Huddersfield Town: The End of an Era Match Preview

So this is it; the end of an era. If things had been planned properly, last week’s match against Burnley would have been the sign off; 5 – 0 with plenty of tears and beers.

It wasn’t to be, which sort of sums up the last years of Arsene’s reign. While it’s easy to split the reign in two from a trophy perspective, for me it is more straightforward to pitch the first decade as when he made dreams come true and the second when it was just dreams.

And what a first decade it was. To win the title in his first full season was an incredible achievement. The double was something else and with the style of football astonishing. There was a power and beauty allied to a ruthless streak.

It should have been back-to-back doubles and the shattering of Manchester United’s dominance of English football but that wasn’t to be. We were back in the bridesmaid dresses.

1997/98 remains one of my favourite league triumphs. The second half of the season was relentless, remorseless and ruthless. A long unbeaten run, including games where opponents were murdered 1 – 0. One-nil to the Arsenal; Highbury’s signature tune.

Then came ‘peak’ Wenger. 2001 – 2006. When the league and cups came regularly with a beauty which masked the professionalism. Teams which knew how to draw instead of losing, displaying a pragmatism we’ve missed for years. The Invincibles are remembered and hailed today as the conquering heroes, almost forgetting they had a trial run two seasons before.

This was Arsene in his prime when he outwitted rivals with ease. Not tactically in terms of formations but with expression. Possession with a reason. And players at the peak of their powers. Henry, Vieira, Bergkamp, Pires, Campbell, Keown, Toure; their names as easily recalled as Anfield ’89 or the ’71 double-winning squad.

Move On Up

Which led us to the Emirates. The move which forced Project Youth, which gave birth to the doomed socialist wage structure, an idea which needed to be drowned in the font.

It nearly delivered a title but Eduardo’s injury is the marker which sealed our fate. We needed an inspirational captain and instead got an egotist; ‘Mon Capi’ needed a nappy. It was a title we should have won and with the 2004 Champions League, I think will be Arsene’s biggest regret.

He wasn’t helped in that respect by the sales pitch of the Emirates. This was the stadium which would make us competitive with Europe’s elite. We’d been there with Paris 2006 and liked the feeling. While he hadn’t cracked the Champions League, Arsene at least understood it now. Arsenal were ready to have a full-on tilt at winning it.

That PSV dumped us out the following season ought to have been the warning. It was; we just never heeded it.

Still the lie was promulgated, not just by the manager but also by Gazidis, that we would compete and all you can do now is echo Johnny Rotten’s words, “Ever feel like you’ve been cheated?”. But that’s my feeling about the stadium, more than the man himself.

For Arsene, there’s a path to redemption for the second decade in much the same way George Graham enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. The Premier League football is more or less forgotten, dismissed in a sentence. Sometimes not even that much.

Cup football? That will be a different matter. The defeats at Stoke, Forest and all other points will be forgotten, with the wins at Wembley replacing them. It’s a shame there wasn’t a Europa League triumph to speak of as well, but there you go.

People Get Ready

The genuine pity of it is that Arsene never went out on a high. Instead of agreeing with many of us that the timing was perfect, each time the FA Cup was hoisted by an Arsenal captain spurred him on, reigniting the belief that he had rediscovered his mojo.

Twice contracts were signed with Wembley in the mind; twice hindsight tells us it was the wrong decision. The divisions were too much to overcome, the weaknesses too easily exploited.

And we end at Huddersfield Town. No disrespect to them, but it isn’t the ‘glamour game’ he might have hoped for. I am pleased they stayed up. The Premier League needs refreshing. Stoke and West Brom hung around like a bad smell; the likes of the Terriers are the air freshener.

Our away form though; pffft, it stinks the place out. Today’s the day that the players need to get their mojo back for one last game. Sign off in style. Huddersfield won’t roll over but nor (hopefully) will they be the dour side which fought creditable draws at the Etihad and Stamford Bridge. Perhaps both sides can let the handbrake off and give us a match to remember.

The final line-up Arsène chooses? Something like:

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Monreal; Ramsey, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Wilshere, Aubameyang; Lacazette

If they pull off an away win, the first of 2018, the football gods will give a rare display of benevolence. Don’t expect it though…

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

 

34 thoughts on “Huddersfield Town: The End of an Era Match Preview

  1. Morning

    Be nice if Santi gets a 5 minute cameo at the end regardless of the score. I know that sounds a bit sentimental, but to see him smile on the field 1 last time would be great imo.

  2. Well it is here, at last, the end of one very long era, and the presaging of the start of almost certainly a number of much, much shorter eras.

    Before the start of the World Cup, if the Arsenal rumours are to be believed, today’s ‘present time’ will have faded into yesterday’s ‘past time, and life and football will rumble on into a new future time.

    This is an exciting time awaiting the appointment of a new manager, and the recruitment of new players — although that excitement brings with it an element of worry too — what if we get stuck with a manager from left field, more concerned with keeping the owners pleased by conservative player recruitment, and staying in the ‘top 6’ and not bothering with competing for titles.

    Nope — if they go that way that would be a massive mistake, but no one could be that stupid – could they?

    Who then? Certainly Max Allegri for me if he is insisting on having a £200 million transfer kitty agreed before he signs — or perhaps Arteta or Vieira, if we want someone with ‘Arsenal DNA’ — who knows?

    I for one am inpatient to see the manager’s position settled – and the transfer shenanigans started.

    COYG

  3. I don’t really know too much about him, YW, altho that says more about me than him, so maybe he would be successful for us, but isn’t he on the brink of being sacked by PSG, (?) and is also being slated as a replacement for Moyes at Wham, and perhaps as a replacement for Fat Sam at Everton.

    I don’t like the idea of Arsenal being indirectly associated with those crap clubs — but maybe I should not be so sniffy, in our current position! 😀

    [Sorry — I forgot to say, I enjoyed your Post today, and also Isaac’s Post last Friday. Quality – the pair of you.]

  4. YW:
    Unai Emery is this morning’s leader of the pack, H.

    Great post YW – Emery might be a good appointment as he could work within the new structure and on smaller budgets than say Allegri or Enrique. He did that at Sevilla excellently. We are not a top tier team at the moment so Europa League level could be acceptable for him. His appointment might make sense. He might make us a PL top four team again too if he got our best players performing.

  5. Do the first 10 years make up for where He leaves us: lowest league position and points tally in over 20 years; worst away record for since the 60s: over 30 points behind the champions: and a squad so woefully unbalanced we have world class attackers and conference level defenders.

    Whoever comes in to replace him has a massive job on their hands.

  6. I read today that Moaniho’s assistant is leaving, I do hope that is not a clue, we haven’t done well with Utd cast offs

  7. Great post yogi

    You first started writing about the end of the era 3-4 years ago and thankfully it’s finally here. I honestly thought Arsene would be with us into the next decade and I am glad I was wrong. It will be an interesting next few years and hopefully the divisions between segments of the fan base will slowly close. Enjoy the game today and hopefully we can get our first away points since December.

  8. YW. I like your line up but I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsene ran out a league cup side just to be contrarian.

  9. Nice post Yogi

    “End of an era” times carry with them plenty of personal memories & connections, and a feeling for what has been and never will be again for guys like myself with a penchant for nostalgia…

    Back in 1995, as a native of Alsace-Lorraine myself (and an FC Metz supporter), I was working in Tokyo and started following an intriguing French coach who just arrived at Nagoya Grampus….i very clearly remember cutting out some articles in the local newspapers about “Wenger the Magician (sic)”.
    In 1996 he was announced Arsenal manager and I got quickly hooked on Arsenal FC . A year later i decided to move to London for my work (and for over 10 years)…

    So strangely, Arsene brought me to Arsenal (and not the other way round). I imagine that does make it feel even more like the “end of an era” some 22 years later.
    Nonetheless I am glad Arsene is gone now and wish it had happened earlier (for the good of the club). As the saying goes: the king is dead, long live the king…

  10. Excellent stuff Yogo the man!

    Have to say, its a rather mixed day of feelings because as somebody at the age that known mainly Arsene its sad to see him go but its been long overdue. I hope the line-up today has some youth mixed in, true Arsene.

  11. I’d love to see Arsene send out

    Macey
    Bellerin—-Chambers—-Holding—-Sead
    ——-Xhaka—–Maitland-Niles—-Mhkitaryan
    Nelson——Lacazette——Aubameyang

  12. Last time for Arsene:

    Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

    Subs: Mertesacker, Monreal, Welbeck, Maitland-Niles, Macey, Nketiah, Willock

  13. Godday’

    We’re pretty lame and I guess all and their aunts are on a sick note or mentally on vacation. Fair play, Huddersfield are ok and we wait for the new era. So be it.

    I’m personally somewhat tired of hearing the gargantuan praise of Arsène. Yea I get it, he’s special and is the longest serving servant in the game. All his old players will tell us about his virtues and so forth on and on.

    I reckon I must be a right miserable bastard feeling that I’ve had enough of this🙂.

  14. Welsh Corgi Cardigan,

    Nope, their words are cheap, we all know how they ‘celebrated’ AW’s 1000th game, how they wanted to ‘win it for Arsene’ in the Europa League this season. Players know exactly what they are expected to say these days but I bet half of them don’t mean a word of it.

    Personally for me this is a great day for AFC. Out with the dinosaur and hope for a better future.

  15. andy1886,

    Thanks Andy, I’m also just pleased with change and looking forward to what’s coming. Doesn’t matter if we the new man hit the road running or not .

    But it would be nice If we start competing again, play a mean defence and maybe show some resilience 😀.

  16. Well, it’s all over now. 😃😃😀

    They say the table doesn’t lie and fact is we were 37 points behind the champions. That isn’t a team that is going to challenge for the title next year, it’s a million miles away from that. Amongst many other things I’m looking forward to a coach who can make a realistic assessment of our squad rather than delude themselves. Welcome to the future 😀

  17. Hi Guys,

    Great post as always. I want to focus everyone’s mind on the fact the board has lied to us all for years about their ambition.

    I beleive strongly that if the fan base doesn’t unite together now we will end up with a nothing manager like Arteta. That has to be a joke.

    We cannot sail blindly into the abyss just because some of us feel now Arsene is gone everything will automatically be better. It will get terrible if they get Arteta in.

    The only credible choices are Allegro, Ancelloti and Jardin. Enrique wouldn’t suit us as he needs a checkbook. Nagelsmann could be great but also could be a disaster.

    If we were to take a risk it can only be on Veira. But please please not Arrests and definately not Brendan Rodgers.

  18. Thank fuck Huddersfield were on the piss all week after their relegation survival, it gave us a chance of some points.

  19. So that’s that. Anyone else get the feeling the board are going to fuck things up for a while doing things on the cheap.

  20. Please not Lego head. Mr personality. Who saw us through the bore years. The one that chose city over us. Deary me.

  21. Dukey,

    Nae, don’t think so. Got good hope for that Gazidis e consorte will do this properly. Sure they may fuck up but after watching us fail year after year with an aging emperor they are probably just as us fed up with mediocrity. My guess and hope is that are aching with desire to make us competitive again🙂.

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