Media Talk

The Curious Case Of Laurent Koscielny

More often than not, the sleepless nights are about the heartbreak, the disappointment, the anguish and the despair. They’re about the anger and disgust for the punditocracy and the hacks who consider it open season on Arsenal.

You can almost taste the bile from the disdain and contempt in which Arsenal is held in the footballing media circles from Sly Sports to the BBC, from Talk Spite radio to the tabloids. There’s a macabre-esque enjoyment of Arsenal’s agony in every sense – and when we say it’s a conspiracy, we’re called paranoid.

Today though, there’s so much to say and write about such an amazing day for the spirit of Arsenal football club. For that however, I’d like to encourage you to visit ACLF where my friend Yogi has written a wonderful piece that captures the emotion and captures the moment. As George our resident pedant puts it, for all the days of anguish that Yogi has kept our sanity, it’s days like these that he deserves the stage to express the magic of the moment.

I have chosen today instead to focus on Arsenal’s most influential unsung hero, Mr Laurent Koscielny. There’s more than enough analysis all over the internet and the media of the now legendary shafting of the heathen horde at Stamford Bridge.

You see, the problem with the English football establishment is that there’s a collective determination to exercise cultural incompetence of breath-taking magnitude. Take the lack of understanding of the fundamentals of football business and finance. English football is the only place on this planet where people still think it’s OK to spend the GDP of most developing countries just to chase trophies.

It’s either a brazen and reckless disregard of the laws of economics as they pertain to football, or spectacular incompetence from a collective that has the IQ of a fence post. It’s the sort of culture that equates high spending to quality, notwithstanding the fact that the rationale for the market pricing is fundamentally flawed. How can it be justifiable for example for Andy Carroll to cost more in transfer fees than Thomas Vermaelen and David Silva combined.

So when the Arsenal scouting system pluck Laurent Koscielny from the wilderness of the French league, he is considered a pariah since he doesn’t conform to the text book definition of a Premiership defender. It’s almost like it’s a crime that they don’t know him so he can’t be that good. Koscielny’s not only fighting the PR battle against the football media and pundits, he’s had to contend with undeserved criticism from Anti-Arsenal Arsenal supporters.

Yet this brilliant young man has something that a lot of defenders don’t have. He is tenacious, dependable, perceptive and applies himself with finesse. He is a dogged defender with absolute class when it comes to the art of intercepting, one on one defending and recovery defending. He is exceptional in the air and excellent in working with the ball on the ground.

Koscielny is also silky in offence and has an uncanny ability to convert defence into attack with one touch football. A very confident player with the ball, he links up very well with the midfield and is perhaps one of the best ball playing defenders around.

The fact that people still talk about Arsenal needing quality defenders without paying Koscielny any respect for what he is currently doing is an insult of the highest order in my humble opinion. If Koscielny isn’t one of the best defenders in the league, I don’t know who is.
In yesterday’s post match punditry by Sly Sports, the punk Jamie Redknapp had the audacity to suggest that Laurent Koscielny had now arrived after that performance against Chelsea. As I was reminded, Jamie was probably the only person in the country who didn’t notice Lionel Messi in Koscielny’s pocket when Arsenal beat Barcelona with panache in perhaps the greatest match of football ever played in an Arsenal stadium.

From the first game that Koscielny played at Anfield, it was so obvious that the boy oozed class. And I gather it’s not just the class. I know a few female Gooners who are willing and ready to copulate with the guy and bear his children.
Granted, he has made some mistakes – but point out to me a defender in the league who walks on water. The media even hail Sideshow Bob at Chelsea as the second coming of defensive messiahs. That’s David Luiz in case you’re wondering who Sideshow Bob is.

If Luiz was that good – why the hell didn’t he play to stop the horror show at Stamford Bridge yesterday. Even after they wax lyrical and go sycophantic about Luiz because he cost £24m while Koscielny cost a few bob according to them, you can’t hide from the fact that Laurent Koscielny stands head and shoulders above the Brazilian defender. Everything they say about Luiz, you can say that about Koscielny with compound interest.

