Showing character is as important as playing nice football

By Walter Broeckx

So Arsenal have done it again. For the 17th consecutive year we have managed to qualify for the CL group stages. And we all know how important that is for a club like ours. As long as we are paying for the stadium it will be an important part of the income to pay off the debts. In fact I think that the CL money itself is paying off the yearly repayments we have to make. Or thereabouts.

In that way you could say that Alexis’ first goal made sure we would pay off the stadium debt for the next season. The popular headlines in the more serious media will be that he paid off his transfer sum. This shows that they are more obsessed by transfers and all that hangs around it. I will focus more on what is important for my club. And that stadium is one big part of that club.

What did we learn from the two matches against Besiktas? First of all I must admit that Besiktas showed themselves as one of the strongest teams we had to overcome when we had to play the qualifying round. They made it extremely difficult for us to qualify. And I think they would be a much harder opponent than most teams in pot 4 or even in pot 3 in the draw.

When it comes to learn we once again learned that when we play on a terrible pitch our level drops. In Turkey it showed and when then playing on a good pitch we suddenly show we are better and we create chances. Enough chances to win it comfortably. But as we didn’t convert the chances we kept the tension high till the final whistle.

There is one other thing that is getting clearer now.  We are not yet completely in top form. Some players still are recovering from the world cup. And that is very much an individual thing. Some players like Debuchy are up to it. Others are still inconsistent and mix good with not that good performances.

I somehow expected this to happen. It is one of the reasons why I hate world cups and European cups. It messes up our own preparations of the season. Wenger also hinted at this when he talked about not rushing players back from the world cup as it might get them injured or fatigued quicker.   I think that it will only be after the international break (which I also hate) that we can expect that most players will be completely ready for the coming season.

So what is important now is that we make sure that we take it match per match and set our goal for each match. If you divide the season in blocks we could say that the first block will end next Sunday. A block that contained the pre-season matches, the CS, the CL qualification round and 3 PL matches.

The result in the pre-season matches counts for nothing. Of course I want us to win each and every match but I will not lose sleep for losing a pre-season match. It is a match to test things, to see how fit players are in match conditions. Winning is fine, losing is not a disaster.

The first thing we had to really be ready was the CS. And ready we were. We were the better team on the day and I don’t think anyone can take anything away from our surprisingly comfortable win in Wembley. Good goals, good overall play, a good performance. So target number one was done.

Target number two was qualifying for the CL group stages. And as mentioned we did it once again. This was all about getting over the line. Certainly when we played without last season’s top scorer. And the second best goal scorer, and the third best goal scorer. We didn’t have our best box to box player in the second match. So everyone with an ounce of common sense knew that it wouldn’t be the walk in the park event.  But based on character we did it. A bit of better finishing would have made it easier but in the end the fighting spirit of the whole team gave us the qualification.

In the league we had 3 matches before the break. In the two matches played so far we didn’t play at our best. But what is more important in this stage is once again getting results. And we scored a late winner against Crystal Time Wasting Palace. And again we scored what should have been a winner in the last minute of the match against Everton.

We got 4 points of of a possible 6 and I would have accepted that before the match. Everton are a good side and I can see a few of our competitors also dropping points there. The team showed a spirit in those matches. In the first the spirit of : we will fight till the end to win this match. And in the second: we will fight till the end to not lose this match.

Not playing superbly but getting the points and not losing is the best way to start the league. Playing nice football will be something for later in the season when Alexis knows his team mates a bit better and when all the players have settled more.

I love nice football and nice passing of the ball. But the great thing is that even without this nice football we manage to keep our run of not losing competitive matches going. Mostly based on character for the moment. And if you can add such a quality to playing good football you can win any match.

I have the feeling that the determination in this team is much bigger than it was before. Maybe winning the FA Cup the way we did was much better than having a comfortable win (I admit I would have liked it better, so would my heart). Maybe it brought their character above water and as it paid off on the day they now know that talent is one thing but not enough. Desire and work rate also counts for a big part. And it looks as if our players realized this and have added that to their game.


Arsenal play Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray and Anderlecht in the Champions League group stage.

There is already talk of an Untold get-together for the Anderlecht away game, dates and work commitments permitting.

Arsenal qualified for the group stage for an English record-breaking 17th consecutive season after beating Besiktas 1-0 in the play-off.

In the League Cup we play Southampton at home.




20 Replies to “Showing character is as important as playing nice football”

  1. Thanks Walter, I was just writing something on similar lines and dumped it when I saw your article. Interesting that you brought up the international break (coming up soon) and how it disrupts things, kind of wished it didn’t happen really.
    COYG! Aha and Amen!

  2. dear all, just seen a deleted comment from Bluesy (a Man City fan?) in relation to a post some time back. The comment was racist, anti-Semitic and offensive. I think that type of comment should always be reported to the police as a hate crime. I suspect this happens a lot on Untold and eslewhere. We do not have to tolerate it, lets gets them reported, questioned by the police and taken off the internet. Pond life like Blusey should not be allowed the right of free speech

  3. A nice write up Walter.

    I think we did well to qualify for the CL this time, given that we lost key players with injury or (harsh) suspension and that some players are still struggling for match fitness.

