The bad taste in your mouth is truth.

… and the screen went blue, right before Rooney missed his penalty. Someone had cut the projector feed. I felt like throwing my beer bottle at the idiot blocking my view, who was randomly looking around, doing nothing. Turned out to be a plain-clothes cop from the nearest station here to shut the joint because of noise from the 80 or so gooners present. Its fucking 7 pm in Bangalore I thought. At this moment some 5 chutiyas must be doing pandal-puja on loudspeakers. Dance bars would be readying themselves for another night of perversion. Some rapist must be getting drunk in a seedy, dark bar. And his killer must have just returned from duty.  A random movie producer might be explaining to extras what it takes to be in his movie, and some bureaucrat must be signing a document to pimp out our infrastructure. Amidst it all, the place that the 5 foot nothing plain clothes cop felt like displaying his power is an innocent football game viewing!? I am not a local and don’t speak the local language otherwise I would have been the first one to make him ‘understand’.

(*Pandal Puja – is where people block roads to create temporary stalls for worship in the name of festivals
**Chutiya is Indian slang for an idiot
*** Dance Bars are cheap illegal strip bars)

I almost felt like a Manchester United fan in an Arsenal bar. Seriously I was surprised at the local men & boys around me who sat silently without protesting. These are what you call Wenger-boys is it? A bit too french eh? I mean how sissy are we. People come and piss all over us, and we keep fucking rationalising everything… “oh may be he really had to go” … “piss is not that bad, I let my gf piss on me” … “70% people get pissed on in their lives” … “At least there was no blood in it..” … oh Shut up!!

Some hardcore yelling and negotiating (gimme-my-money-back kinds)  got us crowded in front a tiny 32″ TV in the bar below. On a condition that we make less noise that a cat’s sneeze. I am glad we all didn’t collectively fart and get arrested. We silently sipped our beers making hand-finger gestures at shrek and prick. Now, you must be thinking what a fucked-up situation it is to be and why not get out? But its not really very different than any other gooner’s situation anywhere in the globe. Silently, frustratingly, helplessly… suffering.

However late the news hits home. However long you avoid it. However late you finally accept it. Its always bitter to swallow. Truth. And I imagine when you add to this bitterness, the stickiness of your elongated denials’s ego, it must taste like reptilian semen. You can have it once a day, but I am not having any. No Thank you.

The last few weeks have been most uncomfortable for everyone. Big questions splitting our insides isn’t it? The moment we have been all avoiding since 2007/8 is here. We are where we are, not by accident. But by choice, and by gradual slip in standards. Its been building up without doubt, and the defeat to Utd was almost a tipping point. If you’ve been hibernating and missed the gooner pulse, just check your TL. Gone are the matchday S/O. Cheerful predictions and slogans/acronyms with all caps. The fence-sitters are finally baring their teeth, and the cute sparrows have all flown away.

20 Truths.
Here are some truths that I am enlisting, if you disagree you’re likely to be fed reptilian semen any time in the near future.
1. Arsenal are a mid table club.
(top 4 is a myth, there are top 3 clubs – who are fighting for the title, then there are relegation battlers and there are clubs like ours)
2. Arsenal are a feeder club.
3. The chances of us winning anything this year are slimmer than you eating a spider in your sleep this year.
4. Arsenal GKs wouldn’t feature in the top 50 in the world.
5. Olivier Giroud (I like him) is no RVP and there is no evidence to prove that he is better than Bobby Zamora. Gulp!?
6. Chelsea, City and Manchester Utd play more attractive football today.
7. Chelsea & Manchester united don’t really have ‘Cunts’ in their teams anymore.
8. At this moment you are thinking funds, money, might etc. ? Ok how about Dortmund and Shaktar? What… no comeback?
9. Arsene is stubborn and continues to play same formation which is useless, toothless, pointless, thoughtless and basically less in any respect. Same stubbornness about tactics. 10. The blending-youth logic is flawed. If you look at stats. Its a mere excuse for more business profits.
11. There is no player in the Arsenal squad who you could argue is the best in the league in that role (forget world)
12. We have no reason to feel superior to Liverpool, Spurs or Newcastle.
13. Teams have stopped fearing us altogether.
14. Arsenal football club is a business first and a football club later. Here is a demonstration of falling standards:

LB : Cole > Clichy > Gibbs > Santos
DM: Viera > Flamini > Song > Arteta (make-shift)
CF : Dennis > Henry > Persie > Giroud
GK: Seaman > Lehman > Almunia > Woj > Mannone
Clearly we’ve been exchanging Gold for silver+cash.

15. Arsene doesn’t know best. He can argue the best in the league. But his game plan is as predictable as Kelly Brook’s blouse. If he wondered OG could have replaced RVP, he could have just asked a 12 yr old. If he wondered we’d never miss Cesc, he could have just asked a 12yr old. If he wonders Ramsey can play on the right wing, he could just as a 12 yr old.
16. FFP will not change anything for Arsenal.
17. All the players who left us for a better (or richer) club had the right to do so. Not everyone can be Giggs or Totti. Get over it.
18. The amount of mediocre players plus deadwood we have (listed below) is another  question mark on Arsene’s ability currently.
19. Newcastle and Everton have been doing better transfer market business. And Newcastle’s rise if there for everyone to see.
20. We’re playing shit football, but yet manage 60K+ seats every game. Tells you that the PR is stronger than coaching. (See conspiracy later)


A realistic view of our players:

May be we are Reds and whites for a reason. Because we have Red full-blooded talent and then we have white-pale performers. And here is how I truly rate our players, and whether the Arsenal of my dreams would KEEP or let GO of them. Tell me if you disagree.

