Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas!

It's been a while since I've troubled the blog. It's been resting. Maybe it couldn't face up to some of the horrors of some of the shows we've seen. Maybe it fell asleep at some of the others. Has it been a good year? Not good so much as ..... meh...

Yet somehow we lie 4th in the table. 3 wins on the spin thanks to the bottom team and a flurry of penalties sees us rise to our natural spot. Does it feel like a trophy yet?

Does this sound too downbeat? Possibly but the performances leave us all feeling unbubbly. We are rarely convincing and seldom exciting. Since my last blog we've lost to a Division 4 side, had one shot against Villa, were out passed by Swansea, squeaked past Wigan ...... You get the picture. Downbeat maybe. The problem is it's hard to enjoy watching this team at the moment.

But all is not lost. We are top 4 again and I hope that doesn't cloud the management's judgement in the January sales. We need more quality about the place. We need another striker as two would be great (don't count Walcott - not good enough up top in the middle.)

So one more game of 2012 to go and I hope we can go out giving us some hope of a pleasant new year. Here's to an actual trophy you can hold and have a picture taken with like the good old days. Tell the kids we used to do that and they just won't believe you.

Happy Christmas and Up the Gunners.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Strictly Come Prancing.

There was a minor argument in our house on Saturday afternoon when my daughter found out that The Arsenal would be showing on the big telly during Strictly. A compromise was made. The Saturday night Lycra festival will be postponed until Sunday morning and she could stay up a bit later than usual. Good parenting! She understands that The Arsenal will always beat Brucie (can we play him every week) but she can't fathom why me, my wife & son looked so miserably bored watching something that had bumped her favourite programme into touch.

This is difficult to write. I don't want to go on a massive rant. Much like the latest excuse I just don't have the energy. It's quite clear things aren't right. We now have 1 point from our last 3 away games. 20 points from 39. We are in course to finish on about 57 points which last season would've seen us settle in 7th! Maths doesn't lie. Unless we improve that's where we are.

Let's look at the last 3 games. 2 wins and an away draw. Not bad and it does seem overly grumpy to be critical. However against spuds we started very badly before the joyous red card was flashed. Against Montpellier we were shocking in the first half. Against Villa we were shocking in both halves. The results are OK but it's the long term prospects that worry us pessimists.

In all honesty we just look average and that's not good enough for The Arsenal. We don't challenge for the league anymore and the domestic cup are played with indifference. We have no Devine right to win anything but we do have a right to hope. I look at this squad and they don't look special.

Maybe we need to move our own goalposts. There was a time when a massive win against the spuds would've been not only lovely but a useful 3 points in our challenge for the title. Now it's just lovely. We are like so many clubs now where individual results are important. The bigger picture has faded away.

Yesterday was so lack lustre it was embarrassing. One shot on target all afternoon & lucky not to lose. The manager's odd substitutions said we were happy with a draw at a team that have a good chance of going down. Not good enough.

I'm not sure where to go with this now. We've all said everything that needs to be said time and time again. The one thing I've avoided since blogging is the manager's position as I believe what Arsene has brought to the club deserves our total respect. However, due to the merry-go-round this week it got me thinking about what would happen if Arsene walked away. Who on earth would take over? The board at the club are hopeless and I wouldn't trust them with a catering contract (look at the menus in the ground!) let alone picking the right man to replace a legend. What shocked me yesterday was, for the first time, I was backing the manager not because I think he's still the right man but that I can't see a viable alternative! If there was an alternative the Chavs would've appointed him.

Basically we need to back the manager and the team we have but we can criticise both without being disloyal. Without opinions football is pointless. We also need to accept where we are now. Things will change. They have to. They cannot maintain this mediocrity if they want the stadium full or the tills in the shops to keep ringing. That new sponsorship money will have to be used.

But before I go.....

The tired excuse of being 'tired' was trotted out again yesterday and it just doesn't wash anymore. Why the manager thinks we will sit back and go 'oh they were tired after an uninspiring midweek game against a very weak French team were they? That explains it' is bizarre. It does him no favours. Gibbs, in the Arsenal magazine, says he gets up between 8.30 and 9am every day! He must be exceptionally tired! It's a piss poor excuse that just makes things worse. Stop it.

So onwards to Everton. Let's hope they are bloody exhausted.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Mirror Licker's Sadness

"Right, let's get this over with" was the last thing I said to the visiting Spurs fan and his son as we left the house. He could hardly believe my pessimism but it's been that kind of season. We were ripe for a beating. Little did I know he felt the same.

A few hours later and we were chanting 'Are you Tottenham in disguise' at a sorry bunch in the corner. That has always been my favourite song directed at them. No need to resort to pathetic child molester material. The good old fashioned piss take wins the day.

It could've been so different. We started poorly. Eventually we buckled with what I'm fairly sure is the worst bit of defending in the history of anything. It was so bad I had to watch the bloody goal again to make sure I had not made it up. AdeBuysWhores scored it. Of course he did. He was picked especially to wind us up. Proof, if indeed you need any, that their manager is a detestable mirror licking mug. He smugly sat on the bench pleased with his choice until, like a marvellous early Christmas present for us, it blew up in his face. An appalling studs up saw the ref reach for his card and the dickhead trudged towards the tunnel to a display of season tickets fluttering in the afternoon breeze.

There is no doubt that AdeBuysWhores did more for us in that moment of madness than he did in his last two years at the club. They had tickled the post just before and we had yet to attack. Suddenly the pressure was on. We could not lose to them with 11. Now it was unthinkable. Yet, still there was little confidence. I worried that it would take a while to break them down and frustration would restrict us. The BFG had different ideas with a massive unstoppable header. 1-1. Relief!

If the spuds had formed an orderly queue to punch Adebayor full in the face at half time I wouldn't be surprised. Going in 3-1 down after leading and playing well until his assault would be a jagged pill to swallow. To us? Very very funny. That does take a bit away from our own team. We started to play well and Lady Luck, who seems to have lost the new stadiums address, finally turned up. Poldolski's miss kick, last week, would've gone wide. Today it bobbled in. The third goal was just brilliant football. At 1pm I really didn't think I would be celebrating 3 times before the break but I was. We all were and it was lovely.

The spuds had a change around at half time and gave it a go in the second half. Cazorla scored a deserved goal but at 4-1 up we did that thing The Arsenal do and gave up a bit. I wish we'd go for the jugular sometimes. They were there for a seeing to but no. We prefer to let them back in it. Bale strolled through unchallenged to score their second. We are Arsenal so 4-2 up at home against 10 men leaves us uncomfortable!

We weathered the nerves and even stuck in a fifth to rub it in. 5-2 again! As the sign says 'over and over and over again!' The songs were sung. Happy faces everywhere you looked. Strangers talking again. This was by far the best home game of the season. This is how it once was. It's how it should be.

We all know that things aren't fixed by this. There are many problems with this squad. You don't have your worst start for 30 years if all is rosy and we saw some of the problems today but we needed to beat Tottenham today and beat Tottenham we did. For once put your thoughts on the board, manager or players to one side. Have a day off and enjoy this marvellous result. Will it kick start our season? Who knows? Time will tell but today we put 'them' in their place and we should bathe in the glow it gives you.

Their odious manager will be so upset the reflection in the mirror above his bed won't look so appealing to him tonight. He is sad. Alan Sugar will be angry. Chas and Dave will be silent. For all that,The Arsenal, we thank you. We thank you very much.

Up the Gunners.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Sitting Uncomfortably.

As I hobbled towards the ground wearing a new shirt my wife described as 'not your worst' I hoped for better. I nearly didn't go. All week I've been stuck in bed then in the house as I've Diabyied my back. It's agony when I move so it's best not to. Why do we do stupid things in the name of football?

I took the disabled lift to the upper concourse and puffed to my seat. I've put the effort in. The least the boys could do is the same. For a while they fooled me. 2-0 up at home to Fulham. Very nice indeed. I looked at my son and we had that 'this is easier than it looks' look in our expressions but neither of us would admit it.

Fulham went on a rare trip up our end. We were in control of this. I looked down to tweet a tweet and there it was. An utterly pathetic bit of defending of which we are so fond crashed the party. Suddenly that confidence wobbled and there was little surprise when it then went to 2-2. Bloody hell Arsenal.

The team left the field to a non responsive crowd. The 'fans' who chose to boo Santos' name at the start were too shocked to react to the second 2-0 lead to go up in a puff of smoke in 5 days.

The second half started and I wasn't the only one sitting uncomfortably. We were back to square one and Fulham fancied it. They looked as likely to score as we did and of course they did. An awful bit of sodding about in the corner led to Arteta molesting one of them. 100% penalty that the undead buried. Somehow we had gone from 2-0 up to 3-2 down. At home. To Fulham. Yet oddly it didn't seem too surprising.

We briefly woke up. We looked urgent and finally with it. A cracking Giroud header levelled it and we were celebrating an equaliser. At home. To Fulham. After leading 2-0. Needs must. The missed penalty (or fantastically saved penalty I should say) summed it up. Had that gone in we wouldn't have deserved it. This is where we are now. We are level with Fulham. We draw with Fulham. Look at the table. Top 3 look familiar. They were our rivals once. No longer do we check their results. West Ham, Tottenham and Newcastle is who we need to worry about now. We've finally downsized into that group below teams that can actually win it. 16 points from a possible 33 is just not good enough.

