GUEST BLOG: Wins, Wounds, & NorWich.

November 18, 2011 7 Comments by Sian

Sorry the blog has been so quiet over the past couple of weeks but thankfully the snooziest of intersnoozes is now over and we should be back to normal service soon. For now, here’s the wonderful Gabi Boyd‘s second contribution to FAGWLTG! I promise it’s not a requirement that all writers on this blog must sing Tommy V’s praises. His brilliance is just a simple fact that all must bow down to and accept and embrace. See you after Norwich!

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G’day, folks! *cringe* No, I’m sorry, I can’t fulfil that cultural stereotype. Regardless, how’s it going everyone? I actually started writing this blog during the previous interlull at the start of October, at which point our last few matches, if you recall, were against Bolton, Olympiacos… and Sp*rs. A rather unconvincing, not to mention disappointing, run of form. The timing of the piece is also evident from a reference I make to the Rugby World Cup which was being played at the time – forgive me for straying into such non-footbally territory. I picked up writing where I left off in my previous article – with my prediction for the Bolton game.

Well. I got part of it right, didn’t I? We DID win against Bolton! With a clean sheet even, and lots of goals. I even got my bonus secondary wish, as we escaped without a red card to an Arsenal player’s name (a red-card-less run which has continued to date – yay!). We beat Olympiacos too – more than any other English team could manage that week in the Champions League! I felt it was a convincing performance, and even if we looked liable to concede as soon as the Greeks managed a good through ball or a long pass over the top, we won and that’s all that counts. So there’s been quite a lot of good in Arsenal land since we last spoke.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Arsenal without quite a lot of bad happening too. We only went and lost to THAT lot, didn’t we? Made all the more disappointing because we looked the better team for a large portion of the game. But as the South African (defending champions) rugby team can attest to after their quarter-final defeat to Australia, it’s not the stats that count at the end of the day. Sp*rs taught Arsenal the same lesson that the Wallabies taught the Springboks, the same lesson that
unfortunately too many teams have taught Arsenal in the past – it’s the score at the end that matters. Nothing else. It’s sad that an increasing number of otherwise inferior teams seem to be ahead of Arsenal a grade or two in that class of the Football Academy. Maybe we could hire a tutor or something to try to skip a grade too? Or at least reach parity with the other kids in the class? Nobody likes to feel stupid or left behind. Come on Arsenal, up your game.

On a more positive note, since I began penning this piece our form has of course significantly improved. Not only are we notching up those wins (consecutively!), but our performances are starting to show glimpses of the slick and commanding football we have all come to love and expect from Arsenal Football Club. In all competitions, our record now reads WWWWWDW since Sp*rs and WWWLWWWWWDW since Blackburn. I’m loving all those Ws. Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I see a W in this context I picture a person with their arms up in celebration. Anyone? No? Just me then. Meanwhile, in the League, we have four consecutive wins – a record unparalleled since about 1993. At least, that’s what it feels like at times. Not only are we starting to score beautiful team goals again, but our defence has undergone a
dramatic improvement of late too. Granted, after shipping eight goals anything is an improvement but you can’t argue with clean sheets.

Is it a coincidence that they arrive together with our recuperated hero, T. Verminator? In my humble opinion, it is not. Vermaelen seems to radiate some ethereal quality about him that simply inspires greatness in others. The defence looks more solid when he is in it, not merely because of his own talent and skill, but because those around him take confidence in his presence. This is by no means to take anything away from
the achievements of our other defenders, however. Koscielny, rotund father-figure-belly-celebrating sweetheart one moment, beast of the back line the next. This man would have to be one of the most undervalued centrebacks in Europe, I think. His improvement on last season is remarkable. If you want a closer look at his highly
impressive stats, just check out 7amkickoff’s fascinating piece here, but a football fan doesn’t need numbers to understand the evidence of their own eyes. The man is seemingly faultless in the tackle, timing them to perfection and never panicking in tight penalty-box situations. Aerial clearances are also becoming something of a speciality of his. I have often observed him taking early measures on his own initiative to counter a tricky situation before it becomes a dangerous one. If Vermaelen is the talisman of our defence, Koscielny is the motor that keeps it running. And while Mertesacker is yet to completely win me over, he too has quietly got the job done on most occasions when he was called upon. Is this the first time in living memory that Arsene has THREE decent CBs to choose between? More importantly, have I just jinxed them now by saying that?

I hope not. I’d like to think that if there were a quota for injuries, we’d more than filled it already. I tell you what though, football gods must have some sick sense of humour. As though losing to our greatest rivals down the road wasn’t enough, those bast*rds went and teamed up with their cousins the injury gods, and only crocked our best, most consistent player that day too. Poor Sagna. Poor, poor Bac. Truly, he must have
angered the gods by having such an amazingly consistent season last year. Try as they might to keep him out, he would outsmart them. Concussion? Back playing the next weekend. Clash of heads and red card? Never was his temper stirred again. Undervalued and oft-forgotten by the press, our number 3 has cemented a firm place in the hearts of Gooners everywhere. Get well soon and hurry back, Bac. We need you.

