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Arsenal 4 Fulham 0

I thought I would be anxious about this game. Once the result came in from Eastlands on Wednesday night and our mission was clear, I had a nagging feeling that the season would be subjected to the ultimate humiliation of finishing below Spurs. However, come match day and those concerns had evaporated to a mere unpleasant reverie. A bit like that recurring nightmare you have when you find yourself naked at public functions. It`s an unpleasant thought indeed, but you know it is not likely to happen. Not without the aid of a bottle of 12 year old Glenfiddich and a Pogues LP anyway. The last home game of the season is always something of a knees up in our crowd and it was therefore doubly delightful to welcome Macedonian Gooner Zarko and his better half Virginia into our company. Zarko will be better known to regular readers as Vital Member G4L. We`ve met before briefly on European away trips but it was pleasurable all the same to be able to initiate a continental Gooner into our match day routine- which was of course set into motion with a few beverages in the Arsenal Tavern.

It was notable straight away that were scores and scores of empty seats visible as the game got under way. The Fulham game had sold out in less than 24 hours when it went on sale back in March, when Arsenal`s title chances were still credible, but the glory hunters spat their dummies out and, for the most part, didn`t even bother moving their unwanted tickets onto friends. A banner was also unfurled in the North Upper with the legend "Sign Ins Or Sign Off" emblazoned onto it. It was removed by stewards at half time. I`ve mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, the banner displayed an opinion I totally and utterly refute (it was syntactically sloppy too, at least be witty with it) and I`m uncomfortable with the idea that, firstly, our own fans are so wantonly hostile to their own players in their own stadium. Secondly, the banner was trying to attract the attention of the media and I`m incredibly uncomfortable with someone purporting to represent their views as the view of the majority of Arsenal fans. But on the other, it is somewhat Orwellian to drown out people`s voices when they`ve paid good money for a ticket and refrained from using vulgar or offensive language. One might argue that the club are within their rights to remove anything deemed hostile to them, but then why not remove the away fans? The modus operandi of the football fan operates in a vacuum that other consumer groups don`t. So while I don`t expect to be allowed to parade through McDonalds with animal rights slogans on my person, I almost certainly don`t chant "Who are ya? Who are ya?" at other consumers who are complete strangers to me.

The proclivity of Arsenal fans to sabotage their own team`s efforts was elucidated when Fabianski`s every touch was met with ironic cheers. Morons. As predicted, Fulham fielded a scratch side whilst the presence of Murphy and Gera on the bench was surely a decorative way of staving off censure from the Premier League. Arsenal began the game on the front foot, Arshavin`s presence added some fluidity to Arsenal`s front line because, well, because he doesn`t mind trying to move the ball towards the opposition goal once in a while. Silvestre played a ball into the feet of Arshavin who laid off an exquisite first time touch to Nasri, Nasri ducked inside Pantsil but dragged his left foot shot just wide from the edge of the box. An inswinging Jonathan Greening free kick was the closest Fulham came to even suggesting a threat, but Fabianski came and collected the ball willingly. By this stage Spurs had gone a goal up and the nerves should have been slowly shredding, but Fulham were so clearly thinking of Wednesday that you never doubted Arsenal would win. The opening goal duly arrived on 21 minutes and it was telling how sloppy Fulham were in conceding it. Chris Baird nudged the ball back to Schwarzer; the Australian goalkeeper lost his concentration as he took a heavy touch, leaving the quick silver Arshavin to nip in and dispossess him tight to the touchline. Arshavin had van Persie centrally placed for an open goal, but the Russian showed a mixture of sangfroid and selfishness as he squeezed it in from a tight angle. Fulham`s pretensions to defensive discipline went completely awry and Arsenal were in a two nil lead within minutes. Sagna split Fulham`s defence all too easily with one pass to Walcott on the right, who, as always, was well positioned on the half turn to receive the pass. Walcott instantly cut back to van Persie, who even had time to allow the ball to roll onto his favoured left peg, the original shot rebounded off the crossbar via Schwarzer`s legs, but the Dutchman was on hand to smash the rebound into the gaping net. Nine goals from fourteen starts for van Persie this season. Spread that ratio out over a full season and that`s some serious moolah in the title challenge account. Walcott can too take great satisfaction from the assist; he still has a lot of work to do to improve on the ball, but his movement off is very dangerous.

Walcott`s movement was nearly rewarded with a goal on two further occasions in a furtive first half. Firstly, when he span away from the last defender to receive van Persie`s disguised reverse pass, but the Dutchman delayed the pass a fraction of a second too long and even though Walcott converted, the linesman`s flag enervated his celebration. A few minutes later, he again perched on the shoulder of Nicky Shorey, sprinted onto Eboue`s through pass but conspired to drag his shot wide when he should have at least worked Schwarzer. But on 34 minutes the contest, insofar as there ever was one, was well and truly finito. Nasri turned the ball out to Walcott on the right, he fired in a quick low cross which ricocheted variously off of Shorey, Eboue and Pantsil before Chris Baird screwed the ball into his own net due to an unwillingness to use his weaker left foot. Footballers can be brain dead idiots sometimes. The game thereafter was a lifeless procession. With all other issues in the league sorted prior to the final day and Chelsea giving Wigan the shoeing of a lifetime, there wasn`t even the preoccupation of a radio set, it was a damp squib. But at the beginning of the day, for this game to be exciting and meaningful, we would have to have been trailing with Spurs leading Burnley. I was quite happy with the damp squib thank you.

The game briefly flickered into action when Sagna`s cross was met with a first time van Persie shunt at goal, which Schwarzer blocked. Van Persie swung his leg at the rebound which crashed out off the post. Shades of van Persie`s last gasp miss at Upton Park in October. With the game limping to a lifeless conclusion, Carlos Vela treated us to one last moment of magic, a moment that made you wonder where the fuck he has actually been all season. Samir Nasri finally, finally made a forward, defence splitting pass as Vela perfectly timed his run from the left and the Mexican waited for Schwarzer to dip to the ground before impudently lifting it over him. It was the last moment of cheer in a season that somewhat fizzled out in its death throes. The lap of appreciation saw Cesc hobble out and lead his team around the stadium, Eboue and van Persie had babes in arms, but the most uplifting sight was of Aaron Ramsey walking unaided. Once the lap of appreciation ground to a halt and we waved the players down the tunnel one last time, thoughts turned to the traditional end of season festivities. The Bank of Friendship crew enjoyed a few jars before taxi-ing to the famous Tayeebs curry house in Whitechapel for a quite sumptuous meal, foe which Zarko and Virginia were able to join us, giving us one last opportunity to argue over our political differences, our respective music tastes as well as our varying shades of belief in the current Arsenal side. Our last hurrah until August and most enjoyable it was too, the company and the food.

In the coming weeks I will forensically analyse the living shit out of the season, with individual player reviews, analyses, Player of the Season, goal of the season, bellend of the season and all the other ruminating and chin stroking you`d expect from me by now. As is my wont in the summer I`ll knock up some old history pieces too as we all try to convince ourselves that the World Cup is anything more than methadone as we await the real thing in August. (Spurs getting knocked out of the preliminaries should be a delightful apeterif). But for now, I sign off for my last match report of the season and thank all Vital Readers for contributing to my various musings on this season`s matches and look forward to force feeding you my perspectives from shitty, cramped wooden seats the continent over again next season. As for this season? We laughed (Cesc`s goal v Tottenham). We cried (Lionel Messi`s act of footballing bum rape). We saw a man`s leg snap in half. Again. It was emotional.LD.

21.FABIANSKI, 3.SAGNA, 31.CAMPBELL, 18.SILVESTRE (20.Djourou), 22.CLICHY, 2.DIABY, 27.EBOUE, 8.NASRI, 14.WALCOTT (45.Lansbury `77), 23.ARSHAVIN (12.Vela `77), 11.v.PERSIE(c). Unused: 24.Mannone, 28.Gibbs, 32.Merida, 37.Eastmond.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday May 10 2010

Time: 8:04PM

Your Comments

Great article as always LD I love some of the phraseology. I rarely take issue with what you say but trying to extraplate RVP's goal return over thirty eight games is not even worth doing hypothetically. Sadly all the evidence of the last five seasons is that he is one of those players for whom participation in 50% of the games is the only realistic basis on which you can plan your squad around. Happy summer and look forward to your summer musings.
grouvillegooner
Superb match report. Look forward to the season review articles.
Deltaforce
Another superb match report Tim. Didnt miss a single one this season :).
A special mention to the ed team at Vital Arse for setting the benchmark. Not a day passes without a visit here.
A thanks to the stand up comedians from Vital Spuds for the laughs.
Sajit
"(Spurs getting knocked out of the preliminaries should be a delightful apeterif)" We'll do that afte we lose to you, Chelsea and Man City
refereesfavourbig4
"Arshavin`s presence added some fluidity to Arsenal`s front line because, well, because he doesn`t mind trying to move the ball towards the opposition goal once in a while. " -- LOL! Great stuff, LD. Thx so much for all the work you put into these wonderful match reports. Couldn't live my Arsenal life without them. :-)
jaelle
Comfortable win in the end. RvP missed a few chances. One thing I like about Arshavin is his selfishness, although it does irritate at times. Thats something this team needs to pick up more of, taking the risk of shooting and missing, rather than the easy option of a pass to a team mate.
prits
Excellent report LD. Good way to sign off the season especially after all the on pitch turmoil since the unfortunate defeat to the Lilywhite scum. Looking forward to the World Cup now and our transfer activity over the Summer which I hope will be extremely productive. Hopefully next season will be our year.