This side, I'm loathed to say, are little more than average. They are hard work to watch when you've seen some of the teams of the past. My poor son has never seen us win anything (he's been going since 2006-07) but I've seen The Arsenal at their best and what's going on now breaks my heart. They are streets away from some of the teams we had at Highbury. It wasn't always perfect but we had word class players all over the place who, most importantly, would bust a gut for the club. They would dig deep and achieved the rewards. They were a pleasure to watch. I saw crowds gasp at the beauty and speed of some of the play at Highbury. That's gone.

Being a miserable old bit I guess I miss those times. We went to cup finals. We challenged the top of the league most seasons. We had hope. The whole place has changed and it pains me (today, quite literally.) The board are a massive problem. The Arsenal fans have gone. As long as the money keeps rolling in then they don't give a shit. There is nobody there that is hurt by defeat or a home draw with Fulham. Bloody Kroenke probably doesn't even know today's result. Not one of them will have a word with Arsene to say this is not good enough. Maybe if we don't finish 4th and the ground is half full as we take on Fulskinerkenstein in the wafer cup they might care. I don't know.

All I do know is we have a massive game against 'them' next Saturday and we don't look ready. 11 games in and we don't look ready.

Sorry for the misery but my back hurts and today was not good enough again. Next week has to be better.

Up the Gunners.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Psychic Son

As I walked past The Tollington I peered through the window to see a close up of you know who. I was on my way to the car park of a sports centre no more than a long ball away from The Arsenal. My son was inside playing football. I was poised to race home to watch the game the moment he arrived. Suddenly he opened the door.

"1-0. Van Persie," he said but I couldn't tell if it was fact or a question.
"How do you know?"
"I don't," he replied, "I guessed!"

And that ladies and gentlemen are where we are. It was so inevitable my son just knew. Granted he was surprised by his psychic powers but not by the events. 3 minutes gone and we were finished.

Yet who amongst us really gave us a chance? That's not being disloyal just honest. The Internet is full of reasons why we are where we are and I'm not about to bore you with another rant (I probably am you know!) We all have our opinions about what's wrong. The board? The manager? The players? The move to The Emirates? Some think all. Most think some. Me? I'm starting to think its a bit of all of them and that pains me. But if I had to pick one it would be the club's desire for profits over success on the pitch. Us fans stand so far away from the aspirations of our club it's frightening.

Now none of us want to see the club go all Rangers on us. It needs a good business head steering the ship but as the seasons go by it does seen to be at the expense of any on field success. They seem to have missed the point that everything stems from that. Had we not been so successful on the pitch a new stadium would not have been necessary. We won cups and we did it in style. 60,000 plus people wanted to see that. The style has gone and the cups are unreachable and less than 60,000 want to see that. Much less.

The club is slowly being dismantled before us. Year after year the best players leave. Selling him to them was the last straw. £24 million in the bank. Bollocks. We were so far behind them last season that selling them out best player was a good idea for "footballing reason!" Utter utter bollocks and a clear indication of our stature. He's been 'replaced' by Giroud. I rest my case.

I'm sorry for this but there really doesn't seem to be a silver lining. Too many average players have seen to that. I'm sure most football fans kick off seasons thinking they won't win anything. We are now among them. But as long as we keep qualifying for the money making champions league that's like a trophy and we should celebrate it. Call me old fashioned but I like my trophies to be trophies rather than like trophies. What's next? A DVD of our best throw ins called 'Little Victories?'

I was in the club shop on Saturday and a few things struck me. Who thought 'Keep calm I'm a Gooner' was a good idea? Anyone who's calm about what we are witnessing is clearly not a Gooner. A spud wouldn't even be calm. They would be excited. The same bell-end in some idiotic marketing department probably thought 'we don't buy superstars, we make them' was clever. 'We don't buy superstars, we make them and sell them on for a huge profit making the board happy and the fans angry' probably only fits on a XXL.

The words of 'Sit down' by James keep playing in my head.

"If I hadn't seen such riches I wouldn't feel so poor!"

We were spoilt. We won loads. I'm not taking it for granted that we should win things just because we are The Arsenal but we should at least be competitive. We should have hopes and aspirations and we don't. We are so far from even challenging for the league it's pitiful.

So onwards, sideways and probably downwards to the next game. My goodness we need a good performance on Tuesday. We probably need a striker too. And a keeper. And a left back*


*Santos. Man U's new kit man and massive idiot. Discuss. I just don't have the energy anymore.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Wish my Dad could see all this!

As I boy dad didn't take me to The Arsenal. It was the days of proper hooliganism and pretty damn scary. I did go to a north London derby in 1982 and all I remember was people being carried around the pitch covered in blood. No place for a dad to take a son. Milton Road, a few miles from home, was the place.
Dad would meet his mates as I stood listening and not understanding the banter. As I got older I joined in. When I bought the tea (with money dad had given me in the car park) I was part of the gang!

Cambridge City are a best kept secret. They are continually confused with United even when The Us were in the old second division and they even got a mention in Nick Hornby's Feverpitch! Yet many locals don't seem to know they exist. They nearly went under in 2006 before a fantastic band of fans stepped in and saved them. I lost Highbury that year. Thank goodness City didn't go too. When dad died in 1999 it took me about 4 years to return as it was our place and going without him wasn't right. Now I go whenever I can with my own son and we love it.

I sat excitedly in the horrible north London traffic waiting for my son to come out of school. He jumped in and we sat in another queue as we headed for the A1 and supper in the Baldock services. At just after six we arrived, parked by the River Cam and walked to the ground to get a good spot. Normally, when there are only 300 people there you can stand where you like. Not tonight for tonight is a special night.

It's the FA Cup first round proper. This will be the fifth FA Cup game I've seen this season already and this is the big one. MK Dons are in town. 4 leagues above. 100 league places away. A mountain to climb but whatever the score Cambridge City have already won. For a struggling non-league club the £27,000 won from the previous 4 rounds was most welcome. The £64,000 from ESPN is history changing! Yes, for the first time in their 104 year history they were truly in the spotlight!

We bought the special scarf, programme and raffle tickets and stood behind the goal to the left. Black and white scarf was draped over the advertising board so the family at home could find us on the telly (Yes! The telly!) and the inflatable cup was blown up and tied above the scarf. It got a thumbs up from some of the City players. We were ready.

Now I've shared many a stadium with Ian Wright but I never thought it would be at The City Ground. This was all too much! We watched the build up on my phone. Bizarre! Then watched a game available across the world with the other 1500 people there. The secret I shared with my dad was out.

As expected it was all one way traffic. MK Dons looked fitter and sharper as they should but City were magnificent. They defended with passion and the goalkeeper was a superhero. Zac Barrett really is a secret I hope nobody finds out about. Best keeper in this league by a mile and why he's not playing at a much higher level is a mystery. He made stop after stop as did the post twice and they hung on for an exciting replay at the mini Emirates style Stadium MK.

My son and I returned down the M11 happy and cheering the score as it was read out on FiveLive every half an hour. We arrived at our dark home at 11pm. Son staggered to bed and I sat in a quiet living room catching my breath. Everyone else was asleep. Lets just have a quick look! For the first time ever I could relive a City game on the telly in HD! I watched the build up and then did a X6 fast forward stopping every time the ball went near us. There we are! Scarf dangling. Me and boy on the TV!

After the game players and managers, not used to the limelight, interviewed perfectly. Both managers showed a respect for one another which made a nice change from the Premiership. No underhand comments. No moaning about the ref. No reading between the lines. No egos. A breath of fresh air.

It was a truly historic night at Milton Road and a fitting memory for all the happy times as City pack up and ground share with Newmarket next season. The game has been re-watched and a DVD made. It was a fitting reward for all the fans who worked so hard to keep this brilliant club going.

And we get to do it all again next week in the replay. I just wish my dad could be here to see all this!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

You don't always get what you want!

"So where were you on Wednesday?"

It seemed like a badge of honour to some of the familiar faces. 'I was there when The Arsenal played as poorly as anyone in living memory can recall' t-shirts all round to the unlucky. The steward in our block deserves more as he "couldn't leave early like everyone!'

We were away by the sea. Yet we still crowded around a small screen to witness the mess. We returned in time to retake our seats for QPR. It had to be better. Two pathetic displays & a tetchy AGM meant we had to turn up and show, at least some heart. In fact, the very least that was needed was a win.

Before the game people spoke of taking a win of any calibre. A scrappy 1-0 would do yet having achieved just that there was dissatisfaction. We won. We got 3 points. We kept a clean sheet. Jack & Bac were back. We were better than them. We deserved all we got yet the Arsenalisation of our mood didn't reflect that.

The problem is we scraped past a very poor side with a much better side waiting for us. (Not Reading - like the club I'm not counting the COC.) Man U stand poised to batter us about the parts with a wet rolled up newspaper & we are all concerned it won't be pretty (especially if you now have that image in you head.)

We are feeling fragile. Poor performances from the team that used to make us gasp with joy, the constant selling of captains & an owner who couldn't find us on a map and hasn't spent one dead president on the team all add up to the problem. We see a team without a win & Shaun Wright Phillips and expect a landslide. We hoped it would inject much needed confidence into a flaccid team. We needed stiffening up before Old Trafford (and that's enough of the cock analogies!)

Before the game we visited Piebury Corner for a quick Ian Wright and roast potatoes & my son had a go at kicking balls through holes for a minute. Apparently Squillaci got 4. My son got 3. We entered the stadium through our lucky turnstile with "Worse than Squillaci" ringing in his ears and sat through a fairly dull first 45 minutes. We were better than the last 180 minutes - damning praise indeed.

