Saturday, August 17, 2013

Signs of the Apocalypse: When The Mets Provide More Joy Than Arsenal

As a life long Mets fan, I can honestly say that I know what it's like to suffer with a team. It's been 27 years since the Mets last won a championship and since then they've found numerous ways to break their fans' hearts. Some of my "fondest" memories include:
  • Seeing Carlos Beltran strike out looking to end the 2006 NLCS and the Mets' season.
  • Sitting through doubleheader losses to Seattle and Colorado.
  • Seeing Brandon Phillips step to the plate as the 4th batter of the game and give the Reds a 4-0 lead over the Mets in the top of the first before the Mets recorded an out.
  • Watching Tom Glavine kill off the Mets' on the last day of the 2007 season by giving up 7 runs in a must win game before fans even had the chance to sit down. 
  • Watching Scott Schoeneweis and Luis Ayala combine to doom the Mets to another season ending collapse on the last day of the 2008 season before fans were treated to a "celebration" of the closing of Shea Stadium.
  • And plenty of other indignities and humiliations.

As an Arsenal fan for the past 15 years, I have been able to turn away from my Mets misery and enjoy the successes of a top football club. Sadly, I'm beginning to think that things are changing.

The past two campaigns have been nerve wracking for Arsenal fans as we've seen some of our best players depart the club with lesser quality replacements coming in. We have scraped by to finish in the top four in each of these seasons and were promised big signings this summer by Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal brass.
Fans give Wenger a subtle hint
Then came today and the opening match of the 2013-2014 season. Aston Villa visited the Emirates and simply put, Arsenal were humiliated with their first season opening loss at home in 20 years. Forget the hows and whys....the fact is that Arsenal have been slipping in quality for a number of seasons now and no one can understand why that's being allowed to happen.
What the hell just happened?
Arsenal had two and half months since the end of last season to make some quality signings and have not done so. The board seems to be saying one thing and then doing the opposite. Tension is building and there's a real sense that there's going to be a fan mutiny if things don't change fast. Aside from the fact that fans want the team to win, Arsenal have a rich history that is in jeopardy of being tarnished.

Meanwhile...the Mets are starting to look like a team for the future. I already knew they were going nowhere this season so it's been pretty enjoyable to watch them play this year without any expectations.

Since the opening day outfield of Lucas Duda, Collin Cowgill, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter was thankfully jettisoned, the Mets have actually looked and played like a Major League team.  First they added some solid veterans in Marlon Byrd and Eric Young. Then they injected youth with Juan Lagares, Wilmer Flores, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Jennry Mejia and Travis d'Arnaud. This mixture has given Mets fans big hopes for the future.
The Mets' future
Plus, for the first time in at least six seasons, the Mets' bullpen has looked pretty good. (I had to read that sentence twice in order to believe that I could actually say that).

With David Wright as captain and other young Mets players, Niese, Gee, Parnell and Murphy already in the fold there is general excitement building among the Mets'  fan base. 

Travis is one for the future
As Tug McGraw so famously said back in the day, "Ya Gotta Believe". I am starting to do so for the Mets and am hoping to be able to continue to say that for Arsenal.


The Official "Arsenal Media Crisis Count 2013-2014"


  [krahy-sis] noun, plural cri·ses [krahy-seez]  adjective, noun
a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all futureevents, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turningpoint.
a condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic,political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change.
a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person'slife.

The English language is amazing. There are different meanings for certain words and then there are words that are often used out of context for dramatic effect or in the case of the English media, to attract readers.

Take the word CRISIS for example. When I think of a crisis I think of a natural disaster, family issues or some catastrophic event. For the English media, the word crisis seems to mean Arsenal. So, to prove this point, I have officially begun the "Arsenal Media Crisis Count 2013-2014". 

Feel free to forward any missed "crisis" referrals as I wouldn't want to deny a member of the press the opportunity to be included in this historic list.

So without any further delay, here's the "Arsenal Media Crisis Count 2013-2014":

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Metro 8/15/13
Arsenal injury crisis grows as Mikel Arteta joins Theo Walcott and Bacray Sagna on treatment table ahead of Aston Villa opener

The Mirror 8/16/13
Arsene Wenger denies Arsenal are in crisis as he gets set to silence his transfer critics

Evening Standard 8/16/13
No deals, no crisis insists Arsene Wenger

Yahoo Sports 8/17/13
Arsenal stake early claim for ‘crisis club’ tag after calamitous opening game

Wide World of Sports 8/20/13
Arsenal hit by early season injury crisis

GiveMeSport 8/21/13
Arsenal are not a team in crisis

Daily Mail 8/21/13
Fenerbahce 0 Arsenal 3: Crisis? What crisis? Gibbs, Ramsey and Giroud give Wengers wounded soldiers a Euro tonic

Here Is The City 8/22/13
Arsenal: The latest club to demonstrate how the word 'crisis' is incredibly overused

The Guardian 8/22/13
Football Weekly Extra: Arsenal crisis averted as Fenerbahce swept aside

The Times of India 8/24/13
Arsenal ease past Fulham 3-1 to end crisis talk

The Mirror 8/25/13
Arsene Wenger blames media for "brainwashing" Arsenal fans into thinking there is a crisis at the Emirates

September 2013

Daily Mail 9/11/13
Record buy Ozil set for debut at Sunderland as Arsenal injury crisis worsens

Everything has been going GREAT since the opening day loss to Aston Villa and the early cries of a massive "crisis" at Arsenal. Therefore the "crisis" count has slowed down.

