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  1. The Table of Doom Update Arsenal Current 73 Max 97 Man City(a) Newcastle (a) Brighton(h) Man City Max 94 Brighton (a) Arsenal (h) Man Utd Max 83 Brighton(a) Tottenham(a) Newcastle Max 83 Tottenham(h) Arsenal(h) Tottenham Max 79 Newcastle(a) Man Utd(h) Brighton Max 76 Man Utd(h)Man City (h) Arsenal(a) Liverpool Max 71 gone The first team to go has emerged. Liverpool’s max is 71 and we have 73. Bye, bye Scousers, yes, you gave us a crazy upside down match, but we are the only ones still vying for the top place. Brighton are now given an almost impossible task of winning all their matches to catch us and surely they will be next to go. I have removed Liverpool’s games from the list as they are no longer eligible for the Table of Doom. City, Utd, Newcastle, and the Spuds all won (although they should have been reported to the police for robbing Brighton of 3 points) and it may be a tight end of season for the fourth place CL. At the moment you have to fancy that the top four will stay in place. Can we do it? Yes, we can and if we do, then only the craziness of the Liverpool game will remain. Man Utd’s hammering at the same ground may not so easily be erased but unless Liverpool can scramble an unlikely maximum points by winning all and fourth place is at 71, which seems unlikely, then they are also out of CL for the first time since 2016. A huge letdown for the team, who, last year, looked like a different kind of invincible as they chased all 4 major trophies. What’s it like being an Arsenal fan? The Arsenal double winners of 1971 - the only time it was won by a bunch of granddads I feel being an Arsenal fan is different to all others: 1. We were the innovators, instigating many features which are still around today 2. We are the top FA Cup team 3. We had the first successful foreign manager 4. We were the winners of the most dramatic end of a season ever 5. We had marble halls to show our class 6. We were the only team ever to call foul on itself when offering to replay an FA Cup game against Sheffield United because we took a throw in wrongly 7. We have never been relegated from the top division 8. We have been renowned for looking after former players 9. We had 7 Irishmen on the pitch at one time and an Irish manager 10. We beat Real Madrid, Juventus, and Villareal on the way to a Champions League final without conceding a goal 11. We are the only team to win the double in the old First Division and the Premier league 12. We are the Invincibles Seven Irishmen on one team - only at the Arsenal And there’s probably lots more that are not coming to mind at present. But it is hard It’s also the most infuriating thing ever being an Arsenal supporter. My first 3 years being an Arsenal supporter included winning the old Fairs Cup (Euro League) then the amazing double as we weren’t considered anywhere near the best team in England then falling apart to the point that relegation seemed a possibility. Coming back with 3 FA Cup finals in a row, then going downhill again, only for George Graham to appear and put us back on the winning track. Rioch, the worst manager in my lifetime Then he gets done for taking a bung, despite it being prevalent in English football at the time, he is the only one I can remember being sanctioned for it. Then a hopeless manager in Bruce Rioch (he famously didn’t rate Ian Wright, who went on to be our top scorer) and then Arsene who?, a manager plucked from the Japanese League in a moment of pure idiocy. But somehow, it was good idiocy as he quickly delivered a double, and pummelled the entitled team and fans of Manchester United into despair. They recovered, though, and we went through ten years of back and forth battles as we vied to be the best team in the land. Our first Premier League double - can we make it four and break the record? The Emirates put us back among the big boys Then we put together the Emirates stadium at a huge cost to the finances of the team. We suffered as we struggled to even hold a place at the top table, never mind the top place. Then we lost that as well, falling down to Europa League and even not that. The Emirates stadium was necessary, though, as Highbury was not sustainable for a top team. But we sacrificed the man who was responsible for making us the top team in the land, filled with exciting stars, shining brighter than any other, such as Henry, Bergkamp and Vieira. Wenger knew that without the Emirates, that decline would have happened anyway. He persisted in creating the conditions that would make us the best again. We struggled to find a successful manager without him and finally took a chance on an unproven former player in Mikel Arteta, who impressed with his love of Arsenal, and