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Hands up if you thought we would be fourth at year’s end

By Tony Attwood

I will make this quick.  As I have mentioned in passing before, I live in the Midlands, and have a season ticket in the North Bank, so going to Arsenal is something of a day trip for me.

I am just back, and need to change for the evening’s celebrations with the neighbours, but I couldn’t really go straight into the Dec 31 thing without a word about today.

On 17 September we were beaten at Blackburn and were 16th with some awful results around us – not least at home to what we now know is an institutionally racist club (I’ll explain in a moment) and a horrific defeat in Manchester.

On 31 December we are fourth, a position which although not as good as we would all like is not bad considering that around us are two teams that will spend billions and trillions to buy success, and some very dubious referee decisions, plus losing our three world-class midfielders all at once (Cesc and Nasri going and Jack being long term injured).

Yes 1-1 v Wolverhampton and just 1-0 v QPR is not that wonderful, and of course I would have liked more, but tonight I just want to reflect on the turn around.  I hoped for it, I had faith in it, but in all honesty did I really think we would be fourth by now?

Well…

And we have a striker up there with the best we have ever seen.  I need to double check with my colleagues from the Arsenal History Society exactly how many goals various top players in the 1930s got, but I do know Robin Van Persie got 35 league goals from 36 appearances this year.  I feel an “Arsenal Uncovered” piece for the programme in these statistics.   I write them a few weeks ahead, so you’ll have to wait, but I am sure there are some fun figures to be found.

Yes Robin was just one short of that silly little boy Shearer got with Blackburn but he had 42 games.

As for today, it was not a wonderful match, but it was a nice day.  Tony Adams got a reception that just went on and on and on – he looked like he couldn’t believe it, but we all just stood there and clapped and clapped and clapped such a wonderful player who had come back to see us.  And he looked a trifle sheepish at one point I felt.  How very un-Tony!

And Thierry was there too.

We had 59% of the possession and 12 goal attempts.  Theo missed what looked to be a sitter near the end, but still, we made it.

And this Liverpool thing with racism.  I have been boiling for days and days over their decision, and Chelsea’s come to that, to “stand by their man” in the light of the racism findings, “no matter what”.

Which raises the question, when one of your employees is accused and convicted of a serious crime, when do you not “stand by your man”?   I mean, if he caused a death through drunk driving would you all put on supportive t-shirts?  If he murdered his mum?  If not, then why do it with the awful crime of racism?

If the answer is no, with those crimes you would not support your member of staff, why do you support your man when he is accused of and found guilty of racism?

It has been annoying me and upsetting me and frustrating me deeply, and I have to say I suddenly felt uplifted today when Radio 5 commentators said much the same thing – you can’t as a company support someone who is found guilty of such an awful crime.  It is simply unacceptable for any employer to support an employee with t-shirts and the like when that player is accused of racism.  Even more so when found guilty.

Yes, of course, when the player is facing an enquiry, you do not condemn, you hold back, you support in terms of saying what a nice fellow he is and how you have never ever heard him say anything racist, but then you wait the outcome of the hearing.  But Liverpool and Chelsea are congenitally unable to do that.

But that’s my rant.  This evening, having said it, I will set it aside, and go and have a drink with friends to celebrate the new year, happy in the knowledge that at least for the moment we are fourth, and those funny little people who wrote to this site in September saying we would be lucky to escape relegation are, well, funny little people who write to sites saying we will be relegated.

Hey ho – it was a nice day out, and now a nice evening.  Sadly Liverpool and Chelsea will still be there doing their racist stuff tomorrow, but for this evening, I will stay calm.

Happy new year, thank you for reading, that you for your support, thank you for the many kind and constructive emails, thank you to everyone who has come up to me at the games and said, “Ere you’re that Tony Attwood aren’t you?” and who have just shaken hands, said thanks for the site, and walked on.  Thank you to everyone who has written for this site and made it what it is – and a special thank you to Walter for his endless work and articles – all written in a foreign tongue too.

Thanks also to everyone who helped get the AISA Arsenal History Society really moving this year.  So much has been achieved on that front, and there is so much more about to happen – including our next book “Woolwich Arsenal; the club that changed football”.  That will be out early next year.

It’s been fun.  Some days were a bit dark, and the racism still imbedded in our society is still awful in the extreme, but still, it has been fun.

Let’s do it again next year – although without any 8-2 defeats.

 

51 comments to Hands up if you thought we would be fourth at year’s end

  • bob

    UA is a true gift, Tony.
    Thank you for the great good luck we have in your making it possible. Happy New Year to you and to Gunners one and all!

