A gritty rather than stylish display against the Trotters at the Grove on Saturday. Ironic that Nicklas Bendtner managed the winner. He’s one of two players currently in the dog-house with the “Mr Angry” element of our support, along with Emmanuel Eboué. He couldn’t seem to pass wind, never mind a football after his entrance. He miss-hit three easy passes before steaming in into the six yard box to score a winner that didn’t look all that likely for a good while on an Arctic afternoon. But can somebody have a word about the boots? Lime green, pink, what next?
Mind you, if he can leave the Bertie Big Potatoes attitude behind him and start scoring regularly and playing for the team, he can wear neon flashing boots for all I care. I just think it’s a bit like the geezer who can hardly stand upright on skis wearing the flash gear on the Alpine slopes. If you’re gonna wear it, you have to be able to ski like Jean-Claude Killy.
With Liverpool standing on their collective crank again in the Potteries, taking only a point we’re still hanging on by our teeth in the League. Unfortunately Villa came away with three points in a 2-1 win against the Baggies in the Birmingham derby. Yoonited beating Chavski wasn’t the result we were looking for either, although if one of them had to win Yoonited was the better bet for us. The Spuds losing to the Pie-Eaters made my Sunday!
I have sworn off any further speculation on possible transfers during the winter window. I’m already heartily fed up with all the speculation. I’ll wait for concrete news, if any. On Saturday’s display our collective defensive frailty persists. Manuel Almunia had three rushes of blood to the head, two in the first half and one in the second term. He can be a decent goalkeeper on his day but really isn’t out of the top drawer. He simply doesn’t command his area in the way great keepers do.
I’ve seen three outstanding keepers between the sticks in 41 years following Arsenal – Bob Wilson, Pat Jennings and David Seaman. I also had a lot of time for Jimmy Rimmer and John Lukic. George Wood and Jens Lehmann had their moments too, but both were prone to catastrophic errors. Mad Jens was also a complete bread ‘n’ butter. I’ll always remember him though for his part in The Invincibles team and a fantastic season in 2005/6, topped off by a bronze medal with Germany in the World Cup in his native land. I still think this position needs attention.
That said, enough with all the negativity already! Let’s get our heads up and concentrate on the positives whilst not neglecting areas we can improve in. I’m hoping for a silver lining from the bad, bad run of injuries we’ve had in the last two seasons. Cesc, Theo and Eduardo should all return fresh for the run-in if we can keep ourselves in the hunt until then. Even Big Bad Bill Gallas will have had the equivalent of a mid-winter break usual in most other European leagues.
Le Boss has always impressed me with the way he ensures the team has fuel left in the tank at the business end of the season. I remember reading that Lee Dixon, Tony Adams and others expressed concern to Arsčne that they weren’t doing enough physical work in the 1997/98 pre-season. They were concerned they’d get slaughtered physically on the park. He asked them to trust him. He turned out to be absolutely right. We went to after-burners in the last two and half months of the season, propelled by that fantastic win at Old Trafford. Wenger’s teams usually have more left than others in the final months. The trick is to keep the results ticking over until then.
The thing that pleased me the most about Saturday’s performance was an increased sense of togetherness between the team itself and the players and fans. Less whinging from the stands, more of a sense that “we’re in this together”. Thawing out in the pub afterwards I felt as good as I have for weeks. We’re still a long way from turning the Grove into the sort of bear-pit I’d like it to be. That won’t change until we do something concrete to attract large concentrations of young, passionate fans. I have a LOT of respect for the guys and girls at REDAction who do a fantastic job of pumping up the volume.
It was great to see the whole of the north lower bouncing up and down, not just the Red Section in the north-west lower corner on Saturday. Not only do they mobilise the support to the best extent they can, the do a lot of work for good causes too. Check out their raffle draw with some great prizes, all proceeds to the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Memo to Ivan Gazidis. Early meetings with all the supporters’ groups please, once the transfer window is out of the way. REDAction, Arsenal Football Supporters’ Club, Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association, Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, the fanzines, websites, blogs. They all have their niches and a role to play. We need to get the club and the fans on the same page. How about a supporters’ summit? The Arsenal Fans’ Forum is nice but it needs taking seriously.
Keep the faith my fellow Gooners!