True-Gooner-Blood
Thanks for all your time and effort doing these pieces Tim. Sadly, not for the first time this season, your match report is more interesting and entertaining than the match itself.
Cockney Rich
Great stuff. Look forward to another emotional year no doubt.
paul_ownz
I so hope Spurs draw Sevilla or someone similar, that would be a great start to the season. Can't believe those bellends with the banner, that's the one sad thing about the new stadium, some of our 'fans' aren't fair weather supporters. Have to say though, I won't be going into next season with too much expectation of glory.
Gooner_Vin
Sorry, I meant some of our fans are fair weather supporters
Gooner_Vin
Eboue was full of surprises - how good was his no-look flick pass to Walcott? Theo should have given it the finish it deserved.
krismon1
Thanks for the match reports LD. Entertaining as usual. Look forward to your end of season analysis.
prits
Thanks for the match reports LD. Entertaining as usual. Look forward to your end of season analysis.
prits
Yet another disgraceful show from the prawn sandwich fans. Booing the keeper! Its just horrible, Im watching it on tv and my friends are asking me why they are doing that to their own player, I dont have an answer, Im so sick of these idiots, no one is forcing you to buy the tickets so if you aint gonna support ***** off elsewhere. It ruined the whole game for me tbh
lukychmz
While its understandable that some fans are angry about how the season has ended, the kind of behaviour some of them are displaying on match days is unacceptable. Heckling players, booing, ironic cheers seriously undermine the team and can possibly adversely affect their performance. Its like some of the fans are shooting themselves in the foot, assuming that they want us to win that is.
Deltaforce
When you consider the fact our goalkeepers have probably cost us a shot at the title with their numerous f*** up's game in game out all season long and the fact Fabianski has probably had 2 games where he didn't make a match defining cock up what did you expect from people? An extra round of applause? Roses thrown on the pitch? We have had this chat all before. Whether you agree with them or not, they bought their ticket, they make the noise they want. If you don't like it it's probably because you are of the Orwelian persuasion. So deal with it and cheer louder to drown out the boos, or maybe it's you that should f*** off somewhere else then lukychmz?
LondonGooner
LG, I beg to differ. Football is a team game and attributing loss of points/games to solely one player is not the most sound way of approaching this. The problem is that GK's mistakes usually lead to goals, while the missed chances of strikers tend to be overlooked (especially if it's a fans' darling that fluffs them). The chain of events usually leading up to a goal is full of individual mistakes: from attackers not closing down, midfielders being lazy and defenders misreading, etc. - so how do you extrapolate which one was the key one that led up to the goal? You could blame Sagna and Clichy for every goal we've consided against Stoke because instead of putting it out for a corner they gave that hideous **** Delap a chance to put it in the 5 yard box with his arms (actually, I'm sure I read someone going medieval on them for that reason). The second notion of paid ticket = liberty to say what the payer wants is misguided. It presents you with the paradox: what does a fan/supporter want from the club and the players? to win. does one's constant booing/jeering help the individual/team win the game? no. There is time and place when and where to express your concerns for the players and their quality: Q&A with the boss, shareholders meetings, call in during ATVO pre/post game shows etc. the stadium during the game is not exactly the right one to do that. The best sign of protest would be actually not turning up for the game and giving or selling your ticket to someone who has the enthusiasm to sing/support the club for 90 mins.
