Monday, 27 August 2007

Older, wiser… bitter

JJ here,

Arsenal and their problems have featured heavily in Okeydokefootball since we came into existence about ten months ago. Their thirst for perfect football and their penchant for missing open goals proved hilarious to anyone who had allegiances that lay outside the Emirates Stadium last season. Their lack of backbone was shown in defeats at Bolton, Blackburn and even, who can believe it now, a Stuart-Pearce led Manchester City.

This season they were to sort out all their problems in this regard and play a ‘harder’ game; with such sentiments coming from Cesc Fabregas; Arsene Wenger and even the almighty tit that is William Gallas (“this year we know we have to fight”… that must have been some lightbulb moment there Billy). Three weeks into the new season though and it seems that instead of actually dealing with their frailties, Arsenal’s leading lights simply have the same complaints again.

Robin van Persie – a player thought by some to be gifted enough to be the ultimate cross between Henry and Bergkamp – was interviewed by Jonathan Northcroft in yesterday’s Sunday Times and the headline for the piece read as follows: ‘If you play hard, no problem. Rovers did not play hard they just kicked’.

The whine is made all the more silly by the paragraph that leads into the story: ‘All grown up, Arsenal’s new talisman insists the Gunners won’t be strong-armed and can be surprise title contenders’. But then, according to the headline, they can be strong armed. Just kick them!

Van Persie rolled out the usual stuff about how they have improved, how they can handle hard play but ‘simply kicking’ is something he doesn’t stand for. Anyone who likes to see football played well will appreciate his attitude but really Arsenal saying they will be harder this year reeks of an almost Houllier-esque level of self-delusion. The ex-Liverpool manager started several seasons of his tenure with the message that his team would play more expansive, more attacking football. And what did the Anfield crowd get? A whole lot of Salif Diou and a dabble of Anthony la Tallec.

Arsene Wenger claimed that Blackburn had a “desire for violence”, something which Van Persie backs up. He also says that just kicking seven shades of shit out of them is not the way to get a good result against Arsenal when clearly, for less talented sides, it is. Blackburn got a point and could have had more; while several other sides will take a few victories at home to Arsenal because they know they’ll just moan about a few kicks and get frustrated.

Throughout the article Van Persie displays none of the wit which Northcroft promises at the beginning and instead takes up three quarters of a broadsheet page pleading to be left alone by opposition defenders.

Van Persie – who has played over 100 times for Arsenal – had a few days to digest things before the interview and was still “angry” about their treatment. While some might suggest it’s an anger that has built since the 2005 royal rumble of an FA Cup semi final between the sides; surely this is sign that what gets under his, and Arsenal’s, skin stays there for some time.

You’d suggest – even if not many Premier League opponents read The Sunday Times – that the message is loud and clear to clubs like Derby, Birmingham, Sunderland and about five or six others. Give them a kick and they won’t like it, you might just get a point. So the same Arsenal as last year then.


Anyway, it’s never been all bad at Arsenal over the years so for absolutely no reason other than his name was mentioned earlier here’s a Dennis Bergkamp compilation to ease you through the day:


Mark said...

i think arsenal; should learn to dela with it and stop banging on about it at every opportunity.

or maybe start beating these teams despite their strong arm tactics. that should stop em....

Anonymous said...

The solution to Arsenal's problem lies in Mister Arsene's failure to buy a well 'ard central midfielder. Even in their heyday, Vieira was not exactly that scarey. They have no one to look to to dish out punishment when the going gets Blackburn. Perhaps an Argie midfielder, moulded from steel, would be good for them. They can give it, and take it too. They also like to stroke the ball about in a fashion not unlike the Arse. Wenger should stop raping the youth academies of Europe and Africa and cast his spectacled eyes across the pond and pillage a bit more...
I would imagine poor Robin has to put up with alot of scurrilous abuse about his spurious past all the same, the poor 60000 grand a week chap what?

Mark said...

i agree anon, they deffo need a bit of extra steel there. gilberto is good but his nickname (the invisble wall/shield) says it all really.

to me it's obvious - bring in robbie savage :)

JJ said...

It's a pity they didn't get in Joey Barton, between van persie's 'high jinks' with the ladies and Joey's brother (not to mention cigar stubbing methods, beatng up 15 year olds and attacking a team mate while his back is turned) opposing fans would have a great time thinking up chants.

Anonymous said...

just listened to the podcast...did yis get a mention in the guardian? when? thats gas

JJ said...

Ah it was just on the boards unfortunately. Jimbo Richardson wouldn't dare say Okeydokefootball as, Candyman style, we'd appear in GU Towers shooting cans of cider from our mouths and bringing doom... then collecting the cans of cider and go knacker drinking.

It’s that simple really.

tyduffy said...

I should preface this by saying that I am an Arsenal supporter.

Not that anyone would accuse Robbie Savage (the most appropriately named player in football) of doing anything out of the bounds of professionalism, but I think the whining does have a purpose.

I think it deflects blame for the result from the squad, specifically Lehmann. Also, it plants it in the minds of the referees. The next time that Arsenal play Blackburn, even if the ref doesn't believe it, the notion of their players taking cheap shots at Arsenal players will be subconsciously in their brains, and may influence their later decision making.

I don't think that it will be the same Arsenal team as last season. They haven't played particularly well yet, but they are grinding out the results which they did not do last year. They are getting the goal production from midfield they did not get last year. If you discount Lehamnn's idiocy they would not have conceded a goal and got 9 pts from 3 matches.

Mark said...

is Lehmann really injured or is it a smokescreen? he's a bit of a liability now, and I'm not sure about Almunia either. Wenger must feel that Fabianski isn't ready or he would have played at the wkend.

I think Arsenal should do decent enough this year, I'd love to see a 4 way fight for the title, but ultimately, at this stage, there too many 'ifs' at Arsenal - at goalkeeper, no decent cover at centre back (Djouro on loan now - why?), Eduardo hasn't featured much yet, so we don't know how good he is.

It all points to not challenging for the title

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