One Of Us Speaks: Are We Any The Wiser?

Big Al’s here for pre-Christmas drinks and his thoughts on 2011-12 so far.

Since there’s no game this weekend, I thought I’d have a look back over the start of the season. What do we know now that we didn’t in August?

Let’s start with a look at the players who have really caught the eye:

I don’t know about you, but Robin van Persie has really disappointed – wait, that’s not right; he’s been stupendous. We always knew he was great, but now we’re seeing what he can achieve with a spell of good health. He’s like a footballing polymath; too talented to restrict himself to one role. Take Wednesday’s showing. It was a little muted, but he still got a goal, an assist and posted players through for chances. The most eye-catching move summed up his game perfectly – he got the ball on the halfway line, dragging his marker 20 yards out of position, turned and clipped a sumptuous pass with his right boot for Walcott.

What’s so satisfying is the way he’s improved. Bear in mind that he isn’t a monster physique-wise, nor was he ever blessed with excessive pace. It’s intelligence that has made him world-class. The technique that was ever-present has been allied with a heightened appreciation of space and eye for opportunity. He’s a discriminating footballer, knowing where to be and when to be there as well as any player in the world.

But it’s not just his game that has matured. I don’t think anyone believed the problem child who arrived under a storm in 2004 would be a future captain. And what a captain he’s been! Helping drag the team from that frightening early slump and often managing to score or assist goals just when we’re looking short of ideas. It’s a feat of careful guidance, patience and mutual respect.

Another who has risen to near the top of his profession is Alex Song. And just like his teammate he has taken on more responsibility and begun to master his position. Before this season we knew he could break up play and move it on. He’s not the most explosive player, but he has that facility for nuisance, combined with enough brawn and a work ethic to frustrate any attack. But what we didn’t know, or had forgotten, is that he can create chances consistently. He has seven assists this season, already more than doubling his tally from any other campaign.

Most memorable was that pinpoint pass for Robin van Persie’s volley against Everton. Through all the petty tit-for-tat between fans, the radio phone-ins, and hype that envelops the game, that one moment summed up why we bother with football; two athletes at the peak of their powers combining to do something we’ll remember as long as we live. Alex Song knew exactly where RvP wanted the pass and dropped it with backspin onto a spot just inside the area.

And then there’s Laurent Koscielny. I don’t believe he’s suddenly stepped up his game this season. He was always this good, or at least nearly this good. What’s changed is his luck – when he makes mistakes, as all defenders do, the ball seems to fall in safer areas. But he does look beefier, and he does seem to win much more than his fair share of aerial duels. He’s at his most impressive when pouncing on loose balls or anticipating when an opponent is most vulnerable in possession. It’s the cold instinct of a predator.

Honourable mentions have to go to our wingers. I think I underestimated Theo Walcott a couple of months ago. A week after I claimed that, for all his ability, he’s not a player who can make something happen by himself, he changed the way we think of dribbling by incorporating the fake slip as we saw at Chelsea away into his arsenal of tricks. Since then he’s displayed more orthodox skills that I don’t know by name, but will try to describe – there’s that one where he rolls the ball with his studs, the thingy when he kicks it one way past a defender and runs the other, not to forget the turn that won us a penalty the other night.

Gervinho I like. I’ve gone on about him a lot, but it’s a funky adventure whenever he gets on the ball. His finishing could probably improve, but it’s no coincidence that he keeps getting into these dangerous positions – he reads his teammates well and must be the fastest player out of the blocks at the club.

And then there’s Arteta. What a player. The stats don’t really do him justice. What he brings is assurance, continuity and polish to our play. I wondered when he arrived if he’d be expected to play killer passes at the tip of our midfield three, but he’s far deeper, building a fine marble plinth for our attacks. The other late signings have also settled well. André Santos brought samba flair to every part of the pitch apart from the left-back position and Mertesacker, one notable error aside, has looked every bit as composed and competitive as you’d expect from a player with such international experience. It says a lot that despite his lack of pace off the mark he so rarely looks flustered.

Where can they go from here?

If the manager has identified an attacker who could ably fill a couple of positions then the signing would be very welcome – he has never been slow to revitalise our attack when necessary.

Either way, I think Arsène and the team really deserve praise for getting us into this position under such difficult circumstances. I’m not sure he could have wished for more when he surveyed the wreckage of that day at Man U, even knowing that reinforcements were on the way. What’s so thrilling is that it can improve from here – the dazzling contributions of the individuals listed above have only been possible because of the efforts of the team, and they’ll continue to mesh. We’ve also some international-class players to return quite soon – Sagna, Wilshere and Diaby. We’ve got to this point without them for the most part and we should be even stronger when they return.

Finally, a charity single has been put together for he UK cancer society Myeloma UK. Called “4 Ever Arsenal ( Gooners For Life )” by Blacklava, you can download here for £1. I will stress that this is strictly unofficial and is nothing to do with the club. Download here.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on December 23, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 152 Comments.

  1. Good morning everyone. Great midseason/end of year review of The Arsenal. Big Al, good one.

    The team has truely come a long way since that depressing defeat at OT. Our performances (usually gritty and gutsy) have really been encouraging. It delights me to say that we have a team that can seriously compete with the best.

    “…he changed the way we think of dribbling by incorporating the fake slip as we saw at Chelsea away into his arsenal of tricks…”

    If that really was his intention, it was outrageous then. I hope to see Theo do it again sometime soon. 🙂 That was one of our standout team performance this season, wonderful array of goals and Terry’s humiliation just capped it.

    “…the dazzling contributions of the individuals listed above have only been possible because of the efforts of the team…”

    I totally agree with you. The support cast have been immense. Everyone has come in and contributed his quota to the evolutuion of the team. Just imagine what could have been if we could get more from some other players. *we all know them, no need to name names*. I honestly hope they get their mojo back and for those who we are yet to see do their thing this season (Park, Ox, Benny, Diaby, Wilshire, Gibbs, Squilly), I hope 2011 will prove fruitful for them.

