Wenger Explosion/Lady Luck and Usmanov

As I’m in the United States at the moment I watched yesterday’s game in a bar in Philadelphia. Amongst those Gooners I celebrated our win at Anfield with was a local with the most wonderfully raucous Noo Joyzee accent. He was built like the side of a house and looked like he’d walked straight out of central casting for The Sopranos. Thanks for a great day out Anthony. I really am getting too old to start drinking at 10.00am on a Sunday morning. I felt no pain on the subway back to my hotel!
Our performance was a mixture of the good (Andrey Arshavin’s winner), the bad (yet more pub team defending and goalkeeping for Liverpool’s go-ahead opener in the first half) and the ugly (Arsčne Wenger’s half-time dressing room tirade). We also had some luck for once. William Gallas was VERY, VERY lucky not to be pinged for a penalty for his “tackle” on Steven Gerrard. It looked a nailed on penalty to me, I have to say.
Whatever Wenger said at half-time worked. We looked a different team after the break. Andrey Arshavin’s joyous winner means we’re still in the title hunt after Yoonited lost at home to Aston Villa and Chavski sharing six goals at the Bridge with Everton. Spuds losing at home to Wolves was just too delicious as well. With those results on Saturday the pressure was on us to perform at Anfield. It looked in the first half like we’d failed the pressure test once again. Then came Arsčne’s half-time rant.
With the constant pressure and passing years we’ve all seen Le Boss become increasingly irascible. That said, there is a time for everything. We all need a boot in the rear end occasionally. Famously Tony Adams led a players’ only meeting at Highbury in December of 1997 when he challenged the players to show their true form when it mattered. We started grinding out results until we arrived at Old Trafford the following February when we pulled off a great performance and an even better win.
George Graham ranted so much that in the end it started to go in one ear and out the other. Aside from having his hands in the till he also lost the dressing room. Wenger has never been by temperament a ranter or tea-cup thrower. Sometimes however we all need waking up. It can’t be done too often as it loses its effect but it looks like this intervention was perfectly timed. Now the players need to start taking individual responsibility for doing their bit.
We need to build on yesterday’s result with a good performance at Turf Moor on Wednesday night. We have to put together a run of results in the League if we’re going to challenge for the title. Such runs are put together with a relentless focus on the next game. If there’s a time to face Burnley away, a midweek night in December wouldn’t be it. It is what it is however. We need to put in an authoritative display on Wednesday.
Off the field we’ve had the formal announcement last Friday that Alisher Usmanov has passed the twenty-six percent milestone and now owns 16,223 Arsenal Holdings shares. We’ve known that Usmanov was out in the market buying shares where he could get them since he notified the market that he crossed the twenty-five percent mark back in February. Much as many if not most of us would like him to; he’s not going away anytime soon. The announcement doesn’t change the fundamentals of the power struggle at Arsenal. It does confirm though one depressing fact – all too many small shareholders are more interested in cashing in than protecting the future of our club. I can understand that at any one time there will be a small number of small shareholders who are desperate for cash, especially in these difficult economic times. Most shareholders are comfortably off though and don’t need to sell. They’re just opportunistically cashing in. As Frank Zappa once said, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.” 
Keep the faith!

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