Let’s not forget, Fernando Torres might as well have been sitting on the bench yesterday, that’s how effective Koscielny was. He’s done it to Messi, he’s done it to Rooney and he’s done it to Drogba – and folks still think of this guy like a step child from the wrong side of the rail tracks.
And yet, Gooners around the world are debating who will lose their place in central defence to accommodate the equally magnificent Thomas Vermaelen.
I think people are missing the point. The question is not who will partner Thomas Vermaelen in central defence. The more substantive question is out of Vermaelen, Mertesacker and Djourou, who will be Laurent Koscielny’s preferred partner.

My sense is that Vermaelen and Koscielny will be Arsenal’s first choice central defensive pairing, but if you take it that there will be suspensions and injury as well as the need for tactical changes to counter different opposition – there’s enough games to go around for everyone.
The most exciting thing for me is that Koscielny, Vermaelen, Mertesacker and Djourou are either 25 or 26 years of age. The central defensive solutions at

Arsenal for the next 8 to 10 years are on solid ground, notwithstanding the fact that young shining lights like Ignasi Miquel and Kyle Bartley are on hand to complement the squad depth.

Dont forget, if you haven’t yet, follow Stone Cold Arsenal on Twitter and join the growing community. We’re trying to find out where Bruce “We’ll beat the crap out of Arsenal” is hiding.

Sunday, October 30th, 2011 Analysis, Arsenal, Media Talk, Premier League No Comments

The Bastards Are After Arsenal, The Whole Phucking Lot Of Them

I got reminded this weekend why I started blogging in the first place. It really was either this or marriage counselling. The funny thing is that even my Chelsea supporting missus resorts to cursing like a drunk sailor when it comes to responding to the tripe and faecal matter served to us as opinion from the hacks and punditocracy.

“Have you read this shit yet”, my friend Jay screamed down the phone as he hyper ventilated in between spitting his spleen out. “These bastards are after Arsenal, the whole phuckign lot of them”.

“what the hell are you on about dude”, was my baffled response.

“The Daily Mail. They’re after Van Persie now”

Clearly, I wouldn’t have seen the faecal matter Jay was referring to as I wouldn’t read the Sports section of the Daily Heil if held at gun point. Not that the rest of the paper is a pantheon of journalistic integrity, the paper is symptomatic of a football media collective that is so far removed from anything with integrity.
This is the thing though – combine this lack of quality that redefines incompetence and you throw it into the mix of an agenda against Arsenal, the results are explosive.

Fuck everyone who suggests that there is no conspiracy. A conspiracy happens when more than one person plots to do something sinister. We don’t even have to look past the presenters at Talk Spite radio to satisfy this threshold. Throw in the print media, the punditocracy, Sly Sports and ESPN and the punks on BBC 5 live, the conspiracy makes Tony Soprano look like a pussycat.

Take the Robin Van Persie nonsense of a story. Someone at the Daily Heil decides that a new “Cesc must leave Arsenal story” needs to start sooner rather than later. He sits down in the pub across the road from Head Office, and after 4 pints and a dodgy meat pie, the light bulb moment hits. “I know, let’s do the Van Persie is unhappy shit storm”.

Next, Talk Spite radio picks it up as fact, followed by Sly Sports News who quote the Daily Heil as the source, before someone updates the Daily Heil article to quote Sly Sports as having broadcast the story.
Cue the internet circus who quote Sly Sports, Daily Heil and Talk Spite radio. The story then becomes a fait acommpli, with the hack who concocted the original story claiming he had the 4 pints and shared the meat pie with Darren Dein, Van Persie’s agent. Bedlam on the Arsenal faithful follows with Gazidis and Hill-Woods head being demanded alongside Wenger’s.

I’ve said it here loads of times, you don’t have to be paranoid for them to get at you. “Why do you think they’re after Arsenal” is the question I get asked all the time.
Simples. Arsenal represents a challenge to a Neolithic establishment that is in self-preservation mode. They feed off each other and they will attack anything that dares suggest an alternative to the status quo.

The fact that Arsenal hasn’t flown off the starting blocks this season is neither here nor there. It’s immaterial. The suggestion that 6 games into the season can tell you anything is as ludicrous as suggesting that if you sit at the front of a bus you’ll get to town before the guys sitting at the back of the bus.
This narrative of “Arsenal is in Crisis” didn’t start this season. It’s been in the making for a long time now and the end game is most definitely to hound Arséne Wenger out of English football and hopefully return Arsenal to mid-table mediocrity.
Never under-estimate the power of stupid people in large numbers. The bastards are determined and they don’t know when to stop.

“Arsenal in crisis” – my entire hairy ass.

A crisis is when you can’t feed your children because you have to live hand and mouth and can’t afford the next meal. A crisis is when the imminent default by the Greek government puts the Eurozone into free fall and risks the collapse of the Portuguese, Spanish and Italian economies – risking the very fabric of the European Union.
A crisis is when you wake up in a strange house after a one night stand, and your still drunk from the fumes of the previous night’s binging, you mistake a tube of Canesten for a non-branded toothpaste from Lidl or Aldi.

This narrative that ArsenalHasn’tWonATrophyIn7YearsAndAreInARelegationDogFight FC are in crisis needs to be filed right between shit and syphilis where it belongs.

Liverpool haven’t won shit in 6 years, let alone gone anywhere near the Premier League title. Why doesn’t anyone suggest they’re in crisis? What, because they spent over £100 million in transfers since Kenny Dalglish took over?
The only other two clubs that have won the Premier League since Arsenal have spent north of £1.7 billion to do It. Couple that with the over £1 billion investment in Man City by the Abu Dhabi Investment Corporation and we get told that it’s normal to spend the GDP of most developing countries to sustain a Premier league title.

The media shit storm about Arsenal is calculated, strategic and feeds off itself like an incestuous beast. And like lambs to a slaughter, people fall for it hook line and sinker.

Arsenal has work to do on the field to improve their form this season. There is no doubt about that. But to suggest meltdown or a crisis is just plain stupid. Of course the Van Persie contract stories help extend the narrative, but ask yourself this. Short of Van Persie’s agent sharing that dodgy meat pie with the hack who came up with this so called “exclusive” – are we suggesting that ArsenalHasn’tWonATrophyIn7Years FC actually briefed the press that Van Persie has refused to sign a contract even before contract talks start?

The worst thing about this is that lies and supposition is taken as fact even before the incestuous feedfest that engulfs the story while it goes viral. Editors aren’t bothered about checking facts or checking the quality and integrity of the articles their journalists write.

To be honest, you do wonder what it is most of them are paid for. It’s insulting to suggest that fans watching the game can’t form an opinion about what the game was like. Match reports are mind numbing at the least as hacks try to portray some sort of footballistic artistry when they write. Scraping the barrel is more like what they do.

Don’t even start me on the punditocracy, especially from former football players who couldn’t organize an empty drawer. Forget the tired ass clichés, most of these guys are actually incapable of any intellectual analysis. Suggesting they are illiterate would be kind.

I did actually question why I even bother to pay a licence fee to BBC after watching the Match of the Day re-run on Sunday morning. Hansen and Lowro’s punditry was as stale and uninspiring as watching Marcus Tandy in Eldorado.
But I agree with jay, they’re bastards, the whole lot of them.

Monday, September 26th, 2011 Arsenal, Media Talk No Comments

The Arsenal Requiem, Armageddon In The Gooniverse

Here I was thinking it couldn’t get any worse, but believe it or not, the Philistines are in town. They say bedlam is taking over. They’re taking no prisoners as the battle to control the asylum thickens.

“Bring me the head of Arséne Wenger” is the deafening refrain that can be equally heard from the shadowy alleyways around the Holloway road and the ether that is the Arsenal blogosphere.

Sir Harry Pearce and his Spooks have gawked in amazement at the sheer noise and traffic that is overwhelming their listening stations only to find that bitching about Arsenal is spiking internet traffic like a nonsense. Off he sends Dimitri and Malcolm (no wait, Malcolm left the service, right?) – it’s minimum wage Tariq – Yeah, off he sends Tariq to redirect the Arsenal chatter on the web to the Samaritans website and TheSuicideBunker.com.

“If those Arsenal bastards want to commit suicide, then get them off my frigging grid before I blow a gasket”, Sir Harry demands. We’ve got the Russians to deal with.

Meanwhile, at the Islington Cathedral, the masses file into the church awaiting the arrival of the doomed casket carrying the remains of ArsenalHasNotWonATrophyFor7YearsAndHaveOnlyGot16PointsFromTheLast16Games FC. The casket slowly navigates the streets of Islington towards the cathedral in a cortege flanked on either side by twin cannons mounted on top of carriages drawn by the 4 horses of the apocalypse.

Sly Sports News lead the procession with Mr Transfer Deadline Day himself – Jim White marching as he blows the trumpet to the tune of “Judgment Day”, as Jeff Stelling, Paul Merson and Phil Thompson sing along with gusto that would put the town crier to shame.

The front pews of the cathedral are filled by a smug Red nosed Ferguson and his lackeys Alex McLeash, Tony Pulis, Sam Allardyce and Phil Brown. Happy Harry sits in the row behind though he’s constantly occupied on his Blackberry trying to confirm whether his case file with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs was hidden in the imminently arriving ArsenalHasNotWonATrophyFor7YearsAndHaveOnlyGot16PointsFromTheLast16Games FC casket.

As the Right Reverend Alan Brazil of the Talk Spite parish rises to meet the casket, the multitude stand and join in a solemn chorus of “Kumbayah my

Lord Kumbayah – Arsenal’s dying Lord Kumbayah”.

“But where’s Arséne?” a voice murmurs from the shadows of the media box at the balcony.

“You didn’t hear?”, John Cross responds. “They beheaded him like William Wallace, quartered him and had his head mounted on a stick outside the

Waitrose on Holloway Road. Looks like he’s a bit short for this funeral”.

“What about the Arsenal fans? Don’t’ they attend their own funeral?”

“Well, I hear those whose bodies were recovered from the mass suicide on Saturday evening are still awaiting identification and can only be processed after that”.

As Reverend Brazil takes the pulpit, the congregation sits and awaits the final sermon as the Arsenal Armageddon is complete.

“Dear friends. We gather here today to witness the demise of an institution that dared challenge the establishment, an institution that despite our warnings and cautionary advice, thought that they could get away with doing things differently from anyone in the game”.

“Let this be a lesson to any other club that tries living within its means and refusing to sign the English backbone that we told them to sign. How dare they”

“We will hunt you down and kill you. At Old Trafford, At Ewood Park, even abroad at the Nou Camp. We will hunt you down and crush you with the wrath of a mighty iron fist that will ensure we make an example of you”.

“When we tell you to spend money, you must. When we tell you to buy Gary Cahill and Scott Parker, you must listen to us. When we tell you that Man City are taking over the world by spending the equivalent of the GDP of most developing countries around the world, then you must respect that. This is the way football will run, otherwise you will end up in this casket in front of me”.

As the camera pans around the enclosure usually reserved for family, the spokesman for the Arsenal Supporters Trust can be seen weeping silently next to an equally silent gentleman and former owner who watches sombrely. Happy Harry receives a text that his fixer at Southwark Crown Court was arrested by his namesake Sir Harry Pearce, defender of the realm. He too starts weeping but it’s not in solidarity with the Arsenal folks, its more to do with his case file still being active.

As the pallbearers led by Wright and Merson picked for selling their souls to the highest bidder are joined by Stelling and his crew to lead the procession out – the Camera spans to a quiet corner of the cathedral where Cesc sits with his minders Xavi Hernandes and Carles Puyol, who constantly whisper in

Spanish “you could have been in that coffin my friend”.

The casket for ArsenalHasNotWonATrophyFor7YearsAndHaveOnlyGot16PointsFromTheLast16Games FC is led out to its final resting place at the Royal Arsenal Museum in Woolwich. The deafening silence for this final procession is only disturbed by the sound of Rednose Ferguson loudly masticating his chewing gum.

Damn wait! Was this a dream?

5 games in and judgement day has been written. If you didn’t know better, you’d think United has already won the title. What do we know anyway, Arsenal is in a relegation dog fight, we better start acclimatizing to football grounds we’ve never been used to – some of which hold 67 people with room for a few dogs.

Mind you, a game against Shrewsbury Town is just the game we need to get us used to playing in the lower leagues.

If you want to find out what happened in the rest of my dream, follow me on Twitter and I might just reveal all.

Monday, September 19th, 2011 Arsenal, Media Talk, Premier League No Comments

Why Bother With Arsenal, They’re Useless

Imagine my shock last night (seriously, don’t laugh) on the way back home after watching the Champions League games with a few friends in town. “Be careful what you wish for” is the age old maxim that should have bitch slapped me in the face when I asked the taxi driver to put some football on the radio.

With the BBC’s exemplary equal opportunity employment policy that allows mentally retarded presenters like Robbie Savage to become an “expert”, it usually is a coin toss between 5 live or Talk Spite radio as to which is capable of coming up with the most faecal matter that can be legally allowed in one production.

Unfortunately for me, it was BBC’s Mark Pougatch who gave me the urge to ask for the sick bag, and it wasn’t because of the alcohol I had consumed while watching the Manchester teams’ adventures in Europe.

As conspiracy theories go, Pougatch was banging on about how cynical it is for United to have 6 home Premier league games immediately following Champions League ties, while Manchester City had 6 away games. Not that I wouldn’t put that past fixture mandarins with the propensity to kiss Alex Ferguson’s rectal anatomy, but it was Pougatch’s next remark that made me wonder why it is again that British people are held at gun point to pay licence fees for public service broadcasting.

This apparently reputable BBC presenter then went on to say that he did some research on Monday before the Champions League games and found out about the conspiracy in favour of United. He also did Chelsea who had 4 away games, but didn’t bother with Arsenal.

“Why bother, they’re useless anyway”.

This is the thing. If Arsenal were useless, I have no problem accepting such an observation. But Arsenal are not useless. Notwithstanding the fact that we had a positive result in a very difficult game at Dortmund, the expectation was that United and City were going to sail through their match day 1 fixtures like the other teams didn’t exist.

But no, they didn’t, and it was fairly obvious that City in particular have a fight to make it through to the next stage. Napoli away won’t be a walk in the park, and they can wishfully think about how to beat Bayern Munich.

The thing that stood out most with this “Arsenal are useless anyway comment” from Pougatch was not what he said, but how he said it. You could feel the absolute contempt and disdain in his voice, and I was half expecting him to spit in the microphone next to complete the triangle with some illustration of disgust for Arsenal.

The worst kind of venomous people are the ones who hide their spite under a cloak of niceties and professionalism. But it eventually comes out and last night left me seriously questioning why I even bother to pay a licence fee to contribute to the salary of presenters who have this sort of contempt for their listeners. It’s no point writing to the BBC to complain, they’ve already got a statement prepared about professionalism and reputation and that they will review – yada yada yada.

My friend Consols Bob still has the e-mail they sent him about his complaint on Robbie Savage – suggesting that they have rigorous recruitment policies designed to root out the assholes an Savage passed with flying colours.

Mr Mark Pougatch – if you’re going to pretend to be professional and thorough in your presentation, then please do your job and research all English teams with the same vigour and intensity. The fact that you can spout out such venomous nonsense about a team that you clearly hate while on a public service broadcast to millions of people who pay your salary is an indictment of your professionalism and character. You’re are disgrace to the profession of journalism, but then again, you really don’t have a high threshold to beat in this respect.

It reminded me of a story that Mark Saggers, a former BBC presenter who’s now at Talk Spite radio once confessed to on air about the treatment he received from a colleague at BBC they regularly presented with. My money is on Mark Pougatch being the colleague Saggers was referring to and the contempt, disdain and disgust I witnessed last night is indicative of what was being suggested about this “mysterious” colleague who forced another to change ranches.

But then again you ask, what’s different from what Pougatch is doing to what the punks at Sly Sports do or what the cretins at Talk Spite do.
Indeed, why bother with Arsenal – we’re useless after all.

I think the most amusing thing about all this is that even though we’re useless (has anyone noticed my cynicism yet?), Tottenham are still beneath us. ‘Tis true what they say – A cannon will always destroy a cockerel.

And by the way, if you haven’t yet, follow me on twitter. I’m now getting the hang of it. We might even get @markpougatch to defend his disappointing comments last night. Although he’s already told an Arsenal fan that the fan was being flippant about his comments.

Why Speculating About Cesc Fabregas Is Not Good For Your Heart

I must have missed the last few days while stuck in the reservation and away from the hyperbole of the ’silly’ season. Not that I care much about the amount of faecal matter that gets stirred in the name of inventing breaking news, but I wonder if I made a mistake of even bothering to switch on the sports news this morning.

The thing is this, the way rumours about Cesc Fabregas leaving Arsenal for Barcelona are being peddled, you would actually get the impression that it’s a full gone conclusion and that the removal trucks are waiting outside the Spaniard’s pad in leafy Hertfordshire ready to take whatever is going to Catalonia.

Arsenal Captain, Cesc Fabregas

The narrative is so predictable. Cesc answers a planted question in a charity event in Spain by saying if he ever left Arsenal, it would be for Barca. Cue the punks at Marca who provide their own version of the story for it is written that any editor who doesn’t peddle a Cesc story will be fired on the spot.

The usual suspects here from the Daily Wail to Sky Sports News pick up the story as fact and even suggest that Fabregas’s representatives flew into London to talk to Arsenal.

Which by the way baffles me a little because Fabregas’s agent, who happens to be David Dein’s son actually lives in London so begs the question as to why he would fly from City Airport to Heathrow just to liven up the story.
What I also find amusing is that media houses send a whole crew to the Emirates stadium at 6 o’clock in the morning to stand outside and report their hogg wash. For one, no one is at the stadium and you wonder what the deal is. Are they going to get more credibility by standing outside the stadium and using it as a prop or doesn’t it make more sense to just sit in the studio and peddle their story?

I’ve never really figured out why journalists insist on standing outside buildings even at 11.00 pm talking about a story that happened in that building over 8 hours prior to that.

In the building behind me today, we believe that a meeting took place and Cesc Fabregas’s agents who flew in from Spain have held talks with Arsenal. No one is here to comment, but we speculate that the talks are on-going.

This story is not likely to go away soon though, and for the very simple reason that there’s nothing to fill the air waves and news columns. I tell you, 24 hour news cycles are a bastard.

Arsenal fans around the world will be biting their nails on account of the media shit stirring going on in the name of credible news. At Stone Cold

Arsenal Towers though, our view is that we should just relax and enjoy the summer for this is not a reason to blow a gasket for.
We have spent time on the phone this morning with our inside source at Highbury House. And this is not some friend of an uncle’s neighbour’s former school mates half brother who works as a janitor at Arsenal. It is actually our contact’s job to know and deal with these things.

Our contact has made us understand that Arsenal’s position is simple and clear.
Arsenal does not indulge in media speculation and will not enter a slinging match between the Spanish and English media and tabloids. The club is too classy for that.

Cesc Fabregas is on a long term contract and an employee of Arsenal FC and that’s not going to change because newspapers have columns to fill.

Arsenal are not interested in selling their best and most influential player in his prime. Speaking of which, transfermarkt.co.uk, a leading authority on player valuations places Cesc Fabregas as the 5th most valuable player in the world after Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, Xavi Hernandez and Andreas Iniesta.

Barcelona will have to break the bank if ever there was a decision made to sell Cesc.

The impression I get is that no one really knows whether as reported, Cesc has asked for a transfer. For one, that will be professional suicide on his part, not only because it will antagonize the relationship he has with the manager and other Arsenal players; by asking for a transfer he will forfeit some serious benefits and short change himself.

The long and short of it is that it’s just another summer when Arsenal players become target practice. Arsenal are not interested in selling (though I would read that as “we won’t sell unless Barca are silly enough to unleash an eye-watering offer that is too good to turn down”).

Cesc will leave Arsenal at some point in his career, and the only known and verifiable fact is that his departure will be on Arsenal’s terms. The club is bigger than any one individual and it will not be rail-roaded into a transfer by the media or an impending Barcelona presidential election.
Until then, let’s enjoy the summer and go easy on self inducing heart attacks.

IS Anti-Arsenalism A Reality Or A Myth

Like many Arsenal supporters out there, I suffer from an acute case of Arsenalitis. It’s a disease characterized by a deep emotional attachment to anything that has to do with Arsenal football club.

Some of the symptoms include chronic insomnia when the Gunners lose games or draw games we should have won; and frequent bouts of hypertension and anxiety attacks when we feel the club is unfairly being misrepresented in the media.

Despite the responsible thing of managing one’s own health and well-being say by not watching or listening to diatribe – you can’t help but notice the blatant cases of bias against Arsenal.

So is this anti-Arsenalism really a myth, or shall we stop beating around the bush and call it what it is – blatant bias and xenophobia by the establishment towards Arsenal?

Years ago, my Liverpool loving friend Dean asked me why I love Arsenal so much. You see, Dean and I grew up together and we’ve been really close friends for just shy of 30 years.

When we were kids, we played our own leagues in the council estates and equivalents of Hackney Marshes. This was in the early to mid 80s when Liverpool were flying and many of the local neighbourhood teams adopted the names of big clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United, despite the fact that we were lucky to even watch a televised match once a month in our part of the world.
The funny thing is that we knew more about the team we supported and the players of the time, than we did about school work and the local curriculum. Prozone would have been proud of us at the time.

Dean was the local Liverpool’s star. Their Graham Souness, the guy who made them tick. He’s the only footballer who I know will nutmeg you and dribble past 3 players, turn towards you with that impish ”gotcha” smile, before smuggling the ball into the goal from a ridiculously impossible angle.
So I wasn’t the least bit surprised about his allegiance to Liverpool. His question to me about the roots of my allegiance to Arsenal did make me think though.

I suppose the biggest driving factor for me is to do with what Arsenal as a club represents. Victoria Concordia Crescit says it all, but it’s much more than that. It’s about the club’s values and philosophy of openness and opportunity. About the clubs desire to go about things in the right and fair way, and about the clubs patience and determination to develop an ambitious vision, stick to it and work hard at realising it.
There are many aspects of Arsenal’s journey over the last 2 decades that are a reflection of my own journey in life. In the last 18 years in particular I’ve identified more with the Gunners than any other development in my life I guess.

Friends tell me in a way that I’m lucky that my wife is also crazy about football. The down side though is that she’s a diehard Chelsea supporter (yeah! I know) – but I guess we all make sacrifices in life and have to live with the consequences.
Perhaps these are the reasons why I feel more sensitive and aggrieved about the open bias towards Arsenal that I encounter every day from the English football establishment. And it’s not paranoia. I know paranoia, believe me.
I’ll give you 4 examples (and there’s loads more) to illustrate my point.

1. Broadcasting of Arsenal Games on TV or radio
I’ll cite the group stages of the champions league. Out of 6 match days, there’s 24 opportunities that 2 radio stations have to broadcast the commentary for the games involving the 4 English sides.

I’ve used radio as an example because on the specific Tuesday and Wednesday nights of the Champions league match days, I was working and where I was , we can only listen to radio.

Out of the 24 opportunities that both radio stations had, only one Arsenal game – the match day 1 game between Standard Liege and Arsenal was broadcast. In a fair world, you’d expect that more than 1 out of 24 Arsenal games would get air time. In most cases, both stations broadcast the same match involving either Chelsea, Man United or Liverpool.
Don’t even get me started on the debacle of the Sky vs. ITV split that sees Arsenal relegated into broadcasting wilderness.

2. Anally Retentive Commentators.
It’ was refreshing that in his last webcast to Arsenal supporters, Wenger confessed that he rarely watches Arsenal games on TV with the volume on. The outright bias and diatribe the commentators have against Arsenal can drive you loco.
It’s almost like it’s a scripted attempt to brainwash Arsenal fans with negativity. Whether it’s constantly referring to Gallas’s drama at St. Andrews in February 2008, or the application of selective amnesia that blanks out any virtues of the Arsenal game and amplifies Arsenal’s shortcomings; some commentators need to be lynched.

In many cases, commentators have publicly referred to the opposing team as ”our”. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they’re on the opposing team’s payroll, but to be fair, such commentators are just thick.

3. Xenophobia towards Arsenal’s colourful squad
The constant references to Arsenal’s supposed lack of English players is mind numbing and bang out of order. They serve to reinforce stereotypes that promote the dislike of the unknown and the misunderstood, and essentially fuel xenophobia.

The way the non-English mantra is latched on to suggests that there is something inherently wrong with not being English. An argument has been made that the English premier league is actually English in an attempt to justify the xenophobia.
Frankly speaking, in the 21st century, that’s an argument that needs to be filed right between shit and syphilis. There’s no room for that level of ignorance and arrogance for that matter in a game that is prostituted around the world as the best league competition on the planet.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the Premier League is only popular in the world because of the myriad of international players and managers in the game. If it was still quintessentially English, the league would still be in the wilderness of the mid 80s to early 90s following the 5 year UEFA ban caused by hooliganism.

Furthermore, the billions of pounds Sky and other TV broadcasters pump into the game is only made possible by the ability to sell broadcasting rights all over the world. The English premier league can’t be a reality without non-English participation.
Inevitably, Arsenal is the whipping boy of this ”you’re not English enough” band wagon. It’s a shame that no one takes notice of the composition of the Arsenal youth and reserves team, and Arsenal’s stellar work in bringing through talented English players for the future.

4. Misguided truths or convenient lies about Arsenal

Take your pick:

  • Arsenal don’t have strength and depth
  • Arsenal need an English spine to win the EPL
  • Arsenal must play ugly to win
  • Arsenal can’t hack it if you bully them or kick them off the park
  • It’s OK to actually kick them weak and brittle Arsenal players
  • Arsenal are broke and there are a poor man’s imitation of the big 2 clubs
  • If Arsenal don’t win a trophy this season then Wenger must go
  • Wenger is a tight fisted egomaniac who refuses to spend money for big name transfers
  • Arsenal are a selling team

You get the picture…

Basically a narrative has been building for several years now to serve the purpose of pigeon holing Arsenal into an also-rans outfit. There will always be a negative edge pursued on any Arsenal story.

A good example is when Andrey Arshavin said that Arsenal needed a miracle to have all their first team players available at the same time. This was swiftly rehashed and reported as “Arshavin says Arsenal need a miracle to win the title”
What is also noticeable is the contempt and disdain that Arsenal and Wenger are held in by the I-Zombies (pundits and hacks) in football. Most of them find it really hard to hide their contempt for all things Arsenal. It’s so pathetic to watch them pretend to be impartial.
It’s true what they say though. If they hate you this much, you must be doing something right. Is choosing to win by playing beautiful football such a bad thing?

Get Adobe Flash player