  2. …I hope 2011 will prove fruitful for them.

    Yikes!!! I meant 2012.

  3. You didn’t mention Szczesny and Vermalaen. I believe that any match we have Szczesny, Vermalaen, Koscielny, Sagna, Song, Arteta, Gervinho, RVP and Walcott fit, we’d hardly lose. And if the luxury should include Santos and Wilshere, then let even Barca come.

    Fabregas was mercurial, yes but there’s something RVP’s Gunners have that the Spanirad’s era lacked – fight and plenty of it. Come on, Gunners!

  4. Great positive post there OOU. Stylish writing. Especially liked “but it’s a funky adventure whenever he gets on the ball.”

  5. I don’t know why but I think this year arsenal will be like the A’s in the movie Moneyball. They lose all their good players and replace them with winners and cheaper players.

  6. 7th! That’s the closest I’ll ever get!

  7. Great write up as usual. This site remains manna from heaven for the genuinely faithful and I’ve appreciated seeing those calling for Wenger’s head a short while ago silenced by the consistency of the results and the fighting spirit…or if not silenced then made to look even more short-sighted than before.

    In line with the resurgence, I think the crowds at the Emirates have got behind the team a bit more which has been a real bonus.

    I can’t wait to have Jack, Diaby and 4 working full backs again.

    Bring on 2012.

    PS. What’s with all this ‘first’ stuff? I don’t get it. Seems a bit primary school.

  8. TAFKAS,

    Primary school, eh? Screw you. I didn’t sleep all night to get a shot for this position! I am just happy I even got to the 7th. It’s a men’s game dude! You probably just woke up, to put that lame comment about jack and diaby coming back(as if we all don’t feel the same). We the ‘Men’ were awake all night, fighting demons of sleep, to fight it out for this position and you’re going to fucking tell us it seems primary school to you?

    You don’t fucking know what’s this about. Not your fault, Google doesn’t throw out any results when you search Lord Bigbrovar. Only very few know about this omnipotent being. Who never was a non-being, never experienced becoming, hence His eternal presence on that number 1 spot, which we mortals can only dream of. He says it all without saying much, sometimes he doesn’t need to say. What does it mean ‘First’? It could mean anything, anything you want, ‘Arsenal coming first’? I don’t know, it’s a mystery, that only He knows.

    He let’s us fool ourselves when someone else takes that position(rarely), but it’s just an illusion. The legend holds, that even if you managed to beat Bigbrovar for that position, some day, you never experience that feeling that only He can, and stranger still, if you look in the archives, every day for thousands of days, Bigbrovar’s name is on the top of the comment section, every post, as if no one ever came first, except for Him………………..

  9. You smoking something Ateeb?

  10. Smoking or not, that’s quite impressive wordcraft for just gone 9am.

  11. No Bob, haven’t slept all night, been studying. But it’s almost the same thing, if you look at it differently. Caught up in a bad routine, haven’t seen the sun for 2 weeks now. Goodnight.

  12. Tafkap,

    If only I could find the right words to start one of the three essays that are due in 3 weeks. It’s fucking ridiculous.

  13. i also think schezney done admirably good as well and TV5 also we missed him alot….. keep on moving upward and onward ARSENAL!!!!

  14. I agree with Ateeb. Bigbrovar lights the incandescent spirit with one simple all-knowing word; we the foolish and prone argue over seconds. But seriously, how does he do it? Or rather why? and when? And where is he? But the great mystery of all, who is Bigbrovar?

    Hope RvP smishes Shearer’s record. All other objectives are important, but this and Jack’s bet, which Chewie has amplified, are the big ones.

  15. – “I love Shotta,but sometimes I don’t have a clue what he is trying to say or indeed who he is saying it to.” – PG yesterday

    – Don’t worry my George, the phuckers know what I am on about.

    As usual, OOU, class, pure class.. Going down the road of elephantine memory, I remember last summer, and before, when the usual suspects and hype-masters were demanding the signing of Samba and Cahill (expensive so they must be better), I proclaimed Koscielny (King Kozzer) as one of Wenger’s best ever defensive signings, as a combination of Breckenbauer and Maldini, to the derision of many. Now, grudgingly it is being recognized that for 10 million we snagged practically the best central defender in England if not Europe. See Bill and GA, the downside risks were low but the upside is endless.

    Nonetheless I doubt that will quiet the stealthy campaigning by many for the club to spunk mega-bucks on an unproven, over-hyped prospect simply to ride the pine in fear that RVP may get get injured.

  16. LOL Ateeb…i miss primary school too.

    I got my “lips” on your article Big Al…mmmwaah to your creative mind.
    Always tip-top on fridays.

    Its been a wonderful half season so far
    Stuff of legendary folklore
    Considering
    Where we were after the CC final
    Its been a filtering out of the spineless
    Players & fans alike

    A most trying summer
    Where the financial meltdown seemed to have doubt-raped many a gooner
    Nailed to the cross by his own followers
    AW was sacrificed by many w/o the option of redemption
    His hallowed IQ denigrated & defiled

    But his employers & RASERS stood by him, shouting:
    “How dare ye fools doubt our leader?”
    ARSENE’s GOING NOWHERE!!!

    Qualified for the CL groupies
    Pulled a 5-player mickey
    And made our way steadily up the charts

    To those who don’t know what FAITH means
    Proof has been provided
    By the team of 2011/12
    By the manager of the team of 2011/12
    By non-doubting gooners aka RASERS
    And the luck that follows the strong, the believers

    “Oh look, RvP’s the top scorer in the EPL. He’s scored 34 goals in 2011”
    ..i could go on

    Please take the time to soak it all in
    This is history in the making.

    COYG!
    …in Arsene I trust.
    RASERS!