1. Woj – Average player, no special talent, but for his height. Stands out among our other GKs for confidence, which sometimes works against him. Not even top 10 in EPL. He should ideally be an understudy. (All other GKs are terrible as back-ups, ok for 3rd choice. But not  as back ups)  – KEEP (but only as understudy – Other 2 can GO)

2. Gibbs – Is no Cole. No Evra. Average player and fitness is a liability. – GO

3. Koscienly – Top Notch. Worldclass. – KEEP

4. Vermaelen – Top Notch. Worldclass. Suffering from seriously shitty form. – KEEP

5. Per – Tactically Great. Is slow, but great reader + tall. – KEEP
(Not rating JD & SS, pls FFS)

6. Sagna – 29yrs old. Demotivated. Reliable. Good player. – GO

7. Jenks – Most promising youngster. Currently average player. (could be great) – KEEP

8. Arteta – Average player, working his socks off, and has stretched beyond his potential and past. Which makes him indispensable currently. Very disciplined and efficient. Not very creative. – KEEP

9. Coquelin – Understudy as DM. Promising, but not there yet. Far from it. – KEEP

10. Frimpong. – All balls no brains. Poor talent. – GO

11. Podolski – Average player. Thor-footed Fighter. Can’t create and dribble much. – GO

12. Cazorla – Worldclass player. – KEEP

13. Ox – Average player. Very inconsistent. If he’s got some special talent, then I am yet to see it truly. – GO

14. Theo – Good player. Bullet. Finisher. Game changer. – KEEP

15. Gervinho – Poor talent, embarrassment – GO

16. Diaby – talented but serious fitness liability – GO

17. Jack –  Average player currently. Confident. could be one of the greats – KEEP

18. Arshavin – Past expiry –  GO

19. Chamakh – Ask wenger about him. I feel bad for him and OG, because these 2 don’t belong to a single striker system.

20. Eisfeld & Gnarby – Talented, promising – KEEP.

21. Rosicky – Broken and past expiry – GO.

22. Ramsey – Poor talent. Hardworker. Bad decisions on ball. – GO

23. Santos – …. are you fucking kidding me?

So in sum I am keeping about 11 players of the 25. Which is essentially like saying we have zero depth. Which is another truth.

There might be no clear solutions right now. Which players to let go, or if Arsene’s time is finally over. But we can at least make a small beginning by accepting the truth. Because unless you the fans don’t get over the “we are the best team in the world yay!” schoolgirl yelps nothing is going to change.

The Conspiracy:
I am of the firm view that the primary objective for Arsenal Football Club is to be a successful business. (Not many disagree today). In Arsene Wenger, AFC don’t have the best coach in the world but the best money spinning machine. Starting from him exploiting French FA’s loopholes, to then buying young (but promising) talent from other clubs, he has almost broke the cash register. Unfortunately it didn’t last forever, others have caught up, and done a Toyota to him. The world followed and other managers are being better at it. Wenger has not been able to stay ahead of the game he started himself. Now he is trapped between a rock and a hard place. On one side are the loaded, star studded trophy buyers, and on the other are Alan Pardews who are outdoing Arsene at his own game.

As if in a movie we are being played again, like gullible audience. “Oh poor Arsene…” “….you see his hands are tied” “….Injuries you know…” “Its not Arsene, its the Board who are the bastards”. AFC has managed to create a good cop & bad cop. Where Arsene is being crowned as the purist, frustrated, loyal and selfless genius (who pockets a cool 7.5mn pounds a year).

I have a question. If Arsene is really so frustrated and thinks the board is not supporting him. Why not walk out? And be happy doing what he wants to do elsewhere? He is too french for this Arsenal-till-I-die shit trust me. Only fans can rightfully say that, because only the fans really mean it. The truth is that it is a cover up for Arsene’s poor performance and mistakes post 2005. Trying to buy cheap and make superstars has backfired far more often leaving him and us with a bloody nose. Denilson, Chamakh, Silvestre, Park, Gervinho,  Fabianski, Squillaci, Santos, Bischoff… and many more in the list and some in the waiting list of this list. He has bought poor and given them more chances than a club of our repute can afford. Now he is playing the helpless, hands-tied, I-mean-the-best and we all want the best for AFC card. Of course good-cop, you’ve fooled plenty with it. The seats are still filling up at Emirates. How long will this go on? Not very, if you ask me. The camel’s back is broken.

