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The trouble with a run like this is my nervous system isn’t built for it.

By Tony Attwood

Arsenal, as you will jolly well know, have just won six league games in a row.   From the first match this season against Newcastle, up to and including this second game against them, Arsenal have played 21 games, won 17, drawn 1, and lost 3, in all competitions.   That is a win percentage across all competitions including the one we’ve been knocked out in, of 81%.

And as Louise Taylor in the Guardian said, after the latest game, “North London’s lobbyists for change are strangely silent. The arguments about Arsène Wenger supposedly being “past it” and ripe for replacement have been eclipsed by his reemergence as a most convincing continuity candidate.”

But somehow I’m still nervous.

Of course what Ms Taylor says is true.  During recent months Talksprout have run the headline suggesting that 57% of Arsenal supporters wanted Wenger to leave (goodness knows where they did their research, but it wasn’t in the stadium).  And now they don’t say that any more.

But so strong was the certainty of the exit that the well known arbiter of all that is true (The Metro) said that Arsene Wenger had agreed on who should take over at the end of this season – apparently some guy from Real Mad.  Paul Clement actually.

The Daily Mail ran the headline “Arsenal are already planning for a time without Arsene Wenger” – that was on 12 November 2014.

Tribal football went with “Almost 60% of Arsenal fans urge Wenger to step down” – that was on 11 March 2015, at a moment when we had just won six of the last seven in all competitions.

Soccerlens had “Arsene Wenger to quit at the end of the season?” – although that question mark at the end of the sentence gave them a get out clause.

And Arsenalaction back in November had “Protest is needed!  It’s time for Wenger to go” with a piece about there being only one person responsible for Arsenal’s situation – that being Arsene Wenger.

And there I guess finally we get to the issue.  There is only one person responsible for Arsenal’s current situation.  Arsene Wenger.  And even the newspapers have by and large done a “Times” and changed darkness into light.   Maybe this Wenger cove is a bit of all right after all they seem to be saying.

As the Guardian put it, “Arsenal’s manager gave the distinct impression he would be slightly disappointed to settle for third place in May.”

And a bit later, “Giroud has now scored 17 goals in 26 games and represents a key reason why Pellegrini and Mourinho have cause for concern.”

Ramsey went even further.  “We just have to try and maintain this run we’re on, win every game from now until the end of the season and see where that takes us.   In the Premier League strange things happen, upsets happen. We have to believe the teams around us will be on the end of upsets.”

And all this I can take.  It is just the matches themselves that are driving me crazy.

Arsenal did go through 13 consecutive wins at the end of the 2001/2 season, and when I first talked about what we did in the second double season a couple of months ago, (coming from a position akin to that which we had at the end of 2014, to win league and cup) I wasn’t actually intending to say this would or could happen again – although a couple of the newspapers picked up on the idea and ran it.

No, I’ve no idea what will happen next.  Football is made up of talent, technique, planning, and luck – and the last one can rise up and kick you hard just as much as it can help you on your way.  I was just saying, “hey guys, remember when we did this…”

But I do wonder where the apologies are from what we might now call The Missing.

The Missing: those people who so firmly not only said that it was time for change but also that most Arsenal fans wanted change.  Where are they now?  What are they saying?

I have no idea what most Arsenal fans think – and I can’t see that anyone else does either.  But if you run a radio station like the Sprout which endlessly attacks Wenger and the players and openly laughs at Arsenal’s desire to do better, then it is not surprising if you attract an audience which thinks much the same.  I avoid the station because of its anti-Arsenal attitude so I didn’t know they were running the vote.

Likewise if you set up a web site that is wholly anti-Wenger and ask the readers to vote, most of them will vote “Wenger out”

But still I do wonder what these people are thinking now.   Are they thinking, “Thank goodness I was wrong”?   Or are they thinking, “Damn, I want Arsenal to fail, perhaps they will lose the next match then I can attack them again”.

Arsenal Action’s latest web posting says

Arsenal had to lick their wounds on Wednesday morning knowing they gave a spirited performance at Monaco the night before but in truth they were once more up against it due to an unforgivable performance in a first leg home tie that they really should have won, instead they fall at the last 16 for a fifth consecutive campaign.

You could be forgiven for thinking all the talk would be about Arsenal getting back on track in the Premier league as they look to close the gap on Pellegrini’s Manchester City who sit precariously one point ahead. In truth all the talk has been about one man, Theo Walcott’s contract looks set to go the distance as it did 2 years ago when he finally put pen to paper on a £90,000 a week deal.

Ah well.  At least there is the first leg of the Monaco match to talk about rather than the 17 wins and one draw in the last 21.

Runs like the one we are on at  the moment can be fun, but for me they are also nerve wrenching and stomach churning.  Now, with hindsight, I remember the runs for both the second and third League and Cup double primarily from the perspective of the final results, not the gut-churning games leading up to the achievements – although I do still have a few such memories.

And I do remember the dreadful hole in my stomach during the final game of the unbeaten season when we were 1-0 down to relegated Leicester at half time.  No cappuccino that day, no sausage roll, no nothing.  I felt it I consumed anything it would not stay put in my stomach.

But we made it, and those celebrations in each of those seasons – just like the celebrations at Wembley for the semi-final victory and that in the final made it seem all worthwhile.

Somehow this time I really would like to enjoy it more while it is happening.

Yet I just wonder, how will those people who demanded and demanded Wenger dismissal earlier this season react if we win something?  Will they celebrate?  Will they have the fun that the rest of us will (even if our nerves are shattered by the time the final whistle goes).

Somehow I doubt it.  But then that, I guess, is there fault.

Anniversary of the day…

  • 23 March 2002: Arsenal 3 Newcastle 0  FA Cup 6th round replay.  Part of the 3rd Double.  Pires, Bergkamp and Campbell scored, but Pires was stretchered off with a serious knee ligament injury.

37 comments to The trouble with a run like this is my nervous system isn’t built for it.

  • john

    Tony, I share your emotional reaction. For example, at half-time against Newcastle, 2-0 up and cruising, didn’t we just know that the second half would be different and that they would get back into the contest and give us a nerve-wracking 40 minutes.

    Once in a while, it would be nice to be 3 or 4 goals ahead, with half the game left, so we could all relax.

    Maybe 1989 and 1998 were the templates for all future seasons, so that we should now know what to expect from the Arsenal.

  • nicky

    Tony,
    I think that most of us more mature types who follow Arsenal for 80 years or so, will say that as the present day game means so much financially, apprehension is always present when watching “our lads” perform.
    Immediately pre-war we were supreme, and during the war it was a relief to spend a couple of hours away from the malaise of day to day strife.
    Now, the dropping of points, the occurrence of injuries and the success or failure of transfers is so vital that twanging nerves are present over every contest.
    And remember it’s not only at the Ems or away grounds. It’s global via radio, TV or the internet.
    Following modern Arsenal is not for the faint-hearted. There’s too much at stake. 😉

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Tony,
    I suggest you have a chat with Dr. Bulldog Esq.to recommend a stiff, strong something you can nurse as often as the feeling comes upon you. Be sure to read and follow the instructions on the label as it may suggest that you stay away from driving or operating heavy machinery.

    Why else do you think that the business of supporting a football club is best undertaken from the comfort of a favorite pub?

  • Paul

    I would love it if we did it, but as always we are always one game from disaster, on a good run, then Man Utd beat us at home, on a good run then Spurs beat us, on a good run then Monaco beat us, trouble is Wenger has a mental block against old Maureen, and the game at Old Trafford will be different to the FA Cup win. We can look at our poor start to the season and from there we have always played catch up, but eight games to go, seven points behind, they have a game in hand, the best we can hope for is second place, I hope Chelsea don’t clinch the title at our place

  • Yassin

    We shoyld try our best and wait and see. From yesterday match, Chelsea were lucky to get 3pt, tgey deserved nothing. The pressure is on them, and the first time they will fail, it is gonna be huge. Not to forget we still have a game against them at home.

    And yes, I am running out of nails here!