San Francisco Chronicle 9/26/13
Soccer in Crisis is Merely Way of World

October 2013

South China Morning Post 10/5/13
Soccer 'crisis talk' comes far too easy these days

Bleacher Report 10/20/13
Key's to Arsenal's Turnaround: From Crisis Club to Top of the Table

November 2013

Oh no, Arsenal lost a game....could the team be in "crisis"? At least this one is funny. 

The Week 11/11/13
Arsenal crisis! Arsene Wenger spotted in cursed puffer jacket

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The Arsenal crisis count has been dormant lately as Arsenal have been top of the league for several months now. I thought that recent losses to Napoli and Man City would get the "crisis" pundits out in force. However, our good friends at White Hart Lane & Robin van Judas' Manchester United have become the medias latest "crisis" teams.

December 2013

CNN 12/7/13
Crisis looms at Manchester United as they fall further off EPL pace

The Mirror 12/8/13
Jonny Evans: Manchester United are suffering from a crisis in confidence

The Mirror 12/10/13
Club in crisis? Our reporters give their verdicts on where Manchester United will finish this season

Daily Mail 12/18/13
Spurs in crisis: Sherwood admits he doesn't know who will take charge of first team duties for Sunday's clash with Southampton

Here are some other great articles about some of the crisis our competitors have found themselves in:

Soccerly 12/21/2013
David Moyes Blamed for Manchester United's Injury Crisis

International Business Times 12/19/2013
Tottenham Crisis Deepens as United Stun Stoke

(Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
The Telegraph 12/10/2013
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers faces midfield injury crisis ahead of Tottenham Hostpur Test

Sky Sports 12/30/2013
John Terry says Jose Mourinho has solved Chelsea's "identity crisis"

We'll be back with more "crisis" coverage soon. Happy New Year.

January 2014

2014 has arrived and I am glad to see that the "Arsenal Media Crisis Count" is very low. Arsenal sit atop the EPL table and the pundits have had to find other clubs to tag as "Crisis" clubs. We'll share some of those below. In the meantime, Arsenal do have quite a few banged up players so it was inevitable that the word crisis would have to be used as the media can't go a few weeks without placing that tag on Arsenal.

Top of the league celebration, yet in crisis? (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Reuters 1/2/2014
Arsenal facing striker crisis ahead of Spurs FA Cup tie

Daily Mail 1/2/2014
Arsenal's injury crisis deepens as Bendtner twists ankle after scoring against Cardiff

The Sun 1/5/2014
Arsene Wenger brushes off striker crisis

Irish Mirror 1/4/2014
Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returns to full training to help relieve Gunners injury crisis

Well we're back and sooner than we thought...but thankfully Arsenal is not the "crisis" team anymore. Making every fan of the 19 other clubs happy is the fact that Manchester United is doing crap. Today they lost at home to Swansea in the FA Cup Third Round. It was United's fourth loss in six home matches. Adding to the hilarity was watching the big mouth Rio Ferdinand limp off injured only to be replaced by the even funnier Fabio. In less than five minutes, he was off with a straight red card for an idiotic challenge. Fabio sprinted off of the pitch the moment the card was shown as if he did it on purpose so he wouldn't have to be a part of this debacle.

The Telegraph 1/6/2014
Moyes in crisis as United crash out

Daily Mail 1/5/2014
Manchester United 1 Swansea 2: Late Bony header sends Reds crashing out of the cup
Now it's getting serious. Now, David Moyes's difficult first season at Manchester United is developing into a full-blown crisis, a train-wreck of a campaign that just seems to lurch from bad to worse.

Manchester Evening News 1//5/2014
With United out of the FA Cup, can things get any worse for Moyes?
It is a crisis in anyone's language and it needs sorting now.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Daily Mail 1/8/2014
Moyes Facing Crisis as United lose third game in a row

Daily Record 1/9/2014
Blame Sir Alex Ferguson & not David Moyes for crisis at Manchester United , says Tommy Docherty

Daily Star 1/9/2014
Man Utd in crisis! Chris Smalling forced to apologise after dressing up as suicide bomber

City A.M. 1/10/2014
Crisis is down to penny pinching, say United fans

Manchester Evening News 1/8/2014
Stop the Red rot: United staring at their biggest crisis

Well if there's no crisis to write about you might as well make one up. Here's the latest Arsenal "crisis":

International Business Times 1/17/2014
Arsenal in Crisis as Injury Count Rises to Eight Ahead of Fulham Clash

Arsenal survived the above injury crisis and remain atop the table. However, things are not as rosy for last year's Champions. Due to all the abuse cocky and arrogant Manchester United "fans" have given us Arsenal fans over the years, I can't help but enjoy watching Manchester United fade from relevance and from the top of the EPL table. After their loss at Chelsea today, RVP's beloved United are now 14 - FOURTEEN points behind league leaders Arsenal. Enjoy the following "crisis" headlines;

ESPN 1/19/2014
Ten stats that spell out Manchester United's crisis

Give Me Sport 1/19/2014
David Moyes denies Manchester United are in crisis

They're even reporting a Manchester United crisis in Bogota, Colombia. In any language it's hysterical.