G4L
Again there seems to be a common misconception that the fans bringing a dissenting banner or booing/jeering team members are fairweather or the prawn sarnie brigade. It's totally 100% wrong. They aren't the daytrippers, the picnic hamper Henrys, these c#@ts make no noise apart from a polite ripple and they definitely wouldn't use their only match of the season to bring a mispelt banner, nope the people booing are ST holders, the people that put the banner up are most likely ST holders. Come to terms with it people who would be more hacked off at this teams spineless annal crumbles those shelling out 50 quid or those shelling out a grand+. I also totally disagree with G4L that matchdays aren't the time or place to show discontent, it is exactly the time and place. Vet few with get the chance to attend a Q&A with Arsene (unlikely to be another anyhow) shareholders meetings (only barely touch on team matters) or ATVO call ins (yeah sure club personnel watch them!) I also fail to see how giving your ticket to an all dancing singing uberfan shows your protest? Who is going to notice? noone apart from those sitting in your immediate vicinity tht will doubtless miss your grumbling and grousing!. Nope booing and jeering - as unpalatable as it may be is infinitely the most effective form of protest, it makes the club uncomfortable as through it's rights to sell the game to tv worldwide huge swathes of the planet can pick up that all aint right, it has a direct effect that a 'dear sirs' letter received 7 days on will never have. It's direct action pure and simple, it tells the club that things aren't good enough. The home matchday is the flagship of any club and mass verbal complaint is a toe curling embarrassment to the management and board that have syndicated the game to nations all over the globe. I have never jeered or booed any of our players but I can see the ruthless effectiveness of it. I'm glad our players get some stick tbh, they're so fecking cossetted by Wenger and have their arses wiped at every turn since they were kids, what hard times have they endured to man them up? to give them a dose of cold hard reality? If they can't handle a few jeers and boos then good we've established they're too mentally weak for our club, if they crumble at that then they'll def crumble the closer they get to silverware, something which has sadly been all too apparent these seasons past.
nikolaijns
Well said, G4L. Nothing more to add to this trend of argument as I had defended the keepers' performances in a TEAM game earlier before. Support must be total during games and fans are either for or against the team's aspirations to win.
Naijagunner
Good piece again LD. This season was an emotional ride full of ups and downs indeed. It's been fun chatting with all of you here. Thanks for everything!
GoonerLou
Great write up, LD. While doing your forensic analysis, do remember to do a take on the players (Denilson, Theo, Eboue, etc.) on whom a demand to "rise up to the occasion" was made, just before the 2009/2010 season started (I believe). Forgotten the title of that article now, but it will make interesting reading to see whether those players met expectations or not. Cheers.
Naijagunner
Look, for all those of you who disagree with people being allowed to make whatever non noises they want inside a stadium (obviously not illegal chanting etc) need to do a bit of reading on the freedom of speech act. I AM NOT SAYING IT IS RIGHT OR WRONG (for christs sake I never agree or disagree with it) but their right is their right and no matter what you or anyone else has to say, that is tough luck. As I said before, if you don't like it, just make more noise than them and drown them out. Freedom of speech is a great thing, don't be *****s and deny people their right to it, constructive or not isn't my argument, end of.
LondonGooner
nik I understand what you want to say and I agree with you to a certain extent. but giving your ticket to someone who wants to see the club win and support it along the way does not constitute a "dancing singing uberfan" per se. I am also quite positive that the club personnel watches the programme and reads the blogs: it would be quite silly for them not to, especially if you take the stance that they see the fans as customers/consumers of their product. And 'getting some stick' is quite different to having your every touch greeted with a boo or ironic cheer which is what a number of players are going or have gone through. They might overcome that and prove everyone they are decent players if they are mentally tough apart from hard-working but I don't think they'll ever establish anyrapport with the supporters - a valuable asset for every club. Also, attributing the lack of silverware to only one factor - weak mentallity - is quite narrow and much alike the approach that Wenger takes when he tries to locate the cause by saying 'injuries cost us the title challenge'.
G4L
Q&A with the boss, shareholders meetings, call in during ATVO pre/post game shows etc. the stadium during the game is not exactly the right one to do that. The best sign of protest would be actually not turning up for the game and giving or selling your ticket to someone who has the enthusiasm to sing/support the club for 90 mins. G4L - Sorry mate, what drugs are you on? Do you honestly think that teh club/ATVO/Stewards/Wenger or anyone else associated with the club would allow you to ask predefined difficult questions? What kind of statement is giving your ticket to someone else? Who does that show that you are not happy? No one, that's who, so what is your point? You pay your money you have the right to express yourself legally, tough luck if you or anyone else doesn't like it.
LondonGooner
nikolaijns - Well said that man. These pampered little tarts need to man up and get on with it. If Diaby is strolling round like a tit in a trance smelling the roses, then why shouldn't the crowd jeer him? Might snap the berk out of his lethargy, especially if it is the 3rd game in row he's lumbered his way thorugh.
LondonGooner
Letter to Arsene Wenger: Dear Arsene, Gosh, where to start? Diaby is crap, he's slow, lazy, disinterested and to be frank at 25 there isn't that much room for improvement. I would consider it a spiffing act on your part if you were to drop him from the team then sell the lazy scroat in the summer. your's sincerelyy LG. Or we could boo the hell out of him him whenever he slopes through a match and get the manager to realise that giving him limitless chances over 4-5 just years isn't on. Wonder which one would have the greatest effect? They both may not work, but do you honestly think Wenger would get to read my letter? LOL real world, booing and jeering for something yo uarenot happy with is the most effective way of getting your point across (the morality isn't my point remember). So why should fans chose something less effective?