  17. Ha, Ha, Ha! I feel your pain Ateeb-inator. Your praises of Lord BigBrovar are so “inspiring.”

    It is a long time ago but I know how it feels to have that, ermm, writer’s block when it comes to an academic essay, when the easiest option for me was to read a book. There was no an internet, much less an ACLF in those days. But you have got to start somewhere.

  18. Got to go. Busy day ahead. May make a random post later, long after the thread was exhausted, to PG’s bafflement.

  19. It’d hard to single out players. There are a few obvious ones. The difficulty though is that RvP’s extraordinary finishing aside, this season has been one beautiful team spirit. Silly new year resolutions:
    1. 3Gs, practice shooting and scoring, smoke what Ateeb has, something, but get those shooting boots on
    2. Santos, get well soon
    3. Arshavin, stop reading Brothers Karamazov, get it out of your system, get back on the field, a little more Chekhov, some short stories from the great River Don, perhaps dip into Gorky,
    4. Chamakh, Chamakh, Chamakh … I know you can score, you know you can score, so whatever it is gets you back into that zone, do it now

  20. it’s a funky adventure whenever he gets on the ball – Hahaha! Merry Christmas, Oofus.

  21. Wow! Lots of wordsmiths on the blog this morning strutting their stuff.

    Jonny, I await thee.

    Ateeb, enjoyed your stuff on Lord BigBrovar.

    “…Only very few know about this omnipotent being. Who never was a non-being, never experienced becoming, hence His eternal presence on that number 1 spot, which we mortals can only dream of…”

    Made me chuckle 🙂
    Seriously though, does bigbrovar ever read the post?

  22. Heh Consols – just knew you’d notice that one..no, it just popped up from somewhere; it’s ahem, 5 years old now.

  23. Special mention should go to benayoun. Apperantly he is a fantastic influence on the team, and as we saw at villa….

  24. Agreed, but how can you leave out the world’s best goalkeeper? The guy is immense!

    SZCZ, Jack and Coz will be the backbone of this team for a long time to come.

    COYG!!!

  25. André Santos brought samba flair to every part of the pitch apart from the left-back position

    that is very clever

  26. Nice one OOU.

    The praise generally attributed to Vermaelen for bringing stability to the back should be shared in no small part with Mertesacker. Calm and efficient. Looking over and seeing that man wearing the same shirt as you must surely send waves of confidence throughout the team. May I just say it’s good to have a German at the back again. In a way we’re fortunate that Koscielny, Mertesacker and Vermaelen are all getting to start games together. Invaluable for the future.

  27. “If it’s true that ACLF allows no drooling over non-Arsenal players, were all those posts by LImpar over the years about Mata a hallucination? Just asking.”

    (b) Finsbury you forgot Frank’s man crush on Villa.(b)

    “Wenger has publicly admired goetzer n hazard and he rates them, now he could be doing this knowing we can’t afford them hence ramping up interest in them n inflating their prices or he could be using them as a smoke screen n will surreptiously tie a deal for Marvin Martin while the fruitcakes fight each other trying to get one over Arsene!”

    (b)Runebreaker I like to believe this is exactly the way he operates. I cant remember the last time there was so much hype about a player and we ended up buying them. Usually it will be discussed to no end on blogs and by the media but when it is all said and done Wenger brings someone we have heard very little of.(b)

    “Nonetheless I doubt that will quiet the stealthy campaigning by many for the club to spunk mega-bucks on an unproven, over-hyped prospect simply to ride the pine in fear that RVP may get get injured.”

    (b)Shotta we can always hope but seeing how the transfer melee started even before the window is open I am not holding my breathe.(b)

  28. I also liked that Arteta builds ‘a fine marble plinth for our attacks’. So true.

    I love that Samba flair, George.

    When you think about it, that 5-signings-in-50-hours madness was probably the coolest amassing of talent you’re ever going to see in football. It was Lee Marvin picking out the Dirty Dozen… or better, Gregory Peck’s specialists in the Guns of Navarone… or Yul Brynner corralling the Magnificent Seven.

    Thomas ‘like a new signing’ Vermaelen is Anthony Quinn from Navarone… Santos is the Greek knife expert… Arteta is Charles fucking Bronson of course… silently rifling people from the rooftops… Yossi Benayoun can be David Niven – explosives. And Per Mertesacker is, er, Steve McQueen. Perfect.

    As ‘panic buying’ goes it was pretty bloody keyhole, surgically tailored for success. Right down the chimney hole. BANG!

    Arsenal

  29. @ZimPaul – nice one there about The Brothers Karamazov! AA should also get away from Saltykov-Schedrin’s “The Golovylov Family”. It has more humour than Dostoevsky’s mammoth read, (not hard) but says on my Penguin classics cover..”The gloomiest of all the Russian novels.”

  30. oops!can someone tell me what to do when i want something to appear in bold?

    OOU you didnt mention Ramsey, he’s come in leaps and bounds .Two years ago when he got his leg shawcrossed nobody ever thought he’d be back or ever the same again. He’s been doing very well for the team even though in the past few weeks he’s looked knackered.

  31. I can’t quite fully explain my love for Yossi Benayoun… but I’ll try. He’s old school. It’s not effortless, in fact, sometimes, it’s all hair and teeth and arms and wild frenzied eyes. Tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. But then when he touches the ball…. the world stops and the band strikes up a waltz – it goes where he wants and pulls up where he decides as much as a Rosicky or a Fabregas pass (little passes I’m talking: 5 – 20 yards). He’s a clever, technical one and two touch passer (who’d av thunk it – at Arsenal?) But as well as that – he bloody loves goals!

    NANANANANANANANAAAAA!!! YOSSI BENAYOUN! BENAYOUN!!!! YOSSI BENAAAYOUN!

  32. Limpar @ 11:05, awesome.

    I’m off. Hope you all have a good one this weekend lads, whatever it may be for you.

  33. Last time a home game was postponed we paid a heavy price for that. We had to play Stoke mid week before the CC final.

    Hope this time will be different.

  34. FirstLady@ 11.03

    I thought Villa was on the bench next to Lahm?