El Espectador 1/19/2014 
Chelsea vencio a un Manchester United que no sale de la crisis

The Times of India 1/20/2014
Crisis or blip? Moyes calm as Man United falters

As if these weren't enough, check out this laughable penalty shoot out which Manchester United lost. Sunderland, currently in 19th place in the table, defeated last year's champions in a two leg semi-final for the opportunity to go to Wembley and play for the League Cup. Seeing United suffer like this is the equivalent of the poor bullied kid finally getting the last laugh at the bully.

The crisis count has been on holiday as yours truly was over in the UK to see Arsenal live. The first match away to Southampton was troubling as Arsenal looked completely out of sorts and Southampton bossed a large part of the match. The 2-2 draw was disappointing but to be honest, Arsenal were lucky to share the points considering how mediocre they were.

At home to Crystal Palace Arsenal came away 2-0 winners, but they still labored a bit and looked tired and lacking creativity. On the positive side it was the Ox scoring both goals.

Luckily I was unable to secure tickets to see Arsenal at Liverpool and had to settle for watching the match in a pub. After 20 minutes and down 4-0 I was mortified and glad that I didn't spent 90 pounds and ten hours travelling to watch Arsenal get humiliated. That being the case, the "crisis" word has once again started being bandied about. One loss, yes a bad one, and it's CRISIS time again.

February 2014

Standard Digital News 2/11/14
Wenger and Moyes in crisis as Arsenal host Man United

Daily Mail 2/11/14
Title contenders a week ago, but a crisis looms if Arsenal do not beat Manchester United...and what will Wenger's excuse be?

It's obvious that the Daily Mail hates Arsenal and Arsene Wenger but this one above is so over the top ridiculous that it's hysterical. Well Arsenal did not beat Manchester ended in a dull 0-0 draw and Arsenal are still one point off the top spot. So, according to the Daily Mail second place by one measly point is a "CRISIS". Priceless.

Fans jam the Emirates to watch a team one point off the top but are in "crisis" (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Daily Star Sunday 2/15/2014
Arsene Wenger facing a major crisis

Despite the Daily Star's prediction, it's Manchester United that are still in crisis, not Arsenal. As you'll see in these enjoyable headlines.

International Business Times 2/27/2014
Manchester United Crisis: Arsenal, Liverpool and City Fans Revel in David Moyes Turmoil

Daily Star 2/28/2014
Manchester United are a club in crisis: Manchester United are in meltdown

March 2014

Daily Mail 3/4/2014
Man United need an Arab sheik or Russian oligarch with 2bn to solve crisis, says Salford betting millionaire Done

Well, Arsenal lost a game to the cavemen in a very uninspiring fashion and you know what that means....SEASON ENDING CRISIS. To be fair it is a demoralizing defeat and it basically leaves us in fourth place with difficult fixtures upcoming. However, one loss and the headlines suddenly turn to CRISIS is a bit much.

International Business Times 3/5/2014
Mesut Ozil Reveals Reason Behind his Arsenal Crisis

The Mirror 3/6/2014
Arsenal's FA Cup tie against Everton is THE most important in their fixture list - only silverware will stop a crisis

So apparently, the Stoke loss ushered in another "crisis". Then this weekend, Arsenal, led by none other than Mesut Ozil, defeated Everton 4-1 to punch their ticket to the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley. It now appears that this latest "crisis" is over. But, you never know when another "crisis" may be lurking.

Here is the City Sport 3/10/2014
'Crisis over' - German press react to Mesut Ozil's Arsenal performance

The love affair with Ozil was over in less than a week with hacks calling the player a failure after he had a poor first half at Bayern Munich. It later turned out that he was trying to play with a pulled hamstring, but that didn't play in to the disgraceful stories cooked up by the media. The worst culprit of all was Neil Ashton in the Daily Mail who wrote a piece with the title, Lost and lazy Ozil might have cost Arsenal £42.5m but he isn't worth two-bob...and he's nicking a living". Ashton rightfully received a lot of grief over his inappropriate and outlandish "story". But, that's covered in another blog post. Regardless, the media was just waiting for another Arsenal "crisis" to develop.

International Business Times 3/13/2014
Arsenal's Injury Crisis Deepens as Ramsey Unsure of Tottenham Return

Sunday World 3/15/2014
Arsenal gripped by midfield injury crisis

March 15 - Today Aston Villa worked their butts off and pulled off an unexpected victory over Chel$ki and their obnoxious manager. That is a massive three points dropped by Chelsea and opens the door for Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool to get back in to the title race.