LondonGooner
cheers LG, I suggest you take a look at the AST Q&A session with Gazidis. It might give you an insight on how much the club takes into consideration what the fans think/have to say. You don't have to pay money to say what you want - that's what freedom of speech is about. I had no problem with the banner for example - I have a problem with people abusing their freedom of speech to shout abuse and drivel at those who are supposed to defend your interest. Is that the best way to spend your money? Surely not.
G4L
Letter to LG: This has been Abou Diaby's first season which has been (relatively) injury free - therefore he's never had 4-5 years of limitless chances. He is a gifted player but inconsistency has been his biggest problem. He actually just turned 24 today and if a 24 year old player can't improve than I don't know who can. - sorry LG couldn't resist. I agree that Diaby has been a passenger in some games but that can be said for a number of players this season including Arshavin, Denilson, Walcott, Eduardo, Nasri, etc. Sell them all?
G4L
G4L, there is one glaring piece of evidence to your argument, summed up in two words...Emmanuel Eboue. You'd struggle to find a worse incident of booing by your own set of supporters, yet look at him now, even his average performances are greeted with rapture, a cult hero, someone who by hard work and (by and large) cutting out the negative side to his game shares a fantastic rapport with supporters. I agree with you that someone who is brought only pain and gloom by his team really should just find another avenue in life as it seems he/she may just be too cynical bitter and miserable to enjoy his club if all he expects is a trophy laden season year after year, but with a club our size certain standards should be met and in the eyes of many, half this squad fall desperately short of those standards of which ironically Eboue now is a role model, passion, bloody hard work, and giving a $hit. Noones demanding Messi or whoever just that when you put the shirt on you give everything of yourself during the time it stays on your back. I don't attribute our pulling up short year after year solely to weak mentality, far from it, but we've been dealt another raft of injuries this season which the club has yet again failed to preempt and those left in the squad to represent the club have mental fragility in heart breaking abundance.
nikolaijns
I can totally understand where LG and nikolai are coming from. The Q&A is a joke. Ivan is looking more and more like a Wenger minion. Why should Wenger be offered a contract extension? On what merit? Yes he has been the most successful Arsenal manager but all that is past.
Fergie adapted to the new challenges but Wenger still lives in his idealistic paradise. This is just a request to own up for the indefensible mistakes of Wenger for the past two seasons.
Sajit
great to mention Eboue nik for I witnessed a rather different take on him. One staunch Arsenal fan after the game explained (and a large group agreed) that having him as a cult hero shows the "sad state of affairs" of the club. To paraphrase, it is a shame that we as a club have fallen down so far that we have mediocre players as cult heroes. what do you say to that? as for preempting the injuries there is only a few ways to do it: buy more 'quality' players (is someone like Baptista quality?) which would at this stage inevtiably put us in a position to spend more than what we make - which would make success imperative in order to survive; or the Man City model. Other options?
G4L
G4L is right to say that it is well worth taking in Gazidis' Q&A session on the official site. Those that still want to boo and jeer the players after a clearer understanding of the clubs stance on many of these issues are probably always going to need to find the flaws in something. It's easy to say that the fans booing Eboue transformed him as a player or that the earlier jeering of Song helped his development but they were/are both good players of their type anyway. Maybe it was that realisation that ended the boos and the improvement was coming anyway not any real change in the players as a consequence of it. In the end you can't prevent anyone showing their discontent if they are determined to do so though why they would want to spend their time in a place that makes them so unhappy is baffling. Then again perhaps that is what makes them happy.
Amos.
I don't think the Q&A is a joke, but I don't think it's the place to have a go about substandard players, Ivan is a PR machine, he'll smile put you at ease and silkily whisper what you want to hear whilst nibbling on your lobe. I think Gazidis has performed excellently during his short tenure and have zero gripe with him. I can't see Wenger doing another Q&A hopefully I'm wrong, he needs to come into contact with fans as I think he spends too much time in his ivory tower and needs to hear and feel the overall concerns from the support, even the great need to realise, learn when they've made mistakes and also learn from the past, he simply doesn't need another monaco.
nikolaijns
Well Sajit, the first season when Ferguson has had to deal with financial difficulty, he has sold his best player (Ronaldo) and failed to win the league or the CL. Lets see how he does with a more restricted transfer budget. Ferguson spent 40-50 million per season before last year. You also seem to change your mind quite frequently. Earlier this day you said you were neutral about AW's contract extension and now you are clearly against it!
Deltaforce
G4L - I was using Diaby as an example not a target. Fact booing and jeering is the most effective way to publicly make a point, fact!
