One of Us Speaks – Keep Looking Forward

Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel – After the game is before the game. World Cup winning German manager and one of the sport’s great motivators, Sepp Herberger said that. It’s a classic German football cliché, and works for me when I think about this run.

Fight for the win with everything you’ve got, celebrate it like mad on the pitch then put it behind you. Prepare for the next one. Scratch a line through Everton and draw a circle around Villa. Get back to HQ and get ready to throw everything at the next opponents.

We’ve got a hell of a battle on our hands to stay in the top four, but so far we’ve overcome both odds and popular expectation. Take pride in that, but don’t take stock yet; ignore the table; fix your gaze on the next opponent and refuse to countenance any regrets come June.

Nine matches to go now. For the players the days must pass in a blur – we all know how it feels when you’re in the thick of a challenge that once looked daunting. You get your head down and hit a kind of rhythm. For van Persie and teammates it’s the routine of training, downtime with family, trains and planes to various cities across the country, checking in at hotels. All with the upcoming match in their minds. Six more weeks of this and they can relax.

It helps to have some players back now. When Thomas Vermaelen celebrates a goal or victory it looks like he’s just fed the monkey. He’s a raging win addict and he’ll be damned if he’s going to wait for his next fix. It doesn’t matter if it means sprinting up to the other end of the pitch in injury time or becoming the first person on earth to get a bird’s eye view of Fellaini’s afro.

And the fans have seen too much this season to take our position or form as given – through the carnage of those first few weeks and the injury-blighted New Year slump. After the trauma in late summer I feel we’ve emerged with a more realistic understanding of how this league works, and a less neurotic character.

We don’t seem to worry so much. We read the premature obituaries. We know everyone thinks Arsenal is in decline or already dead so what have we got to fear? In a couple of years I’d be delighted if we could look back at the 8-2 as a positive landmark in Arsenal’s history. Not for the humiliation and pain, but what came after – a captain who doesn’t need token gestures to show he cares, fans who stopped worrying and learned to get behind the team, and a group of young players aware that talent and reputation will only get them so far.

With our star slipping this season the youngsters sound like they know what it takes. Here’s Nico Yennaris in a recent interview:

 …if you’re going to fail, do so through your ability and not your work rate

Whether he makes it at Arsenal or not is immaterial, his comments reflect the kind of culture we need, and which might have been lacking over the last few years.

And the fans understand that this competition is not fair. And because of this, one team’s expectations for a season are completely different to the next, even at the very top of the table. Put it this way – if Man City fail to win the league this season then they should be ridiculed. All that money spent, and all the times they undermined and mocked their direct opponents over the last four years – anything less than first place would be a huge failure.

Norwich and Swansea have been fantastic this season and should be lauded for staying up. Swansea especially have been mind-boggling – playing pass and move football, defenders overlapping all over the place, with players found in the Football League. They’re a real reason to love this competition, despite the throwbacks in charge of it. If Chelsea do fall short in Europe this season then we’ll hear about how the premiership is in decline, but I’d say it’s as watchable now as at any time over the last two decades.

If the golden age was the mid noughties, when cautious tactics and grit dragged English teams to the top in Europe then I hope you don’t mind if I revel in these lean times. Co-efficient be damned – when you watch a match as a neutral you want entertainment, and Newcastle, Swansea, Everton and Fulham play some good football and can beat the best teams. Stoke’s ugliness stands out in a way it didn’t when Sam Allardyce’s was here, shirt barely containing his ample gut on the touchline.

So what’s a good season for us? If we’re to gauge it by current spending power then a top five finish should be about right. But that was before we lost two international midfielders for a whole season, and went three months without all four full-backs.

Fortunately we’ve still got the knack of finding and developing talent. If Arsenal is to challenge for the title again we’ll need that upper hand, as well as a break when it comes to injuries. We need the fans to maintain their current fervour, understand the reasons why we win games and appreciate the mitigating factors when things don’t work out.

And there’s a lot to be said about the current attitude the club is radiating. So far they’ve had the benefit of having a team ahead of us to chase down. But now they’re ahead in the race for third and all alone. They need to maintain this intensity, be ready to overcome the bad luck, injustice and doubts that could lie in wait over the next nine matches.

As for us fans – this is no time to brag. If things go our way we’ll have the whole summer to do that. Before then we need to roar this team across the finish line. After the game is before the game.

Posted on March 23, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 132 Comments.

  1. Hello

  2. Happy first day of your life Anayah.
    CONGRADULATIONS again Paulie.

  3. Sweet!loved it.great write up.

  4. Dammit all to hell YW, sneaking in early with a post!!

  5. Roar this team over the finish line…….
    GOLDEN WORDS…

  6. G’kam – Well then ‘Happy New Year’ to you then and a Happy Birthday to go with it

    As for C’ bob, in as much as I have never met the man, he strikes me as someone who can hold his own. I am sure the egg tasted all the better for him wanting it. Serves him right anyways, I mean who tells their wife a joke that relates marriage to jail and expects them to find it funny? Old dogs and new tricks if you ask me.

