The main event

February 19, 2014 by Sian 10 Comments

Most people seem to feel the same strange way about tonight’s match against Bayern Munich. Last year, we were nothing more than small hobbly kittens caught in very bright headlights, which is largely how we played. Out of the FA Cup and god knows where in the league, I seem to remember it got worse before it got better – but nonetheless we were most definitely not a point off the top going into the home leg. Have we ever been a point off the top since the day this trophy drought began? Probably, but who can be bothered to remember when.

Now though, things are better. They did not seem better this time last week when, fresh off a Scouse pounding, we failed to get very much at all out of a game against the worst Man United side to have ever been. It’ll never cease to amaze me how quickly the boat gets turned upside down.

The Liverpool showing was shameful, but it was quite incredible to see and feel how fast we all were to lose hope of us doing anything of note this season. And then after Liverpool Pt. II, how completely the mood shifted back the other way. I don’t seem to remember it having been quite so higgledy piggledy last season, but maybe it was? In fairness there weren’t really any good days last season, so maybe it was always just absolutely dreadful or only a bit dreadful, which gives a far smaller selection of mood possibilities than this year’s range.

So anyway, back to our feelings. Games like tonight are the best part of football for me. Yes cold nights watching scrappy football are lovely (no they’re not, they’re shit, stop lying to yourself), but nothing really compares to the Champions League. While I fully understand we’re in no shape to win it, and that it shouldn’t be our priority, it’s still one of my favourite parts of Arsenal. The stadium looks beautiful at night and I love the laaaaaasaaaaaaagnaaaaaaaa song. Also, when I’m out running and I’m starting to tire a bit, it’s not the FA Cup final I imagine winning in my head, or even a last minute goal against Norwich to give us the title (though both would be so beautiful please god please god please god). No. It’s a Carl Jenkinson winner in the third minute of injury time against Real Madrid. Hey, don’t bother dreaming if you won’t commit to doing it properly.

So while the Germans steamroll their way into town today, people seem to be mostly excited at seeing us play to Europe again. I’m not really scared of losing because, you know, been there done that and all that jazz, but I’m very excited to see how we play. We may get twatted and be really upset about it but again, you know, been there done that and all that jazz as well.

It’s quite a different prospect, but I can’t remember the last time I felt gloomier going into a match than I did before Liverpool on Sunday. I was certain we were knackered. But then Fabianski had a stormer and it turned out Yaya Sanogo actually still is at Arsenal! And what a performance from him as well. It was of course understandable supporters were a little wary ahead of kick off. Our one main very out of form striker had spent the final few hours before kick off preparing for the game about as helpfully as had the Palace game a few weeks previous, and he is our ONLY HOPE. Well actually it turns out he isn’t, and if he wants to carry on playing silly buggers with chatty birds, he can just sit that scantily clad arse of his down on that bench a little bit longer while he sorts out his wrecked head.

See, this perfectly embodies the flip-flopping of sentiment towards Arsenal this season. Everything is super now, but come this time next week it could easily be in the toilet once more. We’re loving Sanogo and Fabianski and the injuries just don’t seem to matter… until we get smashed tonight then lose to Sunderland at the weekend.

Unless, unless…

It’s been said a number of times this season that the current team seem to have a bit more about them than in previous years and the abomination of a showing at Anfield doesn’t change that. In some ways I don’t want it to end. There seems to be so much hope and promise this year that I’ll be sad when this run of fixtures is over. It’s too exciting to go back to being reliably useless. I’ve got used to being relieved to the point of collapse by May, just seconds away from the season ending in disaster. Had it ended in disaster last year, we wouldn’t be looking forward to tonight at all.

Tonight is a scary prospect, but it’s also the result of all that hard work last year (the catalyst for which, oddly enough, was a Bayern Munich game). All being well, the result of all our hard work this season will come to fruition a little earlier than just next year’s group stage. I like living in this era of hope and possibilities and I don’t want it to ever end.

Enjoy the game and if you’re going, get there early! And if you’re not, get there early in spirit anyway.

No excuses for un-jetlagged, lurgy-free Arsenal

December 23, 2013 by Sian 11 Comments

The last time I wrote a blog, ‘twas the day before Halloween and we’d just lost to Chelsea. Today ‘tis the night before Christmas Eve and oh dear that is unfortunate timing. In spite of all the things against us ahead of tonight, however, I have a feeling we will win.

I didn’t have a feeling we would win last Saturday, because it was away to Manchester City three days after playing and losing away to Napoli. We’ve had nine days now to do nothing but have a few days abroad, rest the old legs, do a bit of training, and dress up as cartoon characters. If that’s not an ideal week before Christmas, someone quite frankly needs to point out exactly what is.

I’ve not been watching Chelsea, because they make me queasy, but it doesn’t seem they’ve been at their peak lately. Mourinho has been doing his ‘LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT MEEEEE’ thing on a turbo setting in recent days also, so it seems now is a good time to play them.

A time that was not a good one to play a rival (haha) came last month when we lost away at Manchester (hahaha) United (hahahahahaaaaaaahaha). Half the team had come down with some sort of lurgy and then Greyhair scored a solitary goal and they got to act as though everything was all OK even though we know they all cry themselves to sleep every night these days. By the way, I really think our players just need to spend more time eating dirt – there is simply no way grown men should have as flimsy immune systems as they apparently do. But anyway now, now is a good time to play a rival, particularly as it is the first game in another gauntlet of games spanning the next 12 days.