  35. I remember the Bolton home game, watching Song shielding the football as Arteta nipped in, took the football off Song and then ran off to make a pass or something, again and again. Maybe the Bolton players were scared of Song. It looked like the Arsenal players were having fun to me.

  36. Fear not all S.A.D. sufferers. The Sun has been reborn and the days are getting longer.

  37. I like Yossi as well.

    I always feel safer when he’s on the pitch. He’s like that bloke who used to run around a lot for us, forget his name- went to Italy- but with talent.

  38. Lads/Lassies just off home now so won’t be posting till the new year. It’s been a pleasure reading Yogi’s and Big Al’s posts this calendar year and especially all the responses from fellow Arsenal supporters (some of whom I’ve agreed with and some not . . . but we’re all part of the one family . . . Arsenal!). May I wish all fellow fans a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful and Happy New year.

  39. wish we could take hleb back… he just strikes me as a misguided young man who needs to be led back home… sadly for him, he is not a defender, which would have helped his cause no end!

    I guess we cant take in all players we feel sorry for especially since in his case, he opted to go in the first place. with hindsight he should have stayed… him, flamini, rosicky and edurdo being out in the 2008/2009 season certainly undermined us!

  40. Ateeb | December 23, 2011 at 9:27 am

    “Once upon a time”

  41. The Marble Plinth:

    WARNING: mute shit music.

  42. Big Al –
    its such a pleasurable journey to experience your articles; excellent topic; and your prose flows with clarity and imagery which radiates your admiration of the subject matter.

    happy holidays….

  43. Big al… Its a w ell written review of half term… we are sureoy not doing too badly especially considering our start. somehow, its good to be playing catch up for a change, i for one think we will actually catch up.

    i always thot of 3 of the players we bought as players i would be glad to see at arsenal – yossi, even from his west ham days, per, watching him from the German team and also Arteta. Somehow who knows maybe Arteta would have come a few seasons earlier, but i think he had some time out due to injuries. Am not doing too badly as a closet scout. Also wanted cesc after i say him in the U 17 world cup captaining Spain… and lo and behold… LOL. Lahm and Swatinger and Klose are others i have admired but didn’t see how they would come… who knows now that we have no full backs? But I think Lahm is too established a player to come on loan

  44. Will our manager learn from last summer’s tribulations, taking action now to AVOID a recurrence of last summer?

    How would the club emotionally and functionally deal with the loss of RvP and Song? or Theo?

    For those variables (outside of wages) that are under Arsene’s/Arsenal’s control…….will he

    – invest to bolster the squad next month, giving new players the spring to adapt for next
    season and slot in quickly as replacements for those searching for greener pastures (trophy land) or lured by the lottery pot?

    – have faith in the current squad to add to the trophy case, with the belief that these efforts will have influence in our holding on to the above?

    What we saw from the summer signings was EXPERIENCE spread out across the line up: Santos, Per, Arteta, Gervinho……players who can play alongside the 19 – 22 years olds…..and raise their level of play.

    Our style of play my be down a notch, but we are seeing a team more composed when trailing and now able to hold tight leads at any venue.

  45. I failed to mention Benayoun but only because he appears to be neglected by our manager.

    Certainly fits into the experience category and wishfully believe he will be integral to our successes in the 2nd half.

  46. Good afternoon Tatzee and fellow linguismiths – I’m here. Nothing sesquipedalian from me this afternoon though.

    Consolsbob – did you get my explanation yesterday? Regardless, my sincere apologies.

    Also it was definitely a cover drive (Wisden have been in touch). Touch of Vaughan with the raised back leg too.

    😉

  47. Great post OOU as always. The only player I thought deserved more credit is mert. Great Lump of a CB. Just what we needed.

    Excellent week for us. All 3 of the legitimate contenders for our coveted 3rd place dropped points and we got a very gritty 3 points. Great stuff

    Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

    I am going to be skiing in Colorado over the holidays but right now there is no snow so I may be spending more time with ACLF then I had hoped. I love you all but i would rather spend my holiday with a mogul field Everyone please think snow thoughts for me. 🙂

  48. (Maybe if we think hard enough there’ll be an avalanche.)

  49. Thots to bring snow? maybe some people are thinking of NO SNOW harder than you? LOL

  50. Limpar

    LOL. You can only hope.

    I really missed you while you were gone.

  51. *groan*

  52. Bill,
    May the snow fall all over your slopes in olympic ski-worthy abundance!

    your A to my Q yesterday:

    “I like Rodellega, but I don’t really know how much of an upgrade he would be from the players we have. What this team needs is 1 or 2 more really top line players to complete the squad. Those don’t come cheap. I keep using Suarez because I think a player like him with his talent would really improve the club. You are not going to find someone like that at a bargain. Rodellega would add some depth and perhaps he would turn to be a great player but I suspect he would not really add a new dimension or someone who is that much better then Theo or Gerv. We have a much better chance of finding someone who would really improve the team buying paying for it”.

    I agree with most of this but I thought we were in need of an stop-gap striker who’d efficiently cover for Gerv (+Chamakh) over the ACN who was not cup-tied, selfless & EPL-ready?

    If it’s too difficult to get a top-of-the-line player, that fits all the criteria we require I’d go for Rodallega. As long as he’s fully recovered from his last injury he’ll do.
    So would Podolski if his team selflesness level’s deemed gunner-quality.

    Remember we absolutely cannot tamper with present team chemistry.

    Jonny,
    My name is Aman
    And I am a sesquipedalian!

  53. Limpar – funny! Seems OOU has brought out some loving vibrations with today’s blog. (heh)
    Jonny – You intelligent bastard.. had to look that one up; and am supposed to be a teacher..
    Seeing as it’s all positive (so far) ~ how about a shout for Squilly? He’s done nothing wrong so far.. and that’s good enough for me!