  • Zgooner

    Hands Up!

  • dan

    Okay actually I didn’t expect anything less, My brother is an avid Aston Villa supporter and he had a good feeling today. This season we will finish 3rd – Happy New Year People.

    Oh and I told you the ref today was a crackhead.

  • Richard B

    I’ve never had the chance to pop over and shake your hand (being a Clock-Ender) but just to add my thanks for your tireless work and the very best of wishes to you for the New Year.
    And Walter too of course!

  • Mahdain

    what a truly great ending to they year..make no doubt about it this was a tough year for us that kept getting bad to worse as days went on but to finish it on a high is really great..we have seen so many dark days this year that we all hope we dont see them repeating next year and years to come..it has been tough accompanied with the media slurs and abuses but we are the Arsenal and we will always stand tall no matter how they try to put us down…..special thanks goes to you tony for the great untold arsenal site..i can say it has been a pleasure contributing to this site that i love dearly…not a day passes without me checking for either Anne`s well written amazing media articles,dogface`s insightful stats abt refs before matches or walter`s mastery articles on referees you guys truly are amazing infact the best Arsenal blog around…happy new year to everybody

  • dan

    RVP played 36 games and scored 35, so how many appearances did it take Shearers to score 36?

    If anyone knows please tell me.

  • AnT

    Happy new year to everyone! It’s been a bumpy ride this year good things finally come to those who wait with faith. Hands up!

  • Gooner Gal

    ****Thought, I would repost in the right place!!!****

    Supporting Arsenal in 2011 has been emotional, with the most prevailing one being anger if the truth be told, due to a lot of injustice. That said, I have enjoyed supporting Arsenal so much, I would never contemplate getting off the rollercoaster ride. There have been some serious highs and lows this year and I am so glad that we have ended the year back in the top four.

    I was annoyed that we threw away a great opportunity against Wolves, but events elsewhere today in the league, show’s that anything can happen and all is not lost. This year Arsenal have been slated more than usual, but have also left critic’s dumbfounded more than ever before. This season Arsenal really have defied the odds.

    Arsene Wenger is a very special asset to the club and Robin Van Persie as a genuine Gooner, has brought respect back to the captaincy position. We have gone from near bottom to near top in a short time, whilst managing the ‘usual’ serious injury crisis situation. All the players, even some of the less popular ones deserve credit for getting us to where we are now.

    1-0 to the Arsenal, back near the top challenging for the league, still in the CL – what a great way to go into 2012.

    Business as usual.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Happy New Year to you and all of your co-authors. You always provide interesting and thought provoking articles which are a daily must read for me.

  • Mahdain

    @dan it took shearer 42 games..now 36 in 42 or 35 in 36 you make the judgement

  • Happy New Year Tony and all at UA. Thank you for all the work you do

  • dan

    @ Mahdain

    Thanks

    The media will never reveal this!

  • SgGoooner

    … and still sole claim to the invincibles 🙂

  • Strus

    Happy New Year for the whole amazing Untold Arsenal Team!

    Hands up! I’ve thought Arsenal will be 5th at Dec 31st , but at least 4th at the end of the season

  • pedantic george

    Read every article and never read a bad one.
    Super super quality blog ,is what Arsene would say

  • Mandy Dodd

    Thanks for the people who make this site what it is and happy new year! Some amazing stuff on her, continuing to enlighten the enlightened!

    There are times when 1-0 to the Arsenal is the most beautiful score of all, New Years Eve 2011 was one such day.
    Hard work awaits in 2012, but with Wenger and this team, we have every chance

  • Mandy Dodd

    Forgot to mentioned, that 1-0 was not just against a determined team, it was against an equally determined ref. Today, he failed in his mission.

  • nicky

    Tony,
    No-one has made a supportive comment so far, over your very firm views (not rants) on racism in football. I am pleased to do so, now. Any employer, football Club or not, should be ashamed of backing any of its employees found guilty of racism in any shape or form.
    You should be proud, as an author of posts, to bring to the notice of your readers, the disgusting behaviour of those who should know better.

  • Len

    Happy New Year Tony. Looking forward to more of your musings in 2012.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Happy new year, Tony, all at Untold, Gunners & all Gooners!

  • RashGunner

    We only have 38 game in a season. So how manage did Alan Shearer got his in 42 games in a calendar year. Please help!!!!!!!!!!