  7. Hehehe Irish. Gotcha.

  8. Luckily the egg was hardboiled and wouldn’t. Have made a big mess. Would have hurt a bit more but he wouldn’t have had anything to cleanup afterwards. She just eat the egg. Smart lady I say.

  9. It is ironic that they are called ‘full backs’ when they are so pivotal coming forward.

    …..and that attack is what we missed when they were not there.

    Which is further ironic, because Vermaelen – who was one of their fill ins – has scored our last two goals….

    ..admittedly from set pieces though.

    Have I undermined my own argument…..again…oops.

  10. Thank you Irish .thanks very much.
    And remember. DISCLAIMERS. OR USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.. 😀

  11. Very well said OOU!!Looking forward to Villa. One game at a time, one game at a time!

  12. Yea Big Al, bit late telling me not to brag now, right after I post the league positions on Mark the Spuds Facebook page!!

    Seriously nice post Big Al. Never heard that particular German saying before. Herberger was 1954 with W. Germany right?

  13. Firstlady – Of course it is one game at a time and that is exactly how my bragging works too, one game at a time 🙂

  14. Now off to bed for some sleep before I start telling jokes and get you-know-who in trouble with the missus again!

    Paul N – Again congrats mate! Anayah may God be looking down on you, as you are looking up to Him 🙂

  15. Hear hear. Good night Irish. Have a blast on your vacation. have a safe one.

  16. One of the most eloquent and on the money blogs I’ve read in many years. Thank you!

  17. wow, 1 of d best articles i’ve read. Great work. Gunaz even afta i die. Thank God my blood is alredy red, pity those who nid thier blood 2 blue.

  18. Today’s blog literally took my breath away. Well done OOU!

    “It doesn’t matter if it means sprinting up to the other end of the pitch in injury time or becoming the first person on earth to get a bird’s eye view of Fellaini’s afro.”

    Hahahaha..

    Paul N,
    Congratulations to you and your family, my good man! I suspect Anayah will be a blessing to her generation, and to many other generations to come.

  19. OOU,

    Nicely put. I find much of interest in your note of:

    “After the trauma in late summer…”

    I think these two moments sum up the grounds for our competing for third/fourth rather than first/second. Many will find arguments to the contrary but, to be honest, I’m now almost immune to AFC-targetted-negativity and am still filled with ever increasing hope and optimism.

    I’ve an old friend coming over to visit this weekend and, better still, he’s a Villa fan. I fully expect to torment him following the game.

    Happy days

  20. That’s why I love this blog. One of the only blogs written by someone with intelligence.
    This article should be read out to the whole stadium at next home game, fans, players, managers et al. Truly magnificent.

  21. OOU,

    Apologies, your quoted statement – to which I made reference – was in fact:

    “through the carnage of those first few weeks and the injury-blighted New Year slump”

    These relating to the last minute assembly of our current squad (post late departures) and the injury to many and key sections of our team. I hold no one responsible for either event and almost see the sense in the old adage that ‘it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good!’

    Cheers

  22. Drenthe’s foul on Rosicky…

    http://arsenalist.com/video/?id=tBxwWP8mvWk&t=yt

    How did the ref miss that?

  23. Excellent Big Al, really excellent. Pin it to the dressing room wall.

    Now, what’s Irish wittering on about? Now I’ll have to go back and read last evening’s posts I suppose..

    Ah, the old egg incident. Consolslel got back home yesterday and all’s sweetness and light in the old homestead.

    That’s what an hour with the vacuum cleaner can do.

    Enjoy the trip Irish, NY must be empty, what with Limestone on Londaon as well.

  24. “As for us fans – this is no time to brag. If things go our way we’ll have the whole summer to do that. Before then we need to roar this team across the finish line. After the game is before the game.”-

    Salut! Couldn’t have said it any better! 🙂

  25. Henristic, I think. The ref was trying to compensate for the earlier bad call on their disallowed goal. The offside call. These things even out you know, in the end. 😉

  26. Real Madrid reveal plans to build holiday resort in UAE

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/mar/22/real-madrid-holiday-resort-uae

    We sometimes hear that AFC should focus on football, and quit trying to be a property business. I wonder what people with that view will make of this…

  27. goonerkam,
    Hah. Poor ref. Disallowing Everton’s goal would have pissed off his illuminati masters to no end, so he tried to even things out in an attempt to reduce his punishment eh?
    The fact that we still won probably means he’ll get his full 24 lashes. Also don’t be surprised if he’s demoted to reffing championship games from now on.