The City performance was pretty dire. We did manage to score three goals in a stadium in which the home side has only let in two all season and the fact two came from a player who’s been resting loads lately kind of highlighted how knackered everyone else was, but it was still poor poor poor. Giroud got absolute dogs’ abuse on Twitter after failing to convert numerous chances almost put his way – ‘donkey’ was the word I saw used most, largely from people who coincidentally look kind of like donkeys themselves – and he looked most knackered of all. I suppose when you’re carrying that much extra body around and when every ball you go for involves having to fight a big fat defender away from you, tiredness will indeed be a side effect.

I saw him in Selfridges with his wife this week, by the way. I had a Christmas work party hangover and rain hair, so as if I was going to share a frame with him, but my God he’s massive. Looked exactly as I’d expected otherwise, but his head almost reached the Christmas Emporium (which is on level FOUR).

Two players we will/may lack this evening are Jack Wilshere and Laurent Koscielny. Jack’s two-match ban seems a little harsh given his middle figured gesture was funny and deserved, but God it’s just so dull having a go at the FA these days that who can really be arsed. Being annoyed when they get things wrong is kind of like throwing a hissy fit when your microwave forgets to pick you up from the airport. Laurent Koscielny, on the other hand, is apparently only a doubt after cutting his knee quite badly during one of City’s sundry goals last weekend. If Vermaelen plays (and I hope he does), hopefully he’ll go further to proving that he’s still an option as well as captain. Ohhhhh and btw, people talking about him losing the captaincy to Mertesacker should stop talking and remember those funny days when they wanted Jack to be captain last season, and when they thought Arsenal’s 126 year history was dead and buried because he looked like he was crying after the Bayern Munich home match. LOL AT YOU.

Oh God speaking of which, how annoyed were you by our Champions League draw last week? Bayern poxy Munich? We’ve played them; I don’t want to play them again! There should be a rule against that. And we played them less than a year ago too. I’d have sooner we got Barcelona again! How very, very dull.

So back to tonight and a loss makes us fourth (remember when that was a good thing?) but a win puts us back top. It will really make Christmas if we do beat them and, even though it won’t be the end of the world if we lose, it’ll make the whole festive period taste like sprouts if we don’t. There are no excuses this time. Just once I want to play a big game where we can’t blame losing on the broken nose, the buzzer, or the fact we thought we were getting mono.

Midweek madness.

October 30, 2013 by Sian 20 Comments

I’ve always despised the League Cup. Long before Koscielny met Szczesny and long before Vermaelen’s penalty met that post, I hated it. I remember groaning about our game that night being just the Worthington/Carling/Capital One/Oil of Ulay/Oil of Olay/Jif/Cif cup even back the days of Highbury.

Partly, it’s the penalties. Generally the team playing in this tournament (for teams like ours, anyway) is a team of fringe players, or players returning from injury, or youth players, or players on their way out the door. It seems quite unfair that a team of men very unused to playing together, or in some cases playing at all, should be the first at risk of coming up against a penalty shoot out. It’s not your in-favour superstars stepping up to take them, it’s the other ones. The ones in the background of all the Friday afternoon training pictures.

Maybe I’m wrong and maybe they relish that, but penalties make me absolutely sick. If it’s a team I don’t care about or haven’t watched before, I’ll still be hiding behind a cushion watching them step up to the spot. I remember David Seaman saying he loved them, because goalkeepers were never expected to save them. When they did, they were heroes. But outfield players are expected to score them, or at least hit the target. I never feel sorrier for a footballer than when he’s just missed a penalty.

Anyway, there are plenty more reasons why I hate it, but it doesn’t matter because we’re out. We played a fairly strong team yesterday, but still one full of players who’d not enjoyed much playing time together in recent months.  When the match finished after thankfully 90 minutes and not 120 or 120 and the additional screamy vomit cushion time though, Chelsea’s was stronger. Vermaelen came back and captained the team, and had a pretty good game. The talk of him leaving in January makes my vision go as wobbly as it goes when there’s talk of Bac leaving, so I very selfishly hope that soon enough Arsene feels confident enough in the idea of him and Koscielny playing together, that a tired Mertesacker wouldn’t put the fear of God into him. Tommy is about the modelliest professional you’d ever find, and the idea of him not being at Arsenal kinda hurts my veins.

It wasn’t a heavy defeat. It was a cock-up and a good goal, but we didn’t have a shot on target until late in the second half because up until four minutes prior to that, we’d been playing with a striker we’ve been trying to get rid of for three years. It showed how obviously our back up team is not quite as good as our first choice team, but then is that news, really? Of course Chelsea’s second is as good as their first. If I had all that lovely jubbly oil money slopping around in my bank account, my wellie boots and my knackered old running trainers would be just as top quality as my favourite boots too.

It wasn’t a fun evening at all, but not really because of the performance. The performance was alright, but theirs was better. It was mostly horrible because they are so vile in all the ways. There were 9,000 of their muggy fans sitting in blue last night (BLUE! BLUE IN MY STADIUM! GET OUT OF MY STADIUM IN YOUR BLUE!) Nine thousand of them singing that dinner lady-looking pillock Mourinho’s name. Honestly, it was only looking at him twatting it up in that rank old tracksuit next to Arsene in all his lovely lean suity booty glory that finally made me understand what people talk about when they say they wish the boys showed up for matches in suits rather than tracksuits.

I’m a bit annoyed Ozil and Giroud came on at all, because it was pretty obvious the match was never going to extra time. With Liverpool, Dortmund and Man United all days away, every time Giroud touched his hamstring, I yelped. But anyway, hey ho, out we go. Hopefully we’ll be glad in a couple of months when fixture congestion reaches its peak.

