By Bulldog Drummond
Arsène Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of Tuesday night’s game against Galatasaray in Istanbul saying “To make it as simple as possible, I have 11 experienced players and six young players on the bench. That means I have nothing to hide. Debuchy is back and will play, Szczesny is back in goal, Mertesacker, Chambers will play because Gibbs did not travel, Bellerin at left-back. Then you have Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Flamini, Podolski, Sanogo and Campbell.
“The players who needed it stayed behind – like Cazorla, Sanchez, Gibbs, Giroud is not qualified and Welbeck, who could have travelled but recently had a little knee problem, so took advantage of that to rest him.
“Sanchez had a groin problem for some time, and he has played 27 games. Cazorla has played many games, it is more just the number of repetitive games we have.
And finally, Jack is only out for three months, and has had no setback.
Bellerin, Mertesacker, Chambers, Debuchy
Podolski, Sanogo, Campbell.
So we don’t have to win, but a win would be nice, and could actually be important if the other result goes our way.
As for the beach: Chuba Akpom, Gedion Zelalem, Stefan O’Connor, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Glen Kamara and Alex Iwobi.
Meanwhile the big issue of the day is the Train Station Boo, which has taken on mega proportions.
One of the many factors ignored by the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal groupings who want Arsène Wenger to leave the club today, if not yesterday, is that their allies in the media who now publish their views on a daily basis will desert them, the moment Mr Wenger decides to leave.
We can see what will happen because it has happened so many times before. There is the encouragement to make banners, hiss, boo and hurl the sort of abuse that has been the preserve of Man U supporters in the past. Then having exposed themselves the AAA find their allies turning against them. The fans are criticised and called mindless and stupid by the people who egged them on for months and years.
Meanwhile Mr Wenger will go in his own way in his own time, when he is ready to retire, but the press, which has so utterly ignored that Arsenal are the FA Cup holders, and that Mr Wenger has a far higher win percentage than Herbert Chapman, George Allison and Tom Whittaker, will come down on Arsenal fans, once again tarring us all with the same brush.
This huge outpouring by the media will then add to the difficulty the club already has in contemplating a new manager. As it is, other managers look at the club with disdain, over the way Mr Wenger is treated in the media and by some fans, and the way in which the club is treated by the increasingly dictatorial PGMO. As one source said to me, “They look at Wenger’s years at the club, at the 15 years in the knock out stages, at the Invincibles, at the three league titles and five cups, at the two doubles, and all done while building the new stadium and having no money, and they say, ‘And they want him out!?’ What chance will I have?”
Of the booing Mr Wenger said, “It is not wearing me down, not at all,” in the subsequent press conference. “We have to cope with that. We are professional footballers and football people, and I am a competitive person. What is important is the next game, and responding in a strong way.”
Indeed some of the papers are already backing off a little. Preparing the new ground the Guardian has commented on the coverage (including that in the Guardian, of course) “A small group of drunk, disappointed men venting their feelings on a train: this will do for now.”
And here we go with the 1984 style change of direction, “…is it right to abuse Wenger on a train back from Stoke-on-Trent? Answer: of course not. This is the kind of treatment football should reserve, in extremis, for its real bad guys: the dishonest, the greedy, the unscrupulous. Wenger, by contrast, is a workaholic who cares only about the club and his players. His team are FA Cup holders and through to the last 16 of the Champions League, while the club is financially set thanks, in part, to Wenger’s own unstinting efforts. Abusing him now, and with such bile, feels a bit like like whining at your parents for only getting you five, not six, everlasting gobstoppers, the behaviour of the Veruca Salts of the the footballing world: shrill, entitled, stomping their tiny feet over perceived inadequacies of the in-house chocolate waterfall.”
The article even tries to trace the history of booing managers back through the ages, although gets rather lost in doing so. But never mind, it was a good try.
But they are back on track with this:
“What exactly is it, in any case, that Wenger is supposed to have been out there winning over the last eight years of cautious financial management? More Carling Cups? More player of the months? Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, all of whom have billionaire-backed spending power, have divvied up the league between them in that time. Similarly since Liverpool in 2005 only Barcelona, United, Milan, Internazionale, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have won the Champions League, with only Inter, arguably, bucking the era of the super-spenders of the modern game.”
And that’s the point Untold makes all the time. Arsenal has built a stadium, and done so without state aid in the style of Man City and WHU) without the oil money (in the style of Chelsea and Man City), without going bust (in the style of Leeds and Rangers in Scotland), without sinking out of the Champions League for four seasons and signing the morally unacceptable (in the style of Liverpool), without getting it all totally screwed (in the style of Man U) and without looking like stupid prats (in the style of Tottenham Hotspur).
I’m not sure if I agree with the Guardian’s conclusion that “It is simply the fact that sustained mid-range relative achievement is boring,” because I haven’t been bored. I was bored beyond belief in the latter Graham seasons, and although happy indeed that we won the Cup double, even the first Cup Final against Sheff W was tedious. As for the league, it was horrible horrible horrible. And Rioch’s style didn’t do it for me either.
So, the AAA will be hung out to dry by the media, and forgotten, and then we will go off again. But who on earth will take the job?
The Christmas books
- 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
Some other sites from the Untold team (there is a full list on the home page)
- The Arsenal History Society
- UK Education News – the rolling news service
- Dyscalculia on line test and support
- The Direct Marketing blog: direct mail, email, websites, blogs
- The Secret Nurse : what is really going wrong with the NHS?
- Untold Dylan – the music, the lyrics, the meaning of Bob Dylan’s songs.
- Arsenal v the team that will present a giant toothbrush to our captain
- Arsenal squad for Europa League game
- The abuse of female footballers is appalling, but there is a wider context
- Why Arsenal v Glimt might be tougher than the game against Tottenham
- Is the team that passes the most, the team that gets the best results?