  28. Nice post, keep churning them out. it makes alot sense to digest what you have put down. nice one pal!

  29. we will look back at the 8-2 mauling as the positive landmark of our great club…..your writings is fucking marvelous….u lifted my spirit…oh to be a gooner

  30. Henristic

    i honestly didnt see this while watching the game on the crappiest of livestreams. i really hate watching games on livestreams.

    but i think the ref must be either trying to even things out, or he thinks the ball wasnt in play.. ie he didnt think rosicky was going to get the ball, hence he saw it as a harmless collision..

    yeah i know i sound silly saying that.

    i am just trying not to be too harsh on the ref after we won 😉

  31. Great post OOU. “Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel,” sounds like one of those quotes I used to read in the “Battle” comics when I was a kid.

  32. Big Al – A man after my own heart. Sound advise after six years of heart wrenching ups and downs. Let us not forget that on February 24, 2008 we were poised to top the tables when Tiny Tim-Not that kind of Player put a double break on Eduardo’s ankle and a phantom penalty was awarded vs Clichy up at St Andrews. Despite this trauma, subsequently we had some magnificent wins including:
    4 March: Arsenal become the first English team ever to beat AC Milan at the San Siro by 2-0.
    29 March: 10 man Arsenal come from 2-0 at half time to beat the Fat Sam’s Bolton Wanderers 3-2 at the Reebok Stadium.
    But we had already been bloodied and butchered and sputtered to a third place finish in the EPL.
    Every player and every supporter should bookmark these experiences for life and take Big Al’s advise: “this is no time to brag. If things go our way we’ll have the whole summer to do that. Before then we need to roar this team across the finish line. After the game is before the game.”

  33. one last word on the everton game: i was pleasantly surprised the ref seemed almost too eager to blow the final whistle. 3 min were given, i was fully expecting him to play till the 4th. but he blew the whistle at not later than 3:20 i think..

  34. Rvp and Aaron were a tad wasteful of the chances that came their way. And Song was sloppy with a couple of his passes that almost cost us points. I have no doubt we will be sharper with each passing game as the season will come to an end. Onwards and. Forwards….

  35. “He’s a raging win addict and he’ll be damned if he’s going to wait for his next fix.”

    I read that bit in my Christopher Walken voice.

    Nice one. OOU.

    YW – I tried to post yesterday about how wrong you were about the Jelavic offside but it wouldn’t let me so you’ll just have to take my word for it. He was offside.

    Have a good FRIDAY

  36. And now he moderates me… bloody Stalinist regime this…

  37. Ooooo I WANNA DANCE WITH KOSCIELNY!
    WANNA FEEL THE HEAT WITH KOSCIELNY!
    COS KOSCIELNY’S A GOONER!
    Oooh doncha wanna dance doncha wanna daaaaance!!

  38. great post.

    “we all know how it feels when you’re in the thick of a challenge that once looked daunting. You get your head down and hit a kind of rhythm”-so true.

    paragraph five prolly the best ive read all week.

  39. I can’t see anyone’s gravatar.

    Hello? *feels his way across the wall*
    Hello?

  40. one gaame at a time and acknowledge the slight faults we have in each, we do need to be more lethal with the chances created and tighten the passes abit but we are improving continue this and have some luck with injuries and we will finish the season well

  41. i am really glad that the next game is a home game. vital to keep the momentum going, and i think playing at home will be a big boost.

  42. LA

    You won’t – WordPress cocked up so that unless you log in to a wordpress / gravatar account, your gravatar won’t show.

  43. shotta,

    I’m pleasantly surprised by the sentiments expressed in your 9.16 am post.

  44. Wonderful stuff Al – “raging win monkey”. Bang on.

    I’ve never forgotten when he was first interviewed – he told us he would put his body on the line for the club. He has been as good as his word.

    You just know what you are going to get with that man.

    In the middle of the season some were suggesting Mert & Kos as their preferred pairing because of TV’s occasional bouts of rashness.

    Within reason, I’d always start TV, because he brings an aura with him – there is an intensity behind his eyes – the kind you see in a man who relishes not just the task itself but also finishing it properly: Nailing the fucking thing to the floorboards, putting his hand on his hips and going “HA!”.

    Plus he has started scoring goals again. 🙂

    @Limestone – I have to go and visit an old friend in the bucolic wilderness of Suffolk this weekend. In fact I leave this afternoon on what is reported to be the hottest day of the year thus far. So regrettably I won’t be free to fail to meet you in “The Typhlotic Wombat” as previously hoped. Have a smashing time at the game – hopefully it’ll be a cracker for you.