The highlight was Jack. I wish we had 11 Jacks. I bet he's even good in goal. Utter class. Wonderful passing with a steely determination. I think we'd nearly forgotten what he brings to the side. Sagna too was a welcome sight. Jenkinson did nothing wrong but Bac is just a better option for now. We will see a lot more of Jenkinson in the future.

The second half was more of the same. We pressed them but worried they might break at any second. Just as the stands were getting restless, looking at the clock to see how long to go before the moanathon could start up poped the perfectly haired Artete to head then stab the ball home after a pinball of a scramble in the 6 yard box. The ground erupted in relief and rumours we'd all forgotten how to celebrate a goal were unfounded.

Two scares followed as QPR waltzed through our defence and they probably should've scored but holding your breath works and we hang on. And that's the problem. A team managed by a bastard who are awful made us hang on. It almost seem perverse to celebrate such a win but celebrate we must. A lot can happen in a week and we must be ready for the mancs & we will be. I said to someone after the game that the 8-2 won't happen again. He agreed, "Yep, can't see this side scoring 2!" Brilliant! Stop it!

Now you must forgive me this week as up to Friday night I'll be concentrating elsewhere. The mighty Cambridge City are playing MK Dons in the FA Cup 1st round and it's live on ESPN. This is the first time they have ever been shown live & the money they've made from this cup run is history changing for them. They need a new home & this could've just made that possible. It's going to be a great night and my son and I will be amongst the lucky 1730 crowd. So if you have ESPN stick it on at 7.30 this Friday and we will give you a wave. We will be standing to the left of the goal waving the obligatory homemade cardboard and silver foil cup (if we get it together) or a small inflatable one left over from all those trips to Cardiff when the cup meant something to The Arsenal. It's not like a trophy. It's an actual trophy. If you get depressed at how the big clubs treat this wonderful old pot take a look at the game on telly and peer into that old cup magic. For Cambridge City it's massive & I'll be relishing every second.

Up The Underdogs (on Friday night & Saturday lunchtime.)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A Tale of Two Cities

A sneaky weekend away with the family on the Isle of Wight while Cambridge City are playing just across the water at Totton (What do we think of Totton? Fear not. I went through the song with the man from Eastlower via text before kick off!) It would almost be rude to not leave the girls and go to the FA Cup 4th round qualifier!

But this is an Arsenal blog? I know but forgive me. I grew up in Cambridge and like so many locals adopted a London side as my team. Less than an hour on the train so it counts! Cambridge City were the team I shared with my dad from as young as I can remember. I stood with him in the same place with his friends Jed, Big Dick, Grumpy and Wizz for years until he died in 1999 and I stopped going. It couldn't be shared without him. It took me about 4 years to go again but now my own son and I go as often as we can. Strangely, watching City is as close as I can get to my dad now. On Saturday he would be smiling.

I've seen 4 winning FA Cup ties already this season & it means Cambridge City are into the first round proper. Two wins away from the mythical trip to The Arsenal! On their way they have won over £27,000 - a history changing amount for a non-league team about to be made homeless or a drop in the ocean for the overpaid Premier boys. City hung on to win 3-2 and pulled out a plum home tie with MK Dons in two weeks. I can't wait.

Happily we drove south to the ferry we shared with a winning Isle of Wight rugby team (lots of singing and beer) and a losing football team (just beer) and sat waiting to sail with TalkShite supplying us with the gory details. It sounded bad from the off. Norwich, without a win, seemed right up for it. As we drove onto the ferry Mannone went all seasick on us, fell over, pushed the ball politely to the onrushing canary who, unchallenged, couldn't miss. The radio made it sound awful but having seen it they underplayed it. Mannone looked like an elderly person having a fall. He looked like the crap kid at school who goes in goal, makes an out of character stop but lets in the soft rebound. The teacher congratulates on the initial burst of action but commiserates with the unlucky rebound. That's if the goalkeeper is cold, would rather be doing science and is about 9 years old. That is not what it should look like at The Arsenal. We had Jennings, Lukic, Seaman and Lehmann. Szczesny is decent. Not in that list yet but has a chance. Behind him the cupboard is bare. In fact it's not just bare. It's on fire in a skip. I have no answers of course! It just seems odd that Mad Jens left in 2008 and 4 years later we haven't sorted this.

The rest of the team were just crap. To a man - Crap. These things happen. Many felt we showed more when we went down 8-2 (two shots on target at least!) This was so bad it was probably a one off (honest!) The team is not quite right yet. I don't think you can lose captain after captain and expect to improve too much. Every season we seem to be starting again a bit. We never get a chance to build on 3rd or 4th. We replace rather than add too often.

Yet maybe that's where the club want to be. We finished 19 points behind last year. That's a massive gap but we were sold a success because we squeaked into the oddly named Champions league. I hate that 3rd is like a trophy but can we hope for any higher?

So onto one of these golden matchdays on Wednesday and the boys need to be right on it to prove Norwich was just a bad day. These group stages the club hankers for so dearly are a sterile affairs but a win will see us full in command to face some bigger boys. No doubt Szczesny will still be out for 2-3 weeks so Vito will provide the heart in mouth moments we could do without. Sorry to keep on about him but even my wife thinks he's shit and she's very protective about anyone with the cannon on their chest.

So yesterday was City's day. A first win over us at their place since Duran Duran were number 1 with The Reflex, Lionel Richie was saying Hello and Melle Mel felt for Chaka Khan. The other City saved my day with their FA Cup hopes and dreams. They played with passion and celebrated like fans at the end. Arsenal showed nothing of the sort.

Up The Gunners (and CCFC!)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Grandmaster Caz

At 1-0 down I must admit I was concerned. It was a build up after the lacklustre nonsense against the Chavs and a less than energetic display (despite the great result) in midweek. Yet after a tiny slump we went into the interlull with another injection of confidence.

On Wednesday we strolled to New Highbury to see another unenthralling match day in the wrongly named Champions League. I'm not a great fan of the group stage. Olympiakos might be proper Champions but were poor. We huffed and puffed and got the win despite kicking off to a half empty stadium. People came and went all evening. Some watched the game. Lots more chatted. Odd atmosphere but we need to go through these games before we get a big boy to play with. However, having seen the graveyard that is the UEFA Cup I should probably be more grateful!

Saturday was never going to be easy. Things seem to be harder after a midweek European cup jaunt. I spent the build up watching Cambridge City play Billericay in the 3rd qualifying round of the FA Cup. A cracking game of poor refereeing (he seemed a nice fella as I chatted to him before the game. Had I known he didn't know the rules I'd have ignored him!) own goals, missed penalties and end to end long balls. All for £10. Replay Tuesday night.

I drove back to London with only TalkSport for company. I've never had to resort to their services before and I now know why they are lovingly called Talkshite. They do don't they? Anyway they delivered the news that we were murdering West Ham & the hammers goal ( just past Stanstead - radio cut out due to all the magic around there they use to keep planes up.) As I slowed up for the speed camera at the end of the motorway it happened. WOW! Did you see that? Well no I didn't Giroud. I missed your goal but Stan Collymore nearly exploded. Zip past the Olympic stadium and home for half time.

Rewind Sky and there it is. A lovely ball wide by Giroud to Poldolski. A cross of beauty volleyed home by the Handsome one. That was indeed a nice goal. Now for the second half. The game ebbed and flowed, one way and another. We looked ok but didn't really look like a goal was coming. Walcott entered. Cazorla found Giroud who slid a delightful ball in the path of the on rushing Theo. In one fluid move he placed the ball in the only hole available. That was a striker's goal. At moments like that you do think he has a point. 2-1 up with 12 to play. They should've equalised before our little man stole the show. Left hand side if the box. Left peg smacked a gorgeous shot across the keeper to the opposite corner. A score to reflect the game. Job done.

Yesterday I took @sonoffeverpitch to the Arsenal shop to complete his kits. All he needed was the away shorts. We queued up to get the number on them to match his shirt. 19 was ironed neatly to one leg. We love Cazorla. He came just at the right time. Too much class has left recently but he's there to put your smile back. He's a joy to watch. A truly great player. The kind of player Arsene deserves to manage. The kind we deserve to watch. Lets hope we can keep him fit or, indeed, just keep him!

Right, lets get through this interlull together. See you on the other side.

Up The Gunners.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Damn, Blast & A Swear Word of your Choice.

That was always going to happen eventually. Every team loses. It's part of the 'fun!' However we all started to do that thing football fans do. We started to believe. The woeful Sunderland result was forgotten. We'd won at Anfield! We'd wolloped Southampton. We'd drawn at tricky Stoke. We should've beaten the newly bought champions. Talk of balance in the team began. 'You know, we look better without him" was uttered. Blimey, I even let things slip and said with a lot of luck, a good run and the other team's frailty coming to the fore we could win this damn thing! (The 3 things that saw us finish 3rd & 19 points adrift last season!) Behave!

All the little signs were glossed over. Clean sheets and 6 goals at home hid the awfulness of the goals conceded. It's ok. That was a Szczesny error. That was zonal marking that was! No, they were errors. Damn Gervinho's heavy touch. Damn Giroud's shooting. Considering the opposition we are doing OK?

Please excuse the opening tone but it really was a Saturday to forget. Basically I watched The Arsenal slump to an uninspiring Chav side, sat in traffic & watched Cambridge City go down 4-1 at Enfield. The icing on the cake was listening to the spuds win on the way home. All in all that was a shit footballing Saturday.

12.45 kick offs are not easy for the family. The previous evening I was taken, as a birthday treat, to see Nik Kershaw by @eastlower. A cracking night out but by the time I was in bed there was only 11 hours to kick off and we had to fit sleep, swimming lessons & ferrying kids around in that time. I was confident though. I really fancied us to win. Wouldn't it be good? indeed it would! However, by the time the ref blew his whistle the team seemed to mirror my levels of energy.

Just before they scored I sighed to myself in recognition that they looked a little better than us. No matter. We are at home. We will liven up. Free kick swung in. Koschely rudely staring at Vito's Roman nose while Torres wrapped his leg lovingly around our defender to volley an opener. Seconds before the ball flew in we looked like teenagers hanging around a shopping centre. Captain Thomas screaming and pointing. Nobody moved. Awful.

We came back strongly. There you are Arsenal. As half time approached Gervinho surprised us all by continuing his scoring with a cracking shot. Looked like poor defending too but that's by them and I don't give a whatnot about them. All square & the game can start again.

Now I hate the Chavs more than any club (yes more than that lot up the road!) I come from a mixed family who were united in their hated of that vile mid-table shower who thought they were better than they were. They made it easier to dislike them with their new owner, collection of horrible players, shit little ground they can't fill with their charming fans......and breath..... Anyway, we just must not lose.

Oh! That looks like it's gone straight in. Take it again. We clearly weren't ready. We were ready? Hmmmm. Staggering. That's two goals gifted to the scum. TWO! Steve Bould looks like he wants to kill something.

Great ball from Ox. Giroud, he's gone round the keeper. Off the seat! GIROUD! Instant hero ..... MISSED! He's MISSED! Arsene on his knees. That was an open goal wasn't it? From where I'm sitting we've just missed an open goal. A good looking Chamakh? I hope not.

So we were slapped about the parts with a rolled up reality check. Maybe dropping the BFG was a mistake but if he'd been left on his arse for a goal we would've been crying for whoever was on the bench to play. The bottom line is we weren't very good. But a couple of days later it doesn't seem so bad. These things happen. We need to make sure they don't happen too often. Worries remain over the keepers. Szczesny is a good keeper backed up by the average & I'm not sure that's good enough. The lack of an out and out striker could catch up with us too. We will see.

But today Jack is back. Things never stay bad for long.

Up the Gunners.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

That's a lot to spend to get a draw with little old us.

In some ways I'm glad we didn't beat Man City on Sunday. You see I spent the morning locked inside a shop called Lush with my daughter and her friends making bath bombs (no, me neither) and other smelly stuff for her birthday. Had we beaten them I would've felt obliged to lock myself in a 'lucky' girlie shop for 90 minutes prior to any fixture. It turns out Lush is not unlucky but not lucky enough for me to put my nostrils through that twice a week.

We got home smelling of roses and took our front row seats. I, strangely, wasn't nervous about this. I dislike man city like I hate the Chavs. Medium sized teams who've bought every recent success with their chuck enough money at it policy. Arsenal fan complaining about money? Thin ice. We spend but in the right way. Cazorla is the prime example. No £35 million pound panic buys & that's the way we like it.

Minutes into the game and it seemed we had the upper hand. We were on top. With plenty of disrespect to Liverpool, this lot were by far our hardest test so far and we were looking good. Yet half time arrived with that frustrated feeling washing over us. Gervinho, with the touch of a battleship, fluffed his lines when clean through and our old friend, crap defending, paid an unwelcome visit. After 45 minutes we were all over them 0-1.
Doubts crept in. 6-1 at home to a very poor side is one thing but losing to the newly bought champions away after playing so well raises concerns. Have we been found out?

Have we bollocks! The boys came out with heads up. Last season that rarely happened. We still looked like we fancied this and that, as a fan, is beyond pleasing. We forgive things if we see desire. Show us you care and we'll care about you. At the basic level, we pay a lot to see this so give us a show.

At the heart of that show is our splendid little ring master. We all know players that you immediately love. Sometimes it takes a goal or a vicious tackle before we think 'he's ok, we like him.' With Cazorla it took about 3 minutes to see we had a special one there. His touch, control and vision is exquisite.

This is what happens when you have this kind of player around. He's lifted us out of the 'he who will not be named' gloom. The team looks beautifully balanced with Santi as the pivot.

He is not alone in winning us back. Mertesacker was outstanding and the player we all knew he was. He maybe slow but when you are always in the right place that doesn't matter. The Corporal at right back and Gibbs at left look wise beyond their years while Koscielny, starting for the first time, was doing back heals and scoring cracking goals. (Nearly forgot! We scored and it was a proper goal. None of your defensive slip ups. A proper goal from a proper player that wasn't bought for billions.....etc!)

I need to go now and feel bad I don't have time to mention Captain Arteta, Poldolski, Ramsey. In fact they all played well aside from one cock up at the back and Gervinho going a bit non league on us up front. Even Pay rise looked ok when he came off the bench. Useful pace to scare worn out defenders. Walcott has effectively got his improved contract by playing far less football for the same money. Well done lad. No more bread and water.

So we look in fine fettle as we approach the week. First up is another sky blue city in the Milk Cup (I baggsy 'COC OUT' as a blog headline if we lose!) then it's on to a massive game at the weekend. Thanks to @avenell_rD for starting the hype with the picture below!

So another great show and one we were annoyed not to win. Who'd have thought it?
Up The Gunners.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iTelephone in a service station miles from where I want to be.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Six in the Sunshine.

Unbelievable! That was an easy cross to deal with. What a soft goal. Pathetic...... Wait a minute. Slagging off the defence is so last season.

My son & I set off early for our first home game of the season. A stop at the magnificent Piebury Corner and a look around the stalls started our match day. I resisted the 2 bags of sweets for a £1 despite my son claiming sweet bananas contribute to your 5 a day. Programme bought followed by a stroll around the innards of the stadium to peruse the Arsenalisation. A 10 minute chat with our friendly neighbourhood steward (Coldplay were OK apparently if you watched the show and ignored the music!) We reacquainted ourselves with the familiar faces around our seats. "Back again then" followed by "it's looking good so far isn't it?" We shared so much frustration together last season that this new found hope was refreshing. The countdown to 3pm ended. Hello Arsenal.

We started strongly and got better. Wave after wave of red attacked the yellow flimsy defence. Two own goals (tips hat to Gibbs) sandwiched a sublime Poldolski free kick and a cracking move ended by Gervinho. 4-0 at half ti...... Wait a minute. Oh lord. Almunia flashback! Let's move on quickly. It was a dreadful bit of keeping. A one off. Learn from it etc!

We took the first 20 of the 2nd half off but with a 3 goal cushion and a trip to France coming up why not? Last week I saw Cambridge City go in 4-0 at half time and they came out, went for it and won 7-0 as they play for the moment. No big trips abroad to worry them. The Arsenal rarely go for the jugular so it was pleasing to not concede during Southampton's bit and to get two more late on. Ramsey's floaty run and flick led to Gervinho 1 yard tap in while Theo, forgot briefly the poverty he lives in due to his measly contract, to finish neatly.

Our sixth came as a result of, what looked like at the time, a lovely gentle touch by Cazorla. Replays are inconclusive. It could've been the defenders lunge that trickled the ball to Theo yet the way Santi plays I'm convinced he did it & on purpose. What a player he is. I've a feeling praising our new little midfield maestro might become a habit. I hope so. The other new boy on show had a great game too. That free kick! This all contributed to a great all round team display. There seems to be a pleasing balance to this side. The arrowhead has gone and far from blunting our options it seems to have sharpened things up. Keeper aside (remember it was a one off!) the defence looks, well, like a defence that practise defending. OK it was only Southampton. They look in trouble but last year teams like that gave us headaches. That was a delightful romp in the sunshine.

The gloom of the departure of he who shall be wiped from history (we ceremonially threw his 100 goals DVD away yesterday!) has gone. I'm looking forward to the big games approaching rather than fearing them. We look good. We look confident. We look exciting. We look like The Arsenal again.

Up The Gunners.

- Posted using BlogPress from an iTelephone in a motorway services while my breakfast gets cold.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Clean Sheet Pt 3 (Now With Added GOALS!)

At just past midday on Sunday I was standing in the shoe department of John Lewis surrounded by hundreds of screaming children & similarly stressed parents purchasing school shoes as kids feet change size quicker than a Darren Dein player changes club. A trivial irritant compared to the ongoing worry of an ill parent but one that, as we all trudged to the car, meant The Arsenal must not let us down today!

Liverpool away has a special place since 1989. The venue of our greatest night and always a difficult place to get points. This one felt important after two goalless goes and Arsene's refusal to strengthen last minute. Some fans were restless. Some not sure we are strong or deep enough. The club had something to prove.

Within minutes you could see that this could be a good day. We looked organised and slick. Liverpool looked sloppy as their manager perched nervously on an advertising board. However as the minutes past, despite looking comfortable, a goal looked unlikely. Suddenly Gerrard, or "Stevie G" if you are an idiot, summed up his team with a lazy pass. We broke. Caz found Poldolski with a sublime pass & Poldi broke our duck. We rose from the sofa! Forgotten what a goal feels like? No way!

All in all, that was a good half.

