Friday, December 14, 2018

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Thank You Arsene Wenger

I have been following Arsenal since about 1998. In the beginning I knew very little about the club and it's history. In fact, like many back then who were new to following the team, I initially thought that Arsene Wenger's name was somehow related to the team he managed.

All these years later I now consider myself an Arsenal aficionado. I have been to England on a number of occasion to see Arsenal play live: including Highbury, The Emirates, away at Charlton, Leeds in the FA Cup and Southampton. The first goal I saw live was a penalty from Marc Overmars to give Arsenal a 0-1 victory away at The Valley after Patrick Vieira had received a red card. I also got to witness live two of Thierry Henry's eight Arsenal hat tricks including a 7-0 mauling of Middlesbrough during the final season at Highbury. Other highlights including being there to see Tony Adams score in a 6-1 romp over Leicester (somehow I was able to scalp a ticket on the tube on the way to Highbury) and witnessing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain score a brace in a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace (he only scored nine league goals for the club).

I very rarely, if ever, miss an Arsenal match. Being on the other side of the Atlantic this often involved getting up at the crack of dawn, sneaking out of work for extended "lunch" breaks and watching matches on dodgy illegal streams on the computer. This is in recent years. Back in the early days before Fox Soccer Channel came along I would often find myself out at one of the only sports bars in NYC that broadcast the sport via Setanta Sports. Back then you would often have to pay a cover charge just to enter and watch. Regardless these places were always packed with singing and drinking fans.

There were plenty of great moments and enjoyable victories over the past 20 years of following Arsenal. The one constant has been Arsene Wenger.

Since this is my personal blog I am stating how I feel and don't really care about those that have lampooned and criticized the manager unmercifully in recent years.

When I first began following the EPL, Arsenal and Manchester United were the powerhouses. It was always Fergie versus Wenger. The two teams were pretty equal back then. There were some epic matches between the two sides and the rest of the league was pretty much secondary to these two.

Chelsea and Liverpool were always tough competition but Arsenal always seemed to have the edge.

As far as Tottenham goes, they were (and possibly still are) a distant second to their North London neighbors. The fact that Spurs have only finished above Arsenal twice during the Wenger reign pretty much is proof of the Gunners' domination.

Power started to shift when billionaire owners began purchasing teams. Roman Abramovich brought his Russian oil money to Chelsea and Sheikh Mansour poured his fortune in to Manchester City. That has changed the landscape significantly. City ran away with the league this season and were very impressive. It's hard for me to truly respect what they have done as they have essentially purchased the league. Those new to following the league thing of City as a powerhouse. Those of us who know the history, remember when City were constantly being relegated, promoted and then relegated with their famous Bermudian striker Shawn Goater.

Arsenal have slid over the past few seasons and have finished outside the top four for the second year in a row. Wenger has been vilified for the team's shortcomings and is ultimately the reason that he is moving on.

I personally believe that many of those that have chased the man out of the club are going to have second thoughts moving forward. Yes coming in fifth and sixth is not the same as winning the league. However, in 22 seasons these are the worst two that Arsenal have ever experienced. If finishing 5th and 6th is as bad as it gets, then we really don't have it that bad. Look at clubs like Leeds, Aston Villa, Blackburn, Everton, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, West Ham, Newcastle, etc. Ask the fans of any of those teams if they would trade places with Arsenal. The answer is YES. I also seem to recall Chelsea finishing tenth just a few seasons ago.

Everyone blaming the manager must realize that the owners are more to blame than the guy taking the questions at the press conference. If the powers that be don't spend the money, nothing is going to change. So, rather than look at the shortcomings of the club, I think what Wenger has achieved is AMAZING.
  • 3 Premier League titles - 1997-1998, 2001-2002, 2003-2004
  • 7 FA Cups - 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2014, 2015, 2017 (3 over the past four seasons)
  • 7 Community Shields - 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2014, 2015, 2017
  • 3 Premier League Manager of the Season wins - 1998, 2002, 2004
  • Getting to the Champions League and finishing in the top four for 20 straight seasons
Many point the finger at him for losing in the 2006 Champions League final to Barcelona. I don't. I point the finger at the idiotic decision from goalkeeper Jens Lehmann to foul Samuel Eto'o in the 18th minute and get red carded.

Wenger's final act proved he is pure class as a person. Following his last home match as manager he was handed the microphone. Instead of talking about himself, he spoke of his players, the club and the fans.
Thank you for having me for so long, but I am like you, I am an Arsenal fan. That means it’s more than just watching football, it’s a way of life, it is caring about the beautiful game, the values that we cherish. I invite you to really support the players and the staff that remain behind me. Please support them next season because they deserve it. I want to finish one simple word I will miss you. Thank you all for having such an important part of my life, thank you all, well done, bye bye. 