LondonGooner
though why they would want to spend their time in a place that makes them so unhappy is baffling. Then again perhaps that is what makes them happy - Amos - Again a rediculous and totally irrelevant statement. No none is unhappy ALL the time at matches, never met someone who is. The fact they are happy means when they aren't they will want to make a statement or signal they are not, rocket science it ain't. If people don't like that then tough, that is life and the fact many don't understand or like it, doesn't mean it shouldn't or won't happen.
LondonGooner
I agree G4L to a point, but clubs will always have players held with affection by the fans despite limited ability, jesus look at Groves ffs! there are t shirts of Caesar you can pick up, it's just the warped sense of humour we've always had when faced with players we know are godawful, but have to support when in our colours. Groves was continually booed for ages in his endtime with the gunners, did it break him? no hundreds turn up for a book signing, he's a regular on ATVO and pundits on Arsenal with genuine affection. Regarding preempting injury I think employing a medical team with no previous history of football has been a big mistake, rugby is vastly different and the injuries picked up in that game will vastly differ. Also in the new players that do come in, we have to slightly amend the type of player I feel, a 'hobbit only' signing policy to which we have subscribed is just far too imbalanced, we have a surfeit of slight, fragile waifs. Tables are for eating at, not lying on. I know RVP is a strapping lad but for anyone at the club to base our entire season on him staying fit is just sheer madness. But that is what has apparantly transpired.
nikolaijns
We all have our opinions on how the club should be run and we give thos eopinions in different ways. I don;t castigate anyone for the way they go about it, Blogs, protests, banners, chanting, booing, jeering whatever. What gives anyone the right to tell people the best way to make a point? Who appointed anyone here judge and jury?
LondonGooner
Booing and jeering is a very effective way of letting everyone else know you're unhappy - it doesn't really make any point at all other than that. Banners are more specific though and it makes sense for the stewards to limit any that are overtly hostile. The clever ones are those that can make a dissenting point with enough humour to allow them to stay in place.
Amos.
"Maybe it was that realisation that ended the boos and the improvement was coming anyway not any real change in the players as a consequence of it." -- such a load of absolute nonsense totally unrelated to what ACTUALLY happened in the real world. Eboue had NOT in fact been improving before he got all that abuse. He kept diving, kept making poor decisions on the pitch. AFTER the Wigan game, he buckled down, worked hard, received lots of solidarity from teammates and away fans. And he demonstrably improved his attitude and performance on the pitch subsequently. THAT'S what happened. // I usually come down hard against fans booing their own players and I thought the sarcastic cheering to Fabianski on Sunday was unnecessarily cruel in such an important game. Yes, it was important to cement 3rd place. I really do feel sorry for the kid and I blame AW completely for failing to train basic toughness in him, for failing to coach basic stuff like how to deal with physical intimidation from opponents--stuff that Jens knew how to deal with very well. Our keepers get no such training. Fab has good skills but AW and his staff have failed to prepare him for top level football in one of the world's toughest leagues. OTOH, I find myself sympathizing more and more with LG and niko, esp. their pts about our coddled, super-protected players. I think AW's overprotection of his players results precisely in these lazy, complacent performances we saw v. Wigan and Bburn. I think AW expects supporters to just mindlessly accept everything blindly with no questions, that we have no right whatsoever to respond to what we see on the pitch. And frankly, the times I've been to the Grove have been rather dispiriting, nothing like how I used to feel at Highbury. There's a fascist Disney type of control over proceedings at our home ground and it breeds resentment among a lot of supporters. Our new home ground has a rotten atmosphere because the club's policies and rules foster it.
jaelle
LG, if booing and jeering your own players is an effective way to make yourself heard, which other club's fans use them as a means to express discontent?
Deltaforce
DF, here is the deal. The only reason why I am still neutral about Wenger is because of what he has done for the club and ideally would love to see him lead us to back to the top. However, his stubborness over the past few seasons have hurt us big time. Fatter contracts to passengers, not being ruthless enough in the transfer market.
What really ticked me off was Gazidis' comment about offering a contract extension to Wenger. I dont see any reason why his job should be secure. Would any other manager be given such a long leash? Is he becoming bigger than Arsenal FC ?
Sajit
And as for the banner...I don't have a problem with it at all. Glad they brought it in. All over the football world, supporters bring banners criticizing their clubs, manager, individual players...and those clubs LET THOSE BANNERS STAY. Doesn't surprise me, tho, that our utterly sanitized, corporate-controlled, Disney home ground can't stomach even the mildest of dissent. Everything must be completely controlled. Our poor sensitive players and manager just can't handle anything smacking of supporter criticism.
jaelle
DF, the match is the only place where fans get to voice their opinion. Anyone from Arsenal FC actually reads these comments? I think too much is being written about the boos. It aint half as bad at the Grove as it is in Spain or Italy. Anyone seen Bernabeu crowd boo the players?