  • Akin Akanji

    Happy New year to Gunners all over the world.Congratulations and kudos to Arsene Wenger for making impossible possible.Best of Luck in the New Year.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Hoped yes but never really thought about it as I was aiming to be there at the end of the season. Now the only way to look at is the way up!
    Gelukkig Nieuwjaar van uit Vlaanderen (= Happy New Year from Flanders) 🙂

  • Damien Luu

    Honestly, I didn’t expect we would be where we are now, at this moment. I was absolutely sure that we would end the season in 4th place or higher, but not at the halfway mark. So really, really glad with what we did. The Arsenal is a truly amazing football club and this is a wonderful website to enjoy. Thank you all, and Happy New Year to all, pals.

  • truth

    i am very happy arsenal finished 4th end of this year.i appreciate the determination in our team but seeing last few games i am not really happy with arsenal performance . we r playing like a mid-table club. we lost our style of play. we keep possession mostly by passing ball in our half of our pitch. our midfeild is very bad ,not creativity and bad passes and losing possession. hope wenger buys someone and strengthen our team…..viva arsenal. happy new year 2 all

  • Gord

    @ RashGunner

    I think someone should do some digging. I’m not getting far, and I have to get back to what I should be working on.

    The top division had 22 teams up until the 1994/1995 season. Which would allow for 42 games. But, this record is for a calendar year, not a league season. I suppose the mix of a 42 game season in 1994/95 and a 38 game season in 1995/96 might allow for 42 games to be played in 1995. Certainly if some games were postponed early in 1994/95, it would make it possible for a 42 game calendar year.

  • Well, as they say in the blues, “I woke up this morning” (having not had a boozy night) and thought I’d just put up the new post on the Arsenal History Society web site, before seeing if anyone had bothered to post anything here….

    And I am utterly overwhelmed. You have been very kind. Thank you.

    If you want to read something else, there’s a new series starting today on the History site, on the 10 iconic moments that defined Arsenal’s history.

    http://www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk/2012/01/01/the-10-moments-in-history-that-defined-arsenal-1-1st-december-1886/

    Hope you might have a moment to take a peek, and maybe follow the series over the next couple of weeks, but mainly, thank you for the kind comments above.

    Tony

  • Mark

    Only the second time I’ve wrote on one of these sites, I’m 50 this year and just had my 1st visit to the Emirates to see the Wolves game, took the wife and my two boys, probably costs me £300 that day out, a weeks wages out in the sticks of Norfolk, so why do I support Arsenal? My dad didn’t like football, most of the kids at school liked Man U or Chelsea, probably Charlie George, he was just a little bit…..Charlie George and I’m happy I made the right choice, because Arsenal do things right, they build, put down foundations and they have standards. Arsenal made one big choice the day they made Arsene manager and they got it right, there were many before him that had paved the way, but he has took us to a new level and in 2012 with Charlie back, no not Charlie our Jack back, I thinks the Champions League could be ours, Happy New Year I think from Norfolk

  • JohnW

    I really want us to run the front chacers close. If we can haul ourselves back to within say 7 points from the top by February 1, then I will believe that we can win it. WHY, because we will seem players, very good ones, coming back from injury and who will make us a little better.

  • Mahdain

    as gord explained above somebody needs to do some digging…i said 42 games because many stat people on twitter said so so i guess they digged them up

  • 037

    There was a piece on goal.com expaining on how saying “negrito” in Latin America is not an insult, but often a term of endearment. That this huge 8-game punishment is partly a product of the FA’s lack of understanding of foreign cultures.

    I’m not saying that Suarez is innocent, but that he is perhaps not “that guilty”.
    More importantly, there should be an equally intensive investigation into what that brat, Evra, did.

    I feel that the footballing authorities do not pay enough attention to the provocation of those crimes.
    What Zidane did to Materazzi was bad. But I felt that what Materazzi did was worse. That bastard should have received punishment as well.

    But on a much more pleasant note, WE’RE BACK IN FOURTH PLACE!!

  • Arvind

    @Mahdain: Maybe FA Cup, league cup games included.

    @Tony and the pioneers of this site: Untold is a place that I’ve looked for since I started supporting Arsenal. Thank You for everything and I’m sorry I for one have not been able to pitch in more like I hoped I would.

    @Racismdebate: Racism..yes is condemnable. But so are all the other terrible things in the game of football. Diving, Bribing, Fixing, ‘In your face tackling’, Paedophile chants…I mean the list goes on and on and on. I think there should be clear rules and their implementation for all of these. Or lets not talk about the ‘Respect’ campaign…really.