Tactics must be backed by talent:
Clearly I am quite angry with Arsene. Because I put the entire blame on him and not the Board. The Board is a scapegoat. An imaginary punching bag. The errors are all Arsene’s. He is the strongest man at AFC and has the might to bulldoze his way on a few things. He never once said “Ok guys, you know what… I fucked up! I should have thought of a back-up for injury contingencies.” …or.. “Yeah I agree I bought some really poor players…”

And neither does he stop being stubborn about his formation and tactics. Podolski out wide in a 4-2-3-1 is as useful as Piers Morgan on twitter, or Ramsey on the right. I mean has he really lost it? May be not. He is perhaps going for the tried and tested. But dear Arsene, what you forgot was that its not Nasri or Pires out wide. Who were exceptional talents and can play anywhere.  If you’ve got a midfield like ramires-oscar-mikel-hazard-mata, then by all means try all formations you want. 406, 370, 271, whatever the neighbour’s toddler can punch on her kiddy calculator, try it. What you forgot dear Arsene is that when you exchanged gold for silver + cash, you lost this option. Your stubbornness might still pay off if we still had a flamini-cesc-nasri-arshavin-rosicky midfield. Because they are all exceptional talents and can play anywhere. Even if the opposition predicts your game plan (which these days is really like catching the 9am train which leaves at err… 9am), you can still come out as winners because of the exceptional talent. who can produce moments of brilliance anywhere, anytime.

United we stand, divided ‘they’ fall:
Arsene said during the last AGM that the modern media is fragmenting fans. Its dividing them into sections and turning them against each other. True. But hang on… isn’t that wonderful from the club’s perspective. The wiser ones calm down the eager ones. The opinionated battle each other, and are spent just by typing. The cowards keep quiet and the angry ones are out-casted. Is there a better way to rule our fan population? You tell me. Fans are baying for each other’s collars, when they should really be standing outside Emirates for a protest. Boycott Armoury & online purchases. Stop going to games. Stop singing. Imagine if we were really all together and acted on it. A collective sigh could bring down the terraces. But we are not Stoke or Liverpool. We are the Arsenal. Refined, “classy” and helpless.

I apologise to you all if this rant has gone beyond your levels of tolerance. I love Arsene too, but I love my Arsenal more. I want change, and I want to leap out of mediocrity. If Arsene does not change his ways very quickly, there’s is no point blindly supporting the cash register.

The last and the bitterest of all truths is that, just like Arsene , Arsenal football club do not have a Plan B either!

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15 reasons why a GF is better than Arsenal.

Utd have a banner – ‘Utd Kids Wife, in that order‘. I don’t think if the same is true for Arsenal. Check for yourself:

1. Cute as they come, still the GF won’t get beaten by a Canary.

2. GFs don’t have an interlull. 4 days max!

3. While you look at the ceiling getting screamed at, you know for sure that your GF is unaffected by any injuries to her toe, ankle or hair.

4. The GF buys when she needs stuff, and even when she doesn’t need. All impulse and no shopping deadline day. “She buys when she wants! She buys when she wants!”

5. Wearing your GF’s scarf, you can walk into a Utd pub any day. (Just to take a leak of course)

6. You can extend or reduce play time from 90 minutes. And add extra time to how much ever you like.

7. The GF takes performance very seriously.

8. The GF would never charge you £13.50 for Fish-n-chips. Might advice you to go vegan instead.

9. For £1995 you can buy a decent size stone , (hopefully once and for all)

10. The chances of having a rotten weekend are really very low with your GF. And super unlikely to have 2 of those weekends in a row. If yes skip to point 15.

11. When you buy stuff for the GF, a thanks is the least you can expect 😉

12. No one else has a Tattoo or a Mug with your GF’s name on it. And neither is anyone discussing her past in detail, or the direction of her ambition. (See how I smartly I avoided adding ticket-price here and did not indulge in cheap thrills). And definitely no one else is writing songs in her name.

13. The GF could (perhaps, remotely, kinda, theoretically) rescue you from your weekend AFC blues. But the reverse is impossible.

14. The GF is very likely to have more shots on target in every contest. Besides being on target they might have the damaging effect they intended.

15. You can dump your GF anytime (or get dumped), and in time you can get over her, but with Arsenal you are stuck for life.

PS: If you believe in the cause and agree feel free to send me your reasons. Let’s add to this. Please swap gender if you’re a girl. But that’s not mandatory.

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Wafer Thin.

Looks better in a suit than a jersey any day.

That describes us very fittingly at the moment. And our hopes this season. We appear solid superficially, but hold it against any bright light and you realise how thin this wafer really is.

An injury to Gibbs meant Santos came in. It seems almost ok, right? because he is an ok player and makes some decent interceptions and forward runs. But tactically it completely compromises us. Had this been the last game of the campaign I would have played TV5 at LB. We already have a slow player in Mertesacker who makes up for it with his Kasparov like game reading and really long legs. Another slow player whose lungs are smaller than the warning on a cigarette packet means we were on the back foot from the beginning. If a guy cannot run back and save his flank then he should not be wearing a football jersey and definitely not ours. We want tireless 90 minutes out of you and that’s not too much to ask for 1995 now is it?

Giant hole in the middle.

Norwich realised this weakness yesterday. Point of breach. And they pressed for it. Meaning Cazorla sat deeper and drifted to the left. “What is Cazorla doing here, defending at LB again, where is Santos?” – asked someone on twitter. Unfortunately even the cameras could not find him.

In our current squad there are only 2 genuine game changers. Cazorla and Theo. And both didn’t turn up yesterday. Cazorla sitting deep and left, and being anyways blocked by opposition could not do much. And while Arteta tried to pitch in to defend and help matters at the back, it meant our incisiveness was left to the mercies of a highly talented Ramsey. But lets not blame him. He prepared for a general outing along side Arteta, do a little tiki-taka and pass it to Cazorla, who in turn would shoot or slip it brilliantly to OG. 3-0, no problem. Norwich who? etc etc.  Unfortunately it  didn’t quite go as per the script. He was left alone in the giant hole in the middle. I remember thinking at that point, even Cesc would have been useless today, with no one else to play with in the middle. Ramsey is no Messi and I am not defending him, he was shit as usual. But it was not his fault alone. While others were rather quiet, Gervinho was his headless chicken self again. OG felt like someone fresh from france in an Indian village where no one speaks french or English, and doesn’t care about his good looks either. He was left alone again and wasted as a player. Not enough service, not enough crosses to him. Then why fucking play him? He wants to play, everyone can see that. But if our game plan is not allowing that, then either it is wrong or we’re just too stuck up about that piece of paper on which someone wrote 4-2-3-1 once. Plan B in America means a contraceptive pill. Plan B in Bangalore is a cheap Pub. How cool! They know about the concept of Plan B and even named a product after it. Very clever. An adjective that you couldn’t use for Arsene last evening.

All this is just because Gibbs had an injury and it so severely compromised our play. And this is how thin our hopes are. To elaborate further, allow me to present a hypothetical but very likely scenario.

1. Gibbs comes back from injury, and Arteta receives a straight red out of frustration (12 points in 8 games kinda frustration) in the next game. Just imagine playing without him right now. huh.

2. After those 3 bad / average results Cazorla gets his first real kick from Tiote and AW says, he’ll be “2-3 weeks”. (Now just imagine playing without Cazorla)

3. Cazorla comes back but at the cost of Mertesacker who finally stretched a bit too much for his “2-3 weeks” of gym time.

The least you could do is not throw stones at him.

We are now in January 22 points behind leaders, and in 10th position. A very realistic scenario. And I have not even included the Theo contract situation and Jack/Diaby setbacks etc. All those things which should happen to neighbors but only happen to us.
But in a way we deserve it, because we are so wafer thin. We really have no real cover for Gibbs, Arteta, Cazorla, WS and Theo. Not that these are the 5 best footballers on the planet, but remove one of them and we’d see a dumbfounded effort like the one last night.

“Oh c’mon just a loss and its all so negative” #ficklefans, #loveAFC , “RT this if you are proud to be a gooner!” – I think I am going to take a printout of all those retarded SM messages and wipe my dog’s ass with it. That’s all its good for. We lost to Norwich goddammit. Its a big fucking deal. Not a big fucking deal if we had won 5 of the earlier 7 games, but a gigantic fucking deal if we have recorded only 3 wins so far. We are only 2 points better off than the last season at this point so just put the horse shit we are floating in, in perspective. Its 7 years without a trophy. The fans are tired, they want to win. They are frustrated. With the transfer market. With Gervinho/Ramsey/Santos/Vito and with Plan A. What can these hungry, dejected fans do but rant? They are hurt, they are howling.

Last night you could identify 4 kinds of fans. 1. The hurt and howling dogs. 2. The smart cookies who fled the scene like last night in a flash. 3. The real sweethearts online who were trying their best to make things lighter for others. 4. And the fools who were slamming the rants.
If you’re ranting about a rant, that makes you a ranter, you ranting rant! So show some empathy to the fellow gooners next time. Or do the ‘smart’ thing. I don’t imagine the scenes would have been same if we had just won the CL last season. But RDM would have been sweating profusely right now.

“I really like Arsenal. But do you really like Arsenal, or just Arsenal without trophies?”.

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#FFriend Index & Gooner Glossary.

Every friday I feel bad when someone does an #FF mention and I don’t respond or have done it only as a response. I feel conversations and the bonds created thereby are stronger. Still, as a permanent solution I am creating a list here which captures my favorite people who I interact with most on Twitter. Will keep adding to this list. This list is in no particular order and new people each week might be added to the top:

@RickLee14AFC > The man is all heart. Does not mince words. No sugar coating. No room for being political correct. Calls a spade a spade. Always. Could be misread as negative, but I firmly believe that his expectations of The Arsenal are very high.  And that you can not argue against.

@cockneycomic > Beer, Good times & Arsenal. You want a better combination?

@jebarwocky > A friend from before twitter. His trip to Emirates and its description  accelerated mine. Always over optimisic and after the quadruple. So we say #Jebaknows!

@fahads10 > A friend who I met on the football field. A very good footballer. Gooner who loves his dose of Barca. Relatively new to twitter. Sharp wit & humor. Warning: don’t mess with him.

@FattcheekedXL > Very kind. And straightforward. Always supportive and fair. Wrote a guest post for me on my blog. Famous line: “Can’t a brother dream?” Always looking for an interesting argument (about arsenal of course).

@TsokanEbami > Calm and measured. A good friend again and very supportive. Always there for a conversation. Gets most predictions right. Famous Line: “Brain = Zero!” (said in a big brother kinda response to a silly tweet he received from a very young gooner)

@sudiptarsenal > For the longest time I was confused and never clearly addressed sudipta as a ‘dude’. But a dude he is, always knows what’s going on where. A fantastic source to ask just about any question about this club.