The only real talking point of the match was I suppose Carl Jenkinson’s mishap with Fabianski. It was kind of like a less awful Hart/Nastasic moment with more of the blame Jenkinson’s than Fabianski’s. The reaction to it though, has been something to behold.

When Jenkinson was playing consistently for the first team last season, it irritated me beyond belief how much people wanted to talk about how big an Arsenal fan he was. It’s lovely that he is. The stone he has outside the stadium dedicated to his granddad is beautiful, and who hasn’t laughed at that picture of him in his bedroom with his Arsenal curtains?

But he’s also a professional footballer. He plays for Arsenal because he’s very good at football, regardless of his bedspread. Let’s call it like it is and say he’s a good player, a great prospect, and is lucky to have Bacary Sagna playing ahead of him and helping him learn how to be the best and most consistent right back in the Premiership. He’s not some yahoo who got lucky one day. I know he makes you dream that you too could have made it, but darlings let’s be honest: if you’d ever got a chance out there you’d have been left flat on your arse, and that would have been seasons before you ever got a chance in the Allianz Arena. It’s quite offensive that people can EVEN joke about the fact they may as well be playing if loving the club is all that’s needed to gain a place in the team. I know you’re kidding, but the only reason it gets to even cross your mind is because you know he actually supported Arsenal before he played for them.  And really, it’s so irrelevant. He’s a young player who probably has a great future with the club. One great game doesn’t make him Lee Dixon and one bad moment doesn’t make him Nigel from Block 7. He made a mistake a player lacking game time tends to make. Yeah he’s not all that brilliant aerially, but to write him off in the wake of it is very very Aaron Ramsey of you. You would think you’d learn.

Anyway, moving on. As ‘Jose Mourinho’ rang out around the stadium, the fans kind of went into their shell. To be honest, it’s understandable. We were sat there watching a game we were losing, in a cup we all hate, against a team that should be standing trial with the UN, with fans that are so minging that oh my god when you see their top-button-done-up faces and 20s hairstyles all you can think is whyyyyy why whyyyyyyy can’t you just ming your way off the planet.

Ohhhhhh the kerfuffle afterwards though! Oh no we were outsang. Oh, the horrors. Wakey wakey, dickheads, they were winning and we were losing. The crowd at the Emirates is rather reactionary (have you noticed?) There is truly no greater sound in the whole entire world than the crowd when it really gets going at a point we can tell something is about to happen. It’s beautiful. Ten times more beautiful than that orchestrated bollocks they had for Dortmund last week. Did they react to the events on the pitch once (besides the goals)? They had actual conductors. CONDUCTORS. Where are all you Against Modern Football crusaders here please? Men. With their backs. Facing the football. Just so they can make noise. It’s just so bollocks, I mean really. And I’m sure next week in the Westenfalanadandolion, Keats will rise from his grave to write his blog on Guardian Sport about the beauty of the noise they make.

The away fans will be as magnificent as ever, and the home crowd at the Emirates will only come in for more stick. That’s a home crowd that is mostly made up of regulars, but also made up of an awful lot of people just there for the spectacle. The reason many West Ham fans don’t want to be moving  to the Olympic Stadium is exactly that, the tourists. It’s fine, seeing them in their Ozil shirts, taking pictures before the game. It’s quite annoying when they walk in front of you to get out eight minutes before the end. It’s even more annoying when you get home to the same old fans criticising the atmosphere in the stadium. It is what it is. There are those of us there who offend the poor old man sitting in front of them with their tasty language, and there are those of us there who are really only there for the pictures. It’s kinda rich being apportioned most of the blame when the blamers aren’t actually there in the first place though.

Rightio, we have Liverpool next! It’ll be about as first team as we can possibly make it, and with our first team, I feel quite confident we can do anything. Our opponents have been annoying me lately, playing silly buggers and keeping winning. A couple of weeks ago we were in a Heaven we’ve not been in in about ten years. I want them to go back to that place where they don’t win much, and us to go back to our Heaven. There quite a simple route to that place for both of us, so go on Arsenal, go forth and prosper!

 

Arsenal 4 – 1 Norwich. I just can’t stop loving youuuuuuuuu.

October 20, 2013 by Sian 4 Comments

What a beautiful time to be alive. There’s almost nothing to complain about these days. It’s an unsettling feeling, but one I could settle into very easily.

I used to be an optimist, and I think I still am, but years of supporting Bad Luck Arsenal have instilled in me a fear of the inevitable terribility that is sure to head our way. I thought it might have finally arrived this season when I woke up – yes, woke up – to find Arsenal 1-0 down to West Brom away a few weeks back. In my defence, I had just done that half marathon I’ve been going on about since the dawn of time.

I didn’t MEAN to fall asleep, but a combo of knackeration, knee shreddage and BORING FOOTBALL had sent me off into the land of nod. Jack might have salvaged us a point from that horrible performance, but it was still a match to miss.

Then again, anything would have been a comedown from the Tuesday before and Napoli at home. One of my editors at work was at the Napoli game for her first ever Arsenal match and let’s be honest, football has probably been ruined for her forever. It’ll be one of my favourite European games for a long time. The first ten minutes were very cagey, but while we grew into the game, Napoli got next to no more of the ball than in those first ten minutes. They’ve not played any good teams, they said. They’ll regret it when Higuain scores a brace against them, they thought. They were wrong on both counts. Not only was Higuain sidelined through injury, but we still haven’t played a very good team, because they really weren’t very good.

Two weeks Interlullin’ later, and it’s Norwich at home. Giroud’s touch for Jack’s first goal was so beautiful that I didn’t even notice how great the rest of it was until I watched the replay 64 times. Oh me oh my! ‘One of the greatest goals scored this season’, oh f you and your faint praise. And then Ozil scored a header. Little Ozil, awwww ain’t he just the cutest. Such an unassuming little genius.

