HAPPY BIRTHDAY ARSENAL!
125 today (well, for celebrations purposes at least). You old fart. Jeez, I remember when you were 110. Seems like an age ago. My how you’ve grown up. Remember that tiny little stadium you had for your first home? My how you’ve grown up. There have been some good times. Yep, the Invincibles year was pretty amazing. That game against Liverpool, you remember, with Michael Thomas. The Cup Winners Cup… Your first Premiership title. It hasn’t all been plain sailing. It never is. We’ve had to watch some of the people you’re not too keen on do well. We’ve had a few nasty holidays, that one in Paris was a bit of a gut wrencher and the day trip to Wembley wasn’t the best… but we still love you the same.
Here’s to the next 125 years!
Yesterday saw the worst kept secret in football unveiled. 3 statues of Arsenal legends were unveiled. Herbert Chapman, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry have been immortalised in bronze for the rest of time. Tony Adams is striking the pose from that game against Everton. Truly one of my favourite moments as an Arsenal fan ever. It was pretty much the first title win I’d ever been absolutely engrossed in from start to finish. To win it like that was perfect. The celebration was legendary. Now it’s captured forever. He sadly wasn’t in attendance yesterday, but Alan Smith took time out to speak to the great man on the train to Romania here.
The Thierry Henry statue was maybe a slightly more contentious choice. No doubt the guy is the greatest goal scorer in our history, but it seems a bit strange to immortalise a 34 year who is still playing in the game. He’s a legend, I love him dearly, but like a few others, I can’t help but think Dennis Bergkamp is the guy who kick started this next-gen Arsenal thing. Everything turned on its head when he joined. He was the superstar signing we’d all craved. He was a technical genius on the ball and after he joined, we never put a season ticket on general sale again.
Anyway, Thierry is still one of my heroes. He was a genius on and off the ball. He took expectations so high that a half chance was deemed a great chance if he was involved. He made the impossible possible and he electrified the fans. A once in a generation player. A genius. It was very sweet to see how emotional he still gets about the club. Shedding tears of for girls though Thierry. Girls and John Terrys.
Herbert Chapman was also revealed. A manager of a generation and a true visionary. From floodlights to hooped socks to naming the station after the club… to personal branding. The guy had it all. Not to mention titles to boot. I think it’s always hard, particularly for the younger generation to tap into the history of the club. It’s well worth doing so to truly appreciate the intelligence and forward thinking of that man.
I think today will be a very emotional day for a lot of fans. It’s a massive land mark and to look at where we are now as a club compared to even ten years ago is quite amazing. We’re now established as an elite football team forever. We have amazing infrastructure, superb training facilities and a world class stadium. Teams like Spurs now have to risk their future to catch up with us. Things might not be perfect on the pitch, but we’re in amazing shape for the future regardless.
‘The present is very important for us, we are in the middle of a season where every point is important now.’
Absolutely bang on the money there. Today needs to be about focus on the task ahead. Everton are a very good team with some very good players. We know they have a terrific work rate and that David Moyes is one of the best managers in the business. We can’t afford to go into the game in relaxed party mode. We need to continue our league form and we need to make sure we don’t lose ground on the teams ahead of us. I have a feeling there will be a wobble from City and United this month. If we can capitalise on that, we could be in a superb position come January.
We have major problems in defence still. Andre Santos looks set to be sidelined for longer than the initial 3 weeks put forward. That’s a bit of a gutter as he’d started to find his feet and he has often been key to starting attacking moves for us. The boss seems to think the back line will consist of 4 centre backs today. So that mans he’ll be putting Vermaelen in at left back and moving Koscielny and Mertesacker into the middle with JD at right back. Probably a better move than slipping Miquel or Yennaris into the side.
Our French centre back has to be super aware today. JD has a habit of forgetting which sport he’s playing, so the chances are he’ll be letting players slip in behind him all day, Baines in particular needs to be watched. Mertesacker doesn’t have the recovery pace to deal with those type of mistakes, so super vigilance and robust performance has to be on the cards for the in form Koscielny.
In midfield, it’ll be the rested trio of Alex Song, Ramsey and Arteta. It’ll be an emotional day for our Spaniard. He spent many a year in the Everton midfield where he built a fantastic reputation.
“Mikel has adjusted very well and he has the mental level to be at this Club. We watched him many times before he got his cruciate injury [a few years ago]. It took him a while to get back to his normal level. Now, he is back to normal.”
It took Mikel a few months to adjust to the Arsenal midfield as well. I don’t think any of us were sure what position he’d take up, but he seems to play a few yards in front of Alex Song and he dominates possession from there. I love his attitude, if he didn’t have the stereotypical Spanish looks, you’d mistake him for a British player out on the pitch. He has a fantastic range of passing (90% success rate) and he mucks in both ends.
Up top, I’d imagine it’s going to be G.R.W combination. We’ll be looking for Robin to contribute at least one goal to the game and hopefully the other two can continue their impressive form with at least a goal and an assist each. I think having two proper wide players this year has really benefitted us. Theo looks the most comfortable he has in his whole career on the wing and Gervinho, despite a few flaws with his control is a very exciting player. It’s such a shame he’ll be off to the ACN.
If you’re interested to know how Everton are going to play, may I recommend this excellent Everton blog for all the insight you’ll need.
Remember to head down early if you want to see what Arsenal are doing for the day. Sounds like legends and marching bands are the serving suggestion for the afternoon.
Right, I’m off to book Arsenal a pink limousine and stripper for later on this evening, have a ripping day everyone and enjoy the 125th celebrations!