  54. I wanted us to be in the top four before christmas, but one point off is not too bad considering our awful start.

    I agree with Shotta. Koscielny is a prime example of how proper scouting trumps splashing the cash. Not only is he a good player who has a habit of putting the very best strikers on the planet in his back pocket, but he also seems like a great human being. With him we don’t have to worry about training ground rows or him refusing to play because of his ego. Then again that’s true of all of our players. But that tends to happen when you take the time to think about how players will fit into a squad instead of throwing a bunch of mercenaries together.

  55. Bill,

    Happy trails in Colorado! We got a foot of snow yesterday where I live just south of Denver, although I have not checked the snow report for the mountains. It’s been a brutal season so far, March is the best time to visit for consistent snowfall. If you haven’t booked lodging already and are wondering where to ski go for A-Basin or Mary Jane; cheaper lift tickets than the “fancy” resorts, and better terrain than Loveland. The grocery stores out here (King Soopers) sell 4-pack lift tickets for discount prices too.

    Great write up Oofus! Excellent and witty repartee on ACLF today, I have nothing to add.

    Ateeb, brilliant post about the mythical being known to us mortals as bigbrovar!

  56. Limpar, good advice on the music there–ouch! The Marble Plinth deserves better.

    OOU, excellent post. I would only characterize Kos in slightly different terms. He was always this talented but his performances have been better this year not just luckier. It isn’t, as you point out, that he has suddenly stepped it up but he has improved in certain areas. Last year he showed that he is a fighter, a battler, a great one on one defender–he showed he was massively talented but he was less consistent and steady in his decision making, understandably enough. Not only has he mastered the adjustment to the PL, but he has worked on his physical strength very clearly and is more confident and authoritative in the air and in his work with the rest of the defence. He’s now our best central defender, I think. My favorite Kos moment this season was his absolute harassment of Torres, resulting in a clearance off the Spaniard’s head to add insult to injury!

    He is a good example of the qualities that define this team as a whole by contrast with previous editions. And that is my main thought about Arsenal right now–that the team is functioning better, works harder, digs deeper when faced with adversity. I don’t know if this is a function of coming back from such depths, RvP’s leadership, or the fact that we have good quality and experienced older professionals, especially Arteta and Mertesacker as first teamers, balancing and guiding the younger talented players, many of whom are Arsenal to the core.

    That’s what I am most impressed by and thankful for. Less the individual talents, who are justly being celebrated, but the mix and balance that has led to such a spirited and harmonious group. Isn’t our motto victoria concordia crescit? That says it all.

  57. Nice wruite up OOU.

    As others have suggested, I would add Szczesny to the list of positives so far. He has been excellent and along with Koscielny, Song and RvP, gives us a fantastically strong spine.

    Shotta

    I think Koscielny is top class, but when we signed him, signing Samba AS WELL would have been a good idea, IMO, instead of Squillaci. However, that was then and this is now.

    I just hope we do not go for Wayne Winston Bogarde” Bridge.

  58. The great mystery of bigbrovar is made more enigmatic by his tentative assertion of “First?” with the question mark. Brilliantly acknowledging the cosmic existential uncertainty of his prime position as a post-modern divinity even though he performs it so regularly and successfully. Surely there is something theological involved here, but it might take a mystical theosopher to unveil the Truth.

    If you can so eloquently characterize the intricacies and vagaries of such mysteries as well as you already have, Ateeb, we can all have confidence that those three term papers will flow with inspiration when you experience the kashf ul-asrar (the unveiling of the secrets) in those contemplative watches of the night soon enough.

  59. Gains, I was thinking if we could be in 4th or 5th challenging for the CL places we would have done superbly. And we are clearly in the hunt and have done superbly. I trust this team will be less prone to second half stumbles. Hopefully injuries will be infrequent and our players out will return at least on schedule to give us a boost. How great would it be to have Diaby, JW, Gibbs and Sagna back before the Milan ties? I, at least, think that some quality additions (one or two) this window could help as well.

  60. On big expensive shinny signings.

    Player A come in foe £30 million and is paid £120k per week.He has proven himself to be a great player.He was top dog at his previous club and every one had his name on the back of their shirt.Does he have to continue to play great? Because Arsenal are lucky to have him,don’t forget.They should set the team up to get the best from him,just like his old ream did.And if they don’t ,well its not his fault ,is it?Anyway if things don’.t work out he can always move on and get another hefty signing on bonus. I mean he has no real ties to Arsenal,does he?

    Player B comes in for £10 million and on £40k per week.He is desperate to prove he belong at a great club like Arsenal.He is grateful for the chance .He has no “super ego” so he makes friends and is well liked .He therefore bonds with the club.

    Who would you buy?

    There are of course exceptions to every rule.

  61. And what about Czszesny? As a stopper goes he’s the best we’ve had since Lehmann. Would of been good if you’d given him a shout.

  62. PG, how about we just don’t rule out any of the possibilities, especially since your two scenarios don’t actually capture the range and variety of what could happen? Although if we would like to have a polarized debate on false choices to fill up our time on a slow day, well, then, thanks for kicking it off!

  63. *sigh*
    …i love this blog

  64. Yes LG but you get the point.
    Big signings mean you are are paying a premium for what they have done for someone else.
    Player A was once Player B.
    Have I said something to upset you?Because a few times now you have been somewhat terse with me.

  65. I was one among many who posted last year that it was probably time to let RVP go as we were frustrated with his injury record despite his immense talent. We’d be regretting such a decision now!

  66. Option A

    We sign a young inexperienced French defender for close to £10m and a 30 year old French defender with no Prem exp for £4m

    Option B; We sign the young French defender and Samba for £8m (Or alot less as he was nearly out of contract then)

    Its good this multiple choice game thingy innit. 🙂

  67. Kenyan gunner ,good man for admitting it .Many others have wiped it from their memory banks.

  68. We should try and make the squad as strong as possible, spending what we can afford. George/Limestone Gunner

    According to Robbie “The Knowledge” Savage, the spuds have the best midfield in the league and the 2nd best squad behind Moneybags City.