@KunaloxBhatia > Know him for a month or so, already a good friend. Gets hyper excited on Matchdays with Shout outs and predictions. Ladies love him. Still figuring out why.

@Arsene Cross > Very cheerful gooner. Always bright and smiley. Has the best AW DPs ever. Very supportive and always interested in a good laugh. I love such people.

@Gooner Kal > Have always loved his pics from the train. Kal (on twitter) has matured more in a year than Carl Jenkinson. He is the perfect Gooner. Polite, funny, reasonable, and in control of his emotions (most of the times). Following him led me to some other great gooners too. And I keep forgetting he is born & raised in UK and send him a one-liner in Hindi sometimes. He keeps reminding me. I intend to test his patience a little more.

@Anna Lvova > She is popular, and for obvious reasons. If you are looking for more reasons, click here !  Might have the biggest heart of all fans. Always positive. Cheering gunners and travelling gooners alike. Always the first one to see the bright side of things. Her resemblance to Heidi Klum is the only thing that would keep you from calling here Mama Gooner. Too hot for that!

@KeithTheGooner > Just read his Bio and you’ll know what you’ve dealing with. 2 of my 6 pack are just from laughing at his jokes. He doesn’t know me too well. But I know him. He is funny (good!). He is a gooner (great!) and is standing behind that bar from which I intend to get free drinks playing my gooner card (Yay!)

@Shami > Not a gooner. A chaddi buddy (Indian for childhood friend). He is a Utd fan unfortunately, but has a rather large soft corner for Arsenal. Very funny and witty. Would trade Ramsey in for Ashley Young anyday. Already sounding like a rare species right? Damn right, he is.

@Invinciblog > I love his blog. My teeth fall off almost every time I read his posts. Am planning to get dentures and persuade him to write a book.

@Dave Seager > Mr. Seager is one of the most accomplished bloggers around. His knowledge on AFC is deeper than Roman’s pockets. And his research for each post will leave you awestruck. Reading his posts is an education in itself. Quite a few times in an argument with another gooner, I find myself pasting his blog links as evidence. Yepp… that good!

@goonerjon777 > Fact: All architects are intelligent people. And this one loves his Arsenal and writing about it too. Polite, graceful and extremely supportive of others.

@Victoria Scott > Massive fan – Check! Crazy – Check! Extremely funny – Check! She is a great one to follow during interlull. Am still trying to figure out what her sign off – “Vx” means. Am thinking kiss from Victoria, Very large kiss or wait… is that a nose and a peck? Going to ask her soon.

@Lindsay Melrose > Words are not enough to describe this one with such an extended vocabulary. So I will her introduce her through a SONG! Kicking ass on twitter everyday since god knows when. Love her for being herself and not being PC. That’s politically correct – Fuck that!

********************************************************************************

Gooner Artists & Resources:

@nine-o : The very talented artist behind the art at the Gunners pub. Check here! >
@Roxy Harris : The talented gooner who produced “Sign da Ting!”
@AFCPhotobank: Anna’s initiative – A place that speaks a thousand words. Arsenal official photos from all over the web
********************************************************************************

Glossary :

Items listed here must be known for their origin and relevance.
(please contribute here guys)

131mph
Mind the Gap!
Hello Gays!
Little Boy
Deench
Horse Placenta
Mr. Blogs
Full kit wankers
Barca DNA
BFG
1995
AKB
WOB

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Guest Post: Match report & ratings vs Olympiacos

After the disappointing performance and result against Chelsea last weekend, the champions league game against Olympiacos offered a fantastic opportunity to return to winning ways and to prove that the Chelsea game was just a blip. Olympiacos aren’t exactly a team you’ll refer to as underdogs. They’ve been league champions 39 times, and have always proven to be a much disciplined side, difficult to break down.  And even though we end up winning, we have always struggled against them.

We have so many memories of games against Olympiacos, and quite rightly so as we’ve played them more than a few times over the last few years. Like, Oxlade Chamberlain making his Champions League debut in this fixture last season. He scored in that match making him one of the youngest Arsenal and English players to score in the Champions League. Good memory. Also I think we all remember that in the reverse fixture of that match, Vito Mannone temporarily forgot that the rules of football allow for a goalkeeper to use his hands while in his penalty box. While hilarious, it is certainly not a good memory, at least not for us gooners.

So back to the game, we lined up with VM24, CJ25, LK6, TV5, KG26, MA8, FC22, SC19, LP9, G27, TheOx15. Wenger continued serving his touchline ban for the 2nd game running. I still think it’s a shame he got banned in the first place, UEFA seem clueless most times. Fucking Platini %$#@*&

We were sloppy, especially in the first half. There were many wayward passes in and around our own box. It is almost as if Mannone speaks Italian to our English speaking fullbacks and the central defenders also lose their abilities to talk to each other during the games.  For the first 15 minutes we were patient, kept the ball well, passed it around even better but struggled to create any meaningful chances in open play. Santi had a wonderful free-kick tipped over by the goalkeeper. For the rest of the first half, our team tried impersonating Stoke City trying to play the ball on the ground. Olympiacos also had two decent opportunities to score, one of them from five yards which their player mercifully decided to miss. Phew.

