One of the pleasures that comes with creating content about Arsenal is meeting people that are crazy talented and all they want to talk about is The Arsenal. Guest blogger Demian and I have been meeting for a few years, last time we hung out I watched him play percussion for the Jonas Brothers in Brooklyn. He warned me to bring earplugs, I was like, errr, been to Wembley mate, reckon I can handle this… oh my, was I wrong. I’ve never heard shrieks like it. He wears elite jackets and one of his major loves is the women’s game. He asked if I’d write about the game this weekend, instead, I threw it over to him. Enjoy the piece and give him a follow on @DemianArriaga.
Just like you, I LOVE ARSENAL.
But sometimes, I need a little reminder here and there.
I am a proud Venezuelan gooner who fell in love with Ian Wright watching him on old VHS tapes before I even had any idea what club he played for. That summer I saw Dennis Bergkamp score THAT goal against Argentina and when I saw on my Panini sticker book that he played for Arsenal, I just knew that was my team. Oh, that and the JVC logos which were the same from my stereo which became the single most important object in my life, as I later became a professional musician.
The post-Wenger era was just as difficult for me as during his latter years. I wasn’t really enjoying the matches, always expecting the worst and found myself tweeting more during the gameplay than watching the TV. Even still I would wake up at 4am here in Los Angeles if I had to. Game not on? I would listen to on the radio or try to find a feed. If not, I would open a live score app and refresh that sucker every 5 seconds.
However, the reality was that I was falling out of love with Arsenal. I didn’t feel like I was connecting with the players or with the Manager and style of play. There was so much fan division that even living in the USA, aka very far away from London, I was feeling alienated.
No. 10s that couldn’t hold a candle to Dennis and still no DMF since PV4 left. We all know that and to a degree I can come to terms with that because it’s on us. Nobody else. But beyond that, the absurd wages football wide, the racism, the corruption, the drama and all the things we love to hate, it was just becoming too much. Perhaps if Arsenal were doing great I might have conveniently exercised my selective amnesia but honestly my friends, I was just getting overwhelmed.
Then last summer it all changed. During the Women’s World Cup, a Dutch player made me fall in love with football and more importantly with ARSENAL FC, harder than ever before. The Notorious DVD aka Danielle Van De Donk. She instantly became my favorite player, let alone my favorite female one. Her poise, her control, her bite, her vision. She had it all. When the commentator mentioned she played for our club I felt like I had found something I was missing for who knows how long. I felt whole. Complete. It all made sense again. Later I came to find that the greatest and most prolific striker in the game was also our player. Then one of the Dutch’s most impactful subs who could start in any team, would be ours later that summer.
I was hooked. And I hadn’t even seen them play!!! I went online and started watching past matches, hearing interviews, and studying the history just like I had once done it 22 years ago. This is a team that has so much history, unlike any other in Europe and the current squad is very special.
Last season they were pure joy to watch and if it hadn’t been for COVID they could’ve won the WSL title. I wanted that, I yearned for that, and I had it all along. Right in front of me. I didn’t follow the when they won the CL or the league or countless FA cups… and I’m ashamed of that to be fair.
Not fully related but I recently tweeted out at TalkSPORT, mentioning how I wasn’t a Londoner but loved Arsenal since 98 and Goughie and Adrian basically called me a glory hunting fan, and even though I was bothered by it and thought it was harsh, I think they might have a point. Yes, I seek glory, don’t we all?
And that is the point… we have it. WE HAVE IT. And I’m not talking about 89 or the Invincibles. I’m talking about Arsenal Women.
We have the joy and privilege of witnessing some of the world’s best athletes right at our club. You want “one of our own” then look no further than Leah Williamson, a better defender than any at the men’s squad. A Dutch genius on the ball who can make time stop and also not be bullied? We got DVD. English, stylish with flair AND engine, a forward who can bend it like Becks? Beth Mead. Want a left-footed full back, that puts in glorious crosses and rough tackles, who tucks their shirt in? Katie McCabe. The deadliest, most fear inducing centre forward on planet earth? Miedema.
The list goes on and on and on.
We are truly privileged at Arsenal FC and supporting that badge to me means supporting all of it. Not just half.
I understand you may have apprehensions, or don’t think they have the quality that the men possess, etc and I’m not here to argue. I will say you will never ever see Jill Roord, Kim Little, Jordan Nobbs or Lia Walti not give anything less than 110%. If you value commitment, pride, love for the crest and victory through harmony, all you have to look is at our Women’s squad.
They love each other and fight for each other and they are without a shadow of a doubt the most tight-knit AFC squad I’ve seen since the Invincibles.
So, although I’m not trying to convince you, give them a shot.
Saturday is massive, as they play their Champions League quarter-final tie against PSG and we must show up for them, online, virtually and in every which way possible.
Don’t we want to be the best fanbase we can? Not be compared to any others but just to feel good about how we treat our own?
I encourage you to watch the matches, follow the players, support them and buy they Merch. Not because they need it, but because it’s our team too. Also, because they are worth it.
They play outstanding football. They just do and more than anything, they LOVE our Arsenal.
And I love them.
Good luck to the team tomorrow!