People who go to Emirates good money and are entitled to at least see the players put in a professional display.
Sajit
*pay good money * *
Sajit
I think the Spanish have it right with those white handkerchiefs.
jaelle
Sajit, the 'is AW bigger than Arsenal FC" is a statement I read often in the blog you mention often. What long leash are you talking about? Tell me another manager who could have managed us in the circumstances of the last 5 years? Its only now that AW seems to have a transfer budget which does not depend on selling players first. Its only now that we can judge him like one would judge any other manager in the league.
Deltaforce
This is true, it's a very english mentality to put up and shut up, to not complain, to queue all day and smile at the end of it when the counter slams shut. Booing and jeering is not a new phenomenon, it's always been there, whether it's to players on the opposite team or coasting braindeads not willing to put in a shift on your own. It is as sajit points out far more prevalent on the continent, so I guess it's even kinda fitting given the more continental style we employ :) It's not just the grove that has a corporate sanitized overly pernickity approach, that is just Britain as a whole, we have become a nation of fecking subservient, beaten down drones ruled by zealous overly officious jobworths.
nikolaijns
Niko already picked up on one point I was going to make. The Grove is by no means the only football ground that indulges that culture, anywhere that has a humming cash register does. United sacked a steward for wearing a green and gold scarf. It's easy to look at Highbury through rose tinted specs, but I still heard the sorts of attitudes we hear at the Grove in our last ten years at the place. With regards Eboue, I don't at all agree that the Wigan booing was the turning point, that's a vain rewriting of history by our fans. It was clearly the Spurs sending off some three months later. The Arsenal fans that day did not boo him off, so I'd suggest it had more to do with what the manager said to him following that red card.
Little Dutch
By no stretch of the imagination is the Grove isolated in its atmosphere. OT is just as poor and I find that the stereotypes about Anfield can be exaggerated. Never mind the Bridge. Geezus, there's something really depressing about the Bridge. I've been to poorer grounds but the Bridge is just miserable. I know Highbury was never a great bastion of the 12th man a la classic Anfield, it wasn't called the library for nothing. But even at its worst I never found it as oppressively sanitized and Disneyesque (by Disney I mean corporate fascism) as the Grove.
jaelle
I blame Wenger for Eboue ulimately getting booed purely down to him playing him completely out of position on the left wing, Tottenham he wasn't booed off even though his red card was certainly merited. My stance is that you don't boo whoever's in the shirt, as we're going down old ground here from last season i find myself quite depressed to be honest, what with ST prices etc etc etc etc.
shewore
"as we're going down old ground here from last season i find myself quite depressed to be honest," - it's the same old ground for the last few seasons, every end-of-season it's the same old story: "just a little bit short," injuries, luck, supporters disgruntled, players being booed, April collapse, arguments about whether or not we've "improved." I expect the same at the end of next season.
jaelle
I think Arsenal should go and sit in the corner and think about what they've done.
shewore
LOL, shewore!
jaelle
I agree with LG & niko to an extent. The players do need to hear the fans' discontent, and more importantly, so does Wenger. Wenger and the players are out of touch coz they are so protected and closetted. However, surely there's a better way than jeering Fabianski at every touch? Booing after performances like the one against Wigan, booing off the team at half time in a game are slightly better. It puts the onus on the team to come back strongly and win back the fans' faith, and I see nothing wrong in that.
prits
There's a fascist Disney type of control over proceedings at our home ground and it breeds resentment among a lot of supporters. Our new home ground has a rotten atmosphere because the club's policies and rules foster it jaelle - That is sadly one of the most accurate comments I have read this season.
LondonGooner
LG, if booing and jeering your own players is an effective way to make yourself heard, which other club's fans use them as a means to express discontent? Deltaforce - Have you ever been to a continental match? Believe me, you know when the crowd aren't happy. By contrast Arsenal fans are *uc*ing angels. If a bunch of poncey, coseted, spoilt, lazy pre madonna's cannot handle a bit of jeering then WTF are they going to do in the CL semi final when the pressure is on them, oh yeah we all know how they have ended up, don't we.
LondonGooner
Yes LG, I have lived in Italy before and travelled around. Doesn't matter in my opinion. The way football fans behave differently in every country and what is acceptable differs from culture to culture. Which is why some fans are repulsed by this happening at Arsenal because - a) It did not happen before in our history - even in our lean times in the 1960's & 1970's. b) It is not common in England. Setting a benchmark which is continental in this respect is not something everybody will agree with.