Then against the run of play, we scored, just three minutes before the half time whistle. After some good work from Cazorla and Podolski on the left, the ball was sent to the centre where Arteta and Gervinho were lurking. After a little confusion between them, Gervinho hit a low shot back across the goalkeeper, into the far corner. Decent finish from our ‘striker’.

That lead lasted only three minutes.  A sharp cross from the left, perfectly met Mitroglou who stuck out like a dog, making our two central defenders like buns. Made a strong contact with the ball and directed it past Mannone into the goal. There was no chance for Mannone, especially from where he was positioned.

We came in for the second half more focused, probably due to a bit of Bould sticking his right foot in each of their asses.  We got the lead again nine minutes  into the second half, Gervinho got into the box from the left wing, did a one-two with one of the Olympiacos defenders, gave the ball to Podolski, and he hit a left footed shot through the legs of the Olympiacos goalkeeper. 2-1. 

We got on the back foot again after scoring but Olympiacos couldn’t get a way through. Theo, Ramsey and Giroud came in later for Podolski, Gervinho and Chamberlain. Ramsey scored a rather nice velaesque goal with the last touch of the game after Giroud had slipped him through with a header from Mannone’s goal kick. 3-1 

The Verminator-Koscielny partnership seems to be working as smoothly as a three year old chewing gravel. They are both fantastic defenders individually, but for some reason or the other, they don’t seem to be working as a couple right now.  I personally don’t think they CAN’T work together; it’s more a matter of both of them not being in good form at the moment. Hopefully Per recovers from his illness in time for the West Ham game. And if not this duo have to find a way to play together.

PLAYER RATINGS

Mannone: 6
Had some shaky moments but did most of his job well.

Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs: 8
Our fullbacks are the most improved players this season; they both defended well and got forward to good effect. Carl a shade more impressive. Hodgson was there in the stadium, who knows what happens next.

TV5: 1st half 4 2nd half 6
Verminator had a pretty bad first half, he gave the ball away on multiple occasions but he improved a little in the 2nd half. Also almost got at the end of  Theo cross after bombing forward and leaving the defence exposed.

Koscielny: 6
Laurent also had a poor first half, he picked up a needless yellow card also. He improved in the second half and made a very crucial interception.

Arteta: 7
Passed a late fitness test to play.Got about his job effectively and professionally. Also technically had an assist for Gervinho’s goal. Few missed passes in the first half, but you gotta overlook that for someone who is regularly excellent.

Cazorla: 7
He did what he normally does, he does however need to improve in front of goal. So exciting to watch!

Coquelin: 4
Okay, it’s a 6 but for someone who made noises to quit the club if he doesn’t get game time, he was too sloppy in the first half and gave away possession at times. Weight on the passes was all wrong. Improved in the 2nd half

Podolski: 7
Was quiet for most of the game, one chance and one goal. Very lethal and gave us defensive balance on the left

Chambo: 5
Looked rusty(surprisingly), most of the things he tried didn’t come off but he kept trying.

Gervinho: 8 (MOTM)
Say what you like about Gervinho playing as the no.9, but the job of the striker is to score, and he did. Most strikers will be pleased with 5 goals with in 5 matches.  He also had an assist for Podolski’s goal.

SUBS:

Ramsey 7 (1 goal)
Giroud 7 (1 assist)
Theo 6 (Sign da ting no?)

Match report & ratings authored by Sola.
Follow him on twitter @FattcheekedXL

Posted in Arsenal, Match Report | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Swallow it.

My last post was some time back, and then I got entangled in shoots and travel. I wanted to write about the draw at City and the game I did not see (6-1 thumping of Coventry) , but couldn’t convince myself to do so.

City result was a disappointment really. Surprising, but true. Who wouldn’t take a draw at defending champion’s home turf. Most would. Even Santi & Per were jubilant as they shared excited hugs post game. But to all viewers the reality was different, it seemed like 2 points dropped. I looked at some City twitter accounts post the game and the fans of the blue moon couldn’t stop sighing with relief that the game ended in a draw. Arsene and Bould prepared well for the game. You could see that in neutralising of Toure and the outstanding interceptions by Mertesacker. Had Gervinho… ok you all know what happened. No point repeating it.

For the Chelsea game we seemed unprepared. Were we expecting to hold the ball and keep Chelsea pinned back to their 3rd, with Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Ramires & Torres? Who are we kidding. Unlike City (where if you could keep Toure/Silva quiet you’ve won half the battle) this is best midfield in premier league where any of those names can have an outstanding game and influence the game single handedly. Again we all know how the game went, so I won’t remind you of something you don’t wish to remember. Just that it was not Koscielny’s fault. 4-5 of such no-man’s-land goals happen every season. It’s just strange, let’s accept it. Chelsea deserved their win. They got it.

It’s not all doom & gloom of course because we lost one game to a very good side. Of course not. But this game just exposed some harsh realities about the side. With Diaby’s injury even before Gervinho could miss his first shot, the question was who will fill the gap. Who will form the golden traingle with Arteta and Santi.

