One life, one game, one team, one invincibles

One life, one game, one team, one Invincibles (So far)

Friday, 31 January 2014

The Curse of the Arsenal 9 shirt

Highbury legends often wore the number 9 shirt because it is what centre forwards do, or at least did. Great players including the likes of Ted Drake, Reg Lewis, David Herd, Joe Baker, John Radford, Frank Stapleton and right through to Alan Smith all graced the number 9 shirt and banged in the goals. 
 John Radford

That is up until the 1994-95 season when under Premiership rules it became just another squad number. Since then it has had a seriously chequered history. The incumbent in 1994-5, who had worn the shirt quite heroically for no less than eight seasons, was Alan Smith. However in the one season he wore it as a squad number he had a miserable injury prone time and netted just four goals. When Smudger retired through injury the following season he was replaced by another legend. But Dennis Bergkamp didn’t want the 9 shirt; he wanted and got the number 10, which rather forced the Merse to take over Smudger’s old number.

Now Merse is a much beloved Gooner and rightly so, but he certainly wasn’t without his problems and most of us, I imagine, still regard him as a number 10 which was his allotted number for so many seasons. After his addiction problems he had a resurrected career at Highbury but the 9 shirt did him no favours. Had it done so he wouldn’t be permanently stuck on his tantalisingly annoying 99-goal tally with the Arsenal.

The Merse
We were surprised to see a young French kid handed the 9 shirt next, however Arsene quite often 'knows' and for a couple of seasons Nicholas Anelka was challenging Wrighty for his place in the team. Anelka was an acefootballer but was also a totally miserable shit. Surely the only player in the history of the Premiership to sport a longer face than Van Nistelrooy and certainly the sourest-faced moaner to ever wear Arsenal’s 9 shirt. In all fairness it has to be said he top-scored for us with nineteen goals in a season wearing the 9 shirt, but as despised ex-Arsenal men go he’s well up there with the Cashleys of this world. Real Madrid were welcome to him and if there was a consolation for Arsenal it was the huge profit margin on a youngster Arsene had stolen from France. Two seasons in the 9 shirt at least paid for a state of the art training facility.

To replace the Horse Le Boss landed us Davor Suker, seen as a short-term purchase due to his somewhat advanced years. Suker was a world class striker in his time, but not for us. He’d been the darling of the Bernabeu and top scored in a World Cup tournament but he couldn’t hold down a regular place at Arsenal. His 11 goals in thirty-nine outings can best be described as meagre. One season at Highbury was more than enough before he departed to West Ham. A fallow season for the nine shirt followed, which was hardly surprising really since the squad number remained vacant.

Next up we got the ‘Fox in the box’, or at least we thought we had. Franny 'Glass ankles' Jeffers came along to adorn our treatment table and pick up a few medals by virtue of being a squad member. He was a calculated gamble that didn’t come off and so was shipped out on loan before being moved on. 
Glass Ankles
To replace him we picked up an expensive grinning Spaniard who looked the part but flattered to deceive. Jose Antonio Reyes who when he was good was brilliant, but unfortunately the Premiership was not for him. His family couldn't settle, plus either he couldn’t be bothered or he was too thick to learn English. His desire to return to the Spanish sunshine was obvious despite his signing an extended contract. So Real Madrid did a deal on the eve of the transfer deadline and although technically only on loan to the Gallaticos no one seriously believed that Jose Antonio would ever return.

Jose Antonio Reyes
So the swap deal for Reyes saw a new number 9 appear on loan with a view to purchase. Julio Battista a.k.a. 'The Beast'. Quite why anyone would call this pussycat a beast is beyond me. His party piece as I recall was trundling along like a runaway steamroller before crashing to the ground and damaging the turf. One decent game at Anfield was his lot and we can only be thankful that he was only on loan and not another failed over-priced purchase.

Runaway steamroller
Next up we got a sprightly and much loved centre-forward with a massive smile and the ability to find the net with all the instincts of a natural poacher. Unfortunately this number 9 was the unluckiest of them all and had his career wrecked by a vicious Brummie thug. As horrific injuries go this one was seriously career threatening and he was out for well over a season. Eduardo was never the same again and so he too unfortunately departed. His departure saw yet another fallow season for the 9 shirt with no one deemed worthy enough to wear it, or maybe no-one was actually brave enough to wear it.

So who was next? No less a person than the captain of Korea namely Ju-Young Park, so you would think all might be well this time around. Well no actually he’s hardly set the world on fire has he, fact is he couldn’t even get the match to light. In fact he was so crap they took the nine shirt off him and gave it to someone with shed loads of German caps we thought would be a real number 9. What could possibly go wrong?

Parked on the bench
Come on down the ever grinning, ever benched or injured Lukas Podolski. Even with Giroud out he couldn’t get a game and has failed to make it through to the 90th minute in almost every game he’s started for us. Even Bendtner (WGS) gets the centre forward slot ahead of Lukas. Why is a mystery because he’s scored some great goals and come closer than anyone else to breaking the net at Das Grove. Fitness seems to be his issue, but who really knows? Maybe changing shirt numbers would sort it for him.
Lukas Podolski
One thing I do know is that if I was about to sign for Arsenal this is the only shirt number I wouldn’t want.

Brian Dawes

@Gooner48 on Twitter

If this article looks familiar it’s because the original version appeared in The Gooner fanzine and it was later updated to appear on The Online Gooner

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Cann table

A very cheery sight this, I love the league table when we're sat on the very top, it never fails to please. And not just because in this more visual version it suggests the top two or three might pull away, but it's also interesting for other reasons. 
There is not so much a gap that's developed in the middle of the table as a huge chasm. And would you say that is two or three clubs marooned in nowhere-land, where the gap is a massive 13 points between 7th and 10th places?  Added to which if you cast your eyes down the table where everything has tightened up there's also going to be some great brown trouser moments down there at the end of the season. It's so tight at the bottom with only a mere six points covering the bottom eleven clubs, which as it happens reads rather like a demented nature reserve.

The Cann Tables were devised by Jenny Cann. Jenny was a lovely lady and serious Arsenal fan who died before her time. Quite rightly she felt that by showing the actual gap between all the teams the actual state of the league could be better conveyed. And she was absolutely right.

The Premiership Table as at 14th January 2014

48 The Arsenal
47 Citeh
46 Chavski

42 Hooferpool
41 Toffees
40 Chicken on a basketball

37 Manure

33 Magpies

30 Saints

23 Tiggers, Villains
22 Orcs
21 Swans, Throstles
20 Canaries
19 Badgers
18 Red Bluebirds, Irons
17 Black Cats, Eagles

 A for Ace Arsenal

As the much appreciated comment below shows the Cann Tables can currently be seen in the link below for numerous leagues and are themselves linked to the BBC table.

......see you learn something every day

Brian Dawes @Gooner48

Saturday, 11 January 2014

We're in with a shout

Please let us not get too deluded by some fine football by the Gunners. And please let’s not get carried away just yet just because we’re top of the pile right now. Because if Arsenal go on to win the league this season it will be the biggest miracle to happen in British football since five loaves, two fishes and ten goals fed a crowd of starving Scottish fans at the 1960 European Cup Final at Hampton Park.  It would be the longest against-the-odds achievement since 300 Spartans took on the might of the Persian Army who at the time were throwing megabucks at the middle eastern transfer market back in 400 and whatever it was BC. The odds of us winning the league are still massive, just ask the bookies.

Since the start of this season the odds, gods, bookies and every single pundit together with his dog have written us off. They wrote us off as inconsequential. They are still not with us, never have been and never will be. They don’t rate us. We are not worthy. Only mega bucks can win the league with a minimum squad of 24 full international regulars because let’s face it Financial Fair Play is as believable as the Loch Ness Monster, or Adrian Chiles to give it it’s full Latin name.


I’ll tell you how extreme it would be to see Arsenal finish as Premiership Champions: it would be far more likely for Prince Charles to be King Charles, Sepp Blatter to have resigned as FIFA supremo and Newcastle to have fulfilled Sugar’s tweet by drawing level with Arsenal before our season ends. 

Citeh have probably the strongest squad ever to be assembled in the history of English football’s financial skull-duggery. Their ridiculous financial backing by a supremely rich nation who so generously sponsor their own team is at the very least surreal. They don’t give a toss about developing players or slinging proven internationals into oblivion so how can they possibly fail and how can anyone compete? Especially so given their four killer front men. Tragically this is still the way English football is going, steamrollered by money men.

The Chavs we’re told have the greatest manager since pre-sliced bread and he’s certainly the greatest self-publicist since Brian Clough. I know this because their PR media stranglehold, a.k.a. Chav-Sky propaganda tells us this all the time. Added to which they have a squad that is the absolute pride of racists, nouveau footie fans, mega rich Russian Oligarchs and mobile phone abusers everywhere. No attempt at playing football will interfere with their non-historical club because their football  has become more tedious and boring than Stoke could ever dream of. And their manager has become a parody of a parody of parody. Only money can beat money.

Pool have the only squad who take a relaxing break each and every European week. Siestas are the European norm for a squad that carries more bite than a great white shark, a captain in need of sub-titles and no European commitments whatsoever other than to possibly view the European song contest at some point in the year. Having the world’s most obnoxious and in form forward is usually enough to win a title. I cite Manure 2012-13 as irrefutable evidence.