As for Aaron Ramsey, well, I can’t quite believe what we’re seeing. Of all the players we had and have, he was always the one I wanted to succeed the most and not just because of the difficult career he’s had so far. But the progress we’ve seen this season is so ridiculous that if it turned out he’d been injected with comet dust blood, I wouldn’t be surprised, you know. There was a point yesterday (the ‘Zidane’ moment, yeah), when the entire crowd went “OHHHHHHHHHHH NO HE DIDN’TTTTTTTT’. Wtf Aaron. Why have you been storing this away and can you reserve some of it for Man United when you come up against Ugly van Greybald please?

But anyway, back to Jack, he of the smoky lung and controversial view. First of all, LOL at the story his PR people gave. I used to work in a bar frequented by many Arsenal and Spurs players, and there were at least two Spurs first-teamers who constantly smoked in full view of everyone. Did anyone bat an eyelid? No, because they were irrelevant and shit. I don’t really have an end to this story except that I wanted to grass on some Spurs players and call them irrelevant and shit hahahahaha but anyway his views on Januzaj were right too.

Besides the absolute arrogance of England and its fans thinking Januzaj would be best off playing for England (such an illustrious history of trophies and success, lest we forget), there’s the problem of everyone having to be so excessively politically correct these days, that his point was completely blown out of proportion. Imagine moving to France aged 16 for career purposes. Would you now feel French?

A few days after he’d offended the planet, one newspaper ran a column insisting Jack was wrong for ‘backing down’ over his views. In the related articles section was another column from a few days prior, opining how wrong his views were in the first place. The man cannot win, except these days he can all the time because he plays for the motherfucking Arsenal and while beige, beige England and its fans might not appreciate him, we do and always will. (I feel safer saying things like this these days, because who’d leave us? We’re great, everyone is staying forever.)

One of the things that has hurt over the past few years is the loss of beautiful football and the insistence from all around that we are now nothing but an average side. It might still be early days, but eight games in and everything is going swimmingly, and in a beautiful fashion. It could all get ruined beyond recognition next week and beyond when the difficult games really kick in, but I can’t remember the last time we entered a period like it in such great shape. We have options, we have in form players, we have spares on the bench, and most importantly of all, we still have the best manager in European football.

PS. Read this and try not to cry. I had to close it and come back to it when I felt more emotionally ready. Not saying it’ll happen this season (it won’t, but we are going to win the Champions League), but ohgodohmygodohahhhhhhhhhhoh.

The light at the end of the summer.

September 16, 2013 by Sian 12 Comments

Good things that have happened over the course of the past few weeks:

-         We beat Spurs. Lol.

-         We signed Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid – a move technically aided by the sale of Gareth Bale by Spurs. It’s a move that quite clearly irritated all those involved with Real Madrid, which is always funny to be honest with you. They’re not hateful in a faux-humble, let’s-parade-the-family-on-the-pitch-because-we’re-so-family-orientated-oh-look-at-our-humbleness-aren’t-we-humble kind of way. I actually much prefer them to Barcelona, but all this ‘Greatest club in the world’ nonsense they can’t stop blethering on about, oh do be quiet. Also, ‘La Decima’… Shut up. Ten years in a row would be impressive. It’s been years now. The allowance has lapsed. Go away.

-         We beat Sunderland in spite of going all #ThrowbackThursday in the defensive part of the pitch.

-         Mesut Ozil was so good! After his lovely assist to Olivier Giroud on Saturday, he turned around almost a little perplexed at all the celebrating. As if to say ‘This is quite normal for me… is it not normal for you? Oh dear, what have I done…’

-         Olivier Giroud’s shooting boots are shooting like they’ve never shot before.

-         Aaron Ramsey. And we have Stoke next week. Yeaaaah ork bitches, Super Ramsey all up in your grill. Oh those are teeth, my mistake.

-         Tommy’s back! Don’t even care, still my king.

Bad things that have happened over the course of the past few weeks:

-         Rosicky :-(

-         Santi :-(

-         Koscielny’s cranial flatulence was back with a vengeance without Big Per around to settle it down. Vermaelen came on for Ozil and partnered Laurent after about 70 minutes, which could have been total disaster territory what with all those volatile chemicals flying around, but we managed to hold on, thankfully.

-         Drawing Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, and Marseille in our Champions League group. This belongs in the union of the good/bad Venn diagram though really. We’ve suffered years and years of crap groups, struggling to get through the crap groups along the way, then reaching the next round and not knowing what to do with ourselves. At least we’ll be able to do that in the group stage this time. I jest! You get into the Champions League to play the good stuff, and if we’re good enough then we’ll get out of the group and go on to play even better stuff. Besides, I still believe this year it’s ours.

-         So many umlauts.

 

If you care, my sincere apologies for being so unreliable in writing this blog lately. I started it as a student but now have a job and am training for my first half marathon (hintedy hint hint), so the writing opportunities are just much smaller. Actually, this is a little misleading, given the massive lie that it is. The opportunities are still there. I’ve just found that I’ve become a much crapper writer in recent months.

In addition to this, over the summer, I even stopped reading some of my favourite blogs. Part of the reason for this was that they really did very understandably make for quite excruciating reading. The other part is just that they on the whole became so repetitive – which is  entirely Arsenal’s fault, as not a sodding thing worth writing about happened until September had begun. I did search for the “We’re gonna be OK dudes!!!” blogs but, well, at one point people writing those would have had to have been high on something in order to have actually believed that.

