Internationals & They Don’t Like It Up ‘Em

There was a time when a friendly against Brazil would have England fans salavating but then again, there was a time when it would have been played on a Saturday afternoon in June, giving it some sort of prestige and sunny weather. Mind you that was before interrnational friendlies were not abused by the national coaches. Arsène will no doubt be going into this short break in a better mood following Lukas Podolski’s late winner on Saturday, cursing its intervention with work to do on the training ground, tempering that with relief that none of his charges are beyond the borders of continental Europe. Most will be home Wednesday night with the club counting the cost on Thursday. Wait, no, Robin van Persie has left and will no doubt develop a mysterious injury that leaves him incapable of travelling but miraculously well enough for United’s next win, sorry, home game.

Gervinho will be making his way back to Arsenal following the Ivory Coast’s elimination from the superfluous African Cup of Nations at the hand of Nigeria. For the second successive Winter, Wenger will need to work on his striker’s mindset with pictures of his despair flashed around the world. Bringing the competition into line with the rest of football’s global calendar was an aim of Sepp Blatter but not with tournaments being held in consecutive seasons; he did nothing to stop it, aware of his own culpability in the folly. Not that it brings any comfort to the vanquished and therein is the problem.

I am not convinced that the same problems will exist this time around. Both tournaments have ended in failure for the Ivorians but this time it was at an earlier stage, presumably quicker to heal than last January when Gervinho returned with his confidence shattered following his decisive miss in the penalty shootout which handed the trophy to Zambia. The manager will be acutely aware of this, previous experience with this tournament has not been entirely happy with Kolo Toure’s season shattered several years before.

There has already been a slew of criticism of Gervinho but it is counter-productive on so many levels. He is not everyone’s striker of choice and  his performance levels can be erratic, more inconsistent than others. However, he is an Arsenal player and no matter what you may think of him, the manager thinks higher of him and will be looking to get him back into the fold as quickly as possible. To undermine that serves no purpose, especially since even if there is to be any change, it cannot be made until the end of the season. The collateral damage of such abuse is the critic‘s health. Despitw what some will tell you, constructive criticism is not an issue, it’s welcomed, it is an opinion worth hearing even if you don’t agree. Abuse says more about the nature and character of the abuser than anything else.

Which tenuously leads us onto Arsène’s comments following the despatch of Stoke City. Television might have skated over Michael Owen’s misdemeanour’s but the print media has not been so forgiving, with pressure growing on the Football Association to act retrospectively following the former Golden Boy’s petulant kick. I doubt it will happen with the referee no doubt reporting to his paymasters that it was six of one, half a dozen of the other. The flaw in this system is highlighted that no further action can be taken against Ryan Shawcross for his challenge which was worthy of a red card. Such tackling might well be welcomed as stereotypically English but the player loses more since the technical ability of international football is deemed beyond him. Perhaps he is happy with such a lack of ambition on his part; international football is certainly better off without him.

Arsène believes that the performance shows Arsenal cannot be intimidated physically, or at least not so easily. There is an element of truth in that, some of the players have grown used to Stoke, Blackburn, Bolton and their ilk kicking their way to points. Others such as Mertesacker and Podolski earned their corn in a physically demanding league, not quite so agricultural but nonetheless no place for the squeamish. Cazorla might have wondered if he was appearing in a sporting remake of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids at The Britannia but no doubt that passed quickly when he realised that Stoke were scared to kick him when it got to the final third of the pitch.

It always struck me that the claim that Arsenal didn’t like it up ’em was more of a media infatuation with the good old-fashioned English game. How the underdog could give the big boys a bloody nose. If you look back, Arsenal only genuinely had problems with one team and that was Bolton, whom they failed to beat three times out of 14 meetings between 1997 and 2007 in the Premier League. Five of the other eleven were drawn and six wins; the underlying result was a title-costing 2 – 2 draw, throwing away a two-goal lead.

Blackburn capitulated frequently, winning just 6 of 28 Premier League fixtures during Wenger’s reign. What’s more, they failed to score in a dozen and conceded three or more on eleven occasions. It wasn’t so much a myth as a complete fallacy that Arsenal could not handle physical teams. The problem is that like many notions perpetuated by the media, it took hold and became recieved wisdom.

Arsenal don’t need to worry about visiting Stoke. Looking at their results at home to the top clubs, they hand out bloody noses in terms of results now and then but the reality is that in the ten Premier League meetings, they have won twice and drawn the same number. United and Chelsea have not lost, drawing one and two of their EPL matches over the same period, City have drawn four, lost one whilst Tottenham is drawn two, lost three. Our record is not as good as others, not as bad either.

The suggestion Arsenal cannot handle the physical teams just doesn’t bear scrutiny.

’til Tomorrow.


128 thoughts on “Internationals & They Don’t Like It Up ‘Em

  1. I’m not too happy about the international un-friendlies.
    Seems like they always come up when we are on a good run of form.

    Games involving ARSENAL [& SUNDERLAND] players:

    Santi, Monreal (Spain) vs Uruguay in Doha
    Poldi, Per (Germany) vs Sagna, Kos, Giroud (France) in Paris…wtf???
    Jack, Theo, Ox (England) vs Brazil @ Wembley
    Szcz (Poland) vs Rep. of Ireland [O’Shea, McLean, Westwood] in Dublin
    Rambo [+Vaughan] vs Austria @ Liberty stadium, Swansea
    Rosicky (Czech Rep.) vs Turkey in Manisas, Turkey

    Sweden [Larsson] vs Argentina in Stockholm
    Scotland [Bardsley, Fletcher] vs Estonia in Aberdeen
    Belgium [Mignolet] vs Slovakia in Belgium
    Egypt [Elmohamady] vs Chile @ Vicente Calderon, Madrid
    Benin [Sessegnon] vs ? in ?

    Afobe [+ Wickham] vs Sweden U-21 in Walsall

    At least both teams have most of their 1st teamers off representing.
    Hope our guys come thru unscathed.

    Rested gunners will be:

    Vito, Fabianski
    Jenks, Gibbs*, Santos, Verm*
    Arteta, Coquelin*, Diaby, Arshavin.

    Football’s ability to defy convention in the dire economics of present-day Europe defies logic probably because of a very deep-rooted level of corruption that when fully unveiled should see many reverse their perception of AW.

    ..we wait & we wonder

  2. @dukas at 4:47 pm

    😆 Start a “bring back Pedantic George” campaign…

    @poodle at 5:47 pm

    You fell for it. Forget tba he is a troll, a spud…

  3. Well Evil,
    The rebuttals that bother you so much are also all in that same past. Conspiracy bashers only become active when the conspiracy theorists do 🙂

  4. @Georgaki-Pyrovolitis hehe i did dint i? 🙂

    well what can i say, someone need to chase trolls too, on the other hand “feed the troll and it stays”.

    But ive also heard they turn into stone if the sun shines on the. Guess my post was not sunny enough.

    lol 🙂

  5. @Henristic
    And that is absolutely not true. As I mentioned, it has been often on here in recent times that when you try to have a discussion about a debatable decision, someone will pull that old meme out of the hat. I wish it was part of the past, but unfortunately it isn’t. Therefore, if you try to criticise a referee on here, it always puts you in a position where you have to establish first that you aren’t a conspiracy theorist because someone will have directly or indirectly have called you that.

  6. Sometimes I miss George. It’s Frank I miss the most though. I tried reasoning with Yogi soon after their ban, no luck. Dukey should try, with his charm, who knows?

    I have noticed the friendlier vibe these days. I observed during a game the other day how nice it was that people could express themselves on here without the usual telling offs. Some people were jittery, others were confident, but no one was policing anybody.

    So yeah, I do not miss the judgmental behaviour from people who take themselves waaay too seriously. Dish it out all you want, but don’t complain when its your turn to take it.

  7. Really Evil?

    You say that happens often, but how often really? You asked Andy and Yogi for examples earlier on. Care to reciprocate? It’s kinda hard to comment on your observation otherwise.

    I should add that if I’m in an argument about refs with someone who’s argued for conspiracies in the past, surely I’m well within my rights to bring that up, just for the person to clarify which category the particular instance in question falls under. Especially when you consider that, like Andy said before, these chaps cite most bad calls we get as evidence of their theories.

    As to being called what you’re not, hey, get used to it. The so called realists have been bearing that cross forever.

  8. Evening all,

    Only skimmed the posts, so not sure where the whole “how many black players …” talk has stemmed from, or is about, but I’d say around 02 -04 period we regularly started with 7 black/non-white players.

    Lauren, Campbell, Toure, Cole, Gilberto Silva, Viera, Henry

    In fact, we once started 9 black players, away to Leeds, 28/09/2002

    Cole, Campbell, Lauren, Toure (in midfield!), Vieira, Gilberto, Wiltord, Henry, Kanu.

    Only posted re. this as I, as a black man, am kind of interested/drawn to things of this nature.


  9. @Henristic
    Of course I can. You should know by the numerous discussion you’ve had with me on here that I am a man of facts. 😉 Is just the most recent example. As you can see, I am not talking about conspiracies, but the other poster is consistently trying to undermine my argument(which isn’t even an argument, it’s just mentioning a mistake that poster has made) by mentioning conspiracy theories even though I am clearly stating that my argument has got nothing to do with conspiracies. I don’t really want to name names , but if you search on the site I linked for conspiracies you will find it very quickly since it’s just 50 comments.

  10. “Yogi’s Warrior
    February 4, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    I wasn’t specifically referring to here, there are a number of theorists on other blogs and Twitter as well.”

    There have been plenty of conspiracy theorists on ACLF. Most now will only admit to believing in the passive conspiracy theory that there is a malignant non organized anti arsenal bias rather then an active conspiracy with money changing hands and results scripted.

  11. not that i like liverpool at all but just saw an old pic of them in their adidas kit with carberg on the front. It i SOOOO much nicer than the shit they got now.

    they must seriousley have the ugliest kit in the PL. Warrior has a horrid style…

  12. @Bill
    Don’t forget those conspiracy theorists that believe in magical fairies working in the background to ensure that all decisions even themselves out. To me, those seem to be the most deluded ones.

  13. MGK

    From memory, it started with someone commenting that regularly fielding a nearly all black XI was the cause of the conspiracy against Arsenal or something like that.

    Not having noticed such things, I cannot say I am at all surprised. But then I don’t notice anything, really. Apparently on the basis of one English Champions League match being rigged, the whole of the Premier League is corrupt and this is some sort of vindication to conspiracy theorists anyway…


  14. I was about to ask what NOTH was on about ref Jonny but then I remembered it was NOTH and nobody is really any good about interpreting whatever is written in that sense.

  15. @YW
    It’s a bias against the French anyway! Look how Newcastle will suffer now that they have more French than British players.

  16. Quite how true this is I know not but…

    Noz ‏@BeardedGenius

    Hilariously the claim is Debrecen’s keeper was bribed to ensure that there were over 2.5 goals conceded, but LFC were shit in front of goal.

  17. Evil

    When I first started posting the anti arsenal conspiracy was accepted without question by a large majority.. No one even stopped long enough to think how far OTT a lot of the things that were accepted as truth were. Now that we have been some reasonable discussion about the subject I think most people realize just how unlikely an active conspiracy against us could be, but I think most still believe that we are hurt by some undefinable bias. The Mike Dean myth is a good example. I realize that statistically its impossible for bad calls to equal out but I am quite confident that our Arsenal colored glasses cause us to greatly overestimate the bad calls that go against us and quickly forget the ones that go for us and this perpetuates the myths.

  18. I can recall quite clearly the conspiracy theorists being very prominent on here for quite some time.
    They are quite now as they have A, been evicted. B chosen not to post any more.

    I am sitting on the fence with this one, secretly hoping that some shocking revelations come to the surface. But I dont have much hope of it actually happening.
    Can you imagine Man U being stripped of the game they ended our 49 unbeaten run and us being awarded the victory !

    O to hope…

  19. Evil, thanks for the link.

    The way I understood what happened there, Bill (btw, I don’t think it’s rude to mention names? If anything it focuses the discussion, removes ambiguity) says to no one in particular that he doesn’t think there’s any bias or conspiracy involved in Mike Dean’s reffing record in our games. I’m not sure but his post was probably in response to arguments that happened much earlier?

    You pick up on his use of the word ‘miserable’ to describe our record against the other clubs. Bill doesn’t disagree, but goes on to press his point that the ref didn’t decide the games. I don’t notice him calling you a theorist, he seemed to prefer the use of the more pc term, ‘bias’ from then on.

    Is my summary fair?
    I honestly don’t recognise the behaviour you describe in your 7.40 or 8.21 posts from that exchange between you and Bill.

    Another example of you providing ‘facts’ that are
    not necessarily relevant to the discussion at hand? *nudge nudge, wink wink*

  20. I don’t believe that the game is corrupt here but i’m not naieve to think the this international conspiracy haven’t looked or tried to replicate there methods here.

    On the subject specifically of referees in the EPL, its simply the allocation of referees that is the issue. It is very easy to solve, allocate one referee to every team twice a year for one home and one away game. There are enough officials in the game. Thankfully the pending shitstorm caused by Interpol should put a focus on areas of the game where transparency is lacking and Rileys little clique operate in the shadows.

  21. Match fixing c an happen with so called reputable people/teams…one only has to look at Hanse Cronje’s example …he was the South African cricket team captain…

  22. BRF

    I doubt that there will be more transparency. They’ll hide even further in the shadows, claiming that it protects the referees reputations and prevents corruption if they aren’t announced until kick-off.

  23. My points seem to have been misunderstood by Henristic and so I’ll try to present them a little more cohesively.

    1. To argue ‘for’ or ‘against’ conspiracy is a difficult task. Differentiated statistical data, subconscious bias, extent, nature and consistency of any perceived bias are all very difficult things to ascertain or demonstrate.

    2. Not being able to demonstrate something does not make it untrue or groundless, especially where the notable variables are as complex as they are concerning claims of systemic bias.

    3. The use of the term ‘conspiracy theory’ masks too much to be valuable in serious considerations. It can range from those who suggest that man has not landed on the moon, those who feel that Putin’s Russia have been behind notable assassinations on foreign soil to those who feel that media moguls set agendas that are maintained by those selected to work for them (editors and their staff).

    4. To dismiss suggestions of such wide spread bias under the cover of ‘conspiracy theories’ is therefore not something I would willing support.

    5. A referee can be caught up in a mixture of traditional values, media driven perceptions, personal identity and dislikes, accepted cultural norms and expectations. Yet even in this scenario, a referee/football authority might not always exercise those bias in a consistent way. None of this seems to me to dismiss anything.

    I hope that at least clarifies what I was trying to suggest to YW, beyond the focus on ‘racism’, which I merely used to substantiate these points!

Comments are closed.