Could Ox do it?  Honestly I think its not such a clever idea, playing Ox in the centre. Yes he has got a great shot. And he did score a 25 yard screamer against Coventry. But that’s it. He is not known for his incisive through balls, or clever chips over defence. Neither can he do a Coquelin. His assets are speed & trickery, which are best utilised on the wing or even as a striker. But as a MF behind Santi? Hmmmm… Can he play there though. Could he do it? Of course he can. He can play DM, he can play RB, he can play CB, he can play R2D2 and even in the Goal as Woj does not have much use for his gloves these days. Anyone can play anywhere. Ramsey can play on the wing. Gervinho can play as a striker. Arshavin can play with himself. What a wonderful world. Sigh!

I think I am going to buy a Tiger. A real one. Feed it vegetables and fruit. Train it to fetch my newspaper. Make it wear gaudy sunglasses and insist that it meows instead of roaring. Occasionally I would like to ride it to my gym. What!!? I’m being absurd? Tell Arsene! He started it.

Ox in the center is all bollocks, because we didn’t buy another MF (Sahin/Cabaye). God forbid Diaby & Jack take longer than expected to return. How long before Ox starts getting frustrated playing in the center. He is not a Tiki-Taka, he is a dribble&Smash kinda player. He could get as frustrated out of the wing as Arshavin got in the wing. Utd had a similar profile player. Who would whack anything that comes his way. Gibson. “Had”. They decided they needed a real midfielder, and sold him off.

What about Ramsey? Can he play in the center? Of course he can, he can play anywhere. He is anyway all over the place. All the time. Ok yeah, I am not a big fan of his. Obviously! (insert rolling of eyes). Most of you would have gathered that about me, and how I feel about Ramsey. But before I say anything further. I actually think there is a positive in him that we can use. And the only place he can play for in the team is the current Arteta’s role. Sit deep, be assertive in defence. run box to box. Ramsey can do that? Yes I believe he can. It will take a few games but I think he can. He can be Arteta’s deputy. There are 3 clear positives to this.
1. We can rest Arteta before any big game and use Ramsey there.
2. Less pressure on Ramsey to create. And
3. I get to see less of him.

Such beautiful thoughtsIf these thoughts were to be given a shape of a person, it would look like Marlyn Monroe with Kim kardashian’s ass.

But that’s not the only problem we have. We don’t a have a world class striker, and we don’t have a world class keeper. If Gervinho can be central striker, why not try Mo Farah as well. God knows he can run. Forehead is as far from being a striker as his shot was against City with no pressure on him. Ok yeah yeah alright I’ve heard it all. “At least he does not hide. At least he keeps running. At least he does not give up.” So what!? What do we achieve out of it? Pick any player from 2nd division or from france (oops) and they’d do it too. At least equally. Gervinho is the most frustrating player to watch on Television. And I have no fucking idea what he is doing at Arsenal Football club. Of the few goals he’s scored, 2 were bundled in which would have gone in even if the crosses hit a dead goat lying exactly where Gervinho attempted his finish .

Olivier Giroud. Hot and handsome. But only in the magazines so far. Of course RVPs shoes are too big to fill. He is tall and strong and people say his off the ball movement is good. But again he is as convincing in replacing RVP as OX in the central role right now. I would go to the extent of saying if Arsene was going to settle for an average striker, what’s wrong with Bendtner? He is tall & strong. We know what he is capable of. And we would have saved 12mn. As of now there is nothing to prove OG is better than Bendtner, but i’d really like to be proven wrong. Sooner than later.

And then the Goalkeepers. Woj had a good 2011-12 campaign. So good that he’s become quite full of himself, leading to casual behaviour (see him featuring on Ox TV, or in the red-card special for Poland. Hosting nation mind you), in turn leading to a self inflicted real-fake genuinely-bogus 3 week “injury”. Its not exactly asking for the moon to expect Arsenal football club to have 1 world class Goalkeeper and Woj as his deputy. Both Fabianksi and Mannone inspire as much confidence as a lone birthday candle in a dark forest.

These are not fresh thoughts which mushroomed overnight after the defeat to Chelsea. Its obvious that 2 of the 3 new players have had immediate impact. It’s also obvious that we are clearly lacking in a few areas. We will win many games this season because of our renewed confidence and also because its more men with balls in the squad than kids. But at the same time this might not be the only game we lose this season.

I could sound like a pessimist. Though I like to believe I am a realist. Arsenal for life. Yes. In Arsene we trust. Yes. Best football club in the world. (for me) Yes. Best squad in the world. No fucking way!

Lie to anyone, everyone. Not to yourself. Saying AFC has the best squad in the world and we will win everything this year is same as saying Gervinho is better than Ronaldo and Elizabeth Taylor died a virgin.

Besides Arsene’s magic we also need some good fortune this year. Like, an injury free year for Diaby, Jack, Cazorla & Arteta. Like, us surviving with forehead and the dead goat till Jan, and then buy a new one. Alive. Like, Woj to stop grinning like a fool and read Art of War . It might not happen. Not all of it. But like my friend @FattcheekedXL says… “Can’t a brother dream?”

I know it was not very flowery and peppy post. What is this – The Sun pg 3? . So I thought I’d make it up to you by sharing this brilliant and catchy song on Theo by @RoxyArms

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Merry Merry.