While we’re on the subj, ‘Bloggers’ seem to have become a bit of an issue recently. I think it’s very important not to trust people who openly state their agenda in their Twitter biography. ‘Don’t follow if you love Wenger’, for example. If that’s going to be your narrative, you’re going to be a bit bloody boring, aren’t you. That’s like saying ‘I don’t like laughing’ and then going out of your way to not enjoy yourself, ever, just so you can say you’re living by your rule of not liking laughter. Over the last season or so, I’ve seen a few Twitter accounts with ‘NOT a blogger’, or ‘I hate Arsenal bloggers’ or something similar written there. Like… why? Why would you let other people’s hobbies get so far up your nose you deem it necessary to put that out there (sometimes repeatedly)  in such a confrontational manner? You have to actively do something in order to cross paths with blogs. You have to go read people’s work in order for it to annoy you. You need to actually click on the link they post in order to wind yourself up. It’s like reading books just so you can talk about how anti books you are. Besides which, you might not agree with their thoughts but at least they’re putting them out there. Thoughts probably more elaborately planned out than ‘Bloggers are wankers’.

Anyway, just some thoughts there. If you’re reading this and it annoys you, you clicked the frigging link ya dolt.

Marseille Wednesday. Last time we played them away, Aaron Ramsey, oddly enough, earned us our very late 0-1 victory and I was doing the Arseblog live blog. Our team was almost entirely different back then as well, as is the Arsenal way, and I hear this time’s opponents are currently third or fourth in Le Chommmmmmmpiona’, so they must be a bit handy. But we are handier. So, go on Arsenal, go forth and win.

Fulham and Fenerbahce flattened, everything else just flat.

August 28, 2013 by Sian 15 Comments

In the end, the hard work paid off. There was a fear, one no one really paid much attention to, but a fear nonetheless, that this year could well be the year our European luck ran out. A couple of weeks ago, it seemed almost certain it would.

Understandable, really. After skidding into fourth place like a puppy on a polished floor in May, we’d all hoped we’d face the two-legged play-off with lots of nice reinforcements with which to force our way into the group stages. Perhaps an Argentine striker; maybe a Uruguayan one. A Spanish midfielder would have been the biggest bonus of all, but I wouldn’t have minded a French one either. Anything breathing and mobile really, at this point.

But, well, no, none of that was to be. Maybe this is the emotional healing period we’re being forced through at present. After two (arguably more) summers of traumatic goodbyes, perhaps they think we couldn’t handle too much happiness quite so soon. Maybe they think it might kill us. You don’t go around serving starving men fry-ups, unless you want them to die. Why would you give an overwhelmed fan a striker? We’d no doubt get far too attached to them, then go a bit weird and stalky. And then die of course.

Anyway, no one’s joined, so that’s a different issue for a different day. Last night’s 2-0 win over Fenerbahce added to the 0-3 win over them last week, making a whopping 5-0 aggregate beating of the team we all wet ourselves over when we were drawn against them earlier this month. Aaron Ramsey, a man rejuvenated, added two to his tally of one last night, rounding off an all in all excellent week for himself. The Rambowagon is now full to the brim. If he’s not careful, it’ll be a Rambocaravan before he knows it and I don’t know anyone who likes caravans.

You can’t not be happy for him, given the way he’s worked since being broken in half three years ago. Even when his performances weren’t up to scratch, he plodded on (in a speedy fashion) and kept working away at his game. It’s paying off now, and I’d imagine even his harshest critics might be warming to him at this point. Also, is it me or has he got taller? Maybe it’s just that the double kink in his tibia and fibula have finally unfurled, who knows.

We played an understandably handbrakey game, which was actually kinda boring in parts, except for those involving some super saves (and a couple of flaps) from Szczesny. But hey, we were pretty much guaranteed Champions League football, why would we do any more? HMMMMM, A COMMON THEME, YOU MIGHT SAY.

Unfortunately we lost Lukas Podolski to a hamtwang and maybe Ramsey to groin troubles and Wilshere to a broken body, and then Fenerbahce got slung out this morning anyway, so we could have avoided getting anyone injured at all. We all know it would have been a different story had we lost, of course.

The performance against Fulham was also great, with us playing some of the beautiful stuff we only really saw against West Ham at home last season. So free-flowing, so pretty, so fast. Look at all that raw product out there. Imagine adding some fancy garnishing? Just gotta put it in the Wenger oven and bam, tasty stuff for all the family. I barely looked at the other results at the weekend, because when we’ve won, it simply doesn’t matter.

So now we look to Sunday and oh go-ho-ho-ho-hod it’s Spuuuuuurrrrrs.

:(

It seems unfair to suggest we might not win, given how much I’m in love with our over-stretched, overworked squad right now, but we really might not. I mean, we might, but we might not. Don’t you think that’s how all match previews should go? We also could draw too. Bale probably won’t play, except knowing our luck he will, and his twin, right-footed brother Bareth will materialise out of nothing and play also, making it a tricky one all round.

It’s fun to imagine we might make a few additions between now and then, but let’s be real that ain’t gonna happen. As annoying as the INCESSANT faceaching is, they’ve been proved right when nothing materialised before the Asia tour, after the Asia tour, before the Emirates Cup, after the Emirates Cup, before Villa, after Villa, before Fulham and now after Fulham. And this time, there’s not even a cheeky little Mikel Arteta waiting in the wings! There’s a mythical move for Casillas (oh my god I would DIE) but he’s more Madrid than Adams was Arsenal. There’s Cabaye and his back to front head. Sorry love, but if Arsenal are enough to rejig your priorities in such a frankly rude manner, what’ll you do when someone richer than us comes along? Do please keep pissing Pards off though won’t you, there’s a good boy. People seem to have forgotten about Suarez… perhaps he is dead. Oh, there’s also di Maria and Benzema, neither of which one can imagine happening in a million years.