This season Manure will come back strongly, we know this because the Fergusmoan trained media jerks repeat this mantra endlessly. They have an even madder looking Jock in charge of injuring both Rooney and Van Persie this season whilst continuing to play their ageing Welsh midfield man who is now even older than one of Rooney’s playthings. All there new manager is missing is a blue nose, a team capable of contending for the title and a P45. They can’t fail we’re told because the pundits say they can’t fail.

Having blown a 100 million squid the Tiny Totts should be in contention to, at the very least, overtake their nearest and very dearest local rivals. But the Orient are still way too good for them. With Defoe out the door they now have no plan D once plans A, B & C fail. Laugh at them, that’s our job.

A battered old stadium, a battling old team and the loss of their most expensive Afro hairdo has not slowed down Everton’s tilt at the top. With the most likeable manager in the Premiership you can only wish them well. But actually I don’t because at the end of the day they’re still Scousers.

Should Arsenal have the temerity to pull this one off it will be a more outlandish win than when Greece in 2004, or Denmark in 1992 won the European Nations Cup. But I actually think we can.  We can, because as Greavsie said ‘it’s a funny old game’. But I don’t think we will because City have such a ridiculously strong squad where even the loss of Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Vincent Kompany or Ya Ya Toure appears to have gone unnoticed. As does the changing of their managers almost as often as that pile of dross from the wrong end of Seven Sisters Road.  Unfortunately they’re here to stay and look best suited for the long haul.

Right now we shouldn’t be in with a shout, but when I last looked at our team slowly leaving the field to rapturous applause after their latest victory they were very clearly just so up for it. As were all of us who stood and applauded instead of buggering off to get the first possible tube home. So no bragging please, no mouthing off, not too many high expectations please, but if enough of us really believe it’s possible then who knows? 

League trophies arrive when managers and coaches believe it is possible, when the players believe it is possible and when the fans know it is possible. Momentum and belief are everything. Right now there are I believe far more lunatics than just myself out there on the terraces who are willing this thing to happen.  

I’m not at all sure we can pull this little miracle off but may the best team in red shirts and white sleeves go on and do the biz. Because dreams are what it is all about.

Get in there Arsenal.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Tiny Totts cup exit as I heard it.

Arsenal v Tiny Totts 4th January 2004

The match was preceded by a pretty decent and very well co-ordinated pre-match flag display as organised by Red Action. Well done Red Action. 'London Our City' being my favourite flag – 

A very sweet touch by our Club captain in the centre circle that most fans at the game wouldn’t have seen here:

this was followed by a lot of noise for 90 plus minutes. My hearing may be going but the following was all very loud and clear:

Sherwood is a Gooner, Sherwood is a Gooner, nan, na, na,h nah, nan, na, nah, nah.

He comes from Borham Wood, he ain’t no f*cking good, Tim Sherwood oh, oooh.

You let your father down, you let your father down  (aimed at Sherwood)

He left cos you're sh*t, he left cos you're sh*it, Gareth Bale he left cos you're sh*t.

We won the league, we won the league at White Hart lane, we won the league, we won the league at the sh*thole, we won the league at white hart lane.

71, two thousand and four, 71, two thousand and four

61 never again, 61 never again

Stadium erupts on 32 minutes, apart from one very silent and depressed section

One-nil to the Arsenal, one-nil to the Arsenal

Ohh Santi Cazorla, ohh Santi Cazorla,

Your support is ****ing sh*t

Shall we sing, shall we sing, shall we sing a song for you?

Hillarious side-bursting laughter aimed at Danny Rose on 62 minutes played, and then Stadium erupts for a second time

Two-nil to the Arsenal, two-nil to the Arsenal

Super, super Tom, Super, super Tom, super Tom Rosicky

What's the score Adebayor, what's the score Adebayor? (aimed at the twat who fell over with the ball at his feet in our box)

One Arsene Wenger, there's only one Arsene Wenger

Are you Tottenham in disguise

We're the North Bank, we're the North Bank we're the North Bank Highbury.

We're the East Stand, we're the East Stand, we're the East Stand Highbury.


Ten men, we’ve only got ten men

Say we are top of the league, say we are top of the league

You'll always be sh*t, you'll always be sh*t, Tottenham Hotspur you'll always be sh*t

Is there a fire drill? Is there a fire drill?

Two-nil to the Arsenal

...but I suspect there were other chants I have either forgotten about or missed during the game. Most enjoyable  wasn’t it?

Brian Dawes @gooner48