18 September 2015

Good God, I almost became a Chav...

I want to tell you a harrowing story, one in which the young hero very nearly follows a very dark path, a path laden with treasure, it must be admitted, but a treacherous, soul-sucking path all the same. As I plumb the depths of my memory, I reckon that I became a Gooner somewhere 'round about 1980. Aged seven, I could remember the cannon on the kit but not the JVC logo. At any rate, as I've written of it before, I was instantly hooked. The red and the white. The name. Stapleton and Brady. However, my status as a Gooner was very nearly derailed before it even left the station. In 1983, one of my friend's fathers was transferred to London to work, and so we paid them a visit. Little did I know at the time how close I came to becoming a filthy Chav...

Chelsea-Arsenal Preview: No one puts baby in a corner.

So. We've come full circle, it seems. Chelsea, who were a week ago in complete disarray, are once again ascendant. Arsenal, who were a week ago ascendant, are in complete disarray. What a difference a few days makes. Chelsea, hosting Maccabi Tel-Aviv, romped to a 4-0 win while Arsenal, traveling to Dinamo Zagreb, unravelled to a 2-1 loss. The only conclusion to draw from these results is that Arsenal's Saturday trip to Stamford Bridge will end in epic defeat, earning its place in the annals along side Hastings, Agincourt, or Waterloo. Something in my gut tells me there's far more to this one than any of those.

16 September 2015

Well, that's it, then. The fat lady has sung. Season's over.

I don't exaggerate in the slightest when I say that Arsenal's entire 2015-16 campaign is officially over. After just six matches, we might as well put up the tent-stakes, quit while we're ahead, cut our losses, and abandon ship. These are the only logical, rational conclusions to be drawn from losing 2-1 to Dinamo Zagreb in the first of six group-stage fixtures. With absolutely no trace of hyperbole, I can safely say that this is the worst squad to have ever donned an Arsenal kit. To a man, they were so humiliatingly horrific that they should each retire post-haste. We are, apparently, the only English club to lose 2-1. Oh. We're not? The sky isn't falling? Pass the smelling salts.

Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM

Arsenal started its Champions League quest off in horrific fashion, letting Dinamo Zagreb seize the initiative and then failing to recover. A 24th minute own-goal, conceded by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, was truly unfortunate; he slid in to poke the ball away from the attacker only for Ospina to dive himself. Ox's poke bounced off of Ospina, off of Ox, and into the net. Making matters worse, Giroud was sent off just before halftime for having bad manners; a Zagreb player ran onto his outstreched leg, and this was apparently worthy of a second yellow from referee Ovidiu Hațegan. We had to play the entire second half down a man. Silver lining? Theo Walcott came on in the 64th minute and reminded us of his quality —and the value of counter-attacking football —as he timed the offside trap perfectly and slotted home to make it 2-1. That's where it would end despite six minutes of added time. Feh. Give the lads what they deserve in the poll below the fold...

15 September 2015

Open Letter to Dinamo Zagreb—a strange solidarity...

Dearest Dinamo—
Congratulations on once again appearing in the Champions League group-stage. I hear tell of your club going some 41 matches unbeaten, including all 36 last season, to claim an "Invincibles" season of your own, something we more or less pioneered with our Invincibles campaign of 2003-2004. That's never easy, even when you demonstrate a degree of dominance over your league that is almost Bayern Munichian. However, whereas Bayern seem to hoard up players from rivals, you seem more likely to loan yours out—undercutting somewhat your derby win over Lokomotiva, most of whose squad seems to consist of your loanees. Still, we know that we can't afford to underestimate you. That's where the bad news begins.

José, Arsène set aside feudin' and a-fussin', get down to some lovin'

The rivalry between Mourinho and Wenger is well-known; each seems to embody qualities directly opposite the others. However, for as much antipathy and outright animosity as there is on the surface, it's well-worth remembering that opposites do attract. In other words, maybe there's more to this than meets the eye. Here, in their own words, the two men reveal the shocking, lurid truth. Set your faces to stunned...

All in good fun, of course. Thanks to DreamTeam for putting it together!

From Dinamo and beyond, the dominos shall fall...

For once, we've escaped a Group of Death, having drawn Bayern (who else?), Olympiacos, and Dinamo Zagreb. The former two are old friends, of course, but we haven't squared off against Zagreb since 2006-07, when we thrashed them by a 5-1 aggregate in the Champions League playoff (and first-ever win at the new Emirates Stadium!). That would be the season in which a certain Eduardo da Silva would entice us enough to sign him the following summer—among other exploits, he did score the Blues' one goal against at the Emirates in the second leg. Ah, Eduardo. We hardly knew ye. Somewhere in there is some symbolism: last weekend, we saw off Stoke, breakers of Ramsey's leg, and will face the Blues this coming weekend. 'Twixt the two, we'll face a Blues club that sold us a player whose leg would be broken. A defter wielder of words than I could forge something from that. Enough. On to the preview...

14 September 2015

Let's all laugh at Mourinho as we stroll into Stamford Bridge...

The weekend could not have gotten off to a finer start. Before Arsenal could even take to the pitch, Chelsea had been annihilated by Everton, losing 1-3, marking their third loss of the young season—the same number of losses they suffered through all of 2014-15. Yes, we'll have to keep one eye on Everton, but that can wait. Could there be a better time to arrive at Stamford Bridge after having finally slain the Mou's hoodoo over us by defeating him in the Community Shield and seeing Mourinho's minions looking positively apathetic? Heck, if Newcastle win at Upton Park on Monday, Chelsea fall into relegation. Imagine that.