Do Not Foresake Me, Oh My Darling

I can honestly say that it has been years since I felt the same sense of relief when Arsenal scored against Tottenham as I did on Saturday when Emmanuel Adebayour scored. In fact, it was similar to when Ian Wright scored a last minute equaliser at White Hart Lane in, I think, the 1991/2 season. When that goal went in, the whole of the away end celebrated as if we had won the FA Cup, a relief that a point had been salvaged. This time round, it was more a case of “Do you know Chaps, I think this one could be an OK result”. It was not, it was better than that. A comprehensive win with plaudits due to all and sundry. It is difficult to hand out individual “pats on the back” as that would mean each one of the players got one but the simple fact was that Saturday was almost the complete team performance. They hassled, harried and were utterly focussed on winning. To those who say that foreign players do not understand local rivalries, point them in the direction of each member of the starting XI. But it was more than that, almost as if they had all read the papers and made a collective decision to decisively throw the criticism and barbs aimed in their direction down the throats of their critics.

So it was somewhat surprising to read yesterday evening that the club is in total disarray. Or at least that is what the papers would have us believe. A Captain and Manager supposedly at each others throats, a loan signing completely fed up with life at The Emirates wanting away if he does not start in Wednesday’s make or break Champions League match. What is going on? The answer seems to be very little in fact. In both cases, it seems that the bias of the hacks in question have shown through. Indeed, The News Of The World carried what purported to be two reports on the match. In fact, one was an apology for all Tottenham fans to quote verbatim, choosing to devote 90% of its report to poor refereeing decisions, only acknowledging in the latter stages that the visitors were totally outclassed. This was in the Score section. The report in the newspaper itself was merely a truncated hatchet job on the club. Surrounded by the alledged comments by Baptista about being completely fed up with life because he is not considered an automatic starter, the piece rehashed the supposed rift between Wenger and Henry about his exclusion from the starting line-up on Saturday.

There was little to report but sensationalist journalism has never let a fact get in the way of a good headline. And I have to say that both Henry and Baptista have given the correct reaction to being omitted; be completely p*ssed off. Any player who is not upset about being left out is either (a) seriously injured and can barely walk, or, (b) not worth worrying about. It may be irritating for the manager to see “news” of a lovers tiff between the two – and it probably was news to him – but so be it. In a media-saturated age, football is a big seller although nothing like that on the continent where several countries manage to support at least two dailies devoted to sport with football high on the agenda. England, contrary to Henry’s assertion to the otherwise, is child’s play. What has happened this weekend is that the Captains contribution was to distract the media from the game, in the preparation at least. Shaun Wright-Phillips is not the answer to our problems at the moment: I just cannot see how he would fit into the side and for certain, he is not better than any of the squad players who can fulfill the wide midfield role. He may be more direct than Hleb but since when did putting your head down and running like a headless chicken for the touchline count for more than close ball control skills? Even more ludicrous is the suggestion that Arsenal are looking to sign Glenn Johnson. Neither of those two players are good enough to be regular first team players at Chelsea, so what makes them good enough for Arsenal?

The manager is meanwhile supposedly irritated by the comments from his Captain. Rightly so, for whilst Henry is entitled to his opinion surely he owes his manager the courtesy of a warning telephone call of anything that could be considered contentious. However, I doubt for one minute that these are not opinions that he has already shared with Arsene and I, for one, am not totally convinced that his constant assertions that there will be no additions in the January window; look at past history – when he has said we will sign someone, frequently nothing of note happens. Not through lack of effort, I am sure but it is easier to deny reports (and cleverer, for the club cannot be accused of tapping players up) than it is to admit you think someone will be a good addition to your squad. And frankly, with some of the supposed signings we are about to make (N’zogbia?!?!?) it is in his best interests to keep shtumm and let the ridiculous rumours run their course.

Good news in that Arsene appears less than keen to release Anthony Stokes once his loan spell at Falkirk finishes. I am all for sending the younger players out on loan and if they produce the goods, bring them back and give them a chance in the first team. Who knows, amongst Lupoli, Bendtner and Stokes he may find one or two (or even three if he is really lucky) who save him a fortune in the transfer market.

Ahead of Wednesday’s game, team news at this early stage is a bit scarce but The Daily Telegraph are reporting that Tomas Rosicky will miss the match due to an ankle injury sustained on Saturday which is a bit disappointing as he has done well since joining and I have the feeling that the match in Oporto would have been ideal for him. Henry is obviously out through suspension but he would have missed it anyway through his neck injury, something that it seems will keep him out of the team until January.

