Stone Cold Friday: Faint Heart’s Not Required

It’s Friday and I’m sloping off for the day. Instead, here’s Darius

I wondered how much time would elapse before the traditional piss-taking phone call would come in.  And sure enough, it took until yesterday afternoon with my smug and smiling friend Dean ready to enthusiastically spread his ‘positivity’.

“Dude, get the hell out of the bunker.  We’re at war here and you guys have a job to do against the Manure.  I have an early birthday present to cheer you up.  Get up – get up, we’ve got to stop these punks”.

You see, Dean is a diehard Liverpool supporter who can’t stand the thought of the red Mancunians winning another title.  He’s always been of the school of thought that the Champions League was a distraction for us and that there were bigger fish to fry.  We have a mutual enemy in that, but without prejudicing his right to take the piss, hence the early present.

Apparently, it’s a special edition limited release of a double epic DVD that he picked up while on his rounds on the wrong side of the Seven Sisters Road.

“It’s a collector’s item”, he insists, “with Spurs v AC Milan and a bonus disc with Barcelona v Arsenal”.

But as we pick up the debris from the crash out of Europe, it’s easy to forget that there’s still a massive job in front of us.  I suspect that like Dean, most Liverpool fans would be happy to let their team roll over at the Emirates in a tactical manoeuvre to outwit the old enemy.  Whether Dalglish and his charges think the same way is another matter altogether.

A lot has been said about the injustice at the Nou Camp, with Busaccas performance rivalling the Phil Daud show at St. James’ Park – something you would think was impossible to replicate.  My take is that even with the referee shafting us, we still had an opportunity to take the tie in the last minute, but such is the bitter sweet nature of the beast.

I would rather take the positives out, and in particular, a gallant display in defending.  It puts paid to the argument that if we needed to, we can’t defend, but as the narrative goes, many will have you believe otherwise.  Of course, we would rather play an attacking game, and that comes with its warts and all, but by God it’s entertaining.

The home straight is here and what bemuses me somewhat, is that there is still a lot of noise about the ability of this team.  The noise that comes from other camps about the smash and grab that smuggled the Carling cup out of Wembley forget to mention that the supporters of these teams were watching the game on TV.  If there teams were any good at it this season, they would have been at Wembley instead of us.

The noise about whether our defence is good enough and the flawed argument about needing a ‘world class keeper’ has been bitch-slapped by the consistency of a solid back 5.  I argued here the other week about the privilege of having the most experienced 2nd choice keeper in the league and the name Shay Given was thrown back at me.

Manuel Almunia has had more experience than Given in big name European games and that’s fact.  He showed it again on Tuesday and you have to admire his dignity and humility after all that has happened.  He was still ready to come in and do a stellar job for the cause.  Our 3 keepers this season, despite the regulation moments of madness have done us proud.  And in case you doubt it, look at the league table, the table doesn’t lie.

It’s easy to forget that Thomas Vermaelen, the best defender in the league last season is still on the Arsenal payroll.  I’m sure he’s even doubting whether he will be an automatic starter when he gets back.  Even with the individual mistakes at the back that you can’t legislate for, all our first choice defenders without exception, have given an excellent account of themselves.  If you doubt this – the league table doesn’t lie.

Despite everything that has happened in this campaign, we are in an excellent position to end up with a very successful season.  It would be naive and even criminal to actually think that it’s going to be easy.  There’s no such thing as an easy run-in.  There’s prizes to be won at the top and bottom of the table and all teams will be fighting for something.

The team is under no illusions about the fact that referees are not necessarily inclined to be impartial and this job has to be done the hard way.  Can we win 14 straight games?  Yes, it’s a possibility, but it probably won’t happen.  Even so, we are in control of our destiny and don’t have to necessarily depend on other teams to do us favours, as much as it will be welcome.

Picking up from this week’s defeat and the bitter way it happened is something both the team and supporters have to do and have to do very quickly.  This journey doesn’t take prisoners and it’s not for the faint-hearted.

My sense is that the reaction – especially from within the Arsenal ranks – when we suffer a defeat is amplified beyond belief.  There is a bigger danger that the overwhelming negativity and defeatist mentality will consume us and keep us firmly in the gutter with the red-herrings, as opposed to focussing on the rest of the job.