Of course when Arsenal recently lost to Stoke 1-0 the rags and their writers came at Arsenal with venom and of course spoke of another "crisis". Let's see if these crap tabloids are consistent with their overzealous headliness and declare Chelsea in crisis. Certainly many Arsenal fans are asking this question today.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Well, that door which was opened last week has pretty much been slammed in the face of Arsenal. There are going to be a lot of headlines screaming "crisis" this week...and sadly Arsenal deserve it this time. Plain and simple Arsenal were embarrassed and humiliated this past weekend as the team were played off the pitch and lost 6-0. While fans are arguing over ArseneIn or ArseneOut, the fact is that this team will not be good enough to win the title unless they can figure out how to beat, or at least compete with, the bigger clubs. I thought the 5-1 demolition at Liverpool was embarrassing, the Chelsea game was SHOCKING.

So for your reading pleasure here are the best of the "crisis" headlines:

TalkSport March 24, 2014
Revealed? What was said in the Arsenal crisis talks

Daily Star March 24, 2014
Mike Arteta issues grovelling apology after Arsenal hold post-Chelsea crisis talks

Express March 24, 2014
Crisis talks? Gunners are ready to right wrongs after Chelsea annihilation 

After the mauling by Chelsea, Arsenal threw away a victory over Swansea and settled for a draw. This past weekend, Arsenal hosted Man City and based on recent events, most fans were expecting a beat down. In the end, the Gunners fought back from one goal to level the score and shared the points. Considering what could have been, we'll take it.

Meanwhile, some "fans" have been making a lot of noise about how it's time for Wenger to go. Of course the media picks up on this and "crisis" headlines are inevitable. On a side note, the disrespect being shown to Wenger by these "fans" and the media is absolutely shameful. Maybe some of these fans have only been following Arsenal for a few years, but they should go over Arsenal's history before running their mouths. Wenger has been a loyal and successful servant and should be given the respect he deserves instead of being told to F-Off.

International Business Times March 26, 2014
Arsenal's Perennial Crisis: Is it Finally Time for Arsene Wenger to Bow Out?

Islington Gazette April 3, 2014
All Guns Blazing: The real culprit behind Arsenal's injury crisis

Well, well, well....with two back to back wins and a trip to the FA Cup Final the Arsenal crisis conversation has gone cold. However, some of our good friends at Manchester United and Jose "the egotistical one" Mourinho may be feeling the heat these days. Of course the media kiss Mourinho's butt so much that his billionaire boys clubs' loss to last place Sunderland would never be called a "crisis" or be labelled "bottling it". Finally, however, the disrespectful bully is being called out for his self entitled behaviour. Here are a few choice ones:

Daily Mail, April 20, 2014
Jose Mourinho and his staff must grow up not blow up

The Independent April 21, 2014
Jose Mourinho: Graceless reaction of Chelsea manager a sad effort to hide his own flaws

As for Manchester United, news of Moyes' demise are all over Twitter and the media today. Here are a few:

Irish Independent April 21, 2014
David Moyes to be sacked within 24 hours as Manchester United boss 

The Telegraph, April 21, 2014
David Moyes edging closer to Manchester United exit door after abject display against former club Everton

Yahoo Sports, April 21, 2014
Bookies suspend betting on Moyes being sacked by United

May 17, 2014

It's official....the crisis count is over and the "it's been nine years since Arsenal last won a trophy" comments will cease to be uttered.  Back in August when Arsenal lost their first match of the season at home to Aston Villa the doom and gloom and crisis mongers were out in full force. Now, nine months later and the feeling around Arsenal is positive. The club spent more days atop the EPL than any other club, after being called "bottlers" other clubs such as Chelsea and Liverpool showed what "bottlers" really are, Arsenal secured their 17th straight season of Champions League football and they won the club's 11th all time FA Cup Trophy. With Manchester City winning the title and the League Cup, Arsenal were the only other EPL club to win a trophy. That's right, the egotistical one won NOTHING, Manchester United imploded and RVP's team finished 7th and Liverpool flirted with the league only to fade at the end.

All in all not bad for a team that the media likes to label a "CLUB IN CRISIS".

Here's to Arsenal and the 2013-2014 season: CRISIS AVERTED.

Arsenal 2013-2014: The Lows, the Highs and the Trophy

Arsenal 2013-2014: The Lows, the Highs and the Trophy

Part 1 - August - October 2013

Friday, August 16th 2013

It is opening day eve and football fans are gearing up for the start of the 2013-2014 EPL season.

After the defection of Robin “Judas” Van Persie at the start of last season, 2012-2013 Arsenal had a rough campaign. There was plenty of fan dissent and there were many questioning the once unquestionable Arsene Wenger. In the end, Arsenal finished strong with 8 wins and 2 draws and celebrating St. Totteringham on the last day of the season while pipping Spuds for the last CL spot.

Everything was looking up heading in to the summer with Wenger stating that the club would be very active in the transfer window and had 70million pounds in the bank to use for this purpose.

The silly season has been just that…silly. Every hot target was bandied about Higuain, Jovetic, Rooney, Suarez, Gustavo, Fellaini…but none of them was  signed and Arsenal head in to the new season without the major additions that were spoken of and that fans were expecting. There’s still 2 plus weeks left until the transfer window closes, but time is ticking and the season begins tomorrow.

Meanwhile, as always seems to be the case, Arsenal have injuries to contend with:

Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta has a thigh injury and could miss the first six weeks of the season. Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal are out with back injuries and of course Abou Diaby is injured. (Does he collect a paycheck for being constantly injured?)

Opening Day turned out to be an opening nightmare. After a brilliant Giroud opener within the first ten minutes, the storm clouds appeared in the shape of crappy refereeing and some bad Arsenal play. Villa were awarded two penalties, one of which was very questionable and led to Koscielny being red carded. With the crowd booing and chanting "spend some fucking money" by the end of the 1-3 match it's obvious that the new campaign has gotten off to the worst start possible.

The result had me so pissed off that I have nothing to say and am imposing a media black out on Arsenal until I recover.

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 2:45 EST Arsenal at Fernabahce

After opening the season with a soul crushing defeat and with Arsenal yet to dip in to the transfer market, the media and many of the fans are in panic mode. It seems as if the entire footballing world is against Arsenal and enjoying watching the team and its fans suffer. If I didn't know any better I would think that the object of the transfer window is to wait and see which players Arsenal are targeting and then steal those players before Arsenal have the chance to give them a contract.

Also of concern is the noise coming from pundits and supporters that Arsene Wenger is ruining the team and needs to go now.

With all this negativity swirling around, Arsenal headed in to the first leg of their Champions League qualifying match away to Fenerbahce in Istanbul. It seems the big topic of the day was what in what if Arsenal lose and don't qualify for the Champions League.

What a difference one game can make. The doom and gloom has been lifted just a bit and there is a sense of restored faith in Arsenal and the players. It's amazing what a 0-3 win can do for a team.

The first half in Istanbul saw Arsenal with the better of the play, but the half ended scoreless. The second half was a different story with Theo setting up Kieran Gibbs for the first goal, followed by a deserved goal for Man of the Match Aaron Ramsey. Giroud got on the score sheet when Arsenal were awarded a penalty after a Michal Kadlec foul on Walcott. The only negative was seeing Kos hauled off and sent to the hospital after getting kicked in the head by Pierre Webo.

I have been pretty negative about Szczesny but he made some tremendous saves to keep a clean sheet. A solid Arsenal win didn't stop some of the haters. Prior to the match, it was "Fenerbahce is going to be tough for Arsenal. After the match it was "It was a very poor Fenerbahce side". It seems with Arsenal the media will never give them credit for a job well done.

Barring a monumental collapse, Arsenal should finish the job next week when the return leg comes to London. Then, it'll be 16 straight years in the Champions League. Hopefully this fact will help Wenger and Arsenal secure the players the team needs to compete for trophies and silence the doubters.

Saturday, August 24, 2013 7:45AM EST Arsenal at Fulham

Despite the convincing midweek win in Istanbul, there was still a ton of negativity surrounding Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. The #WengerOut crowd, including that pompous idiot Piers Morgan, have been shouting from the mountain tops. Some Arsenal "fans" have even been rooting for the team to lose to prove their ridiculous point. The real fans are concerned, but a true fan remains loyal.

While Wenger keeps saying that he will be bringing in 2-3 players, the only new player that has come on board so far is the relatively unknown Ya Ya Sanogo.

It was under this cloud of negativity that Arsenal found themselves in when entering in to their second league match of the new season.

After all the moaning and hearing the word "crisis" thrown around all week, it seems that the real Arsenal showed up. In a pouring rainstorm Arsenal dominated play and within 15 minutes Olivier Giroud gave his team the lead. Lukas Podolski put Arsenal up 2-0 in the 41st minute with a powerful shot and then secured a brace with a class goal in the 68th minute. Darren Bent scored a consolation goal late in the match, but Arsenal won comfortably 1-3. It was a total team effort and every player on the pitch was sharp.
Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

The mood heading in to the second leg of Arsenal's match versus Fenerbahce at the Emirates was quite different than it had been prior to the first leg. After defeating Fenerbahce by 3 on the road and then easily defeating Fulham at Craven Cottage, Arsenal fans were more upbeat and actually feeling confident.

The main topic among fans is still about the transfer window. With less than a week remaining, rumors are everywhere linking Arsenal with Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil, Angel DiMaria, Iker Casillas and Yohan Cabaye. This after the club had been linked with players as diverse as Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Gonzalo Higuain. The media comes up with new stories every day so until something actually does happen, it's all just speculation.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
So it's official. Arsenal are in the group stages of the Champions League for the 16th straight year. For all the moaning and abuse of Wenger and the club, Arsenal had no trouble casting Fenerbahce aside and getting the job done. There is concern, however, as Podolski limped off with what may be a hamstring injury and Ramsey came off in extra time in pain. Hopefully the injuries are not that bad as the North London Derby is this Sunday at the Emirates and Arsenal will need to be at full strength. The other concern of course, is the transfer window. Fans are still waiting desperately for Wenger to bring in some big name signings and reinforcements.

Thursday, August 29, 2013 11:30AM EST Champions League Draw

Having secured a place in the Champions League group round for the 16th straight season, fans were hoping that the draw would be good to Arsenal. Arsenal got a tough, but not impossible draw and the divide between the positive and negative Gooners was evident:

Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)

Sunday, September 1, 2013 11AM EST Arsenal vs. Tottenham

The North London Derby is always big, but coming this early in the season this one took on new significance. Tottenham have spent millions of dollars on new signings while Arsenal have yet to splash out the cash. The media has been celebrating Spurs and predicting their rise while bashing Arsenal and expecting the club to fall apart. Some of the Spurs fans were cocky heading in. Meanwhile some doubting Arsenal supporters were nervous while others showed their confidence:

After a thrillling 1-0 win for the home team, the Spurs faithful were a bit quieter while Arsenal fans celebrated. Despite spending millions, Tottenham didn't look overly threatening or special. Meanwhile Arsenal's regular lineup, played as a tight unit and defended their status as the ONLY team in North London.

On a side note, another great result from today was the 1-0 defeat of Manchester United and their newly minted manager David Moyes by Liverpool. RVP was kept off the score sheet and almost lost his cool. Karma is always a nice thing to see.

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Monday, September 2, 2013 Deadline Day

Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have been getting abused for weeks as the club has yet to spend cash in the transfer window. While Spuds were spending like drunken soldiers and other clubs were making moves, all Arsenal had to show heading in to deadline day were the free transfers for Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy was apparently trying to be cheeky and hold up the official sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid in an effort to keep Arsenal from signing any players from Madrid. The vitriol was flowing on Twitter for the club and manager:

Arsene Wenger went from zero to hero with the biggest signing of the entire transfer window in the EPL. The capture of the world class midfielderr Mesut Ozil has proven to all the haters and even the #WengerOut brigade that Wenger is capable of signing top talent. In fact Ozil turned down a bigger offer from PSG after speaking with Wenger. Funny how all the #WengerOut folks have gone quiet. Great to see the story on Arsenal's website.

Saturday, September 14, 2013 10AM EST Arsenal at Sunderland

After a long two week International break which saw the arrival of Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil to Arsenal it was finally time to get back to football. Photos of Ozil training with the rest of the Arsenal first team circulated and Ozil announced himself as a Gunner during a pre-match press conference.

Despite having to have the indignity of playing his first ever EPL match in Sunderland, Ozil made his impact felt immediately. Within 11 minutes Ozil set up Giroud for an exquisite goal and a 1-0 Arsenal lead. Ozil set up a number of other chances and despite being ill, just back from International break and not yet knowing his teammates, he dominated the game.

Koscielny made another rash challenge which led to a Sunderland penalty kick at the start of the second half. Aaron Ramsey cleaned up the mess with two outstanding goals to give Arsenal the 1-3 victory.

It's early days, but three games after the media was declaring Arsenal's demise and crisis here's a look at the current EPL table:

From crisis to Top of the Table. Chelsea losing to Everton and Manchester City with an ugly scoreless draw at Stoke, weeks after a humiliating loss to newly promoted Cardiff added to the new found confidence of Arsenal and Arsenal fans. Add to that Manchester United only winning due to diving and phantom penalties and Arsenal's defeat of Spuds in the first North London Derby. A lot of the haters have gone quiet. It's looking good.

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Wed. September 18, 2013 2:45PM EST Arsenal at Marseille Champions League Match Day 1

Heading in to the opening match of the Champions League group stages all was calm in Arsenal land. Since Arsenal's opening day loss to Aston Villa, Arsenal have won six straight matches in all competitions.

Fans were feeling confident, but Arsenal's Group F is one of the tougher ones in the tournament. A good start against Marseille was needed with Napoli and Dortmund also in the group.

Arsenal looked lethargic in the first half and the passing was not as sharp as normal. For whatever reason, the Gunners were having trouble maintaining possession. On the good side, even with Arsenal's sub par first half performance, both teams ended the half without scoring.

At times the Arsenal defense was shaky, but thanks to a stand out performance from left back Kieran Gibbs, Marseille was held at bay. Gibbs then turned provider with a near perfect pass to Theo Walcott who brilliantly volleyed the ball in to the back of the net.

Arsenal were holding on to their lead, but pretty much secured the victory with an Aaron Ramsey goal again set up by Gibbs.

Marseille were awarded a rather dodgy penalty in the 90th minute. Ramsey got a foot to the ball and with little to no contact, Andre Ayew tumbled to the ground. Ayew scored but it was too little to late and Arsenal were off to a great start in the group round.

Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

On a side note, it was funny to see that Chelsea, led by the self proclaimed "special one" lost their opening match at home to Basel. 

(Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Sunday, September 22, 2013 8:30AM EST Arsenal vs. Stoke

Things are looking good these days for Arsenal and the mood heading in to this match with the cavemen of Stoke is extremely positive. With Aaron Ramsey showing how good he can be, many Gooners were hoping that Ramsey would be able to have a bit of revenge at the expense of Ryan Shawcross and his cave mates. Despite the fact that Shawcross could have ended Ramsey's career with his horrific leg breaking tackle, Ramsey is still the object of hate from fans of the cavemen.

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Well what do you know, Ramsey opens the scoring for Arsenal and after a bit of a let up, the Gunners walk away with a 3-1 victory. Despite not playing at their best, Mesut Ozil was the provider of three assists from set pieces resulting in Ramsey's goal as well as headers from defenders Mertesacker and Sagna.

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
With Liverpool's loss to Southampton, Arsenal are now at the top of the EPL table ahead of Spuds on goal differential. As one Gooner on Twitter put it, even when Tottenham get off to a great start, they are still looking up at Arsenal.

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Most fans of the EPL were taking much delight in Manchester United's embarrassing loss at the hands of Manchester City. With Judas van Persie on the bench due to injury, all he could do was watch on as his team were made to look like crap.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Wednesday, September 25th Arsenal at West Brom 3PM EST League Cup

As he's done in past seasons, Arsene Wenger fielded a youthful team for the League Cup. Starts were given to Ryo Miyaichi, Serge Gnabry, Isaac Hayden and Thomas Eisfeld. Late substitutions included defender Hector Bellerin, midfielder Kris Olsson and striker Chuba Akpom.

Also, back from the wilderness was Nicklas Bendtner. Injuries to key players has allowed Bendtner to try and win a place back in the team.

With a young squad and a thin bench, fans were a bit more nervous than usual when facing West Brom.

I got to watch the first half on an illegal feed on my computer. The first 45 minutes were poor with both teams giving away the ball too often. The rest of the game I had to follow on my phone.

Eisfeld sent the keeper the wrong way in the 61st minute after a pass from Bendtner and Arsenal had the lead. That lasted ten minutes. Saido Berahino equalized on a header in the 71st minute.

The match remained 1-1 after extra time and the game went to penalties. Watching a penalty shoot out on television is hard enough; but following one on the Internet is beyond nerve wracking.

Gnabry's shot was saved and after James Morrison scored, West Brom had the lead 3-1. As fortune would have it, Craig Dawson and Morgan Amalfitano missed their attempts and Nacho Monreal finished off the tie giving the Gunners a 4-3 victory.

As always seems to be the case, Arsenal's reward for moving on is the most difficult opponent of the entire group. Chelsea will visit the Emirates in the fourth round.

Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Saturday, September 28, 2013 12:30PM EST Arsenal at Swansea City

Arsenal head in to match 6 of the season at the top of the EPL table. While the campaign is still young, the feeling surrounding the club is very positive. Confidence is high, but Swansea City away is definitely not a fixture to be taken lightly. Swansea and Michu have given Arsenal problems in the past, so today's contest will be a big early season test for the Gunners.

Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images
In the end there was no need to worry. Serge Gnabry and Aaron Ramsey scored within four minutes of each other in the second half.  Swansea got a late consolation goal but all three points went to Arsenal.

Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Meanwhile the pleasure of watching Man United stink up the joint continues.

Moyes worried by Man United slump as Scot admits squad lacks world-class players 

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Tuesday, October 1, 2013 2:45EST Arsenal vs. Napoli Champions League Match Day 2

Arsenal head in to this home match riding high, but the doubters are out there and many calling this the "Grouop of Death" fear that Arsenal will be unable to defeat Napoli. The Emirates was rocking and Arsenal were facing a test to their early season form.

(Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Well Arsenal passed that test with flying colors. From start to finish it was total domination by the Gunners. Ozil scored his first Arsenal goal and set up Olivier Giroud's follow up goal all within the first 15 minutes. From there, Arsenal just controlled possession and kept Napoli from putting up any real threat. If one didn't know better, you would have thought that Napoli were pushovers. Arsenal made the Serie A challengers look very ordinary. The 2-0 victory had Arsenal fans, and even Arsenal detractors, singing the teams' praises.