Which is the sort of smooth segue into today’s final note, the FA Cup Third Round draw. Am I alone in missing the Monday lunchtime huddle around a radio to find out the draw? Never mind, I guess I’m just an old git. Still, Liverpool away is one the sort of draw that you groan at and look forward to at the same time. Groan? Of course you do. Like myself, you want to draw non-league teams all the way to the final and then win the cup the easy way. It never happens of course but still this is the sort of tie that we all love. Far better than a troll to middle England to play a lower division team who you know will raise their game one million percent; this one relieves the pressure to a certain extent in that we are the underdogs. You read that correctly, we are the underdogs. Not in our minds but in that of the media; Liverpool are the Fallen Gods From Anfield but completely unbeatable at home or so we should believe. And who are we to prove them wrong? Well, we may just do that but one thing is for certain, Arsene will be fielding a damn sight stronger team than he does for the upcoming Hokey-Cokey Cup tie.

4 thoughts on “Do Not Foresake Me, Oh My Darling

  1. Hi YW,

    You will remember the discussion we had about the poor quality of the press. Mike was going to set up a website called ArsenalMediaWatch. Do you know if he did so? In the meantime I would suggest that Arsenal supporters avoid buying the News of the World, and we can let the managers/editors know that this will be the case. We could also identify the reporters (I hesitate to use the word) responsible for the articles and consider writing our own articles about their very poor efforts to try to smear individuals and club.

    Meanwhile, I doubt if Baptista has thrown his dummy out of his pram, as his absence has been down to injury. It is possible that TH has become upset about his own form and our results. I would not be at all surpised to learn that Arsene has suggested that he rests and that in the mean time Gilberto will take over the captaincy (Gilberto’s captains performance on Saturday was superb and not the performance of a stand-in). We could speculate that the captaincy is not helping Thierry’s game and that he will stand down. But I doubt if anyone but TH and Arsene know about that.

    In terms of transfer speculation – it is coming up to January and so all sorts of rubbish will be printed over the coming days and weeks. We don’t need to buy players we have a superb squad which is just gearing up. If we are patient we will see it all unfold before our eyes. I think the squad know that. I think TH knows that and I think Arsene knows that.

  2. Frank

    Can’t see that ArsenalMediaWatch was set up.

    I only get tired of transfer gossip when it is a rehash of old news; after all, there are thousands of players out there, can they not link us with someone other than Buffon, Riberry, Torres?

    Baptista probably gave an honest answer to a question and it has been loosely interpreted to fit this weekends spin. The headlines tend to be at odds with a story and even then, you cannot tie out someone’s interpretation when reading the text.

    Can’t really grumble. After all, it gives me something else to rumble on about.

  3. As supporters I guess there is an element of ‘getting the press we deserve’. Given the very low quality (in terms of depth and veracity) of coverage by the press and media, and the very low quality of commentary on radio and TV – including ATVO, we must have done something very bad indeed.

    I have to say one or two blog sites are beginning to slip as well and are beginning to create havens for people to moan and whinge away is if they did not support the team at all. Seems to me that supporters forums have an obligation to be completely and utterly biased towards the club, providing a wonderful counter-balance to the whinging, whining and bad-mouthing in the press and media.

    No need to grumble – this is a fantastic squad in a fantastic club, the future is very healthy. There is no crisis and there is unlikely to be in the near-future.

  4. I was in France during part of the World Cup & it was bliss to not have the listen to the inane tripe that most of our commentators dish out in huge quantities all the time. Even Jonathan Pierce, one of the few I respect, managed to totally misrepresent the flavour of saturdays match. No mention of the Spuds’ inept attempt at the physical approach that should have seen their LB off after about 10 mins.

    The Baptista interview was in the Sunday Times. He says he is now fit and would like to be playing. That means of course “play me or I am off”.

    TH – the situation appears to be exactly what we were speculating about a couple of weeks ago. The bloke is clearly knackered, probably more mentally than physically, and needs a good rest. There has probably been a disagreement about exactly needs to be done, but probably that’s about all. With the benefit of hindsight it may have been better to have given him a month longer break, but then he would have missed the ridiculous early season internations. In fact that could be what it is all about.

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