STONE COLD FRIDAY: Bring Back Them Good Old Days

I have this game I play in my head. Every time we face a penalty, I go into squeaky bum mode, willing Petr Cech to save his first penalty for Arsenal. The missus snorts and remarks “I’ve always told you he’s a plant”.

That’s typical from a Chelsea fan. We have a bet; if the opposition scores, I buy her a bottle of wine. If Cech saves, she buys me a 6-pack. Let’s just say my debit card earns frequent flier miles at the local off-licence.

I’m getting used to the inevitability of the situation. The same feeling I got when Michael Oliver pointed at the spot on Sunday, unleashing a yellow card on Monreal for good measure. It’s the same feeling I get every November as the inevitability of our season plays out in front of us. Last year it was a two-game fixture against Man City and Everton.

This season, it might turn out to be Man City and them lot up the Seven Sisters Road. You can hear the resident demons in your head shouting down your better angels; “Could have, should have, would have”. If only Laurent Koscielny was quick enough to block that shot. What if that penalty wasn’t awarded like many similar ones?  If only the lino raised his flag for the offside that could be spotted from Holloway Road. If wishes were horses. I suspect, we’d all have a ranch.

If You Don’t Do Strategy, Strategy Will Do You

Away from the parallel universe of the Arsenal board room, I like many fans around the world continue to wonder what it is we’re doing here. Our Ivan is convinced that we’re over performing, but even a blind man can tell you there’s no design to the club’s strategy. Ours has been an excellent execution of strategy by accident. Player management, game management, succession planning, transfer policy – take your pick. There seems to be an acceptance of “we’ll be fine if we can get away with the bare minimum”. The natives may be restless, but they won’t bring the house down sort of thing.

Take last Sunday’s game. Even if we accept the injuries we had, it’s still baffling why Lacazette and Elneny didn’t start that game if Wenger chose to play that system. Surely, both would have had a positive impact in attack and defence. The situation we found ourselves in also made the sale of Gabriel even more bizarre. More baffling decisions are yet to come – the renewal or not of Wenger’s contract being a case in point. That’s before we even start thinking of how the replacements for Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will be brought in. Sometimes it feels like the folks managing our transfer policy would struggle fighting their way out of a paper bag.

The Calm Before The Arsenal Is In Crisis Storm

United’s loss to Chelsea provided a bit of relief from the “Arsenal is in crisis” news cycle that would have been milked throughout the international break. As far as relief goes, them lot from the other side of the rail tracks are coming to town next weekend. Believe me when I say how painful it is to admit that Tottenham have been playing much better than us and seem to have a more solid game plan than Arsenal does. That we haven’t beaten them at home for 4 years now is a head scratcher. They’re in fine form and Harry Caine seems to be scoring goals for fun.

No matter, it’s another opportunity for Arsenal to show the power of recovery. Some call it a test of character. Regardless, this is one game that won’t need any team talk. More than the 3 points is at stake here, not least the bragging rights. It’s also a game that we must return to the Alexis-Ozil-Lacazette triumvirate and stop the experimentation on reality TV. A negative result will accelerate Arsenal towards what seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy of another washed out season. The 4th place trophy will still be up for grabs, but with 4 clubs having a shout for 2 spots in the top 4, we must accept that even this will be a dog fight to the end.

Use The Back Door, Use The Chimney, But Get Into The House

I subscribe to the “If you’re in it, then bloody get on with it” school of thought. We’re past pondering how or why we got into the Europa League. We are the current favourites, and will still be odds on to win the competition once the Champions League rejects are sent back our way. I’m struggling to see how any of the remaining games, including the round of 32 will be any more dire than the last match against Red Star. Winning the Europa League seems to be the most practical route for us to get back into the Champions league. Arsenal should grab the opportunity with both hands and stop staring this gift horse in the mouth.

We have no right to win any competition. We won’t win the Europa League though, if we don’t apply ourselves to it, especially from the next round onwards. As far as trophies go, the business end of the league cup is here. A win against West ham will earn Arsenal a semi-final against one of the big 4. I don’t see any of them rolling out their kids, and we shouldn’t do it because Wenger has little or no interest in the league cup. Refusing to change your squad and tactics 3 games to a trophy would be very Arsenal.

The two cup competitions will be back with us soon enough. There’s just that small matter of a North London derby. Don’t you long for those good old days when we used to win 5-2 for fun?

This is the point I make a request for Dad’s Juke Box – “Bring back them good old days” by Kenny Edmonds (Babyface). Over to you, DJ YW.

30 thoughts on “STONE COLD FRIDAY: Bring Back Them Good Old Days

  1. I have to say, Isaac, you are maintaining a top quality Post writing epoch that is both enchanting and original, so that every Arsenal ‘challenge’ is written about in a straight forward and objective way, and not depressing every Arsenal fan with unmitigated “there ain’t no hope in Holloway” judgements!
    Very refreshing.

    I said above, I found the Post enchanting, and you might wonder what caught my attention, well we had cleverly woven into the fabric of your story; wishes, gift horses, parallel universes, paper bags, wine, the Mrs, angels, dog fights and demons.

    What more could anyone want in an article? 😀

    Gift Horses, angels, blind men, paperbags, wine, the Mrs, parallel universes

  2. Isaac,

    [A note from one of the faceless masses]

    The key reason bloggers read and comment on blogs is to find out what others are saying, and to get a feel for how they see things, be it the management, the players, games, refereeing decisions and where the season will find us (the team) when it is all over.

    For every new season that starts there is an inevitable ending too, and the conjectures about whether or not it will finish in a mighty climax or a miserable debacle beckons us ever more frequently as the season wends its steadfast way thru the months.

    With that in mind, I find I am not as sure as you that there is necessarily going to be a happy climax to our Europa efforts. My reasons are manifold for saying that, but my primary concern is the team make up for that competition — not the youthful players enjoying their moment in the stagelights, I hasten to add, but the surprisingly despondent 2nd tier, experienced players, who are basically 1st team dropouts who mostly ride the bench in Premier League games, and show no enthusiasm for their demotion to the ‘minor’ competitions.

    Unless that is addressed I fear our next round ‘all or nothing’ draw will see us disappointed in yet another competition.

    Yours truly, HenryB, aka the Grinch. 😀

  3. YW,

    Excuse my your majesty, for taking of the liberty, but marmalade is tasty when very thickly spread.

    So there!

  4. Great one Darius. Its hard to see that there is any sort of direction or coherent plan to where Arsene is taking us. I thought his agenda and plan in the early emirates era was overly ambitious and did not have much chance to succeed. He wanted to build his team from the ground up with home grown academy players as the foundation and he wanted to win with his version of Wengerball and he thought he could ignore the importance of defense. None of that was going to work but at least you knew that he had a plan. Now days I am not sure there is a plan.

  5. HenryB,

    henryB. Glad you enjoy the posts. I have a lot of sympathy for YW. On days like these, you do wonder where the hell to get the material for the daily post. I confess, even as I started writing the post this morning, I was struggling to know what the hell to write. But I love writing. I express myself well with it. Actually, I’m about to complete my debut novel. it’s an espionage thriller about a single mum who falls in love with a complex guy. She gets entangled in a web of conspiracy, espionage, terrorism and a geopolitical war. It’s an exciting project for me. One critic who has read the previews to the manuscript has described is as – Isaac, you have your own style and voice, but underneath that, there’s a Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum in you. compliments dont come any better than that.

  6. Darius

    I agree completely with your idea that the Europa League might be our best chance to get back into the champions league. The FA cup has proved that we can do well in a knockout competition if we take it seriously. Hopefully Arsene will bring our starters back into the mix when we get into the knockout part of the Europa League. A lot of fans enjoy seeing our squad players and a few of the youth but we need to take a lesson from Spurs. They were and are a better team then us and they bombed out of the Europa League very quickly because they did not really care about it. I love the FA cup but Europa League success clearly should trump that competition on our priority list, IMO.

  7. I think that most people myself included who have moved past 50 start to want to slow down and they lose a bit of mental stamina. I am not Arsene’s age and he may be the exception but its hard to imagine that he has not lost at least some of mental energy and stamina that carried him thru the early Emirates era. His plan during that period was also new and incredibly ambitious which would have energized him even more. However stagnation set in around 2010 and it has to be more difficult for him to do all of the things he has to do to run the football side of the club and there can be no doubt that he can’t give him full attention to every job that he has. For example I can’t prove it but I suspect he does more of his player scouting with u-tube clips. Someone like Xhaka would look great on a Utube compilation of his best long diagonal passes. However you need to spend dozens of hours watching film to realize that Xhaka is not a good defensive player. When can Arsene possibly find the time and mental energy to concentrate on hours of film when he has all of those other jobs and he is probably slowing a bit.

  8. Isaac,

    Wow! A debut novel!! No wonder I look forward to reading your Posts every week, and it is why I am not surprised to hear how well the manuscript has been received.

    If at any time you feel that the publishers are not acting as quickly as you hoped, there is always the expanding market in ebooks on Amazon/Kindle which has become a good place to start the careers of authors like yourself. Do tell us how things develop.

    You are, of course, correct about Yogi. I will never know how he writes so many quality daily Posts and is so consistently able to concoct subject matter to keep us satisfied is truly exceptional.

    I have written Posts in my time on an occasional basis, for two or three other blog sites, altho never for ACLF, [it is important to keep riff raff like me out} 😀 but I became a little bored at having to curb my admittedly odd humour, or being told, by some, that I could only write with the aid of a dictionary [Ho, Ho] and finally decided, no doubt to everyone’s relief, that enough was enough! 😀

    You definitely have the talent, so keep at it!

  9. Arsene seems like an incredibly intelligent and energetic man who truly loves football but he would not be human if the workload that he has given himself and the natural aging process has not taken something out of him.

  10. Bill @4:13

    I suspect that you are correct that most people lose some indefinable ‘something’ as they age, in some professions more so than in others, which society recognises, and the accepted solution is retirement, and that is seen as the natural time to hang up the boots, and take it easy.

    I am not convinced that is quite the case with AW. He is no more immune to the ravages of time than others of his mature age, but like a few really driven individuals I think he finds it impossible to voluntarily lay down his tools, so to speak, and would, if he could, work until the grim reaper knocked on his door.

    Eventually it will require his employer to tell him he needs to ride off into the sunset and sit on a beach, and relax with some high quality wine. (mixed metaphors?)

    So the real question is : will Kroenke ever know when that time has arrived, as he only looks at Arsenal as an investment and has little knowledge of what ‘success’, or the lack of it, means to lifelong fans like us who do not give a stuff about someone whose only interest is in a balance sheet.

    Sad really.

  11. HenryB,

    Thanks mate. Actually, my preference is to self-publish my debut novel. Thing is, I have direct access to at least 50,000 followers on my personal FB page, and two groups that I run as admin. I know my customers by name, and I’ve been pre-selling with my writing for the last 4 years. I already have at least 500 pledges to buy the book when it’s published with offers of reviews to amplify what I’m doing. Publishers can’t do what I’m capable of – that is interact with customers the way I do. In fact, I started the project as a social experiment. My FB followers helped me create the two main characters. They told me what they liked, what they didn’t, what they wanted to see, what I should include in their back story, etc.

    I occasionally post spoilers for them. The novel isn’t the only thing I write. I also do an Adventure Series – a short story series of life chronicles with a twisted sense of humour. I’ll be happy to share if you’re interested and if you’re on FB.

  12. The Queen said “Oh!: And went to His Majesty:
    “Talking of the butter for The royal slice of bread,
    Many people Think that Marmalade Is nicer, thickly spread
    Would you like to try a little Marmalade Instead?”

    The King said, “Bother!” And then he said, “Oh, deary me!”
    The King sobbed, “Oh, deary me!” And went back to bed.
    “Nobody,” He whimpered, “Could call me A fussy man;
    I only want A little bit Of butter for My bread!”

    The Queen said, “There, there!” And went to The Dairymaid.
    The Dairymaid, Said, “There, there!” And went to the shed.
    The cow said, “There, there! I didn’t really Mean it; Here’s milk for his porridge.
    And butter for his bread.”

    All that for some marmalade butter —– sheesh. 😀

  13. Isaac,

    That is fascinating! And makes me realise you will definitely make it to the top, if I had not already sensed that you will.

    I have never been on Face Book, or any other social media for that matter, and blogging has been my only ‘relaxation’, as my life has been complicated for some time, so blogging allows me to work at the same time, and earn some much needed cash in the evenings and in between commenting.

    When things settle down I would be more than happy to become one of your fans on FB – altho I already am!! 😀

  14. Henry

    I agree with your comment and Arsene probably is different then most football managers however, my guess is that the things he tried to do and the agenda he set up for himself at the start of the Emirate era required superhuman energy and stamina and drive that no one could maintain for a long period of time. He was younger then and the prospect of doing something different that no one else had tried probably gave him more then energy then he had. However, once the newness wears of and the stagnation sets in then you start to lose that early energy boost and then add to that 15 years more of age and I would be shocked if Arsene still had the same sort of mental stamina that he once had. Building a coherent plan for something as complicated as running a big football club takes a lot of mental stamina and when that starts to fade it’s inevitable that the well thought out long term plans slowly get lost and replaced by more short term thinking and crisis management. Our wage structure is another thing that would take lots of long term planning but we saw from the bloated squad and the wage dump of last summer that Arsene has not done a great job of keeping track of that aspect of managing the club.

  15. A rare comment. The quality of writing for this blog is second to none, and I probably take it for granted, that its there every day…Henry I know you have tried you hand at it, and I shouldn’t laugh, as I am not capable of writing one, but one of your posts elsewhere is totally memorable purely by the comments, which never fail to bring a smile to my face.

  16. Bill,

    I was trying to put the case from AW’s point of view, but I cannot deny that you are absolutely correct, and I only wish that Arsene had realised, long ago, that time and tide etc does not wait for any man, and he should have stepped aside.

    Deep down he must know a lot of fans are really and genuinely unhappy with him, and that cannot be comfortable for him, anymore than for the Arsenal fans.

  17. Thank you, Michael, I think — and for the moment I wondered where you were going with that.
    Anyway, a smile is worth its weight in gold?

    It’s a while now since we exchanged some Irish Gaelic words (again very funny) even tho I am not Irish, but I was helped by Irish friends – and I was sweating on them not stitching me up with some naughty stuff! 😀

    Anyway – got to go – a spreadsheet calls.

  18. Henry

    I understand and I accept Arsene’s point of view. I don’t blame him for wanting to have the best possible situation for himself in terms of work and wages. He has built the perfect work situation which includes doing what he loves and having control of most of the decisions regarding the football operations of the club. Football is his life and he probably wants to manage for as long as he can and no one can deny that just like players having a world class weekly wage does not hurt.

    As you pointed out earlier, I doubt Arsene will voluntarily leave for as long as he is healthy and Stan Kronke is willing to give him contract extensions. If what we hear is true, Arsene is not like Fergie and he does not have hobbies or other interests that can fill his time and how can you blame Arsene for wanting to stay. I suspect most of us would do the same if we were in his position.

  19. If Julian Draxler is really good enough to be one of Germny’s Starting forwards then they are going to struggle to score against solid defensive teams in the world cup

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