  69. I’ve never oce thought we should get rid of Robin. He has been really unlucky with injuries, as Rosicky had been. Hopefully Gibbs and the lesser spoted Abou have the same good fortune soon.

  70. One good thing is that since our fortunes improved the doomers pissed off. May the good times continue.

  71. Yea George, there are so many ways to see this argument that its just gonna go around in circles, again.
    There is a reason a BMW cost more than a Vauxhaul, its better quality, perhaps not better value for money but if you want the quality you gotta pay for it.
    The only way a player is gonna get to a big club is to prove his worth to some one, so saying that you paying for what the player has done for some one else is rather stating the obvious. The fact that he performed so well for some one else is why you are now interested in him. Its like that in any professional environment and it is the best way to gauge what you are investing in, past performance?

  72. Option D
    we buy VDV, Hernandes, Vidic ,Kompany.
    All cost little are “WE”all new they would be as good as they turned out to be.

    I would not have Samba given to me.I cant stand the way he is always blowing life back into dead things.I find it spooky.

  73. Gunnerjones.Good point.
    Just saying that because the did it for someone else it does not follow that they will do it for you.They may feel that their job is done.

  74. Well many on here were asking for Company long before he went to man city, and VDV we all knew was a good player. I still cant belive how cheaply he went to spurs.

  75. I agree George, you can sometimes buy the ego that comes with such players, but on the other hand you can get it from the start with players like Nikky B,

  76. You’re in luck george, we have Squillaci. So, its your fault is it?
    I really dont get this knee jerk reaction to whenever someone (god forbid) suggests we actually sign a player (or 3) Its fucking weird tbh, I dont get it?

  77. Kompany is an interesting point as he went to City because we gazumped them on Silvestre. Boy did they have egg on their face that day! 🙂

  78. GJ, people on here ask for almost every half decent player who kicks a ball.

  79. Owen Coyle must be the thickest manager in pl. Publicly ridiculing arsenals bid for Cahill saying he’s such an important player and nobody will get him for less than 15M. Now 5 months later. Chelsea will snap him up for 5 M and Bolton is bottom of the league. Imagi if Coyle had sold him for 10M in the summer and reinvested the money.
    Failing to sell Cahill at the right time for the right price will become Boltons most expensive failure ever when they go down.
    And for what?? To prove that Coyle does not take orders from AW? Well it will cost him 5m, the PL and probably his job. Hope it was worth it Owen. Jeezss that guy must be thick and stupid.

  80. Poodle

    Imagine too if Cahill sits tight and sees out his contract so Bolton get fuck all! THAT would be really funny.

  81. Dexter I am all for buying players.
    Just saying that sometimes the fee is not a reflection of what you get.

    For every Dennis Bergkamp you get an Andrei Arshavin.

    OH FUCK. what have I said

  82. Well Poodle its only a few short months ago that Jabba was saying we should get him an fire Wenger.

  83. You’ve really done it now George! 🙂
    AA wont be a happy bunny with you.

    I know every transfer is a gamble, there’s risks involved, unless you are the 2 chav clubs with bottomless pockets.

  84. Yeah, maybe thats Coyle’s plan; to be so shit he gets fired at Bolton, so he can take over from Wenger.

  85. For every Dennis you get a Arshavin! You crack me up George, I nearly fell off my chair reading that.

  86. Funny thing about Owen Coyle is that he had a pretty decent season – last season. Now he might face the sack. I believe that had he taken Lansbury, Frimpong or Le Coq on loan he won’t be in this position. Maybe even Vela. Or maybe Aneke or Freeman as a bonus.

  87. And Miquel too PG, he might be in the market for a CB soon.

  88. PG, you’re the last I’d expect to get sensitive, my man! You know how to mix it up in the best of spirits, which I admire and enjoy. Just think if you were one of Gains’ friends! 🙂

    You’re a mensch as far as I am concerned and if I have been pointed or sharp edged it might have been the frustration with the narrowness and polarization of what could be a more interesting discussion.

    For example, someone like Gotze, Martin or M’Vila will not command the wages of 120K most likely because they are very young and are on extremely low wages compared to what Arsenal pays its first teamers. Can a club like Sochaux or Rennes come close to Arsenal? No way. Also there are reports that your own Tom Watt trusts that suggest Gotze is on wages of 12k/wk. We could pay him 5 or 6 times that without even the slightest adjustment to our wage structure. Most of the biggest clubs (put ManCity aside) are not going to pay much more than that for a player that young either. Do you think Phil Jones is on 100K at ManU? He is probably on less that some of our young players despite costing 17million.
    So there isn’t a simple correlation between transfer price and wages. There is some proportional relation but it isn’t an automatic value.

    Second example that doesn’t fit into these scenarios is our very own Arteta/Mertesacker/Santos purchases this summer. Here we are buying older experience players who are less “talented” and less costly in fees and wages than the mythical player A of your scenario but will not have much if any resale value at the end of their contracts for Arsenal and so violate one of the planks of the previous youth policy. Was this a bad move? Or was this what the team actually needed (and many have been calling for several years now) and has been lacking?

    To set up the two scenarios as you have will not actually allow us to get at the real issues. Since no one disputes that it is smarter to buy younger cheaper players overall you have to introduce some other variables and also acknowledge that there is something called an opportunity cost involved. Maybe you have a better chance hanging onto your best young players if you win trophies. If that requires bringing in some established veterans or keeping some of them on to help the younger players develop, it might be worth it on many levels and so on.

    Arse2mouse had a very interesting post on the little panel discussion for supporters from a couple weeks ago with AW, Jenks and Martin Keown. What Arse2mouse noticed is that AW talked about Vieira and Henry departures in terms that could very well describe a scenario that would mean the club will sell on RvP this summer. Do you give a 30 yr old player who doesn’t want to stick around for a transition/rebuilding and/or demands a 4 yr. contract at a high wage when the club could sell him on and use those resources elsewhere? Now that is a more realistic choice/decision that we are facing whether RvP wants to go or not. In this case, to me while it doesn’t make the most financial sense it does in competitive and footballing terms, so I hope we can keep RvP. To be honest, I’d buy a top quality young striker this window to cover either circumstance and then take as tough a line on the wage/length of contract this summer as possible if/when we pinch 3rd in the league, the FA cup and make it to the semis of the CL!