his knowledge and vision of the game. He had a great start but then he had problems with big stars who didn’t want to listen to him. The performances suffered and we were criticized for having a weak underbelly, falling apart when it mattered. Arteta tries to add steel Arteta has worked hard to correct that, believing that the only way to combat it is to win even after setbacks, to encourage every player to have constant improvement, to have routines in training that inspire partnerships and understanding and that crushing will to win. Unai Emery frustrated me at Arsenal That has been my life up to now, hoping and hoping that Arsenal can win. Screaming at the screen with the possibilities that my heroes can score. Complaining each time we drop points that the manager should have done something different, done it my way. Rarely for me, though, calling for the manager to go, Bruce Rioch being the main one and Unai Emery as well, although Emery is, obviously, a good manager, but maybe better with an emerging team than an established one full of big stars with big egos like Aubameyang. Our most exciting player and never a complaint by the manager Most of the managers I have seen have been Arsenal through and through, Wenger being an obvious exception, but he grew to be the true embodiment of Arsenal, a love affair that persists, just like all us fans. I wake up in the morning thinking of Arsenal, although the constant pings from the web group at ASCB help in this regard. Us fans also have our favourites, different from other fans, as we wonder why the manager persists with some players, and doesn’t play others. Zinchenko for me is the former and Smith Rowe is the latter. Tierney is a better defender as far as I am concerned and Smith Rowe should at least be among the first subs to be used. Joys and heartaches Ah, but that is what it is to be a fan. We all have opinions, and sometimes we change them. It is only fans like me, that write every week, where you can see me getting it wrong, changing my mind, and can challenge me on it. The written word doesn’t fly away. And so we scream, we shout, we cry in despair, we jump for joy, we hug all around, and we are in bad humour for the weekend after a defeat. We send messages on the forums and social media, we try to get tickets, but most of all we are part of one big Arsenal family and long may it be so.
  2. 5 Football myths debunked 1. Buying players for huge money is the answer Would Mudrik have destroyed our run? Fans are always screaming buy, buy, buy without ever analysing why we need them. For me it is simple, are they better than what we have? If not what’s the point? The next reason to buy is as cover and that makes sense. Cedric was brought in cheaply as cover. He did a job. Paying big money should only be for proven players and even then they often don’t work out. Am I the only one who is happy that Mudrik didn’t come to Arsenal? The huge sum paid brings with it several problems. The most crucial is, is he good enough? That will take time to establish but Chelsea have so many top players that he is going to have to knock some of them off their perch and then they are not happy. Suppose he had gone to Arsenal? He would have had to displace Martinelli or Saka. Is that what people want? Not me, unless, of course he had turned out to be better than one or both of them. But then they would have been unhappy, being relegated to a bit role. Surely no-one can replace this guy? Another problem is his temperament – can he handle the pressure of being Arsenal’s most expensive player? Many top buys haven’t at various clubs. His huge salary demanded would have possibly brought about dissent in the dressing room, particularly if he is not seen as the best player i.e. good enough to get a place but not the best. Would his personality suit the strong team bond created or would he be a bit of an arsehole like Aubameyang, thinking he didn’t have to follow the rules? Plus after a chairman ratifies a huge signing, they want the player to play. He is not like other players, easy to dispose of by the manager. Aubameyang - a destructive influence? He also has not got anywhere near the body of work for such a big fee. Aubameyang had, but you then have to hope that this young kid can come in and prove he is the man. Big transfers have been a mixed bag at most clubs. Arsenal are no different. Can I mention Lucas Torreira, Shokdan Mustafi, Nicolas Pepe, and even Ozil, Lacazette, Sanchez, and Aubameyang as big money signings who didn’t work out as we all hoped. Shevchenko at Chelsea was a big example of a wonderful player coming for a huge fee. I remember thinking Chelsea will be unbeatable with him. It didn’t work out. Buying big, as fans screech, is an art that you have to get right and few do. Far better to work at a strong team bond and bringing players on from the academy or like Martinelli at £6m, turning him into a world class player. 2. Goalkeepers are part of the football team By this I mean that they have a specific set of football skills that is just as important as a strikers. If Saka destroys a team with a hat-trick we don’t say Arsenal were lucky but if Ramsdale makes a string of saves most people will say that we were fortunate, as Gary Neville disgracefully implied by awarding Ramsdale Man of the Match against the Spuds. Ramsdale was good, yes, but in the first half he had little to do and most of his saves were normal enough in the second half. Saka, Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka, and even Nketiah were better in a great team performance. But if Ramsdale truly had a difficult day and had lots of outstanding saves it is because his performance was the difference between Arsenal and the opposition and his football skills enabled Arsenal to win. Let’s have no more of a team is lucky because a keeper pulled off a string of fine saves. It is a football skill that all top teams need. 3. Managers are the reason teams win. Will he end up at Bolton? I have always had a difficulty with this one. Some managers can seem like geniuses but end up being ridiculed by their own fans. Poor Arsene Wenger was one such. Probably our greatest ever manager, I was embarrassed at the Emirates watching fans shriek Wenger out. It took us several years to get back to being competitive again. Mourinho is one of the big modern examples, when Ozil came to Arsenal, one of his early matches was against Mourinho. They warmly embraced each other and when asked about it afterwards, said that Mourinho was the greatest manager in the world, I am sure much to the chagrin of Arsene Wenger. Now Mourinho’s record is truly impressive, he made Chelsea the best team in England, Porto the top European team for one season, and Inter into the best team in Italy and Europe. But now? Man Utd, Spurs and Roma are not examples of a fantastic manager and even at Real Madrid, he is not in their pantheon of greats. Roy Hodgson was superb at some clubs and the fans couldn’t wait to get rid of him at others. A very sad time There are plenty of examples of this but a manager is only a part of the reason teams win. Yes, they can make a difference but not to the extent that people think. The players must be kept happy and willing to die for each other. Sometimes players only think of themselves like Cristiano Ronaldo that affects the team’s performance and Ten Hag has fashioned a truly impressive run with him gone. It can be difficult to get rid of players for various reasons and if they contribute to a bad atmosphere it makes it hard to win. Even a small bad run sees managers targeted, certain players targeted and makes it harder to turn things around. Once fans turn against you, a manager’s job becomes almost impossible. I say it is a combination of factors that make a team successful, not just the scapegoated manager. 4. Statistics This is a real bugbear for me. We are always seeing statistics, particularly on social media about all sorts of things. But an awful lot of them are dubious. For instance Liverpool a few seasons ago had 52 points out of 18 matches with all wins and only one draw. Any statistic could have been made up without any correlation. For example, if Klopp had a piss just before a match Liverpool would win. If Kenny Dalglish was in the stands, Liverpool would win. It’s the same with Arsenal this year so far, we have won nearly every match and you could throw in any random factor and say Arsenal always win when this happens. Bullshit, yet fans lap it up. The top teams that win most matches, you could make any arbitrary correlation as to why they win but it wouldn’t be true. Shevchenko- if a Ukrainian comes to Chelsea they always succeed 5. Strikers scoring and winning Finally, this has always been a annoyance of mine and following on from what I was saying about statistics, and this has gone on since I first started watching football. A journalist/commentator would say a team always win when such and such a striker scores, but these teams are invariably running away with the title and they would have to lose or draw when a player scores which means the opposition has to score at least twice, which doesn’t happen that often. I have heard this old canard many times about so many strikers including our own Thierry Henry that it is irritating but for sure I will keep hearing it forever as journalists and commentators try to fill up space. It’s nonsense, people. Tell them to go fuck themselves when you hear such rubbish.
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