My love for Arsenal will go on. However, there's a bit of sadness knowing that Arsene Wenger will no longer be the man in charge. It was definitely time for a change, but that doesn't mean that Wenger's time was not special and he will be missed.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Another Arsenal Mercenary - Alexis Sanchez is a fraud

Nothing but gloom and doom these days for Arsenal fans. Now this never ending Alexis Sanchez situation is taking center stage. It's getting very old seeing Arsenal make stars only to have these players then turn around and give a big FU to the fans and the club.

I'm sorry but if Sanchez was such a great player he would have accepted the challenge to make his Arsenal teammates better. Instead he threw up his hands and sulked like a child. Great players make their teams better.

All this talk of him wanting to win trophies is a total joke. He only cares about himself. He won two FA Cups with Arsenal. All year it's about he wants to go to City, he wants to win trophies. The sad reality is that Man City are going to win the league this year and they have done that without Sanchez. He just wants to join the party after it has already started.

All of a sudden, this dream Man City move has become a move to Manchester United for an obscene amount of money. Funny thing is Manchester United are not going to win anything this year and don't even play attacking football. Sanchez is just another RVP or Nasri. I really thought he was different.

Good riddance and take your selfish me me me behavior up north to that wasteland known as Manchester.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Eddie, Eddie, Eddie - Eddie Nketiah‏ Becomes an Instant Arsenal Hero

Being an Arsenal fan can be exhilarating at times, however, it can also result in feelings of dejection, misery and absolute frustration.

The team put in a great performance this past weekend in dispatching Everton 2-5 at Goodison Park. It was therefore unnerving to follow Arsenal's home fixture versus Championship side Norwich City in the Carabao Cup just two days later.

It was expected that Arsene Wenger would field a team of fringe players and youngsters, but with veterans such as Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere nothing but victory was expected.

I was unable to see the match on television but listened and followed along on radio and the Internet.

After 85 minutes it looked as if the "good" Arsenal from the weekend had been replaced by the "bad" Arsenal side of recent years. Here are just a few of these forgettable and embarrassing performances:

The commentators of the match were already sharpening their journalistic knives proclaiming how awful a loss this was going to be for Arsenal.

Wenger looked to the substitutes bench for a possible last gasp roll of the dice. Unfortunately, there was no Sanchez, Ozil or Lacazette ready to come in and save the day. So when it was announced that 18-year-old Edward Nketiah was coming in to replace 17-year-old Reiss Nelson it didn't make the fans super confident. In fact, most supporters had no idea who he was.

His only other first team appearance occurred last month when he came on as an 89th minute substitute in Arsenal's Europa League victory over BATE Borisov.

15 seconds later...he scored the equalizer which saved the club from complete humiliation. Yes, it took this unknown kid 15 seconds to change the entire mood of the stadium and the match. (Sadly some of the less supportive Gunners fans had already left so they missed this amazing moment).

The goal sent the match to extra time and as if scripted the kid did it again. In the 86th minute Nketiah headed home the ball and sent the Emirates in to bedlam. The final was 2-1 to Arsenal.

Five minutes from misery turned around by an unknown youth team player. It's special moments like these that make the game so amazing. Yes it can be tough being an Arsenal fan, but it can also be fantastic.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Arsenal are back! Time to kick off the 2016-2017 season

It still amazes me how long the EPL season really is. After 9 months of ups and downs, frustrations and more frustrations the end of the season is often a great time to decompress and focus on some other sports related frustration, such as the New York Mets. The next thing you know, it's mid August and it all begins again.

Arsenal have had a relatively positive preseason with some of the youngsters getting their chance to show what they got. Chuba Akpom, Alex Iwobi and Jeff Reine-Adelaide displayed positive signs which gave fans cyring for a new striker a moment to wonder if perhaps the answer lies within.

Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both performed well which is a major positive with both once highly touted players coming off of sub par years.

Many of Arsenal's star players were given an extended break following Euro 2016 and the Copa America. This leaves Arsenal with Giroud, Ozil, Sanchez, Koscielny behind in preparations for the new season.

Of course this being Arsenal, the word crisis is never too far behind any team story. Injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel during preseason have left the team short in terms of options and rookie Rob Holding has a good chance to be thrown right in to the fire alongside Calum Chambers.

Outside of Granit Xhaka and Holding, Arsenal have yet to make a significant summer signing. Of course fans have been complaining all summer long as Arsenal have been linked with the likes of:
With over two weeks left in the transfer window there is still the possibility that Arsenal will welcome new signings. However, rather than complaining and whining about what the team doesn't have it's time for fans to get behind the players that will take the pitch for the season opener versus Liverpool.

Despite all the negativity it's easy to forget that Arsenal did finish second last season behind Cinderella winners Leicester City. Of course the pundits have moved on to kissing the butts of new managers Guardiola, Conte and Mourinho. Why Mourinho is treated like he's royalty is behind me. He single handily led 2014-2015 champions Chelsea in to the relegation zone last season before being canned. ManU have made some good signings, (including paying 89 million pounds for Paul Pogba a player that Manchester United had and let leave for almost nothing four years ago) but the team were a mess last year and despite how the media portrays him, Mourinho is no miracle worker.

Arsenal were given a tough fixture to kick things off with Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool visiting the Emirates. 