    Ok, you can’t accuse me of being terse, which tbh is seldom my failing as opposed to being verbose!

    Btw, I enjoyed seriously your roasting of everyone’s favourite Arsenal correspondent for the Daily Mirror on the previous Fans’ Forum! He was squirming for real!

  89. Dexter @ 4:09. That sounds like a sound approach to me. What is surprising is how controversial such a simple thing is on a supporter blog. Obviously it is just a stalking horse for doomerism, Dex. Clearly you are criticizing the manager and players by suggesting we should/could improve. We’ve got your number now!

  90. Dennis or Andrei!!! Ha ha, good one, PG! I think he’ll play one or two of our next three games. Big chance but Benayoun might now get some of his opportunities after his goal.

  91. Poodle, excellent points about Coyle/Gartside on the Cahill imbroglio. All these folks who try to make some point of trying to show up AW end up with egg on their faces.

    How sweet would it be for us to win the FA cup or do something special in the CL while finishing 3rd or 4th this season (not ruling a higher position out, though)!

    What I wouldn’t give to see AW holding a big trophy up in triumph again like he used to do, at least one last time.

  92. Caught me, red handed, bang to rights as we say down my manor LimestoneG!

  93. Gris Gris.

    Thanks very much for the thought. My wife and I have a place in summit county in Silverthorne and we spend almost all of our free time there.Our favorite mountain is keystone but the snow is miserable right now. Hope it’s gets better soon. Thanks again.

    George :

    The bottom line to me is that I would like to see this team win things again and hopefully sooner rather then later. The team does not need much and we dont need to buy multiple players but a real quality goalscorer who could play on the front with RVP could be a huge difference maker and perhaps help us go deep in the CL, win the FA cup and may be the PL next year. It would also be insurance if heaven forbid RVP’s contract negotiations break down. I realize big money signings are a risk but given the quality of our talent evaluators I think the risk of us picking up an Andy Carroll is low. We have the cash to make some big money bids without long financial damage if we do miss. It was not true 5 years ago but IMO the risk/reward ratio of us going a home run is now favorable. Your favorite player DB10 was a very big money signing . TH14 was also a relatively big money signing in his day. The reward for taking risks if we get it right are huge and I think we could get it right. I know u disagree but to me the all seems logical.

  94. Fuck. Missed the sun again! And it never looks the same in the pictures. What good is technology?

  95. Aman @ 3:06.

    Rodellega would be a good addition and provide depth all along the front line. I doubt that we will go for a real impact player and could certainly use a good stop gap and he would be excellent. Realistically i would be happy if we ended up with him and/ or Podolski.

  96. It’s easy to miss it this time of the year. Sunset is before 4:30pm here in Ontario too. Miserable!

  97. lol Ateeb…easy man..the Sun’ll be back out tomorrow

  98. Bill @ 5:22, same page are we on.

    Now that Gibbs is officially out for at least a month, what gives?
    Really, who can we loan in for 6 weeks that’d fit our game?

    Bridge? I hope the f**k no after what I saw of him @ West Ham last season. He used to be good but I think injury & Captain John Terry boinked his mojo.

    I’m stumped…any others?
    ..can Salgado play LB?

  99. WTF has happened to our Brazilian left back that’s in Spain? Botelho? Not heard anything about him for ages, although I havent really been looking TBH.

  100. CORR:
    Bridge? I hope the f**k not after what I saw of him @ West Ham last season. He used to be good but I think injury & Captain John Terry boinked off his mojo.

    Didn’t I hear somewhere that Blackburn are letting Salgado go in Jan?
    If so, why not? He’s still got game

  101. Did PG just say for every Dennis you get an AA?
    I nearly died laughing!
    George is our poster of the year, hands down.
    I defy anyone to suggest otherwise.

  102. Dex,
    Bothelo’s on loan @ Rayo Valllecano.
    Not sure he’d fit the bill. Been out on loan his whole time with us.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_Roberto_Silva_Botelho

  103. I think vertonghen would be the first choice since he is good and versatile. Bridge: NOT

    Salgado a good stop gap I guess. From what we have seen Santos really looked like he might be one of the bargain basement homeruns we drool over. Really sucks that he got hurt. Thank heaven for TV5

  104. He’s been away 4 years now, he’ll have a year left on his contract by the time he is eligible to play for us, that’s if he isn’t deemed surplus to requirements.

  105. Ateeb

    I am sure George’s fanclub (members; George and erm, you!) would heartily agree with you man. 🙂

    Don’t encourage him dude!

  106. Shotta @ 5:42

    Wow I actually agree with u. I guess it’s the holiday season.

  107. Any usable fullbacks in the MLS that’d make the grade?

  108. Gunnerjones: “There is a reason a BMW cost more than a Vauxhaul, its better quality, perhaps not better value for money but if you want the quality you gotta pay for it.”

    What’s the difference between a Corvette ZR1, a Porsche GT2 and a Ferrari 599 GTB? The Corvette pisses on both the Ferrari and the Porsche and costs about 75% less. As with cars most of what you’re paying for when buying an expensive player is name and reputation. I mean, if the Corvette kicks the crap out of the Ferrari and the Porsche, owners of both these cars are paying for nothing other than vanity.

  109. Any usable fullbacks in the Bundesliga that’d make the grade?

  110. Ok this is getting pretty fucked up now. Player’s being compared to cars? And I am being accused of smoking up! HUH!

    Limestone,

    Thanks. Yes, I shall start writing today!

