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When you are proven wrong you can apologise, shut up or talk about something else

By Tony Attwood

There is, I think, a feeling about games, and I got the same feeling no less than four times before saturday’s match even started.

…Talking in the car on the way down with Drew, a lecturer in history at my local university whose period of interest almost overlaps with my knockabout approach to the past in “Making the Arsenal”.

…Walking from the pub to the ground with Lakshit, a dedicated fan from India for whom this was just his second match (having only recently come to the UK) but whose knowledge of everything Arsenal is extraordinary.

…Being stopped on the way round to Entrance D by a gent who recognised me and so warmly shook me by the hand and thanked me for Untold.  (It’s not all me you know, but I took the thanks on behalf of everyone who contributes).

…Sitting as always next to Stefan from Germany who always gives me his prediction before the game (“3-0” he said this time – how does he do that?)

Everyone had this relaxed feeling that said, we are getting this right, we are on the right track.  This is working.  This new team.  This is us.  This is the Arsenal.

The point is that there is a feel about Arsenal as we emerge from the darkness and enter Wenger 3.0 which I have not experienced since the days of Wenger 2.0, the days when you just knew it would all be ok.  The days when we could and did beat anyone.

To get this feeling you need a goalkeeper you believe in absolutely, you need a centre back pairing who can run and do an intercept before the opposing forward even kicks the ball, you need a midfield sweeper who is always there, and whose movement out of defence and whose forward passing is assured at all times.  And you need a midfield link man and passer.  Oh, and a forward or two who can do the business.

The names come back, Henry, Pires, Vieira, Lehmann, Campbell, Toure, Gilberto, Bergkamp…  Names now written so tall that it seems lunatic to compare anyone to that group.

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But apart from one season, they were not infallible.  And let us not forget that in the unbeaten season we included Cygan for 18 games, Reyes for 13, Aliadiere for 10…  Not everyone was a powerhouse footballing genius.

My point is that in thinking of the past the images we have are of the moments replayed eternally on DVDs.  But we can get a better perspective if we try to remember the feeling of the games rather than the detail.   That feeling that even if we drew 0-0 at home to Fulham, we were basically ok.  Even if we were 1-0 down to Leicester at half time we could still come back and keep the whole season as one long unbeaten season.

And I am suggesting here that all through last saturday that sort of feeling was creeping back.  Not a feeling that we could win the league, but a feeling of confidence.  A feeling that this team can do things.

Of course 9 wins 1 defeat and 1 draw in the last 11 games is quite a good record and that helps.   (So does the fact that we are finally back into the plus side of things with goal difference).  But it is more than that.  It is the feeling that if Cesc were still with us and coming back from injury I would nevertheless want Ramsey to play.   Maybe Cesc could be better than Ramsey for a few games, but there is something growing inside Ramsey and I don’t want it stopped.

And as for Van Persie…  He can’t be compared as a player to Henry, but we can say that with him on the pitch there is a feeling that a goal could come from anywhere any time.   Will Robin ever invent things like the freekick taken without the whistle (perfectly within the rules until the refs stopped it by their silly whistle pointing antics)?   Will Robin try a 1-2 penalty as Henry did with Pires (and cocked it up big time!!!)?   Maybe not.   But the goalscoring is there, and how.

But what of all those who told us that the transfer dealings were a disaster?  They were telling us we would be relegated after the 8-2, just as they called for Wenger to be sacked after Manchester United 6 Arsenal 1 in February 2001 (played incidentally with many of the players who contributed so much to 2003/4).

No one apologised then for calling for the outing of the man who could deliver the unbeaten season, and no one is apologising now for their early comments.  Instead  they are simply changing their tune.

Look at this line from the Observer this weekend…

“Believe the hype or not, there is more to this team than Robin van Persie.”

So, newspaper ravings about Arsenal’s decline and fall are now just called “hype”.  Odd that.

Of course feelings can be deceptive, but as I watched the fragments of the game that appeared on Match of the Day on saturday night what I saw was Ramsey do a staggering pass to Theo for the shot that led to the first goal.   I saw Vermaelen get one and almost a second.  I saw Koscielny keep going as a magnificent defender, and started to feel that injury willing we have another pairing to remember for a long time to come: Koscielny and Vermaelen.  Vermaelen and Koscielny.  Ver Kos.  Kos Ver.  KV?  VK?  There must be a way of saying it.

And to my surprise (yes I admit it, I have been slightly worried) I saw what others have seen long before me in  Carl Jenkinson.  Another extraordinary discovery.

We all know about Alex (“not fit to wear the shirt”) Song (no apologies there from anyone who called for him to be removed from the club, I note), but there is also a growing admiration for Arteta (only £10m – that looks a snip).