We’re  at the stage of the season where results are more important than vintage performances, and our regular display of Wengerball will be a bonus.  Make no mistake, our character, our belief, our patience and our sanity will be tested.

Now is not the time to pick perceived holes in our performances, or to consume ourselves with over analysing actual mistakes that we can live with.  It’s time to get out of the bunker and from behind the sofa and enjoy the 14 game roller-coaster.

Watch out for the warning signs for the faint-hearted before you board.

’til Tomorrow.

248 thoughts on “Stone Cold Friday: Faint Heart’s Not Required

  1. Gadget says:

    I can only assume your last comment was said firmly tongue in cheek Jon.

  2. Busch says:

    With the way this season has gone, throwing around “we should”, “we will”, “easy”, etc is a bit in excess.
    Let’s just watch the match, support the squad, and leave the hubris behind.

  3. Gadget says:

    No beef. I’m vegetarian.

    I would have thought you’re posting that comment on the wrong blog. I know many on here to be fearless in their support and belief in the capabilities of the squad and team, why even moreso than yourself: your lack of faith in the Manny is… disturbing. From the should-ers to the capable-ers, we all believe. Ain’t no fear here, Jon; ain’t no fear here.

  4. JonJon says:

    ahhh gadget your one of those bloggers who judges the book by its cover aint ya??
    just cos i dont think manny has the minerals to be arsenals number one ( which judging by the fact AW relegated him to third choice, AW must feel the same way) doesnt mean i dont think the TEAM cant go out and do utd over good style??

    theres no point discussing anything with ppl like you cos theres no grey area is there??? its either one extreme or the other…

  5. Gadget says:


    I love the way you infered that from one little comment which actually sid you merely have less belief than most on here. In fact, you already suggested your confidence has dropped since Manny’s now starting, so I’m merely reenforcing your own point!

    And yes you’re right there is no point discussing anything with me.


    Ta ra JonJon.


  6. Nasir Jones-Nasri says:

    I like our chances vs United. I think were gonna be well fired up for this one. We’ll be out to prove a point, and we are just the better team period. You never know with these refs nowadays though.

  7. JonJon says:

    ok..that made sense..well done..u got me…

  8. Gadget says:

    Oh, by the way, in case it wasn’t like abundantly clear, you know with the lame humour and Star wars reference, my comment was not written to offend, but somehow it managed to do so anyway. That I find fricking hilarious. In fact I actually agree with JonJon’s original sentiments, it’s just I mere felt such words would be bettter served on Arsenal Truth of Le Grove!

    C’est la vie!

  9. JonJon says:

    it was clear gadget well done your the best im the worst…
    whatever you say…
    you let slip your lack confidence for tomorrow with your on paper thingy and then you question my support??
    then make a daft comment
    then think its funny
    then still continue to sniff your own fart??
    bye again, been a pleasure….

  10. mj_gunner says:

    Bac DJ Kos Gael
    Deni Jack
    Samir AA/TR7

    Sub : Diaby, SS, EE, NB , Ramsey, Keeper

  11. mj_gunner says:

    Rather –

  12. MDGunner says:

    Late to the conversation on language, but agree with much of what Cbob says, except I suspect that many of those whose first language is not English want to learn it nowadays because it is the language spoken in the USA (well sort of!).
    And if, say, 20 Europeans countries want to speak some English as a second language, that is an advantage on someone from England who would have to learn 20 different European langauges to be in the same position – right?
    In my cu-de-sac, there is only one other ‘white ‘caucasian’ family and we all get on very well (‘cos we can’t understand each other :-)) but it can be unnerving when the Chinese people come and look through our living room window.
    I have been to lots of meetings where translation is necessary and the interpreters find speakers from Britain and Norway the most difficult because of the number of dialects spoken.
    Weren’t we all supposed to learn Esperanto at one point? Actually there was a play going around here spoken entirely in Klingon!

  13. NJGooner says:


    seems our experiences are one in the same!! This current lady friend is the second one I’ve converted not just into a football fan, but into a respectable ameri-gooner. And my gf loves RvP too and wants to keep JW as a teddy-bear. Can’t say that my sentiments on JW are that different though….

  14. william says:

    i think all language should move away from this elaborate, emotion tugging text and move in the grunt direction. think about it. if some guy is pissin you off, give him a few angry grunts and if he keeps doin it then just bash him in the head. it really simplifies the whole matter and i wouldn’t have to spend so much effort into telling other people why they are wrong. yep.