The second half got better for us as Liverpool, with no options on the bench, weakened themselves by bringing on first Downing then Shelvey. Bringing on Downing is like thrusting an enthusiastic raffle winner into the team. Shelvey was equally as hopeless but found it hard to concentrate as he couldn't remember if he'd locked the caravan. Between all this Cazola opened his account in glorious fashion. He went on a mazy run, played a neat 1-2 with Poldi before making Mr Barcelona in the scouse goal look like an utter mug at his near post. Marvellous.

Cazola was magnificent. Arsene had a silly grin on his face when talking about him at the end and why not? When they talk of 'good business' Carzola is surely it. We are lucky to have him!

Someone else who deserves an Arsene smile is Diaby. Many, me included, are frustrated by the man. I've never questioned his ability just his injuries. There have been time when it seemed we should move on but that's why In Arsene We Trust. Diaby put in the most complete Man of the Match display I've seen for a while. And that is why Arsene Knows and we often don't. If Diaby can stay fit he could make a massive difference (nobody say 'like a new signing' - Don't you dare!)

If I had time I'd also mention how much the team needs Arteta and how the defence are slowly winning me around with their 3rd solid Bouldesque display. That performance gave us not only hope but things to get genuinely excited about. That's more like it.

Sunday was perfect. It was the ideal brief escape from a difficult personal time. It's trivial compared to real life but gives us so much to say and think about. When you go to the game or put on the TV it takes you to a place where the worries don't really matter. I needed a win on Sunday and my Arsenal delivered. On every level a 2-0 win at Anfield is lovely & showed us that Arsene could be right. If he is it really might be 'up for grabs' again (Alright! Maybe my turn to calm down!)

There's only so long you can sit in a motorway services typing into a phone before they call security so I'll stop now!

Up the Gunners.

- Posted using BlogPress from an overpriced service station on a telephone.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Clean Sheet Part 2

Bloody Stoke. If it wasn't for their stupid lunchtime kick off we would've had a full day out instead of rushing to the beach, falling down some steps, slipping on some wet clay (twice!) which led to hurtling towards the sea quicker than was necessary while exasperating an ancient back problem!

Stoke may argue that none of the above are their fault however I'm in agony and we are playing Stoke. Coincidence? I think not!

I limp through the field of cows to the car & we get home in time to fire up the sky go thing just as the teams show up. No Szczesny! A bit of panic sets in. Sky can't work out if Mannone is second choice or third. They plump for third which begs the question how have we injured 2 goalkeepers after only one game? Hitting keepers with rusty nail ridden sticks after training errors must stop!

The first half passes without incident. One or two heavy challenges don't lead to the desired outcome. No injuries, no goals, no problems. We look OK again. Nothing special, a bit uninspiring but OK. The second half plays out with similar unexcitement as we arrive at the end of our second 0-0.

Two games & two goalless draws tell their own story. It would suggest we have tightened up at the back but are lacking up top. Quite simply, it looks like Steve Bould has been allowed to do more than hand out bibs & we miss 'him!' Is it that simple? It probably is. Bould was a proper defender and we are defending properly while there is no doubt we miss 'him.'

The frustration is we are waiting for players to bed in again. Every year we replace instead of compliment and it takes time. If we'd added the new boys to RVP then we would've hit the ground running but that never happens. Every year our linchpin naffs off and we start slowly.

I was going to go off on one about the home fans booing Ramsey for having his leg broken but it's old ground. They are morons. They are every season. It's pathetic but not as pathetic as the club not publicly stamping on it. The twat in the cap loves it I'm sure. He probably thinks it's intimidating and unsettles the southern softies. Well it doesn't. It just makes Stoke look like utter scum. As for the Arsene masks?! What was that supposed to achieve? Mugs.

Anyway, no goals in August but still above the spuds.

Up The Gunners.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Clean Sheet!

Having missed the game due to barbequed meat, reggae and a field we relied on Absolute "rock'n'roll football" Radio to provide us with the commentary of The Arsenal's opening win of this historic quadruple season. The summer was a good one until 'the transfer that shall not be named or mentioned ever because our ex-captain turned out to be a massive twat and we sold him to a massive twat farm' happened. It was a bit of a punch in the stomach but by the time we'd reached Football Eve it mattered not. We move on and the excitement builds helped by having the programme on the iPad the day before. What a treat it was to have Vermaelen's column in bed with us on a Friday night......oh stop it!

You wake on Saturday and you know today it's back. Our Arsenal are back.

Our whole day was designed around getting back to the car so the first half would be our drive home soundtrack. We missed the first 3 minutes! The team was built in our heads as the commentator named players with the ball. Where's Cazorla? On 5 minutes he gets a mention and we have the team. The children are playing the 'who can stay quiet longest' game as we concentrate. We get home. Kettle on. Radios on in 3 rooms to assist movement without a break in play. We await the inevitable opening goal of the season.

Everyone else seems to be scoring. Swansea and Fulham are really helping themselves. West Brom are taking some too. Liverpool are falling flat on their arse which is funny but a Twitter message saying so is dangerous. I'm familar with our defence and their work and I'm still along way from trusting them. Yet look at what we've got going forward. Sunderland seem to have given up so it's just a matter of time. Our anticipation is still high as goals fly in everywhere else.

So 0-0 was a most disappointing gift after the excitement of Football Eve. Maybe they've kept the receipt. A small ring of boos can be heard as sighing doesn't come across clearly even on digital radio. The commentator, who prefixed every player's name with a bloody list of who they'd played for previously, "The former Ajax, Ebbsfleet and Newcastle plaer swings it wide to the number 15 who made his name at Southampton before moving to Leyton Orient" - It drove me mad! Anyway, the commentator, the former and present day pain, made the 'life after RVP' quip at the final whistle, something we are going to hear time and time again this season especially if we get nil.

Impressions of the team are difficult with only an annoying commentary and two minutes of Match of the day to go on. However, it seems like we were above average! Struggled to score with a few hairy moments at the back. Business as usual? Maybe or is just a new work in progress? A work that's progress is continually hindered by pivotal players buggering off (not you Song!) The one thing that was widely agreed upon was the brilliance of Cazorla. He seems a genuinely exciting talent & I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in the wilds of Stoke next Sunday. He's too small and quick for the Neanderthals to kick in half. How will they deal with him?

So a somewhat nothing of a start. Unbeaten, above spuds without even scoring and a clean sheet but a few worries at the back, missing chances and frustration. It's great to have it back. We've missed it all.

Up The Gunners.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Really Very Poor (but great business so that's OK?)

The man from Eastlower once told me it's best not to blog when you're cross. Avoid the 'straight after defeat' rant. A more considered approach is appreciated. So this is probably a mistake (and I didn't want to start the season this way!) However, tonight's news has left me annoyed to put it mildly.

We all knew it was coming after one great season. The Arsenal just can't keep hold of their stars. It's obviously not our thing. There is a stupid T-shirt in the club shop declaring, 'We don't buy superstars, we make them' as if that's a proud boast. Maybe tomorrow it will be available with 'and we flog them to a rival in Manchester' tagged on the bottom.

I know it's great business. We got him for less than £3 million and sold him for £24 m but to me that's not the point. The message this sends out is that we can't hold on to our players if one of our so called rivals want one. Barcelona (rivals?!)  knock every summer and now it's the impoverished mancs who plunder us. Today it feels as if we are the nursery club for the bigger boys. We were supposed to be challenging Man U but we are miles off it. 19 points behind last season was only half the story. There is no way on earth we could go to them and buy their best player. This is a one way street. People have pointed out RVP is injury prone and won't last. What odds on the bugger staying fit for the next 2 years just to piss us off?

I'm old enough to remember actually crying when Stapleton went there. I was always Stapleton in the back garden and he broke my young heart. I couldn't understand why he wouldn't want to play for The Arsenal. I didn't, at that age, understand the adult world of cash.

Over 30 years later I'm still surprised at why a player would leave us. I have this misty eyed view that the players love the club as much as we do. Well they don't. They don't give a shit and why should they. It's their job. Any of us would go to another company for twice the money. Yet football, in our eyes, should be different. All that badge kissing and fist pumping is now bollocks. There are no more Tony Adams' in any clubs.

So a decent summer ends like this. I'm sure Song will follow the captain (a childhood Gooner who's happy to play for that lot?) to balance the books as we take a few steps forward and a few steps back.

Sorry to blog this but a man I thought was decent has gone to a club I despise. I don't care about the money as I don't own the place. I care about how this looks and it looks shit.

Up The Gunners.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Permanent Fixture

Big day today. People unlike us won't understand but limbo is over. We have our structure back. We know where we will be or how we will staying in touch in the near future. We've found the games when we will be on holiday (Sunderland H) and our birthday game (Man City A - Thanks for that!) We know what we will be doing on Boxing day (West Ham H) and when we play them (Nov 17th & Mar 2nd.) This is all until Sky have had their wicked way.

Until we return to our love we have the Euros to keep us going. I'm an England fan purely due to where I was born. Indeed I think that might be the rule. I've searched for Spanish ancestors but they are just not there. I'm stuck with my lions. The nobel Englishmen (not you Terry) of this green and pleasant land.

It seems to be going ok. It started with the FA surprising everyone by making the right decision on the manager. Them up the road obviously hoped the FA would fall for it and relieve them of their spiv. They didn't. Thank goodness.
England started well. Roy has them organised and against a better team they got a good 1-1. It was like watching The Arsenal but supporting the other team. We were West Brom. We know lesser teams can take points off us and that's what England did. A good point with Chamberlain starting and doing us proud.