People keep saying to me that I’ve gone all negative, but I haven’t really. I just see no other way around it. It makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever, but I do know that as it stands the team we have will do their absolute best and that everything shall be well, until mid-November when the seams start to come undone once again. Arsene, I think you’re magical, we know this. Seventeen years on the trot in Europe, by the way – congratulations and thank you. You can work wonders with most things in the world, but we’ve basically been here before. I’m over being one of the teams everyone laughs at and would really quite like to be hated again. We don’t need a hungry racist to be hated, we could just try being good. We’re good as we are. Let’s bring in more good stuff, and learn to bask in all the hatred again. Please?

Finally,  I firmly believe we’re going to win the Champions League this season.

Five hundred thousand million days of summer.

August 1, 2013 by Sian 15 Comments

Hi. I wrote my last blog one month ago today. It was a bit gloomy, but still ended with a hopeful thought on Higuain’s signing. Reading it back now, it reminds me of my 2011 blogs, in which I remained adamant we were going to win the league right up until Bolton away on 24th April, when my dreams came crashing down around me.

‘Even old Polly Positivity over here is outwardly admitting we won’t be winning the title this year’

Ah, d’you remember those days? Times of slipping to second after Manchester United or Chelsea went and won in their late Saturday kick offs after we’d drawn at home with Villa? I miss those days. Finishing second now seems like some kind of other world. But hey ho, on we go.

The Higuain we were supposed to sign a month ago ended up signing for Napoli (whoooooooooo?) last month. I think so anyway, he’s definitely posed with Benitez and a big cake, so one can only assume that the deal is done now. I prefer that to Twitter announcements and players holding shirts up.

‘Here’s Arsene Wenger and Bernard having a doughnut, more follows,’ that would be much better.

This summer has been a bit of a funny one actually, because although it seems to be speeding by and although Villa at home (oh god please don’t draw) is only two weeks and two days away now, it’s actually crawled by ever so slowly due to all the tedium. I’m sure it’s at least March next year by now. We’ve managed to find a new heir to the nation’s throne, but still no defensive midfielder. The Asia tour went very well, and we beat the continent about 75-3 or something. Podolski was really funny as well, but mostly all the players did was talk about how much we need more players. I generally think players don’t really care about the quality of the people they’re playing with because they are after all extremely selfish creatures who don’t really care about anyone but themselves.

When the going gets tough, they’ll always flee the sinking ship, while talking out the other side of their mouth about the love and respect they have for the ship they’re about to help sink as they clamber up onto the much less holey ship to its right. It’s very much a case of ‘I’m alright Jack’ with footballers, so to hear Giroud, Jack (a different Jack), Szczesny, and so on and so forth talking about wanting reinforcements kind of makes me think they’d all quite like to stay here and make a go of this league, but that they’ll find it much easier if we’re just a bit better.

Given the team does look to be in quite good nick and that the atmosphere within it looks quite healthy, maybe it’s a case of not wanting to bring in anyone who could unsettle that. Which probably goes some way to explaining why the one player we do keep hearing things about is this Luis Suarez. I’m used to having never heard of the players Arsene wants to sign, but I googled and I googled and I really couldn’t find much very much info out there about this guy. Anyone seen him play? Anyway, I’m sure being a relative unknown in this country will really help him settle into the team if we do sign him. He’ll be quiet and probably quite anonymous on the pitch until, say, mid-October, but I expect we’ll see the best of him after that. He’s quite pricey. More of these kind of players, please. We wouldn’t want to rock the boat.

The only other player being vaguely mentioned is Cesc Fabregas. Unfortunately, we appear to be an afterthought and most of the stories involve him moving to Manchester United.

He himself is remaining quiet, but the chattin’ breeze syndrome that infected all of Barcelona two years ago seems to have now gotten into the systems of all of the Manchester United players. Much as the booming rallying cry of David de Gea would spark me into immediate action, Cesc, bafflingly, still hasn’t said a lot. I hope he remains in Barcelona, because although there’s this really complicated clause about Barcelona needing to accept a bid in order for our buyback clause to be activated, I feel that it’s far too much of a risk, particularly knowing Arsenal the way I do.

One of my favourite Tweeters/people Chrissy Teigen asked her followers the other day how much money they’d have to be paid to agree to being shot in the chest while wearing a bulletproof vest. She said, crucially, that she could not promise you’d survive it. If you survived, you’d get your money. If you didn’t, you’d still be poor. Also dead. This feels a very accurate representation of the Cesc troubles to me. Man United could have a bid accepted and we could swoop in and buy our man back, or we could just sit there gormlessly and watch as he moves to Man United and we’re left sitting there eating glue. Is it worth the risk? I dunno. This summer’s been so painfully tedious that but for the fact Cesc to Man United makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE to me, it’s so utterly absurd that it could probably happen. Sure why wouldn’t he leave his boyhood club for a rotten city that can’t stop raining? Why wouldn’t he want to play under Snitchy McGee? I bet he’d especially love to buy out the rest of his contract purely in order to twist that knife just a little further through Wenger’s ribs.

Just imagine, Flappy Arms and Cesc reunited at United. The Kubler Ross model wouldn’t know what to do with itself. Like I say, we might swoop and he might come back, and then I think everything would be OK, because nothing bad can happen when we’ve got a Cesc. Equally though, he could go to Man United and then I suppose I could become a nun. So, I hope he stays put for now.