    @the rest of you – lovely stuff of late. As you were. 😀

  45. Limestonegunner

    Congratulations Paul N; I hope this whole gravatar scenario gets sorted so we can see her in some Arsenal gear–if she is anything like your other daughter in one of your gravatar photos she must be a real cutie!

    Jonny, thanks for the update–enjoy Suffolk. But frankly the place to be right now is the Emirates!

    Overnight flight tonight and then the match; I’m already buzzing!

    Chezz
    Sagna, Kos, Verm, Santos
    Song, Rosicky, Arteta
    Theo, RvP, the Ox

  46. I can’t help but say ds is a masterpiece!!!
    Let’s keep on keepin on as YW wrote yesterday.

  47. This is marvellous madness.

  48. Lets just hope we haven’t peaked too soon – we need to keep this run and the momo going. The big one is City at home, we mustn’t be disrupted by any occasional defeats but keep right on the game until Spuds and Chelsk are out of reach

  49. According to James Olley, chief football correspondent of the Evening Standard, Podolski has passed a medical and the transfer will be announced next week on an unspecified day.

  50. Big Al – great insight and words of wisdom.

    Vermaelen (Everton and Newcastle match winners) – what fighting spirit. (as with Koz and Sagna)

    Love to see some of that rub off on our youngsters.

    COYG

  51. Van Persie also has the joint-most assists directly from a dead-ball situation (along with Chris Brunt) in the Premier League (4) – (via @Orbinho)

    So Robin must be doing something right with his corners and free kicks!

  52. After the blog is before the blog – Lordy knows how you will top that – a great piece of writing.

    Think someone wrote recently that the Emirates crowd is much improved since the dark days of winter and I think that is true; it’s almost as if there has been a majority backlash against the waverers and the fair-weather supporters who stained their reputations with rash and wholly ill-advised talk of replacing AW, bin bag based threats and other nonsense too stupid to repeat.

    Statistically, we have to assume there may be one or more set backs but if the home crowd continues to contribute as a twelfth man and the away support, well, continues to be the away support (‘nuf said) then together as one we will get over that finishing line and be perfectly set up for a positive summer of preparation and an unbelievable season ahead in 2012-13.

    ***

    I spotted also (apologies if this has already been covered) that the EU has in the last couple of days confirmed that the Financial Fair Play rules ARE legal and therefore the likelihood of a successful legal challenge from any club (e.g., Citeh, Chavs etc) unable to satisfy the new requirements would be remote.

    Which is good news for ‘proper’ football clubs everywhere, less so for those that have become the toys of the oligarchs and sheiks …

  53. rsenal have fielded the same defence in front of Wojciech Szczesny for the last five matches and won them all. In fact, a back four of Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Vermaelen and Kieran Gibbs are unbeaten in the Premier League this season.
    ————
    Well, it aint rocket science now is it?
    We have really missed our FBs, now they are back, we have seen how well we can do. Just a shame its another case of what might have been for this season. Still need to finish the job, starting with McLeish’s latest version of anti’football XI..

    I was stood opposite the penalty box when Rosicky was flattened, everyone (well, all the Gooners) couldnt believe we didnt get a pen. The ref was a joke, gave us nothing, they were diving all over the place and he gave them every chance in that game, yet we stood firm, the defence and keeper were magnificent and are getting rightfully plaudits. The offside goal the toffees scored was down to an inept linesman, who pulled up our players when clearly onside. For once fortune favoured us. 🙂

    Have a great Friday

  54. arsenalandrew

    That news about the FFP is brilliant. Might even stop city going on another massive splurge this summer.

    Talkin of City, I see we have be linked with Eden Dzeko. Now HE would be the perfect striker for us. He is quick, skillful, great link up play and a great finisher. Everything that bentner thinks he is in fact!

  55. And finally on City; It will be hilarious come the end of the season when Nasri’s late winner vs the chavs prevents the russian playthings from getting into the CL. It wont help City win the league though. Win/win situation I think they call it. 🙂

  56. I was wondering about Dzeko – he looks a brilliant player who the Mancs have utterly failed to harness. The thing is a) would they dare to sell him to us and b) if AW is showing interest won’t they suddenly want their ‘ball’ back?

    It’s ironic, isn’t it – despite our season effectively being crippled by defensive injuries, if you look at our entire squad (including Jenks, Per and the rest), we actually have as good (and in my view, a much better) defensive squad than anyone else in the EPL. Trouble is, when you write that, you can look daft because the injury-riven stats from this season, suggest otherwise. But foolish or not, I rest my case!!

  57. I like those kind of win/wins!

    Think the Spuds will be on the end of a Chav backlash this weekend – another win/win.

  58. Big Al:

    Great post. Its really fun to be winning again. A strong last 9 games will be the most encouraging finish we have had in some years. The energy and the enthusiasm of the players is palpable. I don’t see how Villa can take any points away from the game this weekend. Another clean sheet and a comfortable win.