    In addition we had a rejigged defense with new players to fit in, followed by the Gibbs injury, and we had to endure biased refs in our two PL matches and two very dysfunctional refs in the CL qualifiers.

    So in this short period of time it could not have been easy for either AW or the team.

    Great credit must go to both AW and the players achieving qualification. The group stage does not look easy – but what’s new?

    Lets hope our injury level decreases & we can progress well in all competitions.

  4. Nice one Walter. 17 in a row in the CL….as far as I know, a number only a team run with the assistance of state banks….and the state itself…..and previously, a nasty dictator can compete with?

  5. Tough group, yet again, opening with Dortmund away and ending with a filthy trip to Turkey where there will not be a warm welcome for team or fans. Five out of six of our PL fixtures after a CL tie will be away from home.

  6. Bet we get some real treats from the world of European refs!
    Nice easy draw for Chelsea

  7. some time ago, we were labelled as lacking in character, lacking in fighting spirit, unable to win ugly etc. Last season (and up till now) we have been showing that we are capable of fighting and not merely rolling over to get screwed. We may still have to factor the ugly trio of biased refs, dysfunctional refs and injuries (bjtgonner above) into our experience this season. We may not be able to avoid them all, but we can do something about our resilience and efficiency in matches. I believe Arsenal will surprise quite a lot of folks this season. We have not yet peaked and yet are grinding put results. This team is capable of great things yet.

  8. Stan the man, all that is left is how to avoid stupid tackles and accidental break the perpetrator kind of defence now if we manage to learn that! its quadruple time!!

  9. Oh, and that one as well, Va Vong. Who has an antidote to the Stoke City Style? Maybe Wenger knows! A large squad may help though. But then again, “Wenger knows”!

  10. I wonder if money is talking (again) that Chelski get such an easy draw. Hope they come unstuck.

    Well played lads, even though as mentioned above, we are not at full strength yet.

  11. It might be a good idea for the team to actually keep 11 men on the pitch as in 4 out of the last 5 CL matches we have been reduced to 10 men.Too much last ditch defending and shirt pulling I’m afraid.Thats not character its more like piss poor defending.

  12. It’s good to be a Gooner! Group phase of the Champions League and all to play for elsewhere. Optimistic that we could bring in at least one more player but even if we don’t I like who we have. Leicester on Sunday. Smiles everybody, smiles!

  13. I wonder if the extent of Giroud’s injury was on the players’ mind against Besiktas.
    Especially first half, but it changed in the second half, and we started looking like… Arsenal!
    Once again, the Boss emphasized how short the preseason was, but players are connecting better now.
    I cannot wait for them to fully understand each other on the pitch; that will make the team lethal.

  14. From the Medical Division of UA , a fine article no how to live right , laugh , love and have a good time . But then , the AKBs know all these very well !

    Behaviors That Hurt Your Immune System!!.aspx?q=behivoirs%20that%20hurt%20your%20immune%20system#.U__7kaNlNE8

    1. You don’t chit-chat enough.
    2. You don’t get enough sleep.
    3. You’re a party pooper, a real downer.
    4. You fight with your spouse in the wrong way.
    5. No break from the rat race of stress.
    6. You borrow stuff from other people.
    7. Leave those antibiotics alone.
    8. Why so serious?

  15. As for the AAAA –
    1. Shut the fuck up – you talk too much , and its all bullshit !
    2. ‘ He who sleeps , does not sin ; he who does not sin , goes to heaven . So sleep( give us all a break !), and go to heaven!
    3. Yes you are ! ‘Nuff said !
    4. Spouse ? Better other ?
    5. Work ? Instead of welfare /dole ?
    6. Yeah ! Stop ‘cutting and pasting’ crap here !
    7.Hmmm , what would I prescribe to cleanse your impure thoughts ? It has not been invented yet ! Here have a placebo , that ought to help !
    8. Yeah , chill out and enjoy the show ! Get a funny bone transplant , that ‘ll be humerus !

  16. Chelsea and united have been getting easy draws in the champions league the last five or six years it’s unbelievable. Chelsea have only played against big sides from about the quarters or semi finals onwards. Arsenal on the other hand it’s a different story. I can understand City facing big sides early on as they’re not seeded, but for us….?

  17. I’ve been away and missed your articals, great work as ever guys I’ve got lots to catch up on.

  18. I’ve been away and missed your articals, great work as ever guys I’ve got lots to catch up on.

  19. Ahhhhhhhh Lints, its so tragic to see you on UA again….but you are partially right(a rare occurrence indeed)it is usually better to play with 11 all game rather than less….and thank you for that revelation! However, your excessively harsh judgement about¨¨piss poor defending¨ makes no sense at all….seeing as how the Arsenal have managed to win 11 games in a row in the EPL since last season, have not lost a game this season, have scored 4 goals and allowed 3 so far in the League (in 3 games) and with such poor defending have made the CL Group stage for the 17th straight year. Have you ever wondered why this sudden enthusiasm for a 2nd caution has arrived at this time of the season….could it be that the team is still solidifying and that its chemistry and understanding isn’t quite there ANT that officials are far less tolerant of an Arsenal foul than any other teams’ ? Anyway keep on shitting on the Club you love….we know where you’re going with that….and it isn’t very far!

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