Anyway, sorry to sound so miserable, the good news is that it’s very exciting to think we’re only two weeks from seeing the players we do love and have, it just would be so nice to have some new ones to look forward to as well. As an Arsene lover as well, I just wish he’d make it a bit easier for himself. You don’t need to be abused by people who can’t spell, Arsene! It’s still only 1st August and most of our transfer business does seem to happen in August, so let’s remain positive if we possibly can.

I’m looking forward to being totally wrong to have ever doubted us as we supermarket sweep the arse out of the good player aisle obviously, but until then there’s not really very much more to say.

“UR-HUH-HUH!!!”

July 1, 2013 by Sian 12 Comments

This is boring. So, so boring. So, so, so, so boring. You know when you were little, and you would get frustrated with someone and do one of those “Ur-huh-huh!” cries, when things weren’t going your way? Well, you know, it feels as though all involved in Arsenal are on the brink of a collective “UR-HUH-HUH!!!” at the moment.

After weeks of going on to all who’d listen about how rich the club is and how much we can afford to pay players, it’s all gone a bit quiet. I must say, I really like that we keep schtum most of the time. I know info gets ‘leaked’ often, but I enjoy that we don’t normally come out and say things like ‘Perez is keeping our boy Higgers hostage, he must be transferred to us immediately lest his DNA go squiffy.’ But just, my God, please just do something. Just do something, anything, I don’t care what, just give us someone. Give us something. I feel like the amazing Wendy Davis must have felt seeing all those people sat down for thirteen hours overnight last week… so many chairs and an absolute inability to sit herself. What an incredible woman, I feel I can’t complain about this morning’s backache at all given her feat last week. Well, or our stagnation in the transfer market. Some issues are bigger than football, you know.

But not on a football blog, so let’s keep complaining. Gonzalo Higuain’s brother, dad, osteopath, colourist and clarinet teacher have all weighed in on his move to Arsenal… but it still feels terribly like it won’t happen. He’s the Santi Cazorla of the Fall 2013 line, and it’s very, very tedious. It’s probably made all the more tedious as a result of all the EXCLUSIVES! and all the tweets with sources and information and beliefs, but this feels like it’s going at a snail’s pace, if the snail had blisters from her new shoes.

People keep saying they’re scarred by the Mata deal, which was a very weird one indeed. I remember when initial word came through about his sudden link to Chelsea, I thought ‘So? He’s been linked to Arsenal for ages’ and then next thing you knew he was scoring against us at Stamford Bridge. City could really gazump us too if they fancied it (it’s funny that ‘gazump’ has similar letters to ‘Gazidis’ – look, if newspapers can make ‘Rooney’ into ‘Roo’ in place of ‘you’, I am allowed to find a link there, OK). But that would be so obvious, plus I think Pellegrini and his dreamy blue eyes wouldn’t stoop to such lows, because he reminds me far too much of Arsene Wenger, and Wengeralikes wouldn’t do that, it’s the rule. *ignores Park transfer*

We have a winner from the Chisel & Mouse competition, by the way. Gary was the chosen one, and here’s a picture of him with the prize. Congratulations Gary! Ain’t she pretty? Competition is now obviously over, but they still have them on their website. I’m thinking of buying loads of different models and setting them up in my bedroom so I can pretend I’m a giant woman on days when my self esteem needs a pickmeup.

Winner!

Speaking of pickmeups, you must watch this video by FrenchFinesse. If you don’t find yourself getting a little teary at the end when Arsene’s voice pipes up, well you my friend have stone in your cold, cold veins. Someone tweeted me saying that it was a combination of watching all the great moments we have had since we last won a trophy, the difficult times we’ve had too (FALL OVER, BARRY FERGUSON), and then the voice of a man who genuinely cares coming in at the end. He’s a magnificent man and he’s ours and I love him, and I don’t think anyone in football inspires the same feeling for me as he does. Gary Neville is absolutely spot on as well and I couldn’t be more excited for next season. But please get a wiggle on, transfer gremlins!

Finally, the team is back in training this week! So let’s hope that that gives us more to talk about, because you should know that I actually started this blog last week and had so little to write about that I’ve only just finished it this weekend. Maybe Higuain will be confirmed this afternoon…

 

Win yourself some Highbury.

May 30, 2013 by Sian 5 Comments

Hi y’all!

Currently riding through the desert on a horse with no name (kidding, he totally has a name… Trigger, and thus far he’s been a very well behaved boy, totally undeserving of his name.) All I’ve seen any time I’ve looked in to have a gander at social media since being here is rumours of Cesc and Manchester United, which make me so violently sick I’ll have lost two stone by Friday, so the less said about that the better.

I also saw Tommy’s quotes about being happy at Arsenal and not wanting to leave, which sit far more easily with me. Please let THOSE be true.

Anyway, I’m getting off track here so let’s go right ahead and cut to the chase: I have teamed up with Chisel and Mouse (read more about them here) to bring you, fair reader, the chance to win one of their really quite beautiful sculptures of Highbury’s East Stand. I first saw one of these ages ago, when someone I follow on Twitter took a photo of one they’d just been given as a birthday present, and I thought it was amazing, so I am rather excited about this!

The art deco facade of our lovely old Stadium is/was unique among football stadiums and unmistakably Arsenal in that it was better than anyone else’s. Though Highbury was built in 1913, it wasn’t until the 1930s that the site was redeveloped and the Art Deco East and West stands produced. Architects Claude Waterlow Ferrier and William Binnie were responsible for these splendid designs, plus they had fantastic names.