    And lastly…what happened between Evra and Suarez I don’t know but I’m not at all for taking what Saint Evra says at face value. Who knows how much he lied? Who knows how much Suarez truly meant it? etc etc I’m sick of that story though frankly.

    Big Big props to AW to getting us back to where we are now.

    And lastly… Mike Dean giving a penalty at OT tells me only 1 thing. The FA will back the most successful team [read which will bring in the most cash] = Man City rt now. Since we aren’t close to doing that…the terrible calls will continue. IMO anyway. Your thoughts all?

  • Arvind

    @037: You’re very right about the source of crimes. I remember when RVN got Vieira sent off in that famous game where he missed a penalty on 93″.. AW said a line which echoes with me all the time.

    “Yes. Patrick overreacted in a way he should not have. But as is so often the case; it is often the consequence that is punished, not the source”

    So so true…

  • RashGunner

    @Gord, thank u. I started watching EPL in 1997. Goal per game ratio, RVP d man

  • Pat

    Tony thanks for the article. And thanks for getting it on the site so quickly so we could all enjoy our win and our fourth position together. And many thanks to you, Walter and everyone else for Untold Arsenal – the web site where people can read and join in a proper reasoned discussion. Thanks to all contributors for that and a Happy New Year to all!

  • Kentetsu

    Celebrated the New Year during half time of the match, as I’m eight hours ahead of England. The second half gave me a positive start of the year. Arsenal winning the match, my compatriot Van Persie shooting himself to a record number of goals in a year for Arsenal – almost one on one – and Arsenal moving up from sixth to fourth in the table.
    I have always kept on believing Arsenal would break back into the top four, but I did not expect it by the end of the year. Bottom fourth at the end of August, top fourth at the end of December. A great achievement by the whole team and the man who has been ridiculed (infairly) so often: Arsene Wenger.
    Also a sincere thank you to everybody contributing to Untold for staying loyal to the Arsenal through thick and thin.

    A very happy, healthy and successful new year to all of you.

  • bob

    Arvind,
    fyi, it’s Saint Evra’s brother versus Suarez,
    not the illustrious Arsenal-taunting macho manure-spreader himself.

  • Bing

    I believe Arsenal will back to top 4, but not in December.
    It is very sweet feeling to closing year like this.

    Greeting from Bali, and wishes all the best for Arsenal in 2012.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Yay, every team above us dropped points! Sadly the Spuds only dropped two but we managed to close the gap even with the draw to Wolves. Hopefully we get some fresh players in January and February and the gap keeps closing.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ The Untold Arsenal team, Happy New Year to you all and thank you for your efforts over the past year. I am so happy I found this site as your unwaivering stance on all things Arsenal related has been a welcome oasis in the blogsphere.

  • Gooner Gal

    On the racism issue, I was suprised by the length of the ban for Suarez, but I was even more surprised by the crass nature of the T-shirts worn in support by the Liverpool players. For a club that prides itself on it’s global appeal and in fact indicated that they wanted a bigger slice of overseas TV money for this reason, I thought that they would of had a broader and more understanding perspective on the matter.

  • Gooner Gal

    Eithad FC beaten by an off side goal…Man U beaten by the bottom of the league team….Chelsea about to press the self destruct button….I feel a song coming on….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXAZJ28s1rU&feature=player_embedded

  • pete

    Yet again, we WEre chasing a game we should have wrapped up in the first half and who does Wenger turn to? Arshavin “AGHHHHHHHHHHHHH” What is wrong with Wenger? Why oh why does he persist with this complete waste of space while player like Ryp, Park & Oxo cant get a run out. At least they would run themself into the ground fopr the shirt. Arshavin offers nothing….But WEnger knows best!

  • Adam

    @ Mr Attwood, It does seem to me that Liverpool (not surprised) and Chelsea have just put a price on racism. How would a club go about taking the moral high ground as well as recouping losses incurred by sacking a player found guilty of a crime of hate or worse.

  • bjtgooner

    @ UA team and fellow fans

    Belatedly, Happy New Year everyone.

  • Gord

    @Tony

    On the racism front, a Florida Panther’s (ice hockey) player was sent off and looks to be disciplined for making a racial slur about a Montreal Canadiens player a day or two ago.

    @pete

    On the Arsenal.com website, Arshavin was MOM against QPR. There are a few people that disagree with you. Ryo was injured, I don’t know if he is back yet.

    @UA

    We’ve been missing lineup predictions. Seeing as nobody has liked much of anything I did before for this (twice?), I’m doing it again. If nothing else, it gives people something to critique.