Sweden next and at 2-1 down I tweeted 'next season when we are moaning about Arsenal remember what it's like supporting England.' Many agreed until we were betrayed by Theo. He came on and won it for us. Despite risking a ban and a fine from Arsene, Theo had a crack from outside the box. Look what happens! The Swedish keeper suddenly became the grandmother's footsteps champion by standing totally still when everyone looked at him and it flew in as we flew off our seats to a chorus of THEOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Before we could say "from outside the box" he'd burst through again to cross for Welbeck's amazing/lucky back heel and England were sitting on a splendid 4 points. Nothing can go wrong now! Well, we know they could royally cock up against Ukraine but I hope they don't. I know the majority of the squad are wankers, average or average wankers but they are our average wankers. Things are just a little bit more fun when your team is involved.

The other joy of an international tournament is the sheer volume of football. Tomorrow will be our twelve consecutive night of live football. Magnificent.
So tomorrow we'll wake up knowing we've a big night ahead. It won't give us the pleasure of an Arsenal victory but it won't hurt as much if we lose. We should make the most of that because today we received our emotional 9 month timetable. I, for one, can't wait.

Up The Gunners. Come on England.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Third Up.

So how was it for you? The season with more ups and downs than the mythical bride's nightie is over. We limped towards the line before collapsing over it just before the cock & ball. The paramedics rushed to our side with a good three months to patch up, repair and hopefully replace. I can't do that again!

It was a season that started with our Captain finally getting back together with his first love. Nasri did the same for money. The summer was a shambles with us picking up what was left. There were some nuggets but a bit of crap too as there would be with any supermarket sweep. We let a team put 8 past us for the first time in over a century. We called on our old leading goalscorer to help out as the new strikers didn't strike. We lost Jack for the whole season. Others fell to the injury curse as time went on. We ran out of full backs for a month. We lost the ability to close a game down. We've forgotten how to defend.

Despite all this it wasn't all doom. We had John Terry falling over as we stuck 5 past them at their little ground. We tucked in another 5 against s*urs as they were 2-0 up and 10 points clear. We turned over Liverpool away (not as impressive as it once was!) We beat AC Milan 3-0 (ignore the first game!) That winning run was fun too.
However let's be honest, it didn't feel great as we were living through it. We lost over a quarter of our league games while not troubling any cups. Yet we finished 3rd. We've had all the Wenger out nonsense and the spuds crying mind the gap and we still finished 3rd best (or is that 18th least shit?) Considering the shambolic start 3rd is an absolute miracle and the team and manager should be congratulated. It was far from perfect but now the dust has settled we are 3rd, in the ££££ league and can get some more business done.

Sunday was one of those days where you wake up and The Arsenal are your first thought. 3pm seemed a long way a way. A trip to Build-a-bear, for my daughter's late birthday treat, in Covent garden killed a bit of time. As the day wore on the nerves grew. We all knew it but were uncomfortable saying it. Arsenal could blow this easily.

A variety of devices were set up by ten to three. Soccer Saturday on the telly. The commentary on the Arsenal app. Twitter on the phone. This is a nightmare! 3.02pm bloody AdeBuyWhore scores. Nothing for it now lads. We need a win. Yossssssssiiiiiii!!! 3.04pm and we are ahead thanks to a very odd but welcome bit of keeping by Fulop.
Come on Arsenal. Keep it steady. No sodding about today. 3.15pm and we are sodding about and 2-1 down. Unbloodyfuckingbelieable!
Two stunningly poor bits of defending for a change. The defending this season makes me weep but that's not news. We now need 2 goals without conceding again or 16 year olds will see something that hasn't happened in their lifetime. Just before half time the larger left back thumped in a shot that Fulop could only let sting his fingers before it rested in the net. 2-2! This has a Norwich feeling to it.

Half time arrived an nobody moved. The game was so finely balanced that it felt like if we got up things would topple over. We all knew we needed a goal. We could get a goal but could we keep a second half clean sheet? West Brom had already waltzed through us twice. They could probably do it again.

There was a time when an audio commentary was the norm. We knew how to deal with it and recognised the inclinations of the voice. I remember a moment when the radio exclaimed "Niallllllll Quinnnnnnnnnnn has....." We were off our seats punching the air. "..........hit the bar!" These moments were normal but few and far between. Yesterday we held our breath for an unhealthy amount as we attacked then they attacked. The whole season, summer and next season could change in a second. Such living room drama can't be good for you.

Finally that moment came. The corner was swung in with all expecting it to be cleared by the first defender. It beat that man but headed for the keepers hands. "Fulop jumps... OH HE'S DROPPED IT.....KOSCHELNY!!!!!  It's 3-2! Would you believe it? 3-2! I like 3-2. It's a satisfying score. It's the score of my first game, the 1979 cup final. I consider that day the day I became addicted. As we went 3-2 up at west brom I'd been a Gooner for 33 years and a day and wouldn't have it any other way.

Gooners worldwide screamed DEFEND as images of the Norwich mess flash through us. We were ahead and third. That's top in our own private league and more importantly above 'them.' That 16 year old who's on the till in the supermarket at weekends? Never seen 'them' finish above us. That's how it is and how it must stay. The last 20 minutes was a blur drenched in commentators raising their voices while we swore more and more. The longest few minutes of our season saw Arsene hide in Pat's jacket before it was over. The 9 month roller coaster trundled to a stop. We'd survived. We feel sick. We need a drink and a lie down but you know we'll do it all again.

So it's done. We are a couple of points, a couple of goals but crucially 1 league position better off than last season. After the summer and the start that is a miracle and despite the disappointment of never troubling any silverware we should be delighted. I, indeed, am delighted and 3rd does feel a bit like a trophy (sorry) as long as we build on this. Poldolski is a huge start but he cannot be alone. RVP's decision will be massive too but we must not forget that we are 19 points behind the team above us. Not so much mind the gap as mind the canyon. That's the next challenge.

It's the end of term so we will have some leavers. The most important of these is Pat Rice. A true legend who is Arsenal all the way through and back again. He was the captain of my first Arsenal team. He was the first person I saw in an Arsenal shirt lift a trophy. I remember going to Cambridge City to see them play Arsenal in a pre-season friendly in the early 80s. Pat was there. Sammy Nelson too. They wore the yellow from the cup final and all smelt of the Vaseline rubbed liberally into their legs. I shook Pat Rice by the hand that night and I'll never forget it.

It's been a pleasure sharing this seasons joy and pain with you but now the exhausted need a rest. Here's to a summer off with only the fixtures to look forward to, the new kit to moan about and transfer fetting to keep us going. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Up The Rip Roaring Goal Scoring Glorious Gunners.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Triple Trouble

I've had, what is commonly know as, a shit of a week. Not your usual everyday shit of a week but your very ill parent, no beds in the marvellous NHS shit of a week. Bet you wished you hadn't asked now....
You didn't?

Things eventually start to get sorted but the worry doesn't. It puts things into perspective. People's sympathy helps and you know you need to get back to some kind of normality and that's where football comes in. Exhausted I staggered back to London to hugs and tea on Wednesday. All were concerned especially my son but his were different. "You're coming on Saturday aren't you dad?" I told him I thought so. "Totton won so it's Oxford away tomorrow night" he added before I could get out the car. This is of course an Arsenal blog but at the end of the season my other love, Cambridge City of the EvoStick Southern Premier league, push in briefly. They've limped into the play offs and SonOfFeverPitch wants, as he put it, 'a good night out with my old man!' It meant a lot. City were the team I shared with my 'old man' and my son was right. Football is the perfect escape. The ideal unimportant important thing I needed to immerse myself into.

We drove to Oxford. Had a bit of a sing. Abused a poor linesman. "Come on Lino, liven up, you're having a bad night!" That's my boy! Sang a bit more as Oxford kicked and rushed a bit better than Cambridge and won 1-0. Another year, another Play off semi final defeat. No matter, it was fun. It was the perfect escape. Roll on Saturday and something else that, in the grand scheme, doesn't matter to avert my attention.

The day started well with a stroll down to Piebury Corner for a steak and ale pie, roast potatoes and gravy for late breakfast. We met Eastlower outside the east lower for a worry or two. "This should be OK, Norwich have gone on their holidays!" "Trouble is so have The Arsenal!" It was that kind of conversation. There was a distinct lack of confidence but then it has been knocked quite a bit recently.

Still full of pie we took our seats for the last time this season. The small talk amongst familiar faces mirrored that of outside. Come on! We can do this. With hundreds still making rows stand as they arrived Yossi rudely fired us ahead. We looked on it today. We'd found our feet early.

If Norwich had an eye on the beach for the last few weeks they had tans and returned freshened up against us as by half time we had a right game on our hands. Our great start had dissolved. Hello crap defending, not good to see you again ............. Oh and again. The first was a shocking shambling mix of defending and goalkeeping as Norwich cut us open with such ease. The second was a deflection but the space! Oh my the space. I was our second nearest defender and I'm in the upper tier. At the back! At the other end! We lost Sagna to his second broken leg in one season. Poor poor Sagna and our thoughts are with him as he starts that battle all over again.

Boos helped the players exit for what we all hoped was a well earned bollocking. They returned with more life but it looked impossible. Ruddy made stop after stop. Defenders flung themselves in the way. Norwich even broke a few times to provide the stands with quite a litter of kittens. The swearing became top shelf. Heads were in hands.