  59. OK, so that mad clip of the flying man is just fantastic, Jonny! I was trying to draw up some comparison to our season. But to be honest, the guy’s early ascent was better than the team we love , albeit with loads of effort, but no crashing and burning or false-starts etc…. But it did show that with a lot of effort, good teamwork, and not to mention a great vision, we can scale the heights! (sorry)

    Great stuff, by the way Big Al. Loved reading what you wrote. I agree, no time to brag yet. But I feel pretty confident of continuing our unbeaten run to the end of the season. I’d keep Kieren as LB at the moment. No idea about who to play upfront. Ox, Benny or Gervhinio? Haven’t a clue.

    Can I add my congratulations to you Paul (and your partner) on the birth of Anayah.

  60. AA;

    The Dzeko thing would probably entail the manc chavs wanting a certain player of ours! WE could always do a loan deal however, like the spuds with Ade. I have liked Dzeko since I saw him a few years back for Wolfsburg. When they played ManU, he was the besy player on the pitch in both legs too.

    I agree about our defensive set up too. It does sound daft at times! But yeah, we do look solid now. That also comes from the great shielding work from those infront of the back 4; Arteta/Song, but also the whole team pressing and tracking back, like how the players did vs Everton. I lost count of the number of times Theo et al won back possesion, or tackled Everton players, preventing an attack. Same when gervinho came on too.

    Dont tell George, but that is probably as good a reason as any why a certain little Russian Meerkat is deemed surplus (thats right I said surplus PG!) to requirements. 🙂

  61. Re: Ox, Benny or Gervinho to start…, whoever AW picks, we’ll still win.

  62. Would it be considered really cocky to suggest resting RvP?

  63. Actually, scratch that, I think resting him for the QPR game might be worth a shout. Dont fancy the thought of him on the same pitch as Barton et al, especially not before we play the northern chavs.

  64. I’m not sure the Mancs would have loaned Ade had they thought for one minute Spurs would actually have the relative success they have had so far this season! Would be interesting if they offered Dzeko plus £80 million for RvP – what would you do with that?! If Torres et al are worth their fees then our Robin’s got to be worth at least double that!

    Agree with your comments re: the midfield and the observation regarding: Theo ‘no footballing brain, apparently’ Walcott’s tracking back. They really are playing as a team – and that isn’t something we are especially seeing elsewhere to the same extent (possibly excepting Swansea, maybe?).

    Is George actually in prison or is that just a euphemism for being ‘up north’?!

    I too loved the Little Russian and really felt for him when sections of the non-support were turning on him (as they were just starting to do on Theo, ironically). Some say his legs have gone (I’ve no idea) but I wouldn’t blame him if his heart left a while back …

  65. RvP won’t need resting; he’s just getting warmed up.

  66. RvP won’t be rested. Arsene has built this team around him. This year we have been lucky and our fulcrum hasn’t been crocked unlike past few years we’ve seen Cesc and RvP miss too many games. Now that we are out of CL & the FA Cup we don’t have too heavy a fixture schedule. Arsene will continue to go with his main horse.

  67. Isn’t there a record around for RVP to break? Don’t think we will nor we that we should rest him.

  68. Checked, both the lesser Ronaldo and Shearer hold the record for most goals in a season at 31. Robin has 9 games to score 6 goals to beat that.

  69. “…if they offered Dzeko plus £80 million for RvP – what would you do with that?!”

    I love RvP but assuming we already signed Podolski then hell yeah I’d take it. £80 million is enough to buy a Hazard-Goetze magician creator and a world class defensive midfielder.

  70. Another world class defensive midfielder? We already have Song. Or do you intend us to play with 2 DM’s and go ultra-defensive?

  71. As for that theoretical offer. If RVP indicates he wants to sign a new contract, City could stick those 80 million up their bumhole and push it further in using Dzeko. If Robin wants to stay, we should keep him no matter what silly money is thrown at us.

  72. Paulie Walnuts

    RVP can rest in June when he`s playing for Holland.

    I agree with Arsenal Andrew with regards to Ade`s loan to Spurs – plus Citeh probably thought he may take some points off their real rivals.

    Our run in looks trickier than the Spuds but we`re the form team right now so that will hopefully level things up. Going to be tight though.

    I`d like to see Chelsea lose more ground tomorrow , even if it means a defeat as finishing fourth still has to be the first aim from here.

  73. Checked, both the lesser Ronaldo and Shearer hold the record for most goals in a season at 31. Robin has 9 games to score 6 goals to beat that.

    Whatever Robin’s been eating this year he should keep on eating it. At the begining of the season I would have been more likely to bet on him breaking a femur than a scoring record.