So on to Match of the Day – and no apologies there for their earlier comments and predictions either.  In fact, unless somehow I missed it all, no commentary – couple of interviews and straight onto the next game, in the desperate hope perhaps that no one would notice 9 wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat.  Did they actually show Vermaelen’s interception of Tchoyi’s ball?  Maybe I was nodding off by then as I had made the mistake of leaving the sound on.

As I say, it is all about feeling.  But what struck me was that we have had this feeling before – and the outcome was rather good.  I am not saying this team is as good as the 2003/4 team.  No team is that good.   But there are moments when I could almost be back then.

 Untold Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal



28 comments to When you are proven wrong you can apologise, shut up or talk about something else

  • walter

    Nobody likes to admit that he is wrong Tony. And certainly not the pundits. Because they make a living of pretending to know something we don’t know. And then having to admit that they didn’t know after all.

  • Philbet

    The MOTD boys would also feel cheated,they wanted to tell us how awful WBA were and that relagation or a new manager was there only hope.Would not have crossed there minds to think the best side simply outplayed them.

  • Sulaigooner

    Dear Tony, the issue is a straight-forward; some people just hate Arsenal fc for what we are being the Football Master of London and they will never admit the fact.

  • Gooneraside

    I once thought I was wrong and admitted to being wrong in thinking that 🙂 .
    Factually I did think for a while that RvP was the wrong choice of captain (during his bad spell) thinking that it was affecting his play and admitted it afterwards (on some other blog) after he broke the ton (whose approach may have been affecting his play). But there again, I don’t get`paid to be right all the time – pundits think that they do.

  • Mahesh

    Tony, no, MOTD did not show Vermaelen’s block. What’s more they also did not show the Kos run, where he almost received the pass to finish with a goal of his own!! Now, that would have been perfect! And it was only a matter of inches, else he would have been through and we would have seen him finishing… somehow I believe he will be as cool while finishing a goal, as he is while defending ours!
    You can also try Verscielny or Kosmaelen 🙂

  • nicky

    When so many experts and ex-players (notice I differentiate) have written off Arsenal after our alarming start to the season, it must have been a sobering experience to accept the stats over the last 11 games. Even the MOTD team seemed so awestruck that to move on quickly to another game was the only course of action.
    Those of us in the “dwindlies” (true supporters since the 1930’s)will recall the joy of perpetual publicity (good or bad) about our Club in those heady days, which thankfully continues to this day.
    I’m reminded of a line in an old WW1 song, resurrected during
    WW2, namely “Let ‘Em All Come”. An invitation to all who wish to praise, criticise or comment about our Club. Publicity, worldwide, is part of the lifeblood of Arsenal and will always be welcome.

  • Bobby Pliers

    You get the feeling in the media that our resurgence is a bit of a disappointment. Flying back up the table and winning games is not good copy hence they keep trying new angles such as “one man team”, “contracts running down”, “dodgy left back who cannot defend” etc etc. Even in the aftermath of bashing Chelsea they were trying to pick holes – “could have been 3 down in the first 5 minutes”. We can see it for what it is and its pathetic really. Long can we keep them quiet I say!

  • Len

    Nice observations Tony. And van Basten seems to agree too. The Boys are really back in town…

  • Anon

    While the MOTD ‘pundits’ continue to paint us as a club in crisis we will quietly continue to grow stronger. It is really baffling that someone like Gervinho never gets any credit from anyone outside Arsenal fans.. For me he is already more productive than Nasri..

  • dan

    I admit I’m been wrong about Jenkinson, this boys better than I thought!

  • Eric

    I Actually found an Arsenal blog today that apologized for losing faith in the team and Wenger. So hope is not lost afterall, people can admit they were wrong 😉 Just aslong as they learn from it and dont go beserk next time the team is having a bad patch!
    I for one didnt expect the team would turn the results around so quickly, but never doubted in the ability of this team or Wenger for that matter.
    Top4 looks easy, but the real battle will be our games vs City, only then can we see if we will challenge for top spot.

  • I do like Kosmaelen.

    We did get one post (I think one of my fellow moderators rejected it) in which the writer said something like “one win against a low level club with half its team missing and you think it’s all right”…

    And that really is what the AAA are having to hang onto at the moment. I don’t think anyone here is really saying we will win the league, but rather just reflecting on the 9 wins 1 draw 1 defeat in the last 11.

    I noticed a Tottenham blog today that is reflecting on how Newcastle are pushing on, and worrying a bit about their defence. What they didn’t notice (and I didn’t notice until Drew, who I travelled with on Saturday, pointed it out) is that apart from playing us Newcastle haven’t played any of the top teams yet.

    Long way to go, but still, as I tried to say in the piece, it feels good just now.

  • bob

    Not one inch, would be the pundits mantra, the same rehearsal of various forms of actual thuggery and tribal turf-defense.

    Yes, “the hype,” is what the rest of the media, are now calling the massive Arsene Out Campaign, that ground to a halt less than three weeks ago; this, methinks, because it appears to offer the practicing pundit/stenographer legitimacy now, without pointing the finger of specific responsibility at themselves, or at any other actual perpetrator (and UM has named several of them) of the attempted character assassination of AW and destabilization of the club.

    The punditry is utterly corrupt and corrupting, as the AAA, their step-children have woefully manifested. After the WBA match, even LeGrovel, their leading pitchfork and torch brigade, is acting like, ho-hum, 3-nil, another day at the office.

  • bob

    Which blog apologized? As it’s a rare bird, do you have a link to it?

  • bob

    And Jenk is only 19 years old.

  • FinnGooner

    Honestly it feels great not to have “oh no”feeling when I look at player list before the match. I have confidence to all our current players. They can do the job (some OK some better, and those Ok will just improve).
    About Jenkinson as I was listening match on Arenal player I heard that he not only stay on pitch/ trainig ground later after practice to learn he also speak with older players (*I’m blanking now with co-host name awful as he was great Arsenal player)and legends abou how he could improve his game.
    Only thing I’m worried about Carl is that he will chose national team that has history to get in EC and WC instead NT hasn’t made it but is getting closer (Choosing England instead Finland if you were wondering)… Honestly I can’t wait to see him in few years.
    Also I love Marco van Basten, I have liked him before a lot but now about what he said about Arsenal and RvP… who should definetely listen the man.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Tony, think Newcastle have played Spurs this season, so you are correct in your comment that apart from us, Newcastle have not yet played a top team.
    As for Spurs, they are up there partly on merit and partly because the FA seem to be granting them special dispensation over outfield players handling the ball. Thats four points so far this season gained from their hand ball friendly refs…. according to my calculations at least

  • @Tony i never knew that the fanatics will become fans again. How the world changes,if you look into the archives i told these fan(atics)that we will be in all the competitions and they bluffed me off but thanks to ARSENE and to you guys who stood with us during the burials buy as we have resurrected expect the Devils to try and bury us each and any other given time.But i assure you in our last 4 games we might be 2nd hmmm how does that sound.
    Lets go GUNNERS

  • Paul Collins

    Nice article. What I took from Saturday was a feeling of calm confidence in our defense for the first time in …… god knows how long!!!! So often in the past, even when we were crusing, there was a feeling that we were one defensive screw-up from letting the opposition back into the game. It was a nervous feeling. On Saturday I didnt have that feeling, even though TV and LK were so new to each other and we had a 19 year old at RB and a madman at LB. It seemed to work.

    Long may that feeling continue.

  • Richa Chauhan

    Glad that Arsenal won the match. and no surprise that someone from India knows all about Arsenal. Passion for the sport and team ! Kudos to Lakshit – the one who knows it all. Good going.

  • odai

    🙂 @mandy dodd We are the ARSENAL and we will keep MARCHING on

  • Iniez

    @Steve E, wow you really can’t rely on them writing up a proper list. This season has really driven home how much the media dislikes us..

  • drew

    Insightful as ever Tony. My only concern about Ramsey is whether he has the legs to carry the team for a whole season like cesc did BUT (answering my own doubts..) there is Jack to come back after Xmas. As for jenkinson I think he is a real find. I can’t remember a better crosser of the ball in recent years and I’d be happy to bet that he will score some great long range goals when he is more settled.

    I would still like to see one or two additions in January – perhaps a striker to take the pressure off RVP and another midfielder – but those of us who were minded to trust le Boss appear to have been vindicated. Let’s hope we can keep this run going after the interlull.
    Thanks for the name check, I’ve ordered my copy of Making the Arsenal !

  • Ronnie Brown

    I feel Match Of The Day was a disgrace, unbeliveable… we went on 2nd from last after 3 goals and after had NO ANAYLIS or anything whatsoever, while Liverpool had a 0-0 draw with Swansea and shown after us and have anaylis…. They love skipping over Arsenal when we do well or win, Match Of The Day is a joke to me, the anaylis is boring, terrible and cliche, I’d prefer some proper in depth football anaylis cause what they do now is terrible, there is a clear bias to Arsenal there, if someone actually tracked it I’m sure it would be seen.

  • elkieno

    I can honestly say I never said Wenger out, I never lost faith in the Arsenal. I will admit I was down, not visiting any Football sites just keeping away until game day. Its the best way to not let those all monkeys get to me. I get very fired up when I hear one bad thing about my club.
    Anyway I bet the ‘pundits’ are quite waiting for us to fall over, then they can come out the woodwork. I hope this team has a us v them mentaility and take our revenge in January v UTD. I wonder what they will say then? Lets not get carried away just like Tony said, ‘I am enjoying the feeling right now’…