I admit I didn't want Yossi off for Gok. Yossi was running himself into the ground and looked like the only one who would unleash a bit of magic. Chamakh wouldn't find the goal unless we hung a mirror on it. To be fair he did OK. He put himself about a bit and made problems for the yokels. RVP. Goal. Need another. We pressed and pressed and it came. Song and Rob did their little choreographed thing and we were ahead. Third was ours. Shut up shop. A few minutes left. 3-2 up. At home. Nothing can go wrong now?

I was on my feet. Arms appealing to an unknown power before slumping into my expensive seat. Morison was given so much space he must've thought he was standing in a 100 acre field in East Anglia checking his crops. Szczesny was Almuniaesque as came but changed his mind. Our keeper didn't have a good day but he wasn't alone. The ball cut across him into the far net. 3-3 and third was no longer in our hands. We'd blown it. The crowd left and the lap of appreciation was flat and quite pointless. I clapped Pat Rice, said a private word to our captain (just in case I don't get the chance again) and went to talk to the steward.

For so long we've been the bridesmaids. Occasionally we catch the bouquet and we think it will be our turn next. Now? Frankly, we are struggling to find a parking space in the church car park. We have done everything in our power to not play Champions League football next season. I hope the players and, more importantly, management are proud of that. To tease us with 3rd and drop it quite so hard on our toes is cruel. But oddly not that unexpected. Not enough fight for their right to party with the big boys. We will finish where we deserve to finish.

"crap draw, pathetic performance, broken leg, next season's shirt, wankers will win the FA Cup" #BadDay

So my escapes from proper grown up stuff let me down badly. It frustrated, exhausted and exasperated but it certainly took my mind off things and for that I'm briefly relieved I'm involved in all this nonsense.

Up The Gunners!
(and the Villa) (and Man City (I feel dirty)) (and Everton) (and Fulham)


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Draw Something.

Big day today. The wife, having frustrated and bored in their last two games, travelled to the knuckle draggers needing a win. A draw would be ok considering the opposition but would leave no room for error later on. The mistress needed a win even more urgently if they were to make the play offs.

As I stood in the drizzle with 504 other people willing a goal for Cambridge City I did briefly wonder what I was doing. My son had headphones glued to his ears giving Arsenal updates every 2 minutes. I concentrated on the part timers in from of me. City was where I went with my dad. He wasn't Arsenal and this was our team to share. I go now with my son and he's there. We walk past, but never stop, where he stood. It wouldn't be right standing there without him.
It couldn't be more different to the padded experience of The Grove. An adult and an over 12 at the turnstile hand over £13. A programme and a line of raffle tickets is another £3. Change from a twenty. Stand where you like. We go behind the goal we attack and stroll to the other end at 3.45.

Both of mine needed wins yet both settled for draws. The Arsenal's will only be ok once we know the next two. We are crawling to 3rd which will be fine if we make it. In a season where you lose 10 games then 3rd is a miracle and says a lot about the sides below us.

City needed a win. 5 teams going for 4 spaces. A 1-1 drew a groan from the crowd. We assumed the other teams hadn't messed up so joined the queue to get out of the car park. Half way up the motorway the Stourbridge score appeared on the phone. They hadn't won so City's poor draw saw them home. I smiled as the spray from a lorry battered the car. I thought of the Swindon player I'd had a little 'discussion' with after a high tackle on one of ours. A major difference from the Emirates. The players answer back if you call them dirty bastards! His team were relegated. Mine was in the play offs. I won!

The radio reported Arsenal's missed opportunities on the field and off it. 3rd, once we'd hauled ourselves there, became ours to lose. We are doing our best.

This morning I was explaining to a friend, in an Islington coffee shop, my day. The stress of worrying about two must win games. A last butted in. "I really don't understand the obsession" she exclaimed. I explained the spectrum. When you are young it means everything. As you get older it means as much but you subconsciously know its daft. Your happiness is intrinsically linked to people you don't know, occasionally millionaires but sometimes postmen, hitting a ball past a man wearing large gloves into a big oblong. Daft. But quite brilliant. The lady thought for a second and said she understood alittle more, smiled and went back to her paper. I didn't believe her.

So it's Oxford City or Chesham United away in the play off semi final. 90 more minutes of hoofing the ball into the box and hoping for the best. None of your pretty triangles and lovingly crafted opportunities. Madness.
Up The Gunners (and for this week only on the blog, Up The City too!)

- Posted using BlogPress from a bloomin' telephone!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Not So Safe Hands

Well, that was the worst game I've seen at The Arsenal since Monday. The Wigan game was poor but at least one team tried. Today was very very poor with both teams barely breaking a sweat. It looked like 22 blokes from an office who had all paid £50 to charity to have a run about on the Emirates pitch. The passing was shocking (my son counted the passes for a bit, because he was so bored, and neither team got beyond 4 for quite a while.) We hit the bar but other than than it was frustration rather than excitement.

The day was a rush from the start due to Sky not giving a shit about the fans. If they want us to play at 2am on a Friday I'm sure we will one day. The kids swimming lessons, dropping off and picking up, was a military operation and we made kick off. With hindsight we could've arrived at the original and rather old school 3 O'clock, watched an empty pitch and missed nothing. Yes it was that bad and it opens it all up to Newcastle and S****. As I write this I'm supporting QPR and that just leaves a filth around you. If The Arsenal cared or at least looked like they cared then today would've been better. We huffed and puffed against an understrength Chav team that were there for the taking and, coupled with the wholly pathetic display on Monday, is not good enough.

GOAL QPR 1 S**** 0

Now I've lost count of the hats I've taken off to this team as they hauled themselves up to 3rd and a week ago it looked a position we could only lose ourselves. Well we are doing our best. 1 point from 2 home games is poor whoever you play. These two abject displays has left it still in our hands but those hands now belong to Almunia rather than Seaman and they suddenly don't feel so safe. I'm worried. I am!

There was vague entertainment in the excitable man behind me who exploded with an orgasmic "OH YES" every time we attacked. Every time! Every time we defended we were treated with a more depressed "no" which was exclaimed too often as we lethargically tracked back. We looked around. More and more of the crowd sat forward in their seats. More and more stared at their phones. I'm sure there was a bit of angry birds going on in the stands and I'm not talking about the married women caught with the Chav captain.

I spend the afternoon sighing about The Arsenal and trawling Twitter only to find Cambridge City are blowing it slowly too. Today football is a stupid game that sometimes I wish I wasn't caught up in it. Maybe I'll walk away. I'll just check the QPR score first!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Can we blow it? Yes Wigan!

Well that wasn't great was it?

It's 8am on Monday morning I was standing next to the sea watching the water engulf the land while the pebbles shimmied as they were briefly released. That end of holiday feeling was in my stomach. Ferry, motorway, overpriced services lunch and we were home. Over land and sea and Winchester.

The bags were flung into the house as Mrs Pitch slumped into bed. She is properly ill and out of action. She's our RVP. I'm not saying this family is a one (wo)man team but without her we aren't Champions League. I'm doing OK. The kids are clean and fed but we can't find fresh pyjamas. However, our RVP doesn't know how to set up an iPhone or what an HDMI cable does so we all have our roles.

So I left the house with my son under dressed for what was to become a bitter evening but then our RVP wasn't with us to administer coat advice so it was our own fault. We strolled to the game furnished with the knowledge that we had never lost to Wigan at home in the Premier League but also knowing they were cheated at the Chavs and had just beaten the mancs. This wasn't going to be easy but it's still only Wigan. A town who'd rather be watching rugby. A team, who only 12 years ago, were playing non league Cambridge City in the first round of the FA Cup. It's relegation threatened Wigan. It'll be OK.

I scanned the programme and the starting elevens were sent to my phone. Whatever next? We looked too strong for them on paper and that, as they say, is where we should've played them because on the snooker table pitch they were better than us. Over the 90 I thought they did enough or rather we didn't.

We started OK. A couple of chances past us by before Wigan carved us open with such ease it didn't feel real. Son of Feverpitch said to me at kick off that he hoped Wigan scored (when we were 5-0 up of course) so we could hear the noise made by the tiny away support. He didn't have to wait long but their muffled cheers were drowned by a wave of F's and C's and the odd ''Wankers' from around us. Before we'd stopped tutting and shaking our heads they had done it again. Imagine the language now! Two of the most pathetic bits of defending all season and it wasn't even ten past eight. We've seen some crap at the back this year but these win the prestigious Stepanov's award for me. Utter utter crap.

We woke up a bit but I still thought we were just OK. We pressed and got the goal we needed to spring us into action but it never really came. The odd shot here, the odd cross there but we ran out of ideas too early and really looked quite awful as the second half dragged on. If QPR was a flash in the pan someone forgot to flush it. The flash turned out to be a bit of a floater that stank the place out again.
We left in silence. There were boos for us and claps for them. We just shook our heads at the steward as a man in a wheelchair abused a bloke trying to get out of his way. The atmosphere had darkened. This race for 3rd won't be over until the fat left back sings.

It was a bad night but not disastrous. It leaves very little room for error now though. The comfy cushion is decidedly lumpy. Losing Arteta is a huge blow. The news we won't see Jack this season less so as I never thought we would. We need to learn from this (Again! AGAIN!!) and stick a final fling together. 3rd was a dream we've touched and to Almunia it now (Let it slip between our fingers - keep up) would be gutting. If we get 3rd and this helps ease QPR down then we will look back on this and laugh. If we don't then the evening will be as bitter as it felt.

Come on you Rip Roarers.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Flat Packed 3 points

The kids are fighting. Supper's cooking and I'm surrounded by bits of wood and screws that will eventually look like the shelves in the picture. It was one of those evenings where you don't know where the time has gone.

"Blimey! It's ten to eight. Have we started?"

No coverage on the TV or radio and lacking the energy to find a stream that will inevitably die, we scramble for the Arsenal player commentary on the app. By the time we fire it up we are winning and they are down to 10. It breaks off claiming we should use wifi (we are!) and Kenny Sansom offers us technical advice! By the time it comes back Theo has made it two and it's barely 8 O'clock. The app splutters again and again. It's declared crap and we resort to radio 5, Jan Molby (who says he's a Gooner due to the 1971 cup final!) and Twitter.

I demand a 3rd late on as nothing seems to be happening. Moments later Yossi sticks a relaxer in. Job done. You're very welcome. An evening of throwaway telly while we await Match of the Day fills the time. It's a lot of time to fill as we are made to wait until 11.30pm. Mrs Pitch gives up. Retires and the joys of Keown's flirtatious shirt and ample neck will be a breakfast treat. I stick it out.

The penalty was deserved but the red card was harsh. BadSongs made no attempt to stop Theo but as he's a clumsy spud they both ended up in a heap. RVP stepped up as Bassong had such an early bath he could get home in time to put the kids to bed. Rob's chip was cheekier than Keown's shirt as it nestled in the grass of the goal. Breath had hardly been caught before it was taken away again by a knife through butter. 2-0. Theo and things were going to plan. Expecting an avalanche it was a little disheartening as nothing else seemed to happen. Twitter supplied news of a cracking Szczer save & what a save it was. We were fully in control but this side, despite turning a corner if sorts, still gives us, of a nervously disposition, the willies. So Yossi's strike was enjoyed at the time and later. A routine 3 points hoisting us well and truly 3rd.

Having only MOTD as visuals comments are difficult. By all accounts Djourou looked good which is nice news. Yossi played well to the point where I saw it suggested he's the type of player the Chavs need! The disparaging remarks about Ramsey I find unnecessary but people always have their villains. He's still very young and I just don't see how constant moaning helps. Is he really that out of his depth?

The shelves were built. The house was eerily quiet. MOTD announce Liverpool & bed seems the better option. Well played The Arsenal.

Up The Gunners.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Strangers In The Seats

At about 2 O'clock, as I sat on a bench in a beautiful, peaceful National Trust garden while the kids ran to find clues that would result in an Easter Egg prize, I was suddenly washed by regret that a family holiday had taken precedence over The Arsenal. The weather had been beautiful and I hadn't given it a second thought until now. The jealously I felt for the strangers in our seats betrayed the happiness on the faces of the chocolate filled children.

Three egg hunts and a picnic later we were home and relying on the Ipad to deliver us the game. The roast lamb was put in and we huddled together around the Wifi driven screen. I felt uncharacteristically optimistic about the game. It's unlike me. I tend to expect the worst and enjoy the nice surprise but I really felt we could do this. Despite their extraordinary spending and squad of 134 players I'm sure we are better than them. They are an expensive collection with a floppy manager while we are a team.

The first half proved my point. How we went in 0-0 is any one's guess. Man C were done but we just couldn't worry the net. We beat Hart but TV, with horror in his eyes, cleared it. The living room rose and sank. As the players headed for the tunnel Balotelli sat, ignored, in their path to make sure all saw him. He shouldn't have had the chance. He could've had two red cards in that half. The tackle on Song was an utter disgrace. The lowest of the low leg breaker and if the FA don't punish him for that then they are more pathetic than we all know they are.

The first half was a good half for us and it was a worry we weren't winning. You could just see these bastards run up the other end and nick one. They did try a bit harder but there were no heart in mouth moments for us. They were as poor a team as we've seen at The Grove. If ever there was a game we should win this was it. RVP hit the post. Theo, TV and Yossi somehow trickled and tickled the ball wide. It looked like one of those days. Frustration and desperation crept in until some more sloppy play from them led to the ball at Arteta's feet. He surged towards the North Bank. Lescott stood to admire. From distance he unleashed another thunderbolt past England's number 1 to continue his run, lifting his shirt, and sending the stadium and a family on holiday into jumping joy. The crowd doing 'the Poznan' was a punchline nearly as delicious as the man who goes to the barbers and asks for 'a bellend' finally receiving a red card.

That was a deserved win against a small club with money. A rag bag collective that have been found out. When we are good we look very good and with a better summer things could be very very good. If the club have ambitions and convey them to the captain I think he will stay. We've had some very bad times this season. We've had all that Wenger out nonsense and some abject performances yet they have pulled themselves up to 3rd. For so long top four looked unlikely. Now 3rd is ours to lose. We've failed to build on potential in the past and I pray these mistakes won't be repeated again this summer.

A great performance for the strangers to enjoy topped off with a celebratory Easter roast. A good day. Up the Gunners.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Quite Poor Really

'Quick, get in the car!'

The boot was loaded and we were off towards Loftus Road. So close but as The Arsenal huffed and puffed we sped towards the South coast. School's out for Easter so Absolute Radio Extra provided us with all the bad news in something they laughably call 'Rock'n'Roll football!

It sounded like we started well but as we got through London and we heard the names of our defenders more and more Mrs Pitch looked at me and said, 'We don't sound very good today.' Then they scored and swear words were muted to not corrupt the kids in the car with no interest in the nonsense.

As we pulled into the services we were still down. However, as I queued to be mugged by a well known coffee chain who somehow find the space to raise their prices even further next to a motorway, my phone pronounced I had a text by telling all 'Chelsea 3 Arsenal 5' (for that is my text tone!) It was from Mrs P who'd stayed in the car and who'd simply put '1-1 Walcott.' The horror at the cost of two coffees diminished somewhat. Come on Arsenal.

The names of our defenders just wouldn't go away. A slip, a goal, a slapping of the steering wheel and an unsuppressed swear word this time meant that despite the lightness of the traffic that was a pretty shit journey. The final whistle and a flick over to Radio 5 confirmed it was a pretty shit day for us all round. The following day, Liverpool aside who joined in April Fools Day beautifully, completed a crap weekend. It's not so much fun this way round and I was just getting used to everything going our way. It's been a magnificent run when things looked a bit hopeless so we can't complain. But it was QPR so we can be a bit annoyed. The have Hughes and they have Barton and we should never lose a game to a team with those mugs involved. But we did and it means the game against the small club with money next weekend is a must win.

I've still not seen the goals and there's a chance I never will. Forget it but learn from it. There are not enough games left to have another game off.

Remember who you are, what you are and who you represent.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

He Scores When He Wants.....

......Kieron Gibbs He Scores When He Wants.....

Well that win couldn't have been more comfortable if it had been tucked up in bed with it's favourite socks on and a nice cup of hot chocolate. No hanging on to a 1-0. No last minute winners. No coming from behind. 3-0, thank you very much.

The day started well as the chavs and the spuds decided not to beat each other giving us the perfect opportunity to capitalise. In the past we wouldn't but no more. This is the new improved Arsenal. Worry not. As my son and I strolled across the Arsenal bridge discussing how this game maybe a little frustrating if we don't open them up early some Villa fans piped up, "We're Aston Villa, We've come for a draw!" Our hearts sank as their fans confirmed their quite obvious game plan. This could be a long afternoon. How wrong can you (and the away fans be)?

As we took our seats all talk was of Kos being excused from games with Djourou standing in. If it were a kit issue we were all for Kos doing it in his vest and pants rather than have JD's worried looks at the back. Perspective returned as the North Bank unveiled a banner with Muamba in Arsenal yellow. A standing ovation while thoughtful glances were shared with strangers. Arsenal appeared and things would be OK whatever happens.

Before we knew it we were 2-0 ahead. The first half was a joy filled with confidence, pace and options. Google 'rip a new one' and you will be shown that first half. The team, to a man, were magnificent. Even JD played well especially after head butting Heskey's elbow and ending up in a heap for a bit. That must've been what happened or it would've been a red and Emile wouldn't do such a thing surely? He's English after all! Villa were shit with 11. Imagine what would've happened it Heskey had were ahead of me there weren't you?

I can't remember the last time I clapped so much. Every move, pass, cross field ball, shot, corner or tackle received a ripple of appreciation. We were demolishing Villa down both sides and the middle. They had no answer and we had goals to show for it. It's churlish to pick out individuals but a few things stick in the mind. Gervinho battling past about 5 villa players just refusing to give the ball up. The massive pass from TV to Theo who controlled it like it was magnetically attracted to his boot. Gibbs broke into the box, looked up and didn't know what to do as half the team were in spaces calling for the ball! Too many options! Both goals were lovely moves ending in confident shots. The ground was on it's feet at half time. That truly was The Arsenal.

The second half was a slower affair but if Villa weren't going to try why should we? To be honest they tried a bit harder but we still murdered them in second gear. As the usuals settled for 2-0 and started to leave we got a free kick. Arteta stepped up and hit an absolute thunder bolt past Given. Thank Bergkamp for the net North Bank as that was heading your way. The perfect end to a thoroughly fantastic display as Son of Fever Pitch displayed his shirt with pride after a celebratory chest bump with dad!

The smiles are back and so are The Arsenal.