  74. ” Another world class defensive midfielder? We already have Song. Or do you intend us to play with 2 DM’s and go ultra-defensive? ”

    Song doesn’t have to play EVERY game if we have another world class defender. He’d be stronger for every game. Often he is shunted to CB in emergencies. Our 2nd destroyer could be subbed on in those situations. More options my dear…

  75. At the beginning of the season? You did watch the second half of the 2010/2011 season where he was already absolutely on fire, right?

    I don’t know much about Robin’s diet, but I am quite sure it has nothing to do with his performance. What we are seeing right now is the player Robin has already been for the past few years, just without all those unnecessary injury breaks stemming from people trying to kick him out of the game. Which once again just proves that Wenger know’s and if he has faith in a player, the fans should have, too.

  76. Great stuff again, OOU. I like birdkamp as a name, so I shall start calling you by that.

    Nico Yennaris is a very mature young man.

    I would add to what you say that another reason to celebrate at the end of this season – if we clinch third handsomely – is that this campaign will have laid the foundation for more tangible success next year. And of course, we haven’t finished third for three seasons, so all the more reason to go for it. Third is hugely better than fourth, especially because of Euro 2012 and the (admittedly slight) danger of Chelsea winning the CL and knocking the fourth-placed team out of the competition next year

    Hands up anyone who fancies a 15-match winning run to take us through to the end?

    Me!!!!

  77. And I expect Robin’s “dip” just means that instead of scoring 0.83 goals a game, he will score 0.75 goal per game.

    Dead wood! Get rid!

  78. @ arsenalandrew
    “I spotted also (apologies if this has already been covered) that the EU has in the last couple of days confirmed that the Financial Fair Play rules ARE legal and therefore the likelihood of a successful legal challenge from any club (e.g., Citeh, Chavs etc) unable to satisfy the new requirements would be remote.”

    Good! There is hope.

  79. Thanks for great post, pity some poster don’t read it before writing their comments

  80. And congratulations to you and your lovely wife, Paul N. That’s two little girls, isn’t it? What iwth your two, and Muppet’s two and Goonerwife’s and ZimPaul’s one each, we have got the nucleus of an ACLF ALFC squad of the future.

  81. Evil, I agree with you about RvP.
    ” “…if they offered Dzeko plus £80 million for RvP” (or any amount)

    to sell RvP on this type of deal, would Arsenal be any different than Nasri?

  82. Paul-N
    Congrats on the birth of your daughter Anayah. I hope your wife and Anayah are in good health and wishing your you and your family a lifetime of good health and happiness.

    There are too few joyful events in one’s life. Cherish them with passion.

  83. Paulie Walnuts | March 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    “RVP can rest in June when he`s playing for Holland.”

    You’re right, Paulie, he WILL be resting in June ‘cos they never pass to him!!

  84. it is not clear to me why Polanski needs a medical…

    he has always performed beyond his years…

  85. FunGunner at 2.31
    Can I offer up my two also, for the ACLF ALFC?! They wouldn’t add much height, but tenacity? Yes.

  86. AW on Podolski transfer….always coy as usual.

    Arsène Wenger insists that Arsenal have not completed the signing of
    Germany international Lukas Podolski.

    It has been reported that the
    Cologne striker has passed a medical
    with the Club and is set to seal a
    move to Emirates Stadium.

    But Wenger denies this is the case,
    and refuses to put a timescale on
    any potential deal for the forward.

    “Nothing is done. No, he has not had a medical,” he said.

    “I don’t master the timing [of any announcement] because that does
    not just rely on us. It could happen soon, it could happen later, I don’t
    know.

    “It is always a concern [that someone else could come in for him]. The
    speed in which you do things is important, but at the end of the day it
    is always the player who makes the decision.

    “It is about how much they want to join you.”

  87. That is about a 99% confirmation.

  88. Philmar,you sound familiar to me!

    Dexter,sod off.I have lost two Meerkat’s now.I ain’t fucking laughing.

    Everyone is waxing lyrical about Swansea,and rightly so.But the hypocrisy is mind boggling.
    They keep possession,mainly in their own half,and pass the ball sideways and backwards creating little for their possession.
    That is what we did for a few years ,only better.But we were told by all and sundry that it was tippy tappy rubbish and good football wine nothing.

  89. Footballers are footballers. They just want to play. They don’t care who’s in charge. Their attitude is:… “The king is dead. Long live the king!” So Redknapp, if your players are not affected by all the talk of you leaving at the end of the season (for the England job or wherever) what DO you put your team’s slump down to?

  90. Philmar

    Not sure I am liking the cut of your jib man, not sure what it is exactly, just a feeling. Possibly the bit about betting on RvP breaking something.

