully we will not have to count on him to do a lot of the heavy lifting next year. Our more senior players like Cesc, Samir, Andrey, Theo etc etc have to step up and allow time for Aaron and even Jack to grow smoothly into their annointed roles as superstars. Jack has had a wonderful year but needs to develop an eye for goal. He seems better mentally equiped to handle then most but I worry what effect all the hype will have on his ultimate development. Same with Aaron, with a little luck he will be an important part of the squad next season, but we will not have to count on him to consistently be one of our match winners for a couple more years.

  50. anicoll5, we can still win it this season. So yes, we need a lot of goals. We’ll win it on goal difference on the last day with a 6 nil win.

  51. I’d like to see Chamack start.
    For funs sake, with Bendy and a recalled Jay Thomas (long throw specialist).

    RvP having a rest, wrapped up on the bench in towels. All of them (towels).
    Even if it is not raining.

  52. LimparAssist

    That’s them, Markus.

    Fabregas was Player of the Season aged 20 in 06-07. I think Aaron will play a big part in our success next season. He can take the pressure off Jack, Cesc, and Nasri.

  53. Anybody live near Frome?

    The Zombies are playing there on Saturday week.

    That’s your proper Zombies, not these awful, undead creatures that every other film is about these days.

  54. LimparAssist

    When in Frome…

  55. LimparAssist

    I bloody love The Zombies. They’re from my home town. One of them went to my school… guitarist…

  56. Then get on down to Somerset, Limpar. They’ve got a new album out.

    “What’s your name, who’s your daddy….”

  57. LimparAssist

    Tickets to the Villa game Sunday, Cb. Too much of a rush job I reckon. One of these days though… and i’ll definitely look out for the album.

  58. I saw a man in Prague last week with ‘Odessey (sic) and Oracle’ on his T shirt. Not the (sic) bit.

  59. Gainsbourg69

    I hope that if Shawcross or any of the Stoke thugs come at Ramsey that he leaves his studs in instead of trying to win the ball legally. Would love to see Shawcross or anyone of their players laying on the pitch with half their leg dangling in the wind.

  60. Consols – I’ve got relations and friends in that neck of the woods. Though even they warn me about the misadventure in Frome during festival time.

    I’ll tell them to look out for the gig. It can’t be that hard to find out where.

    Frome is a funny place and it even has a town crier. Where I come from, it’s ludicrous to vote in a person to have the privilige of ‘crying’ on behalf of the town. Speaking of which – all the moaning and bitching Arsenal supporters could do with a club crier to lead them in procession before every game.

  61. In class terms Arsenal are James McKay in Big Country. Stoke are Buck Hannassey.

  62. I am glad someone is making sensible arguments on why we can’t let Cesc leave. Ramsey had one good game. He will have to continue improving and show consistency over longer period of time before its safe to let Cesc go.

    Did we leave Tomas Rosicky in Barcelona?

  63. That’s a bloody good idea, Darius.

    A club crier!

    He (or she) could rend their Arsenal shirt outside the stadium and ball their eyes out for ‘our lost Arsenal’. “Woe, woe and thrice woe!”, they could wail.

    We could throw rocks. Or, if he(or she) is really pitiable, coins and season tickets.

    This could match the much needed half time entertainment that a few of us were debating last close season or so.

  64. Young Mr Grace should be the crier and we could put him in the stocks and we could throw stuff at him.

  65. And we could get Arsenal lifetime supporter Robert Peston commentate the whole drama as the wailing and stone throwing go ahead.

  66. Like money.

  67. By the time Peston got the story out we’d all have gone home mumbling ‘bloody egoist, just tell us what’s happening without all the drama and poncing about’.

  68. If Ramsey does start it’ll take some class and character to shake hands. Can’t see him pulling a Wayne Bridge tho.

  69. Muppet’s analogy of Stalin vs. Hitler for the Manc/Chav clash is not really a good one since at the time it was actually happening there was no doubt which of the 2 was a better choice. My own bias is that Abramovich’s billions have been responsible for destroying the transfer market. My apologies to NJGooner but Chelsea seem like the New York Yankees of PL so difficult for any “underdog” to cheer for them. On the other side of the coin a double for this United team would be hard to stomach and if Chelsea win then the race becomes very interesting to the end and even gives us a ray of hope albiet very dim. So pragmatism wins: Go Chelsea.

  70. If we don’t win PL, I don’t care who does.

    If we can’t win the CL my only conern is that another English club do not win it.

  71. Any of the results leave me less than happy, but if I have to think about it…

    Barca for the CL – don’t want United and their fans touting their European greatness, catching Liverpool in those trophies, etc.

    United for the PL – meh.. they’ve done it so much the last 20 years, whats 1 more? I don’t want the Chavs and their money winning any more. Abramovich needs to get bored and them to return to mediocrity.

  72. Steww @ 11:03:

    If we always believe that none of it was our fault and we played well and deserved to win all those games then nothing will ever get fixed. If the results are scripted by the FA or its all down our chronic year after year after year bad luck then there is not much hope for the future is there?

  73. Haha, it’s five o’clock somewhere Kenyan.

  74. 12 nil to the arsenal… a ha-trick of hat ricks from bendy/rvp/watcott… rambo with one or two. the rest should be own goals

  75. Right Markus 6-0 to us, hat-trick for Aaron, dislocated shoulder for DeLap, Poolis sent to the stand – sorted !

  76. Bill,

    No worries brother. I’m not a fair weather Yankee fan, I’m from the area, so I’ve got no problem with being hated for being the best. I often debate whether or not it is Man Utd or Chelsea who are a better comparison for the Yankees. I usually lean towards Man Utd bc they are the country’s team, with good ol fashioned English grit across the board, receive by far the most coverage, and have WAY more history than Chelsea.

  77. NJGooner,

    Arsenal are the St. Louis Cardinals. Traditional, Historical, Economically Sustainable with a great farm (youth) system.

    ; )

  78. haha whatever you say Busch! Happy Friday and COYG!!!

  79. I hope Szczesny can fire the kind of shot that ended Fabianski’s season right into Delap’s face. That will teach him not to use that stupid towel anymore.

  80. YW, pls update ur youngguns link address. i think they have moved out of wordpress

  81. I agree with team spirit. Add Arsenal column to that list as well.

  82. ASNLthruNthru

    How can the Zombies be in Frome when they are playing against us at Britannia stadium?

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