Not least because your understudy, Carl ‘the-little-engine-that-could’ Jenkinson, is now also out crocked with a back injury. Poor Carl. While completely inexperienced the boy had passion, stamina and crossing ability to more than make up for it. And as much as I was a fan of Djourou at CB last year, at RB he just makes me nervous. Regardless, I hope that if he gets a call up then he’ll do the boss proud and play the best game he can. That’s all we can ever ask of our boys in red, really.

It seems rather perverse though that our third fullback, Kieran Gibbs, is simultaneously also injured. I wish Gibbs all the best in his recovery from hernia surgery. That sounds nasty. Thinking back to the summer though, and that awful period after we’d sold Clichy, there was a while there where we would have been relying on Armand Traore to plug the gap. He seems to be doing alright for himself at QPR now but he was never the right fit for Arsenal. Thank goodness for Andre Santos. He might have his critics but for me Santos is a much more comfortable player than Clichy ever was. While I still prefer Gibbs overall I think that if he continues to develop under Wenger’s careful moulding then Santos will become a truly formidable option for us at LB – potentially equally effective going forward as defending. Quite an exciting prospect!

If I seem to be fixating on injuries a little today it could be because I’m fresh out of hospital myself. I suffered a series of nasty sprains playing football earlier this year which culminated in a ruptured ligament and ankle ligament reconstruction surgery earlier this week. I now have a giant toe-to-knee plaster cast which weighs about as much as my entire body mass and am rather sore, to say the least. I did, however, very
much enjoy taking a hospital bed picture almost identical to Jack Wilshere’s from a couple of months back. The simple pleasures of a football fan… I might upload it to my twitter page at some point. I should also eventually have a very funky-looking scar to show off. Probably the closest I’ll ever get to a tattoo, haha! At any rate I’m keeping fingers crossed that the surgery went well and I’ll be back to walking/driving/kicking a football around again within a few months.

Other than that, it’s been an amazingly quiet Interlull, even by the dull standards these international breaks usually set. As a parting gift, however, it HAS sent us King Titi to train at Colney. Not a bad consolation prize, really. [Photos and video here.]

Next up we have Norwich away. I know exactly nothing about Norwich except that Stephen Fry supports them and they have a rather garish kit. As such, I’ll leave off doing a preview to the wiser and more experienced bloggers out there (I’m sure Arseblog will do a great job tomorrow). I do know that the ‘w’ is silent though. And it’s a small ‘w’! Can one dare to deduce that Norwich neither win against big teams, nor throw their arms up in the air vociferously if they do? No? Just me again then. Enjoy the game everyone, from wherever you are in the world! Until next time.

7 Comments

  1. White Ox
    2101 days ago

    Solid. Very, very solid. I’d be proud to have written that. BUT… Repeat after me.

    Gidday. Gidday. GIDDAY.

    Better. Now you’re a proper Aussie gooner. I’m looking forward to the next installment already. Come on you Ausenal!

    Reply

  2. Graham
    2101 days ago

    Just a note from a Norwich fan, Stephen Fry not only is a supporter he is also a Director and that Garish kit just won the best kit in the Premier league competition (probably the only thing we’ll win this season). Go take a look at the kit launch video, a little bit of Italy in Norwich, fantastic.
    Other than that if you are going to the game, say hello we’re a friendly bunch.
    and have a gidday

    Reply

  3. Girl Gunner
    2101 days ago

    Nice one Gabi :)
    Poor Gibbs, he must have angered the gods majorly, cause he seems to be out injured alot.. Hope he gets better soon and sorry for ur injury aswell, it’s ur time to milk it, make people do stuff for u and all that :)
    speaking of mik, the word Titi in my language means breast, so it’s weird when one refers to Henry as king titi hehe

    Reply

  4. Irishgray
    2101 days ago

    Very funny Gabi :) but sad to hear about your injury, hope the healing process is a nice lazy one for you. Personally I think if we can beat Norwich, then we should go unbeaten in the league until we meet City. If we do that then the boys should have the confidence to take on the medias favorite bunch of millionaires!!

    Girl Gunner – I like that “King Booby” :)

    Reply

  5. Alex
    2099 days ago

    Always a pleasure to read your guest blogs Gabi :)
    Sorry to hear about the injury, hope to recover soon, along with Jack, Bacary, Carl and Kieran.

    Great blog, I never thought of Ws as people’s arms in the air but its playing on my mind now… ;)

    Carl ‘the little engine that could’ Jenkinson just kills me, perfect description of our emerging RB :)

    5 league wins on the trot, hopefully we can keep it going in all competitions! :D

    Reply

  6. 1NilToTheArsenal
    2099 days ago

    Great blog – getter soon. Looking forward to reading post-match comments. RvP was rampant and completely unplayable today. Yellow shirts were in panic mode at the merest hint of a touch. Shades of Bergkamp and Henry…COYG!!

    Reply

    • 1NilToTheArsenal
      2099 days ago

      Meant to say “get better soon”. Please don’t try to emulate your team with your injuries. Nasty stuff. Hope your physio and recovery goes well. Cheers,
      1NTTA

      Reply

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