Deltaforce
It's not true to say that players weren't jeered or drew groans of discontent in the past. Players like Jon Sammels endured this in the 70's as have players before and after. There is a tradition of it. It is more orchestrated now though so maybe in that regard we are just becoming more continental. I think it's important that the club tries to influence the atmosphere in the ground as positively as they can. That may involve taking banners down that negatively impact on that but in the end its what goes on on the pitch that matters most. Still no reason not to point out to those doing the booing and jeering that whatever their sense of entitlement it is counterproductive to create a hostile environment in your own stadium - thats the job of the away supporters.
Amos.
Some view it as counter productive, others don't. Again opinions. I don't scream and jeer at the players but if the guy next to me wants to then that is totally his perogative and totally his choice. Anyone who thinks otherwise whould go shove their head up their own ****! We aren't in communist Russia/China people are allowed to do this. That was my whole argument, not whether it was counter productive or not, just that people can do what they like aslong as no laws are broken. If I think Denilson's being a lazy ***** strolling through a game, i'll let him know, as imho that is more "informative to him" than writing a stern letter after the match.
LondonGooner
Deltaforce - Clearly you may have misssed a few 1000 games or so, because players have been booed, cheered and jeered since the game began. My old man used to when he went to watch Everton in the 70's/80's, missed that did you? Gus Ceaser and Perry Groves got fearful stick from the crowd during games, another that probably slipped you by?
LondonGooner
Of course people can do what they like if laws aren't broken LG. That includes telling people whose actions they don't agree with that they don't agree with them.
Amos.
LG, you have made booing and jeering ones own players seem entirely common place and normal. I can see that not much slips you by. Sorry that I had an opinion which I dared to express.
Deltaforce
DF - I never once said it was common place just that is has happened for decades. Your statement (not opinion) was that it doesn't happen at other clubs. Well it does and I pointed that out. Where at any point did I say you couldn't have an opinion?
LondonGooner
Of course people can do what they like if laws aren't broken LG. That includes telling people whose actions they don't agree with that they don't agree with them. Amos - Indeed Amos, just don't be surprised when others (like myself) try and offer some variety to a debate that is so far along the Arsenal corporate line it's embarressing.
LondonGooner
"a) It did not happen before in our history - even in our lean times in the 1960's & 1970's" - one of the most inaccurate posts i've read for some time.
shewore
Glad to see you're agreeing with me LG but I wouldn't want you to be accused of walking to close to the corporate line. The variety of your debate and diversity of your opinion this afternoon has been a source of great instruction for me. :)
Amos.
Personally I think "The Wonder of You" is a step in the right direction, especially towards adopting & fostering the magic of Anfield. That's the sort of thing we need more of from the board and it's "Arsenalisation". Take a random song, and stuff it down our throats - that'll work in the long run!
shewore
I'm not sure whether you're being sarky or not shewore but I have to say at the games in does seem to be picking up a bit more momentum with each match. A bit of scarf waving in unison doesn't do any harm. I even find myself joining in now.
Amos.
Not a great fan of it to be honest, although it doesn't greatly bother me - not as much as some - i just find it a bit amusing and embarrassing that we're told what behaviours we should adopt as fans. My 2 pet hates at The Bowl are "WHO ARE YA" and "Sing up for the Arsenal" - sing an effin song then and not at a thousand miles per hour bejesussedpaddyisangitsowell.... and so forth and so forth.
shewore
On Sunday there was a technical hitch for about 3 seconds during the Wonder of You and the sound cut out. The crowd then took it upon themselves to fill in the "wooooaaaahhh" pre chorus. Perhaps the club are missing a trick and they could do what West Ham do at the Boleyn. They play the verse of "Bubbles" and then turn the music off at the chorus and let the fans sing it. Cheap trick but very effective. I agree on the "who are ya?" chant, witless. The away match equivalent is "we pay your benefits." I think the mature thing to do with regards to the whole subject of matchday atmosphere is to accept it doesn't exist anywhere anymore and move on. The club can't manufacture it and, let's face it, if they didn't try and we were left entirely to our own devices, we wouldn't do it either. Every ground in every division in England is the same.
Little Dutch
Atmosphere completely depends on the match, time of the day + booze consumed + what's at stake tends to up it a bit! And mate, i'm getting p1ssed off with how many benefits i'm paying these days, only made it to about 10 away days this season and we've moved on from simply paying scouser's dole money, we're now paying Bolton's, Wigan's, Brummie's....
shewore
shewore - LOL - A source of great annoyment for me also mate!
LondonGooner
The variety of your debate and diversity of your opinion this afternoon has been a source of great instruction for me. :) Amos - You know me, always happy to help those in need of guidance! ;o) lol
LondonGooner
 

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