  111. Ligue 1?
    Jupiter league?
    a capable veteran probably?

  112. jonny, yes I read your excuse. I would just say, no one who is Deb’n would make the mistake. Ignorance or mischief, who knows. Ask Geo.

    However, your astute analysis of my strokeplay marks you out as blameless.

    Good man. Know your cricket as well.

  113. Essays Ateeb? Come on, you are a clever man.

    There are about 10 times as many students at Uni. now than when I went and there were some idiots there in those days.

    You will walk it.

  114. Limestone, PG. can give details of when you took the Lilly liveried John Cross to task on fan zone and is the podcast still available for download!
    Ta

  115. Just watched Arsene Wenger’s Q&A with the Junior Gunners (yes, slow day!) and loved his final message to them: “Of course, forever love Arsenal Football Club, because it is a fantastic club with great values. And I’m very thankful and grateful to you that you love our club and I wish you all a happy merry Christmas to you and your family. Thank you very much; it ws very enjoyable and have a good time.”

    Hilariously ultra sweet. The man just loves the club so much.

  116. Rune, it was the podcast just before the one this week; the Monday before last. It should still be available for download from iTunes. I don’t remember how far along it was but if there is a video version, that would be enjoyable too just to see the look on his face as George starts roasting him!

  117. how many corners at either end have touched mertersackers head

  118. Aman

    Loaning a fullback from the MLS would make loads of sense, if for no other reason than they’d be happy with a 2 month stint and that’s all (hopefully) we will need one for.

  119. Rune, its about 35 minutes in.
    Have not seen it myself .only heard it.

  120. it’s quite easy for someone of my 23 years on this earth to be quite baffled by some of the references being made to things that were obviously before my time or outside my knowledge.

    Love it when you great people talk football, but overwhelmed by the references being made.

  121. andrew puxley ,How many useless questions have you actually asked in your life?

  122. I am guessing the answer is a lot George.

  123. no chezzer??
    no tommy v??

    what on earth…

    overall i think we’ve got the best spine weve had in years..
    right thru the centre of the pitch we are solid..were lacking a little flair in some aspects but flair doesnt always win you games…solidarity and hard work does..

    lets just hope we can keep them all together this time and also add to them..but thats going to take a bit of spunking here and there..theres some i know who are totally against the idea but what do they know 🙂 the only people whos opinion i care about on this subject is the board and the manager and if they are in agreement of anti spunking in the advocation of pro super profits and anti hype players then we can kiss goodbye to some of the hype members of the current squad and its hello rebuilding and another summer of worrying about whos leaving..

    dex/aman..thats not a bad idea…

    fuck off george..

  124. Typical of you Dexter,.Always guessing,Never actually knowing.

  125. I know you are an argumentative shit stirring likkle git George! Haha! 🙂

  126. That was the 1st post I have seen from that Puxley dude, so therefore it would have been churlish of me to say I know in that case, therefore I plumped for the guess.

  127. JJ:

    Spunking sounds like something they do in the red light districts in London.

  128. ALRIGHT YOSSI THE GOON.

    THE JEWISH INIESTA..
    leave it to the HANUKA BOY to deliver CHRISTMAS gift wrapped.. he has warned himself some gametime and maybe even a contract to play for the guns..imo.
    here is hoping a great holidays season to all and a great 2012
    to the most inspiring and well put together team in the league. the team i love, the GUNNERS OF ARSENAL!!!!

    I’LL BE HAVING A SHOT OF TEQUILA TO THE HEALTH OF YOU ALL AND MOST IMPORTANTLY TO AW…
    BEST EFFIN GAFFER IN THE WORLD… AND THAT NOT HYPE, YALL…
    Happy Holidays…..
    & UP THE GUNS!!!!!!!!!!

  129. Currently watching the Premier League Years on Sky Sports 4…

    Its 1997 / 98 season, god we were good…

    They are just about to show the 4-0 game against everton where we clinched it!

    Happy Days 🙂

  130. Ian

    Can’t remember how many times I’ve watched that program. Still gives me goose bumps. (or goose bubbles as Lehmann would say)

  131. goonerkam

    I’m with you on that man. Benayoun deserves a start vs Wolves and then again vs QPR let Ramsey have a few days break and rest his tired bones.

    Then he can line up with Henry for the game vs Fulham!

  132. @Dex
    sounds like a plan. while we are at it, some rest for ARTETA too. god, how i wish we could have gotten this dude s couple o years ago. solid rock.

  133. getting a loan from mls for a couple of months in RB & lb positions sounds like a fantastic idea. we are realy thin here.

  134. Hello G4E long time absentee

  135. Christmas a time to eat, drink & be merry.

    I thought that was what weekends were for.

  136. happy bloody christmas eve everybody!!

  137. dupps, i vote you the poster with the best sense of humor. your posts and jokes always bring an smile to my face. keep it up, Chanel no .5
    HAHAHA

  138. ooooh, forgot irish, he’s gona kill me. tie for number one. that’s it.. irish & dupps.
    😉

  139. What no mention of the goal-keeper whathisname again? Surely an oversight…

    Anyhow great post of the usual high standard. For all who’s not seen this en joy:

  140. Goonerkam – I shall call off the hounds so 🙂

  141. And just to get into this Bah Humbug spirit of the season kinda thing, what say we have a “Doomer Saturday” tomorrow? I mean all this positivity is downright nauseating!! For God’s sake at one point there was almost a real conversation between Gains and Jonny!! And we all know that cannot be good.

    I miss James 😦

  142. yea vaffanculo Georgio

  143. haha irish,,, happy holidays,,, feed those hounds,,, i love dogs….

  144. First?The Wenger stadium

  145. what yo say?

  146. it wasnt all positivity irish.. there were some sparks flying too… 🙂
    sad to say. 😉

  147. https://aculturedleftfoot.wordpress.com/2011/12/24/arsenes-a-bit-short-sighted-at-the-moment/

    Today’s positivity facilitator…Oh, and Cbob, it looks as if the cover drive went awry. Thare’s bails flying everywhere….

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