  15. MDGunner says:

    William – you are not really into this evolution thing, are you?

  16. Ateeb says:

    I suspect Evra won’t come out with his “Arsenal are babies” claim this time around.

  17. colney says:

    If we win the league, Almunia, Fabianski and Szczesny all stand to get medals because they would have played 10 games or more 😀

  18. colney says:

    Evra belongs in a nuthouse, i don’t think he has it all up there.

  19. niles says:

    Though I know SAF is a sly fox, but no matter how cunning you are, you can’t make gold from silver.

  20. poodle says:

    i know everybody is moaning about Arsenal needing a new defender and bla bla bla. However so far young Bartely is making a rather good figure up in Scotland. Being involved in big games and really showing his promise.
    Having him as a no 3 for next year is no worse than having Smalling as no 3.
    He is already more experienced than Cahill in playing in international tournament(played euro cup yesterday) and he has been through some nasty games in old firm clashes.
    Me thinks hes ready for the arsenal 1st team next year and that we should not buy any new defenders. We always have squilly and maybe even Verminator is back.

  21. poodle says:

    Maybe missing out on Smalling was not so bad after all seeing the emergence of Bartely. Also Kos is very classy…

  22. Gadget says:

    Goddammit I’m know I’m sad, but I can’t let it go! And I will regret this in the morning…

    JonJon, aye carumba, you completely missed my point with the rock paper scissors thing in a way which I don’t really know how. It’s quite bemusing and hilarious to me! Perverse and mischievous sense of humour I have.

    To explain (because I obviously must): the paper rock scissor thing was in support of GA’s observation

    “”JonJon – “look guys
    chelsea and liverpool have just pasted them
    so why cant we”

    That’s not really how things tend to work though is it?”

    Merely admitting that thing aren’t as simple as team A losing to B & C = a win for us, I can’t see how that betrays a lack of confidence. Please, explain to the contrary and enlighten me.

    As it stands, to reach a conclusion as you did seems to me to be a bit of a huge stretch, and you’d be quite wrong given the nature of all my previous posts. That’s like me reading your posts and declaring you a spud (ooh, back-handed placation). I’d never do that because I know that not to be the case, but I will question you on other shit, especially the stupid shit you’re capable and willing to spout (such as the comment which you thought gave me twisted thong – which admittedly it did, just a little bit – it hurts the scrotum which are massive cause I obviously don’t get laid enough).

    And you know what, if you’d argued your case, and argued why such a comment actually has a place on this fine blog (ugh, sycophancy) where the belief in the squad is so evident that we have ‘realistic supporters’ coming on here and calling us all delusional, I would have much more respect for you than current. Yes, I will admit to being quite the cheeky one in stating your belief in the squad could be stronger, but it’s the truth, and we’ve all been part of arguments about the quality of all our players, and I know for a fact, because you’ve stated so many times, there are some of our players whom you have little faith in.

    However, instead of brushing it off as a little but truthful quip from a overzealous fool, you went and insulted my intellect! And Lord knows, my ego doesn’t respond well to such. Hell you could have called me an overzealous fool, and I’d have probably taken it as another pseudonym

    Also, just so you know my shit smells like a summer’s breeze and I really am the best. That’s the power of being a vegetarian – were I a vegan though, phew, my farts would be nuclear and toilets would be destroyed.

    And that’s why grunting and punching went the way of the dodo, cause I kill muthafudgers!

  23. colney says:

    if you can find it in your heart say a prayer for Japan. 🙂 and for Ryo and his family!

  24. Gadget says:

    Alright, so regret is kicking in already.

    It was inaccurate of me to say “your belief could be stronger”. It would be far more accurate and less contentious to say “your belief is not the strongest”. Although some may say it’s mere semantics, there is actually a great difference between the two.

    Anyway, off to rave it up and act as scandalous as a 2-penny manwhore! Thoughts to Nippon and to an overwhelming victory!

  25. JonJon says:

    cahill was part of the bolton side that played in the uefa cup season before last..hes also got experience at international level with england
    but yeah kyles looking pretty good up there..although gers are using him as a midfielder..
    i think hes a good prospect, he was once touted as the next big sol by a few of the youth coaches not so long back so fingers crossed

  26. Bill says:

    Jon Jon:

    If Kyle is being used as a midfielder in Scotland then why would he come back and play CB for us? Sounds a lot like Harvard Nordtviet.