    The referee is L Probert, with S Burt and A Watts on the line. K Friend is the 4th official. Good old M Lawrenson at the BBC has a prediction of 2-1 for the Arsenal, with a snide remark about us giving up points (I believe he thinks a tie is quite likely).

    Thierry Henry does not have his paperwork finished.

    It seems probable that Fulham will be missing Bobby Zamora, Andy Johnson, Zdenek Grygera and Mark Schwarzer. It is somewhat possible that Simon Davies and Damien Duff will be available.

    No up to date news about Arsenal injuries. What’s up with Squillaci?

    From the back, Szcsesny is goal, with Almunia as the backup

    Sorry, I don’t keep track of right/left, but Djourou and Koscielny as the 2 fullbacks to start. In the center, I’m picking Mertesacker for his height and experience, and Miquel.

    Since my lineup is shorter on experience than usual, I’m going to 4 in the midfield (leaving 2 up front). Song and Rosicky in the middle (Song supporting the defence), and Benayoun and Arshavin on the outsides. On the bench to act as support for either midfield or defence are Coquelin and Eastmond (I don’t even know if he is fit). I also have Ramsey and Arteta on the bench (potentially 4 midfield on the bench).

    Up front, you need at least one person familiar to at least the midfield, so I am going with Chamakh and AOC up front. Song, Rosicky and Arshavin are familiar with Chamakh. Walcott was sick for a game, and maybe came back too early, which might make him a doubt. Which is why I am going with AOC. I was thinking Park, but I think AOC in a footrace is faster than Park is. And speed is going to bother the Fulham centrebacks. I’m rounding out the bench with RVP (I think the Captain has to be somewhere) and Gervinho. A few times this year we’ve finished games with lots of forwards, and if we have bad luck, having lots of forwards might be needed again.

    I think a good part of the success of “park the bus” as a strategy, is that the defensive teams has “scouted” the offence and has plans for everything. Switching from 433 to 442 and bringing in AOC and even Benayoun throws a monkey wrench into the scouting by Fulham. Whether these players know each other well enough from practice, I have no idea.

    And I’ll predict 1-0 for Arsenal on the score.

    Have fun picking this apart. 🙂

  • Gord

    @racism

    I suppose at the professional level, what will become commonplace because it is easy, is that all players have a microphone at throat level. Some players who are discriminatory, will probably seek to disable their throat level microphones before they say something. If all players have throat level microphones, they may or may not realize this. While it is not desired, it is entirely possible we might start to see players attack microphones before they say anything. That would be a clear sign of intent. But as most instances happen in the heat of the moment, I can’t see this as being important. I would disagree with any of this in-play commentary as being open to things like the media. It should be open to the FA, and they can pass on evidence to the police as need be.

  • rantetta

    Suarez’s evidence was implausible and incredible

    The report added that Suarez had “damaged the image of English football around the world”.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/suarezs-evidence-was-implausible-and-incredible-6283774.html

  • Arvind

    On corruption and Platini…you guys might have seen this:

    http://web.orange.co.uk/article/sports/platini_not_keen_on_tv_replays

    —SNIP
    “Video is not for football. Human (adjudication) is better,” he said.

    “Football became popular thanks to its human values. If that becomes a commercial value, it will lose all its popularity.”

    “Football has also based its popularity on injustices,” Platini continued.

    “You can remember them and talk about them in the bars.

    “You can talk about 1982, France-Germany, it was an injustice like the hand of Maradona or that of Henry. The notoriety also comes from negative things in football.”
    —-SNIP

    There you have it then. UEFA is an altruistic organization which believes clubs getting screwed due to incompetence increases popularity. Hey .. I should write for “The Sun” now 😉

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Both my hands are up ! Although I never lost the faith , 4th place at the turn of the year would probably not have been on my mind .As Gooner Gal has put it , it has been a rollercoaster ride of sorts last year – more of the same this year ,but more pleasurable please !
    I had to share the remote(which I never do ) with my son who wanted to watch the Chelski game which was on the other channel,
    but it was fun watching him squirming !And with my other son’s shock reaction to Manure ‘s loss – it was overall a fine new year celebration .
    Man Shitty ‘s loss was given a thumb’s up by all .Ahhh – all that money buys you….sweet fa !

  • mike collins

    Tony
    From my retirement refuge in Canada I partly blame you for me not being able to at least shed some of this lifelong affliction for red and white North London.
    Even with small complaints (which we all have) this is a great site for which I am very grateful. Keep up the financial stuff as it tends to forecast the future of a club.
    Hope your hangover is not too bad and in about 90 mins I will sit down and be tortured with our live game from Fulham