Young Lion Bars or just Kiddie Kats?

August 28, 2011 by   Filed under: Arsenal FC, Premier League

Before we begin anything even reminiscent of a pre-match review, let’s get one thing out of the way…

I am NOT a knee-jerk, sack the board, sack Arsene and burn the ground to, well, the ground kind of supporter of the mighty Arsenal. Yes, I am utterly passionate, to a fault I would suppose, but I would describe my relationship with Arsenal as a love/love relationship. I love them in the good times and I love them in the bad, regardless of how frustrating that may be. I live and die vicariously through the club and mainly the 90 or so minutes that we get to see the team play every few days for 9 months of the year.

I firmly believe that the fan base of the club was intentionally and politically split into two camps, the AKB’s and the AKN’s by, in part, a shrewd media and, for the most part, an even shrewder David Dein. I believe this was done to protect Arsene whilst the stadium was being paid for and whilst The Invincibles were being sold off to the highest bidder to make way for a phenomenally young and inexperienced squad who, some say predictably, have won absolutely nothing since the 2005 FA Cup. To all intents and purposes this “shield of steel” has worked very well indeed and, if you think about it, the fans that sit in the AKB camp have just about single-handedly ensured the continued tenure of Arsene for the past 2 seasons.

So in which camp do I sit? Well, neither is the short answer. I believe that there are things that are being done brilliantly by the club and by Arsene specifically and I also believe that there have been some shocking decisions made and even more shocking policies put in place. That said, we have one of the best football stadiums in the world, probably the most valuable squad with an average age almost in the single digits and a bank balance purportedly big enough to enable the media to claim bids of enormous proportions are being made for almost unheard of players obviously it is so typical of Arsene to pay huge sums for unknown players!), unless of course you actually make a formal offer, in which case we offered about three and sixpence, a used bus pass and all the lint in our pockets for Gary Cahill!

Right now, and quite possibly since as far back as the 4-2 win away to Villa in November, I think it safe to say we have sailed into some pretty stormy waters. The Carling Cup debacle, the league basically thrown away (again) and that most challenging of nights in Barcelona where, let’s be honest, we were all just sitting, watching and waiting for them to score, and of course they did and even more predictably, HE did!

I have, like most supporters of our fine institution over the past few months, had my say on the things that frustrate the living daylights out of me and I am fairly sure that I will do again in the future, but not today. Why not? Because after “that” performance in Italy last Wednesday, with all of the injuries and suspensions we have got, the potential to see a few rabbits pulled out of the hat over the next few days and the small detail of a game against our friends in the north tomorrow, now is exactly the time to get behind this young team both on and off the pitch.

Confidence is everything, if you don’t believe me, ask our “Pole between the Poles”!(Special thanks to BtM over at Goonerholic for that sumptuously succinct and sneakily stolen snippet!)

This is a moment when the boys and men that we DO have playing for us get to feel the blunt end of the stick. After Wednesday they have earned it. Let’s be fair, those leaving and those selling them, those refusing to join and those failing to sign them are the ones to blame for the thinness of our squad. It certainly does not fall upon the shoulders of those who have signed for us, who continueto be Arsenal players and who will be turning out in the snake pit of Old Trafford tomorrow and, with any luck, will put in a performance akin to Wednesday night that will at the very least give us a glimmer of hope in what circumstances contrive to ensure will be a very tough game.

So, now that we have cleared that up, let’s get on with looking at the fairly daunting task ahead.

Those aforementioned injuries and suspensions leave us without the services of Song, Frimpong, Wilshere, Gibbs, Bendtner and Diaby leaving us short in almost every department including a midfield so depleted that some are suggesting Traore may start in the centre of the park.

Thin doesn’t even come close really, does it! Couple this with a failure thus far to find a replacement for Clichy, and let’s be honest, who didn’t see an early season, mid-season and end of season injury to Gibbs coming, and we are probably going to be watching the best right back in the country at left back and the seemingly unflappable Jenkinson at right back.

Regards the centre of midfield, I think that there are actually some interesting parallels to be drawn with this same fixture last year when United played about 28 central defenders in midfield (it certainly felt like it, such was our inability to get anywhere near their penalty box!) Did Arsene see anything that he liked from the tactics forced upon Rudolph the Rednosed Gumchewer? Well, tomorrow we will find out for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he may well play a central defenderin the defensive midfield position. That someone, depending on the late fitness tests of the thus far immensely impressive Vermaelan (expected to play) and the seemingly growing in confidence and stature Koscielny (seriously, is it just me or does he look taller, broader and more decisive when playing alongside TV5?!), in my opinion will be Djourou. I know it seems a bit desperate but, with Ramsey the only natural central midfielder to choose from and by no means is he a defensive midfielder,desperate measures seem inevitable!

On the wings I would think that pace, lots of it, would almost offer a kind of defensive shield, limiting the marauding runs of their full backs in the fear that one moment of bad positioning and they could be severely punished on the counter and so I would love to see Theo on the right and Miyachi on the left. Having watched the latter a few times last season, it seems to me that he has absolutely zero respect for any opposition, regardless of reputation, age or club, and simply lives to take on full backs of all shapes and sizes.

There is however a very good chance that we will have to make do with watching Arshavin wander around aimlessly on the left as usual. I personally hope not though although, if the diminutive Russian does get the nod, let’s hope that the Arshavin against Liverpool turns up and not the Arshavin against almost everybody else since then!

In attack the incredible form and even more incredible run of games without serious injury of Robin Van Persie basically guarantee him a starting place. That and the fact that without Gervinho available, the only other options are the injured, ever leaving and almost never played at centre forward anyway Bendtner, the desperately out of form Chamakh, the as yet untested Campbell, Afobe who doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the front of the queue, regardless of the impression he made in pre-season and Theo who I cannot see being asked to play the lone striker role that I predict Wenger will play!

If Arsene does play a lone striker I think that it will be a kind of 4-1-3-1-1 with Rosicky slotting in just behind RVP in a playmaker role when we are attacking and making up a five man midfield when we are defending.

Of course, a lot will depend on Rosicky’s fitness levels as, having played 45 minutes in Italy, he may not quite have the legs for 90 more so soon afterward in the Stadium of Debts. His selection or non-selection in the starting eleven will tell us much about whether or not he has completely recovered from his long absence from the gameand possibly even more regarding the rumours of a possible transfer to Wolfsburg.

I have to say that I genuinely hope that the rumours are nothing more than the usual media garbage and that he will be with us for the foreseeable future as I for one believe that a fit and hungry Rosicky is a world class player with a bundle of experience, exactly what we are crying out for. Imagine the difference a player like him can make in training or on the pitch for teens/early twenties players looking for someone to offer a little guidance or simply demonstrating the value of a cool head. You simply cannot put a price on that, especially when there is so little of it around the club right now.

So, I see the line up as something like this:


Jenkinson –Koscienly – Vermaelan–Sagna


Walcott– Ramsey – Arshavin



Prediction of a score line is made all the more difficult by the uncertainty surrounding team and formation, but I have a strange feeling that we could just get out alive, regardless of the doomers predicting upwards of 5-0 to the champions. When we have absolutely nothing to lose and, more importantly, nothing to actually win as yet, we tend to be at our most dangerous. After the dire start to the season and the fact that this will only be our third league game, I think that this may just be the perfect time to pull off a shock, although a shock win may be stretching things a little far!

Having not failed to score in our first three league games since 1953-54, I have to believe that we will at least put that record back where it belongs, in the file marked long distant past!

So, a nail-biting, desperately clinging on at the end, probably with half the team on yellow cards and possibly even the obligatory red thrown in for good measure, 1-1 draw for me.

In other news, Samir “Three Good Months And I Want To Win The Title Of World Player Of The Year And That Cannot Be Achieved At Arsenal If I Cannot Be Bothered To Turn Up For The Other Six Months Of The Season Let Alone The Two Previous Seasons In Their Entirety So I Will Simply Settle For The Cash On Offer At Citeh” Na$ri has proved himself to be the fully-fledged fumbling fool that we all knew he was with his comments regarding the Arsenal faithful.

Desperately pleading not-guilty on all charges he claims that when he said the Citeh fans are passionate and have tattoos and the Arsenal fans are “different”, he wasn’t suggesting that Arsenal fans are not passionate and don’t have tattoos. Ok, with those rules in mind Samir, here’s one just for you:

There are players in the football world that actually enjoy playing for their club for the pleasure of pulling on the famous shirt and trying their very best and are not just money grabbing morons with all the intelligence of a broken asbestos ceiling tile…

…Samir Na$ri is different.

Anyway, forget that ungrateful little shite, Frimpong will surely get the chance to set him straight on a few things regarding passion for football and the desire to play for the mighty Arsenal in December and April so let’s put this whole sordid episode behind us until then!

Much has also been made out of Cesc repeatedly referring to “us” and “we” in a recent press conference. To be honest, I think that he has done a fairly good job of being humble throughout this entire debacle, regardless of the cries from some that he has left us in the lurch when we needed him the most. I believe that he gave us 8 great years and we all knew that this day would come. Ok, maybe it as sooner than some would have liked, but that is the business of football. I would also like to add that he clearly has Arsenal DNA and we should immediately offer to buy him back for a “Cahill” and get statements of passionate and undying love for him issued by the Prime Minister, The Queen, Nick Hornby, the entire Arsenal squad and David Prowse dressed as the Green Cross Code Man (although with James Earl Jones voice!)

In all seriousness, I hated seeing him score for Farcelona in the Cup a Soup or whatever you call it. Seriously, it genuinely put a crimp on the whole day. He is like that ex-girlfriend that you simply wanted to kill by the time you finally threw her out of the door and then you suddenly see her smiling with her new boyfriend, the guy that bullied you all the way through school! I know you know what I mean! Unlike some, I don’t wish him a career of getting splinters off the Camp Nou bench, but if he could just be, well, a bit rubbish for a few seasons, that would be great! claim that we have made a last minute swoop for Korean striker Park Chu-Young after he completed the first part of his medical at Lille, failed to turn up for the second part and left his hotel room decidedly empty! It has to be said, we do seem to be trying to make any friends at the moment but maybe that is exactly what is needed, a bit of steel off the pitch as well as on it.

In truth I know little about the player aside from what Wikipedia has to tell us but, if they are to be taken at their word, he is 26 years old, he was a budding superstar in 2004 after leading South Korea to the AFC Championship scoring the most goals in the tournament and, in true American style, being voted Most Valuable Player. He then followed this up in 2005 with a hatful of goals in an U-20’s invitational in Qatar and winning Asian Footballer of the Year.  From 2005 to 2008 he scored an average of exactly a goal every 3 games in the Korean K-League.

Hardly stellar stats, although things got worse when he signed for Monaco in 2008, scoring just 13 times in 58 league appearances in his first two seasons. He did however win the acclaim of the Monaco fans, being voted player of the first half of the season in his first year! Last season he improved slightly with 12 goals in 33 appearances to return to his usual rate of roughly a goal every 3 games which he has also carried through to his full national team, of whom he is captain, with 17 goals in 53 appearances.

It has to be said, if we are genuinely trying to buy the player. Wenger must see something that the stats don’t show us. Should we actually sign him, we will get the chance to see for ourselves.

Not much more to say but to reiterate that it is time to get behind the boys and give them the chance to prove that Wednesday was not just a fluke but a team playing with the knowledge that they can no longer look for Cesc to find a moment of sublime skill, a killer pass or just a little of his magic “Cescdust” to turn things around when the rest of them cannot be bothered. They will have to fight all the way to the end of this one if they are to get something out of it but I for one believe that they can do just that.

Young lion hearts, it is time again to show us your courage.




8 Comments on "Young Lion Bars or just Kiddie Kats?"

  1. Emeka. on Sun, 28th Aug 2011 3:40 pm 

    Arsenal Fc cannot achieve anything under wenger. He should just be sacked.

  2. thorny on Sun, 28th Aug 2011 3:59 pm 

    Jeeees . This is such a joke. I cant begin to even begin with my list of questions titled….WTF are you doing Wenger????

    We ahve sold our 2 best…we have bought 4 and one is a child in a mans possition the other 3 arent even on the bench.

    The transfer window has been open for F ing ages and we are playing game 3 of the EPL against Man U with WHO???

    Why even turn up?

    PS we have 100 million quid.

  3. Bergkamp's The Man on Sun, 28th Aug 2011 4:06 pm 

    Very nice piece. Also chuffed you liked my Sczez quip. I like the balance you achieved here. Tough times at Arsenal at the moment. The last thing the team needs is constant gloom from the peanut gallery. Well done

  4. mzeey on Sun, 28th Aug 2011 4:12 pm 

    ok sack wenger whos the replacement ? if we bring jose mourinho in his place he wont finsh the season becuse the problom is not wenger its the dame board and there spending poleses on fees and salarys dear jose mourinho will come and wants to bulid a 100 mil euro new dream team and he will be givein a 40 mil bauget and F.U.I one of his mian players is going to cost more then that .
    arsenal fans for the last time he is not spending his pocket money for new players why wouldent he spend he would be distroying his own history and to prove his love to the club he could be sacked today and oferd a manger job as city manger if it takes long next season and he would be amazing , the best thing about wenger is he turns a low spending club to a top big four leve

  5. OCD on Sun, 28th Aug 2011 4:31 pm 

    Shocking results today – absolutely shocking.

    That’s my money and support gone for this year – I WILL NOT SET FOOT IN THE EMIRATES STADIUM UNTIL NEXT SEASON

  6. rapahel on Sun, 28th Aug 2011 4:46 pm 

    i am a fan of samir nasri, and you know what? thanks god he switch to man city!! if he stay with arsenal,he will be part to the team who were school by man utd…hahaha…..arsenal like a newly promoted team,so weak…hahaha..i think even QPR stronger than u….and u have a so called ,genius, as your manager,!! i think he want to save your board money rather than win the league i guess..good for you, you will become richest club in no time…haha…oooppss, no matter how rich you are, man city,chelsea, man utd and liverpool are way richer than you….haha…my bad…

  7. ArthurTheGooner on Sun, 28th Aug 2011 6:45 pm 

    Great piece Shaun!

    I don’t think I can talk about the game in any manner at the moment. Way too disappointed with what happened this afternoon!

    We got thumped no questions asked…but we will recover from this.

    BTM – nice to see you here as well.

  8. Shaun O'Flaherty on Sun, 28th Aug 2011 8:11 pm 

    Interesting comments thus far although mainly to be expected. Currently writing the “aftermath piece” but felt the need to reply to a couple here too.

    @BtM: Thank you sir…High praise indeed coming from such a throughbred pensman! Also glad you weren’t “peeved” at me stealing your quote 🙂

    As you know, my alter ego (Winstons Myth) has been prone recently to some fairly boisterous outbursts, but I am, with the help of others wiser than I, attempting to “keep it real”, or as real as it can be regarding something quite so surreal as the current situation.

    @mzeey: You make a reasonable point in that a change of manager, especially the likes of Mourinho, probably would not even come close to solving the problems that we have. That said, I am becoming more and more sure that 100, pounds, euros, dollars or sheep may not solve the problem either. We have some very big holes in the team, some bigger holes in the squad and the competition is spending 100m on 2 or 3 players. Time will tell if this version of Wengerball has a future, but after six years of waiting and seeing two other versions fall flat on their faces, I am not sure he will get the time to try this again Troubling times indeed.

    @OCD: Sorry you feel that way…Please leave details of where we can organise buying your season ticket as, clearly, there are some fans out there that would give their right arm to see the mighty reds play and would certainly not swear not to go and see them again for a year based upon what was admitedly a good sound thrashing.

    How do QPR still fill their ground? A miracle no less!

    @Raphael: I am a fan of Arsenal Football Club and I thank my luckiest stars that you are not!

    @Arthur: Way too kind my friend! Regards the debacle today, writing the tail between the legs piece and will mail it over asap. Cheers friend and thanks for the entirely unnecessary praise.

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