    George

    The Lil Russian magician is gone baby, get used to it! 🙂

  91. Funny hearing Liverpool players are apparantly tired??? They havent even been in Europe this season.

    And it does look like we have signed, or are about to sign Podolski.

  92. Fungunner

    I assume you are mentioning Nico as he’s just been loaned out to Notts County? I am glad he will get games, but if I am honest and this is no diss to County, I thought he should be playing at a higher level, like Afobe at Reading. Will be interesting to watch Benik as Reading go for promotion. Hope he gets plenty of game time. I already wanted Reading to go up, I especially do now!

  93. Hey Big Al. Excellent article today and very refreshing to read. Reminds you why ACLF is the dogs chuffers when it comes to Arsenal blogging.

    Paul N – I would say congratulations to you, but to be honest, you didn’t do much. All the congratulations go to your lovely wife. Hope she and Anayah are doing well. Your job is now to pay the bills and watch out for your two girls like a mad dog.

    And as regular as clockwork (ala towards the end of the season) guess who’s fading away: This headline is very apt

    “Samir Nasri: Roberto Mancini must love me

    Samir Nasri has revealed he needs to feel the love if Manchester City are to see the best of him. The 24-year-old has struggled to fulfil his potential
    since a £24million summer move from Arsenal.”

  94. Great post, OOU.

    @ Jonny, very good video, but all may not be as it appears…

    “YouTube ‘birdman’ explains hoax”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17487366

  95. Dexter,He might return.
    He is better than Plodoffski

  96. tateezee @ 4:50:

    Even though we have conceded more goals then we should, I still think our defense has improved this season. Even the best teams will have hot and cold spells in front of goal but the defense should always be able to carry the team when needed. In the past our defense has been very inconsistent and thats never going to work. The sample size is not long enough to declare victory over inconsistency yet but the signs are pointing the right way and that is very encouraging.

  97. George

    Aww, you are still reeling arent you buddy. Arshavin is a diamond of a player, how ever, he is used to being a bit part player, I dont mean a sub, I mean during the matches he plays in! His energy levels cant match the demands, IMO. While we need players with the stamina to keep chugging up and down the pitch, and Podolski can also play centrally. I am not 100% convinced by him atm, but his versatility is something that obviously adds to his appeal for Arsene.

  98. jeezuss H crist Bill, the defence has been decimated all season and it is now, when we have had a settled back 5 that we have seen the solidity returning. No team would have coped with missing all 4 senior FBs. None.

  99. very good..

  100. Dexter @ 6:04:

    I just said we have been better defensive team this season (even with the injuries) and I am encouraged that we are on the way to fixing the biggest single thing that has hurt this team for several years. I think you forgot your meds today.

  101. speaking of wingbacks i think gibbs has been doing well…
    His fitness and his form are giving wenger a hand in not having to rush santos back

    Its going to be a tough call when they are both fit though..

  102. Cheers Big Al.

    Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel ?

    Vor dem Spiel for me was making sure I tied my laces (this was drummed into me by the PE teacher). Nach dem Spiel was the pub. It was when I played Rugby anyway. Prost !

  103. Billybob;

    It was this bit that irked, not my lack of meds (soon to be resolved though, thanks for caring!)

    And I quote; “The sample size is not long enough to declare victory over inconsistency yet”

  104. @ mingus | March 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm
    lovely!
    And don’t worry – none of the squad offer much in the way of height at the moment!

    @ Dexter | March 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm
    Actually it was because of the quote in birdkamp’s post. “…if you’re going to fail, do so through your ability and not your work rate”

  105. Dexy:

    This “settled” back 5 has played well together for about 6 games and that seems like a rather short sample size. Certainly what we have seen is encouraging but I don’t think we can say just yet that they can play this way for an extended period of time. Defensive consistency over longer periods of time has not been our strong suit for several years.

    My mother in law has this pill box that has a different section for each day of the month so she can keep track of what meds she is supposed to take everyday. Might be a good idea for you.

  106. Bill @ 5:52

    I totally agree with you. Bar the Milan game, I don’t think we’ve lost any game with more than a goal margin since Liverpool @ home. This in itself is a testimony of the team’s improvement defensively. Happily, there’s still room for improvement. Most satisfying is, I don’t usually get scared holding onto a one goal lead towards the end of a game compared to last season. I think we are able to see games out a lot more now.

  107. Tateezee:

    I can’t think of any late goals we have conceded that cost us points this season. That in itself is a giant step forward.

  108. Your Friday column has become one of the highlights of the week OOU. This one is up there as one of your best ever. Thank you.

  109. Billious;

    I think it isnt beyond the realms of possibility for you to ‘imagine’ that with a settled back 5, this team would have been in a considerably better position than it finds itself now. You dont ALWAYS have to be so black and white homes!