 Arsenal dismantle Napoli with Mesut Ozil playing the engineer

Arsene Wenger hails 'outstanding' Mesut Ozil after Arsenal see off Napoli in the Champions League

(Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Sunday, October 6, 2013 11AM EST Arsenal at West Bromwich Albion

All of a sudden the pundits can't stop talking about Arsenal and how great they look. Amazing the difference six weeks of winning can do. Arsenal go in to this match looking for their 9th consecutive road win and are the in form team in the EPL. A win or a draw and Arsenal go back to the top of the league. Even the press are singing Arsenal's praises:

Arsenal column: The pieces have fallen into place, the timing is right.. Arsenal ARE genuine title contenders

A week after defeating ManU at Old Trafford, West Brom were brimming with confidence. They played a strong game and put Arsenal to the test throughout. They scored late in the first half and held that lead until the hour mark when Jack Wilshere's deflected shot found the back of the net. The game ended in a draw and sadly the Man of the Match was the ref who was shocking. It looked as if he thought he was refing a boxing match as he let every foul and near mugging go. The fact that this draw is so disappointing is a testament to how high the expectations have been raised by this Arsenal team. Let's remember back the past few seasons where this game would have been a loss. Arsenal are still Top of the League and to make it even better, the Spuds were embarrassed by West Ham at home. On to the international break and top of the table.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Saturday, October 18 2013 10AM EST Arsenal vs. Norwich City

After a long international break, which saw England qualify for next summer's World Cup and Mexico cheering for the USA, it's back to EPL action. Luckily all Arsenal players came back from national team duty in good shape and it's time for the team to press on and continue to hold the top spot in the table.

Giroud celebrates after scoring for France (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Before leaving for the break, the Premier League handed out their awards for the month of September and the winners were Aaron Ramsey for Player of the Month and Arsene Wenger for Manager of the month. It's now official....the "crisis" has been averted.

Other news out of Arsenal is the addition of Kieran Gibbs to Twitter:
Plus, believe it or not, Stan Kroenke was cheered at this week's shareholder's meeting

(Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Confidence is oozing out of every member of the Arsenal team as well as the fan base. The Emirates was rocking today as Arsenal easily dismantled Norwich  4-1. The only blemish on the match was that once again the Gunners were unable to keep a clean sheet.  The goals...they were all amazing. Wilshere opened the scoring in the 18th minute. Ozil scored his first league goal on a header in the 58th followed by an amazing Aaron Ramsey run through the Norwich defense which led to Ramsey's 9th goal of the season. Ozil got a second in the 88th as the result of some amazing team play.

(Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Another first was watching Ozil and the returning Santi Cazorla playing together in the same midfield. With Cazorla back and the fine form of Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta and Rosicky, the Arsenal midfield is one of the best in might even say Barcelona like. Thanks once again to Real Madrid for making one of the stupidest footballing decisions in years....or shall I say gracias!

(Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Looking down from the top of the table, there's one noticeable absentee from the top 4. The Fergie-less Manchester United had another mediocre display at Old Trafford and drew 1-1 with Southampton who are themselves in the top 4. Hopefully Robin van Persie is watching the renaissance under Wenger in North London and rethinking the rash decision the little boy inside of him made! Borussia Dortmund is next, onward and upward! Up the Arsenal.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

(Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

How's the little boy like 8th place? (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 2:45PM EST Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund Champions League Match Day 3

Going in to this match all is well in Arsenal land. Top of the table in the league and top of the table in Group F. It's too early to get carried away yet in the Champions League and today's match against last year's runners-up will be another test for this rejuvenated Arsenal squad.

Unfortunately Arsene Wenger didn't get the birthday present he wanted. Not sure what was going on, but Arsenal looked lethargic and slow. Arsenal were defeated 2-1. Maybe it's me. I was at this exact Match Day 3 game at the Emirates last October when Schalke defeated Arsenal 2-0. Those German fans know how to celebrate.
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Despite the defeat there were some positives. After going behind, Arsenal fought back and pulled even on a wild goal by Giroud. Love Wilshere, but he was way off his game today. Too many errant passes. He probably needs a rest. Once Cazorla was subbed in late in the match, Arsenal looked more likely to score. Unfortunately, Lewandoski scored on a great strike and despite a valiant effort, the game ended in defeat.

Saturday, October 26, 2013 7:45AM Arsenal at Crystal Palace

First match of the weekend and time to bounce back from the midweek Champions League loss to Dortmund. Crystal Palace are prime for a beating, without a manager and second from the bottom with just three points.

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 3:45PM Arsenal vs. Chelsea Leauge Cup Round 4

It's that odd time of year where for one week, the UK and the East Coast of the USA are just four hours apart rather than five. Therefore, today's game is beginning one hour later than most of us are used to here in the states. Regardless, the fixtures are coming fast and furious and the upcoming matches, beginning with today's League Cup meeting with Chelsea, could define Arsenal's season.

Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
An absolutely miserable night. It's clear that Chelsea's second team is way better than Arsenal's second team. Nicklas Bendtner and Ryo Miyaichi were given the chance to shine and both failed miserably. Despite the lack of goal penetration by Arsenal, they were hanging with Chelsea....that is until Carl Jenkinson gifted Chelsea a goal with an idiotic back pass in to the path of an oncoming Chelsea player.

Arsenal were better in the second half but it seemed as if they were playing bowling rather than football. Every attempt on goal resulted in the ball hitting a Chelsea player rather than anywhere near the net. Once Juan Mata scored late in the match it was game over. 

All the haters and negative fans are back on Twitter. These are some of the more rational ones. Next up is Liverpool this weekend....a must win.

(Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Arsenal 2013-2014: The Lows, the Highs and the Trophy - Part 2 - November - December 2013