By Tony Attwood
May I start with the Untold prediction. I mean I don’t want to make a big big thing about it, and I know that much of the time if we do a prediction we get it wrong, but in the face of an anti-Arsenal media onslaught the likes of which I doubt that any club has ever had to face before, we predicted 3-0.
Just to prove it here is it
Did you get that?
You can imagine the celebrations at the headquarters of the Universal Empire of the Untold in darkest Northamptonshire. I may best summarise it thus….
Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
Amidst corruption by the opposition on a wholesale scale which the media utterly refused to deal with but we once more dug up the facts on, we won.
Indeed it was a bit like Liverpool in 1989. We were away. We needed 2-0 to win. Liverpool were known throughout football for very dodgy last minute goals in front of the kop (a name incidentally they nicked from Woolwich Arsenal’s Manor Ground) to win, win and keep on winning. We were 1-0 up at half time, and then went on to get what we need. Except this time we didn’t leave it to Thomas in the last minute.
Instead we had Giroud who is (we know because the aaa has told us time and again) quite a goal scorer. “You can’t judge him on one match” the repulsive aaa will be saying now. Except he has scored 13 goals in 23 games this season. He has been at around 1 in 2 for his first three seasons, now he looks ready to go higher.
And we did all this with no players left because everyone is injured, and the most appalling, preposterous attack pre-match on Arsene Wenger by the BBC, whose correspondent said that if Arsenal did not get through this time there would be “no more excuses” for Mr W. As if he needs an excuse for anything. The man who has a record of keeping a club at the top far beyond anyone else. The man who gets his club into the champions league every year from the start. The man who has just won the FA Cup twice running. The man who is the all time record holder for the number of wins of the FA Cup (shared only with one man from the early days of the competition). The man who won the only unbeaten season since the first ever season.
No, it is the BBC that has no more excuses. The deadwood dead beat presenters should be out now.
The Corporation even had the temerity to run one comment from an so-called Arsenal fan before the game saying “we don’t have enough strength in depth”. Something about the 25 rule seems to have missed his reality – and the BBC’s.
Let’s focus on that depth then. Campbell is part of that depth. Nurtured through a series of loans while awaiting his UK passport he was there when needed. Most supporters thought he wasn’t up to much but when needed he has been superb as we he was last night.
Arsenal were bold last night, waiting first to see if the opposition would just retreat waiting for a goal on the break, waiting to see if the referee was bent, waiting to see how it was going to pan out. And the media were just going through the motions. Giroud went down with an ankle injury and there was the talk of yet another player gone, and “he’ll have to buy now” and headlines in the media were already being set.
And then thrown away as he got up and got on with it.
Not all Wengerian purchases work. Not every youngster who gets his chance becomes a star player. Not every unknown is Thierry Henry. But that is what is now demanded. Superstar status on day one. And then when it is not there, denigration as Giroud got after Monaco is the order of the day.
As Mr Wenger says, “When a guy plays in division three in France at 20 [the amateur league] and gets up to the national team there is some mental strength there,” he said. The team Giroud played with, Istres, is now, incidentally, in the sixth tier.
And let us not forget Laurent Koscielny, who brings utter control to the defence. Remember his first year? It was hard going to find anyone who believed in him other than Mr Wenger. Remember Mr “nicking a living” Mesut Özil?
And remember all those people who endlessly said that we would collapse now without Francis Coquelin (forgetting he was not one of your big name big money purchases but a player so good that even I could see it six years ago, except few others could – me and Mr W – we know stuff), without Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sánchez.
18 successive seasons, what a phenomenal record. And done without the oil money of Russia or the denial of human rights by Sheikh Mansour and his family, and without 50 years of worldwide marketing for which Man U should always be given credit (but also without the relegation to the second division which they also achieved in the early 70s).
It was done by the control and regulation of Arsenal’s own resources, and having a manager who could deliver no matter what the financial restriction. No other club will ever do this.
Barcelona banned for a year from buying players because of child trafficking offences, Bayern Munich which is in effect just a branch of the German motor industry… they haven’t done it. Only us and Real Madrid, funded by the government and monarchy which has a better record by one year.
We will face either Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Wolfsburg or Zenit St Petersburg in the next round. It was ever thus. Maybe we’ll go out. Maybe not. But this win sets us up for the rest of the season. If we can do this with so many injuries we can’t even put a team together, then…
Mr Wenger said, “We were in escape mode before the game and we needed something special. I told you that it would be the greatest escape. When you do that, it creates a positive memory for the rest of the season. Maybe it is a lucky year for us in the Champions League. You never know.
“When we look at who we lost in the last three weeks – Coquelin, Cazorla and Sánchez – and we came here with all the other players who were already out, not many people gave us a chance. [Unfortunately he forgot to mention Untold at this point, but you can’t have everything].
“But we are a real team. We are very close in the dressing room and you could see this tonight. We needed the perfect performance and it was one of the best we have given in Europe.
“It was the perfect performance from Olivier. He scored a header, one from a great pass from Joel Campbell and the penalty. He found himself in uncomfortable positions but he showed skills and character. He had to fight like mad. I have always defended Olivier’s character. He has something special on the character front and he showed that again tonight.”
Even the Telegraph managed to dig itself out of a trench of its own making and announced, “Wenger was right about Campbell”
Of course they won’t let Arsenal take credit for this, saying, “He has thanks to give to Olympiakos for the experience he gained on loan there and was applauded off by two sets of fans who appreciated how much he has come on”. Their conclusion: “Write them off at your peril.”
So as Man Utd can go of to play with Sevilla, Valencia, Liverpool, Napoli and Dortmund and Tottenham in the Europa League, we have Thursdays free.
Thank you Arsenal. I really don’t get many predictions right, but that one was something else.
- 10 December 1960: Arsenal 5 Bolton 1: George Eastham debut – he scored two goals. Strong got two, Barnwell the third. It made up a little for a 6-0 defeat to WHU, a 4-1 defeat to Chelsea, and a 5-3 loss to Wolverhampton.
- 10 December 1963: Arsenal 6 Everton 0. (Baker 2, Eastham 2, Armstrong and Strong). It was the second 6-0 of the season, but was undermined by a 2-7 and 0-5 defeats.
Anniversaries – the full list of anniversaries can be found here
Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed football, is now available on Kindle at £9.99. For more details and to buy a copyplease click here or go to Amazon Kindle and search forWoolwich Arsenal.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal