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Fighting against the odds, the Arsenal way.

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By Walter Broeckx

Lucky the Arsenal – Udinese game was shown live on our sports channel. Because otherwise I would have thought that we would have been out of it already.

Of course it would have been better if we would have won with a comfortable 5-0 or so. Yeah that would have been great. But in case someone might have missed it we played a team from Italy. Now I don’t know when the last time was you checked but as far as I know most teams in Italy are pretty decent sides. So when the draw was made for this qualifying round we knew we were in for the toughest tasks of them all. And so was Udinese.

During the game our match commentator said at one stage : “How unfortunate that one of these teams will not be able to play in the CL as they both belong their for their great football.” Oh and our match commentator was certainly not an Arsenal supporter. Au contraire. He told lots of nonsense like about the Barton – Gervinho incident in which he only told the “official” version and not the one that you and I could see with our own eyes.

Our best outfield players from last year were for me in alphabetical order : Cesc, Nasri, Van Persie and Wilshere. They carried the team sometimes on their own last season. None of them was even near to the playing field. Now I do like numbers a bit as you know by now but for me this is close to well almost 50% of the outfield players. I know it is 40% but I think it is clear to see that the better players carry a bigger weight in the team than others. The only regular midfielder from last year left was Song our defensive midfielder.

So as replacements we had Ramsey. So Ramsey wasn’t as good as “Cesc, Vieira, …..” is the mantra around. So what? Ramsey is 20 years old, he just had his first real pre-season after his terrible leg break and is just starting to get back in any rhythm at all. And yet people want him to outperform players like the afore mentioned? For goodness sake give the boy a break. Not a leg break I mean of course.

Here we have a 20 year old boy at the START of his career and people compare him with those top players. But where those top players as good when they were 20? Keep in mind that both Cesc and Vieira did not have their leg broken when 19 and make such a horrible and long recovery which cost a lot of a player.

So give this boy the chance to become the player he can and will become under Wenger. But don’t expect him to be the next Cesc or Vieira. Let him be the first Ramsey. Let him be a player with his own qualities. With qualities that are a mix of Cesc and Vieira I think. He is not as dominant physically as Vieira but I think he has a better engine than Cesc had at his age. But what I have seen is a player that is learning a lot and for me he is already getting better than he was just before he had his leg broken. And I also have seen a player that is willing to work hard also if things don’t go well in a game. Still has a lot to learn but in fact this is great news as I think that Wenger is the best one around to learn him what to do.

Another replacement was Rosicky. Another player that has been hampered with serious injuries in his career at Arsenal. And remember he had a late fitness test to see if he could actually play. He could but didn’t last the full 90 minutes and had to stop visibly in pain.

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For a while people have been saying that Arsenal can’t defend. And that our players don’t fight hard enough and are not willing to track back. Maybe sometimes this was true on occasions. I’m sure we could and should have defended better as a team. So last night I was very pleased with a scene in the game in the first half.

Some 24 minutes played and we had a corner. The ball came to Song who lost the ball a few meters  outside the Udinese penalty area. Vermaelen and Koscielny both upfield in the penalty area still.

Udinese played the ball forward and Song was some 15 meters behind the ball and the Udinese striker who ran past Sagna and Gibbs alone on his way to Szczesny. Meanwhile Rosicky saw the danger and came rushing back from somewhere halfway the Udinese half.

Song starting some 15 meters behind ran almost the whole length of the pitch and when the Udinese striker took his shot (which was stopped by Szczesny) Song was just 1 or 2 meters behind. And the old man Rosicky was at the same level and trying to protect the goal line.

And when the ball broke loose and the rebound shot was fired it was Song who smothered the ball with this body and Szczesny could pick up the ball.

Both of these players running almost the whole length of the pitch trying to stop a great counter attack and together with Szczesny preventing what looked a certain goal was for me the moment of the game. This was maybe the spirit we have been lacking at times in the past?

This team lost its captain a few days ago. But the first signs are that the remaining sailors on the ship are not allowing the pirates to take the ship just like that. Something that in the past happened at times a bit too easy. Maybe the sailors waited for the captain to take things in hand. But I saw 11 Gunners wanting to fight for the cause and give it all.

And yes this was not the pretty football we are used to in the last years and this against a strong Italian team.  But for the moment and with the players absent this is what we can put on the field. And I know that it will not be easy to get over the Cesc loss but as long as the Gunners on the field battle like they did yesterday I will support them.

And for gods sake we should praise them for their spirit and don’t forget this is a knock out round and Udinese scoring would have been a very bad thing. So keeping a clean sheet was maybe as vital as getting the second goal. Better a 1-0 win than a 2-1 or a 3-2 win.

The times of Arsenal beating other teams with 4 or 5-0 is over for the moment. But when all players will be back in the team and with the new ones still to come I think we could be back there soon. But if we can learn that with fighting like we did yesterday we can achieve things and get results then we will have learned a great lesson.

MEDIA: Know Thine Enemy – from a long weekend in the Untold Media Trenches

REALITY: The harsh truths about Arsenal’s decline

HISTORY: How did we used to get the half time scores?

NONSENSE: Arsenal v Udinese: the Catering Report

Untold Index

Arsenal History Index

Making the Arsenal

13 comments to Fighting against the odds, the Arsenal way.

  • head

    I’m not overstating this: Untold Arsenal is the shining light on a hill among Arsenal blogs. Without it we’d all be long drowned in the sea of negativity and bullshit (to continue the nautical metaphor).

  • zulu gooner

    well said. I`ve had enough of english hack brigade and negative supporters

  • SA Gunner

    Good article which goes some way in boosting the morale at the moment.

    We will support Arsenal when they play, that is what supporters do. However we need to be aware of our current situation and who has brought us to this situation. Im not here to bash Wenger but I can certainly not sit and just praise his efforts this summer. Indeed its the players themselves who have decided to move on but one could easily ask what was done in the events leading up to these departures which could have prevented, if not prolonged this.

    Going forward, with just under 2 weeks to go can we really expect the gaps to be filled? Sure we can look from within but looking there we are once again venturing into areas which have shown to fail.

    I think Wenger needs to come clean before the window and lay out his plans to us supporters. No, Im not asking for specific names as this will indeed hamper his plans, but come out and give us an indication of whether he is building a team for the board, for his own interests or a team that we all can count on to give a good showing of how great our club is.

    The ball is in your court Arsene, please treat us with respect.

  • DEO

    Well done Untold Arsenal. The boys did a good job and deserve to commended and encouraged.

  • the font

    what you say is always said from a arsenal heart we may not be as good as the invincebles yet but i for one do not mind going through a rebuilding process just before the fair play within your means charter comes in trust arsen to sign top quality and bring them through we will never be able to compeat with chelski
    or man sheik£ financially untill the ground has been leveld
    in arsen you must trust

  • right_mr

    Thats exactly right with your article. A team is much stronger than 11 individuals. It is clear that Clichy didnt have a brilliant season last season..he is gone. Eboue has always been inconsistent except when he first joined arsenal.

    Fabregas didnt have as a good a season last season as he had the previous season (although this could be put down to injuries)…he is gone.

    Nasri is still an Arsenal player…note though his form deteriorated in the 2nd half of the season.

    Arshavin’s form dropped like a lead balloon last season but he still had an ok season. He is still an arsenal player. I hope he has a great season this time round.

    In midfield we have 2 inexperienced midfielders though they are very talented. Perhaps one more central midfielder could be of use.

    In terms of new players, I followed Miyaichi very closely last season at feyenoord and he lit the place up! I cant wait for him to ply his trade at arsenal this season. I for one expect him to make a significant impact for arsenal.

    I expect theo walcott to do very well this season.

    I expect a lot from van persie too. Chamakh is a bit of a problem child though.We have however brought campbell in and I hope he hits the ground running.

    All in all, I think we have lost a bit of experience in central midfield and left back and right back. Rosicky I think will remain a bit part player.

    I do hope one or two more players come in to the the squad. Failing that, I just hope that the team gets their confidence back and plays their heart out. I would love to see arsenal play like they did in that season when we had hleb, fabregas, van persie and flamini all playing together. That was some of the best football I have ever seen.

    Arsene has blooded wilshere nicely last season and I think he will be a big player for the team this time round.

    Go arsenal…I predict a 2:1 win against liverpool tmrw

  • ak47

    hear hear. we’l prove em all wrong. its what we do.

  • Sammy

    A very one-sided email as usual. I am a supporter too but not blind to Arsene’s mistakes like some others.

    Good point about the players. No doubt they had a great result given their youth and capabilities. But the criticism is on Wenger as it has been for quite a few years. We knew we’re loosing Fab and Nasri, but no replacement for either of them. The team looks quite ordinary without them and we’re gonna struggle to be in top 4, forget about the titles.
    Indeed Ramsey is young and needs time. But please don’t tell me we’re going on another learning cycle; we waited when Fabregas, Adebayor, Flamini, Hleb and Nasri were learning, we dont want to embark on another 6 year “the team is young and learning” cycle. Especially so when Le Boss mightily announced earlier that “we are a big club, and a big club holds on to its players”. But then he doesn’t even signs like to like replacement (pls the 18 yr olds aren’t their replacements!)

    I, and most other gunners are tired of this hypocrisy. If we are just a mid table feeder club, then for F’s sake pls say so. And then price the season tickets accordingly!

  • lanre

    Tony n Walter. Something has been on my mind Ʈħĩș past few days. Should Le Prof leave đ club, God forbid, say 2morrow, would dis blog still continue n still be dedicated 2 him?

  • nicky

    I read your comments carefully, line by line. Surely I could disagree with something. I couldn’t!
    I share your outlook about Ryo. He may well light up our season.
    And Arshavin being played a bit more central could be the making of him. All Chamakh needs is a few goals or good performances to re-ignite some confidence.
    With 10 days still to run in the transfer Window, I still feel that Arsene has new blood in mind. He has the funds but we will have to be patient.

  • Bravo, ye stout-hearted men of Untold. Telling it like it is, instead of the whining, carping ridiculosity of the blogs and message boards that would have someone who didn’t see the match think that Arsenal had lost about 4-0.

  • SA Gunner

    Thats correct Sammy.

    Was it not Wenger who stated in 2009 that he himself would deem this project to be a failure if it had not delivered in 2 years?

    There is a similar phenomenon which goes unmentioned by those who consider themselves on the “other” or “Wenger” side. Lets not assume those that question Wenger and are thus the “AAA” are asking exactly for what Wenger speaks about.

    No, we are not asking for a 50 million player, we are asking for players to address the immediate pressing issues to the squad.
    Please lets just get to this, the idea of mostly buying unproven youngsters and yet again in areas which are not as important, and not addressing key players leaving or at least begin to address their departures with a plan to remain in touch is NOT responsible movements for our club.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    It’s time you paid for a season ticket Mr Broeckx.

    It’s not good enough demanding ‘loyalty or else’ when you don’t pay for a season ticket.

    Any more than it’s reasonable journalists who get freebies trashing Arsenal as a pack.

    The people who have the most justifiable opinions are those who pay good money for a season ticket.

    The following questions arise when you do:
    1. Should I keep paying more and more no matter what?
    2. Should I, as an English season ticket holder, pay to develop French players all the time?
    3. If Arsenal preach Project Yoof, why am I paying the highest prices in the world to watch it? Shouldn’t Yoof be paid according to performance and is it a radical idea to suggest that the supporters get a 25% rebate if performance-related bonuses are not paid to the squad?
    4. If our manager is as good as he says he is, why have I repeatedly pointed out, since 2001, that he is obsessed with buying creative midfielders and has constitutional blocks to buying experienced defenders or defensive midfielders?

    These are not the questions of heretics, they are the questions of those who shelled out £18,000.

    Watching Arsenal on Sky or ESPN makes Project Yoof acceptable.

    Paying huge season ticket prices makes it less palatable.

    Key differences of opinion which polarise most strongly between a subset of season ticket holders and a subset of those who watch mostly from afar……..