Chisel & Mouse hand-make architectural sculptures of beautiful and iconic buildings from their studio in Sussex. They are made of strong plaster while the doors and window frames are etched brass. This particular sculpture is 10in high, 7in wide, 2.5in deep & 4.8lb approximately.

How pretty!

To enter the competition, simply click this link and answer the three questions you’ll find upon doing so (and if you can’t answer the first two, you need to take a long, hard look at yourself.) It’s Fathers’ Day soon, so you might want to win one for the old man or just for you. The competition will close on 12th June, with time for it to be delivered by 16th June (which is Fathers’ Day in the UK: note this). However, I realise not everyone who reads this blog is unfortunate enough to live in the UK, so Chisel and Mouse will deliver the prize internationally too.

If you’d rather not wait and just want to buy one yourself, you can get 10% off on the Highbury sculpture by going to their website and entering the code ‘GUNNERSGIRL’ when ordering -this’ll be valid until the competition closes. And by the way, this is not a sponsored blog; I just think they are really, really lovely.

If you missed out on the opportunity to rip your chair from the stands before we moved to the Emirates, this is a pretty stylish alternative.

Good luck!

Happy thoughts happy thoughts happy thoughts

May 27, 2013 by Sian 17 Comments

I know everyone’s hunkered down into their little summer bunkers of rest and relaxation, brains hooked up to the detoxathonators and nerves chilling in a pool of calm respite (still refreshing Goal.com every five minutes though, DON’T LIE)… bu wake up! I want to talk Arsenal again.

So, that was quite a day, wasn’t it? At the end of last season, I think I wrote something about how the 2011/2012 season had been one of my favourites, in spite of the fact it was quite terrible, really. Well, no such stories this time, as I’m very sure we can all agree that the season 2012/2013 was atrocious. It started out bad, with the turning of the toothiest worm that ever did be, and carried on bad with our crashing out of every competition known to man. Let’s enter a back-up spelling bee next year. Szczesny on the long words. Anyway, it continued to be bad, in that we lost to all the ugliest teams, but then suddenly it got good again.

It’s been interesting reading blogs written after the loss away to Spurs, because most had it absolutely bang on. They said that in order to make anything of this season, we’d need to go on some kind of mythical run, leaving everything we know to be true behind, and embracing nervy, edgy, finely margined yet victorious football. Somehow… we did that. Players were dropped, bonds were forged, wins were ground, and nerves were shredded. And against all odds, we finished fourth yet again.

It’s not quite as good as last season, because automatic qualification for the Champions League doesn’t come as standard this time, but we still have a chance – and more importantly, I think we deserve that chance. I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t see it happening. Although, as we exited the Emirates screening after Newcastle, my tall friend Pav did point out that before the Spurs game I’d said I thought that if we beat Spurs, we’d finish fifth (or below) and that if we lost to Spurs we’d finish fourth (or above). There’s just something about this lot. They don’t seem to want to hear it when you think they’re defeated. Except against Man United. Or against Chelsea. Or Norwich. But we’ll forgive them that as they did so bloody well to get themselves out of the sticky situation they’d fallen head first into. It’s not easy to wriggle your way out of a cave when you’ve been wedged in brain first, but wriggle they did.

The Newcastle game was… hideous. I threw up into a bin when I woke up. Hadn’t been drinking, wasn’t pregnant or poisoned, was just an Arsenal fan on the last day of the season. The fact everyone else had sorted their business in previous games meant that on the final day, the only thing to care about was us and Spurs scrapping away for the non-trophy. I don’t remember much of the game. I don’t even really remember Koscielny’s goal.  But I will never, ever forget my friend Zana turning to me in the, what, 952nd minute? – and saying the words that have been carved into my frontal lobe ever since.

“Spurs have scored”

Ohgodnoohgodohgodohgodohnoohgod. It was so obvious that Newcastle were going to equalise. Soooooooo obvious, and at the same time just really unlikely. Even though we’ve parped our way to fourth, I’ve come to trust this team in moments of danger. They wouldn’t let it slip, they simply couldn’t. I just don’t know what would have become of us had Newcastle equalised. Or had QPR equalised, or Fulham. We’d have slunk off into the off season, shadows of our former selves. No doubt a few players would have started posturing for a move. And oh goodness, imagine the noise from that lot. It would have never ceased.

Which is why I think it’s basically tremendous that we celebrated just as hard as we did. Who gives a single flying monkey if it wasn’t a trophy, or if it’s a symptom of how far we’d slid? It was a target we gave ourselves from back in the February depths of hell, and it was a target we reached. When the season has been as bad as this one has, you take your mini glories and you dance with them until their little legs can’t dance no more. Also, I could stare at this moment forever.

It’s reignited my hopefulness over football too. I’m back 100% positive we’re going to spend money where it’s needed, and 100% positive we’ll look stronger next season. I’m pretty sure no one will leave either, although don’t you think I’ve not been monitoring the sudden development of your Twitter account, Mr Vermaelen. Sit down waistcoat boy, SIT DOWN. (I really don’t want him to leave, guys. He’s one of the good ones, he’s one of the ones with a brain. He was so happy on the final day of the season.  The Vermaelen revisionism has been awful. We loved him and relied on him and thanked the Heavens for him once, don’t you forget that. Please stay please stay please stay.) I’ve given up hope on Bacary, but if he stays I’ll smile all summer and most of winter too.

There’s so much work to be done, but it can be done now. We’ve got three months to do it. So do it. What about you, how are you feeling about the summer, good or bad? Let’s chat it out below. Also, check back later in the week for another blog containing a little piece of exciting opportunity to have a little piece of exciting history. Hmmmm, cryptic.

Enjoy the rest of your bank holiday. And remember, you can breathe now.