Here's to the start of the new season and to a successful Arsenal campaign.

Sunday, August 15th, 2016 Arsenal vs. Liverpool 11AM EST

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Arsenal 2015-2016: May

May 8, 2016 Arsenal at Manchester City 11AM EST

We're coming to the end of the season and with Leicester having wrapped up the title the only thing left to be decided for Arsenal is whether they can continue their record of celebrating another St. Totteringham's Day by finishing above Spuds. Going in to the match against Man City, Arsenal know that Spurs dropped points by losing at home to Southampton. 

Also to be decided is whether City can catch Arsenal in the race for the top 3. While a win would be the best outcome, a draw would all but secure that Arsenal would finish higher than the billionaires of City.

Arsenal held their nerve and showed some resiliency by coming from behind twice. In the end a draw was a reasonable result and it left Arsenal in a good position to finish above Man City.

Auero's 8th minute goal was answered within two minutes when Giroud evened things up. Giroud scored with a header from a corner that was conceded after former Arsenal defender Gael Clichy made a bonehead back pass to Joe Hart which the goalie had to let go out for the corner.

Kevin de Bruyne gave City the lead again in the 51st minute on a shot that Petr Cech really should have saved. Luckily Alexis Sanchez tied the score with a strike in the 68th minute. Arsenal remain in third behind Spuds by two points and ahead of City by three.

Sunday May 15, 2016 Arsenal vs. Aston Villa 10AM EST

While the score was the same as last May's FA Cup Final, the 4-0 victory didn't have the same excitement level of last year's win. With Aston Villa having been relegated, a win was expected and would put an end to a season that offered lots of hope but ultimately led to frustration and in fighting among supporters.

The only thing left to be decided on this last day of the season was whether or not Tottenham would be able to finish above Arsenal for the first time in 21 years. Spuds held a two point advantage and a superior goal differential heading in to the match. All they really needed to do was get at least one point away to already relegated Newcastle.

Common sense would say that there was no way Tottenham could screw this one up. However, I had a feeling that Newcastle could come up with a surprise victory for their home fans before heading down to the Championship.

Giroud gave Arsenal the lead within five minutes. From there it was a big of a slog but Aston Villa really never looked like they could score. It was 1-0 Arsenal at half time while Spuds found themselves behind Newcastle 2-0 at the interval.

Giroud went on to complete a hat trick with goals in the 78th and 80th minutes. In his last Arsenal match, Mikel Arteta came on in the 88th minute and finished up the scoring with a shot that bounced off of the back of Villa keeper Mark Bunn.

After the match both Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta were recognized for their contributions to Arsenal as they will both be leaving the club this off season.

Meanwhile, wouldn't you know it but up in Newcastle Tottenham pulled off the most amazing display of bottling an opportunity by ending up losing 5-1 to a relegated Newcastle team that had been reduced to ten men. 

While disappointing overall, the season ended with Arsenal in second place and celebrating St. Totteringham's Day for the 21st year in a row.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Proof that you should watch what you say on Twitter - Dedicated to Leicester City, the Club's Fans and Especially the EPL Manager of the Year Claudio Ranieri

Being a big Twitter user for football related matters, I distinctly remember the reaction to Leicester City's appointment of Cladio Ranieri as the club's new manager. The negativity and vitriol was almost universal. Before a ball was even kicked Leicester seemed to have already been relegated by pundits, betting sites and fans.

Well Leicester City fans this one is for you to enjoy. Perhaps you'll even want to print it out and hang it on the wall. We all know that social media can be dangerous as everything you say (or tweet in this instance) is permanent. Well what follows is a collection of some of the best anti Ranieri and Leicester to be relegated tweets. What will make reading this even sweeter for Leicester fans is seeing that these tweets have come from fans of "title contenders" Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham. There are even tweets from fans of club's who are currently scratching and clawing to stave off relegation while Leicester are sitting pretty at the top of the table.

Claudio Ranieri must have some thick skin. I hope that he's getting his middle finger ready for a big salute to those that doubted him when Leicester eventually lift up the EPL trophy. Where egotistical, it's all about me managers such as Jose Mourinho get stroked by the media; Ranieri has been vilified.

So while Mourinho was sacked and now sits on the sidelines, he gets to watch as Ranieri guides his underdog squad with nothing but grace and class. I hope Mourinho is watching as Ranieri and Leicester lift the trophy while his former side languish. Funny how the the "great" manager was sacked months ago, while the manager predicted to be sacked first continues to rack up victories.

So congrats to Leicester City, the fans and especially Claudio Ranieri. It's great to see that fairy tales can actually come true in real life!

In the meantime enjoy this look back at some of the tweets from last summer when the season was just getting started.

From Manchester United fans

From Arsenal fans

From Chelsea fans

From Spurs fan

From Liverpool fan

From a couple of guys about to lose their homes

Never go with these guys' predictions 

In the midst of all the negativity and anti Ranieri tweets, there were those that didn't buy in to all the pessimism and were believers from the start. Kudos to them: