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Nothing To Fear and Nothing To Doubt

What is clear is that there is a lot of negativity surrounding Arsenal at the moment. I too have been a victim of and maybe even created some of that negativity. Certainly I don't think I've ever uttered stronger words against this team or this manager since 1996. Most of us accept that the manager made big mistakes this summer, I would like to think that the man himself accepts that now. However, there really is no point in being tautological about this now, everybody knows we're light in midfield and at the back. But like it or not, that's the way it is until January at least.

While it is worthwhile and necessary to pick the bones out of individual games (and I will continue to do so in my match reports), there is no use ruminating on the squad weaknesses any longer. Next week we face Manchester United, shorn of our baroque style of football, our confidence drained and now our playing staff decimated too. Really, we should be looking at this as a new start. I have seen dozens of posts over the last month imploring the manager to drop Adebayor, to drop van Persie, to drop Gallas, to give the likes of Bendtner and Vela a chance. Well now we are in a position where we have little choice, we've got what we've asked for. The players charged with taking the places of the aforementioned are not responsible for the 'predicament' that we are in and it's time to draw a line under the negativity, because they deserve our support.

I was angry and frustrated after Saturday, but never once did I feel like running down next to the tunnel to berate the players, nor did I feel the need to boo a player who was clearly injured. It struck me how childish and spoiled we have become, and none of us have been immune. Shortly after the final whistle on Saturday I received a text from my best friend who had travelled to watch Millwall pummelled 4-1 at Brighton. 'You think you've got it bad' it read. We now have four home games in a row, that's a total of 228,000 Arsenal fans who will pass throgh the turnstiles to watch us play in an eleven day period and it's up to us as supporters to respond just as much as it is up to the players. The likes of Bendtner and Vela will in all likelihood be thrown into the shark tank and it is up to us to be their buttress. We might not believe that they can do a job in such tough circumstances against opposition quite so illustrious, but that should not prevent us from urging them on, screaming our lungs out, yelling for every single decision no matter how tenuous. Let's leave the negativity at home, because if the players have been frustrating so far this year, so have the supporters. (In fact, the most enthusiastic support I have seen this season was in Kyiv, when around 160 or so of the 200 fans were Baltic and simply pleased to have the opportunity to watch us play).

Now we are thrusting some of our star studded youngsters into the fray, with the injury list as it is, the likes of Djourou, Wilshere and Gibbs are likely to be members of the eighteen man squad. Bendtner is a player who I believe is a defining moment away from being an excellent player for us. Think of Walcott's sixty yard run at Anfield in April and how he has grown as a player since, if Bendtner and/ or Vela can produce a significant moment against United, we could see not only our season turn, but the birth of a bona fide star. The knock on effect might just banish some complacency amongst certain squad members. If they don't and, as expected, we lose then what are you going to do? Support another club? Give up on football? Of course you're not, you know that if we lose to United, if we lose to Villa, if we lose 4th spot and end up in the UEFA Cup, you will still come back for more. You chose this team and you're stuck with them. Such is the skewed logic of the football fan, that I actually find that sense of imprisonment quite comforting in difficult times. No matter how bad it gets, I know I'll be at the next game. As much as I mock Spurs fans, I will give them this, they have had to watch utter tripe for close to a generation now, but they still get 36,000 through the door without fail every week, they still sell out every away allocation they are given. Is that delusion? Is that belief? Or is it obligation? I don't know, but it proves Amos' point in an article earlier today, no matter how bad it gets or how depressed we think we are, we love it and we know it.

Nobody expects us to garner any points from United, a lot have their doubts about beating Fenerbahce, many are already apprehensive about the 4th placed showdown with Villa. Thinking particularly of the United game, I am usually torn with nerves and apprehension, I am not on this occasion. Maybe that is indicative of low expectation (in fact, there is no maybe about it). But I almost feel as though we have little to lose. I am not asking for blind optimism or belief, it would be hypocritical of me to do so. But this is a testing time and as a club, that means we are being tested as fans as much as the players are being tested as characters. For both of us, four home games are the ideal place to show what we are made of. Everybody doubts us and if you have any kind of appreciation for the history of this football club, you'll know that's just the way we like it.LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday November 3 2008

Time: 9:18PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Thanks for a well-timed article LD, I was thinking along the same lines driving home from work this evening. I have been shocked and dismayed hearing/reading Arsenal fans calling for Arsene to go! How absolutely ridiculous. Liverpool are in my opinion the greatest club in the history of English football based on their trophies and even though they haven't won a championship since 1990 their supporters do still support their club. It's time for us to do exactly what you say and be unconditional in our support for our club.
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03/11/2008 21:34:00

Ahh...a little bit of good news to make us smile...Newcastle 2-0 up against Villa, so Villa don't move ahead of us and Tottenham are back on the bottom even after their incredible week. hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
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03/11/2008 21:44:00

Looking up already isn't it? To quote two separate Spurs fans on the forum today, "Spurs are on the way up." That's right folks, down is the new up.
Little Dutch
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03/11/2008 21:47:00

Fu@k Spuds, I don't care about them. They're **** because of their idiotic deluded fans. If we're not careful, we could do the same to our team. I'm as unhappy as the next Arsenal fan. Wenger has made mistakes, the consequences of which could be worse than in my worst nightmares. But as you say LD we need to get behind them. I hate taking 1 point from 9 and honestly don't see things improving too much. But somehow I'm sure they will, Wenger will find a way. If it's not up to our pre-season hopes or expectations, so be it. But for god's sake, let's not judge ourselves by the Spuddies.
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03/11/2008 22:18:00

It wasn't a comparison so much as an illustration that, no matter how horribly bad things get, football fans keep turning up.
Little Dutch
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03/11/2008 22:29:00

Way to go LD. Being a supporter has always been as much about the pain as the gain. To meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same. Has anyone else ever insisted after a poor result that they wouldn't watch the replay or read a match report but found yourself doing it anyway and thinking - well we didn't do all that bad really. No? - must just be me then.
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03/11/2008 23:06:00

Okay dont totally blow this idea out the water after i say it lol but what about stephen appiah,he is a defensive midfielder exactly what we need, big, strong, got a good engine, and experienced he is also free and would add leadership and best of all he is able to join us now.If u see this on other blogs i am just asking round to see what u all think,i also think that he would add some fighting spirit back into the squad and start a proper spine in the team,him and fabregas would work well too i think having a man to sit back and protect the defence properly and add balance back to the squad which will help fabregas with his job
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03/11/2008 23:24:00

LD, Amos I concur but I must say when we lose I do try to stay away from the papers and replays till i can get over the upset. We sometimes seem to overcome best when everyone derides us and gives us no chance. There is now an opportunity to move forward and dispel those who would put us to the torch. Did anyone see the reserve game between Fulham and us. Would love to know their opinion on Bischoff. To those so called fans who want to Boo grow up and look for another team, we don't want you and don't need you. I have a tendency to agree with you G_V the pool fans are an excellent example of team support
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03/11/2008 23:36:00

Yeah Vin, I really can't believe, as bad as we've been, we're still in top 4 - something that so many teams work so hard to get to?!??!?! (No arrogance intended, I'm just really amazed.) Or are we actually not really that bad?!?!? :P
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04/11/2008 03:34:00

Well, just beat fenerbache 4-0 and beat United in the weekend! You beat Fenerbache comprehensively once. So why not again?
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04/11/2008 05:57:00

Just a string of poor results, fellas. You'v still got to fight Pool for the 3rd place !
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04/11/2008 05:59:00

I always looked forward to the joy I feel when arsenal win. The anticipation is something that makes it so wonderful. So I will always be watching and supporting arsenal.
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04/11/2008 05:59:00

Manager, players and staff come and go. The only things that are constant is Arsenal the club and the true blue fans
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04/11/2008 06:13:00

Great article. It's times like these that make me love Arsenal more. When everyone doubts us, we come out fighting, and I'm sure we will tomorrow night and on Saturday. About Saturday, here in South Africa, Arsenal vs Man Utd is THE game. So even though I'm not too confident, I'm still as nervous as usual about it... Finally, I should probably post this on the match thread, but does anyone else think Cesc, Gael, Samir and maybe Kolo should be "rested" tomorrrow? Given the fact that we're practically through (1 win from 3 games needed), it would allow our key players to be rested and then they'll be raring to go on Saturday... My team for Fener: Almunia; Eboue, Djourou, Gallas/Silvestre, Gibbs; Ramsey, Diaby, Denilson/Song, Wilshere; Bendtner, van Persie
Patresc Vieiragas
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04/11/2008 06:27:00

Great article Tim! You're right, the players need to step up their game, and so do we. I don't accept this "I paid for my ticket, I'll do what I like" malarky, if you just want to "watch" a football match, do it at home and give the chance to enthusiastic supporters to experience the match rather than just watching it. Our boys need support, they need to know they're fighting for something worth fighting for. Yes criticise them if it's needed, but do it on places like this, leave it away from the stadium. I'm crapping myself about the United game (yes I know we got Fener first) but Man U have the stuff to rip us a new one. We need to make the stadium as hostile as possible.
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04/11/2008 10:18:00

On the upside for you guys is that most results were kind to you this week but what i find fascinating is how the league table is starting to squeeze up a bit.Apart from Chelsea and Manu who i believe are stronger than the rest its great to see you guys being seriously challenged for the remaining CL spots.Believe it or not we are now only six points behind Everton who sit seventh.It makes for some great action over the coming weeks.As LD said,us spuds know more than anyone what its like to be down in the dumps but we keep coming back for more.You lot will just have to do the same for the time being untill it gets better.
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04/11/2008 11:31:00

Good one LD. After a few days have passed, the terrible feeling doesnt feel so terrible any more. I will now watch the ManU game with a clean slate and see what our lads come up with. I do believe that we will find it unbelievably difficult to earn even a point, but now is the time for the lads (players and supporters) to show up for the Arsenal !
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04/11/2008 13:01:00

I've seen preliminary reports which suggest Walcott might be fit to face United, Sagna should be back on Wednesday and Adebayor will probably miss both games.
Little Dutch
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04/11/2008 13:06:00

dont say mucgh for yer title hopes if u cant beat a bottom team 3-1 4-2 =4-4, an fact are we are only 6 points off 7th yet ye are 6 points off top now whats the diff, do ye think arse arse special. its great to see that ye are easily amused,
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04/11/2008 13:56:00

so gunner lou are we really that bad beatin liverpool( undefeated)(drawin to ye miricale fashion)
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04/11/2008 13:59:00

im extremely calm going into this week of football...simply because we have been written off as a spineless weak arrogant mess, 20-1 outsiders for the league....for me now there is no pressure,just the pleasure of watching arsenal play their football...there arent many teams in the league thats has less pressure and expectations to achieve than ours now....probably hull
fran merida
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04/11/2008 14:07:00

in a week we get 7/9 points an ye get 1/9 do the mathes LD before ur comments become embarressed
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04/11/2008 14:08:00

123spurs - where are you currently positioned in the league, please remind me
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04/11/2008 14:08:00

no pressure are you for real fran what wenger has done for ye in past was great but nothing in recent times, but to say no pressure is a joke honestly
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04/11/2008 14:10:00

You get 7 points from 9 and remain 20th. That's maths I can live with, Fran I think you and I are on the same page. Maybe that's sad, maybe that's liberating, but we could be 20th having spent £70m I suppose. That's pressure I wouldn't like to be dealing with right now.
Little Dutch
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04/11/2008 14:22:00

Good Article! We Football Fans love to moan, about Football. We can't cope with things going badly or even going right. Us Football Fans are just crazy, crazy about Football!
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04/11/2008 14:49:00

123spurs I honestly don't care about how you guys are doing. Back to ourselves. I think a lot of us, no matter how much we feel let down, deep down, we've got this belief and defiance that'll help us get through a bad spell. Also have to agree with Fran, we're better off back away from the limelight, where we perform better. For those who're going to the Fenerbahce and ManU games, please sing your lungs out for us who can't go!!
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04/11/2008 15:34:00

cheers lads
fran merida
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04/11/2008 17:10:00

123s....when you say we have done nothing what you means is that Arsenal have won no trophies in the last 4 years,but to me it doesnt mean we have achieved nothin...we have built a new team,stadium and we are well on our way to becoming financially secure....the success or failure of winning trophies is the level regarded by jonnie come lately fans,bitter n jealous rival supporters,lazy media hacks and washed up ex pros/pundits...whose opinions i care little about
fran merida
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04/11/2008 17:20:00

LD ye we are bottom an before last week we were 6 point from safty now we are 2 in jus one week that is progress lt be it still bottom an rem 6 points off 7th aint bad if ye think 6 points off top aint bad, he were elighted ye moved up a place due to the point ye got against us, tes we spent 70 mil, an got back 80mil so not bad
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04/11/2008 17:38:00

excuse my spellin agin*
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04/11/2008 17:47:00

123 I don't mean to be rude, but honestly why don't you post these Spurs-related things on VS instead? We're talking about Arsenal's situation here. i.e. Do you think we have 'nothing to fear and nothing to doubt'? Not that I really want to know what you think, honestly and with due respect and all that, but let's stay on topic here.
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04/11/2008 18:10:00

fair enough, but tis some of ur fans on here takin tryin to take mickey out of us. i dont think ye have nothing to fear
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04/11/2008 19:07:00

You must be a child. You go on every post trying to get your so called revenge. You post the same thing in every post. What are you ultimatly trying to achieve. No one is going to lose sleep over your comments.
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04/11/2008 23:13:00

I think we will all know whether the Arsenal has anything to fear or anything to doubt after your next game. The Stoke slip has turned this one into an evern more important tie than usual. Come on Gooners, make Manure pay...l
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05/11/2008 07:43:00

We are 4th in the league after terrible performances, comfortably top of CL group, what is there to fret about? yes we have played like dog sh** so far and I cannot think of one great performance against a good side so far, but the nlook were we are and the money we are competing against. Yet we still continue to punch above our weight squad and finance wise, do some of the prats that follow this great club honestly expect us to win the treble each season? Or have been so used to Wengerball for teh 12 years they have supported us they continually give us a bad name in the media by bigging up the expectations surrounding our club. Wenger WILL strengthen in the window, he knows his squad is weak, he won't admit it as he likes to big up his players. Stay tuned he gets it right eventually, just maybe not straight away!
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05/11/2008 11:00:00

123spuds says - "i dont think ye have nothing to fear". Hold on I am confused by that. Does that mean we have nothing to fear? Or should I start panicing now?? Either way I would much prefer to be in the position we are now then thinking that we are going to win the league after a win and a draw or 2!
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05/11/2008 14:33:00

wt an awe inspiring write up LD, it's charged me up, kept ur headline in my fb status. i just dun give a *****. win or lose, we're one family & nothing is gonna change that. the lads will have all our support & whether they win or lose, i'll always be on their side & be there for them..
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06/11/2008 19:10:00


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