It’s been a great week. Feels like Christmas almost isn’t it. A 6-1 win over Southampton last weekend and then a half convincing but important win over the French champions Montpelier. Jack is back in training (and so is Frimpong). Sagna back in full training next week too. And the week after it Rosicky would be back too. Did Santa leave his bag behind?

Let’s break this big chocolate bar down to smaller chunks. First one then, was a chilled 6 pack shoved in the face of saints. We did get slapped back once and Szcenzeny is still in bed because of it. I am quite certain that these 3 week unexplained injuries are basically Arsene Wenger turning into Tony Soprano. “You disrespected da-Bing! Why you gotta do that. Aye!?” Seriously though if there was an imaginary weighing scale which could measure the intensity of emotion, and if we were to compare the jubilation of the 6 goals to the one we gave for free, I still hurt more from the stupid goal WS gave away. It’s just one silly mistake yes, just one fumble. Forgiveable? Yes. But who need to forgive him really are our splendid back 4 and the amazing Arteta. A record 270 mins without conceding once, is reset. All the amazing hardwork put in by Mertesacker in reading the game, full backs intercepting, wingers back-tracking and Arteta’s superman-flying is reset. That would piss me off. I am sure if Per allowed himself emotion, he’d stand Szczesny up and just look him up and down for 2-3 minutes. Coming into this game City would have thought to themselves “Damn! who is this Bould guy, they have not conceded for 4 games now!” Ok Per can you change it to 4-5 minutes please. After that let’s move on.

Besides that moment of stupidity, there was plenty to celebrate. Regardless of the scoreline we defeated southampton at football and that’s a great feeling. 2 own goals would have gone in one way or the other, even without them I never took to the edge of my couch. Not once. The goal which stood out of course was Podolski’s free kick. OMG finally. There’s that goal that we can score too. Almost like 100 bucks you find in an old jacket. Makes you smile. Pass of the game for me was Arteta’s chip over the defender to Gervinho who couldn’t decide what to do, dribbled 2 steps, danced sideways for 5 seconds and then fell on his ass as he fumbled on the final pass raced away and shot past the goalkeeper. Honestly I was more surprised that the goalkeeper. And see this is why you should not rely on youtube videos all the time Kelvin. Walcott scored a I-can-do-this-in-sleep-bitches-where-is-that-contract-?-?-? goal.

Against Montpelier we started where we left off. It was quite remarkable to see a bang-bang reply. I think we should have fired one more in the head too immediately. Otherwise it becomes like one of those horror movies when you haven’t seen the dead body, and you’re always thinking that-thing could be back. Second half was almost that. If their finishing was even as good was Ramsey’s they could have levelled scores. Thrice. Gervinho has now scored 3 for us in 2 games. 2 of them were really bundled in goals. They don’t count in my books as striker goals, or even poacher goals. But if it adds to his confidence, let’s have 2 more of those.

2 more things that i’d like to remember about this week are Oscar’s wonder goal. (Sheer magic.) And Young boys being too young for any comedy or humor. They killed a joke which would have kept us all laughing for a few weeks. Damn you and your plastic pitch!
(Also Chelsea drew and City lost in CL.. so tee hee hee to that too)

And here we are. 24 hours away from our acid test. The first real test for this side if you ask me. A test which will shape my expectations for us this season. We were mildly lucky against Liverpool honestly and against Montpelier. But if we can nick a 1-0 tomorrow, I would use ‘Luck favors the brave’ in every 3rd sentence and use it for the next 3 weeks. No jokes. They are defending champions and have a top player in each of the 11 slots. Of this ConAir cast we could find thick neck and short ears most irritating tom. I am sure Bould has a plan for Yaya. Make Diaby run alongside Yaya the entire game, like a mirror reflection and then tell him every 2 mins… “See I am just like you… see.. “. It will be a big test for the efficient but not so quick German. Tevez and Aguero are likely to run in circles like giggly kids during lunch break. Let’s wait and see if the Per can be that guy behind the tree who sticks out a foot. C’mon Per! be a bad guy just once. Please!!!

ManC can match us in every department. And it is their home ground. I am not the least bit offended if they are treated as the favorites for tom. Great. The pressure is on you then. Cazorla must be licking his lips for this challenge. And so will be the 10 others I am sure of that. One guy who can really change this tactically in our favour could be the out of favor Theo. His pace could be something, that our opponents have no answer for. So picture this… their home game > they do that silly blue thing and song > start with purpose > we sit back and soak pressure > they push forward > we wait > we wait > release Theo! Catch him if you can! Hooorah! 92nd min One Nil To The Arsenal etc etc … but picturing it counts for bull. Arsene is most likely very unlikely to start him.

Tomorrow we will answer these questions:

1. Can our defence withstand bigger world-class waves of attack?
2. Can our midfield create under pressure and spring a surprise?
3. Is the absence of a classic striker a good thing, and the way forward? (if OG does not start)
4. Does Vito really have the balls to be no. 1?
5. And how long should we laugh at the blue currency if we win?

Last contest was a 1-0 win for us, and that’s all we should all remember going in.
See you on the other side of a massive hangover.

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