By Tony Attwood
It is not something I dwell on much on this site, because I know that just because you share my interest in Arsenal, it doesn’t mean you share my interest in music – but there is a second Untold site – Untold Dylan. While this site focuses on “Football news from an Arsenal perspective” so that site’s top phrase is “Dylan: the meaning of the music and the lyrics”
I mention it this morning because one of Dylan’s most famous compositions, “Desolation Row” starts with the line, “They’re selling postcards of the hanging” – an event which happened in the south of the US after a black citizen was strung up by white racists in the 1950s.
Although there is no comparison of course to that reality, I was reminded of that line on seeing the headline this morning “Manchester United selling Jose Mourinho scarves outside Old Trafford ahead of Chelsea visit”. While Dylan’s opening line is dramatic, arresting, and heart-stopping in its simple portrayal of awfulness, that newspaper headline reflects the cynicism of clothing manufacturers and the sheer stupidity of some football fans who think the Mourinho is someone to be sought after rather than a man who will give three years of triumph and then leave a club bereft and destroyed. I am not sure I can even begin to explain how dumb I think that scarf is.
The Independent called Man U and Chelsea the “big beasts of the Premier League; desperately lacking a serviceable striker in their quest…; both enjoying the luxury of world-class goalkeepers,” which more of less sums it up.
But that’s interesting, because at Arsenal we have a number of people who can score goals – Giroud, Alexis, Theo… and last night Özil. Having one striker of the likes of Henry is great, having several is greater.
Arsene Wenger compared Mesut Özil with Dennis Bergkamp last night not just for his stunning goal but also for the assist from the corner Gabriel’s goal. He went on, “Yes he reminds me of Bergkamp. Bergkamp was more of a goalscorer than him and Özil is more about assists, but now Özil is becoming more of a goalscorer, so they are really comparable.
“I have seen a few good games from Özil. What’s important is that he’s convincing everyone that he’s not just a very talented player, but someone who is ready to work very hard for the team.
“Overall he is the complete player. I’ve not seen many players of his quality. He’s an exceptional player and you have to give me credit – I always defended that point of view even when people were sceptical.” [I think Mr Wenger was having a little smile at that one – he knows as well as we do that the media will NEVER give him credit for anything other than an own goal]
“What’s important is that he becomes as good as he can be, and he is on the way to doing that. At the moment he’s absolutely fantastic. Mesut was the focal point of our team against Bournemouth because we had a new midfield again. He was the guy who gave reassurance with his technical security and fluidity. He gives the team confidence.”
What more can one say about Arsenal, except that like Man U and Chelsea we have a jolly good keeper, and one who now holds the Premier League record for clean sheets of 170 games. (And we also had a comparison between Cech and Seaman from Mr Wenger.)
In the ground most of us were still recovering from Christmas and/or contemplating how the hell we were going to get the energy to make it to midnight on the 31st to whip up a storm – although the cheering that greeted the second goal was profound – and long. But Bournemouth fans proved some amusement largely confining themselves to chants and songs that we haven’t heard for years. It was like being in a time warp. We even had a rendition of “This is a library” which was most amusing, and I began to wonder if the spreading of news was so slow in Dorset that some of them actually thought they were at Highbury, which although never a library, at least rhymes, which is why the Sun made the insult up.
Anyway Mr Özil now has 16 assists this season, (four more to equal Thierry Henry’s record) and Giroud, who to be fair was not at his very best, earned his corn with the most magnificent flick to give Özil his fifth goal of the season. Next week Özil will start his attempt on the Premier League shut-out record for a goalkeeper, following which he will be manager before trotting off to advise the Almighty on how to bring peace to the middle east while telling David Cameron on how to stop telling fibs and actually organise proper flood defences.
Indeed as the Telegraph said, “We’re running out of superlatives for Mesut Özil,” although they still can’t bring themselves to do anything as UnBritish as use an accent.
According to the paper of the old colonels Özil “dominated the game with his subtle movement and ability to find space between the lines … Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have been outstanding this season, but surely there’s been no better player in the league than the magnificent Özil”. (with a diæresis) (that’s two dots over the vowel, in case you wondered).
Actually he made 50 passes in the opposition’s half and 11 crosses from both left and right. Where are the “nicking a living” people now?
Thus I offer…
- If you want to score against Bournemouth then it is a good idea to get a corner or two. Every time the man with the diæresis plonked one in, there was utter chaos.
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has still got it all and just needs a couple of games to show it. Some of his passes were sublime, he can accelerate and hold the ball, and he gave every ounce of effort. It’s been said he lacks self-belief, and I think those of us in the ground really need to do everything possible to give him some back.
- We are the best team in the league for 2015, and top of the league for 2015/16. A 0-0 draw between Leicester and Man City should do us nicely.
- If Man C win that game then the press will immediately hit the “the only way is down” button for Leicester who will have lost two games in quick succession. I wonder if they are ready to cope with that.
- (Bonus point). The number of fouls conceded by Bournemouth is shown as eight. Those were the punished ones. The “agricultural” reference in the headline refers to the rest – let’s see if the referee review finds them.
So a jolly time was had by all – but I await with much interest Walter’s ref review on this one. I noted before the game that we only get northern refs normally at Arsenal, and the one time they give us a southern ref, they give us the man from Wiltshire, the county bordering Dorset, wherein resides Bournemouth.
Odd that, don’t you think?
From the Anniversaries File – full list on the home page
29 December 2007: Everton 1 Arsenal 4 – Arsenal moved to the top of the league. Eduardo (2), Adebayor and Rosicky scored.
29 December 2012: Arsenal 7 Newcastle 3. A Walcott hat trick helped Arsenal to four straight wins after the Swansea defeat. The Ox, Podolski and Giroud got the other goals.
the 12th instalment of Arsenal in the 70s: Jan to June 74. Farewell Bob, hello Liam.