    And for the missing, they were not there when the game was tough, so if we made it, they deserve no fun.

  • Hi Tony,

    We were lucky in the 2nd half at St James Park, a better Newcastle team would have got a point. Interesting snifter from ANR, Wenger to quit at the end of the season with Frank DeBoer, Denis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars coming in (good source apparently). Personally, I’d prefer Ronald Koeman but with Van Gaal’s freakish luck.

  • jambug

    “I have no idea what most Arsenal fans think – and I can’t see that anyone else does either. But if you run a radio station like the Sprout which endlessly attacks Wenger and the players and openly laughs at Arsenal’s desire to do better, then it is not surprising if you attract an audience which thinks much the same. I avoid the station because of its anti-Arsenal attitude so I didn’t know they were running the vote.”

    Exactly. When that fool Durham writes in The Mail I would guesstimate at least 80% of comments disagree with him, yet on his Radio show, at least when I used to listen, you would be forgiven for thinking that 100% of the listeners where in agreement with him. Amazing what you can achieve when you’re in charge of the on/off switch !!

    “Or are they thinking, “Damn, I want Arsenal to fail, perhaps they will lose the next match then I can attack them again”.

    Of course that’s what they’re thinking. Nobody likes to be wrong. Especially when you’ve been screaming your misguided notions from the rooftops.

  • JohnW

    I just pray that the boys give their all agains Liverpool, because if they trail 9 points behind us, I don’t think they can come back. Then we will have sorted the top 4, the next mission would be to sort out ManC. Is Lallana sick or a trick to waylay us?

  • Ayo

    Two seasons ago, all the Wenger & Arsenal haters say is that we have not won a trophy in 9 years, but since they won the FA cup, they have changed their tune to just 1 trophy in 10 years. Talkshite most especially AD are just racist because all the bad mouthing of Wenger & Arsenal is just because Wenger is French and his achievement in Arsenal will never be forgotten. Talkshite can never constantly bash an English/British Manager the way they do Wenger. Apart from Sir Alex, which other manager has achieved more than Wenger? None.
    In my own opinion, Wenger has made Arsenal has a club what it is today without a Sugar Daddy & that is why I appreciate him for all he has achieved to date with the Club. the media are jealous of his achievement and they would have been proud if he was English/British.
    Now they expect Arsenal to compete with Mancity, ManU & Chelsea for the title forgetting that these clubs have been spending billions£ for years while Arsenal is just buying one £40m player every year.

  • John

    Don’t write off Liverpool too early. Remember that they are managed by “tactical genius” Brendan Rodgers. Also they’ve got Balotelli, as proof of their ambition. Besides al this, all right-thinking followers of football will want SG to be able to finish his career in England with an emotional farewell at Wembley.

  • Sleekwhale

    I am sure that we’ve lost and drawn more matches than stated in the article ‘ 1 and 3’ respectively. We lost to Chelsea, Tiny Totterings, Southampton 2ce, Dortmund, Monaco, Stoke City and Man U – that should be 8, and drew Everton, Liverpool, Man City, Leicester City, Anderlect – that’s at least 5 as I can’t seem to remember all. The start to the season was not the brightest but the win percentage is still not so bad and I so hoped that we transformed some draws into wins just 3 of then and we would be with Chelsea at the top of the table…and we would have topped our group in the Champions league if we didn’t draw Anderlect.

  • bjtgooner

    Shows like Talkshite have produced so much nonsense I no longer bother with them, so I cannot really comment on their recent utterings.

    But yes Tony, the naysayers have quietened down a bit, but they still look for opportunities to attack Arsenal in any way they feel they can get away with: – one of the players, ticket prices, the board, or AW – either directly or obliquely or if necessarily mutely or snidely – while they wait for a bad result to spark off a crescendo of crap.

    We are on a good run and yes it has been nerve racking, mainly as the refs have made most matches very difficult for us, but well done the team, they have risen to the occasion & managed to beat the 12 opposition players repeatedly.

    JohnW is right, Liverpool will be a tough game, no doubt they will bring all their diving, pushing, pulling, kicking, stamping and elbowing to the Emirates, but if we can win we will be in good shape for the final run in.

    Gerrard (cheater in chief) will be banned, Skirtel should also be – but will the PGMO take action against him – don’t put any money on it!!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I can see AW staying much longer and taking away SAF’s record of the longest serving manager in the EPL , while winning a few shiny stuff along the way !
    The very idea would get ‘them’ into a state of apoplexy !
    Not complaining , see !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Meanwhile at PGMOB – the CEO is mentoring ‘Webby ‘ !

    http://dilbert.com/strip/2015-03-12

  • Gord

    Skrtel has been charged by the FA. Which doesn’t guarantee he will get suspended. But at least the PGMO
    said the referee hadn’t seen it, so the FA can discipline him.

    Quite a bit earlier, Lallana begged off playing for England. Something about pulling on his groin too much. Just up now, is Sturridge begging off playing for England. Something about groin height is hurting on him too, supposedly his hip. Looks like Liverpool should get a nice rest in, before playing Arsenal after the break.

    Are Henderson and Stirling going to find injuries today or tomorrow?

    Brickfields mentioning SAF. David Gill (formerly of ManU head office) thinks he can straighten out FIFA. I can’t imagine he is going to be significantly different than the guy from Ireland or northern Ireland that is in that position now.

  • jambug

    Sleekwhale

    “I so hoped that we transformed some draws into wins just 3 of then and we would be with Chelsea at the top of the table”

    I know what you mean. The problem with doing this is that most likely every team could do it to a greater or lesser degree, so it is a bit superfluous. At times IF is a very big word.

    But lets say IF, just for a bit of fun. These are my 2 big ‘IFs’. Yep, just 2. And see what a difference it makes.

    Firstly, Manchester United at home.

    In reality nobody can argue that we thoroughly deserved to win this game. We had 23 shots, of which 9 where on target. United managed 12 with just 2 on target. We didn’t get a point from this encounter but I would contest we definitely deserved all 3 points.

    Secondly Spurs at home.

    We where by far the better side. Again 16 shots with 6 on target, whilst Spurs managed just 6 with 4 on target. One point could and should of been 3.

    This is how the table would look.

    …………Pld…..pts.

    Chelsea,…..29…..67

    Arsenal……30…..65

    Man City…..30…..61

    Liverpool….30…..54

    Man Utd……30…..53

    Southampton..30…..53

    Spurs……..30…..51

    Not really asking for a seismic shift with those 2 adjustments and look at the difference.

    Still, as I say most supporters do a lot of ‘whatifing’ don’t they.

  • jambug

    Sorry Spurs should be 52 pts

  • Jerry

    Tony excellent article and agree completely, Arsenal is definitely not for the weak of heart.
    @sleekwhale, Tony is correct in the article, he clearly states the results are since the first game against Newcastle which was Dec 13th. Arsenal have only lost to 3 teams since then – Southampton, Tottenham, and Monaco.

  • bjtgooner

    @Gord

    Thanks for the update on Skirtel and the other “dippers”.

  • TailGunner

    bjtgooner

    “dippers” ?

  • Yassin

    Jambug,

    Add a draw at chelsea and we are top with 66

  • jambug

    Yassin

    Funny you should say that. When I started that little post it included that match.

    I always felt we deserved a draw from that match. In my Heart I still do, but when I looked at the statistics I found the following:

    Possession 50/50

    Duels 50/50

    corners 2/2

    So far so good. But.

    Chelsea only managed 5 shots with 3 on target.

    Arsenal managed double the shots with 10, but here’s the rub….we never had ONE shot on target.

    So as much as it was a very close game (as opposed to the Chelsea cake walk the media would have us believe it was) I decided to forsake it, as not managing to get one shot on target makes justifying a draw a little difficult, despite all the other stats.

    But I see your point.

  • bjtgooner

    @TailGunner

    Dipper is a slang term for anyone from Liverpool, short for “bin dipper”. The inference is that Liverpudlians search the bins for gain!

  • jambug

    bjtgooner

    I always thought ‘Dipper’ was a slang term for a pickpocket and this is a definition from the ‘Collins English Dictionary’:

    DIPPER

    3)a slang word for pickpocket.

    But you could be right as this is the ‘Urban Dictionaries definition’:

    DIPPER

    Abbreviation for “bin dipper” aka scouser.

    Derived from their habit of foraging in dustbins for food, clothing and mating partners.

    Can also be identified by foolish collective belief that Liverpool FC is a major footballing power. Can be found in large (10,000 or so) numbers at a local cesspit aka Anfailed. Although the number of meetings here tends to decline as the calendar progresses towards May,

    Look at that Dipper (cue shell suit, face full of phlegm if speaking).

    Personally I think that’s a bit harsh. I always duck !

  • Yassin

    Jambug, and here is where the ref had his word. we couldnt manage to hit the target as our players were fouled all the time. And to add, Chelsea then went to park the bus and counter, 2 shots on target is too low to win the game 2-0.
    but that is just me maybe

  • jambug

    Yassin

    Not getting any argument from me.

    Just didn’t think I needed to use the Chelsea match to make the point.

  • Gord

    I think Dyke and his committee have lost it.

    I don’t think that Cesc coming to Arsenal at age 16 was the problem child of the homegrown player situation. But if it is, then a person also has to say that Chelsea having him as home grown now isn’t kosher either.

    Now, if the teams with money start buying huge numbers of players under age 16, and then getting into the loan business nominally with all of England, there will be problems with obtaining homegrown players.

    Seeing as we have an extended break, I want to talk about food.

    I bought some beef brisket, did about half of it Sous Vide to look at how one might use it in a meat pie. I cooked it for 11 hours at about 135F, which is about the optimum temperature for beef. 11 hours is NOT long enough to break down the connective tissue in brisket.

    The other half, I tried to cure. Normally people use a curing salt which contains nitrite salt (often pink). What I did, was make a pulp with celery juice (which has organic nitrites, not a simple nitrite salt). What else was in that recipe? Sugar that had been flavoured with orange zest, and quite an aromatic bunch of herbs and spices. A Christmas salt beef recipe.

    The celery cured beef was tender (10 days in celery juice plus other stuff). It was not as red as cured beef is expected to be. To me it tasted quite salty, but I am guessing that this was the taste of cured beef, not salt. I did look at how far this “salty” flavour went into the meat, and as near as I could tell, it was almost uniform all the way through (meat was 2 inches thick or more).

    It is possible to get too much nitrite into cured beef, and I suspect I strayed into that territory with my celery cured beef, as I used the food processor on one head of celery, and finely cut with a knife the other head. And two heads of celery is probably too much. But, I never did find a recommendation on how much celery to use.

    It is apparently possible to use beets, to cure meat. And the natural juices of beets will bring more of the redness along. Still no idea on how much vegetables.

  • Yassin

    Jambug,
    got your point. Anyway that is from the past , now Chelsea has to be careful not to miss it, as there is a team with red shirts and white sleeves waiting.
    can we do it? Maybe, hope so!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Sorry, off topic, but vote Giroud, fans player of the month, see link at bottom of page
    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20150323/giroud-nominated-for-pfa-fans-award

  • Mandy Dodd

    Ian Byrne, where on earth do ANR get such things from? Good source?
    The only way Wenger would break his contract would be on some unforeseen health issue or if he seriously underachieved, which he most certainly is not doing so.

  • jambug

    yassin

    I hope so but we are going to need a lot to go our way, starting with us pretty much winning every game which will get us 84 pts. If we do that then this is what we need to happen to Chelsea.

    Before we start, the fact is Chelsea have only lost 2 games so far, all season.

    We need Chelsea to drop 10 pts. These are the ways they can do that.

    3 defeats and 1 draw out of there remaining 9 games = 83 points.

    2 defeats and 2 draws out of 9 games = 84 pts.

    1 defeat and 4 draws out of 9 games = 83 pts.

    5 draws out of 9 games = 84 pts.

    Our best hope is they lose to us at the Em’s, and at home to both Liverpool and Man Utd.

    They would then need to draw one of:

    HOME TO – Stoke, Palace and Sunderland.

    AWAY TO – QPR, Leicester and WBA

    All in all a very very tall order.

    But of course we all have to keep the faith, especially Wenger and the boys.

  • Gord

    Grassroots

    For some parents, football for children starts getting serious at U-3. Where should it get serious? U-8? Someone needs to guess at this, I have no data to work from.

    With all the problems we’ve seen with parents getting out of line with youth games, I think the idea that a game can be officiated by a single youth needs to go away. I think all children/youth games need to have a 4th official who is an adult. I would suggest this just be carte blanche for all games. There must be a referee (age can vary), there must be a 4th official (must be adult).

    Little people playing football need coaching, and they need games. All coaches need some kind of theoretical basis to work from. Even if it is only a single weekend course (nominally 16 hours), coaches need to be taught something before they start coaching others. One of the things I think is needed, is to teach children (and all players) how to fall. I suspect that the group that does this best is Akido and Judo. But I think in preseason, all players really could use a session or two in how to fall. And if anyone looks at falling practice as how to dive, they should do laps. How to fall, is how to avoid breaking your arm or dislocating a shoulder.

    Where practical, I think children/youth games should be refereed by a child/youth in the next age group up. All referees shall be assisted by an adult 4th official. The 4th official shall have something capable of taking pictures. If a particular spectator is causing problems, a picture shall be taken. Pictures of abusive spectators shall be part of the referee package for future games. Suspending spectators who abuse players or referees should be done.

    Below the age at which games become serious, I think the referee (not the 4th official) shall be allowed to have extended breaks in play, to allow them to “demonstrate” points.

    The 4th official shall watch the game looking for tackling from behind, contact that is not shoulder to shoulder and similar. They shall note which player is doing these kinds of activities. This report of deprecated behavior shall become a publically available, permanent record of coaches and of the players themselves. If a player is noticed doing things like two footed tackles, the 4th official can talk to that player and/or coach before the game. If things don’t change, suspend the coach. This probably means finding an alternative coach for the game. A wonderful job for a pundit. Can you imagine, your coach is suspended for a game because his players are doing too many two foot tackles, and say Randy Savage shows up to be coach for the game (and the pundit is told why he is being called in). Of course, some pundits should be forbidden from any of this.

    I think all coaches should be informed on the latest injury statistics for the age group/gender they are coaching at the beginning of the season. If possible, someone knowledgable in athletic first aid should attend an early practice to demonstrate. Taping a 7 year old is not the same as taping an adult.

    Gender issues. I think male games shall be officiated by females between 0.25 and 0.33 of the time, and vice versa. For young people, I think club “linespeople” is the rule, each referee shall be encouraged to use both genders for club linespeople (the choice should go into the 4th official’s report).

    Things right? Things wrong?

  • Gord

    Statistics

    > Giroud has won 52% of his headers this term (70/134).

    Another dumb article about a single statistic.

    What does it mean to “win” a header? Is it just getting your head to the ball? What happens if all the heads jumping for a ball, make contact with it? All of them are successful?

    Some forwards/strikers only contact the ball in the opponents half of the field as making a shot. Other forwards, also participate in defending corners.

    What does it mean to win a header?

    A person can’t even get to the numbers underneath this, the premise is dumb.

  • ARSENAL 13

    As I see it, Its 10 cup final games and we do the double. If therz anyone who can guide us successfully to achieve that, its Mr Wenger. Hez done it before. He can do it again…

    Chelsea are crumbling under pressure, that too with a game in hand!!. One lost game now, will be massive for Chelsea.

  • Sleekwhale

    Yea Jambug – I really thought as much; I think it was the way he started…And the big IF. Doesn’t mean much we’d still support them through thick and thin.

  • TailGunner

    bjtgooner

    I get it! More social stereotyping!

  • philo

    Sometimes i just wonder why Arsenal is hated so much, not that i care because this club oozes classy,
    But it boggles my mind