  27. JonJon says:

    i dunno why they using him there bill, maybe smiths a fan of a powerful dm and kyle fits the bill, seeing as though he can defend they using him as an anchor man… to protect david weir whos 40 and cant run…
    have to ask walter smith but they are starting to love him up there he scored the winner v st mirren the other week, or was it motherwell?? he scored the winner anyway..they’ll look to keep him i think..

  28. colney says:

    Kyle plays as a CB in 5CB formation for the Gers

  29. Bill says:

    Hope he turns out to be a good player but I would assume they would play him in his best position. If he is not good enough to displace one of their existing CB it does not bode well for him to be the next Sol Campbell or someone who can contend for a first team slot. We went through this last year with Havard when he played DM on loan for a German side rather then playing CB

  30. colney says:

    either way he is getting valuable experience, and being versatile could only help his case. Wenger likes versatile players.

  31. JonJon says:

    hasnt last few times ive watched em colney
    plays central midfielder in a 5 man midfield…

  32. JonJon says:

    it dont matter where he plays we need our cb’s to be comfy on the ball…playing in midfeild will only help his case..

  33. BarryGunnerburger says:

    The only positive to take out of Spurs recent success is that come 2012 Harry Redknapp will be the new England manager and Spurs will be swept away down shit creek without a paddle. Hopefully they will go foreign again and looking back at their previous stabs at this… Christian Gross and Juande Ramos… they always fuck up!!!

  34. Gainsbourg69 says:

    I wouldn’t mind Bartley coming back with Ranger’s teammate Maurice Edu. One of the best players in the U.S. team and one of the hottest defensive midfield prospects in world football.

  35. Albie says:

    Bartley has been playing some midfield for the Rangers because their regular has been injured and he is better and more skilled than their backup.

  36. 1 loose cannon says:

    BarryGunnerburger. What is Spurs recent success? Going through in the C.league for the 1st time in their history is not a success it only shows their failures over so many years. The Spuds have spent lots of money and been in C.league once is a failure. It is expected of them every year with the money they’ve spent.

    Net Spending on transfer fees (£)
    Team 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 Total
    Man City 39.1 117.9 99 126.5 382.5
    Chelsea 7.5 – 10.8 17.5 87.5 101.7
    Tottenham 33.9 19.4 -0.5 17.5 70.3
    Liverpool 39.8 6.35 -8.7 -5.1 32.35
    Man Utd 36.7 33.7 -64.5 13.5 19.4
    Arsenal -13.4 0.05 -31 6.8 -37.55

  37. I am Gooner says:

    Today’s game could go either way… the ref will be in the spotlight so hopefully he won’t lean either way and just be fair! Ferguson’s recent activity (jedi mind tricks) are usually productive in influencing the referees but Lord Wenger has raised the bar by taking on the dark star itself (UEFA). The difference is Wenger not only thinks about his own team but football in general. Yeh sure, it would have been great to have won the tin pot cup and still be in the Barcelona Cup but there is more to football than winning! All these jokers having intense debates on the perceived shiteness of Denilson, Diaby and Almunia don’t really make me laugh. They are all quality players otherwise they wouldn’t be at Arsenal. The only trophy worth pissing in is the Premiership because the Champions really are the best team. Maybe we will win it, maybe we won’t… but Wenger’s lasting legacy will be how he shined the light on the distortional influence that the business men who run the game possess. He knows corruption when he sniffs it (Bernard Tapie and Marseille). It’s all about values and if you don’t understand that then you might as well jump on Twitchy’s lilywhite boat! Victory Through Harmony

  38. Passenal says:

    You said it I am Gooner – I’m glad to know there are more of us out there. The club is well aware of what is going on with the referees and they are not going down quietly. All we’re asking for is an opportunity to compete on a level playing field. After all, that is what sport is supposed to be about. Let team tactics or individual skill be the difference, not blind, incompetent or downright corrupt officiating.

  39. gonnerstan says:

    where do we go from av been taking abuses from chavs,manure and scum fans..why do we always imlpode like this? and why do we always make every opposing keepers look world class? answer.. we play straight,direct shot at them!

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