    I have a version of your Ma in law’s pill box, they’re called dealers in this country! 🙂

    Have a fun-filled friday Goons.

    PS; Fungunner; Oh the quote, yeah, very mature and something I can see in the likes of Frimpong, Coquelin too.

  110. I think LIMESTONE should wear a t.shirt while at the VILLA game, saying.
    I AM ALSO. A PROFESSOR LIKE AW..AND WE WANT. OUR. MEERKAT BACK.
    PLEASE.

  111. Bill and Dex,

    For me the regular inclusion of Tomas (and his form) at the attacking midfield role has been key to a marked improvement of our midfield; Arsenal are more effectively controlling the central third of the pitch, and creating more consistent attacking play.

    But no question, our back 4 has been amazing.

  112. Great post OOU. Thank you.

  113. However some are unfortunately a little too desperate to stick to their Guns as they attempt to cover their Arsenal’s:

    “I can’t think of any late goals we have conceded that cost us points this season”

    Crap. As usual. Those who have been actually watching the football would not have forgotton that lovely equaliser for Dortmand, in Dortmand. To begin.

  114. The influence of Rosicky can not be overstated.
    He has outshone any midfield player in the league over these past 5 or so games.
    He has mad Silva look ordinary and Mata poor.

  115. Oh my bad. The above was for points in the CL. That doesn’t count. Silly me.

  116. Rosicky was fooking amazing in Udinese. I imagined and hoped he’d have more cameos like that this season, and next. Not that he’d put a run like this one together. A joy to watch.

    I wonder. If Arsenal, according to YW’s occadional (?) guests is not run like a professional club, maybe they should be asking Rosicky to refund a couple of years worth of wages., Like $iteh are asking Tevez to refund his wages for that extended holiday.

  117. Rosicky might have missed out on some games at the turn of the year as he was the only player to pick up a niggle during that pre-Xmas interlull and then had a virus over the new year. But the old ‘run a games’? I didn’t hope for that. A bonus as well as a joy.

  118. Limestonegunner

    FG, I hope my little 4 yr old can get a tryout. He’s very keen, pretty speedy, and single-minded about scoring, but also loves to fight for the ball and uses his body to hold me off when he gets between me and the ball. 🙂

  119. Limestonegunner

    Goonerkam, lol! It’s a deal if I can find an express t-shirt printing shop on Holloway rd before the match….But something has to be done to get the Meerkat back.

    This morning after I posted, I discovered that a “wildcat” strike by ground crew workers for Air Canada at Toronto’s airport had broken out Thursday evening and was not yet resolved, causing dozens of flights to be cancelled. What airlines was I flying with, yep, Air Canada. What airport, indeed, Toronto. Panic!! My flight is in the evening and Toronto is 2.5 hrs drive–how was this going to work out? Happily the strike was resolved around 3pm, just before I would have to leave. Sitting at the gate now, flight is on time. Emirates, here I come!!!!

  120. Limestonegunner

    Excellent stuff as usual, btw, OoU.

  121. @ Limestonegunner | March 23, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    FG, I hope my little 4 yr old can get a tryout.

    For the ACLF ALFC squad? I do like the sound of him, and I’m all for mixed-sex participation in sport, but you know what those suits at Fifa are like!

  122. Great read today OOU.

    Did anyone happen to notice what kind of reception Arteta got at Goodison?

  123. Seems like all the stars are aligning for you limestone. Have yourself a safe flight and a blast at the game. I hope for your sake we show VILLA a course on how to play football and do it with heart. i see. 3-0 to the GUNS. I see a butt spanking for mr. Mac leash. Collar that dooogy.

  124. Limestonegunner

    Aaaah, the bureaucracy again–surely at the youth level it would be alright, FG?! I think anyone could learn a thing or two or more from our ALFC setup, surely.

    Goonerkam, thanks and I am positive I will enjoy the experience, sitting so close to the pitch and behind goal in the Clock End on Frank’s recommendation. But I do hope that we smash them. We’ve won in thrilling come from behind victories and narrow 1-0’s; I’d love for the team to get a clear 3-0 home win, but I know Villa have played us tough. In the end, three points any which way will be fantastic!

  125. I forgot to tell you LIMESTONE, when in London avoid the totteringham area. There are rioters there and its volatile. Specially now that their tottedelers aren’t doing to well. Avoid at all cost. Also avoid Blackburn area, that’s where PG resides and if you go there it might get a bit too pedantic for you liking.
    Avoid Manchester area due to ferret face Ferguson living there. There, have a good trip now, you hear. 🙂

  126. Thanks for the nice comments everyone. Sorry for not getting back yesterday.

  127. Is that you Dups?

  128. pedantic george

    I am foraging for grubs.

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